Australia shows contempt for an international rules-based order, agreeing to join the US and UK with a naval, air and ADF personel presence in the Persian Gulf without any national debate or UN resolution.
PM Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would join an international mission to protect trade through the Strait of Horumz.
The international force consists of the UK, US, Australia and Bahrain.
Spokesperson for the Independent and Peaceful Australia network, Ms Brownlie said: “This is being presented as protection of the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf and in Australia’s national interest, but it is clear the US is chafing at the bit for an opportunity to attack Iran having spent many years imposing harsh sanctions on the people and most recently pulling out of the JCPOA effectively destroying prospects for peace with Iran.”
“It is also worth noting the irresponsibility of our government in allowing our oil stocks to be so low making us more vulnerable to supply issues creating a dependence on the US to provide back-up reserves”
“The last illegal action taken by the US ,UK and Australia was to form the so-called coalition of the willing to mount an attack and invasion of Iraq opening a pandora’s box of instability in the whole region.”
“Australia has no interest in a conflict in the Persian Gulf, and no enmity towards Iran. Such a conflict without a UN Security Council resolution would be illegal, and would expose Australian leaders and the ADF to accusations of the war crime of aggression,” said Ms Brownlie.
Former secretary of the defence department, Paul Barratt, told The Guardian. Australian involvement in potential military action in the Gulf could be illegal, and argued it was “very foolish for us to get involved in this provocative behaviour”.
“This is an application of military force. There ought to be a debate in the parliament, and we ought not to engage in any activity that would foreseeably involve the use of military force without that debate,” he said.
“Australian leaders need to heed the lessons of the past. Its time we decoupled from US foreign policy and act independently in the interests of peace and stability,” said Ms Brownlie.
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network
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There is in fact a Middle Eastern nation that is in fact in control of a vast, undeclared stockpile of nuclear weapons. This nation does have the capability of deploying those weapons anywhere in the region. It is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and its arsenal has never been inspected by any international agency. But this nation is not Iran. It's Israel. (James Corbett)
DONALD TRUMP: I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. In a few moments I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating US nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction.
When President Trump announced that the US was going to de-certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and reinstitute sanctions on that country, one of the reasons he cited for that move was the presentation of “new” evidence from Israeli intelligence showing that the Iranians had lied about its nuclear program during the negotiation of that deal.
TRUMP: Last week Israel published intelligence documents long concealed by Iran conclusively showing the Iranians regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: A few weeks ago, in a great intelligence achievement, Israel obtained half a ton of the material inside these vaults. And here’s what we got; 55,000 pages. Another 55,000 files on 183 CDs. Everything you’re about to see is an exact copy of the original Iranian material
Theatrical props and dramatic rhetoric aside, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent presentation on the “Iranian nuclear deal” in fact contained no new information.
That Iran had explored a nuclear weapons program prior to 2003 has been known and admitted for years. That they have an archive of this information is not a violation of the Iranian nuclear deal completed in 2015. In fact, if anything, Netanyahu’s presentation actually proved the exact opposite of what was intended: Namely, that Iran is abiding by the terms of that treaty and is not covertly pursuing any nuclear weapons activity. That’s why they had to go back to 15 year old information and present it as if it was something new and revelatory.
But here’s the real head-scratcher in this new round of propaganda over the Iranian nuclear non-threat: There is in fact a Middle Eastern nation that is in fact in control of a vast, undeclared stockpile of nuclear weapons. This nation does have the capability of deploying those weapons anywhere in the region. It is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and its arsenal has never been inspected by any international agency. But this nation is not Iran. It’s Israel.
This is the story of the real Middle East Nuclear Threat. You’re watching The Corbett Report.
Hand-wringing over Iran’s nuclear program is nothing new. It became a mainstay of western political discourse after an Iranian dissident revealed the Iranian government’s plans for a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz in August 2002. But the surprising fact for Americans and others around the world who get their information from the corporate mainstream media, is that Iran’s pre-2003 nuclear weapons program has long been known and admitted. Since 2003, when the program was scrapped, not a single piece of evidence has been presented (not even by Netanyahu or the Israeli government) that the Iranian government ever pursued anything other than what it said it was pursuing: a nuclear energy program.
Not that that fact has ever stopped Netanyahu from using any opportunity to use cartoon-level propaganda tactics to convince the world otherwise:
NETANYAHU: In the case of Iran’s nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. And Iran has to go through three stages.
The first stage: they have to enrich enough of low enriched uranium. The second stage: they have to enrich enough medium enriched uranium. And the third stage and final stage: they have to enrich enough high enriched uranium for the first bomb.
Where’s Iran? Iran’s completed the first stage. It took them many years, but they completed it and they’re 70% of the way there.
Now they are well into the second stage. By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.
Ladies and gentlemen, what I told you now is not based on secret information. It’s not based on military intelligence. It’s based on public reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Anybody can read them. They’re online.
So if these are the facts, and they are, where should the red line be drawn?
The red line should be drawn right here. Before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb. Before Iran gets to a point where it’s a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.
Each day, that point is getting closer. That’s why I speak today with such a sense of urgency. And that’s why everyone should have a sense of urgency.
Of course, Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons and Netanyahu’s Wile E. Coyote bomb and red line warnings bore no greater semblance to reality than the cartoon propaganda surrounding Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction.” Not only did the IAEA repeatedly confirm that Iran never diverted any nuclear material into any military program, but even the US intelligence community itself conceded that Iran was not trying to build a nuclear bomb. Most remarkable of all was Mossad’s own assessment that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.”
As I detailed earlier this year in “We Need to Talk About the Iran Protests,” fearmongering over Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program was the basis for an extraordinary series of measures against the country in recent decades. These measures included “NITRO ZEUS,” a full-scale military cyberattack against Iran the best-known element of which was Stuxnet, the military-grade cyberweapon co-developed by the United States and Israel that specifically targeted Iran’s nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz.
Iran’s non-existent nuclear program also provided the pretext for sanctions aimed at crippling the country’s economy, including the de-listing of Iranian banks from the Swift Network connecting the world’s financial institutions.
But the great irony is that there really is a nuclear armed nation in the Middle East. It is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It does not allow inspections of its arsenal. It does not even officially acknowledge its stockpile of nuclear weapons. It has even resisted the push for an international treaty recognizing a nuclear-free zone in the middle east. And that country is Israel.
Sometimes ranked as the world’s sixth largest nuclear superpower, Israel actively pursued a nuclear program from the time of its inception as a state in 1948. By the late 1950s, they had begun building a reactor and reprocessing plant at Dimona with British and French aid. And by 1967, a classified CIA report estimated that Israel would be capable of producing a nuclear warhead in “six to eight weeks.” Shortly thereafter, it is believed, Israel began producing and stockpiling a nuclear arsenal.
OLENKA FRENKIEL: It was the young Shimon Peres, back in the fifties who negotiated a secret deal with the French to buy a nuclear weapons reactor like theirs. But while Dimona was going up, intelligence reports reached Washington that Israel was building an atom bomb.
Despite claims that Dimona was for peaceful purposes only, Israel’s leader Ben Gurion was summoned to Washington. President Kennedy feared an arms race in the Middle East and demanded inspections. But when inspectors finally entered the plant in May 1961 they were tricked. They were shown a fake control room on the ground floor. They were unaware of the six floors below where the plutonium was made.
PETER HOUNAM, Freelance journalist: Well this was something of great pride and almost a legendary story in Dimona, according to Vanunu. When the Americans came they were completely hoodwinked. All the entrances including the lift shafts were bricked up and plastered over so it was impossible for anyone to find their way down to the lower floors.
FRENKIEL: After Kennedy’s assassination the pressure on Israel was off. His successor Lyndon Johnson turned a blind eye. Then In 1969 Israel’s Golda Meir and President Richard Nixon struck a deal, renewed by every President to this day. Israel’s nuclear programme could continue as long as it was never made public. It’s called “nuclear ambiguity.”
The term “nuclear ambiguity,” in some ways it sounds very grand. But isn’t just a euphemism for deception?
SHIMON PERES, Former Prime Minister of Israel: If somebody wants to kill you, and you use a deception to save your life it is not immoral. If we wouldn’t have enemies we wouldn’t need deceptions. We wouldn’t need deterrent.
FRENKIEL: Was this the justification for concealing the floors of the plutonium reprocessing areas from the Americans, the inspectors, when they came?
PERES: You are having a dialogue with yourself, not with me.
FRENKIEL: But that’s been documented in a number of books.
PERES: Ask the question to yourself, not to me.
FRENKIEL: I mean, is it not true?
PERES: I don’t have to answer your questions, even. I don’t see any reason why.
FRENKIEL: Ambiguity is a luxury unique to Israel. Today the country’s an inspection-free zone, protected from scrutiny by America and her allies.
Although estimates vary, it is now believed that Israel has somewhere between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, and that it possesses the capability to deliver these warheads to Iran.
The existence of this stockpile, while known to governments around the world for decades, was only revealed to the public in 1986, when The Sunday Times published photographic proof and a detailed account of Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program. That story was provided by Mordechai Vanunu, a technician at the Dimona facility, who spent decades behind bars for his part in revealing this truth to the world.
NARRATOR: On October 5th, 1986, The Sunday Times announced they had evidence to prove that Israel had become the world’s sixth biggest nuclear power, having developed their arsenal beneath the Negev desert at Dimona. Photographs like this were given to the Sunday Times by a former technician at Dimona, Mordechai Vanunu.
Mordechai Vanunu’s family, Moroccan Jews, settled in the Negev in the early 60s, inspired by the idea of being a part of Israel. Vanunu did national service in the army. Then, while he worked at Dimona he began studying philosophy. He became active in student politics. He opposed Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. Vanunu came to believe that Israel’s nuclear development program was immoral. He left Damona and, eventually, Israel itself.
Vanunu arrived in Sydney armed with photographs he’d taken inside Dimona. Here, he turned his back on Judaism and became a Christian. He met Oscar Guerrero, a Colombian journalist who urged him to sell his secrets to The Sunday Times. His evidence was processed at a local photo shop. Vanunu talked openly about what he’d done.
It’s said that by the time Vanunu arrived in London on September the 12th, 1986, Australian intelligence had already alerted MI6 and the CIA, and Mossad—Israeli intelligence—had already begun questioning his family in Israel. The Sunday Times disguised their informant and moved him from place to place for protection. But in Leicester Square one day, Vanunu met a blonde who called herself “Cindy,” a beautician from Florida. Meanwhile, Oscar Guerrero, eager to profit from what he knew, turned to The Sunday Mirror. Vanunu’s photograph appeared on page one. Vanunu began to despair. At this point, Cindy was able to lure him to Rome to sp end the weekend with her at her sister’s apartment. Not once did Vanunu suspect that Cindy was a Mossad agent and that this was the beginning of a plot to kidnap him.
In Rome, the tactics of the Mossad agents changed dramatically.
MEIR VANUNU: In the apartment, two Israeli agents attacked him and bit him and strangled him really hard. And then chained him, injected drugs [in]to his body. And later on he woke up in a small cell on a boat. The boat went to Israel for a few days and he arrived to Israel on the 7th of October, 1986.
Vanunu was assumed dead until he turned up weeks later in Tel Aviv. Vanunu himself, on his way to court, gave the first clue of what had happened to him. Scrawled on his hand was the message “Vanunu was hijacked from Rome, Italy. 30.9.86. BA 504.”
But a key element of the story is missing from the handful of documentaries that acknowledge Israel’s nuclear stockpile. Namely, that these weapons were not merely developed by Israeli scientists working in isolation, but with the aid of a nuclear smuggling ring that helped develop and advance Israel’s arsenal by stealing important nuclear technologies from their “ally,” the United States. These rings and their activities have been known about and even investigated by the FBI for decades, but largely kept secret from the public.
GRANT F. SMITH: In terms of the FBI uncovering a multi-node network, this one happened to be centered in California. MILCO was a company that was incorporated in 1972 by a man named Richard Kelly Smyth. He was discovered sending 800 krytrons, which are dual-use items that could be used to trigger nuclear weapons. When he was discovered doing that, he skipped bail in the mid-1980s and disappeared until he was picked up by Interpol in the early part of 2000.
And so the story is interesting and explosive, because after multiple attempts and denials we had a document release in which the key contact, or one of the key contacts that Smyth was meeting with to set up sales in Israel was none other than Benjamin Netanyahu. And so the document—which I’m kind of holding up right here for the people who are on video—actually names Benjamin Netanyahu as being an employee of Heli Trading Company, which was the node in Israel that would receive Ministry of Defense requisitions that they would pass on to MILCO.
And so the interesting thing about this, of course, is the high-profile nature of Benjamin Netanyahu, [and] the fact that the smuggling ring ring leader has been identified as Arnon Milchan, a person any American knows for his movie productions such as Pretty Woman and other favorites, who is running this and who a recent book has named as being a top economic espionage fly a spy for LAKAM, who worked under Benjamin Bloomberg and Rafi Eitan. But the FBI documents that we published on July 4th related to an antiwar.com story which was really short and direct. And its core focus was on the fact that in a period when Netanyahu was building himself up as a leader in the terrorism industry—hosting major conferences, having just returned from his studies in the United States, hosting major conferences in the Jonathan Netanyahu Terrorism Institute, named after his brother who was killed on the Raid on Entebbe.
Here’s a person who was supposed to be working as a furniture company executive, and yet these documents which are very credible because of what they were—which is testimony from Richard Kelly Smith after he was returned his exile overseas and finally forced serve a prison sentence. These were the statements he made to an FBI agent in a district attorney office when they debriefed and wanted to know what the extent of the nuclear technology smuggling network was and—boom!—there’s Benjamin Netanyahu.
Benjamin Netanyahu. And now this unindicted nuclear smuggler is lecturing Iran about a 15 year old, long-acknowledged nuclear weapons program that never produced a single nuclear weapon.
Even more worryingly, Israel’s nuclear knowledge has not only helped to arm its own nation, but actually helped to proliferate nuclear weapons to Pakistan through the so-called Khan network. One of the men who helped to transfer the nuclear triggers used in the construction of the Pakistani bomb was Asher Karni, an orthodox Jew living in South Africa who had been a major in the Israeli army prior to emigrating to Cape Town. Upon his arrival there in 1985, he began teaching Torah at the local synagogue and educating Jewish youth, encouraging them to relocate to Israel.
In 2004, U.S. authorities arrested Karni for his role in supplying the nuclear triggers and in 2005 he was sentenced to three years in prison. It has never been officially explained why this Israeli citizen and former Israeli military officer was interested in helping proliferate nuclear technologies to Pakistan.
But perhaps the greatest irony of all is that it is Iran who has been arguing for decades that the Middle East should be a nuclear-free zone. The idea was first floated by the Shah in 1969, and was first formally proposed by Iran in a joint UN General Assembly resolution, but the idea failed to garner any support. The idea was again raised by then-Iranian President Ahmedinejad in 2006 and yet again by then-Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki in 2008, but these calls to banish nuclear weapons from the Middle East have not even been acknowledged by the west, let alone seriously considered.
Now more than ever, the prospect of a nuclear-free Middle East seems the only way to prevent a nuclear conflagration that threatens to draw in the world’s superpowers, and yet the idea is being ignored by Israel and its staunchest ally, the United States.
Why does Israel refuse to declare its nuclear weapons stockpile? Why do they refuse to sign on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty?
Why do they refuse IAEA inspections of their nuclear facility?
Why did they kidnap and imprison Mordechai Vanunu for 18 years for providing the proof of this nuclear program?
And perhaps most importantly, why does the United States, the only country who could single-handedly force NPT compliance from Israel, still refuse to even admit the openly-acknowledged status of Israel as a nuclear power?
Don’t hold your breath waiting for these questions to be answered by the teleprompter readers on the nightly news.
Still, as even many in the mainstream are now admitting, Netanyahu’s presentation on Iran’s nuclear non-secrets are a cheap display of political theatrics. The only thing he ended up doing is underlining the point that Iran, unlike Israel, fully cooperated with the IAEA, lived up to its obligations as a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and pointedly has not violated the 2015 nuclear deal.
And now that the United States has allowed the Israeli tail to wag the American dog once again by de-certifying that Iranian deal without valid cause, negotiators in North Korea and elsewhere will be watching, reminded yet again that a promise from the American empire isn’t worth the signed agreement it’s written on.
This video begins with an overview of what the corporate media are feeding us this week, but quickly goes onto the real news about continuing global conflict, Trump's behaviour and Israel's preparations for war. They discuss a poll that claims to reveal that over 70% of Americans now believe that a 'deep state' runs the country, partly because of the reversal of Trump's pre-election policies on everything. In this video, Luke Rudkowski of WeAreChange [not to be confused with the exploitative change.org] is joined by Western Australia's wonderfully intelligent Syrian Partisan Girl. This is an enlightening discussion of how politicians are pirouetting around the threshhold of WW3, notably via politics around Syria.
“We note your concerns” is a response that ABC critics are familiar with. It seems to mean, “We’ve ignored your arguments but made a small mark on the negative side of the “balance” tally.
On Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 9:33 PM, David Macilwain wrote:
As another writer and critic of the ABC’s unbalanced reporting of the war on Syria, Jeremy Salt has forwarded me your response to his complaint about Sophie McNeill’s recent report on Ghouta.
Jeremy shared his complaint with me at the time, and I endorse the points he made in their entirety, regarding both the true situation in Syria and Ghouta, and on the ABC’s consistent and seven-year long failure to present a balanced picture of the Syrian government’s war with foreign-backed Islamist terrorists.
Consequently I am bemused by the ABC’s response today. Taken at face value, it betrays an almost complete lack of understanding of the ‘geopolitics’ of the conflict, as well as the role that the ABC has played over the last seven years in helping to deceive and misinform the Australian public.
So serious is this failure, and that of all the other “Western mainstream” media organisations, that almost the whole of Western society, including leaders and commentators, NGOs and even the UN, have an idea about the war on Syria which is a total fabrication.
Put simply, – and I need to spell it out – the war ON Syria was started and fomented by the US and NATO governments in coordination with their local Middle Eastern allies – the Gulf Arab theocracies, Israel and Turkey. These countries and their intelligence agencies conspired to ship an arsenal of weapons into Syria, and jihadists from across the region, with the intention to destroy Syria’s secular government and replace it with a Western friendly puppet.
This criminal attack by “proxies” and mercenaries might not have succeeded in Syria, where there was little interest in removing the government, and certainly not by force. So the role played by some media networks, in particular Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, and the collusion of Western media agencies such as the Guardian and BBC – and by association the ABC – was critical to creating support for this lethal invasion amongst those in the West who had some say in what their governments were doing.
The propaganda from Arabic media, including Al Jazeera before it was kicked out of Syria, was also important in persuading some Syrians that their own government was attacking them. Many Syrians who fled the country continue to believe this, even as support for their government and army by the majority who remained is at record levels.
That is the background to the war on Syria, but there are two particularly important aspects of the subsequent misreporting of the war – as “Civil war” for instance, or as some sort of sectarian war against Sunnis – that need special mention. These two things have recently come together in the incredible propaganda campaign over the Syrian Army’s operation to liberate Eastern Ghouta from its terrorist besiegers.
This ugly propaganda partnership is between the White Helmets and their “Chemical Weapons”. And it was perfectly illustrated in the scenes we saw – over and over again – of White Helmets hosing down children they claimed to have been affected by Sarin gas in Khan Shaikoun last year. This supposed attack is now thoroughly debunked, due to a complete lack of credible evidence either of Syrian airforce bombing or of proven Sarin contamination. While the UN made such claims, it refused to send an investigative team to the area – under control of Al Nusra terrorist groups – or respond adequately to Russia’s detailed criticism and protestations at the UN.
In fact, the most cursory viewing of the Khan Shaikoun footage – filmed by the White Helmets’ photographers and transmitted to Western media by unknown and unverified “activists”, would lead an uninformed – or un-misinformed – viewer to ask questions about its credibility. They might ask – and have – how the “White Helmets volunteers” seem unaffected by the Sarin contamination of their victims.
But if they know a little more, or do some simple research on the symptoms of Sarin poisoning, they wouldn’t ask this question; victims of Sarin and other nerve agents do NOT gasp for breath, because they cannot breathe. They also turn blue from lack of oxygen, in contrast to the rosy faces of these poor children, supposedly dying from Sarin exposure.
The well-informed viewer would then conclude – as I have and Jeremy Salt has, and thousands of observers and commentators in “non-Western” and alternative media have done – that both the White Helmets and their Sarin, and “Chlorine” attacks are a FRAUD. A criminal fraud, which has led to the deaths of tens and hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians and Syrian defence forces by being endlessly repeated and echoed in Western media.
Even though these media organisations may not be intending to mislead, and may – like their audiences – genuinely believe that the White Helmets are a volunteer rescue organisation and that the Syrian government is killing its own people with chemical weapons – these media must hold some responsibility for the atrocious situation we now find ourselves in.
It will be a hard road back to truth and responsibility for the ABC and SBS, and their foreign media partners, but it is not too late to turn around and face reality. The consequences of not doing so are becoming increasingly severe.
Finally I would just like to address several points and claims that you made in your response to Jeremy Salt’s complaint.
You say that:
“As we have noted in our previous correspondence to you, the ABC has presented vast and comprehensive coverage of events in Syria. This coverage has included a broad and diverse range of perspectives over time, as required by the editorial policies.”
This beggars belief. “Vast and comprehensive coverage” that failed to inform your audience about the 10,000 strong “Army of Conquest” that was created by Saudi Arabia and Turkey in March 2015, and invaded Idlib province at a time when the Syrian army and its allies were finally making great progress to liberate the area from the clutch of insurgent groups. Now three years later, and countless thousands of deaths later, the Syrian army has driven the insurgents back to Idlib, with assistance from Russia.
“Comprehensive coverage” that somehow failed to tell your audience about the billion dollar Oil export business being run by Islamic State, in collusion with the US, Israel and Turkey, which was brought to an end by Russian bombs and cruise missiles? And that also failed to note how huge convoys of IS fighters and weapons had crossed the desert to reach and attack Palmyra without being stopped or attacked by US coalition forces?
A “diverse range of perspectives over time” that completely failed, over a very long time, to present the “perspective” of Syria’s legitimately elected government or that of the majority of its people? Their perspective on the foreign backed head-choppers of Al Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham, Jaish al Islam and Islamic State, is quite simple – they are all terrorists killing innocent Syrians, and if Western governments won’t cooperate in the joint operations with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah to drive them out and kill them, then they have no right to level any accusations against the Syrian government and its partners for acting in whatever way they see fit to defend their sovereign territory.
I’m afraid that the ABC’s response to this criticism is quite inadequate, and evidently a parody of truth. Citing two recent reports where there was mention of terrorist attacks on Damascus only highlights the absence of such a perspective from normal coverage. The titles of both reports focused on the usual half-truths about attacks on ‘rebel-held’ Ghouta by the Syrian army, misleading readers away from the reality – that the Syrian Army’s actions are a defensive response to the terrorists indiscriminate shelling of residential areas of Damascus.
It should also be borne in mind that Ms McNeill was not actually in Eastern Ghouta, so her sources are suspect. There is no credible information available on the number of children suffering or killed in Ghouta, and what information does reach us is mostly misinformation, from the White Helmets and their “anti-government” partners. When you have seen one fake “child rescued from the rubble” by these men you have seen them all, and should ask why it is that these bombed suburbs seem to have no inhabitants other than White Helmets “volunteers” and young children?
In consideration of my own criticism, which must also constitute a formal complaint, I would ask that you refer to my recent article posted on John Menadue’s blog “Pearls and Irritations”, which questions our alliance with America over the war on Syria, as well as the role and nature of the White Helmets.
"Before becoming an academic I was for many years a journalist, with the Herald and Age in Melbourne, with UPI and AP in London and with the 'daily star' in Beirut. Thus I have a reasonable idea of what journalistic standards should be, and again, in publishing Sophie O'Neill's report, 'bombed, starved, trapped: this could be the worst place on Earth to be a child', the ABC has again violated them." (Dr Jeremy Salt). Dr Salt is the author of The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands, University of California Press, 2008) See also https://www.candobetter.net/taxonomy/term/7778.
[Candobetter.net Editor Comment: We have introduced capitals in several instances where they were not included in the original comment, which was made via an online comment form.]
ABC program: news
Response required: Yes
Date of program: 11-Feb-2018
Contact type: Complaint
Subject: ABC misreporting
Comments: Before becoming an academic I was for many years a journalist, with the 'Herald' and 'Age' in Melbourne, with UPI and AP in London and with the 'daily star' in Beirut. Thus I have a reasonable idea of what journalistic standards should be, and again, in publishing Sophie O'Neill's report, 'bombed, starved, trapped: this could be the worst place on Earth to be a child', the ABC has again violated them. I have written before about Ms O'Neill's 'reporting', specifically in connection with the 'Australian story' report from Madaya, a town held by one of the most vicious takfiri groups in the Syrian war, Ahrar al sham, responsible for many massacres, a fact she did not mention. Now she has done it again. Of course, the situation in eastern Ghouta is shocking, if no more shocking than any other part of Syria that has come under attack from these takfiri groups in the past seven years. As for being the 'worst' place on earth for children, other candidates would be Yemen, bombed by Saudi Arabia with the support of the U.S, or Gaza, starved and strangled by Israel. but let this slide for the moment. The reason for the misery in Eastern Ghouta is that the district has been infiltrated by takfiri groups you should have no hesitation in describing as terrorist. Fighting under the umbrella of Jaysh al Islam (the Army of Islam), they include Hayat al tahrir al sham (Free men of Syria) formerly Jabhat al nusra (Front of Victory), Al Qaida in Syria, which has been designated by the U.S. as a terrorist group; Ahrar al sham (Free men of Syria); and Faylaq al sham (Army corps of Syria). All of these groups have a long record of massacre behind them and all are committed to the same basic ideology as the Islamic state, which is to destroy the secular government in Damascus and replace it with a hardline Islamic regime that would extirpate all Shia and Alawi and would extinguish the civil rights Syrian women currently enjoy. Sophie O'Neill merely describes these groups as 'opposition' fighters, hiding a truth which your readers are surely entitled to know.
The Syrian government is doing what any government would be doing, which is trying to drive these people of Eastern Ghouta. O'Neill did not mention that these takfiris are constantly sending mortar shells into the heart of Damascus, killing many civilians, including children. She mentions being sent photos, which suggests to me that she is regarded as a useful propaganda conduit by the agents of these groups.
I note that you illustrated your article with a photo of the 'White Helmets' in action. This group is embedded with the takfiris, operates in no area that is not under their control and has been thoroughly exposed as a propaganda arm of the foreign governments that have orchestrated the war on Syria. Please, the ABC has a reputation to maintain, does it not? You are degrading it by publishing material like this. Your readers might swallow it because they don't know any better. Is this good enough for you?
From: ABC Corporate_Affairs11
Date: 9 March 2018 at 08:47
Subject: RE: abc misreporting
Dear Mr Salt,
Thank you for your email regarding the ABC News Digital story Syria’s Eastern Ghouta could be the worst place on Earth to be a child right now.
In accordance with the ABC's complaints handling procedures, your correspondence has been referred to Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit separate to and independent of the content making areas of the ABC. Our role is to review and, where appropriate, investigate complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC's editorial policies. The ABC's editorial policies can be found here: https://edpols.abc.net.au/.
Your comments and personal views have been noted, including your views on what should have been included in the piece and your personal views about the White Helmets. As we have noted in our previous correspondence to you, the ABC has presented vast and comprehensive coverage of events in Syria. This coverage has included a broad and diverse range of perspectives over time, as required by the editorial policies. This particular piece focused on the experiences of people, particularly children, currently in Eastern Ghouta.
The ABC has previously covered the make-up of the insurgents in Syria including the association of some to Al-Qaeda (including http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-08/syria-idlib-air-strikes-described-as-a-war-against-civilians/9408578). The ABC has covered insurgents attacking Damascus with civilian casualties (including http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-20/more-than-70-killed-in-rebel-held-ghouta-amid-un-warning/9463658).
Within the context of a piece focused on the ongoing challenges facing children in Eastern Ghouta, Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied with the level of detail provided. Furthermore, we note that the piece contributes to the ongoing diversity of perspectives shown across the ABC.
Having reviewed the piece, and with consideration for the additional information provided by ABC News, Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied the piece kept with the ABC’s editorial standards.
Nevertheless, your comments and views have been noted by our unit and ABC News.
Watching Q&A is an increasingly confusing experience. It would appear, from the questions and the panel responses, to anyone with a perspective of more than 30 years that we have not just been marking time but gone backwards with respect to gender and sexuality, anti-racism and colonialism. There was a sense of enlightenment in the 1970s, when women burned their bras, anthropologists wrote about gender pathways, and women in the Middle East wore miniskirts and went to co-ed universities - but things have gone downhill since. From current discourse as exemplified often on the media and especially on ABC 1's Q and A, it's as if the easy-going youth cultures of the 60s and 70s never happened ! We are now being 'educated' about a grey future where the best we can aspire to is mutual tolerance, when once we had far greater ambitions. In the 70s, for young people, the sky seemed to be the limit in terms of understanding international friendship possibilities. This was long before the Internet but when international travel became more widely available and there was a bit of a pause in wars which have since become constant.
A strange Monday night experience at home in Melbourne
Sylvie stirred on the sofa as one program ended and a set of promos began. It was the change of rhythm that disturbed her, or perhaps a slightly higher volume on the television. She was still barely awake but was aware that she needed to undress, clean her teeth and wash her face before bed. It was cold in the bathroom so she stayed put for a little while in the warm living room. Somehow the television looked different; larger, much larger, brighter, flatter than before. The promos had finished and the next program started. The people on the screen were unfamiliar to her. It was a panel show with a studio audience. To her amazement, one of the women on the panel was wearing a sort of archaic black head dress but spoke with an American accent. Sylvie sat up with a bit of a start. Where had this program come from? It was not the normal Monday night program. She went over to the television to try another channel but could find no way of adjusting this TV. She sat down again transfixed. Questions were coming from the audience to the panel. The themes were unfamiliar, troubling and seemed to concern Britain and the US. They referred to recent violence in the US and one of the panel members, a young British sounding woman was talking about Nazis and how there must be no ambiguity in our condemnation of them. Well of course they should be condemned! Sylvie was not used to local programs being so serious. And why were they talking about Nazis? WW2 ended about 30 years ago ….didn't it ? The program was mildly disturbing and seemed to be preaching to her.
Time is playing tricks
She stood up and walked into the bathroom. The image in the mirror looking back at her was that of an old woman. She moved toward her reflection and frowned. It frowned back at her.
Somewhat shaken she wandered back into the living room and sat down. She turned her attention once again to the TV program. It was getting more and more agitated.
They were talking about "progress" and was it moving too fast? Sylvie was trying to figure out what sort of progress they meant. The girl in the black head dress said that progress was not happening fast enough. The progress they seemed to refer to was progress that resulted in some people losing some of their advantage. Sylvie could not work out who these people were nor who, in exchange was supposed to be better off.
She had obviously lost a few decades since falling asleep. This was a very bad habit. "Where is everyone?" she wondered. Her long term partner, June, had gone out for the evening and had not yet returned. "She should be back in the next hour," Sylvie reassured herself. They had been together for 10 years and had raised June's daughter Rhiannon together from the age of 10.
Sylvie was too shocked to go back in the bathroom and see her reflection. She re- focused on the TV program. Names like "Barak" and "Trump" came up several times. "Who are they?" she wondered. They were talking about interviewing members of the "far left" and the "far right". These were unfamiliar terms and sounded rather scary. " Nazis must be stopped " came up again. “Discrimination is worse than being accused of being a white supremacist!" the young woman journalist declared emphatically. “Neo Nazis are violent” said the young woman in the head dress.
Women’s lives in the Middle East
The panel discussion moved on to women's rights in Islamic countries. “Strange, all this focus on things Middle Eastern!” Sylvie had thought that women in Iran, in Egypt, in Syria lived fairly liberated lives. "Maybe they don't …or maybe they don't any more? But why such a focus on this in this program?" Sylvie was really puzzled.
"My God, what has been happening ?" Sylvie wondered.
“I went to sleep in 1979 and I don't know where I am now. It seems to be some terrible dystopia. But what caused it?”
Coincidentally the panel started talking about the current popularity of dystopian novels, mentioning George Orwell’s “1984” which Sylvie had read when she was about 18. “ God,” she thought rather sleepily,” perhaps something terrible happened in 1984 but I've missed it!”
The future being discussed on the program seemed to be looming even more negatively as the very strident young female journalist declared that the reading of dystopian novels was "trauma rehearsal."
The program started winding up as she heard a key in the front door lock. "Oh thank goodness June is home. Perhaps she can fill me in. Did I have a stroke?"
Safe return to 2017?
"Hi Darling!” June’s soft smoky voice called from the hallway. “How was Q and A? As irritating as usual?"
"Yes it was very disturbing, in fact. I went to sleep just before it and couldn't quite bring myself into the present. It all looked and sounded very strange as though I was seeing something way into future. How was the council meeting? Is there any chance of stopping that 20 storey development down the road? "
How many of us can truly say we have witnessed such exhilirating history in the making? Footage of the Syrian Arab Army and their allies entering the city of Deir Ezzor has just been released. Yet another one of the brutal and punishing sieges maintained by ISIS and assorted US coalition armed and funded extremist forces has had its back broken by the SAA and the stubborn resistance of the Syrian people. We are witnessing the end of our existing global order, the victory of Truth over Force and asymmetric power and the birth of a new geopolitical paradigm.
Our endless gratitude should be extended to the brave people of Syria for the gift they have given to Humanity – the proof that resistance will prevail despite all the odds against them. The following video was posted by independent Aleppo MP, Fares Shehabi, on Facebook. Watch (Article first published on 5 September 2017 at 21st Century Wire.)
“Within minutes of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) lifting the siege on Deir Ezzor city, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad contacted three top Syrian commanders, all of whom played a major role in the victory, via phone.
According to reports, the Syrian president spoke with Rafiq Shahada (who is Deir Ezzor’s Chief of Security), Hasan Muhammad (commander of the 17th Reserve Division, whose men were the first to reach Syrian forces in Deir Ezzor) and Isaam Zahreddine (the operational commander of all forces in Deir Ezzor).
In the phone conversation, President al-Assad congratulated the three commanders for the historic victory which they have now achieved.
Whilst commanders Rafiq Shahada and Isaam Zahreddine played-out the role of protecting Deir Ezzor and its residents from relentless attacks by besieging ISIS forces over the last three years, Hasan Muhammad, the commander of the 17th Reserve Division, led the vanguard Syrian Army units which officially lifted the siege on the city.”
The regional and international standoff headed by Saudi Arabia against Qatar is not going to be resolved anytime soon. What does the simmering crisis mean? And why has Donald Trump taken the Saudi side? CrossTalking with Sharmine Narwani, Mohammed Cherkaoui, and Foad Izadi.
The two videos inside this article are Parts 1 and 2 of a seminar on "The Right of Blasphemy - No to Medieval Trials" which took place in Rome, Italy, on Sunday, October 30, 2016. The seminar aimed at raising awareness of the fierce campaign against the enlightening intellectuals in the Arab world. From assassinating the writer and intellectual; Nahed Hattar in Jordan, imprisoning the Islamic researcher; Islam Behery In Egypt, and the liberal blogger; Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, to sentencing the journalist; Mohamed Sheikh Walad Amkheter to death, to other, endless examples. “Blasphemy”is always a prefabricated accusation of anyone who tries to discuss or think differently. Of additional interest is the fact that the president of the secularist ADHOC organisation that held this very open-minded seminar was Syrian-born Randa Kassis, who recently met with Donald Trump Jr at the French 'think tank' the Center of Political and Foreign Affairs, headed by her husband, Fabien Baussart, to discuss US-Russian cooperation. (See "Hope for Syria! Trump's son at Randa Kassis pro-Syrian French think tank in October."
DR NADIA OWEIDAT: "I have felt personally in my entire ten years of being an analyst in Washington [...] that I am constantly accused of being not authentic enough because I'm not an Islamist.
So there's somebody has decided that if you from the region and it doesn't matter like I come from the biggest tribe in Jordan - my tribe goes back to the time of the Pharaohs - [...] but that doesn't make me authentic because I'm not religious. I'm not Islamist. Not just not really, just I'm not Islamist.
So I've had this accusation and its really irritating who has decided that unless an Islamist I'm not an authentic voice from the Middle East. [...]
We have to fight this because this sympathy is really costing the entire world, because it's a huge imbalance in siding with Islamist as authentic. [...]
Political Islamist parties have proven over and over that they are very authoritarian and there's enough of us in the Middle East that are really sick and tired of authoritarianism. We would like to see real human rights, would like to see real engagement. We want to play a role in building our countries and were excluded from from that engagement. [...] Islam is like returning regimes exclude everybody [...] who doesn't carry their vision. It's not even vision their narrow-minded ideology. So this really needs to be tackled [...]" (Dr. Nadia Oweidat: Modern Islamic thought professor.)
It has been very difficult to discover the list of participants and all their names. Below is a list advertised on the International Humanist and Ethical Union, IHEU site in England.
1. Dr. Hamed Abdel-Samad: German-Egyptian writer and critic of Islamism.
2. Dr. Nadia Oweidat: Modern Islamic thought professor.
3. Dr. Saaed Nashed: Moroccan writer and intellectual, concerned with the issues of modernism and enlightenment.
4. Dr. Olfa Youssef: Tunisian writer, author, professor.
5. Dr. Elizabeth O’Casey: Advocacy Director of IHEU and representative at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
6. Mr. Majed Hatar brother of the assassinated Jordanian writer Nahed Hatar
Whilst one can obtain an automated transcript of the speeches via you tube's transcript function, the accuracy is poor. I have tried to transcribe parts of the first and the second speeches and may put these up later.
This article looks at some of the AID organisations/NGOs influenced by Soros funding. The reader will recognise that many are involved in foreign wars, as in Syria. There is a problem when AID organisations take sides and SOROS funded ones tend to take sides.
In the last 5 years whenever an NGO has come out in support of the 'revolution' in Syria, I have checked to see if there is a Soros or Open Society $$ connection. There almost invariably is.
What are we to make of Hillary Clinton's emails, recently revealed by Wikileaks? Here we examine the first two that were released. "In my view Clinton is as mad as a cut snake. You will see through these documents that the emphasis is entirely on Israel's interests, not America's, and whatever she thinks they are not the same. Of course she is completely in the hands of the Zionist lobby, as was Australia's recent Prime Minister Gillard, who lent her services to the Clinton campaign. But then Clinton is in the hands of anyone with money and the power to swing votes. She talks of Israel's security dilemma. Well, that's a good one: a state with an estimated 200-400 nuclear weapons (yes, a couple would be enough) facing states without even one has a security dilemma? ..." (Earth to Earth, Turkey.)
Mad as a cut snake?
Earth to Earth, writes about Hillary's emails:
"In my view Clinton is as mad as a cut snake. You will see through these documents that the emphasis is entirely on Israel's interests, not America's, and whatever she thinks they are not the same. Of course she is completely in the hands of the Zionist lobby, as was Australia's recent Prime Minister Gillard, who lent her services to the Clinton campaign. But then Clinton is in the hands of anyone with money and the power to swing votes. She talks of Israel's security dilemma. Well, that's a good one: a state with an estimated 200-400 nuclear weapons (yes, a couple would be enough) facing states without even one has a security dilemma?
She talks of trading off Syria for Iran, i.e. if the United States removes Bashar al-Assad then Israel might not attack Iran. We know this is what both Israel and Saudi Arabia were encouraging in the time of the Bush administration. They wanted the U.S. to do it. Can anyone imagine what the consequences would be of military strikes on live nuclear reactors?
Yet here Clinton talks of such a war as if it's something on the supermarket shelf she can't decide whether to pick up. In the second email, she talks of U.S. reluctance to launch an air war on Syria. In fact that is exactly what it wanted, but was blocked by Russia. (Thank heavens!) Never mind, says Clinton, we can do it without the U.N. and Russia won't object.
This is total crap. From the word go, it was clear that Russia had far too much invested in Syria, in the preservation of a government chosen by the Syrian people and in the preservation of its own regional and global strategic concerns, to let Syria go. Clinton thinks the U.S. could just walk in and bomb the Syrian air force into submission. This was never going to happen and clearly someone with more sense than Clinton prevailed. She says that Syria is not like Libya, where the 'opposition' was unified (I think this is the word she uses.) Again, crap. There was never any Libyan opposition strong enough to fight any further than the municipal limits of Benghazi. The 'rebels' were the window dressing for the full scale air assault by the U.S., Britain and France. At no stage were they unified. These emails at least help us to understand why Clinton could be the/one of the most dangerous U.S. presidents ever elected. Don't forget her threat to obliterate Iran if it attacks Israel (never likely - it would be the other way around but geared to look like an Iranian attack or a preemptive Israeli attack) and don't forget her threat of a few days ago, to renew the war on Syria and destroy Assad. Where we started we finish: this is exactly what Israel wants and there is absolutely nothing in it for the U.S. How shocking is it that the mainstream media has closed ranks behind this lying, corrupt and very dangerous person and has launched the most vicious campaign I have ever seen against a presidential candidate, Donald Trump." (Earth to Earth, Turkey)
WMDs all over again
Iran has been inspected and reinspected for nuclear weapons, revealing none, like the weapons of mass destructionn (WMDs) that did not exist in Iraq, but these two emails from Hillary Clinton (recently available by Wikileaks) reveal a focus on the idea that Iran may develop nuclear weapons capability. Israel is not officially supposed to have nuclear weapons, but Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli nuclear technician and peace activist revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. In Hillary Clinton's emails below, which were written in 2012, she operates on the premise that Israel has nuclear weapons and that the United States approves of this and wants Israel to maintain nuclear hegemony in the region. She sees solidarity between Iran and Syria as inimical to this state of affairs, reflecting the US claim that Iran aims to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent to Israel bossing the region around. She says, "The result would be a precarious nuclear balance in which Israel could not respond to provocations with conventional military strikes on Syria and Lebanon, as it can today." Of course its Arab enemies accuse Israel itself of provocation and Israel has a history of acts of terrorism. Hillary Clinton also suggests that, if Iran got nuclear weapons then Saudi Arabia might expect nuclear weapons. But that hasn't stopped the United States supplying Saudi Arabia with every other kind of weapon, as its top world customer.
Casual promotion of mayhem
In order to prevent the mooted scenario of an independent Arab state catching up with Israel, Clinton recommends destroying the relationship between Syria and Iran by destroying the Syrian government by promoting a civil war. Well we now know the result of Hillary's preferred policy has been mayhem in Syria and Iraq, spreading all the way to Europe in the largest wave of refugees since the second world war. Clinton gives her opinion that if Iran were to get nuclear weapons it could use them as a deterrent to Israel's military threats in the region, yet she also reveals that she believes that Israel is on the point of "launching an attack on Iran that could provoke a major Mideast war". [Ed. This email was written some time in May 2012 and Israel has not engaged in nuclear attacks on the region yet.]
Poor predictability of her policies and failure to see their consequences
She also claims that Russia would not "stand in the way" if the [United States] were to intervene in Syria (meaning stoke war there). But she is writing some time in May 2012 and Putin only became Russian president in May 2012. (Relatedly, Clinton also reveals that she knew the US had stirred the pot in Kosovo.) These emails are now about four years and a few months old. Since Hillary wrote them, we have seen that Russia finally did intervene in Syria, although it stayed out of that fight for as long as possible. It unwisely failed to veto US interference in Libya, but the consequences of US/NATO intervention in Libya were so horrible that it became unlikely that Putin would go along with such a thing again. US interference in Ukraine put Russia in a position where it had to draw a line as it became clear that the US was surrounding Russia with military bases and attempting, through NATO, to alienate Russia's allies and trade partners.
It seems that Hillary's United States wants to use Israel to promote its own interests in the Middle East but this would go against Russia's and Arab interests, with the exception of Arab states, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which have aligned with Israel and the United States/NATO. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are financing religious terrorism (ISIS and others) against Syria, Iraq and Libya. Turkey, led by a pro-Muslim Brotherhood president, was seen as a US/NATO ally and was benefiting by buying cheap oil through ISIS but it relies a lot on trade with Russia and recently has apologised to Russia for shooting down a Russian plane.
Hillary advocates for the most brutal regimes, not against them
Hillary's reductionist descriptions of the presidents of the only two secular states in the Middle East - Libya (now destroyed by US/NATO) and Syria - as brutal dictators - are being used to justify her recommendation of US intervention to create civil wars all over the Middle East and to destroy Syria and isolate Iran. Going into the future, towards this scenario, Saudi Arabia has been allowed to maintain among the most brutal regimes on the planet, with total subjugation of women as slaves; it has been allowed to engage in genocidal war in Yemen, not only with impunity, but Mr Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was elected as chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014. Meanwhile Ms Clinton is part of a U.S./NATO wolf-pack that pretends to be 'intervening' in the Middle East to rid it of 'brutal dictators'.
Where Trump seeks dialogue, Clinton wants war
What can we make of these emails, of the woman who wrote them, of the country that she represented as Secretary of State, of her candidacy for its president? For what reason should the world allow Israel to defend its position and call the shots in the region, on behalf of non-regional players who are interested in controlling the region's oil and challenging Russia and China's interests in the region? It seems obvious that Israel must share some of its territory with a new Arab state called Palestine, sooner or later, and disarm its nuclear stores. It seems obvious that the United States should establish good relations with Russia, which could help balance out expansionary ideas in China or for a caliphate in a damaged Middle East, instead of ramping up its military displays in Europe and pushing at Russia's borders.
And here are Hillary Clinton's emails:
Email from Hillary Clinton: UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05794498 Date: 11/30/2015 RELEASE IN FULL
The best way to help Israel deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.
Negotiations to limit Iran's nuclear program will not solve Israel's security dilemma. Nor will they stop Iran from improving the crucial part of any nuclear weapons program — the capability to enrich uranium. At best, the talks between the world's major powers and Iran that began in Istanbul this April and will continue in Baghdad in May will enable Israel to postpone by a few months a decision whether to launch an attack on Iran that could provoke a major Mideast war.
Iran's nuclear program and Syria's civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about -- but cannot talk about -- is losing their nuclear monopoly. An Iranian nuclear weapons capability would not only end that nuclear monopoly but could also prompt other adversaries, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to go nuclear as well. The result would be a precarious nuclear balance in which Israel could not respond to provocations with conventional military strikes on Syria and Lebanon, as it can today.
If Iran were to reach the threshold of a nuclear weapons state, Tehran would find it much easier to call on its allies in Syria and Hezbollah to strike Israel, knowing that its nuclear weapons would serve as a deterrent to Israel responding against Iran itself.
Back to Syria. It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel's security — not through a direct attack, which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel's leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests. Speaking on CNN's Amanpour show last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak argued that "the toppling down of Assad will be a major blow to the radical axis, major blow to Iran.... It's the only kind of outpost of the Iranian influence in the Arab world...and it will weaken dramatically both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza."
Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel's security, it would also ease Israel's understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly. Then, Israel and the United States might be able to develop a common view of when the Iranian program is so dangerous that military action could be warranted. Right now, it is the combination of Iran's strategic alliance with Syria and the steady progress in Iran's nuclear enrichment program that has led Israeli leaders to contemplate a surprise attack — if necessary over the objections of Washington. With Assad gone, and Iran no longer able to threaten Israel through its, proxies, it is possible that the United States and Israel can agree on red lines for when Iran's program has crossed an unacceptable threshold. In short, the White House can ease the tension that has developed with Israel over Iran by doing the right thing in Syria.
The rebellion in Syria has now lasted more than a year. The opposition is not going away, nor is the regime going to accept a diplomatic solution from the outside. With his life and his family at risk, only the threat or use of force will change the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's mind.
Email from Hillary Clinton: UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05794498 Date: 11/30/2015
The Obama administration has been understandably wary of engaging in an air operation in Syria like the one conducted in Libya for three main reasons. Unlike the Libyan opposition forces, the Syrian rebels are not unified and do not hold territory. The Arab League has not called for outside military intervention as it did in Libya. And the Russians are opposed.
Libya was an easier case. But other than the laudable purpose of saving Libyan civilians from likely attacks by Qaddafi's regime, the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for the region. Syria is harder. But success in Syria would be a transformative event for the Middle East. Not only would another ruthless dictator succumb to mass opposition on the streets, but the region would be changed for the better as Iran would no longer have a foothold in the Middle East from which to threaten Israel and undermine stability in the region.
Unlike in Libya, a successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and military leadership from the United States. Washington should start by expressing its willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train and arm Syrian rebel forces. The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey and possibly Jordan, U.S. diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition. It will take time. But the rebellion is going to go on for a long time, with or without U.S. involvement.
The second step is to develop international support for a coalition air operation. Russia will never support such a mission, so there is no point operating through the UN Security Council. Some argue that U.S. involvement risks a wider war with Russia. But the Kosovo example shows otherwise. In that case, Russia had genuine ethnic and political ties to the Serbs, which don't exist between Russia and Syria, and even then Russia did little more than complain.
Russian officials have already acknowledged they won't stand in the way if intervention comes.
Arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach. As long as Washington's political leaders stay firm that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed, as they did in both Kosovo and Libya, the costs to the United States will be limited. Victory may not come quickly or easily, but it will come. And the payoff will be substantial. Iran would be strategically isolated, unable to exert its influence in the Middle East. The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab world, not the corrupt regimes. For Israel, the rationale for a bolt from the blue attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would be eased. And a new Syrian regime might well be open to early action on the frozen peace talks with Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon would be cut off from its Iranian sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and missiles. All these strategic benefits and the prospect of saving thousands of civilians from
murder at the hands of the Assad regime (10,000 have already been killed in this first year of civil war).
With the veil of fear lifted from the Syrian people, they seem determine to fight for their freedom. America can and should help them — and by doing so help Israel and help reduce the risk of a wider war.
Wikileaks has launched a searchable archive for 30,322 emails & email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton's private email server while she was Secretary of State.
Vanunu spent 18 years in prison, including more than 11 in solitary confinement. Released from prison in 2004, he became subject to a broad array of restrictions on his speech and movement. Since then he has been arrested several times for violations of those restrictions, including giving various interviews to foreign journalists and attempting to leave Israel. He says he suffered "cruel and barbaric treatment" at the hands of Israeli authorities while imprisoned, and suggests that his treatment would have been different if he had not converted to Christianity from Judaism.#cite_note-7">
In 2007, Vanunu was sentenced to six months in prison for violating terms of his parole. The sentence was considered unusual even by the prosecution who expected a suspended sentence. In response, Amnesty International issued a press release on 2 July 2007, stating that "The organisation considers Mordechai Vanunu to be a prisoner of conscience and calls for his immediate and unconditional release."#cite_note-8"> In May 2010, Vanunu was arrested and sentenced to three months in jail on a charge that he met foreigners in violation of conditions of his 2004 release from jail.
See also: Kennedy, the Lobby and the bomb, previously published (2/5/2013) on VoltaireNet. (As of 6/8/2016, images are missing from the candobetter.net republication, so, at least, until this fixed, we recommend that you read the original Voltaire Net version.)
 In 2015 Saudi Arabia was the world's biggest importer of weapons and the top recipient of American-made arms from 2011-2015, followed closely by the United Arab Emirates, according to research compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which has been analyzing international arms transfers since 1968. See http://edition.cnn.com/2016/05/24/politics/us-arms-sales-worldwide/
 The Syrian President, as Gaddafi did until recently, presides over a secular state. He does not want a caliphate. But the United States and Israel are promoting all the extreme groups and leaders in the Middle East who do want a caliphate to restore something akin to the Ottoman Empire, which relied on slavery for its administration and succession. Iran, although a Muslim state, presents a bulwark against Wahabism (Saudi Arabia's religion, which condones mass slavery). Iran did not have the same tradition of mass slavery as the rest of the Ottoman Empire. Farazmand, Ali (1998) “Persian/Iranian Administrative Tradition”, in Jay M. Shafritz (Editor), International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp 1640–1645 – Excerpt: "Persians never practiced mass slavery, and in many cases the situations and lives of semi-slaves (prisoners of war) were in fact better than the common citizens of Persia." (pg 1642). Cited in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_Iran#cite_note-1 This article describes the aims of a caliphate. http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/261264/its-not-isis-we-need-beat-its-caliphate-daniel-greenfield
The Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership is about to take on an ecological angle with Moscow's suggestion of piping Altai mountain river water to the drought-stricken deserts of Xinjiang. Aside from obviously being used to unburden the Chinese from dealing with the catastrophic effects of climate change, the proposed fresh water pipeline will also have a premier strategic purpose as well. The research begins by examining the strategic vision at play with this initiative and then explaining how it relates to Color Revolutions. Finally, the insight that's revealed from investigating the prior two topics will be linked to the forthcoming global struggle for reliable freshwater supplies in forecasting how the US will try to disrupt Russian-Chinese water cooperation in the coming decades.
Article by Andrew Korybko. Republished with permission. First published at Katehon, Mon, 09 May 2016 00:00 UTC
Xinjiang is the global intersection point for most of China's Eurasian Silk Road projects, and it's thus of the highest importance that the frontier region remains stable and prosperous in order to function as the ultimate juncture of the 21st century's transcontinental infrastructure projects. While foreign-supported terrorism and the proselytization of violent ideologies are certainly a challenge in the area, what most directly affects the population's sympathies towards the central government are more immediate concerns such as their standard of living. The countless material products that are expected to pass through the region and tangentially enrich it can only do so much in improving one's livelihood if there are potentially pressing problems with water availability to the local citizens.
At this moment in time, the Chinese government has been doing a phenomenal job ensuring that the people of Xinjiang are taken care of by providing for all of their needs, but Beijing is also keen enough to plan ahead several decades in advance in order to preempt as many forthcoming challenges as possible. Considering the recent drought and unpredictable global climactic changes, China has legitimate fears that the current environmental difficulties could be exacerbated in the future. Needing to keep Xinjiang as stable and prosperous as possible in order to facilitate its grander goals of pan-Eurasian integration through the New Silk Road, China and Russia came up with the idea of using Kazakhstan to geographically facilitate the transfer of mountain river water from Altai Krai to Xinjiang's deserts.
The Color Revolution Connection
If successfully completed, then the ambitious project would guarantee Xinjiang a stable supply of freshwater and counteract the physical-political effects of any future droughts, thus depriving the US of one of the potential avenues through which it could one day try to stir up anti-government unrest. For example, the authorities would not have to worry about their citizens being manipulated into protesting against a shortfall in domestic water availability (sewage and in-house running water complications), a dearth of drinking water, and/or the disastrous agricultural and livestock impact of drought because each of these scenarios would be rendered increasingly unlikely after Xinjiang reliably connects its water infrastructure to Altai's.
From another angle, however, the establishment of the Altai-Xinjiang water pipeline would increase the chance that the US would try to stage a Color Revolution scenario in Altai in order to interfere with the vital source of western China's water supplies. Even prior to the project's completion, the US and its army of NGOs will expectedly stage disturbances aimed at highlighting the "environmental consequences" of the initiative, potentially even encouraging its local "activists" to enter into clashes with the police. Should the pipeline get up and running, then the authorities need to be on the lookout for potential signs of growing identity separateness between the local Altai population and Moscow.
Comment: Which is one reason why China and Russia are both presciently clamping down on these fifth columnists.
While it's always a positive development when indigenous cultures embrace their uniqueness and are proud of their heritage, there's a distinct line between peaceful celebration and hostile antagonism. If the locals organize around some distinct facet of their identity -- perhaps a revival of the Shamanistic religion of "Burkhanism" or a violent interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism -- then they could more easily be herded into nationalist groups that might thenceforth be directed to stage aggressive anti-government protests. The fusion of identity separateness and a US-promoted awareness of the Altai's newfound geostrategic importance to multipolar affairs could be enough to encourage increasingly radicalized individuals to agitate for substantially enhanced autonomy or outright independence, being misled by Washington and its NGO minions into thinking that they could indefinitely sustain their 'sovereignty' solely through profitable water exports to China.
The proposal to connect Russia's freshwater resources with the growing Chinese consumer base is emblematic of Moscow's rising role as the world's premier water superpower. No other country has as much freshwater reserves as Russia does, which thus increases is global profile and will soon allow it to reap enormous strategic advantages as the rest of the world literally thirsts for this resource. Russia's other advantage -- though regularly spun by the West as a disadvantage -- is that the Siberian and Far East regions where the freshwater originates are largely underpopulated and accordingly more than capable of diverting their own supplies abroad without any consequences at home. In the future, Russia might not only come to be China's main energy partner, but also its vital lifeline to clean freshwater reserves as well, thereby making itself forever irreplaceable as Beijing's most important grand strategic ally.
Because of the pivotal role that Russia is expected to play in providing clean drinking water to some of China's over one billion citizens, the US will undoubtedly conspire to find a way to interfere with the reliable shipment of this life-sustaining resource and thus gain leverage over both of these Great Powers. In a sense, this is merely an adapted application of what it's already trying to do vis-a-vis global energy flows, albeit much more directly connected to life-or-death ends. Using the techniques of Hybrid War that it's been perfecting over the past decade and especially in the most recent years, it's foreseeable that the US will try to instigate identity tension inside the freshwater-originating regions or transit areas.
Looking at the map, a fair share of Russia's major Siberian and Far Eastern rivers either start or pass through autonomous republics (Sakha/Yakutia, Buryatia, Tuva, Khassia, Altai) or areas with a distinct identity separateness such as Altai Krai. Conclusively, it's reasonable to suggest that the US might try to capitalize off of the indigenous population's Turkic Buddhist-Shamanist identity in fomenting identity tension, with this scenario spiking in probability if Washington ever succeeds in swaying the Mongolian government over to the New Cold War side of unipolarity.
The idea of linking Siberia's freshwater supplies with China's deserts, and presumably later on even to its major population centers, is an ambitious proposal that carries with it profound global significance. The world's dwindling freshwater reserves are being pushed beyond their limit in providing nourishment to an ever-increasing population, to say nothing of their use in agriculture, hydroelectricity, and animal husbandry. In the coming decades, the countries that control freshwater resources either in whole or in part (whether through their source, transit, or mouth) will be in a superb position to influence all of those around them.
Even though China is unquestionably the freshwater king of East, Southeast, and South Asia through the sources that it controls in Tibet (which explains the US and India's unceasing struggle to destabilize and dislodge the region from Beijing), its unchecked industrialization of the past couple of decades has led to unprecedented pollution that has made some of these supplies dangerous and unfit to use. Moreover, not all of the country is served by the Tibetan rivers, with the geostrategic trans-continental juncture point of Xinjiang being absolutely arid and deprived of any significant water resources. This part of China is also the scene of foreign-supported terrorist aggression, and it's in the best interests of Beijing to do everything that it can to secure the locals' contentment with the central government in order to avoid losing "hearts and minds" amidst this partially ideological conflict.
What Russia's planning to do isn't just to provide Xinjiang with Altai freshwater supplies, but possibly even to expand this cooperation further in connecting northeastern and eastern China to similarly reliable and clean resources. This would greatly relieve the Chinese authorities of future contingency planning in the face of an ever-unpredictable climate and could also free up its own domestic resources for further export and strategic utilization as regards the downstream countries. By remedying China's freshwater shortage amidst its never-ending population growth, Russia would fulfill an irreplaceable role in Beijing's grand strategic calculus and thereby maximize its importance to its critical multipolar partner.
However, it's due to this very same vision of pragmatic win-win cooperation between the two Eurasian Great Powers that the US has a vested interest in sabotaging their prospective freshwater trading network, which is why it might seek to capitalize off of identity separateness in Russia's Turkic Buddhist-Shamanistic regions in one day stoking a series of meticulously preplanned Hybrid Wars designed to offset this eventuality. Though there presently aren't any overt signs that the US has made any progress in actualizing this objective, it must still be astutely monitored by the Russian authorities in order to ensure that NGOs and other disruptive proxy actors don't succeed in fanning the flames of conflict and disturbing the peace in this historically stable corner of the world.
For people who follow French politics, France's entry into NATO was a frank change of politics. France had previously maintained an independent interest in the Middle East and tended to align away from Israel. France's involvement in recent NATO 'interventions' in Syria seemed uncharacteristically naive. In this stand-out interview, Yvan Blot, a former Gaullist parliamentarian, and closely associated with Sarkosy, when President, says that he did not agree with joining NATO. He says that French conservatives tend to be friends with Russia, in part because of business interests, and that socialist governments tend to have strained relations with Russia, since Mitterand. This interview is one of those where the person interviewed has a lot of experience and an unusually wide and historical perspective. This video transcript was first published on Sophie & Co on RT on 8 Mar, 2016 .
The West planned to create rift between Russia & Ukraine long ago - French ex-MEP
Russia's military pullout out of Syria came as a surprise to most Western nations. That, and a successful though fragile ceasefire inside Syria between Assad and the rebels, have shifted the balance on the global chessboard. Europe is struggling with the refugee flow, desperate enough to negotiate a blackmail-style deal with Turkey. As people are growing tired of the unpopular measures taken by Brussels, the upcoming elections in France, the EU's major player, may change the stakes in diplomacy as well. In this rapidly changing situation will the attitude towards Russia change? Does the West even need to carry out such a policy? And what role is NATO playing in the rift between Russia and the nations of Europe? We ask a prominent French politician, close friend of ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy. Yvan Blot is on Sophie&Co today.
Sophie Shevarnadze: Yvan Blot, French scholar and politician, close to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, author of “Putin’s Russia”, welcome to the show, it’s great to have you with us, sir.
Yvan Blot: Thank you for inviting me.
SS: So, from the latest, Russian troops are being pulled out of Syria, so we have the peace talks that are somewhat in progress right now. Truce is setting on the battlefield - do you think that Russian withdrawal, this move to pull out troops, will actually help the peace process, help de-escalate the situation, or will those who don’t want to find a compromise be emboldened by this move?
YB: It was a surprize in France to hear that Russian troops are leaving Syria, but I think it’s a good thing for the peace process, naturally.
YB: It shows clearly that big powers want to seize the war and because Russia attacked the Islamist movement in Syria, some people would think that Russia wants to be in the East, and would invade, like America invaded Iraq.
SS: Make it it’s sphere of influence, basically.
YB: So we have a proof it’s not the case.
SS: How do you think the West will react to Russia’s move? Will West’s attitude towards Russia change after the withdrawal of the troops.
YB: I think, probably, Mr. Obama was informed about this decision, President Putin’s decision, so I think, normally, the West would have a good reaction, because if Washington agrees, the rest of the Western countries will agree, because America is the leader of the Western coalition in Syria.
SS: French economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, proclaimed that France is actually supporting the end of anti-Russian sanctions, but all of the EU members have to be OK with that. Except France we have Hungary, we have Greece, we have Italy who do not want to extend, to renew the sanctions. What do you think will happen? Will their voices be heard? Is it possible to actually go against the EU will and not renew the sanctions individually?
YB: It’s difficult to say. I know that business circles in France are against the sanctions, they want to get rid of the sanctions, and there’s a big discussion, private discussion, between the government and the business circles. I think, Mr. Hollande is not really in favor of sanctions, but he has to take into account the American position, naturally, and for that reason, it’s difficult to say what he will do, because if for him the American pressure is too strong, he will say: “We continue the sanctions”.
SS: So it’s really more the American pressure than the fact that all EU members have to be OK with not renewing the sanctions?
YB: It’s another reason, I would say. Nothing forbids France to get rid of the sanctions if France wanted to. I think, with somebody with character, as was General De Gaulle, we would stop the sanctions, whatever the consequences. Our President is an intelligent man, but I’m not sure he wants to have these difficult relations with Washington, so I’m not sure France will be very independent in that…
SS: You often talk about America’s influence over Europe, and you have mentioned that these are American sanctions more than European sanctions… I mean, you really believe that America’s influence over Europe is so big that it can actually pressure Europe into imposing sanctions on Russia?
YB: Yes, I have examples. For instance, we have a big bank, BNP Paribas, who had to pay enormous sums to the American Treasury because they made business with Iran, for instance. I know it was the same for Mistral, for instance. The American government told the French government, in private, naturally, that if we give Mistrals, these warships, to Russia, the sum that bank, BNP Paribas, must pay will be much higher and, at the same time, they say that American judges are completely independent. I don’t think this is the case. There are contacts between the judges and the American government. I have some experience with this. Western countries always say that their judges are completely independent, but it’s not the case if it is a question which touches national interests. For little private conflicts the judges are independent, but it’s linked with politics, the government says “I hope you will give good sanctions against this bank”, for instance.
SS: So you think if Europe, on a larger scale, was to reset relations with Russia, then America will actually torpedo it or sabotage it?
YB: The strategy of America was clearly explained in the book by Mr.Brzezinski, “The Big Chessboard”. In this book, Mr.Brzezinski says: “The problem of America is the competition with Eurasia.” Eurasia - that is to say Europe, Russia and China and India, perhaps - and he says: “If all these countries are against us, it’s going to be terrible for us, we are not the first power in the world, so we have to divide Eurasia, to colonize Western Europe, to survey China and Russia. For us it makes really a problem, and the best thing would be to have weaker Russia and to organize conflict with Ukraine”. It was written 10 years ago, and now you see the implementation of this strategy. I think it is an American strategy.
SS: But I want to talk about Europe’s position - why do you think it’s stuck in this choice between partnership with Russia and partnership with NATO. It seems like it’s one or the other - why? Why is it stuck in this position?
YB: First, NATO has no reason to survive, because NATO was created, in the beginning, to fight against communism and against Soviet Union. There’s no longer a Soviet Union. It would have been logical to destroy NATO and to create a new order for defence and security issues, new organisation, probably, and probably without the U.S.. It was not the case, naturally, and major part of our political leaders have strong personal links with American government, it’s a fact.
SS: You think there’s no reason for NATO to survive, you’ve also said that America’s influence on Europe is in large done through NATO - now, former French PM Dominique de Villepin.
has proposed, once again, pulling France out of the NATO military command structure. Do you think it’s a good idea, do you think France should pull out? Is it even possible?
YB: I think he’s right. I know him very personally, I think he’s right. It is technically completely possible, because we have a big industry of armaments, we have nuclear forces, so France can be independent.
SS: So why are you with NATO then? Is it just, like, symbolic, is it a question of French pride and prestige?
YB: It was a discussion between me and President Sarkozy about this, because I didn’t agree with him. It was Sarkozy who…
SS: Returned France to NATO.
YB: And he said: “We are in the same family”, his argument was “the same family, we have the same values”. Perhaps we have the same values, but since, perhaps, 10 years, all French presidents ask Americans to have one commander-in-chief of NATO. There are three staffs in NATO: for North of Europe, for Center of Europe and for South. France wanted to have the general-in-chief of the South, and the American said “No, no, no”. They said “No” to Mitterrand, they said “No” to Chirac, and they said “No” to Sarkozy. But, in spite of this Sarkozy said that it doesn’t matter, “we will integrate into it”, but I’m not sure it was a good idea.
SS: So, if France is part of the same family, as the NATO members, then why did the president Francois Hollande, after the horrible terrorist attacks, actually called on its fellow EU allies to help fight terrorism, help France, and not the NATO members?
YB: Politically, the EU is more important in France than the NATO. We don’t speak very much about NATO. But EU, yes, because it’s the same currency, it’s same economic policy, and so on. For that reason Mr. Hollande wants always to have good relations with the members of the EU, but in the future, I don’t know what we will have because it’s possible - it’s not sure, but it’s possible - that the UK leaves the EU.
SS: So, you have studied Russian for many years, you’ve wrote a book that’s called “Putin’s Russia”. It decries a lot of myths about Putin, it also argues against looking at Russia as if it was still a Soviet Union. Are there are lot of people in the French establishment who share your view on Russia?
YB: There are part of the establishment.
SS: What’s the ratio?
YB: Partly, it’s a question of generation. Older people in France very often think that Russia is always a Soviet Union, older people. But with younger people, it’s not the case at all. So, younger people in general are much more in favor of cooperation with Russia, even within the government, or within the Parliament, and this situation, I think, it’s improving for the future cooperation between France and Russia.
SS: But, French government mostly consists of young people, so you would think that they don’t really remember the Soviet Union, yet they are for the sanctions and they still decry Putin as a dictator…
YB: Yes, the French government is socialist, you know. It is a socialist tradition in France to have bad relations with Russia, I must say, because after the WWII, the Americans gave a lot of money to socialist party to fight against the Communist Party in France. For that reason, Socialist party had always very good links with America. Especially now, they have very good links with ms. Clinton, for instance. Ms. Clinton said once, I think she didn’t want to say this, but she said it to Juppe, “Mr. President Juppe” - but a journalist told her: “But he’s not President!” - he was PM, but he wasn’t a President - “Oh yes, I am sorry, I made a mistake” - but in fact, she would like to have Mr. Juppe as partner for future.
SS: We’ll talk about the Presidential elections that are coming up. So you have part of French establishment that is very anti-Russian, and you have part of it that’s very pro-Russian.
YB: Especially, business circles.
SS: So which side will prevail?
YB: In the short run, it’s, perhaps, the anti-Russians who are rather mainstream, especially in the media, but I think in the longer run, it would be completely different. You have only to look at the geography - it’s very difficult for Western Europe not to have a special links with Russia, because it’s the same continent, in fact. So, I think it’s artificial - this fight against Russia. In fact, the majority of people who come from France to Russia can see it’s not a dictatorship. I was, in the past, in the Soviet Union, and in my hotel, I could read some Russian papers in English - there was no criticism against Mr. Brezhnev, for instance, or of the Soviet government. But now you can read articles against Mr. Putin - so it’s very clear, there’s more freedom than before.
SS: So you have Presidential election coming up, right around the corner. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy was in Russia, you’re close to him, I believe you’re his friend. If his party wins the vote, do you think there will be a rapprochement between Russia and France?
YB: I’m sure.
YB: Sarkozy always told me he wanted to have good relations with Mr. Putin. He has, I think personal good relations, and he thinks it’s very necessary, because Sarkozy is linked with business circles very much, much more than the socialists, and he wants to have better relations with Russia because they want to expand trade with Russia in every sectors of the economy. I think with Sarkozy the relations would be better, I’m sure, and even if we would have some tensions with the U.S.. We had tensions already in the past, with Sarkozy, when he went to mingle with Georgian war, for instance, Washington was not very happy about this. But he did it.
SS: Do you think he will run for Presidency again? What do you think? In your personal opinion?
YB: I think so, except, if he has such bad polls, he could perhaps say: “It’s over, it’s not possible”, but except in that extreme situation - we cannot know exactly the future so much early - I think he will be a candidate. He wants to be a candidate.
SS: But do you think the French are ready to choose again between Hollande and Sarkozy?
YB: Frankly, I’m not sure, because part of the French people would prefer to have new personalities, probably.
SS: It’s been 2 years since the Crimean referendum, pro-Russian referendum, and you have said that it’s impossible to reverse the Crimean situation. The EU however, is saying that the control over the peninsula needs to be given back to Ukraine. President Poroshenko is ordering Ukraine’s military to focus on Crimea, you have Kiev that is getting military aid from the U.S. - I mean, it does seem like the West cannot come to terms with that. Do you think that'll ever happen? When?
YB: I think Crimea will be Russian in the future. It’s not possible to change that. In France, we are not in a good place to think against it, because we made exactly the same with Mayotte in Africa, you know it’s some islands which form a Comorrean state and when they got their independence, one island said “We want to be French”, and this island is French. For that reason, France was condemned by the UNGA, we were condemned by the African Assembly of Nations, and it doesn’t change anything. We had no sanctions, because we are friends with the U.S.
SS: But we have sanctions, so if the Crimean situation is irreversible, and the sanctions are linked to the Crimean situation, does that mean that the sanctions against Russia are here to stay forever?
YB: It is a U.S. position now, with President Obama, but you cannot see future. I’m not sure, for instance, Mr. Trump, I think, perhaps, he would lift the sanctions, I’m not sure that he’s in favor of the sanctions. He’s like everybody, in general, in business circles - they don’t like sanctions. They think politicians mingling with economics is not a good thing, it’s better to be separated. With ms. Clinton, perhaps, we would have the same sanctions. So we have to wait for the American elections.
SS: Maybe, even harsher sanctions with ms. Clinton. So, let’s talk about the EU situation. The EU isn’t aligned in its relations with Russia, it has the migrant crisis, there’s the financial problem in the Eurozone, there’s terrorism problem - a serious problem. So, if countries weren’t obliged to follow one common EU policy, do you think they would be able to deal with these issues better, individually?
YB: I’m not sure. For instance a lot of people say because we are in the EU we could have more opportunity for economic growth, but it’s not in fact the case. Switzerland or Norway are not in the EU, and their economy is much better. I’m not sure the Euro, for instance, is a good thing for French economy. Probably, it’s a good thing for German economy, but we have not the same competitiveness to have the same money - I’m not sure it’s a good idea. A lot of economists, professors of economics - I am the professor of economics - we think the Euro is not a good idea, probably, a symbolic or a political idea, but from an economic point of view, it’s probably a mistake.
SS: So Britain is planning to have a referendum this summer on the EU exit, and according to the survey that’s been conducted by the university of Edinburgh, majority of France wants to have the same referendum. What do you think? Could the British experience set an example to follow for other members?
YB: Probably. It’s a reason for why a Commission in Brussels is a bit frightened of this situation, because if the UK leaves European Union, other countries could do the same and could be encouraged to make the same move. Perhaps, the Scandinavian countries who are very linked with the UK, perhaps, Czech Republic…
SS: Well, you have France, you have Sweden, Spain, Germany - they all want EU membership referendum. I’m not saying that they want to leave the EU, but they want to have the right to vote for it. Do you think they should be able?
YB: The people want to be consulted on this sort of issue, and one of the big problems with the EU is that it is not democratic at all. It was built not to be democratic. The power in Brussels is not in the hands of the Council of ministers and is not in the Parliament. I was for 10 years in the EU Parliament, I can tell you that all the power, in fact, is in the Commission. It’s a government of civil servants, who have no responsibility towards different countries, and they do what they want, and for that reason, more and more people are against this sort of technician government, which is not a democratic government. I think it was a mistake at the beginning of the European Union, to create this super-Comission above all. So, it doesn’t mean we have to get rid completely with the EU, but perhaps it is necessary to re-write the treaty to suppress this Commission in Brussels, it was a bad idea. It would be Europe, naturally, if we did that. Why not?
SS: So, you have said that you are worried about the massive flow of refugees into Europe, but do you feel like, maybe, Europe has a moral obligation or responsibility to accommodate these refugees from the Middle East. I mean, are European policies partly to blame for wars that are causing this mass exodus? I mean, intervention in Libya produced a failed state right on border of Europe, you know.
YB: You are right. I think there are some governments that have a responsibility because of the disorder they created in the MidEast, and it was one of the causes of the movement of refugees towards Europe. But the public opinion is really against it, and so, if you are in democracy, you have to take into account the opinion of the people. I think it’s necessary to have more peace, naturally, in the Middle East - that’s one of the questions, but otherwise, it’s necessary, really, to control our borders which is not the case, because we have created this Schengen area, and the Schengen area is not very well protected against illegal immigrants, and that’s really a problem. You must add to this problem the fact that among the refugees, it’s possible that you have some terrorists. Our Secret Service is persuaded it is the case, I must say.
SS: Yvan Blot, thank you very much for this interesting interview. We were talking to Yvan Blot, French politician, who used to sit in the French and the European Parliament's, past terrorism advisor to the French government, author of “Putin’s Russia”, talking about seemingly dead end of West’s relations with Russia and the future of Europe. That’s it for this edition of SophieCo, I will see you next time.
To paraphrase that old Pete Seeger song, "Where have all the ISIS gone? Gone to Turkey -- every one." (Except of course for the ones who tried to return to Saudi Arabia, foolishly thinking that just because the House of Saud paid their salaries, they would be welcomed back home.) "When will they ever learn?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KLNwPppKTM
American neo-colonialists has supposedly been bombing ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq for over a year now -- and during all that time ISIS has, coincidentally, been getting stronger and stronger. However, Russia bombs ISIS for only three months and suddenly ISIS is gone! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LZ2R2zW2Yc
But where did ISIS go to?
According to journalist Finian Cunningham, "Also missing or downplayed in the Western media coverage of the truces across Syria is the question of where the surrendering mercenaries are being evacuated to. They are not being bussed to other places inside Syria. That shows that there is no popular support for these insurgents. Despite copious Western media coverage contriving that the Syrian conflict is some kind of 'civil war' between a despotic regime and a popular pro-democracy uprising, the fact that surrendering militants have nowhere to go inside Syria patently shows that these insurgents have no popular base....
"So where are the terrorist remnants being shipped to? According to several reports, the extremists are being given safe passage into Turkey, where they will receive repair and sanctuary from the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – and no doubt subsidized by the European Union with its $3.5 billion in aid to Ankara to 'take care of refugees'". http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article43837.htm
The Taliban aren't exactly manufacturing weapons back in the caves of Tora Bora, now are they? Hardly. But those weapons have to come from somewhere. My guess is that the same weapons-manufacturers who have been supplying ISIS for the past four years have also been supplying the Taliban for the past 14 years. Now who could that be? It's definitely not Russia or Iran. http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/2015/11/yemen-syria-palestine-paris-gun-sales.html
And why has it taken 14 years to cut off weapons supplies to the Taliban when Russia was able to cut off weapons supplies to ISIS in just three months? Who the freak knows? Certainly not me. But if it were up to me, I would follow the money. And I would start by asking myself just two questions. "Which country is the largest manufacturer of weapons in the world today?" and "Why have heroin sales in Afghanistan increased forty-fold since America invaded it -- and what is that money being spent on?" http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/US-to-Blame-for-Spike-in-Opium-Production-in-Afghanistan-20150416-0028.html
Video & transcript: Bruce Petty interviews Dr Jeremy Salt, Middle Eastern scholar. Bruce Petty is a highly regarded political satirist and cartoonist as well as an award-winning film maker.
"There always has to be a 'madman' in the Middle East," explains Jeremy Salt, when asked why we constantly hear that 'Bashar al-Assad has to go'? Of course Bashar al-Assad is not really mad. Jeremy explains how the west, in its long exploitation of the Middle East, has invented crises that it then pretends to help with, and these tend to feature a 'madman' whom the people have to be saved from. In reaction Middle Eastern governments tend to be defensive and authoritarian, in order to survive constant foreign interference. Even if Bashar went, the Syrian state would remain the same. Salt gives a fluent history of how the west has used the Middle East, and how western politicians expected to knock Syria over easily, but underestimated it. All they have done is weaken it and assorted armed and dangerous groups including ISIS have risen up through the cracks they have created. But many Syrians really like Bashar al-Assad and think he is their best chance for reform. (See the third part in this series, "Has the Syrian president killed more than ISIS and other questions," to hear about how al-Assad is actually legally elected and had brought in reforms prior to the current crisis.) Petty asks about beheading and the role of religion and Islam in today's crisis. Salt agrees that Islam has been taken over by conservatives and extremists, but precises that this is a political ideological take-over that has little to do with Islamic religious base.
Dr Jeremy Salt is a former journalist, turned academic and is the author of The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands, (University of California Press, 2008). Until recently, Dr Salt was based in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, where he ran courses in the history of the modern Middle East, in politics and in politics, propaganda and the media.
INTRODUCTION BY EDITING TRANSCRIBER: This is the third of three dialogues. In these dialogues, Bruce Petty often agrees with a nod or a murmur, but I have not recorded these comments unless they have been part of a significant change in the dialogue. Petty’s eyes and face are worth watching as he considers what he is hearing. The transcriptions are as accurate as the transcriber could make them, but could contain small errors. Hopefully no errors that would affect the points that Dr Salt and Mr Petty seek to raise and explain.
BRUCE PETTY: The issue is the Middle East and the issue is Syria. And we’re given the idea that Assad has to go. Now, I want to know why he ‘has to go’? And I hear he tortures and he’s got too many people in prison and … now he’s bombing… and there’s gas involved … the whole scenario is there. And, I don’t know the origins of these stories.
JEREMY SALT: Well, you know this thing – if there is an objective truth about it - the Syrian government.
There always has to be a madman in the Middle East
JEREMY SALT: This is such a complex subject to go into. In any case, one point to make is that there always has to be a madman in the Middle East. Or a dictator. There always has been. You go all the way back to the 19th century. Like in [the] 1890s there was a gentleman they called ‘The Mad Mullah’ of Somaliland. Well, Somaliland didn’t have any mullahs. But it was a nice kind of alliterative title that went well with the British media.
And in fact the ‘mad mullah of Somaliland’ was a sheik. He belonged to an Islamic order and what you might call – you might call him a ‘proto-nationalist’. And then, you looked at Sudan in the same period of time - a bit earlier, actually – same period of time – when you had the dervishes, ‘savages’, ‘barbarians’ and so forth and so on.
And you ask, what was the problem there? Well the problem was that their territory, their land, had been invaded by the British. And naturally they were resisting.
And you can follow this all the way back, all the way back to the 19th century.
In the 20th century they portrayed Nasser as a dictator. In fact Nasser was actually a moderate person who wanted to get on with Americans. In particular. And the problem was that Israel - he had problems with Israel. And, you know, that was the reason why he had to be brought down. So he was a ‘dictator’.
You look at Musaddiq in Iran. They couldn’t pretend he was a dictator, because he wasn’t. But they had to find out some other kind of reason for making him look either nasty or stupid. And the fact is, he used to wear for interviews thing that, clothes that the British media laughed at and said, ‘Wearing pyjamas.” And he tended to cry. Because he was an emotional man. So you had many good reasons to laugh at Musaddiq. And get him out of the way.
So, this process, whenever there is a situation, which offends them and they want to sort out, they like to personalise. They like to pick out one person, “Oh, here’s the madman, here’s the dictator.” And that’s the key to the whole situation. Once we establish that in the public mind, well, we can go ahead and destroy them.
And, you know, this whole business about Syria… I mean if you actually look at the Middle East and North Africa, go back to the first time in modern history that a western army …[ inaudible] in 1798, when Napoleon landed in Egypt and tried to conquer Egypt. And the British got wind of it and sent a fleet out and destroyed the French fleet. And that was the end of Napoleon’s mission. But from that time onwards, if you look at the whole of North Africa, all the way across the Middle East to the Gulf, you will hardly find a country that has not been attacked. You’d be hard pressed to find one that has not been attacked. Many of them [have been] attacked many, many times. And, in many cases those attacks served many purposes. Like, for example, Egypt, when the British occupied Egypt in 1882 to get their hands on Egyptian cotton, tobacco, sugar. Also their hands on the canal. And also, it was a testing ground for new weaponry.
Now here’s the relevance of this when we think back to the attack on Iraq in 1991. Or that kind of hushed talk on the news broadcasts. You know, we’ve got these smart missiles, they don’t need telling what to do, they can turn corners and do all kinds of things. Well, in the 1880s, it was the warships: reinforced steel plating, hydraulic gun platforms. I mean, they’d never had them before. If you wanted to change targets before that, the whole ship had to turn around. So they had hydraulic platforms; it meant you only had to just turn the gun. And they had massive kind of cannons and they had shells that could go almost 2000 yards.
So, in London, all the military people were kind of like really excited about this. How’s this all going to work? Because what the Egyptians had on shore were like popguns. They couldn’t even reach these ships. So it was kind of like a done deal. They were going to win there. They were going to win. But so you follow that all the way through from the 19th century and there are always reasons for attacking these countries. Always justified. In the 19th century called them ‘civilisation’. ‘We’ll bring civilisation to these people.’
BRUCE PETTY: And Christianising.
JEREMY SALT: Well, I wouldn’t use that so much. Not really. Muslims might try that, but generally it was what we were doing ‘for’ these people, not what we were doing strong>to them. And always there would be a lot of violence. Like the British –
BRUCE PETTY: The religious factor didn’t come into it? Their religion, I mean?
JEREMY SALT: Well, always the missionaries followed the flag. You know, they went in there and they would do their bit. But if you look at Egypt, for example, when the British bombarded Alexandria. You know, blew it to bits. Before the army landed. Well then, of course, the moment they did that, well the local people reacted. They were very upset. And then Britain said, ‘Well, we have to restore order!’ Gangs were out and destroying things and setting fire to our property and so forth and so on.
That’s what goes back to the print media. It’s what the public believes. ‘Our people are being attacked in Egypt by these savages.’
And that tends to be what happens. It’s been repeated time after time. Down to the present day.
And, if you look at Syria, well, right, people say, ‘Well it’s an authoritarian, oppressive regime.’
I can accept that. It is. But you look at Syria’s history. Going back to the First World War, there was this piece of land on the map, called Syria. So, when they got their hands on it, they cut it up. That’s the first thing they did. They butchered it. The British got – the British took – southern Syria, which is Palestine. The French cut one part off – the coastal region – called Lebanon. In the 1930s, the French gave Iskanderun to Turkey. Now that’s the province of Hattay, with more than a 50 per cent Alawi population. And people who still actually believe in Bashar al-Assad. And then we move forward to the modern period, the post war period when Syria became independent, finally, independent in 1946.
1949 they had their first coup. Who organised the coup? The Americans. Why? Because the elected Syrian government won’t grant rights to the Tapline to Aramco, the Arabian-American oil company, to build a pipeline from Saudi Arabia across to the Mediterranean across Syrian territory. The government says, ‘No, we don’t want this.’
So the Americans intervene with a bit of help from the CIA . They put a colonel in power. And then, in 1956, the same time that the British planned to attack Egypt, the Americans are planning to overthrow the government of Syria. Again! And you move that through – all the way through to the modern period.
So Syria has continuously been under attack, under threat. Targeted assassinations, coups, dirty work of some kind or another. So what do you get out of this? You’re not going to get a democracy. You’re going to get a state that’s permanently on its guard; that’s watchful. Alright? And then people turn around and say, ‘Look at this, this system.’ And the fact is, you know, people point the finger at Bashar? Well Bashar could go tomorrow and the system wouldn’t change. But Bashar, many Syrians believe, is popular – one thing that the people in Washington or Britain don’t want to believe. Bashar is liked by the Syrian people. They might be critical of the system, but they like Bashar. And many of them believe that he is the best hope they have of actually changing the system.
Mass migration from Syria
BRUCE PETTY: Okay. Now the explanation for this: There’s a couple of million on the move; don’t want to be in Syria. And we see pictures of them. They look middle class and young kids. What’s a parallel to that? What’s it like? Is that like –
JEREMY SALT: I’ve never been in that situation. I don’t want to be in that situation. It’s been going on in the Middle East since 1948. And the big exodus of 1948 of the Palestinians from their land –
BRUCE PETTY: The Palestinians, yes.
JEREMY SALT: Eight hundred thousand people. Iraq –
BRUCE PETTY: They’re still there on the borders, wanting to go back.
JEREMY SALT: Of course. Well, it’s their land –
BRUCE PETTY: Are these people going to go back? Or do they want to go to Germany? Do you think [Inaudible].
JEREMY SALT: Well I couldn’t speak for them, Bruce, but I think many of them want to go back to their homeland.
BRUCE PETTY: I would think so, yes.
JEREMY SALT: Of course they do. But they can’t because it’s in complete turmoil.
BRUCE PETTY: Yeah. Well, they’re the issues that puzzle people and –
How the mass media presents what is happening
JEREMY SALT: But things also Bruce, I think, you know, people, what the media, doesn’t really want to show is that we were told from the beginning that all this was about repression of the protests by the Syrian government.
BRUCE PETTY: Yes. That’s right.
JEREMY SALT: And alternative evidence which the media - the mainstream media - will not present, is that the attack on Syria was actually well-prepared.
BRUCE PETTY: Yes.
JEREMY SALT: Right? And they wanted to hit Syria and they waited for the moment and this, once again, there’s a template for this in Latin America.
BRUCE PETTY: Yes.
JEREMY SALT: I mean, how did the United States carry out [inaudible ]coups in Guatamala? What you do, you wait for this, for people to kind of demonstrate over some economic issue, then you move in behind them. And that’s more or less what happened in Syria.
And people say, ‘Oh, no, no. It started as a peaceful protest and only much, much later did it become violent. Which is not true. Because they were violent from the beginning. And that’s what the media would not tell its readers [inaudible].
What do we know of the groups fighting the Syrian Government?
BRUCE PETTY: And do we know much about the fragmentation of what was called ‘the rebellion’, you know. Like there are apparently there are tribal elements, there are militias – independent militias – under various autocrats. And there’s ISIS, and there’s a bit of Al Qaeda left, I imagine. All these elements, I mean, are they… Do we know who – Do we know the quantities and the passions? Is it just passion?
JEREMY SALT: Well, the tribal … the tribes are part of it because [inaudible] in Iraq we know there are terrible kinds of conflicts between Islamic State and the tribes. And the Islamic State [? butchered] lots of [? tribesmen] in Iraq. But the position is that those countries, all of them – that is Libya, or Syria, or Iraq, who didn’t have these Takfiri jihadi elements before.
Destruction of countries has created cracks from which jihadi elements have come out
So, it’s the destruction of those countries that has created the cracks in the landscapes from which these people have managed to come out. I mean, if you look at what they did to Syria. Okay, they wanted to destroy the Syrian central government. They didn’t succeed in doing it. Now, it was very clear from the start that Syria was not Yemen; Syria was not Libya; Syria was not Tunisia or Egypt. Syria was Syria. And what would happen in Syria was very different from what would happen elsewhere.
Now, those people: the Americans, the British, the French, Turks, the Qataris, the Saudis – they all thought, ‘Oh look, we’re going to push very hard, and we will bring the government down.’
They didn’t succeed in doing it. All they succeeded in doing was weakening it. Now, we know that – and what they therefore created was – in northern Syria in particular, but also in other parts – was a kind of a vacuum . Now, in some respects, that vacuum was filled by people they were supporting. The armed groups. In some cases it was filled by people they didn’t want to be there. Like the Kurds in northern Syria. Erdogan, the Turkish president, is very angry because the Kurds took their opportunity and kind of established some kind of autonomy over the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, just over the Kurdish border.
So, in some ways, it’s the law of unintended consequences.
BRUCE PETTY: The other element that is different, I think, is things like beheadings. We haven’t sort of seen that before. Is that connected somehow to these generations of frustration? I mean, can you explain that from anything we did?
JEREMY SALT: They would. No. They would go back to Islamic history to justify beheading people. Alright? But, I mean, this doesn’t - what the Islamic state is doing cannot be called Islamic.
JEREMY SALT: It cannot be called Islamic, not just because of the absolute brutality and sadism of what they’re doing, but they’re destroying Christian churches. Now this doesn’t fit with Islam at all –
BRUCE PETTY: And antiquities.
JEREMY SALT: But the antiquities have been there for 2000 years without one Muslim government touching them. But, when it comes to Christian churches being destroyed, there’s no place for this in Islam. This is actually against Islam. This is a violation of Islamic principles, to destroy churches. Because Christians, Jews, are protected.
BRUCE PETTY: So you’d have to go back –
JEREMY SALT: No, you wouldn’t have to go back at all. There’s no place for [it].
BRUCE PETTY: But it has happened though, hasn’t it?
JEREMY SALT: No. At the beginning –
BRUCE PETTY: Way back [inaudible]-
JEREMY SALT: Oh, right at the beginning, right at the beginning –
BRUCE PETTY: Four hundred –
JEREMY SALT: No, right at the beginning, right at the beginning of the 7th century.
BRUCE PETTY: And the religious, even the religious purges and crusades, for one. We did it.
JEREMY SALT: We did it. Yeah, we did it. But when, in terms of minority, religious minorities, like within Islam right at the beginning when the Jews of what we now call Saudi Arabia would not accept the Islamic message, they were attacked and many of them were killed. But, once Islam was consolidated, as a state religion, you go back and there’s nothing, there’s nothing there. You’re hard pressed to find any kind of way in which religious communities were touched.
BRUCE PETTY: Well, that is one that made you think. And you still wonder, is there a Martin Luther Muslim?
JEREMY SALT: [Indecipherable] I didn‘t like Martin Luther.
BRUCE PETTY: - start something a bit different.
JEREMY SALT: Martin Luther was a terrible person.
BRUCE PETTY: Was he? Oh well, somebody –
JEREMY SALT: He was anti-semetic –
BRUCE PETTY: Oh, that’s right, he was –
JEREMY SALT: Who was the Nuremburg [inaudible]. I can’t remember whether it was Goering or Goebels – someone – stood up and said, ‘Well, actually, don’t blame us, blame Luther.’ That’s where it came from. And also, he was on the side of the princes. ‘Go out and slay the peasants!’
BRUCE PETTY: Oh okay. Well, whatever he did –
JEREMY SALT: Whatever it is, right –
BRUCE PETTY: He did nail a few things on the door and it would be nice if they nailed a few things on -.
JEREMY SALT: I agree.
BRUCE PETTY: But –
JEREMY SALT: I agree. I agree. I totally agree that Islam has been taken over by arch conservatives, reactionaries, and these are people who interpret their own religion in a very selective way. And, if you actually go back to the earliest stages of Islam: You take up women’s rights, for example, women’s rights, the greatest scholars of the age, back in the western 13th or 12th century, took up these questions and what they had to say about women’s rights was extraordinary.
BRUCE PETTY: Really. That’s interesting.
JEREMY SALT: You know, they allowed contraception. One of the schools of law would allow abortion if the family was too big and they couldn’t deal with another child. They regarded the woman as a sexual creature, not just a chattel of man. Entitled to sexual satisfaction. And where do you get this in today’s Islam?
BRUCE PETTY: Exactly.
JEREMY SALT: Now these were the greatest figures of the age. The greatest thinkers of the age – the philosophers. That’s all kind of been whitewashed from their history.
BRUCE PETTY: [Inaudible]
JEREMY SALT: If you were going to draw a cartoon of the Caliph, sitting in Mosul – have you seen him?
BRUCE PETTY: No, I haven’t. I’ve seen a few.
JEREMY SALT: He was photographed kind of hectoring the crowds, wearing a very flash watch
BRUCE PETTY: Okay. Oh yeah, I remember that bit, yeah.
JEREMY SALT: I think it’s what I’d home in on, if I were a cartoonist.
BRUCE PETTY: Well, we’ve got a bit of a problem there about… because then you suddenly… got to be careful you’re not putting a case for the beheaders.
JEREMY SALT: Right.
BRUCE PETTY: You know.
JEREMY SALT: Mocking them is –
BRUCE PETTY: Mocking them if you can. But then, you have to watch your own head a little bit. Hebdo and all that stuff.
JEREMY SALT: Yeah.
BRUCE PETTY: But basically, I don’t know how you treat religion. I mean you sort of hope it would all modify a bit.
JEREMY SALT: Would you? I mean, I’ve got funny things – I’m not religious in the slightest bit – but I would not, myself, choose to insult Mohammed or Christ.
BRUCE PETTY: No.
JEREMY SALT: I wouldn’t see any point.
BRUCE PETTY: No.
JEREMY SALT: I’d go for the priests. I’d go for the Imams.
BRUCE PETTY: Yes.
JEREMY SALT: I’d go for the ayatollahs. They’re all fair game. Why would you want to go back to a foundational figure? And dump on that person? I mean that’s just a personal view of mine.
BRUCE PETTY: No, I agree with that one. I’d go along with it.
JEREMY SALT: I don’t quite get it.
BRUCE PETTY: No.
JEREMY SALT: They’re too far back in history.
BRUCE PETTY: And I quite like the hymns too, and the music.
JEREMY SALT: Ah, right.
BRUCE PETTY: The old cantatas.
JEREMY SALT: This must go back to your school days.
We must ask whether the Turnbull government acknowledges Turkey’s support for the Islamic State, and what action it intends to take against the Erdogan regime’s aggressive and destabilising behaviour. We must also ask whether the Australian airforce will continue to conduct bombing runs in coordination with the US coalition. Not only have Turkish actions put us in conflict with that coalition, operating out of Incirlik, but there is another danger. Russia has stated that there no further threats to Russian servicemen and assets will be tolerated, from unauthorised foreign parties.
I have previously made representations to you on the question of Australia’s policy on Syria and that of the Federal Labor Party, in particular through a media release on behalf of Australians for Reconciliation in Syria (AMRIS), for which I am a spokesman.
I have also presented ‘my case’ – which is Syria’s case – to the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, in correspondence over the last two years. My main concerns expressed in that correspondence have been regarding the false allegations over the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons, the improper recognition of external Opposition groups known as the ‘Syrian National Council’ as the ‘legitimate representatives of the Syrian people’, and Australia’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy and sovereign rights of the current Syrian government and its President Bashar al Assad, freely elected by a majority of the whole Syrian population in June 2014.
These concerns remain unchanged, as the position of the government and the Australian Labor Party remains the same, and lie at the heart of the current crisis.
There is however a reason why this problematic position must be challenged again, resulting from recent developments, and in particular Turkey’s provocation of shooting down the Russian bomber on November 24th, which Russia rightly regards as an act of war.
I would draw your attention here to a very detailed analysis by an aviation expert which proves to any sensible person that Turkey’s act was preplanned.(*1)
Following this strike, Russia responded in several ways, all of which must now be considered in relation to Australian involvement in the campaign ‘against Da’esh/IS’.
Firstly it deployed S400 missile systems in Syria, which enables Russia to shoot down any foreign aircraft which operate in Syrian airspace without authorisation from the Syrian government. Secondly Russia took immediate action over trade and relations with Turkey, including over the vital issue of gas supply contracts. And thirdly, President Putin very publicly revealed to an international audience in Paris the extent of the Turkish government’s involvement with the Islamic State, both in the export and marketing of Syrian and Iraqi oil with a tanker pipeline through Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, and with the purchasing and supply of shipments of arms over the border into Syria.
These startling revelations from Moscow, which were backed up with multiple sources of evidence of the illegal Oil trade, were vigorously denied by President Erdogan, who also refused to apologise for the downing of the Russian plane and killing of Russian servicemen by Turkish insurgents in Syria. While this was unsurprising given that Russia’s allegations were directly against Erdogan’s son Bilal, as well as against the Turkish intelligence service MIT, which has been exposed assisting with arms shipments as well as chemical weapons into Syria, the failure of Western leaders or Western media to react and respond appropriately to Turkey’s blatant support for IS and other terrorist armies in Syria was shocking.
It is however also bemusing, to find that the position of Western governments, particularly those of the US, UK and Australia, has become so contradictory, and still essentially unchanged. While we call for a global campaign against Islamic State, and prepare to send more military resources into Syria and Iraq to destroy it, we are effectively allied with Turkey, who has been supporting Da’esh and other terrorist groups – Jabhat al Nusra and Ahrar al Sham, for the last four years in Turkey’s campaign against the Syrian state. Meanwhile Russia, which operates legitimately in Syria at the invitation of the government, and in coordination with the Syrian army, has made huge gains in pushing back both the Turkish/Saudi backed ‘Army of Conquest’, and in destroying the Oil refineries and tanker pipelines of Da’esh.
The effectiveness of Russia’s bombing and cruise missile strikes on the Islamic State’s dirty trade not only raised the ire of its benefactor – Erdogan’s family business – but raises questions about the US ‘campaign against IS’ of which we are nominally a part.
There has however been another significant development, which raises particular questions about Australia’s current military deployment in Iraq. Apparently in cooperation with the Iraqi Kurdistan ‘regional government’, and its leader Barzani, Turkey moved 1200 troops and tanks and other assets into Mosul. This drew an immediate demand from the Baghdad government’s Haidar al Abadi that Turkey withdraw its forces, or face military action. Shiite militias who are operating in coordination with the Iraqi Army out of Baghdad, were particularly vocal in their protests against Turkey, as well as against the US. The Iraqi government was vigorously supported with mass public protests in the south of the country, and calls for direct action against Turkey’s invasion. Erdogan however not only refuses to withdraw his troops, which he claims are there to ‘train peshmerga forces to fight IS’, but has threatened to cut Iraq’s water supply through the Euphrates and Tigris rivers unless Iraq changes its position on support for Syria and Russia.
The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has repeatedly made clear that our commitment in Iraq and in Syria is strictly ‘in defence of Iraq’ but is also operating with the consent and at the behest of the Baghdad government. As the development outlined above now effectively puts Australia at odds with the ‘US coalition against Da’esh’ there is an urgent need for a clarification of Australia’s position, both on Turkey and on the Russian campaign supporting the Syrian army against ALL the terrorist groups fighting the Syrian government.
We must ask whether the Turnbull government acknowledges Turkey’s support for the Islamic State, and what action it intends to take against the Erdogan regime’s aggressive and destabilising behaviour. We must also ask whether the Australian airforce will continue to conduct bombing runs in coordination with the US coalition. Not only have Turkish actions put us in conflict with that coalition, operating out of Incirlik, but there is another danger. Russia has stated that there no further threats to Russian servicemen and assets will be tolerated, from unauthorised foreign parties.
Even if Australia limits its activities to strikes on Islamic State targets in Eastern Syria, this may bring us into the line of legitimate Russian fire. Other unidentified coalition partners last week struck a Syrian army base near Deir al Zour, in an act which enabled IS forces to overrun a long-protected village. As with Turkey’s illegal incursions, this attack on the SAA , which killed three men and injured a dozen, drew an immediate protest to the UN, but no action has been taken to identify the country or countries responsible. Neither has there been any explanation of why a member of the US coalition launched a strike on the SAA base which facilitated the operations of the IS terrorist group in the area where its Oil assets are located.
I trust that you will consider the case that I have made, and in the light of it perhaps reconsider the apparent support of the Labor party for the US led campaign, which quite evidently aims to replace Syria’s legitimately elected government with some group of Sunni officials approved by the very countries supporting the terrorist groups in Syria – Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.
I also urge you to give this matter urgent attention, despite the imminent Christmas break.
I have copied Julie Bishop into this letter, and would welcome a further response from her.
One point we’ve been particularly keen on driving home since the beginning of Russian airstrikes in Syria is that The Kremlin’s move to step in on behalf of Bashar al-Assad along with Vladimir Putin’s open “invitation” to Washington with regard to joining forces in the fight against terrorism effectively let the cat out of the proverbial bag. That is, it simply wasn’t possible for the US to explain why the Pentagon refused to partner with the Russians without admitting that i) the government views Assad, Russia, and Iran as a greater threat than ISIS, and ii) Washington and its regional allies don’t necessarily want to see Sunni extremism wiped out in Syria and Iraq. Article by Tyler Durden dated 31 October 2015 republished from Zero Hedge http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-31/congresswoman-calls-us-effort-oust-assad-illegal-accuses-cia-backing-terroists
Admitting either one of those points would be devastating from a PR perspective. No amount of Russophobic propaganda and/or looped video clips of the Ayatollah ranting against the US would be enough to convince the public that Moscow and Tehran are a greater threat than the black flag-waving jihadists beheading Westerners and burning Jordanian pilots alive in Hollywood-esque video clips, and so, The White House has been forced to scramble around in a desperate attempt to salvage the narrative.
Well, it hasn’t worked.
With each passing week, more and more people are beginning to ask the kinds of questions the Pentagon and CIA most assuredly do not want to answer and now, US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is out calling Washington’s effort to oust Assad both “counterproductive” and “illegal.” In the following priceless video clip, Gabbard accuses the CIA of arming the very same terrorists who The White House insists are "our sworn enemy" and all but tells the American public that the government is lying to them and may end up inadvertently starting “World War III.”
And that might explain why the US decided to bomb Aleppo’s main power plant last week plunging the entire city into darkness; because Obama wants to “rubbleize” everything on his way out. Keep in mind, that the local water treatment plants require electrical power, so by blowing up the plant, Obama has condemned tens of thousands of civilians to cholera and other water-born diseases.
We have limited goods to consume, with limited resources of fuel and water. Prices are jumping higher for almost everything. I hope that situation to end soon.
It's getting worse day after day since roughly the 23rd or 24th of Oct. Prices of everything are getting higher and higher day after day. The generators that used to supply houses with power for 10 hours a day, are now supplying us with 6.5 hours for the same price of 10 hours. Blackmailing in markets for all goods is taking place. We are under siege since then. 'Crisis Merchants' are squeezing the pockets of the people to the last penny.
I'm optimistic that it shouldn't take longer time, but people are pretty passive, and some are saying that it could get worse or last for months. Many are stuck over here now and cannot go elsewhere even if they have some other place to flee. I think the city went through tougher times in the last years, and hopefully we will come out of that hard situation soon. Jets are bombarding terrorist areas more often, and the terrorists are shelling residential areas as well.
During the last days a large attack on the Syrian government supply line to Aleppo city was carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra (aka al-Qaeda in Syria) and the Islamic State seemingly in coordination with the U.S. military.
During September the U.S. anti-IS coalition carried out an average of 4.2 airstrikes on IS in predominately east Syria. This after an average of 6.8 per day in August. The rate in October was about the same as in September until Thursday October 22. Then, according to the U.S. Military Times, the strike rate decreased markedly:
~4 strikes per day up to Oct 20 4 - Oct 20 Tuesday 8 - Oct 21 Wednesday 1 - Oct 22 Thursday 0 - Oct 23 Friday 0 - Oct 24 Saturday 0 - Oct 26 Sunday 1 - Oct 27 Monday 0 - Oct 28 Tuesday 0 - Oct 29 Wednesday
The Islamic State used the lull in airstrikes in east Syria to move hundreds of fighters and heavy equipment towards the supply line that connects Damascus with the government held areas (green) of Aleppo.
After two days of no U.S. airstrikes in east Syria the Islamic State (purple) attacked the government supply corridor from the east while at the same time and at the same main point Jabhat al-Nusra (orange) attacked the supply corridor from the west. The attacks started with suicide car bombs against Syrian army checkpoints which suddenly had to defend themselves to the front and the rear.
For the first time in three months, the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) main supply route along the Khanasser Highway was closed due to an obstruction by the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS); this chaotic situation forced the pro-government forces to call on hundreds of reinforcements from the Aleppo Governorate to help push back the encroaching terrorists.
Initially, the Syrian Armed Forces were successful in repelling both ISIS and the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” after they attacked from different axes in the Hama Governorate; however, ISIS regrouped near the Al-Raqqa Governorate border in order to launch another massive assault on the Khanasser Highway.
ISIS’ second assault on the Syrian Armed Forces’ defensive positions proved successful, as they cutoff the Khanasser Highway and pushed further west towards the strategic city of Ithriyah in east Hama.
The Islamic State fighters killed about a dozen government troops and captured several armed vehicles (gruesome photos here).
The Syrian army send reinforcements from the Palestinian resistance militia Liwaa Al-Quds to help clear the road. This was only somewhat successful as bad weather and a sandstrom on the 25th prevented air support.
The operations room in Damascus was not too unhappy with the situation even though the road was still cut. The thought was that having IS and Nusra fighters concentrated in an otherwise wide open rural area would help to eliminate them. On the 26th and 27the Russian and Syrian air forces flew some 90 attacks within 24 hours against the enemy held parts of the road.
These attacks cleared the IS held parts of the road but the Islamic State concentrated more forces on another part of the road further north and on October 27 it suicide-bombed another government checkpoint and again blocked the road. Additional support from Hizbullah arrived during the next days and the road is now mostly cleared though still endangered.
The closed supply route led to hardship for the nearly two million people in the government held parts of Aleppo as prices for produce and gasoline exploded.
The operations room in Damascus where Syria, Iran, Russia and Hizbullah coordinate the intelligence and operations in Syria suspects that the attack on the supply corridor was coordinated at a higher level than just between Nusra and the Islamic State.
The total cessation of U.S. air attacks on east Syria allowed the Islamic State to move hundreds of fighters and heavy equipment like tanks and cannons from its stronghold in Raqqa city to the west of Syria. At the same time Jabhat al-Nusra brought hundreds of fighters from other fronts south-eastward for its part of the attack. It is difficult to believe that these were just unrelated coincidences.
Posted by b on October 30, 2015 at 05:51 AM | Permalink
This important article, republished from Counterpunch documents new evidence indicating that Turkey, (Australia's ally), was probably responsible for the war-crime of using sarin gas against Syrians, an act which the western press has repeatedly accused the Syrian Government and used to justify the west's support for war against it. In Turkey, two deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have claimed that the Turkish government is against investigating Turkey’s role in sending toxic sarin gas which was used in an attack on civilians in Syria in 2013 and in which over 1,300 Syrians were killed. CHP deputy Seker spoke after Erdem, pointing out that the government misled the public on the issue by asserting that sarin was provided by Russia. The purpose was to create the perception that, according to ?eker, “Assad killed his people with sarin and that requires a US military intervention in Syria.” He also underlined that all of the files and evidence from the investigation show a war crime was committed within the borders of the Turkish Republic. “The investigation clearly indicates that those people who smuggled the chemicals required to procure sarin faced no difficulties, proving that Turkish intelligence was aware of their activities. While these people had to be in prison for their illegal acts, not a single person is in jail. Former prime ministers and the interior minister should be held accountable for their negligence in the incident,” Seker further commented. Full article inside. - This introduction by candobetter.net editor.
This is quite the bombshell delivered by two CHP deputies in the Turkish parliament and reported by Today’s Zaman, one of the top dailies in Turkey.
It supports Seymour Hersh’s reporting that the notorious sarin gas attack at Ghouta was a false flag orchestrated by Turkish intelligence in order to cross President Obama’s chemical weapons “red line” and draw the United States into the Syria war to topple Assad.
If so, President Obama deserves credit for “holding the line” against the attack despite the grumbling and incitement of the Syria hawks at home and abroad.
And it also presents the unsavory picture of an al-Qaeda operatives colluding with ISIL in a war crime that killed 1300 civilians.
I find the report credible, taking into full account the fact that the CHP (Erdogan’s center-left Kemalist rivals) and Today’s Zaman (whose editor-in-chief, Bulent Kenes was recently detained on live TV for insulting Erdogan in a tweet) are on the outs with Erdogan.
Considering the furious reaction it can be expected to elicit from Erdogan and the Turkish government, the temerity of CHP and Today’s Zaman in running with this story is a sign of how desperate their struggle against Erdogan has become. Note that the author is shown only as “Columnist: Today’s Zaman”.
I expect the anti-Erodgan forces hope this will be a game changer in terms of U.S.and European support for Erdogan.
It will be very interesting to see if and how the media in the U.S. covers this story. In case it doesn’t acquire enough “legs” to make into US media, I attach the full Zaman piece below:
CHP deputies: Gov’t rejects probe into Turkey’s role in Syrian chemical attack
Two deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have claimed that the government is against investigating Turkey’s role in sending toxic sarin gas which was used in an attack on civilians in Syria in 2013 and in which over 1,300 Syrians were killed.
CHP deputies Eren Erdem and Ali ?eker held a press conference in ?stanbul on Wednesday in which they claimed the investigation into allegations regarding Turkey’s involvement in the procurement of sarin gas which was used in the chemical attack on a civil population and delivered to the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to enable the attack was derailed.
Taking the floor first, Erdem stated that the Adana Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into allegations that sarin was sent to Syria from Turkey via several businessmen. An indictment followed regarding the accusations targeting the government.
“The MKE [Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation] is also an actor that is mentioned in the investigation file. Here is the indictment. All the details about how sarin was procured in Turkey and delivered to the terrorists, along with audio recordings, are inside the file,” Erdem said while waving the file.
Erdem also noted that the prosecutor’s office conducted detailed technical surveillance and found that an al-Qaeda militant, Hayyam Kasap, acquired sarin, adding: “Wiretapped phone conversations reveal the process of procuring the gas at specific addresses as well as the process of procuring the rockets that would fire the capsules containing the toxic gas. However, despite such solid evidence there has been no arrest in the case. Thirteen individuals were arrested during the first stage of the investigation but were later released, refuting government claims that it is fighting terrorism,” Erdem noted.
Over 1,300 people were killed in the sarin gas attack in Ghouta and several other neighborhoods near the Syrian capital of Damascus, with the West quickly blaming the regime of Bashar al-Assad and Russia claiming it was a “false flag” operation aimed at making US military intervention in Syria possible.
Suburbs near Damascus were struck by rockets containing the toxic sarin gas in August 2013.
The purpose of the attack was allegedly to provoke a US military operation in Syria which would topple the Assad regime in line with the political agenda of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and his government.
CHP deputy Seker spoke after Erdem, pointing out that the government misled the public on the issue by asserting that sarin was provided by Russia. The purpose was to create the perception that, according to ?eker, “Assad killed his people with sarin and that requires a US military intervention in Syria.”
He also underlined that all of the files and evidence from the investigation show a war crime was committed within the borders of the Turkish Republic.
“The investigation clearly indicates that those people who smuggled the chemicals required to procure sarin faced no difficulties, proving that Turkish intelligence was aware of their activities. While these people had to be in prison for their illegal acts, not a single person is in jail. Former prime ministers and the interior minister should be held accountable for their negligence in the incident,” ?eker further commented.
Erdem also added that he will launch a criminal complaint against those responsible, including those who issued a verdict of non-prosecution in the case, those who did not prevent the transfer of chemicals and those who first ordered the arrest of the suspects who were later released.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced in late August that an inquiry had been launched into the gas attacks allegedly perpetuated by both Assad’s Syrian regime and rebel groups fighting in Syria since the civil war erupted in 2011.
However, Erdem is not the only figure who has accused Turkey of possible involvement in the gas attack. Pulitzer Prize winner and journalist, Seymour M. Hersh, argued in an article published in 2014 that M?T was involved with extremist Syrian groups fighting against the Assad regime.
In his article, Hersh said Assad was not behind the attack, as claimed by the US and Europe, but that Turkish-Syrian opposition collaboration was trying to provoke a US intervention in Syria in order to bring down the Assad regime.
Peter Lee edits China Matters and writes about Asia for CounterPunch.
The next really big difference between Palestinians and ISIS is that ISIS is composed of jihadi "foreign fighters" and mercenaries who are in it for the bucks -- and, yes, for the raping and pillaging aspect too. On the other hand, Palestinians have spent the last 65 years protesting against their own enslavement and genocide by a neo-colonialist power with no heart. "If force doesn't work, use more force," is the current policy of Israeli neo-colonialists.
For the past 65 years, Palestinians have been brutalized, robbed and enslaved by Zionist neo-colonialists armed to the teeth with panzer divisions, gestapos, concentration camps, blitzkriegs, chemical weapons and storm troopers. And now Palestinians are fighting back with stones, knives and their bare hands -- just like back when the slave Spartacus finally told the Romans, "Enough!"
"What did you think, the Palestinians would sit still indefinitely?" says Gideon Levy's latest article in Haaretz. "Did you really think Israel would continue on its course and they’d just bow their heads in submission? Jerusalem has become the capital of apartheid. No other city so discriminates and dispossesses or is so violent. Gun-toting Mayor Nir Barkat, who’s largely responsible for the discrimination and dispossession in his city, incites against a third of its population — an unbelievable phenomenon in its own right. And you thought 300,000 people would acquiesce?" http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.680443
"But aren't Palestinians being anti-Semitic?" you might ask me at this point. Yes and no. Yes, there is a Spartacus-like slave rebellion taking place in Jerusalem right now, against a supposedly Jewish state. So on the face of things, this rebellion does actually look kind of anti-Semitic.
But, no, the current Palestinian rebellion isn't anti-Semitic at all -- because the self-styled "Chosen People" master-race wannabees who currently control Israel have poisoned what used to be the shining ideal of a Jewish State and now, under these oligarchs' thumb, Israel has degenerated into just one more dying slave-state carcass whose ideals have been compromised. Israel today is no more a Jewish state than the greedy oligarchs who viciously put down Spartacus's rebellion were supporters of the ideal of a shining Roman democracy.
"But aren't Palestinians all just a bunch of terrorists who go around knifing Israeli soldiers?" you might finally ask me in desperation. Knifing soldiers? Really? You are complaining that Palestinians are now using kitchen knives to defend their families against fully-armored storm troopers and panzer divisions who kill their children, enslave their adults and steal their land? Really?
Hell, Spartacus used a knife to rebel against slavery too. I rest my case.
Having brought chaos, lawlessness and terrorism into Libya and Iraq, the United States is now trying to do the same in Syria. Europe has become fed up with Washington’s wrongdoings and says Russia should become a new world leader, Czech journalist Jiri Vyvadil wrote for newspaperParlamentnilisty.cz.
The White House wants the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad gone and will do whatever it takes to achieve its objective — even arm Islamic militants to fight against government troops, creating a civil war that resulted in millions of people fleeing the country to save their lives.
Washington’s method of conducting foreign policy is to create chaos at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and destroy entire countries in the name of US economic and political interests. However, the US has constantly failed at it — all of its wars in the last two decades have ended in a fiasco, but Washington still hasn’t learned and keeps sticking to the same destructive policy which hasn’t worked, the Czech newspaper said. This article first published on NOVOROSSIA TODAY at http://novorossia.today/czech-media-world-leadership-should-be-given-to-russia-not-the-united-states/?_utl_t=fb on October 3, 2015.
There is only one solution Vyvadil argues and that’s to ditch the United States, as Washington has miserably failed as the leader of the international community.
“Leadership has to be given to Russia,” the journalist said, as cited by Parlamentnilisty.cz.
The author argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin, unlike his US colleague, has shown that he cares about problems in the Middle East and most importantly he understands that the refugee crisis in Europe and the rise of ISIL are tightly interconnected, and that’s the only way to solve these problems is to support the legitimately elected government of al-Assad and his national army. Putin has also shown that he can talk with Israel and take into account the interests of Iranian and Iraqi leaders.
If Europe continues to blindly follow Washington’s leash, the number of refugees fleeing from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe will keep growing further. Nothing will stop them — no fences, no security guards, no refugee receiving stations, the Czech journalist warned.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Monday and said sadly that the West was making an "enormous mistake" by not cooperating with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the struggle against ISIS. With regard to US-NATO conduct in Middle Eastern affairs he said,“I cannot help asking those who have caused this situation: Do you realize now what you have done? [...] "[...]It is hypocritical and irresponsible to make loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism while turning a blind eye to the channels of financing and supporting terrorists, including the process of trafficking and illicit trade in oil and arms. It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one's service in order to achieve one's own political goals in the hope of later dealing with them or, in other words, liquidating them. To those who do so, I would like to say — dear sirs, no doubt you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they're in no way primitive or silly. They are just as clever as you are, and you never know who is manipulating whom. And the recent data on arms transferred to this most moderate opposition is the best proof of it."
PUTIN (via interpreter): Your excellency Mr. President, your excellency Mr. Secretary General, distinguished heads of state and government, ladies and gentlemen, the 70th anniversary of the United Nations is a good occasion to both take stock of history and talk about our common future.
In 1945, the countries that defeated Nazism joined their efforts to lay solid foundations for the postwar world order.
But I remind you that the key decisions on the principles guiding the cooperation among states, as well as on the establishment of the United Nations, were made in our country, in Yalta, at the meeting of the anti-Hitler coalition leaders.
The Yalta system was actually born in travail. It was won at the cost of tens of millions of lives and two world wars.
This swept through the planet in the 20th century.
Let us be fair. It helped humanity through turbulent, at times dramatic, events of the last seven decades. It saved the world from large-scale upheavals.
The United Nations is unique in its legitimacy, representation and universality. It is true that lately the U.N. has been widely criticized for supposedly not being efficient enough, and for the fact that the decision-making on fundamental issues stalls due to insurmountable differences, first of all, among the members of the Security Council.
However, I'd like to point out there have always been differences in the U.N. throughout all these 70 years of existence. The veto right has always been exercised by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, the Soviet Union and Russia later, alike. It is absolutely natural for so diverse and representative an organization.
When the U.N. was established, its founders did not in the least think that there would always be unanimity. The mission of the organization is to seek and reach compromises, and its strength comes from taking different views and opinions into consideration. Decisions debated within the U.N. are either taken as resolutions or not. As diplomats say, they either pass or do not pass.
Whatever actions any state might take bypassing this procedure are illegitimate. They run counter to the charter and defy international law. We all know that after the end of the Cold War — everyone is aware of that — a single center of domination emerged in the world, and then those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think that if they were strong and exceptional, they knew better and they did not have to reckon with the U.N., which, instead of [acting to] automatically authorize and legitimize the necessary decisions, often creates obstacles or, in other words, stands in the way.
It has now become commonplace to see that in its original form, it has become obsolete and completed its historical mission. Of course, the world is changing and the U.N. must be consistent with this natural transformation. Russia stands ready to work together with its partners on the basis of full consensus, but we consider the attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous. They could lead to a collapse of the entire architecture of international organizations, and then indeed there would be no other rules left but the rule of force.
We would get a world dominated by selfishness rather than collective work, a world increasingly characterized by dictate rather than equality. There would be less of a chain of democracy and freedom, and that would be a world where true independent states would be replaced by an ever-growing number of de facto protectorates and externally controlled territories.
What is the state sovereignty, after all, that has been mentioned by our colleagues here? It is basically about freedom and the right to choose freely one's own future for every person, nation and state. By the way, dear colleagues, the same holds true of the question of the so-called legitimacy of state authority. One should not play with or manipulate words.
Every term in international law and international affairs should be clear, transparent and have uniformly understood criteria. We are all different, and we should respect that. No one has to conform to a single development model that someone has once and for all recognized as the only right one. We should all remember what our past has taught us.
We also remember certain episodes from the history of the Soviet Union. Social experiments for export, attempts to push for changes within other countries based on ideological preferences, often led to tragic consequences and to degradation rather than progress.
It seemed, however, that far from learning from others' mistakes, everyone just keeps repeating them, and so the export of revolutions, this time of so-called democratic ones, continues. It would suffice to look at the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, as has been mentioned by previous speakers. Certainly political and social problems in this region have been piling up for a long time, and people there wish for changes naturally.
But how did it actually turn out? Rather than bringing about reforms, an aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster. Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.
I cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realize now what you've done? But I am afraid no one is going to answer that. Indeed, policies based on self-conceit and belief in one's exceptionality and impunity have never been abandoned.
It is now obvious that the power vacuum created in some countries of the Middle East and North Africa through the emergence of anarchy areas, which immediately started to be filled with extremists and terrorists.
Tens of thousands of militants are fighting under the banners of the so-called Islamic State. Its ranks include former Iraqi servicemen who were thrown out into the street after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many recruits also come from Libya, a country whose statehood was destroyed as a result of a gross violation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. And now, the ranks of radicals are being joined by the members of the so-called moderate Syrian opposition supported by the Western countries.
First, they are armed and trained and then they defect to the so-called Islamic State. Besides, the Islamic State itself did not just come from nowhere. It was also initially forged as a tool against undesirable secular regimes.
Having established a foothold in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has begun actively expanding to other regions. It is seeking dominance in the Islamic world. And not only there, and its plans go further than that. The situation is more than dangerous.
In these circumstances, it is hypocritical and irresponsible to make loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism while turning a blind eye to the channels of financing and supporting terrorists, including the process of trafficking and illicit trade in oil and arms. It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one's service in order to achieve one's own political goals in the hope of later dealing with them or, in other words, liquidating them.
To those who do so, I would like to say — dear sirs, no doubt you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they're in no way primitive or silly. They are just as clever as you are, and you never know who is manipulating whom. And the recent data on arms transferred to this most moderate opposition is the best proof of it.
We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted, but fire hazardous (ph). This may result in the global terrorist threat increasing dramatically and engulfing new regions, especially given that Islamic State camps train militants from many countries, including the European countries.
Unfortunately, dear colleagues, I have to put it frankly: Russia is not an exception. We cannot allow these criminals who already tasted blood to return back home and continue their evil doings. No one wants this to happen, does he?
Russia has always been consistently fighting against terrorism in all its forms. Today, we provide military and technical assistance both to Iraq and Syria and many other countries of the region who are fighting terrorist groups.
We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face. We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad's armed forces and Kurds (ph) militias are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria.
We know about all the problems and contradictions in the region, but which were (ph) based on the reality.
Dear colleagues, I must note that such an honest and frank approach of Russia has been recently used as a pretext to accuse it of its growing ambitions, as if those who say it have no ambitions at all.
However, it's not about Russia's ambitions, dear colleagues, but about the recognition of the fact that we can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world. What we actually propose is to be guided by common values and common interests, rather than ambitions.
On the basis of international law, we must join efforts to address the problems that all of us are facing and create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism.
Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of forces that are resolutely resisting those who, just like the Nazis, sow evil and hatred of humankind. And, naturally, the Muslim countries are to play a key role in the coalition, even more so because the Islamic State does not only pose a direct threat to them, but also desecrates one of the greatest world religions by its bloody crimes.
The ideologists (ph) of militants make a mockery of Islam and pervert its true humanistic (ph) values. I would like to address Muslim spiritual leaders, as well. Your authority and your guidance are of great importance right now.
It is essential to prevent people recruited by militants from making hasty decisions and those who have already been deceived, and who, due to various circumstances found themselves among terrorists, need help in finding a way back to normal life, laying down arms, and putting an end to fratricide.
Russia will shortly convene, as the (ph) current president of the Security Council, a ministerial meeting to carry out a comprehensive analysis of threats in the Middle East.
First of all, we propose discussing whether it is possible to agree on a resolution aimed at coordinating the actions of all the forces that confront the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations. Once again, this coordination should be based on the principles of the U.N. Charter.
We hope that the international community will be able to develop a comprehensive strategy of political stabilization, as well as social and economic recovery, of the Middle East.
Then, dear friends, there would be no need for new refugee camps. Today, the flow of people who were forced to leave their homeland has literally engulfed first neighboring countries and then Europe itself. There were hundreds of thousands of them now, and there might be millions before long. In fact, it is a new great and tragic migration of peoples, and it is a harsh lesson for all of us, including Europe.
I would like to stress refugees undoubtedly need our compassion and support. However, the — on the way to solve this problem at a fundamental level is to restore their statehood where it has been destroyed, to strengthen the government institutions where they still exist or are being reestablished, to provide comprehensive assistance of military, economic and material nature to countries in a difficult situation. And certainly, to those people who, despite all the ordeals, will not abandon their homes. Literally, any assistance to sovereign states can and must be offered rather than imposed exclusively and solely in accordance with the U.N. Charter.
In other words, everything in this field that has been done or will be done pursuant to the norms of international law must be supported by our organization. Everything that contravenes the U.N. Charter must be rejected. Above all, I believe it is of the utmost importance to help restore government's institutions in Libya, support the new government of Iraq and provide comprehensive assistance to the legitimate government of Syria.
Dear colleagues, ensuring peace and regional and global stability remains the key objective of the international community with the U.N. at its helm. We believe this means creating a space of equal and indivisible security, which is not for the select few but for everyone. Yet, it is a challenge and complicated and time-consuming task, but there is simply no other alternative. However, the bloc thinking of the times of the Cold War and the desire to explore new geopolitical areas is still present among some of our colleagues.
First, they continue their policy of expanding NATO. What for? If the Warsaw Bloc stopped its existence, the Soviet Union have collapsed (ph) and, nevertheless, the NATO continues expanding as well as its military infrastructure. Then they offered the poor Soviet countries a false choice: either to be with the West or with the East. Sooner or later, this logic of confrontation was bound to spark off a grave geopolitical crisis. This is exactly what happened in Ukraine, where the discontent of population with the current authorities was used and the military coup was orchestrated from outside — that triggered a civil war as a result.
We're confident that only through full and faithful implementation of the Minsk agreements of February 12th, 2015, can we put an end to the bloodshed and find a way out of the deadlock. Ukraine's territorial integrity cannot be ensured by threat of force and force of arms. What is needed is a genuine consideration for the interests and rights of the people in the Donbas region and respect for their choice. There is a need to coordinate with them as provided for by the Minsk agreements, the key elements of the country's political structure. These steps will guarantee that Ukraine will develop as a civilized society, as an essential link and building a common space of security and economic cooperation, both in Europe and in Eurasia.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have mentioned these common space of economic cooperation on purpose. Not long ago, it seemed that in the economic sphere, with its objective market loss, we would launch a leaf (ph) without dividing lines. We would build on transparent and jointly formulated rules, including the WTO principles, stipulating the freedom of trade, and investment and open competition.
Nevertheless, today, unilateral sanctions circumventing the U.N. Charter have become commonplace, in addition to pursuing political objectives. The sanctions serve as a means of eliminating competitors.
I would like to point out another sign of a growing economic selfishness. Some countries [have] chosen to create closed economic associations, with the establishment being negotiated behind the scenes, in secret from those countries' own citizens, the general public, business community and from other countries.
Other states whose interests may be affected are not informed of anything, either. It seems that we are about to be faced with an accomplished fact that the rules of the game have been changed in favor of a narrow group of the privileged, with the WTO having no say. This could unbalance the trade system completely and disintegrate the global economic space.
These issues affect the interest of all states and influence the future of the world economy as a whole. That is why we propose discussing them within the U.N. WTO NGO (ph) '20.
Contrary to the policy of exclusiveness, Russia proposes harmonizing original economic projects. I refer to the so-called integration of integrations based on universal and transparent rules of international trade. As an example, I would like to cite our plans to interconnect the Eurasian economic union, and China's initiative of the Silk Road economic belt.
We still believe that harmonizing the integration processes within the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union is highly promising.
Ladies and gentlemen, the issues that affect the future of all people include the challenge of global climate change. It is in our interest to make the U.N. Climate Change Conference to be held in December in Paris a success.
As part of our national contribution, we plan to reduce by 2030 the greenhouse emissions to 70, 75 percent of the 1990 level.
I suggest, however, we should take a wider view on this issue. Yes, we might defuse the problem for a while, by setting quotas on harmful emissions or by taking other measures that are nothing but tactical. But we will not solve it that way. We need a completely different approach.
We have to focus on introducing fundamental and new technologies inspired by nature, which would not damage the environment, but would be in harmony with it. Also, that would allow us to restore the balance upset by biosphere and technosphere (ph) upset by human activities.
It is indeed a challenge of planetary scope, but I'm confident that humankind has intellectual potential to address it. We need to join our efforts. I refer, first of all, to the states that have a solid research basis and have made significant advances in fundamental science.
We propose convening a special forum under the U.N. auspices for a comprehensive consideration of the issues related to the depletion of natural resources, destruction of habitat and climate change.
Russia would be ready to co-sponsor such a forum.
Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, it was on the 10th of January, 1946, in London that the U.N. General Assembly gathered for its first session.
Mr. Suleta (ph) (inaudible), a Colombian diplomat and the chairman of the Preparatory Commission, opened the session by giving, I believe, a concise definition of the basic principles that the U.N. should follow in its activities, which are free will, defiance of scheming and trickery and spirit of cooperation.
Today, his words sound as a guidance for all of us. Russia believes in the huge potential of the United Nations, which should help us avoid a new global confrontation and engage in strategic cooperation. Together with other countries, we will consistently work towards strengthening the central coordinating role of the U.N. I'm confident that by working together, we will make the world stable and safe, as well as provide conditions for the development of all states and nations.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights and Irin both purport to be disinterested information sources on conflict in Syria and boast that the UN relies on them as its primary source. But they are not disinterested. There is abundant evidence that they promote the 'rebel' or terrorist side of the conflict and that their funding is from organisations and countries aligned with US-NATO support for aggression in the region. They are in fact promoting war propaganda against Syria and it is amazing that people one would expect to be more discerning, take this on face value. In this article I try to find out why Tim Costello, of World Vision, came to accuse the Syrian government of killing more people than ISIS without taking into account that these deeds were actions by a national army defending its people from multiple assaults by violent gangs, including ISIS, many of them supported by US-NATO funding and arms.
"Question for Tim Costello: Why does World Vision ignore analysis on the war in Syria (it seems to me) and instead repeat the claims of 'rebel' supporters and western politicians with no scrutiny, and in so doing World Vision ignores experts, for example MIT's Prof Ted Postol and former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1006045-possible-implications-of-bad-intelligence.html and more importantly it ignores millions of Syrians who take refuge in government controlled cities and towns, such as Damascus, Hama and Latakia? Australians should be aware of the terror and fear faced by those Syrians who don't support 'rebels', men with guns who depend on foreign money, clerics who incite the killings of civilians (leading to killing fields), foreign jihadis and the foreign policy of US neocons?" (Susan Dirgham on QandA facebook in response to Tim Costello's remarks on QandA of 14 September 2015.)
QandA, the very popular Australian TV program on public television, on 14 September 2015, dealt with the question of bombing ISIS in Syria without the Syrian government’s permission, supposedly at the invitation of Syria’s neighbour Iraq asking for help. (Program link here.)
World Vision's ambiguous message
Tim Costello, the CEO of the 'community development organisation World Vision', spoke generally against interventions and bombing in general, saying correctly that war survives on arms manufacture and that the US and Russia account for 60% of arms exports, and that the arms are funnelled by the US and Europe via Saudi Arabia and by Russia ‘with’ Iran. He stated that the war has now killed 250,000 people and that there are 16 m Syrians in need of humanitarian relief. Failing to note that Syrian Government is helping many millions itself, he said, “We are working there and in the camps.” He suggested that the war could only end if ‘Putin and Obama’ came to the decision not to send any more arms. He then repeated, apparently gratuitously, a new piece of war propaganda against the Syrian Government, with, “You’re right, Assad has killed, this year, seven times more people than ISIS has.”
Origin of war slogan circulated by mass media and 'trusted' 'authorities'
Now where did that ‘information’ come from and what did it mean? Although the same phrase was quoted as far and wide as the Washington Post and the International Business Times, it seems to have come from two NGOs which profess to be neutral but which clearly support ‘rebel’ terrorism against the Syrian Government.
These organisations are the Syrian Network for Human Rights and Irin - a corporate subsidised branch of a UN publication. They are 'responsible' for almost all 'fact and opinion' cited by the western mainstream and the UN on Syria.
World Vision, by taking sides. could cause more deaths than it prevents
Tim Costello's remarks, arguing against war on the one hand, but demonising an elected government on the other hand, cancel each other out and pose no effective logical obstacle to Australia’s illegal entry into Syrian airspace. They show that the CEO of World Vision has taken sides in a war against a legally elected government which provides with the Syrian national army the only safe haven for 70 to 80 percent of the population against terrorists which ‘our side’ calls ‘rebels’, ‘moderates’ and Da’esh. World Vision should maintain impartiality in all wars because it expects to have access to people in need in territories at war and cannot be trusted if it takes sides. World Vision also solicits donations all over the world on the principle that it is a trustworthy force doing good in conflict zones and refugee camps. It was therefore alarming that Costello spoke against the elected Assad Government, whilst ostensibly talking down war.
Shadie Taled's logical and important challenge to war propaganda
On the same episode of QandA there was a video question from Shadie Taled, who said, under the heading, “Assad is fighting ISIS”, that, “Statistics suggest that most Syrians, my father included, support Dr Bashar Al Assad, even though he has been labelled by the West as a dictator, despite the lack of information and evidence to suggest so. If we genuinely cared about Syrian citizens and were serious about combating ISIS, why haven't we considered supporting Dr Assad who has been fighting ISIS for years? https://www.facebook.com/abcqanda/posts/10152989388771831
After this impressive videoed question/statement, the members of the ‘expert’ panel, to a man or woman, including famed 'peace' activist, Joan Baez, completely ignored this Mr Taled's burning question. It was a remarkable televised demonstration of ‘selective perception’; how people simply choose not to see or hear things that contradict a particular bias. However the same panel agreed with lengthy remarks from two members of the audience, who called for the bombing and removal of the Syrian Government.
Syrian point of view suppressed
There were several Syrians in the audience who, like Mr Taled, held the opposite view and wanted to express this. We must remember that they had come to that studio in an effort to stop further destruction of their country. Although they had been invited to the studio, they were not given the chance. They were extremely disappointed, with one describing their treatment as ‘appalling’.
Experts or war-mules?
Although I am used to seeing and hearing constant propaganda about Syria on Australian and US media, I was dumbfounded by the crassness of the propaganda that came out of Tim Costello and other panelists’ mouths because I realised that it would be used to help justify the Australian airforce invasion of Syria on the flimsiest of pretexts and would decrease the ability of the Syrian Army to defend the Syrian people. To me there is no excuse for educated people to market propaganda in a war because they have every opportunity to find out the other side. Were none of these irresponsibly arrogant 'experts' capable of looking at RT or Iranian Press TV or the numerous citizen reports on you-tube or studying the many detailed interviews given by President Bashar al-Assad? Were they completely ignorant of the June 2014 elections where he was resoundingly re-elected in elections that were monitored by international observers who reported to the UN? Could they possibly be unaware of the role of our criminal ally, the grotesquely brutal Saudi Arabia dictatorship, in financing the attempted destruction of Syria and the obliteration of Yemen?
Each member of the panel came out damning the Syrian government and thereby providing positive propaganda for the Australian Government’s invasion of Syria purportedly in defense of Iraq, but with a stated desire to see the ‘Assad regime’ removed. The consequences of such a role could not just mean many millions more refugees and economic migrants from a devastated territory, but a new world war over this region so bitterly contested by world powers. In the short term it could mean the survival or obscene destruction of one of the oldest civilisations in the world and its people. It therefore seems to me that to repeat allegations that justify illegal invasion or comfort aggression by the questionable painting of a leader of an elected government as evil is a war crime.
 The Washington Post used the remark in a big article about a battle in Douma, which quotes its source as, "Syrian Network for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain."
 Note that anyone including many business organisations or governments may become partners and supporters of the United Nations and advertise themselves as such. All kinds of businesses do, including disaster capitalists, awful government departments and propaganda units. The UN has “corporate, government, community and media partners as well as our supporters whose generous support ensures the ongoing success of our many programs and activities.” That is not to say that there are not good things about the UN; just that you need to be sure which bit of the UN you are dealing with who their donors are.
The Syrian network for Human Rights and Irin involved in promoting the Syrian Government as worse than ISIS describe themselves as impartial on their websites, but their statements elsewhere show them to be pro-‘rebel’; Prepared to accept US military strikes at any cost, including the destruction of Syria.
“But Fadel Abdul Ghani of the Syrian Network for Human Rights told me that he and his group feel that a likely post-attack surge in Syrian refugees and possible deaths resulting from U.S. strikes are still preferable to doing nothing.
 BOURAN ALMIZIAB: "They are - they are brutal. They are - they are the worst kind of people. We acknowledge that. But before ISIS, tens of thousands of Syrians were killed. Why wasn't there any kind of intervention before? Why is it only ISIS that's the lights are spot on ISIS? We were killed before that. We were killed in tens of thousands, massacres, chemicals, bombs. Everything you call - everything that's in the book, we were there. Tens of thousands of Syrians were killed in jails. They were starved. They were tortured and then they died slowly. Why is it only ISIS being targeted? Why isn't it the Assad regime targeted as well? [...]"
The only real difference between King Herod in the Bible and Bibi Netanyahu in Tel Aviv today is that Bibi has a much better public-relations team. Does Netanyahu now suffer from buyers' remorse after killing all those babies in Palestine during the past few years? Hardly. Not if he can fix it with propaganda!
After Netanyahu (and the rest of that sleazy neo-colonialist gang who have seized control of Israel) had so much fun blowing up, murdering and/or maiming approximately one thousand Palestinian children in the past two years, Bibi suddenly started to get a bit worried about his current international image as a baby-killer, right? Just look at all the bad press that Herod received after doing the exact same thing! http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/09/18/429769/Israeli-soldiers-Aqsa-mosque-Jerusalem
So Netanyahu got to worrying that he too might go down in history as the 2.0 version of King Herod.
And so he put all his vast propaganda weapons and skills to work in order to dispel all of this latest "anti-Semitic" talk from people who actually objected to babies being maimed, burned alive and killed. "I've got an idea," said one of Bibi's propaganda guys. "How about that we publish a children's book showing Israeli soldiers rescuing abandoned kittens in Gaza?" http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4694647,00.html
And that makes it okay to slaughter a few hundred Palestinian children and maiming over a thousand more?
I guess so.
"By massacring hundreds of children, actual kittens were saved!"
But why the freak were those kitten abandoned in the first place? Because the children who owned them were melted alive by white phosphorus bombs of course. Shame on those thoughtless, bad children!
"But what does all this kitty propaganda have to do with trying to make America great again?" you might ask at this point. That's easy.
So much of American taxpayers' money is being funneled to Israeli neo-colonialists and to the American "war" industry in the Middle East these days that there is hardly any money left to spend here at home on stuff like infrastructure and schools. And all those trillions of dollars spent on bombing other countries, no matter how carefully the cluster-bombs and daisy-cutters and drone strikes are aimed, can only result in killing thousands more babies -- and even, God forbid, also killing more kittens! http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/15/obamas-response-to-the-refugee-crisis-regime-change-in-syria/
Americans don't seem to even care that their tax dollars are being used to violently slaughter thousands of children in the Middle East and even all over the world right now, and that their tax dollars have been used to carry out this slaughter of the innocents routinely since the Eisenhower era.
America's rapid return to greatness can only be achieved if America will only just stop killing kittens. Stop killing kittens in Palestine, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. And stop killing kittens in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia too. Just stop it right now -- if for no other reason than we owe that much to the millions of kitten-followers on YouTube.
PS: Also in heavy competition for the King Herod Award for slaughtering innocents is King Salman, titular head of the infamous House of Saud in Arabia. He is currently fire-bombing, barrel-bombing and neutron-bombing Yemen like it was barbecue time for kittens!
"But why is he doing that?" you might ask. For the oil, of course.
PPS: If you find this article particularly offensive, then please ask yourself why you don't find America's "war" on the world's babies offensive as well -- and then go out and do something to stop all these hideous wars on babies. And kittens.
PPPS: A large part of me wants to be a war correspondent and fight against injustice both at home and abroad -- but some small part of me still just wants to be normal. And the normal part of me has just become addicted to the peanut-butter-creme-filled-sandwich cookies featured at the "Love at First Bite" cupcakery in north Berkeley. http://www.loveatfirstbitebakery.com/index.html
Oh if only the starving children of Syria, Palestine and Yemen now under deadly siege by the American/Saudi/Israeli/Turkish neo-colonial military-industrial complex could have some of these cookies too!
Listen to this radio interview with Mother Agnes-Mariam entitled, "Syrian Refugee Crisis Caused by Western Provocation." Recorded on September 7th, 2015. The featured guest is a Christian Palestinian nun stationed in Syria for last 20 years. She exposed the US/Allies/NATO hoax that Syria had chemical WMDs and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
Mother Agnes-Mariam describes what caused the Syrian refugee crisis and the necessity of healing the problem at the root. She tells Europe to look into their conscience and determine how their interference provoked displacement.
The Western powers have created a lawless intervention that denies the sovereignty of Syria. Sister Agnes asks Canadians to consider how they would feel if their powerful neighbor intervened in their country in the same way. She also addresses Pope Francis' words, the Russia and Saudi Arabia dialog, and the thinking and role of the Syrian army upon whom the people call for protection. She ends with her advice to Canada, Great Britain and the US
regarding how to stop the refugee crisis. [Click HERE for the audio file]
While European governments cry crocodile tears over the mass migration of people from this region, Syrians are trying to get them and the US to stop backing so-called 'rebels' who are the very ones forcing people out of the region. The video inside came to candobetter.net from a source describing itself as 'a group of Syrian journalists (living in Syria) who have created a new Middle East Channel'. The video shows Syrian civilians who have come from near Idlib protesting outside the Red Cross in Damascus about the silence of the international press on the predicament of two villages isolated behind enemy ['rebel'] -held areas above Idlib, where two villagers have been kidnapped by Islamic extremists.
Note that these rural protesters in the film feel quite comfortable about travelling into Damascus, which is still held safe by the democratically elected Syrian government (usually misreported as 'brutal unelected regime' by the US/NATO sympathetic press). The protesters visiting Damascus are complaining that US/NATO has been misled into supporting the very people who persecute and kill villagers, whilst targeting the Syrian government with clichéd imagined war crimes involving 'barrel bombs'.
'Barrel bombs' has become a kind of code in Syria for what a sick joke the mainstream press that supports US/NATO is.
The narrators in the film say that the region surrounding the villages has been invaded by what the international community refers to erroneously as 'moderate fighters'. These 'moderates' are now blocking access by the villagers to the the rest of Syria. The villagers are specifically trying to get world attention about how two members of these villages have been kidnapped by Islamic Extremists coming from US/NATO ally, Turkey, (which is aiding and abetting the 'rebel' extremists.)
The man pictured is saying, "Where's the UN? Where's the Human Rights? Where are all of these NGOs? If someone got a stomach ache or had diarhorrea in Douma, they get alerted and make a statement, starting by Ban Ki Moon. And so on. While we are 4000 people, Kfaria and Foua, [the abducted villagers] and nobody cares about us."
Below is a quote from Obama before he became president, counselling a completely opposite foreign policy to the warmongering one he now heads. He calls for cooperation with Russia, a vigorous enforcement of nuclear non-proliferation, shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, pressure on the Saudis and Egyptians to stop oppressing their own people, and for an energy policy alternative to Big Oil's. Addressing the Bush government of eight years ago, he recognised the inflammatory and unfair process set in train by the United States in the Middle East. Yet now he pursues the same policy even more aggressively and dishonestly than Bush. He effectively heads a global coalition of war-criminals. Australia is a stooge in that coalition and so is the ABC, CBC, BBC, European Press, notably French mainstream press, and the Murdoch and Fairfax Press in Australia. Currently their greatest war-crime is to fail to reveal that President Bashar al-Assad is not an 'unelected dictator' but won overwhelmingly in a fair election in 2014 and currently offers protection to his people, but the Western allies and their corrupt Middle Eastern stooges - Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey - are driving the exodus from the Middle East by sponsoring terror-militia.
Why are there so many displaced people? Perhaps somebody wanted a fight
Speech by Sen. Barack Obama delivered in Chicago on Oct. 2, 2002:
"So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with bin Laden and al-Qaida, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and
a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.
You want a fight, President Bush?"
"Let's fight to make sure that the U.N. inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.
You want a fight, President Bush?"
"Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.
You want a fight, President Bush?
Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil." (Excerpt from speech delivered by Sen. Barack Obama delivered in Chicago on Oct. 2, 2002.)
The June 7 parliamentary election in Turkey could have a huge impact on the conflict in Syria. The invincible image of President Erdogan has been cracked. There is a real chance that the election might lead to substantive change in Turkish foreign policy promoting the war in Syria. (This article first published at Dissident Voice on June 24th, 2015.)
Even though Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the most votes, they lost their majority in parliament and must now find a coalition partner. Turkey’s new parliament was seated for the first time on Tuesday June 23. Now begins the political bargaining and negotiations to form a governing coalition. Depending on the outcome, Turkey may stop or seriously restrict the flow of weapons and foreign fighters through its territory into Syria. If Turkey does this, it would offer a real prospect for movement toward negotiations and away from war in Syria. Why? The Syrian war continues because Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, USA, France, UK and others are spending billions of dollars annually to fund the armed opposition and sustain the war in violation of the UN Charter and international law.
Closely allied with Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey has been the primary path for weapons and foreign fighters in Syria. ISIS has depended on export of oil and import of weapons and fighters through Turkey. Jabhat al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham and other armed opposition groups have depended on weapons and foreign fighters coming in via Turkey for attacks on northern Syria including Syria’s largest city, Aleppo.
Turkish Government Support of War on Syria
The following examples show the extent of Turkish involvement in the war on Syria:
Turkey hosts the Political and Military Headquarters of the armed opposition. Most of the political leaders are former Syrians who have not lived there for decades.
Turkey provides home base for armed opposition leaders. As quoted in the Vice News video Syria: Wolves of the Valley: “Most of the commanders actually live in Turkey and commute in to the fighting when necessary.”
Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT has provided its own trucks for shipping huge quantities of weapons and ammunition to Syrian armed opposition groups. According to court testimony they made at least 2,000 trips to Syria.
Turkey is suspected of supplying the chemical weapons used in Ghouta in August 2013 as reported by Seymour Hersh here. In May 2013, Nusra fighters were arrested in possession of sarin but quickly and quietly released by Turkish authorities.
Turkey’s foreign minister, top spy chief and senior military official were secretly recorded plotting an incident to justify Turkish military strikes against Syria. A sensational recording of the meeting was publicized, exposing the plot in advance and likely preventing it from proceeding.
Turkey has provided direct aid and support to attacking insurgents. When insurgents attacked Kassab Syria on the border in spring 2014, Turkey provided backup military support and ambulances for injured fighters. Turkey shot down a Syrian jet fighter that was attacking the invading insurgents. The plane landed 7 kms inside Syrian territory, suggesting that Turkish claims it was in Turkish air space are likely untrue.
Turkey has recently increased its coordination with Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This has led to the recent assaults by thousands of foreign fighters on Idlib and Jisr al Shugour in northern Syria. Armed with advanced weaponry including TOW missiles, and using suicide bomb vehicles, the armed groups over-ran Syrian armed forces defending both cities. The assaults were facilitated by Turkey jamming and disrupting Syrian radio communications.
Turkey has facilitated travel into northern Syria by extremist mercenaries from all parts of the globe including Chechen Russians, Uyghur Chinese, Europeans, North Africans, South Asians including Indonesians and Malaysians. The assault on Jisr al Shugour was spearheaded by Chinese Uyghur fighters and suicide bombers crossing over from Turkey with tanks and heavy artillery.
Turkey itself has provided steady supply of recruits to the Islamic State. Like other countries which have had citizens indoctrinated with wahabi fanaticism, they have done little or nothing to limit the indoctrination or restrict emigration for ‘jihad’.
Turkey has permitted the supply of huge quantities of car bomb ingredients (ammonium nitrate fertilizer) to the Islamic State. On May 4 the NY Timesreported these shipments at the Turkish border. Sixteen days later ISIS over-ran Ramadi in an assault that began with 30 car bombs with ten reportedly the size of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Finally, as part of its continuing effort to draw the U.S. and NATO into direct participation in the war on Syria, Turkey is an active player in various propaganda campaigns. For example, the “White Helmets” or “Syrian Civil Defence” are trained and supplied in Turkey. Some of the videos purportedly from Syria are likely filmed in Turkey at their training site. White Helmets and Syrian Civil Defence are both creations of the West and join with Turkey in calling for a “No Fly Zone”.
Turkish Repression of Journalism, Police and Courts
The AKP government has vigorously tried to suppress information about the extent of Turkey’s support of the war on Syria. They have resorted to repression and intimidation such as:
Turkish authorities have charged four regional prosecutors with attempting to topple the government. Their “crime” was to insist on the inspection of four trucks headed from Turkey to Syria. The trucks contained weapons and ammunition in violation of Turkish law. The trial of the four prosecutors is ongoing, 18 months after the inspection.
Turkish President Erdogan threatened two life term sentences for the editor of Hurriyet daily newspaper for publicizing support of the armed opposition in Syria by Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT.
A whistle-blowing MIT (intelligence agency) officer who opposed the agency’s collusion with terrorism in Syria was arrested, convicted and imprisoned. After two years he managed to escape and tell his story. The blockbuster account was broadcast on Turkey’s OdaTV and later translated into English and published here.
Was American Journalist Serena Shim Murdered?
As seen in the examples above, Turkish AKP authorities have aggressively tried to suppress information on the involvement in Syria. If they have been that aggressive with Turkish journalists, prosecutors and military officers, how far might they go against a foreign journalist working for Iran’s Press TV?
The American born journalist Serena Shim died just days after she documented the use of World Food Program trucks to transport foreign fighters to the border with Syria and into ISIS territory. After learning that Turkish intelligence was looking for her, Serena Shim was so concerned that she expressed her fear on television. Two days later, Serena Shim’s car was hit head-on by a cement truck. The driver of the cement truck disappeared but was later found. There are many discrepancies about what happened. The first reports indicated the truck and driver left without stopping. Then the driver and truck were located, and then photos appeared showing a collision.
While some Turkish security services have preemptively exonerated the driver of the cement truck, the local prosecutor has filed charges against the driver, accusing him of causing death through negligence. There are many suspicious aspects, not least is the fact that the cement truck’s wheels are angled toward the car, not away as one would expect with a vehicle trying to avoid collision.
The death of American journalist Serena Shim, and her factual investigative reporting on Syria and Turkey, stands in sharp contrast with the sensational media accounts about the “kidnapping” of NBC reporter Richard Engel. That event turned out to be a hoax contrived by “rebels” to manipulate American political opinion. With the complicity of individual reporters and mainstream media, the fraud was successful. The bias in mainstream western media is further demonstrated by the almost complete media silence about the death of Serena Shim and her important journalistic work.
For the past 13 years Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has had majority control of Turkey’s parliament. In the recent election AKP’s share of the popular voted plummeted 10% and they lost their parliamentary majority. The results are a clear rebuff to Erdogan and AKP policies. Sixty percent of voters went against AKP, splitting the vote among the three alternative parties. The pro-Kurdish and Leftist People’s Democratic Party (HDP) burst onto the scene capturing 13% of the votes and equaling the number of parliamentary seats captured by the rightist and anti-Kurdish National Movement Party (MHP). The main opposition party is the social democratic Republican Peoples Party (CHP) with 26% of the vote.
Over the coming weeks, AKP will try to form a coalition government with one or more of the alternate parties. However, it won’t be easy. The natural bedfellow would be the anti-Kurdish and rightist MHP, but they are demanding the resumption of a corruption trial against AKP leaders including Erdogan’s son Bilal. That trial would probably lead back to President Erdogan himself, so it seems unlikely AKP will ally with MHP. The three alternative parties could form a coalition to govern without AKP, but it’s hard to imagine the staunchly anti-Kurdish MHP allying with the pro-Kurdish HDP.
If a majority coalition cannot be formed within 45 days, the Turkish constitution requires a rerun of the election.
Election Should Bring Major Change in Syrian Policy
Even with severe repression and intimidation, the Turkish public is aware of Turkey’s policy supporting war on Syria. One consequence of the war has been almost 2 million immigrant refugees with the dispersal of many throughout Turkey, providing cheap labor and adding significantly to the unemployment problem. In addition, there have been terrorist attacks in the border region and an escalation of corruption and repression as external money and weapons have flooded the area en route to Syria. The war against Syria has been widely unpopular and played a significant role in the election.
All the opposition parties called for change in Turkey’s foreign policy.
Criticism of Erdogan and Davutoglu’s policy even comes from within the AKP membership: “Many believe that one reason for the AKP’s dismal showing in the 2015 elections is its policy on Syria.”
The coming weeks will indicate how Turkey moves forward: Will AKP manage to form a coalition government with one of the opposition parties? Or will there be another election?
Will Turkey start enforcing the border and stop shipments of arms to the armed opposition as demanded by the leader of the main opposition party? This would be a huge change in the dynamics within Syria. Without a rear base of constant and steady support, the armed opposition would be forced to rely on their own resources rather than those of foreign governments. They would quickly wither since they have very little support base within Syria.
Since the election, there are already signs of a shift in the balance. Kurdish forces recently captured ISIS’ important border crossing at Tal Abyad. This has been the main route of weapons, fighters and supplies between Turkey and the Islamic State’s ‘capital’ at Raqqa in eastern Syria.
The Past Year and Looking Ahead
Thirteen months ago it looked like the war in Syria was starting to move toward resolution. The last remaining armed opposition in the “capital of the revolution” Homs, reached reconciliation and withdrew from the Old City of Homs in May 2014. On June 3, 2014 the election in Syria confirmed substantial support for the government.
Since then, we have seen dramatic changes. On June 10, 2014 ISIS surged through western Iraq and captured the city of Mosul and huge quantities of American armaments including tanks, rockets, humvees, etc. That led to the creation of the “Islamic State” and expansion in eastern Syria including Tabqa Air Base where hundreds of Syrian soldiers and ISIS fighters died.
This past spring saw the coalescing of numerous foreign and Islamist groups into the Jaish al Fatah (Army of Conquest) supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. With high powered TOW anti-tank missiles and thousands of shock troops they were able to overtake both Idlib and Jisr al Shugour near the Turkish border.
ISIS and the Army of Conquest are both dependent on the Turkish supply line. If that is closed off or seriously restricted, it will dramatically change the situation.
With the prospect of losing their base of support in Turkey, will the opposition try something desperate to draw the US and NATO into the conflict directly?
The Turkish people have indicated they want to stop their government’s war on Syria. If their will is respected, it should lead to restricting and stopping the foreign funding and promotion of the conflict. If Turkey stops the flood of weapons and foreign fighters into northern Syria, it will be following instead of violating international law. This will give peace a chance in Syria.
Comment: Further reading: