Saturday, 8 April 2017

Weekend Update 08/04/2017 Prelude to WW3 Edition.

Was President Trump just sucker punched by the American War Party, and the “Deep State,” into picking sides in Syria’s terrorist’s war? Finally providing ISIS with its airforce. From London it looks like that’s exactly what just happened, blowing away any attempted reset with Russia, and just needlessly embarrassed President Xi as he attempts to consolidate his power in the Chinese Communist Party later this year. China’s hardliners will draw their own conclusion about what just happened to President Xi in Florida, where events completely upstaged the non-event summit. In the South China Sea, China sent America it's own much  subtler military summit message, completly trumped by Trump. Will Beijing draw the conclusion might makes right?

Below, did “the Donald” get sold a bill of goods by the “Deep State’s” spooks? Did “the Donald just get hustled into lighting Hillary Clinton’s blue touch paper leading to World War Three?

Evidence Calls Western Narrative About Syrian Chemical Attack Into Question

by William Craddick Apr 6, 2017 1:53 PM
The April 4th, 2017 incident at Khan Sheikhoun has provoked an emotional response around the world after images began to emerge showing civilian adults and children apparently suffering from the effects of chemical weapons. President Donald Trump has stated that the attack has totally changed his views towards the Syrian civil war, and may alter his intended strategy there.
Although Western media immediately accused Bashar al-Assad of participating in a gas attack against his own people, the evidence indicates that the intended target was not immediately in a civilian area and was in fact a location where Syrian White Helmets were on the scene with rebel groups at what observers have claimed was a storage facility for conventional and chemical munitions. Additionally, evidence indicates that rebel groups may have had prior knowledge of the attack and knew that there was a risk of chemical weapons being unleashed. The attack also came in the aftermath of a trip by Senator John McCain to meet with groups known to associate with radical jihadist factions in Syria, at a time when the United States government has been engulfed in a power struggle between different political factions who disagree strongly over what should be appropriate policy in regards to the Syrian civil war.
I. Evidence From Khan Sheikhoun Does Not Support Assertions Of Airborne Chemical Weapons Use
Evidence which has emerged in the aftermath of the attack at Khan Sheikhoun indicates that not only was the nature of the attack misreported by the media, but that certain individuals on the ground in Syria may have had foreknowledge of the attack up to several days before it happened. On April 3rd, 2017, an anti-Assad journalist tweeted that the next day he would be launching a media campaign to cover airstrikes on the Hama countryside, including the use of chemical weapons. It is not clear how the reporter was able to know that chemical weapons would be used an entire day before the attacks occurred.

ISIS, Al-Qaeda Praise Trump's Attack

by Tyler Durden Apr 7, 2017 12:05 AM
Having perhaps lost the support of much of his anti-war base, President Trump appears to have won praise from two new groups...
Aldin 🇧🇦 @CT_operative
Ahrar Al-Sham, Tahrir Al-Sham (#AlQaeda) and #ISIS private Telegram channels praising #UnitedStates attack tonight.

Even even more ironic, today is the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War One

Putin Calls U.S. Syria Strike Aggression, Ends Airspace Pact

by Henry Meyer , Ilya Arkhipov , and Stepan Kravchenko
7 April 2017, 09:08 BST 7 April 2017, 12:00 BST
Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned U.S. air strikes on Syria in response to an apparent chemical attack as an act of “aggression against a sovereign state” and suspended an agreement to avoid hostile incidents in the skies.

The sudden escalation between the two nuclear-armed powers catapulted tensions to the highest level since Donald Trump took office in January. The Kremlin said the U.S. action will cause “considerable damage” to ties between Moscow and Washington. The U.S. said it had worked to minimize the risk of causing Russian casualties in the attack, which killed at least six Syrian servicemen.

The Shayrat Airfield was hit early Friday morning by 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from the USS Porter and USS Ross, two Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. said it was a limited strike against the airbase from which the suspected chemical attack was launched.

Trump’s military move, which he said was a necessary response to an “affront to humanity” after more than 70 people died in a poison gas attack in northwest Syria on Tuesday, puts the U.S. and Russia into a potentially dangerous stand-off as Moscow stands behind Assad after six years of civil war.

----Russia will move quickly to strengthen the Syrian military’s air-defense capabilities to protect the country’s “most sensitive” infrastructure after the U.S. strikes, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in an emailed statement. The “combat effectiveness” of the U.S. attack was very low and only 23 of the 59 missiles hit the Syrian airbase, he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he hoped that what he called “provocations” wouldn’t lead to “irreversible results,” in televised comments from Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Drawing a parallel to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, he accused the U.S. and its allies of seeking to sabotage Russian efforts to secure a peace deal in Syria and achieve regime change by the use of force.

----The American leader was forced into action after the Washington anti-Russian establishment boxed him into a corner and is increasingly resembling his defeated Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, said Oleg Morozov, a former top Kremlin official who’s now a member of the upper house of parliament’s international affairs committee.

Syria denied using poison gas and Russia’s Defense Ministry has blamed the rebels, saying a Syrian air strike hit a chemical stockpile controlled by the armed opposition. The Kremlin said Friday that the Syrian government doesn’t have any chemical weapons stored.
Thu Apr 6, 2017 | 7:10pm EDT

China fighter plane spotted on South China Sea island: think tank

A Chinese fighter plane has been spotted on a Chinese-held island in the South China Sea, the first such sighting in a year and the first since U.S. President Trump took office, a U.S. think tank reported on Thursday.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Washington's Center for Strategic and 
International Studies, said the J-11 fighter was visible in a satellite image taken on March 29 of Woody Island in the Paracel island chain.

News of the sighting came as Trump was in Florida for meetings with China's President Xi Jinping on Thursday and Friday at which he is expected to air U.S. concerns about China's pursuit of territory and militarization of outposts in the South China Sea.

"This isn’t a first, but it’s the first time in a year," AMTI director Greg Poling said of the jet sighting.

Referring to the single fighter plane visible in the image, he said: "There are likely more in the hangars nearby."

Poling said it was unclear how long the plane had been there, but added that similar deployments on artificial islands China has built further south in the South China Sea's Spratly archipelago could be expected now that military facilities had been completed there.

The United States has said in the past that rotational deployments of Chinese fighter jets to Woody Island were part of a disturbing trend of militarization that raised questions about Beijing's intentions in the South China Sea, which is an important trade route.

The Chinese embassy did not respond to a request for comment. China has previously rejected U.S. charges that it is militarizing the South China Sea, and in March, Premier Li Keqiang said defense equipment had been placed on islands in the disputed waterway to maintain "freedom of navigation."

Trump Squeezes Putin in Syria. Don't Assume That's Good.

April 7, 2017 9:04 AM EDT By Leonid Bershidsky
With one missile strike on a Syrian airfield, President Donald Trump called two bluffs at once but likely set back his proclaimed goal of defeating Islamic State.

The pre-dawn strike on Shayrat Airfield should deal a crushing blow to the narrative that the Kremlin somehow controls Trump or has compromising material about him. This is not the kind of risk a man on a blackmailer's hook would take. Nor does Russia's behavior after the strike give credence to the idea now circulating that the strike was a mere PR exercise, fully signed off by the Kremlin, who evacuated Russian personnel (and warned Assad). This conspiracy theory holds that the collusion would take the pressure off investigations into Trump's Russia connections and clear the way for a grand bargain down the road.

On the surface, Russia appeared to be willing to treat the attack as an isolated incident, especially since the U.S. has made sure no Russians would be hurt. That's easier today than forgiving Turkey for shooting down a Russian warplane in 2015. The propaganda line on Friday's strike is that Russia didn't move in to protect Shayrat because Russian servicemen weren't at risk there. The Assad regime's military capability hasn't been greatly affected, either.

And yet apart from the predictable anti-American rhetoric and denials that Assad had used chemical weapons, Friday's statement from the Russian foreign ministry contains one serious bit of new information. It says Russia has suspended the 2015 memorandum of understanding with the U.S. on air safety in Syria. The memorandum contained safety protocols for pilots, the use of certain frequencies for communication during close encounters and a line of communication on the ground. This spells the end not just of this particular document, whose scope has been expanded since Trump came to power, but also of the growing cooperation that has developed between U.S. and Russian forces in Syria in recent months. In other words, Moscow has issued a thinly veiled warning to the U.S.: "From now on, your aircraft are fair game."

U.S. pilots have had nothing to fear from either Syrian and Russian antiaircraft defenses, which assumed that U.S. missions, if any, would be against Islamic State forces, not the Syrian government. The Assad regime probably wouldn't dare attack U.S. planes even now, but Russia has S-300 and S-400 air defense systems deployed to protect its military installations in Syria. If Russia really means to cease communications with the U.S. on air safety, the likelihood of a major incident greatly increases.

Whether Putin can afford an open conflict with the U.S. is another matter. Though Russia hardly has the military might for a war with the U.S., and Putin lacks the fiendish mindset needed to launch nuclear missiles, the Kremlin may feel it has no face-saving alternative but to respond.
In America – China summit news, more talks less action, plenty of spin. But when Xi gets back to China, Trump’s very public military slap across the face will sting. China will step up the pace of its militarisation.

Xi, Trump agree on trade, military talks but appear at odds over North Korea

China, US announce 100-day plan to boost trade ties, but Washington ‘prepared to chart own course’ over Pyongyang’s nuclear development

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 April, 2017, 10:20am UPDATED : Saturday, 08 April, 2017, 11:59am 
China and the US have wrapped up their two-day presidential summit with a bold 100-day plan to tackle their trade disputes and explore new ways to enhance military dialogue.

But the two sides appeared to be at odds over how to deal with North Korea, even though both agreed to rein in the reclusive state’s nuclear weapons programme.

US President Donald Trump dropped his anti-China rhetoric during talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, saying he had made “tremendous progress in our relationship with China”.

A key achievement cited by the US side was an action plan to address trade imbalances between the two nations, a common complaint in the United States.

 “Normally, trade discussions, especially between China and ourselves, are denominated in multiple years,” US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said after the talks on Friday, US time. “This was denominated in the first instance in 100 days with, hopefully, way-stations of accomplishment along the way.”

Ross did not give details of the plan.

----On North Korea, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said both sides agreed to increase cooperation and work with the international community to push North Korea to abandon its “illicit weapons programmes”.

But in signs that showed the two nations were divided over the issue, Tillerson said there was “no kind of a package arrangement to resolve this” and that the US was prepared to act alone.

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