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Israel Now Faces New Rules Of Engagement In Syria

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | May 11, 2018

Even as CNN is out with a new report condemning Iran for denying any responsibility or role in the latest massive exchange of fire between Israel and Syria, The New York Times has admitted (albeit buried deep in the story) that Israel was the actual aggressor and initiator of hostilities which threatened to spiral out of control overnight Wednesday and into Thursday morning.

While CNN and most Israeli and mainstream media sources blame Iran for initiating an attack on Israel, on the very day of the early morning strikes (Thursday), the Times acknowledged, “The barrage [of Syria/Iran missiles] came after an apparent Israeli missile strike against a village in the Syrian Golan Heights late Wednesday.”

This is significant as Israel is seeking to cast Iran as an aggressor on its border which must be dealt with preemptively; however Syria’s responsewhich involved between 20 and 50 missiles launched in return fireimposed new rules of engagement on a situation in which Israel previously acted with impunity. 

And though multiple international reports have pointed to strikes landing on the Israeli side, Israel has apparently been extremely careful in preventing photographs or video of any potential damage to see the light of day. According to professor of Middle East history Asad AbuKhalil, “Israel censor still hasn’t allowed any reports about casualties or damage.”

Up until recently, Assad had not taken the bait of Israeli provocation for years now in what we previously described as a kind of “waiting game” of survival now, retaliation later. But with the Syrian Army now victorious around the Damascus suburbs and countryside, and with much of Syria’s most populous regions back under government control, it appears that Assad’s belated yet firm response to the Israeli large scale attack has changed the calculus.

Damascus has now signaled to Israel that its acts of aggression will be costly as Syrian leadership has shown a willingness to escalate. But how did this new and increasingly dangerous situation come about, and which side actually has the upper hand? 

* * *

Below is a dispatch authored and submitted by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai Media, who is currently on the ground in the region and has interviewed multiple officials involved in the conflict.

Israel hits Syrian and Iranian objectives and weapons warehouses again (evacuated weeks before) for the fourth time in a month. 28 Israeli jets participated in the biggest attack since 1974. Tel Aviv informed the Russian leadership of its intentions without succeeding in stopping the Syrian leadership from responding. Actually, what is new is the location where Damascus decided to hit back: the occupied Golan Heights (20 rockets were fired at Israeli military positions).

Syria, in coordination with its Iranian allies (without taking into consideration Russian wishes) took a very audacious decision to fire back against Israeli targets in the Golan. This indicates that Damascus and its allies are ready to widen the battle, in response to continual Israeli provocations.

But what is the reason why new Rules of Engagement (ROE) were imposed in Syria recently?

For decades there was a non-declared ROE between Hezbollah and Israel, where both sides were aware of the consequences. Usually, Israel prepares a bank of target objectives with Hezbollah offices, military objectives and warehouses and also specific commanders with key positions within the organization. Israel hits these targets, updated in every war. However, the Israelis react immediately against Hezbollah commanders, who have the task of supporting, instructing and financing Palestinians in Palestine, and above all the Palestinians of 1948 living in Israel. This has happened on many occasions where Hezbollah commanders related to the Palestinian dossier were assassinated in Lebanon.

Last month, Israel discovered that Iran was sending advanced low observable drones dropping electronic and special warfare equipment to Palestinians. The Israeli radars didn’t see these drones going backward and forward with their traditional radars, but were finally able to identify one drone using thermal detection and acoustic deterrence, to down it on its last journey.

In response to this, Israel targeted the Syrian military airport T-4 used by Iran as a base for these drones. But Israel was not satisfied and wanted to take further revenge, hitting several Iranian and Syrian targets during the following weeks.

Tel Aviv believed it could get away with repetitively hitting Iranian objectives without triggering a military response. Perhaps Israel really believed that Iran was afraid of becoming engaged in a war with Israel, with the US ready to take part in any war against the Islamic Republic from its military bases spread around Syria, in close vicinity to the Iranian forces deployed in Syria. Obviously, Iran has a different view from the Israelis, the Americans and even the Russians, who like to avoid any contact at all cost.

Regardless of how many Israeli jets took part in the latest attack against Iranian and Syrian objectives and how many missiles were launched or intercepted, a serious development has occurred: the Syrian high command broke all pre-existing rules and found no obstacle to bombing Israel in the occupied Golan Heights.

Again, the type of missiles or rockets fired by Syria against Israeli military objectives it is not important or whether these fell into an open space or hit their targets. What is important is the fact that a new ROE is now in place in Syria, similar to the one established by Hezbollah over Kiryat Shmona near the Lebanese border, when militants fired anti-aircraft cannons every time Israel violated Lebanese airspace in the 2000.

Basically Israel wanted to hit objectives in Syria but claims not to be looking for confrontation. Israel would have liked to continue provoking Syria and Iran in the Levant, but claims to be unwilling to head towards war or a battle. Israel would like to continue hitting any target it chooses in Syria without suffering retaliation.

But with its latest attack, Israel’s “unintended consequences” or provocation has forced the Syrian government to consider the occupied Golan Heights as the next battlefield. If Israel continues and hits beyond the border area, Syria will think of sending its missiles or rockets way beyond the Golan Heights to reach Israeli territory.

Actually, Hezbollah’s secretary general Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said a few years back: “Leave Lebanon outside the conflict. Come to Syria where we can settle our differences.” Syria, logically, has become the battlefield for all countries and parties to settle their differences, the platform where the silent war between Israel and Iran and its allies is finding its voice.

In Damascus, sources close to the leadership believe Israel will continue attacking targets. However, Israel knows now where Syria’s response will be.This is what Israel has triggered but didn’t expect. Now it has become a rule.

The Israeli Iron Dome is inefficient and unable to protect Israel from rockets and missiles launched simultaneously. Now the battle has moved into Syrian territory occupied by Israel to the reluctance of Tel Aviv, and Russia. Iran and Syria are not taking into consideration Russia’s concern to keep the level of tension low if Israel is not controlling itself. Syria recognizes the importance of Russia and its efficient role in stopping the war in Syria and all the military and political support Moscow is offering.

However, Damascus and Tehran have other considerations, especially the goal of containing Israel. They have trained over 16 local Syrian groups ready to liberate the Golan Heights or to clash with any possible Israeli advance into Syrian territory.

Israel triggered what it has always feared and has managed to get a new battlefield, the Golan heights. It is true that Israel limited itself to bombing weapons warehouses never hit before. It has bombed bases where Iranian advisors are based along with Syrian officers (Russia cleared most positions to avoid the embarrassment of being hit by Israel). It is also true that Israel didn’t regularly bomb Iranian military and transport aircraft carrying weapons to Syria, or the main Iranian center of control and command at Damascus airport. This means that not all parties are pushing for a wider escalation, so far.

Can the situation get out of control? Of course it can, the question is when?!?

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hezbollah, Allies Make Sweeping Gains in Lebanon General Elections

Al-Manar | May 7, 2018

Hezbollah, Amal movement and other allies secure major achievements in Lebanon parliamentary elections on Sunday, according to initial results reported by local media.

Mutual lists between Hezbollah and Amal, dubbed “Loyalty and Hope” swept in Lebanon’s two southern districts and Bekaa District 2 (Baalbeck-Hermel).

The allies secured all 18 seats in South Districts 2 and 3, while securing 8 out of ten seats in Bekaa District 2.

Elsewhere in South District 1 (Sidon-Jizzine), the list which was supported by Hezbollah and Amal gained 2 seats out of 5.

The allied lists also secured all four Shiite seats in Mount Lebanon District 3 (Baabda) and Beirut District 2.

Elsewhere in Western Bekaa, Hezbollah and allies secured 3 out of 6 seats.

Meanwhile in Zahle Hezbollah secured the Shiite seat in the Bekaist district.

In general, out of the 27 Shiite seats in the Lebanese parliament, Hezbollah and Amal secured at least 26 seats according to initial results.

Official results are to be announced by the interior ministry later on Monday.

May 7, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Israel’s Murderous Strikes on Syria (via “Pacified” Lebanon)

By Andre Vltchek | New Eastern Outlook | May 1, 2018

On April 9, 2018 at least 14 people were killed during the murderous strike by the Israeli air force on the Syrian T-4 airfield at Homs.

Israeli F-15 fighter jets flew over Lebanese airspace, as they have done on many previous occasions, in total disregard of international law.

Both Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war, and the latest action could easily be considered as yet another shameless provocation. Apparently, whatever terror Western allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel decide to spread throughout the region, their actions will always go unpunished.

To add insult to injury, instead of condemning Israel, the Western mass media outlets began their predictable and embarrassing servile howling against the government in Damascus, some ‘correspondents’ even calling President al-Assad an “animal” (The Sun, 9th April, 2018).

This time, Lebanon, which in the past suffered from several brutal Israeli invasions, and where Israel is commonly referred to as ‘Palestine’, decided not to protest too loudly against the violation of its airspace. There were some statements made by individual Lebanese politicians, as well as a statement by the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which objected to the attack against Syria, claiming that Lebanon will file a complaint to the UNSC. Most of the statements, however, appeared only in the Arabic language. There was definitely no robust national response, as one would have expected.

Ms. Zeinab Al-Saffar, an Iraqi educator and television anchor based in Beirut, Lebanon, shared her thoughts on the subject:

It is not the first time that this is happening.  Israeli forces have been violating the airspace of Lebanon, as well as the land and sea belonging to Lebanon. Violation of the territory of Lebanon [by Israel] became something ‘regular’. What happened recently is a flagrant intrusion which should not go unanswered, as they were using Lebanese air space in order to attack the Syrian land. I believe this is the right time for the U.N. to do something more than just to make the reports and write numbers. This is an extremely serious situation; to use the territory of a neighboring country in order to attack a third nation; it is a barefaced crime.

*****

Why do Lebanon’s protests not resonate louder?

There are several reasons. One: the country recently ‘secured’ an enormous package of mostly loans from the West, at a ‘Paris conference’, amounting to more than 11 billion dollars.

Two: A great percentage of the ‘elites’ of Lebanon is accustomed to taking orders from the West. The West is where their villas are, where their relatives live, and their permanent residency cards issued.

A much greater war may be nearing; both the U.S. and Europe are now attacking Syria directly. In this decisive time, the Lebanese rulers are opportunistically showing where their allegiances lie: not with the people of the devastated Middle East, but with Paris, London, Riyadh and Washington.

But back to the first point – to money. As reported by Reuters on April 6, 2018:

“The pledges include $10.2 billion in loans and $860 million in grants, France’s ambassador to Lebanon Bruno Foucher said on Twitter…”

Donors in turn want to see Lebanon commit to long-stalled reforms. In a nod to those demands, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri pledged to reduce the deficit of the budget as a percentage of GDP by 5 percent in the coming five years.

Macron told Hariri in a news conference the aid aimed to give Lebanon a fresh start, adding that it put “an unprecedented responsibility” on authorities there to carry out reforms and preserve peace in the country.

“It is important to continue reforms in the coming months,” Macron said, adding: “We’ll be by your side.” …

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the conference: “… Lebanon needs major reforms of its economy, structural and sectoral.””

‘Structural reforms’ is a key term. This shameful package of loans which will further tie the hands of Lebanon could insure the complacency of the country: both economic and political obedience at the time when the West is ready to unleash a new wave of its military onslaught in the region.

There is hardly any transparency in Lebanon, and therefore almost no guarantee that the loans will be used to improve the standard of living of the suffering population. Corruption in Lebanon is endemic – it is institutionalized – to the point that it is often not even called ‘corruption’ anymore.

Social services are almost non-existent. Here, the contrasts are truly appalling. Ferraris and Lamborghinis, as well as outrageously expensive sailing boats, co-exist side-by-side with absolute misery and lack of social services, such as, at least periodically, garbage collection.

Hezbollah, a movement which is on the so-called terrorist list of many Western countries, is often the only reliable source of social services in the country.

The West will now demand more and more neo-liberal ‘reforms’. Almost nothing social will be built. Funds will disappear into the deep pockets of the shameless Lebanese ‘elites’ and ‘leaders’. It will be the poor, who will be expected to service the loans, as the rich in Lebanon hardly pay taxes.

In exchange for their booty, many Lebanese politicians will be further obliged to follow the Western line towards the region, including the neo-liberal and increasingly neo-colonialist policy of Washington and France (Lebanon’s former colonial master) towards Syria and the rest of the region.

******

And across the border line, the war is still raging. Washington and London fulfilled their shameful promises to perform ‘punitive actions’; to ‘chastise Syria’ for something that was clearly invented/manufactured just in order to justify an invasion, destabilization and in the end, the destruction, of this small but strong and proud nation.

A Syrian intellectual, who lives in both Beirut and Damascus, offered his analyses for this article. However, he requested not to be identified by his name, afraid of repercussions from both Lebanon and the West:

The Israeli attack comes at a time when the Syrian army is winning its fight against terrorist groups in Damascus suburbs, and it could be read as an indirect answer to these wins. It is also a dangerous move since the T4 airbase is heavily involved in the fight against the remaining of ISIS in Syria. This attack is unacceptable aggression against a sovereign nation and it is a violation of international laws. It also shows that Israel is helping directly and indirectly various terrorists groups operating on the Syrian territory.

*****

However, the commentaries that are being spread by the Western mainstream press are increasingly defying all logic. They are progressively turning out to be racist, supremacist. Well, actually now they are what they have always been earlier, throughout the centuries of European and then North American colonialism.

In Damascus, shelling a park right next to the Four Seasons Hotel, the UN accommodation from East Ghouta

Just read The Guardian article from April 9th, 2018- “Israel has launched countless strikes in Syria. What’s new is Russia’s response”:

Israel has launched many previous strikes into Syria, mainly to protect its borders from a buildup of Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces and armaments on the Golan Heights. Israel, has not, as a rule, attacked al-Qaida or Islamic State positions in Syria.

On all previous occasions, Russia – which has controlled Syrian air space since it sent troops to defend the regime of Bashar al-Assad in 2015 – has turned a blind eye. There had been an understanding that Israeli interests in Syria would be preserved by Russia, primarily by limiting the presence of Iranian-backed troops in Syria’s south-west. The Israeli fear is that access to the Syrian side of the Golan Heights allows Hezbollah to launch attacks into Israel.

At least The Guardian does not pretend that it believes in the Western fabrications that President Assad is poisoning his own people…

But the article is clearly trying to justify and find logic behind the Israeli terrorist attacks against the independent nation.

‘Poor Israel – it is worried about ‘Hezbollah forces and armaments on the Golan Heights.’

Spy-surveillance base on the hill overlooking Syria

But the Golan Heights is by international law an inseparable part of Syria. I repeat: by all international norms! Including, the United Nations Security Council UN Resolution 497. Golan Heights had been attacked, occupied and forcefully (and it looks like indefinitely) annexed by Israel, during the so-called ‘Six-Day War’ in 1981.

I visited the Golan Heights. I worked there, for several days, clandestinely, some 5 days ago. What I encountered there was true horror: ancient villages were totally destroyed, most of the original population deported from their land, Israeli-paid spies and provocateurs approaching and scrutinizing random visitors. All around – scattered rich Israeli agricultural enterprises protected by barbed wire and tall concrete walls. It all felt like working in Angola or Namibia, during the South African apartheid, or perhaps even worse; divided communities, stolen land, electric wire, and omnipresent fear and oppression.

Horrid border at Majdal al-Shams

But it is Israel which now has the right to ‘worry’ and to murder people in the name of its ‘security’. That is precisely what the tone of the Western mainstream periodicals clearly suggests.

Israel had stolen more than a thousand kilometers square of the Syrian territory in 1981, and now it is mercilessly bombing its victim; from Lebanese territory, in order to assure its ‘safety and security’. It is doing so from the territory of Lebanon, a country which was invaded by the Israeli military, on several occasions.

And the West is cheering.

*****

Of course, Israel is acting with total impunity, because it enjoys both the support and encouragement from its allies: The United States, the U.K. and Macron’s France.

Lebanon is panicking. Its’ ‘elites’ are trying to both survive, and not to anger the West.

Syrians have, it often appears, nerves of steel.

They worry but are determined not to give one single inch of their land to the invaders.

My friend in Damascus wrote to me, just a few hours before I submitted this report:

People are worried and they constantly follow up the news. My brother asked us to go to Safita for one month, as it is safer there. I’m not sure if we do it, but we are closely monitoring the situation.

My colleagues and comrades on the ground in Syria are angry, very angry. They can clearly see through the lies, which are being spread by the West.

Israel is repeatedly bombing heroic Syria.

On April 29, 2018, the Israeli attacks killed 26 Syrians and Iranians, just before Midnight, near Hama and Aleppo.

The U.S. and Europe are bombing and threatening to cause even more damage.

But this is 2018, not those dark years when the West could murder and rape without any consequences. If these attacks continue, there will be a counterpunch: fully justified, determined and powerful.

Then even the tiny Lebanon would have to decide where it stands.

• Photos by Andre Vltchek

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Netanyahu’s Iran Speech in Context: Irony, Hypocrisy and the Undeclared Hijacking of U.S. Foreign Policy

By Adeyinka Makinde | May 3, 2018

The recent presentation made by Binyamin Netanyahu purportedly detailing a secret Iranian programme aimed at acquiring a nuclear weapons capability is the latest in a long-term effort on his part to obtain United States assistance in destroying Iran. But the actions of the Israeli prime minister are not only ironic and hypocritical: they bring into focus the connection between the purposeful destructions of Iraq and Libya on the one hand and the attempt to destroy Syria, foment conflict in Lebanon and neutralise Iranian military power on the other. Few Americans are aware of this two decade-long grand strategy followed by successive United States administrations because the compartmentalization of events, short-term memory of the public and government propaganda have all served to murky the fundamental picture, that is, one in which the United States continues to follow a policy of taking down countries which pose a threat to the state of Israel. It is a policy which was adopted without recourse to public debate despite the serious ramifications it has had in terms of the cost to American prestige and an ever increasing national debt.

Most of the world’s major national intelligence services have long concluded that Iran has no nuclear weapons development programme. This includes the intelligence community of the United States and up until recently -if Binyamin Netanyahu is to be believed- Israel’s Mossad. A debate within Iran’s political, military and intelligence circles apparently ended with the nation’s supreme leader ruling against the development of nuclear weapons.

The irony is not lost in the scenario of the leader of Israel decrying the acquisition of nuclear technology by another nation, one that is a signatory state to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and subject to the stringent conditions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action reached between Iran and the ‘Five Plus One’ countries, when Israel is in possession of an undeclared arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Israel’s own nuclear weapons programme, which began with the express disapproval of President John F. Kennedy who felt that it would create a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, involved the practice of a grand deception by David Ben Gurion who insisted that the Dimona reactor was for research purposes only and not for the production of plutonium.

A pungent whiff of hypocrisy pervades Netanyahu’s presentation. Israel’s nuclear arms programme has not only been shrouded in secrecy but has involved acts of criminality which according to FBI documents declassified in June 2012 allegedly involved Netanyahu himself. Netanyahu later issued a gagging order directing the unindicted ringleader of a nuclear smuggling ring to refrain from discussing an operation known as ‘Project Pinto’. Israel spied on nuclear installations inside the United States and in the 1960s and it stole bomb-grade uranium from a US nuclear fuel-processing plant.

Netanyahu’s speech is the latest in a campaign by Israel to ignite a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran, a plan which is intimately linked to the effort to destroy Syria over the past seven years.

The war in Syria represents the combined efforts of the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia to destroy the so-called ‘Shia Crescent’ of Iran, Syria and Lebanon (Hezbollah). The centrality of Israel in this effort was made clear by Roland Dumas, a former foreign minister of France in 2013. But Israel, along with the United States and Saudi Arabia, has been enraged by the fact that Bashar al-Assad’s secular government with the help of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, has practically defeated the Islamic fanatics who were introduced into Syria for the purpose of overthrowing Assad in order to balkanise the country and stop Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The reason why Israel wants Iranian aid to Hezbollah cut off and the organisation destroyed is not hard to fathom. Hezbollah is the only armed force within the Arab world willing and capable of taking on the Israeli military. Israel has for long coveted southern Lebanon up to the River Litani. But Hezbollah has twice inflicted humiliating defeats on Israel: first in 2000 when Israel was forced to withdraw after an 18-year occupation of the southern part of Lebanon which had commenced with a bloody invasion, and secondly in 2006 when Israel was forced to withdraw after sustaining heavy losses during a 34-day conflict.

Apart from the aforementioned goal of breaking the conduit between Iran and Hezbollah, the balkanisation of Syria would mean that any of the successor states would find it difficult to make a claim for the Golan Heights which Israel conquered in 1967 and which it illegally annexed in 1981. Israel is also supportive of the idea of a Kurdish state being created out of Syria as a means through which the transfer of oil and gas could be facilitated.

