(TMU Op-Ed) — It’s easy to take the Trump administration at face value and conclude that at the very least Donald Trump is an inept moron. It is also incredibly easy to draw particular conclusions that have run rampant in the mainstream media. One such accusation against Trump is that he was appointed as president by Russian president Vladimir Putin and regularly makes decisions, particularly in the foreign policy scheme of things, which are solely in Putin’s interests.
For example, CNN recently published an article entitled “President Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds is a gift to Putin and Assad.” This echoes the types of headlines we have seen for some time now, such as in December last year when the Washington Post ran a piece called “Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria marks a win for Putin.”
Bear with me—and I know it sounds crazy—but what if the opposite were true? What if—despite the headlines and the obvious inferences —Trump’s Syria pullout is not a win for Putin, and especially not for Assad?
Yes, the Kurds recently announced that Syrian government forces had agreed on Sunday to help them push back against Turkey’s advancement into Syrian territory. It is true that such a scenario would have been almost impossible had the US president not ordered the withdrawal of US troops from the northern border area. As the Kurdish commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) wrote in Foreign Policy, the Kurds essentially had to choose between life and “genocide.”
In this context, if the developments continue to pan out the way the media is reporting, then Assad and Putin would surely have made enormous gains.
But why is this in and of itself a win for Syria or Russia? As most mainstream media reports admit, this shift in alliances “could lead to clashes between Turkey and Syria and raises the specter of a resurgent Islamic State group.” Turkey’s advancement already contains an army of Islamist rebels whose sole aim is to unseat the Assad government.
In other words, Syria – a state heavily backed by Russia – could end up going to war with Turkey. If I remember correctly, Russia, Iran and Turkey were essentially on the verge of brokering some sort of peace deal in respect of Syria not too long ago. Why would it be in Russia’s interests to not only see that peace agreement fall flat on its face, but for Russia to potentially square off against Turkey in the process?
As even the Guardian explained:
“It might be thought the Russians would be happy. After all, pushing the US out of Syria (and the wider Middle East) is their long-held aim. Yet Moscow’s reaction to the invasion has been largely negative, as was the case after Turkey intervened in Syria’s Idlib province last year.
When Vladimir Putin sent forces to Syria in 2015, he put his money on Assad to win, but victory has proved elusive, while costs – political and financial – have mounted. Erdoğan’s move further complicates matters by obstructing the peace settlement Russia, Iran (and Turkey) have been pursuing via the so-called Astana process.”
Of course, it is highly unlikely a large scale war would break out between Moscow and Ankara any time soon. Yet, I can remember a time, not too long ago, where Turkey shot down a Russian military jet on the border with Syria. The rest of the world may have forgotten this fact and how it plays into the wider Syria narrative, which sees Turkey aggressively defending Islamic extremists in Syria against the Syrian government, and only ever really involving itself to bomb Kurdish positions.
Syria, or at least part of it, is once again in a state of chaos. An overall end to the conflict, which could see Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria work together to reach a compromise, is in jeopardy. Not to mention that in the disarray, imprisoned ISIS members are reportedly escaping and staging a comeback.
Most importantly, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has essentially become an even larger pariah than Assad or Putin overnight. So who stands to gain the most?
Perhaps the US president isn’t such a moron after all, if sowing chaos and preventing Syria from ever reaching a lasting peace is the overall aim.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.