Saturday, 5 August 2017

ACLU Commentary on Senate Bill Criminalizing BDS Published by Washington Post

Sen. Ben Cardin (R), sponsor of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, and Sen. Rob Portman, a co-sponsor of the bill
A couple of weeks ago I posted an article about the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland. The ACLU at the time, as I mentioned in the post, had published an open letter warning that the bill would make it a felony for Americans to support the boycott of Israel and urging Congress members not to sign onto it. (At the time, 45 members of the Senate had signed on as co-sponsors; that number is now up to 46.)
Surprising as it may seem, an additional commentary on the bill, written by two ACLU officials, has been published by the Washington Post. The piece is authored by David Cole, an ACLU national legal director, and Faiz Shakir, national political director. Here is an excerpt:
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, legislation introduced in the Senate by Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and in the House by Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.), would make it a crime to support or even furnish information about a boycott directed at Israel or its businesses called by the United Nations, the European Union or any other “international governmental organization.” Violations would be punishable by civil and criminal penalties of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison. The American Civil Liberties Union, where we both work, takes no position for or against campaigns to boycott Israel or any other foreign country. But since our organization’s founding in 1920, the ACLU has defended the right to collective action. This bill threatens that right.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is designed to stifle efforts to protest Israel’s settlement policies by boycotting businesses in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The bill’s particular target is the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, a global campaign that seeks to apply economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with international law.
Whether one approves or disapproves of the BDS movement itself, people should have a right to make up their own minds about it. Americans engage in boycotts every day when they decide not to buy from companies whose practices they oppose. Students have boycotted companies that sold clothing manufactured in sweatshops abroad. Environmentalists have boycotted Nestlé for its deforestation practices. By using their power in the marketplace, consumers can act collectively to express their political points of view. There is nothing illegal about such collective action; indeed, it is constitutionally protected.
In NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., the Supreme Court in 1982 upheld the right of NAACP activists to hold a mass economic boycott of segregated businesses in Mississippi. The court stated that the boycotters’ exercise of their rights to “speech, assembly, and petition . . . to change a social order that had consistently treated them as second-class citizens” rested “on the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.”
The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, and the paper’s decision to publish the commentary by Cole and Shakir suggests there may not be unity of agreement among wealthy US Jews about the advisability of having the First Amendment of the Constitution essentially gutted by a piece of pro-Israel legislation–this despite the fact that the bill has been strongly backed by AIPAC.
By the way, the website 21st Century Wire has published a commentary of its own on the matter, which includes the following:
The level of tyranny inherent in this new piece of legislation is breathtaking to say the least. Simply put – it’s a direct attack on the US First Amendment. What’s worse is that it’s being orchestrated from outside of the United States by a foreign entity…
By far, this is the biggest attempt yet by Israel at hijacking the US democratic system, albeit from within. If this bill passes, it will mark the near end of what remains of the sovereignty of the United States of America. That is no exaggeration.
They have also published the Cole-Shakir article in its entirety. You can go here to check it out.
***
Update to this story:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, formerly a co-sponsor of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, reportedly has withdrawn her support from the bill after taking heat from her constituents. From the Electronic Intifada:
In an act unprecedented in recent history, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand took a stand this week in support of the right of Americans to boycott Israel by formally withdrawing her sponsorship of S.720, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.
The New York Democrat’s withdrawal of her sponsorship comes after constituents repeatedly pressed her on her support of the bill at town hall meetings in New York City.
On 22 July in the Bronx, Gillibrand affirmed that “we are all allowed to boycott” in response to a constituent who laid out his concerns that the bill would criminalize those supporting boycotts of Israel.
At another town hall in Queens on 31 July, Gillibrand stated in response to similar concerns that she would not support the bill in its current form. She made good on her promise by notifying the Senate on 1 August that she wished to withdraw her sponsorship of the bill.
It is exceedingly rare for members of Congress to withdraw their sponsorship from bills. One veteran congressional staffer could recall only one instance of it happening in recent memory when a representative took his name off a bill regulating minor league baseball.
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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – AUGUST 4, 2017: ARMY, SDF BOOST COOPERATION, SET UP JOINT OPERATIONS ROOM

Modern 9K333 Verba man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs) have been spotted at positions of the Russian military servicemen in the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus. The MANPADs were reportedly deployed to protect checkpoints and observation posts established by the Russians from DIY combat drones as well as other threats from the air.
ISIS has reportedly started forceful conscription campaign for males from 20-yo to 30-yo in Deir Ezzor. The goal is to get enough manpower to fight the Syrian Arab Army and its allies in central Syria. The decision is another sign that ISIS faces significant problems in northeastern Palmyra and southern Raqqah and its defense may fall if the terrorist group does not get additional resources.
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have reportedly established a joint operations room in order to coordinate efforts against ISIS in Deir Ezzor and Raqqa provinces as well as to improve the security situation in Aleppo province.
According to the Lebanese newspaper, Al-Akhbar, the operations room has already been established and this will be officially announced by the two parties soon. The so-called “Turkish threat” in northern Syria was the main reason behind the decision to boost the coordination between the two parties.
Turkey is allegedly ready to launch a large-scale military operation against Kurdish militias in the Afrin area. These Kurdish militias are a core of the SDF and now they seek to boost cooperation with the “Assad regime”. Another reason is tensions between the SDF and other US-backed groups of the Free Syrian Army.
Pro-government sources claimed that a joint operations room that include the SAA and the Manbij Military Council [Arab SDF faction] is currently being prepared in Al-Aryima area near Manbij. Thus, according various sources at least two operations room have been set up in different parts of northern Syria.
If reports are officially confirmed, it would be an important step in boosting cooperation between the two sides. Since the end of the battle of Aleppo, the SDF has decreased a level of the cooperation with the Syrian government and the SAA and directly followed the US approach aimed at indirectly undermining the government efforts against ISIS. However, these tensions have never reached the level when they cannot be solved via diplomatic means and some level of cooperation has been always existed.
In Raqqah city, the SDF has been clearing the remaining ISIS-held area in the southern part of the city. 26 ISIS members were reportedly killed in Hisham Bin Abdul Malik district. 9 other terrorists were killed and 2 VBIEDs were destroyed in Al-Rawdah district. ISIS claimed that 11 SDF fighters were killed the Al-Atiq Mosque in central Raqqah.
The SDF, supported by the US-led coalition’s airpower, artillery and special operations forces, have a upper hand in the battle for Raqqah. However, the ISIS strong has a strong defense inside the city.

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Sayyed Nasrallah to ISIL: Lebanese, Syrians will Attack you from All Sides


Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah delivers a televised speech on the aftermath of Arsal battle
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah delivers a televised speech on the aftermath of Arsal battle
 Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah warned ISIL from a decisive defeat in the new offensive that would be launched by the Lebanese army in northeast Lebanon, announcing that Hezbollah will participate in the battle alongside the Syrian army in the Syrian side of the borders.
In a televised speech on the aftermath of Arsal offensive on Friday, Sayyed Nasrallah pointed that the Lebanese army will liberate areas occupied by ISIL in northeast Lebanon and said Hezbollah was ready to aid the Lebanese army in its battle on the Lebanese front. “It’s clear now that the Lebanese army is the one who will liberate the areas of Ras Baalbek and Al-Qaa,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that Hezbollah would be in the service of the Lebanese army and will help in this battle.
“ISIL controls a large area, some of it from Lebanese and other from Syria. The total area is approximately 296 square kilometers, 141 square kilometers in Lebanon and 155 square kilometers in Syria. The borders are drawn, and there is no problem with demarcation. The geography is similar to that of Arsal and Flita,” His eminence said.
“Before we started the Arsal offensive, we coordinated with the Syrian leadership to end the armed presence of ISIL and Nusra this summer. Lebanon took a decision that the army would do this task, and this was good. The Lebanese army is able to accomplish this mission and any call for an American assistance is an insult to the military institution,” Sayyed Nasrallah indicated, adding that the problem was not with the Lebanese army but with the political decision. “We are hopeful that the presence of the Lebanese President Michel Aoun will help in the war against terrorist groups.”
“If this decision is taken, it means that we are going to the battle, and according to this battle the army will fight in the Lebanese territory. I declare tonight that we, in Hezbollah, are at the service of the Lebanese army. ISIL will gather all its forces to fight the Lebanese army, and we must be aware that it may use suicide bombers. The front will be one and the timing is in the hands of the Lebanese army,” Hezbollah S.G. said.
Battle with ISIL Imminent, Soon
“ISIL shall know that this battle is imminent and soon, maybe few days from now,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, warning that ISIL will face a battle backed by national consensus for the first time, which is a “miracle”. “I tell you that the Lebanese and Syrians will engulf you from all sides and you won’t steadfast. You’ll definitely lose this battle, so think thoroughly unlike what Nusra did. The door of negotiations is still open.”
“The field is ready and the outcome is crucial. Lebanon and Syria are before a new victory,” His eminence pledged.
On Arsal victory, Sayyed Nasrallah first congratulated the captives families on the safe return of their sons and condoled the families of the martyrs whose blood led to that achievement. He also hailed the remarkable and strenuous efforts of Major General Abbas Ibrahim. His eminence also thanked people of al-Qaa who embraced and welcomed the freed. “It is my duty to reassure the rest of the families that we are closely and honestly following up on the issue of the bodies that are still with the militants, the ISIL-held captives and the rest of the missing fighters. I’m personally following up on the file.”
“We shall appreciate and laud the important role of the Syrian army whose efforts facilitates the victory in Arsal outskirts,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that media was unfair when it came to sacrifices by the Syrian army which we must appreciate. It is our ethical duty to thank President Assad, the Syrian leadership, the Syrian red crescent and anyone who exerted efforts on the ground to return our captives, he said. “The Syrian leadership played a positive role in the swap deal despite the heavy burden it shouldered due to this deal,” he added.
Sayyed Nasrallah lauded efforts exerted by Speaker Nabih Berri who adopted Arsal operation since its first beginning and followed up all its details and highly defended it. His eminence underlined that President Michel Aoun had offered the necessary facilitation to ensure the success of the negotiations, “This is a brave president who has said that this is a victory for Lebanon.” He also noted that PM Saad Hariri agreed from the beginning to hold the negotiations and was keen on its success and provided all the facilities, although some details would have embarrassed him. “The government behaved responsibly what led to the completion of this victory.”
The S.G. thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for the aid and support it gave to the Resistance in its war on terrorism.
His eminence called on Lebanese politicians to draw lessons from these negotiations. “This operation led to the transfer of hundreds of militants and thousands of families without international efforts. The guarantors on the ground were the Lebanese General Security and the Syrian regime.”  He urged that this victory should be completed by continuing the work on the refugees file, announcing that Hezbollah have started to follow up this file with the Syrian government.
In the meantime, Sayyed Nasrallah said Nusra has ceased to exist in Arsal outskirts after its defeat there, announcing that Hezbollah was ready to hand over the outskirts to the Lebanese army whenever the army decides that.
On an alleged Hezbollah cell in Kuwait dubbed as Al-Abdali cell, Sayyed Nasrallah described the claims as baseless saying: We are not afraid to say the truth, Hezbollah doesn’t have any arms or cells in Kuwait. We are keen on the best relations with Kuwait and we don’t want any issue to ruin these relations and we acknowledge Kuwait’s support for Lebanon and its assistance in the wake of the July War. We are ready to discuss any ambiguity through the diplomatic channels.”

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SYRIAN-LEBANESE BORDER IS CLEARED FROM ALL HAYAT TAHRIR AL-SHAM MEMBERS

04.08.2017
The Hezbollah operations room announced on Thursday that the operation to liberate Jorud Arsal in Lebanon and Jorud Flitah in Syria have been finished.
The operations room announced in its official statement that the presence of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) on the Syrian-Lebanese border has ended, thus the operation has achieved all its goals.
Syrian-Lebanese Border Is Cleared From All Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Members
Click to see the full-size map
On Thursday, nearly 100 buses carrying 7777 HTS fighters with their families along with wounded HTS fighter left to the Syrian province of Idlib.
The exchange was carried out at the Sa’an checkpoint in northern Hama, where HTS released 5 Hezbollah fighters who were captured in previous battles: Mousa Korani, Ahmed Mezher, Mohammed Jawad Yassin, Mohammed Mahdi Shuaib, Hassan Taha.
Moreover, HTS fighters had killed Raad al-Amuri – a field commander in HTS – before they leave. HTS fighters accused Al-Amuri of being an ISIS spy.
Lebanese Security Forces also discovered an explosive belt with an HTS fighter before boarding a bus. The explosive belt was dismantled and the fighter was allowed to leave.
The Hezbollah media win in Syria reported that the fighters of Saraya Ahl al-Sham – a group of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – and their families are still at some points in Jorud Arsal, including Al-Malahi. They will leave in the coming days according to a new agreement.
Syrian-Lebanese Border Is Cleared From All Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Members
Click to see the full-size map
Saraya Ahl al-Sham fighters had refused to leave with HTS fighters to Idlib. They are feared that HTS would kill them in Idlib because they had withdrawn from the battle of Jorud Arsal and handed over their positions to Hezbollah. Thus, they’re expected to leave to the Euphrates Shield-held areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is expected to announce in a public speech the battle to liberate Ras Baalbek in Lebanon and several areas of the western Qalamoun in Syria from ISIS. Dozens of ISIS fighters are still holed up in the area at the Syrian-Lebanese border.
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TENSIONS BETWEEN ISIS AND LOCAL TRIBES GROW AS GOVERNMENT FORCES APPROACHING DEIR EZZOR

04.08.2017
Tensions Between ISIS And Local Tribes Grow As Government Forces Approaching Deir Ezzor
ISIS has seized all the funds and property of Al-Zawad Tribe in the city of Al Bukamal and its countryside in the province of Deir Ezzor, according to local sources.
ISIS has also arrested 17 members of Al-Zawad Tribe and accused the tribe of killing a number of ISIS fighters in the desert of Al Bukamal.
Clashes reportedly erupted in the vicinity of the city two days ago during which the tribe’s members killed a number of ISIS fighters. The reason behind tensions is still unknown.
Yesterday, ISIS closed all Internet cafes in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor. ISIS fears that some civilians may be cooperating with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) that’s approaching the city.
Local sources claimed that ISIS forced at least 30 youths from the town of Qouriya in Deir Ezzor to join its ranks.
According to pro-government sources, ISIS is using civilians in the southeastern Raqqa countryside and the northwestern Deir Ezzor countryside as human shields against the advancing government forces.
Hundreds of civilians, including women and children, are trapped between Maadan and Tabani towns where ISIS fighters are shooting any civilian trying to reach SAA positions or to cross the Euphrates River into areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
ISIS allows only a small number of civilians to escape to its areas in the southern countryside of Deir Ezzor, which is the heartland of the terrorist group.

SYRIAN ARMY ADVANCING SOUTH OF DEIR EZZOR, DEPLOYS REINFORCEMENTS IN CITY (PHOTOS)

04.08.2017 
Syrian Army Advancing South Of Deir Ezzor, Deploys Reinforcements In City (Photos)
FILE IMAGE
According to the Hezbollah media wing in Syria, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has captured an area of 1 sq km southeast of the cemetery area in the city of Deir Ezzor. With this advance, the SAA cut off one of the most important ISIS supply lines connecting the terrorist group’s positions in the Al-Thardah mountain and its positions in the Sariat Junaid area.
Meawnhile, ISIS fighters attacked an SAA position in Resafa district. Furthermore, three civilians lost their life and 13 others were wounded as a result of ISIS shelling on the areas controlled by the SAA in Deir Ezzor city.
Syrian Army Advancing South Of Deir Ezzor, Deploys Reinforcements In City (Photos)
Syrian Army Advancing South Of Deir Ezzor, Deploys Reinforcements In City (Photos)
Syrian Army Advancing South Of Deir Ezzor, Deploys Reinforcements In City (Photos)

Russian and Syrian Air Force warplanes carried out airstrikes on ISIS positions in the villages of Al-Tibni, Sheha and Al-Buwitiah and in the salt mine in the northwestern Deir Ezzor countryside. Syrian and Russian warplanes also bombed several ISIS positions inside and around Deir Ezzor city and around the Deir Ezzor airport.
The SAA continues sending reinforcements to Deir Ezzor in order to strengthen its poisitions in the area and to foil possible ISIS attacks while the SAA garrison is waiting for the Tiger Forces and their allies pushing to lift the ISIS siege from the city.
SAA reinforcements:
Syrian Army Advancing South Of Deir Ezzor, Deploys Reinforcements In City (Photos)
Syrian Army Advancing South Of Deir Ezzor, Deploys Reinforcements In City (Photos)
Syrian Army Advancing South Of Deir Ezzor, Deploys Reinforcements In City (Photos)
Syrian Army Advancing South Of Deir Ezzor, Deploys Reinforcements In City (Photos)
Meanwhile, tnsions between civilians and ISIS fighters have reportedly increased in the province of Deir Ezzor as a result of repeated the ISIS defeats in Raqqa and Homs.
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War in the desert. The “Tiger” reaches Euphrates

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السعودية تنزل عن الشجرة



السعودية تنزل عن الشجرة

أغسطس 4, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– حتى الآن لا تبدو حرب اليمن تتجه لتوقف قريب كما لا تبدو أزمة البحرين تقترب من الحلّ السياسي ولا الشرق السعودي يبدو ذاهباً للاستقرار في ظلّ مذابح العوامية المفتوحة، لكن خارج المشهد الخليجي الذي يبدو مرتبطاً عضوياً بمصير النظام السعودي الحاكم ونظرته لمستقبله، وهو يفتح فوق جروحه المثخن بالفشل جرحاً خليجياً عنوانه قطر، بسبب هذه الخصوصية لتلازم مصير النظام مع صورته الخليجية، أيّ حيث لا مكان للعقلانية ولا مكان للسياسة، لكن حيث المكان للحسابات السياسية لا تبدو السعودية تعيش حال الترف التي كانت عليها والتي كانت تتسع للرغبات والأحقاد والعناد والكيد، كما لا تبدو السعودية تملك الوقت لتنظيم الاستدارة. وكذلك لا تبدو السعودية في حال صاحب الفيتو على الخيارات، كما كانت الحال عليه من قبل، بل تبدو السعودية نادمة على الوقت الذي أضاعت فيه فرص التموضع من موقع أفضل، وتبدو مستعجلة لطيّ الملفات وإغلاق الجبهات، ويصير حصار قطر في الملفات الخارجية ثمناً كافياً للربح وتبديل المواقع.

– مَن يستمع لكلام رئيس الحكومة اللبنانية سعد الحريري عن معركة حزب الله في جرود عرسال، وارتباكه وتلعثمه في حضرة الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب، لا ينتبه فقط لكون كلام كتلته خارج السياق، بل لكون كلامه جزءاً من سياق سعودي جديد، لا مشكلة لديه في أن يقاتل حزب الله وينتصر على مَن كانوا يوصفون بالثوار السوريين وصار اسمهم جماعة قطر. ومَن يتابع ضمّ الغوطة الشرقية في دمشق لمناطق التهدئة برعاية سعودية مصرية، ومحورها انضمام «جيش الإسلام»، آخر بقايا الحضور العسكري لجماعة السعودية في سورية، من ضمن معادلة الحرب على النصرة، يعرف أنّ التموضع سعودي وعنوانه القبول بما رسمه التفاهم الروسي الأميركي تحت سقف أنّ المعركة مع الدولة السورية وجيشها ورئيسها قد انتهت. ومَن يتمعّن بزيارة السيد مقتدى الصدر إلى الرياض خارج سياق مناقشة صحة أو عدم صحة موقف الزائر، لا بدّ أن يلفته التسليم السعودي بأنّ المكوّن العراقي الطائفي الذي كانت الحرب معه عنوان الحركة السعودية في العراق، تحت عنوان السعي لتقاتل أهلي بين مكوّنات العراق، يعود للسياسة. والسياسة هنا لا تعني انضواء تحت سقوف الخصوم، بل مغادرة لغة المواجهة والمكاسرة والحروب، إلى قواعد اللعبة السياسية، وما فيها من ضرورات وتحالفات، تحت سقف التسويات.

– يمكن القول إنّ المعركة مع قطر تحمل بعض كلمة السرّ في التموضع السعودي الجديد، لكنها لا تكفي للتفسير، فالمنطقة في قلب حروب كبرى متداخلة كانت السعودية على خطوط النار المتقدّمة فيها، لا يختصرها الخلاف مع قطر، لكنه من ثمار لنتاج هذه الحروب حيث هزمت السعودية وقطر معاً، وصار توزيع أرصدة فواتير الهزيمة سبباً للنزاع. والسعودية كابرت، حيث كانت فرص للمكابرة وأنكرت، حيث كان للإنكار مكان، لكن السياقات التي بلغتها الحروب وفرضت على الأميركيين الشعور بأنّ الخيارات تضيق وأنّ نصر المحور المقابل الذي تقوده إيران يبدو واقعاً لا محالة، وأنّ الذهاب لخيار التسويات لحفظ ماء الوجه، وتخفيض فواتير الخسائر صار حتمياً، وما صار مفروضاً على جدول الأعمال الأميركي، صار حقيقة سعودية راسخة، طالما لم يعد بيد السعودية ما تقدّمه لطلب تمديد الحروب، ومنحها المزيد من المهل والفرص.

– السعودية تتموضع، وإيران لم يعد ممكناً إبعادها عن مكانة الدولة الإقليمية الأولى، فيما تركيا مرتبكة، و«إسرائيل» تسعى للاحتماء من الرياح الآتية.

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Friday, 4 August 2017

The Next Escalation: Pentagon Offers to Arm Ukraine

[ Ed. note – A few days ago I put up a post reporting on Russia’s response to the sanctions bill passed by Congress. That response included closing off access to certain US embassy facilities in Russia and also forcing the US to cut its embassy staff. The cutback, as it turns out, is quite large, and Russia is demanding that it be completed by September 1.
It is assumed that the US will mount a “tit-for-tat” response in some manner. The question, of course, is what will that response be? This is the subject of the article below, originally posted at Zero Hedge and reposted at Russia Insider. The thesis is that the US will ship lethal weapons to Ukraine for use against the pro-Russian breakaway territories in the country’s east. ]
By Tyler Durden
When we reported yesterday about Putin’s surprisingly harsh response to last week’s House legislation to launch new sanctions against Russia, which also binds Trump from unilaterally removing sanctions without getting Congressional approval, we concluded that “now we await the US re-retaliation in what is once again the same tit-for-tat escalation that marked the latter years of the Obama regime, as the US Military Industrial Complex breathes out a sigh of relief that for all the posturing by Trump, things between Russia and the US are back on autopilot.
We didn’t have long to wait.
The WSJ reports that, in what appears to be the next gambit by the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex (or “deep state” for those so inclined) to force Trump to “prove” that he did not, in fact, collude or have any ties with Russia or Vladimir Putin, Pentagon and State Department officials have devised plans to hit Russia where it hurts the most, and supply Ukraine with antitank missiles and other weaponry, and are now seeking White House approval at a time when ties between Moscow and Washington are as bad as during any point under the Obama administration.
American military officials and diplomats say the arms, which they characterized as defensive, are meant to deter aggressive actions by Moscow, which the U.S. and others say has provided tanks and other sophisticated armaments as well as military advisers to rebels fighting the Kiev government.
So one attempt at “why now”, is because with Trump reeling, and having already caved on the latest Congressional anti-Russia bill, why not push the president to escalate the Russia conflict to a point where not even his predecessor dared to take it. For now, Trump is unaware of the plan:
A senior administration official said there has been no decision on the armaments proposal and it wasn’t discussed at a high-level White House meeting on Russia last week. The official said President Donald Trump hasn’t been briefed on the plan and his position isn’t known.
Of course, that will change once the president, now with a veteran general by his side as new Chief of Staff reads the WSJ report, and starts debating whether it is worth to further deteriorate Russian relations if it means getting Mueller of his back, by showing just how committed Trump is to “containing Russian aggression.”
Meanwhile, setting the stage for the escalation, a Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza, said the U.S. has not “ruled out the option” of providing “lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine.” U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has endorsed the plan, according to U.S. officials quoted by the WSJ.
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