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American Resistance To Empire

Shell to Drill in Black Sea

Shell to Drill in Black Sea

maritime executive

Shell Stock Photo

By MarEx

One day after shutting down exploration in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, Bulgaria wants Shell to conduct deepwater oil and gas exploration off the Black Sea.

Bulgaria would like to reduce its reliance on Russian oil imports and expects to sign a contract with the multinational oil and gas company by the end of October.

Shell big on a five-year exploration permit at Silistar and will invest about $21 million into the project and will pay an additional $5.5 million bonus to Bulgaria. The Silistar Block is about 6,893 square kilometers and is expected to produce up to 84 billion cubic meters of gas. Drilling is expected to begin February 2016.

Putin’s Syrian Move Disrupts Erdogan’s Plans, Despite Turkish Stream

What Does Russia’s Power Move in Syria Mean for Turkey?

USNEWS

al monitor

Will Turkey’s rules of engagement against Syrian planes now apply to Russian planes flying near the Turkish border?

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attend an opening ceremony for the newly restored Moscow Cathedral Mosque on Sept. 23, 2015 in Moscow, Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attend a ceremony in Moscow on Sept. 23.

By: Kadri Gursel, Columnist for Al-Monitor

Turkey’s July decision to finally open its air bases near Syria and Iraq, including Incirlik, to the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State was a game changer for the region. It meant the coalition’s air raids against IS would become more effective and less costly.

Only days after the first detachment of six American F-16s was deployed to Incirlik in early August, the media reported the deployment of six Russian MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor fighter jets to the Mezze air base near Damascus. Russia’s military presence in Syria continued to grow thereafter, with the number of Russian warplanes said to have reached 28, including long-range Su-27 Flanker interceptor fighter jets.

The Russian military buildup, backed with air-to-ground assault aircraft, attack helicopters, drones, air defense systems, ground assets and a large number of military personnel, is said to have two aims: fighting IS and preventing the collapse of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. In this sense, the impact of the Russian intervention is much stronger. By dramatically boosting its force and weight in the Syrian equation, Russia has turned upside down the game plans of others, chief among them Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Using some imagination, one could foresee the adverse impacts Russia’s move will have on Ankara’s policies on the ground. Ankara is now likely to be forced to end the de facto situation — virtually a no-fly zone — it has enforced casually in border areas since 2012. In June 2012, after a Turkish reconnaissance plane was shot down by an air defense system in Syria, Ankara announced new rules of engagement, including the interception of Syrian aircraft flying close to Turkish airspace. There has been no indication so far that these rules of engagement have changed. Since the summer of 2012, Turkish media have occasionally reported incidents of Turkish fighter jets taking off from their bases to chase off Syrian planes and helicopters flying “too close” to the border.

Ankara-backed Islamist groups fighting Assad’s regime have emerged as the main beneficiary of these rules of engagement, which have effectively served as a Turkish air cover for their military and logistical operations in border regions.

Now, the following question arises: Will Ankara stick to its rules of engagement if airplanes approaching the border have the Russian star on their wings? My guess is that the rules of engagement will not be enforced against Russian aircraft, thus ending the de facto air cover for the rebels.

Similarly, Ankara’s intention to create a safe zone along the border stretch from Jarablus to Azaz inside Syria has become completely meaningless since the Russian intervention. Preventing Syrian aircraft from flying over the designated area is the first prerequisite for such a zone, which naturally requires the use of an air force. Thus, Russia’s deployment of interceptor fighter jets in Syria can be explained only with one objective: to deter Ankara as an initial step. Another explanation is hardly possible, given that jihadi groups such as IS, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham do not have an air force.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s problem stems from his priorities, which are different from those of the coalition. Turkey may have opened its air bases to make coalition airstrikes on IS more efficient and less costly, but this doesn’t mean that fighting IS has become a top priority for Erdogan and his prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. IS is not and has never been a priority for the pair — this we have known for ages. Erdogan, for instance, waited until Sept. 25, 2014, to finally brand IS a terrorist group.

For the Erdogan-Davutoglu pair, the use of Turkish air bases against IS had been preconditioned on the simultaneous pursuit of a regime change in Syria, which, in turn, entailed the creation and enforcement of the safe zone they had advocated since 2012. So, what happened that they finally acquiesced to the air base deal in July after months of stubborn foot-dragging?
The decision was driven by three reasons, none of which places the IS threat in the foreground.

First, forces of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), advancing under coalition air cover, captured the border town of Tell Abyad from IS in June. The Erdogan-Davutoglu duo was alarmed that the more it deferred cooperation with the anti-IS coalition the more ground slid from under its feet, while the PYD, the sister organization of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), grew stronger by the day, allied with the coalition.

Turkey is opposed to the idea of the PYD advancing from Kobani to the western bank of the Euphrates to help oust IS from Jarablus. This has been another factor in Ankara’s decision to open the bases. Yet, only time will tell whether Ankara can keep the PYD in Kobani, given that the United States aims to cut all ground links between IS and Turkey, something that the Turkish government forces have failed to deliver.

Second, the supply route from the Turkish border town of Kilis to Aleppo — a vital element in sustaining Ankara’s regime-change policy — came under IS threat in June. The area stretching from the Bab al-Salam border crossing down to Aleppo is controlled by rebel groups officially backed by Ankara. The AKP government needs to preserve this access to Aleppo, without which its ambitions in Syria become completely irrelevant. Thus, allowing the coalition to use Turkish air bases became imperative in light of stopping the IS advance on the eastern side of the route.

Third, the PYD — which has the PKK as its main supplier and supporter — emerged as the United States’ only reliable ally fighting IS in Syria. Driven by domestic political considerations, Ankara resumed its war on the PKK, weakening the sole US ally on the ground. Keeping the bases closed to coalition aircraft in these circumstances would have been a very unwise idea. In other words, the bases were granted as a sort of “hush money” to the US-led coalition. Washington says it has not sanctioned Ankara’s onslaught on the PKK, denying any explicit or implicit “bases-for-PKK” deal. Yet, Ankara’s logic in this equation functions independently from the categorical US attitude.

The United States is quite content with Ankara’s decision to open the bases. Turkey is said to have engaged in more serious cooperation against IS since the spring. Also, US support for the PYD is said to be limited to the fight against IS, not involving the supply of weapons and ammunition.

Stopping IS remains the No. 1 US priority. Had Turkey shared the coalition’s objective to degrade and defeat IS as a top priority, it would not have been affected that much by Russia stepping in against IS and on Damascus’ side. For the Erdogan-Davutoglu pair, IS represents a growing threat due to the reasons mentioned above, but is never a top priority.

Turkey’s No. 1 problem and priority today is the PKK, which it has been fighting since the two-year cease-fire came to an end in July. Yet, for the United States, the PKK’s Syrian extension, the PYD, is not part of the problem but part of the solution. Overthrowing Assad has ceased to be a US priority since IS emerged as a threat on a regional scale.

With Russia’s military moves balancing the gains that other jihadi groups made in Idlib in the north and Daraa in the south earlier this year, Ankara’s priority of toppling Assad has grown even more irrelevant. Ultimately, the Russian move means Ankara will have to settle for much less than it had hoped for by letting the anti-IS coalition use its air bases.

US Judge Rules Saudi Arabia Has Complete Immunity for Sept. 11, 2001

Saudi Arabia has sovereign immunity from 9/11 damage claims, judge rules

cbc news

Information from imprisoned Zacarias Moussaoui ruled irrelevant due to immunity

By Nate Raymond, Thomson Reuters

This undated file photo provided by the Sherburne County Sheriff Office shows Zacharias Moussaoui, who figured in the lawsuit by the families of 9/11 victims.

This undated file photo provided by the Sherburne County Sheriff Office shows Zacharias Moussaoui, who figured in the lawsuit by the families of 9/11 victims. (Sherburne County, Minn., Sheriff’s Office/AP)

A U.S. judge on Tuesday dismissed claims against Saudi Arabia by families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, who accused the country of providing material support to al Qaeda.

U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said Saudi Arabia had sovereign immunity from damage claims by families of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks, and from insurers that covered losses suffered by building owners and businesses.

“The allegations in the complaint alone do not provide this court with a basis to assert jurisdiction over defendants,” Daniels wrote.

The victims had sought to supplement their case with new allegations to avoid that result, including based on testimony they secured from Zacarias Moussaoui, a former al-Qaeda operative imprisoned for his role in the attacks.

Daniels said even if he allowed the plaintiffs to assert those new claims, doing so would be “futile, however, because the additional allegations do not strip defendants of sovereign immunity.”

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they would appeal. Sean Carter, one the lawyers, said he believed the ruling was also the consequence of the U.S. government’s decision to keep classified evidence that could be favourable to their cause.

“Obviously, we respectfully disagree with Judge Daniels’s ruling,” he said

A lawyer for Saudi Arabia declined comment.

The ruling came just over 14 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in which airliners hijacked by al Qaeda militants brought death and destruction upon the United States.

Most of the 19 attackers were Saudi nationals who hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers revolted.

The case against Saudi Arabia has had a complicated history, with trial judges including Daniels twice before ruling that Saudi Arabia was entitled to immunity under the federal Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

But in 2013, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York revived the lawsuit, in light of a 2011 decision that allowed similar claims to proceed against Afghanistan.

The case is In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 03-md-01570.

Brit Press Push “Depleted ISIS” Theme—Claiming Islamist Forces Cut In Half, Hundreds Quit Over Pay Cut

ISIS exodus: Hundreds of fighters leave brutal terror group after wages are slashed

“The killers were earning £260 a month from the brutal regime until money shortages forced ISIS to drop the rate to £65.

At least 200 fighters have quit the group and have flocked from northern Iraq in search of better pay from other extremists stationed in Syria.”

ISIS defeated? Islamic State WILL be overthrown and half its fighters have been killed

“The terrorist group has shrunk from an estimated 18,000 to 10,000 and has been forced to surrender 25 per cent of territory it has captured.”

Russian parliament unanimously approves use of troops in Syria

Russian parliament unanimously approves use of troops in Syria

Russia-Today

 

© Sergey Mamontov
The upper chamber of the Russian parliament has unanimously given a formal consent to President Putin to use the nation’s military in Syria to fight terrorism at a request from the Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Consent was necessary for deployment of troops for foreign combat missions under the Russian constitution.

The request for use of force was sent by the president after considering the large number of citizens of Russia and neighboring countries, who went to join terrorist groups fighting in Syria, head of the presidential administration Sergey Ivanov told media. There are thousands of them, and Russia’s national security would be under threat, should they return home, he added.

“This is not about reaching for some foreign policy goals, satisfying ambitions, which our Western partners regularly accuse us of. It’s only about the national interest of the Russian Federation,” the official said.

Ivanov stressed that no ground operations are planned in Syria. Russia would use its warplanes to hit terrorist targets when requested by the Syrian government. He stressed that unlike the US-led coalition of countries that bombs militant troops in Syria, Russia was invited to do so by the legal authorities of Syria and thus follows international law.

“The military goal of the operation is strictly to provide air support for the [Syrian] government forces in their fight against Islamic State,” he said.

The bombing campaign is time-limited, Ivanov said, not revealing a clear deadline for it. He said he was not authorized to disclose details of the operation such as the number of warplanes involved.

“All our partners and allies will be informed about our decision today through corresponding military channels. Specific military information will be provided as well, I believe,” he concluded.

Previously, Russia provided the Syrian government with advanced weapons and military instructors to teach the Syrians how to use them.

READ MORE: Russia, Iran, Iraq & Syria setting up ‘joint information center’ to coordinate anti-ISIS operations

The developement comes after Moscow has intensified involvement in Syria, establishing an Iraqi-based military communications center with Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran.

It also happened just days after President Putin called for an international anti-terrorist effort in Syria that would include the government of President Assad at the UN General Assembly. Western nations have been seeking to oust Assad since 2011, but several key nations such as Germany, France, Britain and the US have confirmed they would not be opposed to Assad staying in power for a transitional period, which would include defeating the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group.

IS has taken over large portions of Syria and neighboring Iraq and is on its way to creating a caliphate. Islamic State has consolidated its position with a combination of successful raids, barbaric brutality and active campaigning on social media targeting potential recruits and supporters worldwide.

There are other significant militant groups active in Syria, including an Al Qaeda branch in the region, Al Nusra Front, which competes with IS for territory, resources and fighters. Another major player in the country is the Kurd militia, which has been defending the Kurd-populated north from IS with assistance from the US-led coalition.

Russian Navy Taking Wargaming Positions Between Tartus Port and Cyprus

Russian Black Sea Cruiser Moscow, Amphibs Heading to Drill in Eastern Mediterranean, MoD Warned Planes Away from Syria

USNI News

Russian ship Moscow in 2009.

Several Russian warships are bound for the Eastern Mediterranean for high-end exercises, according to a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defence.

The Russian Navy’s Black Sea flag-ship — the guided missile cruiser Moscow (or Moskva) — left from Sevastopol in Crimea on Thursday, according to Russian state-controlled media.

The ship follows several amphibious warships and at least one surveillance ship have transited out of the Black Sea into the Mediterranean, according to the independent Turkish ship spotting blog, Bosphorus Naval News.

According to the Thursday statement from the  Russian MoD the formation will start exercises in the next several days and will run into October.

“In the course of the training activity, the Russian ships will practice organization of antisubmarine, anti-ship and air defense as well as search-and-rescue activities and rendering assistance to a distressed vessel,” read the statement from the MoD.

“During the exercise, the military seamen are to perform over 40 different combat tasks including missile and artillery firings at surface and aerial targets.”

The MoD did not specify the location of the drills but — according to one report in Agence France-Presse — the military warned away civilian aircraft from a an area between Cyrpus and the Tartus Russian naval base in Syria.

In addition to Moskow, the MoD said the exercises would include the Kashin-class guided missile destroyer Smetlivy and the Tapir-class landing ship Saratov as well as a variety of auxiliary ships.

Bosphorus Naval News tracked the signals intelligence ship Donuzlav and the Ropucha-class landing ship Novocherkassk moving out of the Black Sea.

The MoD said the exercises had nothing to do with the Russian build up of forces in Syria and been long planned — but the timing of the drill coinciding with the influx of Russian troops raises questions as to the intent of drills.

Tartus is Russia’s sole foreign naval base and the Putin government has been one of the few international supporters of the current Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned a media report that said the Russians were preparing to start striking Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) targets as, “speculation that has nothing to do with reality,” according to The Associated Press.

The following is the complete Sept. 24, 2015 statement from the Russian MoD on the Eastern Mediterranean exercises.

Russian Navy to conduct exercise in the eastern part of the Mediterranean

This September and October the Russian Armed Forces will increase the combat training intensiveness conducting exercise of different scale.

According to the Training plan of the forces in the eastern part of the Mediterranean adopted in the end of 2014, an exercise with the Russian Navy formation including the Moskva missile cruiser, Smetlivy guard ship, Saratov major landing ship and the auxiliary vessels is scheduled for this period.

In the course of the training activity, the Russian ships will practice organization of antisubmarine, antiship and air defence as well as search-and-rescue activities and rendering assistance to a distressed vessel.

During the exercise, the military seamen are to perform over 40 different combat tasks including missile and artillery firings at surface and aerial targets.

To provide safety navigation, the exercise zone was declared dangerous for civil aircraft and ships according the international law.

Obama, Global arms dealer-in-chief

This Nobel Peace Prize winner has sold $90bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia since 2010, and even eclipsed arms sales under George W Bush

Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a mere 12 days into his presidency. Never had a recipient achieved so little to be lauded so much. Essentially it was a pre-emptive award given on the presumption Obama’s foreign policy record would eventually meet its promise.

In the six-years since becoming planet earth’s most recognised agent for world peace, Obama has failed to close Guantanamo Bay, which remains the symbol of the darkest chapter in modern US history; has assassinated US citizens around the globe sans due process; has suspended habeas corpus; has terrorised villagers in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere with the incessant buzzing sound of weaponised drones; armed Israel in the midst of its brutal and bloody invasion of Gaza, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead; toppled a government in Libya without so much as a consideration for what might come next; supported the toppling of a democratically elected government in Egypt, and, in turn, armed arguably the most brutal dictator in that country’s history; and has coordinated and guided Saudi Arabia’s terrorist activities in Yemen, which has left more than 4,000 Yemeni civilians dead.

It’s a record to behold with some awe, and it gets worse.

A newly released report reveals Obama is the greatest arms exporter since the Second World War. The dollar value of all major arms deals overseen by the first five years of the Obama White House now exceeds the amount overseen by the Bush White House in its full eight years in office by nearly $30 billion.

Hail the chief

America’s arms-dealer-in-chief has flooded the most volatile corner of the world, the Middle East, with guns, bombs, fighter jets, tanks and missiles.

In an interview, William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, told Democracy Now he was “astonished that Obama had sold this much”. He added: “I mean, I knew there were record deals with the Saudis, but to outsell the eight years of Bush, to sell more than any president since World War II, was surprising even to me, who follows these things quite closely. The majority, 60 percent, have gone to the Persian Gulf and Middle East, and within that, the Saudis have been the largest recipient of things like US fighter planes, Apache attack helicopters, bombs, guns, almost an entire arsenal they’ve purchased just in the last few years.”

Hartung also points out that this breathtaking bundle of war tools not only makes its way to stable regimes and governments, but also to states on the verge of collapse, which ultimately means many of these arms end up in the hands of militia groups across the region, which results in an all too predictable conclusion: more death and chaos.

Investigative journalist Dr Nafeez Ahmed says that if you want to trace the origins of certain jihadist groups, all you need to do is “follow the money”. He notes: “Anyone can have bad, horrific, disgusting ideas. But they can only be fantasies unless we find a way to manifest them materially in the world around us.” US arms sales to failing states and non-state militias is providing those with “disgusting ideas” the material infrastructure to play out their fantasies.

In other words, the deluge of US arms into the region is making conflicts, rivalries, and unrest even more deadlier, and with the US having little idea whose hands much of this weaponry ends up in.

“We don’t know the full numbers, but in Iraq the security forces abandoned large amounts of the weaponry to ISIS. US-armed rebels in Syria, armed by the CIA, went over to join ISIS. There’s $500 million missing of weapons in Yemen. Some think it’s gone to the Houthis. Some think it’s gone to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” said Hartung. “Of course, there’s arms on both sides, because the government and the forces have split in this war. So it’s quite possible every side of that war in Yemen may have some level of US weaponry. So it’s really gone, you know, haywire. It’s sort of what I call the boomerang effect, when US arms end up in the hands of US adversaries.”

But what amounts to “haywire” for the Middle East amounts to massive profits for the US, and on that score no single entity is more profitable and more beneficial to America’s balance of trade than Saudi Arabia.

Arming Saudi

The Congressional Research Service found that since October 2010 alone, President Obama has agreed to sell $90.4 billion in arms to the Gulf kingdom.

“That President Obama would so enthusiastically endorse arming such a brutal authoritarian government is unsurprising, since the United States is by far the leading arms dealer (with 47 percent of the world total) to what an annual State Department report classifies as the world’s “least democratically governed states,” notes Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Obama has done little to promote democracy or bring an end to terror. When children in Gaza pick up unexploded ordinance, they see “Made in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.”

In 2008, the United Nations banned the use of cluster munitions – an agreement the US is yet to ratify. Why? Cluster bombs are the number one seller for Textron Systems Corporation – a Wall Street-listed company located in Providence, Rhode Island. For $38 per share, you can add the sale of cluster bombs to your stock portfolio.

In February of this year, the Obama administration announced it would allow the sale of US manufactured armed drones to its allies in the Middle East. According to the Teal Group, a research and analysis firm, the sale of drones is expected to double from $5 billion to $11 billion over the course of the next decade.

This means countries with horrific human rights records – regimes whose power is dependent on the repression of its people – will have access to the most brutally effective tool available for repression management. While the Obama administration insists the sale of drones will be made on a “case-by-case” basis, it’s laughable that the US gets to decide who gets these aerial killers given the US’s own use of drones often violates international law.

In fact, both a 2013 Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report found that US drone strikes were killing far more civilians than the Obama White House was letting on, and these strikes were nearly always in violation of international law.

Drone dynamics

Furthermore, armed unmanned airborne vehicles have the potential to completely change the power dynamics in the Middle East. “The drone is the ultimate imperial weapon, allowing a superpower almost unlimited reach while keeping its own soldiers far from battle,” notes James Risen in Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Relentless War.

There isn’t a country in the Middle East that isn’t clamouring for the Predator drone. Obama, via US drone manufactures such as General Atomics, is making the dreams of some of the most oppressive regimes a reality. From Egypt to Saudi Arabia, from Syria to Iraq, the forthcoming flood of such advanced weaponry promises to produce effects we are yet to imagine. “An advance fleet of missile-carrying drones could, overnight, turn a group like Hezbollah into a legitimate military power,” forewarns Risen. “A drone programme for Hezbollah could alter the military dynamics along the Israel-Lebanon border.”

These end games are not imagined by the Obama administration, nor any other US administration past or future because profits supersede democracy, human rights and international law; thus greed promises the Middle East endless war, and the US military oligarchs endless profits. Obama, like his predecessors, has made sure of that.

– CJ Werleman is the author of Crucifying America, God Hates You. Hate Him Back, Koran Curious, and is the host of Foreign Object. Follow him on twitter: @cjwerleman

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye. 

Photo: President of the United States Barack Obama speaks during the 2015 Sustainable Development Summit, on 27 Sept 2015, at United Nations headquarters, New York.

– See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/obama-global-arms-dealer-chief-311000658#sthash.hs6IwtDr.dpuf

Taliban Enter Kunduz, Seize Another Jail, Release Hundreds

So far 16 killed, 170 wounded in Kunduz battle

Pajhwok

KABUL/KUNDUZ CITY (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday said 16 people had been killed and more than 170 others injured during clashes in the capital of northern Kunduz province.

MoPH spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said the dead bodies and the wounded people had been transferred to the provincial zonal hospital and that most of the victims were civilians.

A day earlier, Kunduz Public Health Department said four dead bodies and 47 injured people, most of them civilians, were taken to the provincial civil hospital.

The Taliban launched their coordinated attacks from various directions on Kunduz City, the provincial capital, on the night between Sunday and Monday and were able to capture the entire city until late Monday.

But the Afghan Ministry of Defnece (MoD) in a statement said reinforcements reaching Kunduz City this morning had launched operation to retake Kunduz City from Taliban militants.

US-led coalition forces also conducted their first airstrike on Talban targets on the outskirts of Kunduz city in the morning.

The MoD said Afghan forces recaptured the police headquarters and the central jail from Taliban militants during the clearing operation launched on Tuesday morning.

The large number of rebels took control of military and civil facilities including the 200-bed civil hospital, the police headquarters, schools, markets and some provincial departments and set free hundreds of inmates from the central jail after capturing it, in what appeared to be the Taliban’s first major victory since 2001. The rebels on Monday set free hundreds of prisoners from Kunduz central jail after gaining control of it.

The MoD said the enemy was weak and could not put up resistance and security forces were advancing and that Kunduz City was currently surrounded by security forces and Taliban militants were inflicted heavy casualties during the ongoing operation.

Without giving exact figures, the statement said: “Taliban terrorists who are directed by regional intelligence agencies are fleeing Kunduz city, only some of them are firing from residential buildings at Afghan forces.” The MoD assured local residents that Afghan forces were taking all possible measures to protect their lives.

After entering Kunduz City, Taliban militants, the Haqqani network, and other insurgents misused the opportunity and looted people’s houses and their belongings, the MoD claimed.

“The capture of Kunduz City by Taliban is just a propaganda achievement for the rebel group, we are sure these terrorists would not be able stand ground against Afghan forces.”

Eyewitnesses had previously said except the airport and Bala Hesar area, all other areas of the city had fallen to the Taliban.

Afghan security forces are currently stationed in Kunduz airport, Bala Hesar and Bagh Sherkat areas.

A separate MoD statement issued on Monday evening said 35 militants had been killed and a number of others injured during clashes with Afghan forces.

However, the Taliban claimed they had captured large areas from government forces and had killed 15 soldiers during the attacks on the city. They also claimed seizing a large amount of weapons and equipment from security forces.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi tweeted early Tuesday that fresh Afghan troops had been sent to northern parts of the city, where an operation to clear Kunduz of Taliban had been initiated.

US-led coalition forces also conducted their first airstrike on Talban targets on the outskirts of Kunduz city in the morning.

The Taliban reportedly also killed some female medics and tribal elders in the city; unverified pictures on social media show the Taliban driving International Committee of the Red Cross vehicles seized in Kunduz.

Afghan Ministry of Public Health spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said: “Our hospitals in Kunduz province have received 172 injured patients and 16 dead bodies so far”.

An Afghan National Army (ANA) commander, who wished anonymity, said Afghan forces had started their operation from Kunduz airport and had crossed the Saydarak and University Square.

A resident of the city, Nawroz Kakar, said: “The situation is very dangerous, clashes are ongoing and heavy and small arms are being used.”

He said his home was near Kunduz central jail, which was the scene of fierce clashes between security forces and Taliban.

Heavy and small weapons fire hit some civilian houses, causing casualties families, he said.

“There is no government and all officials have fled, if there was any government, people would not have suffered as much as they did. People cannot go out of their houses,” Kakar said, adding that all shops and offices had been closed and the city presented the scence of a military ground.

Another resident of the city, Mohammad Ullah, said jet aircrafts were hovering over the city.

He said militants took out of their homes people they suspected of having links with the government and killed them.

But the Taliban in a statement received by Pajhwok Afghan News said the life in Kunduz province was “normal” and the government claims of retaking areas were baseless.

The group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said US aircrafts bombarded two locations but no one from the militants got hurt.

Mujahid rejected government’s claims that the Taliban had torched government departments and looted moneychangers, banks, shops or people’s houses and said the government wanted to propagate against the militants and defame them.

He said Afghan forces were unable to retake control of Kunduz City as their reinforcements coming from Kabul were attacked in parts of Baghlan province.

mds/ma

The Imperial Demolition of the Middle East—Western ace in the hole

[The author of the following does an excellent job of laying-out the primary strands of the Middle East knot.  The architects of the “Arab Spring” understood these strands and many more, giving them intimate knowledge of the primary “buttons” to be pushed, in order to set the Middle East on fire.  This is what the amazing CIA psywarriors did, by intention, NOT by accident. 

The problem has been in getting Western leaders to admit that their policies have been wrong since the beginning of the terror war, following policies which multiplied terrorism wherever US counter-terrorism took hold.  It is not just that Obama’s policies which have been misguided, because he has continued to follow the same Pentagon policies which managed Bush’s war.  American policies in general, since 2001, have been to tear countries apart, without consideration for what would come next. 

Now that the contradictions between America’s words and actions have become apparent to the people of the world, popular opinion is turning against the Empire, breaking the American global dictatorship (new world order).  Next comes worldwide realization that this has all been intentional, NOT by accident, or through a series of devastating mistakes.  The objective of the “Arab Spring” has always been to create chaos throughout the Muslim world, to be achieved through total destruction.

Convincing Western leaders to admit that the demolition of the existing order has been intentional all along will prove to be an existential struggle for anyone willing to make the attempt to reason with power.  The power elite can never admit that their objective has been to sow chaos in foreign lands, because doing so would create conscious linkage to our own Nation’s internal demolition.  We stand a better chance of witnessing a global realization about American intentions to create disorder, than we do of seeing changes arising from within.  It has now become clear to the rest of humanity that there has been NO real “regime change,” only regime destruction. The world is about to rightfully blame America for everything

The emergence of new, more rational world leadership comes in the person of Vladimir Putin.  Screams of outrage and urgency immediately rise-up against him from the usual warmongering crowd, while a hushed silence descends upon the rest of the world, where saner minds join together to pray, once more, for WORLD PEACE.  Putting an end to the Imperial destruction of Syria, Libya and Yemen is the first step towards finding that lasting peace in the Middle East.]

syria

The Roots of Conflict in the Middle East 

FAIR OBSERVER

Only rule of law and a culture of diversity can overthrow autocracy and religious fundamentalism in the Middle East.

One fundamental problem for Middle Eastern countries is that a majority of the rulers are illegitimate. While each country has its own history and trajectory, common patterns prevail across the region: Those in power have not received their positions from a fair and transparent electoral process. They see themselves as above the law and misuse their absolute power.

These autocrats act as a guardian of the people or treat them as an enemy. Sets of tribal and religious convictions replace law in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and power is fundamentally linked to tribalism or religion.

How have power struggles, religious conflict, discrimination, security issues, colonialism and Western hegemony, values and intervention shaped the Middle East? This author spoke to PhD students, academics and university lecturers to learn more.

Muhammad Waladbagi, a PhD candidate at Durham University working on Turkey-Iraqi Kurdistan relations, states that the modern history of the Middle East has witnessed frequent interstate wars, numerous revolutions, coup d’états, civil wars and economic problems:

“These are signs of fundamental problems in the region’s political culture that at times has set the ruling regimes against their people. It is quite difficult to identify and explain the reasons behind such phenomena in a few sentences as the origins of the problems differ in each specific case, and Middle Eastern states are not homogeneous as they have many differences.”

The role of religion

The feeling of attachment to tribalism and fake patriotism under the umbrella of religion is stronger and more apparent than respect for human rights and pluralism in the Middle East. Patriotism is used as a tool to accumulate wealth and oppress the rights of minorities, while religion and tribalism are often militarized, making the use of violence legitimate and normal.

Sabir Hasan, a lecturer at the University of Human Development and a PhD student at the University of Leeds, says religion—specifically Islam—is an inseparable part of Middle Eastern society, and it is one of the most influential domains of Kurdish social life:

“It is not surprising that different tribal and so-called patriotic groups resort to religion to gain legacy and popularity. As for ‘fake patriotism’, as you termed it, we need a simple glance at the contemporary history of Middle Eastern regimes, including Kurdistan, to see what abuses and scandals have been committed in the name of patriotism. It is axiomatic that those who first claimed to be loyal patriots have eventually become millionaires, all at the expense of the public. Those who misuse religion and patriotism can be regarded, at best, as opportunists.” 

In a region where exchange of power often causes destruction and chaos, the psychology of the rulers is structured in such a way that they consider themselves to always be right, thus there is no need for an election. Humans are not seen as humans, but as either friend or foe. Ironically, one has to act like an enemy to be a friend and a friend to be an enemy. That is to say, one has to be the enemy of freedom to be the friend of an oppressor, and to be a protector of an oppressor to be the enemy of democracy.

Middle East

Power struggles

Analyzing the issue of power struggles from a psychoanalytic perspective, Mohammed Akoi, an assistant lecturer in Raparin University in Sulaymaniyah, says:

“Sigmund Freud talks in detail about the Oedipus complex; that is, the unconscious rivalry between the father and the son. I see a similar type of complex when it comes to rulers in the Middle East. There is a myth in Kurdish folklore that could say a lot about father-son rivalry in the Middle-Eastern context.

“The story goes that a father, after having lost all his sons but one, arranges a wedding for his last son, Saidawan. As the party ends, Saidawan goes hunting to the mountains, and so does his father. Saidawan dresses in a wild goat’s clothing in order to attract other goats and thus hunt them. His father, on the other hand, seeing a supposed wild goat and not knowing it is his son in disguise, kills him and thus loses his last son.

“The story is often told as a tragic misfortune on the part of the father. However, approaching the incident from a Freudian interpretation, it is the father who kills his son unconsciously. Much has been said about the Middle Eastern father as an example of divine authority who is always there to punish the son.”

Akoi argues that rulers in the Middle East play the role of a typical superior who enjoys the authority of the father. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that democracy, the product of Western consciousness, always fails to shake the Middle Eastern father’s position.

The dictators of Middle Eastern countries see armed struggle as a pathway to their eternal need for power. Instead of promoting coexistence, they embrace war and military confrontation; instead of building legitimate institutions, they destroy the country’s infrastructure; and instead of organizing an inclusive, lawful military force, they establish militia units for the sake of adding fuel to the sectarian disputes. This paves the way for the dictators to remain in power as long as they want or until they are forcefully deposed.

For Sarkawt Shamsulddin, a political analyst at the Kurdish Policy Foundation specializing in governance and security and NRT TV’s bureau chief in Washington DC, two issues are of pivotal importance: the abuse of religion and a lack of good governance. The focus here is on governance.

“The rulers in the Middle East have been oppressing their people for decades and they have used different means to do so, such as undermining human rights, democracy, freedom of speech and civil society as a whole. They have undermined opposition groups. They have mostly invested in military and security institutions. Therefore, when revolutions or what is called the ‘Arab Spring’ emerged, they use their military capability to stay in power.”  

In the underdeveloped countries of the Middle East, security and military forces are dominated and ruled by tribal chiefs and religious figures. Infringement of political rights is authorized through elastic rules, and the confiscation of democratic values is fallaciously considered a religious duty. The public sphere is in total chaos, and the government has too much influence through the media, economy, education and even on the private lives of the people. This abuse of power has become an inherent part of governments’ mechanism to uproot any kind of freedom—be it freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience or freedom of the press.

Zubir Rasool, a PhD candidate of Middle East politics at the University of Exeter, argues that there are numerous problematic issues that can contribute to the structure of current conflict in the Middle East. The main issue in this regard has to do with the structure of the so-called “nation-state” on the one hand, and its political, social and economic functions on the other hand.

“The evolution of the nation-state did not come from a natural process in the Middle East. Large groups of Middle Eastern countries were the results of colonial operations—whether it was from the Ottoman Empire or European colonialism. Both of these historical moments’ legacies share a responsibility for the creative chaos in the Middle East nowadays. The terms nation-building or state-building was just a figurative cover for the combination of different ethnic, tribal, linguistic and cultural identities. The legacy of the Ottoman Empire is based on the distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims; also, non-Muslims were divided among their ethnicities and religious sects.”

The middle-class has deteriorated and the professional workforce is almost non-existent. A lack of public facilities, low income and high unemployment keep people frustrated. A lack of food quality and stable electricity, poor health care and stagnant education keep people over-occupied and struggling. This way, people do not have the means to revolt. They are more occupied with providing the basic needs to survive, let alone the strenuous dangers of migration and the perpetual challenges of resettlement, identity, discrimination and cultural integration.

Refugees

Ramyar Hassani, a human rights observer in Latin America, Europe and Kurdistan, says that in a Middle East that is burning because of sectarian wars and extremist organizations, being a refugee has become a normal phenomenon.

“On the one hand, the proxy wars of regional powers have forced thousands of Middle Easterners to flee and leave everything behind. On the other hand, the wrong policies of Western and world powers led the Middle East into a clash of extremists, which resulted in thousands of refugees [heading] to a safer country [and] dreaming of a life without violence.”

With that in mind, whenever there is a revolution, the faces change, but the mentalities are the same. That is to say, a new despotic clan will take over power, establishing the same sort of mechanism to replace and then rule in the same manner as the ousted autocrat. Each clan or tribe controls a certain territory with their own armed force and militia in hand and their own rules in place.

That being said, constitutional legitimacy is threatened by political outbidding and revolution. The legitimate exchange or handover of power and social justice are vulnerable in the face of political and economic corruption, which is why disorder, instability and war have always been part of the autocrat’s culture and mentality.

Sherko Kirmanj, a visiting senior lecturer at the University of Utara Malaysia and the author of Identity and Nation in Iraq, believes the question of legitimacy is one problem that faces the Middle East.

“One of the major problems confronting Middle Eastern societies is that the process of modernity in the region is not home-grown, but rather an imposed one. Modernity with all its dimensions and outcomes, including the nation-state, secularism, democratization, freedom, etc, were alien concepts introduced into Middle Eastern societies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The introduction of these concepts and the values that embrace such equality, justice, fairness, freedom of speech and freedom of religion—just to name a few—led to a clash with local and traditional values of these societies.”

In the End

Western leaders and institutions have a limited understanding and familiarity with Middle Eastern societies, cultures and politics. This often leads to a focus on increasing arms and ammunition supplies and offering military training, especially in times of a violent insurgency, instead of the much-needed humanitarian, educational and developmental aid. This creates an ongoing cycle, wherein whoever has the most military strength holds power and steps into the same pattern of governmental rule.

What has blinded the West is the age-old misconception that Middle Eastern societies are anti-civil society, anti-democracy and anti-multiculturalism. This thinking leads to the conclusion that these societies are doomed to remain in bloodshed, where the best treatment is the importing of more and more weapons. This approach fails to address the root problems and instead contributes to the cycle of violence.

The West must realize that the real danger lies in the empowerment of religious fanatics and systemic corruption that have replaced true critical thinking, quality education and effective institutions.

By publishing and glamorizing radical groups’ propaganda on media platforms such as YouTube, the West can demonstrate how significant a culture of diversity and rule of law is for consolidating democracy. These two elements—rule of law and a culture of diversity—are the only means through which autocracy and religious fundamentalism can be overthrown.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Robert Hale / StrelsShutterstock.com

Aras Ahmed MhamadAras Ahmed Mhamad is a freelance journalist and regular contributor for Fair Observer.

Russian Navy Moves Floating Workshop from Black Sea To Tartous Port

https://i0.wp.com/photos.wikimapia.org/p/00/01/78/10/69_big.jpgThe Russian Black Sea Fleet’s floating workshop PM-56 will depart in early October for the Syrian port of Tartous, the location of a Russian Navy logistics and supply center, a source in the Russian Navy Staff told Interfax-AVN on Monday.

“The PM-56 under the command of Capt. 2nd Rank Igor Bakuradze [Reserve] had a trial voyage today to prepare for the long-distance trip to the Mediterranean Sea. The floating workshop will move to the Sevastopol outer harbor on October 1 and will begin its voyage to Tartous then,” he said.

The PM-56 crew will repair and service ships and vessels of the Russian Navy task force permanently deployed in the Mediterranean, he said.

As reported earlier, the Moskva missile cruiser under the command of Guard Capt. 1st Rank Alexander Shvarts has departed for the Mediterranean Sea. The Smetlivy destroyer under the command of Capt. 2nd Rank Andrei Zaitsev and the Pytlivy frigate under the command of Capt 2nd Rank Dmitry Dobrynsky are interacting with the missile cruiser.

http://asia.rbth.com/news/2015/09/28/black_sea_fleet_floating_workshop_to_head_for_the_syrain_port_tartous_49608.html)

Vladimir Putin Speech at the UN General Assembly–(9/27/2015, TRANSCRIPT)

Putin – the instigators of the Syrian crisis, “Do you realize what you’ve done?” 

Komsomolskaya Pravda  Komsomolskaya Pravda

Vladimir Putin spoke at the UN General Assembly.

Putin – the instigators of the Syrian crisis, “Do you realize what you’ve done?”

“Komsomolskaya Pravda” published the full transcript of the speech of the Russian president to the UN General Assembly
– Dear Mr. President, Dear Mr. Secretary General, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Ladies and Gentlemen. 70th anniversary of the United Nations – a good reason to appeal to history and to talk about our common future.

In 1945, the country, the defeat of Nazism, have joined forces to lay the solid foundations of the postwar world order. Let me remind you that the key decisions on the principles of interaction between states, the decision to create the United Nations adopted in our country at the Yalta meeting of leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition. Yalta system was actually suffered, paid tens of millions of people, the two world wars that swept through the world in the twentieth century. And, let’s be objective, it has helped mankind to pass through the turbulent and sometimes dramatic events of the past seven decades, has kept the world of large-scale shocks.

UN – the structure, which has no equal. On legitimacy, representativeness and universality. Yes, to the United Nations in recent hear a lot of criticism. Allegedly, she demonstrates the lack of effectiveness and the principal decision rests against the insurmountable contradictions. First and foremost among the members of the Security Council. However, I want to note that the differences in the United Nations has always been, throughout the 70 years of the organization. And the veto power is always applied. It was used, and the United States, and Britain, France and China, and the Soviet Union, later – Russian. It is quite natural for such a diverse and representative organization. At the founding of the UN and not expected that there will be unanimity prevail. The essence of the organization, in fact, is to find and develop compromises, and its power – in the account of different opinions and points of view. Discussed at the UN agreed solutions in the form of resolutions or agreed. As diplomats say, pass or not pass. And all the actions of any of bypassing this order are illegitimate and contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, contemporary international law.

We all know that after the Cold War, everyone knows that in the world there was only one center of domination. And then those who are at the top of the pyramid, there is a temptation to think that if they are so strong and exceptional, it is best placed to know what to do. And so – no need to reckon with the UN, which is often, instead of automatically authorize, legitimize the right solution, but prevents, so to speak, as we say, “underfoot.” There was talk that the organization in the form in which it was created, LLC, has fulfilled its historic mission.

Of course, the world is changing. And the United Nations must comply with this natural transformation. Russia on the basis of broad consensus is ready for this work on the further development of the United Nations with all partners. But we believe attempts to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the United Nations is extremely dangerous. This can lead to the collapse of the entire architecture of international relations. Then we really will not have any rules, except the right of the strong. It will be a world in which, instead of teamwork will dominate selfishness. A world in which there will be more and dictate less equity, less real democracy and freedom. The world in which together truly independent states will multiply the number of actual protectorates controlled from outside the territories.

After all, what is the state sovereignty, which is already colleagues said? This is primarily a matter of freedom, free choice of their destiny for each person, for the people, for the state. By the way, colleagues, in the same row and the question of the so-called legitimacy of the government. You can not play and manipulate words. In international law, in international affairs, each term should be clear, transparent, should have a common understanding and uniformly understood criteria.

We are all different. And this should be treated with respect. No one is required to adapt to a model of development, recognized someone once and only correct one. All of us should not forget past experiences. For example, we remember and examples from the history of the Soviet Union. Export of social experiments, attempts to spur changes in various countries on the basis of their ideological, often led to tragic consequences.

It does not lead to progress, but to degradation. However, no one seems to learn from others’ mistakes, but only repeating them. And the export of revolution, now the so-called democracies, continues.

Just look at the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, as mentioned by the previous speaker. Of course, political and social problems in the region had been brewing for a long time, and the people there are, of course, would change. But what happened in reality? Aggressive external intervention has led to the fact that instead of the reform of public institutions, and the very way of life were just unceremoniously destroyed. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress – violence, poverty, social disaster, and human rights, including the right to life, in what should be put. One would like to ask those who created this situation: you at least understand now what you have done? But I’m afraid this question hangs in the air. Because of the policy, which is self-confidence, the belief in its exceptionalism and impunity, and not abandoned. It is already clear that the emergence of a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa power vacuum led to the formation of zones of anarchy, which immediately began to be filled by extremists and terrorists. Under the banner of so-called “Islamic State” is already at war, tens of thousands of militants, among them former Iraqi forces in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 were thrown out into the street. Supplier of recruits is, and Libya, whose statehood had been destroyed as a result of gross violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1973. And now swell the ranks of radical and moderate members of the so-called Syrian opposition, supported by the West. Their first arm, train, and then they move to the side of the so-called “Islamic state.”

The very “Islamic state” did not come out of nowhere. He was also initially nurtured as a weapon against unwanted secular regimes. Establish a foothold in Syria and Iraq, “Islamic State” is actively expanding its expansion to other regions, aimed at domination in the Islamic world, and not only there. Only these plans clearly limited. The situation is more than dangerous. In this situation, hypocritical and irresponsible act with loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism and at the same time turn a blind eye to the channels of funding and support for terrorists, including those due to drug-trafficking, illegal trade in oil, arms, or try to manipulate extremist groups, put them into his service for their own political purposes in the hope of then somehow deal with them, quite simply, be eliminated.

Those who really does so and so thinks would say. Ladies and gentlemen, you are dealing, of course, a very cruel people, but not with the stupid and primitive. They are not more stupid than you, and still do not know who someone is using for their own purposes. And the latest data on the transfer of weapons that very moderate opposition to terrorists – the best evidence.
REUTERS
Vladimir Putin touched on many important themes in his speech.
Photo: REUTERS

We consider any attempts to flirt with terrorists, and even more so to arm them not only short-sighted, and a fire hazard. As a result of the global terrorist threat can increase critically, to cover new regions of the world. Especially in the camps, “the Islamic state” are run-fighters from many countries, including European. Unfortunately, I must say so, dear colleagues, and Russia is no exception. We can not allow these thugs who have already felt the smell of blood, and then returned to his home, and there continued their dirty work. We do not want that. After all, no one wants, is not it?

Russia has always firmly and consistently opposed to terrorism in all its forms. Today, we provide military and technical assistance to Iraq and Syria, the other countries in the region that are fighting terrorist groups. We consider it a huge mistake refusal to cooperate with the Syrian authorities, the government’s army, with those who courageously face to face fighting terror. We must finally acknowledge that in addition to the government forces of President Assad and Kurdish militias in Syria, with the “Islamic state” and other terrorist organizations, no one really struggling. We know all the problems of the region, all the contradictions, but still need to proceed from reality.

Dear colleagues, forced to observe that this is our honest and direct approach have recently used as a pretext to accuse Russia’s growing ambitions. Like those who spoke about it, there is no ambition at all. But is not the ambitions of Russia, colleagues, and that tolerate folding position in the world is impossible. In fact, we offer guided not by ambition, but by shared values ​​and common interests on the basis of international law, to work together to meet the challenges we face new challenges and to create a truly broad international anti-terrorist coalition. Like the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite in their ranks a variety of forces ready to firmly confront those who, like the Nazis, sows evil and misanthropy. And, of course, key players in such a coalition should be a Muslim country. For the “Islamic state” not only bears a direct threat to them, but also for its bloody crimes defiles the world’s great religions – Islam.

The ideologists of the militant mocked Islam and distort its true humanistic values. I would like to appeal to Muslim spiritual leaders. Now it is very important and your credibility and your mentoring word. It is necessary to protect people who are trying to recruit fighters from rash steps. And for those who have been deceived, and for various reasons it ended up in the ranks of the terrorists, to help find your way to a normal life, lay down their arms, to stop the fratricidal war.

In the coming days, Russia, as the chairman of the Security Council convene a ministerial meeting for a comprehensive analysis of the threats to the area of ​​the Middle East. First of all, we propose to discuss the possibility of harmonizing the resolution on the coordination of all forces who oppose “Islamic state” and other terrorist groups. Again, such coordination should be based on the principles of the UN Charter. We hope that the international community will be able to develop a comprehensive strategy for political stability and socio-economic reconstruction of the Middle East. Then, dear friends, to build refugee camps do not have to. The flow of people forced to leave their native land, literally engulfed first the neighboring countries and then to Europe. Here comes the expense of hundreds of thousands, and can go for millions of people. It is, in fact, a new hitter great migration of peoples. And a hard lesson for all of us, including Europe.

I would like to emphasize that refugees are certainly in need of compassion and support. However, fundamentally solve this problem is possible only by restoring the state where it was destroyed by strengthening the institutions of power, where they have been preserved or recreated. By providing comprehensive assistance – military, economic, financial – find themselves in a difficult situation in the country. And, of course, those people who in spite of all the trials do not leave their homes. Of course, any assistance to sovereign states can and should not be imposed, but offered and only in accordance with the UN Charter. In short, everything that is done and will be done in this area in accordance with international law, should be supported by our organization. And all that is contrary to the UN Charter – rejected. Above all, I consider it extremely important to help rebuild state institutions in Libya, to support the new Government of Iraq, to ​​provide comprehensive assistance to the legitimate government of Syria.

Dear colleagues, the key task of the international community, led by the United Nations remains the maintenance of peace, regional and global stability. In our view, the focus should be on an area of ​​equal and indivisible security, security is not for the elite, but for all. Yes, it is a complex, difficult, long-term work, but there is no alternative. However, the bloc mentality of the Cold War and the desire to develop new geopolitical space in some of our colleagues are still, unfortunately, it dominates. First, we continued policy of expanding NATO. The question is: for what? If the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist, the Soviet Union fell apart, however, NATO is not only remains, it is still expanding. Just like its military infrastructure. Then the post-Soviet countries have put a false choice – be it to the west or the east.

Sooner or later, such a confrontational logic was to have serious geopolitical crisis. It happened in the Ukraine. Where we used the discontent of a large part of the population of the current government and externally provoked an armed coup . As a result, civil war broke out. We are convinced that to stop the bloodshed, to break the deadlock can only be fully conscientious performance of the Minsk Agreement of 12 February this year. Threats, force of arms integrity of Ukraine does not provide. But we need to do it. We need a real consideration of the interests and rights of the people in the Donbass, respect their choice. Alignment with them, as provided Minsk agreements, the key elements of the political system of the state. This is the guarantee that Ukraine will develop as a civilized state, as a key link in the construction of a common space of security and economic cooperation in Europe and Eurasia.
Nail Valiulin Photo: Nail Valiulin

Ladies and gentlemen, not casually said today about the general area of ​​economic cooperation.

Until recently it seemed that in an economy where there are objective laws of the market, we will learn to live without dividing lines, will operate on the basis of transparent rules jointly developed, including the principles of the WTO, which implies freedom of trade, investment, open competition. Today, however, almost become the norm unilateral sanctions in circumvention of the UN Charter. Not only do they pursue political goals, but also serve as a way to eliminate competitors in the market. I note another symptom of growing economic selfishness. Several countries have opted for private exclusive economic associations. Moreover, negotiations for their establishment go behind the scenes, in secret, and their citizens, from their own businesses, the public, but also from other countries. Other States, whose interests may be affected, and nothing to be informed. Probably all of us want to put before the fact, that the rules rewritten and rewritten again in favor of a narrow circle of the elect, and without the participation of the WTO.

It is fraught with a complete imbalance of the trading system, the fragmentation of the global economic space. Mentioned problems affect the interests of all States, affect the prospects of the global economy. Therefore, we propose to discuss them in the framework of the UN, the WTO and the “Group of Twenty.” In contrast to the policy of exclusivity Russia proposes harmonization of regional economic projects, the so-called integration of integration, based on universal, transparent principles of international trade. As an example, our plans for the pairing of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Chinese initiative to establish economic zones “Silk Road”. And still we see great prospects for harmonization of integration processes in the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union.

Ladies and gentlemen, among the issues that affect the future of mankind, such a challenge as global climate change. We are interested in the effectiveness of the UN Climate Conference, to be held in December in Paris. As part of its contribution to the national plan by 2030 to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 70-75% from 1990 levels. However, I take a look at this problem more widely. Yes, setting quotas for emissions using other nature tactical measures, we may be at a certain period and remove the acuteness of the problem, but it certainly will not solve it radically. We need a qualitatively different approach. It should be on the implementation of innovative, prirodopodobnyh technologies that do not cause damage to the surrounding world, and there are with him in harmony and allow the person to restore the disturbed balance between the biosphere and the technosphere. It’s really a challenge of planetary scale. And I am convinced that the answer to it, mankind has the intellectual potential. We need to join forces, and especially those states that have a strong research base, backlog of basic science. We offer to convene under the auspices of the UN special forum for a comprehensive look at the problems associated with the depletion of natural resources, habitat destruction, climate change. Russia is ready to become one of the organizers of the forum.

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues. January 10, 1946 in London, the first session of the UN General Assembly. Opening it, the chairman of the preparatory committee session, the Colombian diplomat Zoleto Angel, in my opinion, very succinctly formulated the principles on which to build their UN activities. This goodwill, contempt for intrigue and cunning spirit of cooperation. Today these words sound like a farewell to all of us. Russia believes in the tremendous potential of the United Nations, which should help to avoid a new global confrontation and move on to the strategy of cooperation, together with other countries will work consistently for strengthening the central coordinating role of the UN. I am convinced that working together, we will make the world stable and safe, to ensure conditions for the development of all countries and peoples.

Thank you for your attention.

Chinese Military Advisors Expected to Join the Russians in Syria

In this October 1, 2009 photo, China's missiles are carried in Beijing's Tiananmen Gate during a military parade marking the country's 60th anniversary. China has flight-tested an upgraded version of its 10,000-km range Dongfeng missile which could reach most of the U.S. and European cities.

Chinese Military Advisors Expected to Join the Russians in Syria

the arab source

 

By Leith Fadel

 

Last month, the Syrian civilians living in the government-controlled parts of Syria had little be optimistic about: the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) was spread too thin and on the defensive at most fronts, while the humanitarian crisis inside the country spread to the provinces that were once relatively unaffected by the violence (i.e. Al-Sweida).

Well, “hope springs eternal” when hundreds of Russian Marines and dozens of Russian jets enter your country; this was the case in the overcrowded provinces of Latakia and Tartous, as large crowds gathered near the coast to welcome these Russian naval infantrymen and their advanced military hardware.

Those previously depressed civilians in the government-controlled part of Syria are now oozing with optimism, thanks in large part to the recent news of China’s military partnership with their Russian allies.

Earlier this week, a Chinese naval vessel crossed through Egypt’s Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean Sea; its destination was unknown, but that did not make a difference to the Syrian people because the news circulating around the country indicated that China’s participation in this brutal conflict was imminent.

According to a senior officer in the Syrian Arab Army that is stationed inside the coastal province of Latakia, “the Chinese will be arriving in the coming weeks.”

When asked to elaborate, the officer responded that Chinese military personnel were expected to join the Russians Marines stationed around Syria’s western countryside.

The officer could not provide anymore details regarding their deployment; however, he did state that the Chinese military personnel were expected to arrive at Tartous’ ports in the next six weeks.

 

US Doesn’t Invite India or Russia To Plot New, Ever More Hellish Imperial Afghanistan

2b353af5eb704833bd2942bc4fd78f63Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L3) attends a high-level meeting co-organized by Afghanistan, China and the United States in New York City on the sidelines of the 70th UN General Assembly on Sept. 26, 2015. [Photo: Xinhua]

India left out of meeting on Afghanistan

The Hindu

Varghese K. George

A meeting on Afghanistan, co-chaired by the United States and China on Saturday with Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Turkey, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Australia, Kazakhstan, and Norway kept India out, but India made light of it saying it was an “informal meeting.” European Union high representative for foreign affairs and security policy also participated in the meeting.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the meeting. Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabban said the meeting demonstrated “the renewed spirit of partnership that has emerged between these two countries, whose commitment to Afghanistan is greatly valued and appreciated.” Mr. Rabbani said he and President Ghani “took all necessary measures to ensure that our relationship with one country would not overshadow our relationship with the others.” Mr. Kerry welcomed China’s engagement in Afghanistan, stating that as a near neighbour, it can greatly contribute to the stabilisation efforts.

An Indian diplomat told The Hindu that the meeting was an informal mechanism and exclusion from it did not matter to India. “We are part of the U.N. initiatives on Afghanistan,” he pointed out.

The reducing diplomatic space after the Ghani government took charge remains a matter of concern for India.

‘It was informal; exclusion does not matter’

Our Boy-Raping Afghan Allies

https://i1.wp.com/www.khaama.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Bacha-Bazi.jpgMurder, Mayhem and Rape in Afghanistan: Made in the U.S.A.

rawanews

 

Thanks to the U.S., warlords in Afghanistan seem to have free rein to rape, kill, and grow and sell drugs

 

By Sonali Kolhatkar

“The Kite Runner,” Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 novel, featured a pivotal and highly controversial scene in which one of the young male protagonists is raped by an older youth. That harrowing section of the best-selling book highlighted the rampant sexual abuse of children in Afghanistan. Now, a revelation—even more horrifying—has implicated real-life U.S. soldiers serving in that country. The New York Times on Sunday reported how troops have been instructed to condone the routine rape of Afghan children by our warlord allies. The story is a cringe-inducing example of how corrupt our war in Afghanistan has been.

So rampant is the phenomenon of child rape by Afghan military commanders that it has a name: bacha bazi, which translates into “boy-play.” In some cases, rapes have taken place on U.S. military bases under the noses of American soldiers. But U.S. troops were told to look the other way because Washington considers the rapists’ help in fighting the Taliban central to its military strategy. Consequently, according to the Times, “instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of village—and doing little when they began abusing children.” The hypocrisy of arming human rights violators against the purportedly violent Taliban did not escape the notice of some U.S. troops who attempted to speak out but encountered retaliation.

Bacha bazi Afghan dancing boys
Afghan dancing boy who are routinely raped. (Photo: Still from the documentary ‘The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan’)

When confronted with the revelations, the top brass of the U.S. military justified its apparent policy of excusing child rape among allied commanders. Spokesman Col. Brian Tribus, who is stationed in Afghanistan, told the Times, “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law,” and that U.S. troops are not obligated to even report the crimes. “An exception, he said, is when rape is being used as a weapon of war.” Strangely, the rape of Afghan children by our warlord friends is not considered a weapon of war, even though the victims are the most vulnerable members of the Afghan public that the U.S. has claimed to protect in the longest war it has ever waged.

As we approach the 14th anniversary of the start of the war, it is instructive to look back at the warnings that the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), the leading Afghan women’s rights group, issued in the early weeks of the war. After the Taliban fled Kabul and U.S.-backed warlords called the Northern Alliance (NA) entered the capital, RAWA wrote, “The retreat of the terrorist Taliban from Kabul is a positive development, but entering of the rapist and looter NA in the city is nothing but a [sic] dreadful and shocking news for about 2 million residents of Kabul.” But RAWA’s warnings fell on deaf ears, because defeating the Taliban outweighed the brutality of our warlord allies. Over the years, RAWA and many other groups and individuals have warned against allying with the criminal warlords, but the U.S. has ignored them.

The child rape story should not surprise us. The current Afghan government, which is supposed to symbolize the democratic progress resulting from the U.S. war, has at its highest echelons an alleged mass murderer. Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum was deeply implicated in the murder of hundreds, possibly thousands, of captured Taliban soldiers in 2001. As in the case of child rape, U.S. military commanders looked the other way and refused to investigate the killings, since they occurred at the hands of a man who, for years, was on the CIA’s payroll.

Nearly a decade and a half of U.S. occupation has resulted in a country so dangerous that, according to the latest United Nations report on Afghanistan, “Civilians continued to bear the brunt of the Afghan conflict in the first half of 2015,” and “casualties are projected to equal or exceed the record high numbers documented last year.” In fact, civilian casualties spiked a whopping 60 percent in the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2014. The U.N. explained that the rise was “mostly due to increased civilian casualties caused by pro-Government forces during ground engagements.” “Pro-government forces” is simply another phrase for U.S.-backed forces.

Thanks to the U.S., warlords in Afghanistan seem to have free rein to rape, kill, and grow and sell drugs. By continually empowering these strongmen, Washington has effectively warped Afghan society. Women, children and ordinary Afghan men are paying the price of this supposed culturally sensitive reluctance to address problems like rape, murder and drugs.

TruthDig, Sep. 25, 2015

Under the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, the drug trade has also flourished. Just as warlords have been allowed to rape children and murder captives, U.S. troops have looked the other way as their drug lord allies have cultivated and sold opium and heroin. Afghanistan is now the No. 1 global supplier of heroin. Author Julien Mercille points out in his book “Cruel Harvest: U.S. Intervention in the Afghan Drug Trade,” that “US policies … have followed a historical pattern of toleration and protection of strongmen involved in narcotics.” U.S.-backed warlords reside in so-called “Poppy Palaces,” built from the spoils of the drug trade, even as ordinary Afghans struggle to meet their most basic needs. Drug addiction has skyrocketed so much among poor Afghans that it has resulted in whole villages of addicts, ranging from ages 10 to 60.

The McClatchy publishing company reports that when Afghanistan’s minister for counternarcotics, Gen. Khodaidad, was asked what the U.S. military has done to help eradicate opium and heroin, his response was, “Nothing.”

When the story of the alleged mass murder involving Dostum came to light in 2009, The New York Times quoted former U.S. Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper: “The first reaction of everybody there was, ‘Oh, this is a sensitive issue; this is a touchy issue politically.’ ” In last Sunday’s piece in the newspaper, Col. Tribus gave a similar explanation for why child rape is being ignored. The article’s author, Joseph Goldstein, went on to write that there is a “reluctance to impose cultural values in a country where pederasty is rife, particularly among powerful men. …”

Thanks to the U.S., warlords in Afghanistan seem to have free rein to rape, kill, and grow and sell drugs. By continually empowering these strongmen, Washington has effectively warped Afghan society. Women, children and ordinary Afghan men are paying the price of this supposed culturally sensitive reluctance to address problems like rape, murder and drugs.

It is no wonder, then, that ordinary Afghans are fleeing. About 13 percent of the refugees making their way to Europe in the past few months have been Afghan. Desperate Afghans wait in line for hours to obtain their passports and leave any way they can. They hope to elude the violence unleashed by U.S. policies in the form of rapist and murderous warlords on one side and the Taliban and Islamic State on the other.

Strengthened by the U.S., Afghanistan’s warlords are determined to retain their power. In a news report posted on RAWA’s website, journalist Sadaqat Ali points out how the fiefdoms of U.S.-backed warlords are being passed down from one generation to the next. When militia leaders die, their sons take their places, and, according to Ali, “this new generation also knows how to exploit the process of democracy to remain in power. They have inherited from their fathers how to use their militia and financial strength to rig elections.”

Despite lower levels of U.S. media coverage, the Afghanistan War continues. President Obama reneged on a promise to pull out troops, citing, among other reasons, the emergence of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. If the results of the 14-year occupation are any indication, there is no reason to believe that continued U.S. presence will in any way reduce violence. In addition to Islamic State, the Taliban are so strong that they continue to launch brazen attacks, such as that in Helmand province last month, when two U.S. Army Humvees obtained by the militant group were used in a mass shooting at a checkpoint.

One of the few bright spots to emerge within Afghan society in recent months is bold media coverage by Afghans themselves. An English-language news satire website called Afghan Onion, inspired by The Onion, has begun to relentlessly mock warlords and the Taliban. On its Twitter feed, Afghan Onion posts headlines about warlords like Abdul Rasul Sayyaf (“Just in: Sayyaf reveals it’s been two months he has not received God’s revelations. Crisis?”) and even the late Taliban leader (“Mullah Omar wins posthumous Emmys for best villain”). Similar to how RAWA operates, the site’s founders enjoy the anonymity the Internet affords, essential to avoid death at the hands of the men it shames. The Los Angeles Times, in a report about the Afghan Onion, quoted a founder of the website, who started the project in response to the last election, which he denounced as a “funny joke” and “a theater for foreign meddling.”

Still, Afghanistan is a dangerous place to be a journalist. In August, the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee reported dozens of beatings, threats and detentions of journalists inside Afghanistan. Just as in other cases, the majority of the incidents—72 percent—were attributed to “government organizations,” which are, of course, allied with the U.S.

We consider the Taliban—and now Islamic State—to be the worst threats to Afghan people. But the pattern of the mayhem and cruelty in Afghanistan is so clear, it ought to have a “Made in the U.S.A.” label on it.

Sonali Kolhatkar is the host and executive producer of Uprising, a daily radio program at KPFK Pacifica Radio, soon to be on Free Speech TV (click here for the campaign to televise Uprising). She is also the Director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, a US-based non-profit that supports women’s rights activists in Afghanistan and co-author of “Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence.”

UN Seriously Looking For Diplomatic “Exit” Door To Syrian War

Kathrin Hille in Moscow, Alex Barker in Brussels and Geoff Dyer in Washington

  Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, spe...Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, speaks to the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images©AFP  The chamber of the general assembly at the UN building in New York

Deep divisions over the format to begin a new peace initiative for Syria are emerging as the first obstacle for world leaders, as they meet at the UN general assembly on Monday to search for a response to a war engulfing the region.

Much of the attention will be focused on talks between Barack Obama, US president, and Vladimir Putin, Russian president, on Monday. However, Syria will be the main subject of a flurry of other meetings on the margins of the assembly which John Kerry, US secretary of state, likened to “diplomatic speed-dating”.

Prompted by Russia’s military build-up in Syria, European diplomats are seeking to reconfigure the so-called P5+1 format to address the Syrian conflict. This includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. It achieved the Iran nuclear deal and has been hailed as a model of constructive Russian diplomacy.

At a meeting scheduled at the assembly on Monday to discuss implementation of the Iran deal, the group is also expected to raise the subject of Syria. One option under consideration is to invite Turkey and Saudi Arabia to join a Syria-specific process under a UN umbrella, European diplomats said.

But the question of what role Iran should play could seriously hamper any such effort. Earlier diplomatic efforts over Syria this year have stalled over Russia’s attempts to pull in Iran.

At a meeting in Doha in early August, Mr Kerry, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Adel al-Jubeir, their Saudi counterpart, agreed that each of the three countries would draw up a list of Syrian opposition figures they considered moderate enough to become part of a political solution. In a next step, the three lists would have been merged to create a “platform” for a political transition.

But the initiative ran aground. “We sent them our list of 38 names, but the US and the Saudis didn’t do their homework,” said one Russian official. Four foreign diplomats said a push from Moscow for Iran to be included had raised misgivings in Riyadh.

US officials say that the administration has no objection to Iran being involved in Syria talks in some form. Indeed, Mr Kerry met Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, on Saturday at the UN, where they talked about the conflicts in both Syria and Yemen.

However, the Iranian role in any talks is a delicate issue for the US because, in the aftermath of the Iran nuclear deal, the administration has made commitments to the Saudis and other Gulf allies to prevent Iran from extending its influence in other parts of the region.

For that reason, US officials said that a transplant of the P5+1 format for the nuclear talks to the Syria issue, thereby giving Iran a formal role, would be unlikely. But they said the US was open to other formats for a new diplomatic initiative.

One idea under discussion is to form a contact group which could invite Iranian representatives on a less frequent basis, two European diplomats said.

On the role of Mr Assad, both Mr Kerry and some EU leaders have signalled that they are prepared to take a softer line on when Mr Assad has to depart — the main point of contention in past discussions with Russia.

US officials said one of the main reasons Mr Obama agreed to meet Mr Putin was to test the Russian leader’s level of commitment to Mr Assad after some subtle tweaks of Moscow’s language on the issue.

Said a senior administration official: “What we need to understand is, is this simply public rhetoric or is there a way for us to get the Russians to think seriously about the political transition which we believe needs to be part of a resolution of the Syrian conflict?”

In an interview with CBS to be aired on Sunday evening, Mr Putin defended his support of the Assad regime and criticised US backing of rebel groups.

“In my opinion, the provision of military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern international law and the UN Charter,” he said. “We have been providing assistance to legitimate government entities only.”

US Soldiers Ordered To Ignore Screams of Afghan Boys Raped By Warlords

U.S. soldiers told to ignore Afghan allies’ abuse of boys

san antonio express

Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an Afghani militia commander for keeping a boy chained to a bed as a sex slave, in Mineola, N.Y., Sept. 18, 2015. American soldiers were instructed not to intervene in the sexual abuse of children - bachi bazi, literally "boy play" - long common among Afghan warlords and strongmen. Quinn, and others who did so, faced discipline and even career ruin. (Kirsten Luce/The New York Times) Photo: KIRSTEN LUCE, STR / New York Times / NYTNSDan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an Afghani militia commander for keeping a boy chained to a bed as a sex slave, in Mineola, N.Y., Sept. 18, 2015. American soldiers were instructed not to intervene in the sexual abuse of children – bachi bazi, literally “boy play” – long common among Afghan warlords and strongmen. Quinn, and others who did so, faced discipline and even career ruin. (Kirsten Luce/The New York Times)

KABUL — In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and U.S. soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

The policy has endured as U.S. forces have recruited and organized Afghan militias to help hold territory against the Taliban. But GIs have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the U.S. military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages — and doing little when they began abusing children.
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“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up a U.S.-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”

After the beating, the Army relieved Quinn of his command and pulled him from Afghanistan. He’s since left the military.

Four years later, the Army is also trying to forcibly retire Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, a Special Forces member who joined Quinn in beating up the commander.

When asked about U.S. military policy, the spokesman for the U.S. command in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus, wrote in an email: “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law.” He added that “there would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it.” An exception, he said, is when rape is being used as a weapon of war.

Chinese Military To Back-Up Russian Moves in Syria

China-CV-16-Liaoning-aircraft-carrier-pla-navy-J-15-flying-shark-takeoff-2-702x336China-CV-16-Liaoning-aircraft-carrier-pla-navy-J-15-flying-shark-takeoff-2

Chinese Military Personnel Expected to Arrive in Syria

the arab source
By Leith Fadel
The recent arrival of the Russian Marines and Air Force to the Syrian port-city of Tartous has generated a significant amount of interest around the world, as the possibility of Russia’s direct military intervention becomes the focal point of the war on ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham).

Should the Russians begin military operations in Syria, what role with the U.S. led “Anti-ISIS Coalition” play in combatting the terrorist group? Will they coordinate with one another? Will they avoid one another?

It seems both sides have their own strategy to combat ISIS, but the U.S. has had far more experience fighting the terrorist group, despite their minimal success in obstructing their growth and advance in Syria and Iraq.

Russia seems poised to take a similar approach to the U.S. led Coalition; however, they are not seeking the assistance of the neighboring Arab countries to combat the terrorist group.

Instead, the Russians appear to have a contingency that involves another world power that was absent from the U.S. led Anti-ISIS Coalition: China.

 

On Tuesday morning, a Chinese naval vessel reportedly traveled through Egypt’s Suez Canal to enter the Mediterranean Sea; its destination was not confirmed.

However, according to a senior officer in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) that is stationed inside the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, Chinese military personnel and aerial assets are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks (6 weeks) to the port-city of Tartous – he could not provide anymore detail.

Russia has made it abundantly clear that they are taking an active role in this conflict, but the news of the Chinese military to Syria provides more insight into their contingency.

It appears that Russia is not going to combat ISIS alone: the plan is similar to the U.S.’ idea of a “coalition” of air forces, but far more involved on the ground; this is something the U.S. and their allies have avoided since the inception of their war against ISIS.

Despite all of this, Russia and the U.S. appear to be at it again; however, this is no space or arms race, they are actively flexing their muscles through their proxies (U.S.: rebels and Russia: Syrian Army).

Russian Jets Strike ISIL Positions in Syria’s Aleppo

Russian Jets Strike ISIL Positions in Syria’s Aleppo

farsnews

Russian Jets Strike ISIL Positions in Syria's Aleppo
TEHRAN (FNA)- Military sources said that the Russian Air Force launched a series of airstrikes above Aleppo’s Eastern countryside, targeting the ISIL terrorist group’s positions along the Deir Hafer-Aleppo Highway while the Syrian Army attacked the terrorist group on the ground, Arab media reports said.

The sources told Syria’s al-Masdar news outlet that the Syrian army, in coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF), conducted a powerful assault on the ISIL positions at  ‘Ayn Sabl, resulting in the capture of the Southwestern perimeter of this town that is located to the East of Tal Rayman and Al-Salihiyah.

“The Russian fighter jets reportedly struck ISIL positions in East Aleppo with remarkable precision and relentless ferocity; these airstrikes also marked the first time that Russia physically participated in this four-year-long Syrian conflict,” the report said.

The Russian Air Force was also seen flying above the Damascus countryside, Lattakia and Hama Governorates, on Thursday morning, but all of their jets reportedly returned back to the Hmamiyat Military Airport in the Syrian coastal city of Jableh.

According to a senior officer in the Syrian army, these Russian airstrikes were coordinated with the Syrian Air Force , who launched their own raids along the Raqqa-Deir Ezzur Highway, added the report.

Meantime, other sources said that the jets were Russia-made fighters, but did not confirmed that they were operating under the Russian air force command.

Earlier this month, military sources said that the Syrian air force, using satellite images, carried out a series of airstrikes above the Prophet Younis Mountains in the Lattakia Governorate’s Northeastern territories, killing at least 47 militants from Liwaa Suqour Al-Ghaab and Ahrar Al-Sham.

Obama Shreds Constitution To Create Contrived Authority Outside Terror War Mandate

[If authority under Article II of the Constitution really gave the executive the authority to defend US-trained mercenary forces, then that would have been used by Reagan to authorize the illegal defense of the Contras in Nicaragua.]

 U.S. Defense Undersecretary Christine E. Wormuth testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 16, 2015.U.S. Defense Undersecretary Christine E. Wormuth testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 16, 2015.  AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Senators Question Obama Administration’s New Legal Argument For Fighting in Syria

defense one

Administration officials have begun arguing that the president has the authority, in certain circumstances, to order action against Assad’s forces.

Obama administration officials have begun telling senators that the legal authorizations that undergird the war on terror don’t permit the U.S. military to defend U.S.-trained Syrian fighters against troops commanded by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — but that the Constitution does.

“If Syrian government forces attack the Syrian fighters we have trained and equipped while they were engaging ISIL, the President would have the authority under Article II of the Constitution to defend those fighters,” a senior administration official told Defense One.

It’s an acknowledgement that the mission in Syria has grown past its already-stretched-thin legal framework, and a hint that the White House is contemplating increasing anti-ISIS military action in Syria beyond the ongoing air campaign — perhaps by enforcing no-fly zones or safe enclaves on the ground.

As recently as July, military officials on the ground in the region told Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., that the rules of engagement didn’t allow American troops to protect the Syrian fighters. But in an Armed Services hearing last week, Kaine asked what authority would allow such action. Defense Undersecretary Christine Wormuth, the Pentagon’s policy chief, responded that the existing authorizations for the use of military force, or AUMFs, cover actions against ISIS or al-Qaeda affiliates, but not against Assad’s armed forces.

But if U.S.-trained Syrian forces “are attacked by the regime in a particular circumstance, we could — the president could exercise his Article II rights under the Constitution,” Wormuth said.

Responded Kaine, “I have not seen an interpretation of Article II — ever — that would allow the United States to undertake action under Article II to protect others’ fighters.”

Such concerns have led other members of the Armed Services Committee to ask Defense Secretary Ash Carter for a briefing on the changes he is considering for the program and the new legal argument. “The troubling state of the program calls into question its role in our counter-ISIL operations,” wrote Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in a letter released Friday evening.

Senators have been asking such questions since early July, when the first class of the U.S. program was preparing to graduate. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, S.C., and Mike Lee, Utah, said they have yet to hear back from the Defense Department on similar questions they asked three months ago. Lee was set to receive a briefing on the issue, but it was moved to Monday due to Pope Francis’s visit.

Initially, Carter said the United States had an obligation to the Syrians it trained to fight ISIS — but said he didn’t know whether that included the use of force. Administration officials have since hedged on how far they would go to defend them, saying Assad’s forces had heeded back-channel warnings to stay out of the way of U.S. and coalition forces – and by extension, the U.S.-trained fighters.

“They’ve basically stated ‘the new rules of engagement we have would allow us to do it,’ so to state that ‘we can do it,’ but then say, ‘Don’t worry, we probably won’t have to, so we don’t have to have an answer on the legal authority question,’ is disingenuous,” Kaine told Defense One earlier this month. “If they change the rules of engagement to allow it to be done, then they’ve got to have a legal rationale.”

Kaine said senators who previously were content to accept the administration’s legal arguments have become concerned that the mission in Syria has crept past the limits of the AUMFs.

“We haven’t really authorized the war at all yet,” he said. “I think we’re going to get dragged into doing an authorization because this thing is mutating and more complexities are coming up.”

When asked whether the AUMF covers engaging Assad’s forces, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said simply, “It does not.”

“And I would think any AUMF that we put forth, it would be important for that element to be there, to protect the train and equip people that are coming forward,” Corker told Defense One.

I passed with others an AUMF to deal with this issue in 2013,” he said. “And had that happened and the president carried out the activities, had he actually wanted there to be a debate instead of jumping into the lap of Putin, and Iran, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

US Readies “Irregular Warfare” Scheme For Baltics

US ‘preparing’ for hybrid warfare with Russia in Baltics – report

Russia-Today

 

Soldiers take part in an exercise of the U.S. Army's Global Response Force in Hohenfels near Regensburg © Michael Dalder
US has been getting ready for a possible war involving Russia in Europe’s Baltic States, German media reports. The report says all the NATO war games organized in the region by Washington have been intended to prepare various military response scenarios.

The Pentagon has shifted its military thinking when it comes to Moscow, selecting Russia’s direct neighbors in the Baltic region as the battleground, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) writes.

What the US sees playing out is hybrid warfare, which employs irregular troops and focuses on destabilizing the region via mass rallies as well as cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, according to the newspaper.

READ MORE: NATO to boost special defense forces to 40,000 – Stoltenberg

The conflict in Ukraine has been used by the US as a catalyst for more preparations: “Russia’s invasion of Eastern Ukraine urged the US to dust off its emergency plans. They were pretty outdated,” former US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Michele Flournoy, was quoted as saying.

Moscow, however, has repeatedly denied playing a role in the Ukrainian conflict. Despite repeated accusations by Kiev and its Western backers that Russia was supporting the rebelling eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk with weapons and manpower, no evidence has been presented to support the claims.

Estonian soldiers take part in NATO military exercise Hedgehog 2015 at the Tapa training range in Estonia © Ints Kalnins

Nevertheless, since the crisis in Ukraine began, the number of war games held by NATO in Europe has surged. All of the military exercises have focused on a response to a situation in which Russia presumably takes over the Baltic region.

According to the German newspaper, a “Russian threat” has been used as an excuse to justify increased military spending in eastern European NATO countries and provide a reason for US troops to be stationed in Europe.

READ MORE: 24 generals from 13 NATO countries gather in Latvia to train joint operations

DWN adds that there are 40,000 US soldiers in Germany alone, with additional American tanks and artillery on their way to the Baltic States.

So far, the Pentagon has only war games in mind for the Baltic States. However, nuclear options are also being examined. Recent reports have suggested that US nuclear weapons could soon be coming to Germany, despite a 2009 decision to withdraw the old American nuclear arsenal.

Last week there were media reports that the Pentagon was reviewing and updating its contingency plans for a war with Russia for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Given the security environment, given the actions of Russia, it has become apparent that we need to make sure to update the plans that we have in response to any potential aggression against any NATO allies,” a senior defense official familiar with the plan told Foreign Policy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Italian media in June that such “scaremongering” should not be taken seriously, stressing that Russia’s military is “not global, offensive, or aggressive,” and that it has “virtually no bases abroad.” He added that the few that do exist abroad are remnants of its Soviet past.

READ MORE: NATO stages huge airborne drill in Europe, says ‘acting in purely defensive manner’ (VIDEO)

“I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO. I think some countries are simply taking advantage of people’s fears with regard to Russia. They just want to play the role of front-line countries that should receive some supplementary military, economic, financial or some other aid,” Putin said at the time.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in August that the US has boosted its troop presence at Russia’s borders to achieve “dominance” in Europe, adding that the military buildup is “counter-productive” and serves as a “financial burden” for member states, as it “distracts” the alliance from dealing with other threats.

Russian troops are at the Donguz military base in the Orenburg Region, the site of the troops practical operations stage, a part of the Tsentr-2015 command post exercise © Sergey Mamontov

After reports of “American missiles put in a certain location and about certain ammunition depots in Eastern European countries and the Baltic,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister, Anatoly Antonov, stated that NATO is provoking Russia into an “arms race.”

Both Russia and NATO have been staging military drills recently, with both closely watching each other.

In August, the US military launched the largest NATO airborne drills in Europe since the end of the Cold War in what it called an effort to enhance the “security and stability” of the region.

About 5,000 soldiers from 11 NATO member states are participating in “simultaneous multinational airborne operations” which started last week and will last for almost a month, the US army said in a statement.

READ MORE: ‘Third World War would be last for humanity’ – Duma speaker

Earlier in the month, the US deployed two MQ-1 Predator long-range unmanned surveillance drones and 70 airmen to Latvia for a training mission.

NATO’s drills were answered by Russia’s own, when more than 95,000 troops belonging to Russia and its regional allies launched the annual Center exercises spanning from the Volga River to Siberia. The large-scale drills were the biggest Russia has seen since the Cold War.

Back in May, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia jointly asked for permanent NATO bases, alleging that Russia has the capacity to invade them within four hours of ordering an attack. Moscow lashed out at the move, saying it contravenes the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.

German Town Takes Woman’s Apartment To House Syrian “Draft-Dodgers”

“The reason for the move was the large number of unaccompanied young men who are assigned to the city. Many private landlords were reluctant to house them. Therefore, the city should seek their own living room, to the men be housed in groups.”

2BEA3FC500000578-3220673-image-a-39_1441266519607[SEE:  Fighting-age young men dominate “refugee” flow to Europe]

Bettina-HalbeyBettina Halbey

She lives alone on 90 square meters

I totally by surprise“: NRW City announces tenant for refugees

online focus

Nieheim, Wohnung
urn-newsml-dpa-com-20090101-150903-99-06073-large-4-3dpa / Daniel Bockwoldt,  800,000 refugees expected Germany by end of year
In the small town of Nieheim, two tenants have to look for a new apartment: The city needs to provide housing for refugees. One of the tenants will not be satisfied with the decision: Bettina Halbey finds dealing “impossible” with her. They even considering legal action against the city.
To make room for refugees who choose East Westphalian town of Nieheim has two tenants of municipal flats terminated. Here, if it were “dismissals for legitimate interest” in accordance with § 573 of the Civil Code, said the city’s mayor, Rainer Vidal (independent).

The reason for the move was the large number of unaccompanied young men who are assigned to the city. Many private landlords were reluctant to house them. Therefore, the city should seek their own living room, to the men be housed in groups.

“This dismissal – which is like a kick”

With a tenant, the city Nieheim have already agreed, to August 2016 could still live in the urban apartment, according to the mayor. Famous was the measure of the town, because the other tenant had publicly criticized.

The nurse Bettina Halbey said the “world” that she was “completely surprised” by the decision of the city. You find it “still impossible” as the City Bypass with her. “I’ll go with the whole situation not clear.” According to information from the “world” survived the 51-year-old alone in a 90 square meter apartment, since their now adult children have moved out.

They have for years “durchgewurschtelt with sorrow and distress” as a single mother, so Halbey for “world”. “And then just to get this notice. That was like a kick. ”

The city offers you help in finding accommodation at

The Mayor of Nieheim sees things differently. The tenant still have to May 2016 period, to look for a new apartment. Here, the city wanted to help her, Vidal said. Especially for a single person there was sufficient living space, but it lacked to accommodate larger groups.

For Halbey the apartment search is especially difficult: the “world”, she told that she had a cat and a dog – and with pets it is difficult to find a new apartment. According to the report it is considering legal action against the dismissal.

In Nieheim currently reside 71 asylum seekers. In the future, per month plus about 20, said Mayor Vidal. The municipal gym will not be used for housing. Because of school and club sport then at least 1,000 people have been affected and not just a few, Vidal said.

Mieterbund looks decision critical of the city

The German Tenants’ Association expressed criticism of the actions of the city. It is “legally problematic and politically disastrous,” a spokesman said on Thursday. It go in the paragraph to own requirements, the should be taken only by natural persons and not by cities or companies to complete, so the tenants’ association.

It should also be no solution to terminate tenants to accommodate refugees. So you play the German population and the refugees in the housing market against each other.

Syria Now Middle Ground In A New Regional War?

Syria is now in the middle of a new, more dangerous Cold War

russia direct

Sep 24, 2015

RD Interview: Professor Emeritus of Columbia University Robert Legvold argues that Russia and the U.S. are in the second phase of a new Cold War that has the potential to exacerbate the situation in Syria and become another missed opportunity for cooperation.  

A Free Syrian Army fighter with a weapon enters an underground cave in Maarat Al-Nouman, Idlib province. Photo: Reuters

Russia and the United States are moving into the second phase of a new Cold War, one where they accept hostility and confrontation as the new normal. This promises more problems than solutions. The two countries are “not in a good place,” said Robert Legvold, professor emeritus of Columbia University, during a Carnegie Moscow Center discussion on Sept. 22.

“We are learning to live with what is effectively a new Cold War—different as it is from the original Cold War—and neither side expects much to change any time soon,” he said.

In the process, Legvold argues, U.S.-Russia relations “are losing the guidance or limits developed during the original Cold War,” when some kinds of rules existed. In addition, there is little respect for one another. Mutual disrespect, unlike during the original Cold War, marks relations today.

Read Q&A with Carnegie Moscow Center’s Alexei Malashenko: “Russia faces tough choices on what to do with Syria and ISIS

According to Legvold, neither U.S. nor Russian foreign policy is guided by longer-range strategic thinking. Neither appears to have either the ability or inclination to integrate short-term policy with long-run goals. Nor are new rules for conducting their intensified competition likely to emerge until, alas, events force them into being. In this respect, the derailing of U.S.-Russian relations is more dangerous than the original Cold War.

Syria and the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS) are going to be added to the long list of missed opportunities for U.S.-Russia bilateral cooperation, he told Russia Direct in an interview.

He also discusses the odds of a clash between Russia and the U.S. in the Middle East as well as the reasons why Russia should be more active in contributing to the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe.

Russia Direct: There are numerous reports that Russia is going to increase its troops in Syria. In addition, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov says that Moscow is ready to provide military assistance to Syrian President Bashar Assad to fight ISIS. Amidst these events, what are the chances that Russia and the U.S. find common ground in Syria? 

Robert Legvold: The Syrian crisis is a good illustration of what I call a new U.S.-Russia Cold War. In principle, the two countries should find common ground: Both Russia and the United States have a strong interest in fighting ISIS and destroying that force within Iraq and Syria. But the United States is opposing the Assad regime, insisting that his exit is the prerequisite for a political settlement, while the Russian side is supporting Assad. When Russia provides military assistance in Latakia and Tartus, the U.S. has worked to block it.

rather than seeing Russian assistance to the Syrian side as, in part, Russia’s contribution to the war against ISIS, Washington views it as fueling the civil war and intensifying the migration crisis

Robert Legvold, Columbia University

Hence, rather than seeing Russian assistance to the Syrian side as, in part, Russia’s contribution to the war against ISIS, Washington views it as fueling the civil war and intensifying the migration crisis.  In the absence of progress toward a political settlement of the Syrian civil war, the two sides will find it very difficult to find a way to cooperate in the war against ISIS.

RD: So, what is going to happen in the future?

R.L.: The Russians have now said that they are supplying by air and by sea Syria’s armed forces, building up a new base in Latakia that will accommodate 1,500 troops. More than 200 marines have been deployed. They are beginning to introduce more advanced armament, such as the BTR-82A armored personnel carrier.

So, the U.S. is opposing that. It tries to deny it by blocking air space, successfully in the case of Bulgaria. But they are not likely to succeed in blocking Iraqi or Iranian airspace, which Russia uses as a way to bring assistance in.

Video by Pavel Gazdyuk

I don’t think the U.S. will go beyond that. But in the context of the new Cold War there will be implications for bilateral relations. The effect will be an increasingly negative attitude of Washington and the Obama administration towards Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And, in the meantime, the Russian side is going to see the U.S. as a country sticking to an anti-Russian policy, a policy designed to pursue U.S. strategic interests in the region in the way that is destabilizing and creating problems within the Middle East.

RD: How do you assess the odds of Russian and American soldiers clashing in Syria, as some warn?

R.L.: There is a small risk.  However, something like a military encounter could happen. If it happens, it would be because the area — where the fighting is taking place— is, basically, a very narrow strip in the western part of Syria between various opposition forces and Syria’s armed forces.

In addition, there is a very large part of neighboring territory controlled by ISIS. If the United States bombs in the areas that are very close to Latakia, where the Russians are operating, there might be some risks: American air forces could attack where Russian advisors and soldiers are present. That would be fairly unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out. This is likely one of the key subjects in the new direct talks between Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.

RD: It seems to have stemmed from that fact that Russia and America are going to create two different coalitions to fight the Islamic State. So, why don’t Moscow and Washington team up to fight ISIS?     

R.L.: On Monday at the UN, President Putin is expected to propose a Grand Coalition to fight ISIS, one that includes all the major players, including Iran. In that form, the idea is almost certainly going to be unacceptable to the Obama Administration.  The key question is whether Washington will feel there is enough in Putin’s initiative that warrants engaging Moscow in the search for a workable common position.

Even then, however, as I said, the obstacle posed by the absence of progress toward a political settlement or mitigation of the Syrian civil war will make cooperation difficult. And progress toward a political settlement will not begin until the United States abandons Assad going as a precondition and Russia abandons its unconditional support for the Assad regime.

Also read: “Will Russia contribute to solving Syria’s refugee crisis?

RD: What do you think about the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe? After all, some call Russia for being more rigorous in resolving or, at least, alleviating this problem?   

R.L.: It is very unlikely that Russia will begin receiving the flows of migrants that are coming out of Syria and North Africa. But it is the responsibility of most of the major developed countries, not only in Western Europe, but also, my country, the United States, which agreed to take a small number of refugees: 10,000.

As a matter of ethics and principles, it would be very good if Russia were able to assist what in reality is an international migration crisis. It is not just a Western European crisis, it is a human crisis; and any country that is able to assist should.

RD: To what extent could Russia’s contribution to alleviating the Syrian refugees crisis be a game-changer in improving its image abroad?

R.L.: Given that Russia is viewed negatively by much of the outside world, her contribution to mitigating this human tragedy, the European migration crisis, cannot help but have a positive effect on Russia’s image. Still, the sources and nature of this negative image are large enough that it will not turn around tomorrow.

2nd Batch of US-Trained Anti-Syrian Fighters Has A Weapons “Fire Sale” For Al-Nusrah

U.S.-trained Syria rebels lose officer, investigate al Qaeda claims

cbsnews

The allegations come only days after the group of about 70 rebels returned to Syria after training in Turkey as part of the U.S. program to train and equip rebels to take part in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS.)

If confirmed,defection among the ranks of U.S.-trained rebels would be an embarrassment to the program, which has already been criticized as offering too little too late and failing to provide enough protection for those trained rebels once inside Syria.

U.S. officials have begun an overhaul of the efforts, including suggesting that the newly trained fighters operate as the New Syrian Forces alongside Syrian Kurds, Sunni Arab and other anti-ISIS forces.

The American program to train rebels to fight ISIS was once housed under the title of “Division 30.” However, Pentagon officials appear to be distancing themselves from that moniker.

On Wednesday, the commander of Division 30, Major Anas Ibrahim Ubayd, announced that he and his men now operate under the name “The Atarib Revolutionaries Group” which he defines as “an independent rebel groups” dedicated to fighting the Syrian regime, and not ISIS, reports CBS News’ Khaled Wassef.

The U.S. Central Command confirmed Monday the graduates have re-entered Syria with their weapons and equipment and were to operate alongside existing western-allied forces.

Another previous batch of rebels trained by the U.S. had previously been hit hard by their rival the Nusra Front, the al Qaeda branch in Syria.

The first trained group, made up of 54 fighters, was wiped out by the Nusra Front soon after it returned to Syria in July. In the attack, several members of the group were killed and others taken hostage while many fighters fled. U.S. Central Command spokesman, Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, said that those rebels largely disbanded – of the 54, one was killed; one is being held captive; nine are back in the fight; 11 are available but not in Syria; 14 returned to Syria but quit the U.S. program and 18 are unaccounted for.

The new allegations, pertaining to the second group of U.S.-trained rebels, were first circulated on social media after the group returned to Syria last week. The U.S.-based SITE intelligence group, which monitors militant websites, said supporters of the Nusra Front first reported that a group of those newly trained by America had handed over their weapons to the militants after they were arrested. The report made no mention of a defecting officer.

Other supporters of the Nusra Front posted pictures of what they said were weapons seized from the U.S. trained rebels.

Foreign Fighters Swarm Into Syria As Fast As Fighting Age Males Flee To Europe

[Proving that the Syrian war is being imposed upon the country from outside powers.  If the fighting age males are the primary element of the tsunami of Syrian refugees, and there is no shortage of cannon fodder fighting the Syrian Army, then it cannot be called a “civil war.”  The Syrian war is a pre-planned war of aggression, forcefully carried-out by outsiders imported in to agitate for war.  The objective is the subjugation of the Syrian Nation and the theft of natural resources.]

The Syrian Refugee Crisis Shows Far More Young People Want to Flee War Than Fight It

time mag.

refugees migrants registration Greece
Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME Migrants wait at a camp for asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos, on Sept. 4, 2015, to receive registration documents from Greek authorities that will allow them to leave the island on ferries and travel onward toward Western Europe.

 

The torrent of refugees leaving Syria dwarfs the trickle of foreign fighters heading in

So much has been made of the flow of foreign fighters into Syria to join jihadi groups like ISIS that it’s worth pointing out who has been leading the far, far larger flow out of the war zone. Military-aged males are at the forefront of the human torrent flowing into Europe from Syria, a situation that should make us reconsider the actual popularity of war. The vast majority of Muslims are really not that into armed jihad, and for all the attention to the emotional make-up of the young men who take it up, the drama unfolding at Europe’s doorstep lets us consider the ordinary brand of courage summoned by people pushed out of their homes, and then out of their country, by the unspeakable terrors never quite communicated by words like “fighting.”

Placed one atop the other on a map, the number of people moving to join Syria’s civil war would appear as a barely visible black thread in the wide, wide arrow pointing out from the country: 20,000 people going in against 4-million headed out. And while most of the foreign fighters are young men, the same is true of those fleeing the fighting. Many doubtless are escaping conscription into the Syrian armed forces, which President Bashar Assad in a July speech admitted faces major manpower shortages. Almost all are a vanguard for families waiting to follow them. You don’t send a mother or a grandfather to scout a route to a new home. You send the hardiest and least vulnerable—males in their late teens to middle age. The International Organization on Migration, which keeps counts where it can, offers this data point from Macedonia, a stepping stone between Greece and Serbia: Of 81,000 who have arrived there, more than 54,000 are adult males.

Not all are Syrians, but across Europe more and more of them are, a sea change in the conflict. Almost two years ago, when the civil war still had elements of an uprising, young men of military age were more inclined to remain near the fight. At the U.N. refugee camp named Za’atari in Jordan, just across the Syrian border and the Daraa governorate where the first protests against Bashar Assad sprang up, I listened to aid workers fret about how to keep Syrian teenage boys from stealing back over the border to take up arms.

In the 22 months since, another 90,000 people have been killed a conflict now stalemated between Assad’s forces and religious extremists. All told something like 11 million people have been pushed from their homes. The four million who also left the country appear less and less likely to be going back. And the hundreds of thousands with the cash and fortitude to reach Europe are now the face of the conflict.

They’re also it’s true face. There’s plenty of reason to be concerned by the rise of ISIS, and by its ability to attract Westerners who might one day pose a terror threat outside of Syria. But so far the group has inspired only the kind of attacks that, at least in the United States, blend into the background noise of gun violence. A Brookings Institute assessment of the real but possibly overblown danger posed to the West by foreign fighters was appropriately titled Be Afraid. Be a Little Afraid.

The suffering of the war’s civilian victims, on the other hand, is not a matter of informed speculation. It is now, thanks to the tens of thousands of Syrians who have fled for Europe, at the center of the global stage. It came the long way around, but it’s finally there. Welcome.

There Cannot Be A “No Fly Zone” In Syria With Russian Jets Flying Around

Russian jets in Syria mean no-fly zone is ‘out of the question’, warn experts

the telegraph

Vladimir Putin is carrying out Russia’s biggest military intervention outside the old Soviet Union for almost 30 year

Russian Su-25 jets on the runway at  at al-Assad airbase in SyriaRussian Su-25 jets on the runway at at al-Assad airbase in Syria Photo: Александр Ермаков

Russia’s deployment of jet fighters in Syria has effectively destroyed the West’s option of imposing a “no-fly zone” over the country, experts have warned, as the British Defence Secretary said the intervention risked deepening the crisis.

The Kremlin’s operation in Syria amounts to the biggest deployment of Russian forces outside the former Soviet Union since the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.

So far, President Vladimir Putin has dispatched about 500 troops to the city of Latakia and the adjacent port of Tartous on Syria’s Mediterranean coast.

He has also deployed 28 warplanes, 15 military helicopters – including MI-24 gunships – and at least two batteries of SA-22 surface-to-air missiles. Four of the warplanes are SU-27 Flanker fighters, which are designed for air-to-air combat.

The air base at Latakia, Syria on September 4 and September 15The air base at Latakia, Syria on September 4 and September 15  Photo: http://www.Stratfor.com/Reuters

Michael Fallon suggested the operation was an added obstacle to peace in Syria. “The Russian action in the last few weeks, putting ships and aircraft into the region, further complicates an immensely complicated situation,” he said.

Russia’s declared purpose is to help Bashar al-Assad’s regime to fight the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). But neither Isil nor any other rebel group in Syria possesses air power. The SU-27 jets and the SA-22 missiles have no military use against Isil.

Instead, their arrival is designed to send a pointed signal to the West, according to Jonathan Eyal, the director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). “What the Russians are putting in now indicates an intent to be there for a long period,” he said.

The deployment of the SU-27s was the “key” to gauging Mr Putin intentions, added Mr Eyal. Their presence makes it impossible for the West to impose a “no-fly zone” over Syria, at least without Russia’s consent.

A Russian SU-27 FlankerA Russian SU-27 Flanker  Photo: RAF

“If you are talking about a no-fly zone over the whole of Syria, that’s probably out of the question now,” said Mr Eyal. “The effect of this is to make sure that Russia is locked in to any kind of deal that is going to take place there.”

The arrival of Russian firepower in support of Assad’s regime has already compelled America to deal directly with the Kremlin over Syria. Ashton Carter, the US defence secretary, has spoken to his Russian counterpart about the situation in Syria. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, is expected to meet Mr Putin at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month.

More evidence of the Kremlin’s military build-up emerged on Tuesday when IHS Jane’s, a defence consultancy, said that two more bases were being prepared to “receive Russian forces”. Satellite pictures showed that construction work was underway at Istamo weapons storage complex and Al-Sanobar military base, both located north of the airport in Latakia where the Russian warplanes are located. “These new discoveries highlight how the rapid build-up of Russia’s expeditionary force in Syria is continuing apace, giving it a significant capability to target rebels opposed to the Syrian government and to secure the Latakia homeland of President Bashar al-Assad,” said IHS Jane’s.

Mr Fallon said: “Thousands of people have already been killed, millions are being displaced. You have a regime that is barrel-bombing its own citizens and you have Isil with its own brand of barbarity. So it is urgent that we find a way through to bring peace to that particular country. The Russian intervention certainly makes the situation even more complicated.”

Mi-24 Hind large helicopter gunships during a rehearsal of the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, May 7, 2015 in Baltiysk, Russia. The Russian military hardware deployed to Syria includes MI-24 gunships, pictured  Photo: Getty / RIA Novosti

Following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, Mr Fallon indicated the Government would need the support of rebel Labour MPs to win any Commons vote on extending RAF air strikes against Isil into neighbouring Syria.

“The Prime Minister has made it very clear that to extend our operations into Syria we need the support of Parliament and we will not go and ask for that support until we are sure of getting it. We will have to make the argument on both sides of the House,” he said.

Mr Fallon added that Russia’s ambitions had made the world a more dangerous place than it was five years ago. “We’ve seen a revanchist Russia reheating the Cold War, menacing its neighbours and increasingly using hybrid warfare to pursue its goals,” he said.

EU Interstate Refugee Tensions Threaten Accidental World War

Migrant crisis and Euro tensions threaten to trigger catastrophic conflict claim experts

express sunday

By Rob Virtue and Agnes Kegl, EXCLUSIVE

RISING tensions between central and east European countries over the escalating migrant crisis could be the spark for a catastrophic WORLD WAR, experts warned today.

World WarExperts and politicians fear the world is on the verge of a catastrophic war  GETTY

Both the Hungarian and Italian prime ministers have spoken of huge dangers of unchecked floods of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East which have set previously peacable EU nations against each other.

The scenario – especially the one currently being played out in Serbia and Hungary – is hauntingly similar to that which triggered the First World War.

The problem has manifesting itself in central Europe where Hungary is besieged by growing numbers of refugees passing through from Serbia and Croatia, forcing its government to build fences to stem the influx.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán warned European life and its established laws were under threat from huge numbers of people heading through the continent from war-torn states in the Middle East.

In a defence against criticism of the aggressive stance against refugees taken by the country , he said yesterday: “Our borders are in danger. Our way of life where we respect the law is in danger.

“The whole of Hungary and Europe is in danger.

“The migrants are blitzing us.”

Hungary and Serbia have constantly been at each others’ throats over the issue, with Budapest urging its non-EU neighbours to do more to help tackle the growing neighbours migrants.

It is now sending troops armed with rubber bullets and tear gas to the border with Serbia to protect the country’s frontier. 

Pinter Bence, a Hungarian political journalist for the mandiner.hu website said the situation with growing tensions between nations was reminiscent of the international scenario from just over 100 years ago.

Viktor OrbánHungarian PM Viktor Orbán says migrants are “blitzing” Europe  GETTY

Terrorism, energised by a fanatical belief in God, aims to start a third world war in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Africa

He said: “This is how the eve of the First World War could have looked like: complete hesitancy, the termination of the usual channels of diplomacy, the lack of solidarity, pressure to take a step and the countries issuing threats to each other are all reminding us of that. It definitely doesn’t look like a cooperating Europe.

“Mr Orban is right in stating that it would only worth to talk about quotas if we can control the registration of the migrants coming to Europe. And so far no country has any idea how to do that.

“That’s what the Hungarian Government has done, though it risks projecting an image of inhumanity.”

He said reports of a Croatian train filled with 1,000 migrants illegally entering Hungary last week, could easily be the sort of act that escalates the currently fraught situation.

SyriansSyrian migrants heading for the Greek island of Lesbos  REUTERS

Politicians in Budapest described the train’s unannounced arrival as a “major, major incident”.

Mr Pinter said: “What did the Croatian government think when they sent a train with 40 fully armed police officers on it, crossing the border at a red signal? In the worse cases an affair like this can lead to an outbreak of a war.”

The escalating situation on the continent has also drawn interest across the Atlantic Ocean.

Like Mr Pinter, Gerald Celente, who is a trend forecaster in the United States, said the current crisis draws huge parallels with a previous global conflict – in this case the Second World War.

He blames America’s attacks on Libya, Iraq and most recently Syria, for bringing “refugees of war” to Europe.

Mr Celente said this is going hand in hand with trade wars, with China devaluing its currency to gain a global advantage, similar to what happened prior to the Second World War.

Croatian PoliceCroatian police trying to move migrants away from a train this week  AP

Migrants in AustriaMigrants camping in Austria after arriving from Hungary  REUTERS

Considering the current situation in Syria, where America is bombing president Bashar al-Assad’s regime while Vladimir Putin’s Russia is defending him by attacking ISIS, his warnings are all too clear.

He said: “We’re on the march to war. History is repeating itself.

“It’s a repeat of the 1930s. The crash of 1929, the Great Depression, currency wars, trade wars, world war.

“We’ve got the panic of ’08, the Great Recession, currency wars, trade wars and now we’re seeing the refugees of war sweeping on the shores of Europe.”

He said another big terror attack on society will see an emotional outpouring across the Western world that will then transform into a catastrophic thirst for revenge.

Mr Celente said: “They are leading us to the next great war. All it is going to take is a terror attack and people will be tying yellow ribbons around everything that doesn’t move, waving American flags and we’re off to what Einstein called the whole war scenario.”

Sergio MattarellaItalian PM Sergio Mattarella fears religion-based terror is leading the world into a major war,  GETTY

Anti-ISIS Action Must Begin With Stopping State Sponsorship

Politicians should witness ‘direct consequences of their lust for war’ – Labour MP

Russia-Today

 

© Steve Lewis
UK politicians should have been sent to Afghanistan to witness the effects of their ‘lust for war’ according to soldier-turned-Labour MP Clive Lewis.

The Norwich MP, who served a tour of Afghanistan as a reservist in 2009, also criticized the tendency of many MPs to see bombing as a default choice when it came to foreign policy issues.

I’m tired of it. As someone who, to be quite frank, has had my fill on my short tour of Afghanistan of death and mayhem,” Lewis told the Politics Home website.

I sometimes think if we had a few more MPs in there seeing the direct consequences of their lust for war, maybe they’d think twice about it,” he added.

Lewis, a socialist who is widely seen as a rising star of the Corbyn era, warned against incoherent policy choices when it came to the situation in Syria.

Bombing hasn’t been thought through,” he said. “Ultimately the solution here has got to be diplomatic. We should be putting pressure on Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Turkey, working with Russia and Iran, for a regional settlement.

Stop their funding, stop the arms shipments and let’s go for the diplomatic options first and exhaust them rather than this knee jerk reaction that we see in this House time after time, which is ‘we’ve got a problem in the Middle East, bomb it.’”

Destroying the Syrian Nation For the Sake of Gas

Don’t let anyone fool you: Sectarian strife in Syria has been engineered to provide cover for a war for access to oil and gas, and the power and money that come along with it.

Refugees and migrants wait to cross the border from the northern Greek village of Idomeni to southern Macedonia, Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. Greece has borne the brunt of a massive refugee and migration flow of people heading into the European Union. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

Refugees and migrants wait to cross the border from the northern Greek village of Idomeni to southern Macedonia, Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. Greece has borne the brunt of a massive refugee and migration flow of people heading into the European Union. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)


 

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect recent Wikileaks revelations of US State Department leaks that show plans to destabilize Syria and overthrow the Syrian government as early as 2006.  The leaks reveal that these plans were given to the US directly from the Israeli government and would be formalized through instigating civil strife and sectarianism through partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and even Egypt to break down the power structue in Syria to essentially to weaken Iran and Hezbolla. The leaks also reveal Israeli plans to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration and military expansion. 


 

MINNEAPOLIS — Images of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up dead on Mediterranean shores in his family’s attempt to flee war-torn Syria, have grabbed the attention of people around the world, sparking outrage about the true costs of war.

The heart-wrenching refugee crisis unfolding across the Middle East and at European borders has ignited a much needed conversation on the ongoing strife and instability that’s driving people from their homes in countries like Syria, Libya and Iraq. It’s brought international attention to the inhumane treatment these refugees are receiving if — and it is a major “if” — they arrive at Europe’s door.

In Syria, for example, foreign powers have sunk the nation into a nightmare combination of civil war, foreign invasion and terrorism. Syrians are in the impossible position of having to choose between living in a warzone, being targeted by groups like ISIS and the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown, or faring dangerous waters with minimal safety equipment only to be denied food, water and safety by European governments if they reach shore.

Other Syrians fleeing the chaos at home have turned to neighboring Arab Muslim countries. Jordan alone has absorbed over half a million Syrian refugees; Lebanon has accepted nearly 1.5 million; and Iraq and Egypt have taken in several hundred thousand.

Although it’s not an Arab nation or even part of the Middle East, Iran sent 150 tons of humanitarian goods, including 3,000 tents and 10,000 blankets, to the Red Crescents of Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon via land routes to be distributed among the Syrian refugees residing in the three countries last year.

Turkey has taken in nearly 2 million refugees to date. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan made international headlines for opening his nation’s arms to migrants, positioning himself as a kind of savior in the process.

A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi after he drowned when the boat he and his family members were in capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Photo: Nilüfer Demir/DHA)

Meanwhile, Gulf Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have provided refuge to zero Syrian refugees.

While there’s certainly a conversation taking place about refugees — who they are, where they’re going, who’s helping them, and who isn’t — what’s absent is a discussion on how to prevent these wars from starting in the first place. Media outlets and political talking heads have found many opportunities to point fingers in the blame game, but not one media organization has accurately broken down what’s driving the chaos: control over gas, oil and resources.

Indeed, it’s worth asking: How did demonstrations held by “hundreds” of protesters demanding economic change in Syria four years ago devolve into a deadly sectarian civil war, fanning the flames of extremism haunting the world today and creating the world’s second largest refugee crisis?

While the media points its finger to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s barrel bombs and political analysts call for more airstrikes against ISIS and harsher sanctions against Syria, we’re four years into the crisis and most people have no idea how this war even got started.

This “civil war” is not about religion

Citing a lack of access on the ground, the United Nations stopped regularly updating its numbers of casualties in the Syrian civil war in January 2014. Estimates put the death toll between 140,200 and 330,380, with as many as 6 million Syrians displaced, according to the U.N.

While there is no question that the Syrian government is responsible for many of the casualties resulting from its brutal crackdown, this is not just a Syrian problem.

Foreign meddling in Syria began several years before the Syrian revolt erupted.  Wikieaks released leaked US State Department cables from 2006 revealing US plans to overthrow the Syrian government through instigating civil strife, and receiving these very orders straight from Tel Aviv.  The leaks reveal the United State’s partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and even Egypt to use sectarianism to divide Syria through the Sunni and Shiite divide to destabilize the nation to weaken Iran and Hezbolla.  Israel is also revealed to attempt to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration.

According to major media outlets like the BBC and the Associated Press, the demonstrations that supposedly swept Syria were comprised of only hundreds of people, but additional Wikileaks cables reveal CIA involvement on the ground in Syria to instigate these very demonstrations as early as March 2011.

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 file photo, Syrians hold a large poster depicting Syria's President Bashar Assad during a rally in Damascus, Syria. Some activists expressed regret that one year later their "revolution" against President Bashar Assad's rule had become mired in violence. (AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman, File)

 

Just a few months into the demonstrations which now consisted of hundreds of armed protesters with CIA ties, demonstrations grew larger, armed non-Syrian rebel groups swarmed into Syria, and a severe government crackdown swept through the country to deter this foreign meddling. It became evident that the United States, United Kingdom, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey would be jumping on the opportunity to organize, arm and finance rebels to form the Free Syrian Army as outlined in the State Department plans to destabilize Syria. (Just a few months ago, WikiLeaks confirmed this when it released Saudi intelligence that revealed Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been working hand in hand to arm and finance rebels to overthrow the Syrian government since 2012.)

These foreign nations created a pact in 2012 called “The Group of Friends of the Syrian People,” a name that couldn’t be further from the truth. Their agenda was to divide and conquer in order to wreak havoc across Syria in view of overthrowing Syrian President Bashar Assad.

A Free Syrian Army soldier carries his weapon at the northern town of Sarmada, in Idlib province, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. (AP Photo)

The true agenda to hijack Syria’s revolt quickly became evident, with talking heads inserting Syria’s alliance with Iran as a threat to the security and interests of the United States and its allies in the region. It’s no secret that Syria’s government is a major arms, oil and gas, and weapons ally of Iran and Lebanon’s resistance political group Hezbollah.

But it’s important to note the timing: This coalition and meddling in Syria came about immediately on the heels of discussions of an Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline that was to be built between 2014 and 2016 from Iran’s giant South Pars field through Iraq and Syria. With a possible extension to Lebanon, it would eventually reach Europe, the target export market.

Perhaps the most accurate description of the current crisis over gas, oil and pipelines that is raging in Syria has been described by Dmitry Minin, writing for the Strategic Cultural Foundation in May 2013:

“A battle is raging over whether pipelines will go toward Europe from east to west, from Iran and Iraq to the Mediterranean coast of Syria, or take a more northbound route from Qatar and Saudi Arabia via Syria and Turkey. Having realized that the stalled Nabucco pipeline, and indeed the entire Southern Corridor, are backed up only by Azerbaijan’s reserves and can never equal Russian supplies to Europe or thwart the construction of the South Stream, the West is in a hurry to replace them with resources from the Persian Gulf. Syria ends up being a key link in this chain, and it leans in favor of Iran and Russia; thus it was decided in the Western capitals that its regime needs to change.

It’s the oil, gas and pipelines, stupid!

Indeed, tensions were building between Russia, the U.S. and the European Union amid concerns that the European gas market would be held hostage to Russian gas giant Gazprom. The proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline would be essential to diversifying Europe’s energy supplies away from Russia.

Turkey is Gazprom’s second-largest customer. The entire Turkish energy security structure relies on gas from Russia and Iran. Plus, Turkey was harboring Ottoman-like ambitions of becoming a strategic crossroads for the export of Russian, Caspian-Central Asian, Iraqi and Iranian oil and even gas to Europe.

The Guardian reported in August 2013:

“Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar and Turkey that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets – albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad’s rationale was ‘to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.’”

Note the purple line which traces the proposed Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline and note that all of the countries highlighted in red are part of a new coalition hastily put together after Turkey finally (in exchange for NATO’s acquiescence on Erdogan’s politically-motivated war with the PKK) agreed to allow the US to fly combat missions against ISIS targets from Incirlik. Now note which country along the purple line is not highlighted in red. That’s because Bashar al-Assad didn’t support the pipeline and now we’re seeing what happens when you’re a Mid-East strongman and you decide not to support something the US and Saudi Arabia want to get done.

Knowing Syria was a critical piece in its energy strategy, Turkey attempted to persuade Syrian President Bashar Assad to reform this Iranian pipeline and to work with the proposed Qatar-Turkey pipeline, which would ultimately satisfy Turkey and the Gulf Arab nations’ quest for dominance over gas supplies. But after Assad refused Turkey’s proposal, Turkey and its allies became the major architects of Syria’s “civil war.”

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/G1p_tFnKqMA?rel=0&showinfo=0

Much of the strategy currently at play was described back in a 2008 U.S. Army-funded RAND report, “Unfolding the Future of the Long War”:

“The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized. … For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources. … The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.”

In this context, the report identifies the divide and conquer strategy while exploiting the Sunni-Shiite divide to protect Gulf oil and gas supplies while maintaining a Gulf Arab state dominance over oil markets.

“Divide and Rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare, and support to indigenous security forces. … the United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace. … U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the ‘Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict’ trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world…. possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.”

The report notes that another option would be “to take sides in the conflict, possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.”

This framework crafted an interesting axis: Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S., Britain and France vs. Syria, Iran and Russia.

Divide and conquer: A path to regime change

With the U.S., France, Britain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — aka, the new “Friends of Syria” coalition — publicly calling for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad between  2011 and 2012 after Assad’s refusal to sign onto the gas pipeline, the funds and arms flowing into Syria to feed the so-called “moderate” rebels were pushing Syria into a humanitarian crisis. Rebel groups were being organized left and right, many of which featured foreign fighters and many of which had allied with al-Qaida.

Saudi Arabia's permanent representative to the League of Arab States Ahmad al-Qattan, center, attends the Arab League summit in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, March, 29, 2012. The annual Arab summit meeting opened in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday with only 10 of the leaders of the 22-member Arab League in attendance and amid a growing rift between Arab countries over how far they should go to end the one-year conflict in Syria. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

The Syrian government responded with a heavy hand, targeting rebel held areas and killing civilians in the process.

Since Syria is religiously diverse, the so-called “Friends of Syria” pushed sectarianism as their official “divide and conquer” strategy to oust Assad. Claiming that Alawites ruled over a majority Sunni nation, the call by the “moderate” U.S.-backed rebels became one about Sunni liberation.

Although the war is being sold to the public as a Sunni-Shiite conflict, so-called Sunni groups like ISIS,  the Syrian al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front) and even the “moderate” Free Syrian Army have indiscriminately targeted Syria’s Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Jews. At the same time, these same foreign nations supported and even armed the Bahraini government, which claims to be Sunni, in its violent crackdown on the majority Shiite pro-democracy demonstrations that swept the nation.

The Syrian government army itself is over 80 percent Sunni, which indicates that the true agenda has been politically — not religiously — motivated.

In addition to this, the Assad family is Alawite, an Islamic sect that the media has clumped in with Shiites, though most Shiites would agree that the two are unrelated. Further, the Assad family is described as secular and running a secular nation. Counting Alawites as Shiites was simply another way to push a sectarian framework for the conflict: It allowed for the premise that the Syria-Iran alliance was based on religion, when, in fact, it was an economic relationship.

This framework carefully crafted the Syrian conflict as a Sunni revolution to liberate itself from Shiite influence that Iran was supposedly spreading to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

But the truth is, Syria’s Sunni community is divided, and many defected to join groups like the Free Syrian Army, ISIS and al-Qaida. And as mentioned earlier, over 80 percent of Assad’s military is Sunni.

As early as 2012, additional rebels armed and financed by Arab Gulf nations and Turkey like al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood, declared all-out war against Shiites. They even threatened to attack Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraq’s government after they had overthrown the Assad government.

Soon after, the majority of the Muslim Brotherhood rebels became part of al-Qaida-affiliated groups. Together, they announced that they would destroy all shrines — not just those ones which hold particular importance to Shiites.

Hezbollah entered the scene in 2012 and allied itself with the Syrian government to fight al-Nusra and ISIS, which were officially being armed and financed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. And all the arms were actively being sold to these nations by the United States. Thus, US arms were falling into the hands of the same terror group the US claims to be fighting in its broader War on Terror.

Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of Hezbollah member Mohammad Issa who was killed in an airstrike that killed six members of the Lebanese militant group and an Iranian general in Syria, during his funeral procession, in the southern village of Arab Salim, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Hezbollah has accused Israel of carrying out Sunday's airstrike, which occurred on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Issa was the highest-ranking among the group, and was among the senior cadres who headed the group's operations in Syria against the Sunni-led rebellion. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

According to reports, Hezbollah was and has been been active in preventing rebel penetration from Syria to Lebanon, being one of the most active forces in the Syrian civil war spillover in Lebanon. Despite this, the U.S. sanctioned both the Syrian government and Hezbollah in 2012.

Also that year, Russia and Iran sent military advisers to assist the Syrian government in quelling the terror groups, but Iranian troops were not on the ground fighting during this time.

What was once a secular, diverse and peaceful nation, was looking more like it was on its way to becoming the next Afghanistan; its people living under Taliban-style rule as jihadists took over more land and conquered more cities.

Effects of foreign meddling outweigh self-determination

If you think that was hard to follow, you’re certainly not alone.

Most sectarian civil wars are purposely crafted to pit sides against one another to allow for a “divide and conquer” approach that breaks larger concentrations of power into smaller factions that have more difficulty linking up. It’s a colonial doctrine that the British Empire famously used, and what we see taking place in Syria is no different.

So, let’s get one thing straight: This is not about religion. It might be convenient to say that Arabs or Muslims kill each other, and it’s easy to frame these conflicts as sectarian to paint the region and its people as barbaric. But this Orientalist, overly simplistic view of conflict in the Middle East dehumanizes the victims of these wars to justify direct and indirect military action.

If the truth was presented to the public from the perspective that these wars are about economic interests, most people would not support any covert funding and arming of rebels or direct intervention. In fact, the majority of the public would protest against war. But when something is presented to the public as a matter of good versus evil, we are naturally inclined to side with the “good” and justify war to fight off the supposed “evil.”

The political rhetoric has been carefully crafted to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. Ultimately, no matter the agendas, the alliances or instability brought on by foreign meddling, the calls for freedom, democracy and equality that erupted in 2011 were real then and they’re real today. And let’s not forget that the lack of freedom, democracy and equality have been brought on more by foreign meddling to prop up brutal dictators and arm terror groups than by self-determination.

Migrant men help a fellow migrant man holding a boy as they are stuck between Macedonian riot police officers and migrants during a clash near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece, as they wait to be allowed by the Macedonian police to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Macedonian special police forces have fired stun grenades to disperse thousands of migrants stuck on a no-man's land with Greece, a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency on its borders to deal with a massive influx of migrants heading north to Europe. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

The people in the Middle East once stood united and strong together against foreign meddling, exploitation and colonialism no matter their religious or cultural background. But today, the Middle East is being torn to shreds by manipulative plans to gain oil and gas access by pitting people against one another based on religion. The ensuing chaos provides ample cover to install a new regime that’s more amenable to opening up oil pipelines and ensuring favorable routes for the highest bidders.

And in this push for energy, it’s the people who suffer most. In Syria, they are fleeing en masse. They’re waking up, putting sneakers on their little boys and girls, and hopping on boats without life jackets, hoping just to make it to another shore. They’re risking their lives, knowing full well that they may never reach that other shore, because the hope of somewhere else is better than the reality at home.

Barbaric Saudi Bastards Set To Behead and Crucify Shia Boy

IN many respects, Saudi Arabia is one of the most advanced nations in the world.

It’s the world’s largest oil producer and its cities are glitz and glamour — thriving metropolis’ in the middle of the desert.

In other ways, the desert kingdom is far from advanced, a place where barbaric rituals still occur and where the country’s citizens are subjected to horrific punishments.

saudibeheading

It’s hard to imagine that in Saudi Arabia this week preparations are being made to not only execute a young man but to crucify him. Literally.

The world is pleading with the Saudi government to reconsider. Advocates say what’s about to take place makes them feel physically ill.

The boy at the centre of it all — Ali Mohammed al-Nimr — says he’s done nothing wrong.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr has been sentenced to death by crucifixion.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr has been sentenced to death by crucifixion.Source:Facebook

‘BARBARIC, INHUMANE, MERCILESS’

Al-Nimr was 17 when he went to an anti-government protest in the Saudi Arabian province of Qatif.

He was accused by the government of carrying a firearm, attacking security forces and even armed robbery. None of those charges could be proven but he confessed nonetheless. He didn’t have a lawyer and some say the confession was drawn from the teenager via torture.

He was demonstrating at the wrong time in the wrong place — in the middle of a violent government crackdown against detractors.

That was February, 2012. Fast forward three years and the charges have stuck, despite a recent appeal.

His sentence is due to be carried out by beheading and crucifixion, a method that involves removing the head of the prisoner and tying their headless body to a cross.

Often, the crucifixion is carried out in a public place. It sends a strong message to others: We will not stand for criticism, no matter who the person and no matter what their age.

‘HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN IN 2015?’

A Scottish politician raised al-Nimr’s case in parliament this week. She spoke eloquently and she spoke in strong opposition to a practice that has no place in our modern world.

“How in 2015 can a supposedly civilised country impose such an inhumane and merciless penalty on any of its citizens, let alone one so young?” MP Margaret Ferrier said.

“It’s an absolute outrage and I intend to write to the minister and ask for urgent action to be taken.

“Ali’s sentence is due to be barbarically carried out by crucifixion. I feel for this young man and his family. Reading Ali’s story this morning filled me with grief for his life about to be savagely and abruptly ended.”

Savagery is nothing new in Saudi Arabia, a country which between 1985 and 2013 executed more than 2000 people. In 2013, 79 people were put to death. Most of them had their heads cut off with large, sharp swords.

In January this year, a woman protested her innocence until the final moment when a sword fell across her neck. She was writhing on the hard ground in a very public place trying to escape her executioner. Not once but twice did the sword fall upon her neck, the first blow clearly not getting the job done.

Elsewhere, blogger Raif Badawi was jailed for 10 years recently after starting a website for social and political debate in Saudi Arabia. Raif will receive 50 lashings a week for a year for setting up the Saudi Arabian Liberals website.

The prosecution first called for him to be tried for apostasy (when a person abandons their religion), which carries a death sentence in Saudi Arabia. Then, in May this year, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a fine of over $300,000 AUD and 1000 lashes. When he is finally released, Raif faces a 10-year travel ban which would keep him from his wife and three young children in Canada, according to Amnesty International.

A spokesman for Amnesty International told news.com.au the last time men were strapped to crosses and killed was in 2013.

“Five Yemeni men were beheaded and crucified, with pictures emerging on social media showing five decapitated bodies hanging from a horizontal pole with their heads wrapped in bags.

“The beheading and ‘crucifixion’ took place in front of the University of Jizan where students were taking exams.”

The Saudi city of Riyadh.

The Saudi city of Riyadh.Source:AP

DOES SAUDI ARABIA HAVE AN AXE TO GRIND?

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is not the only family member under the careful watch of the Saudi government.

Ali’s uncle Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was arrested in July, 2012. A self-described campaigner for human rights for minorities, the 53-year-old has a strong following online where a website and Facebook page have been set up to rally support for his defence.

His crimes, including speaking out against the government, carry the death penalty.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve, told the International Business Times nobody should have to go through what Ali is going through.

“Ali was a vulnerable child when he was arrested and this ordeal began. His execution — based apparently on the authorities’ dislike for his uncle, and his involvement in anti-government protests — would violate international law and the most basic standards of decency. It must be stopped.”

Putin Rewriting the Middle Eastern Narrative

137547_600Assadland, a Russian protectorate

hurriyet

MARC PIERINI

Only a few weeks ago, the al-Assad regime seemed in danger of losing the swath of land from Latakia to Damascus to the assaults of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Jabat al-Nusra and others. Today, Russia has taken over and brought in heavy weapons. Not only can Bashar al-Assad breathe a sigh of relief, but the entire Syrian scene should now be revisited from three different angles.

First, this is about rescuing al-Assad from the edge of a cliff. The hypothesis of the entire country falling to ISIL and the al-Assads fleeing to Sochi is now implausible. Al-Assad is in safe hands. If ever rebel groups still want to conquer Syria’s west, their unlimited violence will be met by the Russian army, not the teetering regime forces.

But this is not just about rescuing one man. By establishing a strategic presence in Syria, President Vladimir Putin is securing the future of a vital ally in the Middle East, one that has long had its military trained and equipped by Russia, and making western Syria into Russia’s strategic base in the Middle East.

This new situation raises a number of questions.

One is the anti-terrorist branding of the operation. Officially, Moscow presents its support to al-Assad, past and present, as its contribution to fighting terrorism, especially from ISIL. This is a faint excuse as al-Assad not only created the jihadist group by freeing dozens of prisoners from the Sednaya Prison near Damascus but also failed to take on ISIL seriously. Deep down, is Russia really intent on eliminating ISIL, or does it want to use it as the scarecrow that makes al-Assad look tolerable?

Another question is the de facto alliance this situation creates between the U.S.-led coalition, Iran, and Russia against ISIL. Will these “allies” now coordinate strikes against ISIL targets? Or will they only try avoiding accidental mishaps? How will Iran’s Pasdaran and Hezbollah fighters present on Syrian soil interact with Russian forces? How will the U.S.-trained and equipped rebels, or what’s left of this embarrassing venture, fit into this new equation? Will this alter the (limited) French and British plans for striking ISIL in Syria? How will Israel tolerate more sophisticated weaponry so close to home?

As a side effect, Russia’s move neutralizes Ankara’s adamant ambitions to remove al-Assad from power. Ironically, it also provides a sigh of relief for President François Hollande, who narrowly avoided the embarrassment of seeing the French-built Mistral ships participating in the buildup, had the sale not been canceled.

The second angle is Russia’s strategic military presence in the Middle East. So far, Russia has had only a limited footprint in Syria, mainly the naval maintenance facility in Tartus. This is now being expanded into a more strategic foothold. Predictably, the runway at Latakia airport will be doubled in length to make it usable by the heaviest Antonov cargo planes and the fastest fighter-bomber aircraft; air defenses will be beefed up; heavy armor will be deployed; air control capacity will be enhanced; and new air-to-ground missiles will be provided to the Syrian air force.

In this way, Putin, who had accurately analyzed President Barack Obama’s “reluctant warrior” attitude in August 2013, can safely consider that the scenario of a full-scale Western intervention in Syria, if it ever seriously existed, is now shelved. In U.S. Senator John McCain’s words, Russia is “capitalizing on American inaction.” To put it differently, Putin has eliminated his nightmare scenario of a Western intervention like that in Libya in 2011, and the risk of seeing his ally murdered by unruly rebels in unspeakable conditions, as Moammar Gadhafi was. Gone also is the option for the Turkish Air Force to make forays into al-Assad’s airspace, as in June 2012.

The third angle is the worldwide diplomatic dimension of the Russian takeover of sorts in Syria. Even before the military buildup is fully documented, the Russian “protectorate” of western Syria gives a tangible reality to Moscow’s concept of a new international order. Or, expressed in a Russian perspective, it puts an end to the Western propensity to unilaterally impose its own world order.

To its snap annexation of Crimea and dominance of eastern Ukraine, Russia is now adding “Assadland.” In doing so, it is showing the rest of the world that it has the capacity to redefine the international order, or at least the guts to act as spoiler in chief.

Whether ISIL is quickly defeated along the way has little importance for Russia. Moscow’s presence in western Syria will simply be used internationally, first and foremost at the forthcoming U.N. General Assembly, to prove that Russia can propose its own solutions, in this case, a “new peace plan” for Syria with none other than al-Assad at the helm.

On Sept. 28, Putin’s U.N. speech on “the joint struggle against terrorism” (as branded by TASS agency) will no doubt be seen as utterly cynical by many Western politicians. But for Putin, it will be a glorious moment. Brace for impact.

*Marc Pierini is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe and a former EU ambassador.

Obama and Cameron Clarify the Syrian Situation

Obama and Cameron clear up any confusion

shoah palestinian holocaust

Audrey Bailey

Obama and Cameron remove any misunderstanding about why the United States and Britain are bombing in the Middle East again.

Cameron and Obama


You may be confused about why we are bombing Iraq and Syria. So we will make ourselves very clear.

We support the Iraqi government in the fight against ISIS.

We don’t like ISIS, but ISIS has been supported by Saudi Arabia, whom we do like, and Saudi Arabia is now supporting us in bombing ISIS.

We don’t like President Assad in Syria. We support the fight against him, but not ISIS, which is also fighting against him.

We don’t like Iran, but Iran supports the Iraqi government against ISIS.

So some of our friends support our enemies and some of our enemies are our friends, and some of our enemies are fighting against our other enemies whom we want to lose, but we don’t want our enemies who are fighting our enemies to win.

If the people we want to defeat are defeated, they might be replaced by people we like even less.

And all this was started by us invading Iraq to drive out terrorists who weren’t there until we went to drive them out.

We hope you now understand.

Whose side are we on

Ukraine wants to control airspace above Black Sea at NATO’s expense

Ukraine wants to control airspace above Black Sea at NATO’s expense

Ukraine wants to control airspace above Black Sea at NATO's expense. Black Sea

Source: Pravda.Ru photo archive

The Ukrainian authorities are going to renew airspace control above the Black Sea.

Thus, Kiev is to join the NATO’s pilot program on the regional air security.

Yehor Bozhok, Ukraine’s acting ambassador to NATO, claimed that there had already taken place several visits of the NATO experts, and the object, which would be attached to the “system” is determined.

Bozhok pointed out that participation in the NATO’s project would not cost Ukraine “a penny”, as the allies defray all the expenses.

“Movement for Ukraine to NATO” was headed by the first president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk. The founding meeting of his organization has been held in Kiev.

– See more at: http://english.pravda.ru/news/world/21-09-2015/132060-black_sea-0/#sthash.9I5MbBTh.dpuf

Crude at $50 threatens $1.5 trillion in oil and gas projects

HOUSTON — Despite efforts to cut costs, the petroleum industry can’t make money on $1.5 trillion in pending investments on conventional and North American shale drilling projects with $50 oil, Wood Mackenzie estimates.

In a new report released late Sunday, the energy research firm said even though oil producers are aiming to squeeze out 20 to 30 percent of their project costs through discounts on equipment and oil field services, costs will likely come down by about 10 to 15 percent, on average.

Oil companies have invested $220 billion less than Wood Mackenzie had initially estimated for this year and next year, with 46 projects deferred after the oil-market crash since the summer of 2014.

The estimated $1.5 trillion in oil projects represent prospects that drillers haven’t yet sanctioned for investments. With oil at $50 a barrel, “this spend is very much at risk,” said James Webb, Wood Mackenzie upstream research manager, in a written statement.

“A prolonged period of low oil prices over a number of years is likely needed to bring about profound, structural changes to industry costs,” Webb said.

But Wood Mackenzie believes prices will start a recovery in 2017, likely pushing costs toward levels before the oil price slump.

In the United States and Canada, oil producers have idled 1,284 drilling rigs since this time last year, according to Baker Hughes. The International Energy Agency estimates U.S. shale oil production will decline by 400,000 barrels a day next year.

The Federal Reserve noted in June that U.S. oil companies have gotten a break on oil field service prices by 20 to 30 percent, according to company surveys.

But Wood Mackenzie believes only six new projects will be approved this year and 10 next year. Oil companies will have to redraw field development plans and redesign projects to bring costs down 20 to 30 percent on average.

“The weak pipeline of new projects is resulting in very competitive bidding from the service sector as E&P companies negotiate hard on pre-sanction projects,” said Obo Idornigie, a Wood Mackenzie upstream research analyst.

“However, the industry needs to strike a balance between near and long term drivers,” Idornigie said. “Pushing the service sector too hard now is only likely to shore up problems once more attractive fundamentals return.”

The oil industry has cut an estimated 196,000 jobs worldwide since the oil bust began, with nearly half of that figure squeezed out of the oil field service sector, according to energy consultant Graves & Co.

“Increasingly severe job cuts means that the industry is losing skilled resources that will take time to attract back when prices recover,” Idornigie said.

USAF and Russian Army Drones Working In Same Syrian Airspace

Exclusive: Russia sends drone aircraft on surveillance missions in Syria – U.S. officials

yahoonews-logo

Reuters

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia has started flying drone aircraft on surveillance missions in Syria, two U.S. officials said on Monday, in what appeared to be Moscow’s first military air operations inside the country since staging a rapid buildup at a Syrian air base.

The U.S. officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, could not immediately say how many Russian drones were involved in the surveillance missions or the scope of the flights.

The Pentagon declined to comment.

The start of Russian drone flights underscored the risks of U.S.-led coalition aircraft and Russian flights operating in Syria’s limited airspace.

U.S. and Russian defense chiefs agreed on Friday to explore ways to avoid accidental interactions, also known as “deconfliction” in military parlance.

The discussions may gain added urgency, now that Moscow has started drone flights.

The former Cold War foes have a common adversary in Islamic State militants in Syria, even as Washington opposes Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, seeing him as a driving force in the nation’s devastating, four-and-a-half-year civil war.

But Russia may also want to target opposition fighters that the United States supports in Syria, seeing them as equal threats to Assad.

Russia’s drone operations appeared to be staged out of an air base near Latakia, where it has moved heavy military equipment, including fighter jets, helicopter gunships and naval infantry forces in recent days, U.S. officials said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Photo from The Aviationist, 2 Sep 2015

Russian-planes-over-SyriaPhotos allegedly taken over Idlib seem to prove Russian Migs, Sukhois and drones are currently operating against ISIS in Syria

Pictures allegedly shot over Idlib and posted on Twitter seem to suggest Sukhoi Su-27 (or derivative) Flanker, Mig-29 Fulcrum, Su-34 Fullback jets and Pchela-1T drone are operating in Syria.

“The Obama administration ought to be embarrassed for spreading lies but the media should be more ashamed for repeating it.”

Freedom Rider: Anti-Russian Propaganda

black agenda report

Everywhere the U.S. “pivots” to in the world, it spreads dehumanizing propaganda. President Obama has methodically demonized Russia, stoked fears of the “peril” from China, and fanned the flames of Islamophobia. The corporate media are eager accomplices in the imperial politics of mass death. “If a nation and its people are disparaged and dehumanized enough its enemies can attack in any number of ways without fear of debate or popular opposition.”

by BAR editor and senior Margaret Kimberley

The Obama administration ought to be embarrassed for spreading lies but the media should be more ashamed for repeating it.”

While the United States has repeated and very publicly stated its intention to bring down the Assad government in Syria, the Russian Federation has declared its intention to protect it. Russia uses air space over Iran and Iraq as a route to send equipment and advisers to Syria. Both nations have given permission for these flights to take place and that should be the end of any questions. But the American press hysterically follow Obama administration talking points and claim that none of these nations has rights that the United States need respect. Facts are omitted from so-called journalism if they call official narratives into question.

The United States government and its partners in corporate media are engaged in a sustained propaganda attack against the government and people of Russia. The tactic is an old one and is used precisely because it is so effective. If a nation and its people are disparaged and dehumanized enough its enemies can attack in any number of ways without fear of debate or popular opposition. The more effectively evil Obama administration knows this full well and instigates media scribes at opportune moments to make the case for American imperialism.

The idea that this country has a free press, that is to say free of governmental influence, is accepted as an indisputable truth. Yet every day, the corporate media demonstrate just the opposite. They show their allegiance to whomever occupies the White House or to the conglomerate of corporate owners who allow them to print or to stay on the air.

Perhaps they hate Americans because Washington reserves the right to intervene anywhere in the world.”

Some of the stories appear to be laughable on the surface, but there is nothing amusing about their intent. In just one week, a New York Times columnist opined that Russia has “lost its soul” and a reporter says that Russians hate Americans without ever presenting reasons why that may be true. If Russians hate Americans, it could be because they broke a promise not to increase the number of NATO member states in eastern Europe. Perhaps they hate Americans because Washington reserves the right to intervene anywhere in the world, while Russia is attacked for aiding its allies. Then again, economic sanctions and the hardships they have caused may be the reason for dislike. A reader is given none of this information and is forced to conclude that Russians are unworthy of any serious consideration or are perhaps less human and therefore less deserving to live.

When president Obama recently visited Alaska he simultaneously called for more oil drilling in the Arctic while also claiming concern about climate change. Not content with this double speak he also said that Russia plotted to control the Arctic regions and that the United States lagged in the need to counter this imaginary threat.

It is one thing for the president to make a spurious claim but quite another for major newspapers to repeat his words without fact checking, analyzing, or presenting another point of view. It is true that Russia has more ice breaking vessels but that is hardly worthy of note. Of course the country with most of the territory surrounding the North Pole would have the most ice breakers. The Obama administration ought to be embarrassed for spreading lies but the media should be more ashamed for repeating it.

Every report is intended to belittle or demonize and make it easier for the United States government to do what it wants without risking resistance.

Some of the propaganda is directly orchestrated by the president himself. Jon Stewart was a media favorite while his Daily Show aired for sixteen years. He was thought to be a liberal or progressive but like most people who answer to those labels he is just a water carrier for the Democratic Party. He did not disclose that he met with the president on two occasions in the White House. After one of those meetings in February 2014 Stewart began telling a series of jokes at Vladimir Putin’s expense. His opinions are influential and the comedy was in fact a very serious business. That is why Obama called upon Stewart to help with the dirty work.

It is exceedingly dangerous for Americans to remain so ignorant of world affairs but their lack of knowledge is a direct result of media complicity with the state. One day we’re told that Russia has too much ice, the next that it has no right to help Syria, or that Putin’s spokesman is wearing an expensive watch. Every report is intended to belittle or demonize and make it easier for the United States government to do what it wants without risking resistance. Any nation strong enough to counter American imperialism must be vanquished and that is much easier if it is feared and or hated.

Perhaps we shouldn’t bother having a news media any longer at all. If they are going to simply parrot White House statements there is no reason for them to exist. Let’s cut out the middle man and just accept what we are told.

A better alternative is to speak up against the mendacity and to be in solidarity with people fighting it all over the world. Our friends are often in other countries and our enemies are at the top of the heap here at home. We would do well to remember that when the next manufactured outrage about Russia hits the front page headlines.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Putin Finally Figures-Out That Two Can Play Obama’s Subversive Destabilization Game

Russia funds Moscow conference for US, EU and Ukraine separatists

guardian

Conference includes representatives of Sinn Féin and radical black power Uhuru Movement despite Kremlin crackdown on its own dissidents

A young couple attend an opposition rally in MoscowA young couple attend an opposition rally in Moscow. The Kremlin has helped to fund a conference for European and US separatists. Photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP

Alec Luhn in Moscow

 

The Russian government has helped fund a conference in Moscow to bring together separatists from the United States and eastern Ukraine, despite cracking down on its own dissidents.

Opposition to the US and European Union was the factor unifying the assortment of guests at the “Dialogue of nations: the right to self-determination and the construction of a multipolar world” conference at the President hotel in downtown Moscow on Sunday.

Among international participants were representatives of Sinn Féin, the Catalan Solidarity for Independence party and Italy’s European Communitarian party Millennium, as well as separatist groups from Hawaii and Puerto Rico and the US-based radical black power Uhuru Movement.

Several representatives also spoke on behalf of the Russia-backed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics in eastern Ukraine, where the conflict between the pro-Russian rebels and the Kiev government has killed more than 6,500 people since April 2014.

The island’s classification as a US territory complicates something as simple as bankruptcy filings, prompting many to wonder if statehood is the best option

Although no Kremlin officials were present, state civic chamber member Georgy Fyodorov came to argue that: “America is an instrument, a huge hooligan or policeman that along with England is executing the will of global mega-corporations.”

Speakers at the conference vigorously blamed Washington for a host of ills including the war in eastern Ukraine and the refugee crisis in Europe, but did not discuss the Kremlin’s own role in these events.

According to organisers from the Anti-Globalist Movement of Russia, funding for the gathering was provided in part by a state grant from the National Charity Fund, which was founded as the National Military Fund in 1999 by then-PM Vladimir Putin. The National Charity Fund gets money from large state-owned and public companies and oligarchs. Participants were offered airfare and accommodations.

While Putin’s government has cracked down on “foreign agents” at home, it has also promoted division within Europe and the United States. But conference organiser Alexander Ionov denied that Moscow could be using the conference to forward its own political goals.

Despite the fact that Russia has made no secret of its arms shipments to Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and has reportedly provided weapons and funding to the eastern Ukraine rebels, Ionov argued the United States was inciting these conflicts in its own interests.

“If we look at the crisis in Syria, the United States delivers weapons while Russia delivers humanitarian aid. If you look at the crisis in Ukraine, the United States delivers weapons while Russia delivers humanitarian aid,” Ionov said.

The Kremlin has said truck convoys to Ukraine and military flights to Syria have brought only food and supplies, although satellite imagery, video and photographs from Syria have pointed to a Russian military buildup there in recent weeks.

The Russian government has recently been cracking down on activists at home with a law against separatism that Putin signed at the end of 2013.

Last week the Tatar activist Rafis Kashapov was sentenced to three years in a prison colony on charges of separatism and hate speech for sharing anti-Putin social media posts. The Moscow-based Sova Centre, which studies extremism and hate crimes, called his conviction a violation of free speech, and human rights organisation Memorial declared him a prisoner of conscience.

Also on 15 September, a court in Krasnodar began hearing the case of local opposition activist Darya Polyudova, who was detained after a “March for the Federalisation of Kuban” in August 2014 and charged with separatism.

Ionov said these activists were not anti-colonial separatists like those at the conference and argued the Russian government had to be able to defend itself from opposition groups funded by western organisations. Several Russian NGOs who received international grants have been forced to close under a 2012 law regulating “foreign agents”.

Irish participants at the conference told the Guardian that they had no Kremlin links and were simply taking an opportunity to promote their cause. Sinn Féin member Diarmaid Mac Dubhghlais compared the eastern Ukraine conflict to the “Ireland of years ago”, arguing that the pro-Russian rebels were fighting a “fascist government” in Kiev.

“In Ireland, we accepted help from Muammar Gaddafi,” said Michael McLaughlin of the Irish Republican Socialist party. “When you’re in a battle for national liberation you don’t question the background of the people helping you.”

Meanwhile, several thousand people attended a rally “for changeability of government” on Sunday organised by the liberal opposition, even though local authorities only allowed it to be held far outside the city centre. The opposition failed to win any seats in regional elections last weekend after it was disqualified on questionable grounds in all but one province.

The north American groups at the conference focused on their struggle against the poverty and environmental destruction they said was caused by US colonisation. While Ramón Nenadich of the Puerto Rican group Borinken and Lanny Sinkin, a representative of the self-declared King Silva of Hawaii, said their struggle was non-violent, Omali Yeshitela of the Uhuru Movement said American imperialism could not be overcome by peaceful means.

“We call on you to recognise the right of African people to engage in armed defence against American colonialism, and we would like to express our profound appreciation to the Anti-Globalisation movement of Russia,” he told attendees.

“We are convinced that we are on the right side of history, we are convinced that we will win, we are convinced that we are winning. Uhuru!”

Further Proof That United Nations Is Criminal Organization Disguised As Humanitarian Center

Saudi UN envoy to remain head of influential human rights panel

times of israel 

Faisal bin Hassan Trad keeps key post despite international outrage; UN Watch calls decision ‘scandalous’

SAUDI UN CREEP

The Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United Nations was re-selected to chair an influential panel on the Human Rights Council, sparking the ire of human rights activists across the world, a UN watchdog group revealed Sunday.

Faisal bin Hassan Trad was first appointed to head the five-member group of ambassadors — known as the Consultative Group — in June this year. The UN ambassadors of Greece, Algeria, Chile and Lithuania make up the rest of the panel, which is charged with selecting applicants from around the world to fill more than 75 positions “with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective,” according to a UN document.

UN Watch, an independent Geneva-based NGO, claims Trad’s selection to chair the panel went intentionally unreported by UN diplomats.

Riyadh had initially campaigned to head the UN Human Rights Council altogether, but dropped that bid in June.

UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said in a statement that it was “scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS [the Islamic State] to be head of a key human rights panel. Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.

“Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi,” Neuer added, in reference to the Saudi liberal activist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, despite international outrage over his case.

Badawi, a 31-year-old father, cofounded the Saudi Liberal Network Internet discussion group. He was arrested in June 2012 under cyber-crime provisions, and a judge ordered the website to be closed after it criticized Saudi Arabia’s notorious religious police.

The Saudi Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Badawi’s sentence in January is final and cannot be overturned without a royal pardon.

Saudi Arabia consistently ranks among “the worst of the worst” on Freedom House’s annual survey of political and civil rights.

Pentagon War Games Predict Russian Victory In Any Baltic Scenario

Exclusive: The Pentagon Is Preparing New War Plans for a Baltic Battle Against Russia

Exclusive: The Pentagon Is Preparing New War Plans for a Baltic Battle Against Russia

For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. Department of Defense is reviewing and updating its contingency plans for armed conflict with Russia.

The Pentagon generates contingency plans continuously, planning for every possible scenario — anything from armed confrontation with North Korea to zombie attacks. But those plans are also ranked and worked on according to priority and probability. After 1991, military plans to deal with Russian aggression fell off the Pentagon’s radar. They sat on the shelf, gathering dust as Russia became increasingly integrated into the West and came to be seen as a potential partner on a range of issues. Now, according to several current and former officials in the State and Defense departments, the Pentagon is dusting off those plans and re-evaluating them, updating them to reflect a new, post-Crimea-annexation geopolitical reality in which Russia is no longer a potential partner, but a potential threat.

“Given the security environment, given the actions of Russia, it has become apparent that we need to make sure to update the plans that we have in response to any potential aggression against any NATO allies,” says one senior defense official familiar with the updated plans.

“Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine made the U.S. dust off its contingency plans,” says Michèle Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense for policy and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security. “They were pretty out of date.”

Designing a counteroffensive

The new plans, according to the senior defense official, have two tracks. One focuses on what the United States can do as part of NATO if Russia attacks one of NATO’s member states; the other variant considers American action outside the NATO umbrella. Both versions of the updated contingency plans focus on Russian incursions into the Baltics, a scenario seen as the most likely front for new Russian aggression. They are also increasingly focusing not on traditional warfare, but on the hybrid tactics Russia used in Crimea and eastern Ukraine: “little green men,” manufactured protests, and cyberwarfare. “They are trying to figure out in what circumstances [the U.S. Defense Department] would respond to a cyberattack,” says Julie Smith, who until recently served as the vice president’s deputy national security advisor. “There’s a lively debate on that going on right now.”

This is a significant departure from post-Cold War U.S. defense policy.

After the Soviet Union imploded, Russia, its main heir, became increasingly integrated into NATO, which had originally been created to counter the Soviet Union’s ambitions in Europe. In 1994, Moscow signed onto NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Three years later, in May 1997, Russia and NATO signed a more detailed agreement on mutual cooperation, declaring that they were no longer adversaries. Since then, as NATO absorbed more and more Warsaw Pact countries, it also stepped up its cooperation with Russia: joint military exercises, regular consultations, and even the opening of a NATO transit point in Ulyanovsk, Russia, for materiel heading to the fight in Afghanistan. Even if the Kremlin was increasingly miffed at NATO expansion, from the West things looked fairly rosy.

After Russia’s 2008 war with neighboring Georgia, NATO slightly modified its plans vis-à-vis Russia, according to Smith, but the Pentagon did not. In preparing the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon’s office for force planning — that is, long-term resource allocation based on the United States’ defense priorities — proposed to then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to include a scenario that would counter an aggressive Russia. Gates ruled it out. “Everyone’s judgment at the time was that Russia is pursuing objectives aligned with ours,” says David Ochmanek, who, as deputy assistant secretary of defense for force development, ran that office at the time. “Russia’s future looked to be increasingly integrated with the West.” Smith, who worked on European and NATO policy at the Pentagon at the time, told me, “If you asked the military five years ago, ‘Give us a flavor of what you’re thinking about,’ they would’ve said, ‘Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism — and China.’”

Warming to Moscow

The thinking around Washington was that Mikheil Saakashvili, then Georgia’s president, had provoked the Russians and that Moscow’s response was a one-off. “The sense was that while there were complications and Russia went into Georgia,” Smith says, “I don’t think anyone anticipated that anything like this would happen again.” Says one senior State Department official: “The assumption was that there was no threat in Europe.” Russia was rarely brought up to the secretary of defense, says the senior defense official.

Then came the Obama administration’s reset of relations with Russia, and with it increased cooperation with Moscow on everything from space flights to nuclear disarmament. There were hiccups (like Russia’s trying to elbow the United States out of the Manas base in Kyrgyzstan) and less-than-full cooperation on pressing conflicts in the Middle East (the best the United States got from Russia on Libya was an abstention at the U.N. Security Council). But, on the whole, Russia was neither a danger nor a priority. It was, says one senior foreign-policy Senate staffer, “occasionally a pain in the ass, but not a threat.”

Ochmanek, for his part, hadn’t thought about Russia for decades. “As a force planner, I can tell you that the prospect of Russian aggression was not on our radar,” he told me when I met him in his office at the Rand Corp. in Northern Virginia, where he is now a senior defense analyst. “Certainly not since 1991, but even in the last years of Gorbachev.” Back in 1989, Ochmanek thought that Washington should be focusing on the threat of Iraq invading Kuwait, not on the dwindling likelihood of Soviet military aggression. For the last 30 years, Ochmanek has shuttled between Rand, where he has focused on military planning, and the nearby Pentagon, where he has done the same in an official capacity: first in the mid-1990s, when he was the deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, and then for the first five years of Barack Obama’s administration, when he ran force planning at the Pentagon.

It was there that, in February 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin caught Ochmanek and pretty much every Western official off guard by sending little green men into Crimea and eastern Ukraine. “We didn’t plan for it because we didn’t think Russia would change the borders in Europe,” he says. Crimea, he says, was a “surprise.”

War games, and losing

In June 2014, a month after he had left his force-planning job at the Pentagon, the Air Force asked Ochmanek for advice on Russia’s neighborhood ahead of Obama’s September visit to Tallinn, Estonia. At the same time, the Army had approached another of Ochmanek’s colleagues at Rand, and the two teamed up to run a thought exercise called a “table top,” a sort of war game between two teams: the red team (Russia) and the blue team (NATO). The scenario was similar to the one that played out in Crimea and eastern Ukraine: increasing Russian political pressure on Estonia and Latvia (two NATO countries that share borders with Russia and have sizable Russian-speaking minorities), followed by the appearance of provocateurs, demonstrations, and the seizure of government buildings. “Our question was: Would NATO be able to defend those countries?” Ochmanek recalls.

The results were dispiriting. Given the recent reductions in the defense budgets of NATO member countries and American pullback from the region, Ochmanek says the blue team was outnumbered 2-to-1 in terms of manpower, even if all the U.S. and NATO troops stationed in Europe were dispatched to the Baltics — including the 82nd Airborne, which is supposed to be ready to go on 24 hours’ notice and is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“We just don’t have those forces in Europe,” Ochmanek explains. Then there’s the fact that the Russians have the world’s best surface-to-air missiles and are not afraid to use heavy artillery.

After eight hours of gaming out various scenarios, the blue team went home depressed. “The conclusion,” Ochmanek says, “was that we are unable to defend the Baltics.”

Ochmanek decided to run the game on a second day. The teams played the game again, this time working on the assumption that the United States and NATO had already started making positive changes to their force posture in Europe. Would anything be different? The conclusion was slightly more upbeat, but not by much. “We can defend the capitals, we can present Russia with problems, and we can take away the prospect of a coup de main,” Ochmanek says. “But the dynamic remains the same.” Even without taking into account the recent U.S. defense cuts, due to sequestration, and the Pentagon’s plan to downsize the Army by 40,000 troops, the logistics of distance were still daunting. U.S. battalions would still take anywhere from one to two months to mobilize and make it across the Atlantic, and the Russians, Ochmanek notes, “can do a lot of damage in that time.”

Ochmanek has run the two-day table-top exercise eight times now, including at the Pentagon and at Ramstein Air Base, in Germany, with active-duty military officers. “We played it 16 different times with eight different teams,” Ochmanek says, “always with the same conclusion.”

The Defense Department has factored the results of the exercise into its planning, says the senior defense official, “to better understand a situation that few of us have thought about in detail for a number of years.” When asked about Ochmanek’s conclusions, the official expressed confidence that, eventually, NATO would claw the territory back. “In the end, I have no doubt that NATO will prevail and that we will restore the territorial integrity of any NATO member,” the official said. “I cannot guarantee that it will be easy or without great risk. My job is to ensure that we can reduce that risk.”

Protect the Baltics

That is, the Pentagon does not envision a scenario in which Russia doesn’t manage to grab some Baltic territory first. The goal is to deter — Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced this summer that the United States would be sending dozens of tanks, armored vehicles, and howitzers to the Baltics and Eastern Europe — and, if that fails, to painstakingly regain NATO territory.

The Pentagon is also chewing on various hybrid warfare scenarios, and even a nuclear one. “As you look at published Russian doctrine, I do believe people are thinking about use of tactical nuclear weapons in a way that hadn’t been thought about for many years,” says the senior defense official. “The doctrine clearly talks about it, so it would be irresponsible to not at least read that doctrine, understand what it means. Doctrine certainly doesn’t mean that they would do it, but it would be irresponsible to at least not be thinking through those issues. Any time there is nuclear saber rattling, it is always a concern, no matter where it comes from.”

There is a strong element of disappointment among senior foreign-policy and security officials in these discussions, of disbelief that we ended up here after all those good years — decades, even — in America’s relations with Russia.

“A lot of people at the Pentagon are unhappy about the confrontation,” says the State Department official. “They were very happy with the military-to-military cooperation with Russia.” There are also those, the official said, who feel that Russia is a distraction from the real threat — China — and others who think that working with Russia on arms control is more important than protecting Ukrainian sovereignty. Not only would they rather not have to think about Moscow as an enemy, but many are also miffed that even making these plans plays right into Putin’s paranoid fantasies about a showdown between Russia and NATO or between Russia and the United States — which makes those fantasies, de facto, a reality. In the U.S. planning for confrontation with Russia, says the Senate staffer, Putin “is getting the thing he always wanted.”

Yet despite this policy shift, the distinctly American optimism is confoundingly hard to shake. “We would like to be partners with Russia. We think that is the preferred course — that it benefits us, it benefits Russia, and it benefits the rest of the world,” the senior defense official says. “But as the Department of Defense, we’re not paid to look at things through rose-colored glasses and hence must be prepared in case we’re wrong about Russia’s actions and plan for if Russia were to become a direct adversary. Again, I don’t predict that and I certainly don’t want it, but we need to be prepared in case that could happen.”

Provocation or preparation?

So far, the Pentagon’s plans are just that — plans. But they are also signals: to Russia that the United States is not sitting on its hands, and to Congress that America’s foreign-policy priorities have shifted drastically since the last Quadrennial Defense Review, which was released as the crisis in Ukraine was unfolding and barely mentioned Russia. It is also a signal that the Pentagon feels that sequestration hobbles its ability to deal with the new threat landscape. In his July confirmation hearing to ascend to the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford made headlines when he said that Russia posed an “existential threat” to the United States and said that America must do more to prepare itself for hybrid warfare of the type Russia deployed in Ukraine.

“It’s clearly a signal to the Hill,” says Smith. “When I come and ask for a permanent presence in Europe or money for a European presence, I don’t want you to say, ‘Gee, this is a surprise. I thought it was all about [the Islamic State].’” Dunford’s statement angered the White House, which saw it as potentially provocative to Moscow, but it was also a signal to everyone else. The commander in chief has the final say on whether to use these new contingency plans, but Obama’s days in office are numbered, and the Pentagon isn’t taking any chances.

NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images

US trying to take credit for killing an already dead ISIS in Afghanistan leader

hafiz-said-khan-orakzai-agency-hafiz-saeed-2

[US trying to take credit for killing an already dead ISIS in Afghanistan leader (Islamic State leader Hafiz Saeed killed in US drone strike), July 11, 2015.]

“Afghan intelligence agency said on Saturday the chief of Islamic State for Orakzai and the self-styled Khorasan region (Pakistan, Afghanistan and some adjoining regions), Hafiz Saeed Khan, was killed in a US drone strike [Nangarhar province].”

Islamic State’s Pakistan chief Hafiz Saeed killed while planting bomb,

Apr 17, 2015

IBN LIVE

Peshawar: Islamic State’s Pakistan chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was killed when a roadside bomb he was planting went off in the country’s restive northwest tribal region, according to a media report.

Saeed along with two of his accomplices were killed on Thursday when the bomb they were planting exploded in Toor Dara area of Tirah Valley in the Khyber tribal region, a media report said.
Saeed along with two of his accomplices were killed on Thursday when the bomb they were planting exploded in Toor Dara area of Tirah Valley in the Khyber tribal region, a media report said.

The security forces claimed one of the men killed in bombing was the Pakistan IS chief, the report said. However, there was no confirmation from the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Saeed hailed from the Aurakzai Agency and was among five leading Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders who announced their disassociation from the banned outfit in October 2014.

The group had joined IS under the leadership of Shahidullah Shahid, a former spokesman of the TTP. The IS high-command through a message in 2014 had declared Saeed as the IS chief for Pakistan

Mullah Dadullah Has Not Joined ISIS—ignore the British press

[Brit press pushing the Taliban unity psyop, just as they once pushed the “Taliban split” garbage, a.k.a., “good Taliban, bad Taliban” (SEE: Taliban declare end to leadership rift).]

Disaffected Dadullah denies joining Daesh after rumors

Pajhwok

KABUL (Pajhwok): The senior Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor Dadullah on Thursday denied he had joined the self-styled Islamic State or Daesh group.

In a message to Pajhwok Afghan News, Dadullah said he was against Taliban’s new supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, but he had not abandoned the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official name Taliban used during their regime.

Younger half brother of late Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah Akhund, who was killed in 2007 by Afghan and foreign forces, Dadullah said he would continue waging insurgency until foreign troops remain stationed in Afghanistan as a member of the emirate.

He said he had not joined Daesh group and some people had started a negative propaganda against him. “We are with the emirate and will be.”

Earlier media reports quoted an IS supporter, who claims to be spokesman for the terrorist group in Afghanistan, as claiming Dadullah had pledged allegiance to the group.

He had said Dadullah was rescued from an offensive by Taliban militants, involving 2,100 fighters in southern Zabul province. He said at least 230 Daesh fighters were deployed to Zabul from western Farah province to engage the Taliban militants and rescue Dadullah.

Dadullah recently appeared in a video claiming that Mullah Mansour had been allegedly appointed , calling him a forger.

But in his message, Dadullah said the issue of his allegiance to Mansour was being investigated by religious scholars who would make a decision in this regard. “Some people are misusing my video, even they don’t recognize our 14 years of campaign,” he said.

In his video, Dadullah had said Mullah Mansour was illegally appointed as the new leader who had sent a special force of warriors to Zabul to assassinate them. He had said they did not want the blood of Muslims to be shed and had started efforts through religious scholars to resolve the issue in a peaceful way.

“We are trying to resolve this issue and build courage. But if it did not happen, we are compelled to defend ourselves in light of fitwa by religious scholars,” Dadullah said in his message. He said some Taliban fighters had been sent to Zabul for fitna, but they returned after realising the truth.

Now Every Refugee Thinks That They Have A Free Pass To Europe

[Taliban hate mail is NOT a German visa.]

Desperate Afghans pin asylum hopes on Taliban threat letters

rakyat post

An Afghan woman and her family rests on the Serbian side of the border, seen from near the village of Asotthalom at the Hungarian-Serbian border on September 17, 2015 after Hungary closed its borders in an effort to stem the wave of refugees entering the country.  AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK

An Afghan woman and her family rests on the Serbian side of the border, seen from near the village of Asotthalom at the Hungarian-Serbian border on Sept 17, 2015 after Hungary closed its borders in an effort to stem the wave of refugees entering the country. — AFP pic

KABUL, Sept 18, 2015:

Stamped with the Taliban’s crossed sabres emblem, the threat letter in Ahmadzia Abbasi’s hand reads like a death warrant — but like many Afghans he sees the document as a ticket to a new life and asylum in Europe.

The Taliban widely use so-called “night letters” containing lurid threats of violence and death, often delivered by shadowy agents under the cover of darkness, as an effective tool of intimidation.

Many war-weary Afghans embarking on perilous voyages to Europe carry the nocturnal missives — real and counterfeit — in an effort to build a compelling case for their refugee application.

“Anyone who reads this will know that my life is in grave danger,” said Abbasi, a 31-year-old social activist from eastern Logar province, holding up a night letter he found pinned to his front door in April.

The Pashto-language document, bearing the signature Taliban stamp, castigates him for supporting the “infidel government” and warns that his head will be cut off.

He said the threat was prompted by his push to promote girls’ education in his village, which apparently angered the infamously misogynistic militant network.

“The letter is my best hope — my only hope -– of gaining asylum,” he told AFP in Kabul.

He has appealed for asylum to the European Union mission in Afghanistan, but the process is unlikely to be smooth as a record number of Afghans flee the turmoil and war convulsing their country.

Afghan officials say the country is witnessing an “unprecedented” migration towards European nations.

Some 77,731 Afghans applied for asylum in Europe in the first six months of the year, more than three times the figure in the same period last year, and higher than all previous years since 2001, according to the UN refugee agency.

Afghans are the second largest group of migrants trying to make Europe their home, behind only Syrians.

‘People keep dying’

While many face genuine threats, fabricated night letters are common, highlighting the lengths some Afghans are willing to go in order to attain asylum.

Heshmat, 24, bought his for US$80 (RM340) from a group of counterfeiters recommended by a friend who recently made it to Germany with a similar letter.

He said he was unsure whether the network was linked directly to the Taliban but the forged night letter looks “very real”.

“The human smuggler who will take me to Sweden says: ‘Europe is now open to migrants — and a Taliban death threat can go a long way to demonstrate the need for asylum’,” Heshmat told AFP, requesting that his last name be withheld.

Smuggling networks are flourishing in Afghanistan, making money from tens of thousands of desperate migrants undertaking dangerous journeys on well-trodden Mediterranean trails via Iran, Turkey and Greece.

Statistics suggesting the scale of fraudulent cases are hard to come by but Heather Barr, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, cautions against generalising the trend.

“Even if some letters are fake, that does not mean that all are — and Human Rights Watch has documented what we are fully satisfied are genuine threat letters in some cases,” Barr told AFP.

“It’s also worth remembering that the body count in Afghanistan is high and growing. I would ask anyone who argues that the threats are not real to explain why so many people who say they are under threat keep dying.”

Growing desperation

Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that Afghans -– increasingly weary of surging Taliban violence and rising joblessness — are going to lengths to bolster their case for asylum.

A Kabul printing press said it has fielded more and more enquiries about “Taliban rubber stamps”, possibly for fake night letters.

A hair salon in Kabul revealed recent requests from light-haired Afghans for darker, dyed hair to make them “appear Syrian” -– the belief being that Syrians are being given priority for asylum.

Joining the snaking queues outside Kabul’s passport office — another testament to the accelerating exodus — some Afghans are seen waving night letters in desperate pleas to officials to expedite the process.

“We can’t give passports to thousands of people in one day — nobody in the world can! Leave, just leave!” an official bluntly told the crowd one morning recently.

Abbasi says the prevalence of “fake night letters” was affecting his EU application.

“It raises questions whether my threat is real,” he said, adding that his cousin, a government official, was recently shot dead after receiving a similar threat.

As the sun went down over Kabul, he scrambled to return to his village in Logar before nightfall — when security forces retreat to their barracks and the Taliban prowl the streets.

No one can dispute that threat.

Taliban Militants Storm Mosque At Former CIA Listening Post in Peshawar

peshawar afb terrorists DEAD TERRORISTS FROM BADABER MOSQUE ATTACK

[The Taliban bombed the same site in March 2011 (SEE: Another Mosque Bombed Near Peshawar,  March 14, 2011).]

Taliban militants attack mosque at air force base in Pakistan, killing 16

cnn

Islamabad (CNN)Militants raided an air force base in northwest Pakistan, killing 16 people praying inside a mosque.

The attack on the 10-acre Badaber base outside Peshawar on Friday is the largest assault on military personnel this year. It’s the highest profile assault in the area since terrorists killed 145, mostly children, during a school massacre last year.

When the militants attacked the base, security forces responded, killing 13 attackers, Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said in a series of tweets.

Bajwa had originally said about 10 militants launched the base attack. Soldiers are combing through the facility looking for any remaining attackers.

The military side suffered 10 injuries, including an Army major who was shot in the thigh, Bajwa said.

The Pakistani Taliban, known in the country as Tehrik-i-Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

Badaber Air Base was built by the United States in the 1950s and was used as a listening post to intercept radio information from the Soviet Union.

Leviathan Gas Still Trapped Between Jews Seeking Profit and Jews Seeking Discounts

[SEE: Zionist State Gas Dreams Come Crashing Down In Eastern Med]

seeking alpha

Noble Energy has moved one step closer towards pumping gas from Leviathan, but significant barriers still remain.

Meanwhile, Egypt, which was supposed to be the biggest buyer of Leviathan gas, might not need it at all.

Despite the vote from Israeli parliament, the future prospects of Leviathan are as uncertain as they were before, if not more so.

Thanks to the delays, Leviathan will become less and less relevant.

Noble Energy (NYSE:NBL) is getting closer to tapping into one of its biggest assets – the Leviathan field located in offshore Israel. The company has been trying to develop this massive gas field by teaming up with Israel’s Delek Group (OTCPK:DGRLY), but the two have faced significant regulatory hurdles.

Slow progress

Noble Energy has been the only major U.S. oil company that has agreed to explore Israel’s vast energy reserves. Its U.S. based peers, on the other hand, have largely steered clear from the country due to its poor regulatory framework that does not adequately protect the interests of foreign investors. The decades-old conflict between Israel and Arab countries, including the leading OPEC members, has also not helped. But Noble Energy took the risk and ended up making one of the biggest gas finds in the region. The Leviathan gas field holds 16.5 to 22 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. The field alone could transform Noble as well as Israel into one of the biggest suppliers of gas in the region by targeting the energy starved nations of Jordan and Egypt as well as Southern Europe.

However, Noble Energy and its partners have faced stiff opposition from Israeli regulators and lawmakers due to anti-trust concerns. But last week, Israel’s parliament voted in favor of a plan that will allow Noble Energy and Delek Group to develop Leviathan as well as two smaller fields. The next key hurdle to overcome is that the lawmakers have to agree to transfer the power from the Economy Ministry, which has been overseeing the deal, to the cabinet. Once this obstacle is overcome, the government and Noble Energy can proceed with the framework which has been previously opposed by the regulators. In short, although Noble Energy has certainly moved one step closer towards pumping gas from Leviathan, significant barriers still remain.

Leviathan was supposed to begin operations by 2018, but with the current slow pace of development, production from the field might not begin in the current decade. The delays are dampening the future prospects of Leviathan. The field was supposed to bring substantial financial benefits to its operators as well as Israel on top of the geopolitical advantages coming from exports. Jordan and Egypt were supposed to be two of the prominent buyers. But the delays have forced Jordan to halt negotiations while Egypt, which has signed three letters of intent for imports and was supposed to be the biggest buyer of Leviathan gas, has been looking for other suppliers. Previously, I thought that both Jordan and Egypt would eventually come back to the negotiation table. But following Eni (NYSE:E)’s massive discovery in offshore Egypt, it appears that the option of selling gas to Egypt is now off the table.

The supergiant discovery

About two weeks ago, Italy’s Eni said that it discovered a “supergiant” field 120-miles off the coast of Egypt which could hold 30 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, making this the largest gas find of the last decade and the biggest gas reserve in the Mediterranean, overshadowing Leviathan. The single largest potential buyer of Leviathan gas might not need it at all as Zohr alone would be enough to cover nearly all of the natural gas needs of the world’s most populous Arab nation for decades.

Eni, the largest foreign hydrocarbon producer in Egypt with decades of experience in the country, already has the required infrastructure in place which will allow it to bring Zohr online over the next few years. Both, the Egyptian government and Eni are eager to bring the field online as quickly as possible. Last week, the Italian company said that it could begin production from as early as 2017. That’s bad news for Israel as well as Noble Energy.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of buyers in the Mediterranean as well as Europe which has been trying to reduce its reliance on Russian gas. Noble Energy and its partners have also said that the demand for Leviathan gas remains strong. But unfortunately, export of Israeli gas to most of the other major buyers, besides Egypt, is going to be far more expensive.

For instance, Turkey appears to be a prospective candidate. Like Egypt, Turkey also has ever growing energy needs and a booming natural gas demand. However, in order to ship the gas directly to Turkey through an offshore pipeline, the fuel must first pass through Cyprus. And given the history of conflict between Turkey and Cyprus, that pipeline may never get an approval from Cypriot authorities.

Another option could be to construct a pipeline to Cyprus. From here, Israel and Cyprus could work together on figuring out a way to ship the gas from the Leviathan as well as the Aphrodite field, which is located off the southern coast of Cyprus, directly to Europe via pipelines or through construction of a liquefaction facility.

Either way, shipments to Turkey or Europe will require years of planning and development, not to mention the substantial regulatory and geopolitical hurdles, a large chunk of which will come from Israel itself.

Conclusion

The uncertainty regarding the future of Leviathan field has been weighing on Noble Energy stock. While on one hand, the company has received the nod from Israeli parliament, on the other hand, Egypt, which was touted as the major buyer of Leviathan gas, has discovered its own reserves. As a result, I believe the future prospects of Leviathan are as uncertain as they were before, if not more so.

Meanwhile, Israel has moved astonishingly slow as compared to others in North America, Australia, Russia and Qatar who are racing ahead to capture the natural gas export markets. The global energy landscape is also changing quickly, with the plunge in oil prices, M&A activity and Egypt’s discovery. In addition to this, Iran could also emerge as a major supplier of gas following the success of nuclear negotiations, given its South Pars gas field, home of the world’s second largest reserves, has recently become fully operational. In this quickly changing environment, thanks to the persistent delays, Leviathan will become less and less relevant.

Putin Accuses World Of “Using Terrorist Groups” To Destabilize Governments

Putin Accuses World Of “Using Terrorist Groups” To Destabilize Governments

zero hedge
Tyler Durden's picture

If you’ve followed the incessant back-and-forth between Washington and Moscow over the course of the proxy wars raging in Ukraine and Syria, you know that the Kremlin is without equal when it comes to describing US foreign policy in a way that is both succinct and accurate.

This was on full display earlier this year when Vladimir Putin’s Security Council released a document that carried the subtle title “About The US National Security Strategy.” We’ve also seen it on a number of occasions over the past several weeks in the wake of Russia’s stepped up military role in support of the Assad regime at Latakia. For instance, last week, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova delivered the following hilariously veracious assessment of how Washington has sought to characterize Moscow’s relationship with Damascus:

“First we were accused of providing arms to the so-called ‘bloody regime that was persecuting democratic activists, now it’s a new edition – we are supposedly harming the fight against terrorism. That is complete rubbish.” 

Yes, it probably is, but let’s not forget that Russia hasn’t exactly been forthcoming when it comes to acknowledging that, like Washington, Moscow’s interest in Syria is only related to terrorism to the extent that terrorism serves as a Western tool to destabilize the Assad regime which, you’re reminded, must remain in place if Putin intends to protect Gazprom’s iron grip over Europe’s supply of natural gas.

Of course what that suggests is that even as Russia uses ISIS as a smokescreen to justify sending troops to Syria, the Kremlin is by definition being more honest about its motives than The White House. That is, ISIS has destabilized Assad and because Russia has an interest in keeping the regime in power, Moscow actually does have a reason to eradicate Islamic State. The US, on the other hand, facilitated the destabilization of the country in the first place by playing a role in training and arming all manner of Syrian rebels, and to say that some of them might well have gone on to fight for ISIS would be a very generous assessment when it comes to describing the CIA’s involvement (a less generous assessment would be to call ISIS a “strategic CIA asset”). That means that the US will only really care about wiping out ISIS once Assad is gone and it’s time to install a puppet government that’s friendly to both Washington and Riyadh and at that point – assuming there are no other regimes in the area that the Pentagon feels like might need destabilizing – the US military will swiftly “liberate” Syria from the ISIS “scourge.”

To be sure, Russia is well aware of the game being played here and if there’s anything Vladimir Putin is not, it’s shy about calling the US out, which is precisely what he did on Tuesday at a security summit of ex-Soviet countries in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Bloomberg has more:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the fight against Islamic State should be the global community’s top priority in Syria, rather than changing the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

 

“It’s necessary to think about the political transition in that country” and Assad is willing to “involve healthy opposition forces in the administration of the state,” Putin said. “But the focus today is definitely on the need to combine forces in the fight against terrorism.”

 

Countries need to “put aside geopolitical ambitions” as well as “direct or indirect use of terrorist groups to achieve” goals that include regime change, in order to counter the threat of Islamic State, Putin said. “Elementary common sense responsibility for global and regional security demands the collective effort of the international community.”

The first thing to note there is that Putin has essentially called the US out for using terrorists to destabilize Assad. So for anyone just looking for the punchline, that was it. Everyone else, read on.

At this point what should be obvious is that Vladimir Putin’s intentions in Syria are anything but unclear. Russia is openly supplying the Assad regime with military aid in an effort to prevent terrorists and extremists (some of which were trained by the US and received aid from Qatar) from facilitating the strongman’s ouster. It’s that simple and frankly, the only two things Russia hasn’t made explicitly and publicly clear (because this is international diplomacy after all, which means everyone is always lying about something) are i) the role that natural gas plays in all of this, and ii) that the Kremlin will seek to prevent anyone from overthrowing Assad, so to the extent that there are any real, well-meaning “freedom fighters” in Syria, they’ll find themselves on the wrong end of Russian tank fire just the same as ISIS.

As clear as that is, the US must stick to the absurd notion that the Pentagon just can’t seem to get to the bottom of what Russia is doing and to the still more absurd idea that Russia – who seems to be the only outside party that’s actually interested in fighting ISIS as evidenced by the fact that there are Russian boots on the ground – is somehow hurting the very serious effort by the US and its allies to defeat Islamic radicals in Syria. Here’s Bloomberg again:

Russia’s intentions in Syria are unclear and it’s important for U.S. diplomats to understand them, Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Tallinn, Estonia, on Tuesday. While Putin’s said it wants to prevent Islamic State’s expansion, “explaining the purpose and seeing how it actually evolves on the ground are two very different things and we will be working on that,” Dempsey said.

Right, “explaining” that your “purpose” is to take your very powerful military and defeat what amounts to a large militia that’s woefully under-armed and under-trained by comparison “and seeing how it actually evolves are two very different things.” If you buy that argument, then you are buying into the patently ridiculous idea that if the US and Russia were to bring their combined military might to bear on ISIS in Syria, that somehow the outcome of that battle would be in doubt.

The Pentagon knows that notion is silly, but what it also knows is that once American troops are on the ground, there’s no not routing the other militants while you’re there, so what would happen in relatively short order, is that the opposition would be all gone and then, well, what do you do with Assad?

The much more straightforward way to go about this (unless of course you have a 9/11 and a story about WMDs buried in the desert as a cover that makes an outright, unilateral invasion possible), is to allow for the entire country to descend into chaos until one or more rebel/extremist groups finally manages to take Damascus, at which point you simply walk in with the Marines and remove them, then install any government you see fit. In the meantime, you just fly over and bomb stuff (hopefully with a coalition that includes Europe) in order to ensure that the situation remains sufficiently unstable. But now this plan won’t work, because unless we see a replay of the Soviet-Afghan war, none of Syria’s rebel groups are going to be able to rout the Russian army which means the US is stuck doing exactly what it’s doing now: trying to explain why it won’t join Russia in a coalition to eradicate ISIS while working to figure out what’s next now that the Russians are officially on the ground.

We’ll close with the following from Alexander Golts, a military analyst and deputy editor of the online newspaper Yezhednevny Zhurnal who spoke to WSJ:

“The idea of this is…to show Russia as part of the alliance of civilized nations that are standing against barbarism. But that idea won’t have much of a chance, because the U.S. and the Saudis and others consider Assad the source of the problem.”

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INFLUENCING THE SARG IN THE END OF 2006—wiki

[The gist of the following cable (if real) is to use soft power to influence Syrian govt into doing the wrong thing, so as to increase national negative opinion.  Instead of humanitarian helping of Syrian govt to do the right thing for the Syrian people, this is US GOV instruction to find ways to abuse the Syrian people in ways which will be blamed on Assad.  It acknowledges and accepts the rise of the Islamist threat as part of the anti-Syrian package.]

INFLUENCING THE SARG IN THE END OF 2006

2006 December 13, 16:03 (Wednesday)
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1. (S) Summary. The SARG ends 2006 in a much stronger position domestically and internationally than it did 2005. While there may be additional bilateral or multilateral pressure that can impact Syria, the regime is based on a small clique that is largely immune to such pressure. However, Bashar Asad’s growing self-confidence )- and reliance on this small clique — could lead him to make mistakes and ill-judged policy decisions through trademark emotional reactions to challenges, providing us with new opportunities. For example, Bashar,s reaction to the prospect of Hariri tribunal and to publicity for Khaddam and the National Salvation Front borders on the irrational. Additionally, Bashar,s reported preoccupation with his image and how he is perceived internationally is a potential liability in his decision making process. We believe Bashar,s weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as a the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements, and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising. These proposals will need to be fleshed out and converted into real actions and we need to be ready to move quickly to take advantage of such opportunities. Many of our suggestions underline using Public Diplomacy and more indirect means to send messages that influence the inner circle. End Summary. 2. (S) As the end of 2006 approaches, Bashar appears in some ways stronger than he has in two years. The country is economically stable (at least for the short term), internal opposition the regime faces is weak and intimidated, and regional issues seem to be going Syria,s way, from Damascus, perspective. Nonetheless, there are some long-standing vulnerabilities and looming issues that may provide opportunities to up the pressure on Bashar and his inner circle. Regime decision-making is limited to Bashar and an inner circle that often produces poorly thought-out tactical decisions and sometimes emotional approaches, such as Bashar,s universally derided August 15 speech. Some of these vulnerabilities, such as the regime,s near-irrational views on Lebanon, can be exploited to put pressure on the regime. Actions that cause Bashar to lose balance and increase his insecurity are in our interest because his inexperience and his regime,s extremely small decision-making circle make him prone to diplomatic stumbles that can weaken him domestically and regionally. While the consequences of his mistakes are hard to predict and the benefits may vary, if we are prepared to move quickly to take advantage of the opportunities that may open up, we may directly impact regime behavior where it matters–Bashar and his inner circle. 3. (S) The following provides our summary of potential vulnerabilities and possible means to exploit them: — Vulnerability: — THE HARIRI INVESTIGATION AND THE TRIBUNAL: The Hariri investigation ) and the prospect of a Lebanon Tribunal — has provoked powerful SARG reactions, primarily because of the embarrassment the investigation causes. Rationally, the regime should calculate that it can deal with any summons of Syrian officials by refusing to turn any suspects over, or, in extreme cases by engineering “suicides.8 But it seems the real issue for Bashar is that Syria,s dignity and its international reputation are put in question. Fiercely-held sentiments that Syria should continue to exercise dominant control in Lebanon play into these sensitivities. We should seek to exploit this raw nerve, without waiting for formation of the tribunal. — Possible action: — PUBLICITY: Publicly highlighting the consequences of the ongoing investigation a la Mehlis causes Bashar personal DAMASCUS 00005399 002 OF 004 angst and may lead him to act irrationally. The regime has deep-seated fears about the international scrutiny that a tribunal — or Brammertz accusations even against lower-echelon figures — would prompt. The Mehlis accusations of October 2005 caused the most serious strains in Bashar’s inner circle. While the family got back together, these splits may lie just below the surface. — Vulnerability: — THE ALLIANCE WITH TEHRAN: Bashar is walking a fine line in his increasingly strong relations with Iran, seeking necessary support while not completely alienating Syria,s moderate Sunni Arab neighbors by being perceived as aiding Persian and fundamentalist Shia interests. Bashar’s decision to not attend the Talabani ) Ahmadinejad summit in Tehran following FM Moallem,s trip to Iraq can be seen as a manifestation of Bashar’s sensitivity to the Arab optic on his Iranian alliance. — Possible action: — PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE: There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business. Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here, (as well as prominent Syrian Sunni religious leaders), are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should coordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicize and focus regional attention on the issue. — Vulnerability: — THE INNER CIRCLE: At the end of the day, the regime is dominated by the Asad family and to a lesser degree by Bashar Asad,s maternal family, the Makhlufs, with many family members believe to be increasingly corrupt. The family, and hangers on, as well as the larger Alawite sect, are not immune to feuds and anti-regime conspiracies, as was evident last year when intimates of various regime pillars (including the Makhloufs) approached us about post-Bashar possibilities. Corruption is a great divider and Bashar’s inner circle is subject to the usual feuds and squabbles related to graft and corruption. For example, it is generally known that Maher Asad is particularly corrupt and incorrigible. He has no scruples in his feuds with family members or others. There is also tremendous fear in the Alawite community about retribution if the Sunni majority ever regains power. — Possible Action: — ADDITIONAL DESIGNATIONS: Targeted sanctions against regime members and their intimates are generally welcomed by most elements of Syrian society. But the way designations are applied must exploit fissures and render the inner circle weaker rather than drive its members closer together. The designation of Shawkat caused him some personal irritation and was the subject of considerable discussion in the business community here. While the public reaction to corruption tends to be muted, continued reminders of corruption in the inner circle have resonance. We should look for ways to remind the public of our previous designations. — Vulnerability: — THE KHADDAM FACTOR: Khaddam knows where the regime skeletons are hidden, which provokes enormous irritation from Bashar, vastly disproportionate to any support Khaddam has within Syria. Bashar Asad personally, and his regime in general, follow every news item involving Khaddam with tremendous emotional interest. The regime reacts with self-defeating anger whenever another Arab country hosts Khaddam or allows him to make a public statement through any of its media outlets. — Possible Action: DAMASCUS 00005399 003 OF 004 — We should continue to encourage the Saudis and others to allow Khaddam access to their media outlets, providing him with venues for airing the SARG,s dirty laundry. We should anticipate an overreaction by the regime that will add to its isolation and alienation from its Arab neighbors. Vulnerability: — DIVISIONS IN THE MILITARY-SECURITY SERVICES: Bashar constantly guards against challenges from those with ties inside the military and security services. He is also nervous about any loyalties senior officers (or former senior officers) feel toward disaffected former regime elements like Rif,at Asad and Khaddam. The inner circle focuses continuously on who gets what piece of the corruption action. Some moves by Bashar in narrowing the circle of those who benefit from high-level graft has increased those with ties to the security services who have axes to grind. — Possible Action: — ENCOURAGE RUMORS AND SIGNALS OF EXTERNAL PLOTTING: The regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military. Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like Khaddam and Rif,at Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This again touches on this insular regime,s paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction. Vulnerability: — REFORM FORCES VERSUS BAATHISTS-OTHER CORRUPT ELITES: Bashar keeps unveiling a steady stream of initiatives on economic reform and it is certainly possible he believes this issue is his legacy to Syria. While limited and ineffectual, these steps have brought back Syrian expats to invest and have created at least the illusion of increasing openness. Finding ways to publicly call into question Bashar,s reform efforts )- pointing, for example to the use of reform to disguise cronyism — would embarrass Bashar and undercut these efforts to shore up his legitimacy. Revealing Asad family/inner circle corruption would have a similar effect. — Possible Action: — HIGHLIGHTING FAILURES OF REFORM: Highlighting failures of reform, especially in the run-up to the 2007 Presidential elections, is a move that Bashar would find highly embarrassing and de-legitimizing. Comparing and contrasting puny Syrian reform efforts with the rest of the Middle East would also embarrass and irritate Bashar. — Vulnerability: — THE ECONOMY: Perpetually under-performing, the Syrian economy creates jobs for less than 50 percent of the country,s university graduates. Oil accounts for 70 percent of exports and 30 percent of government revenue, but production is in steady decline. By 2010 Syria is expected to become a net importer of oil. Few experts believe the SARG is capable of managing successfully the expected economic dislocations. — DISCOURAGE FDI, ESPECIALLY FROM THE GULF: Syria has enjoyed a considerable up-tick in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last two years that appears to be picking up steam. The most important new FDI is undoubtedly from the Gulf. — Vulnerability: — THE KURDS: The most organized and daring political opposition and civil society groups are among the ethnic minority Kurds, concentrated in Syria,s northeast, as well as in communities in Damascus and Aleppo. This group has been willing to protest violently in its home territory when others would dare not. There are few threats that loom larger in Bashar,s mind than unrest with the Kurds. In what DAMASCUS 00005399 004 OF 004 is a rare occurrence, our DATT was convoked by Syrian Military Intelligence in May of 2006 to protest what the Syrians believed were US efforts to provide military training and equipment to the Kurds in Syria. — Possible Action: — HIGHLIGHT KURDISH COMPLAINTS: Highlighting Kurdish complaints in public statements, including publicizing human rights abuses will exacerbate regime,s concerns about the Kurdish population. Focus on economic hardship in Kurdish areas and the SARG,s long-standing refusal to offer citizenship to some 200,000 stateless Kurds. This issue would need to be handled carefully, since giving the wrong kind of prominence to Kurdish issues in Syria could be a liability for our efforts at uniting the opposition, given Syrian (mostly Arab) civil society,s skepticism of Kurdish objectives. — Vulnerability: — Extremist elements increasingly use Syria as a base, while the SARG has taken some actions against groups stating links to Al-Qaeda. With the killing of the al-Qaida leader on the border with Lebanon in early December and the increasing terrorist attacks inside Syria culminating in the September 12 attack against the US embassy, the SARG,s policies in Iraq and support for terrorists elsewhere as well can be seen to be coming home to roost. — Possible Actions: — Publicize presence of transiting (or externally focused) extremist groups in Syria, not limited to mention of Hamas and PIJ. Publicize Syrian efforts against extremist groups in a way that suggests weakness, signs of instability, and uncontrolled blowback. The SARG,s argument (usually used after terror attacks in Syria) that it too is a victim of terrorism should be used against it to give greater prominence to increasing signs of instability within Syria. 4. (S) CONCLUSION: This analysis leaves out the anti-regime Syrian Islamists because it is difficult to get an accurate picture of the threat within Syria that such groups pose. They are certainly a long-term threat. While it alludes to the vulnerabilities that Syria faces because of its alliance with Iran, it does not elaborate fully on this topic. The bottom line is that Bashar is entering the new year in a stronger position than he has been in several years, but those strengths also carry with them — or sometimes mask ) vulnerabilities. If we are ready to capitalize, they will offer us opportunities to disrupt his decision-making, keep him off-balance, and make him pay a premium for his mistakes. ROEBUCK

CENTCOM General Spills the Beans On US Special Forces In Syria

Pentagon: No, We Don’t Actually Have U.S. Troops Fighting in Syria

ForeignPolicyLogo

Pentagon: No, We Don’t Actually Have U.S. Troops Fighting in Syria

It was a tough day on Capitol Hill for Gen. Lloyd Austin, the head of U.S. Central Command. First, he was forced to admit that the $500 million Pentagon plan to train 5,400 Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State has lost all but five of its fighters over the last two months. Then his staff was compelled to issue a press release correcting comments that implied elite American troops were fighting in Syria.

During testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Austin made it sound like Navy Seals and other American Special Operations forces were on the ground in northern Syria to fight the Islamic State alongside a Kurdish militia.

The comment came as Austin struggled to persuade skeptical lawmakers that the flailing effort to train the Syrians wasn’t the only game in town.

“What our special operations forces have done in northern Syria is they didn’t wait for the New Syrian Force program or train and equip program to fully develop,” Austin said, referring to the U.S.-trained Syrian rebels. “At the very onset, they began to engage elements like the [Kurdish] YPG and enable those elements, and they are making a difference on the battlefield.”

It was a dramatic moment in the hearing: the Obama administration has consistently said there would be no American boots on the ground in Syria, and now the top U.S. commander for the Mideast appeared to be saying that there were.

About three hours later, an email appeared in journalists’ inboxes, offering a “Clarification for the Record.”

Centcom said that Gen. Austin was actually referring to the “coordinating relationship” that U.S. Special Operators have with Syrian Kurdish forces. Translated from Pentagon-ese, that means there are some communications and planning links between the U.S. and the Kurds, but American forces aren’t on the ground planning missions or taking part in combat.

“Coordination and liaising by U.S. forces is conducted outside of Syria at the Coalition’s Joint Operation Center in northern Iraq,” the statement said. “There are no U.S. military forces on the ground in Syria, nor have we conducted any U.S. military training of indigenous Syrian forces in Syria.”

Earlier in the hearing, Austin listened as Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) ripped his assessment that the Islamic State’s “overall capability has been disrupted,” and the U.S. air campaign over the past 14 months has been “extraordinarily effective” against the jihadists. McCain also pounced on Austin’s comment that “there hadn’t been any dramatic gains on either side” in recent months, despite the cities of Ramadi and Palmyra falling to the Islamic State since the spring.

“I’ve never seen a hearing that is as divorced from the reality of every outside expert” studying the war, McCain said. In Austin’s defense, he was simply using the same language that his boss, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, used just last week, when he told reporters in Berlin that the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is “tactically stalemated,” with no “dramatic gains on either side.”

The Islamic State isn’t the only headache vexing Austin and his Centcom staff. A series of leaks from military intelligence analysts and those attached to Centcom from the Defense Intelligence Agency have charged that military leaders are distorting their work to make it look like the war is going better than it actually is. The Defense Department Inspector General has opened an investigation.

 

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

force West Asian nations to “stop deadly politics in the name of Islam”

rss_refugees

Refugee crisis: RSS hits out at ‘oil-rich’ Arab nations

siasat daily

New Delhi: Amid the ongoing refugee crisis, RSS mouthpiece ‘Organiser’ has called for building international opinion to force West Asian nations to “stop deadly politics in the name of Islam”.

It also hit out at Arab nations including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for refusing to help the refugees from strife-torn Syria despite having capacities and resources.

“…Not only Europe but even countries like Bharat (India) and China cannot afford to sit back and wait for the crisis to subside. The time is ripe to build international opinion and force West Asian countries to stop deadly politics in the name of Islam,” it said.

An editorial, “Refuge behind refugees”, in the RSS organ also said Indian “clerics issuing fatwa against the inhuman actions of IS is exemplary in this regard”.

Hitting out at the Arab countries, it said, “The worst culprits are the Arab countries. After financing terrorist groups in many countries, the oil rich West Asian countries have shamed the ‘Arab Conscience’ by refusing to take in any refugee.”

“…Why are some Muslim governments seemingly indifferent to the plight of refugees? They have all the capacities, resources and space but for them the cause espoused by IS is greater than the humanitarian concerns,” it said.

The organ said Saudi Arabia has openly declared that it will not allow any Syrian refugee into the kingdom, while Kuwaiti official argued that ‘they would not fit in’ with the Kuwaiti culture.

The ‘Organiser’ said European powers, who are planning refugee quotas and are now vouching for the humanitarian laws, cannot forget the fact that the situation in Syria or other West Asian countries is the outcome of their colonial legacy.

“They had redrawn the boundaries and created Assads and Saddams under the US leadership. Taliban and IS are their ‘liberal’ contributions to the world. Now when the humanitarian crisis is at the zenith, they cannot overlook the real menace that is barbarism of IS,” it said.

It said the Syrian conflict has created over four million refugees and two million more are expected to flee due to persecution in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen.

“There are reports that Islamic State (IS) militants are being smuggled in Europe in the guise of refugees. The IS operative claimed some 4,000 fighters were already waiting in Europe aiming to attack around the globe,” the RSS organ said.

Noting that more than 2,50,000 people have already died and many are being tortured, it said asylum to refugees can be a temporary solution but not a permanent one.

“Europe cannot hide behind the garb of refugees and neglect the real problem,” it said.

Syrian President Bashar Assad—FULL INTERVIEW, Sept. 16, 2015

‘West crying for refugees with one eye, aiming gun with the other’ – Assad (FULL INTERVIEW)

Russia-Today

© / RT
In a rare interview with Russian media outlets, RT among them, Syrian leader Bashar Assad spoke about global and domestic terrorism threats, the need for a united front against jihadism, Western propaganda about the refugee crisis and ways to bring peace to his war-torn nation.

Question 1:Mr. President, thank you from the Russian media, from RT, from Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Channel 1, Russia 24, RIA Novosti, and NTV channel, for giving us all the opportunity to talk to you during this very critical phase of the crisis in Syria, where there are many questions that need to be addressed on where exactly the political process to achieve peace in Syria is heading, what’s the latest developments on the fight against ISIL, and the status of the Russian and Syrian partnership, and of course the enormous exodus of Syrian refugees that has been dominating headlines in Europe.

Now, the crisis in Syria is entering its fifth year. You have defied all predictions by Western leaders that you would be ousted imminently, and continue to serve today as the President of the Syrian Arab Republic. Now, there has been a lot of speculation recently caused by reports that officials from your government met with officials from your adversary Saudi Arabia that caused speculation that the political process in Syria has entered a new phase, but then statements from Saudi Arabia that continue to insist on your departure suggest that in fact very little has changed despite the grave threat that groups like ISIL pose far beyond Syria’s borders.

So, what is your position on the political process? How do you feel about power sharing and working with those groups in the opposition that continue to say publically that there can be no political solution in Syria unless that includes your immediate departure? Have they sent you any signal that they are willing to team up with you and your government? In addition to that, since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, many of those groups were calling to you to carry out reforms and political change. But is such change even possible now under the current circumstances with the war and the ongoing spread of terror in Syria?

President Assad: Let me first divide this question. It’s a multi question in one question. The first part regarding the political process, since the beginning of the crisis we adopted the dialogue approach, and there were many rounds of dialogue between Syrians in Syria, in Moscow, and in Geneva. Actually, the only step that has been made or achieved was in Moscow 2, not in Geneva, not in Moscow 1, and actually it’s a partial step, it’s not a full step, and that’s natural because it’s a big crisis. You cannot achieve solutions in a few hours or a few days. It’s a step forward, and we are waiting for Moscow 3. I think we need to continue the dialogue between the Syrian entities, political entities or political currents, in parallel with fighting terrorism in order to achieve or reach a consensus about the future of Syria. So, that’s what we have to continue.

If I jump to the last part, because it’s related to this one, is it possible to achieve anything taking into consideration the prevalence of terrorism in Syria and in Iraq and in the region in general? We have to continue dialogue in order to reach the consensus as I said, but if you want to implement anything real, it’s impossible to do anything while you have people being killed, bloodletting hasn’t stopped, people feel insecure. Let’s say we sit together as Syrian political parties or powers and achieve a consensus regarding something in politics, in economy, in education, in health, in everything. How can we implement it if the priority of every single Syrian citizen is to be secure? So, we can achieve consensus, but we cannot implement unless we defeat the terrorism in Syria. We have to defeat terrorism, not only ISIS.

I’m talking about terrorism, because you have many organizations, mainly ISIS and al-Nusra that were announced as terrorist groups by the Security Council. So, this is regarding the political process. Sharing power, of course we already shared it with some part of the opposition that accepted to share it with us. A few years ago they joined the government. Although sharing power is related to the constitution, to the elections, mainly parliamentary elections, and of course representation of the Syrian people by those powers. But in spite of that, because of the crisis, we said let’s share it now, let’s do something, a step forward, no matter how effective.

Regarding the refugee crisis, I will say now that Western dealing in the Western propaganda recently, mainly during the last week, regardless of the accusation that those refugees are fleeing the Syrian government, but they call it regime, of course. Actually, it’s like the West now is crying for the refugees with one eye and aiming at them with a machinegun with the second one, because actually those refugees left Syria because of the terrorism, mainly because of the terrorists and because of the killing, and second because of the results of terrorism. When you have terrorism, and you have the destruction of the infrastructure, you won’t have the basic needs of living, so many people leave because of the terrorism and because they want to earn their living somewhere in this world.

So, the West is crying for them, and the West is supporting terrorists since the beginning of the crisis when it said that this was a peaceful uprising, when they said later it’s moderate opposition, and now they say there is terrorism like al-Nusra and ISIS, but because of the Syrian state or the Syrian regime or the Syrian president. So, as long as they follow this propaganda, they will have more refugees. So, it’s not about that Europe didn’t accept them or embrace them as refugees, it’s about not dealing with the cause. If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists. That’s what we think regarding the crisis. This is the core of the whole issue of refugees.

Question 2:Mr. President, you touched on the subject of the internal Syrian opposition in your first answer; nevertheless, I would like to go back to that because it’s very important for Russia. What should the internal opposition do in order to cooperate and coordinate with Syrian authorities to support them in battle… which is what they say they intend to do? How do you see the prospects for the Moscow-3 and Geneva-3 conferences? Will they be useful to Syria in the current situation?

President Assad: As you know, we are at war with terrorism, and this terrorism is supported by foreign powers. It means that we are in a state of complete war. I believe that any society and any patriotic individuals, and any parties which truly belong to the people should unite when there is a war against an enemy; whether that enemy is in the form of domestic terrorism or foreign terrorism. If we ask any Syrian today about what they want, the first thing they would say is: we want security and safety for every person and every family.

So we, as political forces, whether inside or outside the government, should unite around what the Syrian people want. That means we should first unite against terrorism. That is logical and self-evident. That’s why I say that we have to unite now as political forces, or government, or as armed groups which fought against the government, in order to fight terrorism. This has actually happened.

There are forces fighting terrorism now alongside the Syrian state, which had previously fought against the Syrian state. We have made progress in this regard, but I would like to take this opportunity to call on all forces to unite against terrorism, because it is the way to achieve the political objectives which we, as Syrians, want through dialogue and political action.

Intervention:Concerning the Moscow-3 and Geneva-3 conferences; in your opinion, are there good prospects for them?

President Assad: The importance of Moscow-3 lies in the fact that it paves the way to Geneva-3, because the international sponsorship in Geneva was not neutral, while the Russian sponsorship is. It is not biased, and is based on international law and Security Council resolutions. Second, there are substantial differences around the ‘transitional body’ item in Geneva. Moscow-3 is required to solve these problems between the different Syrian parties; and when we reach Geneva-3, it is ensured that there is a Syrian consensus which would enable it to succeed. We believe that it is difficult for Geneva-3 to succeed unless Moscow-3 does. That’s why we support holding this round of negotiations in Moscow after preparations for the success of this round have been completed, particularly by the Russian officials.

Question 3:I would like to continue with the issue of international cooperation in order to solve the Syrian crisis. It’s clear that Iran, since solving the nuclear issue, will play a more active role in regional affairs. How would you evaluate recent Iranian initiatives on reaching a settlement for the situation in Syria? And, in general, what is the importance of Tehran’s support for you? Is there military support? And, if so, what form does it take?

President Assad: At present, there is no Iranian initiative. There are ideas or principles for an Iranian initiative based primarily on Syria’s sovereignty, the decisions of the Syrian people and on fighting terrorism. The relationship between Syria and Iran is an old one. It is over three-and-a-half decades old. There is an alliance based on a great degree of trust. That’s why we believe that the Iranian role is important. Iran supports Syria and the Syrian people. It stands with the Syrian state politically, economically and militarily. When we say militarily, it doesn’t mean – as claimed by some in the Western media – that Iran has sent an army or armed forces to Syria. That is not true. It sends us military equipment, and of course there is an exchange of military experts between Syria and Iran. This has always been the case, and it is natural for this cooperation to grow between the two countries in a state of war. Yes, Iranian support has been essential to support Syria in its steadfastness in this difficult and ferocious war.

Question 4:Concerning regional factors and proponents, you recently talked about security coordination with Cairo in fighting terrorism, and that you are in the same battle line in this regard. How is your relationship with Cairo today given that it hosts some opposition groups? Do you have a direct relationship, or perhaps through the Russian mediator, particularly in light of the strategic relations between Russia and Egypt. President Sisi has become a welcome guest in Moscow today.

President Assad: Relations between Syria and Egypt have not ceased to exist even over the past few years, and even when the president was Mohammed Morsi, who is a member of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organisation. Egyptian institutions insisted on maintaining a certain element of this relationship. First, because the Egyptian people are fully aware of what is happening in Syria, and second because the battle we are fighting is practically against the same enemy. This has now become clearer to everyone. Terrorism has spread in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, in other Arab countries, and in some Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and others. That’s why I can say that there is joint vision between us and the Egyptians; but our relationship exists now on a security level. There are no political relations. I mean, there are no contacts between the Syrian Foreign Ministry and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, for instance. Contacts are done on a security level only. We understand the pressures that might be applied on Egypt or on both Syria and Egypt so that they don’t have a strong relationship. This relationship does not go, of course, through Moscow. As I said, this relationship has never ceased to exist, but we feel comfortable about improving relations between Russia and Egypt. At the same time, there is a good, strong and historical relation between Moscow and Damascus, so it is natural for Russia to feel comfortable for any positive development in relations between Syria and Egypt.

Question 5:Mr. President, allow me to go back to the question of fighting terrorism. How do you look at the idea of creating a region free of ISIS terrorists in the north of the country on the border with Turkey? In that context, what do you say about the indirect cooperation between the West and terrorist organizations like the al-Nusra Front and other extremist groups? And with whom are you willing to cooperate and fight against ISIS terrorists?

President Assad: To say that the border with Turkey should be free of terrorism means that terrorism is allowed in other regions. That is unacceptable. Terrorism should be eradicated everywhere; and we have been calling for three decades for an international coalition to fight terrorism. But as for Western cooperation with the al-Nusra Front, this is reality, because we know that Turkey supports al-Nusra and ISIS by providing them with arms, money and terrorist volunteers. And it is well-known that Turkey has close relations with the West. Erdogan and Davutoglu cannot make a single move without coordinating first with the United States and other Western countries. Al-Nusra and ISIS operate with such a force in the region under Western cover, because Western states have always believed that terrorism is a card they can pull from their pocket and use from time to time. Now, they want to use al-Nusra just against ISIS, maybe because ISIS is out of control one way or another. But that doesn’t mean they want to eradicate ISIS. Had they wanted to do so, they would have been able to do that. For us, ISIS, al-Nusra, and all similar organizations which carry weapons and kill civilians are extremist organizations.

But who we conduct dialogue with is a very important question. From the start we said that we engage in dialogue with any party, if that dialogue leads to degrading terrorism and consequently achieve stability. This naturally includes the political powers, but there are also armed groups with whom we conducted dialogue and reached agreement in troubled areas which have become quiet now. In other areas, these armed groups joined the Syrian Army and are fighting by its side, and some of their members became martyrs. So we talk to everyone except organizations I mentioned like ISIS, al-Nusra, and other similar ones for the simple reason that these organizations base their doctrine on terrorism. They are ideological organizations and are not simply opposed to the state, as is the case with a number of armed groups. Their doctrine is based on terrorism, and consequently dialogue with such organizations cannot lead to any real result. We should fight and eradicate them completely and talking to them is absolutely futile.

Intervention:When talking about regional partners, with whom are you prepared to cooperate in fighting terrorism?

President Assad: Certainly with friendly countries, particularly Russia and Iran. Also we are cooperating with Iraq because it faces the same type of terrorism. As for other countries, we have no veto on any country provided that it has the will to fight terrorism and not as they are doing in what is called “the international coalition” led by the United States. In fact, since this coalition started to operate, ISIS has been expanding. In other words, the coalition has failed and has no real impact on the ground. At the same time, countries like Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Western countries which provide cover for terrorism like France, the United States, or others, cannot fight terrorism. You cannot be with and against terrorism at the same time. But if these countries decide to change their policies and realize that terrorism is like a scorpion, if you put it in your pocket, it will sting you. If that happens, we have no objection to cooperating with all these countries, provided it is a real and not a fake coalition to fight terrorism.

Question 6:What is the Syrian army’s current condition? They’ve been fighting for over four years. Are they exhausted by the war, or become stronger as a result of engagement in military operations? And are there reserve forces to support them? I also have another important question: you said a large number of former adversaries have moved to your side and are fighting within the ranks of government forces. How many? And what is the extent of their help in the fight against extremist groups?

President Assad: Of course, war is bad. And any war is destructive, any war weakens any society and any army, no matter how strong or rich a country is. But things cannot be assessed this way. War is supposed to unite society against the enemy. The army becomes the most-important symbol for any society when there is aggression against the country. Society embraces the army, and provides it with all the necessary support, including human resources, volunteers, conscripts, in order to defend the homeland. At the same time, war provides a great deal of expertise to any armed forces practically and militarily. So, there are always positive and negative aspects. We cannot say that the army becomes weaker or stronger. But in return, this social embrace and support for the army provides it with volunteers. So, in answer to your question ‘are there reserves?’… yes, certainly, for without such reserves, the army wouldn’t have been able to stand for four-and-a-half years in a very tough war, particularly since the enemy we fight today has an unlimited supply of people. We have terrorist fighters from over 80 or 90 countries today, so our enemy is enjoying enormous support in various countries, from where people come here to fight alongside the terrorists. As for the army, it’s almost exclusively made of Syrians. So, we have reserve forces, and this is what enables us to carry on. There is also determination. We have reserves not only in terms of human power, but in will as well. We are more determined than ever before to fight and defend our country against terrorists. This is what led some fighters who used to fight against the state at the beginning for varying reasons, discovered they were wrong and decided to join the state. Now they are fighting battles along with the army, and some have actually joined as regular soldiers. Some have kept their weapons, but they are fighting in groups alongside the armed forces in different parts of Syria.

Question 7:Mr. President, Russia has been fighting terrorism for 20 years, and we have seen its different manifestations. It now seems you are fighting it head on. In general, the world is witnessing a new form of terrorism. In the regions occupied by ISIS, they are setting up courts and administrations, and there are reports that it intends to mint its own currency. They are constructing what looks like a state. This in itself might attract new supporters from different countries. Can you explain to us whom are you fighting? Is it a large group of terrorists or is it a new state which intends to radically redraw regional and global borders? What is ISIS today?

President Assad: Of course, the terrorist ISIS groups tried to give the semblance of a state, as you said, in order to attract more volunteers who live on the dreams of the past: that there was an Islamic state acting for the sake of religion. That ideal is unreal. It is deceptive. But no state can suddenly bring a new form to any society. The state should be the product of its society. It should be the natural evolution of that society, to express it. In the end, a state should be a projection of its society. You cannot bring about a state which has a different form and implant it in a society. Here we ask the question: does ISIS, or what they call ‘Islamic State’, have any semblance to Syrian society? Certainly not.

Of course we have terrorist groups, but they are not an expression of society. In Russia, you have terrorist groups today, but they do not project Russian society, nor do they have any semblance to the open and diverse Russian society. That’s why if they tried to mint a currency or have stamps or passports, or have all these forms which indicate the existence of a state, it doesn’t mean they actually exist as a state; first because they are different from the people and, second, because people in those regions flee towards the real state, the Syrian state, the national state. Sometimes they fight them too. A very small minority believes these lies. They are certainly not a state, they are a terrorist group. But if we want to ask about who they are, let’s speak frankly: They are the third phase of the political or ideological poisons produced by the West, aimed at achieving political objectives. The first phase was the Muslim Brotherhood at the turn of the last century. The second phase was al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in order to fight the Soviet Union. And the third phase is ISIS, the al-Nusra Front and these groups. Who are ISIS? And who are these groups? They are simply extremist products of the West.

Question 8:Mr. President, at the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the Kurdish issue started to be discussed more often. Previously, Damascus was severely criticized because of its position towards the Kurdish minority. But now, practically, in some areas, Kurdish formations are your allies in the fight against ISIS. Do you have a specific position towards who the Kurds are to you and who you are to them?

President Assad: First, you cannot say there was a certain state policy concerning the Kurds. A state cannot discriminate between members of its population; otherwise, it creates division in the country. If we had been discriminating between different components of society, the majority of these components wouldn’t have supported the state now, and the country would have disintegrated from the very beginning. For us, the Kurds are part of the Syrian fabric. They are not foreigners – they live in this region like the Arabs, Circassians, Armenians and many other ethnicities and sects who’ve been living in Syria for many centuries. It’s not known when some of them came to this region. Without these groups, there wouldn’t have been a homogenous Syria. So, are they our allies today? No, they are patriotic people. But on the other hand, you cannot put all the Kurds in one category. Like any other Syrian component, there are different currents among them. They belong to different parties. There are those on the left and those on the right. There are tribes, and there are different groups. So, it is not objective to talk about the Kurds as one mass.

There are certain Kurdish demands expressed by some parties, but there are no Kurdish demands for the Kurds. There are Kurds who are integrated fully into society; and I would like to stress that they are not allies at this stage, as some people would like to show. I would like to stress that they are not just allies at this stage, as some suggest. There are many fallen Kurdish soldiers who fought with the army, which means they are an integral part of society. But there are parties which had certain demands, and we addressed some at the beginning of the crisis. There are other demands which have nothing to do with the state, and which the state cannot address. There are things which would relate to the entire population, to the constitution, and the people should endorse these demands before a decision can be taken by the state. In any case, anything proposed should be in the national framework. That’s why I say that we are with the Kurds, and with other components, all of us in alliance to fight terrorism.

This is what I talked about a while ago: that we should unite in order to fight ISIS. After we defeat ISIS, al-Nusra and the terrorists, the Kurdish demands expressed by certain parties can be discussed nationally. There’s no problem with that, we do not have a veto on any demand as long as it is within the framework of Syria’s unity and the unity of the Syrian people and territory, fighting terrorism, Syrian diversity, and the freedom of this diversity in its ethnic, national, sectarian, and religious sense.

Question 9:Mr. President, you partially answered this question, but I would like a more-precise answer, because some Kurdish forces in Syria call for amending the constitution. For instance, setting up a local administration and moving towards autonomy in the north. These statements are becoming more frequent now that the Kurds are fighting ISIS with a certain degree of success. Do you agree with such statements that the Kurds can bet on some kind of gratitude? Is it up for discussion?

President Assad: When we defend our country, we do not ask people to thank us. It is our natural duty to defend our country. If they deserve thanks, then every Syrian citizen defending their country deserves as much. But I believe that defending one’s country is a duty, and when you carry out your duty, you don’t need thanks. But what you have said is related to the Syrian constitution. Today, if you want to change the existing structure in your country, in Russia for instance, let’s say to redraw the borders of the republics, or give one republic powers different to those given to other republics – this has nothing to do with the president or the government. This has to do with the constitution.

The president does not own the constitution and the government does not own the constitution. Only the people own the constitution, and consequently changing the constitution means national dialogue. For us, we don’t have a problem with any demand. As a state, we do not have any objection to these issues as long as they do not infringe upon Syria’s unity and diversity and the freedom of its citizens.

But if there are certain groups or sections in Syria which have certain demands, these demands should be in the national framework, and in dialogue with the Syrian political forces. When the Syrian people agree on taking steps of this kind, which have to do with federalism, autonomy, decentralization or changing the whole political system, this needs to be agreed upon by the Syrian people, and consequently amending the constitution. This is why these groups need to convince the Syrian people of their proposals. In that respect, they are not in dialogue with the state, but rather with the people. When the Syrian people decide to move in a certain direction, and to approve a certain step, we will naturally approve it.

Question 10:Now, the U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes on Syrian territory for about one year on the same areas that the Syrian Air Force is also striking ISIL targets, yet there hasn’t been a single incident of the U.S.-led coalition and the Syrian Air Force activity clashing with one another. Is there any direct or indirect coordination between your government and the U.S. coalition in the fight against ISIL?

President Assad: You’d be surprised if I say no. I can tell you that my answer will be not realistic, to say now, while we are fighting the same, let’s say enemy, while we’re attacking the same target in the same area without any coordination and at the same time without any conflict. And actually this is strange, but this is reality. There’s not a single coordination or contact between the Syrian government and the United States government or between the Syrian army and the U.S. army. This is because they cannot confess, they cannot accept the reality that we are the only power fighting ISIS on the ground. For them, maybe, if they deal or cooperate with the Syrian Army, this is like a recognition of our effectiveness in fighting ISIS. This is part of the willful blindness of the U.S. administration, unfortunately.

Question 11:So not event indirectly though, for example the Kurds? Because we know the U.S. is working with the Kurds, and the Kurds have some contacts with the Syrian government. So, not even any indirect coordination?

President Assad: Not even any third party, including the Iraqis, because before they started the attacks, they let us know through the Iraqis. Since then, not a single message or contact through any other party.

Question 12:Ok, so just a little bit further than that. You’ve lived in the West, and you, at one time, moved in some of those circles with some Western leaders that since the beginning of the crisis have been backing armed groups who are fighting to see you overthrown. How do you feel about one day working again with those very same Western leaders, perhaps shaking hands with them? Would you ever be able to trust them again?

President Assad: First, it’s not a personal relation; it’s a relation between states, and when you talk about relation between states, you don’t talk about trust; you talk about mechanism. So, trust is a very personal thing you cannot depend on in political relations between, let’s say, people. I mean, you are responsible for, for example in Syria, for 23 million, and let’s say in another country for tens of millions. You cannot put the fate of those tens of millions or maybe hundreds of millions on the trust of a single person, or two persons in two countries. So, there must be a mechanism. When you have a mechanism, you can talk about trust in a different way, not a personal way. This is first.

Second, the main mission of any politician, or any government, president, prime minister, it doesn’t matter, is to work for the interest of his people and the interest of his country. If any meeting or any handshaking with anyone in the world will bring benefit to the Syrian people, I have to do it, whether I like it or not. So, it’s not about me, I accept it or I like it or whatever; it’s about what the added value of this step that you’re going to take. So yes, we are ready whenever there’s the interest of the Syrians. I will do it, whatever it is.

Question 13:Regarding alliances in the fight against terrorism and ISIS, President Putin called for a regional alliance to fight the so-called ‘Islamic State’; and the recent visits of Arab officials to Moscow fall into that context, but Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that would need a miracle. We are talking here about security coordination, as described by Damascus, with the governments of Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. How do you envisage that alliance? Will it achieve any results, in your opinion? You said that any relationship is based on interests, so are you willing to coordinate with these countries, and what is the truth behind the meetings held between Syrian, and maybe Saudi, officials as reported by the media?

President Assad: As for fighting terrorism, this is a big and comprehensive issue which includes cultural and economic aspects. It obviously has security and military aspects as well. In terms of prevention, all the other aspects are more important than the security and military ones, but today, in the reality we now live in terms of fighting terrorism, we are not facing terrorist groups, we are facing terrorist armies equipped with light, medium and heavy weaponry. They have billions of dollars to recruit volunteers. The military and security aspects should be given priority at this stage. So, we think this alliance should act in different areas, but to fight on the ground first. Naturally, this alliance should consist of states which believe in fighting terrorism and believe that their natural position should be against terrorism.

In the current state of affairs, the person supporting terrorism cannot be the same person fighting terrorism. This is what these states are doing now. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan, who pretend to be part of a coalition against terrorism in northern Syria, actually support terrorism in the south, the north and the north-west, virtually in the same regions in which they are supposed to be fighting terrorism. Once again I say that, within the framework of public interest, if these states decide to go back to the right position, to return to their senses and fight terrorism, naturally we will accept and cooperate with them and with others. We do not have a veto and we do not stick to the past. Politics change all the time. It might change from bad to good, and the ally might become an adversary, and the adversary an ally. This is normal. When they fight against terrorism, we will cooperate with them.

Question 14:Mr. President, there is a huge wave of refugees, largely from Syria, going to Europe. Some say these people are practically lost to Syria. They are deeply unhappy with the Syrian authorities because they haven’t been able to protect them and they’ve had to leave their homes. How do you view those people? Do you see them as part of the Syrian electorate in the future? Do you expect them to return? And the second question has to do with the European sense of guilt about the displacement happening now. Do you think that Europe should feel guilty?

President Assad: Any person who leaves Syria constitutes a loss to the homeland, to be sure, regardless of the position or capabilities of that person. This, of course, does not include terrorists. It includes all citizens in general with the exception of terrorists. So, yes, there is a great loss as a result of emigration. You raised a question on elections. Last year, we had a presidential election in Syria, and there were many refugees in different countries, particularly in Lebanon. According to Western propaganda, they had fled the state, the oppression of the state and the killing of the state, and they are supposed to be enemies of the state. But the surprise for Westerners was that most of them voted for the president who is supposed to be killing them. That was a great blow to Western propaganda. Of course, voting has certain conditions. There should be an embassy, and to have the custodianship of the Syrian state in the voting process. That depends on relations between the states. Many countries have severed relations with Syria and closed Syrian embassies, and consequently Syrian citizens cannot vote in those countries. They have to go to other countries where ballot boxes are installed, and that did happen last year.

As for Europe, of course it’s guilty. Today, Europe is trying to say that Europe feels guilty because it hasn’t given money or hasn’t allowed these people to immigrate legally, and that’s why they came across the sea and drowned. We are sad for every innocent victim, but is the victim who drowns in the sea dearer to us than the victim killed in Syria? Are they dearer than innocent people whose heads are cut off by terrorists? Can you feel sad for a child’s death in the sea and not for thousands of children who have been killed by the terrorists in Syria? And also for men, women, and the elderly? These European double standards are no longer acceptable. They have been flagrantly exposed. It doesn’t make sense to feel sad for the death of certain people and not for deaths of others. The principles are the same. So Europe is responsible because it supported terrorism, as I said a short while ago, and is still supporting terrorism and providing cover for them. It still calls them ‘moderate’ and categorizes them into groups, even though all these groups in Syria are extremists.

Question 15:If you don’t mind, I would like to go back to the question about Syria’s political future. Mr. President, your opponents, whether fighting against the authorities with weapons or your political opponents, still insist that one of the most-important conditions for peace is your departure from political life and as president. What do you think about that – as president and as a Syrian citizen? Are you theoretically prepared for that if you feel it’s necessary?

President Assad: In addition to what you say, Western propaganda has, from the very beginning, been about the cause of the problem being the president. Why? Because they want to portray the whole problem in Syria lies in one individual; and consequently the natural reaction for many people is that, if the problem lies in one individual, that individual should not be more important than the entire homeland. So let that individual go and things will be alright. That’s how they oversimplify things in the West. What’s happening in Syria, in this regard, is similar to what happened in your case. Notice what happened in the Western media since the coup in Ukraine. What happened? President Putin was transformed from a friend of the West to a foe and, yet again, he was characterized as a tsar. He is portrayed as a dictator suppressing opposition in Russia, and that he came to power through undemocratic means, despite the fact that he was elected in democratic elections, and the West itself acknowledged that the elections were democratic. Now, it is no longer democratic. This is Western propaganda. They say that if the president went things will get better. What does that mean, practically? For the West, it means that as long as you are there, we will continue to support terrorism, because the Western principle followed now in Syria and Russia and other countries is changing presidents, changing states, or what they call bringing regimes down. Why? Because they do not accept partners and do not accept independent states. What is their problem with Russia? What is their problem with Syria?  What is their problem with Iran? They are all independent countries. They want a certain individual to go and be replaced by someone who acts in their interests and not in the interest of his country. For us, the president comes through the people and through elections and, if he goes, he goes through the people. He doesn’t go as a result of an American decision, a Security Council decision, the Geneva conference or the Geneva communiqué. If the people want him to stay, he should stay; and if the people reject him, he should leave immediately. This is the principle according to which I look at this issue.

Question 16:Military operations have been ongoing for more than four years. It’s likely that you analyze things and review matters often. In your opinion, was there a crucial juncture when you realized war was unavoidable? And who initiated that war machinery? The influence of Washington or your Middle East neighbours? Or were there mistakes on your part? Are there things you regret? And if you had the opportunity to go back, would you change them?

President Assad: In every state, there are mistakes, and mistakes might be made every day, but these mistakes do not constitute a crucial juncture because they are always there. So what is it that makes these mistakes suddenly lead to the situation we are living in Syria today? It doesn’t make sense. You might be surprised if I tell that the crucial juncture in what happened in Syria is something that many people wouldn’t even think of. It was the Iraq war in 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq. We were strongly opposed to that invasion, because we knew that things were moving in the direction of dividing societies and creating unrest. And we are Iraq’s neighbours. At that time, we saw that the war would turn Iraq into a sectarian country; into a society divided against itself. To the west of Syria there is another sectarian country – Lebanon. We are in the middle. We knew well that we would be affected. Consequently, the beginning of the Syrian crisis, or what happened in the beginning, was the natural result of that war and the sectarian situation in Iraq, part of which moved to Syria, and it was easy for them to incite some Syrian groups on sectarian grounds.

The second point, which might be less crucial, is that when the West adopted terrorism officially in Afghanistan in the early 1980s and called terrorists at that time ‘freedom fighters’, and then in 2006 when Islamic State appeared in Iraq under American sponsorship and they didn’t fight it. All these things together created the conditions for the unrest with Western support and Gulf money, particularly form Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and with Turkish logistic support, particularly since President Erdogan belongs intellectually to the Muslim Brotherhood. Consequently, he believes that, if the situation changed in Syria, Egypt, and Iraq, it means the creation of a new sultanate; not an Ottoman sultanate this time, but a sultanate for the Brotherhood extending from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and ruled by Erdogan. All these factors together brought things to what we have today. Once again, I say that there were mistakes, and mistakes always create gaps and weak points, but they are not sufficient to cause that alone, and they do not justify what happened. And if these gaps and weak points are the cause, why didn’t they lead to revolutions in the Gulf states – particularly in Saudi Arabia which doesn’t know anything about democracy? The answer is self-evident, I believe.

Mr. President, thank you for giving us the time and for your detailed answers to our questions. We know that in September you have your golden jubilee, your 50th birthday. Probably the best wishes in the current circumstances would be the return of peace and safety to your country as soon as possible. Thank you.

Microsoft Invites Dracula In—NATO Given Access To Find Back Doors

Microsoft signs deal to let NATO check its products for backdoors

zd net

NATO has joined a Microsoft program that offers vulnerability information and access to source code.

Microsoft has signed a security agreement with NATO that allows the organisation to vet Microsoft products’ source code for backdoors.

The deal extends Microsoft’s 12-year cybersecurity partnership with the NATO Communications Information (NCI) Agency and marks the Redmond company’s latest Government Security Program (GSP) agreement.

Microsoft struck a similar agreement with the EU in June and opened its second European Transparency Centre in Brussels to offer governments a secure location to review its source code.

According to Microsoft, the agreement means the NCI agency will gain access to technical information and documentation about Microsoft products and services, as well as threat intelligence and product vulnerability information.

Microsoft launched GSP in 2003, and the program has since evolved into a set of resources for government officials offerings controlled access to source code, access to its Transparency Centers, and vulnerability and threat intelligence from the company.

Products available for vetting include multiple editions of Windows and Windows Server, Office, Lync, SharePoint 2010, and Windows Embedded.

With NATO onboard, Microsoft now has 44 different agencies from 26 governments across the world participating in the program.

Microsoft also says that the GSP will help participants plan for Windows 10 deployments and the migration of services to the cloud.

The new cybersecurity agreement was announced at NATO’s annual cyber conference, where NATO says it made progress in the NATO-Industry Cyber Partnership, an initiative launched in 2014 to engage industry partners and academia with NATO’s 28 allies. The partnership’s aim is to boost defences against cyberattacks that may affect physical infrastructure.

“We see this signing as another step forward in the NATO-Industry Cyber Partnership, building a stronger cyber defence network today with Microsoft, but also with other industry partners across the world,” said ambassador Sorin Ducaru, assistant secretary general of NATO’s emerging security challenges division.

Afghan Secret Services Allow Ghazni Taliban Prison Break After 20 Worst Transferred Out

[SEE: The Anatomy of A Psywar]

Wolesi Jirga summons interior minister over prison attack

Pajhwok

 

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Wolesi Jirga on Monday lambasted the Ministry of Interior (MoI) over a brazen Taliban attack on a prison in southern Ghazni province, suggesting the minister be summoned to the lower house

At least 436 prisoners ran away as a result of the overnight attack in Ghazni City, the provincial capital. Deputy police chief, Asadullah Insafi confirmed the attack to Pajhwok Afghan News, but gave no more details.

Abdul Rashid, the Ghazni attorney, said four policemen guarding the prison were killed and six others wounded in the daring Taliban assault, which led to the escape of 436 inmates.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said three of the assailants had been killed and the remaining seven returned to their respective areas.

Ali Akbar Qasimi, a lawmaker from the province, claimed some prisoners, who kicked up a ruckus on Sunday, were shifted to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) office. Intelligence officials had been told about the Taliban plan to attack the facility, he revealed.

Despite having the tip-off, security officials could not prevent the assault, said the lawmaker, asking how a government that could not secure a prison would defend the country.

Mir Dad Khan, head of the house internal security commission, also blamed MoI for the incident. He said the ministry had failed to discharge its duty and the house should deal with the authorities concerned in accordance with the law.

Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the attack had raised multiple disquieting question, because it took place despite top security officials being alerted about the possibility.

He tasked the internal affairs commission with summoning the interior minister to the lower house to brief lawmakers on the prison attack. A vote of no confidence should be tabled against the minister if he failed to come up with a satisfactory response.

Ministry of Interior (MoI) reported on Monday that a team of investigators has been assigned to investigate the massive prison break early Monday in central Ghazni province after Taliban blew the main entrance open.

The Taliban stormed the maximum security prison just days after the MoI transferred twenty high risk Taliban inmates from the prison to Kabul.

At least eleven police personnel were killed and wounded during the incident which resulted in the escape of 355 inmates.

“A few days back we transferred twenty Taliban commanders to Kabul from this jail,” MoI spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi said.

He said that a team of investigators has been dispatched to the province to investigate the incident and identify those responsible for it.

“A team of investigators has been sent to Ghazni to probe the incident and to find out what happened,” Sediqqi added.

According to the MoI, 436 prisoners had been detained in Ghanzi prison. Of those 148 of them were incarcerated on account of terrorism and threats to national security. An additional 207 were in prison on charges of criminal acts.

However, 81 prisoners remained behind.

Insurgents associated with the Taliban launched the attack at about 2am on Monday morning. Explosives were detonated at the main entrance, opening the way for a group of armed militants to enter – enabling the inmates to escape.

MoI officials have said that a massive search operation is currently underway to re-arrest the prisoners who escaped.

Reacting to the prison break, Afghan lawmakers in parliament called it disastrous and blamed the so-called fifth pillar of government for being behind the incident. MPs however demanded the swift dismissal of the provincial police chief.

“According to our information a manhunt wasn’t launched immediately to track down the prisoners. This shows government’s fifth pillar planned the break,” an Afghan MP said adding that authorities had received information beforehand of the planned attack.

“It is a great tragedy, it was an anticipated event and the National Directorate of Security had informed the police about the incident,” MP Arif Rahmani said.

Meanwhile, a number of analysts have blasted the MoI and called it incompetent in dealing with security at prisons. Analysts say poor staff performance and substandard buildings are two main problems at these facilities.

“There are two elements behind such incidents, commonly the Ministry of Interior dealt with prisons superficially and have not been able to take necessary security measures to secure prisons. Secondly prisons in Afghanistan are not built to standard – even in many provinces prisons do not have proper buildings,” university lecturer Nasraullah Stanikzai said.

Monday’s Ghazni prison break is the second such incident in the past few years. Four years ago, Kandahar prison was also breached and 500 inmates escaped. Only 65 of them were ever re-arrested.

Jewish Extremists and Israeli Special Forces Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque

Jewish extremists storm Al-Aqsa along with Israeli forces

daily sabah

DAILY SABAH WITH ANADOLU AGENCY

epa04928260 Smoke from fireworks fired towards Israeli border police spreads at al-Aqsa mosque complex, during clashes with Palestinians, in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, early 13 September 2015. Media reported that police entered al-Aqsa mosque as Palestinians threw stones and fireworks at them while Jewish people prayed at the Western Wall for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year, which this year falls 13 September at sunset.  EPA/ABIR SULTAN

Smoke from fireworks fired towards Israeli border police spreads at al-Aqsa mosque complex, during clashes with Palestinians, in Jerusalem’s Old City, Israel, early 13 September 2015. Media reported that police entered al-Aqsa mosque as Palestinians threw stones and fireworks at them while Jewish people prayed at the Western Wall for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year, which this year falls 13 September at sunset. EPA/ABIR SULTAN

Dozens of Jewish extremists, led by Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and backed by dozens of Israeli police and soldiers, entered and stormed Islam’s third holiest site, Al-Aqsa Mosque while police injured dozens of Palestinians

Dozens of Palestinians were injured on Sunday when Israeli security forces stormed occupied East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and attacked Muslim worshipers, according to witnesses. Witnesses told Anadolu Agency that Israeli forces had used teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse Muslim worshipers near the compound’s iconic Al-Aqsa and Al-Qibali mosques. “At least 60 Special Forces troops and police stormed the mosque compound at dawn and sealed the Al-Qibali Mosque with iron chains,” one eyewitness said. Witnesses at the scene said Israeli security forces had fired teargas and stun grenades inside the mosque itself. Omar al-Qiswani, the mosque’s Palestinian director, told Anadolu Agency that he personally had been assaulted-along with several Muslim worshipers-while trying to prevent Israeli troops from entering the mosque. “Israeli forces went up to the roof of the Al-Qibali Mosque, smashing windows and spraying pepper gas inside the building,” he said.

Earlier Sunday, scores of extremist Jewish settlers-led by Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and backed by dozens of Israeli police and soldiers-also forced their way into the mosque compound. “At least 40 Jewish settlers, accompanied by about 20 Israeli police and Special Forces troops, stormed the compound via the Al-Magharbeh Gate,” Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director-general of Al-Aqsa affairs, told Anadolu Agency. Israeli forces, he said, had used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse Muslim worshipers who had gathered to protest the settlers’ incursion. “Four Palestinians were hurt by rubber bullets while at least 25 others suffered temporary asphyxia due to teargas inhalation,” al-Khatib said.

Israeli forces also sealed the gates of the mosque and prevented women and men under 50 from entering it. For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Peace between Israel and Palestine has been and will likely be hard to achieve and will only be made more difficult by Israel’s attitude toward the situation surrounding the holy site in East Jerusalem, with clashes continuing between Israelis and Palestinians further triggering social unrest that could threaten peace in the Middle East. Since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in June 1967, the Jordanian government, known as the Waqf, has been running the holy site. The compound is allowed for Muslim prayer alone, however, Jewish Israeli visitors are also allowed into the site under the surveillance of Israeli police. After Israel’s former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount was seen as provocative and led to the second intifada in September 2000 and sparked the already tense conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

Russian Navy Rehearses the Defense of Tartus Port…Missile Launches and All

russian fleet at tartous
Russian fleet at Tartous, Syria   

The largest Russian naval maneuvers since fifty years taking place between Tartus and Cyprus

addiyar ADDIYAR.COM

Russia supplied Syria distasteful regimes sophisticated modern air defense and offensive weapons

Situation in the region more crisis and complexity amid «Traffic» fleets in the sea waters of the Mediterranean, along the surrounding beaches in Syria, and down to the Gulf Sea, and this is what marks to the escalation of tensions in the region and return to the atmosphere of «cold war» between the United States and Russia .
In light of these developments, Russia will hold the largest naval exercises since fifty years between Tartus and Cyprus.
He said a source close to the Russian Navy press agencies that a group of five Russian navy ships equipped with guided missiles sailed to do maneuvers in Syrian territorial waters, and is likely to include the firing of rockets. He said they will train to repel an attack from the air and the defense of the coast, which means artillery fire and the experience of short-range air defense systems.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Russia will conduct military exercises in the Mediterranean will continue for a period, and in line with international law.
Lavrov called on the major powers on the other hand to help in arming the Syrian army as the most influential organization in the face of Daash force.
Moscow and were asked where the memorandum of the Cypriot authorities to convert the normal flight path because it plans to hold off the Syrian coast military exercises next week.
Press reports indicated in Moscow that Russia has issued «a memo to pilots» addressed to the US aviation authority about the exercises that will be between Tartous Port (northeast) and the island of Cyprus, which lies about 100 km.
A source in the Ministry of Defence of Cyprus that Russia issued a memo about the exercises, which will include the launch of missiles, noting that these notes «is routine».
There is still the possibility of Bala are exercises in Russia, including specific dates between September 14 and the current 17.
He Cypriot source told AFP «perhaps conducting maneuvers or not, but the dates have been booked».
According to a copy of the memo was posted on the US aviation authority coordinates of the place where it will be «Russian naval maneuvers» including «firing rockets» between 8 and September 15 experiments.
It was interesting what I said the Syrian Al-Watan newspaper that Russia has decided to establish a new base in the Syrian Jableh city to secure the aid of the Syrian army, in addition to what the Tartus naval base in this area, and therefore, the base protoplasm allow the presence of the Russian army on the Syrian land.
Russian Defense Ministry also announced yesterday that it was sent to the airport in Latakia, Syria military transport planes carrying humanitarian aid for civilians.
In a press statement, ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said that the shipment contains the basic needs and food items, in addition to the necessary equipment to set up a camp to accommodate more than a thousand displaced people.
The Russian maneuvers come amid Western and Israeli reports of Moscow and strengthen its presence in Syria and send soldiers advanced weapons included «MiG-31» interceptors and «Su-30» planes to multi-task, as well as «feed. System Any 22 »known in Russia as« PANTSIR-S1 ».
Western sources said that the Russian forces that will occupy the control system and not the Syrians, although some components developed in the military airport near Latakia.
According to close to the Russian Navy source said that this would not be the first time that Moscow has sent rockets «feed. Any 0.22 »to Syria. The source said he was sending that regime in 2013, and added «there are now plans to send a new batch».
Russia asserts that the equipment that you send to Syria is part of the previous decades, which is to enhance the system’s ability to cope with the organization of the Islamic state, and that the Russian military experts are in Syria years ago from the Syrian army for training.
Media reports »indicated the flow of modern armored vehicles, tanks and other Russian weapons to Syria through the Basil al-Assad International Airport near Latakia, based on US intelligence sources that« confirmed »active movement there through artificial moons.
And strengthened her novel a statement attributed to a senior military official made recently told «Reuters» news considering the supply of arms «an important shift .. and a qualitative step» in Russian strategy and its relationship with Syria. US sources spotted the arrival of «three giant transport planes at least» Syrian territory, as well as cargo ships carrying armored vehicles to transport troops ».
She explained that the two planes were of the model «Antonov 124», the third civilian aircraft, was launched in the functioning of an air base in the south of Russia, Russian troops tanker, perhaps from model «Ilyushin», flew over the Bulgarian and Greek airspace «believe» that he was on board elements of the Forces Russian armed forces.
«Media sources» included Arab newspapers loyal to US policy, which claimed to have spotted the arrival of Russian military experts to Syria a few weeks ago », Ankpoa to expand some runways landings, especially in northern Syria».
The agency earlier this week that Syria has demanded to provide helicopters assault-style «MI -28». She added that the Russian side set up houses ready «enough to house a few hundred» of individuals; and equipment moving to control air traffic which shows that the total of what has been monitored, and within which Russian special forces, indicates the intention of Russia to create advanced terminal air traffic control from Basel airport Lion International. In the latest reports «media» Occidental officials and a Russian source told «Reuters» news agency that Moscow would send an advanced missiles «SA -22» anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.
Top Western officials said that Russian forces better able to run the system of Syrian troops. In front of this scene, what was Washington can only express its concern in particular «current efforts to strengthen the system of (President) Assad and involved in the case of instability,» as described by Pentagon spokesman, Peter Kwok, over the weekend.

Military options for Russia
Russia and Syria announced providing them with a sophisticated air defense system of the model «Pantsyr SA-22,» which will deepen American anxiety and NATO countries, particularly Turkey, that have been demands for the establishment of «no-fly zone» in northern Syria.
Accordingly, it embodies the Russian response aimed to protect the atmosphere and the rule of the Syrian state and driving a wedge in the orientation of the West to divide Syria.
Red Army in Syria, and this will happen a change in the Syrian equations on the ground with Israeli newspapers also confirmed last week that Iran also sent ground troops to Syria.

Al-Sisi To Al-Assad—YOU FALL, WE FALL.

[SEE: Riyadh, Cairo ‘on same page over vital issues]

Sisi Assad: I’m with you will not fall

addiyar ADDIYAR

sisi assad
During the reception of Egyptian President Sisi Brigade Ali owned by the President of the General Intelligence and their research of the situation in Syria and the relationship of Egypt in Syria.
Sisi said the brigade is owned by President al-Assad following reached, that our enemy and the one they are the Muslim Brotherhood and Altkfferin and I with Syria and President Assad, and I know the international climate in Washington and Europe and I wish to say to President Assad I am with him and will not President Assad falls, either to fall together in front of the Muslim Brotherhood and Altkfferin and either that we win together, Syria and Egypt did not Ejodha war together only Rbhoha.
Major General Ali owned returned to Damascus, President Assad told what President Sisi, Sisi The President informed the intelligence director of the CIA that the Egyptian national security is linked to the national security of Syria and thus the fate of President al-Assad and his regime. And it ended with the message.

Syrians Unwelcome In Arab Lands, Just As Were the Palestinians Before Them

“It is no surprise that refugees fleeing Syria have no ambitions to settle in any Arab country. They know that their fate in the Arab world will be no better than that of Palestinians living in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries.”

  • “Improve the living conditions of the Palestinian refugees. Allow them to settle down. Give them citizenship so that they can live as human beings.” — Dr. Ahmad Abu Matar, an Oslo-based Palestinian academic, blasting Arab the world for its continued mistreatment of Palestinians.
  • The Arabs do not care about the Palestinians and want them to remain Israel’s problem. Countries such as Lebanon and Syria would rather see Palestinians living as “animals in the jungle” than grant them basic rights such as employment, education and citizenship.

A recent decision by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to cut back its services has left Jordan and other Arab countries extremely worried about the possibility that they may be forced to grant citizenship rights to millions of Palestinians.

During the last few weeks, many Jordanians have expressed deep concern that the UNRWA measures may be part of a “conspiracy” to force the kingdom to resettle Palestinian refugees.

According to UNRWA figures, more than two million registered Palestinian refugees live in Jordan. Most of the refugees, but not all, have full (Jordanian) citizenship, the figures show. The refugees live in 10 UNRWA-recognized camps in Jordan.

The “Cyber City” refugee camp in Jordan, where a number of Palestinians are being housed. (Image source: ICRC)

Jordan is the only Arab country that has granted citizenship to Palestinians. Still, many Jordanians see their presence in the kingdom as temporary.

Although there is no official census data for how many inhabitants are Palestinian, they are estimated to constitute half of Jordan’s population, which is estimated at seven million. Some claim that the Palestinians actually make up two-thirds of the kingdom’s population.

Over the past few decades, the Jordanians’ biggest nightmare has been the talk about resettling the Palestinians in the kingdom by turning them into permanent citizens. The talk about turning Jordan into a Palestinian state has also created panic and anger among Jordanians.

Jordan’s “demographic problem” resurfaced last week when a senior Jordanian politician warned against plans to resettle Palestinian refugees in the kingdom.

Taher al-Masri, a former Jordanian prime minister who is closely associated with the ruling Hashemite monarchy, sounded the alarm in an interview with a Turkish news agency.

Commenting on UNRWA’s severe financial crisis, which has resulted in cutting back services to Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, al-Masri said: “I believe this is part of a plan to turn the issue of the Palestinian refugees into an internal problem of Jordan. UNRWA is paving the way for liquidating the Palestinian cause.”

Al-Masri, whose views often reflect those of the monarchy, expressed fear that the UNRWA cutbacks would prompt the world to consider the idea of turning the Palestinians in Jordan into permanent citizens, especially as most of them already carry Jordanian passports.

Al-Masri and other Jordanian officials maintain that Jordan is entitled to protect its “national identity” by refusing to absorb non-Jordanians.

Earlier this week, Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour raised many eyebrows when he announced that there were more than two million Palestinians living in Jordan who are not permanent citizens. Ensour was apparently referring to those Palestinians who carry temporary Jordanian passports.

Jordanian and Palestinian political analysts described Ensour’s comments about the Palestinians in Jordan as “fuzzy” and “controversial.” They noted that Ensour mentioned the Palestinians together with Iraqi and Syrian refugees who have found shelter in the kingdom in recent years, and that therefore the Jordanians consider the Palestinians’ presence in their country only temporary.

“The remarks of the prime minister are ambiguous, controversial and very worrying,” commented Bassam al-Badareen, a widely respected journalist in Amman. “He referred to the Palestinians as being part of the foreigners and Iraqi refugees in Jordan.”

Ensour’s remarks, like those of al-Masri, are further proof that Jordan and the rest of the Arab world are not interested in helping solve the problem of the Palestinian refugees. Jordan, Lebanon and Syria — the three Arab countries where most of the refugees are living — are strongly opposed to any solution that would see Palestinians resettled within their borders.

That is why these countries and most of the Arab world continue to discriminate against the Palestinians and subject them to Apartheid laws and regulations. Although Jordan has granted citizenship to many Palestinians, it nevertheless continues to treat them as second-class citizens.

In the past few years, the Jordanian authorities have been revoking the citizenship of Palestinians in a move that has been denounced as “unjust” and “unconstitutional.”

The Arab countries have consistently justified their discriminatory policies against the Palestinians by arguing that this is the only way to ensure that the refugees will one day return to their former homes inside Israel. According to this logic, the Arab countries do not want to give the Palestinians citizenship or even basic rights, to avoid a situation where Israel and the international community would use this as an excuse to deny them the “right of return.”

But some Palestinians reject this argument and accuse the Arab countries of turning their backs on their Palestinian brothers.

Dr. Ahmad Abu Matar, a Palestinian academic based in Oslo, blasted the Arab world for its continued mistreatment of Palestinians.

“All the Arab countries are opposed to resettlement and naturalization of Palestinians not because they care about the Palestinian cause, but due to internal and regional considerations,” Abu Matar wrote. “We need to have the courage to say that improving the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in the Arab countries, including granting them citizenship, does not scrap the right of return.”

Noting that Palestinians have long been deprived of their civil rights in the Arab world, particularly in Lebanon, where they are banned from working in many professions and live in camps that do not even suit “animals in the jungle,” Abu Matar pointed out that the U.S .and Europe have opened their borders to Palestinians and even given them citizenship.

Addressing the Arab countries, the academic wrote: “Improve the living conditions of the Palestinian refugees. Allow them to settle down. Give them citizenship so that they can live as human beings.”

But Abu Matar’s appeal is likely to fall on deaf ears in the Arab world. The Arabs do not care about the Palestinians and want them to remain Israel’s problem. Countries such as Lebanon and Syria would rather see Palestinians living as “animals in the jungle” than grant them basic rights such as employment, education and citizenship.

It is no surprise that refugees fleeing Syria have no ambitions to settle in any Arab country. They know that their fate in the Arab world will be no better than that of the Palestinians living in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries.

Refugees Flee American Aggression

It must be stated unequivocally that these are regime change refugees.”

Freedom Rider: Refugees Flee American Aggression

black agenda report

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Americans are made uncomfortable by pictures of drowned refugee children, but most cannot accept that their own government’s “unrelenting effort at regime change in Syria is the cause of this crisis.” U.S. corporate media parrot Washington’s lies, keeping tally of the displaced and doomed, but blaming Syria’s government for defending itself against western-backed jihadists. Rather than demand the West leash its dogs, “they call for more war.”

The ongoing migrant crisis in Europe is a direct result of American and NATO interventions and aggressions in the Middle East. Had those partners in crime not exacted regime change in Libya, that country would not be a magnet for human trafficking and an embarkation point for desperate people. The plan to produce the same result in Syria has failed thus far but there is still chaos and suffering on a mass scale. These refugees exist because of imperialism which has laid waste to nation after nation.

Millions of people around the world are asking how they can help the refugees now streaming into Europe. Personal generosity may seem commendable but in this case it ought to be discouraged. The individuals who want to help should instead spend time demanding that their governments cease intervening in the affairs of other nations. They should also demand that the truth of imperialist guilt be exposed.

Americans were largely unaware of the growing crisis until images of dead children appeared in the media. In particular the photograph of two year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned on a beach off the coast of Turkey, will go down in history as an image which brought this crisis to international attention. The Kurdi family were trying to flee a region of Syria overrun by ISIS when the mother and two children drowned. An estimated 2,500 others have also died in attempts to reach Europe.

The corporate media cover the journeys of the would-be migrants and act as though the cause of the catastrophe is somehow mysterious. They never state what is true and obvious, that the western nations created this misery. They and their allies among the Persian Gulf monarchies are entirely to blame.

These refugees exist because of imperialism.”

The United States and other NATO governments have not been shy in exposing their support for so-called rebels in Syria and continue to utter the loathsome phrase, “Assad must go.” In the topsy-turvy immoral universe of the United States it is acceptable to destroy Syria without one word of condemnation coming from the nation’s editorial pages. Instead politicians and the press repeat their lies and when they speak of war at all they lay blame at the feet of the Syrian government which has a right to defend its territory and sovereignty.

The sight of the dead child seemed to galvanize what other horror stories could not. More than 200 people drowned near the Libyan city of Zuwarah at the same time that the Kurdis attempted their escape. Some 70 bodies of refugees were discovered suffocated in a truck in Austria. The reactions of horror are understandable but they must be met with simple but powerful actions. First, it must be stated unequivocally that these are regime change refugees. They would be living peacefully in their native lands if NATO and their henchmen hadn’t destroyed their countries.

Secondly, call out the liars. The politicians, so-called journalists and “humanitarian” organizations have political agendas which never blame the true culprits. While the corporate media print and broadcast false tales about Russian troops in Syria the lies must be labeled as such. Racism must be exposed as well. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban openly said, “Please don’t come” and added for good measure that he didn’t want too many Muslims to enter his country. Orban said out loud what other European leaders say behind closed doors. He has merely expressed in public what others say in private. Non-white people need not apply.

In the topsy-turvy immoral universe of the United States it is acceptable to destroy Syria without one word of condemnation coming from the nation’s editorial pages.”

While officials In Washington, London and Paris dissemble because their hands are dirty, the corporate media ratchet up the call to “do something.” If they did their job they would tell readers and viewers why families with small children risk their lives in unseaworthy boats. Instead they all call for more war. They repeat official propaganda and make up some of their own. The unrelenting effort at regime change in Syria is the cause of this crisis and more destruction will only increase the awful toll on human beings.

Sending money to aid organizations is an easy out. Democratic nations are supposed to respond to popular demand. The people of Europe and the United States should therefore start demanding that their nations cease the entire imperial project, and not just in Syria. Aylan Kurdi is not the only child killed by intervention and invasion. Children are dead in Somalia and Gaza and Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and in Syria too. Sadly, there will be more unless those who claim to be horrified actively oppose their own leaders who are all accessories to many crimes.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Assessing Putin’s Chess Moves

What’s All This About Russian Forces Going To Syria?

forbes

Melik Kaylan ,  Contributor

 

The media noise machine is abuzz about the Russians putting boots on the ground to support Assad in Syria. And not just the ground nor merely footsoldiers but air power and armor too. Three questions come to mind. Why now? Is it a full commitment? Is it a bad thing for the West?

Let’s take the first. Here’s a brief chronology of recent events: Saudi bigwigs meet with Russian bigwigs during August but despite a lot of media ballyhoo the Saudi King shies from a summit with Putin. Instead, the Saudi King meets with President Obama and announces Saudi support for the Iran nuke deal. Then Moscow begins to fly in Russian tanks and perhaps 1000 troops to Syria, and possibly some leading-edge fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles. This is now being dubbed a “build-up”– which begs a number of questions.

The timing would indicate the following: Russo-Saudi top-level meetings simply didn’t produce the right outcome for either side. A grandstand summit didn’t ensue. No doubt the Saudis offered to boost oil-prices in return for Moscow disavowing Assad. Moscow refused. Having nowhere else to turn Saudi King bin Salman re-embraced the US and even the Iran deal. Moscow made the counter-move: a display of upping support for Assad a notch. It’s a matter of record that Moscow has supplied weapons and advisors to Syria all along – you can’t do one without the other. What we’re witnessing adds up to a minor escalation with the suggestion of something more, a tactical move threatening to become a strategic play.
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There’s been some extra media noise about the troops coming from the ‘dirty war’ units that invaded Crimea, the implication being that they’re fearsome and battle-hardened. They’re not battle-hardened since they met no resistance in Crimea. When Putin starts to draw on Donbass veterans – that’s when we’ll know he’s serious about joining the ground fight in Syria.

Meanwhile, he’s merely sending a message to the Saudis that Assad’s survival is non-negotiable and Moscow can enter the fray at any time to tip the balance in his favor. And to the US, which the Saudis have now re-embraced, the threat includes air power and anti-air defenses. (Saudi proxies only do ground fighting.) Putin to Obama: we could be confronting each other in the air and doing accidental damage to expensive hardware with stray missiles. Moscow can act as a spoiler or an ally. Moscow must be consulted. At any rate, that’s the message, a kind of bluff, but one that’s unlikely to work.

No matter how loud the sounds of tut-tutting from the US State Department, the US doesn’t consider the Russian incursion a serious threat or even an undesirable one. Obama has spent his entire political capital in keeping the US from re-entering Mideast wars whatever the cost to his prestige because he saw that the struggle would never end. Nobody is going to make order out of chaos there for a generation, nobody nice anyway. Not even if US troops had stayed in Iraq.

As I have argued in this column recurrently, the Sunni powers were going to cause trouble in Syria because they resented the triumph of Bush democracy, the Shiite majoritarian rule in Iraq. Sunni powers (UAE, Turkey, Saudi) were looking for a tit-for-tat. Shiites take Iraq. Sunni majority takes Syria. Withdrawal of US troops from Iraq didn’t start the Arab Spring in Syria. It started spontaneously and was quickly abetted by Gulf support. That meant US troops in Iraq would have had to contain the overspill of Syria’s civil war. Perhaps they could have – but at what cost? And what about Yemen, Libya, Egypt and elsewhere? All of it happened without even ISIL’s involvement. The region was going to blow. US troops in or out of Iraq made no difference.

Putin’s toe-dipping in the quagmire doesn’t illustrate Obama’s weakness or an egregious American miscalculation in withdrawing troops. In fact, one can imagine that they’re quietly high-fiving each other over at Centcom, Langley and DIA headquarters at the prospect of Russian intervention in Syria. Take the macro view for a moment. Moscow invaded Afghanistan and the Soviet Union collapsed. The US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan for ten years and what happened? China became a world power and Russia relaunched its empire. So is Putin really about to blunder into the same catastrophic cul-de-sac and if he does are we really supposed to rue the day it happens? If anything, it would signal Putin’s first truly terminal mistake.

But it won’t happen.

He’s too wily, too cunning a strategist. Russian troops are overstretched as it is supporting the Georgian separatists, the Ukrainian separatists, threatening the Baltics, threatening the North Pole, destabilizing Moldava… Adding the quagmire of Syria – if only.

Russian Aid To Assad Is (Bitch)-Slapping Kerry and Obama—Lindsay Graham

The Barack Obama administration and the U.S. intelligence community have concluded that Russia is set to start flying combat missions from a new air base inside Syria, but there’s disagreement inside the U.S. government on what to do about it.

Thursday at the White House, top officials were scheduled to meet at the National Security Council Deputies Committee level to discuss how to respond to the growing buildup of Russian military equipment and personnel in Latakia, a city on the Syrian coast controlled by the Bashar al-Assad regime. Obama has called on his national security officials to come up with a plan as early as next week, as intelligence reports pour in about the Russian plans to set up an air base there. The options are to try to confront Russia inside Syria or, as some in the White House are advocating, cooperate with Russia there on the fight against the Islamic State.

The State Department had already begun pushing back against the Russian moves, for example by asking Bulgaria and Greece to deny overflight permissions to Syria-bound Russian transport planes. But the president didn’t know about these moves in advance, two officials said, and when he found out, he was upset with the department for not having a more complete and vetted process to respond to the crisis. A senior administration official said Thursday evening that the White House, the State Department and other departments had coordinated to oppose actions that would add to Assad’s leverage.

For some in the White House, the priority is to enlist more countries to fight against the Islamic State, and they fear making the relationship with Russia any more heated. They are seriously considering accepting the Russian buildup as a fait accompli, and then working with Moscow to coordinate U.S. and Russian strikes in Northern Syria, where the U.S.-led coalition operates every day.

For many in the Obama administration, especially those who work on Syria, the idea of acquiescing to Russian participation in the fighting is akin to admitting that the drive to oust Assad has failed. Plus, they fear Russia will attack Syrian opposition groups that are fighting against Assad, using the war against the Islamic State as a cover.

“The Russians’ intentions are to keep Assad in power, not to fight ISIL,” one administration official said. “They’ve shown their cards now.”

The U.S. intelligence now shows that Russia is planning to send a force into Syria that is capable of striking targets on the ground. Two U.S. officials told me that the intelligence community has collected evidence that Russia plans to deploy Mikoyan MiG 31 and Sukhoi Su-25 fighter planes to Latakia in the coming days and weeks. The military equipment that has already arrived includes air traffic control towers, aircraft maintenance supplies, and housing units for hundreds of personnel.

Secretary of State John Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last Saturday to urge him to halt the Russian military buildup, but the Russian told Kerry that his military was doing nothing wrong and that Russia’s support for Syria would continue, according to one official who saw a readout of the call. That response was seen inside the administration as a rebuke of Kerry’s efforts to reach out to Moscow to restart the Syrian political process. Kerry met with Lavrov and the Saudi foreign minister on the issue last month.

This is a turn of events from the situation this summer. In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Obama and according to Obama, Putin was moving away from a weakened Assad.

“I think they get a sense that the Assad regime is losing a grip over greater and greater swaths of territory inside of Syria [to Sunni jihadist militias] and that the prospects for a [Sunni jihadist] takeover or rout of the Syrian regime is not imminent but becomes a greater and greater threat by the day,” Obama told the New York Times. “That offers us an opportunity to have a serious conversation with them.”

But since then, Putin has been moving away from a serious conversation with the U.S. about a diplomatic solution in Syria. Just as the Russian military buildup was beginning last week, Putin said publicly that Assad was ready to engage with the “healthy” opposition, a far cry from the process the U.S. is promoting, which would bring the Western-supported Syrian opposition into a new round of negotiations with the regime.

“Russia’s support for the Assad regime is not helpful at all, it’s counterproductive, and it’s against some of the things they have said about trying to bring about a solution,” Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told me Wednesday. “It’s disappointing, but it’s been consistent with some of the policies they’ve done in the past that we think are just wrong.”

Putin is planning to focus on the fight against “terrorism” in his speech later this month at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Russia will also host a ministerial-level meeting on the sidelines about fighting extremism, which it defines as including all the groups fighting the Assad regime, including the U.S.-backed rebels.

There is concern inside the Obama administration, even among those who advocate for confronting Russian actions in Syria, that the U.S. has no real leverage to fight back. If Obama decides not to accept the Russian air force presence in Syria, he would have several options, all of which have drawbacks or limitations.

The U.S. could impose new sanctions on Russia, although the current punishments related to Ukraine have not changed Putin’s calculus, and there’s little chance European countries would join in on a new round. The U.S. might warn Russia that its base is fair game for the opposition to attack, but that could spur Putin to double down on the deployment. The U.S. could try to stop the flow of Russian arms, but that would mean pressuring countries such as Iraq to stand up to Putin and Iran, which they might not agree to.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Wednesday he would try to impose sanctions on Russia from the Congressional side if the administration doesn’t move in that direction. He said that Russia’s military  involvement in Syria will only make the terrorism threat and the refugee problems emanating from there worse.

“This is a chance for us to slap Russia hard, because what they are doing is making America less safe,” he said. “The Russians are just slapping President Obama and Secretary Kerry in the face. This is a complete insult to their efforts to try to find a solution to Syria. They’ve made Assad’s survivability more likely, which means the war in Syria never ends.”

The White House’s concerns about escalating tensions with Russia inside Syria are legitimate, but cooperating with Russian forces on the ground or in the air would undermine whatever remaining credibility the U.S. has with the Syrian opposition and the Gulf States that support it. The U.S. may not be able to stop Russia’s entry into fighting the Syrian civil war, but at a minimum America shouldn’t be seen as colluding with Moscow. If that happens, the suspicion that Obama is actually working to preserve the Assad regime will have been confirmed.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Josh Rogin at joshrogin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net

The Pain of Tasers—more than shocking

Don’t try this at home: See the impact of a Taser in slow motion (VIDEO)

Russia-Today

 

© The Slow Mo Guys

Being shocked by a plug socket feels bad enough. Ever wondered what’s it like to be shot with a police Taser stun gun? The moment a man is tasered has been caught on camera in super slow motion by YouTube wizards The Slow Mo Guys.

Equipped with a high-speed camera, the team traveled to Taser International headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, to have their subject stunned with a Taser X26, the company’s most popular model, at 28,500 frames per second.

The first thing you get to see is a mixture of pink and yellow confetti that explodes from the Taser when it’s fired. That explosion surely isn’t there just to make anyone smile. In fact, each confetti boasts a unique serial number, vital in case police need to find out whether a Taser was fired at a crime scene.

The man who volunteered to be filmed while getting hit with a Taser, Dan Hafen, wasn’t a stuntman, but a colleague who works for the maker of the Phantom camera that The Slow Mo Guys (Gavin Free and Daniel Gruchy) used.

The footage shows his muscles contracting as the stun gun’s probes break the skin to deliver a high-voltage payload. In the X26 Taser the voltage peaks at 50,000 volts. “It feels like it’s never going to end,” Dan said after receiving the shock. “It’s a long five seconds.”

He added: “I didn’t really feel the probes. I feel like my muscles have locked up.”

© The Slow Mo Guys

The TaserX26 uses compressed nitrogen to project two small probes five meters at a speed of about 55 meters per second. These probes are connected to the stun gun by high-voltage insulated wire, the description on the company’s website reads. According to Taser, the 26 watt electrical signal is powerful enough to “take down even the largest of assailants.” It’s transmitted thoroughout the area where the probes make contact with the body, resulting in an “immediate loss of the person’s neuromuscular control, balance and the ability to perform coordinated actions.”

While the company insists that Tasers are “non-lethal” weapons, the American Civil Liberties Union says that over 500 people have died in the US since 2001 after law enforcement officers used stun guns against them, according to a 2012 ACLU report.

© The Slow Mo Guys

Police departments across the US have been increasingly embracing the use of Tasers. In the year 2000, only 7 percent of the nation’s police departments employed stun guns, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. By 2013, however, up to 80 percent did.

The New York Police Department is set to spend some $4.5 million to buy a host of new Tasers for its officers, the New York Post reported last month.

Only patrol sergeants and Emergency Service Units are currently allowed to use Tasers, but training has reportedly begun for other officers, and field training officers will also be taught how to use the weapons.

Lying Saudis Boast of Taking-In “MILLIONS” of the Syrians They Have Made Into Refugees

cnn refugees

[SEE:  EXPOSED: How Oil-rich Gulf states have failed to resettle a SINGLE Syrian refugee]

Saudi Arabia Says Accepted ‘Millions’ of Syrians, Facts Disagree

telesur

A Syrian refugee prays on a rail track at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the village of Idomeni, August 22, 2015A Syrian refugee prays on a rail track at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the village of Idomeni, August 22, 2015 | Photo: Reuters Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia dismissed criticism over having zero Syrian refugees, saying it has welcomed millions. However, all of them are temporary workers.

Saudi Arabia defended itself Friday against mounting criticism the government is facing for not accepting Syrian refugees since the conflict began four years ago. The criticism come after photos of the dead body of Syrian three-year-old boy Aylan Kurdi went viral and prompted international outcry against Europe and other rich countries around the world for refusing to admit Syrian refugees. The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) cited an unnamed official source in the foreign ministry as saying that the kingdom found it “important to clarify these efforts with facts and numbers in response to media reports, which included false and misleading accusations about the Kingdom.” RELATED: Negative Freedom, US Liberals and Saudi Arabia People around the Arab world took to social media and Twitter using the hashtag “Arab conscience,” in English and Arabic languages, to express their outrage over the fact that Saudi Arabia and the other five Arab Gulf states from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman – were hosting no Syrian refugees. The Saudi official said that the Kingdom “has received around 2.5 million Syrians since the beginning of the conflict. In order to ensure their dignity and safety, the Kingdom adopted a policy that does not treat them as refugees or place them in refugee camps.” However, the country and its five allies are not signatories of the United Nation’s convention on refugees, which has governed international law on asylum since World War II. Thus, those countries do not have a legal category for refugees. In fact, the GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia, accepted those Syrians as well as those of other nationalities only on temporary work visas, which they must have before they arrive to the country, or on temporary residence visas for minors as dependents on their close relatives who have already been residing there. Jane Kinninmont, the assistant head of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said in a recent article that those Syrians allowed in GCC countries were on temporary visas, which are hard to obtain in most cases. “The lack of recognition for refugees has far less to do with attitudes to the Syrian crisis than with the potential claims that could arise from larger migrant populations—many of whom come from unstable or repressive countries—and the general reluctance of Gulf governments to give permanent residency to anyone beyond a small pool of citizens, with few exceptions,” said Kinninmont. RELATED: Saudi Arabia – Facing A Serf Revolt In the GCC, those who are not citizens are treated as expatriates even after working in those countries for decades. They are also forced to leave the country whenever they lose their jobs or reach a retirement age. Minors, who are dependents on their parents, are required to leave the country by the age of 18 even if they were born in the country, as they also have temporary residence visas since the day they are born. Migrants make up the majority of the workforce in all the Arab Gulf countries, and in the UAE and Qatar, more than 80 percent of the population are migrants who lack civil rights despite having lived in the country for years. In addition to not taking refugees, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and regional Arab nations have been bombing Yemen for the past six months, producing millions of refugees and internally displaced people. This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address:
“http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Saudi-Arabia-Says-Acepted-Millions-of-Syrians-Facts-Disagree-20150911-0049.html”. If you intend to use it, please cite the source and provide a link to the original article. http://www.teleSURtv.net/english

Deadly Crane Collapse In Mecca—Allah’s Revenge, Or Freak Sand Storm?

Over the past decade the Saudi royal family has spent billions of dollars expanding the Grand Mosque

[SEE:  Saudi Arabia Bulldozes Over Its Heritage]

Collapsed crane in Grand Mosque, Mecca, on 11 September 2015

Mecca crane collapse: Saudi inquiry into Grand Mosque disaster

BBC

Elaine Jung reports

 

Saudi Arabia has begun an investigation into why a crane collapsed in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, killing at least 107 people.

The huge red crane crashed into a part of the Grand Mosque as it was filled with worshippers.

Officials say strong winds and heavy rains caused the crane to fall.

Correspondents say there have previously been concerns about safety records on Saudi construction sites.

The Grand Mosque, known as the Masjid al-Haram, is the largest mosque in the world and surrounds Islam’s holiest place, the Kaaba.

At least 230 people were injured in the incident. It is unclear how many people were hurt by the collapse or the stampede that followed it.

Videos posted online showed the moment the structure collapsed, with a loud crash followed by panic and shouting. Bodies and blood could be seen on the floor of the mosque.

The head of Saudi Arabia’s civil defence agency, Lt Sulayman Bin-Abdullah al-Amr, said an investigation was being carried out to assess the damage, and the “extent of the safety of these sites”.

Essam al-Ghalib, a Jeddah-based journalist, said the crane fell through the outer ring of the Grand Mosque and punctured through the roof sending sending down tonnes of cement and debris onto people either praying or walking through.

Mecca is currently preparing for the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage. Up to two million people are expected to arrive in the Saudi city from all over the world later this month.

Irfan Al-Alawi, from the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, told the BBC that the Grand Mosque is currently surrounded by 15 large cranes amid major redevelopment work.

Media caption Footage shows the aftermath of the crane collapse in Mecca
Image copyright AFP

“The entire area is like a salvage yard,” Mr Al-Alawi said.

“Saudi Arabia has to re-think its health and safety strategy,” he said, “as there were 800,000 people in the mosque area at the time of the accident.”

The original parts of the Grand Mosque date back 1,400 years. Consisting of a large square surrounded by covered prayer areas, the building has since been extensively modernised, notably from the mid-20th Century.

Saudi authorities began a major expansion of the site last year to increase the area of the mosque by 400,000 square metres (4.3 million square feet), to allow it to accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.