Much evidence exists of a pre-existing Israeli plan to destroy Syria. The Yinon Plan of 1982 and a series of position papers produced by Israel-friendly neoconservative ideologues in the United States (the Project for the New American Century’s ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses – Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century’ in 2000) as well as for the Israeli government (‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm’ in 1996) bear this out. Each document clearly calls for the neutralising or the “rolling back” of several states including Syria.

The Yinon Plan, the name given to a paper entitled ‘A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s’ which was published in February 1982 in Kivunim (Directions), a journal written in Hebrew, set out Israel’s enduring aim of balkanising the surrounding Arab and Muslim world into ethnic and sectarian mini-states. Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq were prime candidates.

It was not a unique or suddenly arrived at policy, but simply set out in detail an overarching policy pursued by Israel’s leaders since the founding of the state. For instance, the diaries of Moshe Sharett, an early prime minister of Israel, laid bare David Ben Gurion and Moshe Dayan’s aim of weakening Lebanon by exacerbating tensions between its Muslim and Christian population in the course of which Dayan hoped that a Christian military officer would declare a Christian state out of which the region south of the River Litani would be ceded to Israel.

A crucial point to mention is that the policy of the United States towards Syria and others is congruent with that of Israel. In fact, America has been pursuing a two-decade long strategy aimed at destabilisation and balkanisation regardless of the political stripe of the president in office. After the attack of 9/11, the United States set in motion a plan, in the words of retired U.S. General Wesley Clark, “to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran”.

The secular nations of Iraq, Syria and Libya had no links to the Sunni Islamist al-Qaeda cell which purportedly carried out the attacks on 9/11. Neither did Shia Iran. Yet, America foreign policy has been geared towards destroying nations who happen to oppose Israel and who are supportive of the Palestinian cause.

To quote General Clark again, American foreign policy was “hijacked” without a public debate.

While the adoption of this policy remains officially unacknowledged, the modus operandi by which the United States has sought to destroy these countries is clear. A succession of position papers as well as the intended effect of United States and NATO interventions point to the exploiting of ethnic and sectarian conflicts as well as the use of Islamist proxy armies as the standard tactic utilised to bring down governments.

For instance, a Pentagon-funded report by the RAND Corporation in 2008 entitled ‘Unfolding the Future of the Long War: Motivations, Prospects and Implications for the U.S. Army’ explicitly refers to the need to foment conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims as a means to the end of controlling the resources of the Middle East.

Another tactic alluded to by a 2012 document created by the Defense Intelligence Agency is that of declaring ‘Safe Havens’ -a term synonymous with the often used ‘No-Fly Zones’- ostensibly as a humanitarian policy, but which is a technique used to shield and preserve areas controlled by Islamist insurgents. It was utilised by NATO forces as a means of protecting the al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group during its campaign to overthrow the government of Muammar Gaddafi, and an attempt was made to implement this prior to the fall of the al-Nusra-controlled city of Aleppo.

America’s Founding Fathers warned against getting involved in foreign entanglements, yet it devotedly follows a Middle East policy that clearly benefits the interests of another nation state. It is a policy which risks setting off a major regional war based on sectarian lines as well as embroiling it in a conflict with nuclear armed Russia.

For Israel, the goal remains the establishment of its undisputed hegemony in the Middle East. However, while an economic rationale predicated on relieving Europe of its dependency on Russian gas via a pipeline from the gulf is occasionally referenced, there has never been a comprehensive articulation of what America’s fundamental interests are in destroying Syria and Iran.

Pursuing such a policy without having had a full and thorough public debate tends to confirm key areas of dysfunction in the American system of governance. First it highlights the power and influence of those lobbies associated with Israeli interests and the Military Industry, and secondly, the unchanging nature of this policy which has been followed by the respective administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump provide evidence that what Michael J. Glennon terms the ‘Madisonian’ institutions of state are no longer accountable in the manner which people still think they are. Instead power in regard to crucial issues on American national security rests with an unelected group of people outside of the separated organs of government: what Glennon, a professor of law at Tufts University, refers to as ‘Trumanite’ institutions.

The implications for the health of American democracy are all too apparent.

The pursuit of a strategy which has served to diminish American esteem among the global community as well as adding to the increasing national debt represents a catastrophic failure not only on the part of the political class, but also on the part of the mainstream media, which has consistently presented a narrative devoid of its true context. The intellectual community comprised of university academics and scholars working for think tanks must accept a large share of the blame.

Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech, a shameless attempt at goading the United States into breaking its obligations under an international agreement as a prelude to fighting a war which would serve Israel’s interests, ought to ignite a full and transparent debate on American national security policy in the Middle East.

A failure to do this risks future costly disasters which would dwarf the debacles of Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2018)

May 4, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces kidnap Lebanese woman in Shebaa Farms

Press TV – April 29, 2018

Israeli forces have kidnapped a Lebanese woman in the Tel Aviv-occupied Lebanese territory, the Lebanese army says.

The incident happened in Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms on Saturday and the abductee was identified as Nohad Dali.

“On April 28 at 8.30 p.m., an Israeli enemy patrol carried out the abduction of Nohad Dali from the town of Shebaa and took her into occupied Palestinian territory,” said an army statement.

Lebanon has raised the seizure of Dali with the United Nations peacekeeping force, which is stationed on Lebanon’s border with the occupied territories. The Israeli military said it briefly held the Lebanese woman before releasing her.

Tel Aviv has been occupying Shebaa Farms since 1967, when it seized the territory from Lebanon during a full-scale war against Arab nations. Lebanon and Israel are technically at war as a result of the continued occupation.

Israel launched two wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006, in both of which the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah inflicted heavy losses on the regime’s military.

In January, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri called Israel the greatest threat to Lebanon’s stability. “The only threat I see is Israel taking some kind of action against Lebanon, out of a miscalculation,” Hariri told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Israel also takes great exception to Hezbollah’s assisting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in its battle against Takfiri terrorism and militancy.

The Israeli air force has repeatedly violated Lebanon’s airspace to strike Syria-based targets belonging to Hezbollah since the group started helping out the Syrian army.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Lebanon Rejects UN, EU Joint Statement on Displaced Syrians’ Crisis

Al-Manar | April 26, 2018

President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Thursday voiced rejection of the joint statement by the United Nations and the European Union issued yesterday at the Brussels conference on the displaced Syrians’ crisis.

“The content of the joint statement by the UN and the EU contradicts the state’s sovereignty and endangers Lebanon,” President Aoun said in a statement released by the Presidency of the Republic.

Aoun rejected the content of the joint statement including phrases ‘voluntary return,’ ‘temporary return,’ ‘will to stay,’ and ‘integration in the labor market’ and other terms which contradict the Lebanese state’s sovereignty and laws.

Aoun brought to attention that Lebanon has dealt with the Syrian displacement predicament on the basis of brotherly relations and humanitarian obligation, emphasizing that the only viable solution to the crisis was the safe and dignified return of the displaced Syrians “to the possible areas inside Syria… notably that many Syrian areas have become safe.”

Aoun stressed that Lebanon adheres to a political solution in Syria and the restoration of stability in a way that preserves Syria’s unity and ends the suffering of its people.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Reports of Monday night attack on Syrian base blamed on false alarm

RT | April 17, 2018

Several sources in Syria said the overnight deployment of anti-aircraft weapons at a military base was triggered by a false alarm, not an actual missile attack, as previously claimed by some media outlets.

Syrian TV earlier reported a missile attack on Shayrat Airbase in Homs governorate, while a Lebanese media outlet with links to militant group Hezbollah said a separate attack targeted Al-Dumair base northeast of Damascus. Multiple sources now show the reports were inaccurate.

The Syrian news agency SANA cited a military source, who said anti-aircraft missiles were fired overnight after a false intrusion alarm. It was consequently established that no new attacks on Al-Dumair base happened.

A similar report came from a Reuters source in the regional pro-government military alliance. The commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the false alarm was caused by an Israeli-US cyber warfare operation, but didn’t provide any proof.

Meanwhile, a Russian military source told Interfax news agency that there was no night incident at Shayrat Airbase. … Full article

 

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump opens a Pandora’s box in Middle East

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 15, 2018

There is no triumphalism in the US, Britain or France over the missile strike in Syria on Friday. The mood is rather defensive. Indeed, evidence is still lacking on the alleged chemical attacks in Douma, which was the alibi for the missile strike. There are no tall claims, either, as regards the effectiveness of the missile strike in military terms.

On the contrary, Damascus is in upbeat mood. April 14 has been declared a day of celebrations. After all, the Syrian forces single-handedly faced the Western assault. The Russian reports underscore that the Syrian air defence system was highly effective. The Defence Ministry said in Moscow on Saturday that there haven’t been any Syrian casualties. Moscow attests that the Syrians shot down as many as 71 missiles out of the total 103 fired by the US, UK and France. Neither Washington nor London or Paris has so far contradicted the Russian assessment.

President Donald Trump is the solitary voice crowing about the missile attack. He tweeted bombastically:

  • So proud of our great Military which will soon be, after the spending of fully approved dollars, the finest that our Country has ever had. There won’t be anything, or anyone, even close!

But Trump was grandstanding in front of the domestic audience and avoided making any specific claims about the success of the strike by his “smart” missiles. In sum, this has been a theatrical show.

The military balance in Syria now comes into play. For the Syrian regime, this is baptism under fire. Only recently, the Syrians had shot down an Israeli jet. Now they have scored a 70% hit on Friday.

The Syrians are equipped with Soviet-era air defence systems developed in the 1960s. What if the Russians upgrade the systems? This is exactly what the head of Russian General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi hinted in Moscow on Saturday:

“A few years ago, taking into account a pressing request from some of our partners, we abandoned the supplies of the S-300 missile systems to Syria. Considering the latest developments, we deem it possible to get back to discussing this issue, not only in relation to Syria, but to other countries as well.”

No doubt, it will be a game changer if Russia equips the Syrian army with deterrent power to inflict unaffordable costs on potential aggressors. Iran has shown how such a strategy can work when it helped Hezbollah in Lebanon to acquire deterrence against Israel.

In fact, the Jerusalem Post newspaper has highlighted the Russian general’s remark. The paper notes that if Moscow carries out the threat, “Israel’s air superiority is at risk of being challenged in one of its most difficult arenas… And it could be just a matter of time before an Israeli pilot is killed.” The JP report adds,

  • Syrian air defenses are largely Soviet-era systems, comprised of SA-2s, SA-5s and SA-6s, as well as more sophisticated tactical surface-to-air missiles such as the SA-17 and SA-22 systems. The most up-to-date system that Moscow has supplied to the Syrian regime is the short range Pantsir S-1, which has shot down drones and missiles that have flown over Syria.
  • The advanced S-300 would be a major upgrade to Syrian air defenses and pose a threat to Israeli jets as the long-range missile defense system can track objects like aircraft and ballistic missiles over a range of 300 kilometers.
  • The system’s engagement radar, which can guide up to 12 missiles simultaneously, helps guide the missiles toward the target. With two missiles per target, each launcher vehicle can engage up to six targets at once.

Col.-Gen. Rudskoi chose his words carefully by hinting that Russia could also supply countries other than Syria (eg., Venezuela, North Korea, Lebanon, Iraq, etc.) The remark stems from President Vladimir Putin’s hugely significant statement on Saturday regarding US attack on Syria when he said, inter alia: “The current escalation around Syria is destructive for the entire system of international relations. History will set things right…”

Trump’s impetuosity to attack Syria is in defiance of the international system and it may open a Pandora’s box. Ironically, Israel, as “frontline state”, has the highest stakes if the unwritten understanding between the US and Russia unravels. (Moscow had collaborated with the Barack Obama administration and Israel to slow down the supply of S-300 missiles to Iran.) Equally, Turkey will have to think twice before venturing into further land grab in Syria if Damascus regains control of its air space.

The Israeli think tank The Institute for National Security Studies had done a very informative paper in 2013 entitled Syria, Russia, and the S-300: Military and Technical Background. Read it here.

April 15, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘US terrorist-labeling is a form of bullying on a grand scale’

RT | April 11, 2018

The Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) label is a powerful tool used by the US; it is as a form of hostage-taking in a political sense, says Brian Becker, national coordinator at the Answer Coalition.

The leader of the Lebanese political party and militant group, Hezbollah, has revealed that Washington offered to remove it from the terrorism watch-list and give the group financial aid if it dropped its resistance to Israel.

“Following the 2000 victory, the Israeli enemy, along with the US, had realized that Lebanon’s real power lies within its resistance, which has managed to force the Israeli occupation out of Lebanon without any condition,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday, as cited by Iran’s Press TV. “We were offered money and to be part of the authority in Lebanon on condition that we cede resistance,” he continued, adding that it was his fault at that time that he “didn’t accept to take his paper, so that it would be a proof now.”

According to Nasrallah, the offer was made by former vice-president Dick Cheney via US-Lebanese businessman George Nader.

RT asked Brian Becker how he could comment on what – according to Nasrallah – was the US’ attempt to “bribe” Hezbollah.

“I think the report from the Lebanese resistance Hezbollah leadership is extremely instructive and revealing. The designation by the US government of an organization or a country as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) is a form of hostage-taking in a political sense,” he said.

“When the US makes that designation, which is largely for political purposes, it puts the entity that has been designated into a terrible position: no one can do business with it, they can’t trade with it, it is persona non grata diplomatically, its leaders could be arrested and sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. And then the US can say ‘But, if you do what we want you to do or for some other political purpose we choose to lift this designation, then you are no longer subject to all of these economic, social and even criminal penalties.’ It is really just a weapon, it is a tool, it is an instrument, a blunt tool used by the US diplomacy. It shows that is not very diplomatic,” Becker explained.

For the US government to designate another country or organization as a foreign terrorist organization is an immensely powerful instrument, yet, it’s purely political. “It is a form of bullying on a grand scale,” Becker explained.

“It doesn’t really say anything about terrorism or about the people who are sanctioned under the FTO label,” Becker told RT. “The label doesn’t really correspond or correlate to reality, it is purely a political exercise.”

Often entities that have been designated as foreign terrorist organizations by the US are “the governments that seek to be independent from the US or have challenged US hegemony in their area or in their country,” the analyst said. At the same time, he noted, some of the terrorist organizations like the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization), “in the case of Iraq, as long as they are fighting Iran, then the US says ‘It is ok, they are fighting our enemies.”

“So, even though they have an FTO label, it is not really applied. They have a sort of immunity from application. It is completely discreet or discretionary on the part of the US powerful government about how it should be used and who it should be used against,” Becker said.

April 11, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Israeli warplanes carried out strikes on Syrian airbase – Russian MoD

RT | April 9, 2018

Two Israeli F-15 fighters targeted Syria’s T-4 airbase in Homs province, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday. The jets fired eight guided missiles, but five of them were shot down before they hit the airfield.

In a statement on Monday, the Russian military said: “Two Israeli Air Force F-15 jets fired eight guided missiles at the T-4 airfield.” The Israeli aircraft did not enter Syrian airspace and launched the strikes while flying over Lebanon.

“Syrian air defense units have shot down five guided missiles,” the military said, but confirmed that three of the missiles “reached the western part of the airfield.”

Lebanese Armed Forces have also confirmed that Israeli fighter jets and a reconnaissance plane violated the country’s borders and remained in Lebanon’s airspace for about ten minutes. Israel’s aircraft were flying over Lebanon’s northern areas as well as over the sea, it said.

As a result of the strike, there were several “martyrs [killed] and wounded” among Syrian soldiers, SANA news agency reported, without specifying the number of casualties.

Three Iranian troops were killed in the Israeli airstrike on Sunday night, state news agency FARS reported later on Monday. The “Zionist attack in Homs” took the lives of Seyyed Ammar Moussavi, Mehdi Lotfi Niasar and Akbar Zavar Jannati, it said, publishing photographs of the soldiers.

The Israeli embassy in Moscow refused to comment on the Russian Defense Ministry’s report, Alex Gandler, the diplomatic mission’s press attache, told Sputnik. Asked about the Russian military’s statement, an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman said he had no immediate comment, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Citing its own correspondent, Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen channel said earlier on Monday that an Israeli reconnaissance aircraft was airborne during the attack on the Syrian base. The missiles crossed Lebanese airspace over Keserwan and Bekaa, heading towards Syria, according to the broadcaster.

The missile attack took place on Sunday night in Syria’s Homs governorate. State news agency SANA reported there were several “martyrs and wounded,” but did not disclose the exact number of casualties. The report also said that the US was “probably” behind the attack, although Washington denied any complicity in the strike.

“At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting airstrikes in Syria,” the Pentagon told Reuters in a statement. “However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable.”

France, which was also suspected of being involved in the attack, denied any responsibility for the military strike, AFP reported on Monday.

The strike on the T-4 base came shortly after Western powers accused the Syrian government of orchestrating an alleged chlorine attack in the militant-held town of Douma. The chemical incident was reported by the White Helmets, a controversial group repeatedly accused of having ties to terrorists.

Commenting on the unconfirmed gas attack, US President Donald Trump denounced the “mindless” atrocity, which he described as a “humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever.” He also accused Russia and Iran of bearing responsibility for the incident, due to their support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Washington and Paris have already held telephone talks, during which Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron decided to oppose Russia at the upcoming United Nations Security Council meeting, which is being convened to discuss the Douma incident. President Macron previously signaled that Paris might consider unilateral actions, including a military strike, if chemical weapons were ever used in Syria again.

The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced allegations regarding the chemical attack, calling them a “continuous series of fake news” and “baseless speculation.” It noted that Moscow had already warned about a false-flag chemical attack being prepared in recent months. Damascus also rejected the accusations, with the Syrian Foreign Ministry pointing out that similar allegations emerge every time the Syrian Army makes advances in its fight against terrorists.

READ MORE: 

Red Crescent found no trace of previous ‘Ghouta chem attack’ used by US to blame Damascus & Moscow

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Blocks Hezbollah’s Electoral page for Second Time

Al-Manar | March 29, 2018

Facebook on Wednesday blocked Hezbollah’s electoral page for the second time within 24 hours.

“Facebook administration has blocked our page for the second time within 24 hours,” ‘Nahmi Wa Nabni’ (We Defend, Establish), the official name of Hezbollah’s campaign on social media said in a statement.

‘Nahmi Wa Nabni’ is tasked with displaying some of Hezbollah’s achievements ahead of the parliamentary elections on May 6, 2018.

Earlier on Tuesday, Facebook blocked the first page established by ‘Nahmi Wa Nabni’. The newly-created page was rapidly re-followed by resistance supporters. But it seems that the high following records of a pro-resistance page did not please the Facebook administration.

In its Wednesday statement, ‘Nahmi Wa Nabni’ vowed to go ahead with its electoral campaign on social media, especially on Facebook platform.

March 29, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 2 Comments

Saudi Arabia meddling in Lebanon’s affairs, pitting people against each other: Hezbollah official

Deputy Chairman of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Sheikh Nabil Qaouq (Photo by al-Manar television network)
Press TV – March 17, 2018

A senior official of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement has accused Saudi officials of interfering in Lebanon’s domestic affairs and pitting people from various walks of life against each other.

“Saudi Arabia’s latest interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs is embodied in meddling in the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections. Saudi interventions are pitting the Lebanese against each other, and creating divisions and political tensions among them,” Deputy Chairman of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Sheikh Nabil Qaouq said on Saturday.

He added, “Saudi Arabia wishes to change Lebanon’s political equations through interfering in the elections, collecting information about composition of future electoral lists and supporting candidates that could challenge Hezbollah.”

Commenting on the ongoing military drills between the US and Israeli armies in the southern areas of occupied Palestinian territories, the senior Hezbollah official pointed out that “the maneuver officially documents Israel’s recognition of the fact that Hezbollah can reach the depth of Israel, and that Israel has no ability to confront the resistance movement’ rockets.”

He stressed that Hezbollah is now the main obstacle to Israel’s expansionist policies in the Middle East region.

On October 30 last year, Saudi Minister of State for Persian Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan issued threats against Lebanon’s government as well as Iran and Hezbollah via Twitter, stating that the movement needed to be “toppled” in Lebanon.

The Saudi minister also warned in an interview with Lebanese MTV television station that there would be “astonishing” developments to “oust” Hezbollah.

He also said that Saudi Arabia would deal with Lebanon’s government as a hostile administration because of Hezbollah’s power-sharing role in it.

On November 4, 2017, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia, citing many reasons, including the security situation in Lebanon, for his sudden decision. He also said that he sensed a plot being hatched against his life.

He returned to Beirut on November 21. All political factions in Lebanon had called on him to return back home.

Top Lebanese officials and senior politicians close to Hariri had earlier said that he had been forced to resign, and that Saudi authorities were holding him captive.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun had also refused to accept Hariri’s resignation.

March 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment