All posts by Tyler Durden

Schiff’s Latest Bizarre Claim: Russian Ads Promote 2nd Amendment ‘So We All Kill Each Other’

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The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms... and, as The Duran's Alex Christoforou writes, according to California Congressman Adam Schiff, those pesky Russians are using bots to promote the second amendment with an ultimate goal of having Americans ‘kill each other.’

Once again, another brilliant plan hatched by Putin... good thing Schiff caught on to it and can now begin seizing American’s guns so as to thwart Russia’s evil plan.

On Thursday Democrat Schiff spoke to a crowd at the University of Pennsylvania, where the TDS – "Russia hysteria virus" infected Schiff told the crowd Russian ads promoted the Second Amendment during the 2016 election “so we will kill each other.”

NTK Network reports...

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said Thursday that Russia promoted content that supported the Second Amendment on social media during the 2016 election because they wanted Americans to kill one another.
'You had the content that was clearly anti-Hillary, and you had the content that was very pro-Trump. But even the bigger quantity of content that was being pushed through social media was just content designed to pit us against each other,' Schiff said while speaking at the University of Pennsylvania.
Which is false!

Facebook executive Colin Stretch told the US Senate Judiciary Committee in November that the total number of those illegitimate ads are a drop in the ocean — less than 0.004 percent of all content — or about 1 in 23,000 news feed items.

Russia didn’t flip the election.

And then Schiff exclaimed:
'They also trumpeted the Second Amendment. Apparently Russians are very big fans of our Second Amendment. They don’t particularly want a Second Amendment of their own, but they’re really glad that we have one.'

'The Russians would be thrilled if we were doing nothing but killing each other every day, and sadly we are.'
'Mr. Schiff's constant delusional comments are so irrelevant to most Americans - and so unbelievable to many - that it should be no surprise to anyone that The Democrats favorability is sliding and Trump's is rising. But it certainly seems to have shocked Brookings' Benjamin Wittes: "Almost unfathomably, both Trump’s and the congressional Republicans’ position in polls seems to be improving."

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Schiff’s Latest Bizarre Claim: Russian Ads Promote 2nd Amendment ‘So We All Kill Each Other’

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The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms... and, as The Duran's Alex Christoforou writes, according to California Congressman Adam Schiff, those pesky Russians are using bots to promote the second amendment with an ultimate goal of having Americans ‘kill each other.’

Once again, another brilliant plan hatched by Putin... good thing Schiff caught on to it and can now begin seizing American’s guns so as to thwart Russia’s evil plan.

On Thursday Democrat Schiff spoke to a crowd at the University of Pennsylvania, where the TDS – "Russia hysteria virus" infected Schiff told the crowd Russian ads promoted the Second Amendment during the 2016 election “so we will kill each other.”

NTK Network reports...

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said Thursday that Russia promoted content that supported the Second Amendment on social media during the 2016 election because they wanted Americans to kill one another.
'You had the content that was clearly anti-Hillary, and you had the content that was very pro-Trump. But even the bigger quantity of content that was being pushed through social media was just content designed to pit us against each other,' Schiff said while speaking at the University of Pennsylvania.
Which is false!

Facebook executive Colin Stretch told the US Senate Judiciary Committee in November that the total number of those illegitimate ads are a drop in the ocean — less than 0.004 percent of all content — or about 1 in 23,000 news feed items.

Russia didn’t flip the election.

And then Schiff exclaimed:
'They also trumpeted the Second Amendment. Apparently Russians are very big fans of our Second Amendment. They don’t particularly want a Second Amendment of their own, but they’re really glad that we have one.'

'The Russians would be thrilled if we were doing nothing but killing each other every day, and sadly we are.'
'Mr. Schiff's constant delusional comments are so irrelevant to most Americans - and so unbelievable to many - that it should be no surprise to anyone that The Democrats favorability is sliding and Trump's is rising. But it certainly seems to have shocked Brookings' Benjamin Wittes: "Almost unfathomably, both Trump’s and the congressional Republicans’ position in polls seems to be improving."

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Mattis Threatens Military Action Over Syria Gas Attack Claims, Then Admits ‘No Evidence’

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"I don’t have the evidence,” Mattis said. “What I am saying is that other groups on the ground - NGOs, fighters on the ground - have said that sarin has been used, so we are looking for evidence.”

This week the American public was once again bombarded by fresh headlines alleging the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad gassed its own people. And in predictable fashion the usual threat of US military force soon followed.

Except of course rather than "alleging" a chemical incident, all the usual suspects from CNN pundits to State Department bureaucrats to Pentagon officials in typical fashion are opting for the simpler "Assad did it" narrative. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauertstated Thursday, "Russia is making the wrong choice by not exercising its unique influence. To allow the Syria regime to use chemical weapons against its own people is unconscionable. We will pursue accountability."

Nauert's statement was a repeat of talking points from last week's chemical attack claims, wherein both she and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ultimately blamed Russia. But like with other recent chemical attack allegations, the claims couldn't be more vague or poorly sourced, yet was still enough for U.S. officials to issue more direct threats of US military action against Assad.

While addressing the prior East Ghouta incident during a talk on January 23rd, Tillerson let slip that he didn't actually know much about the supposed earlier January attack at all while still putting blame squarely on Syria and Russia, saying at the time, "Whoever conducted the attacks Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in eastern Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria."

This week the "evidence" doesn't appear to be any clearer or narrowed.

On Friday Defense Secretary Jim Mattis addressed the latest claims, confidently asserting the Syrian government had as a matter of routine used chlorine as a weapon against the remaining pockets of opposition areas of the country - specifically in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta, but it appears at this point that even Reuters has suddenly found its journalistic skepticism... Yes, actual knowledge on whether or not there was even a chemical attack to begin with is indeed thin enough for Reuters to headline its own report with "Mattis says has no evidence of sarin gas used in Syria, but concerned".

Mattis, in line with the rest of the administration - especially the State Department - did his best to paint a scenario of the case being all but certain that the Syrian Army has been using chlorine gas to attack civilians, while also suggesting Sarin may have been deployed as well, which could serve as a "red line" triggering US military attack on the Syrian government. 

But Mattis was also forced to admit the following, according to Reuters:
Mattis, speaking with reporters, said the Syrian government had repeatedly used chlorine as a weapon. He stressed that the United States did not have evidence of sarin gas use.

'We are even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use, (but) I don’t have the evidence,' Mattis said. 'What I am saying is that other groups on the ground - NGOs, fighters on the ground - have said that sarin has been used, so we are looking for evidence.'
And according to CNN, Mattis is now merely going on "open source" information, which essentially means anything from media reports to YouTube to Twitter to mere "opposition sources say...". CNN reports the following:
'You have all seen how we reacted to that [referencing the April 2017 US airstrike], so they'd be ill advised to go back to violating the chemical convention'... Mattis acknowledged that the US has not seen direct evidence of the use of Sarin gas but pointed to open source reports. 'I don't have the evidence... We are looking for evidence. I don't have evidence credible or uncredible.'
Like with previous allegations, US government officials are issuing threats of military action based on NGO's and fighters on the ground.

In this case it once again appears to be the word of the White Helmets, which it seems just about every other week issue new and unverified claims of chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government. As is now generally well-known the White Helmets are funded by US and UK governments to the tune of many tens of millions of dollars, and have further been frequently filmed and documented cooperating closely with al-Qaeda factions on the ground in Syria.

Indeed the group only operates in areas controlled by al-Qaeda (HTS) and other anti-government insurgents, especially in the locations of recent alleged attacks - Idlib and East Ghouta.

Now that unverified claims of chemical attack incidents in Syria (and their subsequent uncritical amplification by media and politicians) have become routine, the following somewhat obvious observations need to be recalled:
  • The Assad government has long been winning the war, what incentive does it have to do the one thing (use CW) that would hasten its demise?
  • The US is a party to the conflict, so its claims must be evaluated accordingly.
  • The "NGOs and fighters on the ground" (in Mattis' own words) are an even more direct party to the conflict.
  • The only way anti-Assad fighters can survive at this point is by triggering massive US military intervention (by claiming "Assad is gassing his own people!").
  • The greater the momentum of Syria/Russia/Iran forces in defeating jihadists on Syrian territory, the more frequent the claims of chemical attacks  become - issued from those very jihadists suffering near certain defeat.
  • In the midst of a grinding 7-year long "fog of war" conflict involving constant claims and counterclaims, mere "open source" information means nothing in terms of proof or hard evidence.
  • Al-Qaeda administers the locations from which chemical attack allegations are being made. 
  • US officials stand ready to make use of "chemical attack" claims with or without "evidence credible or uncredible" (in Mattis' words) anytime further pressure needs to be applied toward Russia or Syria.
  • Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence (Iraq WMD anyone?).
For its part, Russia alongside the Syrian government and other regional allies have long accused the US of blindly trusting opposition sources inside Syria concerning claims of chemical weapons attacks, including the April 2017 incident in al-Qaeda controlled (HTS) Idlib, which resulted in the US attacking an airbase in central Syria.

Last October, the US State Department admitted that anti-Assad militant groups operating in Syria, especially in Idlib, possess and have used chemical weapons throughout the war - something which the US government previously said was impossible, as it consistently held the position that only the Assad government could be to blame.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Mattis Threatens Military Action Over Syria Gas Attack Claims, Then Admits ‘No Evidence’

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"I don’t have the evidence,” Mattis said. “What I am saying is that other groups on the ground - NGOs, fighters on the ground - have said that sarin has been used, so we are looking for evidence.”

This week the American public was once again bombarded by fresh headlines alleging the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad gassed its own people. And in predictable fashion the usual threat of US military force soon followed.

Except of course rather than "alleging" a chemical incident, all the usual suspects from CNN pundits to State Department bureaucrats to Pentagon officials in typical fashion are opting for the simpler "Assad did it" narrative. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauertstated Thursday, "Russia is making the wrong choice by not exercising its unique influence. To allow the Syria regime to use chemical weapons against its own people is unconscionable. We will pursue accountability."

Nauert's statement was a repeat of talking points from last week's chemical attack claims, wherein both she and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ultimately blamed Russia. But like with other recent chemical attack allegations, the claims couldn't be more vague or poorly sourced, yet was still enough for U.S. officials to issue more direct threats of US military action against Assad.

While addressing the prior East Ghouta incident during a talk on January 23rd, Tillerson let slip that he didn't actually know much about the supposed earlier January attack at all while still putting blame squarely on Syria and Russia, saying at the time, "Whoever conducted the attacks Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in eastern Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria."

This week the "evidence" doesn't appear to be any clearer or narrowed.

On Friday Defense Secretary Jim Mattis addressed the latest claims, confidently asserting the Syrian government had as a matter of routine used chlorine as a weapon against the remaining pockets of opposition areas of the country - specifically in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta, but it appears at this point that even Reuters has suddenly found its journalistic skepticism... Yes, actual knowledge on whether or not there was even a chemical attack to begin with is indeed thin enough for Reuters to headline its own report with "Mattis says has no evidence of sarin gas used in Syria, but concerned".

Mattis, in line with the rest of the administration - especially the State Department - did his best to paint a scenario of the case being all but certain that the Syrian Army has been using chlorine gas to attack civilians, while also suggesting Sarin may have been deployed as well, which could serve as a "red line" triggering US military attack on the Syrian government. 

But Mattis was also forced to admit the following, according to Reuters:
Mattis, speaking with reporters, said the Syrian government had repeatedly used chlorine as a weapon. He stressed that the United States did not have evidence of sarin gas use.

'We are even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use, (but) I don’t have the evidence,' Mattis said. 'What I am saying is that other groups on the ground - NGOs, fighters on the ground - have said that sarin has been used, so we are looking for evidence.'
And according to CNN, Mattis is now merely going on "open source" information, which essentially means anything from media reports to YouTube to Twitter to mere "opposition sources say...". CNN reports the following:
'You have all seen how we reacted to that [referencing the April 2017 US airstrike], so they'd be ill advised to go back to violating the chemical convention'... Mattis acknowledged that the US has not seen direct evidence of the use of Sarin gas but pointed to open source reports. 'I don't have the evidence... We are looking for evidence. I don't have evidence credible or uncredible.'
Like with previous allegations, US government officials are issuing threats of military action based on NGO's and fighters on the ground.

In this case it once again appears to be the word of the White Helmets, which it seems just about every other week issue new and unverified claims of chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government. As is now generally well-known the White Helmets are funded by US and UK governments to the tune of many tens of millions of dollars, and have further been frequently filmed and documented cooperating closely with al-Qaeda factions on the ground in Syria.

Indeed the group only operates in areas controlled by al-Qaeda (HTS) and other anti-government insurgents, especially in the locations of recent alleged attacks - Idlib and East Ghouta.

Now that unverified claims of chemical attack incidents in Syria (and their subsequent uncritical amplification by media and politicians) have become routine, the following somewhat obvious observations need to be recalled:
  • The Assad government has long been winning the war, what incentive does it have to do the one thing (use CW) that would hasten its demise?
  • The US is a party to the conflict, so its claims must be evaluated accordingly.
  • The "NGOs and fighters on the ground" (in Mattis' own words) are an even more direct party to the conflict.
  • The only way anti-Assad fighters can survive at this point is by triggering massive US military intervention (by claiming "Assad is gassing his own people!").
  • The greater the momentum of Syria/Russia/Iran forces in defeating jihadists on Syrian territory, the more frequent the claims of chemical attacks  become - issued from those very jihadists suffering near certain defeat.
  • In the midst of a grinding 7-year long "fog of war" conflict involving constant claims and counterclaims, mere "open source" information means nothing in terms of proof or hard evidence.
  • Al-Qaeda administers the locations from which chemical attack allegations are being made. 
  • US officials stand ready to make use of "chemical attack" claims with or without "evidence credible or uncredible" (in Mattis' words) anytime further pressure needs to be applied toward Russia or Syria.
  • Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence (Iraq WMD anyone?).
For its part, Russia alongside the Syrian government and other regional allies have long accused the US of blindly trusting opposition sources inside Syria concerning claims of chemical weapons attacks, including the April 2017 incident in al-Qaeda controlled (HTS) Idlib, which resulted in the US attacking an airbase in central Syria.

Last October, the US State Department admitted that anti-Assad militant groups operating in Syria, especially in Idlib, possess and have used chemical weapons throughout the war - something which the US government previously said was impossible, as it consistently held the position that only the Assad government could be to blame.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Turkish Tanks Cross Into Syria As Ground Offensive Against US-Backed Militia Begins

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Early on Sunday, Turkish ground forces crossed the border and pushed into northern Syria’s Afrin province on Sunday, Ankara said after launching artillery and air strikes on a US-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border.

Turkey sent armored divisions into northwest Syria after a day of airstrikes as part of 'Operation Olive Branch' which bombed Kurdish YPG forces ("People's Protection Units") in and around Afrin to drive the US-allied Kurdish militia from the area. Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters along with Turkish troops are now moving into the area, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.

Quoted by Reuters, Erdogan also accused some of Turkey’s allies of providing the YPG with 2,000 plane shipments and 5,000 truckloads of ammunition; the comments were clearly aimed at the United States.

According to the local military, Turkish forces forces started the ground phase as part of "Olive Branch" in the north-western Syrian region of Afrin, with Hurriyet reporting that the Turkish military has so far faced no serious resistance from Kurdish forces, which has retreated to towns and villages.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that tanks and military vehicles had begun to cross the Syrian border, according to Haberturk. They were said to advance roughly five kilometers into the Afrin region. Yildirim also said the Turkish military, NATO’s second-largest, would create a 30-km (19-mile) “safe zone” in the  region

Predictably, there have been conflicting reports, with the YPG spokesman Birusk Hasaka saying that Turkish troops failed to cross the border into the Afrin region as they were forced back after a fierce stand-off. The statement was reiterated by another YPG official, Nouri Mahmoudi, who said that “all the Turkish military’s ground attacks against Afrin have been repelled so far and they have been forced to retreat,” Reuters reports. Thousands rallied against the attacks in the border town of Amuda in northwest Syria, vowing to stand against “Turkish occupation”, according to a local witness.

At the same time, a Turkish official said that the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army rebel factions had captured a Kurdish village with no resistance and were clearing landmines. Facing little resistance, Turkey appeared set to extend its territorial gains:
At a training camp near the border, about 200 fighters from the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army factions drilled on a parade ground. Some were in different khaki-colored uniforms, some in jeans and sneakers.

Lieutenant-colonel Mohammad al Hamadeen, a rebel spokesman, said a ground offensive was due to begin within hours against the YPG. “The military operation started this morning with the invasion of the northwestern areas of Afrin. And they will start in the eastern area of Afrin,” he told Reuters
A Reuters reporter on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of Azaz, under the control of rebels from Free Syrian Army factions, heard several blasts and saw smoke rising from a hill to the west, where a fighter said the YPG were.

Meanwhile, There were no signs of conflict in the town itself, where life appeared to continue as normal with traffic on the muddy, potholed roads and uniformed rebel police at the main roundabouts. Still, Azaz was bleak and the toll from the war was plainly seen in some of its crumbling buildings. At one of the car repair workshops on the outskirts of the town some men were fixing a gun-loaded vehicle.

Finally, the US remains oddly mute on this latest escalation which sees NATO member, and US-ally Turkey, attack a US-armed and backed militia in Syria (whose initial purpose of helping remove the Assad regime is long gone). On Saturday, a Pentagon official said: "We encourage all parties to avoid escalation and to focus on the most important task of defeating ISIS (Islamic State)." 

The plea by the world's superpower was roundly ignored by everyone.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Who Killed The Iran Protests?

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One prime indicator that anti-government protests in Iran have truly died down to the point of now being completely snuffed out as reports today suggest, and as we began reporting at the end of last week, is that current headlines are now merely focused on the barely lingering and ephemeral "social media battle" and anonymous YouTube activism, along with multiple postmortem accounts of a failed movement already out. It seems there's now clear consensus that Iran's streets have grown quiet. 

It was evident by the end of last week that demonstrations were fizzling - even as the headlines breathlessly attempted to portray a bigger and more unified movement than what was really occurring on the ground. By many accounts, it was the much larger pro-government rallies that began to replace the quickly dying anti-regime protests by the middle of last week.

But a central question that remains is, who killed the Iran protests? There seemed to be a direct correlation between Western and outside officials weighing in with declarations of "solidarity" and support for regime change, and the drastic decline in protest size and distribution. 

One such postmortem on the now dead Iran protests published on Sunday begins by lamenting:
Less than 10 days ago, a few sporadic demonstrations about economic hardships across Iran sparked a global media frenzy. In a matter of hours, social media became delirious with #IranProtest, awash with confident assertions that “The Iranian People want regime change”. Donald Trump waded in with his support. Nigel Farage, the unlikely new champion of Iran’s revolution, hosted an LBC radio Iran special.

Despite all of this excitement, reports from Tehran over the past few days have suggested that #IranProtests may - for now - be fizzling out (read brutally contained by the authorities).
Within the first days of protests and rioting, we posed the obvious question, "Are we witnessing regime change agents hijacking economic protests?" - this after the US State Department's first statement declared solidarity with "freedom and democracy seeking" protesters while prematurely speaking of "transition of government". Immediately came the predictable flurry of tweets and statements from government officials and think tankers alike echoing the familiar script which seems to roll out when anyone protests for any reason in a country considered an enemy of the United States.

And then there was Bibi Netanyahu's surprising televised address to "the Iranian people" on behalf of the state of Israel, wishing them "success in their noble quest for freedom" - something which we predicted would only have an adverse effect on the demonstrators' momentum, considering that authorities in Tehran accused protest leaders of serving the interests of and being in league with foreign "enemies" like Saudi Arabia and Israel nearly from day one.

The address was surprising precisely because it was the surest way to kill the protests as quickly as possible. From the moment Netanyahu publicly declared, "When this regime [the Iranian government] finally falls, and one day it will, Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again" - all the air was sucked out of whatever momentum the protesters had. 

For many average Iranians who had not yet joined anti-government demonstrations at that point, Bibi's speech gave them every incentive to stay home. All that the regime had to say at that point was, "see, you are in league with enemies of the nation!" And that is exactly what Tehran did. It was on the very Monday of Netanyahu's speech that Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced it would be taking charge of the security situation in Tehran, though likely they were mobilized earlier.

Early on Sunday the IRGC declared that rioting, sedition, and demonstrations are now finished: "Iran’s revolutionary people along with tens of thousands of Basij forces, police and the Intelligence Ministry have broken down the chain [of unrest] created... by the United States, Britain, the Zionist regime [Israel], Saudi Arabia, the hypocrites [Mujahideen] and monarchists," a statement from the group’s Sepahnews website said. Also on Sunday state TV reported that Iranian Parliament held a closed-door meeting to assess the security situation throughout the country - no doubt they were talking about the plotting of external enemies to exploit Iran's domestic situation.

And who can blame the Iranian authorities for believing this? Even France seemed to be in rare agreement with both Russia, China, and even the Iranian authorities on this one.

Speaking of Iran's parliament, Iranian citizens probably remember very well that a short time ago (June 2017), parliament was hit by a deadly ISIS attack which involved gunmen and suicide bombers terrorizing central Tehran, leaving 12 dead and 42 injured. What was Washington's response? The White House essentially said that Iran had it coming: White House response to the June 2017 ISIS attack on downtown Tehran: "We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote."

So likely, Iranians don't believe for a minute that either the American or Israeli governments actually care for people protesting on the streets - only a short while ago they were told "it's your fault" as ISIS shed blood in their streets and government buildings. 

During Friday's UN emergency session in which the US found itself isolated, France stuck by President Macron's earlier words blaming the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia for stoking tensions and exploiting Iran's domestic unrest in a situation he said could lead to war. French Ambassador Francois Delattre urged Iran's enemies to back off, saying just before the UN meeting, "Yes, of course, to vigilance and call for full respect of freedom of expression, but no to instrumentalization of the crisis from the outside - because it would only reinforce the extremes, which is precisely what we want to avoid." 

His call to cautiously prevent the "instrumentalization of the crisis from the outside" was a clear reference to the repeat Israeli and US officials' demands for international solidarity with the anti-Tehran protesters in cause of regime change. Or perhaps France also simply understood the obvious truth... that all the premature foaming at the mouth talk of Tehran regime overthrow coming out of Washington and Tel Aviv or other Western capitals would be the surest way to halt protests dead in their tracks. 

Because nobody wants to be hijacked in their cause... nobody wants to play stooge to foreign powers... nobody wants to be a geopolitical pawn, not the least of which the Iranians, who've had a long and bloody history of outside foreign meddling in their politics. Though the usual pundits will now simply fault the brutal and efficient IRGC for snuffing out the protests, they should look much closer to home.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

‘A Stunning Rebuke’ – 128 Nations Support UN Call For Trump To Withdraw Jerusalem Decision

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One day after Trump escalated his war of words with the UN, threatening to cut off foreign financial aid over today's UN vote on the president's decision to recognize Jerusalem the capital of Israel, the United Nations on Thursday delivered what has been dubbed a "stunning rebuke" of the US President's Jerusalem decision, voting overwhelmingly to condemn the move and calling on the U.S. to withdraw the decision.

The final vote was a landslide against Israel, with some 128 nations voting in favor of the resolution. Nine countries opposed the resolution while 35 abstained.

Only Israel, Honduras, Togo, U.S., Palau, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Guatemala voted against Jerusalem resolution. Two-thirds of UN member states including Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Spain and Greece voted in favor of the resolution. Canada abstained.

While the resolution – a formal statement of a U.N. opinion – is not legally binding, it is represents a symbolic and diplomatic condemnation of Trump's decision and exerts political pressure on him to reverse the move... which Trump of course won't do.

As reported yesterday, in the run-up to the General Assembly vote, Trump and US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, warned countries against opposing the Trump administration's Jerusalem decision. Haley went so far as sending a letter to members of the international body this week, warning that Trump had instructed her to take names, i.e., list the countries that voted in favor of the resolution.The president followed up on that warning on Wednesday, suggesting at a Cabinet meeting that the U.S. could cut off foreign aid for countries that opposed the U.S. in the vote.

"They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us," Trump said. "Well, we're watching those votes. Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot. We don't care."

The threat did little to stop the countries from voting to blast Trump's decision.

The outcome of the vote was hailed as a "victory" by Palestine. “We will continue our efforts in the United Nations and at all international forums to put an end to this occupation and to establish our Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital,”Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudainah said.

And, predictably, both Israel and the US were displeased (see below).

The General Assembly vote came days after the U.S. vetoed a similar resolution in the U.N. Security Council. The panel's other 14 members voted in favor of that measure – a move that Haley called an "insult" to the U.S. Shortly after the Security Council vote, Arab and Muslim leaders at U.N. called for an emergency special session of the General Assembly to discuss the U.S.'s Jerusalem decision.

In a defiant speech ahead of the General Assembly vote on Thursday, Riyad Al Maliki, the Palestinian foreign affairs minister, cast the Trump administration’s Jerusalem decision as an affront on regional peace and security that has isolated the U.S. from the international community.“Does the United States not wonder why it stands isolated in this position?” he asked.

Turkey, which has led the Muslim opposition to the US Jerusalem declaration, was among the first to speak at the meeting. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stressed that only a two-state solution and sticking to the 1967 borders can be a foundation for a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. The minister said that since Jerusalem is the cradle for the “three monotheistic religions,” all of humanity should come together to preserve the status quo.

“The recent decision of a UN member state to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel violates the international law, including all relevant UN resolutions. This decision is an outrageous assault on all universal values,” Cavusoglu said.

The US threats were also condemned by Turkey, with the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stating that Trump “cannot buy Turkey's democratic will.” “I hope and expect the United States won't get the result it expects from there (the UN General Assembly) and the world will give a very good lesson to the United States,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara on Thursday ahead of the meeting.

A spokesman for Palestine president Mahmud Abbas triumphantly declared that the "UN Vote is a victory for Palestine."

* * *

Despite being isolated by virtually the entire international community, in her blunt response, Haley warned the international body that the U.S. would remember the vote as a betrayal by the U.N., and that the vote would do nothing to affect the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there.

“America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do,” she said ahead of the vote. “No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that. But this vote will make a difference in how Americans view the U.N.”

Haley reminded UN members of the US’ generous contributions to the organization and said that the United States expects its will to be respected in return.

“When we make a generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is recognized and respected,” Haley said, adding that the vote will be “remembered” by the US and “make a difference on how the Americans look at the UN.”

Ahead of the vote, Israeli PM Netanyahu called the UN a "house of lies."

"The State of Israel rejects outright this vote, even before it passes," he said at a ceremony in southern Israel. "The attitude to Israel of many nations in the world, in all the continents, is changing outside of the UN walls, and will eventually filter into the UN as well -- the house of lies," he said.

"Jerusalem is our capital, we will continue to build in it and embassies of countries, led by the US, will move to Jerusalem," Netanyahu said, thanking Trump and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for "standing by Israel and the truth."

Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon stated that Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, dating back to Biblical times, and the US decision only outlines the obvious. Danon went further and accused the UN of “double standards” and an “unbreakable bond of hypocrisy” with Palestine and prejudice against Israel.

“Those who support today’s resolution are like puppets. You’re puppets pulled by the strings of your Palestinian puppet masters. You’re like marionettes forced to dance, while the Palestinian leadership looks on with glee,” Danon told the gathering.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.com.

‘A Stunning Rebuke’ – 128 Nations Support UN Call For Trump To Withdraw Jerusalem Decision

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One day after Trump escalated his war of words with the UN, threatening to cut off foreign financial aid over today's UN vote on the president's decision to recognize Jerusalem the capital of Israel, the United Nations on Thursday delivered what has been dubbed a "stunning rebuke" of the US President's Jerusalem decision, voting overwhelmingly to condemn the move and calling on the U.S. to withdraw the decision.

The final vote was a landslide against Israel, with some 128 nations voting in favor of the resolution. Nine countries opposed the resolution while 35 abstained.

Only Israel, Honduras, Togo, U.S., Palau, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Guatemala voted against Jerusalem resolution. Two-thirds of UN member states including Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Spain and Greece voted in favor of the resolution. Canada abstained.

While the resolution – a formal statement of a U.N. opinion – is not legally binding, it is represents a symbolic and diplomatic condemnation of Trump's decision and exerts political pressure on him to reverse the move... which Trump of course won't do.

As reported yesterday, in the run-up to the General Assembly vote, Trump and US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, warned countries against opposing the Trump administration's Jerusalem decision. Haley went so far as sending a letter to members of the international body this week, warning that Trump had instructed her to take names, i.e., list the countries that voted in favor of the resolution.The president followed up on that warning on Wednesday, suggesting at a Cabinet meeting that the U.S. could cut off foreign aid for countries that opposed the U.S. in the vote.

"They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us," Trump said. "Well, we're watching those votes. Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot. We don't care."

The threat did little to stop the countries from voting to blast Trump's decision.

The outcome of the vote was hailed as a "victory" by Palestine. “We will continue our efforts in the United Nations and at all international forums to put an end to this occupation and to establish our Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital,”Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudainah said.

And, predictably, both Israel and the US were displeased (see below).

The General Assembly vote came days after the U.S. vetoed a similar resolution in the U.N. Security Council. The panel's other 14 members voted in favor of that measure – a move that Haley called an "insult" to the U.S. Shortly after the Security Council vote, Arab and Muslim leaders at U.N. called for an emergency special session of the General Assembly to discuss the U.S.'s Jerusalem decision.

In a defiant speech ahead of the General Assembly vote on Thursday, Riyad Al Maliki, the Palestinian foreign affairs minister, cast the Trump administration’s Jerusalem decision as an affront on regional peace and security that has isolated the U.S. from the international community.“Does the United States not wonder why it stands isolated in this position?” he asked.

Turkey, which has led the Muslim opposition to the US Jerusalem declaration, was among the first to speak at the meeting. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stressed that only a two-state solution and sticking to the 1967 borders can be a foundation for a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. The minister said that since Jerusalem is the cradle for the “three monotheistic religions,” all of humanity should come together to preserve the status quo.

“The recent decision of a UN member state to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel violates the international law, including all relevant UN resolutions. This decision is an outrageous assault on all universal values,” Cavusoglu said.

The US threats were also condemned by Turkey, with the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stating that Trump “cannot buy Turkey's democratic will.” “I hope and expect the United States won't get the result it expects from there (the UN General Assembly) and the world will give a very good lesson to the United States,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara on Thursday ahead of the meeting.

A spokesman for Palestine president Mahmud Abbas triumphantly declared that the "UN Vote is a victory for Palestine."

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Despite being isolated by virtually the entire international community, in her blunt response, Haley warned the international body that the U.S. would remember the vote as a betrayal by the U.N., and that the vote would do nothing to affect the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there.

“America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do,” she said ahead of the vote. “No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that. But this vote will make a difference in how Americans view the U.N.”

Haley reminded UN members of the US’ generous contributions to the organization and said that the United States expects its will to be respected in return.

“When we make a generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is recognized and respected,” Haley said, adding that the vote will be “remembered” by the US and “make a difference on how the Americans look at the UN.”

Ahead of the vote, Israeli PM Netanyahu called the UN a "house of lies."

"The State of Israel rejects outright this vote, even before it passes," he said at a ceremony in southern Israel. "The attitude to Israel of many nations in the world, in all the continents, is changing outside of the UN walls, and will eventually filter into the UN as well -- the house of lies," he said.

"Jerusalem is our capital, we will continue to build in it and embassies of countries, led by the US, will move to Jerusalem," Netanyahu said, thanking Trump and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for "standing by Israel and the truth."

Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon stated that Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, dating back to Biblical times, and the US decision only outlines the obvious. Danon went further and accused the UN of “double standards” and an “unbreakable bond of hypocrisy” with Palestine and prejudice against Israel.

“Those who support today’s resolution are like puppets. You’re puppets pulled by the strings of your Palestinian puppet masters. You’re like marionettes forced to dance, while the Palestinian leadership looks on with glee,” Danon told the gathering.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.com.

Weapons Went From The CIA To ISIS In Less Than Two Months

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Years late to the party, mainstream media outlets like USA Today, Reuters, and Buzzfeed are just out with "breaking" and "exclusive" stories detailing how a vast arsenal of weapons sent to Syria by the CIA in cooperation with US allies fuelled the rapid growth of ISIS. Buzzfeed's story entitled, Blowback: ISIS Got A Powerful Missile The CIA Secretly Bought In Bulgaria, begins by referencing "a new report on how ISIS built its arsenal highlights how the US purchased munitions, intended for Syrian rebels, that ended up in the hands of the terrorist group."

The original study that Buzzfeed and other media are referencing comes from a UK-based independent weapons research organization called Conflict Armament Research (CAR) which has had a team of weapons and munitions experts on the ground in the Middle East for years examining arms and equipment recovered from ISIS and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Using serial numbers, crate shipping markings, and all available forensics data, the CAR experts began finding that as early as 2013 to 2014 much of the Islamic State's advanced weapons systems as well as small arms were clearly sourced to the United States and the West.

“Supplies of materiel into the Syrian conflict from foreign parties - notably the United States and Saudi Arabia - have indirectly allowed IS to obtain substantial quantities of anti-armor ammunition,” states the CAR report. “These weapons include anti-tank guided weapons and several varieties of rocket with tandem warheads, which are designed to defeat modern reactive armor.”

The study further reveals that in one notable instance, a weapons shipment of advanced missile systems switched hands from US intelligence to "moderate" Syrian groups to ISIS in only a two month time period. Though the report is now evoking shock and confusion among pundits, the same weapons research group has actually published similar findings and conclusions going years back into the Syrian conflict. 

For example, a previous 2014 Conflict Armament Research report found that Balkan origin anti-tank rockets recovered from ISIS fighters appeared identical to those shipped in 2013 to Syrian rebel forces as part of a CIA program.

And CAR's damning publications presenting such inconvenient empirical data have been consistent for years, yet were largely ignored and suppressed by analysts and mainstream media who were too busy cheerleading US support for Syrian "rebels" cast as romantic revolutionaries in their struggle to topple Assad and his secular nationalist government. Of course, it's an old story if you've been reading Zero Hedge or the profusion of independent outlets that have long reported the truth about the covert "dirty war" in Syria since nearly the beginning.

Even though it's now suddenly acceptable and fashionable to admit - as does one recent BBC headline ("The Jihadis You Pay For") - that the US and Saudi covert program in Syria fuelled the rise of ISIS and various other al-Qaeda linked terror groups, it must be remembered that only a short time ago the mainstream media openly mocked analysts and writers who dared make the connection between the West's massive covert Syrian rebel aid programs and the al-Qaeda insurgents who so clearly benefited.

When news of the 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report  broke, which described what it called a "Salafist principality" or "an Islamic State" as a strategic asset or buffer in Syria that could be used by the Western coalition "in order to isolate the Syrian regime", American media outlets dismissed what was labelled a "conspiracy theory" at the time in spite of the hard evidence of a US military intelligence report being made available.

The Daily Beast for example mocked what it called "The ISIS Conspiracy Theory that Ate the Web" - describing those analyzing the Pentagon intelligence document as far-right and far-left loons. This occurred even as the document was taken very seriously and analyzed in-depth by some of the world's foremost Middle East experts and investigative journalists in foreign outlets like the London Review of BooksThe GuardianDer Spiegal , as well as RT and Al Jazeera.

And yet now once again "conspiracy theory" has been confirmed as "conspiracy fact": Conflict Armament Research's new report out this week is the result of a three-year ground investigation which compiled findings from 40,000 military items recovered from ISIS between the years 2014 and 2017. Its conclusions are scientific, exhaustive, and irrefutable.

The extensive report confirms what former MI6 spy and British diplomat Alastair Crooke once stated - that the CIA established the basis of a “jihadi Wal-Mart” of sorts - to which ISIS had immediate and easy access. Crooke noted that the weapons program was set up with "plausible deniability" in mind, which would allow its American intelligence sponsors to be shielded from any potential future legal prosecution or public embarrassment. Crooke noted in a 2015 BBC interview that, “The West does not actually hand the weapons to al-Qaida, let alone to ISIS…, but the system they’ve constructed leads precisely to that end.”

This is what enables BuzzfeedUSA Today, and others to report the bombshell findings yet continue to soft peddle the significance by emphasizing things like "weaknesses in oversight and regulation" while also highlighting the "accidental" nature of US-supplied missiles "ending up" in the hands of ISIS terrorists. 

Buzzfeed's coverage of the CAR weapons report is summarized in the article introduction:
A guided anti-tank missile ended up in the hands of ISIS terrorists less than two months after the US government purchased it in late 2015 — highlighting weaknesses in the oversight and regulation of America’s covert arms programs, according to information published Thursday by an arms monitoring group called Conflict Armament Research (CAR).

Though the report says the missile was purchased by the US Army using a contractor, BuzzFeed News has learned that the real customer appears to have been the CIA.It was part of the spy agency’s top secret operation to arm rebels in Syria to fight the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The missile ended up in the hands of ISIS fighters in Iraq, according to the report.

The CIA declined to comment on the Obama-era program to back Syrian rebels, which was canceled by President Trump in July. The Pentagon did not provide information in time for publication.

The missile is one piece of a critical puzzle that is being solved only now, with ISIS on the run: How did the vast terror group arm its war machine? CAR spent three years tracking ISIS weapons as they were recovered by Iraqi, Syrian, and Kurdish forces — and found that what happened to the missile was no aberration. Indeed, the terror group managed to divert “substantial quantities of anti-armour ammunition” from weapons provided to Syrian opposition forces by the US or Saudi Arabia.

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The anti-tank missile recovered from ISIS in February 2016. It originated with the US Army in December 2015. Image source: Conflicts Armament Research, "Weapons of the Islamic State" via Buzzfeed 

But some astute observers might notice the significance of the timeline related to the CIA purchase of one of the anti-tank missiles examined: "A guided anti-tank missile ended up in the hands of ISIS terrorists less than two months after the US government purchased it in late 2015." As highlighted previously, the CAR team of experts had already documented the trend of CIA weapons delivered to the Syrian battlefield going to ISIS fighters as early as September of 2014. Beyond this 2014 study, a seemingly endless stream of articles going back years published in independent and international media have underscored the reality of ISIS growing and thriving because of Western and Gulf state covert weapons shipments. 

This means that CIA and government analysts knew full well where the weapons were going in real time, yet continued with the program anyway. As former Pentagon intelligence chief Michael Flynn told Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan in a stunningly frank summer 2015 interview (significantly before Flynn was part of the Trump campaign), the White House’s sponsoring of radical jihadists (that would emerge as ISIS and al-Nusra/HTS) against the Syrian government was most certainly “a willful decision.”

Thus General Flynn in the summer of 2015, speaking as recently retired military intelligence officer, warned in no uncertain terms that US-supplied weapons in Syria were going to ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other jihadists. This was so well known at the time that it could be openly stated by a retired high ranking official an a major international program. Flynn also said something similar to both Seymour Hersh and the New York Times in 2015. 

But what did the CIA and allied intelligence agencies do? They continued arming the jihadist insurgency in Syria in their efforts to oust Assad. This was indeed "a willful decision" as Flynn affirmed and not mere "weaknesses in oversight and regulation" as Buzzfeed would have us believe.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Bombshell Report Confirms US Coalition Struck A Deal With ISIS

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At a moment of widespread acknowledgement that the short-lived Islamic State is no longer a reality, and as ISIS is about to be defeated by the Syrian Army in its last urban holdout of Abu Kamal City in eastern Syria, the US is signalling an open-ended military presence in Syria. On Monday Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon that the US is preparing for a long term military commitment in Syria to fight ISIS "as long as they want to fight."

Mattis indicated that even should ISIS loose all of its territory there would still be a dangerous insurgency that could morph into an "ISIS 2.0" which he said the US would seek to prevent. “The enemy hasn’t declared that they’re done with the area yet, so we’ll keep fighting as long as they want to fight,” Mattis said. “We’re not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has traction.”

Mattis was referring to the stalled peace talks in Geneva which some analysts have described as a complete failure (especially as the Geneva process unrealistically stipulates the departure of Assad), as the future of Syria has of late been increasingly decided militarily on the battlefield, with the Syrian government now controlling the vast majority of the country's most populated centers.

Ironically just as some degree of stability and normalcy has returned to many parts of the county now under government control, Mattis coupled the idea of a permanent US military presence with the goal of allowing Syrians to return to their homes. He said, “You keep broadening them. Try to (demilitarize) one area then (demilitarize) another and just keep it going, try to do the things that will allow people to return to their homes.”

Meanwhile Turkey once again reiterated that the US has 13 bases in Syria, though the US-backed Syrian YPG has previously indicated seven US military bases in northern Syria. The Pentagon, however, would not confirm base locations or numbers - though only a year-and-a-half ago the American public was being assured that there would be "no boots on the ground" due to mission creep in Syria.

During the last year of the Obama administration, State Department spokesman John Kirby was called out multiple times by reporters for telling obvious and blatant lies concerning "boots on the ground" in Syria.

Last summer, in a move that angered the US administration, Turkish state media leaked the locations of no less than ten small scale American military bases in northern Syria alone (revelations of US bases in southern Syria began surfacing as well). As another recent Pentagon press conference further acknowledged, these bases - though likely special forces forward operating bases - require a broad network of US personnel operating in various logistical roles inside Syria and likely now includes thousands of US troops deployed on the ground, instead of the Pentagon's official (and highly dubious) "approximately 500 troops in Syria" number. 

What makes even the timing of Mattis' declaration of an open ended military commitment in to supposedly fight ISIS is that it came the same day that the BBC confirmed that the US and its Kurdish SDF proxy (Syrian Democratic Forces) cut a deal with ISIS which allowed for the evacuation of possibly thousands of ISIS members and their families from Raqqa. 

According to yesterday's bombshell BBC report:
The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of Islamic State fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city. A convoy included some of IS's most notorious members and - despite reassurances - dozens of foreign fighters. Some of those have spread out across Syria, even making it as far as Turkey.
Though it's always good when the mainstream media belatedly gives confirmation to stories that actually broke months prior, the BBC was very late to the story. ISIS terrorists being given free passage by coalition forces to leave Raqqa was a story which we and other outlets began to report last June, and which Moon of Alabama and Al-Masdar News exposed in detail a full month prior to the BBC report. 

And astoundingly, even foreign fighters who had long vowed to carry out attacks in Europe and elsewhere were part of the deal brokered under the sponsorship of the US coalition in Syria. According to the BBC report:
Disillusioned, weary of the constant fighting and fearing for his life, Abu Basir decided to leave for the safety of Idlib. He now lives in the city. He was part of an almost exclusively French group within IS, and before he left some of his fellow fighters were given a new mission.

"There are some French brothers from our group who left for France to carry out attacks in what would be called a ‘day of reckoning.’” 

Much is hidden beneath the rubble of Raqqa and the lies around this deal might easily have stayed buried there too. The numbers leaving were much higher than local tribal elders admitted. At first the coalition refused to admit the extent of the deal.
So it appears that the US allowed ISIS terrorists to freely leave areas under coalition control, according to no less than the BBC, while at the same time attempting to make the case before the public that a permanent Pentagon presence is needed in case of ISIS' return. But it’s a familiar pattern by now: yesterday's proxies become today's terrorists, which return to being proxies again, all as part of justifying permanent US military presence on another nation's sovereign territory.

America's Syrian adventure went from public declarations of “we’re staying out” to “just some logistical aid to rebels” to “okay, some mere light arms to fight the evil dictator” to “well, a few anti-tank missiles wouldn’t hurt” to “we gotta bomb the new super-bad terror group that emerged!” to “ah but no boots on the ground!” to “alright kinetic strikes as a deterrent” to “but special forces aren’t really boots on the ground per se, right?” to yesterday's Mattis declaration of an open-ended commitment. And on and on it goes.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.