, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As discussed in yesterday’s post, Russia government owned oil companies could benefit from increased conflict in the Middle East, or even the potential thereof, as do non-Russian oil companies: “Oil rises after Trump promises quick decision on Syria action“: “Oil prices climbed in early Tuesday trading, fuelled by President Trump’s remarks on Monday about the possibility of a US attack on Syria….” https://www.ft.com/content/c3f87c10-3c8b-11e8-b7e0-52972418fec4 Anyone with inside knowledge could make money on the price changes.

On Monday when asked “Does Putin bear responsibility for this?, Trump says “He may.  Yeah, he may…

On Sunday morning, Trump had tweeted thatMany dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…“. See more: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/trump-torn-between-netanyahu-and-putin-in-syria-when-rats-are-cornered-they-jump

To the extent that Putin is propping up Assad, then IF Assad did chemical attacks, then Putin does indeed share responsibility. Furthermore, even Assad’s father was in the Soviet orbit. Putin didn’t take advantage of being in East Germany as a KGB agent to flee or become a double agent, so either he liked the Soviet system or he was too fearful to leave. However, maybe Trump’s older friend Netanyahu did the chemical attacks either as a diversion or to keep the US in Syria. Netanyahu is being investigated for corruption, as is Trump.

Remarks by President Trump at Cabinet Meeting
Issued on: April 9, 2018
Cabinet Room
11:39 A.M. EDT
“…. So if it’s Russia, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out and we’ll know the answers quite soon.  So we’re looking at that very, very strongly and very seriously….

Q    Mr. President, do you still want to get out of Syria?  Do you still want to get out of Syria, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to make a decision on all of that, in particular Syria.  We’ll be making that decision very quickly, probably by the end of today.  But we cannot allow atrocities like that.  Cannot allow it.

Q    Does Putin bear responsibility for this?

THE PRESIDENT:  He may.  Yeah, he may.  And if he does, it’s going to be very tough.  Very tough.

Q    He’ll pay a price if —

THE PRESIDENT:  Everybody is going to pay a price.  He will.  Everybody will.

Q    Mr. President, is U.S. military action off the table?

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me?

Q    U.S. military action, is it off the table as it relates to Syria?
THE PRESIDENT:  Nothing is off the table.  Nothing is off the table.

Q    Is there some doubt as to who was responsible for this, sir?
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, they’re saying they’re not.  But to me, there’s not much of a doubt, but the generals will figure it out probably over the next 24 hours.
Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Thank you….

11:48 A.M. EDT

Will Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ father be mad at her for blaming Russia? Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ father, Mike Huckabee, seems more pro-Putin’s Russia than Trump. WCF may be why. Rather ironic as they are against women being educated and having careers or using birth control: https://web.archive.org/web/20180410052056/https://www.profam.org/world-congress-of-families-leadership-memo

What was Mike Huckabee doing in Russia last July? No one else seems to wonder why he was there.

Monday Press Briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:47 P.M. EDT
SANDERS:  Good afternoon.  As you all saw, the President led a Cabinet meeting this morning, with the opioid crisis being a major part of the agenda….

As the President noted yesterday, and again today during the Cabinet meeting, the chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime against innocent civilians is horrifying.  The images, especially of suffering children, have shocked the conscience of the entire civilized world.

Sadly, these actions are consistent with Assad’s established pattern of chemical weapons use.  His forces are already responsible for previous chemical weapons attacks and other actions targeting civilians.

The President has noted that Russia and Iran also bear responsibility for these acts, since they would not be possible without their material support.  It is also now clear that Russia has betrayed its obligations to guarantee the end of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program.

The President and his national security team are consulting closely with allies and partners to determine the appropriate response.  As President Trump clearly stated, there will be a price to pay.

We call on all members of the international community to share any information related to this attack and to hold the perpetrators and their sponsors accountable.

And we call upon the Syrian regime and Russia to open the area to international medical assistance and international monitoring.

And with that, I’ll take your questions.

Q    The President was pretty definitive today in saying that this was an attack with banned chemical weapons.  Yet, there hasn’t been any concrete proof of that.  Russia insists that there is no evidence of chemical weapons.  What makes the President so sure that he is willing to make such a declarative statement?
SANDERS:  The President is confident.  He’s been briefed by his national security team and being kept up to date constantly and regularly on the intelligence around that.  And I can’t get any further beyond that at this point.
Q    Do we have any proof at this point that it was, in fact, a chemical weapons attack?
SANDERS:  Once again, I can’t get anything beyond the comments that we’ve already made, but we’re very confident in those comments.
Q    Sarah, just a couple weeks ago, the President was talking about wanting to leave Syria very quickly.  Now you’re saying that there is a price that has to be paid.  Does the President believe that there are some things that are so atrocious — which is the phrase he used this morning — that the United States is, in fact, the world’s policeman and it demands response and demands the presence of the United States government in the region?
SANDERS:  Look, the President wants to bring our troops home after we complete the mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria.  At the same time, he wants to make sure Assad is deterred from chemical weapons attacks on innocent civilians.  Signaling we want to remove our troops in no way degrades our ability to hold parties responsible.

Q    Thanks, Sarah.  First, the news out of Syria this morning about apparent strikes carried out overnight.  Does the United States believe that Israel was behind those strikes, as a number of reports claimed?  And was the United States given a heads up by the Israeli government?
SANDERS:  I can only speak on behalf of this government.  For questions on that, I would refer you outside.
I can tell you, at this time, the United States is not conducting airstrikes in Syria, but I can’t go beyond that at this point in time.
Q    So from the White House perspective, did the White House get a heads up from any foreign government about conducting strikes in Syria?
SANDERS:  Again, I can’t go any further than commenting on behalf of our government.  And I can tell you that, currently, at this time, the United States is not conducting airstrikes in Syria.
Q    And back on the deterrence for a second.  For a moment, you said the President wants to ensure that there’s — the Assad regime can’t conduct attacks like this in the future.  Last year, when the President launched those cruise missiles, he had said that there was a deterrent, obviously.
What has changed between, sort of, months ago, when the Assad regime wasn’t using chemical weapons, and then this strike now?  It seemed to be — the timing coming so soon after the President making that determination on wanting to pull U.S. troops out of Syria that there was — you can see why we’re drawing the timing there.  So why, in the President’s estimation, did his deterrence — did his attempt to establish a deterrent effect on the Assad regime now failing?
SANDERS:  Once again, the President has made clear that, with the defeat of ISIS, he wanted to be able to bring our troops home.  But at the same time, he wants to make sure that Assad is deterred from chemical weapons attacks on innocent civilians, and we think you can have separation.

Q    Has the President’s attitude toward Vladimir Putin changed because of what’s happened?
SANDERS:  The President has always been tough on Russia, as he said last week, as I echoed again when asked about it.  This administration and this President have been tougher on Russia than previous administrations.  I think you can see that both through the actions that we’ve taken and in the comments over the last several days.
Q    But he singled out Vladimir Putin in the tweet yesterday.  Does he feel that he can still, sort of, find some common ground and work with him on various things?
SANDERS:  The President still feels that if we can have a good relationship with Russia at some point, that that’s a good thing for the world.  But at the same time, this President is going to be tough on Russia until we see some changes in their behavior just as we’ve done every day over the last year and as we’ve outline multiple times before, both from the President and as I’ve done from this podium on many occasions.

Jon Decker.
Q    Thanks a lot, Sarah.  Today is the first day on the job for John Bolton as the National Security Advisor.  Perhaps you can bring him out here one time and he can take our questions.
Q    Here, here.
SANDERS:  I’ll be happy to tag him in at some point.
Q    Please do.  (Laughter.) I wanted to ask you about some comments that he made about Syria back in 2013 on “Fox and Friends.”  He said, “I think if I were a member of Congress, I would vote against an authorization to use force [in Syria].”  He continued, “I don’t think it is in America’s interest.  I don’t think we should, in effect, take sides in the Syrian conflict.”  Is that a point of view that Ambassador Bolton is bringing to the table now as National Security Advisor?
SANDERS:  The point of view that matters most here at the White House, as you well know, is the President’s.  And as Ambassador Bolton himself has said, he is certainly here to serve as an advisor, but ultimately the decisions being made are the President’s.  And the comments that he’s made previously are personal and he’s here to carry out the President’s agenda.

Q    Sarah, two questions on Syria.  With all that’s happened with Russia, with the sanctions last week and now these strong words associating Russia with the Syrian attack, is there an expectation or feeling that relations — diplomatic relations with Russia — with this administration, with our country with Russia — are eroding?
SANDERS:  We’ve been very tough on Russia for quite some time.  I think the only people maybe that didn’t understand that or see that were members of the press who continually questioned that.  Now, I guess, people are concerned that we’re being tough on Russia.  I guess I’m confused on which way you want to have it.  The President would like to have a good relationship, but that’s going to be determined by the actions that Russia takes, and we’re going to continue pushing forward.
Q    And second question.  The items on the table, beyond strikes, is there a thought or on-the-table regime change with Assad?  And also, where does diplomacy play in this, even with the strikes and all of this that you’re saying is on the table?
SANDERS:  I’m not going to get ahead of any potential options that the President may or may not take, but I can tell you that we’re reviewing a wide range and a number of different options.

Q    Thanks, Sarah.  I’ve got two for you.  First, on Syria.  You talked about the idea of a possible military option being a deterrent.  Last year, we heard something very similar from the President, who called that chemical attack last year an “affront to humanity.”  He said it “cannot be tolerated.”  Is the White House worried that Assad is now making a mockery of President Trump’s threats?
SANDERS:  Not at all.  What our concern is about is the fact that the Assad regime has taken an outrageous action against innocent civilians.  Our focus is on responding to that, and that’s what we’re looking at.

I’ll take one last question.  Jim.
Q    Is there anything that the Syrians can do at this point to prevent military action from being taken?
SANDERS:  I’m not going to get ahead of what actions we may or may not take, so I can’t really answer that question, but we’ll keep you posted when we have something on that front.
Q    And if I could follow up, just because, you know, you’ve been saying this over the last couple of weeks, that nobody has been tougher on Russia and Vladimir Putin than this President.  Isn’t there some hyperbole in that, when you say that?  I mean, obviously, Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall”; John Kennedy put up a blockade around Cuba; Carter boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.  Obviously, there have been Presidents over the course of the last several decades who have been tougher on this President.  Also given the fact that this President, up until just recently wasn’t really willing to criticize Vladimir Putin by name.  We all saw that over the weekend, and took that as a new development.
SANDERS:  Yeah, you cite, like, one example for each of those individuals.  Let me list off just a few of the actions that the President has taken that previous administrations haven’t:
The Treasury Department issued new sanctions on numerous individuals and entities in Russia.  The President has continued other sanctions on Russia’s malicious cyber activity in response to election hacking.  He has expelled 60 Russian operatives from the United States and closed two consulates.  The President has issued four statements condemning Russia’s poisoning of UK citizens on UK soil.  He’s authorized the sale of lethal aid to Ukraine.  He’s authorized military strikes against the Assad regime in Syria, and has repeatedly called out Russia’s actions on that front.  We’ve also exported energy to our allies in Eastern Europe.
Look, I think that you named off one or two things.  It is without dispute that this administration and this President has done a number of things to be tough on Russia, and —
Q    So if the President says that Vladimir Putin may pay a price for what’s happening in Syria right now — after all, the Russians were supposed to be responsible for helping the Syrians remove the chemical weapons from Syria.  When the President says that they may “pay a price,” we should take that to the bank?
SANDERS:  I’m not going to get ahead, once again, of any actions that the United States may or may not take, but I think the President has been clear about what his intention is.
Thanks so much, guys.  Have a great day.
3:06 P.M. EDT


Under current Syrian leader Assad’s father, Syria “sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War in turn for support against Israel, and, while he [Assad] had forsaken the pan-Arab concept of unifying the Arab world into one Arab nation, he sought to make Syria the defender of Arab interests against Israel.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hafez_al-Assad