The Mercy Comes from Believers, Why Hide It?

Since March 2011, a total of 250,000 people have become the victims of a fierce civil war in Syria (as estimated by the Oxford Research Group, more than 11,500 children were killed in the first two years of the war alone!). More than 1 million have been wounded, 4.8 million have become refugees, 6.5 million people became internally displaced persons. According to the UN, as of 2016, more than half of the country’s population – 13.5 million people, including 6.5 million children – need humanitarian assistance. 11.5 million people need medical care. 12.1 million have no access to clean drinking water. At least 2.1 million Syrian children are deprived of the opportunity to attend school. In the country, which is the cradle of Christianity, ancient churches and monasteries are being destroyed. Thousands of Christian families are prevented from practicing their religion or have to leave their homes under penalty of death.

Middle East religious leaders have often publicly testified about people’s suffering and called international community to stand up for the Christians of Syria and Iraq. In his turn, as early as 2011, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), Patriarch Kirill visited Syria for talks with the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Ignatius Zakka I, President Bashar al-Assad and other leaders. “The most important thing is to stop the bloodshed. History teaches us that when human blood is spilled it will be hard to solve the problem”, – he said. For this reason Russian Orthodox Church has made all possible efforts to help those who suffer and to promote a peaceful settlement of the civic confrontation in the country.

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To do this, the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society, with the support of the Moscow Patriarchate, collected humanitarian aid and sent it to the needy in the war-torn country. In response to the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, all the churches of the Russian Church were involved in the fund-raising campaign. The primate of the Russian Orthodox Church also repeatedly raised the Syrian issue both in talks with the heads of states and in dialogue with the Russian authorities. For example, in 2013 the Kremlin hosted a meeting of the President of the Russian Federation with the Primate and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches who participated in the celebration of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’, and the main topic of discussion at that meeting was the situation in Syria and the plight of Christians in the Middle East region. “Representatives of all the Local Churches then asked the President of our country that Russia would do everything possible to stop the unjust war in the Middle East,” said His Holiness.

So, from the very beginning of the crisis, Russia has been providing humanitarian assistance to the people of the Syrian Arab Republic. And this assistance has never been tied to any preconditions, it was not due to political opportunistic motives either. When the new resolution of the UN Security Council was being prepared, Russia consistently and patiently urged the Syrian parties to cooperate with humanitarian workers, being in constant dialogue with Damascus and with the opposition. In February 2014, after lengthy approvals, the UN Security Council nevertheless adopted resolution 2139, which called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to engage constructively with humanitarian agencies, to assist in the delivery of assistance to the blocked and hard-to-reach areas, including those occupied by jihadists. By the way, the last demand was put forward by the Russian delegation. And as a result of Moscow-Damascus dialogue, bureaucratic procedures were significantly eased by the Syrian government, many restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid were lifted.

In the fall of 2014, several dozen children died in the province of Idlib as a result of measles vaccination using a low-quality vaccine. The territories on which this happened were then controlled by groups associated with the opposition National Coalition. The situation had to be straightened and put under control. As a result, another UN Security Council resolution 2165 appeared, according to which a UN mission was set up to inspect the maintenance of humanitarian convoys delivering aid to Syria through the borders of neighboring countries. Russian diplomats managed to uphold the principle of cross-border delivery of assistance to civilians under international (UN) control and respect for sovereignty and territorial Integrity of the country (as per UN General Assembly resolution 44/182).

Russian state authorities have supported Syria not only in the international conference venues but on the ground too. Here are just some of the data on Russian humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. Only from January 2013 to October 2015, EMERCOM of Russia carried out 35 flights to Syria and neighboring countries (Lebanon, Jordan) and delivered more than 600 tons of humanitarian supplies to the affected Syrian population.

Then the Russian Military Forces added their efforts to this work. Since early 2016, the Russian Air Force has been carrying out humanitarian operations to help the population of the blocked by ISIS Deir-ez-Zor. The Russian contractor with the technical and logistical assistance of the Russian Air Force has dropped food, essentials and medicines. In total, more than 300 tons of humanitarian cargo were delivered.

Since April 10, 2016, this activity has been carried out under the auspices of United Nations World Food Program. Over 70 sorties were made. The total volume of cargo delivered to Deir ez Zor was more than 1140 tons.

In Hama, Russian forces have set up camp for internally displaced persons, where there is a dining room, a field kitchen, equipment for storing water, showers. The Syrians are provided with food, medical supplies and basic necessities.

Being essentially a Christian country, Russia has helped all people in need regardless of their political or religious affiliation. And even Muslim leaders did appreciate this help. For example, Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation and the Council of Muftis of Russia, Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gaynetdin said at a meeting of the Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations under the President of the Russian Federation: “And as a representative of the Muslim clergy, Russia’s 25 million Muslim community and over 1.5 billion Ummah, I must emphasize that the Russian Federation approaches this important political event with a serious asset: as one of the few strongest powers it has opposed the destruction of the statehood of Muslim Arab countries of the Middle East during the events of the Arab Spring, it prevented intervention in the Syrian Arab Republic and played a key role in the ceasefire in Syria, it consistently fight international terrorism”. And, of course, Russian Muslims who raised more than $100.000 in order to support Syrian people on a regular basis (for example, to provide refugees in Lebanon with necessities and education), visited the country and met with Syrian politicians and clergy on numerous occasions,  can speak on this matter with full right and competence.

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Worth noting that such institutions as Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations or Inter-Religious Council have contributed a lot to coordination of Russian humanitarian activity in the Middle East. Moreover, the Russian Orthodox Church sees in the interreligious dialogue an important tool for combating extremism and terrorism. “We are in close contact with Muslim and Jewish brothers, we are fighting together for the moral purity of society, we protect the interests of believers in front of the state. In this we are helped by the Interreligious Council of Russia – a platform where leaders of traditional religions of Russia have been gathering and discussing actual problems of social development for almost 20 years”, – the Chairman of the ROC Department of External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) said at the V European Orthodox-Catholic Forum.

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Besides its cooperation with other religious organizations on the platforms for interfaith dialogue established in Russia, Moscow Patriarchate maintains close contact with the similar Syrian and International institutions. For example, on February 6, 2017 in Damascus, the Syrian Awqaf (Religious Endowments) Ministry held a round table with the participation of Christian and Muslim leaders, representatives of the academic community, as well as Russian lawmakers. On behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church the representative of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to Patriarch of Great Antioch and the whole of the East, Abbot Arseniy (Sokolov) took part in the event.

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Then, on March 7, 2017, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with the Awqaf Minister of the Syrian Arab Republic, Dr. Mohammed Abdul Sattar al-Sayeed, at the Patriarch’s residence in in St Daniel’s Monastery. From the Muslim side the meeting was attended by Sheikh Ahmad Samir al-Kabbani, Director General of Awqaf in the city of Damascus, and Sheikh Abdullah al-Sayyed, Director of Religious Youth Movement of Syria, Mufti Albir Krganov, Chairman of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia.

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Up to now, the Russian Orthodox Church continues to support the Church of Antioch, whose center is in Damascus. The assistance gathered through the ROC is transferred to the Patriarch of the Antiochian Church and all the East John X and the Grand Mufti of Syria Badreddin Hassoun. The All-Russian Organization of Veterans “Combat Brotherhood” and the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society assist Syria to bring food, medicines and money collected by the inter-factional parliamentary group for the protection of traditional values, the “Russar” Charity Foundation and the Orthodox Syrian community in Russia. For example, humanitarian aid and Easter gifts from Russia were recently received by the inhabitants of Maharda, one of the largest Christian cities in Syria, the home of His Beatitude Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius IV. Over 3.5 tons of aid, including medicines, food, school kits and toys for children, as well as Easter cakes at the request of the Russian Orthodox Church were delivered to Mahardu with the assistance of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of opposing sides in the Syrian Arab Republic and representatives of “Combat Brotherhood”.

So why not religious organizations – not only Russian and Christian, but Islamic and others too, – say aloud about their humanitarian efforts? I’m sure that there are far more charitable initiatives than I’ve mentioned here! But there can’t be enough popular support and involvement in this area, and I’m afraid demureness may be even harmful in this regard.

Turkey can’t calm down

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Turkish leadership prepares another provocation against Russian aircraft.

According to Syrian intelligence Turkish Air Force has increased its flights along Syria-Turkey border. Moreover they transmit massages in English, Russian and Turkish languages warning Russian pilots to keep away from Turkish airspace at a distance of 20 kilometers.
These massages are transmitted on the radio frequencies which are used by Turkish Air Force and Air defense troops to obtain the information about the air situation. However Russian pilots don’t use these frequencies and can’t hear these massages. And it goes without saying that Turkey scrupulously records its parleys.
It’s obviously that the Turks try to make reliable “Alibi” to shoot down Russian aircraft. After that they want to present fake warnings to the world that no one physically could hear and to tell: “We warned Russian pilots but they did not respond!” And of course it is hard to believe that Russia will receive any apologies.
By all appearances Erdogan is dissatisfied with the progress of Syrian army which is supported by Russian Air Forces. He will try to provoke Moscow to response and then accuse it of aggression. After that he will get “legal” reason for land invasion of Syria to safe his oil business.

Here are the links to the file hosting website to download leaked radio messages:

http://www.megafileupload.com/ev6q/001_eng.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/ev6r/002_eng.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/ev6t/003_turk.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/ev6v/004_eng.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/ev6x/005_eng.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/ev6z/006_eng.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/ev6A/007.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/ev6B/008_eng.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/ev6C/009_eng.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/ev6D/010_rus.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/mToJ/011_eng.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/mToK/012_eng.mp3
http://www.megafileupload.com/mToL/013_eng.mp3

And the archive with all of these records:

http://www.megafileupload.com/mTp2/records.zip

 

Turkish intelligence was involved in abduction and execution of Syrian Metropolitans

It is not a secret that Turkish President Racep Erdogan dreams of the new Ottoman Empire and wants to build it on the ideas of radical Islam.

Erdogan follows the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, namely the superiority of Muslims over all others. The idea of Islamism has become one of the reasons why Turkey supports radical Islamist groups in Syria. Therefore, Erdogan also aims to eliminate the leaders of the Christian minority who live in the Syrian-Turkish border areas in order to expand his influence there.

Syria’s Grand mufti: Abducted bishops are in Turkey

Bishop Boulos Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church, left, and John Ibrahim of the Assyrian Orthodox Church, right, who were kidnapped by Syria militants.

In April 2013 two Orthodox priests Paul Yazidzhi and John Ibrahim were kidnapped in the suburb of Aleppo in northern Syria. They were seized in Aleppo and were taken to the village of el-Meshad. As it turned out, it is Turkish intelligence that masterminded the abduction of Syrian Metropolitans.

According to the Iranian television channel “Al-Alam”, Syrian Metropolitans were held by terrorists on the territory of the Turkish Republic for some time. But Turkish authorities have done nothing to free the priests. Obviously, the President of Turkey commanded not to interfere!

However, not everything went as planned. In July 2013, Magomed Abdurakhmanov, known as Abu Banat from the terrorist group “Katibat Al-Muhajireen” fighting in Syria against Bashar al-Assad, was arrested in Turkey for illegal possession of weapons. It became clear that the fighter came to Turkey for treatment of wounds. During the investigation, Abu Banat claimed to be working closely with the Turkish intelligence, in particular, on a special task to capture and eliminate the Syrian Metropolitans in Aleppo.

In addition, Abu Banat reported that he received walky-talkies and radio beacons from a MIT officer named Abu Jahfer. It is understood that the equipment was used by the Turkish intelligence to monitor and coordinate the abduction of Syrian Metropolitans as well.

Abu Banat attracted the attention of the Turkish police after one of the officers identified him in the video of the brutal murder of Francois Murad who was accused by “Katibat Al-Muhajireen” in collaboration with the army of Bashar Assad. This fact has caused a broad resonance among the public and was covered by the media.

Despite the testimony of Abu Banat on cooperation with the Turkish secret services in the kidnapping of the Syrian priests, Turkish officials tried to hush up the case as it relates to the personal interests of the President of Turkey.

In September 2013, a lawyer Erkan Metin’s investigation revealed the truth about what happened. However, the criminal case against Abu Banat on the fact of mass murder has not been opened in Turkey. Although the Abdurakhmanov admitted involvement in the beheading of more than 70 people, mostly non-Wahhabi clergy, he was discharged from mass murder because the issue “related to the internal Syrian crisis”.

In the same time the member of the Turkish Parliament lawyer Erol Dora argues that according to Turkish law Abu Banat ought to be judged. But the law in the Ottoman state is enforced not by a fair trial but due to the interests of Erdogan.

As a result, July 15, 2015 Abu Banat was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison on charges of illegal possession of weapons and involvement in a terrorist group.

Apparently, the reason for such a light sentence against terrorists is precisely that he was acting on instructions from the Turkish intelligence, which in turn executes the orders of the President of Turkey. It is clear that MIT would not allow disclosing the information on cooperation with terrorist groups in Syria.

I think that the Turkish people should think about what else Erdogan could do in the future, given that he cooperates with the terrorists in Syria and orders to kill Christian priests now.

Mary Veil

The article was published in Arabic HERE

Syria: It’s Not a Civil War and it Never Was

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 The weapons are foreign, the fighters are foreign, the agenda is foreign. As Syrian forces fight to wrest control of their country back and restore order within their borders, the myth of the “Syrian civil war” continues on. Undoubtedly there are Syrians who oppose the Syrian government and even Syrians who have taken up arms against the government and in turn, against the Syrian people, but from the beginning (in fact before the beginning) this war has been driven from abroad. Calling it a “civil war” is a misnomer as much as calling those taking up arms “opposition.” It is not a “civil war,” and those fighting the Syrian government are not “opposition.”

Those calling this a civil war and the terrorists fighting the Syrian state “opposition” hope that their audience never wanders too far from their lies to understand the full context of this conflict, the moves made before it even started and where those moves were made from.

When did this all start? 

It is a valid question to ask just when it all really started. The Cold War saw a see-sawing struggle between East and West between the United States and Europe (NATO) and not only the Soviet Union but also a growing China. But the Cold War itself was simply a continuation of geopolitical struggle that has carried on for centuries between various centers of power upon the planet. The primary centers include Europe’s Paris, London and Berlin, of course Moscow, and in the last two centuries, Washington.

In this context, however, we can see that what may be portrayed as a local conflict, may fit into a much larger geopolitical struggle between these prominent centers of special interests. Syria’s conflict is no different.

Syria had maintained close ties to the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. That meant that even with the fall of the Soviet Union, Syria still had ties to Russia. It uses Russian weapons and tactics. It has economic, strategic and political ties to Russia and it shares mutual interests including the prevailing of a multipolar world order that emphasizes the primacy of national sovereignty.

Because of this, Western centers of power have sought for decades to draw Syria out of this orbit (along with many other nations). With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the fractured Middle East was first dominated by colonial Europe before being swept by nationalist uprising seeking independence. Those seeking to keep the colonial ties cut that they had severed sought Soviet backing, while those seeking simply to rise to power at any cost often sought Western backing.

The 2011 conflict was not Syria’s first. The Muslim Brotherhood, a creation and cultivar of the British Empire since the fall of the Ottomans was backed in the late 70s  andearly 80s in an abortive attempt to overthrow then Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, father of current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The armed militants that took part in that conflict would be scattered in security crackdowns following in its wake, with many members of the Muslim Brotherhood forming a new US-Saudi initiative called Al Qaeda. Both the Brotherhood and now Al Qaeda would stalk and attempt to stunt the destiny of an independent Middle East from then on, up to and including present day.

There is nothing “civil” about Syria’s war. 

In this context, we see clearly Syria’s most recent conflict is part of this wider struggle and is in no way a “civil war” unfolding in a vacuum, with outside interests being drawn in only after it began.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its Al Qaeda spin-off were present and accounted for since the word go in 2011. By the end of 2011, Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise (Al Nusra) would be carrying out nationwide operations on a scale dwarfing other so-called rebel groups. And they weren’t this successful because of the resources and support they found within Syria’s borders, but instead because of the immense resources and support flowing to them from beyond them.

Saudi Arabia openly arms, funds and provides political support for many of the militant groups operating in Syria since the beginning. In fact, recently, many of these groups, including allies of Al Qaeda itself, were present in Riyadh discussing with their Saudi sponsors the future of their joint endeavor.

Together with Al Nusra, there is the self-anointed Islamic State (IS). IS, like the Syrian conflict itself, was portrayed by the Western media for as long as possible as a creation within a vacuum. The source of its military and political strength was left a mystery by the otherwise omniscient Western intelligence community. Hints began to show as Russian increased its involvement in the conflict. When Russian warplanes began pounding convoys moving to and from Turkish territory, bound for IS, the mystery was finally solved. IS, like all other militant groups operating in Syria, were the recipients of generous, unending stockpiles of weapons, equipment, cash and fighters piped in from around the globe.

The Syrian conflict was borne of organizations created by centers of foreign interests decades ago who have since fought on and off not for the future of the Syrian people, but for a Syria that meshed more conveniently into the foreign global order that created them. The conflict has been fueled by a torrent of weapons, cash, support and even fighters drawn not from among the Syrian people, but from the very centers of these foreign special interests; in Riyadh, Ankara, London, Paris, Brussels and Washington.

How to settle a civil war that doesn’t exist?

If the Syrian conflict was created by foreign interests fueling militant groups it has used for decades as an instrument of executing foreign policy (in and out of Syria), amounting to what is essentially a proxy invasion, not a civil war, how exactly can a “settlement” be reached?

Who should the Syrian government be talking to in order to reach this settlement? Should it be talking to the heads of Al Nusra and IS who clearly dominate the militants fighting Damascus? Or should it be talking to those who have been the paramount factor in perpetuating the conflict, Riyadh, Ankara, London, Paris, Brussels and Washington, all of whom appear involved in supporting even the most extreme among these militant groups?

If Damascus finds itself talking with political leaders in these foreign capitals, is it settling a “civil war” or a war it is fighting with these foreign powers? Upon the world stage, it is clear that these foreign capitals speak entirely for the militants, and to no one’s surprise, these militants seem to want exactly what these foreign capitals want.

Being honest about what sort of conflict Syria is really fighting is the first step in finding a real solution to end it. The West continues to insist this is a “civil war.” This allows them to continue trying to influence the outcome of the conflict and the political state Syria will exist in upon its conclusion. By claiming that the Syrian government has lost all legitimacy, the West further strengthens its hand in this context.

Attempts to strip the government of legitimacy predicated on the fact that it stood and fought groups of armed militants arrayed against it by an axis of foreign interests would set a very dangerous and unacceptable precedent. It is no surprise that Syria finds itself with an increasing number of allies in this fight as other nations realize they will be next if the “Syria model” is a success.

Acknowledging that Syria’s ongoing conflict is the result of foreign aggression against Damascus would make the solution very simple. The solution would be to allow Damascus to restore order within its borders while taking action either at the UN or on the battlefield against those nations fueling violence aimed at Syria. Perhaps the clarity of this solution is why those behind this conflict have tried so hard to portray it as a civil war.

For those who have been trying to make sense of the Syrian “civil war” since 2011 with little luck, the explanation is simple, it isn’t a civil war and it never was. Understanding it as a proxy conflict from the very beginning (or even before it began) will give one a clarity in perception that will aid one immeasurably in understanding what the obvious solutions are, but only when they come to this understanding.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/28/syria-its-not-a-civil-war-and-it-never-was/

Some discussion on Burqa/Hijab

An Iraqi woman taking off the black robe that was imposed on her after her and her family were captivated from areas under the control of Daesh. This is one of the most beautiful pictures of this year…

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There is an opinion that the wearing of the Burqa/Hijab is predicated on the fear that the mere sight of a woman will overwhelm men with lust and sinful desires and that puts THEIR salvation in jeopardy. So in order to keep men righteous and pious, women should become invisible outside their homes. It’s bizarre logic because it is clearly an exclusively men’s problem and the solution must lie with men alone. They could enlighten themselves and view women as fellow human beings to treated with respect, courtesy and consideration. Not mere sex objects. Or they could keep their gaze lowered. Or they could wear blindfolds or confine themselves within the four walls of their homes. Failing that they could gouge their eyes out. Whatever. Why should women have to accept constraints? Women who wear the Burqa/Hijab send the message that they acknowledge and accept that they are mere sex objects and their very visibility leads men astray. It is demeaning for both, women as well as men. The Burqa/Hijab is also a severe health hazard. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which maintains bone density and prevents osteoporosis.
In the same time there are women who wear hijab of their own volition. They may wear it to show that I am proud to be a Muslim and as reminder  to keep themselves modest in all things that they do but not so that men can control themselves when they see a woman. One may wear hijab for the reason to be judged on one’s character and not one’s looks. They say: “I wear it as a badge of honor, not a badge of shame to try and make me become “invisible”. I will not become invisible when wearing the hijab….you will just notice me more because of what I say, rather than how I look”. And they can sit out in fenced backyard with my family and catch some rays.

Anyway, it’s OK till the Burqa/Hijab is a matter of choice. In my opinion, one should have a right to wear or not to wear it. Peace!

Week Three of the Russian Intervention in Syria: The Return of Diplomacy

The end of international law and diplomacy

The end of the Cold War was welcomed as a new era of peace and security in which swords would be transformed into plows, former enemies into friends, and the world would witness a new dawn of universal love, peace and happiness. Of course, none of that happened. What happened is that the AngloZionist Empire convinced itself that it had “won the Cold War” and that it now was in charge. Of the entire planet, no less. And why not? It had built anywhere between 700 to 1000 military bases (depending on your definition of “base”) worldwide and it had split up the entire globe into several areas of exclusive responsibility named “commands”. The last time any power had mustered the megalomania needed to distribute various parts of the planet to to different commands was the Papacy in 1494 with its (in)famous “Treaty of Tordesillas”.

And to make that point abundantly clear, the Empire decided to make an example and unleashed its power against tiny Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia, a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement was viciously attacked and dismembered, creating an immense wave of refugees, mostly Serbs, which the democratic and civilized world chose to ignore. Furthermore, the Empire unleashed yet another war, this time in Russia, which pitched the semi-comatose Eltsin regime against what would later become a key part of al-Qaeda, ISIS and Daesh: the Wahabis in Chechnia. Again, many hundreds of thousands of “invisible refugees” resulted from that war too, but they were also largely ignored by the democratic and civilized world, especially the ethnic Russians. It took Russia a full decade to finally crush this Wahabi-Takfiri insurgency but, eventually, Russia prevailed. And by that time, the AngloZionists had turned their attention elsewhere: the US and Israeli “deep states” jointly planned and executed the 9/11 false flag operation which gave them the perfect excuse to declare a “global war on terror” which basically gave the AngloZionists a worldwide “license to kill” à la 007, except that in this case the target was not a person, but entire countries.

We all know what followed: Iraq, Afghanistan, Philippines, Somalia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Mali, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, the Ukraine – everywhere the US was at war, whether officially or covertly. The spectrum ranged from an (attempted) complete invasion of a country (Afghanistan) to the support of various terrorist groups (Iran, Syria) to the full financing and management of a Nazi regime (the Ukraine). The US also gave full support to the Wahabis in their long crusade against the Shia (KSA, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Iran). What all these wars had in common is that they were all completely illegal – the US and any ad hoc “coalition of the willing” became an acceptable substitute for the UN Security Council.

Here again it is important to remind everybody – especially those Muslims who rejoiced at the bombing of the Serbs – that this all began with the completely illegal destruction of Yugoslavia followed by an even more illegal bombing of Serbia.

Of course, the Empire also suffered from a few humiliating defeats: in 2006 Hezbollah inflicted on Israel what might well be one of the most humiliating military defeats in modern history while in 2008 a tiny force of truly heroic Ossetian fighters backed by a comparatively small Russian military contingent (only a small part of the Russian military was involved) made mincemeat of the the US-trained and US-funded Georgian military: the war was over in 4 days. Still, by and large, the first decade of the 21st century saw a triumph of the law of the jungle over international law and a full vindication of the age old principle of “might makes right”.

Logically, these were also the years when the US diplomacy basically ceased to exist. The sole function of US diplomats remained the delivery of ultimatums “comply or else…” and the Empire simply stopped negotiating about anything. Seasoned and sophisticated diplomats like James Baker were replaced either by psychopaths like Madelaine Albright, Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power, or by mediocre non-entities like John Kerry and Susan Rice. After all, how sophisticated must one be to threaten, bully and deliver ultimatums? Things got so bad that the Russians openly complained about the “lack of professionalism” of their US counterparts.

As for the poor Russians with their pathetic insistence that the norms of international law must be observed, they looked hopelessly passé. I won’t even mention the European politicians here. They were best characterized by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who called them “great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies‘.

But then, something changed. Dramatically.

The failure of force

Suddenly everything went south. Every single US victory somehow turned into a defeat: from Afghanistan to Libya, every US ‘success’ had somehow morphed itself into a situation where the best option, if not the only one left, was to “declare victory and leave”. This begs the obvious question “what happened?”.

The first obvious conclusion is that the US forces and their so-called “allies” have very little staying power. While they are reasonably skilled at invading a country, they then rapidly lose control of most of it. It is one thing to invade a country, but quite another to administer it, nevermind rebuilt it. It turns out that US-led “coalitions of the willing” were unable to get anything done.

Second, it became obvious that the enemy which was supposedly defeated had really only gone into hiding and was waiting for a better time to come back with a vengeance. Iraq is the perfect example of that: far form being really “defeated”, the Iraqi Army (wisely) chose to disband itself and come back in the shape of a formidable Sunni insurrection which itself gradually morphed into ISIS. But Iraq was not an isolated case. The same happened pretty much everywhere.

There are those who will object and that that the US does not care if it controls a country or if it destroys it, as long as the other guy does not get to “win”. I disagree. Yes, the US will always prefer the destruction of a country to an outright victory of the other side, but this does not mean that the US does not prefer to control a country if possible. In other words, when a country sinks into chaos and violence this is not a US victory, but most definitely a US loss.

What the US missed is that diplomacy makes the use of force much more effective. First, careful diplomacy makes it possible to build a wide coalition of countries willing to support collective action. Second, diplomacy also makes it possible to reduce the number of countries which openly oppose collective action. Does anybody remember that Syria actually sent forces to support US troops against Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm? Sure, they did not make a big difference, but their presence gave the US the peace of mind that Syria would at least not overtly oppose the US policy. By getting the Syrians to support Desert Storm, James Backer made it very hard for the Iraqis to argue that this was an anti-Arab, anti-Muslim or even an anti-Baathist coalition and he made Saddam Hussein look completely isolated (even when the Iraqis began shooting missiles at Israel). Second, diplomacy makes it possible to reduce the overall amount of force used because “instant overkill” is not needed to show the enemy that you really mean business. Third, diplomacy is the necessary tool to achieve legitimacy and legitimacy is crucial when engaged in a long, protracted, conflict. Finally, the consensus which emerges from a successful diplomatic effort prevents the rapid erosion of the public support for a military effort. But all these factors were ignored by the USA in the GWOT (Global War on Terror) and the “Arab Spring” revolutions which now have come to a screeching halt.

A diplomatic triumph for Russia

This week saw a true diplomatic triumph for Russia culminating in Friday’s multilateral negotiations in Vienna which brought together the foreign ministers of Russia, the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The fact that this meeting took place right after Assad’s visit to Moscow clearly indicates that the sponsors of Daesh and al-Qaeda are now forced to negotiate on Moscow’s terms. How did that happen?

As I have been mantrically repeating it since the Russian operation in Syria began, the Russian military force actually sent to Syria is very small. Yes, it is a very effective one, but it is still very small. In fact, the members of the Russian Duma have announced that the costs of the entire operation will probably fit in the normal Russian Defense budget which has monies allocated for “training”. However, what the Russian have achieved with this small intervention is rather amazing, not only in military terms, but especially in political terms.

Not only has the Empire (very reluctantly) had to accept that Assad would have to stay in power for the foreseeable future, but Russia is now gradually but inexorably building up a real regional coalition which is willing to fight Daesh on the same side as the Syrian government forces. Even before the Russian operation began, Russia had the support of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah. There are also strong signs that the Kurds are basically also willing to work with Russia and Assad. On Friday it was announced that Jordan would also coordinate some as of yet unspecified military actions with Russia and that a special coordination center will be set up in Amman. There are also very strong rumors that Egypt will also join the Russian-lead coalition. There are also signs that Russia and Israel are also, if not working together, at least not working against each other: the Russian and Israelis have created a special line to directly talk to each other on a military level. The bottom line is this: regardless of the sincerity of the different parties, everybody in the region now feels a strong pressure to at least not look opposed to the Russian effort. That, by itself, is a huge triumph for Russian diplomacy.

Putin’s secret weapon: the truth

The current situation is, of course, totally unacceptable for the Global Hegemon: not only has the US-lead coalition of 62 countries managed to conduct 22,000 strikes with nothing to show for it, but the comparatively smaller Russian coalition has managed to completely displace the Empire and negate all its plans. And the most formidable weapon used by Putin in his proxy war with the USA was not even a military one, but simply speaking the truth.

Both at his UN speech and, this week, at his speech at the Valdai Conference Putin has done what no other world leader before has ever dared doing: he openly call the US regime incompetent, irresponsible, lying, hypocritical and terminally arrogant. That kind of public “dissing” has had a huge impact worldwide because by the time Putin said these words more or less everybody knew that this was absolutely true.

The US does treat all its allies as “vassals” (see Valdai speech) and the US is the prime culprit for all the terrible crises the world now has to face (see UN speech). What Putin did is basically say “the Emperor is naked”. In comparison, Obama’s lame speech was comically pathetic. What we are witnessing now is an amazing turn around. After decades marked by the “might makes right” principle advocated by the USA, suddenly we are in a situation where no amount of military might is of any use to a beleaguered President Obama: what use are 12 aircraft carriers when you personally look like a clown?

After 1991 it appeared that the only superpower left was so powerful and unstoppable that it did not need to bother itself with such minor things like diplomacy or respect for international law. Uncle Sam felt like he was the sole ruler, the Planetary Hegemon. China was just a “big Walmart”, Russia a “gas station” and Europe an obedient poodle (the latter is, alas, quite true). The myth of US invincibility was just that, of course, a myth: since WWII the USA has not won a single real war (Grenada or Panama do not qualify). In fact, the US military fared even much worse in Afghanistan that the under-trained, under-equipped, under-fed and under-financed Soviet 40th Army which, at least, kept all the major cities and main roads under Soviet control and which did some meaningful development of the civilian infrastructure of the country (which the US is still using in 2015). Nevertheless, the myth of US invincibility only really came crashing down when Russia put a stop to it in 2013 by preventing a US assault on Syria by a mix of diplomatic and military means. Uncle Sam was livid, but could do nothing about besides triggering a coup in Kiev and an economic war against Russia, neither of which have succeeded in their goals.

As for Putin, instead of being deterred by all the US efforts, he invited Assad to Moscow.

Assad’s Moscow visit as yet another indicator of US impotence

This week’s visit by Assad was nothing short of extraordinary. Not only did the Russian succeed in getting Assad out of Syria and to Moscow and then back without the bloated US intelligence community noticing anything, but unlike most heads of state, Assad spoke face to face to some of the most powerful men in Russia.

First, Assad met with Putin, Lavrov and Shoigu. They spoke for a total of three hours (which, by itself, is quite remarkable). They were later joined by Medvedev for a private dinner. Guess who else joined them? Mikhail Fradkov, Head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, and Nikolai Patrushev, Head of the Russian Security Council:

Normally, heads of state do not meet personally with men like Fradkov or Patrushev and, instead, they send their own experts. In this case, however, the topic discussed was important enough to 1) get Assad personally to the Kremlin and 2) get all the top players in the Kremlin around the same table for a personal discussion with Assad.

Obviously, not a word came out from this meeting, but there are two main theories circulating out there about what was discussed.

The first theory says that Assad was told in no unclear terms that his days were numbered and that he would have to leave.

The second one says the exact opposite: that Assad was brought in to signal to him, and the US, that he had the full support of Russia.

I don’t believe that either one of these is correct, but the second one is, I think, probably closer to the truth. After all, if the goal was to tell Assad that he had to go, a simple phone call would have been enough, really. Maybe a visit by Lavrov. As for “backing Assad”, that would go in direct contradiction with what the Russians have been saying all along: they are not backing “Assad” as a person, although they do recognize him as the sole legitimate President of Syria, but they are backing the right of the Syrian people to be the only ones to decide who should be in power in Syria. And that, by the way, is something that Assad himself has also agreed to (according to Putin). Likewise, Assad has also agreed to work with any non-Daesh opposition forces willing to fight against Daesh alongside the Syrian military (again, according to Putin).

No, while I believe that the meeting between Assad and Putin was, at least in part, a message to the USA and the others so-called “friends of Syria”, indicating that their “Assad must go” plan had failed, I believe that the main purpose of the behind-closed-doors meeting with all the top leaders of Russia was something else: my guess is that what was discussed was a major and long term alliance between Russia and Syria which would formally revive the kind of alliance Syria had with the Soviet Union in the past. While I can only speculate about the exact terms of such an alliance, it is my guess that this plan, probably coordinated with Iran has two major aspects:

a) military component: Daesh must be crushed.

b) political component: Syria will not be allowed to fall under US control.

Considering that the Russian military operation is assumed by most Russian experts to be scheduled to last about 3 months, we are dealing here with separate, middle to long term, plan which will require the Syrian armed forces to be rebuilt while Russia, Iran and Iraq jointly coordinate the struggle against Daesh. And, indeed, it was announced on Friday that Iraq had authorized the Russian military to strike at Daesh inside the Iraqi territory. It sure looks like the Russian operation has acted as a catalyst for a region paralyzed by US hypocrisy and incompetence and that the days of Daesh are numbered

Too early to celebrate, but a watershed moment nonetheless

Still, it is way too early to celebrate. The Russians cannot do it all by themselves, and it will be incumbent upon the Syrians and their allies to fight Daesh, one small town at a time. Only boots on the ground will really liberate Syria from Daesh and only true Islam will be able to defeat the Takfiri ideology. This will take a time.

Furthermore, it would be irresponsible to underestimate the Empire’s determination and ability to prevent Russia from looking like “the winner” – that is something which the US imperial ego, raised in centuries of imperial hubris and ignorance, will never be able to cope with. After all, how can the “indispensable nation” accept that the world does not need it at all and that others can even openly oppose and prevail? We can expect the US to use all its (still huge) power to try to thwart and sabotage every Russian or Syrian initiative.

Still, the recent events are the mark that the era of “might makes right” has come to an end and that the notion that the US is an “indispensable nation” or world hegemon has now lost any credibility. After decades in the dark, international diplomacy and the international law are finally becoming relevant again. It is my hope that this is the beginning of a process which will see the USA undergo the same evolution as so many other countries (including Russia) have undergone in the past: from being an empire to becoming a “normal country” again. Alas, when I look at the 2016 Presidential race I get the feeling that this will still be a very long process.

Source

Juan Cole – American Hypocrisy: Against Muslim Sharia Law at Home, Calls it ‘Moderate’ in Syria

A couple of abstracts from an article called “American Hypocrisy: Against Muslim Sharia Law at Home, Calls it ‘Moderate’ in Syria”

As for the “moderate rebels,” who have suddenly reappeared in American official discourse only after Russia intervened, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey wrote Congress in fall of 2013 that he did not want to intervene in Syria because he could not be sure that the victorious rebels would support US interests:

” In an August 19 letter to Representative Eliot Engel, obtained by the Associated Press, Gen. Dempsey effectively ruled out even limited intervention, including US cruise missile attacks and other options that wouldn’t require US troops on the ground. “Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides,” he said. “It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favour. Today, they are not.”

– That’s why US doesn’t really fight against Daesh. They want their own authority in Syria. Doesn’t matter whether in Islamic form or not, moderate or radical one.

The whole article:

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Charlatan Higgins does a disservice to NATO officials’ authority

In an age of neoliberalization of society according to its privatization dogmatism even the core business of the state, their monopoly to use violence, is being outsourced to private parties. Mercenaries from private corporations like Dyncorp or Academi enter the battle fields to provide their special “security solutions”.

Actually these are not the only military services privatized. Recent years show non-governmental organizations are encroaching the sphere of propaganda services in the political realm of warmaking, in the old days strictly top-down managed by state organizations. Though the organization of propaganda in the West always took a less centralist approach than for instance in the Soviet Union, these days one might experience an increased appearance of NGOs marketing the official state sanctioned points of view in direct relations with the media. One could say propaganda is being privatized too, outsourced to non-governmental “infowar mercenaries”.

The role British “citizen research project” Bellingcat is playing in “the Infowar” between the West and Russia, is very disturbing for that matter. It is gladly welcomed by NATO commander general Breedlove, with an expression of hypocrisy as American as apple pie. In a tweet he praised Bellingcat and its founder Eliot Higgins for their “innovative way” in tracking invasive Russian actions in Ukraine.

Some people may remember the “citizen inspections” at airforce base Volkel in the Netherlands, when activists tried to reveal the presence of US nuclear arms, held in secret by the Dutch and American governments. This had nothing to do with vigilant citizenship though. This was a terrorist operation, according to Breedlove´s predecessors. Probably Breedlove thinks too citizen involvement in military business should only be applied if it works for “us”.

Meanwhile Higgins has been adopted as an expert by the Atlantic Council , a well endowed think-tank developing NATO policy and its intellectual basis, and is one of the coauthors of a key anti-Putin report by the Council leadership which was published on May 28. Higgins is described as “a Visiting Research Associate in the Department of War Studies at KingCollege London”. The Council also sponsored him on a trip to Ukraine.

Eliot Higgins aka Brown Moses, the founder of Bellingcat “by and for citizen investigative journalists”, is beloved by NATO media. Higgins is always able to “prove” by amateur “analysis” of open source data that the “bad guys”, just as the U.S. or NATO claim, did indeed do the bad thing that happened. The problem is that Higgins is no expert of anything. He was an unemployed office worker who looked at Youtube videos from Syria and tried Internet searches to find out what weapons were visible in the videos. That is all that made him an “expert”.

But Higgins claimed to prove that the Syrian government launched rockets with Sarin on Ghouta, an area south of Damascus. An MIT professor and real expert proved (pdf) that he was wrong.

One of the problems with the Bellingcat methodology appeared to be its use of Google Earth images for reference analysis. Google Earth assembles their presentations with SATs from very different days, sometimes months apart from each other. So the images will be unfit for use in forensic research and date based reference analysis. Google Earth itself explains this too.

Higgins also claimed to “prove” that rockets launched from Russia hit Ukraine by looking at aerial pictures of impact craters. NATO military intelligence units, fully trained military professionals with combat experience and superior knowledge of how these weapons work, have had months to analyze images from satellites, sensors (whatever they are), social media and even Google Maps (which is actually NSA/CIA) of all the military activity in that area at that time, and I’m sure that if there was conclusive evidence that Russia had bombed Ukraine then there would have been an Adlai Stevenson moment at the UN SC from warmonger Samantha Power. But such an Adlai Stevenson moment has not occurred. Moreover, a real expert of the method said that crater analysis is “highly experimental and prone to inaccuracy” and warned against its use without further corroboration.

Blogger Elliot Higgins, aka Bellingcat is getting debunked everywhere for his amateurish MH17 reports.

In an interview with the respected German publication Der Spiegel, image forensics expert Jens Kriese slammed the investigative group. “From the perspective of forensics, the Bellingcat approach is not very robust. The core of what they are doing is based on so-called Error Level Analysis (ELA). The method is subjective and not based entirely on science,” he told Der Spiegel.

“What Bellingcat is doing is nothing more than reading tea leaves. Error Level Analysis is a method used by hobbyists,” said Kriese, who is a professional image analyst and former scientific researcher. When dr. Neal Krawetz, developer of the tool Photoforensics, distanced himself firmly from the investigation and even said “This is a clear example of how NOT to do ELA”, the case was settled. Outside the media that was.

Not only have his methods been criticized by real experts and actual scientists. For example Charles Wood, an expert in digital images and metadata, takes issue with Higgins’s treatment of image data. A Russian blogger NTV makes similar objections. And a Dutch blogger provides credible evidence that Higgins has himself been faking his key photographs.

А video of a rebel held BUK driving on his own to the launch site lacks credibility too. It came up a few hours after the crash, posted on Youtube by an account which was only used once for this special purpose and then deleted. Fortunately Higgins could download it in that half an hour the video was present and so at this moment he can be traced as the first known source ever posting the video (back) on the net.

You have to ask why this amateur is given this level of political prominence. Blogger Deep Resource identifies  some of his backers. Obviously the way to proceed was to propel the arguments by a well known PR technique: disseminate your point of view by a so-called “objective third party expert”.

Out of three big “finds” that made it into the media Higgins and Bellingcat had three that were proven to be wrong by real experts. And now this “investigative group” is accusing Russia’s Defense Ministry of faking videos of airstrikes on Islamic State targets! How can we take it seriously?

Elliot Higgins is nothing more than a simple charlatan. But clearly Bellingcat isn´t neutral. It can´t be seen (any more?) like just another citizen research collective, but is in fact a well organized cover, maybe even an “astroturf organization”, working for a particular geopolitical mission. At a level playing field perhaps this is not worrisome. But when it is becoming a force in wielding the powers of Empire, a fair degree of suspicion is suitable.

Their one-sidedness, their non-scientific approach and lack of doubt, their dogmatic thinking, and their deeply ideologically motivated attitude is almost becoming a kind of religious fanaticism in which they implicitly think of themselves as crusaders of truth. It´s a narcissist self image we know so well from the inclinations of the lords of the anglosaxon dominated world orders. Moreover, this all raises questions about their methods too (for example: their investigations always smell from confirmation bias). From that on it should be clear Bellingcat operates like a team of infowar mercenaries, recycling and reinforcing alleged evidence originating from dubious parties. Any media who further quote “analysis” by the “experts” Higgins and Bellingcat should be regarded as propaganda outlet and not as a serious source of news.

Source: Ahmad Salah أحمد صلاح

Russian jets did not target civilians

Today, Russian aerospace force jets delivered pinpoint strikes on eight ISIS terror group targets in Syria. In total, 20 flights were made,” spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, said.

Russian airstrikes on IS in Syria

As a result, arms and fuel depots and military equipment were hit. ISIS coordination centers in the mountains were totally destroyed,” he added.

Konashenkov said that all the flights took place after air surveillance and careful verification of the data provided by the Syrian military. He stressed that Russian jets did not target any civilian infrastructure and avoided these territories.

Russian jets did not use weapons on civilian infrastructure or in its vicinity,” he said.