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Syria says will stand by allies on resistance axis to expel US from Western Asia

Press TV – March 12, 2020

A senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hails “constant coordination” between Damascus and its allies in the fight against terrorism, saying the Arab nation will stand by the resistance front to help drive the US out of not only Syria but the entire Middle East region.

Assad’s political and media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, made the remarks in an interview with Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV channel on Wednesday.

She said that Washington has been supporting the Takfiri al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups, and that its sponsorship for the al-Qaeda-inspired al-Nusra Front terrorist outfit is of no surprise.

The Syrian people living east of the Euphrates River have been fighting against American occupation forces and enjoy the Damascus government’s backing for their resistance, she added.

Shaaban also stressed that the battle on eastern bank of the Euphrates is complicated and takes time, noting, however, that the Syrians will eventually expel US troops from their homeland.

The Syrian army has the backing of Iran, Russia and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement in its battle against a host of militant groups, which have been wreaking havoc on the country since 2011.

Thanks to that support, the Damascus government has managed to win back control of almost all regions from the foreign-sponsored militants.

Syria has been engaged in a liberation operation in Idlib Province, the last major bastion of terrorists in the country.

Shaaban further emphasized that her country supports its allies on the regional resistance axis to drive American military personnel out of the entire West Asia region.

Syria in constant coordination with Iran, Hezbollah

There is complete and constant coordination between Damascus on one side and Tehran and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement on the other side in political and military spheres, the Syrian official pointed out.

She hailed Tehran-Damascus relations as historical and strategic, reiterating that both Iran and Russia prioritize Syria’s sovereignty and independence.

Taking advantage of the mayhem in Syria, the US has deployed troops to Syria under the guise of fighting Daesh. It has been running military bases in the eastern part of the country, which many reports have revealed serve as training camps for terrorists.

The US has also been supporting anti-Damascus Kurdish militants in the country’s northeastern regions, calling them allies in the so-called fight against Daesh, which lost its territorial rule in the Arab country in late 2017.

In recent months, Washington has also deployed more troops and military equipment near Syrian oil fields to “secure” them, in what Damascus, Tehran and Moscow have denounced as an attempt to steal Syria’s crude resources.

In turn, Turkey supports militants fighting to topple the Damascus government. Those elements continue to target Syrian troops and allied Russian personnel.

Last week, Russia and Turkey agreed on a ceasefire to stop clashes in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province that brought the two countries close to direct confrontation amid a Moscow-backed Syrian counter-terrorism operation.

Idlib truce paves ground for more Syrian gains

Elsewhere in her interview, Shaaban said the Idlib truce has no confidential terms and paves the way for the liberation of the districts of Arihah and Jisr al-Shughur.

In recent weeks, she added, the Syrian army wrested control over 2,000 kilometers of the country and inflicted casualties on militants and Turkish forces.

Shabban also slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for serving Israel’s interests in the region.

Erdogan, she added, uses the Palestine issue as a mere bargaining chip and dreams of occupying Syria.

A meeting between Assad and Erdogan is not possible as long as Turkey occupies parts of the Syrian territory, she said.

Syria keen to forge ties will all Arab states

Additionally, Assad’s aide stressed that Syria welcomes relations with all Arab countries, referring to recent visits by Egyptian and Libyan delegations.

She also hailed Algeria’s position on Syria, adding, however, that there are no exchanges between the two states.

March 12, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Russia rejects Turkish narrative on Syria

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | February 7, 2020

The Russian reaction to Turkey’s latest military moves in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib has appeared in the form of a lengthy interview with the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on February 4, which has since been followed by a formal statement by the foreign ministry on Thursday.

Moscow has underscored that the current Syrian operation in Idlib is about vanquishing the al-Qaeda affiliates supported by Turkey and the western countries.

Lavrov dwelt on the backdrop to the so-called Astana format, which resulted from the collapse of the regime change project of “our Western and other foreign partners” in Syria following the Russian intervention in 2015.

He outlined how the Astana process led to the “de-escalation zone” in Idlib where “terrorist groups herded together”. Russia and Turkey reached specific written agreements spelling out their commitments to oversee Idlib. However, to quote Lavrov,

“Regrettably, so far, Turkey has failed to fulfil a couple of its key commitments that were designed to resolve the core of the Idlib problem. It was necessary to separate the armed opposition that cooperates with Turkey and is ready for a dialogue with the government in the political process, from the terrorists of Jabhat al-Nusra, which became Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Both are blacklisted as terrorist groups by the UN Security Council, so neither Jabhat al-Nusra nor the latest version, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, has anything to do in Idlib.”

Even after repeated reminders from Russia, Turkey didn’t act. Equally, Lavrov repeated that the recent Turkish military deployments to Idlib were undertaken without any advance intimation to the Russian side. He said, “We urge them (Turkey) to strictly comply with the 2018 and 2019 Sochi accords on Idlib.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry statement of February 6, as reported by Tass news agency, disclosed that there have been Russian casualties due to the “increasing terrorist activities.” It justified the operations of the Syrian government forces as reaction to “the unacceptable rise in terrorist activities.”

Through the month of December, “over 1,400 militant attacks involving tanks, machine guns, infantry fighting vehicles, mortars and artillery took place.” During the past fortnight alone, “more than 1,000 attacks have been recorded” and hundreds of Syrian troops and civilians have been killed and wounded and the Russian base at Hmeymim came under attack repeatedly.

The foreign ministry statement says, “all this points to an unacceptable increase in terrorist strength in Idlib, where militants have complete impunity and free hands” which left the Syrian government with no alternative but to “react to these developments.”

In a rebuff to Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s demand that the Syrian government should terminate the military operations in Idlib and withdraw, the Russian statement said, “A thing to note is that the Syrian army is fighting on its own soil against those designated as terrorists by the UN Security Council. There can be no interpretations. It is the Syrian government’s right and responsibility to combat terrorists in the country.”

Curiously, both Lavrov’s interview as well as the Foreign Ministry statement drew attention to the transfer of terror groups from Idlib to northeastern Syria and from there to Libya in the recent weeks. The implication is clear — Ankara continues to deploy terrorist groups as tools of regional strategies in Syria (and Libya).

Russia has contacts with all parties in Libya, including Khalifa Haftar. The implicit warning here is that Erdogan will have a high price to pay in Libya where he cannot count on Russian empathy. Turkey is already under withering criticism from EU, France, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, UAE and Saudi Arabia for its military intervention in Libya, especially by deploying its proxy groups from Syria. Turkey’s regional isolation over Libya is now complete.

The Russian Foreign Ministry statement concluded saying, “We reaffirm our commitment to the agreements reached at the Astana talks, which envisage fighting terrorist groups in Syria on the condition of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. We will maintain close coordination with our Turkish and Iranian partners for the sake of achieving lasting stability and security on the ground.”

It is highly significant that the Foreign Ministry statement singled out the “Iranian partners” for reference. On February 5, while receiving the new Iranian ambassador to Moscow, President Putin also said Russia and Iran were “key powerful players” in the fight against global terrorism and will continue their cooperation. Putin added, “(Russia’s) cooperation with Iran within the Astana framework has played an effective role in the settlement of the Syria conflict.”

What emerges is that Moscow senses that behind Turkish president Erdogan’s mercurial behaviour, there is the old pattern of Turkey using terror groups as proxies, with covert support from western powers. Moscow cannot but be aware that the US is making overtures to Erdogan with a view to shift the military balance against Russia and Iran on the Syrian-Iraqi chessboard in the downstream of the killing of General Qassem Soleimani.

Curiously, on Monday, a US appeals court agreed to “pause” a case alleging that Turkey’s state-owned HalkBank evaded US sanctions on Iran. The US Senate Finance Committee member Ron Wyden, a Democrat, has since addressed a letter to the US Attorney General William Barr asking if President Trump had tried to intervene on behalf of Halkbank!

A Reuters report said Senator Wyden asked Barr to detail his interactions with Trump, President Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak (who is also Erdogan’s son-in-law).

The HalkBank scandal implicates Erdogan and family members and an adverse court verdict can be highly damaging politically to the president and his son-in-law who is groomed as a potential successor. (A commentary on the scandal featured in the Foundation for Defense of Democracies authored by a former Turkish member of parliament is here.) The HalkBank case hangs like the sword of Damocles over Erdogan. Washington is adept at using such pressure tactics against recalcitrant interlocutors abroad.

On the other hand, if Trump has done a favour to Erdogan (or anyone for that matter), he’d expect a quid pro quo. And it is to be expected that the Trump administration would visualise that Erdogan’s cooperation can be a game changer in the geopolitics of Syria and Iraq. However, Moscow has kept the line open to Ankara.

To be sure, it is with deliberation that Moscow has highlighted the salience of the Russian-Iranian alliance in Syria where Washington is escalating tensions lately as part of its “maximum pressure” approach threatening Tehran with a region-wide war.

February 7, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syrian Army captured Saraqib. Netanyahu and Erdogan come to the rescue

South Front | February 06, 2020

In Greater Idlib the defences of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other favorites of the foreign powers supporting ‘Syrian democracy’ are collapsing.

On February 5, the Syrian Army, supported by Russian airpower, took control of a number of villages in southeastern Idlib and southwestern Aleppo including Resafa, al-Dhahabiyah, Ajlas, Talafih and Judiydat Talafih. They besieged a Turkish observation post established near Tal Toqan and reached another one, near al-Sheikh Mansur.

Late on the same day, the army’s Tiger Forces captured the eastern entrance to Saraqib and established fire control over the open roads leading from the town. According to local sources, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda so-called freedom fighters started fleeing the town. The Turkish Army had stuck several observation posts right in the area, but these apparently did not help.

Early on February 6, pro-government forces seized the area of Duwayr, cutting off the M5 highway north of Saraqib. Thus, the road through Saramin remained the only way to flee for militants remaining in the town. However, it is under the fire control of the Syrian Army.

Several hours after this government forces took full control of Saraqib.

Saraqib Nahiyah is the largest subdistrict of the Idlib district of the province. The subdistrict is located on the crossroad of the M4 and M5 highways. Its pre-war population was approximately 88,000. The fall of Saraqib into the hands of Damascus and its allies will allow government troops to continue the operation clearing the entire M5 highway and open the road to Idlib city itself.

Right on cue, while the Syrian Army was storming Saraqib, the Israeli Air Force delivered a wide-scale strike on targets in the countryside of the Syrian capital, Damascus, and in the province of Daraa. The Al-Kiswa area, Marj al-Sultan, Baghdad Bridge and the area south of Izraa were among the confirmed targets of the attack.

Syria’s State media claimed that the Syrian Air Defense shot down most of the Israeli missiles before they were able to reach their targets. Pro-Israeli sources claim that the strikes successfully hit Iran-related targets destroying weapon depots and HQs of Iranian-backed forces. The Israeli leadership once again officially confirmed its participation in the club of terrorism supporters in Syria.

Another member of the al-Qaeda Rescue Rangers is Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On February 5, he vowed that Turkey would deploy locally made air-defense systems along the border with Syria. The President did not provide many details on the matter, but the aforementioned systems were likely the HISAR-A low-altitude air-defense system which will be deployed along the border with Idlib.

Additionally, Erdogan delivered an ultimatum to Syria claiming that “if the Syrian regime will not retreat from Turkish observation posts in Idlib in February, Turkey itself will be obliged to make this happen.” In other words, the Turkish president threatened to declare war on Syria if the Syrian Army does not withdraw from the territory it liberated from terrorists.

Video Report

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Strange Death of White Helmets Founder Leaves Many Questions to Be Answered

By Paul Antonopoulos | November 13, 2019

James Le Mesurier, the founder of the Al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets, known as an “aid organization” in the West but known everywhere else for fabricating chemical weapon provocations in Syria, was found dead in Istanbul on Monday under dubious and confusing circumstances, and many question marks are being raised about his death. Journalist Ramazan Bursa claims that the suspicious death clearly demonstrates the White Helmet’s connection with intelligence organizations, particularly the British MI6.

The connection between the M16 and the White Helmets is often overlooked by the Western media, but on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry made a startling revelation. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova revealed that “The White Helmets co-founder, James Le Mesurier, is a former agent of Britain’s MI6, who has been spotted all around the world, including in the Balkans and the Middle East. His connections to terrorist groups were reported back during his mission in Kosovo.” A few days later he was found dead…

Of course, Karen Pierce, the UK Permanent Representative to the UN, denied the Russian allegation, claiming that they were “categorically untrue. He was a British soldier,” before describing the mercenary as a “true hero.” The claim he is a “true hero” is a curious choice of words considering he has a long history of working alongside terrorists, as Zakharova correctly highlighted.

He served in the NATO war against Serbia to defend the ethnic-Albanian terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 2000, who have now turned Kosovo into a heroin ‘smugglers paradise,’ and a hub for human trafficking, organ harvesting and arms trafficking in the attempt to create an anti-Russian “Greater Albania.” However, it was not in Kosovo where he achieved his fame, but rather his dubious work in Syria.

Not only did he establish and develop the White Helmets, but he secured significant funding from the UK, U.S., Turkish, German, Qatari, Dutch, Danish and Japanese governments, and helped raise money on Indiegogo. His deep connections to the British military and his expansive experience as a mercenary serving Gulf dictatorships made him the perfect figure to establish a “rescue group” aimed at legitimizing terrorists operating in Syria and to push for regime-change intervention.

Along with the White Helmet’s ties to terrorist organizations and faking chemical weapon incidents, the group also has a role in the execution of civilians and using children in their propaganda campaigns. Mesurier was without a doubt a man with deep connections and deep pockets, with every resource available to him from international intelligence agencies and significant experience in supporting terrorists in conflict zones.

The argument that the White Helmets are not a civil defense team, especially as they never operated in government-held areas despite claiming to be neutral in the war, can easily be made. Despite the constant colonial media claims that the White Helmets are a true civilian rescue organization without terrorist links, Syrian film producer Kareem Abeed was not allowed to attend the Academy Awards to support his movie about the White Helmets, “Last Men in Aleppo,” as his visa application was officially denied by the U.S. government as he was “found ineligible for a visa under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” The very fact that the U.S. found White Helmets members nominated for the Academy Awards to be a risk in the country shows that the White Helmets are just another classic example of Washington weaponizing terrorists to advance their own agendas, just as the KLA were used against Serbia or the mujahideen that morphed into Al-Qaeda were used against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

Although the White Helmets played a pivotal role in the propaganda campaign against Syria from 2013 onward, they now have nothing to defend or any purpose to serve as they only operate in areas that are undeniably controlled by Al-Qaeda affiliated groups and other radical elements, in a very, very small area of Syria. They can no longer portray themselves as an innocent organization that only helps civilians, as there is now endless evidence of their ties to terrorism, foreign intelligence agencies and doctoring of footage.

If we consider that the founder of the White Helmets and the deceased in Istanbul is a former British Intelligence officer, we can clearly see that it is a network of civil defense organizations, in which British Intelligence is involved, and supported by other intelligence agencies. The dubious death of a former British intelligence member living in Istanbul with his family is thought provoking and must raise serious questions.

It is also thought-provoking that this person is based in Istanbul. The death of Mesurier could have been reported as the death of a British citizen or the death of a former member of the British intelligence, however, Turkish media reported it as the death of the founder of the White Helmets. In other words, the Turkish media seems to have tacitly admitted that White Helmets are not an innocent non-governmental organization. Of course, after Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, there were some changes in the Damascus-Ankara relationship. The West’s approach to the Turkish invasion of northern Syria may have also played a role in changing the attitude towards the White Helmets.

A security source claimed that Mesurier had fallen from the balcony of his home office with his death being treated as a suspected suicide, with a third person – a diplomat – claiming the circumstances around his death were unclear, according to The Sun. This also comes as BBC journalist Mark Urban said in a series of now-deleted tweets that it would not “have been possible” to fall from Le Mesurier’s balcony, with him also Tweeting that “there’s a good deal of suspicion it may be murder by a state actor, but others suggest he may have taken his own life.”

Essentially, no one knows just yet whether it was murder, suicide or an accident. This has not stopped the British media from alluding that there may be a connection between the “Russian smear campaign” made on Friday and his death on Monday. However, when we look at the way the incident took place, there is every suggestion that this incident was murder, given that there were cuts on his face, fractures on his feet and that he was found dead on the street, according to Turkish media. The probability of murder becomes stronger.

The question then shifts to who might have done? It is too early to say who did it, and anything forth said can only be considered speculation, but the West does have a rich history of making their assets disappear when they are no longer needed.

The White Helmets no longer have a purpose to serve in Syria with the inevitable victory of government forces over the Western-backed terrorists. Rather, the danger the White Helmets pose is a full-scale revelation on how deep their ties with Western and Gulf intelligence agencies and terrorist organizations go. Although revelations are slowly beginning to emerge, Mesurier no doubt had a wealth of knowledge on many dirty secrets related to Syria and the imperialist war against it.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

November 13, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments

Founder of ‘White Helmets’ James Le Mesurier Found Dead in Istanbul

Sputnik – 11.11.2019

A law enforcement source has confirmed the death of James Le Mesurier at his home in Istanbul. However, the source added that at this time, it remains “unclear whether he was murdered, or committed suicide.”

Le Mesurier, a former MI6 officer, created the controversial ‘urban search and rescue’ organisation in 2013. The White Helmets have been repeatedly accused of staging fake attacks in the conflict in Syria in a bid to prompt a Western-backed military intervention in the war-torn country.

The White Helmets’ official Twitter account has confirmed Le Mesurier’s passing, saying the group was ‘shocked and saddened’ by the news and expressing its “deepest condolences to the James family.” The group commended the former intelligence agent’s “humanitarian efforts which Syrians will always remember.”

Earlier, an anonymous diplomat was quoted by Reuters as saying that Le Mesurier’s body had been found early Monday morning at his home in the city’s Beyoglu district.

Sözcü, a major Turkish daily newspaper, reported, citing police sources, that Le Mesurier may have killed himself, and that he had been taking anti-depressant medication for some time ahead of Monday’s incident.

Sabah, another major Turkish paper, also reported, citing law enforcement, that police consider suicide the most likely cause of Le Mesurier’s death, with the former spy possibly jumping to his death from the balcony of his 3rd floor apartment. No traces of gunshot or knife wounds were found his body, police told Sabah.

A source close to the investigation later said that there was no evidence of any unauthorised persons being near his residence at the time of his death.

Le Mesurier’s wife was quoted by Sabah as saying that she and her husband had dinner together on Sunday. “After that we took sleeping pills and went to bed. A few hours later I woke up from the ringing of our doorbell. It was the police. They told me that my husband had fallen from the balcony and died.”

Police are continuing their investigation.

Founder of Terrorists’ ‘Propaganda Arm’

Le Mesurier, a British private security specialist and former UK military intelligence officer, founded the White Helmets in Turkey in March 2013. Before that, he served as an intelligence officer in other theatres of conflict, including a stint in Pristina, Kosovo soon after the NATO intervention in 1999. In the 2000s, he went on to serve as vice president of special projects at the Olive Group, a private mercenary organisation which later merged with Blackwater-Academi into Constellis Holdings.

In a 2014 interview, Le Mesurier said that he spontaneously raised about $300,000 in initial funding from the UK, the US and other countries and trained 25 vetted operatives to create the White Helmets after witnessing the suffering in Syria, with the group soon accumulating over $150 million in cash after Western NGOs, Gulf countries, several European countries and Japan sent money and supplies to help the group. The group continues to enjoy widespread publicity and support in Western countries, and is a UK-registered non-governmental organisation.

Syria considers the White Helmets a “terrorist organisation,” citing the group’s regular operations in areas controlled by jihadist militants, including al-Qaeda offshoot the Nusra Front, as well as its creation of video fakes which seem designed to prompt Western military intervention in Syria. Independent journalists have repeatedly accused the group of serving as ‘al-Nusra’s propaganda arm‘, given its alleged ties to the militants.

White Helmets, seen here celebrating with Nusra extremists © Photo: Youtube / ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ALDEBARAN

In April 2018, the US, UK and France launched a series of air and cruise missile strikes against Syria following the publication of a White Helmets video appearing to show that a horrific chemical attack that had taken place in Douma, a city in the Damascus suburbs about 10 km from the capital. The Douma attack was later debunked by verified testimony from multiple eyewitnesses who appeared in the video, including that of an 11-year-old boy who revealed that he and his mother had been given food to participate in the video. Since that time, Damascus and its allies have repeatedly voiced concerns about the possibility of more fake videos and false flag attacks by the groups designed to prompt Western intervention.

Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry urged London to investigate Le Mesurier’s possible ties to al-Qaeda. At a briefing on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed to independent research indicating the former spy’s possible links to terrorist organisations going back to his work in Kosovo. “There is data suggesting that there were al-Qaeda members among his team there,” Zakharova said, adding that Moscow would “very much like to hear what London has to say about these facts.”

Earlier this year, Britain’s Home Office announced that some 100 volunteers and family members from the White Helmets had been resettled in the UK after being evacuated from Syria last year with the help of British government officials.

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Russian MoD doubts Trump’s announcement of killing ISIS chief al-Baghdadi, rejects claims it assisted US forces in op

RT | October 27, 2019

There’s no credible data to prove a successful American raid took place against Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. The US coalition didn’t even carry out any airstrikes in Idlib recently.

Earlier, Trump made a rare Sunday address from the White House informing the world that al-Baghdadi was eliminated in northwest Syria in a “daring nighttime raid” with the involvement of US special forces, planes, helicopters and drones. The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) leader met his end “crying and screaming” in the face of the Americans’ might, he said.

But the Russian Defense Ministry insisted that “there were legitimate questions and doubts about the very fact [of the US operation] and, especially, its success.”

Moscow pointed out that it recorded no US coalition airstrikes in the Idlib area in northwest Syria on Saturday when the raid was held.

It also rejected Trump’s claims that Russian forces opened up the airspace under its control in Syria to American planes to facilitate the operation against the IS leader.

The ministry questioned the very possibility of al-Baghdadi’s presence in Idlib as the area is held by Al-Qaeda offshoot, Jabhat al-Nusra, who have always been mortal enemies of Islamic State.

Moscow noted that Islamic State was crushed in Syria in early 2018 in a joint effort by the government in Damascus and the Russian forces, meaning that yet another report of al-Baghdadi’s demise “bears no effect on the operational situation in Syria or on the actions of the remaining terrorists in Idlib.”

French Defense Minister Florence Parly also questioned the significance of the claimed US achievement, pointing out that the raid only marked “an early retirement for a terrorist [al-Baghdadi], but not for his organization.”

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 5 Comments

MSM Mourns Death Of CIA-Backed Syrian Al-Qaeda/ISIS Ally

By Caitlin Johnstone | June 8, 2019

On Wednesday the alternative media outlet Southfront published an article titled “New Video Throws Light On Jaysh Al-Izza High-Tolerance To Al-Qaeda Ideology” about newly discovered footage showing the leader of a “rebel” faction in Syria cozying up with a militant who was wearing a badge of the official flag of ISIS.

“The video shows Jaysh al-Izza General Commander Major Jamil al-Saleh congratulating a group of his fighters on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr in a underground bunker,” Southfront reports. “One of the fighters greeted by Saleh was wearing a batch of the Islamic Black Standard with the Seal of Muhammad. This is a well-known symbol of al-Qaeda and the official flag of ISIS.”

Today, mass media outlets are mourning the death of a well-known Jaysh al-Izza fighter named Abdel-Basset al-Sarout with grief-stricken beatifications not seen since the death of war criminal John McCain. An Associated Press report which has been published by major news outlets like The New York Times, The Guardian, PBS and Bloomberg commemorates Sarout as a “Syrian soccer goalkeeper” who “won international titles representing his country”, as “the singer of the revolution”, and as “an icon among Syria’s opposition”.

Remember Major Jamil al-Saleh from two paragraphs ago? AP features his glowing eulogy in its write-up on Sarout’s death:

“He was both a popular figure, guiding the rebellion, and a military commander,” said Maj. Jamil al-Saleh, leader of Jaish al-Izza rebel group, in which Sarout was a commander. “His martyrdom will give us a push to continue down the path he chose and to which he offered his soul and blood as sacrifice.”

Other mainstream outlets like BBC, The Daily Beast and Al Jazeera have contributed their own fawning hagiographies of the late Jaysh al-Izza commander.

“Formed in 2013, Jaysh al-Izza was one of the first Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in northern Syria to benefit from U.S. support through the CIA’s ‘Timber Sycamore’ train and equip program, which had been approved by then U.S. President Barack Obama,” Southfront reports in the aforementioned article. “The group received loads of weapons from the U.S. including Grad rockets, as well as Fagot and TOW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).”

“Jaysh al-Izza received this support under the pretension of being a ‘moderate group’ led by a known Syrian Arab Army (SAA) defector, al-Saleh,” Southfront adds. “However, the group’s acts were not in line with these claims. Since its formation, Jaysh al-Izza has been deeply linked to al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the al-Nusra Front. The group became one of the main allies of al-Nusra when its changed its name to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in 2017.”

“Western thought leaders are lionizing Abdel Baset al-Sarout who was killed fighting the Syrian army,” tweeted journalist Dan Cohen of the mass media response to Sarout’s death. “They conveniently omit that he fought in a militia allied with al-Qaeda and pledged allegiance to ISIS.”

Cohen linked to an excerpt from his mini-documentary The Syria Deception featuring footage of Sarout holding an ISIS flag, leading chants calling for the extermination of the Alawite minority in Syria, and announcing his allegiance to ISIS.

Other publicly available video footage includes a speech by Sarout urging cooperation between his own faction, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise), saying “we know that these two groups are not politicized and have the same goals as us, and are working for God.”

“God willing we will work with them shoulder-to-shoulder when we leave here,” Sarout has been translated as saying in the speech. “And we are not Christians or Shiaa to be scared of suicide belts and car bombs. We consider these things as strengths of ours, and God willing they will be just that. This message is to the Islamic State and our brothers in Jabhat al-Nusra, that when we come out of here we will all be one hand to fight Christians and not to have internal fights among ourselves. We want to take back all the lands that have been filthied by the regime, that were entered and taken over by Shiaas and apostates.”

This bloodthirsty terrorist warmongering was taken by the aforementioned AP hagiography and twisted into the single sentence, “He repeatedly denounced rebel infighting and called on Syrians to unite against government forces.”

The Atlantic’s Hassan Hassan framed Sarout’s unconscionable agendas as mere “flaws” which actually add to his inspiring and heroic story, tweeting, “Some individuals celebrated as heroes make you doubt all stories of heroes in history books. Others, like Abdulbasit Sarout, not inspire of but despite his flaws, make those stories highly plausible. He’s a true legend & his story is well documented. May his soul rest in peace.”

Yeah, come on, everybody’s got flaws. Some people suck at parallel parking, some people team up with ISIS and Al-Qaeda on genocidal extermination campaigns. We’ve all got our quirky little foibles.

We can expect more and more of these mass media distortions as Syria and its allies draw closer to recapturing Syrian land from the extremist forces which nearly succeeded in toppling Damascus just a few short years ago.

As these distortions pour in, keep this in mind: all of the violence that is still happening in Syria is the fault of the US and its allies, who helped extremist jihadist factions like Jaysh al-Izza overrun the nation to advance the preexisting goal of effecting regime change. The blame for all the death, suffering and chaos which ensues from a sovereign nation fighting to reclaim its land from these bloodthirsty factions rests solely on the government bodies which inflicted their dominance over the region in the first place.

You will see continuing melodramatic garment-rending from the US State Department and its mass media stenographers about “war crimes” and “human rights violations” as though the responsibility for this violence rests somewhere other than on the US-centralized power alliance, but they will be lying. What these warmongering propagandists are doing is exactly the same as paying a bunch of violent thugs to break into a home and murder its owner, then standing by and sounding the alarm about the way the homeowner chooses to fight off their assailants.

After it was discovered that the US and its allies armed actual, literal terrorist factions in Syria with the goal of effecting regime change, the only sane response would have been for the public to loudly and aggressively demand that all governments involved to take immediate action to completely rectify all damage done by this unforgivable war crime at any cost, and for there to be war crimes tribunals for every decision maker who was a part of it. Instead, because of propaganda circulated by the same mass media narrative management firms who are sanctifying the memory of Abdel-Basset al-Sarout today, the public remains asleep to the depravity of its rulers. This dynamic must change if we are to survive and thrive as a species.

June 10, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sky News Collaborates with Idlib Terrorists to Create Syria War Propaganda

By Robert Inlakesh | 21st Century Wire | May 24, 2019

On Thursday night Sky News release a story entitled “Sky News witnesses horrors of Syria’s last rebel outpost”, in which journalist Alex Crawford claims to have been targeted by a Russian tank shelling whilst reporting in Syria’s Idlib province.

The story made headlines and featured in news bulletins across the UK and even the wider world. The problem however, was that the romantic TV drama type report falls flat, as the shameless war propaganda it is, when held up to basic scrutiny and common sense. Watch:

The story made headlines and featured in news bulletins across the UK and even the wider world. The problem however, was that the romantic TV drama type report falls flat, when held up to basic scrutiny and common sense, and merely exposes itself as the shameless war propaganda it is.

To the average viewer of their content, the video may indeed paint Sky’s Alex Crawford as a brave intrepid journalist, battling to deliver the truth about the evil Assad regime, but to those who have any knowledge of the Syrian war, she not only gives enough rope to hang herself with, but perhaps her entire crew.

Let’s begin with talking about just how incredibly ridiculous and propagandist this piece is, using some of Crawford’s own admissions.

Firstly, Crawford admits to being present and inside the de-militarization zone, between the last “rebel” strong hold and the Syrian government. This area was decided upon to become a designated de-escalation zone following the Septemeber 2018 Turkey-Russia brokered ceasefire agreement. Crawford claims that the zone is being constantly violated, which is evidently true, although her being present there in the company of al-Qaeda affiliated militants, battle tanks and well known puppets of extremist propaganda outlets, paints the wrong picture if she was wishing to demonize the Syrian government and its allies.

Secondly, Alex Crawford also admits that all civilians had left the area, indicating what? That she is surrounded by militants, which are evidently the only targets in the area to hit, other than her crew or perhaps others who came with a similar purpose. Not only is this the case, but they decided to enter the area during an armed clash between the two sides, beginning her package with video of a tank that had been terminated by Syrian/Syrian allied forces.

Thirdly, she is in Idlib on the side of the militants during wartime, meaning that she evidently entered Syria illegally and that neither the Syrian government or the Russian forces would have any idea that she is a Western journalist working for Sky News. It is well known, to observers of the Syrian war, that almost all of the terrorist or ‘rebel’ groups have their own propaganda agencies, which consist of several activists and journalists, who also act as part-time combatants and belong to the terrorist organizations.

Then we have her conversation with a well known terrorist propaganda figure, Bilal Abdul Kareem, who has appeared all over Syria with a number of al-Qaeda linked groups, he also interestingly felt comfortable introducing al-Nusra fighters wearing suicide vests on camera to his online audience.

In addition to this, we have perhaps the most ridiculous segment of this story, the interview with Abu Khalid al-Shami, described by a Sky News Aston as a “HTS Commander”. Now firstly, the word commander evidently shows even the most clueless viewer that this man is an active militant. But what does HTS mean? And who are these so called freedom fighters? HTS stands for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and were formerly known, before their re-naming, as al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham split from al-Qaeda officially in 2016, however they have still worked with al-Qaeda and even Daesh militants in their ranks, many of whom defected and joined this new and trendy “HTS”.

So what can we take away from the latest Sky News report on the evil Syrian Regime and its allies targeting Western journalists?

That Western journalists working on behalf of Sky News, almost certainly, illegally entered Syria with the agenda to demonize the Syrian government and were in the company of a branch of al-Qaeda which went rogue, they then interviewed a terrorist commander. They acted surprised when an area evacuated of all civilians – according to Alex Crawford herself – was attacked during the course of a battle in which terrorists were in action against the Syrian government.

If anyone from Sky News ends up reading this, I hope that next time you make it a little bit more believable that you aren’t on the side of terrorist forces and put a little more thought into your regime change war propaganda against a country ravaged by war, sanctions, displacement and starvation .

May 25, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Do not barter away India’s national security interests

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | March 1, 2019

There has been an avalanche of reports in the international media quoting western diplomats and security officials to the effect that India’s “intelligence-led… non-military preemptive strike” on a big terrorist camp in Pakistan on February 26 was all baloney. Apparently, these reports say, there was so such terrorist camp in existence in Balakot.

Incredibly enough, no one in the government cares to set the record straight. The Foreign Secretary had claimed earlier that the strike killed “a very large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, trainers, senior commanders, and groups of jihadis who were being trained for Fidayeen action were eliminated.”

But surprisingly, the day after the FS spoke, Air Vice Marshal R.G.K. Kapoor said it was “premature” to provide details about casualties. He would only say that the Indian armed forces had “fairly credible evidence” of the damage inflicted on the camp by the air strikes.

It is important for the government to clarify, because what happened was a defining moment in India-Pakistan relations and in India’s fight against terrorism. The nation has a right to know. No doubt, crossing another country’s borders and attacking its territory is a major escalation. What is the rationale behind such escalation?

Prime Minister Modi says he’s given a “free hand” to the armed forces. Are we to assume that the IAF suo moto acted on February 26? That is inconceivable.

This calls for deep introspection: What is it that the government achieved through the 60-odd hours between the early hours of Tuesday and the evening of Thursday? There is no shred of evidence that Pakistani side is cowed down in fear.

On the contrary, Pakistan insists that it will retaliate against any act of Indian aggression. Prime Minister Imran Khan disclosed in the National Assembly in Islamabad yesterday that in the night of Wednesday-Thursday, the Pakistani military was in a state of readiness to fire missiles into India.

Some of our self styled experts say we’ve “sent a message” to Pakistan that we’ll hit them hard if terrorism continued. How can they be so sure? The Pakistani retaliation with an attack on India the very next day — an act of war by targeting our military installations — discredits their thesis.

The most unfortunate part is that after precipitating the crisis situation on Tuesday, the government ducked and took help from Saudi Arabia and the UAE to “de-escalate” the situation.

Make no mistake, this fateful move has grave implications. The whole world knows that these two petrodollar states are the principal sponsors of terrorist groups who destroyed Syria.

Importantly, how can we possibly overlook that Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and other terrorist organisations in Pakistan have received direct support from these Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia? There is plentiful evidence of it.

An action request cable archived by Wikileaks, documenting the illicit finance activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, stated that “it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.” The cable continues, “Still, donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” It describes Saudi Arabia as “a critical financial support base” for Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and other terrorist groups.”

By the estimation of the US state department, LeT and JeM are all but synonymous! As far back as in 1993, the LeT became part of the United Jihad Council, an umbrella group for militant Islamists operating in J&K, and in doing so, it formed a direct alliance with the JeM (which claimed credit for the Pulwama attack recently.)

In fact, another Wikileaks cable confirmed that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been funnelling money not just to LeT but to JeM directly. It says:

“Locals believed that charitable activities being carried out by Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith organizations, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Al-Khidmat Foundation, and Jaish-e-Mohammed were further strengthening reliance on extremist groups and minimizing the importance of traditionally moderate Sufi religious leaders in these communities. Government and non-governmental sources claimed that financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”

Saudi Arabia has quite openly held out assurances to Pakistan that it need not go after JeM directly.

Indeed, the most dangerous part of the gambit by the Modi government to let in Saudi Arabia and the UAE into its matrix over Pakistan and Kashmir is that this policy shift is completely of sync with the wider geopolitical struggle unfolding in the region.

Quite obviously, Saudi Arabia wants to win Pakistan over in a tug-of-war game with Iran and is doling out to Islamabad generous financial help and a $10 billion investment plan to to build an oil refinery in the Gwadar port project (which actually puts a major Saudi project on Iran’s border.) The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) recent visit to Pakistan has essentially cemented Pakistan’s inclusion in anti-Iran Arab NATO.

Against this backdrop, how could the Indian policymakers blithely overlook the far-reaching, dangerous implications of consorting with Saudi Arabia and the UAE as partners in its fight against terrorism in J&K fomented by Pakistan?

The most intriguing part is the newfound bonhomie between the Indian elite  and the sheikhs. Put differently, you don’t take help from the wolf to guard the sheep, right? What explains the Faustian deal to allow them to enter the sanctum sanctorum of India’s foreign policy — Kashmir and the matrix of India-Pakistan relations?

Beware of the lure of green money. The Saudis and Emiratis are great operators in Washington, DC. Their fierce lobbying and charm offensives are legion. If they could manipulate the American political class so brilliantly, our oligarchy must be chicken feed.

March 2, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Telling Only Part of the Story of Jihad

By Daniel LAZARE | Consortium News | February 21, 2019

A recent CNN report about U.S. military materiel finding its way into Al Qaeda hands in Yemen might have been a valuable addition to Americans’ knowledge of terrorism.

Entitled “Sold to an ally, lost to an enemy,” the 10-minute segment, broadcast on Feb. 4, featured rising CNN star Nima Elbagir cruising past sand-colored “Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected” armored vehicles, or MRAPs, lining a Yemeni highway.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” she says. “And this is not under the control of [Saudi-led] coalition forces. This is in the command of militias, which is expressly forbidden by the arms sales agreements with the U.S.”

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she adds. “CNN was told by coalition sources that a deadlier U.S. weapons system, the TOW missile, was airdropped in 2015 by Saudi Arabia to Yemeni fighters, an air drop that was proudly proclaimed across Saudi backed media channels.” The TOWs were dropped into Al Qaeda-controlled territory, according to CNN. But when Elbagir tries to find out more, the local coalition-backed government chases her and her crew out of town.

U.S.-made TOWs in the hands of Al Qaeda? Elbagir is an effective on-screen presence. But this is an old story, which the cable network has long soft-pedaled.

In the early days of the Syrian War, Western media was reluctant to acknowledge that the forces arrayed against the Assad regime included Al Qaeda. In those days, the opposition was widely portrayed as a belated ripple effect of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings elsewhere in the region.

However, in April-May 2015, right around the time that the Saudis were air-dropping TOWs into Yemen, they were also supplying the same optically-guided, high-tech missiles to pro-Al Qaeda forces in Syria’s northern Idlib province. Rebel leaders were exultant as they drove back Syrian government troops. TOWs “flipped the balance,” one said, while another declared: “I would put the advances down to one word – TOW.”

CNN reported that story very differently. From rebel-held territory, CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh described the missiles as a “possible game-changer … that may finally be wearing down the less popular side of the Shia-Sunni divide.” He conceded it wasn’t all good news: “A major downside for Washington at least, is that the often-victorious rebels, the Nusra Front, are Al Qaeda. But while the winners for now are America’s enemies, the fast-changing ground in Syria may cause to happen what the Obama administration has long sought and preached, and that’s changing the calculus of the Assad regime.”

Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and The New York Times all reacted the same way, furrowing their brows at the news that Al Qaeda was gaining, but expressing measured relief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was at last on the ropes.

But now that Elbagir is sounding the alarm about TOWs in Yemen, CNN would do well to acknowledge that it has been distinctly more blasé in the past about TOWs in the hands of al Qaeda.

The network appears unwilling to go where Washington’s pro-war foreign-policy establishment doesn’t want it to go. Elbagir shouldn’t be shocked to learn that U.S. allies are consorting with Yemeni terrorists.

U.S. History with Holy Warriors

What CNN producers and correspondents either don’t know or fail to mention is that Washington has a long history of supporting jihad. As Ian Johnson notes in “A Mosque in Munich” (2010), the policy was mentioned by President Dwight Eisenhower, who was eager, according to White House memos, “to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect” in his talks with Muslim leaders about the Cold War Communist menace.” [See “How U.S. Allies Aid Al Qaeda in Syria,” Consortium News, Aug. 4, 2015.]

Britain had been involved with Islamists at least as far back as 1925 when it helped establish the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and both the U.S. and Britain worked with Islamists in the 1953 coup in Iran, according to Robert Dreyfus in “Devil’s Game” (2006).

By the 1980s a growing Islamist revolt against a left-leaning, pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan brought U.S. support. In mid-1979, President Jimmy Carter and his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, armed the Afghan mujahideen — not at first to drive the Soviets out, but to lure them in. Brzezinski intended to deal Moscow a Vietnam-sized blow, as he put it in a 1998 interview.

Meanwhile, a few months after the U.S. armed the mujahideen, the Saudis were deeply shaken when Islamist extremists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca and called for the overthrow of the royal family. While Saudi Arabia has been keen to repress jihadism at home, it has been a major supporter of Sunni extremists in the region, particularly to battle the Shi‘ite regime that came to power in Tehran, also in 1979.

Since then, the U.S. has made use of jihad, either directly or indirectly, with the Gulf oil monarchies or Pakistan’s notoriously pro-Islamist Inter-Services Intelligence agency. U.S. backing for the Afghan mujahideen helped turn Osama bin Laden into a hero for some young Saudis and other Sunnis, while the training camp he established in the Afghan countryside drew jihadists from across the region.

U.S. backing for Alija Izetbegovic’s Islamist government in Bosnia-Herzegovina brought al-Qaeda to the Balkans, while U.S.-Saudi support for Islamist militants in the Second Chechen War of 1999-2000 enabled it to establish a base of operations there.

Downplaying Al Qaeda

Just six years after 9/11, according to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, the U.S. downplayed the fight against Al Qaeda to rein in Iran  – a policy, Hersh wrote, that had the effect of “bolstering … Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, policy toward Al-Qaeda turned even more curious. In March 2011, she devoted nearly two weeks to persuading Qatar, the UAE and Jordan to join the air war against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, only to stand by and watch as Qatar then poured hundreds of millions of dollars of aid into the hands of Islamist militias that were spreading anarchy from one end of the country to the other.  The Obama administration thought of remonstrating with Qatar, but didn’t in the end.

Much the same happened in Syria where, by early 2012, Clinton was organizing a “Friends of Syria” group that soon began channeling military aid to Islamist forces waging war against Christians, Alawites, secularists and others backing Assad. By August 2012, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the [anti-Assad] insurgency”; that the West, Turkey, and the Gulf states supported it regardless; that the rebels’ goal was to establish “a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria,” and that “this is exactly what the supporting powers want in order to isolate the Syrian regime….”

Biden Speaks Out

Two years after that, Vice President Joe Biden declared at Harvard’s Kennedy School:

“Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria… The Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. what were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” (Quote starts at 53:25.)

The fact that Obama ordered the vice president to apologize to the Saudis, the UAE and Turkey for his comments provided back-handed confirmation that they were true. When TOWs turned up in the hands of pro-Qaeda rebels in Syria the following spring, all a senior administration official would say was: “It’s not something we would refrain from raising with our partners.”

It was obvious that Al Qaeda would be a prime beneficiary of Saudi intervention in Yemen from the start. Tying down the Houthis — “Al Qaeda’s most determined foe,” according to the Times — gave it space to blossom and grow. Where the State Department said it had up to 4,000 members as of 2015, a UN report put its membership at between 6,000 and 7,000 three years later, an increase of 50 to 75 percent or more.

In early 2017, the International Crisis Group found that Al Qaeda was “thriving in an environment of state collapse, growing sectarianism, shifting alliances, security vacuums and a burgeoning war economy.”

In Yemen, Al Qaeda “has regularly fought alongside Saudi-led coalition forces in … Aden and other parts of the south, including Taiz, indirectly obtaining weapons from them,” the ICG added. “… In northern Yemen … the [Saudi-led] coalition has engaged in tacit alliances with AQAP fighters, or at least turned a blind eye to them, as long as they have assisted in attacking the common enemy.”

In May 2016, a PBS documentary showed Al Qaeda members fighting side by side with UAE forces near Taiz. (See “The Secret Behind the Yemen War,” Consortium News, May 7, 2016.)

Last August, an Associated Press investigative team found that the Saudi-led coalition had cut secret deals with Al Qaeda fighters, “paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment, and wads of looted cash.” Saudi-backed militias “actively recruit Al Qaeda militants,” the AP team added, “… because they’re considered exceptional fighters” and also supply them with armored trucks.

If it’s not news that U.S. allies are providing pro-Al Qaeda forces with U.S.-made equipment, why is CNN pretending that it is? One reason is that it feels free to criticize the war and all that goes with it now that the growing human catastrophe in Yemen is turning into a major embarrassment for the U.S. Another is that criticizing the U.S. for failing to rein in its allies earns it points with viewers by making it seem tough and independent, even though the opposite is the case.

Then there’s Trump, with whom CNN has been at war since the moment he was elected. Trump’s Dec. 19 decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria thus presented the network with a double win because it allowed it to rail against the pullout as “bizarre” and a “win for Moscow” while complaining at the same time about administration policy in Yemen. Trump is at fault, it seems, when he pulls out and when he stays in.

In either instance, CNN gets to ride the high horse as it blasts away at the chief executive that corporate outlets most love to hate. Maybe Elbagir should have given her exposé a different title: “Why arming homicidal maniacs is bad news in one country but OK in another.”

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

President Starts a War? Congress Yawns. Threatens to End One? Condemnation!

By Ron Paul | February 11, 2019

Last week’s bipartisan Senate vote to rebuke President Trump for his decision to remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan unfortunately tells us a lot about what is wrong with Washington, DC. While the two parties loudly bicker about minor issues, when it comes to matters like endless wars overseas they enthusiastically join together. With few exceptions, Republicans and Democrats lined up to admonish the president for even suggesting that it’s time for US troops to come home from Afghanistan and Syria.

The amendment, proposed by the Senate Majority Leader and passed overwhelmingly by both parties, warns that a “precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from the on-going fight…in Syria and Afghanistan, could allow terrorists to regroup.” As one opponent of the amendment correctly pointed out, a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is hardly “precipitous” since they’ve been there for nearly 18 years! And with al-Qaeda and ISIS largely defeated in Syria a withdrawal from that country would hardly be “precipitous” after almost five years of unauthorized US military action.

Senators supporting the rebuke claim that US troops cannot leave until every last ISIS fighter is killed or captured. This is obviously a false argument. Al-Qaeda and ISIS did not emerge in Iraq because US troops left the country – they emerged because the US was in the country in the first place. Where was al-Qaeda in Iraq before the 2003 US invasion the neocons lied us into? There weren’t any.

US troops occupying Iraqi territory was, however, a huge incentive for Iraqis to join a resistance movement. Similarly, US intervention in Syria beginning under the Obama Administration contributed to the growth of terrorist groups in that country.

We know that US invasion and occupation provides the best recruiting tools for terrorists, including suicide terrorists. So how does it make sense that keeping troops in these countries in any way contributes to the elimination of terrorism? As to the “vacuum” created in Syria when US troops pull out, how about allowing the government of Syria to take care of the problem? After all, it’s their country and they’ve been fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda since the US helped launch the “regime change” in 2011. Despite what you might hear in the US mainstream media, it’s Syria along with its allies that has done most of the fighting against these groups and it makes no sense that they would allow them to return.

Congress has the Constitutional responsibility and obligation to declare war, but this has been ignored for decades. The president bombs far-off lands and even sends troops to fight in and occupy foreign territory and Congress doesn’t say a word. But if a president dares seek to end a war suddenly the sleeping Congressional giant awakens!

I’ve spent many years opposing Executive branch over-reach in matters where the president has no Constitutional authority, but when it comes to decisions on where to deploy or re-deploy troops once in battle it is clear that the Constitution grants that authority to the commander-in-chief. The real question we need to ask is why is Congress so quick to anger when the president finally seeks to end the longest war in US history?

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 11 Comments

Yemen: Hodeida Truce in New Hands as UN Replaces Biased and Ineffective Monitor

By Ahmed Abdulkareem – MintPress News – February 5, 2019

SANA’A, YEMEN — The newly-appointed head of the United Nations mission to monitor Yemen’s truce agreement between the Houthis and the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition, Danish Lt. Gen. Michael Anker Lollesgaard, arrived in Yemen’s capital Sana’a on Tuesday, along with a five-member team, to assume his duty in the country’s Red Sea port city of Hodeida. Lollesgaard succeeds retired Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert.

The development comes after MintPress News revealed on January 24 that the United Nations promised to replace Cammaert, who was leading a UN joint committee tasked with overseeing the truce in Hodeida, a conduit for the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid. The replacement of the joint committee’s head was promised in order to save the fragile truce after the Houthis accused Cammaert of pursuing an agenda favoring the Saudi-led coalition, according to a high-ranking Houthi official.

Prior to his replacement, the Houthis boycotted a meeting chaired by Cammaert in Hodeida, accusing him of pushing the Saudi coalition’s agenda after he requested that Houthi forces withdraw eight kilometers outside of Hodeida while asking Saudi coalition forces to withdraw only half a kilometer — giving the coalition an opportunity to quickly occupy Hodeida unopposed, according to a source in the negotiating committee.

In an attempt not to portray the change as a victory for the Houthis, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who announced Lollesgaard’s appointment on January 31, said Cammaert was on a temporary one-month contract and did not resign. However, the decision to appoint a new monitoring chief in Yemen’s key port may give UN envoy Martin Griffiths a chance to succeed, according to observers who spoke to MintPress.

Monday on a UN-hired ship off Hodeida, Cammaert held his final meeting between the Houthis and coalition representatives in an effort to end a month-long stalemate over the implementation of a mutual troop withdrawal from the port city.

Yemenis still see the agreements reached in Sweden as the best chance yet of ending the Saudi war against the poorest country the Middle East, a war that has killed thousands of people since it began in 2015 and pushed 14 million to the brink of famine, according to the United Nations.

In the view of Yemeni analysts who spoke to MintPress, if Saudi Arabia persists in its behavior, no UN envoy or monitor will be able to help reach a peace agreement in Yemen; and, without pressure on the Kingdom, the UN will go on playing a feeble role. Accordingly, the replacement of the head of the UN monitoring mission is regarded as effectively meaningless by many Yemenis.

The Saudi-led coalition appears willing to commit to war as a solution and further fighting will give rise to more disease, famine, and lack of access to humanitarian aid and food commodities. The repercussions will be fast and conspicuous across Yemen.

“Hanging in the balance”

Representatives of the Saudi coalition and the Houthis met in Jordan on Tuesday for a new round of UN-brokered talks on a troubled prisoner-swap deal that was initially agreed on in Stockholm last December. UN envoy Griffiths said the new talks aim to finalize the lists of prisoners and detainees to be released or exchanged.

A source on the negotiation committee told MintPress that the Houthis proposed releasing 400 prisoners from both sides as an initiative to get the talks going. There was no comment from Saudi Arabia on the proposal.

Last week, representatives from the coalition and the Houthis had held a round of UN-brokered negotiations in the Jordanian capital city of Amman to hammer out details of the prisoner exchange. The two sides met separately with the mediators and submitted lists of prisoners they wanted to be released.

Both sides have said repeatedly they remain committed to the agreement, which could see thousands of prisoners released by each side, including hundreds of al-Qaeda and ISIS members who were fighting on behalf of the coalition. So far, however, no breakthrough has been made.

Fears linger that failure of the prisoner exchange would have a knock-on effect on the next round of peace talks, owing to the nature of the list of prisoners made by both sides. Each side presented a list of up to 8,000 detainees to be freed, but many of those detainees on the list are not able to be accounted for, according to a senior official from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The prisoner swap would, therefore, involve a significantly lower number of prisoners, an outcome likely to draw the ire of both sides.

A senior International Committee of the Red Cross official, which will oversee the deal’s implementation, said on Monday that the prisoner exchange was “hanging in the balance,” with trust among the parties “insufficient.” He also indicated that “there is a lot of disappointment on both sides,” adding: “What we now see on both sides is that they don’t have them all [i.e., the listed prisoners] because a lot of them, they probably died during the conflict.”

There are positive signs, however. In a move that could boost ongoing UN-led efforts to save the deal, the Houthis released an ailing Saudi prisoner, Musa al-Awaji, on humanitarian grounds at the end of January. The Saudi coalition also released seven Houthi prisoners who were not part of the negotiated exchange.

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment