World View: Latest Syria ‘Peace Process’ Collapses, as Chemical Weapons Kill Hezbollah Militias

Assad and Putin Mikhail KlimentyevAP
Mikhail Klimentyev/AP

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Massive earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador are linked by the Ring of Fire
  • Syria chemical weapons accidentally kill Hezbollah militias
  • Latest Syrian ‘peace process’ appears near collapse
  • Saudi Arabia ends oil summit negotiations as Iran fails to show up

Massive earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador are linked by the Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire (US Geological Survey)
The Ring of Fire (US Geological Survey)

Japan and Ecuador are oceans apart – in fact, they are separated by the entire Pacific Ocean. But in the last week, they have something in common: massive earthquakes.

On Saturday, a magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck southern Japan, after another earthquake struck the same region on Thursday night. Three people were killed and hundreds were injured.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake, six times as powerful as the Japan earthquake, struck Ecuador on Saturday, killing hundreds of people and injuring thousands.

What these earthquakes have in common is that they are all on the “Ring of Fire,” a long chain of volcanoes and other tectonically active structures that surround the Pacific Ocean. The chain runs up along the western coast of South and North America, crosses over the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, runs down the eastern coast of Asia past New Zealand and into the northern coast of Antarctica.

There are more than 450 active and dormant volcanoes located within the Ring of Fire. Approximately 90% of the most powerful volcanic eruptions and about 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes have occurred along the Ring of Fire. Earthsky Communications and BBC and Reuters and Earthsky Communications

Syria chemical weapons accidentally kill Hezbollah militias

According to a diplomatic source quoted in Kuwaiti media, dozens of fighters in Hezbollah militias were killed last week when the Syrian air force warplanes, under the command of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, bombed the Hezbollah fighters with chemical weapons. According to the report, those Hezbollah fighters who survived had chemical burn marks on their bodies. The report does not specify what chemical weapons were used. The regime war planes undoubtedly had intended to target women and children in Sunni neighborhoods, but accidentally targeted the Hezbollah militias.

According to the diplomatic source:

It is not the first time that coordination problems have arisen between the military police and the Russian military, Hezbollah and Iran. Incidents like this have happened repeatedly since the Russian forces entered into the conflict.

What happened in Aleppo demonstrates an impending problem in regards to cooperation on the ground and the incident again brings up the issue of attacks on innocent people with unconventional weapons.

The lack of coordination between the supporting forces and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces is troubling to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was not updated about the incident.

President Obama had once said that a “red line” would be Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons. After al-Assad used Sarin gas and Obama flip-flopped, there was a face-saving measure to get an agreement to remove all of al-Assad’s chemical weapons from Syria. Nobody seriously believed that al-Assad would not find a way to retain a secret stockpile of chemical weapons, and that clearly happened. Al-Assad’s air force has regularly used barrel bombs indiscriminately dropped on Sunni neighborhoods. The barrel bombs contain explosives, metals and chemical weapons, and are designed to inflict as much pain on civilian neighborhoods as possible. This new report confirms that al-Assad is using chemical weapons freely, every day, and with complete impunity, fully supported by Russia and Iran.

Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly humiliated and made a fool of President Obama, but I suppose that one could enjoy a little Schadenfreude now that al-Assad’s chemical weapons have now been used on his own allies. Jerusalem Post and Jewish Press

Latest Syrian ‘peace process’ appears near collapse

Members of the “moderate” Syrian opposition to the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that since the Syrian army was not honoring what is supposed to be a cease-fire, then rebel groups should not do so either, and they urged rebels to strike back against the Syrian army. The so-called “cease-fire” was never more than a ruse by the regime and the Russians as a cover to continue fighting and gaining ground, and now even the pretense of a cease-fire is apparently at an end.

I’ve been writing about various peace plans and peace talks ever since the conflict began in 2011. The following is what I wrote on March 12, 2012:

It’s becoming increasingly apparent to everybody that Bashar al-Assad has made fools of the Arab League, the U.N. and the west in general, by succeeding in killing, mutilating and exterminating thousands of his own innocent Arab civilians under the everybody’s noses, and they couldn’t do a damn thing about it. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, runs around like a chicken with his head cut off, saying, “This has got to stop! This has got to stop.” He’s been parroting those words for a year. And Kofi Annan, the virulently anti-American former Secretary-General of the United Nations from Ghana, sounds like an idiot when he travels to Damascus and tells everyone in the West to leave poor Bashar alone, or he’ll make things worse for everyone. The U.N. sent their emergency aid chief, Valerie Amos, to Syria to check out Homs, which has been the subject of a full scale army attack on residential neighborhoods for the last few weeks. Al-Assad’s troops cleaned up the dead bodies and debris from the portion of Homs that they wanted her to see, and she said how “concerned” she is about what happened to the people. Activists ridiculed her visit and one said, “To tell the truth, we know that Valerie Amos is useless. We have had one year of killing, shooting and bombing and nobody has moved a finger.”

Annan formulated a farcical six-point ‘peace plan’ which said absolutely nothing, but which al-Assad used as a cover to continue exterminating innocent Sunni women and children with impunity. After Kofi Annan was repeatedly humiliated by Bashar al-Assad, the UN appointed a new Syria peace envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, to replace Kofi Annan. Brahimi was not as much of an idiot as Annan was, but he still resigned in disgust in May 2014, after it became clear that al-Assad really had no desire to do anything but exterminate Sunni civilians. After that, Secretary of State John Kerry stumbled around the Mideast, making one idiotic SNL-worthy speech after another.

This year, after the Russians intervened militarily, there have been several new attempts at peace plans. But as I’ve written several times, these peace plans made absolutely no sense whatsoever for obvious reasons: Russia and Syria will continue bombing what they claim are terrorist groups, which are pretty much all Sunnis in Syria, and the plan would not apply to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front). In fact, the peace plans have actually worsened the hostilities, since they provided cover for substantially increased bombing and fighting from all groups.

There is a very good reason why one peace plan after another fails. And that is because Bashar al-Assad is a psychopathic genocidal monster whose objective is to exterminate all Sunni Muslims as if they were cockroaches. These are almost his own words. He has repeatedly said he will never step down, and that he will continue to exterminate all “terrorists,” by which he means all Sunnis. ( “12-Feb-16 World View — US and Russia agree to a farcical ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Syria”)

The conflict in Syria is one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of recent times. According to a recent report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, an independent think tank, about 4,700,000 Syrians have lost their lives due to the war, directly and indirectly, so far. Around 45 per cent of the country’s population of 23 million have been displaced, 6.4 million internally and more than 5 million abroad. In all, 11.5 per cent of Syria’s population has been killed or injured since the crisis erupted in March 2011.

None of this really mattered to the West, as long as the refugees were pouring into neighboring states: Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey. But now there is a lot of desperation in Europe because of the Syria war, mainly because over a million of those refugees have flooded into Europe. That is why Western governments grasp at almost any hope, no matter how tenuous, that the Syrian war can be resolved with “peace talks” in Geneva. But as long as Bashar al-Assad is in power and able to exterminate Sunni civilians with impunity, then there will never be a solution. Reuters and Indian Express and Huffington Post

Saudi Arabia ends oil summit negotiations as Iran fails to show up

An oil summit in Doha by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was supposed to come to an agreement to limit production of oil, in order to force oil prices to increase. Iran has repeatedly said that it would not limit its own production, as it has only recently had sanctions lifted. The sanctions restricted Iran’s oil production.

Oil prices (futures) plunged 5-6% immediately on early trading in Asia on Monday morning, news, from around $40 per barrel to around $38 a barrel.

Oil prices last year fell below $30 per barrel, for two main reasons: reduction in demand from China, and the shale oil production boom in the United States. The fall in prices has caused many shale oil rigs to shut down, and oil prices have been rising for the last nine months. Even so, the world is still producing about 1.25 million barrels of oil per day more than required, and so oil prices may fall sharply again in the next few weeks. Market Watch and Reuters and Bloomberg

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Japan, Ecuador, Ring of Fire, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, chemical weapons, Hezbollah, Russia, Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran
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