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‘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

US Commander: ‘US Troops Prepared to Die for Israel’ in War against Syria, Hezbollah

Operation Juniper Cobra is not a routine exercise; it is a portent of a potentially devastating war against Syria, Hezbollah and Gaza for which Israel is actively preparing — a war likely to erupt within the coming months.

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press | March 12, 2018

Last Sunday, the largest joint military exercise between the United States and Israel began with little fanfare. The war game, dubbed “Operation Juniper Cobra,” has been a regular occurrence for years, though it has consistently grown in size and scope. Now, however, this year’s 12-day exercise brings a portent of conflict unlike those of its predecessors.

Previous reports on the operation suggested that, like prior incarnations of the same exercise, the focus would be on improving Israeli defenses. “Juniper Cobra 2018 is another step in improving the readiness of the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] and the IAF [Israeli Air Force] in particular to enhance their operational capabilities in facing the threat posed by high-trajectory missiles,” Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovitch, the IDF’s Aerial Defense Division head, told the Jerusalem Post.

However, this year’s “Juniper Cobra” is unique for several reasons. The Post reported on Thursday that the drill, set to end on March 15, was not only the largest joint U.S.-Israeli air defense exercise to ever happen but it was also simulating a battle “on three fronts.” In other words, Israel and the U.S. are jointly simulating a war with Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine – namely, the Gaza strip – simultaneously.

What makes this last part so concerning are Israel’s recent statements and other preparations for war with all three nations, making “Juniper Cobra” anything but a “routine” drill. It is instead yet another preparation for a massive regional conflict, suggesting that such a conflict could be only a matter of months away.

As MintPress recently reported, Israeli officials recently told a bipartisan pair of U.S. Senators that it needed “ammunition, ammunition, ammunition” for a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon — a war that will expressly target Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, and apartment buildings. The alleged motive for the invasion is the presence of Iranian rocket factories. However, this allegation is based solely on the claims of an anonymous deputy serving in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and was first reported on by a Kuwaiti newspaper known to publish stories planted by the Israeli government.

In addition, Israel has been laying the groundwork for an invasion of Syria since last year and is largely responsible for the current conflict in Syria that has raged on for seven years. Israel’s current push to invade Syria is also based on flimsy evidence suggesting that Iran is establishing bases in Syria to target Israel.

Israel has also been preparing for a conflict on the embattled Gaza strip, which – owing to the effects of Israel’s illegal blockade and the devastation wrought by past wars – is set to be entirely uninhabitable by 2020. Reports have quoted officials of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, which governs the Gaza strip, as saying that they place the chances of a new war with Israel in 2018 “at 95 percent” and that war games, like Operation Juniper Cobra, were likely to be used to plan or even initiate such a conflict. This concern was echoed by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, who stated that another Israeli invasion of Gaza, home to 1.8 million people, was “likely” to occur this year. Eizenkot ironically framed the imminent invasion as a way to “prevent a humanitarian collapse” in Gaza.

U.S. lights match, prepares troops

Such a war is likely to be ignited by the unrest destined to follow the U.S.’ imminent move of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move, set to take place in May, led Hamas to call for a third intifada, or uprising, in response to the U.S.’ unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in defiance of the international consensus.

Beyond the fact that Israel is preparing to go to war with several countries simultaneously is the fact that U.S. ground troops are now “prepared to die for the Jewish state,” according to U.S. Third Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Richard Clark. “We are ready to commit to the defense of Israel and anytime we get involved in a kinetic fight there is always the risk that there will be casualties. But we accept that, as in every conflict we train for and enter, there is always that possibility,” Clark told the Post.

However, more troubling than the fact that U.S. troops stand ready to die at Israel’s behest was Clark’s assertion that Haimovitch would “probably” have the last word as to whether U.S. forces would join the IDF during war time. In other words, the IDF will decide whether or not U.S. troops become embroiled in the regional war for which Israel is preparing, not the United States. Indeed, Haimovitch buoyed Clark’s words, stating that: “I am sure once the order comes we will find here U.S. troops on the ground to be part of our deployment and team to defend the state of Israel.”

Operation Juniper Cobra is not a routine exercise; it is a portent of a potentially devastating war for which Israel is actively preparing, a war likely to erupt within the coming months. In addition to overtly targeting civilians, these preparations for war — as Juniper Cobra shows — directly involve the United States military and give the war-bent Israeli government the power to decide whether or not American troops will be involved and to what extent. This is a devastating giveaway of national sovereignty by U.S. President Donald Trump.

While the potential involvement of the U.S. forces in such a war is being framed as limited in scope, there is no indication that such a war will be so in practice. Indeed, the U.S. is currently occupying 25 percent of Syria and the Trump administration has economically attacked Palestinians living in Gaza by withdrawing crucial aid, as well as Hezbollah by enforcing new sanctions against the group. Furthermore, Israel’s nuclear arsenal and the fact that Iran — and even Russia — could become involved in such a conflict means that it could quickly spiral out of control.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, and 21st Century Wire among others. She currently lives in Southern Chile.

March 13, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

AIPAC Returns to Washington

Who is interfering with American democracy?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • March 6, 2018

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is back in Washington for its annual summit. Or at least it used to be called a summit but now it is referred to as a policy conference, which is perhaps a bit of very welcome transparency as if there is one thing that AIPAC is good at it is using its $100 million budget and 300 employees to harass lawmakers on Capitol Hill and generate policy for the United States to adhere to. Eighteen thousand supporters have gathered at the city’s Convention Center to hear speeches by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Vice President Mike Pence, plus Senators Marco Rubio, Robert Menendez, Tom Cotton and Ben Cardin. My personal favorite is Maryland Congressman and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer who has visited Israel so many times he might as well move there and who can be relied on to deliver a loud sucking noise as he enthuses over the many wonders of the Jewish state. And for a little foreign flair there is the disheveled French “philosopher” Bernard-Henri Levy, who has described the brutal Israeli Army of occupation as the “most moral in the world.”

If you want to get some idea of the money and political power represented at AIPAC this year I would recommend going through the speakers’ list, a dazzling display of precisely why the United States is in bondage to Israel and its interests. The heavyweight speakers and other attendees will be joined by hundreds more Congressmen, Supreme Court Justices, and senior government officials as well as a heavy dose of “experts” from the usual Jewish-dominated pro-Israel think tanks that have sprouted up like mushrooms along K Street, including luminaries like John Bolton, Victoria Nuland, Bill Kristol, Elliot Abrams and Eric Cantor. Those participants coming from the government will, of course, be ignoring their oaths of office in which they swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States against “all enemies domestic and foreign,” but it doesn’t matter as everyone performs proskynesis for Israel.

The slogan of this year’s gather is “Choose to Lead,” an interesting objective for an organization that has led successive presidents since Bill Clinton by their respective noses. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing indictment back home, will also be in town and will meet with President Donald Trump. He might just decide to stay awhile as one thing that Israel is particularly good at is trying, convicting and imprisoning its corrupt leaders.

There has been some informed speculation that Trump will unveil during their meeting a “two state solution” peace plan for Israel-Palestine, but as it will possibly require Israel to withdraw from much of the large chunks of the West Bank that it has “settled,” it will not be received favorably by Netanyahu. Israel is certainly vulnerable to possible pressure coming from the White House to impose a solution, but as Trump has proven unable or unwilling to punish an out-of-control Netanyahu in any way up until this point, it has to be considered unlikely that he will change course this time around.

AIPAC must be particularly pleased since Israel has had a sweet ride with the Trump Administration in place in Washington. The greatest gift to Netanyahu has been the Administration’s recognition of all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital together with a commitment to move the U.S. Embassy to that city. No other country currently has its embassy in an internationally disputed Jerusalem though Guatemala has followed Washington’s lead and has stated that it also intends to physically move its diplomatic facility.

The original State Department relocation plan was to phase the embassy move while a new building is being constructed, but the White House recently accelerated the process, reportedly under pressure from Jewish billionaire GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, and will open a temporary facility in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding. Netanyahu has asked Trump to appear at the embassy opening ceremony and also to assist in the celebration of the founding.

Israel has also benefited from a Trump Middle East team that is all Jewish and committed to Israel. It is headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner and includes former bankruptcy attorney Ambassador David Friedman, who has financially supported Israel’s illegal settlements, and Jason Greenblatt, the Trump Organization corporate lawyer, as Special Representative for International Negotiations. In addition, Kushner is reportedly personally advised by a group of Orthodox Jews that he knows from his Synagogue and through his business interests.

The outcome deriving from the all-Jewish team determining Middle Eastern policy combined with a benign White House is predictable, and it just as clearly does not include any benefits for the United States. Israel has been able to dramatically expand its settlements on stolen Palestinian land and is instigating several new wars in its region without any pushback coming from Washington. Quite the contrary as the United States has proven to be an enabler for new conflicts with Syria, Lebanon and Iran. Several Senators who have recently returned from Israel claim that an invasion of Lebanon is coming because of allegations that Hezbollah is constructing an Iranian-supplied factory to build sophisticated missiles, yet another phony narrative depicting Israel as the perpetual victim of its brutal and threatening neighbors when in reality the reverse is true. This animosity towards Iran and its allies is particularly dangerous as it could produce a new war that might spin dangerously out of control as third countries like Russia and China get involved to protect their own interests.

The reality is that it is a militarily dominant Israel that has been regularly bombing targets alleged to be Iranian or Hezbollah in Syria as well as Syrian military installations. It has threatened to bomb Lebanon back into the “stone age,” which leads one to ask what have those nations done to provoke the wrath of Zion? Close to nothing. An alleged Iranian drone reportedly launched from Syria wandered into the airspace over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights before being shot down. How many Israeli drones have flown over Lebanon and Syria? Hundreds if not thousands.

And when Israeli planes flew deep into Syria to bomb what was claimed to be the base that the drone flew from, one was shot down by a Syrian air defense missile. Israel then launched a major bombing campaign against Syrian military targets and was only dissuaded from doing far, far worse by Vladimir Putin, who warned Netanyahu against broadening the conflict. Note that it was Russia that made Bibi back down, not Washington. The United States was meanwhile busy in trying to justify its continued presence in Syria, also at the urging of Israel and AIPAC.

Every American president has to bow before Jewish power in the United State and you better believe that both AIPAC and the hundreds of other Jewish and Christian-Zionist organizations that exist at least in part to nurture and protect Israel know it. Even Barack Obama, who had an openly frosty relationship with Netanyahu knew the score and gave the Jewish state $38 billion. He opposed Israel’s expansion into the formerly Palestinian West Bank but never did one thing to stop it until the end of his final term in office when he had the U.S. abstain on a U.N. vote condemning the illegal settlements, a pointless gesture.

Demands that AIPAC, an echo chamber for Israeli interests, should be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 have been ignored by various Attorneys General since the time of John F. Kennedy, who tried to get AIPAC’s predecessor organization the American Zionist Council to comply. He was killed soon after, though I am not necessarily trying to imply anything even though Jack Ruby does come to mind.

Here at home “The Lobby” has also been successful in 2017, with 23 states having now passed laws making it illegal to boycott Israel if one wishes to have dealings with the local or state government. Three months ago, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act was approved by the House of Representatives with 402 affirmative votes and only two libertarian-leaning congressmen voting “no.” The Israel Anti-Boycott Act that is also currently making its way through a Senate committee would set a new standard for deference to Israeli interests on the part of the national government. It would criminalize any U.S. citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israel or who even goes about “requesting the furnishing of information” regarding it, with penalties enforced through amendments of two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Act of 1945, that include potential fines of between $250,000 and $1 million and up to 20 years in prison. According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the Senate bill was drafted with the assistance of AIPAC.

And there’s lots more to come in 2018. Lindsey Graham and Chris Coons were two of the senators who have just returned from the taxpayer funded “fact finding” trip to Israel and warned about a new war breaking out. And beyond that, what other “fact” did they find? Apparently that Israel needs more money from the U.S. taxpayer. Here is what was reported:

“… they considered the provision of $38 billion over 10 years, ‘a floor.’ Graham [also] said during a meeting with reporters that he thought provisions in the agreement phasing out an arrangement in which Israel could spend U.S. funds on its own defense industry and the provision of just $500 million in missile defense funding were ‘short-sighted.’ Coons said tensions in the broader region supported the idea of more funding for Israel, citing the ongoing war in Syria and Iran’s recent use of a stealth drone.”

So, we can look forward to Congress voting another half billion or so for Israel and the money can be spent on building up Israel’s own defense industry, which competes with that of the U.S. Currently most of the largess has to be spent on U.S.-made weapons, but clearly that will be changed to benefit Israel. You can always count on Congress pretending to do the right thing by the American people and it is good to know that the folks at AIPAC, gathered in their thousands this week and including both Senators Graham and Coons, are smiling.

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lebanese Nuclear Physics Student Found Dead in France

Al-Manar | March 1, 2018

A Lebanese man studying nuclear physics was found dead earlier this week in France, while reports on his death were conflicting.

It was initially reported that Hisham Salim Mourad- from the southern town of Braikeh in Nabatieh, was stabbed in his house.

However, Lebanon’s consul general in Marseille, Sonia Abou Azar, said the Grenoble police published its report on the death of Mourad and determined that he died after falling from the balcony of his house.

Mourad was studying at the Joseph Fourier University in the city of Grenoble. It was the last year of his master’s program.

The death sparked outrage among Lebanese people in Lebanon and abroad who were also shocked last week by the killing of another Lebanese student in Canada.

Hasan Ali Kheireddine, 23, was killed on Feb. 13 at a student residence on the St. Mary’s University campus in the Canadian region of Halifax.

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry announced earlier on Sunday that instructed the Lebanese embassy in Canada to “follow up on the case in order to unveil the details of this horrible crime and the motives behind it.”

Although Canadian authorities have been downplaying the murder of Kheireddine, it is seen by many in Lebanon as suspicious, especially that the bright student was studying economics and had been well-known for his research on the influence of Zionism on the international economy.

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Drones and Jets: The “Brazenness” Belongs to Israel

By Brenda Heard | Aletho News | February 24, 2018

“Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty,” stated Netanyahu on 10 February. “They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel.”

In response to this alleged reconnaissance drone, which the Israeli military characterized as a “serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory,” Israel promptly bombed twelve Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria.

A vagueness persists about the alleged drone. Iran stated the claim was “baseless” and “ridiculous.” The US called the drone “provocative.” Israel noted that it waited for the drone to enter its territory and “chose where to bring it down,” just ninety seconds later. Some sources indicate it was over Beit Shean, some say over the Golan. While the drone caused no damage, Israeli airstrikes killed six people.

At the Munich Security Conference a week later, Netanyahu underscored his indignation: “[Iran’s] brazenness reached new heights, literally new heights. It sent a drone into Israeli territory, violating Israel’s sovereignty, threatening our security. We destroyed that drone and the control center that operated it from Syria.” He then portrayed Israel as the innocent victim under threat, characterising the alleged drone as an “act of aggression.”

Talk about brazen.

Let us recall that in August 2014 it was Israel’s drone that was shot down in Iranian territory. While Israeli media reported that the “device looks like a kind of UAV used by the Israeli military,” all sources agree with Reuters’ observation: “Israel has always declined comment on such accusations.” ­Did the Netanyahu-labelled “tyrants of Tehran” respond as Israel has just done? Did Iran retaliate by sending fighter jets into Israel? Absolutely not. Instead, Iran did what it was meant to do as a cooperative member of the international community. It verbally  condemned the affront; it reported it to the IAEA (INFCIRC/867) and to the UN Security Council (S/2014/641). The IAEA merely circulated the complaint to member states, and the world ignored the brazenness of Israel.

Let us recall that in August 2011 it was a US drone that was shot down in Iranian territory. Somehow this was not “provocative,” but was rather, as then-current and former officials said, “part of an increasingly aggressive intelligence collection program aimed at Iran,” encouraged by “public debate in Israel.” This 2011 drone is even flaunted in current Israeli media, noting the US “initially denied the incident but eventually acknowledged the loss.” A bit brazen, wouldn’t you say?

Let us recall Israel’s unconscionable use of air power, including drones, over Occupied Palestine. Seen as “near continual surveillance and intermittent death raining down from the sky,” its decades-long aerial persecution of the Palestinians epitomises brazenness.

Lastly, let us recall Lebanon. Since the 1960s, Israel has routinely occupied Lebanese skies. This flagrant defiance of international law is a matter of record. Lebanon has issued numerous formal complaints with the UN—to no avail. Lebanese skies are violated virtually daily by a combination of helicopters, reconnaissance aircraft, and two, four or eight Israeli warplanes. They fly through all regions of Lebanon, including over UNIFIL territory, over Beirut, and over the Ba‘abda Presidential Palace. The Israeli overflights might just spy, or they might create sonic booms, or they might fire flares, or they might fly round-the-clock shifts so that there are always one or two Israeli aircraft in the skies of Lebanon. Or they might fly through Lebanese airspace to bomb Syria.

A recent UN Security Council Report states:

“Israel continued to violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis, in violation of resolution 1701 (2006) and Lebanese sovereignty. From 1 July to 30 October [2017], UNIFIL recorded 758 air violations, totalling 3,188 overflight hours, an increase of 80 per cent compared with the same period in 2016.”

This was, of course, despite the Security Council’s previously reiterated call for “Israel to cease immediately its overflights of Lebanese airspace.” But, then again, that call has been reiterated by the UN for decades. Extraordinary brazenness.

It has been argued that Israel should not be bound by Resolution 1701 because Hezbollah has remained armed. Such an argument is simply making excuses for Israel’s belligerent conduct. It should be noted that:

  • UN Resolutions do not subscribe to the all-or-none approach; they specify obligations to each party separately.
  • Israeli overflights in Lebanese airspace are in direct violation of the 1949 Armistice, which forbids Israel to “enter into or pass through the air space” of Lebanon, clarifying specifically “for any purpose whatsoever.”
  • Prior to the formation of the Hezbollah Resistance there were already 28 Security Council Resolutions condemning Israel’s aggressions against Lebanon. Since at least 1972—a decade before Hezbollah—UNSC Resolution 316 called on Israel specifically “to desist forthwith from any violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon.”
  • Resolution 1701 states that prohibitions on weaponry “shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorized by the Government of Lebanon or by UNIFIL.”  This authorization is indeed expressed, as is custom, in the 2016 Ministerial Statement of the Government, which emphasises the right of Lebanese citizens to resist the Israeli occupation and to respond to its aggression. As President Aoun, a former Army General, explained: “Hizbullah’s arms do not contradict with the State and are an essential component of the means to defend Lebanon.”

With 552 violations of Lebanese airspace in 2016, Israel has exhibited extreme brazenness. With 805 violations in the ten months of 2017 that have been officially reported, Israel has surely forfeited the right to stand in judgement. Fifty years of consistent air violations in Lebanon and Palestine. And Netanyahu calls Iran “brazen” for ninety seconds?

Brenda Heard is the founder of Friends of Lebanon UK. She is the author of Hezbollah: An Outsider’s Inside View (2015). She can be reached at brenda.heard@friendsoflebanon.org.

February 24, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

US carrot-and-stick policy to Lebanon could push it into abyss

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson waits at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon February 15, 2018. © Mohamed Azakir / Reuters
By Martin Jay | RT | February 19, 2018

Rex Tillerson’s visit to Beirut didn’t resolve Lebanon’s persistent war threat from Israel, or Hezbollah’s perceived threat to Washington. The US has its own agenda for this country, which is spooking Lebanon’s president.

It might have been just a miscalculation, rather than a diplomatic faux pas, as Rex Tillerson did in fact arrive early for his meeting with Lebanese dignitaries, but he had to wait a few minutes before a door at Baabda Palace was opened and he was greeted by President Michel Aoun. It couldn’t have been an easy moment, shaking hands with Lebanon’s Hezbollah-supporting President, but Aoun and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil both viewed the visit by Trump’s own envoy with some suspicion. And they were right to.

