Trump flunky Bill Barr hard at work trying to prove fantasy plots

Willaim Barr Trump’s “Roy Cohn”

As the impeachment noose gets tighter and more and more alarming for Donald Trump, with damning new evidence emerging every day, there is an increasing urgency in the parallel counteroffensives underway by Trump’s “Roy Cohn” team in an attempt to defend him.

There are attacks against the witnesses giving testimony by Trump and his supporters, including attempts to smear Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, Ukraine expert at the National Security Council who this week provided crucial testimony about Trump’s telephone call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. And there have been the extraordinary scenes of congress Republicans breaking into the proceedings and disrupting them.

But going on relatively unreported at the same time is the ever-metastasizing investigation by William Barr, the “so-called” attorney general, which the White House fantasizes as a game-changer. A farfetched investigation which is seeking nothing less than to overturn the conclusion of the US intelligence services and special counsel Robert Mueller that Russia interfered in the last US presidential election.

To raise the ante this has actually now been designated a criminal investigation with the power of subpoenas and the possibility of prison sentences for those who have been (in Trump’s fantasy) allegedly involved in “criminal actions”, meaning not supporting Dear Leader.

It’s pretty odd that Trump has repeatedly claimed that the Mueller report was a “complete and total exoneration” of him over Russiagate, is now going to such lengths to try and discredit it.

Ukraine is a common factor in both the impeachment hearings and the Barr investigation. The House is looking into Trump withholding military aid to Ukraine to force the Zelensky government to reopen investigations into unproven allegations, with Trump’s own personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani playing a leading part in this subterfuge.

Bill Barr is focusing on the crazy theory, aired on far-right conspiracy sites, and raised by Trump and Giuliani, that Ukraine framed Vladimir Putin over the US election in a complex triple-cross operation by impersonating Russian hackers.

Trump and Barr have also been asking other foreign governments for help in investigating the FBI, CIA, and Mueller investigators. Trump has called on the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison for assistance, while his flunky attorney general has been on similar missions to the UK and Italy.

The information being requested has left our allies astonished. One British official with knowledge of Barr’s wish list presented to London commented that “it is like nothing we have come across before, they are basically asking, in quite robust terms, for help in doing a hatchet job on their own intelligence services”.

The UK, in particular, has been viewed by Trump followers, especially far-right conspiracy theorists, as a deep source of woes for Trump.


from a story in the Independent UK

Putin’s favorite candidate this election cycle

Tulsi with war criminal Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad


Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat running for her party’s 2020 presidential nomination, continues to scoff at charges that her campaign is being backed by prominent Russian sympathizers. She like Trump calls it “fake news.”

“Fake news”  is the favorite phrase of the Trumpies, Trump himself has tweeted it hundreds of times during his reign.

Gabbard has received donations to her 2020 campaign from supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, including a Russian studies professor and an employee of the Russian government-funded broadcaster RT.

Gabbard also has received sharp criticism for her refusal to call Syrian President Bashar Assad a war criminal — a position aligned with Russia’s stance not that of the United States.

Gabbard is called a progressive by some but there no evidence of that  It’s true that she has voiced support Medicare for all and free college tuition, her actual record skews center-right. She has broken from her party on votes to increase restrictions on refugees and weaken gun control. She has introduced legislation supported by GOP donor Sheldon Adelson and interviewed for a possible position in Trump’s Cabinet.

Many Democrats balk at Gabbard’s tactics and lengthy opposition-research file, which is bulging with ties to controversial figures and lingering questions about her conservative upbringing. While some say her opposition to military intervention in Syria makes her an advocate for peace, others say it makes her a “mouthpiece” for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In 2017, she was widely rebuked for taking a meeting with Assad, an act that legitimized the accused war criminal, and saying she was “skeptical” of the U.S. conclusion that Assad had used chemical weapons. The previous year, she was one of only three members of Congress to vote against a resolution condemning the Syrian government’s use of force against its own people.

Gabbard grew up a spiritual follower of a Hare Krishna sect that has been accused by former members of being an authoritarian cult. Its teachings include anti-gay activism, something that has already created headaches for Gabbard’s presidential campaign. As a teenager, Gabbard worked with her father, a fervent crusader against gay rights, at the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, which supported conversion therapy and helped pass an anti-same-sex marriage law. At least twice as a state representative, Gabbard referred to LGBT-rights advocates as “homosexual extremists.” She has since apologized,

All in all, she looks like Putin’s perfect replacement for Jill Stein this election cycle.


Russia reacts to Trump getting caught, plus more NRA troubles

The scandal over the phone call between Dictator Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has cast a shadow over relations between Washington and Kiev, at a time when American support is vital for Ukraine’s new administration.

The criminal episode appears to play right into the hands of Russia, which is still backing separatist militias in the east of the country in their war against Kiev. Russian involvement in Ukraine—the annexation of Crimea and support for the militias occupying the Donbas region—has severely damaged Moscow’s relations with the U.S. and its Western allies.

Any hint of a dispute between those in the pro-Ukraine coalition will be welcomed by President Vladimir Putin, as will any suggestion that the U.S. democratic system is corrupt or weak.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova was less diplomatic. Known for often inflammatory remarks—particularly those related to the U.S.—joked that Russia would be very happy to see any sensitive information the White House saw fit to release. “The show must go on: Release the transcripts of conversations with NATO partners, with each other. The publication of speeches at closed CIA, FBI and Pentagon meetings seems highly valuable. Bring it all out!”

Oops! On second thought ….. Russia voiced hope Friday that the U.S. administration wouldn’t publish private conversations between the two nations’ presidents like it did with Ukraine.

Asked if Moscow is worried that the White House could similarly publish transcripts of Trump’s calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “we would like to hope that it wouldn’t come to that in our relations, which are already troubled by a lot of problems.”

Speaking in a conference call with reporters, he emphasized that the publication of the Trump-Zelenskiy call is an internal U.S. issue, but added that it was “quite unusual” to release a confidential call between leaders.

“We are waiting for the party to continue,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “Let them publish transcripts of conversations between NATO allies. It would also be useful to publish minutes of closed meetings at the CIA, the FBI, and the Pentagon. Put it all on air!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Donald Trump tried to “shakedown foreign leaders” and conceal it, undermining national security and forcing Congress to pursue his impeachment.

Russia and the NRA
Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have released a report that sheds new light on efforts by the Russian government to forge bonds with the NRA in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, including previously unreported meetings between the former Russian ambassador and NRA leaders.

The 76-page report, titled “The NRA Russia: How a Tax-Exempt Organization Became a Foreign Asset” and released Friday, relies heavily on internal NRA documents obtained by Democratic committee investigators during their nearly two-year probe to reach its conclusions. The Senate Finance Committee oversees tax policy and related issues, including tax-exempt groups like the NRA. NRA emails and a calendar entry suggest that in November 2015 — one month before a delegation of NRA officials and supporters traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian oligarchs and high-level government officials — then-NRA president Allan Cors went hunting with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Former NRA president David Keene had suggested months earlier that Cors invite the ambassador to the “Grand National Waterfowl Hunt” in Maryland, a suggestion Cors responded to enthusiastically. “Dave: I was at the hunt many years ago. A great event. I concur with all of your ideas/suggestions and would welcome any opportunity to engage the ambassador with the NRA,” Cors said. An assistant to Cors later scheduled a “Hunt with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.”

By the time the hunt occurred, Kislyak had already met with Cors and Keene at NRA headquarters in Virginia, according to the report. The trio was scheduled to have lunch in May 2016 at the ambassador’s Washington, DC, residence as well, according to calendar entries the NRA provided to the committee. Kislyak became a focal point early in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference because of his contacts with members of then-candidate Donald Trump’s inner circle. The Senate report says Kislyak waged an “influence campaign to associate with NRA leadership” and that Cors “welcomed” it.

Senator Wyden said in a statement Friday that during the election, “Russian nationals effectively used the promise of lucrative personal business opportunities to capture the NRA and gain access to the American political system.” Wyden said his investigation, “as well as the mounting evidence of rampant self-dealing, indicate the NRA may have violated tax laws.”

In particular, Wyden pointed to the December 2015 trip to Moscow as evidence that the NRA might have broken the law. “This report lays out in great detail that the NRA lied about the 2015 delegation trip to Moscow,” Wyden said. “This was an official trip undertaken so NRA insiders could get rich—a clear violation of the principle that tax-exempt resources should not be used for personal benefit.”

The report claims that the NRA, which has sought to distance itself from Russia in the last year, was more involved in the trip, sponsored by Butina’s gun rights group than previously acknowledged. “The NRA trip was planned as a delegation of the NRA’s most senior officers and donors, including, initially, then-President Cors and his spouse,” the report says. “Russian organizers made clear the trip was planned to bring the ‘head of the most powerful political organization in America’ to Moscow and that the delegation needed to include senior NRA leadership or the trip would not take place. Trip participants relied on NRA professional staff, funding and resources to execute their travel.”

Source AP

Gun toting Russian spy Maria Butina, who seriously played Trump Conservatives, now turns on them

Accused Russian spy Maria Butina revealed she was cooperating with U.S. investigators when she pleaded guilty as part of an agreement to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
The 30-year-old Russian national agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to violate a law governing foreign agents operating in the United States, and she appeared Thursday morning in court to enter her plea
Butina, a former graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., cultivated close ties to the National Rifle Association and the conservative movement.
She admitted to conspiring with Republican operative Paul Erickson and a Russian official, believed to be banker Alexander Torshin, to establish unofficial links between political figures in the U.S. and Russia that would benefit the Kremlin.
Torshin reportedly sought a meeting between Russian president Vladimir Putin and then-GOP candidate Donald Trump, and he met with Donald Trump Jr. in May 2016 at an NRA dinner in Louisville, Kentucky.
Court documents show Butina worked to established ties with both the NRA and the Republican Party, and she helped set up a visit to Moscow by NRA members in December 2015.
She also organized a Russian delegation to the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington and hosted “friendship dinners” to establish closer ties to American conservatives and Russian officials.
Butina can also be seen on video asking then-candidate Trump about U.S. sanctions against Russia during a July 2015 Freedom Festival event in Las Vegas.

A report this week by NBC News that suspected Russian spy will plead guilty to violating laws regarding government agents operating within the United States is the worst news Donald Trump has faced in months, but not for the reason many think.

Butina will reportedly admit to conspiring with a Russian official believed to be Alexander Torshin “to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics . . . for the benefit of the Russian Federation” (Torshin recently retired from being a deputy director of the Russian central bank). She will also admit to attempting to influence the National Rifle Association and “Political Party 1,” believed to be the Republican Party. Butina will admit to setting up a meeting between senior officials of the NRA and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in December 2015, in the early months of the Trump campaign. She later reported to Torshin, “We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later.” Butina has been indicted by the U.S. Attorney of the District of Columbia, whose investigation was separate from that of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, so you would think that would come as good news to Trump. But Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was also charged by the D.C. U.S. attorney and the for the Eastern District of Virginia as well, and it is known that Mueller has been cooperating with the U.S. attorneys for D.C., Eastern Virginia, and the Southern District of New York as well. So the fact that Butina is pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate means that Mueller will be a beneficiary of what she knows about Russian influence in the election of 2016. But even that isn’t the worst news Trump got this week.

No, what Trump should really be worrying about is what Butina’s guilty plea says about his friend Vladimir Putin in Russia. Butina was obviously operating as an intelligence agent of the Russian state, and she wouldn’t be agreeing to plead guilty and cooperate with investigators for Mueller or anyone else if she hadn’t been given the go-ahead by her bosses back in Moscow. Butina faces a sentence of zero to six months under the federal statute she was charged with, and even if she ends up serving time, she will be deported immediately upon her release from prison.

Marina Butina wouldn’t have anyplace to go in Russia if her handlers at the Kremlin hadn’t told her it was okay to tell U.S. prosecutors everything she knows about how her attempt to influence American politics worked from 2015 through 2016. If Putin has decided to cut Butina loose, he’s cutting Trump loose as well.

Trump, whose approval ratings as of a poll by CNN this week stand at 39 percent, may have supporters, but he has a diminishing list of friends. He has lost numerous members of his cabinet to either scandal or resignation. His White House staff is in complete disarray. Not even Nick Ayers, the 36-year-old chief of staff to Trump’s Vice President, would agree to replace departing chief of staff John Kelly. He’s holding onto his support among Republicans in the house and senate only because of their fear that his rabid right-wing supporters will turn on them. And now he’s lost the one friend among world leaders he could count on, Russian president Putin — maybe Trump saw this coming, Putin didn’t exactly go out of his way to give him the love at the recent G-20 summit in Argentina.

The beneficiary of all of this is of course Special Counsel Mueller. Sometimes it’s useful to take a moment to see how we find ourselves where we are today, so let’s have a look at how Robert Mueller got to be such a busy, busy man.

Mueller’s appointment as Special Counsel flowed directly from Trump’s firing of James Comey on May 9, 2017. Comey had appeared before the House Intelligence Committee several weeks before, on March 20, and testified that the FBI had been running a criminal and counterintelligence investigation of “persons associated with the Trump campaign” since July of 2016.

When Comey testified later before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he refused to publicly clear Trump in the FBI investigation. He also dismissed Trump’s contention that the Democratic National Committee emails could have been hacked by “China, could’ve been a lot of different groups.”

“The intelligence community with high confidence concluded it was Russia,” Comey testified. He also refused to answer several questions about whether Trump himself was under FBI investigation, leaving open the possibility that the president himself might be a focus of the investigation.

Angered by Comey’s refusal to clear him in the FBI Russia investigation, Trump met with aides later that week at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and concocted a letter justifying the firing of Comey. After meeting with White House Counsel Don McGahn, Trump arranged with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for a letter justifying the firing of Comey.

The next day, May 9, Trump fired Comey, citing Rosenstein’s letter critical of Comey’s handling of the announcements of the investigations of Hillary Clinton’s email server. The following day, Trump met in the Oval Office with Russian Ambassador Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Kislyak was already known to be a focus of the Russia investigation because of Flynn’s conversation with him on December 29 about lifting Russian sanctions. No American reporters or photographers were allowed into the meeting with the Russians. Russian media present in the Oval Office later reported that Trump had told the two Russian diplomats, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” The sources said Trump also told the Russians, “I am not under investigation.”

On May 11, Trump gave an interview to NBC News anchor Lester Holt and blew up the entire edifice his aides had spent two days building around Comey’s firing, discounting the Justice department’s reasons entirely: “Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”

One week later, on May 16, Trump interviewed former FBI Director Robert Mueller about taking the job of FBI director again. The very next day, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as Special Counsel in the Russia investigation.

Last week, sentencing memos were filed on former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. And this week, Maria Butina agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors.

With all of the guilty pleas and sentencings in court this week, speculation has been flying that Special Counsel Mueller is reaching the end of his investigation. Don’t believe it. The Washington Post reported this week that 14 Trump friends, associates, and campaign and transition officials had contacts with Russians during the 18 months of his campaign.

Every single one of them lied about Russia. They started out by flatly denying they had any contacts at all with any Russians. Then they admitted they had a few, but the contacts were innocuous. When numerous meetings with Russians came to light, they said the contacts didn’t amount to anything. When it turned out the contacts were serious, they began denying there had been any “collusion” with the Russians. Trump made it a refrain, that there had been “no collusion” with Russians during the many times he now had to admit his people had met with them.

Robert Mueller, who has indicted and/or taken guilty pleas from 33 individuals and at least three companies, is turning from indictments of Russians to indictments of their American counterparts. He is focusing his investigation not on “collusion,” but on conspiracy to defraud the United States of America. That’s what he indicted 13 Russians who worked for the Russian troll factory, the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg: conspiracy “to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.”

Mueller indicted 12 Russian military intelligence agents for “Conspiracy to Commit an Offense against the United States” by hacking into Democratic Party emails and to “stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.” He accused the Russians of using false identities and making false statements to hide their connections to “Russia and the Russian government.”

Mueller has been after a conspiracy between Trump and the Trump campaign and the Russian government all along. And he’s using fraud and conspiracy statutes under the U.S. Code to do it.

Mueller is going to connect Donald Trump and his campaign directly to the government of Vladimir Putin. This week, with the guilty plea of his agent Maria Butina, Putin appears ready to help him.

Robert Mueller has never cared about “collusion.” All he has cared about is breaking the law, which Donald Trump has done plenty of. Trump can tweet all he wants, but he can’t stop the big truck coming straight at him driven by Robert Mueller.

She’ll be treated as a returning hero back home in mother Russia


National security expert Malcolm Nance told MSNBC on Thursday that alleged Russian spy Maria Butina will gladly throw her network under the bus with her guilty plea, since the rewards are so great.

“The reason I think she’s pleading guilty is because one, she’s never going to get out of the United States if U.S. law enforcement draw her as a spy,” Nance said, pointing to Butina’s legal jeopardy. “She has had liaison with Russia’s foreign ministry, she’s had diplomatic meetings while she was in jail.”

“It’s easier for her to burn the network that she had in order to see that she gets a sweetheart deal and deportation (from) the United States, where they will laud her as a hero of the Russian Federation,” he continued. “I think she will give up all those Americans she manipulated to get to Donald Trump.”

From Raw Story

“Individual number one” is making conservatives squirm

Corrupt Traitor Trump and his handler Vladdy

Things are ramping up in Robert Mueller’s universe. In recent days, “Individual number one” or Donald Trump has provided written responses to the Mueller team’s questions. On top of that, longtime Roger Stone confidant Jerome Corsi refused a plea deal and faces perjury charges at a minimum. Then on Thursday, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign potentially springing the perjury trap on Trump.

Increasingly conservatives are being put in a lot of very difficult situations and there will be many more next few weeks or months. How they react won’t just determine the Republican Party’s future but, will have a long-term impact on the country.

This is seeming like quite a familiar place for conservatives. The Trump reign has had the effect of pushing conservatives to different corners. Some erstwhile conservatives have become so disenchanted with Trump that they have abandoned previously held positions on issues ranging from climate change and guns to the Iraq War. To them, defending Trump has become so untenable and distasteful that it’s easier to wash their hands of it all.

Others have completely drunk the Trumpism kool-aid. In some cases, this is part of a devils bargain: They get very conservative judges and look the other way on the extreme rhetoric and horrible character flaws. In other cases, there is a lesser-of-two-evils paradigm at play. The left is too scary—the media so biased—that the only way to overcome it all is standing by their (strong) man.  They tell themselves, Trump is far from perfect, but, that Obama and Clinton were worse.

The courageous move would be to stand by enduring conservative principles and remain a person of character who isn’t afraid to call out Trump. That path has always been hard but will be made even harder as the stakes are raise in the weeks ahead.

As of now, it looks likely that Trump is, himself, guilty of collusion at least and probably worse, but what is proven, is that he was surrounded by people who were involved in some illegal and very unethical endeavors. Those endeavors are about to become more public, and the public is about to get a big window into the unseemly underbelly of Trump world.

Conservatives should resist the urge to defend Trump in these moments simply because he has an R next to his name or because he’s being targeted by people who they don’t like.

They should be ready to accept the very real possibility that felony’s and serious misdemeanors were committed and lies were told. Frankly, if it becomes clear that Trump made foreign-policy or public-policy decisions—while in office—based on the fact that he was (a) compromised, or (b) seeking personal gain by virtue of his position, that should be a bridge too far and those acts should be nullified.

Trump has created an environment where every conservative really must be introspective about where they draw the line and at what point they are willing to stand with him. For Republican politicians, it seems highly unlikely that Mitch McConnell will allow any sort of legislation to protect Robert Mueller. But that doesn’t absolve them from wrestling with questions like, what do they do if Trump or his recently installed acting attorney general, actually goes ahead and fires Mueller?

The people, who defend the indefensible—who put “loyalty” to a man (not principle or America) above all else—will not be judged mercifully by history.

taken from pieces in Raw Story and Daily Beast

Russian type propaganda on local US TV stations

Local television is still one of the most popular ways Americans get their news, which makes what Sinclair Broadcasting is doing seem all the more heinous. Local anchors at Sinclair stations across the country are forced to read propaganda from their corporate masters. In this case, propaganda that sounds like it was written in the White House press office. Deadspin has compiled a series of these right-wing rants that frighteningly show just how powerful this hype can be. As Dan Rather often says, the key to a strong democracy is a free and independent press. It’s sickening to watch local journalists who are forced to read something that trashes their own profession. Please note this is happening at nearly 200 television stations across the country.

Oppose Trump TV: Stop the Sinclair-Tribune Merger. Sign here:


Courtesy of Richard’s list


Another Trump move that plays into the hands of his tyrant heroes Putin and Erdogan

Trump’s inspiration: the tyrant thug of Turkey – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Trump’s pledge to get out of Syria ‘very soon’ could be a big win for Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

No matter how much self-congratulatory bragging Trump does, it’s the US-backed Kurdish forces that have ISIS (DAESH) on the run.

While Trump has often boasted of the gains made against ISIS since taking office, his latest comments even caught much of his own administration off-guard — including defense officials who have warned that now is not the time to withdraw from Syria.

“We’ll be coming out of Syria like very soon,” Trump told supporters outside of Cleveland. “Let the other people take care of it now.”

Several US defense officials say that the Pentagon has not heard any additional details from the White House since Trump’s strange remarks — adding that the policy hasn’t changed and that they are continuing to focus on their fight against ISIS. Any decision by Trump to pull out of Syria would also go against the current military assessment, a fact that left some national security officials very concerned about the impact of a withdrawal.

This action could totally screw over our allies the Kurdish troops

The US maintains about 2,000 US troops in Syria, and primarily backs the Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIS, a group that is about 50% Arab and 50% Kurdish; however, much of the group’s leadership is Kurdish.

Trump’s desire to exit Syria as soon as possible is likely to raise grave concerns among US-backed groups in the region, particularly the SDF, and could embolden the forces of the Syrian regime, Iran and particularly Turkey, all of which have mostly resisted attacking US allies in Syria due to concerns about US retaliation.

“A lot of what keeps SDF in the field is the other forces can’t touch them,” according to David Adesnik, the director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

What one thing does Russia, Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq all have in common they hate the Kurds and want to wipe them out. Trump’s potential betrayal of SDF troops in Syria is reminiscent of how we treated the rebels that we encouraged to rise up against Saddam Hussein and then left them to be slaughtered.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey one of Trump’s tyrant besties is hell-bent on continuing to exterminate the Kurdish people.

Recently, the presence of US Forces deterred Russian mercenaries and regime forces from attempting to seize oil fields and other territory controlled by the SDF but without the presence of American troops, there is nothing stopping those same forces from attacking again.

A similar dynamic exists in Manbij and At Tanf, where US Forces have deterred Turkish and regime forces from any large-scale attacks.

The US is also helping SDF forces secure Syria’s border with Iraq as ISIS still maintains a presence in the area but that job becomes much more difficult without American assistance.

A US withdraw at this time will certainly help ISIS (DAESH)

If the US were to withdraw, the de facto spheres of influence that have spared eastern Syria the same kind of fighting and bloodshed that the civil war has brought to the west would likely collapse, inviting a major escalation in the conflict.

That chaos will be exploited by ISIS which has already benefited from Turkey’s actions in northern Syria.

Earlier this month, the US warned that ISIS has begun reconstituting in some areas of Syria because a Turkish military offensive against a northern city has pulled the US’ Kurdish allies away from the fight against the terrorist group.

“We are very concerned about the effect fighting there has had on our defeat ISIS efforts and would like to see an end to the hostilities before ISIS has the opportunity to regroup in eastern Syria,” said Pentagon spokesman US Army Col. Rob Manning, discussing the Turkish offensive against Afrin.

The State Department went even farther, saying that ISIS has already begun to rebuild in places.

“The fighting in western Syria over the last two months, including in Afrin, has distracted from the defeat ISIS campaign and provided an opportunity for ISIS to begin reconstituting in some areas,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said last week.

US officials have been warning for weeks that the Turkish military campaign against Kurdish forces in Afrin, launched January 20, could undermine the fight against ISIS, as Kurdish fighters leading the US-backed battle of the terrorist group began leaving to help their compatriots there. But the Turks see the US’ Kurdish allies as terrorists and have strongly pushed back against US claims that their involvement has a negative impact on the campaign against ISIS.

“The claim that the operation conducted against terrorists in Afrin would endanger the combat against ISIS (DAESH) is completely groundless,” said a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry last week,

In a January speech laying out the Trump administration’s policy on Syria, then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US would remain in Syria until the group is routed. “The United States will maintain a military presence in Syria focused on ensuring ISIS cannot re-emerge,” Tillerson said at Stanford University. “The fight against ISIS is not over.”

A US withdrawal would create a vacuum in the area, similar to what happened after soldiers left Iraq, and most foreign policy experts agree that void would likely be filled by Russia.

Angela Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University, told CNN on Friday that “if the US were to withdraw, it seems to me the Russians would have a free hand” in Syria and the forces “fighting Assad would be weakened.”

Спасибо большое “Thanks a lot

“I do wonder if that is something the Trump thought about when he made that announcement,” Stent said, noting that any departure would elevate Russia’s status to make it “the main power broker in that area.”

Additionally, Stent said, a US withdrawal would help Iran, a country whose forces are fighting alongside Russians in Syria.

If the US were to leave its base located at the At Tanf garrison in southeastern Syria, Iran would be able to secure its overland route from Damascus to Tehran, further securing its regional influence.

Given Trump has routinely advocated for tougher policies on Iran, the US would be “cutting off our nose to spite our face” by withdrawing from Syria, Adesnik said.

Along with Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime could also benefit from the economic advantages of seizing oilfields currently controlled by US-backed allies.

The regime lost roughly 90% of its oil production when the civil war began, according to Adesnik.

post based on CNN reporting