May 17, 2013
Erdogan is in the USA after the bombing, his paymasters want him to do more against Syria and the turkish public are growingly against his policies. Nevertheless he will go to Gaza next month, and he will look like a saviour, at least in western eyes, he will be able to funnel aid to Hamas from what the US et al have given him.
The Hamas leader was always in hiding when he lived in Damascus, now he travels openly to Gaza and talks about negotiating with the Jewish Race: http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/ade…
What will the armed PKK do now that they are withdrawing into Iraqi Kurdistan? And what have they been promised that they are leaving Turkey voluntarily?
On the ground in Syria Hezbollah and Syria with Iranian and Russian support have turned the tables against the west’s insurgents.
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May 8, 2013
With the Israeli bombing of Syria, will the Syrian civil war spread throughout the region? What is Israel’s political calculation here? Is Obama’s red line regarding chemical weapons just a hoax? And what will happen in Syria if there is a regime change? CrossTalking with Pepe Escobar, Christopher Chivvis and Geoffrey Ingersoll.
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by Tony Cartalucci
The US feigns disassociation with Hitlerian act of Israeli aggression – as was planned since 2007.
Image: The West has carefully cultivated Israel into “regional bully.” Immune from international condemnation, it is now being used to commit egregious war crimes against neighboring Syria, in hopes of provoking a retaliation and giving the US and its regional axis the justification it has long sought to militarily intervene.
May 5, 2013 (LD) – Unprovoked, Israel has attacked Syria numerous times over the past 2 days, including attacks on the Syrian capital of Damascus, in what appears to be a series of intentional provocations designed to drag the region into a wider conflict its US sponsors can then enter militarily. Neither attacked directly by Syria, nor able to cite credible evidence in regards to perceived threats Israel claims to be reacting to, the assault on Syria represents a Chapter VII breach of the United Nations Charter.
What’s more, is that while the US feigns disassociation with Israel’s breach of international peace, after jointly fueling a genocidal sectarian conflict within Syria’s borders for the past two years, it is documented fact that the US and Saudi Arabia planned to use Israel to conduct military attacks against Iran and Syria, they themselves could not justify politically, legally, or strategically.
What is now hoped is that Syria and Iran retaliate militarily, allowing the “other shoe to drop,” and for the US, UK, France, and their regional axis to directly intervene in Syria, and with any luck, Iran.
Insidious Ploy Engineered and Documented in 2007-2009
As early as 2007, it was reported that a US-Saudi-Israeli conspiracy to overthrow the governments of Iran and Syria by arming sectarian terrorists, many linked directly to Al Qaeda, was already set in motion. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection,” stated (emphasis added):
“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
Additionally, Saudi Arabian officials mentioned the careful balancing act their nation must play in order to conceal its role in supporting US-Israeli ambitions across the region. It was stated even then, that using Israel to publicly carry out attacks on Iran would be preferable to the US, which would ultimately implicate the Saudis. It was stated:
“The Saudi said that, in his country’s view, it was taking a political risk by joining the U.S. in challenging Iran: Bandar is already seen in the Arab world as being too close to the Bush Administration. “We have two nightmares,” the former diplomat told me. “For Iran to acquire the bomb and for the United States to attack Iran. I’d rather the Israelis bomb the Iranians, so we can blame them. If America does it, we will be blamed.””
This ploy was further developed in 2009 by the Fortune 500-funded (page 19) Brookings Institution in their document, “Which Path to Persia?” In regards to Iran, and now clearly being utilized against Syria, the gambit was described as follows (emphasis added):
“…it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.) ” -page 84-85, Which Path to Perisa?, Brookings Institution.
“Israel appears to have done extensive planning and practice for such a strike already, and its aircraft are probably already based as close to Iran as possible. as such, Israel might be able to launch the strike in a matter of weeks or even days, depending on what weather and intelligence conditions it felt it needed. Moreover, since Israel would have much less of a need (or even interest) in securing regional support for the operation, Jerusalem probably would feel less motivated to wait for an Iranian provocation before attacking. In short, Israel could move very fast to implement this option if both Israeli and American leaders wanted it to happen.
However, as noted in the previous chapter, the airstrikes themselves are really just the start of this policy. Again, the Iranians would doubtless rebuild their nuclear sites. They would probably retaliate against Israel, and they might retaliate against the United States, too (which might create a pretext for American airstrikes or even an invasion).” -page 91, Which Path to Perisa?, Brookings Institution.
And Israel not waiting for a plausible justification to attack Syria is exactly what has just happened. It should also be noted in particular, the last paragraph which gives insight into what the US-led axis plans to do after this egregious international crime – that is – to incrementally engulf the region into a conflict it finally can justify its own entry into open military aggression.
What Should Syria and its Allies Do?
Syria, Iran, Russia and other nations that support the besieged nation most certainly were aware of the Brookings document “Which Path to Persia?” and familiar with this strategy. It would be hoped that anything of value that the Israelis would seek to attack in order to provoke a much desired retaliation and subsequent war, would have been provided additional protection, or moved entirely out of range of potential Israeli attacks.
A media campaign to illustrate the hypocritical and very revealing convergence between Al Qaeda (the so-called Free Syrian Army or FSA) and Israeli interests would undermine whatever remaining support the battered and failing Western-backed terror campaign inside Syria may still have.
Additionally, Israel’s selection by the US to carry out this attack was done specifically because Israel has long-ago exhausted its international legitimacy. What it is doing in Syria is a blatant international crime, in direct violation of international law. Currently, Syria and its allies hold the moral high ground against an enemy who is no longer fooling the world. If it is calculated that Syria can survive Israel’s unprovoked brutality, it would be best to do little or nothing, and incur internationally the same outrage that accompanies Israel’s brutality against the Palestinians.
In light of the US using Israel as its proxy against Syria, should Syria and its allies retaliate, it would be best to do so through any proxies they themselves have at their disposal. Just as Hezbollah and the Palestinians now routinely defeat Israel both strategically and politically, Syria now faces an opportunity to do so again, only on a much bigger scale.
The outrageous actions of Israel, the despicable double-game the US attempts to play by feigning disassociation with its regional beachhead in Tel Aviv, and the silent complicity of the UN, has people around the world desperately seeking retaliation from Syria, or Iran, or both. In reality, this is precisely what the West hopes to achieve – a wider conventional war in which they hold the advantage. By refusing to retaliate directly, Syria cripples the West politically, highlighting the unprovoked nature of their attacks on a nation they claim is a threat, yet fails to strike back even when its capital is under bombardment. By responding through its own plausibly deniable proxies, tactical and political pressure can be put on Israel to end its aggression.
It appears that the Western-backed terrorist front in Syria has been dealt a fatal blow and is in the process of complete collapse. The attack by Israel is a sign of desperation, seeking to expand a conflict that is about to end. Syria and its allies face difficult decisions and dangerous desperation in the coming days and weeks – with an axis of rogue states committing increasingly heinous atrocities in search of a response.
April 3, 2013
The Middle East Discussion Group (MEDG)
cordially invites to
Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 12:00
with Professor Michel Chossudovsky
Mosaic Carling Buffet, 2583 Carling Av .
$15 per person
Our invited speaker is Professor Michel Chossudovsky who will talk about
The Threat of a Pre-emptive Nuclear War directed against Iran,
Michel Chossudovsky is Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa. His most recent book is entitled Towards a World War III Scenario, The Dangers of Nuclear War
To consult his publications: in English, French
Michel Chossudovsky spent 2 months in 2011 in Syria, shortly before the onslaught of the armed insurgency. He will also share with us the results of his research on the Syrian crisis.
Limited number of seats. To register for this Luncheon meeting send an email to Joseph Debanné, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
EVENING EVENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA
Professor Chossudovsky will speaking at the University of Ottawa
in the context of a public lecture organised by the Middle East Discussion Group (MEDG)
on the same subject
The Threat of a Pre-emptive Nuclear War directed against Iran,
The broader implications of the Middle East wars as well as a the issue of on A World War III Scenario will also be addressed
April 10, 2013 at 7:00 pm,
First floor of the Desmarais Building,
55 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, K1N6N5
University of Ottawa
Please forward this Conference announcement by email and on Facebook.
Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Editor of the globalresearch.ca. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s“War on Terrorism”(2005). His most recent book is entitled Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.
“Professor Chossudovsky’s hard-hitting and compelling book explains why and how we must immediately undertake a concerted and committed campaign to head off this impending cataclysmic demise of the human race and planet earth. This book is required reading for everyone in the peace movement around the world.”
-Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law, University of Illinois College of Law
The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity. US-NATO weapons of mass destruction are portrayed as instruments of peace. Mini-nukes are said to be “harmless to the surrounding civilian population”. Pre-emptive nuclear war is portrayed as a “humanitarian undertaking”.
While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality. The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.
Nuclear war has become a multibillion dollar undertaking, which fills the pockets of US defense contractors. What is at stake is the outright “privatization of nuclear war”.
The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.
Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled.
Breaking the “big lie”, which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.
The object of this book is to forcefully reverse the tide of war, challenge the war criminals in high office and the powerful corporate lobby groups which support them.
**NEW: Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War
“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
-John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University
“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations
Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
-Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute
March 30, 2013
Ex- CNN Reporter: I Received Orders to Manipulate News to Demonize Syria and Iran
PRAGUE, (SANA)- Ex-CNN reporter Amber Lyon revealed that during her work for the channel she received orders to send false news and exclude some others which the US administration did not favor with the aim to create a public opinion in favor of launching an aggression on Iran and Syria.
March 26, 2013
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc),- A New York Times article reveals CIA involvement in weapons deliveries to the Syrian insurgents. Weapons which among other end up in the hands of the Syrian Al-Qaeda branch Jabhat al-Nusra.
The article reveals that deliveries by planes have taken place since 2012. The USA, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi-Arabia and others however, have directly and indirectly provided weapons for Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda associated insurgents since early 2011.
Special forces liaisons and special operations combat troops have been on the ground in Syria since 2011, taking among other, part in the spectacular kidnapping of the attorney general of Hama, Adnan Bakkur, in which helicopter gunships were involved.
The financing of the subversion began as early as 2007, when the government of Qatar sent USD 10 billion to the Turkish Foreign Minister Davotoglu. The arming of terrorists is not a one off scandal, but official NATO doctrine and a systematic violation of the Convention against the Use of Mercenaries.
As much as the New York Times (NYT) may want to portray arms shipments by plane as spectacular incident, it hardly touches the surface of the criminal attempt of the USA and NATO allies, Saudi-Arabia, Qatar, Israel, post-coup Libya and other, to systematically manufacture a low intensity conflict with the help of well financed and armed proxies, and with the purposes to prevent the completion of the PARS gas-pipeline, to balkanize Syria and Iraq, create a Kurdish Corridor, and to create the precondition for a war on Iran and other conflicts along the soft, resource rich underbelly of Russia and China.
The New York Times article correctly states, that Turkey and Arab governments, with the help of the CIA, over the recent months have increased their military aid to “Syrian opposition fighters”. The New York Times article further states, that the airlift began on a small scale in early 2012, continued intermittently through last fall, and expanded into a much heavier flow in late 2012. According to the NYT, it has grown to include more than 160 cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi-Arabian and Qatari military-style cargo planes, landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, other Turkish and Jordanian airports.
The importance of the NYT article lies in the fact, that it is for the first time, that a major US-American newspaper recognizes, and to a degree documents the fact, that a US intelligence service was involved in delivering weapons to insurgents in Syria, albeit US-President Obama publicly refused to provide more than “non-lethal” aid. The NYT also reports, that officers from US-Intelligence Services have used “secret offices” to help Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia. The NYT also reports that American officials, on the condition of anonymity, have stated, that US-Intelligence Officers have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine, who should receive weapons as they arrive (1
The article in the NYT on 25 March was not the first to report about the airlift of arms from Croatia. Already on 8 March The London Telegraph reported about a 3,000 Ton airlift of weapons by Jordan and NATO member Turkey which passed through the Croatian city Zagreb. (2 Subsequently, on 9 March, LandDestroyer and nsnbc published a comprehensive article about the airlift, detailing that the weapons, among other, were being delivered to the Syrian Al-Qaeda militia Jabhat al-Nusra. (3
Reportedly, the CIA has declined to comment about the statements by members of the intelligence community, that the CIA vetted the terrorist groups who received the weapons. However, there are numerous reports which substantiate the direct involvement of the CIA and other NATO member states, Saudi-Arabian, Qatari and other intelligence services, and that, long before March 2013.
US – Special Forces Officer blows the whistle. Already in August 2011 an officer of the United States Special Forces at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, reports to nsnbc on the condition of anonymity, that US Special Forces had been operating in both Libya and Syria for months already, cooperating with predominantly Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda associated militia. (4
The same officer also verified that a training circular for special forces and “foreign students” which were trained by US special forces, the TC 18-01, Special Forces, Unconventional Warfare, from 2010, was a genuine document and reflected the model according to which the US Administration, US-Special Forces, US-Intelligence Services and their allies in Syria were organizing the subversion of the country. February 2012, the TC 18-01 was published in full by nsnbc. (5 No western mainstream media reported about the whistle blower or the TC 18-01.
September 2011 – Helicopter Gunships involved in the Kidnapping of Hama Attorney General Adnan Bakkur. In early September 2011 the attorney general of Hama, Syria, Adnan Bakkur was kidnapped. According to western mainstream media, the attorney general had defected. A video with the attorney general reading a statement that he had defected because of the violent crackdown of the Syrian government against peaceful protesters, was aired on several western mainstream media channels or used as evidence for the attorney general´s defection. The video shows clearly, that Adnan Bakkur “read” his statement under duress.
A reporter for nsnbc in Damascus reported, that the attorney general had been kidnapped and added further detail to the evidence, reporting, that eyewitnesses have seen the kidnappers drive in several cars, including a white Toyota pickup with a heavy machine gun mounted on it. The convoy with the kidnapped attorney general was then met by waiting helicopter gunships. Although the whereabouts of Adnan Bakkur were unknown, it was suspected, that he had been taken across the border to Turkey, where NATO Special Operations forces were training and arming Muslim Brotherhood fighters. (6
Although no independent, international investigation into this high profile kidnapping of the Hama attorney general Adnan Bakkur was conducted it was bearing all the signs of being a Military Intelligence Support Operation (MISO), also known as a PSYOP or psychological operation. Moreover, it is very unlikely that the helicopter gunships were not provided by a NATO member states military.
US Troops from Iraq redeployed to Jordan. Recruitment Center and Intelligence Operations Room in Mekka Street, Amman, Jordan. In December 2012 the blog of the US-American whistle blower Sibel Edmonds, Boilingfrogpost, reported that an unspecified number of US troops which had been withdrawn from Iraq, had been redeployed to airbases in Jordan and to the Jordanian border town Al-Mafraq, near the Syrian border. (7
On 17 February nsnbc reported, that the Jordanian military, together with US troops, had established a “buffer zone” at the Jordanian – Syrian border near al-Mafraq and reported that a source close to the former Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit had announced the presence of an estimated 43,000 fighters.
At least 20,000 of these fighters, so the former Jordanian prime Minister´s confident, were fighters of the Libyan Al-Qaeda organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), also known under the name “Tripoli Brigades”, under the command of the known Al-Qaeda terrorist Abdelhakim Belhadj and his second in command Harati. The transport of the many NATO mercenaries has reportedly taken place under the cover of medical transports or transports of wounded Libyan “rebels” to Jordan. (8
According to the former Spanish Prime Minister Aznar, who referred to Spanish intelligence services reports, Abdelhakim Belhadj, who also is known under the names Hasadi, Hasidi and other alias, was the mastermind behind the 2004 Madrid train bombings which secured that the Spanish parliament continued deploying Spanish troops to Afghanistan.
After the NATO led conquest of the Libyan capital Tripoli, Belhadj became the military governor of Tripoli, Al-Qaeda´s Libyan Islamic Fighting Groups became the Tripoly Military Council and the Tripoli Brigades. Abdelhakim Belhadj was installed in the position with the knowledge and aid of the US/NATO intelligence services and military, and with the full knowledge of the administration of US President Obama. ( 9
Also from a source close to the former Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, came the information that the Turkish (NATO) military intelligence service had opened an intelligence and operations room and a recruitment center in Mekha Street, in the Jordanian capital Amman. (ibid.)
Shiploads of Weapons including shoulder fired Surface to Air Missiles, arriving in Turkey, are distributed to insurgents in Syria. One fact that makes statements by the US administration, that it only provides non-lethal aid particularly deceitful is the fact that the Obama administration failed to respond to a report, according to which an entire shipload of weapons which had arrived to Turkey from Libya, and which contained large numbers of shoulder fired SAM-7 and Stinger Surface to Air Missiles, which were then distributed to insurgents in Syria by Turkish, that is NATO military officers. In September 2012 The Times, SANA and nsnbc reported about this largest yet documented shipload of weapons delivered to Syrian insurgents. (11
The “non-lethal aid ” will constitute a considerable threat to international air safety for the foreseeable future, and it is neither unlikely that one or more of the surface to air missiles will be used in a genuine terrorist attack by Islamist radicals against a civilian airliner, or that one or more of them will be used by a radical / double agent posing as a radical Islamist in a false flag terror attack.
The re-opening of the old smuggling route at the Saudi – Iraqi border and US Secretary of State´s warning to Iraq´s Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki. On 26 December 2012 nsnbc international reported about the reopening of an old smuggling route at the border between Saudi-Arabia and Iraq. The smuggling route, was previously being used for transporting various types of weapons, ammunition bombs,military equipment and not least drugs to Iraq, begins in Al-Nakhib in the western Al-Anbar province, near the Ar´ar border crossing. The smuggling route has been reactivated to provide a variety of terrorist organizations in Syria, including the Jabhat al-Nusra, with weapons and other equipment. (12
Weapons and other equipment from Saudi-Arabia, smuggled along this route however, is not exclusively being funneled to Syria. Iraq has since the last quarter of 2012 again become a target of terrorism and sectarian violence, instigated, financed and armed by Saudi-Arabia. In December 2012 a senior Iraqi legislator issued a warning against plots which are being hatched by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi-Arabia against Iraq, calling on citizens of Iraq to be vigilant. Earlier in 2012 Iraq´s Prime Minister Nouri Malaki warned, that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are attempting to carry out an Syria-style plot against Iraq in an attempt to topple the government by deploying terrorists.
In an interview with the Lebanese al-Mayyadeen satellite network earlier in 2012, P.M. Nouri al-Malaki stated: ” Qatar and Saudi Arabia which are meddling to topple the Syrian government are now doing the same meddling to topple the Iraqi regime. Their goal is overthrowing the Iraqi government. Their goal is overthrowing the Iraqi ruling system and not overthrowing me”.
Earlier in 2012 the prominent Iraqi legislator, Al-Sayhood, issued the warning that much of the strategy which is being financed and carried out by Saudi Arabia and Qatar is in fact masterminded by Israel in an attempt to destabilize the sole Arab nation which so far has stood firm against imperialism and which consequently and consistently has backed the Arab and Palestinian cause. Iraq has over the course of the last four months been subject to several high profile terrorist attacks and assassinations which most likely originated from Saudi-Arabia. (ibid.)
On a surprise visit to Iraq and Iraq´s Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki by US Secretary of State John Kerry however, Kerry demanded that Iraq stops the flow of arms to the Syrian military and the Syrian government. The demand has widely been discredited as hypocritical and many analysts, the scribe included assess Kerry´s statement as part of preparations for a larger media campaign and a campaign of destabilization and terrorism against Iraq. (14
NATO´s Discount Warfare Strategy, Arms Deliveries to “Terrorist Organizations” or systematic Violations of the Convention against the Use of Mercenaries – The deliveries of weapons and the funding of terrorist organizations, the interface of terrorist organizations with civilian and military intelligence services and western governments attempts to distance themselves as much as possible from terrorism in the view of the western citizens are symptoms of a new NATO military doctrine which was adopted at the 25th NATO Summit in Chicago 2012. (15
Prior to the formal adoption of the doctrine, which could be described as a discount low-intensity warfare model by means of mercenaries, who can be used as either friend or foe, which ideally should result in the procurement of NATO via the UNSC, but which will function as terrorist war of attrition if a UNSC resolution cannot be secured, was first officially endorsed by the two top NATO chiefs Ivo H. Daalder and James G. Stavridis when they called NATO´s intervention in Libya “a teachable moment and model for future intervention”. At NATO´s 25th Summit the model was officially adopted.
The NYT article, although it discloses some of the illegal deliveries of weapons is problematic and misleading to the extend that a correct name for the arms deliveries would be “Arms Deliveries to NATO mercenaries”.
The “terrorist” narrative is no longer viable and it eventually prevents the general public from understanding that the USA/NATO, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi-Arabia, EU and other “Friends of Syria” are systematically violating the Convention Against the Use of Mercenaries.
Christof Lehmann 26.03.2013
Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid from C.I.A., New York Times, 25. March 2013 published online at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/arms-air-lift-to-syrian-rebels-expands-with-cis-aid.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
2) US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’. The London Telegraph, 08 March 2013, published online at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9918785/US-and-Europe-in-major-airlift-of-arms-to-Syrian-rebels-through-Zagreb.html
3) US-British Al Qaeda Airlift: 3,000 Tons of Weapons Fuel Syria’s Destruction , LandDestroyer, 09 March 2013, also published online by nsnbc international at http://nsnbc.me/2013/03/09/us-british-al-qaeda-airlift-3000-tons-of-weapons-fuel-syrias-destruction/
4) Arabian Summer or NATO´s Fall, Christof Lehmann, 29. August 2011, published online at nsnbc at http://nsnbc.me/2011/08/29/arabian-summer-or-nato%C2%B4s-fall/
5) SPECIAL FORCES UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE – TC 18-01, published by nsnbc online at http://nsnbc.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/special-forces-uw-tc-18-01.pdf
6) Syria – Hama: Driver and Bodyguard of Kidnapped General Attorney Confirm Kidnapping. Christof Lehmann, 05 September 2011, published on nsnbc, online at http://nsnbc.me/2011/09/05/syria-hama-driver-and-bodyguard-of-kidnapped-general-attorney-confirm-kidnapping/
7) Foreign Troops Begin to Spread Near the Villages of Al-Mafraq. Sibel Edmonds, Boilingfrogspost, published in nsnbc on 13 December 2011 online at http://nsnbc.me/2011/12/13/foreign-troops-begin-to-spread-in-syria/
8) Attack on Syria likely before March? Christof Lehmann, nsnbc, 17 February 2012, published online at http://nsnbc.me/2012/02/17/attack-on-syria-likely-before-march/
9) Abdelhakim Belhadj The Mask Behind The Many Men, Christof Lehmann, nsnbc, 25 September 2011, published online at http://nsnbc.me/2011/09/25/abdelhakim-belhadj-the-mask-behind-the-many-men/
11) Largest Shipload of Libyan Weapons Heading to Armed Groups in Syria, SANA, published on nsnbc on 15 September 2012, online at http://nsnbc.me/2012/09/15/largest-shipload-of-libyan-weapons-heading-to-armed-groups-in-syria/
12) Saudi Smuggling Route to Syria Disclosed. Christof Lehmann, nsnbc, 26. December 2012, published online at http://nsnbc.me/2012/12/26/saudi-smuggling-route-to-syria-disclosed-2/
14) Kerry Demands Iraq Stop “Arms Flow” to Syria even as US Arms/Funds Al Qaeda, LandDestroyer, 25 March 2013, published on nsnbc international at http://nsnbc.me/2013/03/25/kerry-demands-iraq-stop-arms-flow-to-syria-even-as-us-armsfunds-al-qaeda/
15) NATO`s 25th Summit in Chicago in Preparation of Global Full Spectrum Dominance Christof Lehmann, nsnbc, 20 May 2012, published online at http://nsnbc.me/2012/05/20/natos-25th-summit-in-chicago-in-preparation-of-global-full-spectrum-dominance-interventionism-possible-preparations-for-a-regional-war-directed-against-russia-and-china-and-developments-in-global/
March 3, 2013
Sunday Times: Mr. President your recent offer of political dialogue was qualified with a firm rejection of the very groups you would have to pacify to stop the violence: the armed rebels and the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition alliance.
So in effect you are only extending an olive branch to the loyal opposition, mostly internal, that renounce the armed struggle, and who effectively recognizes the legitimacy of your leadership, who are you willing to talk to, really?
President Assad: First of all, let me correct some of the misconceptions that have been circulating and that are found in your question in order to make my answer accurate.
Sunday Times: Okay.
President Assad: Firstly, when I announced the plan, I said that it was for those who interested in dialogue, because you cannot make a plan that is based on dialogue with somebody who does not believe in dialogue. So, I was very clear regarding this.
Secondly, this open dialogue should not be between exclusive groups but between all Syrians of every level. The dialogue is about the future of Syria. We are twenty three million Syrians and all of us have the right to participate in shaping the country’s future. Some may look at it as a dialogue between the government and certain groups in the opposition – whether inside or outside, external or internal -actually this is a very shallow way of looking at the dialogue. It is much more comprehensive. It is about every Syrian and about every aspect of Syrian life. Syria’s future cannot be determined simply by who leads it but by the ambitions and aspirations of all its people.
The other aspect of the dialogue is that it opens the door for militants to surrender their weapons and we have granted many amnesties to facilitate this. This is the only way to make a dialogue with those groups. This has already started, even before the plan, and some have surrendered their weapons and they live now their normal life. But this plan makes the whole process more methodical, announced and clear.
If you want to talk about the opposition, there is another misconception in the West. They put all the entities even if they are not homogeneous in one basket – as if everything against the government is opposition. We have to be clear about this. We have opposition that are political entities and we have armed terrorists. We can engage in dialogue with the opposition but we cannot engage in dialogue with terrorists; we fight terrorism. Another phrase that is often mentioned is the ‘internal opposition inside Syria’ or ‘internal opposition as loyal to the government.’ Opposition groups should be loyal and patriotic to Syria – internal and external opposition is not about the geographic position; it is about their roots, resources and representation. Have these roots been planted in Syria and represent Syrian people and Syrian interests or the interests of foreign government? So, this is how we look at the dialogue, this is how we started and how we are going to continue.
Sunday Times: Most have rejected it, at least if we talk about the opposition externally who are now the body that is being hailed as the opposition and where the entire world is basically behind them. So, most of them have rejected it with the opposition describing your offer as a “waste of time,” and some have said that it is “empty rhetoric” based on lack of trust and which British Secretary William Hague described it as “beyond hypocritical” and the Americans said you were “detached from reality.”
President Assad: I will not comment on what so-called Syrian bodies outside Syria have said. These bodies are not independent. As Syrians, we are independent and we need to respond to independent bodies and this is not the case. So let’s look at the other claims.
Firstly, detached from reality: Syria has been fighting adversaries and foes for two years; you cannot do that if you do not have public support. People will not support you if you are detached from their reality. A recent survey in the UK shows that a good proportion British people want “to keep out of Syria” and they do not believe that the British government should send military supplies to the rebels in Syria.
In spite of this, the British government continues to push the EU to lift its arms embargo on Syria to start arming militants with heavy weapons. That is what I call detached from reality–when you are detached from your own public opinion! And they go further in saying that they want to send “military aid” that they describe as “non-lethal.” The intelligence, communication and financial assistance being provided is very lethal. The events of 11th of September were not committed by lethal aids. It was the application of non-lethal technology and training which caused the atrocities.
The British government wants to send military aid to moderate groups in Syria, knowing all too well that such moderate groups do not exist in Syria; we all know that we are now fighting Al-Qaeda or Jabhat al-Nusra which is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, and other groups of people indoctrinated with extreme ideologies. This is beyond hypocritical! What is beyond hypocrisy is when you talk about freedom of expression and ban Syrian TV channels from the European broadcasting satellites; when you shed tears for somebody killed in Syria by terrorist acts while preventing the Security Council from issuing a statement denouncing the suicide bombing that happened last week in Damascus, and you were here, where three hundred Syrians were either killed or injured, including women and children – all of them were civilians. Beyond hypocrisy when you preach about human rights and you go into Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and kill hundreds of thousands in illegal wars. Beyond hypocrisy is when you talk about democracy and your closest allies are the worst autocratic regimes in the world that belong to the medieval centuries. This is hypocrisy!
Sunday Times: But you always refer to the people fighting here as terrorists, do you accept that while some are from the Jabhat al-Nusra and those affiliated to Al-Qaeda but there are others such as the FSA or under the umbrella of the FSA? That some of them are the defectors and some of them are just ordinary people who started some of the uprising. These are not terrorists; these are people fighting for what they believe to be the right way at the moment.
President Assad: When we say that we are fighting Al-Qaeda, we mean that the main terrorist group and the most dangerous is Al-Qaeda. I have stated in many interviews and speeches that this is not the only group in Syria. The spectrum ranges from petty criminals, drugs dealers, groups that are killing and kidnapping just for money to mercenaries and militants; these clearly do not have any political agenda or any ideological motivations. The so-called “Free Army” is not an entity as the West would like your readers to believe. It is hundreds of small groups – as defined by international bodies working with Annan and Al-Ibrahimi – there is no entity, there is no leadership, there is no hierarchy; it is a group of different gangs working for different reasons. The Free Syrian Army is just the headline, the umbrella that is used to legitimize these groups.
This does not mean that at the beginning of the conflict there was no spontaneous movement; there were people who wanted to make change in Syria and I have acknowledged that publically many times. That’s why I have said the dialogue is not for the conflict itself; the dialogue is for the future of Syria because many of the groups still wanting change are now against the terrorists. They still oppose the government but they do not carry weapons. Having legitimate needs does not make your weapons legitimate.
Sunday Times: Your 3-staged plan: the first one you speak of is the cessation of violence. Obviously there is the army and the fighters on the other side. Now, within the army you have a hierarchy, so if you want to say cease-fire, there is a commander that can control that, but when you offer cessation of violence or fire how can you assume the same for the rebels when you talk about them being so many groups, fragmented and not under one leadership. So, that’s one of the points of your plan. So, this suggests that this basically an impossible request. You speak of referendum but with so many displaced externally and internally, many of whom are the backbone of the opposition; those displaced at least. So, a referendum without them would not be fair, and the third part is that parliamentary elections and all this hopefully before 2014; it is a very tall list to be achieved before 2014. So, what are really the conditions that you are attaching to the dialogue and to make it happen, and aren’t some of the conditions that you are really suggesting or offering impossible to achieve?
President Assad: That depends on how we look at the situation. First of all, let’s say that the main article in the whole plan is the dialogue; this dialogue will put a timetable for everything and the procedures or details of this plan. The first article in my plan was the cessation of violence. If we cannot stop this violence, how can we achieve the other articles like the referendum and elections and so on? But saying that you cannot stop the violence is not a reason to do nothing. Yes there are many groups as I have said with no leadership, but we know that their real leadership are those countries that are funding and supplying their weapons and armaments – mainly Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
If outside parties genuinely want to help the process they should be pressuring those countries to stop supplying the terrorists. As with any other sovereign state, we will not negotiate with terrorists.
Sunday Times: Critics say real and genuine negotiations may be the cause of your downfall and that of your government or regime, and that you know this, hence you offer practically impossible scenarios for dialogue and negotiations?
President Assad: Actually, I don’t know this, I know the opposite. To be logical and realistic, if this is the case, then these foes, adversaries or opponents should push for the dialogue because in their view it will bring my downfall. But actually they are doing the opposite. They are preventing the so-called ‘opposition bodies outside Syria’ to participate in the dialogue because I think they believe in the opposite; they know that this dialogue will not bring my downfall, but will actually make Syria stronger. This is the first aspect.
The second aspect is that the whole dialogue is about Syria, about terrorism, and about the future of Syria. This is not about positions and personalities. So, they shouldn’t distract people by talking about the dialogue and what it will or will not bring to the President. I did not do it for myself. At the end, this is contradictory; what they say is contradicting what they do.
Sunday Times: You said that if they push for dialogue, it could bring your downfall?
President Assad: No, I said according to what they say if it brings my downfall, why don’t they come to the dialogue? They say that the dialogue will bring the downfall of the President and I am inviting them to the dialogue. Why don’t they then come to the dialogue to bring my downfall? This is self-evident. That’s why I said they are contradicting themselves.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, John Kerry, a man you know well, has started a tour that will take him this week end to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, where he will be talking to them about ways to ‘ease you out.’ In London and Berlin earlier this week, he said that President Assad must go and he also said that one of his first moves is to draft diplomatic proposals to persuade you to give up power. Would you invite him to Damascus for talks? What would you say to him? What is your message to him now given what he said this week and what he plans to say to his allies when he visits them over the weekend? And if possible from your knowledge of him how would you describe Kerry from your knowledge of him in the past?
President Assad: I would rather describe policies rather than describing people. So, it is still early to judge him. It is only a few weeks since he became Secretary of State. First of all, the point that you have mentioned is related to internal Syrian matters or Syrian issue. Any Syrian subject would not be raised with any foreigners. We only discuss it with Syrians within Syria. So, I am not going to discuss it with anyone who is coming from abroad. We have friends and we discuss our issues with friends, we listen to their advice but at the end it is our decision as Syrians to think or to make what’s good for our country.
If anyone wants to ‘genuinely’ – I stress the word genuinely – help Syria and help the cessation of violence in our country, he can do only one thing; he can go to Turkey and sit with Erdogan and tell to him stop smuggling terrorists into Syria, stop sending armaments, stop providing logistical support to those terrorists. He can go to Saudi Arabia and Qatar and tell them stop financing the terrorists in Syria. This is the only thing anyone can do dealing with the external part of our problem, but no one from outside Syria can deal with the internal part of this problem.
Sunday Times: So, what is your message to Kerry?
President Assad: It is very clear: to understand what I said now. I mean, not a message to Kerry but to anyone who is talking about the Syrian issue: only Syrian people can tell the President: stay or leave, come or go. I am just saying this clearly in order not to waste the time of others to know where to focus.
Sunday Times: What role if any do you see for Britain in any peace process for Syria? Have there been any informal contacts with the British? What is your reaction to Cameron’s support for the opposition? What would you say if you were sitting with him now, especially that Britain is calling for the arming of the rebels?
President Assad: There is no contact between Syria and Britain for a long time. If we want to talk about the role, you cannot separate the role from the credibility. And we cannot separate the credibility from the history of that country. To be frank, now I am talking to a British journalist and a British audience, to be frank, Britain has played a famously (in our region) an unconstructive role in different issues for decades, some say for centuries. I am telling you now the perception in our region.
The problem with this government is that their shallow and immature rhetoric only highlight this tradition of bullying and hegemony. I am being frank. How can we expect to ask Britain to play a role while it is determined to militarize the problem? How can you ask them to play a role in making the situation better and more stable, how can we expect them to make the violence less while they want to send military supplies to the terrorists and don’t try to ease the dialogue between the Syrians. This is not logical. I think that they are working against us and working against the interest of the UK itself. This government is acting in a naïve, confused and unrealistic manner. If they want to play a role, they have to change this; they have to act in a more reasonable and responsible way, till then we do not expect from an arsonist to be a firefighter!
Sunday Times: In 2011 you said you wouldn’t waste your time talking about the body leading opposition, now we are talking about the external body, in fact you hardly recognized there was such a thing, what changed your mind or views recently? What talks, if any are already going on with the rebels who are a major component and factor in this crisis? Especially given that your Foreign Minister Muallem said earlier this week when he was in Russia that the government is open to talks with the armed opposition can you clarify?
President Assad: Actually, I did not change my mind. Again, this plan is not for them; it is for every Syrian who accepts the dialogue. So, making this initiative is not a change of mind. Secondly, since day one in this crisis nearly two years ago, we have said we are ready for dialogue; nothing has changed. We have a very consistent position towards the dialogue. Some may understand that I changed my mind because I did not recognize the first entity, but then I recognized the second. I recognized neither, more importantly the Syrian people do not recognize them or take them seriously. When you have a product that fails in the market, they withdraw the product, change the name, change the packing and they rerelease it again – but it is still faulty. The first and second bodies are the same products with different packaging. Regarding what our minister said, it is very clear.
Part of the initiative is that we are ready to negotiate with anyone including militants who surrender their arms. We are not going to deal with terrorists who are determined to carry weapons, to terrorize people, to kill civilians, to attack public places or private enterprises and destroy the country.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, the world looks at Syria and sees a country being destroyed, with at least 70,000 killed, more than 3 million displaced and sectarian divisions being deepened. Many people around the world blame you. What do you say to them? Are you to blame for what’s happened in the country you are leading?
President Assad: You have noted those figures as though they were numbers from a spreadsheet. To some players they are being used to push forward their political agenda; unfortunately that is a reality. Regardless of their accuracy, for us Syrians, each one of those numbers represents a Syrian man, woman or child. When you talk about thousands of victims, we see thousands of families who have lost loved ones and who unfortunately will grieve for many years to come. Nobody can feel this pain more than us.
Looking at the issue of political agendas, we have to ask better questions. How were these numbers verified? How many represent foreign fighters? How many were combatants aged between 20 and 30? How many were civilians – innocent women and children? The situation on the ground makes it almost impossible to get accurate answers to these important questions. We all know how death tolls and human casualties have been manipulated in the past to pave the way for humanitarian intervention. The Libyan government recently announced that the death toll before the invasion of Libya was exaggerated; they said five thousand victims from each side while the number was talking at that time of tens of thousands.
The British and the Americans who were physically inside Iraq during the war were unable to provide precise numbers about the victims that have been killed from their invasion. Suddenly, the same sources have very precise numbers about what is happening in Syria! This is ironic; I will tell you very simply that these numbers do not exist in reality; it is part of their virtual reality that they want to create to push forward their agenda for military intervention under the title of humanitarian intervention.
Sunday Times: If I may just on this note a little bit. Even if the number is exaggerated and not definitely precise, these are numbers corroborated by Syrian groups, however they are still thousands that were killed. Some are militants but some are civilians. Some are being killed through the military offensive, for example artillery or plane attacks in certain areas. So even if we do not argue the actual number, the same applies, they still blame yourself for those civilians, if you want, that are being killed through the military offensive, do you accept that?
President Assad: Firstly, we cannot talk about the numbers without their names. People who are killed have names. Secondly, why did they die? Where and how were they killed? Who killed them? Armed gangs, terrorist groups, criminals, kidnappers, the army, who?
Sunday Times: It is a mix.
President Assad: It is a mix, but it seems that you are implying that one person is responsible for the current situation and all the human casualties. From day one the situation in Syria has been influenced by military and political dynamics, which are both very fast moving. In such situations you have catalysts and barriers. To assume any one party is responsible for all barriers and another party responsible for all the catalysts is absurd. Too many innocent civilians have died, too many Syrians are suffering. As I have already said nobody is more pained by this than us Syrians, which is why we are pushing for a national dialogue. I’m not in the blame business, but if you are talking of responsibility, then clearly I have a constitutional responsibility to keep Syria and her people safe from terrorists and radical groups.
Sunday Times: What is the role of Al-Qaeda and other jihadists and what threats do they pose to the region and Europe? Are you worried Syria turning into something similar to Chechnya in the past? Are you concerned about the fate of minorities if you were loose this war or of a sectarian war akin to that of Iraq?
President Assad: The role of Al-Qaeda in Syria is like the role of Al-Qaeda anywhere else in this world; killing, beheading, torturing and preventing children from going to school because as you know Al-Qaeda’s ideologies flourish where there is ignorance. Ideologically, they try to infiltrate the society with their dark, extremist ideologies and they are succeeding. If you want to worry about anything in Syria, it is not the ‘minorities.’ This is a very shallow description because Syria is a melting pot of religions, sects, ethnicities and ideologies that collectively make up a homogeneous mixture, irrelevant of the portions or percentages. We should be worrying about the majority of moderate Syrians who, if we do not fight this extremism, could become the minority – at which point Syria will cease to exist.
If you worry about Syria in that sense, you have to worry about the Middle East because we are the last bastion of secularism in the region. If you worry about the Middle East, the whole world should be worried about its stability. This is the reality as we see it.
Sunday Times: How threatening is Al-Qaeda now?
President Assad: Threatening by ideology more than the killing. The killing is dangerous, of course, but what is irreversible is the ideology; that is dangerous and we have been warning of this for many years even before the conflict; we have been dealing with these ideologies since the late seventies. We were the first in the region to deal with such terrorists who have been assuming the mantle of Islam. We have consistently been warning of this, especially in the last decade during the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. The West is only reacting to the situation, not acting. We need to act by dealing with the ideology first. A war on terror without dealing with the ideology will lead you nowhere and will only make things worse. So, it is threatening and it is dangerous, not just to Syria but to the whole region.
Sunday Times: US officials recently, in particular yesterday, are quoted as saying that US decision not to arm rebels could be revised. If this was to happen what in your view will the consequences in Syria and in the region? What is your warning against this? Now, they are talking about directly equipping the rebels with armament vehicles, training and body armaments.
President Assad: You know the crime is not only about the victim and the criminal, but also the accomplice providing support, whether it is moral or logistical support. I have said many times that Syria lies at the fault line geographically, politically, socially and ideologically. So, playing with this fault line will have serious repercussions all over the Middle East. Is the situation better in Libya today? In Mali? In Tunisia? In Egypt? Any intervention will not make things better; it will only make them worse. Europe and the United States and others are going to pay the price sooner or later with the instability in this region; they do not foresee it.
Sunday Times: What is your message to Israel following its air strikes on Syria? Will you retaliate? How will you respond to any future attacks by Israel especially that Israel has said that we will do it again if it has to?
President Assad: Every time Syria did retaliate, but in its own way, not tit for tat. We retaliated in our own way and only the Israelis know what we mean.
Sunday Times: Can you expand?
President Assad: Yes. Retaliation does not mean missile for missile or bullet for bullet. Our own way does not have to be announced; only the Israelis will know what I mean.
Sunday Times: Can you tell us how?
President Assad: We do not announce that.
Sunday Times: I met a seven year old boy in Jordan.
President Assad: A Syrian boy?
Sunday Times: A Syrian boy who had lost an arm and a leg to a missile strike in Herak. Five children in his family had been killed in that explosion. As a father, what can you say to that little boy? Why have so many innocent civilians died in air strikes, army shelling and sometimes, I quote, ‘Shabiha shootings?’
President Assad: What is his name?
Sunday Times: I have his name…I will bring it to you later.
President Assad: As I said every victim in this crisis has a name, every casualty has a family. Like 5 year-old Saber who whilst having breakfast with his family at home lost his leg, his mother and other members of his family. Like 4 year-old Rayan who watched his two brothers slaughtered for taking him to a rally. None of these families have any political affiliations. Children are the most fragile link in any society and unfortunately they often pay the heaviest price in any conflict. As a father of young children, I know the meaning of having a child harmed by something very simple; so what if they are harmed badly or if we lose a child, it is the worst thing any family can face. Whenever you have conflicts, you have these painful stories that affect any society. This is the most important and the strongest incentive for us to fight terrorism. Genuine humanitarians who feel the pain that we feel about our children and our losses should encourage their governments to prevent smuggling armaments and terrorists and to prevent the terrorists from acquiring any military supplies from any country.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, when you lie in bed at night, do you hear the explosions in Damascus? Do you, in common with many other Syrians, worry about the safety of your family? Do you worry that there may come a point where your own safety is in jeopardy?
President Assad: I see it completely differently. Can anybody be safe, or their family be safe, if the country is in danger? In reality NO! If your country is not safe, you cannot be safe. So instead of worrying about yourself and your family, you should be worried about every citizen and every family in your country. So it’s a mutual relationship.
Sunday Times: You’ll know of the international concerns about Syria’s chemical weapons. Would your army ever use them as a last resort against your opponents? Reports suggest they have been moved several times, if so why? Do you share the international concern that they may fall into the hands of Islamist rebels? What is the worst that could happen?
President Assad: Everything that has been referred to in the media or by official rhetoric regarding Syrian chemical weapons is speculation. We have never, and will never, discuss our armaments with anyone. What the world should worry about is chemical materials reaching the hands of terrorists. Video material has already been broadcast showing toxic material being tried on animals with threats to the Syrian people that they will die in the same way. We have shared this material with other countries. This is what the world should be focusing on rather than wasting efforts to create elusive headlines on Syrian chemical weapons to justify any intervention in Syria.
Sunday Times: I know you are not saying whether they are safe or not. There is concern if they are safe or no one can get to them.
President Assad: This is constructive ambiguity. No country will talk about their capabilities. Sunday Times: A lot has been talked about this as well: what are the roles of Hezbollah, Iran and Russia in the war on the ground? Are you aware of Hezbollah fighters in Syria and what are they doing? What weapons are your allies Iran and Russia supplying? What other support are they providing?
President Assad: The Russian position is very clear regarding armaments – they supply Syria with defensive armaments in line with international law. Hezbollah, Iran and Russia support Syria in her fight against terrorism. Russia has been very constructive, Iran has been very supportive and Hezbollah’s role is to defend Lebanon not Syria. We are a country of 23 million people with a strong National Army and Police Force. We are in no need of foreign fighters to defend our country. What we should be asking is, what about the role of other countries, – Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, the US, – that support terrorism in Syria directly or indirectly, militarily or politically.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, may I ask you about your own position? Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov recently said that Lakhdar Ibrahimi complained of wanting to see more flexibility from your regime and that while you never seem to say ‘no’ you never seem to say ‘yes’. Do you think that there can be a negotiated settlement while you remain President, which is a lot of people are asking?
President Assad: Do not expect a politician to only say yes or no in the absolute meaning; it is not multiple choice questions to check the correct answer. You can expect from any politician a vision and our vision is very clear. We have a plan and whoever wants to deal with us, can deal with us through our plan. This is very clear in order not to waste time. This question reflects what has been circulating in the Western media about personalizing the problem in Syria and suggesting that the entire conflict is about the president and his future. If this argument is correct, then my departure will stop the fighting. Clearly this is absurd and recent precedents in Libya, Yemen and Egypt bear witness to this. Their motive is to try to evade the crux of the issue, which is dialogue, reform and combating terrorism. The legacy of their interventions in our region have been chaos, destruction and disaster. So, how can they justify any future intervention? They cannot. So, they focus on blaming the president and pushing for his departure; questioning his credibility; is he living in a bubble or not? is he detached from reality or not? So, the focus of the conflict becomes about the president.
Sunday Times: Some foreign officials have called for you to stand for war crimes at the International Criminal Court as the person ultimately responsible for the army’s actions? Do you fear prosecution by the ICC? Or the possibility of future prosecution and trial in Syria?
President Assad: Whenever an issue that is related to the UN is raised, you are raising the question of credibility. We all know especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union – for the last twenty years – that the UN and all its organizations are the victims of hegemony instead of being the bastions of justice. They became politicized tools in order to create instability and to attack sovereign countries, which is against the UN’s charter. So, the question that we have to raise now is: are they going to take the American and the British leaders who attacked Iraq in 2003 and claimed more than half a million lives in Iraq, let alone orphans, handicapped and deformed people? Are they going to take the American, British French and others who went to Libya without a UN resolution last year and claimed again hundreds of lives? They are not going to do it. The answer is very clear. You know that sending mercenaries to any country is a war crime according Nuremberg principles and according to the London Charter of 1945. Are they going to put Erdogan in front of this court because he sent mercenaries? Are they going to do the same with the Saudis and the Qataris? If we have answers to these questions, then we can talk about peace organizations and about credibility.
My answer is very brief: when people defend their country, they do not take into consideration anything else.
Sunday Times: Hindsight is a wonderful thing Mr. President. If you could wind the clock back two years would you have handled anything differently? Do you believe that there are things that could or should have been done in another way? What mistakes do you believe have been made by your followers that you would change?
President Assad: You can ask this question to a President if he is the only one responsible for all the context of the event. In our case in Syria, we know there are many external players. So you have to apply hindsight to every player. You have to ask Erdogan, with hindsight would you send terrorists to kill Syrians, would you afford logistical support to them? You should ask the Qatari and Saudis whether in hindsight, would you send money to terrorists and to Al-Qaeda offshoots or any other terrorist organization to kill Syrians? We should ask the same question to the European and American officials, in hindsight would you offer a political umbrella to those terrorists killing innocent civilians in Syria?
In Syria, we took two decisions. The first is to make dialogue; the second is to fight terrorism. If you ask any Syrian, in hindsight would you say no to dialogue and yes to terrorism? I do not think any sane person will agree with you. So I think in hindsight, we started with dialogue and we are going to continue with dialogue. In hindsight, we said we are going to fight terrorism and we are going to continue to fight terrorism.
Sunday Times: Do you ever think about living in exile if it came to that? And would you go abroad if it increases the chances of peace in Syria?
President Assad: Again, it is not about the president. I don’t think any patriotic person or citizen would think of living outside his country.
Sunday Times: You will never leave?
President Assad: No patriotic person will think about living outside his country. I am like any other patriotic Syrian.
Sunday Times: How shaken you were you by the bomb that killed some of your most senior generals last summer, including your brother-in-law?
President Assad: You mentioned my brother-in-law but it is not a family affair. When high-ranking officials are being assassinated it is a national affair. Such a crime will make you more determined to fight terrorism. It is not about how you feel, but more about what you do. We are more determined in fighting terrorism.
Sunday Times: Finally, Mr. President, may I ask about my colleague, Marie Colvin, who was killed in the shelling of an opposition media center at Baba Amr on February 22 last year. Was she targeted, as some have suggested, because she condemned the destruction on American and British televisions? Or was she just unlucky? Did you hear about her death at the time and if so what was your reaction?
President Assad: Of course, I heard about the story through the media. When a journalist goes into conflict zones, as you are doing now, to cover a story and convey it to the world, I think this is very courageous work. Every decent person, official or government should support journalists in these efforts because that will help shed light on events on the ground and expose propaganda where it exists. Unfortunately in most conflicts a journalist has paid the ultimate price. It is always sad when a journalist is killed because they are not with either side or even part of the problem, they only want to cover the story. There is a media war on Syria preventing the truth from being told to the outside world.
14 Syrian journalists who have also been killed since the beginning of the crisis and not all of them on the ground. Some have been targeted at home after hours, kidnapped, tortured and then murdered. Others are still missing. More than one Syrian television station has been attacked by terrorists and their bombs. There is currently a ban on the broadcast of Syrian TV channels on European satellite systems. It is also well known how rebels have used journalists for their own interests. There was the case of the British journalist who managed to escape.
Sunday Times: Alex Thompson?
President Assad: Yes. He was lead into a death trap by the terrorists in order to accuse the Syrian Army of his death. That’s why it is important to enter countries legally, to have a visa. This was not the case for Marie Colvin. We don’t know why and it’s not clear. If you enter illegally, you cannot expect the state to be responsible. Contrary to popular belief, since the beginning of the crisis, hundreds of journalists from all over the world, including you, have gained visas to enter Syria and have been reporting freely from inside Syria with no interferences in their work and no barriers to fulfill their missions.
Sunday Times: Thank you.
President Assad: Thank you.
March 23, 2013
A political analyst tells Press TV that it is clear that with Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s resignation the divisions are going to be even greater and it is only going to bring on greater instability in the region.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has resigned after a deadlock in his cabinet over preparations for forthcoming legislative elections in June. Mikati’s resignation came after disagreements on the formation of an electoral watchdog and the extension of the term of office of police chief Major General Ashraf Rifi.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Michael Maloof, former Pentagon official, to further discuss the issue.
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by Nile Bowie
March 7, 2013
The long-term US funding of anti-government programs in Syria has raised questions about the types of groups being supported, and the benefits and arms supplied to militant groups; establishing political stability requires considered dialogue.
It appears that the US State Department under John Kerry will soon shift its focus to helping the rebels establish a full-fledged alternative government on Syrian territory and recognize it as the legal government of Syria. Such a move would legitimize the transfer of heavy weaponry and would allow the US to directly employ air strikes or Patriot anti-missile batteries against Assad’s forces.
Some would argue that these moves could help to marginalize the notable al-Qaeda presence among rebel forces. Pumping more arms and heavier weapons into Syria is unconscionable at this point, and continuing to do so will inevitably bolster the muscle and reach of jihadi and Salafist fighters. The argument that the US and its allies have only armed the “moderate” rebels is a deeply flawed one; weapons are in high demand by all rebel factions and there is little means to effectively prevent arms from gravitating toward hardcore Al-Qaeda fighters.
In his famous 1962 description of irregular warfare operations, US President John F. Kennedy alluded to “another type of warfare,” one that is “new in its intensity, ancient in its origin—war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It preys on unrest.”
After two harrowing years of division, senseless killing and civil war, the scared Syrian nation and its people are well acquainted with these unconventional methods of warfare denounced over 50 years ago.
Yet Western and Gulf states have proven their double standards by enabling radicals elsewhere – lest we forget the presence of Libyan military commander Abdulhakim Belhadj, former leader of the militant Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (officially designated as a terrorist organization by the US State Department), who was sent to Syria to aid the Free Syrian Army on orders of the entity formerly known as the Libyan National Transition Council (NTC). The track record of allied Western and Gulf states shows that they are more interested in enabling terrorism for their own purposes rather than preventing it.
Since the eruption of violence in March 2011, Syria has endured targeted assassination campaigns, ceaseless suicide bombings and shelling, and massacres where infants have had their throats slit to the spine – the time has come for the opposition to engage the Assad government in dialogue and finally bring about a ceasefire and the total cessation of violence and insurgency.
From the reports of third-party sniper-fire targeting both protesters and security personnel in the southern city of Daraa at the very onset of the conflict, to the horrendous attacks on the students of Aleppo University in January 2013 – those who have critically monitored the situation from the beginning are under no illusions – the influx of armament and mercenary elements from abroad into Syria has brought the situation to where it is today. Western capitals have provided logistics, coordination, political support, and non-lethal aid, Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have openly provided weapons and monthly salaries for rebel fighters, and Turkey has allowed rebel fighters to receive training and arms from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the southeastern part of the country, allowing militants to pass into Syria freely.
There are those who say that Syria is the subject of an internal revolution that is brutally repressed by a malicious dictator, and those who say instead that Syria is being attacked by foreign powers who have deployed mercenaries and extremist fighters from abroad to engage in the destruction of infrastructure and conduct targeted assassinations to bring about an end to the Assad regime. Despite Washington’s concerns of heavy weapons falling into the hands of Al-Qaeda-linked militants, the US-backed campaign to coax regime change in Damascus has from the very onset enabled militants who justify their acts of terror in the name of a perverted interpretation of Islam. Reports in the Washington Post indicate that US support for anti-government groups in Syria began in 2005, transcending two presidential administrations:
“The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005. The financial backing has continued under President Obama, even as his administration sought to rebuild relations with Assad. Syrian authorities ‘would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change,’ read an April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time. ‘A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti-[government] factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive,’ the cable said. The cables report persistent fears among U.S. diplomats that Syrian state security agents had uncovered the money trail from Washington.”The article describes how Washington funnelled about $12 million to anti-government programs in Syria between 2005 and 2010 to recipients affiliated with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Israel, which is now illegally conducting exploratory drilling in the occupied Golan Heights, and the US view the toppling of Damascus as a means of extinguishing the critical conduit between Iran and Hezbollah, the political and militant Shi’a organization centered in Southern Lebanon, in addition to helping isolate the Palestinian resistance.
The non-violent route: Laying aside differences
Both the incumbent Syrian authorities and the opposition must find strength to come to a mutually acceptable compromise. These parties have no other option than to search for a solution, lay down an agreeable constitutional basis for elections, and face each other in international monitored polls once the situation stabilizes. The Syrian people must not have democracy imposed on them, and the victor of this war should not be decided on the battlefield, but by the ballot box.
To gain the confidence of the electorate, election observers from the US, Qatar, Russia, and Iran could be sent to monitor the transition process – if the people of Syria want Assad to remain in power, then the rule of majority must be honored. Militant groups comprised of mostly hard line foreign fighters such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham cannot be expected to participate in a ceasefire, so the true test of a short-term alliance between Assad and the SNC would be in its ability to cooperate in quelling radical militants and restoring stability – such is a perquisite for any kind of transition.
Former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton once threatened Russia and China that they would “pay a price” for their position on the Syrian issue. It should be noted that these powers maintained a balanced approach throughout and advocated dialogue from the start, in addition to stringently adhering to former UN Envoy Kofi Annan’s six point peace plan. Iran should also be given due credit for hosting an International Consultative Conference in August 2012, which brought together representatives of thirty nations to call for ending the flow of foreign arms into terrorist hands inside Syria, proposals to broker a meaningful ceasefire, the coordination of humanitarian aid, and support for Syrian people’s right to reform without foreign interference.
Accommodating diversity in Syrian society
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted in the Washington Post stating,“Syrian society is a beautiful mosaic of ethnicities, faiths and cultures, and it will be smashed to pieces should President Bashar Assad abruptly fall. The idea that, in that event, there would be an orderly transition of power is an illusion. Abrupt political change without a roadmap for managed political transition will lead only to a precarious situation that would destabilize one of the world’s most sensitive regions.” It is clear that the Assad government is more stable than many Western states anticipated, and it continues to enjoy popular support.
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah recently warned against sectarian infighting in Lebanon related to the Syrian civil war, arguing that outsiders are pushing Lebanon “toward civil and religious strife, and specifically Sunni-Shia strife.” Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki also warned that a victory for rebels would “create a new extremist haven and destabilize the wider Middle East.” The Syrian regime will not imminently collapse but if it is brought down by military intervention, the consequences could lead to a highly unpredictable situation where match and tinder can meet at any moment with debilitating consequences for the region. It is time for both parties to convene. It is time to end this war.
Reports published in 2007 in the New Yorker by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh detail how the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia supported a regional network of extremist fighters and terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda with the aim of stomping out Hezbollah and Syria’s Assad in a bid to isolate Iran, who is viewed as an existential threat to the US and its allies in the region. A principal component of this policy shift was the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups, hence the ever-deepening sectarian nature of the Syrian conflict:“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
While the CIA has purportedly claimed to distribute arms only to “secular” and “moderate”rebel forces, Washington insiders from various academic and think-tank circles have openly endorsed bizarre positions in favor of integrating terrorists into Syria’s rebel forces. “Al-Qaeda’s Specter in Syria,” penned by Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Ed Husain, argues in favor of Al-Qaeda terrorists and their inclusion in the Free Syrian Army, stating, “The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervour, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.” Foreign Policy’s, “Two Cheers for Syrian Islamists,” penned by Gary Gambill of the heavily neo-conservative Middle East Forum, argues in favor of Al-Qaeda, “Islamists — many of them hardened by years of fighting U.S. forces in Iraq — are simply more effective fighters than their secular counterparts. Assad has had extraordinary difficulty countering tactics perfected by his former jihadist allies, particularly suicide bombings and roadside bombs.”
While many Western media outlets once likened Syria’s rebels to pro-democracy freedom fighters, it has become more challenging to view them as anything other than Salafist radicals – the former’s existence was amplified specifically to provide cover and legitimacy for the violence and subversion of the latter. As a result of a foreign-backed insurgency, the Assad regime resorted to tactics of shelling and conducing air strikes on rebel strongholds, which were mostly in densely populated urban areas. It should not be denied that these heavy-handed tactics have also led to a substantial and regrettable loss of life.
The Friends of Syria group recently convened in Rome, where the US State Department has pledged $60 million to help the opposition maintain “the institutions of the state” in areas under their control, such as establishing terms of governance, the rule of law, and police forces. Reports have also claimed that the US is also deliberating more open engagement in Syria under newly appointed US Secretary of State John Kerry, however Washington has stopped short of openly providing arms and military training. American and western officials have told the New York Times that Saudi Arabia has recently financed a large purchase of infantry weapons from Croatia and funnelled them to Syrian rebel groups. Although the United States is not credited with providing arms to rebel forces, the New York Times has reported the presence of CIA operatives in southern Turkey since June 2012, who are distributing weapons with the Obama administration’s blessing. US spokesperson Jay Carney was quoted as saying, “We will continue to provide assistance to the Syrian people, to the Syrian opposition, we will continue to increase our assistance in the effort to bring about a post-Assad Syria.”
In early March 2013, the Syrian National Council (SNC) will meet in Istanbul to form a provisional government that would oversee rebel-held areas of the country. This wouldn’t be the first time the SNC has attempted to form a government; previous attempts in January 2013 fell apart, with many factions refusing to consider a prime ministerial nominee. SNC President Moaz al-Khatib has angered several factions for proposing his readiness to negotiate with the Assad government, a position that many in the opposition refuse to accept.
The Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari has urged the Friends of Syria states to convince the Syrian opposition to sit down for an unconditional national dialogue, which al-Khatib has expressed his willingness to take part in. One could surmise that al-Khatib’s shift toward dialogue indicates that the SNC is feeling less secure and more wary of a possible military defeat or rivalry with radical factions. Such a dialogue would undoubtedly represent a step in the right direction. Despite political differences and two years of deep conflict, these two parties must establish a genuine ceasefire and partnership to restore a climate of normality throughout the country. In this context, both parties must be able to agree on coordinating aid distribution to all parts of the country.
International recognition of a provisional SNC government would only create further divisions at a time when national unity is most needed. Although rebel-held areas are badly isolated and in need of humanitarian supplies, the delivery of aid must be facilitated through direct talks and partnership between Moaz al-Khatib’s Syrian National Council and Bashar Al-Assad’s government.
Nile Bowie is an independent political analyst based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at email@example.com
by Eric Draitser
March 11, 2013
Iranians work on a section of a pipeline linking Iran and Pakistan after the project was launched during a ceremony in the Iranian border city of Chah Bahar on March 11, 2013 (AFP Photo / Atta Kenare)
The pipeline will bring more than simply an economic boost to both countries; it is a crucial guidepost on the path to peace. After generations of conflict, Iran and Pakistan are taking their economic destinies into their own hands – together.
The pipeline, which would bring Iranian gas to Pakistan through its western Balochistan province, will stretch almost 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from Iran’s gas-rich Asalouyeh region into the Pakistani heartland, supplying major cities like Karachi and Islamabad with much needed, reliable energy while carrying a pricetag of roughly $1.5 billion. Similarly, the project is critical for Iran as it struggles to survive and grow amid the hostility of US-European sanctions.
The Benefits for Both Countries
It is against the backdrop of brutal, draconian sanctions initiated by the US and its European partners, that Tehran has taken the countermeasure to develop itself and the region, constructing an economically independent framework of relations not beholden to Western financiers. Undoubtedly, the centerpiece of this strategy of economic independence as a means of anti-imperialist resistance is the Iran-Pakistan pipeline. The project, already nearing completion on the Iranian side of the border, would bring desperately needed Iranian gas to energy-starved Pakistan – a country battling a perpetual energy shortage. Needless to say, the project is critical for the economic survival of both nations.
For Iran, the pipeline means economic stability at a time of tremendous turmoil. While the Islamic Republic often downplays the impact of the sanctions, the reality is inescapable: an inflation rate hovering around 30% , the loss of key regional markets such as India, and the continued shortage of medicines and staple foods among other things . These problems plaguing the Iranian economy require both short-term and long-term solutions. The pipeline conveniently addresses both as it provides Tehran with much needed energy revenue today, while offering the potential for increased revenue and infrastructure expansion in the future. Essentially then, the pipeline is really more of a lifeline, anchoring the Iranian economy for decades to come.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2ndL) and Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari wave during a ceremony marking the start of work on the 780-kilometre (485-mile) pipeline from Iran to Pakistan on March 11, 2013 in the Iranian border city of Chah Bahar (AFP Photo / Atta Kenare))
Like their Iranian neighbors, Pakistan also has had to address glaring economic deficiencies, particularly with regard to the energy sector. A recent poll unsurprisingly showed that energy shortages, along with unemployment, remain the greatest economic issues facing the country. Public anger over the inability of the government to meet the country’s electricity demands has boiled over in the form of riots numerous times, most recently in the summer of 2012 . This type of public unrest over the energy issue serves to delegitimize the government, especially the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and weaken their hold on political power.
For Islamabad then, the pipeline means energy security which, in turn, means political stability. Moreover, the project as a whole is, at least in small part, a way of resisting Washington and the Obama administration’s continued violations of Pakistani sovereignty. By pushing forward with the project, in the face of countless threats from Washington, Pakistani president Zardari is walking a fine line between maintaining a working relationship with his US partners and forging new relations from which Pakistan will benefit while the US loses.
A Sectarian Bridge?
One critical aspect of the Iran-Pakistan pipeline is the simple fact that it brings together two countries that, if western imperialists were to have their way, would always remain enemies. Pakistan (a majority Sunni Muslim country) and Iran (a majority Shiite Muslim country), have historically been at odds with one another, choosing rather to align themselves with other Sunni and Shiite countries respectively. This fundamental conflict has, for more than a century, been at the heart of the imperialist/colonialist strategy.
Whether British, French, or American, western powers have long dominated the vast energy resources of the Middle East and Central Asia by dividing the Muslim populations along these sectarian lines, exploiting the differences between them in order to prevent independent economic development. However, the Iran-Pakistan pipeline flies in the face of this “divide and conquer” strategy. Bringing together these two countries through mutually beneficial economic development, the project seems to signal a major change in the Muslim world in the 21st Century. No longer will the imperialists be able to control the destinies of nations in the region by exploiting their differences. Rather, it is the imperial powers themselves who will have to reevaluate their strategy and come to terms with a changing world in which their unchallenged hegemony becomes a relic of the past.
The Geopolitics of the Pipeline
Although the Iran-Pakistan pipeline is economically and politically significant to both nations, it takes on perhaps its greatest importance in the context of world geopolitics. The project fundamentally alters the balance of power in Asia and the world for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, the pipeline links two countries that, each in its own way, seek to undermine US hegemony in the Middle East and South Asia. While Iran has been the implacable foe of Washington since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Pakistan has maintained relations that at one time made them close allies, but in recent years have deteriorated to the point where the United States is seen as Public Enemy No. 1 in the streets. The pipeline brings the two countries closer together and, in so doing, helps to solidify a relationship united by a common mistrust of the US.
Iranians work on a section of a gas pipeline linking Iran and Pakistan after the project was launched during a ceremony in the Iranian border city of Chah Bahar on March 11, 2013 (AFP Photo / Atta Kenare))
Secondly, the Iran-Pakistan pipeline could quite easily become the Iran-Pakistan-China pipeline if Beijing decides to finally get involved. In this very plausible scenario, China would finally get the “holy grail” it has sought for years: land-based access to energy imports from the Middle East. For China, an energy-starved economy that continues to grow, this would greatly enhance their regional position. It would also transform the balance of power in Asia, as the era of US domination of energy resources in the Middle East would be over. So, were the project to be extended to China, the pipeline would become the focus of a new power paradigm, making it one of the most important economic development projects in the world.
Additionally, the pipeline shows the growing power and influence of international alliances and organizations that represent a counterweight to the imperialist establishment of the West. Iran has taken on the role of leading the Non-Aligned Movement, thrusting itself into the forefront of the anti-imperialist bloc. At the same time, both Iran and Pakistan seek membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by Russia and China, which is showing signs of developing into a full-fledged strategic alliance that provides a check to US-NATO dominance. In this way, the pipeline becomes the tangible link between various organizations and alliances which seek to beat a path independent of US hegemony. It is for this reason, more than anything else, that the United States has vigorously attempted to subvert the development of the pipeline, going so far as to heavily promote the much-touted Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, seen as the main competitor to the Iran-Pakistan project. However, despite the fierce opposition from Washington, the project will go ahead while the TAPI still remains on the drawing board, subject to security concerns in Afghanistan and elsewhere along the route.
When seen from the broadest perspective, the Iran-Pakistan pipeline fundamentally transforms power relations in the Middle East, South Asia, and throughout the world. Not only does it benefit the two nations involved, but all other nations and peoples who have been oppressed, controlled, or otherwise coerced by the Western powers. In this way, the Iran-Pakistan Pipeline represents peace and progress. In short, it is the promise of a better future.
Iranians work on a section of a pipeline (on with are sticked Iranian and Pakistanese national flags) after the project was launched during a ceremony with presidents of Iran and Pakistan on March 11, 2013 in the Iranian border city of Chah Bahar (AFP Photo / Atta Kenare)
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City and the founder of StopImperialism.com.
[hat tip: Nile Bowie]
21st Century Wire
March 14, 2013
by Jason Liosatos
21st Century Wire
The chaos in Syria is a plethora of conflicting interests and motives resulting in a predictable and chaotic bloodbath, with various participants inside and outside Syria playing their part overtly and covertly in the horrendous debacle.
Our world has become like a chess board with Government participants and power players using any mistakes and outcomes to further their own interests, which has become almost normal. It is interesting but shocking that it seems almost unbelievable to most people that ethical and moral ideals, and peace and harmony seem impossible globally.
The US and Western governments are sidestepping their own laws and arming desperate, angry men who have little to lose and little to gain when the dust finally settles. We see UK’s warmonger William Hague and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov shaking hands but who are both benefiting from the bloodshed, with Russia being a key weapons supplier for Damascus with current contracts worth around $1.5bn (£950m), with its fear that US and the West are closing in on them. William Hague and UK are also salivating at the prospect of a Syria without Assad with a fortune to be made on rebuilding contracts, and from a foothold in the region, and a fortune being made by arming the rebels if they veto the extension of the arms embargo, though apparently they are already arming the rebels with weapons shipped from Serbia. Add to this the Saudi interests, Iran, Turkey and all the other conflicting or complementary interests and we have a literal lunatic soup with the chefs of each ingredient hell bent on getting the most out of the finished recipe for themselves, be it a recipe of disaster or harmony.
This is the sickness and danger of our world Governments, that almost without exception their interests of greed, gain and control by far outweigh their ethical and moral compass to do the right thing, but instead by doing the thing which benefits them most. The ethical compromises which we see amongst the decisions being made by world leaders are probably our greatest threat as humanity, because of repercussions down the time line, the consequential results, in the as yet unseen future, created by acts without vision and wisdom, their vision blinded by an insatiable lust for power and control, and we are becoming used to it.
NOT ROLLING OVER: Syria has turned out to be one of NATO’s most difficult regime change operations.
In Syria the insanity is endemic within all the fighting factions, be it Assad, the rebels, the religious complications, the US government, al Qaeda, UK, Russia and many others – we are seeing a culmination worldwide of results and outcomes of imbalanced, insane symptoms resulting in a literal sickness of aggression and xenophobia throughout humanity as a whole, as short term greed and fear sweeps its destructive path across continents and the world, with the ultimate destructive god of money and mass manipulation ruling the world and destroying societies and perpetuating war and misery globally.
Our world has definitely become a prime example of how quickly a planet can turn into a lunatic asylum when its psychotic, megalomaniac leaders become seduced by the drug of money and control, turning the planet into a literal war torn casino and hard labor camp where almost everything revolves around money, gain and control, at any cost to human, animal or planet. We only need imagine someone watching us from another planet of peace and stability, and wonder what they would think observing our present and past situation of continual war and conflict spearheaded by insane leadership.
Our inbuilt, ethical and moral alarm bells, though seriously impaired, are still ringing loud and clear that something is dangerously wrong in our system, as we watch people and children, our human brothers and sisters, kill each other and themselves in their fight for freedom, and it is an emergency now that we all put our shoulders to the wheel of change, a change that must come from within each of us if we are to see a change outside of us.
We must also recognize that we are very easily manipulated and controlled, and if we are to live in peace we must all become peace individually and drop our labels of race and religions that cause the problematic divisions among us which are played upon with impunity by our greedy, power mad governments.
by Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire
The evidence is now in, as list of state actors can now be seen openly conspiring to drive the Middle East into full-blown war.
It’s well known by now that NATO and the Gulf States initial plans to overturn the sovereign state of Syria has been running behind schedule since their operation was launched two years ago. They had hoped for the sort of slam dunk which they enjoyed in overturning the country of Libya in late 2011.
This same formula could not be applied again however, so Plan B, a ground war using proxies has meant a longer drawn out conflict. It hasn’t been working fast enough in Syria, and western backed terrorist groups still sustaining heavy losses in their fight to topple the Assad government on behalf of the NATO and its Gulf allies.
The main obstacle with Plan B is that the very idea of directly arming terrorists in Syria is not one which can be sold openly in either the US or Britain. Plan C is to draw in the UN by creating a ‘chemical weapons’ crisis in Syria, and thanks to a prominent online leak of documents relating to UK DOD contractor Britam, the British have been caught brokering a deal transferring ex-Gaddafi stocks from Libya to Syria to be blamed on Assad, and paid for by Qatar. But the WMD threat still remains a hard sell for western voters…
From the NATO Allied corner, something drastic needed to be done.
Whilst politicians in the West, namely those in Washington DC, London and parts of Europe, have been publicly denying that they were helping to organise running arms into Syria and issuing very public pleads for ‘humanitarian aid’ for those they identify as the Syrian Opposition, activity back stage has been furious. The debate in government and the media has been mere window dressing for the real operation being quietly carried out.
NATO Gun-running via Croatia
It can now be revealed that NATO allied nations were busy using proxy states to drive their war in Syria – putting together one of the biggest international black operation transfers of military supplies in recent history. So it’s official: large caches of hardware from the West have been transferred to the Syrian jihadist mercenary collective known as the ‘Free Syrian Army’ , ‘Syrian Rebels’, or ‘Syrian Opposition’ – depending on who you ask, a brash move which may be vehemently opposed by other UN Security Council members – namely Russia and China.
Multiple media sources reveal the details of this massive airlift comprised of 75 airplanes, and an estimated 3,000 tons of military weaponry on board has left Croatia and has already been delivered… to Syria.
It is also confirmed from these reports that Saudi Arabia has financed a large portion of this purchase secretly transported to al Qaeda and other FSA fighters – who are working with the support of the CIA, MI6 and others, along with other financial and material support of Qatar and Saudi, to further destabilise and overthrow the Assad government in Syria.
Croatia’s daily newspaper Jutarnji List reported:
“From the start of November last year, till February this year, 75 planes flew out from Zagreb Airport with over 3,000 tons of weapons and ammunition bound for Syrian rebels…The newspaper, quoting diplomatic sources, says that besides Croatian weapons the planes were full with weapons from other European countries including the UK. The weapons were organised by the United States of America.
Sources say that the first few flights to leave Croatia bound for Syria with weapons were operated by Turkish Cargo, which is owned by Turkish Airlines. After those flights, Jordanian International Air Cargo took over the flights. The deal to provide arms to the rebels was made between American officials and the Croatian Ambassador to the US.”
In addition to this huge gun-running operation, Croatia also appears to be guilty of either having advanced knowledge, or possibly coordinating with Syrian terrorists as evidenced by their recently withdraw all of troops from the UN observer mission in Golan Heights, indicating that the recent kidnapping by Free Syrian Army Terrorists of at least 20 UNIFIL peacekeepers in the Golan Heights was known in advance by Croatia.
The kidnapping incident may have been designed to test the UN, but also to pull Syria’s southern neighbor, Israel, even closer to the conflict, a development which would almost surely prompt the UN to declare this as trigger to a regional crisis, followed by an authorised military intervention. Pulling Israel in would also risk involving Hezbollah from Lebanon, who are already engaging in assisting Assad in training a new specialist paramilitary force in Syria to deal with urban warfare.
If it was known by Croatia, then one can only conclude that this was also known by US and British operatives as well. Both the US and Britain will naturally claim deniability as their legal out in this case, by deniability through the use of proxies makes no innocent parties when the prospect of a multi-regional war beckons as a result of the west’s financial, logistical, political, and now material involvement in the overthrow of a sovereign state and internationally recognised government.
Much worse, however, is that by employing proxies like Jordan, Croatia, Turkey,and others, the NATO allies have guaranteed long-term retribution down the road, should Syria prevail in this fight. For Syria, it is now known which countries collaborated with the West to dismantle their country. This fact alone will ensure conflict in the region for a generation.
US officials are on record as admitting to helping arrange the weapons airlift, as cited in this Feb 25, 2012 article in the New York Times:
“An official in Washington said the possibility of the transfers from the Balkans was broached last summer, when a senior Croatian official visited Washington and suggested to American officials that Croatia had many weapons available should anyone be interested in moving them to Syria’s rebels.”
Terrorist receive recoilless guns from the former Yugoslavia.
Revelations are not limited to the Croatian news report, as we see the US and Europe’s mainstream media wall of silence has begun to crack, including here a recent report from London’s Daily Telegraph sent across Syria’s borders with Jordan and NATO-member Turkey. The article entitled, “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’“goes on to give further details of direct European involvement in illegal weapons running:
“The United States has coordinated a massive airlift of arms to Syrian rebels from Croatia with the help of Britain and other European states, despite the continuing European Union arms embargo, it was claimed yesterday…
Decisions by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, to provide non-lethal assistance and training, announced in the past week, were preceded by much greater though less direct Western involvement in the rebel cause, according to a Croat newspaper.
The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbours.
…as from Croatia, weapons came “from several other European countries including Britain”, without specifying if they were British-supplied or British-procured arms.
British military advisers however are known to be operating in countries bordering Syria alongside French and Americans, offering training to rebel leaders and former Syrian army officers…
… The weapons, including rocket launchers, recoil-less guns and the M79 anti-tank weapon, have been seen in rebel hands in numerous videos, and were first spotted by an arms expert Eliot Higgins, who blogs under the name Brown Moses. He traced them moving from Dera’a in the south, near the Jordanian border, to Aleppo and Idlib provinces in the north.”
Hague: Denies Britain’s involvement in gun-running.
It is also no big secret that Britain has deployed a significant contingent of troops and support personnel to Jordan at least as far back as Autumn 2012 as part of its ongoing ‘joint military exercises’ with the Jordan military, but this latest revelation puts into clearer perspective the overwhelming likelihood that high level British military operation have actually been involved in the transfer of arms from Jordan into the hands of the international terrorist confab of mostly foreign fighter running under the west’s media banner of “Syrian Rebels”.
Consequences for Croatia, and Britain
What Britain may be guilty of here, is cynically – and illegally, trying to side-stepping the EU embargo on arms into Syria by using the fledgling EU state of Croatia as their delivery mechanism, because Croatia does not officially join the EU until July 1, and has not implemented any binding EU legislation. This flagrant violation of both EU and international law should mean that Croatia’s entrance into the EU could be appealed by other members states willing to raise an objection, with what are now clear grounds to mount a legal challenge against Croatia.
Regardless of any EU outcomes however, Croatia at least – is guilty of international war crimes.
International and EU Sanctions Against the US, Britain, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia
As expected, Britain’s Foreign Office denies all of the claims connecting it to the Croatian gun-running program, but if Britain is involved – even indirectly, through a proxy like Croatia, or if British military personnel are aiding and abetting these known terrorist fighters in Syria through the transfer of weaponry, then Britain can also be brought into the international legal framework to answer for what it has done behind the public’s back.
The international war crimes which are now in the public view could test the legal framework of the EU, the UN and the ICC in the Hague. The legal door is now open for charges against state actors including US, Britain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – for the crimes of illegally arming a force of foreign fighters and known terrorists in Syria – designed to destroy the country from within. Many UN resolutions, including the recent Resolution 1973 applied in Libya by the UN, have been implemented on much more spurious and shaky grounds than the overwhelming evidence available regarding Syria.
Consequences for NATO and the UN
Despite any denials in Brussels, NATO are involved through their member states Turkey and Croatia, as well as US, UK, and France from behind. Any involvement should question these country’s NATO status, or at least it begs the question what is NATO for, or even the UN, if their member states are conspiring together to subvert international law?
Moreover, Israel’s unwarranted airstrike against a Syrian Military Research facility last month was also ignored by the UN, but this is not surprising as Israel has long been allowed to operate outside of international law and norms.
If the international community does not act in this instance, then it opens the door to more brazen criminality sans borders, which could spawn similar illegal operations against Iran, opening the door to a Third World War.
US uniformed Personnel Training Rebels in Jordan
Der Spiegel also reports this week that, despite denials by Washington DC, Americans are definitely training Syrian rebels in neighboring Jordan. The reports goes on:
“It is not clear if the Americans are members of the US armed forces or are part of a private contracting firm, but the trainers wear uniforms, the paper reported.
It added that the training, which also involves Jordanian intelligence officers, had been going on “for some time,” and that the rebels were being taught how to use anti-tank weaponry.”
France sends ‘aid’ for Syria to Jordan
France played an integral part in the destruction of Libya in 2011, and they might also have an interest in their former colonial possessions in Syria, but it’s not clear as yet if France’s commitment to overthrowing the Assad government is on par with the US and Britain’s efforts. Back in August 2012, France had also been sending large shipments designated for Syria via Jordan, claiming that these shipment contained ‘aid and medical supplies’ – intended for Syrian refugees. Real Syrian News reported:
“An Antonov 124 cargo aircraft landed at the Marka military airport in Amman on Saturday. The cargo is said to include a field hospital and medical supplies for the refugees in the Zaatari camp near the Syrian border. An A310 airliner carrying 85 French military staff and medical equipment arrived in Jordan on Thursday.”
After the Croatian airlift, it’s now not a stretch to suspect that other countries could be involved in similar operations under the cover of supplying ‘humanitarian aid’.
Consequences for Jordan
The overwhelming body of evidence proves that Jordan is playing the key role as proxy and facilitator for the West’s wishes and desires to destroy the country of Syria. The consequences for Jordan, should the West’s efforts fail, is that Jordan has now exposed itself as a provocateur and enemy of both Syria, and Lebanon, and indeed Iran also. It is not know how much Jordan has been paid for its services, or what promises have been made to its royal family in exchange for facilitating the Syrian upheaval, but it cannot compensate Jordan for playing the crucial role in possibly fomenting a regional or multi-theatre global war.
Syria Crisis Planned by the US and NATO Allies Before the ‘Arab Spring’
Despite previous denials and avoiding the issue by states persons like Hillary Clinton and William Hague, it is certain that ‘al Qaeda’ terrorists are operating in Syria and receive various kinds of support from the West and their Gulf allies, and that these are many of the same terrorist who are responsible for violence and killing in Iraq. The New York Times confirmed this fact recently:
“Iraqi officials said the extremists operating in Syria are in many cases the very same militants striking across their country. “We are 100 percent sure from security coordination with Syrian authorities that the wanted names that we have are the same wanted names that the Syrian authorities have, especially within the last three months,” Izzat al-Shahbandar — a close aide to the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — said in an interview on Tuesday. “Al Qaeda that is operating in Iraq is the same as that which is operating in Syria,” he said.”
Bangkok based analyst, Tony Cartalucci, from Land Destroyer blog, adds another important piece of evidence in this mix, pointing out the fact that the US and its NATO operatives have been engineering the crisis in Syria well before the official ‘uprising’ began in 2011:
“Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?“stated explicitly that:
“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
Cartalucci provides further background to support the west’s own knowledge and involvement is the current crisis:
Is there any doubt that the US has executed this plot in earnest, arming and funding sectarian extremists “sympathetic to Al Qaeda” on both Syria’s northern and southern border? Where else, if not from the West and its regional allies, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, could extremists be getting their weapons, cash, and logistical support from?
And of course, Syria’s borders with Jordan and Turkey have been long-ago identified by the US Army’s own West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) as hotbeds of sectarian extremist/Al Qaeda activity – hotbeds that the West is purposefully funneling thousands of tons of weaponry through, while disingenuously claiming it is attempting to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of extremists.
The CTC’s 2007 report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq,” identified Syria’s southeastern region near Dayr Al-Zawr on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the northwestern region of Idlib near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border, as having produced the majority of fighters found crossing over into Iraq throughout the duration of the Iraq War.
Image: (Left) West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s 2007 report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” indicated which areas in Syria Al Qaeda fighters filtering into Iraq came from during the US invasion/occupation. The overwhelming majority of them came from Dayr Al-Zawr in Syria’s southeast, Idlib in the north near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border. (Right) A map indicating the epicenters of violence in Syria indicate that the exact same hotbeds for Al Qaeda in 2007, now serve as the epicenters of so-called “pro-democracy fighters.”
These areas are now admittedly the epicenters of fighting, and more importantly, despite being historical hotbeds of Al Qaeda activity, precisely where the West is flooding with cash, weapons, and military “advisers.”
Just like in Libya where the West literally handed an entire nation to sectarian extremists, we are watching a verbatim repeat in Syria – where we are told Al Qaeda terrorists are “pro-democracy” “freedom fighters” that deserve US cash, weapons, and support, when it couldn’t be any clearer they aren’t.
Not only has the US and UK lied to the world about their policy toward Syria and their current level of support for increasingly overt terrorists committing an array of atrocities – their latest act including the taking of over 20 UN peacekeepers hostage in the Golan Heights - but have revealed once again the manufactured facade that is the “War on Terror…”
Terrorist Groups Currently Active in Syria
Known terrorist groups are operating in Syria and are receiving the full backing of NATO Allies and Gulf states Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They include – but are not limited to, Saudi Intelligence-backed Jabhat al-Nusra or ‘al Nursa Front’, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Abdullah Azzam Brigades and Al Baraa ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade, the jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham, the PKK (in northeast Syria), Kata’ib Mohadzherin from the Russian Caucus region - to name only a few.
Earlier reports of rogue Russian and Chechen terrorists filtering into Syria appear to be preceded by Salafists killing Sufi leaders in the Russian Federation. The Pakistan Christian Post reports:
“Recently in Dagestan the Sufi spiritual leader Said Efendi Chirkeisky was killed by a suicide bomber along with a few followers. This happened in late August and the closeness to the recent attack against Sufi leaders in Tatarstan is a clear reminder that Salafism is a potent force within parts of the Russian Federation. Therefore, not surprisingly the Russian Federation is extremely alarmed by major Western powers once more working in collusion with the FSA, al-Qaeda and a whole array of Salafi terrorist organizations.”
It’s worth noting also that like Libya’s new militant governor of Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, terrorist group Kata’ib Mohadzherin’s leader Airat Vakhitov was also imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002 after being captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Both were released and filtered back into fighting regions to organise al Qaeda-type Islamist groups – both active in countries which the US and NATO have been actively vying for regime change, in Libya and Syria respectively. You can draw your own conclusions here about what Guantanamo is in reality.
The same New York Times article(above) also mentions terrorists’ theocratic designs of establishing some caliphate in the region:
“One Qaeda operative, a 56-year-old known as Abu Thuha who lives in the Hawija district near Kirkuk in Iraq, spoke to an Iraqi reporter for The New York Times on Tuesday. “We have experience now fighting the Americans, and more experience now with the Syrian revolution,” he said. “Our big hope is to form a Syrian-Iraqi Islamic state for all Muslims…
It’s important to understand that such claims by any shadowy ‘al Qaeda’ figures must also be balance with the reality that these militants have been historically, and are still today, directed and funded at the highest levels of both US and Saudi intelligence, and others. When you see terror spokesman like Ayman al-Zawahri, the alleged leader of Al Qaeda, praise the Syrian fighters by referring to them as “the lions of the Levant,” in messages released exclusively via a known CIA media dissemination outlets like SITE, or INTEL CENTER, then readers should be suspicious of why it’s been released and what political effect it is designed to have.
Now that some of the scope of NATO Allies operation in Syria has been exposed to the public, perhaps political representatives, media journalist, and editors will be able to report more accurately on the Syrian crisis, and demand a withdrawl of NATO, Arab League and others country’s support for the growing and highly dangerous paramilitary and other al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups who are currently working to take power by destabilising the country of Syria.
It’s all happening out in the open now.
by Prof Michel Chossudovsky
March 9, 2013
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen received Israel’s president Shimon Peres at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 7.
The order of the day: to enhance military cooperation between Israel and the Atlantic Alliance focusing on issues of counter-terrorism.
“Israel will be happy to share the knowledge it has gained and its technological abilities with NATO. Israel has experience in contending with complex situations, and we must strengthen the cooperation so we can fight global terror together and assist NATO with the complex threats it faces including in Afghanistan. “
Israel is already involved in covert operations and non-conventional warfare in liaison with the US and NATO.
This agreement is of particular significance because it deepens the Israel-NATO relationship beyond the so-called “Mediterranean Dialogue”.
The joint statement points to an Israel NATO partnership “in the fight against terror and the search for peace… in the Middle East and the world”.
What this suggests is the participation of Israel in active theater warfare alongside NATO –i.e. as a de facto member of the Atlantic Alliance.
In other words, Israel would be directly involved were US-NATO to launch an outright military operation against Syria, Lebanon or Iran.
Israel offered to assist NATO in counter-terrorism operations directed against Hezbollah and Iran.
“The two agreed during their discussions that Israel and NATO are partners in the fight against terror…the statement said.
President Peres stressed the need to maintain and increase the cooperation between Israel and NATO and Israel’s ability to cooperation and provide technological assistance and knowledge from the vast experience Israel had gained in the field of counter-terrorism.
“Israel will be happy to share the knowledge it has gained and its technological abilities with NATO. Israel has experience in contending with complex situations, and we must strengthen the cooperation so we can fight global terror together and assist NATO with the complex threats it faces including in Afghanistan, ” Peres told Rasmussen.
History of Israel-NATO Military Cooperation
It is worth noting that in November 2004 in Brussels, NATO and Israel signed an important bilateral protocol which paved the way for the holding of joint NATO-Israel military exercises. A followup agreement was signed in March 2005 in Jerusalem between NATO’s Secretary General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The 2005 bilateral military cooperation agreement was viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.”
The ongoing premise underlying NATO-Israel military cooperation is that “Israel is under attack”.
There is evidence of active military and intelligence coordination between NATO and Israel including consultations pertaining to the occupied territories.
“Before Operation Cast Lead was launched in Gaza, NATO was already exchanging intelligence with Israel, sharing security expertise, and organising military drills. …. Former NATO chief Scheffer visited Israel in the midst of Israel’s offensive on Gaza. And NATO officials were at the time of the opinion that cooperation with Israel was essential for their organisation. (Al Ahram, February 10, 2010)
The March 2013 Israel-NATO Brussels bilateral agreement is the culmination of more than ten years of Israel-NATO cooperation.
Does this agreement “obligate” NATO “to come to the rescue of Israel” under the doctrine of “collective security”?
The agreement tightens the ongoing process of US-NATO-Israel military planning and logistics relating to any future operation in the Middle East including an aerial bombing of Iran’s nuclear plants.
The Israeli presidential delegation consisted of several top military and government advisers, including Brigadier General Hasson Hasson, Military Secretary to President Peres (See image below: first from left) and Nadav Tamir, policy adviser to the president of Israel (first right of president Peres).
The text of the Israel NATO agreement following discussions behind closed doors (see image below) was not made public.
(Click image to enlarge)
Following the meeting, a joint statement was released by NATO. Secretary-General Rasmussen stated in the press report:
“Israel is an important partner of the Alliance in the Mediterranean Dialogue. The security of NATO is linked to the security and stability of the Mediterranean and of the Middle East region. And our Alliance attaches great value to our political dialogue and our practical cooperation. Israel is one of our longest-standing partner countries. We are faced with the same strategic challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean.
And as we face the security threats of the 21st century, we have every reason to deepen our long-standing partnership with our Mediterranean Dialogue countries, including Israel. We all know the regional situation is complex. But the Mediterranean Dialogue remains a unique multilateral forum, where Israel and six Arab countries can discuss together with European and North American countries common security challenges. I see further opportunities for deepening our already close political dialogue and practical cooperation to our mutual benefit.”
Join the weekly pickets opposing imperialist intervention in Syria and Iran.
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at Corner of Spring Garden Rd. & Barrington St.
Weekly pickets began in Halifax on June 8  and will take place every Friday.
The warmongering against Syria is reaching fever pitch. The big powers of Western Europe, Turkey and the U.S. with Canada in tow seem determined to launch open aggression against Syria. Their covert operations have thus far failed to achieve their aim of regime change so every day they up the ante. In this regard, the Canadian government and the Loyal Opposition in the federal Parliament are the most hysterical of warmongers.
The Harper dictatorship and the Loyal Opposition have not hesitated to repeat the Anglo-French-U.S. litany of justifications for such aggression and added some of their own. This is mainly comprised of disinformation to demonize the Syrian government which is blamed for gross violations of human rights. This is to make sure no investigations can seriously determine who is committing the violations, while also claiming that external powers, like Russia, are fuelling the internal conflict.
In this way Canada is deploying itself to advance the U.S. imperialist interests in particular. It wants the kind of “humanitarian intervention” which culminated with regime change in Libya but has to contend with the likes of Russia first. To do this it is advancing a self-serving definition of what constitutes foreign interference in the internal affairs of a country. According to the Canadian warmongers, it is foreign interference in the internal affairs of Syria when Russia and China defend their political and economic relations with Syria because these relations are outside the U.S. imperialist sphere of control. But, according to them, all the covert operations carried out by the U.S. and western imperialist powers and their client states in the Middle East and Turkey are not foreign interference. These actions are allegedly disinterested because they are said to have the aim of defending human rights. It is the most unadulterated balderdash. Amongst other things, the aim is to confuse the anti-war movement, while it sets in motion its deadly plans to attack Syria.
The U.S. camp’s strategy is ultimately also aimed at targeting the Islamic Republic of Iran for attack once Syria is out of the way. To justify such an aggression, like the fairy tale a decade ago about weapons of mass destruction buried in the deserts of Iraq, deafening propaganda is being floated world-wide — especially from the United States and Israel — about the alleged dangers of Iran developing a nuclear bomb. The real issue, however, is the imperialists’ ambition to eliminate Iran’s political independence, especially its independent development and management of current and future oil production on its territory. The gauntlet is openly being thrown down by the Big Powers. The peoples of the world cannot afford to hesitate for a minute. Peace-loving humanity must take its stand against this latest grave danger of war, one that could easily escalate far beyond the borders of Syria and/or Iran.
Hands Off Syria! Hands Off Iran!
Canada Needs an Anti-War Government!
Get Canada Out of NATO!
Halifax Branch of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist),
No Harbour For War and other concerned Haligonians
For more information on Syria and Iran read The Marxist-Leninist www.cpcml.ca
[Potent News Editor's note:
Other links on this conflict can be found here
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* * *
End the Lie – Independent News
February 28, 2013
Top officials from the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia and Iran take part in talks on Iran’s nuclear programme in the Kazakh city of Almaty on February 27, 2013 (AFP Photo / Pool / Shamil Zhumatov)
Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 nations ended with offers of eased demands on the Islamic Republic. While it’s a good start, experts say, the crippling US sanctions on the country are unlikely to be changed as they are written into American law.
A new proposal finalized during the Wednesday meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan would require Iran to suspend – but not completely close down – operations at its underground uranium enrichment facility in Fordo. It would also create a set amount of 20-per-cent-enriched uranium for Iran to stockpile.
The offer marks a new turn in the long term of negotiations between world powers and Iran, which previously had made stark demands on the Islamic Republic. The P5+1 – the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany – are now only asking for scaled down operations in Iran’s nuclear program, which some governments allege is aimed at developing a nuclear bomb.
Iran would also now be able to keep enough enriched uranium to produce medical isotopes at a research facility in Tehran.
The group asked Iran to allow International Atomic Energy Agency monitors to visit its facilities more often in exchange for the suspension of selected current sanctions and a moratorium on new ones.
However, Hillary Mann Leverett, CEO of Strategic Energy and Global Analysis, a Washington-based political risk consultancy, told RT this part may be only an empty gesture.
“Everyone knows the United States has very little that it can give on sanctions,” she said. “President Obama essentially ceded his foreign policy on this issue to the US Congress; almost all of those sanctions are written into US law. They are not something President Obama can give away.”
In any case, the European Union’s embargo on Iranian oil was not brought up for negotiation at the meeting, though the P5+1 would reportedly consider easing restrictions on Iran’s gold and petrochemicals trades, as well as those on its banks.
But, after all, it may not matter in the long run, Mann Leverett told RT. “There’s not much the US can give on sanctions, and in the meantime Iran is becoming more and more self-sufficient in a range of issues so that it’s not vulnerable to such sanctions.”
Said Jalili, Iran’s chief negotiator at the meetings, called the talks “positive” in comments to the press in Almaty. He added that some of the offers coming from Western governments looked “more realistic than those presented in the past and made an effort to approach the positions of Iran.”
Mann Leverett explained what Jalili might have been getting at: “The critical issue for the Iranians, and I think this is where they perceived a slight – and I stress slight – movement on the US side, is in the recognition of their rights: their sovereign and their treaty-based rights to enrich uranium.”
Jalili stressed that Tehran saw “no justification” for shutting down the Fordo facility.
Next, Iranian and EU officials are set to meet in Istanbul on March 18 for negotations that will include experts on nuclear technology.
February 26, 2013
The Zionists lobby has deemed PressTV unacceptable viewing for American eyes. They fear a dangerous truth , it’s time to FIGHT BACK.
by Stephen Lendman
February 23, 2013
Make no mistake. Syria is Washington’s war. It was planned years ago. Regime change is policy. At issue is replacing Assad’s government with a pro-Western puppet one.
Washington tolerates no independent governments. It demands subservience to US policies. Outliers are targeted for removal. Options include war.
Mass slaughter and destruction don’t matter. Unchallenged dominance is policy. It’s longstanding, ruthless and lawless.
Western-recruited death squads ravage Syria. They’ve done so for two years. They’re imported from abroad. Rules of engagement include mass murder, torture, and other atrocities.
Pro-Assad loyalists are prime targets. Innocent civilians are massacred. Doing so is official US policy. Imperial wars are called liberating ones. Terrorism is what they do, not us.
Syria was peaceful before US proxies invaded. So was Libya in 2011. It was ravaged and destroyed. It remains unstable and violent. Libya 2.0 looms.
Syria may become NATO’s latest charnel house. It’s well along the way already. Countries are ravaged on the pretext of liberating them. Empires never say they’re sorry. Policy isn’t pretty. It’s violent and lawless.
It reflects state terrorism. It proliferates death and destruction. It prioritizes wealth, power, privilege and dominance. Direct and proxy wars are waged.
Cutthroat killers are used. They’re recruited abroad. They’re heavily armed, trained, funded and directed. They’re ordered to commit mass murder. Obama bears full responsibility. He’s a war criminal multiple times over.
On February 22, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) headlined “Fifty-Three Civilians Martyred, 235 Others Injured so far in Terrorist Bombing in al-Thawra Street in Damascus.”
Attacks struck central Damascus’ Mazraa neighborhood. Health Minister, Dr. Saad al-Nayef, said “terrorist bombing reflects the criminal nature of its perpetrators.”
Innocent men, women, children, the elderly and infirm were massacred. Syria continues to be ravaged and destabilized.
Al-Hayat Hospital and Abdullah Bin al-Zubir school were heavily damaged. So was Russia’s embassy. Itar Tass quoted a diplomat saying “The building has really been damaged. The windows are shattered.”
Other car bombs struck Damascus’ Barzeh neighborhood. A police station, telecommunications facility, and drug enforcement agency were targeted.
Mortar fire hit Syria’s Army General staff headquarters, Tishreen Sports City and residential buildings. Authorities said a car loaded with tons of explosives was stopped before it exploded.
Perhaps the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra was involved. It’s become Washington’s lead belligerent. It vows to “liberate” Damascus. It claims responsibility for 17 or more February Damascus area terrorist attacks. They included at least seven bombings.
Syrian communities abroad, Russia, China, Iran and Hezbollah condemned Thursday’s bombings.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said:
“Once again, we call upon all countries and parties, which might influence the extremists and radicals, to pressure them and demand immediate stop of such terrorist acts and armed violence in order to create appropriate atmosphere to hold a Syrian dialogue that is based on Geneva statement issued last June, 2010.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon showed which side he supports. He’s an imperial tool. He shames the office he holds. He violates UN Charter provisions. He urged both sides to show restraint. He called for ending Syria’s crisis politically.
Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry addressed two identical letters to the Security Council president and Ban. They condemned Thursday’s bombings. They called them cowardly acts.
They targeted crowded civilian areas. They followed previous ones conducted by Al Qaeda linked groups. They get “financial and logistic support and media and political coverage from regional and (Western) countries.”
“The Ministry added that the credibility of combating terrorism which has always been a matter of concern for the international community is now under unprecedented test as the most disgusting form of terrorism hit the Syrian civilians with no mercy or differentiating between an elderly man or a child.”
“The letters added that Syria, in its previous letters to the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General, called for firm and clear condemnation of these heinous terrorist crimes by the UN member states and for holding countries which support such acts as responsible, whatsoever the form of such support was.”
“The Ministry said that Syria hopes the UN Security Council now will be able to adopt a firm stance which proves its commitment to combating terrorism regardless of its timing or place.”
If the Security Council turns a blind eye, “it will deepen doubts in its seriousness in combating terrorism and its commitment to implementing its resolutions in this regard, in addition to the fact this will be considered as a kind of political concealment of these crimes.”
The international community’s credibility “is at test,” it added. Failure to condemn this type terrorism is morally unconscionable.
It provides evidence of Western double standard duplicity. It reflects support for “organized terrorism.” Doing so won’t deter government forces from defending its citizens. Assad is committed to do so.
On February 21, Washington vetoed a Russian draft statement. It condemned Wednesday’s terrorist attacks. Moscow denounced US policy. It reflects support for what demands condemnation.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov left no doubt where Russia stands, saying:
“This opposition by our American partners….is not the first time in which they seek a form that justifies those who fight the Syrian regime.”
“Russia sees in the American position an application of double standards and a dangerous approach in terms of the Americans moving away from the main principle of condemning terrorism in all its forms.”
Russia’s UN mission issued a statement saying:
“It is obvious that by doing so, the US delegation encourages those who have been repeatedly targeting American interests, including US diplomatic missions.”
It’s not the first time Washington obstructed responsible policy, it added. Moscow called doing so unacceptable. It reflects support for mass murder. It’s official US policy.
It threatens Lebanon. Free Syrian Army General Selim Idriss accused Hezbollah of shelling villages around Qusayr in Homs Governorate.
He issued an ultimatum. He threatened to respond if attacks don’t stop in 48 hours. He accused Hezbollah of sending combatants to Syria.
“As soon as the ultimatum ends,” he added, “we will start responding to the sources of fire.”
Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah categorically denies sending fighters to Syria. At the same time, he said party members may be acting individually. He added that around 30,000 Shitte Lebanese inhabit 22 Syrian villages. Volunteers defend them against terrorist attacks.
On February 21, Lebanon’s Daily Star headlined “FSA claim of strikes on Lebanon false.”
An FSA statement claimed otherwise. It said one of its battalions targeted two Hezbollah bases. It struck with mortars, “machine guns and anti-tank missiles.” It did so near the Syrian/Lebanon border. It vowed more “surprises” ahead.
Longstanding Washington/Israeli policy prioritizes destabilizing Lebanon. At issue is replacing Hezbollah with pro-Western puppets, toppling Assad, isolating Iran, and solidifying US regional control.
Lebanon is small and vulnerable. From 1975 – 1989, it was wracked by internal conflict. From 1982 – 2000, Israel occupied southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah arose out of Israel’s 1982 invasion. It’s falsely called a terrorist organization. It’s for political reasons. It’s part of Lebanon’s government. It’s also a social, charitable, educational, and medical organization.
It provides essential social services. It’s military wing is defensive. It threatens no one. It’s prepared to respond forcefully if attacked. Israel learned the hard way in 2006. Its forces were outfoxed and humiliated. Israel yearns for revenge.
Involving Lebanon in Syria’s war may be planned. Obama and Netanyahu may have that in mind.
On February 21, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) headlined “Hizbollah on high alert, jockeys for a role in potential Syrian peace accord,” saying:
Its forces went on alert after the FSA’s ultimatum expired. Will its Beqaa Valley serve Assad, DF asked? Will its forces get involved? Are ceasefire talks credible?
According to DF, Assad’s military largely controls most of Syria. Ties to Hezbollah and Iran are firm. Each ally helps the others.
At the same time, FSA fighters may escalate conflict. They may conduct cross-border attacks. They’re no match for Hezbollah’s “far more organized and professional capabilities.”
“If they decide to go on the offensive, they are liable to suffer heavy losses.” Of greater concern is widening Syria’s conflict.
Israel’s currently involved. Last fall, IDF tanks shelled Syrian mortar batteries. Washington OK’d Israeli air strikes. Several targets were struck.
Israeli warplanes invade Lebanese airspace multiple times daily. They do so without permission. Policy is longstanding. It violates international law. Perhaps escalated conflict is planned.
It shouldn’t surprise. Washington and Israel partner in imperial lawlessness. Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran are prime targets. Regional conflict may follow. What’s possible bears watching. Future updates will discuss more.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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February 23, 2013
The Academy Awards this year are pure war propaganda using the entertainment arm of the Illuminati to prep Americans for a conflict with Iran.
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February 6, 2013
Courtesy: Anadolu Agency
At least one protester has been arrested for throwing a shoe at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a visit to a mosque in Egypt’s capital, Cairo. The shoe did not hit Ahmadinejad, but he beat a hasty retreat, surrounded by his security – READ MORE http://on.rt.com/wj2bi3
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January 10, 2013
A former US senator tells Press TV that in case Chuck Hagel gets confirmed by the Senate as the US Secretary of Defense, there would not be any plans by him for a war on Iran.
US President Barack Obama nominated former senator Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary. Obama chose Hagel on Monday to replace Leon Panetta at the Pentagon for his second-term, despite political uproar over the nomination. Obama said at a press conference in White House that Hagel, an outspoken critic of Israel, is “the leader our troops deserve,” praising his “willingness to speak his mind.”
The US President called the former Nebraska senator “an American patriot,” who earned “respect of national security and military leaders, Republicans and Democrats, including me.” Meanwhile, Israeli Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has expressed worry over the nomination of former US Senator Chuck Hagel as the next American defense secretary, amid similar reactions invoked by the regime’s backers in the US.
Press TV talks with Mike Gravel, former US Senator in San Francisco, regarding the issue.
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December 7, 2012
Last month the US issued an ultimatum to Iran, demanding it fully cooperate with the IAEA by March or else face further action and possible measures at the UN Security Council. Micah Zenko, fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, speculates that this “could indicate that the Obama administration is moving toward the zone of immunity logic.”
Zenko is referring to the Israeli standard for deciding to go to war with Iran. Up to now, the Israeli standard to attack Iran is not when it has nuclear weapons or presents an imminent threat to Israel, but rather when Iran’s nuclear program is sufficiently advanced and redundant across the country – although not being weaponized – that Israeli military action would be inadequate to significantly retard it.
The US standard, at least as commonly understood, has been a little stricter. Washington has implied it will resort to war only if Iran is demonstrably weaponizing its nuclear program and on the verge of having a nuclear bomb.
Despite the semantic differences, the two postures are essentially the same. Both the US and Israel have ignored the legal standard for resorting to war – to block an imminent attack, i.e. self-defense – and crafted their own standard, which says they can bomb Iran to smithereens if they judge that at some point in the future Iran might be able to deter US or Israeli aggression. Iran must be kept weak and defenseless, the thinking goes, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to obliterate them at will.
This speaks to Iran’s nuclear posture, which is aimed at what is sometimes called “a breakout capability.” In an environment of constant threats of war, economic sanctions, and being surrounded by the US military, Iran has tried to abstain from developing nuclear weapons while having the know-how needed to get there; this essentially is an attempt to have a deterrent without actually having a deterrent. They don’t get in trouble for having a weapon, but they are able to ward off attack or invasion.
US intelligence corroborates this analysis. As James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, has repeatedly said, “We don’t believe they’ve actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon.”
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January 1, 2013
Iranian naval forces have successfully test fired Qader (Capable) coast-to-sea and Nour (Light) surface-to-surface missiles on the fifth day of the Velayat 91 military maneuvers, Press TV reports.
Spokesman for the Velayat 91 naval drill Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari told Press TV on Tuesday that Qader cruise missile had successfully and precisely hit and destroyed its mock enemy target during the exercises.
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