The day before, in Jordan, Tillerson appeared to have gone off message while recognizing Hezbollah’s political role both in Lebanon and the region, but few in Lebanon held out any real hope that the 65-year-old Texan was going to either resolve Lebanon’s gas and oil dispute with Israel, or for that matter its border spat, following Israel’s land grabbing as it carries out construction of a wall. Tillerson said that Lebanon’s own security was compromised by Hezbollah, which he referred to more than once as a “terrorist” organization when he met Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The latter pointed out that Israel’s constant threats of attack and encroaching on Lebanon’s sovereignty were making a permanent ceasefire hard; earlier, Aoun had asked the US to “play an effective role” in resolving the tension.

But both Aoun and Hariri know that the US has plans for Hezbollah of its own, which will make a mockery of Tillerson’s endearing comments about wanting to help Lebanon “prosper.” There are two critical plans by Washington that are likely to cause chaos in Lebanon if enacted upon that may come into play at the backdrop of the US pouring money into supporting Lebanon’s army, which it believes is the key to redressing the power balance in Lebanon between the state and Hezbollah.

Lebanese banks cleaned up their act for Congress

One, is how far the US goes in targeting Hezbollah’s finances. In January, it ratcheted up its sanctions on the Shiite group’s key money people. This recent move follows Obama’s ‘Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act,’ which was expected to both destabilize the Lebanese banking sector and impact Hezbollah, which the US accuses of using Lebanese banks to launder money.

In fact, it did neither – and now the US is eager to find new ways of blocking the flow of Hezbollah’s money both inside and outside of Lebanon, as it has yet to find a way of preventing Iran’s $800 million dollars from circulating in the banking system. The US money laundering crackdown, aimed at Hezbollah and Shias in general, has actually resulted in Lebanese banks cleaning up their act, with some analysts even going as far to say that Hezbollah knows it can no longer even use the banks. And, given that the US has provided $1.5 billion USD to Lebanon since the beginning of the Syrian conflict (through the banking system), and Lebanese expatriates are sending less money back to make up the $8 billion USD annually that the central bank receives, Lebanon is more committed than ever to working with the US.

But now, with reports in January that Iran’s military budget is about to rise, Washington may be planning another ruse which could destabilize Lebanon and direct anger towards Hezbollah. While Aoun asked Tillerson to assist in the return of almost a million Syrian refugees, he also hinted that he knows Washington is always the ultimate threat to Hezbollah’s led government, which is to cut aid to both Syrian refugees and the Palestinians. Such a move could have seismic implications in Lebanon, as an ‘intifada’ against Israel and the West could easily be carried out in Lebanon itself with 175,000 Palestinians who live in camps that Lebanese security forces fear to enter.

The carrot and stick of Washington – increase military spending to Lebanon’s army, while at the same time causing widespread insecurity – seems like a nefarious tactic. But Washington is facing tough challenges when it comes to reigning in Hezbollah. Aoun wants help with repatriating Syrians and the US wants Hezbollah to reduce its regional intervention. Is there a deal there to be made?

Aoun knows that if the US cuts aid to Lebanon, it would be a catastrophe in terms of (local) crime rates, not to mention many turning to terrorism. The situation in the Palestinian camps is at breaking point and there have been a number of ugly incidents in recent months. Lebanon has a lot to lose as the terrorism in Tripoli, which was dealt with in 2014 with the number of key arrests, might return, as hardcore extremist groups already exist in the Palestinian camps. Or, if Palestinians want to fight Israel, they have Fatah and Hamas inside Lebanon who can organize and train them. This is Aoun’s worry about the US cutting aid to UNRWA, which he says so far only affects Palestinians in Gaza.

It’s a similar situation in the Syrian refugee camps, where this year has been dire, as a funding shortfall was the biggest yet. Most years, the UN falls short of its requests from member states, but this year it was at an unprecedented low, so refugees, in general, are suffering like never before. If a Palestinian-led insurgency got off the ground in Lebanon, many from Syrian camps might join it, as there was evidence in recent years that some from the camps have joined ISIS.

But Tillerson is not the deal maker for this. He is not respected by all the main players, so the Lebanese leaders know he is not the one to cut a deal. But, they also know that, even within Lebanon, Washington’s carrot-and-stick game is idiotic at best and dangerously ill-conceived at worst. The more the Americans interfere, the stronger Iran and Hezbollah get. Washington’s meddling in the Syria war has allowed the fatuous Tillerson and others to whine about Iran’s presence in Syria, rather like an old man complaining about how ungrateful the younger generation is these days. And Aoun and the political elite in Lebanon know only too well that, just as it was in Iran and Hezbollah, in Syria, which wiped out most of the Sunni extremist groups there, the same is the case along Lebanon’s border with Syria. Tillerson mentioning Hezbollah as a stoic political entity is what is important about this trip, as it is a coded message that the Americans are ready to talk, which is a milestone in itself. The US program to destabilize Hezbollah and the Lebanese banking system has simply backfired, as Congress under-estimated the resilience of the Lebanese and its formidable central bank governor. It seems Tillerson is going to have to get used to waiting.

February 19, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Putin’s Grand Bargain to Israel: Can Israel Digest It?

By Alastair CROOKE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 17.02.2018

“Israel is climbing up a high horse,” Alex Fishman (the veteran Israeli Defence Correspondent) wrote in the Hebrew daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, last month, “and is approaching with giant steps a ‘war of choice’: Without mincing words, it’s an initiated war in Lebanon.” In Fishman’s article, he notes: “Classical deterrence is when you threaten an enemy not to harm you in your territory, but here, Israel demands that the enemy refrain from doing something in its own territory, otherwise Israel will harm it. From a historical perspective and from the perspective of international legitimacy, the chances of this threat being accepted as valid, leading to the cessation of enemy activities in its own territory, are slim.”

Ben Caspit also wrote about a fair prospect of a “war of choice,” whilst a Haaretz editorial – explains Professor Idan Landau in an Israeli news blog – noted: “The Israeli government therefore owes Israeli citizens a precise, pertinent and persuasive explanation as to why a missile factory in Lebanon has changed the strategic balance to the extent that it requires going to war. It must present assessments to the Israeli public as to the expected number of casualties, damage to civilian infrastructure and the economic cost of going to war, as compared with the danger that construction of the missile factory constitutes.”

We live dangerous times in the Middle East today – both in the immediate present, and in the mid-term, too.

Last week saw the first ‘game changer’ that almost plunged the region into war: the downing of one of Israel’s most sophisticated aircraft – an F16i. But as Amos Harel notes, on this occasion: “Russian President Vladimir Putin put an end to the confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria – and both sides accepted his decision … On Saturday afternoon, after the second wave of bombardments … senior Israeli officials were still taking a militant line, and it seemed as if Jerusalem was considering further military action. Discussion of that ended not long after a phone call between Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” (emphasis added).

And that last statement represented the second ‘game changer’: In ‘good old days’, as Martin Indyk called it, it would have been to the US that Israel reflexively would have turned, but not this time. Israel asked President Putin to mediate. It seems that Israel believes that Mr Putin is now the ‘indispensable power’. And in terms of airspace in the north, he is. As Ronen Bergman wrote in the New York Times: “Israel will no longer be able to act in Syria without limitations”; and secondly, “if anyone was not yet aware of it, Russia is the dominant power in the region”.

So, what is all this about? Well for a start, it is not about a drone which may (or may not) have trespassed into what Israel calls Israel, or what Syria sees as ‘occupied Golan’. Let us ignore all that: or, think of it as ‘the butterfly wing effect’ in chaos theory, whose tiny wing changes ‘the world’, if you prefer. Ultimately however, these various warnings of impending war, precipitated out from the Syrian State’s success in defeating the jihadi insurgency mounted against it. This outcome has changed the regional balance of power – and we are witnessing states reacting to that strategic defeat.

Israel, having backed the losing side, wants to limit its losses. It fears the changes taking place across the northern tier of the region: Prime Minister Netanyahu has several times sought guarantees from President Putin that Iran and Hizbullah should not be allowed to gain any strategic advantage from Syria’s victory that might be to Israel’s disadvantage. But Putin, it seems clear, gave no guarantees. He told Netanyahu that whilst he recognised, and acknowledged Israel’s security interests, Russia had its interests, too – and also underlined that Iran was a “strategic partner” of Russia.

In practice, there is no effective Iranian or Hizbullah presence in any proximate vicinity to Israel (and indeed both Iran and Hizbullah have substantially pared their forces in Syria as a whole). But, it seems that Netanyahu wanted more: And to put leverage on Russia to guarantee a future Syria, free from any ‘Shi’a presence, Israel has been bombing Syria on almost a weekly basis, and issuing a series of war-like threats against Lebanon (on the pretext that Iran was constructing ‘sophisticated missile’ factories there), saying, in effect to President Putin, that if you do not give ironclad guarantees vis-à-vis a Syria free of Iran and Hizbullah, we will disrupt both countries.

Well, what happened is that Israel lost an F16: unexpectedly shot down by the Syrian air defences. The message is this: ‘Stability in Syria and Lebanon is a Russian interest. Whilst, we recognise Israel’s security interests, don’t mess with ours. If you want a war with Iran that is your business, and Russia will not be involved; but do not forget that Iran is, and remains our strategic partner’.

This is Putin’s Grand Bargain: Russia will assume a certain defined responsibility for Israel’s security, but not if Israel undertakes wars of choice against Iran and Hizbullah, or if it deliberately disrupts stability in the North (including Iraq). And no more gratuitous bombing raids in the north, intended to disrupt stability. But if Israel wants a war with Iran, then Russia will stand aloof.

Israel has now had a taste of President Putin’s ‘stick’: Your air superiority in the North has just been punctured by the Syrian air defences. You, Israel, will lose it completely were our Russian S400s air defences to be enabled: ‘Think it over’.

In case of doubt, consider this statement in 2017, by the Chief of Staff of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Major-General Sergey Meshcheryakov. He said: “Today, a unified, integrated air defense system has been set up in Syria. We have ensured the information and technical interlinkage of the Russian and Syrian air reconnaissance systems. All information on the situation in the air comes from Syrian radar stations to the control points of the Russian force grouping”.

Two things flow from this: First, that Russia knew exactly what was going on when the Israeli F16 met with a barrage of Syrian air defence missiles. As Alex Fishman, doyen of Israeli defence correspondents, noted (in Hebrew) Yediot Ahoronot on 11 February: “One of the [Israeli] planes was hit by the two barrages of 27 Syrian surface-to-air missiles… which is a huge achievement for the Syrian army, and embarrassing for the IAF, since the electronic warfare systems that envelope the plane were supposed to have provided protection from a barrage of missiles… The IAF is going to have to conduct an in-depth technical-intelligence inquiry to determine: are the Syrians in possession of systems that are capable of bypassing the Israeli warning and jamming systems? Have the Syrians developed a new technique that the IAF is unaware of? It was reported that the pilots did not radio in any alert that an enemy missile had locked onto their plane. In principle, they were supposed to report that. They might have been preoccupied. But there is also the more severe possibility that they were unaware of the missile that had locked onto them—which leads to the question of why they didn’t know, and only realized the severity of the damage after they had been hit and were forced to bail out.”

And the second: that subsequent Israeli claims that Syria was then punished by Israel through the destruction of 50% of her air defence system should be taken with a big pinch of salt. Recall what Meshcheryakov said: It was a fully integrated, unified Russian-Syrian system, which is to say it had a Russian flag flying over it. (And this initial Israeli claim has now been back-peddled by the IDF spokesman; see here).

Finally, Putin, in the wake of the F16 downing, told Israel to stop destabilising Syria. He said nothing about Syria’s drone patrolling the southern border (a regular Syrian practice for monitoring insurgent groups in the south).

The message is clear: Israel gets Russia’s limited security guarantees, but loses its freedom of action. Without air domination (which Russia already has seized), the assumed superiority over its neighbouring Arab states – which Israel long since has folded into its collective psyche – will see Israel’s wings clipped.

Can such a bargain be digested culturally in Israel? We must wait to see whether Israel’s leaders accept that they no longer enjoy air superiority over Lebanon or Syria; or whether, as the Israeli commentators warn in our introductory quotes, the Israeli political leadership will opt for a ‘war of choice’, in an attempt to pre-empt Israel’s final loss of its domination of the skies. There is, of course, a further option of running to Washington, in order to try to co-opt America into adopting the eviction of Iran from Syria – but our guess is that Putin has already quietly squared Trump with his plan beforehand. Who knows?

And would then a preventive war to try recuperate Israeli air superiority be feasible or realistic from the perspective of the Israeli Defence Forces? It’s a moot point. A third of Israelis are culturally, and ethnically, Russian, and many admire President Putin. Also, could Israel count, in such circumstances, on Russia not using its own highly sophisticated S400 air-defence missiles, stationed in Syria, in order to protect Russian servicemen stationed across Syria?

And the Israeli-Syrian-Lebanese tensions, in themselves, do not bring an end to the present clutch of risks associated with Syria. On the same weekend, Turkey lost a helicopter and its two crew, brought down by Kurdish forces in Afrin. Sentiment in Turkey against the YPG and PKK is heating up; nationalism and New Ottomanism is spiking; and America is being angrily portrayed as Turkey’s “strategic enemy”. President Erdogan asserts forcefully that Turkish forces will clear all the YPG/PKK forces from Afrin to the Euphrates, but an American general says that American troops will not budge from blocking Erdogan’s route, midway – at Manbij. Who will blink first? And, can this escalation continue without a major rupture to Turkish-US relations? (Erdogan has already noted that America’s defense budget for 2019 includes an allocation of $550 million for the YPG. What exactly does America mean by that provision?).

Also, can a US military leadership, concerned to play-out a re-make of the Vietnam war – but with America winning this time (to show that the Vietnam outcome was a wholly unmerited defeat for the US forces) – accept to pull back from its aggressively imposed occupation of Syria, east of the Euphrates, and thus lose further credibility? Particularly when restoring US military credibility and leverage is the very mantra of the White House generals (and Trump)? Or, will the pursuit of US military ‘credibility’ degenerate into a game of ‘chicken’, mounted by US forces versus the Syrian Armed Forces – or even with Russia itself, which views the US occupation in Syria as inherently disturbing to the regional stability which Russia is trying to establish.

The ‘big picture’ competition between states for the future of Syria (and the region) – is open and visible. But who lay behind these other provocations, which could equally have led to escalation, and quite easily slipped the region towards conflict? Who provided the man portable surface-to-air missile that brought down the Russian SU25 fighter – and which ended, with the pilot, surrounded by jihadists, courageously preferring to kill himself with his own grenade, rather than be taken alive? Who ‘facilitated’ the insurgent group which fired the manpad? Who armed the Afrin Kurds with sophisticated anti-tank weapons (that have destroyed some twenty Turkish tanks)? Who provided the millions of dollars to engineer the tunnels and bunkers built by the Afrin Kurds, and who paid for the kitting out of its armed force?

And who was behind the swarm of drones, with explosives attached, sent to attack the main Russian airbase at Khmeimim? The drones were made to look outwardly like some simple home-made affair, which an insurgent force might cobble together, but since Russian electronic measures managed to take control and land six of them, the Russians were able to see that, internally, they were quite different: They contained sophisticated electronic counter-measures and GPS guidance systems within. In short, the rustic external was camouflage to its true sophistication, which likely represented the handiwork of a state agency. Who? Why? Was someone trying to set Russia and Turkey at each other’s throats?

We do not know. But it is plain enough that Syria is the crucible to powerful destructive forces which might advertently, or inadvertently, ignite Syria – and – potentially, the Middle East. And as the Israeli defence correspondent, Amos Harel, wrote, we have already this last weekend, “come a hair’s breadth from a slide into war”.

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CrossTalk: Syria on Fire

RT | February 16, 2018

The stakes couldn’t be higher. And it is happening in Syria. The goal of destroying the Islamic State is largely complete. Now the Syrian proxy war is entering a new stage. Who are the players and what are their aims? And what does winning mean?

CrossTalking with Abdel Bari Atwan, Marwa Osman, and Mohammad Marandi.

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel gets bloody nose in Syria. What next?

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 12, 2018

On Saturday, when Israeli jets undertook yet another bombing raid – this time an audacious attack on a drone base at the T4 airbase in Homs province deep inside Central Syria – a nasty surprise awaited them. They were confronted by the Russian-made S-200 air defence system. One Israeli F-16 jet was shot down; a second jet was hit but managed to make it home; and, two pilots parachuted – one heavily injured and in serious condition.

The last time an Israeli jet was shot down was in 1986 in Lebanon. The incident on Saturday is a humiliating experience for Israel. But, more importantly, it contains a stark message – namely, that Israeli air attacks from now onward on Syria may come only at an unacceptable cost.

The Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani summed up the message to Israel this way: “There is an important point in the recent events and in targeting an Israeli fighter jet: the Syrian army showed to the Zionists that the era of hit-and-run has ended.” In political terms, Tehran has justified the retaliation by the Syrian forces. The influential senior advisor on foreign policy to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Akbar Velayati said today, “If the Zionist regime wants to make aggression against Syria or any other state’s airspace, the regional countries are entitled to use their space and the Syrian government and nation was entitled to respond to the Zionist regime’s aggression to make them regret.”

The same sentiments are echoed in the remark by the Deputy Secretary-General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah Resistance Movement Sheikh Naim Qassem lauded the Syrian army and said “Shooting down the Israeli fighter jet means that the era of unanswered attacks has ended.” He warned that henceforth, Israeli aggression will be met with counter-attacks.

The impression becomes unavoidable that the rules of engagement in the Syrian conflict have changed and Israel has been duly notified of the change. It is inconceivable that the Syrian air defence system would have opened up without the knowledge of the Russian forces in Syria. Russia controls the Syrian air space. On the other hand, neither Moscow nor Tehran has hyped up the incident on Saturday. In effect, they are letting the message to Israel to sink in.

The reset of the rules of engagement has become inevitable now that the Syrian government and its allied forces are registering more successes in the conflict. Israel has been so far acting with impunity, having conducted air attacks on Syrian territory more than a hundred times during the conflict. Interestingly, Israel can only expect verbal support from the US, since American presence is very thin on the ground in Syria and the Trump administration has its hands full at the moment what with the cascading tensions with Turkey that may lead to a nasty confrontation.

The pro-Israeli US media, which is heavily under the influence of the Jewish lobby, is conjuring up the spectre of a massive Israeli retaliation against Iran. But the fact of the matter is that the Israelis are hardcore realists. They’d have no difficulty to grasp the message that their plans to insert themselves into the Syrian endgame to extract concessions in terms of legitimizing their illegal occupation of Golan Heights as part of any settlement might as well be abandoned now.

Equally, the Israeli game plan to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran is simply not working. It comes as no surprise that amidst all this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has chosen to defend Iran’s ballistic missile program. The Russian news agency Sputnik quoted Lavrov as saying in an interview with Russian TV, “There are other countries in the (Middle East) region with such programs. We must look at it as a whole. It is hardly justified to mix nuclear affairs with human rights and put the issue on the agenda that Iran should stop taking certain steps in the region… to my mind, a frankly discriminatory, biased and unjustifiably captious approach can be seen behind these US actions.”

All in all, as the veteran Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri says, “What happened (on Saturday) is larger than a battle and a little less than a war. It will create new balances and rules of engagement in the region. This event is the first of its kind in tens of years. However, no escalation is expected. Things will end here; they will not develop into an all-out war.” If Berri says so, they must be words of wisdom. The shrewd politician after all has been holding the post of parliament speaker in Beirut continuously since 1992.

February 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments