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Andrei Akulov

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US Stumbling into War with Iran

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There are signs that a US military operation against Iran is imminent. The administration is pushing Congress for the authority to build new "temporary" facilities in Iraq and Syria. Its policy statement says the armed forces are hamstrung by legal restrictions on the ability to expand military infrastructure in Syria and Iraq. The Trump administration wants the existing authorities that only cover the "repair and renovation" of facilities extended to also encompass "temporary intermediate staging facilities, ammunition supply points, and assembly areas that have adequate force protection."

According to a 2016 Defense Department of Defense (DoD) report, the Pentagon wastes money on maintaining 22 percent excess infrastructure unnecessary infrastructure. The House and Senate Committee versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) deny the military the right to spend money on a new round of Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC), making it pay for the real estate it does not need. Now new military bases in the Middle East may be added to the financial burden.

The added flexibility is supposed to boost the capabilities against the Islamic State (IS) but it does not sound credible. After all, the group is already retreating everywhere and the process is unstoppable. But boosting military infrastructure is the right thing to do if the enemy is a strong military power such as Iran. President Trump appears to have decidedly hardline leanings on that country.
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Trump’s Middle East Policy: Shifting ‘America First’ to ‘America Omnipresent’

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President Trump says he has no plans to enter Syria, despite ordering airstrikes on a Syrian military base last week. "We’re not going into Syria", Trump told Maria Bartiromo during an exclusive interview on FOX Business. "But when I see people using horrible, horrible chemical weapons… and see these beautiful kids that are dead in their father's arms, or you see kids gasping for life… when you see that, I immediately called General Mattis."

So, the attack against Syria was an impulsive decision and there is no strategy (not yet) and no longstanding plans! At least, that what we are told. Sounds plausible but there is each and every reason to take this affirmation with a grain of salt. Here is why.

The United States has already entered Syria. Its military is there right now. The US Air Force has recently expanded an air base in northern Syria. The base is near Kobani, which is about 90 miles north of Raqqa, the last urban stronghold for the Islamic State (IS).

It’s not Syria only. After initially reinforcing the residual forces remaining in-country, America’s military presence (Operation Inherent Resolve) was restored in Iraq in the summer of 2014, commencing a campaign, dominated by air and special operations, allegedly targeting the Islamic State (IS) group. In 2016, US military established the Kobani airfield in Syria and also set up an airfield at Qayarrah West in northern Iraq. The Kobani airstrip has been modified to support C-17s, the largest cargo aircraft which need hardened runway to support their weight, and other planes. In March alone, the airfield was used for at least 50 landings by C-17s and more than 100 landings by C-130 military cargo planes.
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Victoria Nuland: The Bride At Every Wedding

Nuland Cookies

The United States increases pressure on Ukraine while preparing sanctions against the country. It sends a high-level State Department official to visit the country only a month after her previous visit. US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is going to Kiev on Thursday, February 6. The event is coordinated with the European partners. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will also visit Ukraine on February 5.

According to US State Department’s statement, in Kiev the Assistant Secretary will meet with government officials, opposition leaders, civil society and business leaders "to encourage agreement on a new government and plan of action that can put Ukraine back on track toward fulfilling the aspirations of the Ukrainian people for democracy, respect for human rights, European integration and economic growth." It means the US is to lend a helping hand only to the Ukrainians who want to associate with the EU. Those who don’t should be looking for support somewhere else. No taking sides and meddling, of course. That’s how democracy and impartiality are interpreted by the State Department.

The visit is taking place against the background of announcements from the White House that the US is reportedly readying financial sanctions that could be levied against Ukrainian government officials and opposition leaders. U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden has made at least three phone calls in recent weeks to press Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to accept forming a government akin to Western interests.
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US Expands Missile Defense Plans in Romania

NATO Russia

On October 28 Romanian President Traian Basesku, Romania's Minister of Defense Mircea Dusa, US Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller, James Syring, director of the US Missile Defence Agency, and NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow attended the groundbreaking ceremony held on the territory of Deveselu military facility, a former air base located at 180 kilometers east of Bucharest, the Romania's capital. 

The move confirms that Romania has become one of Washington’s main security partners in Europe. "This is an historic occasion", Mr. Vershbow noted. 

A disused airfield is to be revamped and converted into a missile defence base which will remain under Romanian command to host an average of 200 US troops (up to a maximum of 500). The facility will be manned by U.S. Navy and civilian personnel with the Romanian military providing security.
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CIA Activities in Syria: Stepped Up Aid to Islamists

Syria Rebels

According to the Washington Post (CIA Ramping up Covert Training Program for Moderate Syrian Rebels, Oct.3), the CIA is expanding a clandestine effort to train opposition fighters in Syria, as U.S. officials said. The newspaper reports the CIA’s mission has been defined by the White House’s desire to seek a political settlement, a scenario that relies on an eventual stalemate among the warring factions rather than a clear victor.

As a result of this policy, US officials said, limits on the agency’s authorities enable it to provide enough support to help ensure that politically moderate, U.S.-supported militias don’t lose but, not enough for them to win.

The Washington Post informs that US officials spoke on the condition of anonymity and said the agency has sent additional paramilitary teams to secret bases in Jordan in recent weeks in a push to double the number of rebel fighters getting CIA instruction and weapons before being sent back to Syria. The effort led by the CIA was described as an urgent bid to bolster moderate Syrian militias, which have been unable to mount a serious challenge to Assad. The CIA is “ramping up and expanding its effort”, said a U.S. official familiar with operations in Syria, because “it was clear that the opposition was losing, and not only losing tactically but on a more strategic level”…
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