Western propaganda against Syria has been stepped up, despite recent revelations of how the 'chemical weapons attacks' investigations were rigged by the OPCW, where multiple investigators have come out and blown the whistle. The US-NATO warmongers must be getting quite desperate and have decided that the only way they can keep the ISIS and other terrorist presence in northern Syria is to get Turkey to invade. See "Turkish military op in Idlib only 'matter of time’, Erdogan warns Damascus." We hope this will not come about. Meanwhile, in this video-episode of Going Underground, Afshin Rattansi speaks to Syrian President Bashar Assad's media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban. She discusses the Syrian Arab Army/pro-government forces victory in Aleppo, which has secured the entire Aleppo region for the first time since 2012, the Idlib offensive and why it has taken so long for the Syrian government to conduct the operation, allegations of Russian and Syrian targeting of civilians in the offensive, her message to President Erdogan in the context of the Turkish occupation of Northern Syria, and more!
The US has illegally occupied the north of Syria for some time, using Kurds to fight ISIS. Donald Trump's withdrawal of US troops has permitted Turkey to invade the area. Understandably terrified, the Kurds have approached the Syrian Government for help. The Syrian Government has responded and Kurds have welcomed the Syrian Arab Army into the area for the first time in years. This should reveal to the world that the Syrian Government is trusted by its people - for most Kurds in Syria are Syrian. Did most Kurds in Syria ever really want independence from Syria, or were we looking at a situation were the United States and NATO encouraged the ambitions of a few Kurds, without asking the rest? Russia has asked all foreign troops to leave Syria and has volunteered to leave itself, if the Syrian Government which invited its help, asks it to leave.
What reduced the terrorist menace in Syria was the Syrian Army, Hezbollah, Iran and probably most important, Russia. If these forces had been bit players and it had been mainly the SDF, YPG and YPJ that defeated the international terrorist coalition (as the corporate western press would like us to believe), then you would think that taking care of a Turkish invasion should pose no problem for the Kurds.
In the meantime, Kurds have to fight to defend their homes and it is feared that ISIS prisoners will break out of the several prisons in the area which Kurds have been guarding. The video above shows Kurdish guards chasing ISIS family members in a prison with 70,000 inmates, as they try to escape. On RT news of 13 October 2019, it was actually reported that 800 ISIS fighters had escaped. Below is a description of what is happening in the video:
Mustafa Bali, spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said on Friday dozens of camp residents attacked the exit gate of #AlHol camp, which is home to more than 70,000 women and children.
Video from a closed-circuit camera at the camp, operated by the SDF, showed security members chasing women covered in black dress, as they attempted to flee down a main road inside the facility."
Most Kurds have Syrian citizenship, but some do not. Syrian citizenship is modeled on French law, generally requiring a demonstration of cultural affinity - such as speaking the language. Children born in Syria must demonstrate Syrian paternity; it is not enough to have a Syrian mother. After 1945 there was a diaspora of Kurds from Turkey to Syria. The Syrian government in power during the transitional period between the fall of the UAR and the coming into power of the Baath government, was worried by this inflow from Turkey, which has long had designs on Syrian territory. In 1962 this government held a Syrian census of Kurds in the North requiring proof of residence in Syria from 1945. According to my source on this, there were many illiterate Kurds in the area, without much engagement with the government, so they might not have understood the requirements, if they knew they were being made. 120 stateless Kurds resulted.
 "The Stateless Syrians," Tilburg University, Switzerland, May2013. https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/52a983124.pdf Note that this work was funded by Open Society Foundations, which is a multi-million dollar political engineering program that funds mass migration.
Syrian sources local to the al-Jazeera region recently reported that the United States has done a deal with Daesh (ISIS) in return for tens of tons of stolen gold, according to Hazem Sabbagh.
Hazem Sabbagh says that new information suggests that the gold is payment to the United States in return for safe passage out of Daesh's last stronghold, in parts of Deir Ezzor (Deir ez-Zor), Eastern Syria.
Local sources say that US army helicopters moved the gold bullion on Sunday, during darkness, and that the gold was subsequently taken to the United States.
It sounds as if Daesh has been in the habit of accumulating gold and other valuables, as you would expect from theives and terrorists. This gold stash was kept by ISIS in rural Deir ez-Zor, described by Sabbagh as ISIS's 'last hotbed in the al Baghouz area'. The Americans have previously taken gold from other ISIS hideouts and ISIS reportedly estimates the total amount of gold taken from their stashes by the Americans in the area of 50 tons.
Sources have said that ISIS leaders and members had barricaded themselves in with 40 tons of gold and tens of millions of dollars which they stole from various parts of Syria and Iraq.
After all, this is what war is about - getting stuff through violence. ISIS has profited from the chaos sewn by US-NATO professionals to kick-start a warmonger franchise, and the United States, which sees itself as the world's war-baron in chief, is shaking ISIS down. Meanwhile, none of this gets reported by the Deep State owned corporate media.
This article comments on the Australian war propaganda that was used in a recent episode, involving Jaqui Lambi, of "Go back to where you came from" on SBS. It responds to a recent article (republished here) by Vanessa Beeley about very recent massacres conducted by IS, close to a US Army base, which has allowed IS convoys to pass through open desert, unhindered. On 2 October 2018, Mrs Thoraya Um Ammaar was executed on video by IS over two months after she and about 25 other women and children were kidnapped from the Sweida countryside, south of Damascus on July 25th 2018. US Coalition forces remain camped in Al Tanf, 330km to the East. It is simply intolerable that IS can occupy that part of Syrian territory while aggressively threatening anyone who comes near it.
Report by Vanessa Beeley
What makes me particularly angry about this, and the killing of the hostage on October 2nd, is that this week in Australia there has been a huge fuss about a live TV program called “Go Back to Where you Came From” – where numbers of celebrities have gone to “some of the most dangerous places in the world” to see what it feels like for refugees (those ones who try to escape to Australia) https://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/jacqui-lambie-and-sbs-crew-caught-in-isis-attack-in-syria-20181002-p5079s.html
So where in Syria do you think that two women, one a former anti-Muslim immigration independent Senator, – would be taken? Raqqa. And in an event which I begin to think was staged, two days before the program started, an “IS sleeper cell” started shooting in the area near to where the TV crew was, so they had to be evacuated to Kobane - in Syria!(just under the Turkish border).
This sleeper cell purportedly raised the IS flag from a building not far from the centre of Raqqa, in mid afternoon. How likely is that, or even possible? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/raqqas_dirty_secret
At no point in the introduction – where we saw the identities being rushed under cover, was the fact that US soldiers were assisting them even thought worthy of mention!
And of course Lambie and Marina would have no idea that they are just as much victims in this god-awful propaganda war as the rest of us. It may make you a bit sick to read that Lambie ( who has a better side as down to earth, and once in the army) found it thrilling to be “on the front line” and “to feel how our troops must have felt”. Never mind that Australia doesn’t admit to having any troops in Syria, only Afghanistan.
I’ve long thought that Jackie Lambie would be moved to know that upwards of 85,000 regular Syrian soldiers have been killed by the terrorist invaders, defending their countrymen.
This program began as a series about five years ago, as apparently a genuine attempt to make prejudiced Australians aware of just what refugees were going through. But now it seems that this message is not so important, while it is used to put the case for the US coalition staying in Syria because otherwise “IS could come back”. The threat of Islamist terrorism is constantly beaten up here in OZ, to suit the agenda of the powers that be; the threat that they present, along with their US and UK allies, is infinitely greater.
And of course this week we’ve also had the Nobel Peace Prize to the Yazidi woman – with some blurb about “fighting the use of rape as a weapon of war”. What about the use of the threat of rape as a weapon of war, for which the US would instantly qualify?
The hypocrisy is enough to make you go mad I think.
I will look at the pink hollyhocks that grow in front of our house with Syrians in mind now...
On the 2nd October 2018, a young woman’s life was brought to a brutal end by a bullet from an ISIS executioner’s hand-gun. Mrs Thoraya Um Ammar was executed on video by the terrorist group more than two months after she and twenty five other women and children were kidnapped from the Sweida countryside, south of Damascus on July 25th 2018.
[Note: Numbers of kidnap victims do vary. While in Shbeki, I was told 32 were originally kidnapped but that a number of them managed to escape their captors and return to their village]
Civilian martyrs names and photographs displayed at entrance to the village of Shrehi in eastern Sweida countryside. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)
The images circulating of this execution are extremely distressing and we will not be sharing them in this article. During my recent visit to Syria, I visited three of the seven villages that came under attack in the eastern countryside of Sweida City on that fateful day in July 2018. The grief and anger was still very raw but civilians spoke to me of the bloodshed that was a result of the meticulously planned ISIS attack, unhindered by the US Coalition forces camped in Al Tanf, 330km to the East. ISIS entered the villages from the east and traversed vast areas of exposed desert to do so, apparently undetected by those who claim to wage war on ISIS inside Syria.
“The roads of Shrehi ran with blood” H Saab told me as we stood next to his family home in Shrehi where four of his relatives were murdered by the marauding ISIS gangs. He pointed to the still visible stains on the road in front of us and on the walls of the house and courtyard.
Our journey began in Damascus. We left early in the morning and headed due south before taking the road that brought us to the east of Sweida city and to the villages that form a chain north to south, only about 1km apart. As we entered the province of Sweida, we began to see the elaborate memorials to martyrs killed in Syria’s war against Western-sponsored terrorism. Our guide told us that these beautiful monuments are in honour of the soldiers who have given their lives in defence of their homeland. Many of these impressive structures are placed at the entrance to villages “so their names are remembered for eternity by all those who live because they died“.
We were told that some of these graves also date back to the 1925 ‘Great Syrian Revolt or ‘Great Druze Revolt’ against France. They are wonderful to behold, rising out of the dry desert plains, backdropped by the hills and trees that pepper the landscape stretching out in front of us.
On the drive down to the villlage of Shrehi, our guide H Saab told us that thirty-five members of his family had been killed in the ISIS attack that took place in the early hours of the 25th July 2018. I asked him what he believed to be behind this attack. He told me that he thought it was to reduce SAA pressure on the ISIS terrorists holding out in Yarmouk Basin at this time. Perhaps to give them an escape route to the US base at Al Tanf.
We entered Shahba City dating from Byzantine times and a city modelled on ancient Rome – “temples, triumphal arches, baths, a theatre, and a great wall surrounding the city were all built based on the plan of a typical Roman city”. We exited the ancient city through the remains of the East Gate and continued on to a number of towns and villages, some built during the Ottoman empire. H Saab told me that many of these village have labyrinths of caves that run underground beneath the houses.
At the entrance to Shrehi, one of the villages attacked by ISIS in July, we stopped the car to visit the poster that had been erected with the names of the martyrs killed during the attack. Young men, women, children, murdered by a terrorist group with a history of collusion with the US Coalition against Syria and the Syrian Arab Army. Acclaimed journalist, Elijah J. Magnier wrote at the time:
“ISIS knew it was possible for its convoy to drive under the eyes of a superpower state (the US) without being disturbed.”
Video footage of entering Shrehi. Watch:
We drove up to one of the highest points in the village of Shrehi to meet with the representatives of the village and the survivors of the attack. We entered the traditional “madafa”, the welcoming room in the Saab family home.
Once inside the Madafa the story of the attack was told by Khaled Saleh Saab.
“The terrorists entered the village at 4 am while most of us were still sleeping. We were awoken by the shooting and the cries of ‘Allah Akhbar’. They shot out the lights in the village and there was no moon that night so they worked under the cover of total darkness”
On the way into Shrehi we had passed a house that had been one of the first to be targeted (see video), the mother, father and son were murdered by ISIS, the daughter was injured but survived. According to Khaled, 53 ISIS terrorists entered the village and all of them were eventually killed by the young men defending their families and their land:
“We defended our land and our homes because this land is mixed with the blood of generations of our people. We will not accept that people without morals or humanity can touch this land. We stay, we will stand and defend this land until we die. Our youth killed these terrorists even though they had very old weapons, very simple weapons. The ISIS fighters had modern, expensive equipment but we still defeated them.” said Khaled.
Khaled told us that the clashes continued from 4 am until 1pm. Between 4 and 5 am the ISIS fighters took advantage of the sleeping civilians and murdered many of them in their sleep before they had time to warn their neighbours.
“The attack was a well planned military operation. ISIS coordinated their attacks in order to paralyse all the villages. They positioned snipers around the villages and along the roads that connect the villages to prevent people moving between villages or coming to the help of neighbouring villages. They came from the south and moved north.” Khaled continued.
In one of the bloodiest massacres of the eight year war in Syria, 270 civilians were martyred during this attack, more than 300 injured.
“Many of our young men, women and children bled to death in the street. Nobody was able to get to them or to transport them to hospital. If they tried they would be sniped.” Khaled told us.
Khaled told us that, in his opinion, many of the ISIS fighters were on drugs, very likely to be Captagon. “We fired many bullets into them, but they kept fighting” he told us and this was confirmed by other family members in the madafa. In January 2017, “at least 137kg of Captagon, dubbed a “jihadist drug” and “the drug of the Syrian conflict,” was seized at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in a first for France, customs officials said, adding that half of the illicit cargo was destined for Saudi Arabia.” Captagon is a psychostimulant that is used as a performance enhancer by the extremist gangs that have invaded Syria since 2011.
“After we killed the ISIS terrorists, we checked their IDs. They were Chechen, Saudi, Iraqi, Palestinian, Egyptian, Somalian. One was wearing a suicide belt, nothing remained of him after he had detonated it.”
In Shrehi alone there were 37 civilians martyred. These included Khaled’s mother, father, brother and cousin who were killed in the home we were talking in.
“These groups, all of them, are supported by the UK, US and Gulf States to target and destroy our peaceful towns. Throughout history Syria has sacrificed martyrs and we are ready to sacrifice our souls for our land despite more than 120 countries attacking us with the terrorist groups as their instrument. They should know we will stand and fight to defend our land and our people”
Just one of the countless heroes from Sweida countryside – Khaled’s brother, Iskandar Saab had served in the 102 “Batch” of the Syrian Arab Army which had been decommissioned just two months before the ISIS attack on his home village of Shrehi on the 25th July 2018.
Iskandar came face to face with the crazed ISIS terrorists as he attempted to scale the hill leading up to his family’s house. He was shot in his right leg, his hand and his back. A local graduate of trade and economy and a math teacher, Mr Mahran Radi Saab saved Iskandar and managed to take him to his brother Khaled Saab. After rescuing Iskandar, Mahran was shot and killed by an ISIS sniper.
Despite his life-threatening wounds, Iskandar managed to get into his car and drive 300m under fire from the ISIS snipers who had lined the roads joining the three villages of Rami, Shrehi and Shebki.
“This land, this property belongs to our blood. It belongs to us. We will never allow any super-power to steal our land or to control our lives, our future” Khaled Saab reinforced this message several times during our talk.
After the meeting we went to the home of Ziad Saab for breakfast, which in Syria translates into “banquet”.
Ziad’s brother in law lived in one of the houses at the entrance of the village, one of the first to be attacked. As soon as the attack happened, Ziad’s brother in law managed to relay a warning to Ziad who lives with his wife and children deeper inside the village. Ziad took his simple hunting rifle and went to help. As he neared his brother in law’s home, he saw many ISIS terrorists firing randomly and fierce clashes between the ISIS fighters and civilians. It was still dark at this point. Ziad made the decision to return home to protect his own wife and children and to take his family to a safer place.
Then Ziad tried to call his brother in law. An ISIS fighter answered the phone and told Ziad his brother in law was dead, he told Ziad to call an ambulance for his own family members – they would be killed also “there will be no escape”. The ISIS terrorists also attacked the brother in law’s two daughters and their mother – 10 year old Hela and 13 year old Hala.
As we were eating breakfast, a 6 month old baby was brought into the room. Her name is Ghala. Her father was murdered just 100 meters from Ziad’s house, by the ISIS terrorists. Watching Ghala playing in the arms of H Saab, it is painful to comprehend the scale of devastation and loss that these villages have experienced. A recent Facebook post by Syrian, Wissam Sliman puts it into perspective:
“Imagine that this were your village, or your neighborhood! Imagine that one of those were your house! Imagine that the same thing happened to you! Imagine that you lost a family member, or maybe two, or maybe more! Imagine that your mother, sister, daughter or son is still kidnapped and now in the hands of the worst terrorist group ever which is ISIS!
And above all imagine that it didn’t mean anything to half of your brothers and sisters in humanity in this world,just because they are still sleeping, daydreaming and refusing to wake up! What hurts you is that if they did wake up 7 years ago, you would have had many of your beloved ones around you now, but they didn’t, cause they are still refusing to wake up!
The truth is as clear as pure water on a virgin Island, there is only one difference in the case of Syria, the truth about Syria is very painful and heartbreaking while that water on that virgin island…”
The media reports in the West were a cursory glance at the impacts of this ISIS attack upon this community, a skating over of detail and no mention of the potential connection to the US coaliton. As always, the true victims of this 8 year war will be brushed under the carpet while the focus remains upon the whitewashing of the perpertrators of the crimes against the Syrian people – the “rebel”-washing of the terrorist gangs who have been enabled to roam freely across Syria by the US Coalition and its Gulf State financiers of the sectarian ideologues described by the Colonial media as “moderates”.
During our conversations, Ziad gave a very simple message to people in the West, particularly in the UK. Watch:
A burned out car seemed fused to the earth at the entrance to Shbeki. The car, a Skoda, had once belonged to Bahjat Atallah Saab who tried to rescue Zahi Jadallah Saab and his wife and son, Assem Zahi Saab, a law student. The entire car was targeted when they tried to flee the ISIS attack on Shbeki that began at 4am on 25th July 2018. The car came under attack by the ISIS snipers before being targeted by an RPG which turned the car into a furnace from which the occupants did not escape. Martyr Bahgat Saab was working as an Arabic language teacher.
The horrific ISIS bloodbath continued in Shbeki, in fact it intensified. In this village, 60 civilians were martyred, many of them systematically picked off by ISIS snipers after they occupied one of the outlying homes set high up overlooking the buildings and streets that lay below. The house owner was in Lebanon when he heard news of the attack. He rushed home to find out what had happened to his family, he was shot and killed by the ISIS occupiers.
Video from the rooftop of the house taken over by ISIS snipers in Shbeki. WATCH:
Hazem, a young student in his third year studying research science at Damascus University, received a call at 4.40 am on the 25th July 2018, when he was in Sweida city. He was told that his home town of Shbeki was under attack by ISIS fighters.
Hazem got in a car with five of his friends and tried to drive home, he was being guided by people inside the town who warned him which roads to avoid because ISIS had set up snipers along many of the entry roads into his village. Hazem entered from the south which was longer but safer. At 5.30 am he was still unable to enter because of the battles that were raging between the terrorists and the residents, determined to defend their families and land.
Hazem welcomed us in the traditional Sweida Madafa – the welcome room – of his family home. The sun poured through the glass onto the beautiful marble floor and chairs arranged around the sides of the room to provide a space to talk. Hazem recounted the appalling acts of violence committed by the ISIS terrorists who had entered the towns from the direction of the US base at Al Tanf, to the north-east of Shbeki, Shrehi and Rami..the villages I was able to visit.
Hazem’s testimony was shocking. He told us that his family and other civilians were rounded up and taken to what he called the “bedouin house” at the outskirts of the village overlooking the plains and desert that stretch out towards the east and in the direction of the US military base at Al Tanf.
There, the ISIS terrorists took all the men outside and executed them in cold blood. Among them were Hazem’s father, brothers, cousin and neighbour. The ISIS fighters then forced the women and children to come outside to see the bodies of their fathers, sons, husbands before they kidnapped them and headed north east with the kidnap victims, towards Tilal Al Safa.
Hazem confirmed that 60 civilians were martyred in Shbeki, the majority from sniper bullets after ISIS fighters took control of houses placed high above the village which enabled them to assassinate the young men who flocked to defend their families, one by one. Most of these young men did not realise that their hometown was infested by ISIS snipers – just as in the other villages, ISIS had attacked at 4 am under complete darkness and while everyone was sleeping. As in Shrehi, they shot out all the village lights during their approach before entering homes and murdering civilians, including children, while they slept. Hazem told us that a disabled child was beheaded as he lay sleeping in his bed.
Hazem’s mother had been used as a human shield by the ISIS fighters who forced her to walk in front of them to prevent the civilians firing upon them. She was later among the kidnap victims although she and Hazem’s sister in law managed to escape and returned to the village just after midnight. They were terrified that ISIS had taken over the village so they slept in an abandoned house just outside the village. The following evening, they were able to recognise their neighbours and families who had survived and defended their village, preventing total occupation by the terrorist group.
During the march, Hazem’s uncle’s wife had collapsed and had been unable to continue. The first group of ISIS terrorists left her where she lay and refused to leave anyone to take care of her. Later, another team of ISIS fighters followed on behind and executed her on the road. Her body was eventually found, the next day, 6km from the village.
While we were talking with Hazem, a young boy came in to the Madafa and lay on one of the chairs. His name was Ismail, 8 years old. His father was murdered by the ISIS fighters and he was among the kidnap victims. During the move north-east with ISIS, Ismail had managed to mingle with some Bedouin children and escape the ISIS groups, before finally making it back to his village.
Before we left, Hazem wanted to send a message about the remaining 25 kidnap victims, almost entirely women and children:
Hazem showed us the road that ISIS took with the kidnap victims.
“They took the women and children who were in the Bedouin house by this road. They gathered the other women at the same end of the town next to the graves. All the women were in one place around 8.30 in the morning but they waited a long time before moving them. They took this road to the north. They took them in the direction of the Tial Al Safa hills which you can see from the Bedouin house. We think they reached the Tilal Al Safa hills after five or six days.”
I asked Hazem if he was worried about sleeper cells or further attacks from the ISIS members. He pointed to the closest SAA checkpoint about 30 km to the north east of the village. He told me:
“There are big gaps between the SAA checkpoints, around 5km, so yes, we are worried that they may try to come back. It is not considered safe here after dark at the moment. From 5pm onwards the young men of the villages man the checkpoints in readiness for any possible attacks. We will not allow another massacre.”
The SAA have been making huge inroads in the area of Tilal Al Safa towards defeating the remnants of ISIS that have taken comfort in the shelter provided to them by the proximity of the US base in Al Tanf.
“ISIS benefitted from the US safety parameter around its military base at al-Tanaf, preventing Syrian and Iraqi armies from breaking into this parameter to pursue ISIS when needed. ISIS took advantage of the US measures and used the area to cross for the north where there is the bulk of its forces.” ~ Elijah J Magnier
Today, 6th October 2018, Syrian Arab News Agency reported:
“Units of the Syrian Arab Army, in cooperation with the allied forces, on Saturday continued to tighten the noose around Daesh (ISIS) terrorists’ remnants in depth of the rocky cliffs surroundings Tilal al-Safa, the last stronghold for terrorists deep in Sweida eastern Badiya (desert). The army continues to advance in the depth of the rocky cliffs, comb the caves and the cav”erns in the recently liberated areas, seizing weapons and munitions left behind by the terrorists, the reporter indicated.”
One of the kidnap victims, Thoraya Um Ammar, has been executed by ISIS, the others await their fate, surely praying that the SAA will be able to reach them and to drive out and destroy their ISIS captors. The unity and resilience of the people of the Sweida countryside is what has enabled them to survive the ISIS attack and its traumatic aftermath.
As I walked away from the stone “Bedouin” house that had been witness to such bloodthirsty brutality and violence, I spotted a flower stubbornly clinging to the wall outside. This is the spirit that has borne Syria through this 8 year war with such dignity and honour. The desire to defend their roots, to live and to love life against all odds.
Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. Please support Vanessa at her Patreon Account.
The Syrian army discovered a highly-equipped hospital which had been built with the support of the western states and Israel for the terrorists and their family members in Quneitra province.
The Arabic-language service of RT reported on Wednesday that the Syrian police forces entered the town of al-Bariqeh in Quneitra and took control of a hospital with modern equipment and medication.
It added that the hospital is equipped with different types of x-ray systems, an advanced central heating system, well-equipped beds and a surgery section and a vast storage drugs, including new and advanced medications needed for surgical operations.
A medical source said that a large number of Israeli, US and French equipment and drugs have been found in the hospital, saying that some of the medicines and equipment are not at all available to Syrian citizens.
Quneitra province in Southwestern Syria came under government control around two months ago, when terrorists, mostly from the al-Nusra Front, were forced to withdraw to Idlib. Others agreed to the government peace offer, ended the war of insurgency and received government amnesty.
The hospital is one of the last placed that had remained unknown to the government forces ever since they came in control of the province that neighbors the occupied Golan Heights, but it is not the only instance of the US and Israeli support for the terrorists.
In another instance on Tuesday, the Damascus army launched two separate ambush operations against ISIL in Palmyra (Tadmur) region in Eastern Syria, and discovered a large volume of arms, including American weapons.
The army soldiers ambushed a group of ISIL that tried to move from al-Tanf in Southern Homs towards al-Bayarat al-Qarbi in Palmyra to further move towards Raqqa via al-Taweinan and Wadi Abyaz Dam region.
The army men killed two terrorists and capturd two more, forcing the remaining pockets of the terrorist to flee the battlefield.
The army soldiers also seized a large volume of military equipment and six motorcycles.
In the meantime, other units of the army ambushed another group of ISIL terrorists in al-Forou’a region 70 km Southeast of Palmyra, and captured five terrorists.
The army units seized two military vehicles with communication devices on board and a large volume of the US-made machineguns and M16 rifles and several boxes of munitions.
FARS First published on September 19, 2018 at https://en.muraselon.com/2018/09/damascus-terrorists-hospital-israel-us-france-quneitra/
Over 2,600 corpses of civilians killed in the US air raids and victims of the ISIL terrorist group have been found in Raqqa province so far, local sources said.
The sources in Raqqa reported on Wednesday that 9 more bodies of civilians killed in the US-led coalition attacks were found in al-Jamili district in Raqqa city on Tuesday.
Meantime, the Kurdish-language Hawar news quoted an official source in Raqqa civil council team as saying that the corpses of over 2,600 people, mostly women and children, have been unearthed in al-Rashid stadium, the city zoo, al-Qadim great mosque and al-Badou district since the liberation of Raqqa last October who were mostly buried by the ISIL in mass-graves.
The bodies of civilians killed in the US airstrikes and the ISIL assaults are every day discovered in mass-graves and under the ruins of buildings in different parts of Raqqa.
Last Sunday, a sum of 13 bodies of civilians killed in the US-led coalition’s airstrikes on Raqqa city were found.
Raqqa Civil Council Team discovered bodies of four civilians killed in the air raid in al-Tamovin Garden in al-Kahroba neighborhood in Raqqa city.
In the meantime, three more bodies were found in the yard of al-Atiq mosque and six more were unearthed from the debris of ruined buildings in al-Badou neighborhood in Raqqa city.
FARS First published on 20 September 2018 at https://en.muraselon.com/2018/09/bodies-isil-us-raqqa/
The writer of this article has returned home to Syria, after emigrating to a western country years ago. He reports on his arrival in Damascus, the capital of Syria, which is where much of the population has taken shelter from the activities of western backed 'rebels'. He last visited Aleppo in Syria between 2015-2016, for 9 months, shortly before the Syrian Arab Army, with the help of the Russians, managed to drive out ISIS. Photo was taken by the author on his current visit. (We split it up into smaller images due to size of initial image.)
I’m in Damascus right now. I arrived yesterday to the capital with one of my uncles.
The msm propaganda is a nasty one.
As in the city, I’m feeling very safe, although it’s so crowded and with a lot of traffic jams. Flying jets’ sounds in the sky from time to time.
As for the daily random shells from the terrorists in East Ghouta upon the heads of civilians in Damascus city, and mostly on Old Damascus, where the ancient churches and mosques are located, almost no corporate msm is covering it or really cares about the lives of those civilians. This is the same double standard that had been used in East Alepppo in Dec 2016.
As for the people in E. Ghouta, the same scenario of East Aleppo had been followed by the terrorists, which is to prevent the people from leaving Ghouta to the government-held areas through the humanitarian corridors, and to take them as human-shields, and whoever tries to flee Ghouta is shot by snipers from the terrorists. The msm reporters are claiming that people don’t want to leave! Lies and nothing but lies!
Check out this report for good information: https://www.rt.com/newsline/421461-ghouta-evacuation-aid-ceasefire/
On yesterday’s local news, thousands of kidnapped civilians left to government-held areas, in a deal with the terrorists, or after the liberation of one chunk of the Ghouta. I didn’t read the full news but just a brief ones about what happened yesterday. The people gave different witness from the ones on the msm. They were relieved and happy to flee that war zone.
People of Damascus want that daily nightmare to end for good. The only way is by the surrendering of those terrorists and to leave Ghouta and go to Idlib, as they did everywhere before, and to help people go back to their homes and to have all necessary services for life (food, water, etc) which the terrorists are preventing the people of Ghouta from having.
Another play and fabricated clips are going on by the White Helmets (in both Ghouta and Idleb) to show a chemical attack and blame it on the government, to give an excuse for the US and it’s allies to strike Syrian forces. Russia gave a warning of such a scenario and that they will fight back if the west continued that silly play and provocation.
I’m staying for 3 days or so in Damascus to see some friends in a hotel, although we have a house, but it’s occupied by a far relatives to our relatives who are from East Ghouta but had left it few years ago to stay in the government-held areas and in our house - another evidence that people are against those terrorists who occupied their territories. The last time I visited Damascus was 12 years ago (Summer 2006, at the time of July War).
It’s the (copy-paste) scenario of East Aleppo all over again. Same lies, same propaganda, same UN hysteria , and it will hopefully end the same way by victory to the people and government against the terrorists.
All the news today is about Turkey attacking Afrin, a Kurdish governed city in northern Syria and threatening another Kurdish run city named Manbj. This is a very dangerous situation and another devastating assault on the Syrian people who have already suffered so much from a war that that was started by foreign manipulation and fed by foreign fighters, foreign weapons and foreign cash. The war should have ended by now and be winding down, but Syria’s enemies are persistent and cunning. We should not forget, however, that the foremost enemy of Syria, the strongest, most powerful country, the managing force in this war to destroy Syria is the United States […A Brief Analysis] Article first published 20 January 2018 at https://unac.papillonweb.net/2018/01/20/increasing-us-aggression-in-syria-leads-to-chaos/
Syrian Internal Security Forces are sworn in during their graduation ceremony, at Ain Issa desert base, in Raqqa province, northeast Syria, Thursday, July 20, 2017. Some 250 residents of Syria’s Raqqa province are the latest batch to graduate from a brief U.S-training course that is preparing an internal security force to hold and secure areas as they are captured from Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla) MintPress, 10/17
US Occupation Forces
The United States has announced that the US is preparing a ‘border force’ of 30,000 fighters to “keep the peace in Syria”. The plan is for these forces to have the US backed, Kurdish led forces of the SDF (Syrian Defense Forces) at their core, and will occupy nearly a third of sovereign Syrian territory. This region is not the traditional Kurdish homeland in Syria, but rather the area east of the Euphrates that the SDF was able to occupy with US assistance while the Syrian Arab Army and their allies were busy liberating the rest of Syrian including the more densely populated regions in the west, reintegrating neighborhoods, towns and villages one by one, demining and removing dangerous remnants of the war while providing whatever services and resources they could to local civilians.
According to a report in Bloomberg, US Secretary of State Tillerson said that the US is not into ‘nation building’ but they will assist with rebuilding Syria AFTER Assad is gone. In any case, Syrians will wait a long time for any constructive US aid. So far, the US has done little or nothing to assist with recovering Mosul or Raqqa, not even demining, and certainly nothing that would encourage the return of the civilian population.
The Kurdish forces, originally allied with the Syrian Government, were independent enough to operate on their own with government provision of arms and other resources when they were adopted and offered an independent state by the United States. The YPG fighting forces emerged from a small sliver of land on the Turkish border inhabited by several ancient Christian sects, Arabs and Turkomen, indigenous Kurds and Kurdish immigrants who have been arriving in waves throughout the 20th century, escaping pogroms targeting Kurds in Turkey. The recent immigrants from the 1980s, affiliated with the PKK, a Kurdish resistance organization in Turkey, form the nucleus of the YPG. Since the Syrian war began they have been increasingly dominating the other residents of their region, and they now they have spread well beyond it to occupy Raqqa and other cities in a largely Arab region.
US Proxies on the Move
Today the US backed SDF centers around the Kurdish YPG, but also includes local tribal leaders who want to keep control of their own territories and ISIS members rescued from previous war zones by the US for future use. According to an article on the World Socialist Organization website, the US has about 2,000 forces in Syria though I have heard estimates as high as 5,000. They currently claim to have 230 men in training. US actions in Syria are spreading chaos and risking a wider regional war – or worse. According to the WSW:
[Turkish President] Erdogan condemned US support for the YPG, declaring on the weekend: “The US sent 4,900 trucks of weapons in Syria. We know this. This is not what allies do.” At a rally yesterday he reiterated his determination to “vanquish” the Kurdish militia. “We have finished our preparations,” he said. “The operation can start any time.” Erdogan accused the US of “creating a terror army on our border,” adding: “What we have to do is nip this terror army in the bud.”
The Syrian government denounced the planned pro-US border force as a “blatant assault” on the country’s sovereignty. The state-run news agency, SANA, cited a foreign ministry spokesperson as insisting that the army was determined to thwart the US “conspiracy, end the presence of the US, its agents and tools in Syria, establish full control over the entire Syria territory and preserve the country’s sovereignty.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday accused the US of seeking to split up Syria, saying it “does not want to keep Syria as a state in its current borders.” Washington was helping “the Syrian Democratic Forces to set up some border security zones.”
An investigation by a couple of Russian journalists has been published on Sputnik reports that the US has a training camp for jihadists near al Tanf, a primary border crossing between Syria and Iraq. They claim that there are as many as 1,500 fighters there including SDF, New Syrian Army (perhaps represented by the Free Syria Army leaders in Washington last week) and over 200 ISIS fighters. These men are on the payroll. Another 5,000 potential fighters reside in nearby Rukban refugee camp which is cut off from all outside access including the United Nations and other NGOS. Syrian and Russian forces are bombed if they approach the area. Civilians in Rukban and the US controlled territories are in a desperate situation. They are lacking the basic necessities while members of criminal gangs control the wells and sell water at inflated prices. Restless fighters rob local homes and attack trucks passing on the highway.
It must be noted that the United States has invested not a penny in rebuilding any part of Syria. Secretary of State Tillerson has said that we will assist rebuilding AFTER Assad has left. Since this is unlikely to occur, this responsibility will not fall on them in the foreseeable future. The Arab population of Raqqa has been driven from the city to local refugee camps, and some into the government controlled areas of Syria. Meanwhile, Syrians living in territories under the control of US forces and US proxies remain in the rubble of the war just as Palestinians in Gaza live in the rubble of the communities that Israel has destroyed.
Fox News has reported that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) members have been in Washington this week meeting with US officials. These are the same ‘moderates’ who have consistently fought side by side with ISIS and al Qaeda from the beginning of the war, and who could not be separated from those organizations to create functioning deconfliction zones. The article says these FSA leaders claim to have 60,000 fighters. This is absurd given that they didn’t have that many fighters before they lost the war, and according the investigative report below, they had only a couple of checkpoints in the remaining center of Syrian Opposition, which is controlled by al Qaeda (under various names) and an extremist group called Ahrar al Sham.
One of these FSA leaders in Washington is quoted as saying “Iran and Assad contributed to the creation of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups,” another absurdity since we know that the United States created Al Qaeda in the 80s to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, while Turkey, Qatar, Saudia Arabia and their US backers are responsible for transporting these foreign fighters into Syria as well as training the FSA forces. Today, Syria is terrorized by fighters from Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, and Iraq, Uighers from China, Chechens from Russia, rebellious youth from France, Germany, UK, USA and other western countries, and around the globe. In fact, it’s big news when somebody takes out one of our own.
Syria for Syrians
The Syrian Government, after recovering Deir Ezzor, long under siege by ISIS, and clearing the Baghdad Damascus road across the border with Iraq, has turned it’s attention to Idlib province. A strategy of restoring control to urban areas, towns and villages through reconciliation programs has been effective in freeing up the army to move from one area to another, and it has saved many lives. Although the western media has focused on the use of siege to induce surrender in reconciliation areas, the program is more robust than that.
Areas under the control of Al Qaeda or criminal gangs affiliated with one militant organization or another are not well provisioned even in the best cases because the fighters keep the majority of supplies for themselves and govern through force. The reconciliation programs attempt to create back channels to deliver resources to the civilian population. By empowering the civilian population they can convince them to stand against the occupying forces. The final resolution is negotiated for an end where as many civilians as possible will be protected; where Syrian citizens fighting against the government are given an opportunity to restore their citizenship. Concessions are made. In some areas, sharia courts continue under the governance of local fundamentalists. Those who might otherwise fight to the death are given an opportunity to leave.
Those who chose to leave are allowed a personal firearm and bused with the families to Idlib province on the Turkish border. Today, as the Syrian state moves to liberate Idlib, the situation there is dire. The province is completely under the control of al Qaeda forces (under various names) and flooded with foreign fighters. The following is a video produced about a year ago by Jenan Mousa, a roving reporter for Al Aan TV, a pan Arab TV station in out of Dubai.
The reconciliation program will work in Idlib, and has been ongoing for some time. It is clear the civilians there have many unmet needs. The recent change of face implemented by al Nusra/Hayit Tahir al Sham seems superficial and clearly an initiative to influence western backers and not for the benefit of the locals. The one difference from other reconciliation plans is that there will be no buses to an Al Qaeda haven. Instead, extremists and mercenaries with families and those who do not want to die in Syria will be driven back across the Turkish border to their training camps and refuges where President Erdogan and the Turkish people will have to deal with the consequences of his folly just as the people of Pakistan continue to deal with the consequences of Zia al Haq’s collaboration with US plans to build an army of fanatics to fight the soviets in Afghanistan.
At the moment, Turkish President Erdogan is far more concerned about the Kurdish forces being trained by the US to occupy land in Syria that he once coveted for Turkish occupation. He is quite beside himself over the US empowerment of Kurdish militias affiliated with the Turkish PKK in Syria. The Turkish army has begun an attack on the largely Kurdish city of Afrin in northern Syria, and Erdogan has stated that once he has ‘liberated’ Afrin (from the US backed Kurdish forces) he will move on to occupy Manbj, another city in the original Kurdish region of Syria. The YPG Kurds of the US backed SDF are followers of a Abdullah Ocalan, a Turkish dissident currently residing in a high security Turkish prison. The Turkish state has been persecuting the Kurdish people and fighting Kurdish rebellions within its borders since it’s inception. At that time, an angry and disappointed Kurdish population found themselves denied a promised state in an area (Turkey) where they represented nearly a third of the population, unlike Syria, where Kurds, including recent immigrants, represent less that a tenth of the population.
Increasingly at odds with the US government, and engaged through Russian diplomacy in a tenuous detente with his erstwhile victims in Syria, Turkish President Erdogan is an easy target. Turkey is the largest military power in the region, with a history of western alliances, and as the war has wound down he has been increasingly isolated and under threat. They lost and he is holding the bag. This is not to say that his own bad choices didn’t bring him to this place, but it certainly makes him a dangerous force in the Syrian conflict. Denied the fruits of his support for the international attack on Syria, he is also faced with the reinforcement of an archetypal enemy of the Turkish state. His reaction to the latter problem may well give him at least some of the rewards that providing services for the anti-Syrian forces did not.
US officials should have seen this coming. Well, of course, they did see it coming. What we are seeing here is politically a Turkish civil war being played out on Syrian territory at the expense of the Syrian people. Two Turkish forces are fighting for control of northern Syria, one enabled by US backing. If you look at US objectives, this situation is surely advantageous. Even as the Syrian forces and their allies move in to clear out the last holdout of Al Qaeda and the other Turkish proxies, Turkey is moving in to occupy Syrian towns and villages along the border in areas where the US can’t hold them.
How convenient is that for US objectives, which include the breakup and destruction of the Syrian state. In his rage and frustration, Erdogan continues or support the needs of US military strategists who do not really have the forces to hold the large swathe of Syria they have announced their intention to occupy. Yesterday, Tillerson again softened his line. But he well knows that at this point, it doesn’t matter what he says. He is blowing wind, talking to the press and the people of the United States. There has been no significant diplomatic engagement with Turkey since Trump came in to office. Meanwhile, the diplomatic initiative of the Russians has been disrupted and a loose cannon is pivoting out of control on the northern border of Syria.
US Policy in Syria
The US policy of destruction and devastation is clear in Syria as in Libya and Iraq, Afghanistan and even Yugoslavia. They really only need enough land to put their regional military bases. Destruction jand chaos are the goal. Destruction by ISIS, by Al Qaeda/Al Nusra/…/Hayat Tahir, by Turkey, by the Kurds, by the French and British, by our own forces, it really doesn’t matter. It’s all the same to US strategists. Blaming Russia, blaming Muslims, blaming the Turks blaming Iran, blaming Assad – its a ll a pretext for the destruction of an ancient land and culture, of a society that is at the root of our own culture. This policy has not changed one iota since the beginning of the war fueled by Libyan fighters with US weapons in the south and Turkish trained proxies armed and funded by the Saudi Arabia and Qatar in in the north.
We need to stand up and set aside our confusion NOW. The US role and that of the Kurdish militias in Syria has no upside. It is a bold initiative to create chaos and destruction in Syria and to continue the war that was started by the United States and its allies to crush the independent sovereign Republic of Syria.
Hands Off Syria! Hands off the Middle East!
Stand up today against the vicious policy of destruction adopted by the US government!
Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in Sochi on 21st November 2017. The last time Assad visited Russia was at the beginning of the Russian campaign in Syria in 2015. According to the Syrian president, in two years of the Russian campaign the successes achieved have been evident and many residents of the country were able to return to their homes. He noted that thanks to Russia, Syria was saved as a state. (Text by Inessa S.)
The Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, Valeri Gerasimov, said conditions have been created for the return of refugees to Syria, during the trilateral meeting with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Sochi. "The main thing is that the sovereignty, the territorial integrity of the country has been preserved, the civil war was stopped, conditions were created for the restoration of peaceful life and refugees' return," said Gerasimov.
President Putin similarly told his Czech counterpart, Milos Zeman, that "over 98% of the territory of Syria is under the control of Syrian government troops, during their meeting in Sochi. Zeman congratulated Russia for its role in the outcome in Syria, saying: "you have won in Syria, because he [Assad] now controls almost the entire Syrian territory."
The Russian military campaign in Syria began in late 2015, by invitation of the Syrian government. Meanwhile, the Western coalition was carrying out military activity there almost two whole years beforehand, illegally. Under the guise of fighting ISIS, they were simultaneously targeting Assad’s government forces, as well as letting ISIS spread like wildfire.
President Assad and President Putin met on 21st of November to celebrate the defeat of Daesh in Syria, but we hear little of this in the western media, which is distracting people with Hollywood scandals. In this brilliantly documented episode of The Debate, Iranian Press TV has conducted an interview with Janice Kortkamp, a journalist from Washington, and Jonathan Fryer, a London-based writer and lecturer, to discuss "the end of Daesh" terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.
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.)
The following report is from AlMasdarNews:
“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.”
A report provided by the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs contains lists of weapons provided by the United States to Iraq, many of which - including aircraft - would later be seized by ISIS and probably later deployed in Iraq and Syria. These included an horrendous US-manufactured arsenal of chemical and biological weapons: including anthrax, botulinium, and E.Coli as well as human and bacterial DNA. Grotesquely, the United States, which had provided these weapons, has later accused the Syrian Government of using chemical weapons, and Trump has used this as an excuse to invade Syria.
Book: Indefensible: Seven myths that sustain the global arms trade
The quotes below are taken from
Paul Holden, Ed.'s Indefensible: Seven Myths that Sustain the Global Arms Trade was first published in 2016 by Zed Books,UK, a well-written and well-resourced book that brings us up to date with the trade and also explores its many motives. I don't know if it was overtly stated anywhere in the book, but I formed the impression that excessive arms are collected, bought, and sold by national leaders as a power display and that their buying and selling is a kind of social interplay between globally hypertrophied alpha apes, currying favour or swaggering at each other from the top of their weapons piles and taunting smaller apes. In this anthropological light perhaps we can understand North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un's resort to nuclear weapons as North America teases him with ostentatious displays of military strength while the world press taunts him as mad. Similarly Gaddafi's purchase of over $30b worth of weapons from world powers was perhaps an unsuccessful attempt to palliate the ferocity of the mad apes in the west.
I was particularly interested to read the history of who sold weapons to the Middle East and was not surprised to find out that it is the same powers that are intervening there to 'stop wars'.
US helped Iraq build factories for chemical weapons
"In the early 1990s, the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs released a report confirming that The United States provided the Government of Iraq with ‘dual use’ licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-system programs, including: chemical warfare agent precursors, chemical warfare agent production facility plans and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans); chemical warhead filling equipment; biological warfare related materials; missile fabrication equipment; and, missile-system guidance equipment." 
Chemical and biological weapons made by US sold to the Middle East
"The list of biological material the US provided [to Iraq and which were later stolen by ISIS] was shocking, including anthrax, botulinium, E.Coli as well as human and bacterial DNA. There is credible evidence that when the US invaded Iraq in 1991, US troops were exposed to the very agents that the US had supplied, over and above fighting against the weapons whose acquisition the US had helped to fund and arrange. In the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein, the world was witness to another type of blowback: namely, when an ally is provided arms but fails to stop those arms being stolen by enemies."
"[...]a 2014 UN Security Council Report noted that in June 2014 alone ISIS seized sufficient Iraqi government stocks from the provinces of Anbar and Salah al-Din to arm and equip more than three Iraqi conventional army divisions. Reviewing the evidence, the same report provided a chilling summary of the range of weapons ISIS has at its disposal:
From social media and other reporting, it is clear that ISIL assets include light weapons, assault rifles, machine guns, heavy weapons, including possible man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) (SA-7), field and anti-aircraft guns, missiles, rockets, rocket launchers, artillery, aircraft, tanks (including T-55s and T-72s) and vehicles, including high-mobility mobility multipurpose military vehicles." 
ISIS took many weapons, almost undoubtedly including chemical weapons, which it probably later deployed in Iraq and Syria, but the United States, which had provided these weapons, later accused the Syrian Government of using chemical weapons, and Trump used this as an excuse to attack Syria militarily.
 Source: Holden, Paul. Indefensible (Kindle Locations 978-982). Zed Books. Kindle Edition.
 US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Second Staff Report on US Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and the Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the War, 1995. 9Ibid, Chapter 1. 10Ibid, Chapters 2 and 3.
 Source: Holden, Paul. Indefensible (Kindle Locations 987-992). Zed Books. Kindle Edition.
 The Islamic State and the Levant and the Al-Nusrah Front for the People of Levant: Report and Recommendations Submitted Pursuant to Resolution 2170 (2014), S/2014/815, paragraph 39.
 Source: Holden, Paul. Indefensible (Kindle Location 1009-1015). Zed Books. Kindle Edition.
[...]John Kerry himself [...] admitted, in a meeting with Syrian opposition, the Obama administration saw the ISIS advance as a positive development: “[W]e know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that DAESH [ ISIS] was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. [We] thought, however, we could probably manage that. Assad might then negotiate.”(By “negotiate,” Kerry meant “capitulate”—negotiate the terms of his abdication.) For the Serious People in Washington, this—the impending takeover of Syria by ISIS and Al-Qaeda jihadis—meant things were going swimmingly. (Al-Nusra was at the time—and still is, less officially—the affiliate of Al-Qaeda in Syria.) As Daniel Lazare pointed out: “After years of hemming and hawing, the Obama administration has finally come clean about its goals in Syria. In the battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, it is siding with Al Qaeda…[R]ather than protesting what is in fact a joint U.S.-Al Qaeda assault, the Beltway crowd is either maintaining a discreet silence or boldy hailing Al Nusra’s impending victory as ‘the best thing that could happen in a Middle East in crisis.’”
The recapture of Aleppo by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies marks a turning point not only in the conflict in Syria, but also in the dynamic of international conflict. For the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the rolling imperial engine of regime change via American-led military intervention has been stopped in its tracks. To be sure, it’s certainly not out of service, even in Syria, and it will seek and find new paths for devastating disobedient countries, but its assumed endgame for subjugating Syria has been rudely interrupted. And in our historical context, Syria interrupted is imperialism interrupted.
Read more at "Game Change: Syria, Interrupted" by Jim Kavanagh.
Published on Dec 13, 2016, "Syriennes" - "Syrians" is a beautiful documentary made in Syria by Julien Rochedy for TV Libertés, about how Syrian girls and women feel about the prospect of a 'rebel' win. It includes an interview with an Australian-Syrian woman who returned to Syria when the war began. Girls in Damascus and the regions not controlled by the US-NATO-backed rebels are currently free to study, to follow their passions and to exercise their professions, but they live in fear of a 'rebel' win in the Syrian conflict. We see how many women in Damascus wear western clothes and bare heads, walk freely down the street and eat in cafes alone, just like girls in Sydney or Brisbane. The film also interviews women in Damascus who have escaped the 'Free Syrian Army', Daesh/ISIS and Al Nusra. Their tales are chilling. It is obvious that no woman could benefit from a victory by the militia that the US and NATO support. Women are 50% of Syria's population, so why does Australia and the US NATO support the 'rebels', who are all 'takfiris', that is, Islamic fundamentalists? And what excuse does the west have for the crippling and illegal sanctions imposed on Syria for decades now. It is pointed out that Iraq was subject to similar sanctions for ten years before the US invasion, and that tens of thousands of children died because of this. This film about the most bloody conflict of the early 21st century permits us to understand a much more complex reality than the mainstream media paints.
President Bashar al-Assad : “[The ]West is telling Russia that Syrian Army went too far in defeating terrorists … Daesh could only attack Palmyra the way it did with supervision of U.S. alliance”. President Obama’s announcement of a waiver for arming unspecified rebel groups in Syria came shortly before the terrorist group Islamic State launched a massive attack on Palmyra. Syrian President Bashar Assad believes it was no coincidence, he told RussiaToday. In the interview, the Syrian leader explained how his approach to fighting terrorism differs from that of the US, why he believes the military success of his forces in Aleppo was taken so negatively in the West, and what he expects from US President-elect Donald Trump. [Full Video and Transcript]
“The announcement of the lifting of that embargo is related directly to the attack on Palmyra and to the support of other terrorists outside Aleppo, because when they are defeated in Aleppo, the United States and the West, they need to support their proxies somewhere else,” Bashar al-Assad said.
“The crux of that announcement is to create more chaos, because the United States creates chaos in order to manage this chaos,” Assad added.
He added that Islamic State (Daesh, IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) forces “came with different and huge manpower and firepower that ISIS never had before during this attack, and they attacked on a huge front, tens of kilometers that could be a front of armies. ISIS could only have done that with the support of states. Not state; states.”
Russia Today (Maria Finoshina): Mr. President, thank you very much for agreeing to speak with us.
President Bashar al-Assad: You’re most welcome in Damascus.
RT: We start with Aleppo, of course. Aleppo is now seeing what is perhaps the most fierce fighting since the war started almost six years ago here in Syria, but the Western politicians and Western media have been largely negative about your army’s advance. Why you think this is happening? Do they take it as their own defeat?
B.A.: Actually, after they failed in Damascus, because the whole narrative was about “liberating Damascus from the state” during the first three years. When they failed, they moved to Homs, when they failed in Homs, they moved to Aleppo, they focused on Aleppo during the last three years, and for them this is the last most important card they could have played on the Syrian battlefield. Of course, they still have terrorists in different areas in Syria, but it’s not like talking about Aleppo as the second largest city which has the political, military, economic, and even moral sense when their terrorists are defeated. So, for them the defeat of the terrorists is the defeating of their proxies, to talk bluntly. These are their proxies, and for them the defeat of these terrorists is the defeat of the countries that supervised them, whether regional countries or Western countries like United States, first of all United States, and France, and UK.
RT: So, you think they take it as their own defeat, right?
B.A.: Exactly, that’s what I mean. The defeat of the terrorists, this is their own defeat because these are their real army on the ground. They didn’t interfere in Syria, or intervened, directly; they have intervened through these proxies. So, that’s how we have to look at it if we want to be realistic, regardless of their statements, of course.
RT: Palmyra is another troubled region now, and it’s now taken by ISIS or ISIL, but we don’t hear a lot of condemnation about it. Is that because of the same reason?
B.A.: Exactly, because if it was captured by the government, they will be worried about the heritage. If we liberate Aleppo from the terrorists, they would be – I mean, the Western officials and the mainstream media – they’re going to be worried about the civilians. They’re not worried when the opposite happens, when the terrorists are killing those civilians or attacking Palmyra and started destroying the human heritage, not only the Syrian heritage. Exactly, you are right, because ISIS, if you look at the timing of the attack, it’s related to what’s happening in Aleppo. This is the response to what’s happening in Aleppo, the advancement of the Syrian Arab Army, and they wanted to make this… or let’s say, to undermine the victory in Aleppo, and at the same time to distract the Syrian Army from Aleppo, to make it move toward Palmyra and stop the advancement, but of course it didn’t work.
RT: We also hear reports that Palmyra siege was not only related to Aleppo battle, but also to what was happening in Iraq, and there are reports that the US-led coalition – which is almost 70 countries – allowed ISIL fighters in Mosul in Iraq to leave, and that strengthened ISIL here in Syria. Do you think it could be the case?
B.A.: It could be, but this is only to wash the hand of the American politicians from their responsibility on the attack, when they say “just because of Mosul, of course, the Iraqi army attacked Mosul, and ISIS left Mosul to Syria.” That’s not the case. Why? Because they came with different and huge manpower and firepower that ISIS never had before during this attack, and they attacked on a huge front, tens of kilometers that could be a front of armies. ISIS could only have done that with the support of states. Not state; states. They came with different machineguns, cannons, artillery, everything is different. So, it could only happen when they come in this desert with the supervision of the American alliance that’s supposed to attack them in al-Raqqa and Mosul and Deir Ezzor, but it didn’t happen; they either turned a blind eye on what ISIS is going to do, and, or – and that’s what I believe – they pushed toward Palmyra. So, it’s not about Mosul. We don’t have to fall in that trap. It’s about al-Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. They are very close, only a few hundred kilometers, they could come under the supervision of the American satellites and the American drones and the American support.
RT: How strong ISIS is today?
B.A.: As strong as the support that they get from the West and regional powers. Actually, they’re not strong for… if you talk isolated case, ISIS as isolated case, they’re not strong, because they don’t have the natural social incubator. Without it, terrorists cannot be strong enough. But the real support they have, the money, the oil field investment, the support of the American allies’ aircrafts, that’s why they are strong. So, they are as strong as their supporters, or as their supervisors.
RT: In Aleppo, we heard that you allowed some of these terrorists to leave freely the battleground. Why would you do that? It’s clear that they can go back to, let’s say, Idleb, and get arms and get ready for further attacks, then maybe attack those liberating Aleppo.
B.A.: Exactly, exactly, that’s correct, and that’s been happening for the last few years, but you always have things to lose and things to gain, and when the gain is more than what you lose, you go for that gain. In that case, our priority is to protect the area from being destroyed because of the war, to protect the civilians who live there, to give the chance for those civilians to leave through the open gates, to leave that area to the areas under the control of the government, and to give the chance to those terrorists to change their minds, to join the government, to go back to their normal life, and to get amnesty. When they don’t, they can leave with their armaments, with the disadvantage that you mentioned, but this is not our priority, because if you fight them in any other area outside the city, you’re going to have less destruction and less civilian casualties, that’s why.
RT: I feel that you call them terrorists, but at the same time you treat them as human beings, you tell them “you have a chance to go back to your normal life.”
B.A.: Exactly. They are terrorists because they are holding machineguns, they kill, they destroy, they commit vandalism, and so on, and that’s natural, everywhere in the world that’s called as terrorism. But at the same time, they are humans who committed terrorism. They could be something else. They joined the terrorists for different reasons, either out of fear, for the money, sometimes for the ideology. So, if you can bring them back to their normal life, to be natural citizens, that’s your job as a government. It’s not enough to say “we’re going to fight terrorists.” Fighting terrorists is like a videogame; you can destroy your enemy in the videogame, but the videogame will generate and regenerate thousands of enemies, so you cannot deal with it on the American way: just killing, just killing! This is not our goal; this is the last option you have. If you can change, this is a good option, and it succeeded. It succeeded because many of those terrorists, when you change their position, some of them living normal lives, and some of them joined the Syrian Army, they fought with the Syrian Army against the other terrorists. This is success, from our point of view.
RT: Mr. President, you just said that you gain and you lose. Do you feel you’ve done enough to minimize civilian casualties during this conflict?
B.A.: We do our utmost. What’s enough, this is subjective; each one could look at it in his own way. At the end, what’s enough is what you can do; my ability as a person, the ability of the government, the ability of Syria as a small country to face a war that’s been supported by tens of countries, mainstream media’s hundreds of channels, and other machines working against you. So, it depends on the definition of “enough,” so this is, as I said, very subjective, but I’m sure that we are doing our best. Nothing is enough at the end, and the human practice is always full of correct and flows, or mistakes, let’s say, and that’s the natural thing.
RT: We hear Western powers asking Russia and Iran repeatedly to put pressure on you to, as they put it, “stop the violence,” and just recently, six Western nations, in an unprecedented message, they asked Russia and Iran again to put pressure on you, asking for a ceasefire in Aleppo.
RT: Will you go for it? At the time when your army was progressing, they were asking for a ceasefire.
B.A.: Exactly. It’s always important in politics to read between the lines, not to be literal. It doesn’t matter what they ask; the translation of their statement is for Russia: “please stop the advancement of the Syrian Army against the terrorists.” That’s the meaning of that statement, forget about the rest. “You went too far in defeating the terrorists, that shouldn’t happen. You should tell the Syrians to stop this, we have to keep the terrorists and to save them.” This is in brief.
Second, Russia never – these days, I mean, during this war, before that war, during the Soviet Union – never tried to interfere in our decision. Whenever they had opinion or advice, doesn’t matter how we can look at it, they say at the end “this is your country, you know what the best decision you want to take; this is how we see it, but if you see it in a different way, you know, you are the Syrian.” They are realistic, and they respect our sovereignty, and they always defend the sovereignty that’s based on the international law and the Charter of the United Nations. So, it never happened that they made any pressure, and they will never do it. This is not their methodology.
RT: How strong is the Syrian Army today?
B.A.: It’s about the comparison, to two things: first of all, the war itself; second, to the size of Syria. Syria is not a great country, so it cannot have a great army in the numerical sense. The support of our allies was very important; mainly Russia, and Iran. After six years, or nearly six years of the war, which is longer than the first World War and the second World War, it’s definitely and self-evident that the Syrian Army is not to be as strong as it was before that. But what we have is determination to defend our country. This is the most important thing. We lost so many lives in our army, we have so many martyrs, so many disabled soldiers. Numerically, we lost a lot, but we still have this determination, and I can tell you this determination is much stronger than before the war. But of course, we cannot ignore the support from Russia, we cannot ignore the support from Iran, that make this determination more effective and efficient.
RT: President Obama has lifted a ban on arming some Syrian rebels just recently. What impact you think could it have on the situation on the ground, and could it directly or indirectly provide a boost to terrorists?
B.A.: We’re not sure that he lifted that embargo when he announced it. Maybe he lifted it before, but announced it later just to give it the political legitimacy, let’s say. This is first. The second point, which is very important: the timing of the announcement and the timing of attacking Palmyra. There’s a direct link between these two, so the question is to whom those armaments are going to? In the hands of who? In the hands of ISIS and al-Nusra, and there’s coordination between ISIS and al-Nusra. So, the announcement of this lifting of that embargo is related directly to the attack on Palmyra and to the support of other terrorists outside Aleppo, because when they are defeated in Aleppo, the United States and the West, they need to support their proxies somewhere else, because they don’t have any interest in solving the conflict in Syria. So, the crux of that announcement is to create more chaos, because the United States creates chaos in order to manage this chaos, and when they manage it, they want to use the different factors in that chaos in order to exploit the different parties of the conflict, whether they are internal parties or external parties.
RT: Mr. President, how do you feel about being a small country in the middle of this tornado of countries not interested in ending the war here?
B.A.: Exactly. It’s something we’ve always felt before this war, but we felt it more of course today, because small countries feel safer when there’s international balance, and we felt the same, what you just mentioned, after the collapse of the Soviet Union when there was only American hegemony, and they wanted to implement whatever they want and to dictate all their policies on everyone. Small countries suffer the most. So, we feel it today, but at the same time, today there’s more balance with the Russian role. That’s why I think we always believe the more Russia is stronger – I’m not only talking about Syria, I’m talking about every small country in the world – whenever the stronger Russia, more rising China, we feel more secure. It’s painful, I would say it’s very painful, this situation that we’ve been living, on every level; humanitarian level, the feeling, the loss, everything. But at the end, it’s not about losing and winning; it’s about either winning or losing your country. It’s existential threat for Syria. It’s not about government losing against other government or army against army; either the country will win, or the country will disappear. That’s how we look at it. That’s why you don’t have time to feel that pain; you only have time to fight and defend and do something on the ground.
RT: Let’s talk about media’s role in this conflict.
RT: All sides during this war have been accused of civilian casualties, but the Western media has been almost completely silent about the atrocities committed by the rebels… what role is the media playing here?
B.A.: First of all, the mainstream media with their fellow politicians, they are suffering during the last few decades from moral decay. So, they have no morals. Whatever they talk about, whatever they mention or they use as mask, human rights, civilians, children; they use all these just for their own political agenda in order to provoke the feelings of their public opinion to support them in their intervention in this region, whether militarily or politically. So, they don’t have any credibility regarding this. If you want to look at what’s happening in the United States is rebellion against the mainstream media, because they’ve been lying and they kept lying on their audiences. We can tell that, those, let’s say, the public opinion or the people in the West doesn’t know the real story in our region, but at least they know that the mainstream media and their politicians were laying to them for their own vested interests agenda and vested interests politicians. That’s why I don’t think the mainstream media could sell their stories anymore and that’s why they are fighting for their existence in the West, although they have huge experience and huge support and money and resources, but they don’t have something very important for them to survive, which is the credibility. They don’t have it, they lost it. They don’t have the transparency, that’s why they don’t have credibility. That’s why they are very coward today, they are afraid of your channel, of any statement that could tell the truth because it’s going to debunk their talks. That’s why.
RT: Reuters news agency have been quoting Amaq, ISIL’s mouthpiece, regarding the siege of Palmyra. Do you think they give legitimacy to extremists in such a way? They’re quoting their media.
B.A.: Even if they don’t mention their news agencies, they adopt their narrative anyway. But if you look at the technical side of the way ISIS presented itself from the very beginning through the videos and the news and the media in general and the PR, they use Western technique. Look at it, it’s very sophisticated. How could somebody who’s under siege, who’s despised all over the world, who’s under attack from the airplanes, who the whole world wants to liberate every city from him, could be that sophisticated unless he is not relaxed and has all the support? So, I don’t think it is about Amaq; it’s about the West adopting their stories, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.
RT: Donald Trump takes over as US President in a few weeks. You mentioned America many times today. What do you expect from America’s new administration?
B.A.: His rhetoric during the campaign was positive regarding the terrorism, which is our priority today. Anything else is not priority, so, I wouldn’t focus on anything else, the rest is American, let’s say, internal matters, I wouldn’t worry about. But the question whether Trump has the will or the ability to implement what he just mentioned. You know that most of the mainstream media and big corporate, the lobbies, the Congress, even some in his party were against him; they want to have more hegemony, more conflict with Russia, more interference in different countries, toppling governments, and so on. He said something in the other direction. Could he sustain against all those after he started next month? That’s the question. If he could, I think the world will be in a different place, because the most important thing is the relation between Russia and the Unites States. If he goes towards that relation, most of the tension around the world will be pacified. That’s very important for us in Syria, but I don’t think anyone has the answer to that. He wasn’t a politician, so, we don’t have any reference to judge him, first. Second, nobody can tell what kind of pattern is it going to be next month and after.
RT: The humanitarian situation in Syria is a disaster, and we hear from EU foreign policy chief, Madam Mogherini, that EU is the only entity to deliver humanitarian aid to Syria. Is that true?
B.A.: Actually, all the aid that any Western country sent was to the terrorists, to be very clear, blunt and very transparent. They never cared about a single Syrian human life. We have so many cities in Syria till today surrounded by and besieged by the terrorists; they prevented anything to reach them, food, water, anything, all the basic needs of life. Of course, they attack them on daily basis by mortars and try to kill them. What did the EU send to those? If they are worried about the human life, if they talk about the humanitarian aspect, because when you talk about the humanitarian aspect or issue, you don’t discriminate. All the Syrians are humans, all the people are humans. They don’t do that. So, this is the double standard, this is the lie that they keep telling, and it’s becoming a disgusting lie, no-one is selling their stories anymore. That’s not true, what she mentioned, not true.
RT: Some suggestions say that for Syria, the best solution would to split into separate countries governed by Sunni, Shi’a, Kurds. Is it any way possible?
B.A.: This is the Western – with some regional countries’ – hope or dream, and this is not new, not related to this war; that was before the war, and you have maps for this division and disintegration. But actually, if you look at the society today, the Syrian society is more unified than before the war. This is reality. I’m not saying anything to raise the morale of anyone, I’m not talking to Syrian audience anyway now, I’m talking about the reality. Because of the lessons of the war, the society became more realistic and pragmatic and many Syrians knew that being fanatic doesn’t help, being extreme in any idea, I’m not only talking about extremism in the religious meaning; politically, socially, culturally, doesn’t help Syria. Only when we accept each other, when we respect each other, we can live with each other and we can have one country. So, regarding the disintegration of Syria, if you don’t have this real disintegration among the society and different shades and spectrum of the Syrian society, Syrian fabric, you cannot have division. It’s not a map you draw, I mean, even if you have one country while the people are divided, you have disintegration. Look at Iraq, it’s one country, but it is disintegrated in reality. So, no, I’m not worried about this. There’s no way that Syrians will accept that. I’m talking now about the vast majority of the Syrians, because this is not new, this is not the subject of the last few weeks or the last few months. This is the subject of this war. So, after nearly six years, I can tell you the majority of the Syrians wouldn’t accept anything related to disintegration, they are going to live as one Syria.
RT: As a mother, I feel the pain of all Syrian mothers. I’m speaking about children in Syria, what does the future hold for them?
B.A.: This is the most dangerous aspect of our problem, not only in Syria; wherever you talk about this dark Wahhabi ideology, because many of those children who became young during the last decade, or more than one decade, who joined the terrorists on ideological basis, not for the like of money or anything else, or hope, let’s say, they came from open-minded families, educated families, intellectual families. So, you can imagine how strong the terrorism is.
RT: So, that happened because of their propaganda?
B.A.: Exactly, because the ideology is very dangerous; it knows no borders, no political borders, and the network, the worldwide web has helped those terrorists using fast and inexpensive tools in order to promote their ideology, and they could infiltrate any family anywhere in the world, whether in Europe, in your country, in my country, anywhere. You have secular society, I have secular society, but it didn’t protect the society from being infiltrated.
RT: Do you have any counter ideology for this?
B.A.: Exactly, because they built their ideology on the Islam, you have to use the same ideology, using the real Islam, the real moderate Islam, in order to counter their ideology. This is the fast way. If we want to talk about the mid-term and long-term, it’s about how much can you upgrade the society, the way the people analyze and think, because this ideology can only work when you cannot analyze, when you don’t think properly. So, it’s about the algorithm of the mind, if you have natural or healthy operating system, if you want to draw an analogy to the IT, if you have good operating systems in our mind, they cannot infiltrate it like a virus. So, it’s about the education, media and policy because sometimes when you have a cause, a national cause, and people lose hope, you can push those people towards being extremists, and this is one of the influences in our region since the seventies, after the war between the Arabs and the Israelis, and the peace failed in every aspect to recapture the land, to give the land and the rights to its people, you have more desperation, and that played into the hand of the extremists, and this is where the Wahhabi find fertile soil to promote its ideology.
RT: Mr. President, thank you very much for your time, and I wish your country peace and prosperity, and as soon as possible.
B.A.: Thank you very much for coming.
RT: This time has been very tough for you, so I wish it’s going to end soon.
B.A.: Thank you very much for coming to Syria. I’m very glad to receive you.
RT: Thank you.
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It is Mrs Hillary Clinton who should be in prison, not Julian Assange. For anyone who is still confused about what on earth Wikileaks has demonstrated about Hilary Clinton, watch this very clear interview by Australia's most famous independent Australian journalist, John Pilger and check the transcript below the video. Assange makes perfectly clear the association between Saudi Arabia and ISIS and Saudi Arabia and the Clinton Foundation. It shows that Hillary Clinton, whilst Secretary of State (!), knew and knows that the Saudi Arabian and Qatar governments were and are funding ISIS. This relationship with terrorism has been going on for years. The Australian Government and opposition must also know this. And, the Australian government, by not getting Assange safely back home is spectacularly failing its obligations to protect its own citizens from persecution. Our government is a cowardly lackey to the United States and the opposition and the Greens are just as bad because they say nothing about this. Our press protects this collusive silence. Assange is without doubt a courageous world figure and an Australian hero, but without Australia's intervention, Assange risks being thrown into a dungeon, like Chelsea Manning - with a mockery trial in the United States, should he step outside the Ecuadorian Embassy. Transcript inside, first published on RT at http://on.rt.com/7ty5 as "Assange: Clinton is a cog for Goldman Sachs & the Saudis (John Pilger exclusive video & transcript)"with multiple pictures and links which we have not published here.
Transcript from RT:
Whistleblower Julian Assange has given one of his most incendiary interviews ever in a John Pilger Special, courtesy of Dartmouth Films, in which he summarizes what can be gleaned from the tens of thousands of Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks this year.
John Pilger, another Australian émigré, conducted the 25-minute interview at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where Assange has been trapped since 2012 for fear of extradition to the US. Last month, Assange had his internet access cut off for alleged “interference” in the American presidential election through the work of his website.
‘Clinton made FBI look weak, now there is anger’
John Pilger:What's the significance of the FBI's intervention in this last week of the US election campaign in the case against Hillary Clinton?
Julian Assange: If you go to the history of the FBI, it has become effectively America's political police. And the FBI demonstrated with taking down the former head of the CIA over classified information given to his mistress [that] almost no one was untouchable. The FBI is always trying to demonstrate that, "No one can resist us." But Hillary Clinton very conspicuously resisted the FBI's investigation. So, there is anger within the FBI because it made the FBI look weak. Well, we have published quite a number of different sets of emails, so, about 33,000 of Clinton's emails while she was Secretary of State. They come from a batch of just over 60,000 emails. In those 60,000 emails, Clinton has kept about half, 30,000, to herself, and we have published about half. And then there are the Podesta emails we've been publishing. Podesta is Hillary Clinton's primary campaign manager. So, there's a thread that runs through all of these emails. There is quite a lot of "pay for play," as they call it – taking… giving access in exchange for money for many individual states, individuals and corporations – combined with the cover-up of Hillary Clinton's emails while she was Secretary of State has led to an environment where the pressure on the FBI increases.
‘Russian government not the source of Clinton leaks’
JP: But the Clinton campaign has said that Russia is behind all of this. It says that Russia has manipulated the campaign and is the source for WikiLeaks and its emails.
JA: The Clinton camp has been able to project that kind of neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything.
JA: Hillary Clinton stated multiple times – falsely – that 17 US intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. OK. That's false. We can say that the Russian government is not the source, yes. WikiLeaks has been publishing for 10 years. In that 10 years, we've published 10 million documents. Several thousand individual publications, several thousand different sources. And we have never got it wrong.
‘Saudi Arabia & Qatar funding ISIS and Clinton’
JP:All the emails that give evidence of access for money and how Hillary Clinton herself benefitted from this and how she is benefitting politically are quite extraordinary. I'm thinking of where the Qatari representative was given five minutes with Bill Clinton for a million-dollar check and many other examples. Can you…?
JA: …Or $12 million from Morocco.
JP:...$12 million from Morocco... yeah.
JA: ... for Hillary Clinton to attend.
JP:In terms of the foreign policy of the United States, that's where – for me, anyway – where the emails are most revealing, where they show the direct connection Hillary Clinton and the foundation of jihadism, of ISIL in the Middle East. Can you talk something about that? What the… how the emails demonstrate this connection between... those who are meant to be fighting the jihadist ISIL are actually those who have helped create it.
JA: There's an early 2014 email from Hillary Clinton, so not so long after she left [her job as] Secretary of State, to her campaign manager John Podesta. That email, it states that ISIL, ISIS is funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar – the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Now, this is a… I actually think this is the most significant email in the whole collection...
JA: …And perhaps because Saudi and Qatari money is spread all over the place, including into many media institutions, all serious analysts know, even the US government has mentioned or agreed with that some Saudi figures have been supporting ISIS, funding ISIS. But the dodge has always been, that's… what… it's just some rogue princes using their cut of the oil money to do what they like but actually the government disapproves. But that email says that no, it is the governments of Saudi and the government of Qatar that have been funding ISIS.
JP:The Saudis, the Qataris, the Moroccans, the Bahrainis – particularly the Saudis and the Qataris giving all this money to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and the State Department is approving massive arms sales, particularly to Saudi Arabia.
JA: Under Hillary Clinton, and Clinton emails reveal significant discussion about it, the largest ever arms deal in the world was made with Saudi Arabia – more than $80 billion. In fact, during her tenure as Secretary of State, total arms exports from United States in terms of the dollar value doubled.
JP:Doubled. And of course, the consequence of that is that this notorious terrorist jihadist group called ISIL, or ISIS, is created largely with money from the very people who are giving money to the Clinton Foundation.
‘Clinton has been eaten alive by her ambition’
JA: Look. Hillary Clinton is just a person. I actually feel quite sorry for Hillary Clinton as a person because I see someone who is eaten alive by their ambitions, tormented literally to the point where they become sick. You know, they faint as a result of going on and going on with their ambitions. But she represents a whole network of people, and a network of relationships also with particular states. The question is, how does Hillary Clinton fit in this broader network? She's this centralizing cog, so that you've got a lot of different gears in operation from the big banks like Goldman Sachs, and major elements of Wall Street, and intelligence, and people in the State Department, and the Saudis, and so on. She's is the, if you like, the centralizer that interconnects all these different cogs. She's smooth central representation of all that, and all that is more or less what is in power now in the United States. It's what you call the establishment, or the DC consensus, and its influences. In fact, one of the most significant Podesta emails that we released was about how the Obama cabinet was formed – and half the Obama cabinet was basically nominated by a representative from Citibank. It is quite amazing.
JP:Well, it is… Didn’t Citibank supply a list?
JP:…Which turned out to be...
JA: Which turned out to be...
JP:…to be mostly the Obama cabinet.
JP:So, Wall Street decides the cabinet of the president of the United States.
JA: If you were following the Obama campaign back then closely, you could see it had become very close to banking interests. It wasn't so close to oil interests but it was very close to banking interests.
JA: So, I think you can't properly understand Hillary Clinton's foreign policy without understanding Saudi Arabia. The connections with Saudi Arabia are so intimate.
‘Libya is Hillary Clinton’s war’
JP:Why was she so demonstrably enthusiastic about the destruction of Libya? Can you talk a little about just what the emails have told us – told you – about what happened there? Because Libya is such a source for so much of the mayhem now in Syria: the ISIL, jihadism, and so on. And it was almost Hillary Clinton's invasion. What do the emails tell us about that?
JA: Libya more that anyone else's war was Hillary Clinton's war. Barack Obama initially opposed it. Who was the person who was championing it? Hillary Clinton. That's documented throughout her emails. She had… She put her favored agent in effect, Sidney Blumenthal, onto that. There's more than 1,700 emails out of the 33 thousand of Hillary Clinton's emails we published just about Libya. It's not about that Libya has cheap oil. She perceived the removal of Gaddafi and the overthrow of the Libyan state something that she would use to run in the general election for president. So late 2011, there's an internal document called the "Libya Tick Tock" that is produced for Hillary Clinton, and it's all the... it's a chronological description of how Hillary Clinton was the central figure in the destruction of the Libyan state. As a result, there are around 40,000 deaths within Libya. Jihadists moved in, ISIS moved in. That led to the European refugee and migrant crisis, because not only did you have people fleeing Libya, people then fleeing Syria, destabilization of other African countries as a result of arms flows. The Libyan state itself was no longer able to control movement of people through it. So, Libya faces on to the Mediterranean. So, it had been effectively the cork in the bottle of Africa. So, all problems, all economic problems, the civil war in Africa... Previously, the people fleeing those problems didn’t end up in Europe because Libya policed the Mediterranean. And that was said explicitly at the time, back in 2011, by Gaddafi: what do these Europeans think they are doing, trying to bomb and destroy the Libyan state? There’s going to be floods of migrants out of Africa, and jihadists into Europe. And that is exactly what happened.
‘Trump won’t be permitted to win’
JP:You get a lot of complaints from people saying, “What is WikiLeaks doing, are they trying to put Trump into White House?”
JA: My analysis is that Trump would not be permitted to win. Why do I say that? Because he’s had every establishment offside. Trump doesn’t have one establishment – maybe with the exception of the Evangelicals, if you can call them an establishment. But banks, intelligence, arms companies, big foreign money, etc. – it’s all united behind Hillary Clinton. And the media as well: so, media owners and even journalists themselves.
JP:The accusations that WikiLeaks is in league with the Russians and you hear people saying, “Well, why doesn’t WikiLeaks investigate and publish emails on Russia?”
JA: We have published over 800,000 documents of various kinds that relate to Russia. Most of those are critical. And… a great many books have come out of our publications about Russia, most of which are critical. And our documents have gone on to be used in quite a number of court cases, refugee cases of people fleeing some kinds of claimed political persecution in Russia, which they use our documents to back up.
JP:Do you take yourself a view of the US election? Do you have a preference for Clinton or Trump?
JA: Donald Trump – what does he represent in the American mind and in the European mind? He represents American “white trash,” deplorable and irredeemable. Basically, the same thing. It means, from a… establishment or educated, cosmopolitan, urbane perspective, these people are, you know, like the rednecks, and you can’t… like, they are just… you can never deal with them. And because he so clearly – through his words and actions and the type of people that turns up at his rallies – represents the people who are not the upper-middle-class-educated, there is a fear of seeming to be associated in any way with that, a social fear that lowers the class status of anyone who can be accused of somehow assisting in any way Trump, including criticizing Clinton. And if you look at how the middle class gains its economic and social power, it makes absolute sense.
‘US attempting to squeeze WikiLeaks through my refugee status’
JP:I’d like to talk about Ecuador, a small country that has given you refuge and has given you asylum in this embassy in London. Now, Ecuador cut off the Internet from here, where we’re doing this interview, in the embassy for the clearly obvious reason that they were concerned about appearing to intervene in the US election campaign. Can you talk about why they would take that action and your own views on Ecuador’s support for you?
JA: Let’s go back four years ago. I made an asylum application to Ecuador in this embassy because of the US extradition case. And the result was after a month, I was successful in my application, and then the embassy has been surrounded by the police. Quite an expensive police operation, which the British government admits they’re spending more than 12.6 million pounds – they’ve admitted that over a year ago. And now there’s undercover police and there’s robot surveillance cameras of various kinds. So, there has been a quite serious conflict right here in the heart of London between Ecuador – a country of 16 million people – and the United Kingdom. And the Americans, who’ve been helping on the side. So, that was a brave and principled thing for Ecuador to do. Now we have the US election afoot. The Ecuadorian election is in February next year. You have the White House feeling the political heat as a result of the true information that we have been publishing. WikiLeaks does not publish from the jurisdiction of Ecuador, from its embassy or the territory of Ecuador. We publish from France, we publish from Germany, we publish from the Netherlands and a number of other countries. So, the attempted squeeze on WikiLeaks is through my refugee status. And this is really intolerable: When you try and get at a publishing organization, to try and prevent it publishing true information that is of intense interest to the American people and others about an election.
JP:Tell us what would happen if you walked out of this embassy.
JA: So, I would be immediately arrested by the British police, and I would then be extradited, either immediately to the United States, or to Sweden. In Sweden, I am not charged, I’ve already been previously cleared, etc. So, we’re not certain exactly what would happen there, but then we know that the Swedish government has refused to say that they will not extradite me to the United States. And they have extradited 100 percent of people that the US has requested since at least 2000. So, over the last 15 years, every single person that the US has tried to extradite from Sweden has been extradited. And they refuse to provide the guarantees. So, it’s… yeah.
JP:People often ask how you cope with the isolation here.
JA: Look, one of the best attributes of human beings is that they are adaptable. One of the worst attributes of human beings is that they are adaptable. They adapt and start to tolerate abuses. They adapt to being involved themselves in abuses. They adapt to adversity and continue on. So, in my situation… frankly, I’m a bit institutionalized. This is the world – visually, this is the world.
JP:It’s a world without sunlight, for one thing…
JA: It’s a world without sunlight, but I haven’t seen sunlight in so long like I don’t remember it. So, yeah, you adapt. The one real irritant is that my young children – they also adapt. They adapt to being without their father. That’s a hard adaptation, which they didn’t ask for.
JP:Do you worry about them?
JA: Yeah, I worry about them, I worry about their mother.
‘I am innocent and in arbitrary detention’
JP:Some people would say, “Well, why don’t you end it and simply walk out the door and allow yourself to be extradited to Sweden?”
JA: The UN has looked into this whole situation. They spent 18 months in formal adversarial litigation: me, at the UN, versus Sweden and the UK – who is right? The UN made a conclusion – I’m being arbitrarily detained, illegally, deprived of my freedom. What has been… occurred, has not occurred within the laws that the United Kingdom and Sweden must obey. It is an illegal abuse. I mean, the United Nations formally asking what’s going on here, what’s your legal explanation for this. He says you should be… you should recognize his asylum. Sweden formally writing back to United Nations, says “No, we’re not going to,” leaving open their ability to extradite. I just find it absolutely amazing that the narrative about this situation is not put out publicly and in the press. Because it doesn’t suit the Western establishment narrative that, “Yes, the West has political prisoners.” It’s a reality. It’s not just me, there’s a bunch of other people as well. The West has political prisoners. No state accepts to call the people it is imprisoning or detaining for political reasons “political prisoners.” They don’t call them political prisoners in China, they don’t call them political prisoners in Azerbaijan, and they don’t call them political prisoners in the United States, the UK or Sweden. It’s absolutely intolerable to have that kind of self-perception. But here we have a case. Talking about the Swedish case, where I have never been charged with a crime, where I have already been cleared and found to be innocent, where the woman herself said that the police made it up, where the United Nations formally said the whole thing is illegal, where the state of Ecuador also investigated and found that I should be given asylum. Those are the facts. But what is the rhetoric?
JA: The rhetoric is pretending, constantly pretending that I have been charged with a crime, never mentioning that I have been already previously cleared, never mentioning that the woman herself says that the police made it up, trying to avoid that the UN formally found that the whole thing is illegal. Never even mentioning that Ecuador made a formal assessment through its formal processes and found that yes, I am subject to persecution by the United States.
Video documentary of army training and interviews with former enemies of the Syrian Army who have sought amnesty and now train to fight for Syria: "On several occasions since 2011, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has offered amnesty to anti-government militants who lay down their arms. Amnesties are usually offered to former combatants after are conflict ends, in Syria though they’re being granted as the war rages on. Men who haven’t completed their mandatory military service, are returned to the Army and serve in special “Amnestied groups” where they will fight with the government forces they once opposed.
Each has his own story about how he came to be offered amnesty. Some joined the armed opposition voluntarily, others say they were kidnapped and forced to cooperate. Some used to serve in the army but went AWOL due to circumstances beyond their control and were classified as deserters. Several are concerned about relatives who are fighting with one of the many militant factions. With such diverse backgrounds, some of the soldiers find it hard to trust each other completely, not knowing what side their comrades-in-arms are really on or what they may have done in the past.
What they all have in common is that they have been deeply affected by the war: they have lost homes and family members; and each one has a tragic story to tell. They all insist they are either victims or witnesses of war crimes but never the perpetrators. They sing patriotic songs and swear allegiance to Assad. Enlisting the amnestied remains controversial in Syria but the soldiers themselves say they’re happy to be given a second chance even if it means continuing to risk their lives in action, this time on the government’s side." First published on Rt Published time: 14 Aug, 2016 06:30 at https://www.rt.com/shows/documentary/354592-amnesty-syria-army-wartime/
ALEPPO, SYRIA, 11 Feb 2016: Our correspondent writes: "President Assad is not exterminating his people. I'm still alive, and no one said a word to me. If something bad happened to me in the near future, it would be because of the terrorists' policy of extermination. I'm living happily because there are Syrian soldiers who are defending us in hot summers and cold winters. The UN is lying as usual in their reports about Aleppo and Syria in general."
It's a new wave of propaganda that we have to face in Syria. Everything over here is way better than before. The Syrian Army and its allies are doing so well in Aleppo province (the city is still waiting though). I'm afraid though that the 'zombies' [means ISIS and their supporters -ed]of this world will take advantage of these lies and propaganda to 'justify' their future crimes, wars, and invasions. They did so several times in the past years. Each time the Syrian army succeed in defending the country, they (the trouble makers) create new conflicts and propaganda, a full package of lies, to twist realities on the ground and to end it to their sake and advantages. All the sacrifices of the Syrians would go in vain then. Let's hope that the zombies won't get away with it this time. People want this daily endless suffering to end as soon as possible.
I am doing very well here. I thank you all for remembering me and circulating my humble news.
The propaganda which is talking about hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped under siege in Eastern Aleppo had to be put under the analyzing lenses:
- Are these numbers accurate?
- Are they civilians or terrorists? Or are they the families of the terrorists?
- Are these images new or recycled? (they did so so many times so far, and i can't trust their claims anymore).
- if the SAA wants to liberate that part of Aleppo city or province, and the 'civilians' don't want to be trapped and want to leave, who is preventing them from doing so? The reality is that they are neither leaving nor letting the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) liberate those areas.
Human shield scenario
A 'human shields' scenario might be the right answer of that argument [i.e. what is really happening - Ed.], where they prevent the SAA from advancing while they blame it all on the SAA on the MSM.
A small news: Couple of days ago, two explosions took place close by to where I live, and it ended that the first one was from a random mortar shelled from the terrorists areas, where it hit a building's roof, but the next one was from the blowing of the warming fuel cistern on that roof that got fire from the first mortar. No one had been injured. Heavy smoke was seen, and the fire fighters came and took care of the situation. It's not a big news as you see, but it shows that those 'moderate opposition' are neither moderates nor opposition. Yet they dare to lecture about rosy noble humanitarian causes about Aleppo.
President Assad is not exterminating his people. I'm still alive, and no one said a word to me since I came. If something bad happened to me in the near future, it would be because of the terrorists' policy of extermination. I'm living happily here because there are Syrian soldiers who are defending us in hot summers and cold winters. The UN is lying as usual in their reports about Aleppo and Syria in general.
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
I mean seriously, President Erdogan, do the people of Turkey really want to have thousands of ISIS foreign fighters descending on them in mass -- men who have been raping, pillaging and beheading at will for the past four years? Once a brigand, always a brigand? Turkish citizens, sucks to be you. http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/34373-focus-the-misinformation-mess
But several of the rumors I've been hearing lately suggest that many of these foreign fighters are also being shipped off to Afghanistan to join the Taliban as well. Which brings up my next point. After Russia destroyed the weapons supply lines to ISIS in Syria, ISIS was dead in the water within just three months. So why are the Taliban still fighting on (and on) in Afghanistan after 14 long years? Who is running weapons supply lines to them? http://www.globalresearch.ca/isis-air-force-us-airstrike-takes-out-battalion-of-iraqi-troops-who-were-battling-isis/5496826
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
The Reverend Andrew Ashdown has been visiting Syria since 2005 – several visits before the conflict, and three in the last two years. On this occasion he was a member of a diverse peace delegation which was allowed freedom of movement by the Syrian Government. Ashdown writes: During the visit we met with hundreds of people - local and national political leaders, both government and internal opposition figures; with local and national Muslim and Christian leaders and members of reconciliation committees; with internally displaced refugees; and with numerous people on the streets of towns and cities – Sunni, Shi’a, Christian, Alawite; most of whom feel their voices are unheard, ignored and misrepresented.
Candobetter.net Editor: Emphasis and headings that are not place-names have been inserted by the editor.
Revd Andrew Ashdown is an Anglican Priest in the Diocese of Winchester, England. He has been visiting, leading groups to the Middle East, and engaging with faith leaders in the region for 30 years. He also works in the field of Inter-faith. Andrew visited Syria several times prior to the conflict, and has visited the country three times in the last 20 months. He is currently undertaking a PhD exploring Christian/Muslim relations in Syria in recent years. - Editor.
Delegation to Syria
I was in Syria as part of an international delegation in Syria, led by Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate; at the invitation of the Greek Melkite Syrian Patriarch Gregorius Laham; and at our own expense. This was my third visit to Syria since April 2014, and I have visited Syria on several occasions prior to the conflict.
Voices of Syrians themselves are largely ignored in polarised narrative
In this report, I seek to convey the key messages from my latest visit to Syria. The context is highly complex. The country has long been a rich mosaic of cultures and faiths. It is a birthplace of civilisations and of the Abrahamic faiths, which have lived predominantly in harmony for hundreds of years. In the context of the war, there are many narratives, and the West’s tends to be skewed, biased and misleading. Of course there are truths in all narratives, but those that pretend that Syria’s problems are ‘black and white’ or a case of ‘good vs evil’ are profoundly misguided. In all of it, the voices of Syrians have been largely ignored. And as I have travelled in the country in the past couple of years, I have found a remarkable consistency to the cries and wishes of the people – cries and wishes that fly in the face of the violent prejudices and narratives of those outside the country.
Government provided delegation with armed guard but did not prevent our freedom of movement
For the visit, the Church arranged with the Government to provide us with armed security for protection for which we are very grateful, as the risk of attack or kidnap anywhere is real, but we had no government representative with us, and were free to move as we wish.
During the visit we met with hundreds of people - local and national political leaders, both government and internal opposition figures; with local and national Muslim and Christian leaders and members of reconciliation committees; with internally displaced refugees; and with numerous people on the streets of towns and cities – Sunni, Shi’a, Christian, Alawite; all of whom feel their voices are unheard, ignored and misrepresented.
We travelled to Damascus, Homs, Maaloula and Tartous, and stayed 3 nights in a 6th Century monastery just 8 km from ‘IS’ lines. Sadly we had to flee Maaloula when we were informed that terrorists in the surrounding area (belonging to a western-backed ‘moderate’ faction) had heard of our visit and intended to try to ambush us.
We had hoped to visit Aleppo, but our safety both on the route and in the city could not be guaranteed. In Lebanon we also met with General Michel Aoun, a leading Christian politician, and with the Vice-president of Hezbollah, Sheikh Naim Qassem.
The centre of Damascus – the historic and commercial areas of the city – remains beautiful, despite the ravages of frequent shelling from ‘rebel’ held suburbs. But the presence of numerous army checkpoints throughout the city, and the economic effects of the war – closed hotels and shops – are evident. Yet life goes on. People try to live with a degree of ‘normality’, but the economic situation is increasingly harsh.
Talking to friends and people on the street in Damascus and elsewhere is deeply moving. The economic crisis is biting deep. Vast numbers of people have no or little income and are struggling to survive. One friend told me he knew several friends who had had good jobs before the conflict, who are now reduced to begging on the streets. In some areas of Damascus, formerly a proud, dynamic, prosperous city, there are lines of impromptu stalls selling second hand clothes - not from charities as in Africa - but from ordinary citizens selling clothes and belongings in order to eat, or heat their houses in the winter. Again and again, we have been told this is the primary reason now for many emigrating - not (as Western politicians or media would have us believe) for fear of the government; but simply the need to survive. One person said: "We can survive the war, but we cannot survive without food". This is a heart-rending situation especially for those of us who knew Syria before the conflict. Certainly, I detect a change even since my last visit in April this year - a shift from fear (there is a sense that Russia has helped shift the balance in the war) - to a sense of real sadness and depression. Everyone is affected and exhausted by the war and longs for its end. The actions of the western allies are only prolonging it and deepening the suffering.
It was a joy to spend a few hours with Greek Melkite Patriarch of Syria, His Excellency Gregorius III Laham, and to be invited to lunch with him. It is often forgotten that Christianity in Syria dates from the time of St. Paul, and there have been Christians in the land ever since. Syria remains the only country in the world where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken.
The Patriarch’s message? : Syria is the cradle of civilisation and of faiths which have for centuries lived in harmony together. The world should cease arming and supporting people of violence, and bring all parties together in a shared political process. Outsiders have no right to dictate who is or isn't a part of that process. Who leads the country should be chosen by Syrians, not by external powers. For the sake of Christianity, and for Christian-Muslim relations worldwide, the Church should be listening to the people of faith from the lands of their birth. Sadly, that call is ignored.
In Damascus we also met with the Grand Mufti, His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Badr Al Din Hassoun. An impressive figure and a highly respected Muslim theologian in his own right, Dr. Hassoun is passionate about the plurality of Syrian society and the equal place that Muslims, Christians and Jews have always had, and should continue to have, within it. Dr. Hassoun must be one of the most ‘moderate’ and inclusive Muslim leaders in the world , and yet countries in the west, because he is a President’s appointee, refuse to meet him. There are indeed those of an Islamist persuasion in Syria who hate him because he represents an approach to Islam that some Islamist interpretations do not allow. Yet, he represents hope for the continuance of inter-religious respect and sectarian stability in Syrian society, and is certainly someone with whom our leaders should be speaking, but he is refused a visa to visit Britain.
Our Base for three nights was the remarkable Monastery of St. James the Mutilated, near the Sunni/Christian village of Qara, in the desert 60 miles north of Damascus. Here, we were surrounded by fighters of the so-called 'IS' about 25km to the east, and about 8 km to the west. The village was occupied by them briefly in November 2013, and the monastery was untouched due to the protection of the Muslim residents of the village who smuggled food to them.
The monastery was built in the 6th Century. Its Church was built on both a previous Roman one and a pagan temple before that, a symbol of the ancient rootedness of Christianity in the land of Syria. Its ruins were restored by the amazing indomitable Mother Agnes, who has worked untiringly with local Christian and Muslim leaders to undertake reconciliation processes in village communities; to rehabilitate fighters and negotiate truces. There is an inspiring community of nuns and monks here living out a Christian ministry and witness. Mother Agnes is much loved and respected here and the criticism she has received in the west I believe is grossly unfair. Nights were punctured with the regular sound of not so distant gunfire and shelling. And yet despite the proximity of terrorists, each service is preceded with the ringing of a loud bell that echoes across the valley. A profound symbol of witness, courage and presence.
Qara village is a majority Sunni village with a minority Christian population. The two communities have lived together with mutual respect for centuries. The Mosque is actually an ancient Christian Church, and the Churches in the town were badly vandalised by Daesh when they occupied the town in 2013, including ancient and rare frescos . Muslims and Christians protected each other during the occupation and both communities have helped to restore the local Churches. The mayor and faith leaders spoke with pride of the harmony in the town, but fear of what may be if the 'rebels' are allowed to win.
Homs is a poignant city. Half of it (that half that was occupied by the extremists) is completely destroyed, whilst the government-controlled side has a degree of normality. In 2014, I had visited the city when shelling and car-bombs from rebel positions in the city were a daily reoccurrence. In the town we spoke to citizens, who are delighted that the city has been liberated from the 'rebels'. A young Christian woman showed me a photograph of her bombed out home. I asked her who had bombed her home. She said that the Government had bombed her home after her family had fled the rebel occupation. Her words?
“If it takes the Government to bomb my house to get rid of the terrorists, I accept that.”
Meeting with the Governor of Homs Province, he told us that plans for the rebuilding of Homs have already been drawn up by wealthy Syrians in the Gulf. Over 1000 citizens who had fled have returned to the city and more are returning each month.
Christian and Muslim leaders in Homs worked together for liberation truce
Local Christian and Muslim leaders in the city had been instrumental in agreeing the reconciliation truce that led to the liberation of the city.
The government had declared an amnesty for fighters who chose to lay down their arms, and several hundred have been reintegrated into the community. Those who didn't were allowed to leave with one weapon – many of these are now fighting in Idlib province.
People in Homs asked why western government support terrorists
There are still tensions however and not everyone supports the government. Indeed, some armed fighters remain in one part of the city. But the city feels like one that is on a path towards healing. One evening, we went walking in the streets of the city. People were coming up spontaneously and welcoming us to Homs. They were all saying how glad they are that the city has been liberated, and asking why western governments are supporting ‘terrorists’ (the rebels). One young man came up to us and said he had been a tourist guide prior to the conflict and was moved to tears to see us as foreigners visiting the city. They urged us to tell our governments to work with the people of Syria to bring peace.
Fr Franz Van den Lugt said that foreign militants started the violence in the Homs uprising
It was deeply moving to visit the Jesuit Centre in Homs where Fr Franz Van den Lugt, a much loved Dutch priest who worked in Homs for 40 years, was shot through the head last year whilst sitting in the garden. The chair on which he was assassinated is still in place. He had declared that the violence in the uprising in Homs had been started by foreign militants, (he was there) but had refused to leave the monastery when militants took over the area. His school is still running and the children, in the heart of this devastated part of the city, are a sign of hope.
One evening was spent in the heart of the Old City of Homs to meet some of the most remarkable people of faith in the world - the Ministry for Reconciliation led by Fr Michel Naaman and the local Sheikh in the city. Throughout the occupation of the city by militants, the faith leaders have worked tirelessly to bring peace and reconciliation between communities, and their work has had some amazing success. They oversaw the evacuation of the rebels from the city, during which the priest told us, the Syrian army were distributing food and cigarettes to the rebels. Those rebels who laid down their arms have been reintegrated into the city. During their work, several of the Reconciliation Committee have been injured or killed by people they were trying to help. Their work continues to bring together the different factions in Homs, and they believe that only peace and love will transform situations of conflict.
Shock at Archbishop of Canterbury support for British bombing campaign
I told Fr Michel that the Archbishop of Canterbury had that day lent his support to the British Government’s desire to bomb 'IS'. Everyone in the room - Christian and Muslim -were visibly shocked. I asked what his message was....it is this:
"Syria was always a diverse people in unity with each other. People should unite to defeat terrorism, but should respect national sovereignty. The West says they want to destroy Daesh but Syrian people will be killed and towns will be destroyed... They really want to defeat Syria. It is likely there will be terrible consequences. Have the West not learnt from the past? Instead, stop fuelling 'IS' with weapons and support to people of violence, and help all Syrians to come together to find a political solution and have a national dialogue. Give the money that will be spent on destruction to Syria to help in reconstruction. And If not, leave us alone and let Syrians choose their own future... "
In my three visits to Syria since April 2014, I have met most of the internal opposition figures in the country. There are some good people amongst them. Along with many eyewitnesses during the initial demonstrations in 2011, some of them have spoken of the presence of non-Syrian armed militants who helped stoke the flames of violence during those early months. The Opposition leaders speak openly and very critically of the political shortcomings of the regime, especially the issues of political imprisonment, disappearance, and corruption. But they maintain that Assad himself is the only leader capable of holding the sectarian balance. They admit that there are both good and bad people in the government, and that Assad has been held back in his desire for reform from members of the ‘old guard’.
Western ‘peace’ processes bar Syrian internal opposition politicians
We spent a remarkable three hour journey in the company of one of Syria's leading internal opposition leaders, Samir Hawash, an impressive man who has joined recent discussions in Moscow, Kazakhstan and Istanbul, but like all internal Syrian politicians, is refused inclusion in the western 'peace processes'. He was involved in early demonstrations, but early on was informed that militant groups were planning an armed uprising with assistance from outside. He begged the leaders of the militants not to take up weapons.
In 2010 he had been informed “there is going to be a war in Syria. It has all been planned.” He told us that when the demonstrations began, most people had wanted change, but he says now maybe 60-70% of Syrians in the country support Assad as the only person who can hold the country together. He has become a symbol of unity.
This has been the consistent impression from everyone whom we’ve met – Sunni, Shia, Alwaite, Christian.
Samir Hawash says armed militants fired first in demonstration
We asked him if the government had fired first on the demonstrators. He said that he was there. And no, it was armed militants who fired first.
Over 80 soldiers were killed in the early days of the ‘peaceful’ demonstrations – and the names and dates are documented. (I’ve heard the same from people who participated in the demonstrations in Homs, Latakkia, Damascus, and Aleppo.)
He said all militant opposition groups want to see a Muslim State and the division of the country (a position that all the Parliamentary and political meetings I have attended in Britain seem to approve); whilst the unarmed parties who seek a secular, pluralistic State are not given credence or a voice in the international arena.
He said that Turkey will support any opposition as long as regime change is the goal. The only goal on the part of the international community from the very beginning has been regime change, and they have been willing to allow the destruction of a country to achieve it.
Our visit to Tartous was to receive a mobile medical centre that has been donated by a Dutch company for use amongst internally-displaced refugees in the coastal area, and also as a distribution centre for aid to refugees. It was deeply moving to meet those who had come to receive aid.
Some of the women told us (the monks who were with us translated for us) how their husbands and sons had been murdered by rebel groups (that the West is supporting and regards as 'moderate'). Notice the picture of Assad and Putin on the side of the distribution centre...everywhere we went, the Russians are regarded as heroes!
It is very hard to describe however the emotion of what we stumbled across by chance when we visited a local hospital. We could not have known that our visit would coincide with the return of the bodies of 22 soldiers killed in a battle in Aleppo, to their families.
Hundreds had gathered, and there was intense emotion as the coffins were loaded off a lorry, to the piercing cries of grieving relatives. We joined the crowds giving condolences to families who seemed to genuinely appreciate our presence.
Suddenly a young boy of about 10 whose fathers body was being returned, and was standing next to his crying mother and a sheikh, stood to attention in front of me, saluted and with tears flowing gave a deeply moving speech.
One of the monks with me told me that in what he said there was not one word of anger, hatred or violence, but that his words were roughly this:
"My father is a blessing to this country. He has given his life so that we may live in peace. But he is not dead. He is a martyr. And I honour him. He will live, and because of him syria will have peace."
I stood to attention looking straight at him with the crowds around looking on and letting him finish. I then saluted him before going to hold him and give e him a blessing. I could not stop the tears. The sheikh hugged me with tears in his eyes too. It is an experience I will remember as long as I Live… It was far too intense a moment to photograph.
The crowds dispersed with sirens and loud gunfire...
We had a fairly dramatic visit to Maaloula, the most famous Christian village in Syria, where the residents say they have lived for 5000 years, and where Aramaic, the language of Jesus is still spoken.
We were due to spend half the day there with the people of the town, but shortly after our arrival the Mayor received a message that terrorists in the surrounding hills had heard about our visit, and were going to attempt to ambush us. So with huge disappointment we had to make a high speed departure to Damascus.
I was therefore very pleased that I had visited Maaloula in April 2015, and visited both the ancient shrines of St. Thecla and of St. Sergius, both of which have been very badly damaged and defaced by the rebels. Most of the precious icons for which Maaloula is famous have also disappeared. The town was occupied by the rebels for three months, during which time there was huge tension between the Muslim and Christian residents of the town, though some of the Muslim residents had sheltered Christians. A number of Christian villagers were murdered by the rebels for refusing to convert to Islam. There is a concerted effort, with Government help, to restore the shrines and rebuild the town, and some of the residents who fled have returned.
Lebanon: Meeting with Sheikh Naim Qassem, Vice-President of Hezbollah.
Essential to finding paths to peace is talking to all parties. So it was interesting to meet with Hezbollah MPs and Sheikh Naim Qassem, Vice-president and a founder of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah are a deeply religious Shia group, and one which respects other faiths. (One of the monks in Syria told me he had learned more about the Virgin Mary from a Hezbollah young man, than anyone else!) And my encounters with Hezbollah individuals have been of a primarily dignified and respectful people. I certainly did not agree with everything Sheikh Qassem said, but there was wisdom and truth in much of what he said.
I asked him what he would say to the British Government if they were ever to listen to him. His reply was:
"The issue for the British Government is discernment between Truth and falseness. Who are they really against and what do they really stand for? We don't want you to be our supporters.. We want you to support truth..and you cannot be selective about international law."
(See picture in this article of the author with Sheikh Qassem, another Hezbollah MP (also a local doctor), the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Bekaa.
Lebanon. Bourj Al Burajneh
In Beirut we visited the site of the bombing in Burj Al Burajneh that killed over 40 people and injured over 100 the day before the Paris bombing. We laid flowers and placed candles there.
One young man had prevented further killings by tackling a suicide bomber and covering him with his own body before the vest exploded.
Our visit, in the heart of a Hezbollah district, was clearly appreciated by everyone around. We were then taken to the local hospital to meet some of the wounded. The little lad, aged about 10, pictured in hospital with his mother, was riding past on his father's motorbike. His father was killed. The doctor said he was very close to his father and is deeply psychologically scarred.
The families and victims (Shia Muslim) wanted to receive our prayers and blessings, and one little boy even asked for my cross. I told them at the location: every soul killed and family bereaved in Beirut is equally as important as each soul and bereaved family in Paris, Syria or Russia.
General Michel Aoun
We spent nearly two hours with General Michel Aoun, Chairman of one of Lebanon’s most important Christian parties. He spoke of the recent history of Christianity in the Levant, and suggested to us that with the Christian populations in Iraq and Palestine so severely depleted, Lebanon and Syria are now the most important Christian centres in the Levant. He said we have a responsibility in the West to protect the Christians of the east – in the birthplace of Christianity. He spoke of the danger to Christians in the region now, and that their presence as part of the fabric of society in the region is essential to the stability and p lurality of the fabric of the region as a whole.
Key points from the visit:
Despite enormous suffering and a devastating economic situation, there is enormous resilience. Those who live in or have fled to the comparative safety of the government-controlled areas (perhaps 60% of the population), whether Christian, Sunni, Shi’a, Alawite, Druze, and of different political persuasions, where life goes on with a degree of ‘normality’ amidst great hardship, and there is some small degree of rebuilding and State infrastructure, (the destruction is not total) have a remarkably consistent message:
• Stop supporting armed groups. There are very few so-called ‘moderate’ rebels and those that do exist are divided – they have become channels for weapons to the extremists who are by far the majority and whose sole goal is an Islamic State.
• Work together to defeat Daesh. Bombing is not the answer… civilians will be killed and towns and villages will be destroyed. The consequences of simply bombing Daesh could be disastrous in the long term… the creation of more jihadis and hatred. Cut them off at source – their funding and arms, and support those who fight them on the ground.
• Bring all parties together in a national dialogue. You cannot exclude the government that is managing the State institutions and structures.
People are very suspicious (and probably justifiably) of the motives the Western alliance. They believe they are political pawns in a much bigger political ‘game’.
• You cannot exclude the people of Syria from a political solution.
• Realities in Syria are profoundly misrepresented in the west.
• There are multiple narratives. It is not ‘black’ and ‘white’ (or ‘good’ vs ‘evil’) as appears to be the primary presentation in the media.
• An externally imposed solution is only like to lead to further sectarianism and chaos
• Follow international law in your dealings with Syria.
Listen to the faith communities. Much can be learned and foundations have been laid from the work of the reconciliation committees ‘on the ground’ in towns and cities across the country.
Come and visit Syria. Meet and listen to the people for yourselves.
We were met with enormous kindness and hospitality. The people are exhausted and emotionally traumatised. Christians and Muslims continue to work together to bring peace and reconciliation in local towns and cities with some remarkable successes. Those involved are absolutely opposed to violence. Everyone wants to see the war end.
Our government’s position and ignorance of the realities on the ground and the wishes of the people of Syria is profoundly disturbing.
Revd Andrew Ashdown
3 December 2015
Tanya Plibersek's article is Australia deserves a seat at the table in Syria negotiations, (15/12/15) | the Guardian
Dear Ms Plibersek,
This is a follow up email to a brief conversation I had with a staffer in your office, and is a response to the article you had published in the Guardian yesterday.
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.
Sandy Creek, Victoria
I also recommend this article from Mike Whitney on today’s meeting between Kerry and Putin in Moscow, stating it as it is:
When I visited Syria a year and a half ago, the Syrian city of Homs was largely under government control. A few days ago the government began evacuating the last of the militants from their enclave in Homs under a truce agreement brokered by the United Nations and Red Cross. The victory parade of the Syrian Arab Army was in distinct contrast to any victory parade of ISIS.
Article written by Judith Bello. Initially published at http://deconstructedglobe.com/wordpress/celebration-in-homs/
A Victory Parade
Here is the response of the people of Homs to their liberation by the Syria Arab Army. More will soon be able to return to their homes and begin the long journey of rebuilding.
This is the victory parade of ISIS occupiers returning from Mosul, Iraq to their headquarters in Raqqa on June 25, 2014.
There’s no one on the street, but they sure have a long and distinctive train of hardware. It is interesting that those with the satellites didn’t see them, or take the trouble to respond.
Homs was one of the early centers of the uprising in Syria. At the moment I won’t go into all the misinformation that has been presented in the Western media, but here is a quote from IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks), an NGO that reports on humanitarian crises about Homs in December 2011
Homs, a major transportation node that forms a crossroads between the main regions of the country, used to be a microcosm of the national mosaic – made up of a mix of ethnic and religious groups, including Sunni Muslims, Christians, and Alawis, members of a minority offshoot of Shia Islam to which al-Assad belongs.
But activists say neighbours of different sects who used to live side by side peacefully have increasingly turned against one another.
Initially, the LCC accused government-allied militia of kidnapping protesters, with the number of kidnappings rising in November, it said.
But increasingly, residents say, civilians have been behind sectarian-coloured counter-kidnappings of government forces, but also of Alawi and Christian civilians, as well as Sunnis considered to be spies for the government. The LCC maintains that some counter-kidnappings are conducted only to secure the release of captured civilians.
“There should not be any doubt of the regime’s entire responsibility for the sectarian turn of events in Homs,” opposition figure and author Yassin Haj Saleh said in the LCC statement. The regime “starved [the people] and incited hate between the people of different neighbourhoods,” he said.
But other well-placed sources said they had received reports that opposition groups were behind much of the violence in Homs. The resident quoted earlier said the kidnappings seemed to be conducted mostly by Sunnis, and said he knew of three Christians who had been kidnapped in two days this week.
The Gradual, Hard Won, Recovery of Syria
The western press often denigrates victories of the Syrian Arab Army in recovering control of their country. This is not the first victory in Homs, but a significant step on the road to restoration. The Syrian government largely controlled the area in June 2014 when I was there as an election observer. Surprisingly (to me), people walked out of the rebel held areas to vote. Men danced in the street in Homs when the high tally for Bashar Assad was announced. In 2012, enough of the city was liberated for President Assad to walk down the street with his entourage and greet the people.
This month a truce was negotiated allowing the last of the militants in Homs and their families to be resettled outside the area. According to NBC:
Talal Barazi, governor of Homs, told Syria’s Sana news agency that some 720 people would be allowed to leave Waer district — 300 of them militants — during the first stage of the agreement brokered by the U.N. and the Red Cross.
During a second stage, some 2,000 militants who wished to lay down their weapons and go back to their “normal lives” would be resettled, Sana reported. Some 70,000 civilians are believed to still live in Waer, which has been under siege since 2013.
Amnesty and a Celebration of Peaceful Futures
The Syrian government has made a number of truces with indigenous militants, either relocating them to areas still in conflict or allowing them amnesty if they will join the government forces. This truce, arranged between provincial officials and representatives of Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda in Syria) requires the fighters to hand over their weapons to the Syrian Arab Army. However, the will be resettled in Idlib where the SAA and the Al Nusra Front remain in conflict.
But, that is a problem for tomorrow. Today, the city of Homs is will be free of weapons and war. People are already returning to their homes.
Bruce Petty is a highly regarded political satirist and cartoonist as well as an award-winning film maker. He went to Syria in 2009 (before the war) on a project to interview Syrian intellectuals and university students about their political views. 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. The story behind this series: On 16 November 2015 a small group of concerned Australian citizens got together to talk about the problems of getting real information out to Australians and other US-NATO allies about war in Syria, in spite of mainstream press efforts to confuse the public. Bruce Petty and Jeremy Salt were part of that group. Inside is the transcript of the embedded video. (There are two other videos in this series: "Cartoonist Bruce Petty and Dr Jeremy Salt: Where news comes from: reporting on the Middle East." and "Does Bashar al-Assad really have to go? Cartoonist Bruce Petty talks to Dr Jeremy Salt")
Transcript below with headings inserted by candobetter.net editor
JEREMY SALT: One of the claims is that Bashar al-Assad has killed in his political position more people than have been killed by Islamic state.
Well, who's saying these things? Bashar al-Assad hasn't killed anyone in his life as far as I know. He himself. But that's the way the media loves to do this.
BRUCE PETTY: He's representing the army.
JEREMY SALT: But how do they actually work out their calculus? Who is killing who and the numbers that are being killed by each person involved in this. There's no way they can do it. And so it becomes just a simple propaganda statement.
And the fact is that Syria has been targeted in what is the most extraordinary attempt in modern history to destroy an Arab state. That's it. It's worse than Iraq, worse than Lebanon, worse than anything that's happened before. Go all the way back to Algeria and 1830 with the French. It is the most relentless, remorse[less] attack on an Arab country in modern history.
And the fact is that Bashar, is the president - right - and he has a functioning government. I don't know what these people who use these expressions like 'dictator' are thinking. He has a foreign minister, he has an interior minister, he has a defence minister. He listens to them. He takes their advice. They're the ones who know. And they formulate strategies to try to fight off this attack. And they've been doing this for four years.
Now, of course, of course people are going to be killed. And civilians are going to be killed too. If you've got armed men who've infiltrated towns and cities, how can you get them out without civilians being killed? And there's a big difference between killing civilians, when you're trying to drive these people out, than what ISIS does, which is to pick them all up, round them up, and kill them by the hundreds. Because they don't like them - because they're Alawis, or because they're Christians, or whatever ... So, this is a war.
Is Syria an Alawite state?
Proportion of Sunni muslims in army and government
One point to make, first, is the Gulf Arabs, Saudi Arabia in particular, and Sheikh Qaradawi and his cell mates or soul mates, perpetually say that this [Syria] is an Alawite state.
Well, excuse me, the Syrian government is multi-ethnic; it includes Christians, Sunni Muslims, Alawis, across the range. Who's got the talent gets into the ministry.
The Syrian army is more than 80 per cent Sunni Muslim. More than 80 per cent of foot soldiers are Sunni Muslim. The Alawis constitute about 10 per cent of the population of the country. So, what are these Sunni Muslims doing holding together? Because the army has held together. The media tried to drum up defections in the early stages - 'Oh, all these people are defecting!' There were hardly any. The army has just been rock-solid through this whole attack.
So, what are the Sunni Muslims doing? Well, they're not acting as Sunni Muslims, of course, they're acting as Syrians. And they're defending their country. And large numbers of them have died. Roughly about 60,000. Probably more. Out of the 200,000 or so we are told - who have been killed. So, that's one of the things that the media doesn't like to talk about.
Unelected, hated dictator?
Bashar al-Assad is popular and elected.
The second thing is that Bashar is popular. People like him. They might be critical of the system. They might not like the system. They might think the system should be replaced. They like Bashar. And this has been the case from the very very beginning. Something else that the media very rarely acknowledges.
Electoral reforms under Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad is popular and legally elected.
Third thing is that Bashar, over the last few years, has made very important steps in reforming Syria's constitution. Okay? They had a constitutional referendum. They changed the constitution. They took the Ba'ath party, removed it as a central pillar of state, they introduced a multi-party system, they had multi-party elections, they had observers from ... thirty countries observing those elections. They all said they were perfectly fair, perfectly free, and an overwhelming majority - this is for the presidential elections (they had parliamentary plus presidential) - voted for Bashar.
Mainstream media facilitates war by hiding the facts from the public
Now, all these things Syria has done, are completely ignored or dismissed out of hand in the western media. Because it doesn't suit them. It doesn't suit them. The main point here, of course, this whole rhetoric about, you know,' we have to give the Syrians democracy, and we have to kind of give Syrians a transition to democracy' - was all nonsense. Because it was not the point at all. The whole point was to destroy Syria, and to divide destroyed Syria up, in particular. And to destroy Syria, that's what you have to do.
So, you know, the readers of the media, the print media, the viewers of television, are gulled and being played upon. And this is what happens in every war. This is what governments do, you know. They dehumanise, they invalidate; they set people up as worthy of being destroyed.
BRUCE PETTY: We don't want complicated issues. We don't want complicated events.
JEREMY SALT: Of course, if Australia ever got to the point where they were going to send troops to Syria, it's all set up. 'Oh, we have to - our boys have to go and fight and get rid of the dictator. And give the Syrian people democracy. They just fall into it.
What about the chemical weapons?
BRUCE PETTY: The other claim is he had used chemical weapons on his own people. Is that true?
JEREMY SALT: Well, as far as I'm concerned, no. [inaudible] And before the big chemical weapons attack, apparently, round Damascus in 2013, there had been many many smaller episodes of chemical weapons being used. And one - where was it? In northern Syria - and I forget the person who it was - UN person - who concluded that, no, this wasn't the Syrian government.
VOICE OFF-SCENE: "Carlo Ponti."
JEREMY SALT: Was it Carlo Ponti? Right. And, when you come to the big one, round Damascus, well, we know what was behind that. Barack Obama has said that the use of chemical weapons - implicitly by the Syrian government - is a 'red line'.
Now, if chemical weapons had been used by someone else, probably there wouldn't have been a red line, but, implicitly, the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is a red line; [if] that red line's crossed, we'll be in there. That is a signal to outside elements. All we have to do is set it up to get him across the red line. So some of these earlier attacks had been set up for that reason.
And they didn't work. 'Okay, we have to try harder.'
So you get the big chemical weapons attack around Damascus - apparently - in August 2013, where sarin gas was used and there have been many many allegations that this came from Turkey and a large number of people killed - 1300 we were told by the media. Are those figures correct? We don't know what the truth is behind these chemical weapons attacks. We don't know much about it at all, because the media picked it up, used it - 'Look what he's done! This beast, this monster, this tyrant, is now using chemical weapons against his own people.' And they used it as propaganda, then they dropped the whole thing.
Then we saw pictures of children who had been killed. Who were those children? They were just kind of 'faces'. In a photograph. On television or in the media. And they were used for a few days and then dismissed. We never heard about them again.
Mainstream media did not try to identify the children in the photos, but a Syrian nun did
So ... and... a lot of people go into this, like Mother Agnes, the Syrian nun. I mean, she did the work the journalists should have done. She looked at the photographs and said, "Hang on, wait a moment, that photograph's taken here; and that photograph is taken there: and they've got the same people in it. And allegations that some of those children we saw actually come from Latakia, which is a heavily Alawi population. And the Takfiri [...inaudible] would have no hesitation in killing Alawi children. It might seem a terribly harsh thing to say, but that's them. That's what they're like. So, there are all kinds of questions to be asked about that chemical weapons attack which the media didn't even look at.
MIT scientific study of purported gas attack
And then we had more thoughtful studies, like scientists in America at MIT. They studied the trajectory of the rocket - where they would have had to have come from. No way, they couldn't have come from Syrian military positions. We had one person who came on television, a victim of a sarin gas attack, and whose report was that - I forget who got involved in all of this, but there was no sarin anywhere else in the environment. There was nothing on the grass, nothing on the [inaudible]; just this man saying, 'I've been a victim of a sarin gas attack.' And so the whole thing unraveled.
Mainstream media refused to publish contrary evidence
And Seymour Hirsh, the gun American reporter since Vietnam, he weighed in with his report, which the New Yorker would not publish, London Review of Books published. And he pulled a lot of this together.
And the conclusion that he came to was that Obama nearly fell into this trap and retreated just at the last moment because he'd been told by his own people, 'Actually, there's something about this that is not right. We're being set up. don't get involved here.'
Gas attack – if real - came from outside, not from Syrian military
And what Seymour Hirsch - the only conclusion in his article was that this had nothing to do with the Syrian military or the Syrian government. It was an attack by armed groups - if it was a real attack - with the support of outside governments.
If the downing of a Russian airliner in Sinai was in fact an act of terrorism, Western media's veritable gloating over the murder of tourists is another mark on their long record of shame. (Article first published in Russian Insider on Sat, Nov 7, 2015.
Sometimes we can almost laugh at the twisting of truth in the Western media, as commentators come up with weird analyses to make sense of their own preposterous stories. So it was recently, when their fantastic creation of the 'moderate rebel fighter' was exposed to Vladimir Putin's incisive 'common sense' at Valdai.
But such light-hearted moments quickly give way to the more rational sentiments of frustration, vexation and incredulity, and an enduring cynicism about everything that is said and done by those across 'the credibility crevasse' that now separates the West from 'the East'; how can we ever succeed in getting 'common sense' back into the current Western narrative around the Syrian conflict?
Following Russia's intervention in Syria there was a wave of optimism on her side of the crevasse that some sense might prevail in the Western corridors of power - a hope that even if Russia's request for cooperation in fighting terrorism was dismissed, those powers and their local agents would at least stop actively fuelling the conflict with arms and propaganda. Some hope.
This week frustration with the Western media narrative has turned much darker - the despicable reaction of many media commentators to the tragic deaths of 224 innocent people in the Russian plane crash in Sinai has now turned that frustration to intense anger. Far from this being an occasion to take a step back and ask 'what are we doing that has led to this?' - following on from widespread suspicion that this crash was no accident, those commentators have already framed it as a response to Russia's actions in Syria and Ukraine - even a justified response.
Interviewing Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Monday, the ABC's long serving and widely respected radio presenter Fran Kelly posed her question like this:
“Of course the Australian government - as you've said - extends its sympathies to countries which have lost citizens here and the families of those citizens, but I must ask you minister does it strike you as ironic that Russia wants to wait until a full investigation is conducted into the causes of this plane crash, before making any further comment, given how hostile President Putin was to a full investigation into flight MH17?”
Although Bishop preferred not to speculate until more was known about the cause of the crash, she prefaced with this comment:
“Yes I'm sure the irony won't be lost on people, but now is not the time for me to make such a comment.. (..considering the grieving relatives and friends..)”
For those of us who understand the depths of deceit over the downing of MH17, and the lengthy and compromised Dutch inquiry into the causes of that crash, Kelly's casual dismissal of Vladimir Putin's conduct is highly offensive. Although we all know that Russia's investigation into the Ukrainian crash was stymied by the refusal of the US to release its satellite data, and Kiev's refusal to release air transport control records for the flight, Kelly and other commentators ignore this. They continue to claim that Russia vetoed moves at the UN to set up a criminal investigation because this would reveal Russia's guilt over the atrocity. Because of them, Australians now believe that Vladimir Putin has 'denied justice to the victims of MH17'.
It is disturbing to realise that the thinking of Western commentators, and of the public who believe them, have been so poisoned by Imperial propaganda that they feel free to express the most despicable of sentiments about officially approved enemies, and are able to do so without condemnation. Such is the implicit suggestion that somehow the downing of the Russian plane over Sinai, and killing of 224 Russian citizens is atonement for 'Russia's shooting down of MH17'. Such views may only have been expressed openly on Twitter - as reportedly happened in Holland - and in the Newscorp press, but they seep from every news outlet, social gathering and Parliamentary session, reflecting Australia's growing Russophobia and public demonisation of Vladimir Putin.
As seems to happen frequently nowadays, new developments around this subject demand inclusion. And anger turned to disgust, as news reports today that a terrorist bomb may have been responsible for the downing of the Russian plane completely excluded any reference to Russian opinion or intelligence on the matter.
But it wasn't just that - the framing of these reports, which were from the UK and US agencies, was that 'the international ramifications will be enormous' if ISIS was responsible. So says Sir Nigel Inkster, former director for operations and intelligence at MI6, interviewed in London by the ABC:
Nigel Inkster: “Well, I think there are two things -
Firstly the Egyptian economy is heavily dependent on tourism, so anything that eroded internation comfidence in Egypt as a tourism destination is going to have significant implications.
Now obviously, the other question is: was this an act of revenge, could this have been an act of revenge for Russia's engagement in Syria on the side of President Assad?”
Something was horribly missing from this news - any mention of how the relatives and friends of the victims of the Russian plane crash might be feeling now, knowing that their loved ones had been unwilling martyrs in the fight to save Syria from Western-backed terrorism.
video inside:In a huge stunning announcement yesterday by the Russian Foreign Minister, Russia presented direct evidence of Turkey buying illegal oil from the black market supporting terrorists. In this video change.org goes over the important revelations by the Russians, their consequences and the shift of the geopolitical field. The western mainstream media is simply not reporting this because it runs totally counter to their spin. If the western media were to properly bring this news to their readers, they would have to explain the torrent of lies they have issued forth so far in order to justify war. The western media is historically pro-war and Australians, Americans, British and Europeans who rely on the mainstream media alone never hear both sides.
Following the ISIS outrages in Beirut and Paris, John Pilger updates this prescient essay on the root causes of terrorism and what we can do about it. In transmitting President Richard Nixon's orders for a "massive" bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, "Anything that flies on everything that moves". As Barack Obama wages his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and Francois Hollande promises a "merciless" attack on the rubble of Syria, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger's murderous honesty.
As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery - including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields - I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today's Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia. Article first published on 16 November 2015 at http://johnpilger.com/articles/from-pol-pot-to-isis-the-blood-never-dried
According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of "fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders". Once Nixon's and Kissinger's B-52 bombers had gone to work as part of "Operation Menu", the west's ultimate demon could not believe his luck. The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They leveled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left giant necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors "froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told... That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over." A Finnish Government Commission of Inquiry estimated that 600,000 Cambodians died in the ensuing civil war and described the bombing as the "first stage in a decade of genocide". What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot, their beneficiary, completed. Under their bombs, the Khmer Rouge grew to a formidable army of 200,000.
ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair's invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of at least 700,000 people - in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.
Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda - like Pol Pot's "jihadists" - seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of 'Shock and Awe' and the civil war that followed. "Rebel" Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote, "The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy - and in particular our Middle East wars - had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here."
ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington, London and Paris who, in conspiring to destroy Iraq, Syria and Libya, committed an epic crime against humanity. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, ISIS are the mutations of a western state terror dispensed by a venal imperial elite undeterred by the consequences of actions taken at great remove in distance and culture. Their culpability is unmentionable in "our" societies, making accomplices of those who suppress this critical truth.
It is 23 years since a holocaust enveloped Iraq, immediately after the first Gulf War, when the US and Britain hijacked the United Nations Security Council and imposed punitive "sanctions" on the Iraqi population - ironically, reinforcing the domestic authority of Saddam Hussein. It was like a medieval siege. Almost everything that sustained a modern state was, in the jargon, "blocked" - from chlorine for making the water supply safe to school pencils, parts for X-ray machines, common painkillers and drugs to combat previously unknown cancers carried in the dust from the southern battlefields contaminated with Depleted Uranium. Just before Christmas 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry in London restricted the export of vaccines meant to protect Iraqi children against diphtheria and yellow fever. Kim Howells, parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Blair government, explained why. "The children's vaccines", he said, "were capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction". The British Government could get away with such an outrage because media reporting of Iraq - much of it manipulated by the Foreign Office - blamed Saddam Hussein for everything.
Under a bogus "humanitarian" Oil for Food Programme, $100 was allotted for each Iraqi to live on for a year. This figure had to pay for the entire society's infrastructure and essential services, such as power and water. "Imagine," the UN Assistant Secretary General, Hans Von Sponeck, told me, "setting that pittance against the lack of clean water, and the fact that the majority of sick people cannot afford treatment, and the sheer trauma of getting from day to day, and you have a glimpse of the nightmare. And make no mistake, this is deliberate. I have not in the past wanted to use the word genocide, but now it is unavoidable." Disgusted, Von Sponeck resigned as UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq. His predecessor, Denis Halliday, an equally distinguished senior UN official, had also resigned. "I was instructed," Halliday said, "to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults."
A study by the United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef, found that between 1991 and 1998, the height of the blockade, there were 500,000 "excess" deaths of Iraqi infants under the age of five. An American TV reporter put this to Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the United Nations, asking her, "Is the price worth it?" Albright replied, "We think the price is worth it."
In 2007, the senior British official responsible for the sanctions, Carne Ross, known as "Mr. Iraq", told a parliamentary selection committee, "[The US and UK governments] effectively denied the entire population a means to live." When I interviewed Carne Ross three years later, he was consumed by regret and contrition. "I feel ashamed," he said. He is today a rare truth-teller of how governments deceive and how a compliant media plays a critical role in disseminating and maintaining the deception. "We would feed [journalists] factoids of sanitised intelligence," he said, "or we'd freeze them out." Last year, a not untypical headline in the Guardian read: "Faced with the horror of Isis we must act." The "we must act" is a ghost risen, a warning of the suppression of informed memory, facts, lessons learned and regrets or shame. The author of the article was Peter Hain, the former Foreign Office minister responsible for Iraq under Blair. In 1998, when Denis Halliday revealed the extent of the suffering in Iraq for which the Blair Government shared primary responsibility, Hain abused him on the BBC's Newsnight as an "apologist for Saddam". In 2003, Hain backed Blair's invasion of stricken Iraq on the basis of transparent lies. At a subsequent Labour Party conference, he dismissed the invasion as a "fringe issue".
Here was Hain demanding "air strikes, drones, military equipment and other support" for those "facing genocide" in Iraq and Syria. This will further "the imperative of a political solution". The day Hain's article appeared, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck happened to be in London and came to visit me. They were not shocked by the lethal hypocrisy of a politician, but lamented the enduring, almost inexplicable absence of intelligent diplomacy in negotiating a semblance of truce. Across the world, from Northern Ireland to Nepal, those regarding each other as terrorists and heretics have faced each other across a table. Why not now in Iraq and Syria? Instead, there is a vapid, almost sociopathic verboseness from Cameron, Hollande, Obama and their "coalition of the willing" as they prescribe more violence delivered from 30,000 feet on places where the blood of previous adventures never dried. They seem to relish their own violence and stupidityso much they want it to overthrow their one potentially valuable ally, the government in Syria.
This is nothing new, as the following leaked UK-US intelligence file illustrates:
"In order to facilitate the action of liberative [sic] forces... a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals [and] to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria. CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main [sic] incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals... a necessary degree of fear... frontier and [staged] border clashes [will] provide a pretext for intervention... the CIA and SIS should use... capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension."
That was written in 1957, although it could have been written yesterday. In the imperial world, nothing essentially changes. In 2013, the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that "two years before the Arab spring", he was told in London that a war on Syria was planned. "I am going to tell you something," he said in an interview with the French TV channel LPC, "I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria... Britain was organising an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate... This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned."
The only effective opponents of ISIS are accredited demons of the west - Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and now Russia. The obstacle is Turkey, an "ally" and a member of Nato, which has conspired with the CIA, MI6 and the Gulf medievalists to channel support to the Syrian "rebels", including those now calling themselves ISIS. Supporting Turkey in its long-held ambition for regional dominance by overthrowing the Assad government beckons a major conventional war and the horrific dismemberment of the most ethnically diverse state in the Middle East.
A truce - however difficult to negotiate and achieve - is the only way out of this maze; otherwise, the atrocities in Paris and Beirut will be repeated. Together with a truce, the leading perpetrators and overseers of violence in the Middle East - the Americans and Europeans - must themselves "de-radicalise" and demonstrate a good faith to alienated Muslim communities everywhere, including those at home. There should be an immediate cessation of all shipments of war materials to Israel and recognition of the State of Palestine. The issue of Palestine is the region's most festering open wound, and the oft-stated justification for the rise of Islamic extremism. Osama bin Laden made that clear. Palestine also offers hope. Give justice to the Palestinians and you begin to change the world around them.
More than 40 years ago, the Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia unleashed a torrent of suffering from which that country has never recovered. The same is true of the Blair-Bush crime in Iraq, and the Nato and "coalition" crimes in Libya and Syria. With impeccable timing, Henry Kissinger's latest self-serving tome has been released with its satirical title, "World Order". In one fawning review, Kissinger is described as a "key shaper of a world order that remained stable for a quarter of a century". Tell that to the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, East Timor and all the other victims of his "statecraft". Only when "we" recognise the war criminals in our midst and stop denying ourselves the truth will the blood begin to dry.
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Video inside:One of NATO imperialism's greatest chroniclers, Australian award-winning journalist and filmmaker, John Pilger, tells us how Washington, London and Paris gave birth to ISIS.
One dramatic impact of the Paris terror attack and the contradictions within the NATO camp and vis a vis the GCC-Turkish Camp, is that all of Putin's worst detractors are queuing up to meet him and seek his words of wisdom ....
The photos of Putin, Obama with their 2 advisors sitting around a table for just 4 has gone all across the world
Cameron who was a anti-Putin Hawk was today getting himself photographed with Putin ensuring all cooperation ....
Hollande will be dashing, or should I say - Da-eshing off :) :) off to Moscow and DC to iron out all details for future coordination ...
Even Erdogan is behaving himself ...
Putin has emerged as the central figure in this Global war against ISIS and terror in general ... the most popular leader across the world ...
It was just last year, at the G20, were Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Hollande were not even willing to look at Putin, leave along even shake hands with him .... now its all dramatically turned around ...
The question here for all of us to consider is that why has the PARIS False Flag boomeranged so fast?? They expected the NFZ-SZ strategy, but the contradictions to Up the Ante in Syria, were too strong to be resolved.
Which of the EU nations are the strong dissenting voices ...?? Led by Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania ?? more ??...
Also in the US its not taken the NFZ-SZ route despite immediate statements to that effect by Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and Chertoff
Need our European & American friends to enlighten us here ....
Washington and its French vassal have refined how they conduct their false flag operations. With the Charlie Hebdo operation, 2 they knew to immediately set the story in stone in order to avoid any questions from the print and TV media and in order to use the set story to take the place of an investigation.
The set story made it unnecessary to explain the mysterious "suicide" of one of the main police investigators while engaged in the investigation of the event. The set story also made it unnecessary to explain why it was necessary to kill rather than capture the alleged perpetrators, or to explain how the French authorities could be so wrong about the alleged get-away-driver but not about the two gunmen. There has been no explanation why the authorities believed there was a get-away-driver, and no such driver has been captured or killed. Indeed, there are many unanswered questions of no interest to any media except the alternative Internet media.
What the US and France learned from the Charlie Hebdo skepticism on the Internet is to keep the story flowing. Charlie Hebdo involved two scenes of violence, and the connection between the two acts of terrorism was vague. This time there were several scenes of violence, and they were better connected in the story.
More importantly, the story was followed quickly by more drama, such as the pursuit of a suspected perpetrator into Belgium, a French bombing attack on the Islamic State, a French aircraft carrier sent to the Middle East, a declaration of war by the French President against ISIL, and speculation that Hollande, pressured by Washington, will invoke NATO's Article V, which will pull NATO into an invasion of the Islamic State. By superceding each event with a new one, the public's attention is shifted away from the attack itself and the interests served by the attack. Already the attack itself is old news. The public's attention has been led elsewhere. How soon will NATO have boots on the ground?
The Western media has avoided many interesting aspects of the Paris attacks. For example, what did the directors of the CIA and French intelligence discuss at their meeting a few days prior to the Paris attacks. Why were fake passports used to identify attackers? Why did the attacks occur on the same day as a multi-site simulation of a terrorist attack involving first responders, police, emergency services and medical personnel? Why has there been no media investigation of the report that French police were blinded by a sophisticated cyber attack on their mobile data tracking system? Does anyone really believe that ISIL has such capability?
The Western media serves merely as an amplifier of the government's propaganda. Even the non-Western media follows this pattern because of the titillating effect. It is a good story for the media, and it requires no effort.
Initially even the Russian media served to trumphet the set story that rescues the Western political establishment from politial defeat at home and Russian defeat in Syria. But it wasn't too long before some of the Russian media remembered numerous false stories about a Russian invasion of Ukraine, about Assad's use of chemical weapons, about US ABMs being placed on Russia's borders to protect Europe from nonexistant Iranian nuclear ICBMs. And so on.
Russian media began asking questions and received some good answers from Gearoid O Colmain:
To understand the Paris attacks, it helps to begin with the question: "What is ISIL?" Apparently, ISIL is a creation of the CIA or some deep-state organization shielded by the CIA's operations department. ISIL seems to have been used to overthrow Quadaffi in Libya and then sent to overthrow Assad in Syria. One would think that ISIL would be throughly infiltrated by the CIA, Mossad, British and French intelligence. Perhaps ISIL is discovering that it is an independent power and is substituting an agenda of its own for Washington's, but ISIL still appears to be at least partially dependent on support, active or passive, from Washington.
ISIL is a new group that suddenly appeared. ISIL is portrayed as barbaric knife-wielding fanatics from medieval times. How did such a group so quickly acquire such extensive global capability as to blow a Russian airliner out of Egyptian skies, conduct bombings in Lebanon and Turkey, outwit French intelligence and conduct successful multi-prong attacks in Paris? How come ISIL never attacks Israel?
The next question is: "How does the Paris attack benefit ISIL?" Is it a benefit to ISIL to have Europe's borders closed, thus halting ISIL's ability to infiltrate Europe as refugees? Does it help ISIL to provoke French bombing of ISIL positions in the Middle East and to bring upon itself a NATO invasion?
Who does benefit? Clearly, the European and American political establishment in so many ways. Establishment political parties in France, Germany, and the UK are in trouble, because they enabled Washington's Middle East wars that are bringing floods of refugees into Europe. Pegida is rising in Germany, Farage's Independent Party in the UK, and Marine Le Pen's National Front in France. Indeed, a recent poll showed Marine Le Pen in the lead as the next president of France.
The Paris attack takes the issue and the initiative away from these dissident political parties. Among the first words out of the mouth of the French president in response to the attack was his declaration that the borders of France are closed. Already Merkel's political allies in Germany are pushing her government in that direction. "Paris changes everything," they declare. It certainly saved the European political establishment from defeat and loss of power.
The same result occurred in the US. Outsiders Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were slaughtering the establishment's presidential candidates. Trump and Sanders had the momentum. But "Paris changes everything." Trump and Sanders are now sidelined, out of the news. The momentum is lost. The story has changed. "Paris attacks become focus of 2016 race," declares CNN.#fn3" id="txt3"> 3
Also among the early words from the French president, and without any evidence in support, was Hollande's declaration that the Islamic State had attacked the French nation. Obviously, it is set for Hollande to invoke NATO's Article V, which would send a NATO invasion force into Syria. This would be Washington's way of countering the Russian initiative that has saved the Assad government from defeat by the Islamic State. The NATO invasion would overthrow Assad as part of the war against the Islamic State.
The Russian government did not immediately recognize this threat. The Russian government saw in the Paris attack the opportunity to gain Western cooperation in the fight against ISIL. The Russian line has been that we must all fight ISIL together.
The Russian presence, although highly effective, is small in Syria. What does the Russian government do when its policy in Syria is crowded by a NATO invasion?
The only benefactor of the Paris attack is the Western political establishment and Washington's goal of unseating Assad in Syria. The Paris attack has removed the threat to the French, German, and British political establishments from the National Front, Pegida, and the UK Independence Party. The Paris attack has removed the threat to the US political establishment from Trump and Sanders. The Paris attack has advanced Washington's goal of removing Assad from power.
The answer to the Roman question, "cui bono," is clear.
But don't expect to hear it from the Western media.
#SyrianGirl" id="SyrianGirl">Appendix: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks Exposed #CharlieHebdo by Syrian Girl Partisan
#fn1" id="fn1">1. #txt1">↑ Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.