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Turkey Cries Foul About Deployment Of Egyptian Troops In Idlib. What’s Going On?

SOUTH FRONT | July 31, 2020

The Egyptian military has deployed about 150 troops on the frontline in the Syrian region of Greater Idlib to support forces of the Damascus government, Turkish sources claimed on July 30.

“The troops were later deployed in the Khan al-Asal area in the western countryside of Aleppo and around the city of Saraqib in the southern countryside of Idlib,” the Anadolu Agency quoted its source as saying. The news agency claimed that the Egyptian service members had arrived via the Hama Air Base.

Later, Youssef al-Hamoud, a spokesman for the Syrian National Army, a coalition of Turkish proxy groups based in northern Aleppo, said that the number of Egyptian troops is in fact 148. They supposedly deployed in Syria in 3 groups via the Hama Air Base. According to him, 98 Egyptian personnel reportedly came from the city of Ismailia on July 26 and then were deployed in Khan al-Asal. 50 others arrived from Cairo Airport on July 27. They are supposedly deployed in Saraqib.

However, no flights from Egypt to the said base were recorded over the past few days. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to hide the deployment of foreign troops on the frontline in the conditions of the Syrian war, when almost every second fighter has a mobile phone and social media accounts and uses them to share pictures and videos from the battlefield.

Most likely, Turkish state media and proxy groups loyal to Ankara found a new original way to justify the illegal presence of their own forces in Syria. The accusation of other parties doing something that the Erdogan government does itself is something that Turkish media outlets regularly do.

In the earlier stages of the conflict, Turkey and its intelligence services openly allowed various terrorists aiming to join ISIS and al-Qaeda to use the territory of Turkey and camps on the Syrian-Turkish border as a transport hub on their route to Syria. At the same time, Turkey was actively involved in illegal oil trading with ISIS.

Later, when the Russian military operation, including mass bombings of ISIS oil infrastructure, convoys, and public revelation of the facts of Turkish cooperation with ISIS, put an end to this, Turkish official propaganda shifted its attention to accusations of all other parties involved in the conflict of cooperation with ISIS. It even claimed that its military operation against Kurdish militias in Afrin was aimed against ISIS.

Ankara sent almost 10,000 Syrian militants to Libya to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. Nonetheless, Turkish outlets are crying foul about the small number of Russia-linked private military contractors hired by the UAE to support the Libyan National Army against Turkish-backed forces.

Over the past years, Turkey has occupied a notable part of northern Syria and deployed thousands of troops in Greater Idlib to protect al-Qaeda-linked terrorists there from the Syrian Army. Therefore, it would be logical for Ankara to find some ‘foreign force’ that it can accuse of deploying its own troops in the country.

At the same time, if the deployment of Egyptian troops to support the Syrian Army turns out to be true, this will be really bad news for Turkey. Ankara still seems to be unable to control its local al-Qaeda partners and the chances of a new round of escalations in the region are increasing.

The mighty Turkish Armed Forces have thus far failed to defeat the Syrian Army exhausted by years of conflict with terrorists. The outcome of the new escalation will be even more gloomy for Turkey if Egyptian forces will join the coalition supporting Damascus.


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August 2, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

The Syrian Army Is Appointing on “Aleppo – Lattakia” Highway – Idlib Battle Is Approaching

M4 International Highway
By Khaled Iskef | American Herald Tribune | July 28, 2020

The field developments return to the front of the Syrian events, after the cautious calm that lasted for several months in the north of the country coinciding with the implementation of the Russian-Turkish agreement on conducting joint patrols on the “M4” road known as “Aleppo-Lattakia” highway.

The reopening of the road from Raqqa, through Aleppo, to Lattakia, is now at the forefront of Syrian army’s next strategic goals, though the beginning of the “M4” highway starts in the eastern side of the country, specifically from the areas controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. The past days have witnessed huge Syrian military movements towards this highway in a sign that the Syrian forces are ready to start military action and open the road, which if it occurs, will have a significant positive impact on trade movement throughout the country in light of the circumstances due to the procedures of the blockade imposed by Washington.

Speaking of the field in the Syrian north, it is certain that Turkey did not succeed in fulfilling its obligations to the Russians about isolating terrorist organizations and keeping them out of the way, as the Russian and Turkish sides, shortly after the battle to secure Aleppo and reopen the M5 “Aleppo – Damascus” International highway, agreed that the militants should move away / 6 / kilometers to the north and south of the “M4”, knowing that the distance outside the control of the Syrian army, which links Aleppo to Lattakia, is estimated to be 60 kilometers.

The end of September 2020 was scheduled to be the Russian deadline for the Turks to implement their obligations, but the terrorist operation carried out by “Khattab Al-Checheni Brigades” targeting a Russian patrol on the road with a suicide operation, accelerated the launch of the military operation, which is expected to be early next month according to private sources. The Syrian army’s build-up and preparations have been completed, with confirmed information of the arrival of modern Russian weapons to the Syrian army, in addition to the army’s ongoing targeting of armed points on Hama and Idlib countryside axes, such as Kansafra, Al-Fateira, Kafr Ouid, and several villages of Jabal Zawiya.

If launched, the military operation is expected to be swift and decisive in case the Turkish side does not interfere directly or take any step that would hinder it in northern Syria. It is noteworthy that the military operation of the Syrian army had stopped after securing Aleppo city in the west and reopening the international highway, the main connection between the south and center of the country to the north.

Khaled Iskef is a journalist working for Almayadeen TV.

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

Iran to launch special trade office in China: Businessman

Press TV – July 21, 2020

Iran is to set up a special office in China to streamline trade activities with the East Asian country.

A senior businessman says major Iranian companies are teaming up to create a trade office in China amid growing economic relations between the two countries.

Gholamhossein Jamili, a board member at Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA), said on Tuesday that the trade office in China would play a major role in protecting Iranian businesses and firms working in the East Asian country against growing restrictions caused by US sanctions.

“We are working to launch this office before the end of the current Christian calendar year,” Jamili was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

The announcement comes amid reports of booming economic relations between Iran and China as the two countries move to finalize a 25-year comprehensive partnership agreement that would massively boost bilateral cooperation in areas like energy, infrastructure, tourism and trade.

China was the top buyer of Iranian oil before the United States introduced its unilateral sanctions on Iran two years ago. However, Beijing is still a top economic partner for Iran and the balance of trade between the two countries hit $20 billion in the year ending March, according to Iranian government data.

Other senior Iranian figures involved in trade with China said that the planned trade office would seek to resolve problems facing Iranian businesses and companies in China.

Majid Hariri, who chairs the Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce, said that the office in Beijing would serve as Iran’s economic embassy in the East Asian country.

The official IRNA news agency said the ICCIMA plans similar offices in India, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Iraq, adding that two such offices are being set up in Russia’s Astrakhan and Syria’s Damascus.

July 21, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Armenian-Azerbaijani Clashes And Shifting Balance Of Power In South Caucasus

South Front | July 18, 2020

The Armenian-Azerbaijani tensions have once again turned South Caucasus into a hot point increasing chances of a new regional war.

The key difference with previous military incidents between the two countries is that the point of confrontation shifted from the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border. Clashes first erupted on July 12 in the area of Tovuz and since then both sides have repeatedly accused each other of provoking the conflict, attacking civilians and declared defeats of the ‘enemy’.

According to the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, the fighting started after Armenian forces opened fire on positions of Azerbaijani forces in the Tovuz district. The fighting which included the use of combat drones, artillery, mortars, and battle tanks continued over the following days, including July 17. The Azerbaijani military confirmed that at least 12 personnel, including Major General Gashimov Polad and Colonel Ilgar Mirzaev, were killed. In turn, Kerim Veliyev, Azerbaijan’s deputy defense minister, said that 100 Armenian soldiers were killed, several fortified positions were destroyed and that a UAV was shot down. Armenia, according to Veliyev, is hiding the real number of its casualties.

Azerbaijani media and top leadership describe the current situation as an act of Armenian aggression, and say that Azerbaijani forces are only responding to it. President Ilham Aliyev even called Armenia a “fascist state” adding that “Armenian forces could not enter Azerbaijan in one centimeter of soil and will never be able to do this”.

The Armenian version of events is quite different. According to it, the clashes started after a group of Azerbaijani soldiers violated the Armenian state border in an UAZ vehicle. The defense ministry press service claimed that after the warning from the Armenian side, “the enemy troops returned to their positions”. It added that later Azerbaijani forces attacked an Armenian checkpoint.

As of now, the Armenian military said that it had repelled two ‘offensives’ involving at least 100 soldiers supported by fire of several artillery battalions. These attacks were allegedly actively supported by combat and reconnaissance drones of Azerbaijan. A spokesperson for the Armenian Defense Ministry Artsrun Hovhannisyan said that Azerbaijan lost at least 20 soldiers, a battle tank and other equipment during the clashes. Armenia says that only 4 of its service members were killed.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan claim that their forces are repelling an aggression of the enemy, which has been attacking it and killing civilians. However, despite the harsh rhetoric, the leaderships of both countries are sending signals that they are not interested in a larger military confrontation.

At the same time, years of war propaganda and historic tensions between the nations push the situation towards a further escalation. A unilateral move towards the cessation of hostilities by leaders of either country would be presented by the other one as a sign of weakness and promoted as an admission of defeat. Taking into account the complicated political and economic conditions in both countries, neither Armenian nor Azerbaijani leaders could afford such a public move. Therefore, de-escalation is possible only through international mechanisms.

The situation is further complicated by the complex diplomatic situation in the region of the South Caucasus. Armenia, alongside Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The CSTO expressed its concerns over the situation and called on the sides to commit to a ceasefire regime. Nonetheless, the Russia-led security bloc, and Russia itself, demonstrated that in the current situation they will focus on diplomatic measures.

Since the 2018 coup, when Nikol Pashinyan came to power in Armenia, the country has been consistently undermining its relations with the CSTO and Russia by pursuing a quite weak, but apparent anti-Russian and pro-Western foreign policy course. The bright dream of the Pashinyan government is to sell its loyalty to the United States for some coins and commit itself to the way of the so-called ‘European integration’. The issue with this plan is that Washington and its partners need Armenia only as a tool of their geopolitical gains and are not interested in providing it with any kind of military protection or economic assistance. The Pashinyan government is forced to play a double game in an attempt to simultaneously please its ‘democratic’ masters and receive protection and assistance from Russia. This attitude is not a secret for Moscow.

On the other hand, in the event of a large-scale military confrontation, Azerbaijan will be supported by its main ally Turkey, which also has close bilateral ties with Russia. Ankara already declared that it fully supports Azerbaijan and condemned the supposed ‘Armenian aggression’. Thus, in the event of full-scale military confrontation, Armenia will immediately find itself in a very complicated situation, and direct military assistance from the CSTO and Russia will be unlikely.

So, the Armenian chances in a limited military conflict with Azerbaijan and Turkey are at least shaky. Turkey and Azerbaijan fully understand this. By undermining strategic relations with Moscow, and thus the balance of power in the region, Erevan put the entire South Caucasus on the brink of a new regional war.

July 18, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey supports Azerbaijan to cause instability in the Caucasus

By Lucas Leiroz | July 16, 2020

The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has become increasingly serious. Both countries claim the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and between the late 1980s and early 1990s there was a war between them to decide the control of the region. Tens of thousands of people died in the conflict, which ended in 1994 with a ceasefire agreement, without a winner. The agreement places the Nagorno-Karabakh region as a de facto autonomous republic, remaining de jure as part of Azerbaijan. This agreement gave a break in the massacres but did not prevent the continuation of the territorial disputes between both countries, which until today claim the region, and the situation has worsened even more recently.

On July 12, there was an armed clash in the region, with an uncertain number of victims. Azerbaijani forces accuse Armenia of violating territorial limits. In contrast, the Armenian government blames the opposing country for such violations. Since then, according to Armenian observers, bombings on the border have been reported every 15 to 20 minutes. Data on the dead or injured people remain uncertain.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accuses Azerbaijan of initiating hostilities and says that no violence will go unpunished, promising to react to every move by the enemy country. Data from the Armenian Ministry of Defense points to records of artillery attacks against Armenian territory in the early hours of July 12, when the fighting was recorded. According to the Armenian government, Armenian troops only retaliated against the attacks received. Pashinyan accuses not only Azerbaijan, but also Turkey of involvement in the attacks.

The charges are not unfounded. Turkey has shown support for Azerbaijan in the dispute, encouraging annexation and not a peaceful resolution of the impasse. The day after the clashes at the border, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, spoke in defense of Azerbaijan, saying that this country “is not alone” in the conflict. The statement becomes controversial and dangerous amid an escalation of violence, as it connotes not only support from Ankara, but also an interest in intervening in the conflict. Armenia reacted with severe criticism, blaming Ankara for the return of the violence. According to the Armenian government, Turkey has an interest in destabilizing peace in the region to gain greater control and influence over neighboring territories.

In return, the European Union issued a public note calling on both parties to reduce violence and to avoid the use of force. Likewise, the US State Department classified violence in the region as unacceptable and urged both parties to seek a peaceful solution to the dispute. In the same vein, the Russian government has called on both countries for a peaceful resolution, without showing support for either party. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to an immediate ceasefire and to comply with the terms of the Minsk Group, a committee created in 1992 to manage peace in the region. Since both countries are former Soviet republics, the role of Russian diplomacy in managing the conflict is essential, due to the weight of its influence in the region.

It is important to note the difference in the approach of the Russians, Americans and Europeans to the Turkish stance to the crisis. Demonstrating open support for any party in the current phase of the conflict can be crucial to intensify disputes and encourage an increase in violence. Being a military potency, Turkey’s declared support in a conflict in its early stages may encourage the progress of hostilities. In this sense, it is likely that Azerbaijan, with the support of Ankara and possible Turkish intervention, will continue the bombing, assuming strategic advantage and superiority over its opponent. This is the great danger behind the Turkish pronouncement.

The situation, however, must be analyzed in a complete context. Turkey has shown interest in increasing its regional and international geopolitical relevance and, for this purpose, it has called for bold and provocative acts, such as, for example, its role in the Syrian War and the recent conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, which provoked outcries all over the world for being an unnecessary attack on the memory of Greek Christianity, provoking the resurgence of religious tensions in the region that had not existed for a long time.

In fact, Erdogan has clear plans to constitute a neo-Ottoman geopolitical projection, regaining power and influence at a regional level throughout the territory where the Ottoman Empire, predecessor of the modern Turkish state, operated in the past. Relations between Turks and Armenians, in this sense, do not have a good record and are alive in Armenian memory with the ethnic-religious genocide perpetrated against Christian Armenians in the early 20th century.

In this sense, Turkish interest in creating an area of ​​instability that favors its regional influence can be costly. Russia, as the regional power with the greatest historical influence in the Caucasus, must counterbalance Turkish advances through diplomacy, while Erdogan must be internationally pressured to avoid any intervention in the dispute between neighboring countries.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

US sanctions are part of a multi-front war on Syria mainly targeting its long-suffering civilians

By Eva Bartlett | RT | July 13, 2020

The US is waging multiple fronts of war against Syria, including brutal sanctions, while claiming concern over the wellbeing of Syrian civilians – the vast majority of whom are suffering as a direct result of US policies.

On June 17, the US implemented the Caesar Act, America’s latest round of draconian sanctions against the Syrian people, to “protect” them, America claims. This, after years of bombing civilians and providing support to anti-government militants, leading to the proliferation of terrorists who kidnap, imprison, torture, maim, and murder the same Syrian civilians.

Just weeks after these barbaric sanctions were enforced, cue American crocodile tears about Syrian suffering, and claims that Moscow and Damascus are allegedly preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid. More hot air from American hypocritical talking heads who don’t actually care about Syrians’ well being.

America trigger-happily sanctions many nations or entities that dare to stand up to its hegemonic dictates. The word “sanctions” sounds too soft – the reality is an all-out economic war against the people in targeted nations.

Sanctions have, as I wrote last December, impacted Syria’s ability to import medicines or the raw materials needed to manufacture them, medical equipment, and machines and materials needed to manufacture prosthetic limbs, among other things.

Syria reports that the latest sanctions are already preventing civilians from acquiring “imported drugs, especially antibiotics, as some companies have withdrawn their licenses granted to drug factories,” due to the sanctions.

In Damascus, pharmacies I’ve stopped into, when I ask what some of the most sought-after medications are, hypertension medications are at the top.

But sanctions have yet another brutal effect: they wreak havoc on the economy.

The destruction of Syria’s economy is something US envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, boasted about, reportedly saying that the sanctions “contributed to the collapse of the value of the Syrian pound.”

The website Sanctions Killnotes :

“Currencies are devalued and inflated when sanctions are levied. Countries are pressured to stop doing business with targeted countries. Sanctions violate international law, the UN charter, Geneva and Nuremberg conventions because they target civilians by economic strangulation, creating famines, life-threatening shortages, and economic chaos.”

So you have Western hypocritical talking heads pretending they want to get aid to Syrian civilians while literally cutting them off from medicine and the ability to purchase food.

Resource theft and arson

But these crimes against humanity don’t suffice for America. The US occupation troops and their Kurdish proxy forces (the SDF) are plundering Syria’s oil resources to the tune of $30 million a month as of last October, according to Russian military estimates.

In early July, SANA reported another convoy leaving Syria to Iraq, loaded with oil thieved from areas under US occupation.

Terrorists and US proxy groups are also thieving Syria’s cotton, olives, wheat, and flour.

Further, Syria accuses the US of deliberately setting fire to crops using Apache-dropped thermal balloons.

Civilians from affected areas near Turkish occupation posts likewise blame Turkish forces for setting fires and firing live ammunition upon those who attempt to extinguish the fires, farmers literally watching their livelihoods go up in flames. The Hasakah Agriculture Directorate director likewise blames Turkey for arson of the crops.

Turkish occupation forces are also accused of cutting water supplies at Alouk water pump station, depriving one million people in the Hasakah region of drinking and agricultural water, with no condemnation from the Security Council.

The poverty and suffering Syrians are enduring these days is unbearable, with prices of basic goods doubled and tripled from just a few months ago, turning what were affordable items into luxuries, particularly for the 7.9 million food-insecure Syrians.

But alarmist Western media and representatives omit the context: the nearly 10 years of war on Syria; the deliberate targeting by terrorists and by US and Turkish occupation forces, and Israel, of Syria’s infrastructure; the looting of oil, wheat and cotton, even allegedly stealing parts of an Idlib power plant for scraps sale in Turkey.

Likewise, Aleppo’s heavy industry was thieved during the years when terrorists occupied the industrial zones of the city. Heavy machinery was reportedly trucked in broad daylight to Turkey.

With all of these factors, of course there is poverty and a chaotic economy.

A safe resolution rejected

Recently, the UNSC passed a resolution to maintain one humanitarian border crossing from Turkey into Syria, the Bab al-Hawa crossing.

Prior to that, Russia had proposed a resolution enabling the safe delivery of humanitarian aid from within Syria.

On July 11, Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN issued a statement again noting the need to phase out cross-border deliveries, as the Syrian government has regained much of the territories previously occupied by terrorist factions, and deliveries must be made from within Syria.

The UNSC resolution that passed, however, continues the delivery of aid via Turkey, delivering to the hands of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups occupying Idlib. It is with these people the US aid ends up when delivered, from Turkey, not from Syrian territory.

Given that the US has supplied weapons to anti-government extremists in Syria before, it is not illogical to believe they hoped to funnel still more weapons in under the pretext of “aid” deliveries.

Russia’s statement also noted the lack of UN presence in the Idlib de-escalation zone, saying:

“It’s not a secret that the terrorist groups, listed as such by the UN Security Council, control certain areas of the de-escalation zone and use the UN humanitarian aid as a tool to exert pressure on [the civilian] population and openly make profit from such deliveries.”

This is what Russia and China opposed, not the delivery of aid.

Those are details which US Ambassador Kelly Craft slyly omitted when she spoke of callousness and dishonesty being an established pattern. Her verbal guns were aimed at Syria and Russia, but her choice of words perfectly describes US policy towards Syrians.

One only needs to look at US policy towards displaced Syrians in Rukban Camp to see that the US has actively worked to prevent aid deliveries there and prevent Syrians from being evacuated from there. Or the lack of US outcry at Turkey’s prevention of humanitarian convoys from reaching Idlib areas, which while scheduled for last April still hasn’t been successful.

On the other hand, on July 4 the WHO acknowledged the Syrian-Russian delivery of 85 tons of medicines and medical supplies from Damascus to Al Hasakah. On July 9, the Russian Reconciliation Center noted that 500 food packages (2,424 tons) were delivered to Idlib province and Deir-ez-Zor province.

I wonder how many tons of actual aid the US would send…

In case it isn’t yet clear, America is weaponizing and politicizing aid, as it tried to do in Venezuela last year. American representatives posture and bellow, and Russia and Syria quietly go about actually delivering aid to needy Syrians.

The Russian post-resolution statement also critically noted the brutal impact of sanctions on Syria, which, as detrimental to Syrians’ wellbeing as they are, somehow don’t merit the feigned concern of representatives like Craft.

The statement said:

“These coercive measures seriously undermine not only the socioeconomic situation in Syria, but also impede activities of many humanitarian NGOs that are ready to help the population in territories controlled by Syrian official authorities.”

If America truly wanted to alleviate the suffering of Syrians, all sanctions against the country and people would be immediately lifted.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine (where she lived for nearly four years). Follow her on Twitter @EvaKBartlett

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Economics, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran and Syria sign agreement to boost military, security cooperation

Press TV – July 8, 2020

Iran will boost Syria’s air defenses, as part of a wider military security agreement between the two countries.

“We will strengthen Syria’s air defense systems within the framework of strengthening military cooperation between the two countries,” Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said on Wednesday after signing a “comprehensive” agreement with Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayoub in Damascus to boost military and defense cooperation.

The agreement provides for the expansion of military and security cooperation and the continuation of coordination between the Armed Forces of the two countries.

Speaking after signing the agreement at the headquarters of the General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces, the top Iranian commander said the signed deal “increases our will to work together in the face of US pressure.”

“The people and countries of the region do not welcome the presence of the United States, and our response to the American prattling will continue,” Baqeri added.

The Iranian commander said the military-security agreement also envisages boosting the Syrian air defenses.

On the Turkish military presence on Syrian soil, the Iranian commander said that Turkey is dragging its feet regarding the implementation of its commitments under the Astana agreements on the withdrawal of terrorist groups from Syria.

He said that Turkey must realize that the solution to any of its security problems is through negotiation with the Syrian side, and not through military deployment in the Arab country.

Ayoub, for his part, lauded Damascus-Tehran relations.

“If the American administrations had been able to subjugate Syria, Iran and the axis of resistance, they would not have hesitated for a moment,” the Lebanese al-Mayadeen television channel quoted the Syrian minister as saying.

He described Israel as a “powerful partner” of the US in the war against Syria, adding that terrorist groups constituted part of the Israeli aggression.

He also lambasted the so-called Caesar sanctions imposed by the US against his country, saying Syria will counter the bans barring the provision of foodstuff and medicine to its people.

He stressed that Syria that has maintained its government structure since 2011 and will undoubtedly emerge victorious out of the war.

The two sides also underlined the need for the withdrawal of foreign forces who have been “illegally” deployed to the Arab country in violation of international law and said the forces are the main obstacle to the complete cleansing of armed terrorist groups in some parts of Syria.

The heads of the senior military delegations of Iran and Syria also stressed that the agreement was the result of years of military, security and technical coordination and cooperation in various areas of joint fight against terrorism.

At the end of the talks, a joint statement was also issued by the high-ranking military delegations of the two countries, which said a continued battle against Takfiri terrorism supported by some regional and international powers is among the goals of the agreement.

They also stressed in the statement that the comprehensive military agreement was signed to implement the directives of the political and military leaders of the two countries to enhance their defense capabilities and promote self-reliance against any possible foreign aggression.

Iran and Syria have signed different military and defense cooperation over the past years.

Iran began providing Syria with advisory military assistance after numerous countries, at the head of them the US and its Western and regional allies, started funding and arming militants and terrorists with the aim of deposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Despite initially losing considerable expanses of territory to Daesh and other terror outfits, the country, however, rallied with the help of Iran and Russia, another Damascus’ ally, and reversed the balance in favor of itself on the battleground.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Turkish troops, allied militants cut off drinking water to people in Syria’s Hasakah, environs

Press TV – July 5, 2020

Turkish military troops and allied militants have once again cut off drinking water supplies to about a million people living in and around the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakah by stopping a border water pumping station, a report says.

In an interview with Syria’s official news agency, SANA on Sunday, Director General of Hasakah Water Company Mahmoud al-Ukla said that Turkish soldiers and Ankara-backed militants stopped Alouk Water Station on Saturday evening and barred workers of the station from entering the facility.

The major water station is located in the vicinity of the border town of Ra’s al-Ayn, which Turkish troops and their allied militants seized in October 2019 during the so-called Peace Spring Operation.

Ukla warned that the inhumane move was threatening the lives of inhabitants of the city and its surrounding residential neighborhoods in northeastern Hasakah province.

He added that the criminal act came as the people of the affected areas are in the utmost need for the water from the Alouk station, the only source for guaranteeing the drinking water for them.

The water station has so far been forced to stop several times by the invading Turkish troops and their allied militants.

Back in March, the Syrian foreign ministry sent two identical letters to the chief of the United Nations and the UN Security Council in protest against the repeated inhumane move. It noted at the time that the Turkish military forces shelled the water station during their cross-border military operation last October, putting it out of service.

Furthermore, Syrian officials, accordingly, presented a briefing to the UNSC in February, informing the international body of a water outage in Hasakah.

July 5, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Iran resumes gas exports to Turkey after pipeline fixed

Press TV – July 1, 2020

The Iranian Oil Ministry says it has resumed exports of natural gas to Turkey despite reports in the media suggesting that exports could stop for good because of price disputes.

A spokesman of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) said on Wednesday that Turkey had finished repair work on a pipeline that came out of service after an explosion on March 31, allowing Iran to resume exports.

“Exports have resumed now that repairs on gas export pipeline in the Turkish territory have finished,” said Mohammad Asgari, adding, “Iran’s gas exports to Turkey is going on as before.”

The announcement puts an end to weeks of speculations about a potential decision by Turkey to halt imports of natural gas from Iran.

Reports in April had suggested that Turkey was unwilling to repair the damaged pipeline because it was unhappy with the price of gas supplied from Iran.

Those reports said a sudden fall in international oil prices, which are used as a benchmark to determine gas prices, had caused Turkey to press Iran for a fresh negotiation on gas prices.

Authorities in Turkey had denied there was a major issue with the price, insisting that repair work on the pipeline had been delayed because of the spread of the new coronavirus in the region.

That comes as oil prices have rebounded in recent weeks mainly because of an international agreement to cut the output.

Turkey is entitled to receive around 8.5 billion cubic meters of gas from Iran each year under a 25-year contract which began in 2001.

Based on the agreement, any change in oil prices would take at least six months to have an effect on the price of gas delivered by Iran to Turkey.

July 1, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | 2 Comments

Libyan war escalates as regional powers attempt to gain stronger influence

By Paul Antonopoulos | June 1, 2020

Alarms are sounding in Europe as Turkey, Russia and Arab states could potentially agree on shared influence in Libya, and therefore the entirety of the eastern Mediterranean, according to some experts. This comes as European states have no influence over the war in Libya despite it occurring on its southern doorstep and Turkey, Russia and Arab states continue to gain influence.

The direct intervention of Turkey in Libya, who has sent its own intelligence officers, military advisers and thousands of Syrian jihadists to support the Muslim Brotherhood Government of National Accords (GNA), based in Tripoli and led by the ethnic Turk Fayez al-Sarraj, has limited further gains by the Libyan National Army (LNA). The mobilization of thousands of Turkish and Syrian jihadists and the massive shipment of weapons to Tripoli has slowed down the offensive of the LNA, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar. Haftar was proclaimed on April 27 as the only leader of the country, in which most of the international community found to be a provocative move as they believe it limited the likelihood of a political settlement to the conflict.

Confident of his past military superiority and assured in the determination that the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have to counter Turkey’s efforts to create hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean, Haftar continues to ignore calls for a political solution to the war. Sarraj also ignores such calls confident in the backing he has from Turkey.

Russia also condemned Haftar’s offensive and called for negotiations on peace. However, the U.S. claims that Russian fighter jets arrived in Libya to protect the withdrawal of volunteers from the Russian Wagner group in a decision agreed upon with Ankara, something that Moscow denies. Both Europe and the U.S. fear that Russia may obtain the use of a naval base in eastern Libya, that the LNA securely controls, in the future.

Despite these potentialities, it is unlikely the war between GNA-backed jihadists and the LNA will come to a conclusion anytime soon, unless there is a drastic change caused by external forces. Turkey in the midst of an economic crisis is unwilling to use the full force of its military in Libya and is rather acting as a conduit between the GNA and Qatari-funded but Turkish-trained Syrian jihadists. Egypt is contemplating using its military in Libya to “fight against Libyan extremists and terrorists supported by Turkey.” This too could be a game changer since Egypt has the means, logistics and capabilities to successfully intervene in Libya in favour of the LNA.

France has also not hidden away with its support for Haftar, finding him to be a leader that would advance French interests in the Mediterranean that is in direct conflict with Turkey. The GNA has also signed a memorandum with the Muslim Brotherhood government to cut through Greece’s maritime space for the exploitation of gas in that area of ​​the Mediterranean, forcing Greece to get embroiled in the Libyan mess. Meanwhile, Italy has backed the GNA while Germany is trying to act as referee, showing once again there is no common European position.

The European ‘Irini’ (meaning peace in Greek) operation is committed to prevent maritime-bound arms delivery to Libya, i.e. Turkish arms to Libya. This is a maritime surveillance operation to enforce the United Nations-imposed arms embargo on Libya, but in reality, it has not prevented Turkey’s deliveries to the GNA while Egypt continues to supply the LNA over the land border.

The situation shows that the European Union is unable to establish itself as a main actor in a conflict that brings together strategic political and economic interests a few nautical miles from its southern coast. With the U.S. realistically absent, Turkey backing the GNA and Russia and the Arab + Greece alliance backing the LNA, these are the main protagonists.

In Paris, and seeing the failure of his diplomacy parallel to the EU, the Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, warns about the “Syrianization of Libya,” while spokesman of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s gloats: “France and other European countries supporting Haftar are on the wrong side of history.” Seen in this light, the balancing role Russia can play in Libya to contain Ankara could even be positive for Europeans.

However, the main reason that shared influence will not be agreed upon is because the GNA-Turkish deal to steal Greece’s maritime space relies on a supposed share maritime space between Libya and Turkey. And therein lays the problem – it is the LNA, who has rejected the memorandum, that controls the eastern Libyan coast that supposedly shares a maritime border with Turkey. So long as the LNA controls eastern Libya, Turkey will always strive for a GNA victory to legitimize the memorandum. Once again, the European Union remains divided on Libya, despite the Muslim Brotherhood government aiming to carve out the maritime space of a member state.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

June 1, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Failures in Syria and Libya fuel coup speculations against Erdogan

By Paul Antonopoulos | May 20, 2020

Turkish media has been full of speculation of a potential coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, including from state-run Anadolu Agency, and other major outlets like Sabah and Haberturk. Erdoğan already survived a 2016 coup attempt against him that he blames on his ex-ally, Fethullah Gülen, who leads the FETÖ Islamic movement. It is likely that Erdoğan will conduct another purge of the Turkish military.

Although the 2016 coup was orchestrated mostly by the Air Force, it appears that one of the first victims could have been Rear Admiral Cihat Yaycı. On May 15, Yaycı was demoted from the Chief of Staff’s to the General Staff, prompting him to resign from the military completely on Monday. Although some speculated it could have been because of the coup rumors circulating, Yaycı proved to be one of the most loyal Chief of Staff’s to Erdoğan and played a significant role in purging so-called FETÖ elements from the Turkish military.

It is likely that Yaycı was actually demoted because of Turkey’s complete failure to project its power in the Eastern Mediterranean. Yaycı is known as the architect of Turkey’s “Blue Homeland” theory that aims to annex Greece’s Eastern Aegean islands and maritime space. To achieve the “Blue Homeland,” Ankara in November 2019, with recommendation from Yaycı, sealed the “Marine Jurisdictions” maritime boundary delimitation deal with Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood Government of National Accords (GNA) to split Greek maritime space between Turkey and Libya.

However, since the signing of the deal with the Tripoli-based GNA, Ankara’s power projections in the Eastern Mediterranean have only weakened Turkish influence. Turkey had not expected for Greece to expel the GNA ambassador from Athens, one of the first NATO and EU countries to do so. In reaction, Greece recognised the GNA’s rival, the Tobruk-based Libyan House of Representatives who appointed Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar to command the Libyan National Army against Turkish-backed jihadists who fight for the GNA.

Greece’s shift in recognition shows another flashpoint in rivalry with so-called NATO ally Turkey and rapidly changed dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean. Haftar currently controls about 90% of territory and 60% of the population, prompting Turkey to send 5,000 Syrian jihadists to support the GNA, who have regained some lost territory in recent weeks.

But this is going to change as it appears massive simultaneous operations against the GNA and Turkish-backed jihadists in Syria’s Idlib province are set to begin in the coming weeks. Turkey as the sole backers of jihadist forces in Libya and Idlib will find this extremely difficult to deal with as it faces an economic crisis.

A detailed report by New Economy found that “Turkey’s probability of bankruptcy is extremely high,” along with its three big banks of Garanti, Akbank and the Mustafa Kemal Atatürk-founded İşbank. “The country’s commercial banks, its last stronghold, have dried up from foreign exchange currency,” meaning that Turkey has nearly no money for its import and export companies.

Another report found that failed wars against Libya and Syria have been a major problem for its economy, making Turkey’s bankruptcy probability over 30% in the forthcoming period, putting them behind only Venezuela and Argentina, but “without having the US embargo that Venezuela has, nor the vast debt that Argentina brings.”

Most startling however for Turkey is that it has to find $80 billion by August, according to New Economy, or else it faces bankruptcy.

“There is also the additional 0.5-1 billion dollar cost per month for the wars in Syria and Libya, which seems to exacerbate the existing situation, leading to a huge state budget hole and escalating the probabilities of bankruptcy,” the report said.

With major economic problems in Turkey, Ankara paid Syrian jihadists in Libya only one month’s worth of wages and then ended all payments. This has prompted the jihadists to make videos urging other Syrians not to go to Libya and fight. Meanwhile, Turkey’s aggression has prompted Greece to renew diplomatic relations with Syria, become actively involved in Libya, and strengthen relations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who oppose Turkish influence in the Arab world.

Yaycı’s ambitious “Blue Homeland” project forced Greece to become involved in Libya and Syria that it previously had no interest in, and it is now actively a part of an alliance that is opposing Turkish influence in the region. With Greece actively opposing Turkish influence in Libya, France has also taken a stronger interest and openly opposes the GNA now. What began as a plan to carve up Greece’s maritime space has now turned into a debacle that sees French involvement against the GNA and EU recognition of the Muslim Brotherhood government waning.

Egypt is now threatening to directly use its military to defeat the GNA rather than just supply Haftar’s forces. The UAE has promised to continue airstrikes against the GNA and funding mercenaries for Haftar. Saudi Arabia is also funding mercenaries. Greece and France are involved in the EU’s Operation Irini to stop maritime deliveries of arms to Libya. In March, Haftar’s political representatives signed with Syria a Memorandum of Understanding to start diplomatic relations. Syria and the Libyan National Army are also preparing likely simultaneous operations against jihadists in their respective countries.

This is all happening while Turkey faces a very serious threat of bankruptcy and rumors of a coup attempt. Therefore, it is likely that Yaycı was demoted by Erdoğan for masterminding and pushing for the “Blue Homeland” that has ended in catastrophic failure for Turkey.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Turkey stalls Iran gas imports amid aggressive US efforts to push its LNG

Press TV – May 13, 2020

Turkey is dragging its feet on repairing a pipeline which was hit by an explosion in late March, stopping Iran’s gas exports to the country, the Fars news agency says.

Iran sells about 10 billion cubic meters a year of gas to Turkey under a 25-year supply deal signed in 1996. The pipeline has been blown up several times by PKK terrorists, but it has been repaired and the gas flow has continued shortly.

However, after another blast occurred on the pipeline on March 31, an official at the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) said the Turkish side was not responding even as Iran had informed it of the incident.

According to Mehdi Jamshidi-Dana, Turkey’s representative at Bazargan gas transmission station had left his post due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The official said it was not clear when the line would re-open, but he cited past experience which showed “repairing the lines takes three to seven days, depending on the amount of damage done”.

On Wednesday, Fars suggested that the pipeline is still out of service, citing Turkish state energy company Botas’ dilly-dallying and unwillingness to repair it.

The news agency speculated that the situation must be the result of aggressive US efforts to push its liquefied natural gas (LNG) into Turkey.

Heavily dependent on gas imports from Russia, Turkey has already reduced flows from Gazprom significantly, while increasing LNG purchases and gas imports from Azerbaijan.

“In recent months, Turkey has imported as much LNG from the United States as gas imports from Iran,” Ali Nasr, an energy expert, told Fars.

Last November, Turkey marked the completion of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) to carry gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to Europe.

In January, the presidents of Turkey and Russia formally launched the TurkStream pipeline to carry Russian natural gas to southern Europe through Turkey.

Fars warned that Iran may lose its biggest gas market to rivals, which could cost the country $150 million-$200 million in lost revenues a month.

The US has the necessary incentive to remove Iranian gas from the Turkish market in order to increase economic pressure on Iran, while Turkey seeks to diversity its energy sources and reduce gas imports from Iran and Russia, the agency said.

The US is currently pushing Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda that seeks to advance diplomatic and policy objectives through rapidly expanding US oil and gas exports.

Iran has already lost its biggest condensate market in South Korea which imported 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of the ultra light oil from the Middle Eastern country.

The Koreans stopped the shipments under pressure from the United States which is aggressively thrusting its fast-growing condensate into Asia.

According to US officials, Washington has offered to sign a $100 billion trade agreement with Turkey, which their presidents discussed at the Munich Security Conference.

The offer is part of the Trump administration’s main goal to get President Recep Tayyip Erdogan drop plans to use Russia’s S-400 missile defense systems.

“If an agreement is reached, the possibility of replacing Iranian gas with American LNG is quite possible,” Fars warned.

According to the news agency stated, Turkey has expanded its LNG terminals to take in 25 billion cubic meters of cargoes – 2.5 times more than the imported gas from Iran. The terminals are currently operating only at 25 percent of their nominal capacity. … Full article

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment