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Thursday, December 8, 2016

ERIC ZUESSE -- Officials: Obama Prioritized Defeating Assad Above Defeating Jihadists


Officials: Obama Prioritized Defeating Assad Above Defeating Jihadists
ERIC ZUESSE | 08.12.2016 | WORLD

Officials: Obama Prioritized Defeating Assad Above Defeating Jihadists


SUMMARY
The evidence is clear and convincing: U.S. President Barack Obama, against advice and warnings from his top military officers, pursued a policy to protect the fundamentalist-Sunni organization, Al Qaeda in Syria (called «Al Nusra» there), and to arm them, so as to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and replace Assad’s secular government with a Sharia-law, fundamentalist-Sunni, government, which would be allied with the fundamentalist-Sunni Saud family — the deadly enemies of Iran, Assad’s Syria, and Russia. (Both Iran and Assad’s Syria are allied with Russia.) Obama and the Sauds wanted this replacement of Assad by jihadists for different reasons: Obama’s goal was to terminate and replace yet another ruler who is allied with Russia; but the Sauds’ goal was to terminate and replace Shia-Islam by the Sauds’ own fundamentalist Sunni form of Islam.
1: INTRODUCTION
The classified, leaked, and FOIAed (Freedom of Information Act released) U.S. Government documentation that will be quoted and linked-to here, is entirely consistent with the news-reporting that the longtime New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh was unable to publish in that American magazine and so he published it instead in the London Review of Books; and this independently released (FOIAed) information confirms Hersh’s reports about U.S. President Barack Obama’s lying to not only the public but also members of his own Administration (alleging to them that his primary target was jihadists not Russians). This disjunction between Obama’s words-and-deeds puzzled his Joint Chiefs of Staff, who ultimately rebelled against Obama’s prioritizing war against Syria and Russia, over war against jihadists. Several of them quit; others were fired; all because they prioritized conquering and killing jihadists over conquering and killing Russians and allies of Russia.
This documentation, and Hersh’s interviews with his own contacts in the U.S. Government (which will be excerpted here), show that U.S. President Barack Obama secretly prioritized conquering the non-sectarian, secularist, Syrian Government headed by the secular Shiite Bashar al-Assad, above conquering and destroying jihadists, and that Obama even secretly supplied weapons and training to foreign jihadists (Sunni fundamentalists supported by the Saud family) who were imported into Syria as the «boots on the ground» to achieve this Syrian regime-change, or government-overthrow — Obama’s unacknowledged proxy army against Assad, to do what American boots-on-the-ground would not: install a Sharia-law government in Syria, beholden to the Sauds, no longer a government that relied upon Russia for its protection. Obama helped jihadists to overthrow Assad, but he never succeeded at his goal. 
Furthermore, the objective of Obama in this was to place Syria under the control of the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, and whose top international goal is to conquer majority-Muslim nations that are Shiite or non-sectarian (such as Syria) instead of Sunni (as the Saud family themselves are). Obama was taking the Saudi side in the Sauds’ international war to control all majority-Islamic nations — including especially to control all currently Shiite-controlled nations, such as Syria and Iran, which are especially hated by the Sauds.

The American Government allies with Sunnis (especially Saudis) against Shiites (especially Iran), and has done so ever since the end of World War II, because the U.S. in 1953 conquered and took over and destroyed the main Shiite nation, Iran, which at that time was led by a secular, non-religious democratically elected progressive Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, and the U.S. installed there a fascist dictator, the Shah, whose bloody rule ended in 1979 when Iran’s clergy took control and established their own dictatorship, replacing America’s dictatorship. This caused Iran’s public to hate America as «the great Satan». America’s ally, the Saud family, have been hating Shiites ever since Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud swore alliance to one-another in 1744, down through all subsequent generations; and part of that contract was to destroy all Shiites, whom Wahhab especially hated. Obama’s opposition to Assad was intense because Assad was allied not only with Shiite Iran, but with Russia, which U.S. Presidents have long been aiming to conquer.
The version of Islam that the Sauds represent is called «Salafist» outside Saudi Arabia, and «Wahhabist» inside Saudi Arabia; and it is the most-fundamentalist of all types of Islam, the purest to the tradition of the alleged Prophet Mohammed, who is said to have authored Islam’s Scripture, the Quran. All Salafist-Wahhabist governments use the Quran as their nation’s constitution, their basic Law, which is the foundation of all of their lesser laws; and the term for such legal systems is «Sharia law».
The U.S. Democratic Party website Huffington Post headlined on 15 July 2016, «5 Things You Need To Know About Sharia Law» and their Associate Religion Editor wrote that «Asking American Muslims to swear off Sharia law is a violation of religious liberty.» However, anyone who adheres to some religion’s Scripture instead of to the U.S. Constitution, would be violating U.S. law (though not violating specifically the First Amendment to the Constitution, just other U.S. laws — violating those U.S. Constitutional laws that happen to violate the person’s own religion’s Scripture). The U.S. legal system allows believers of all religions and of no religion, but it doesn't allow violation of any U.S. law; and all U.S. laws derive from the Constitution, not from any faith’s Scripture (neither the Quran, nor the Bible, nor any other). There are no religious legal exemptions under the U.S. Constitution — not for any religion.
The Huffington Post religion-editor wrote:
Critics like to focus on violent verses from the Quran in order to paint Sharia as a cruel, draconic [Draconian] legal system that is antithetical to American values. It’s true that Sharia does prescribe harsh punishments for acts like adultery, but according to journalist Omar Sacirbey, many of these punishments have been taken out of context, repealed, or require an incredibly high level of evidence.
However, it’s not just «acts like adultery»; it’s beliefs. Many verses within the Quran say that non-believers, and even former believers, in the Quran, should simply be killed; and therefore this editor’s article wasn’t honest. It was, in fact, false as regards fundamentalist Muslims, or fundamentalists in any faith. The Quran is at least as absolutist as is Judaism’s Scripture, the Torah, the Old Testament, which likewise authorized killing non-believers. Even Christianity’s New Testament contains verses saying that non-believers go to hell, and that homosexuals «deserve death.» Loathing of outsiders is a part of all religions. Each religion is supremacist. 
In America, everyone is required to adhere to the same law — the law of the U.S. Constitution — regardless of what the person believes. In a Sharia-law country, or in any fundamentalist-religious country, the nation’s constitution is the national religion’s Scripture, and thus cannot be amended, at all (despite HuffPo editor’s term «repealed» — a false term in any such Scriptural context), because ‘God’ cannot change his mind — to do that would terminate the given Scripture, which, in every faith, is assumed to be eternally perfect, ‘infallible’ (which is what makes it be Scripture — its being canonized as infallible). The most-basic provision of any democratic constitution is its allowing amendments — the acknowledgement of fallibility, and of change. Any theocratic government is necessarily a dictatorship — not a democracy — regardless of what the particular religion is.
2: DOCUMENTATION
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency sent up through the military chain of command to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and to the U.S. President the following 12 August 2012 memo, finding about Syria and Iraq:
[12 August 2012]
The General Situation
A. Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction.
B. The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.
C. The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition, while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime. …
8. The Effects on Iraq:
C. If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime. … 
D. … 
1. This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters. ISI[S] could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory. …
3. The renewing facilitation of terrorist elements from all over the Arab world entering into Iraqi arena. 
The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency at that time was Michael Flynn, whom Obama fired, for reasons that were reported by Seymour Hersh’s 7 January 2016 LRB article, «Military to Military», about Obama’s military negotiating behind Obama’s back with foreign militaries, so as to sabotage his objective in Syria, his aim to overthrow Assad. In this interview with Flynn in 2015, at 1:35, Flynn is asked whether as the DIA chief he had seen this 2012 memo, and he said «Yea, yea, yea,» and «I argued about it. … I do believe that the intelligence was very clear, and now it’s a matter of whether or not policy [from the President] is going to be as clear … and I don’t believe it was». 
Here is how Hersh opened his blockbuster article (which the U.S. ‘news’media wouldn’t publish and then ignored):
Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration’s fixation on Assad’s primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn’t adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington’s anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped.
The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya. A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an ‘all-source’ appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration’s insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups. By then, the CIA had been conspiring for more than a year with allies in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ship guns and goods – to be used for the overthrow of Assad – from Libya, via Turkey, into Syria. … The [intelligence] assessment was bleak: there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists.
Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. … ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. … [A former JCS adviser told Hersh] ‘It was clear that Assad needed better tactical intelligence and operational advice. The JCS concluded that if those needs were met, the overall fight against Islamist terrorism would be enhanced. Obama didn’t know.’ …
The Joint Chiefs of Staff were operating behind the President’s back, because they knew that he favored the jihadists against Assad and so would prevent what they were doing. The U.S. President was opaque even to his top advisors, but Obama’s obsession to conquer Russia had by then become clear to them.
Hersh proceeded to discuss the recent historical background and made clear that Obama was carrying forward the overthrow-Assad operation from at least the immediately prior, George W. Bush, Administration:
The public history of relations between the US and Syria over the past few decades has been one of enmity. Assad condemned the 9/11 attacks, but opposed the Iraq War. George W. Bush repeatedly linked Syria to the three members of his ‘axis of evil’ – Iraq, Iran and North Korea – throughout his presidency. State Department cables made public by WikiLeaks show that the Bush administration tried to destabilise Syria and that these efforts continued into the Obama years. In December 2006, William Roebuck, then in charge of the US embassy in Damascus, filed an analysis of the ‘vulnerabilities’ of the Assad government and listed methods ‘that will improve the likelihood’ of opportunities for destabilisation. He recommended that Washington work with Saudi Arabia. …
Turkey’s Sabah newspaper (which had in 2007 been taken over by the family of Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan) reported on 26 April 2011 that the Director of Obama’s CIA, Leon Panetta, had in the prior month made a secret 5-day visit to Ankara to discuss with Erdogan (who wanted to overthrow Assad) the Arab Spring demonstrations against the Assad government:
Literally «blackout» was applied. So much so that the aircraft carrying the CIA officials landed in Ankara in the evening hours and left again in one evening. Panetta, MIT [Turkey’s CIA] Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, as well as officials of the General Staff, conferenced at the U.S. Embassy. The US refused to comment on it. Fidan had previously met with Panetta in Washington during September 2010. Panetta's [March 2011] visit focused on the Arab revolt issue [called ‘Arab Spring’ in The West]. Libya was said to be «in crisis» and Syria «at a critical threshold». … Details defined by Turkey as «Secret Code» regarding Syria were also discussed. «Secret Code»s regime change in Syria … was said to include providing safety for Assad and his family. [In other words: Erdogan wanted Assad’s ouster to be as peaceful as possible.]
Panetta then became U.S. Secretary of ‘Defense’, and, in that capacity held a press conference on 8 July 2011 in which he stated his priorities and expectations:
You know, my goals are to defeat al Qaeda, that obviously we made an important start with that with getting rid of bin Laden. I was convinced in my prior capacity and I’m convinced in this capacity that we’re within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda and I’m hoping to be able to focus on that, working, obviously, with my prior agency as well.
I want to take these three conflicts we’re engaged in right now and try to prevail in those conflicts. Obviously, to establish sufficient stability in both Iraq and Afghanistan so that al Qaeda and the militant allies don’t find a safe haven there. And in Libya, I do intend to bring down the regime of Qadhafi.
Apparently, President Obama paid insufficient attention to what would replace Qadhafi; but, if the real goal was to eliminate a Moscow-friendly head-of-state, then Obama succeeded, even if the jihadist threat increased during his Presidency and he was less «within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda» at the end of his Presidency than he was at its start. Despite Obama’s disastrous results in Libya, he tried to repeat the performance in Syria, even though he wasn’t willing to impose a no-fly zone there like he had done in Libya. Russia’s having been called into Syria’s defense against the U.S.-Saudi jihadists, made any U.S. ‘no-fly zone’ in Syria automatically a U.S. war against Russia; and, though Hillary Clinton wanted that, Obama didn’t — at least not yet. 
Philip Giraldi headlined on 19 December 2011, «NATO vs. Syria», and he reported that:
NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey taking the lead as U.S. proxy. Ankara’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has openly admitted that his country is prepared to invade as soon as there is agreement among the Western allies to do so. … Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderun on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council. … CIA analysts are skeptical regarding the march to war. The frequently cited United Nations report that more than 3,500 civilians have been killed by Assad’s soldiers is based largely on rebel sources and is uncorroborated.
On 28 March 2011, the Assad government-affiliated «Cham Press» bannered, «Details of a Conspiracy by Bandar Bin Sultan and Feltman to ‘Destroy’ Syria», and reported:
Media sources reveal details of a conspiracy by Bandar Bin Sultan and Feltman to ‘destroy’ Syria. Several media sources have revealed the details of a «well-organized» plan to destroy Syria and create chaos in the country. The plan is said to be drawn up by Bandar bin Sultan [al-Saud], the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, in collaboration with the former U.S. Ambassador in Lebanon, «Jeffrey Feltman» to overthrow the regime in Syria and to bring Syria back to the «stone age», according to the sources. The lengthy and detailed plan, developed by Bandar bin Sultan and his friend Feltman in 2008 with a funding [that] reached $ 2 billion, consists of many items and precise details which significantly intersect with the incidents of disturbances the city of Daraa has recently witnessed.
Feltman worked closely also with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her aide at the State Department, Victoria Nuland who subsequently arranged the overthrow of the Russia-friendly democratically elected President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014. A leaked phone-conversation between Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, on 4 February 2014, in which Nuland told the Ambassador whom to select to run the post-coup Ukrainian government («Yats is the guy who has the economic experience, the governing experience») also included her telling this Ambassador, «Geoff»: 
OK... one more wrinkle for you Geoff. [A click can be heard] I can't remember if I told you this, or if I only told Washington this, that when I talked to Jeff Feltman [in 2014 he was the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] this morning, he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry did I write you that this morning?
So, Feltman seems to have been actively involved in Obama’s overthrow or attempted overthrow of not only two Moscow-friendly national leaders (Qadhafi and Assad) but three (including the successful coup against Yanukovych).
And this Cham Press article wasn’t the only indication that Assad was terrified by Prince Bandar. Continuing with Hersh’s account, again:
By mid-2013, however, the Syrians believed the worst was behind them, and wanted assurances that the Americans and others were serious about their offers of help. In the early stages of the talks, the adviser said, the Joint Chiefs tried to establish what Assad needed as a sign of their good intentions. The answer was sent through one of Assad’s friends: ‘Bring him the head of Prince Bandar.’ The Joint Chiefs did not oblige. Bandar bin Sultan [al-Saud] had served Saudi Arabia for decades in intelligence and national security affairs, and spent more than twenty years as ambassador in Washington. In recent years, he has been known as an advocate for Assad’s removal from office by any means.
Bandar — affectionately nicknamed in Washington as «Bandar Bush» — was reported in ‘the missing 28 pages’ from the congressional investigation into 9/11 to have personally financed two of the Saudi minders who were bringing the 9/11 terrorists into the U.S. and financing their flight-training and apartment rents leading up to the 9/11 attacks. George W. Bush was allied with them, but so too was Barack Obama. And, of course, so was Bill Clinton, and so was GHW Bush. This was a consistent U.S. Government policy since the Cold War ended, and, of course, going back to 1979 when it was used against the Soviet Union, but Obama hid it from the public during his first Administration (2009-2012), waited till his second term in order to pull out the stops on it; and he even ridiculed Mitt Romney’s 2012 attack against him which said that «Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe.» And, Romney added, «Assad is murdering his own people.» (America’s-and-Saudi’s jihadists weren’t murdering far more of them?) Romney stated Obama’s view, but Obama was hiding it until he became re-elected.
And yet as early as Spring of 2012, even U.S. newsmedia were reporting Obama’s all-out support for ousting Assad. Obama’s view on this was actually no different than Romney’s was. On Thursday, 19 April 2012, the Washington Post bannered «U.S., France, others hint at use of force against Syria if violence continues», and reported, «The United States, France and 13 other [U.S.-allied] nations demanded Thursday that Syria immediately cease military operations against rebel forces and allow unfettered deployment of U.N. observers, suggesting that use of force will be considered if Damascus fails to comply.» Obama (like Romney and all other neoconservatives) was simply anti-Russian, and merely pretended that ousting Assad would produce a less-brutal Syria under Al Qaeda and the other jihadists than under Assad. Yet, U.S. intelligence knew quite well that it was all a lie.
Hersh continued:
By the late summer of 2013, the DIA’s assessment had been circulated widely, but although many in the American intelligence community were aware that the Syrian opposition was dominated by extremists the CIA-sponsored weapons kept coming.
He made clear explicitly Obama’s lying:
In a speech on 22 November, Obama declared that the ‘principal targets’ of the Russian airstrikes ‘have been the moderate opposition’. It’s a line that the administration – along with most of the mainstream American media – has rarely strayed from. … [Yet,] Russian strikes on IS targets in and near Raqqa were reported as early as the beginning of October; in November there were further strikes on IS positions near the historic city of Palmyra and in Idlib province, a bitterly contested stronghold on the Turkish border.
Hersh reported that both Russia and China were allied with Assad largely because Assad was fighting against U.S.-Saudi-backed jihadists just as Russia and China also were fighting against the jihadists, in their own lands — only the U.S. was allied with the jihadists though the U.S. public were being victimized by the jihadists. Unlike Russia and China, which were protecting their populations from jihadists, Washington was arming jihadists.
Technically, General Dempsey was retired instead of fired, but Flynn was outright fired. Hersh said:
General Dempsey and his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff kept their dissent out of bureaucratic channels, and survived in office. General Michael Flynn did not. ‘Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria,’ said Patrick Lang, a retired army colonel who served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the DIA. ‘He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out. He wouldn’t shut up.’ Flynn told me his problems went beyond Syria. ‘I was shaking things up at the DIA – and not just moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It was radical reform. I felt that the civilian leadership did not want to hear the truth. I suffered for it, but I’m OK with that.’ In a recent interview in Der Spiegel, Flynn was blunt about Russia’s entry into the Syrian war: ‘We have to work constructively with Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia made a decision to be there and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic. So you can’t say Russia is bad; they have to go home. It’s not going to happen. Get real.’
U.S. ‘news’ media report instead that Flynn was fired because he was «too hawkish» for the (Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning) Barack Obama.
Christof Lehmann had already, on 22 June 2014, reported the crucial involvement of the anti-Russian military club, NATO, in assisting, behind the scenes, the overthrow-and-replace-Assad operation. Headlining «U.S. Embassy in Ankara Headquarter for ISIS War on Iraq – Hariri Insider», Lehmann reported that:
A «trusted source» close to the Saudi-Lebanese multi-billionaire and former Lebanese P.M. Saad Hariri told on condition of anonymity, that the final green light for the war on Iraq with ISIS or ISIL brigades [as a means to overthrow Iraq’s Shiite leadership and install jihadists — all of whom are fundamentalist Sunnis, like the Sauds themselves are] was given behind closed doors, at the sidelines of the Atlantic Council’s Energy Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, on November 22 – 23, 2013.
The Atlantic Council is one of the most influential U.S. think tanks with regard to U.S. and NATO foreign policy and geopolitics. Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe stressed the importance of the Energy Summit and the situation in the Middle East before the summit in November, saying:
«We view the current period as a turning point, just like 1918 and 1945. Turkey is in every way a central country, as a creator of regional stability. However much the USA and Turkey can work in unison, that is how effective they will be.»
The summit was, among others, attended by Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. …
Noting that a prominent member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Prince Abdul Rachman al-Faisal has been named as the one being «in command» of the ISIS brigades, and if he could either confirm or deny, he nodded, adding that «the Prince» is responsible for financing the operation and for part of the command structure, but that the operations headquarters is the U.S. Embassy in Ankara Turkey. «As far as I know, nothing moves without Ambassador Ricciardone«, he added.
Obama needed to pretend to be opposing jihadists in Syria, and he constantly spoke against «ISIL» meaning ISIS, the group of jihadists who were the most extreme; but, behind the scenes, Saudi royals were supporting even them.
Furthermore, Obama was supporting Syria’s branch of Al Qaeda, called «Al Nusra,» which was the most-effective fighting-force in Syria against Assad’s government. In an earlier news-report from Seymour Hersh — which, like his report on the dissension within the Obama Adminiustration’s military leadership concerning whether to continue supporting the jihadists, was published in the London Review of Books — Hersh had indicated that Obama was relying very heavily upon «Al Nusra» in order to overthrow Assad, and was actually helping the Sauds to arm Al Nusra for that purpose. 
On 30 September 2015, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, at the urging of Syria’s President Assad, started Russia’s all-out bombing-campaign against the various jihadist groups that had been financed and brought into Syria by the U.S. and Saudi-led alliance (including the rulers of Turkey and Qatar), to replace Assad by a fundamentalist-Sunni government of Syria.
Now that Russia had suddenly entered the conflict in this major way, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought ’peace talks’, so as to delay or prevent a Russian and Syrian victory. On 8 December 2015, the British-Saudi publication Al Araby headlined «Syrian Opposition Riyadh Meeting Kicks Off» and reported that the Sauds had called together in their capital Riyadh, leaders of various ‘Syrian opposition’ groups, and would select from among them which individuals would represent the ‘Syrian opposition’ for «finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria.» With remarkable honesty, considering that this was a Saudi report on this matter, it noted: «Groups supported by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are demanding Assad's rapid departure, a condition that Iran and Russia oppose. The Syria-based opposition tolerated by the [Assad] regime [and rejected by the Sauds and Obama] argues that Assad's fate should be decided by the Syrian people.» The Sauds, and their U.S. and other allies, were demanding a dictatorial end, and dictated government, to result from these talks, whereas the Assad ‘regime’ (like Russia’s Vladimir Putin) was demanding instead that free and democratic, internationally monitored, elections must be held, as the only way to determine whom the next leader of the Syrian people would and should be. On more than one occasion, the U.N.’s Secretary General, Ban ki-Moon, had condemned President Obama’s demand for a dictatorial resolution of the Syrian war; he backed the Syrian and Russian position on this: «The future of Assad must be determined by the Syrian people.» But not only did Obama, and his Secretary of State, demand a dictatorial end, but they supported the Saud family’s choosing whom to represent the ‘Syrian opposition’ in these ‘peace talks’. 
The Sauds chose a fundamentalist Sunni, Mohammed Alloush, whose grandfather had emigrated into Syria from Saudi Arabia and established a jihadist group there. These talks broke down on 18 April 2016, because Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) was facing imminent defeat in the key city of Aleppo, and because such a defeat was unacceptable to Mohammed Alloush, the Saudi agent, and head of the Saudi-Wahhabist group, the Army of Islam
After that, it was all downhill for the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish war against Syria, Iran, and Russia, in the battlefield of Syria. The leader on ‘the U.S. side’ was King Saud; the leader on the Syrian side was Assad; and it was Assad — and democracy in Syria — who now appeared to be inevitably the winner.
Obama’s actions in this were entirely in accord with the tradition that had been established by recent U.S. Presidents.
The journal Intelligence and National Security had published in 2004, Matthew Jones’s «The 'Preferred Plan': The Anglo-American Working Group Report on Covert Action in Syria, 1957», with the following Abstract:
Taking as its central focus the contents of the September 1957 Anglo-American Working Group Report on Syria, this article examines the background to the covert action plans that were drawn up to topple the incumbent regime in Damascus. By drawing on the contents of the report, it shows how US and British officials hoped to stir up unrest within Syria and instigate border incidents that would provide a pretext for armed intervention by the pro-Western governments of Iraq and Jordan (with possible Turkish support). The article also brings to light the fact that the 'elimination' of named Syrian figures was included as a recommendation in the report. The article concludes by explaining why the report's so-called 'Preferred Plan' was never implemented and reflects on the 'special political action' culture that still prevailed in SIS [Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6] during the latter 1950s.
In order to understand the reasons why the U.S. Government and the Saud family (and their friends the Thanis of Qatar, and the other Sunni royal families, such as the Sabahs of Kuwait) are so determined to grab control over Syria, and over Ukraine, a view of the oil-pipeline maps makes the situation clear in both countries: Syria is the crux through which oil and gas from Saudi Arabia and Qatar into the world’s largest energy-market Europe (the EU) would need to be pipelined (since that’s the cheapest means of transporting oil and gas) in order to be price-competitive; and Ukraine is where Russia’s main existing oil-and-gas pipelines into Europe pass. The Saud and Thani and other Arabic royal families, which are allied with the U.S. aristocracy (which controls not only the U.S. international corporations but the U.S. regime), want to cut themselves into the European market and cut Russia out of it. A major portion of what America’s aristocrats sell to the Sauds and Thanis etc. in the deal is weapons, from their companies such as Lockheed Martin. So, U.S. Presidents and members of Congress are installed who serve these international-corporate sponsors and their foreign clients.
That’s why the Cold War continues though both the USSR and its Warsaw Pact and communism itself ended in 1991: that war continues on the U.S.-Saudi side even though it ended in 1991 on the other side — the U.S and Arabic aristocracies demand to have it all.
Obama was so loyal to the Saudi royal family, that on 12 September 2016 he announced he would veto legislation that had just been rushed through to almost uncontested passage in Congress in the lead-up to the November 8th elections — few in Congress were willing to go on record as voting against it — removing the immunity from legal prosecution of the Saud family members (including Prince Bandar) who had financed and otherwise participated in the 11 September 2001 jihadist attacks against the United States, the 9/11 attacks. Obama’s excuse for providing these royals criminal immunity was
That's not an effective, forceful way for us to respond to terrorism. A forceful way for us to respond to terrorism is to thoroughly investigate what role individual countries may have in supporting terrorism, and if we find compelling evidence that they are, to label them accordingly and to act accordingly. And that is what the President believes is the most forceful way for us to confront state sponsors of terrorism. The other concern that we have also articulated is that this law actually opens up the United States to risk being hauled into court in countries around the world. 
In other words: the royal Sauds should be legally immune because they weren’t already convicted and because holding them legally accountable for their crimes against the American people would establish an international precedent that might someday be holding people like Obama himself criminally liable in some other nation’s courts — Obama was implicitly asserting that every high national official should be able to order any international crime without needing to worry about being prosecuted by any nation for having assisted or perpetrated the crime, the violation of that nation’s laws.
CONCLUSION
So, Obama’s anti-Assad, pro-jihadist, policies are thoroughly in the tradition of post-World-War-II U.S. foreign policies. (For the historically first example of this: the Democratic Party’s chief foreign-policy advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, proudly co-initiated along with Prince Bandar, the strategy of creating and using jihadists to weaken first the Soviet Union and then Russia, and he explicitly asserts that jihadism is a small price for the U.S. to pay in order to defeat Russia.) The crucial decision on the part of the U.S. Government to continue the Cold War even after it had terminated on the Russian side and communism no longer posed a threat to U.S. national security, was made by U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush, on 24 February 1990, and has remained in force right up to the present day, with (as Bush promulgated there) the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s very borders — as if, after 1990, Russia had built a military alliance against America, which included Mexico and Canada on America’s borders. America’s stripping-away, one-by-one, of (by now) virtually all of the formerly Russia-allied nations and bringing them into America’s anti-Russia military club, NATO, is in preparation, presumably, for a U.S.-and-allied invasion of Russia, if and when the U.S. regime decides that the time has become ripe to force the issue and conquer Russia. 
Michael Flynn is one of two U.S. generals whom Obama fired whom the next U.S. President, Donald Trump, has selected for top national-security positions in his Administration, the other of whom is James Mattis, President-Elect Donald Trump’s choice to become Secretary of ‘Defense’. Both Generals were itching to invade Iran, and seem not to have understood that all jihadism is Sunni — not Shia — and that the most dangerous country (other than America itself) is America’s ‘ally’, the center of Sunni Islam: Saudi Arabia, whose owners (the Saudi royal family) hate Iran even more than those Generals do. Both of those Generals side with the Sauds, such as Prince Bandar, who even donated personally over a million dollars of his own fortune to Al Qaeda prior to 9/11. And even Hillary Clinton stated that the Sauds, and also their friends the Thanis who own Qatar — also ‘U.S. allies’ — are the chief financial backers of ISIS. Yet Trump, who promised to «drain the swamp,» is choosing those generals for the top national-security positions. So, perhaps the swamp will be made even deeper. Only time will tell

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