“Sykes-Picot On Acid”: US Considering Syria Partition Plan Amidst Troop Exit

The White House-appointed Syria and anti-ISIL coalition envoy James Jeffrey has asked Syrian Kurdish leaders backed by the United States to hold off on making any deals with President Bashar al-Assad’s government while the Trump administration tries to develop its strategy. As we predicted the longer it takes to withdraw troops, the more time the blob of Washington hawks has to put obstacles in the way of a true and full US pullout.

Meanwhile according to The Wall Street Journal Turkey is putting pressure on the US to provide “substantial military support, including airstrikes, transport and logistics” in support of Turkey’s supposed ISIS fight in Syria. So a mere little over two weeks following Trump’s announced Syria draw down, it appears we could be right back to a square one quagmire.

Kurdish YPG forces speak with US troops in Darbasiya, Syria, via Reuters

Or perhaps the US deep state will send things further into a “forever war” indefinite quagmire, the polar opposite of Trump’s stated desire to “bring our youth back home where they belong!”  as the president declared following the initial troop pullout announcement, per the below alarming commentary from the WSJ:

The Turkish requests are so extensive that, if fully met, the American military might be deepening its involvement in Syria instead of reducing it, the officials added. That would frustrate President Trump’s goal of transferring the mission of finishing off Islamic State to Turkey in the hope of forging an exit strategy for the U.S. military to leave Syria.

But to “frustrate President Trump’s goal” is precisely the point among the many Iran hawks, Syrian regime change promoters, neocons and liberal interventionists alike filling the ranks of the State Department and influential DC think tanks.

This comes just as a senior State Department official reiterated to the WSJ:

“We have no timeline for our military forces to withdraw from Syria.”

So the two key messages now coming out of the administration are “no timeline” and “no vacuum” which can be generally summarized as given any US pullout of northeast Syria, the US doesn’t want pro-Turkish forces to slaughter the Kurds, but neither does the US want the Kurds to strike a deal with Assad to handover territory to Damascus

However, it’s likely too late, as the Kurds have already begun inviting Syrian forces into previously autonomous SDF/Kurdish zones

According to the WSJ, the administration’s Syria envoy has a plan that seeks to mitigate the risks of either a Kurdish slaughter or an Assad takeover. The plan is visualized in a classified, undisclosed map that proposes something officials have described as “Sykes-Picot on acid”:

Mr. Jeffrey and his State Department team have created a color-coded map of northeastern Syria in an attempt to negotiate a power-sharing plan that could avert a costly Turkish-Kurdish fight in the area.

However, keeping their forces apart should Mr. Erdogan’s troops enter Syria could prove difficult. One former U.S. official described the map as “Sykes-Picot on acid,” a reference to the secret post-World War I deal between France and England that carved the Middle East into colonial spheres of influence.

Talks will be held between US and Turkish defense officials next week in Ankara, meanwhile the US envoy “has asked Gen. Mazloum Abdi, the Kurdish commander of Syrian fighters, to hold off on making any deals with President Bashar al-Assad’s government” while the US considers its next move. 

But it remains that we’ve gone from Trump’s “full” and “immediate” troop pullout announced two weeks ago to current proposals of “Sykes-Picot on acid”. 

A Visual History Of The 20 Internet Giants That Ruled The Web From 1998 To 2018

Submitted by Visual Capitalist

With each passing year, an increasingly large segment of the population no longer remembers images loading a single pixel row at a time, the earsplitting sound of a 56k modem, or the domination of web portals.

Many of the top websites in 1998 were basically news aggregators or search portals, which are easy concepts to understand. Today, brand touch-points are often spread out between devices (e.g. mobile apps vs. desktop site) and a myriad of services and sub-brands (e.g. Facebook’s constellation of apps). As a result, the world’s biggest websites are complex, interconnected web properties.

Today’s visualization, inspired by an earlier work published by WaPo, looks at which of the internet giants have evolved to stay on top, and which have faded into internet lore.

America Moves Online

For millions of curious people the late ’90s, the iconic AOL compact disc was the key that opened the door to the World Wide Web. At its peak, an estimated 35 million people accessed the internet using AOL.

By 1999, the AOL rode the Dot-com bubble to dizzying heights, with a valuation of $222 billion dollars.

AOL’s brand may not carry the caché it once did, but the brand never completely faded into obscurity. The company continually evolved, finally merging with Yahoo after Verizon acquired both of the legendary online brands. Verizon has high hopes for the company – called Oath – to evolve into a “third option” for advertisers and users who are fed up with Google and Facebook.

A City of Gifs and Web Logs

As internet usage began to reach critical mass, web hosts such as AngelFire and GeoCities made it easy for people to create a new home on the Web.

GeoCities, in particular, made a huge impact on the early internet, hosting millions of websites and giving people a way to actually participate in creating online content. If the web host was a physical place, it would’ve been the third largest city in America, just after Los Angeles.

This early online community was at risk of being erased permanently when GeoCities was finally shuttered by Yahoo in 2009, but the nonprofit Internet Archive took special efforts to create a thorough record of GeoCities-hosted pages.

From A to Z

In December of 1998, long before Amazon became the well-oiled retail machine we know today, the company was in the midst of a massive holiday season crunch.

In the real world, employees were pulling long hours and even sleeping in cars to keep the goods flowing, while online, Amazon.com had become one of the biggest sites on the internet as people began to get comfortable with the idea of purchasing goods online. Demand surged as the company began to expand their offering beyond books.

Digital Magazine Rack

Meredith – with the possible exception of Oath – may be the most unrecognizable name to many people looking at today’s top 20 list. While Meredith may not be a household name, the company controls many of the country’s most popular magazine brands (People, Sports Illustrated, Health, etc.) including their sizable digital footprints. The company also has a slew of local television networks around the United States.

After its acquisition of Time Inc. in 2017, Meredith became the largest magazine publisher in the world.

“Hey, Google”

When people have burning questions, they increasingly turn to the internet for answers, but the diversity of sources for those answers is shrinking.

Even as recently as 2013, we can see that About.com, Ask.com, and Answers.com were still among the biggest websites in America. Today though, Google appears to have cemented its status as a universal wellspring of answers.

As smart speakers and voice assistants continue penetrate the market and influence search behavior, Google is unlikely to face any near-term competition from any company not already in the top 20 list.

New Kids on the Block

Social media has long since outgrown its fad stage and is now a common digital thread connecting people across the world. While Facebook rapidly jumped into the top 20 by 2007, other social media infused brands took longer to grow into internet giants.

In 2018, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook’s umbrella of platforms were are all in the top 20, with LinkedIn and Pinterest not far behind.

“The Criminals Who Run The Deep State Will Be Exposed”: Kim Dotcom Teases “Next Round Of Leaks”

Hacker and serial entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is out with a new prediction for 2019: 

Get ready for the next round of leaks.” 

Dotcom then tweeted “This year the criminals who run the Deep State will be exposed,” adding “The shareholders profiting from war and chaos. The billionaires who turn democracy into an illusion. They own politicians, judges and all your data. They are the biggest pirates in history. Want to know who they are?

For those paying attention, Dotcom dropped massive breadcrumbs going all the way back to 2015 regarding the WikiLeaks release of Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 US election.

And while he’s has made headlines for years, in February Dotcom boldly stated that the DNC “hack” which kicked off the Russian election interference narrative was bogus, tweeting: “Let me assure you, the DNC hack wasn’t even a hack. It was an insider with a memory stick. I know this because I know who did it and why.” 

Dotcom says he offered to produce evidence to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, twice, and they never even replied to him. 

Apparently Mueller is only interested in the chosen narrative, regardless of whether or not the glove fits.