Russian analysts: Erdogan’s arrogance could lead to large-scale war that would harm Turkey’s interests

ST

 Saturday, 29 February 2020 20:46 

Moscow,(ST)- Boris Dolgov, senior researcher at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences has stressed the need to put an end to the crimes and arrogance of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Syria’s north.

He stressed in an interview with a SANA correspondent in Moscow today that the Turkish regime’s actions in Idlib are unprecedented and they violate all international agreements concluded previously between Russia and Turkey as well as all international conventions. He stressed that escalation in that region threatens of the outbreak of a large-scale war that harms the interests of Turkey and the Turkish people in the first place.

In turn, member  of the Russian Writers Union, Khaled Elias pointed out in a similar interview that Erdogan and his supporters are the ones who embraced and sponsored terrorists from all over the world and who stood behind this brutal attack on Syria.

 He added that Turkish regime’s mercenaries in Aleppo behave as thieves because they have dismantled and stole Aleppo’s factories and industrial workshops and smuggled them to Turkey with the knowledge of Erdogan himself.

Elias indicated that the terrorists and their Turkish sponsors are currently using shoulder-fired US anti-aircraft missiles systems in Syria, stressing that the Syrian Arab army’s response to the Turkish attacks is a fair response, because it was the Turks who crossed the border, entered Syrian territory and supported the terrorists there.

For his part, Alexander Kuznetsov, Deputy Director of the Russian Institute for Political and Military Analysis, stressed that the Turkish actions are rejected from the viewpoint of international law because Turkey launches hostile actions against a neighboring country and interferes in its affairs.

 The Russian expert called for obligating Turkey to implement what was agreed upon with Russia, pointing out that the Turkish soldiers who were killed in Idlib were participating in the terrorists’ combat operations on the Syrian lands, and this behavior violates Syria’s  sovereignty.

Amal Farhat

IRANIAN FORCES IN SYRIA WARN TURKISH MILITARY OVER RECENT DRONE STRIKES ON GREATER IDLIB

July 29, 2017 photo, a Hezbollah fighter stands at a watchtower at the site where clashes erupted between Hezbollah and al-Qaida-linked fighters in Wadi al-Kheil or al-Kheil Valley in the Lebanon-Syria border. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

The Iranian Consultative Center in Syria, an operations room commanding Iranian forces in the country, revealed on February 29 that several of its fighters were killed in the recent Turkish drone and artillery strikes on Greater Idlib.

In an official statement, the center said the Turkish military attacked Iranian-backed troops near the Aleppo-Damascus highway, known as the M5. The Turkish strikes were meant to support an attack by al-Qaeda-affiliated militants on the highway.

According to the center, the Turkish side was asked through mediators to halt its strikes. However, it went on, killing several Iranian-backed fighters.

In what appears to be a warning, the center said its forces could attack Turkish troops in Greater Idlib, but the order from the political leadership is to not fire at them.

“The Iranian consultative center, and the Mujahedeen of the resistance front, call on the Turkish forces to act rationally in the interests of the Syrian and Turkish peoples, reminding the Turkish people that their sons have been present for a month in the range of our forces and we could take revenge, but we did not do so in response to the orders of our leadership, and we call on them [Turkish people] to pressure the Turkish leadership to reform its decisions,” the statement, that was shared by the U-News agency, reads.

Earlier, Lebanese sources revealed that nine fighters of Hezbollah were killed in recent Turkish drone strikes on Greater Idlib. An Iranian field commander was also killed in the strikes.

Turkey’s aggressive moves in Greater Idlib are apparently provoking Syria’s allies. Any more escalation by Ankara could lead to a serious military confrontation in the region.

More on this topic:

Russia, Turkey Intend to Ease Tensions ‘On Ground’ in Syria: Moscow

February 29, 2020

Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow and Ankara have confirmed their commitment to decreasing tensions on the ground in the fight against terrorism in Syria during the last round of consultations in the Turkish capital.

“Both sides confirmed their determination to ease tensions ‘on the ground’ in the process of continuing fighting terrorists, designated as such by the UN Security Council, as well as to defend the civilian population both within and outside the [Idlib] de-escalation zone and provide urgent humanitarian assistance to all who need it,” the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Turkey was unable to fulfil several key commitments to solve the problems around Syria’s Idlib province.

In particular, Ankara failed to separate the armed opposition, which is ready for dialogue with the government in the framework of the political process, from terrorists.

According to the Russian-Turkish memorandum, agreed upon by Presidents Putin and Erdogan in September 2018, the status quo for the presence of the Turkish military was agreed to be maintained, provided that all terrorist radical groups withdrew from the Idlib de-escalation zone by 15 October 2018.

It was also stipulated that “effective measures need to be taken to ensure a stable cessation of hostilities” within the borders of this zone. Clause 7 of the memorandum called for joint Russian-Turkish patrols in the area.

Source: Sputnik

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CAN CHINA CONFRONT AND DEFEAT THE U.S. NAVY?

South Front

This video is based on the analysis “Can China Confront and Defeat the U.S. Navy?” released by SouthFront on January 4, 2020

China is on pace to achieve regional naval supremacy by the year 2025. This has been a long-term goal of the Chinese national and military leadership, the foundations of which were laid out in the early 1990s.

Chinese naval supremacy, and the absolute necessity of it on at least a regional basis, is tied not only to the development and security of the maritime segment of One Belt-One Road, but also access to China’s growing presence on the African continent. The modernization and expansion of the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been conducted in parallel with the fortification of islands in the South China Sea and the establishment of military bases in and around the strategic Horn of Africa and the Strait of Hormuz. After centuries of isolationism, internal strife, a devastating cultural revolution and later an economic boom, China is now on the cusp of global expansion. This will not just be a limited or one-dimensional expansion, but one of economic, military and even cultural dimensions.

In contrast to the U.S. leadership of recent decades, the national and military leadership of the Chinese Communist Party has been diligent and focused on implementing long term programs. While both the military industrial complex of the U.S. and the authoritarian communist systems of government of these respective nations both breed rampant corruption, social and economic inequality, and a multitude of dysfunctionalities, the Chinese system is inherently more singular in focus, as all authoritarian regimes are. While one could reflect on U.S. foreign policy over the past forty years and determine that it has been quite haphazard, disjointed and even schizophrenic in nature, the opposite must be said of China. This fact becomes readily apparent when contrasting the development and expansion of the PLAN and that of the U.S. Navy.

A U.S. Navy in Disarray

It can rightly be asserted that the U.S. Navy is a force struggling to define its core mission and strategic focus as the year 2020 begins. Since the dissolving of the Soviet Union, the U.S. military industrial complex has encouraged a wasteful bureaucracy, an inept and overly confident civilian and military leadership, to invest vast sums of money in a growing wish list of high-tech weapons aimed at achieving full spectrum dominance over every possible adversary. Little thought was apparently given to the opportunity cost of investing in such programs, and how they would be employed in a broader national defense strategy. The U.S. Navy stands out as the worst example of these failures and is poised at a crossroads today.

After the Soviet Union disappeared as its chief adversary on the high seas, the U.S. Navy maintained its age old obsession with the aircraft carrier, and utilized its many aircraft carrier strike groups (ASG) to great effect in attacking any disobedient nation that lacked a robust navy or air defense system. While the modern ASG proved effective at power projection against weaker adversaries, its viability in a modern maritime environment heavily contested by a peer adversary has yet to be established. The U.S. Navy has decided to ignore this obvious fact and has continued to embrace the ASG as the cornerstone of naval strategic planning well into the future.

The U.S. Navy has maintained ten ASGs and launched the latest generation of aircraft carriers in the form of the Gerald R. Ford CVN-78 in 2013. Although commissioned in 2017, the carrier has yet to reach operational readiness and has been plagued by many technical problems with its most essential combat systems. The CVN-78 is the most expensive warship ever constructed, with current unit cost approaching $14 billion USD.

While the U.S. has invested vast sums of money, energy and focus in developing a massive new class of aircraft carrier, it has done very little to improve the one asset most crucial to the carrier, the carrier airwing that it carries into battle. Instead of committing to develop aircraft tailored to specific functions, the Navy chose to embrace the one-size-fits-all concept of the F-18 Super Hornet. In addition, the service also committed to this concept to a much larger degree, in throwing its support behind the F- 35 Joint Strike Fighter. Neither the F-18 nor the F-35 rectify rectifies the combat range deficiency now inherent in the aircraft carrier airwing. In short, an ASG will become a target of both land-based anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) and even land-based Chinese aircraft equipped with anti-ship guided missiles, long before the ASG can achieve striking distance with its carrier borne aircraft. This problem becomes even more glaring when one considers the scenario of a Chinese battle group forward deployed and operating within range of its own land-based Anti-Air Warfare assets.

What has the U.S. Navy done to modernize and improve its surface warfare vessels over the past two decades? Not surprisingly, the service embraced new ship designs that were long on high-tech promise, yet did not fit into a specific, traditional and vital function within the broader strategic framework of the service. The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program and Zumwalt DDG-1000 programs were ill-conceived at the outset and resulted in two classes of vessels that consumed vast amounts of funding, time and energy that could have been used to improve upon traditional, proven warship designs. At an approximate unit cost of $350 million USD per LCS and $8 billion per DDG-1000, both vessels have proven long on cost and short on capability.

The Arleigh Burke class DDG is arguably the backbone of the U.S. Navy and is a highly effective and proven warship. The latest upgrade to the design, the Flight III, will not begin production until sometime between 2023 and 2029. A multi-purpose frigate vessel program known as the FFG(X), meant to pick up where the LCS failed, has yet to reach an advanced design phase. There are currently five contenders for the new FFG(X) proposal.

At the same time, there is no replacement at all planned for the aging Ticonderoga CG-47 class cruiser. The Ticonderoga class CGs perform a vital AAW and surface warfare function in the established U.S. Navy carrier strike group structure. The only other navy in the world fielding a similar warship is China’s, with the introduction of the first Type 055 class in 2018.

A Chinese Navy in Ascent

While the United States Navy struggles to identify its purpose and maintain its preeminence in the 21st century, the PLAN has embarked on a robust program of modernization and expansion based on sound strategic principles and proven technology.

China has produced a long list of modern, capable classes of warships in recent years. Not only has the PLAN designed, constructed and put a new generation of warships into operational service in the past two decades, it has engaged in an ambitious ship building program that has seen these vessels fielded at an unprecedented rate. Standardized designs for corvette, guided missile frigate (FFG), guided missile destroyer (DDG), large guided missile destroyer/cruiser (CG), landing platform dock (LPD), landing helicopter dock (LHD), and logistical support vessels of multiple classes have all been adopted and fielded in significant numbers in the past 20 years. Running in parallel to this, the PLAN has also developed a fledgling aircraft carrier program, including the 100% indigenous Type 001A Shandong. Such a feat is unparalleled in modern naval history.

The question must immediately be asked; why would a nation engage in such an ambitious program to transform and expand its naval warfighting capabilities in such totality? The answer is obvious. It intends to use this capability. But in what fashion and to what end?

In order for the Chinese nation to complete and secure the ambitious Old Belt-One Road economic trade corridor and to ensure the economic prosperity of the country into the next century, a sizeable navy of unparalleled capability will be required. Such a naval force is currently in an advanced state of completion, yet a further 5 years are likely required before the PLAN will be in a position to fight and win against a determined U.S. naval effort to confront it through force of arms.

If current production levels are maintained, the PLAN will field an impressive force of major surface warfare, amphibious warfare and aircraft carriers by 2025. By this time, major surface warfare combatants will include 50 x Type 056 Corvettes, 30 x Type 054A Frigates, 18 x Type 052D Destroyers, and 8 or more Type 055 Destroyers. The amphibious warfare fleet will be comprised of approximately 38 x LSTs, 8 x Type 071 LPDs, and at least 2 x Type 075 LHDs. The Type 001 Liaoning and Type 001A Shandong will both be operational, while the first of the much more capable Type 002 CATOBAR carriers will likely have reached operational status as well. These warships will be supported by no less than eleven logistics support and underway replenishment vessels and four garrison support vessels of modern design.

A major strategic advantage that China has achieved over the United States is that it has built the most robust and productive shipbuilding industry in the world. China has been ranked as the world’s top shipbuilder for 5 years now. The United States by contrast, ranks tenth. The gross tonnage of vessels of all types produced in Chinese shipyards; however, is 77 times greater than the total produced by U.S. shipyards.

The Greater Strategic Picture

It is important to view the development of both navies within the larger context of the respective geopolitical strategic positions of both countries. China undoubtably enjoys a stronger position today than it did a decade ago, while the opposite must be said for the United States. Not only has China gained greater political and economic influence on a global scale, but it has moved to secure military supremacy in all areas along its national borders, and increasingly within its expanding maritime territory. By contrast, the United States has lost both political and economic influence in many regions of the world, largely through its own failed policies

China has managed to develop greater economic ties with nations that have decided to participate in the One Belt-One Road project, which has also afforded them a greater political influence over these nations. China has negotiated the establishment of military bases, mostly logistical support facilities for its growing navy, which will also allow for the deployment of rapid reaction forces to deter and interdict threats to the One Belt-One Road trade corridor. China continues to solidify its presence on the Africa continent. The military base established in Djibouti, and fleet support agreements established in Gwadar, Pakistan and the African nation of Tanzania provide the resources needed to be able to exert military force if required to back up Chinese economic and political efforts on the continent.

Although the U.S. maintains numerous military bases and facilities in Africa to secure its own strategic interests in the region, it lacks the same political and economic influence that China has established. The U.S. military has been aiding a number of nations in Africa to battle Islamic extremist insurgents, but has made little investment in those nations in a broader sense, and thus exerts far less influence.

Although outside of the maritime sphere of influence of China, the nations of Europe have increasingly responded favorably to the promised benefits of the One Belt-One Road trade project. On a political and military level, China has largely remained out of European affairs. The same cannot be said for the United States.

While the Obama administration began the disastrous, multifaceted war against the Russian Federation, the Trump administration has only expanded it, while antagonizing its most traditional European allies in the process. The Trump administration appears to have doubled down on the failed Ukraine policies of its predecessor, increased U.S. military presence on the European continent, and has leveled trade tariffs on key allies. By propping up the phony Russian threat narrative with increased military deployments, the United States is squandering vast sums of money and diverting large contingents of front-line fighting forces to confront an enemy it knows to be a threat conceived through its own propaganda alone.

China has responded to the U.S. led effort to internationally isolate Russia, by leveraging its position to provide an alternate market for Russian goods. It has supplied political support for Russia on the world stage and has increased military cooperation with Russia in key regions where both nations share an interest and are forced to confront the United States. Both nations have increased bilateral cooperation in developing the northern arctic shipping route and have conducted joint naval exercises in the maritime regions of Europe, Asia and the Indian Ocean. Iran most recently joined the two in joint exercises in the Indian Ocean.

Can the PLAN Win?

A scenario where the PLAN and U.S. Navy engage in open conflict is improbable at present, yet not impossible. Although China has strengthened its position to such a degree in the South China Sea that no other nation, including the United States can change the strategic realities that exist there today, increasing interaction between PLAN and U.S. warships may lead to a tragic encounter. U.S. freedom of navigation patrols are largely symbolic in nature and do not present any real threat to Chinese interests in the region, yet they do require a response Such a situation could lead to a confrontation where an accident occurs, or an overzealous vessel commander makes a decision that leads to a military engagement which could escalate in a very short window of time.

It is most probable that China will do everything possible to avoid such a situation at present. This may not be the case after 2025, when the PLAN enjoys a much stronger position relative to the U.S. Navy and its allies in the Asia Pacific. China will occupy the central position, enjoy regional guided ballistic missile supremacy and be able to take advantage of land-based air assets in support of its navy. Surveillance and early warning facilities established on various artificial island and atolls will by then be fully operational.

If fire was exchanged between a U.S. warship and PLAN warship in the South China Sea, and the incident was not immediately deescalated, the U.S. vessel would inevitably be destroyed. The PLAN would suffer significant casualties in the exchange without doubt. China would immediately move to deny all access to the region through its already robust Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities. The United States would then have to decide what level of sacrifice would be acceptable to the state and the American public in rapidly deciding upon its level of military response. The authoritarian Chinese state would find this decision much easier to make.

The U.S. seventh fleet would be hard pressed to mount any immediate military response, beyond mounting a retaliatory attack via attack submarines forward deployed in the region. Any large effort mounted to attack Chinese island garrisons in either the Spratly or Paracel islands would be met with overwhelming force by a combination of anti-ship guided ballistic missiles, submarine, surface and air attack. It is hard to see any such scenario taking place, without the confrontation elevating to a full-spectrum war of global proportions. Most regional allies of the United States would calculate that such an outcome would render overwhelmingly negative results and would not outweigh the tragic loss of one or two U.S. warships and their crews.

Assuming that a hot war could be avoided, a new cold war would inevitable result between an ascendant China and a U.S. in decline. If current military, economic and political trends continue from the present through 2025, China will only strengthen its strategic position both regionally and globally, while the opposite will likely be the case for the United States. It is important to note that the leadership of both nations see such a conflict as undesirable and not inevitable, yet miscalculations, mistakes and poor judgement can scuttle any grand plans. History is unequivocal in this regard and must be analyzed and understood to avoid repeating disaster. We ignore the lessons of history at our peril, yet a current period bereft of insightful, measured and reasonable leadership in Washington, does not bode well for avoiding what may prove to be an unavoidable conflict between two global superpowers.

Ansarallah forces score big advance in northern Yemen as they approach strategic city

By News Desk -2020-02-29

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:00 P.M.) – The Ansarallah forces scored a new advance in northern Yemen on Saturday when their troops captured an imperative district in the Al-Jawf Governorate.

According to the latest reports from the front, the Ansarallah forces have reached the city-center of the Al-Ghail District after capturing the mountains surrounding this area earlier in the week.

The Ansarallah forces are now rapidly advancing east towards the strategic city of Hazm, which is also the administrative capital of the Al-Jawf Governorate.

Making matters worse for the Saudi-backed troops in the area, primarily the Islah forces, they find themselves on the verge of being besieged, as the Ansarallah fighters attempt to close the gap east of the city.

Should the Islah forces lose Hazm, this would mark the first time in over two years that the Ansarallah forces have captured an administrative capital in Yemen.

MILITARY SITUATION IN YEMEN ON FEBRUARY 29, 2020 (MAP UPDATE)

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A brief overview of the recent developments in Yemen:

  • Ceasefire violations were reported in Hudaydah;
  • Ansar Allah attacked the Aramco facility in Jizan with several missiles and drones;
  • Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck the Hazm area 25 times;
  • Ansar Allah captured the al-Ghayl district in Jawf province.

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“Russia AgainGate”: Phony Accusations of Russian “2020 Election Meddling”.The Big Lie that won’t Die

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, February 22, 2020

The NYT falsely warned of Russian meddling to re-elect Trump that hasn’t occurred.

Nor does any evidence suggest it’s coming ahead. Earlier accusations of Moscow electoral interference to help Trump defeat Hillary in 2016 were bald-faced Big Lies.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russian election meddling occurred in the US or anywhere else — a longstanding CIA/NED specialty in dozens of countries worldwide throughout the post-WW II period.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Politics and Strategy researcher Dov Levin earlier documented 81 times Washington meddled in foreign elections from 1946 – 2000 – since then in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil, and elsewhere, unsuccessfully in Venezuela, Iran and Russia.

In his book titled “Demonstration Elections,” the late Edward Herman documented US involvement in orchestrating sham Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Vietnam elections, wanting regimes installed that serve US interests.

The same thing goes on in countless other countries, electoral coups masquerading as democracy in action, an abhorrent notion Washington tolerates nowhere, especially not domestically.

According to a Times report with no credibility, US intelligence officials “warned (that) Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected…”

No evidence was cited because none exists. The anti-Trump Times, still furious over his defeat of media darling Hillary, loves to resurface the Big Lie that won’t die.Report on Mueller’s Witch Hunt Exposes Russiagate Hoax

Reportedly House Intelligence Committee members were briefed by US intelligence officials on February 13.

According to the Times, lawmakers were told earlier of Russian US election meddling — no evidence presented suggesting it. Without it, accusations are groundless.

So-called “new information” that doesn’t exist about Moscow intending to interfere in primaries and the general election this year indicates lots more of this rubbish to come in the run-up to November.

Last April, Robert Mueller’s witch hunt report exposed the Russiagate hoax by revealing no damning evidence because there was none to find.

Cooked up by Obama’s Russophobic CIA director John Brennan, it was one of the most shameful chapters in US political history.

Mueller’s 19-lawyer team, 40 FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and other professional staff spent around $25 million.

They issued 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, over 230 orders for communication records, interviewed about 500 individuals, and made 34 politicized indictments on dubious charges unconnected to his mandate.

When all was said and done, Mueller’s team discovered nothing connected to phony allegations of possible Trump team/Russia collusion to triumph over Hillary, no collusion, no obstruction of justice, no evidence of Russian US election meddling.

Why would Russia or any other country interfere in America’s political process when outcomes are always the same!

Dirty business as usual always wins, how duopoly rule works under a one-party system with two extremist right wings.

Earlier claims by the DNI and CIA that Putin personally ordered a campaign of US election meddling to favor Trump over Hillary in 2016 were rubbish.

Yet the Big Lie reared its ugly head in this year’s race for the White House — once again, no evidence backing phony accusations because none exists.

The Russophobic Times is front and center promoting what has no credibility — its own long ago lost.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from The InterceptThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

TURKISH SULTAN-IN-CHIEF GOES WILD, THREATENS PUTIN, CLAIMS THOUSANDS SYRIAN TROOPS WERE KILLED

South Front

On February 29, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came with a new group of claims on the situation in Syria’s Idlib and Turkish agressive actions in the region.

Erdogan claimed that the operation in Idlib is not a gamble and is not an attempt to expand Turkish border. The Turkish President added that Turkish forces entered the region under a request from the “Syrian people” (i.e. al-Qaeda terrorists that use civilians as human shields) and Turkey will not leave the area until the “people” request this (i.e. Turkey wants to occupy the region).

Erdogan said that he told President Vladimir Putin that Russia must leave Turkey with the “regime” (the legal Syrian government) one on one.

On top of that the Turkish president claimed that Turkish forces killed over 2,100 Syrian troops, destroyed 300 pieces of military equipment and 7 chemical depots. If these numbers are close to the reality, it reamsin unclear how the Syrian Army continues advancing in southern Idlib, while all Turkish successes were limited to capturing Saraqib and losing a few dozens of troops.

The Turkish president statement also adressed the current situation with the EU migration crisis. Erdogan officially confirmed that Turkey is now intentionally sending refugees to Europe.

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“What did we do yesterday? We opened the doors,” Erdogan said. “We will not close those doors … Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises.”

The Turkish leader said 18,000 refugees had gathered on the Turkish borders with Europe since February 28, adding that the number could reach as many as 30,000 on February 29. The Erdogan government is as always trying to blackmail the EU in an attempt to get from it financial and diplomatic support to Turkish actions in the Middle East. Apparently, Erdogan has his own specific vision of how his country should win friends and influence the international community.

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برود غربي حيال مناشدات أنقرة: الجيش السوري على مشارف «M4»

الأخبار 

السبت 29 شباط 2020

بات الجيش السوري على مقربة من طريق حلب – اللاذقية من جهة أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي (أ ف ب )

تابع الجيش السوري عملياته في أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي، حيث تَمكّن من السيطرة على عدد من القرى والبلدات، بالغاً مشارف الطريق الدولي حلب – اللاذقية (M4). في هذا الوقت، تَصاعد التجاذب الروسي – التركي على خلفية مقتل عشرات الجنود الأتراك في ريف إدلب الجنوبي أول من أمس، فيما أتى التفاعل الغربي مع مناشدات أنقرة دعمها في الشمال السوري بارداًفي ظلّ ردّ تركي وُصف بـ«الهزيل» على مقتل أكثر من ثلاثين جندياً تركياً بغارات جوية روسية – سورية في إدلب أول من أمس، تابع الجيش السوري تقدمه في منطقة سهل الغاب في أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي، حيث سيطر على قرى خربة الناقوس والمنصورة وتل واسط والزيارة والمشيك وزيزون الجديدة وقسطون، ليصل إلى مشارف الطريق الدولي حلب – اللاذقية (M4)، والذي باتت تفصله عنه كيلومترات قليلة فقط، فيما يفصله عن مدينة جسر الشغور الاستراتيجية أقلّ من 10 كم. وتهدف العمليات العسكرية في أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي، وريف إدلب الجنوبي، إلى الوصول إلى الطريق المذكور، ووصله بالطريق الدولي حلب – حماه، علماً أن الطريقين يلتقيان في مدينة سراقب الاستراتجية جنوب شرق مدينة إدلب، والتي أعاد المسلحون السيطرة عليها فجر يوم الأربعاء، وقطعوا بذلك الطريق الدولي «M5». ولم تفلح محاولات الجيش السوري، منذ ليل الخميس – الجمعة، في استعادة السيطرة على المدينة؛ إذ انطلق عبر محورَي تل الشيخ منصور والدوير، من دون أن يحرز تقدّماً.

في غضون ذلك، وفي إطار الردّ التركي على مقتل الجنود الأتراك في بلدة بليون في ريف إدلب الجنوبي، قصفت المدفعية التركية نقاطاً ومواقع للجيش السوري في اللاذقية وحلب وإدلب. وطال القصف بلدتَي نبل والزهراء شمالي حلب، ومواقع للجيش في أرياف إدلب الجنوبية والشرقية. ونشرت وزارة الدفاع التركية مقطع فيديو يظهر، بحسبها، استهداف تلك المواقع، فيما اكتفت دمشق بتصريح لمصدر في وزارة الخارجية، قال فيه إن «الجيش لن يسمح للدول الغربية ووكلائها بتأبيد سيطرة الإرهابيين في سوريا». وأضاف المصدر أن الجيش «سيستمرّ في تنفيذ مهامّه المتمثلة في إنهاء الوجود الإرهابي في كلّ أنحاء سوريا». في هذا الوقت، برزت مساعٍ دبلوماسية روسية لتخفيف الاحتقان، وتجنّب أيّ صدام مباشر مع أنقرة، على رغم مشاركة القوات الروسية في غالبية عمليات القصف الجارية في إدلب. وكانت أرسلت موسكو، عقب اشتداد التطورات في إدلب، وفداً إلى أنقرة للاجتماع بالمسؤولين الأتراك. وأعلنت وزارة الخارجية التركية، أمس، أن تلك المحادثات انتهت، وأن «الوفد الروسي في الطريق إلى بلاده». وأشارت الوزارة إلى أن المسؤولين الأتراك أبلغوا الوفد الروسي «ضرورة تطبيق وقف دائم لإطلاق النار فوراً في إدلب»، و«ضرورة انسحاب قوات الحكومة السورية إلى الحدود المقرّرة في اتفاق خفض التصعيد المبرم عام 2018 بين تركيا وروسيا».

بوتين وإردوغان قد يلتقيان الأسبوع المقبل في موسكو

في غضون ذلك، أعلن الكرملين، أمس، على لسان المتحدث باسمه ديمتري بيسكوف، أن «الرئيسين الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، والتركي رجب طيب إردوغان، قد يلتقيان الأسبوع المقبل في موسكو». وكان بيسكوف أعلن، في وقت سابق، أن بوتين بحث مع أعضاء مجلس الأمن الروسي الوضع في إدلب، مشيراً إلى أن «الجانب التركي لم يبلغنا بوجود العسكريين الأتراك في أماكن تجمّع الإرهابيين»، مضيفاً أن «الجنود الأتراك قتلوا خارج نطاق نقاط المراقبة». وجدّد القول إن «القوات التركية فشلت في السيطرة على أعداد كبيرة من المسلحين ومنع أعمالهم العدائية تجاه المواقع الروسية»، متابعاً أن روسيا «اتخذت جميع التدابير اللازمة لضمان أمن تركيا على طول الحدود السورية التركية». في المقابل، أعلن البيت الأبيض أن الرئيس الأميركي، دونالد ترامب، ونظيره التركي، اتفقا في اتصال هاتفي على «ضرورة وقف النظام السوري وروسيا وإيران للهجمات في إدلب». وجدّد ترامب، في خلال الاتصال، «تأكيده دعم جهود تركيا لخفض التصعيد في شمال غرب سوريا وتجنب كارثة إنسانية». كذلك، أعلنت الرئاسة التركية أن أردوغان «أبلغ ترامب باستعداده لدفع الجيش السوري إلى المواقع المحدّدة في اتفاق سوتشي».

وعلى رغم مناشدة أنقرة حلفاءها في «حلف شمال الأطلسي» دعمها، فقد اكتفى «الحلف» بالتعبير عن تضامنه معها، من دون أن يقدّم تعهّدات بإجراءات جديدة للدفاع عن القوات التركية. وقال الأمين العام للحلف، ينس ستولتنبرغ، إن «الحلفاء وافقوا على المحافظة على الإجراءات القائمة حالياً لتعزيز قدرات تركيا الدفاعية الجوية». بالتوازي مع ذلك، ردّت المفوضية الأوروبية على التهديدات التركية بفتح الحدود أمام اللاجئين السورييين للتدفق نحو أوروبا، بإعلانها أن الاتحاد يتوقّع من تركيا «احترام تعهّداتها الواردة في الاتفاق الهادف للحدّ من تدفق المهاجرين من سوريا»، وفق ما قال المتحدث باسم المفوضية بيتر ستانو . أما الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة، أنطونيو غوتيريش، فقد اعتبر أن وقف إطلاق النار في إدلب «هو الحاجة الأكثر إلحاحاً الآن قبل خروج الوضع عن السيطرة»، واصفاً استهداف القوات التركية بـ«أكثر اللحظات إثارة للقلق خلال فترة الصراع في سوريا». ومن المنتظر أن يعقد مجلس الأمن الدولي اجتماعاً طارئاً لمناقشة التصعيد الأخير في سوريا، وفق ما ذكر دبلوماسيون.

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It’s time for Ankara to accept the realities of the Syrian war before it’s too late (UPDATED!)

February 28, 2020

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

The two months long Syrian Army offensive in the Idlib and Aleppo provinces culminated in Aleppo’s complete liberation from the jihadist terrorists of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) and their friends. In a matter of weeks, the Syrian Army, backed by the Russian Air Force managed to liberate hundreds of towns and cities across the two provinces, including the important cities or Saraqib and Maarat Al-Numan, while also fully securing the imperative M5 highway stretching from Damascus to Aleppo. These are areas that were considered untouchable only a year ago, but now they have all fallen like bricks, proving that the jihadist resolve is dwindling.

Naturally, tensions with Ankara, a key backer of the jihadist forces, have risen. The Russian-Turkish understanding has deteriorated over the past weeks as both sides accuse eachother of breaking their agreement. The Sochi agreement of 2018 stipulated that a demilitarized zone was to be created in Idlib and Ankara was tasked with separating the “moderate” rebels from HTS militants. After almost 18 months of stalling by the Turkish side and repeated attacks and violations of the agreement by the Jihadist forces, Moscow’s and Damascus’ patience finally ran out.

I have for long been a critic of these ceasefire deals in Idlib as I consider it a waste of time to negotiate with Jihadists since these are people that consider peace with the kuffars (Russians) and murtadeens (Shias, Alawites) to be a sin. Besides, what would be the purpose of a long term ceasefire with them? The Syrian jihadists will never participate in a political settlement, while the foreign jihadists have no right to be in Syria in the first place.

The jihadists have for long declared that they will not rest until the Syrian government is overthrown anyways. When two sides have such fundamental differences that can never be reconciled, there is no point in even trying. The reality is that the Syrian Army and the jihadists are locked in a battle of annihilation, no side can live comfortably as long as the other side still exists. Yes, the ceasefire deals were beneficial for a while in 2017 when the Syrian Army had the opportunity to shift focus from Idlib to central and eastern Syria in their campaign against the so called “Islamic State”. With Daesh defeated, the jihadists in Idlib were not just weakened but also isolated since the Syrian Army no longer had to fight on two fronts in the Aleppo and Hama provinces. While the Russian entry into the war in 2015, spelled disaster for the jihadists, the fall of Daesh as a territorial entity made it even more clear that the jihadist defeat was inevitable.

Still Ankara has thrown all its weight behind the jihadists, even going as far as threatening to launch an offensive to push back the Syrian Army gains. So far, Ankara has sent massive convoys to Idlib and set up new “observation posts” across the region and helped the jihadists to launch counter offensives on Saraqib- there are pictures and videos showing HTS militants using Turkish military vehicles, while Moscow also caught Turkish forces providing artillery cover to the jihadists. Moscow has responded by reassuring their commitment to stand by the Syrian Army and joined the Syrian Air Force in bombing the jihadists, striking Turkish forces embedded with them as well. Tensions rose to alarming levels when several Turkish soldiers were killed in Moscow’s bombings, naturally Ankara blamed Damascus rather than admitting that Moscow punished Ankara for crossing the line. Yet Erdogan continues to threaten Syria by demanding the Syrian Army withdraws from all liberated areas by the end of February.

It remains to be seen whether Ankara will make good on its promise of launching an offensive on Idlib, but history teaches us that making strategic moves out of desperation is never a good idea. Ankara is desperate to have the jihadists remaining in Idlib, because Erdogan knows what the other option means – 30 000 terrorists with nowhere else to go, flocking into Turkey and wreaking havoc inside the country. It’s a dangerous game that Ankara is playing here. Fighting the Kurdish led militias who have no airpower and capabilities to bring down Turkish warplanes is one thing, but fighting a Syrian Arab Army, with 9 years of battle experience, and two major players such as Iran and Russia backing them militarily and logistically, is a whole other thing.

One would think that it would be in Turkey’s best interest to see these terrorists eliminated. Logically, nobody would want terrorists as their neighbours, which makes me question whether or not Ankara is actually calling the shots here. There is another player in this war that has a history of using terrorism to achieve their goals – enter Washington. My gut feeling tells me that Washington is behind these tensions as it is Washington that benefits from a collapse in Russian-Turkish collaboration. I believe that Washington is fuming over the rapid advance of the Syrian Army, and seeing how Washington has lost influence over an ever more rebellious Ankara over the past few years, Washington sees a great opportunity to get Ankara back into the fold.

It is no coincidence that Secretary Pompeo immediately after the announcement of two slain Turkish soldiers took to Twitter express “solidarity with the killed Turkish soldiers” and declare Washington’s commitment to “stand by our NATO ally Turkey”. A few days ago, reports alleged that Turkey had asked Washington for support through the deployment of Patriot missile systems to counter Russian warplanes – this was supposedly in response to Moscow’s decision to impose a no-fly zone in north-western Syria. As mentioned, Washington is the player that benefits the most from a Turkish-Russian deterioration of relations, as Washington thrives in the chaos that would follow if Moscow and Ankara cannot find a solution and are forced to confront one another.

Erdogan is recognized as a mentally unstable player by many observers while others consider him a mastermind who has been playing both sides in this war and who is now trying to bluff his way into stopping the Syrian Army advance. Whether he is crazy or just bluffing I’ll leave for every person to decide for himself, but if he is crazy and wants to confront Damascus and Moscow on this matter, then we are about to enter yet another bloody chapter of this almost 9 years long great tragedy. By the end of this month, we will know if Erdogan is bluffing for not.

Update: Since writing this article, the situation has further escalated as last night at least 33 Turkish troops were killed by Syrian Army shelling. The Turkish military responded by reportedly striking Syrian Army positions all over the Idlib countryside, causing catastrophic damage to the Syrian military’s capabilities in northwestern Syria.

Greece vetoes NATO statement supporting Turkey in Syria

By News Desk -2020-02-29

The Permanent Mission of Greece to NATO on Friday evening vetoed a statement that the alliance was preparing to make in support of Ankara, following the recent killing of 33 Turkish troops, Greek newspaper Vima reported, citing information from Greek sources.

According to the newspaper, the foreign minister of Greece, Nikos Dendias, issued direct instructions to representatives to use a veto if the text of the joint statement does not include a Greek proposal to refer to compliance with the March 2016 EU-Turkey declaration on refugees and migrants.Men, You Don’t Need the Blue Pill if You Do This Before BedShockingnewstodayAds by Revcontent

The Greek demand was reportedly met with resistance by a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States and France.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu demanded to begin political consultations provided for in Article 4 of the Washington Treaty, which allows a member country to ask for the organization’s assistance if it considers that its security, territorial integrity or political independence are threatened.

Ankara also requested that its allies assist on air defense and intelligence in connection with the situation in Idlib, but no agreements have been reached on the issue, according to the publication.

The report comes as 33 Turkish troops were killed by a Syrian airstrike in the Idlib Governorate on Thursday. The Russian military later explained that the Syrian army targeted Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists operating in the province, adding that Syrian government forces were not informed about the Turkish presence in the area.

The latest spike in fatal skirmishes follows several weeks of tensions triggered by attacks from Turkish-backed militants against the Syrian army.

ALSO READ  Turkey vows to respond with force after Syrian Army captures Saraqib

خيارات أردوغان الصعبة بعد القصف الروسيّ

المصدر

لم تمضِ ساعات على دخول مسلحي الفصائل المسلّحة مدعومين بمدرعات وجنود أتراك حتى جاء الرد الروسيّ صاعقاً في سراقب التي قتل فيها حوالي 40 جندياً تركياً، وأصيب ضعف هذا العدد بقصف جوي روسي على مواقع للجيش التركي في ريف حلب.

وكانت الأجواء قد توترت بين تركيا وروسيا بعد فشل الاجتماع الأمني بين الطرفين في موسكو وبعدما رفضت تركيا الانسحاب من سراقب التي احتلتها بهجوم مفاجئ ليل الأربعاء – الخميس. وكان الخلاف على كل شيء تقريباً، حيث طلب الروس انسحاب تركيا بشكل كامل من سورية، بينما تحجج الأتراك بمخرجات سوتشي قبل أن يستعيد أردوغان في تصريحاته الصحافية على مدار الساعة اتفاقية أضنة لتشريع وجوده العسكريّ في سورية.

وفور حصول القصف اجتمع الكابين الأمني والعسكري التركي بشكل عاجل، وأمرت السلطات التركية بإغلاق مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي تويتر وفيسبوك وانستغرام. فيما سارعت مواقع الأخبار العالمية لنقل أخبار ما يحصل، حيث اعتبرت مواقع فرنسية أنها المرة الأولى منذ الحرب الكورية تقتل فيها روسيا جنوداً من حلف الناتو.

أردوغان الذي لعب على مبدأ حافة الهاوية مع بوتين وصل إلى مفترق طرق خطيرة على وجوده السياسيّ والجسديّ، فلا هو قادر على شنّ حرب على روسيا ولا هو قادر على إظهار خذلانه للإسلاميين الذين استغلهم طيلة عشر سنوات في الحرب على سورية، وقد يكون سيناريو خوض معركة محدودة مع روسيا مطروحاً لديه حتى ييرئ نفسه أمام الجماعات الإرهابية المسلحة التي رعاها وساندها، لكنه أيضاً هنا سوف يقع في مأزق كبير مع الجيش المفقودة معه كل أنواع الثقة. فالجيش لن يقبل بزجّه في حرب مع روسيا تلبية لرغبات أردوغان والوضع الشعبي والاقتصادي التركي لا يحملان مغامرات كهذه.

كان لافتاً تصريح أحد زعماء المعارضة في تركيا قبل أيام، عندما قال نستعدّ لتسلّم الحكم وخروج أردوغان قريباً جداً.

Syrian Refugees in Turkey Ready to Cross Border Into Greece – Video

Sputnik

29.02.2020

Migrants continue to arrive to the Greek islands, although authorities remain reluctant to relocate them to the mainland, despite promises to do so.

Live from the Turkish city of Edirne west of Istanbul on the border between Turkey and Greece, as refugees travel towards Greece amid a reported change in Turkish border control policy.

On Friday, Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AKP party, said that Ankara was no longer able to contain the flow of refugees from Syria toward the country’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria.

By doing so, Turkey renounces its agreement with the EU, which suggested the closure of the Syrian-Turkish border in exchange for billions of dollars in aid for refugees staying in Turkey. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly accused the EU of not doing enough and is apparently now seeking to draw European and other Western powers into the standoff over Idlib.

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لماذا يحارب الروس الأتراك في إدلب؟

د.وفيق إبراهيم

يشتدّ القتال الروسيّ – التركيّ في منطقة إدلب السورية، فتدعم روسيا بالإسناد الجوي والتدخل البري، الجيش العربي السوري. فيما تنخرط قوات الاحتلال التركيّ إلى جانب تنظيمات إرهابية محلية عالمية بالمباشر.

كان الرئيس التركي أردوغان يعتقد أن تحسّن علاقات بلاده مع روسيا، اقتصادياً يسمح له ببناء دور كبير في سورية انطلاقاً من احتلاله أراضٍِي سورية واسعة، وارتباط مجموعات ارهابية بقوات بلاده. هذا بالاضافة الى علاقاته بالاميركيين وحلف الناتو وحاجة الاوروبيين الى دوره المعادي للدولة السورية.

مع دعم غير مباشر من «اسرائيل» التي تعتقد ان الدور التركي في سورية كفيل بتفتيتها.

لذلك تسانده بشنّ غارات على الجيش السوري وحلفائه لدعم الجيش التركي في وضعه المتراجع، كما أن بلدان الخليج المتناقضة معه لا تقبل بهزيمة في ادلب، وتفضل وضعية «ستاتيكو» كأمر واقع يبقي القتال مفتوحاً لاستنزاف سورية وتركيا في آن معاً.

أردوغان اذاً في وضع مزرٍ، فقواته التركية المنغمسة في القتال الى جانب الإرهابيين يسقط أفرادها قتلى بمعدلات غير مسبوقة منذ احتلالها أراضي سورية بدءاً من 2016، ويجد نفسه سياسياً من دون دعم غربي ملموس عسكرياً.

هذه الوضعية المتراجعة لأردوغان تشجع الروس على الاستفادة منها ومحاولة خنق الدور التركي في سورية الى معدل يسبق الموت مباشرة.

هناك أسباب مباشرة وأخرى كامنة تتحكم بهذا الإصرار الروسي على حسم القسم الأساسي من ادلب، واولها ان صعود الدور الروسي في سورية لا يكون إلا بقدرته على تدجين طموحات اردوغان السورية، وذلك للوصول إلى مجابهة الدور الأميركي النفطي والجيوسياسي في شرقي الفرات والتنف.

ويعتقد الكرملين الروسي أنه في سباق حاد مباشرة مع الأميركيين بتطبيق قانونهم المسمّى «قيصر» لخنق سورية بإلغاء كامل علاقاتها الاقتصادية في الداخل مع الخارج.

لذلك يعتبر الروس أن فتح طريقي أم 4 وأم 5 من حلب الى اللاذقية وحماة وحمص ودمشق، ضروري لمجابهة «قيصر» الترامبي، وذلك بفتح علاقات اقتصادية واجتماعية بين نحو عشرة ملايين سوري من الشمال في حلب حتى البحر المتوسط والحدود الأردنية والعراقية.

بالاضافة إلى أن هذا الإنجاز يعمق من الاستقرار السياسي للدولة السورية واضعاً كافة مدنها الأساسية في إطارسيادتها.

هناك جانب كامنٌ لا يتكلم به القيصر الروسي ويلاحظه الاميركيون عاملين على إجهاضه بكل قواهم، ويتعلق بالطموح الروسي الى العودة الى الإقليم. وهذا غير ممكن إلا بتحرير سورية من الأتراك والإرهاب، والدور الأميركي في سورية.

فعندما تتحرّر الحدود السورية الشمالية مع تركيا والشرقية والجنوبية مع الأميركيين يصبح بوسع الروس الانطلاق نحو العراق واليمن ولبنان ومصر والخليج، وامتداداتهم العربية والإسلامية، يبيعون سلاحهم يطوّرون اقتصادهم، يذهبون الى تركيب معادلة تشارك في حروب الاستحواذ على الغاز بما هو الطاقة الأساسية للعقود المقبلة وذلك انطلاقاً من كونها على رأس لائحة منتجي الغاز في العالم تليهم ايران وهي حليفة لهم. فيما تحتل قطر المرتبة الثالثة لكن الاكتشافات الجديدة قد تحدث تعديلات في هذه التراتبية، فهناك بلدان تأكد البحث العلمي وجود كميات هائلة من الغاز فيها، على رأسها سورية وليبيا والسعودية ومصر والجزائر واليمن ولبنان، وبلدان أخرى في أميركا الجنوبية.

ولأن الروس يربطون بين الصعود السياسي ذي الطبيعة الجيوبوليتيكية وبين الازدهار الاقتصادي فسارعوا الى عقد اتفاقات لتزويد الغاز الروسي لآجال طويلة مع الصين والمانيا واوكرانيا وتركيا.

لجهة أوكرانيا فلديها خطان، واحد لاستهلاكها الداخلي والثاني لأوروبا، وكذلك حال تركيا ويبدو أن الروس تحسّبوا لضغط تركيا عليهم في موضوع سورية باستخدام خطوط الغاز الروسيّة العابرة أراضيهم، فاستداروا نحو أوكرانيا لبناء خطوط غاز روسية إليها. فتشكل بديلاً لأي استثمار سياسي تركي في هذا الصدد.

لذلك تدخل روسيا حرب إدلب بوضوح لا يحتمل المراوغة التركية متأكداً من محدودية الدعم الأميركي – الأوروبي الخليجي الإسرائيلي لاردوغان، كما انها لم تعد تقبل بتهديدات تركيا بإلغاء اتفاقات سوتشي وآستانا. فالشرعيّة الوحيدة في سورية هي لدولتها فقط، اما الاتفاقات والمؤتمرات فتبقى ناقصة الى ان تعترف بها الدولة صاحبة السيادة.

وهذا ما بدأ يظهر بشكل علني عبر الخطاب الرسميّ السوري الذي يصف تركيا في سورية بالاستعمار.

بالمقابل يواصل اردوغان الضغط على الحلف الغربي لدعمه، ملاحظاً سقوط خطابه المذهبي في سورية. فعاد الى تأجيج اعلامي لا يردد الا أن تركيا تجابه سياسات التغيير الديموغرافي وميليشيات مذهبية مدعومة من محاور طائفية إقليمية (ايران).

وهذه من الوسائل التركية التقليدية لإثارة الفتن الطائفية في سورية لاستثمار مناطقها وتجزئتها.

يتبين بالاستنتاج ان لروسيا مصلحة فورية في تقليص الدور التركي لتقوية حليفتها الدولة السورية من ناحية وللعودة الى الإقليم من ناحية ثانية.

فهل يتجرأ الاتراك على الذهاب بعيداً في لعبة الحرب في إدلب؟

اذا استمر الدعم الاميركي محدوداً فلن يعدم أردوغان وسيلة لتفعيل الحوار مع موسكو على قاعدة تطبيق اتفاقيات سوتشي، وبقي أن تقتنع الدولة السورية بذلك.

لذلك فإن أردوغان البراجماتي يمتلك وسيلتين لحفظ ماء وجهه: الاستمرار بمناوشات مع الجيش السوري والحوار العميق مع روسيا للمحافظة على ما تبقى له من دور. وهنا يشمل بكل تأكيد محاولة نيل موافقة روسية على دور له في ليبيا الى جانب حليفه السراج. وهذا يشمل حسب الاعتقاد التركي حصة في الغاز في البحر الأبيض المتوسط.

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Even Trump is Smarter than Erdogan: 37 More Turkish Soldiers Killed in Idlib

February 28, 2020 Arabi Souri

Turkish Army Column heading to aid al-Qaeda in Idlib hit by the SAA - dozens of Turkish soldiers killed
Turkish Army Column heading to aid al-Qaeda in Idlib hit by the SAA – dozens of Turkish soldiers killed
Turkish Army Column heading to aid al-Qaeda in Idlib hit by the SAA – dozens of Turkish soldiers killed Turkish Army Column heading to aid al-Qaeda in Idlib hit by the SAA – dozens of Turkish soldiers killed Conflicting reports coming from northwest Syria, in Idlib in particular, the conflicts in reports are mainly about the total number of Turkish soldiers killed late yesterday local time, the number is ranging between 22 as per the Erdogan’s propaganda outlets and 37 as per Turkey’s own British allies. Erdogan’s regime’s propaganda media Anadol Agency stated that 22 Turkish soldiers killed, reference the Turkish governor of occupied Syrian Iskandaron (Hatay). Erdogan’s war ministry increased the number to 29 Turkish soldiers killed. The British intelligence media outlet known as SOHR increased the number to 37. Britain maintains the largest listening (spy) post in the world in Cyprus, across the Syrian coast, they listen (spy) to all communications including of Turkey, USA, and Israel, they might have listened to cries by the Turkish soldiers calling for rescue. Instead of learning from his boss in the ‘White’ House and saying that the Syrians are ‘standing down’ and ‘all is well’ and ‘nobody is harmed’ and silently starts withdrawing his troops from Syria while his war ministry starts talking about ‘brain injured’ soldiers, Erdogan increased the tensions by ordering artillery and missiles attacks against Syrian Arab Army posts in Latakia countryside, the same posts that were targeted by al-Qaeda throughout the Syrian crisis. What is known so far is the Syrian Arab Army bombed a Turkish military column of armored vehicles that were moving to aid al-Qaeda in Saraqib after the terrorists were defeated. The military column is ‘deleted’. Russian official sources confirmed today the reports that Turkish soldiers were firing at Russian jets which were in pursuit of Nusra Front (HTS aka al-Qaeda Levant) in Idlib. Erdogan’s propagandists are talking about thousands of Syrian soldiers killed in the retaliation attacks against the posts in Latakia countryside. Erdogan’s war ministry claimed there are dozens of SAA soldiers killed. Sources on the ground and Russian sources stated that there are 4 Syrian Arab Army soldiers injured. It’s up to the readers to take any of the accounts, nobody will ever know, at least while the clashes are still ongoing. Meanwhile, members of Erdogan’s anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood AK Party are gathering near the hospitals where the Turkish Army soldiers were taken, chanting al-Qaeda slogans to take revenge from the Syrians for killing Turkish soldiers inside Syria. Syrian Arab Army Besieges Turkish Army’s 10th Military Post in Idlib February 27, 2020 Erdogan Killed 2 More Turkish Army Soldiers to Defend al-Qaeda in Idlib February 20, 2020 The SAA Killed 5 More Turkish Soldiers in Taftanaz East of Idlib February 10, 2020 The Muslim Brotherhood organization was established over a century ago to control the Islamic world using fanatic puppets, similarly, the British oversaw the creation of the Wahhabi religion, the religion of the people of Najd (Riyadh) in Saudi Arabia and the rulers of Qatar who keep confusing they’re Muslim Brotherhood or Wahhabis, Britain is not helping them find out. Zionism is also another tool nourished by Britain at the same time, also to control the Jews from within using fanatic puppets. The Turkish madman can solve this entire quagmire very simply by calling Mr. Putin and apologizing for all the backstabbing, he can give his forces (al-Qaeda) orders to withdraw to designated camps inside Turkey and call on the Turkish Army to withdraw to their country and continue their lives with their families, that will also be in accordance with international law and the Adana Accord he kept breaching and violating since 2011. He can ask Mr. Putin to convey his apologies to Dr. Bashar Al-Assad and offer to rebuild Syria on Turkey’s account and to compensate the owners of factories in Aleppo for stealing their factories, the farmers in northeast Syria for stealing their wheat and destroying their silos, and to allocate a few billion dollars to compensate the families of the Syrian, Russian, Iranian and Hezb Allah soldiers killed fighting al-Qaeda he sponsored. Earlier this week Russia offered Erdogan a very large banana in Idlib, instead of accepting it he increased the level of threats and attacks in Idlib, Aleppo, Northeastern Syria, Libya, and elsewhere, and included verbal assaults on Russia. Russia Offers Erdogan a Large Banana, Might be the Last One in Idlib Syria News sources from within Turkey confirm that the top brass of the Turkish Army are already boiling and the long-awaited military coup to re-instate democracy and secularism in Turkey is imminent, the only thing delaying them is the uncertainty whether Mr. Putin will help Erdogan again against them, or will it be Israel, so they can take their precautions.

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عمليّة أورانوس السوريّة في إدلب ستُنهي حياة أردوغان السياسيّة

محمد صادق الحسينيّ

منذ تنفيذ الجيوش السوفياتية لعملية أورانوس (Uranus Operation) الاستراتيجية الكبرى، في تشرين الثاني 1942، على جبهات ستالينغراد التي كانت تواجه الغزو الألماني النازي، وهي العملية التي تمكّنت القوات السوفياتية خلالها من فرض الحصار المطبِق على قوات الجيش السادس/ مدرّعات/ الألماني، الذي بلغ قوامه آنذاك 350 الف جندي، وتمّ سحقه وتدميره مع نهاية شهر شباط 1943، أيّ خلال ثلاثة أشهر من العمليات العسكرية.

نقول إنه ومنذ تلك العملية العسكرية السوفياتية، ذات الأهمية والتداعيات الاستراتيجيّة على مسار الحرب العالمية الثانية، لم يحصل أن قام جيش في العالم بتنفيذ عملية شبيهة لتلك العملية السوفياتية، سوى الجيش السوريّ. وذلك عبر الهجوم الاستراتيجي الواسع النطاق في أرياف إدلب الجنوبية الغربية وحماة الشمالية الشرقية واللاذقية الشمالية الشرقية/ جسر الشغور.

وتماماً كما فعلت الجيوش السوفياتيّة في شهر تشرين الثاني 1942، عندما شنت هجوماً شاملاً متزامناً على محاور مدينة ستالينغراد الشمالية والجنوبية، وهي المدينة التي كانت يحتلها الجيش الألماني السادس، بهدف محاصرة تلك الجيوش الألمانية وتدمير قوات الاحتياط العملياتي الذي يدعمها، قام الجيش السوري والقوات الحليفة بتنفيذ خطة شبيهة حيث قام مع القوات الحليفة، وبغطاء جوي روسي ـ سوري كثيف، بما يلي:

1

ـ شنّ هجوماً مركّزاً ومباغتاً تماماً، للعصابات المسلحة وداعميها الأتراك، وذلك بعد تمهيد ناري جوّي ومدفعي صاروخي عنيف، على محاور سهل الغاب/ جبل الأربعين/ جبل شحشبو وسيطر عليها بسرعة قياسية، من خلال عملية نوعية أشبه ما تكون بعملية قوات خاصة، مع فارق طول الجبهة، وهو يقارب 45 كيلومتراً، وحجم القوات الذي استخدم لتنفيذ العملية العسكرية السورية بنجاح.

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ـ وقد نجح الجيش السوري وحلفاؤه، عبر هذه المناورة الاستراتيجيّة الضخمة، بالسيطرة النارية على طول الطريق الدولي السريع، حلب اللاذقية والمسمّى طريق  M 4، وذلك تمهيداً للسيطرة الفعلية المباشرة عليه في مرحلة لاحقة من مراحل تنفيذ الخطة.

فبسيطرته على جبل الأربعين يكون الجيش السوريّ قد أسقط كلاً من أريحا وقاطع الطريق الدولي  M 4، من نصيبين شرقاً (شرق أريحا) وحتى أوروم الجوز جنوب المدينة، أيّ أنه قد قطع خط إمداد المسلحين المقبل من سهل الغاب ومن جهة جسر الشغور. كما انّ سيطرته على جبل شحشبو قد جعلته يسيطر نارياً على كلّ من المدينة وقسم من الطريق الدولي M 4 شرق وغرب المدينة. وبالتالي فإنّ الجيش السوري، وتحت غطاءٍ جوّي روسي سوري كثيف، قد تمكن من إقامة رؤوس جسور، امتدّت من بلدة سراقب شرقاً وحتى بلدة كأمور تحتاني غرباً (غرب جسر الشغور)، تماماً كما فعل المارشال السوفياتي شوكوف، سنة 1942 في معركة ستالينغراد، عندما بدأ تنفيذ خطته بإقامة رؤوس جسور شمال وجنوب ستالينغراد، معتمداً على الجيوش السوفياتية: السابع والخمسين والثاني والستين والرابع والستين في محاور المدينة الجنوبية، وعلى الجيوش: الثالث والسادس والأول في شمال المدينة، وذلك استعداداً لبدء الهجوم الشامل لتحرير المدينة مع بداية شهر كانون الأول 1942.

وما أن تمكنت الجيوش السوفياتية من فرض الحصار الكامل، على الجيش الألماني السادس، الذي كان يحتلّ مدينة ستالينغراد، حتى قرّرت القيادة العسكرية الألمانية العامة الزجّ بالجيش الألماني المدرّع الرابع، الذي كان منتشراً على محور كاربوفكا (karpovka) في القاطع الجنوبي من غرب المدينة (غرب نهر الفولغا) ويقابله الجيش السوفياتي الرابع والستون.

تحرّك الجيش المدرّع الألماني الرابع، بناءً على أوامر القيادة العامة في برلين، في محاولة لفك الحصار عن الجيش السادس. تماماً كما تحرّكت الوحدات المدرّعة التركية، يوم الأربعاء 26/2/2020، في محاولة منها لفكّ الحصار الذي ضربه الجيش السوري على بعض مجموعات المسلحين، الذين سبق وأنْ استدرجهم الى كمين استراتيجي كبير في سراقب، قبل ذلك بأربع وعشرين ساعة، من ناحية أبعاده ونتائجه على سير المعارك، (الكمين) على طول مسرح العمليات، من سراقب حتى غرب جسر الشغور.

ولكن طلائع قوات الجيش السوفياتي الرابع والستين سرعان ما انقضّت على وحدات الجيش الألماني الرابع المدرّعة، فور محاولتها بدء هجومها المضاد، الأمر الذي لم يستغرق وقتاً طويلاً حتى تمّ سحق الجيش الألماني المدرّع الرابع تماماً.

وهذا بالضبط ما حصل مع القوة المدرّعة التركية، قوامها لواء مدرّعات، معزّز بكتيبة مدفعيّة ميدان ثقيلة وكتيبة مدفعيّة صاروخية، من طراز ( MLRS ) multiple Launch rocket System، في خطوطها الخلفية. تلك القوة التي كانت تتحرك في محيط بلدة بارَه، متجهة إلى سراقب، عندما تصدّى لها سلاح الجو السوري وشنّ عليها أربع غارات جوية أدّت الى تدمير مجموعة من دباباتها وراجمات الصواريخ التركية وقتل وجرح من فيها، خاصة أنّ الجيش السوري كان في أوْج عملياته ضدّ مجموعات المسلحين التي تمّ استدراجها إلى محيط مدينة سراقب.

أما عن خلفيات وتداعيات الانتصارات، التي حققها الجيش السوري خلال الأسبوع الأخير والانهيارات التي شهدتها جبهة أردوغان ومحازبيه، من جبهة النصرة والحزب التركستاني وكلّ المتطرفين الإرهابيين التركستانيين الذين حشدهم أردوغان أملاً منه في خلق عثمانستان جديدة، فلا بدّ من الإشارة إلى ما يلي:

1

ـ انطلاقاً من قناعة أردوغان العميقة بانتهاء الحرب التي شنّت على سورية، والذي كان نظامه كما النظام الأردني، رأس حربة فيها، وبأنّ المشروع الذي شارك في تنفيذه منذ اللحظة الأولى، الذي كان يهدف الى تفتيت الدولة السورية وتمزيق أراضيها، قد انهار وفشل وانّ استكمال تحرير الأراضي السورية، بما فيها تلك التي تحتلها القوات التركية، لا يتعدّى كونه مسألة وقت ليس إلا، وفي ظلّ التقدّم السريع الذي يحرزه الجيش السوري، في مسرح العمليات في الشمال السوري، قام أردوغان بإطلاق تهديداته للجيش السوري، بعنجهية لا تستند الى أيّ مرتكزات حقيقية، مطالباً إياه (الجيش السوري) بالتراجع عن الأراضي التي تمّ تحريرها من سيطرة أردوغان ومجموعاته الإرهابية المسلحة.

وقد وصل به الأمر الى أن يرفق تهديداته تلك بموعد زمني هو آخر شهر شباط الحالي، اعتقاداً منه انّ بإمكانه تنفيذ عملية عسكرية سريعة يستطيع من خلالها استعادة السيطرة على المناطق التي حرّرها الجيش العربي السوري، سواء في أرياف حلب أو أرياف إدلب، علاوةً على اعتقاده بأنّ ذلك سيؤدي الى إمكانية مواصلة سيطرته على بقية محافظة إدلب ومدينة إدلب نفسها.

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ـ كانت أوهام أردوغان هذه تهدف الى، تعديل صيغة سوتشي بالقوة وعن طريق تغيير موازين القوى العسكرية الميدانية، وذلك لتأمين عودة قوية، له وللإرهابيين الذين يدعمهم، الى العملية السياسية التي نقف على أعتابها، بعد فشل المشروع الصهيوأميركي، في إسقاط الدولة الوطنية السورية.

وهو ما دفعه الى أن يزجّ بفرقة مدرعةٍ ولواءي مدفعية ميدان ثقيلة ولواء قوات خاصة تركية، الى داخل الحدود السورية، سواءً في أرياف حلب الشمالية او أرياف إدلب المختلفة، بالإضافة الى فرقة دبابات معززة بفرقة مشاة محمولة (مؤللة) أيّ محمولة بناقلات جنود، على الحدود التركية السورية، في محافظة الإسكندرون السورية المحتلة منذ عام 1939.

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ـ كانت خطة الجيش السوري تسير بشكل جيد، في ما عدا بعض الفقاعات الصوتيّة الفارغة، الواردة من الشمال، كما قال الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، منذ إطلاقها قبل ما يزيد عن ثلاثة أشهر، وكانت القيادة العسكرية السورية، وبتنسيق كامل مع القيادة العسكرية الروسية وحلفاء الدولة السورية، تضع في حسبانها بأنّ أردوغان، الخارج من الميدان السوريّ مهزوماً، سوف يعمد الى خطوات تهدف الى قلب المعادلة وخلط الأوراق من جديد، بما في ذلك لجوؤه للقيام بمغامرة عسكرية في محافظة إدلب او محافظة حلب.

وبناءً على هذه القناعة اتخذت القيادة العسكرية الروسية السورية، أو بالأحرى غرفة العمليات المشتركة، القرار المناسب، بالتصدّي لأيّ محاولات عبثية لأردوغان وبالقوة المسلحة، منعاً له من أن يعبث بانتصارات الدولة السورية.

4

ـ وتماماً كما فعل هتلر، في بدايات شهر نيسان 1945، عندما كانت جيوش الاتحاد السوفياتي تقف على أبواب برلين، بقيادة المارشال شوكوف (الذي قاد معركة ستالينغراد أيضاً)، أصدر أمراً لبقايا قواته بشنّ هجوم مضاد، لمحاولة وقف الزحف السوفياتي على برلين، وفشلت الجيوش الألمانية في تحقيق ذلك.

وها هو أردوغان، وأدواته المهزومة في الميدان السوري، يحاولون وفي آخر لحظة، وبينما الجيش العربي السوري يقف على أعتاب إدلب، يحاولون وقف زحف هذا الجيش، ويتورّطون في مغامرة عسكرية، بهجومهم على مدينة سراقب والذي سينتهي بإبادة تامةٍ لكلّ المجموعات الإرهابية التي شاركت في هذا الهجوم. وهي العملية التي يقوم الجيش السوري وحلفاؤه باستكمالها حالياً.

5

ـ وبناءً على خطة الجيش السوري العملياتية، التي أخذت بالحسبان احتمال ارتكاب مغامرة من قبل أردوغان، وفي اللحظة التي بدأ فيها أردوغان بتنفيذ مغامرته، يوم أول امس الخميس 27/2/2020، قام سلاح الجو السوري ومعه سلاح الجو الروسي والقيادة العسكرية والسياسية الروسية، وبعد تمهيد سياسي دبلوماسي منقطع النظير، من قبل الرئيس الروسي، نقول إنّ سلاح الجو السوري قام بقطع أيدي أردوغان وأرجله، برسالة جوية صاروخية نارية، جعلته يجثو على ركبتيه أمام الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، راجياً إياه وقف قصف القوات التركيّة ومؤكداً له (لبوتين) التزامه بالتطبيق الحرفي الدقيق لاتفاقيات سوتشي.

6

ـ وهذا يعني أنّ أردوغان سيخضع من الآن فصاعداً، وبعد فشل مغامرته العسكرية في ريف إدلب الجنوبي، لما يقرّره الرئيسان الروسي والإيراني ويقبله الرئيس السوري. وهنا يجب القول بأنّ أردوغان لم يعُد ضامناً لاتفاق سوتشي وانما أصبح شخصاً محجوراً (خاضعاً للحجر) عليه إلى أن يقضي الله أمراً كان مفعولاً…

تماماً كما حصل مع قائد النازية الألمانية، أدولف هتلر، بعد فشل هجومه المضاد الأخير الذي بدأه يوم 16/4/1945 وانتهى بانتحاره يوم 30/4/1945. والفارق الوحيد بين الاثنين أنّ أردوغان لا يمتلك الشجاعة للإقدام على وضع حدّ لحياته الإجرامية، وإنما سيتولى هذه المهمة جنرالات من الجيش التركي، أكثر حرصاً على تركيا ومصالحها القومية العليا، من هذا اللصّ الدولي الذي لا يهمّه سوى مصالحه الشخصية هو وأبناؤه وأنسباؤه. وما زيارته الاستفزازية الأخيرة الى أوكرانيا إلا أوضح دليل على ذلك. اذ انّ السبب الاساسي للزيارة هو تأمين تكنولوجيا أوكرانية لصناعة الطائرات بدون طيار وهي الصناعة التي يسيطر عليها زوج ابنة أردوغان، سميّة أردوغان، المدعو سلجوق بيرقدار.

لذا فمن المرجّح، خاصة بعد ما تعرّض له الجيش التركي من خسائر بشرية، في جنوب إدلب، ان يقوم رهط من الجنرالات الأتراك المعارضين لمغامرات أردوغان بتنظيم انقلاب عسكري يطيح بأردوغان لينتهي إما قتيلاً وإما سجيناً.

وهنا لا بدّ من الاشارة الى انه قد سبق السيف العذل. فلن تفيد أردوغان، في وجه معارضيه داخل المؤسسة العسكرية التركية بشكل خاص، توسّلاته للرئيس الروسي بأن الجيش التركي سيلتزم بالتواجد فقط وحصراً. بشكل قطعي في نقاط المراقبة الاثنتي عشر المتفق عليها في سوتشي، وهو ما أبلغ به أردوغان الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين خلال مكالمته الهاتفيه معه ظهر أمس الجمعة 28/2/2020.

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The Covert Financial War Against Hezbollah: Lebanon’s Money Trail

February 27, 2020

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

The new Lebanese Government has been pre-destined to fail; and for no wrong doing on its part. Actually, PM Diab formed the cabinet on the 22nd of January 2020, and as I sit down to write this on the 26th of February, I would have to say that, irrespective of the conditions upon which Diab was chosen to be the new PM, he has not yet had the chance to prove his worth or otherwise.

The popular street anger that emerged in Lebanon on the 18th of October 2019 has forced former PM Hariri to resign. Among other reform requests, the protesters demanded a cabinet comprised of new non-political faces, and Diab’s cabinet as well as Diab himself, are technically-speaking indeed new on the Lebanese political arena. But even before Diab formed the new cabinet, he himself was touted to be a Hezbollah supporter, and this made him unacceptable by the protestors. And after he named his cabinet members, more such claims were made; and I am not in a position to assert them or otherwise.

In a series of articles that were published on my blog, https://intibahwakeup.blogspot.com/2020/02/lebanons-dilemma-revolving-identity_27.html, I focused on the on-going Lebanese unrest from an identity-based perspective and the conflict of loyalties. But money, as some say, makes the world go round.

This article is not intended to address history as such and/or Diab’s alleged loyalties. It is rather about what is behind the money trail that has been part-and-parcel of all political developments in Lebanon ever since 1975 and before.

When the Lebanese Civil War broke out in 1975, the exchange rate of the Lebanese Lira (LL) to the US Dollar (USD) was in the vicinity of 3 LL to 1 USD . And, even though the war devastated the country whose economy was primarily underpinned mainly by tourism and banking services, the Lebanese economy did not seem to suffer, at least significantly. There were times when certain commodities were hard to find, but that was mainly due to transport-related problems caused by road closures, and not due to economic conditions that stood in the way of their availability.

The LL remained strong, but eventually slipped and took a minor dive towards the end of 1984. By September 1984, the exchange rate was 5 LL to 1 USD. Even though that 5:1 mark generated panic, in hindsight, it reflected further fiscal strength of the LL given that this landmark happened more than nine whole years into the war. And, between 1984 and 1990 or so, it slipped to 1500 LL to 1 USD.

There was much turmoil during this period and many retirees and ex-pats lost their life-long savings. As for those still at a working age, they suffered severely until their wages were eventually indexed and the LL maintained its 1500-1 ratio to the USD for a very long time; actually till the time the recent uprisings commenced just 3 months ago.

In hindsight, there is no mystery or divine intervention behind the rather strong Lebanese economy during the first 9 years of the Civil War and which kept the exchange rate steady.

The buck stops with war money and the war money trail.

Seven years into the Lebanese Civil War, Israel invaded Lebanon and the PLO was forced out. Two years later, the LL began to slump.

Coincidence? Perhaps not.

During the first few years of the Civil War, Lebanon lost its traditional “golden age” sources of income, but it was inundated with war money.

The main donors were Gaddafi, Saddam and Saudi Arabia.

Some would argue that the CIA made heavy investments, and this is quite possible. But the CIA and similar agencies, including the Mossad, had their individual operatives. On the other hand, Gaddafi, Saddam and Saudi Arabia were sponsoring whole armies; so to speak.

Virtually all Left wing Lebanese political parties sent delegations to Libya seeking financial support. This includes what was referred to in Lebanese political terms as political “shops”. Some of those “shops” were comprised of small groups with a dozen fighters. They all came back with millions of USD, some with tens of millions.

The Saudis were very keen to finance the emerging Salafist militia (even though they were not referred to as such back then) because those militia were fighting the Right wing “Christian infidels”. At the same time, they were happy to finance those same “Christian infidels” because they were fighting the Communists (who were party to the Lebanese political Left).

Saddam, the Iraqi Baathist, on the other hand was very keen to sponsor any group that stood up against the rival Syrian Government of the other Baath Party faction.

The Kuwaitis, Gulfies and Qataris played more or less the same game as that of the Saudis.

All up, there were huge sums of war money pouring into Lebanon. Adding to that was what the Lebanese ex-pats sent their families and what they invested into their savings. The Lebanese banking system found alternatives to tourism and foreign investment, and the economy remained prosperous despite the devastating civil war that was destroying much of what the eye could see.

But the Lebanese political parties and “shops” were not the only recipients of “brotherly” aid and not the largest ones either. By far, the biggest recipient was the PLO in all of its branches and subdivisions.

Whilst most of the monies “invested” in the Lebanese Civil War were spent on munitions, operatives on the ground were canvassed, employed as mercenary fighters with most generous pay. One would not zero out the possibility that the Lebanese banking system benefited from those transactions.

Throughout the first decade of the Civil War years of Lebanon, there was no shortage of money or jobs for those prepared to literally cut throats for a living. Pragmatically-morbid as this may sound, war money and its willful recipients kept unemployment levels low and the economy buoyant.

Now, was the initial slump of the LL exchange rate in 1984 a direct result of the expulsion of the PLO and its associated funds from Lebanon? No one can answer this question with reliable economic accuracy. That said, the timing of the events begs the question.

What we do know is that between 1984 and the year the war ended in 1989, the LL slumped from 5:1 USD, to 1500:1 USD.

As the Civil War eventually came to an end in 1989, Rafiq Hariri emerged on the scene as a savior. He made huge investments in rebuilding certain aspects of the Lebanese infrastructure. The self-made billionaire, Lebanese by birth, but a dual national of Saudi Arabia, who eventually became Lebanon’s PM, bolstered the economy not only by bringing in his own investments, but also by presenting and ensuring a strong Saudi regional backup to his ventures.

Hariri also established the philanthropic “Hariri Foundation” which sponsored tens of thousands of Lebanese youth to receive tertiary education at home and abroad.

Hariri also created jobs as he rebuilt downtown Beirut, and certainly his American style election campaigns injected millions of dollars into the streets.

Hariri resurrected the confidence in the Lebanese economy and the LL. As a result, the LL maintained its exchange rate of LL 1500 to 1 USD and the Gaddafi/Saddam war funds were superseded and made redundant by the “peace” Hariri/Saudi funds. In any event, by then, the demise of Saddam was just around the corner.

The Rafiq Hariri money injections replaced the lost PLO war money, which in turn replaced the original Lebanese golden age economy pillars of banking and tourism that supported the Lebanese economy during its “golden age”.

When Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in 2005, change was on the horizon.

His son, Saad, carried his legacy and continued to fund his father’s initiatives at all levels.

When the war on Syria began, with the help and facilitation of Saad Hariri, the Saudis and Qataris injected huge sums of money into Lebanon in order to lure jihadi recruits, arm them and send them into Syria. The northern city of Tripoli was the main hub for this influx. And, because Tripoli had its own internal conflict between Bab el Tabbana fighters who were loyal to the then Hariri/Saudi/Qatari camp in their fight with the Alawite fighters of Jabal Mohsen, money kept flowing in.

In the most dire of situations therefore, in peace and in war, the Lebanese economy has always had a lifebuoy.

Furthermore, the Lebanese Government was able to receive international aide and grants, especially after major escalations. All up, in the so-called Paris 1, 2 and 3, together with the so-called Cedar 1 fundraisers, the plan was to provide Lebanon with USD 17 Bn to be provided according to a schedule that terminates in 2025. The fund providers were the EU, the USA and the Arab oil states. It is not clear how much has already been received.

The Lebanese people cannot see where these funds have gone to, and now the government has repayment commitments to make and which it cannot meet and this is public knowledge.

What is pertinent here, is that all war funds have now run dry, with the exception of the Iranian aid to Hezbollah. That aid however, never really had a significant effect on the economy in the past, and it is not expected to have one now either.

Gaddafi and Saddam are long gone, the Saudis are no longer in partnership with the Qataris, but neither party is sponsoring any warring entity in Lebanon at the moment. Hariri’s Saudi Oger giant construction company has gone bankrupt, and even though Saad Hariri is believed to have quarantined at least a billion dollars for himself, he has closed all charity organizations, electoral offices and payments to his loyal troops.

But this is not all, even the scheduled “legitimate” foreign aid has stopped, and that was before the recent street uprising.  https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/lebanon-to-receive-no-foreign-aid-before-government-is-formed-say-diplomats-1.8260216

The situation now is much more untenable for current PM Diab, because he knows that it would be pointless of him to even try to approach the well-financed Arab states seeking help, so he is not even trying.  https://www.mtv.com.lb/news/مــحــلــيــات/1022176/لماذا_يتريّث_دياب_في_طَرق_الأبواب_الخارجية؟

There is no doubt at all that all benefactors that have traditionally been assisting Lebanon are quite aware of the corruption and theft, and they must be growing sick and tired of being constantly asked to give more; especially that they know beforehand that their funds will be squandered. Ironically however, many of them did not worry about the fate of their funds when they were financing warring factions. Nonetheless, they are employing the issue of corruption to hold back on providing loans and finance to Lebanon.

For the first time in its history, neither the Lebanese people nor the political parties or government are receiving any lifeline funds.

To add insult to injury, Lebanese banks have implemented draconian measures to limit withdrawals. The figures have improved slightly, but the withdrawal limit is still around USD 200 a month. Even if one has millions invested, he/she has to stop at this limit. This includes businesses and as a result many employers have had to dismiss their workforce. As if this alone is not bad enough, it is preventing hundreds of thousands of Lebanese expats from sending money to their savings accounts and relatives at home. Expat money had always been one of the corner stones of Lebanese economy.

Any of the above factors can alone cripple the back of a country’s economy; let alone all combined. And even if Diab was clean as a whistle and willing and able to stamp out corruption and move forward, to say that he is not allowed to succeed is not a far-fetched statement to make. One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that the different economic strangleholds imposed currently on Lebanon did not line up accidently.

What does not meet the eye here is that Lebanese people are deliberately being squeezed into the corner of poverty, even starvation, so that they revolt. But the main target of inducing this anger is not to affect reform against corruption, but rather to inflame the anti-Hezbollah passion in order to disarm it and keep Israel safe from its rockets.

Because the Axis of Resistance has been victorious, corruption is now used by its enemies to cripple Lebanon economically in order to bring Hezbollah to its knees and provide Israel with it has not been able to achieve by force.

The big irony here, is that none of the politicians who are corrupt and have been named to have thieved from the public purse is a Hezbollah official. Admittedly though, Nabih Berri (leader of Amal) and Gibran Basil (son-in-law of President Aoun) have been named as highly corrupt, but they are allies of Hezbollah, not members; and there is a big difference. The list of corrupt officials however, includes virtually all officials from all traditional Lebanese parties and dynasties; not Hezbollah.

And even though protestors in the streets are demanding reform and the return of stolen funds and chanting out “Killon Yani Killon” (ie “all of them means all of them”), the anti-Hezbollah/Syria/Iran fervor is very specifically high on their agenda.

They have been playing videos showing thugs carrying Hezbollah flags and chanting Shiite slogans, attacking the peaceful demonstrators. If Hezbollah wanted to attack the demonstrators, would it be so unsavvy to carry flags? But ironically, no one questions the identity of those thugs and who is really behind them. Such videos are further inflaming the sentiments and the calls for disarming Hezbollah. This is exactly what Israel wants. This is social engineering 101, but some even moderate-thinking Lebanese are now reiterating that disarming Hezbollah is part-and-parcel of the reform needed.

Lebanon is not under any Western sanctions as such. It is under siege, a covert siege, a covert financial war against Hezbollah and the way out of it requires wisdom and diligence.

‘Idlib is inside Syria, not California’: Jaafari to UN Security Council

By News Desk -2020-02-29

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:00 A.M.) – Syria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Dr. Bashar Al-Ja’afari, told the United Nations Security Council on Friday that the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) operation in Idlib is a response to Turkey’s violation of the September 17th, 2018 Sochi Agreement, which called on the withdrawal of all extremist groups from the deescalation zone in northwestern Syria.

During the emergency meeting at the UNSC, Dr. Ja’afari justified the Syrian military operations in Idlib, as he accused Turkey of harboring Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) inside the governorate.

The Syrian delegate said the reason for Turkey’s opposition is because it goes against their military presence inside the country.Dr. Ja’afari discussed U.N. Article 51, which the Mexican delegation brought, pointing out that Turkey was the only country to oppose it.

He criticized the western nations at the Security Council by pointing out that Idlib is Syrian territory and not part of their countries.

“Idlib is inside of Syria, not California or any foreign territory,” Dr. Ja’afari said.

Lastly, the Syrian delegate lashed out at the United Kingdom’s delegation, accusing them of killing more than one million people in Iraq, while also plundering their oil.

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Are Russia and Turkey on a collision course?

THE SAKER • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 

[this analysis was written for the Unz Review]

The murder of the Iranian hero-martyr General Soleimani created a situation in which a war between Iran and the Axis of Kindness (USA/Israel/KSA) became a real possibility but, at the very last minute, Uncle Shmuel decided that he had no stomach for a full-scale war against Iran. Wise decision.

This, however, does not at all imply that the AngloZionist Empire decided to stand by idly, far from it. The need to take quick and determined action became particularly acute following the huge anti-US demonstrations in Iraq (well over one million people in the streets!) which directly put at risk the US occupation (the MSM would call it “presence”) in both Iraq and Syria.

At the same time, Turkish President Erdogan’s refusal to remove all the “bad terrorists” from the Idlib province eventually resulted in a joint Syrian-Russian offensive to liberate the province. That offensive, in turn, clearly infuriated the Turks who warned of a major military operation to prevent the Syrians from liberating their own country.

This begs the question: are Russia and Turkey really on a collision course?

There are certainly some very worrying warning signs including a number of very harsh statements by Erdogan himself, and a suddenly re-kindled Turkish interest for the US “Patriots”.

On the ground in Idlib, the Turks have clearly provided the “bad terrorists” with a lot of support including equipment, MANPADs, tanks and armored personnel carriers. The Turks actually went as far as sending special forces to assist the “bad terrorists” directly. Finally, from footage taken by Russian and Syrian drones, and even the “bad terrorists” themselves, it appears undeniable that Turkish MLRS and regular artillery provided the “bad terrorists” with fire support.

Both sides also agree that a number of Turkish personnel were killed (they only disagree on how many and what these Turks were doing in Syria).

Finally, and most ominously, there is even a video circulating on the Internet which appears to show a US “Stinger” being fired by the “bad terrorists” at a Russian aircraft which, thank God, managed to evade it (unlike 2 Syrian Army helicopters which were shot down).

So the first conclusion that we can come to is that the Turks are already engaged in combat operations against the Syrians. For the time being, these combat operations are just below the threshold of “credible deniability”, but not by much. For example, if the Turks had shot down a Russian aircraft you can be pretty certain that the Russian public opinion (which has still not forgiven Erdogan for the downed Su-24) would have demanded that the Russian Aerospace Forces massively retaliate (just as they have every time Russian military personnel have been killed) kill scores of Turks.

The Russian position is very straightforward. It goes something like this:

The Turks committed to remove all the “bad terrorists” from the Idlib province, leaving only the “good terrorists” who are committed to a ceasefire and a political peace process in place. That did not happen. In this case, the Syrians clearly have to do themselves what the Turks refused (or could not) do. The Russian military presence in Syria, and the Russian military operations, are all absolutely legitimate and legal: the legitimate government of Syria invited the Russians in, and the UNSC agreed to back the Syrian peace process. Thus the Russian Aerospace Forces’ strikes against the “bad terrorists” are absolutely legal. Furthermore, Russia very much deplores the presence of regular Turkish units among the “bad terrorists” which is both illegal and very unhelpful. Finally, the Russian Aerospace forces have no way to determine who sits in which tank, or who provides artillery cover for the operations of the “bad terrorists”. Thus, if Turkish military personnel are killed in Syrian or Russian operations, this would be entirely the fault of Ankara.

So far the Turkish military operation has been rather unsuccessful and limited.

But Erdogan is now promising a major attack.

Will that happen and what can the Turks really do?

First and foremost, Turkey does not have the means to enter into a full-scale conflict with Russia. Turkey cannot do that for political, economic and military reasons:

Political: the simple truth is that Turkey (and Erdogan) desperately need Russian political support, not only towards the West, but also towards Iraq, Iran or Israel. Furthermore, Erdogan has now clearly deeply alienated the Europeans who are fed up with Erdogan’s constant threats to open the “refugees” spigot. As for the Turks, they have already known for years that the EU will never accept them and that NATO will not support Turkey in its (very dangerous) operations in Iraq and Syria.

Economic: Turkey’s economy really suffered from the sanctions introduced by Russia following the shooting down of the Russian Su-24 by Turkish aircraft (backed by USAF fighters). What was true then is even more true now, and the Turkish public opinion understands that.

Military: the past years have been absolutely disastrous for the Turkish armed forces which were purged following the coup attempt against Erdogan. This sorry state of affairs is indirectly confirmed by the very poor performance of Turkish forces in Syria.

What about a conflict limited to Syria?

Again, Turkey is in a bad position. For one thing, the Syrians and, even more so, the Russians control the airspace above Idlib. The Turks are so frustrated with this state of affairs that they have now reportedly asked the US to deploy Patriot missiles in southern Turkey. This is a rather bizarre request, especially considering that Turkey purchased S-400s from Russia or how pathetically the Patriots actually performed (recently in the KSA and elsewhere before that). This, by the way, might well be a case of fake news since, apparently, there are no Patriots available for Turkey even if the US agreed to sell.

Then there is the bellicose rhetoric we hear from Erdogan. For example, he recently declared that:

“The regime, backed by Russian forces and Iran-backed militants, are continuously attacking civilians, committing massacres and shedding blood, (…) I hereby declare that we will strike regime forces everywhere from now on regardless of the [2018] deal if any tiny bit of harm is dealt to our soldiers at observation posts or elsewhere.”

That kind of language is, of course, very dangerous but, at least so far, the Turkish operation has been both limited and unsuccessful. Syrian President Assad was not impressed and declared that:

It also means that we must not rest idle, but prepare for the battles to come. As a result, the battle to liberate the Aleppo and Idlib countryside continues regardless of some empty sound bubbles coming from the north (vain threats from Erdogan), just as the battle continues to liberate all of Syrian soil, crush terrorism and achieve stability.

In the meantime, in Iraq, the US has apparently dug-in and categorically refuses to leave. In practical terms this means that the Iraqis will have to step up their anti-US campaign both politically (more protests and demonstrations) and militarily (more IEDs, convoy attacks and, probably soon, drone, cruise missile and ballistic missile attacks on US targets in Iraq). I don’t believe that the US will be able to sustain that kind of pressure in the mid to long term, especially not in an election year (which promises to be hellish anyway). Right now, the Idiot-in-Chief seems to think that threatening Iraq with “very big sanctions” is the way to restore good relationships. In reality, all this will do is to further inflame anti-US feelings in Iraq and the rest of the region.

Then there is the tactical situation. Please check these two maps: (click on map for a higher resolution)

The part in red shows the government controlled areas. The light blue (or light green on the 2nd map) show the Turkish deployment. The part in olive green (or darker green on the 2nd map) shows the parts of the Idlib province which are still under Takfiri occupation. Finally, the small region around Tell Rifaat are controlled by the Kurds.

The Syrian forces, backed by Russia, have now pushed back the latest Turkish+Takfiri attack north and west of Aleppo and they are now attacking the southern tip of the Takfiri occupation zone around the Zawiya mountain and highlands, see here:

The Syrians have options here. They can either gradually push north, or they can try to envelop the Takfiri forces in a “cauldron”. Finally, the Syrians would score a major victory if they succeeded in regaining control of the highway between Aleppo and Latakia (in blue on the map).

As for the Turkish-backed Takfiris, they are pushing very hard towards Idlib, so far with only moderate and temporary successes (they typically take a location at hugecost in lives and equipment and then cannot hold on to it as soon as the Syrians and Russians bomb the crap out of their newly conquered positions).

All of this is taking place while Syrian, Russian, Turkish and US patrols are regularly meeting, often in rather tense situations which could quickly escalate into a firefight or, even worse, an open battle. There is also the risk of an incident in the air since these four nations also conduct air operations over Syria. And, just like in the case of the ground operations, Syrian and Russian air operations are legal under international law, Turkish, US or Israeli operations are not and constitute an act of “aggression” (n.b: the highest crime under international law).

So far, the various negotiations between the parties have not yielded any result. This might change on March 5th when a conference on Syria attended by Turkey, Russia, France and Germany will meet (probably in Istanbul) to try to find a negotiated solution. Considering that Turkish soldiers are killed every day and already that 2 Syrian helicopters have been shot down, this might be too late to avoid an escalation.

I will conclude here by posting a (minimally corrected) machine translation of a Russian translation of a text originally written by a Turkish political commentator and translated into Russian by a Telegram channel: (emphasis added)

Russia’s strategy from the very beginning was to return full control of Syrian territories to Assad. And Moscow was implementing its plans, getting closer to the goal step by step. As long as Damascus will not take Idlib, the operation will continue. You don’t need to be an expert in this field to understand this. This is obvious. Someone says that Erdogan’s trip to Ukraine played a role in the offensive operations of Damascus. In fact, this visit is the result of the Syrian army’s offensive. The Turkish President went to Kiev just after tensions rose between the Turkish armed forces and the Russian side. Erdogan is in Ukraine made statements that have caused irritation in Moscow.

Turkish diplomacy was at an impasse. We discussed for a long time that you can’t put all your eggs in one Russian basket. And they said: we will buy the S-400, build a nuclear power plant, and develop tourism. And Putin was made a hero in our country. And now the defense Secretary is talking about buying American patriot air defense systems. And the President is talking about acquiring Patriot. “We did not succeed with Russia, we will get closer to the United States” – this is not how foreign policy is done. We need consistency in foreign policy. It is not appropriate for a country with a strong military power to change sides between world powers once a week.

What we are still discussing these days: we need to get closer to Europe and the US against Russia. These discussions worry our entrepreneurs who work with Russia. The tourism sector is concerned. Without Russian tourists, our tourism sector cannot fill all the volumes and make a profit. We have not yet been able to resolve these issues, and we are discussing a clash with Russia. Let’s remember what happened after Turkey shot down a Russian plane. Our tourism sector could not recover for two years. What to expect from a military clash. We have to talk about it.

The goal of our state: to live in peace on our land, and keep all the troubles away from yourself, while doing this to attract new troubles – this is not an indicator of a good military strategy or a well-thought-out diplomatic strategy. Everyone should understand this.

The risk for Erdogan is obvious: in case of a serious confrontation with Russia (and Syria AND Iran, don’t forget them!), the consequences for Turkey might be severe, resulting in a sharp rise in anti-Erdogan feelings in Turkey, something he can hardly afford.

And that brings us to the current US/NATO/CENTCOM posture following the assassination of General Soleimani I mentioned in the beginning of this article. The risks of a quick and dangerous escalation involving the US and Iran are still extremely high. The same can be said for the risks of a resumption of anti-US attacks by Iraqi Shia forces. Then there are the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Yemen, which Uncle Shmuel probably would prefer to end, but has no idea how. In these countries a rapid escalation could occur at any time, especially following Iran’s officially declared goal to kick the US out of the Middle-East. And now, there is a risk of major escalation between Turkey, Syria and Russia: such an escalation would have a major potential to suck in the US forces in the region, even if nobody does so deliberately (or if the Iranians do that very deliberately).

Right now Uncle Shmuel is busy with a strategic PSYOP trying to get Russia and Iran into a conflict (see this propaganda piece for example). That will not work, as both the Russians and the Iranians are waaaaaaay too savvy to fall for such primitive things. The US also tried to instigate riots inside Iran, but they quickly petered out (as did the rumors about the US deliberately shooting down the Ukrainian airliner).

The Middle-East is impossible to predict, it is too complex and there are too many possible factors which influence the situation. Still, my guess is that the March 5th conference, assuming it takes place, will force Erdogan to back down and re-pledge his commitment to bringing back security to the Idlib province. That is, as far as I can see, the only way for Erdogan to avoid an embarrassing military defeat with possibly very serious political consequences.

Conversely, should there be an open clash between Turkey and Syria+Russia, then I don’t see NATO intervening to back Turkey. At the most, the US/NATO can send forces to “protect” Turkey and equipment, but in both cases these would not be effective (the problems of the Turkish military are too big to be solved by such mostly symbolic actions). While some more rabid countries (Poland, Netherlands, UK and, of course, the USA) might be tempted to get a major NATO action going against Syria and, through that, against Russia, the mentally saner EU countries have exactly zero desire to end up in a war against Russia, not over the Ukraine, and not over Syria.

Thus while Erdogan is desperately trying to pit the US against Russia, this will not work, especially since this latest pro-US “zag” will only further alienate Iran (and the rest of the region). I predict that after the March 5th conference, Erdogan will be forced to resume his “friendship” with Putin and basically cave in.

If that does not happen, for whatever reason, an escalation will be pretty close to inevitable.

PS: Colonel Cassad (aka Boris Rozhin) has published on his blog an interesting article which looks at a theory which, apparently, is popular in the Middle-East and Russia. This theory says that what is taking place is a gigantic show, a deception, in which both Russia and Turkey appear to be at odds, but in reality are working hand in hand to disarm the Takfiris and exchange territory. Here are, in his opinion, the possibly indications of such a collaboration: (machine translated and minimally corrected)

  1. After some formalities, Turkey resumed joint patrols with the Russian military in Rojava, which is carried out in a routine manner.
  2. Russia has increased the quota for the supply of Turkish tomatoes to Russia despite the fact that Russia threatened to block the supply of Turkish tomatoes.
  3. US did not give Turkey patriot missile, which was described in the Turkish media referring to anonymous sources in the Turkish government. No actual support from the United States and NATO, Turkey has not received.
  4. Despite the fact that the SAA was not going to stop the offensive and continued to surround the Turkish observation points, Turkey has effectively given Assad’s carte blanche for all of February, stating that no major combat operation will be initiated before the beginning of March.
  5. The main chain of the new observation points were deployed by Turkey to the North of highway M-4. The southern direction is not actually strengthened. Attempts to cover the Kafr will Sagna or Kafr Nabl were not undertaken, although this is more important points than Nairab.
  6. The bulk of the Pro-Turkish militants were drawn to Idlib and Carmine, while the southern front was actually exposed for Assad there is a situation of maximum favour for liberation dozen cities and towns.
  7. The battle of Niravam turned into a week-long meat grinder, where the militants engaged in stupid frontal assaults against Syrian positions with heavy losses but capturing Neirab, there is virtually nothing on the operational level, they did not win – losing people and most importantly – time.
  8. The Russian and Turkish military keep all channels of communication and exchange information, including on the movement of Turkish columns. The Russian military help to supply the surrounded Turkish observational points in the rear of Assad.
  9. Moscow and Ankara have repeatedly stressed that not to seek a military conflict with each other, preferring to seek resolution of disputes through diplomatic means.

And Rozhin adds:

Why all this may be part of a backroom deal? Because such a scenario would allow Turkey to look like a defender of Idlib, which is in strong opposition to the plans of Assad and Putin. At least visually. As for Assad and Putin, they can claim to have liberated part of the Idlib province. The battle of Niravam in this logic allow Erdogan to save face before “in the interests of peace and security,” to sign a new deal with Russia with a new line of demarcation, which officially has already been discussed at negotiations in Moscow on 17-18 February. Officially, the Turks rejected it. But it’s official. And if we assume that the agreement already exists and this just fixed sight 5 March, while Assad released another piece of Idlib and the militants “An-Nusra” will be partially disposed in the battles with the SAA in Idlib and in the southern frontal attack on the front under Niranam. In favor of this version may indicate the previous experience of transactions between Russia and Turkey, when Ankara loudly growled at Assad, but de facto did not prevent the Assad regime to clean up the enclaves and win the battle for Aleppo. Against this version can play what the Turks themselves are suffering losses in manpower, and further concessions to Russia may undermine Erdogan’s positions in Idlib, so he tries to bargain.

I personally doubt this version, if only because this is a very tricky and dangerous way to get things done, and because of the many threats and even ultimatums Erdogan is constantly spewing. A more likely explanation for all of the above is that 1) the Takfiris are desperate and are running out of steam and 2) the Turks are afraid of a serious confrontation with Russia. Rozin concludes:

I think that by March 5 the question of whether there is was a secret deal or not will finally be clarified, since Erdogan’s threats are all focusing on early March, at which point he will have to either attack or chose to play the role of peacemaker, which “diplomatically” stopped the advance of Assad.

Here I can only agree with him.

بين عضّ الأصابع وحافة الهاوية والانهيار

ناصر قنديل

مهما حاول ديفيد شنكر وسواه من المسؤولين الأميركيين إخفاء دورهم في الأزمة المالية وتداعياتها، عبر الحديث عن مسؤولية أخرى صحيحة لا يمكن لأصحابها إنكارها وهي مسؤولية القيادات السياسية اللبنانية التي أمسكت بزمام الحكم خلال الأعوام الثلاثين الماضية وتعاقبت على المواقع المقررة فيه. فالمسؤولية موزعة بين إرادة داخلية أعماها الطمع عن رؤية مخاطر لعبة الدين المفتوحة بلا سقوف، بما يوفره الدين من مال سهل لا يسأل أصحابه إلا عن أسعار الفوائد، من دون أن يعنيهم كيف يتمّ إنفاق المال، رغم أن الذين قاموا بتوفير الاستدانة وتسهيلها في الداخل والخارج كانوا يعلمون واقع الحال سواء لجهة فوضى التوظيف في القطاع العام أو المحاصصة الحاكمة للتلزيمات والقطاعات الاقتصادية في الدولة، والفساد المسشتري في قواعد التوظيف والإنفاق معاً، ويعلمون أيضاً أن بلوغ الديون سقوفاً عالية سيعرضها للضياع، وبلوغ لبنان معها شفير الهاوية والسقوط، وهذا يجعلهم شركاء في الجريمة مرتين، مرة لأنهم شركاء ضمنيون في الفساد الذي قبضوا ثمن شراكتهم بتمويله فوائد مبالغ بها، ومرة لأنهم عرضوا بسبب هذا الجشع أصحاب الأموال الذين وثقوا بهم وبخبرتهم ومسؤوليتهم لضمان مستقبل استثمار أموالهم. وهذا يطال المصارف اللبنانية والمؤسسات المالية الداخلية والخارجية التي شاركت في توفير التمويل للديون، وتسويق الديون، وإصدار التقارير حولها، وصولاً للمسؤولين في مصرف لبنان ومن خلفهم المسؤولون في البنك الدولي وصندوق النقد الدولي اللذين كان يجري كل شيء تحت أنظارهم.

تقع واشنطن دون سواها من عواصم القرار في قلب النظام المالي الممسك باقتصادات العالم، ومنذ تقهقر القدرة العسكرية الأميركية كما ظهر في لبنان مع رحيل المارينز، وعاد للظهور مجدداً في حربي العراق وأفغانستان، تحوّلت هذه السيطرة المالية إلى سلاح آخذ في التعاظم، وإلى الأداة الرئيسية التي تملكها الإدارات الأميركية في فرض إرادتها على دول وشعوب العالم وتسخير مصطلحات مثل الحرب على الإرهاب وحقوق الإنسان لتوصيف كل خصم أو حليف يتمسّك بخصوصية مزعجة على لوائح العقوبات، وصولاً لمرحلة الرئيس دونالد ترامب الذي أفرط إلى الحدود القصوى في استخدام سلاح العقوبات، وأدمجه بالمصالح التجارية فنال حلفاء واشنطن منه الكثير، ولا تكاد توجد دولة في العالم لا تنطبق عليها واحدة من مفردات العقوبات الأميركية. ومن الطبيعي أن نقرأ في العقوبات الأميركية على حزب الله، لما يسببه من قلق على أمن “إسرائيل”، وكحليف رئيسي لإيران، وفشلها في تطويع الحزب، كمدخل لمحاولة تركيع لبنان وإسقاطه على رأس أبنائه عسى أن ينال حزبَ الله بعضٌ من نتائج أضرار السقوط، ولا يعود أمامنا مجال للاجتهاد عندما نسمع وزير مالية فرنسا يتحدث من منبر وزراء مالية دول قمة العشرين، وهو يدعو للفصل بين دعم لبناني مالياً وصولاً لتعافيه وبين المعارك التي تخوضها واشنطن مع إيران، ولا مبرر للدعوة للفصل بين كيانين منفصلين، والاتصال بينهما إما أن تقيمه واشنطن أو لا يكون.

السؤال المجدي والجدّي، لم يعد حول النيات الأميركية ولا حول وجود أو عدم وجود خطة أميركية للذهاب بالوضع المالي إلى الحد الذي يسمح بفتح الباب للمكاسب السياسية التي تنتظرها واشنطن، والتي أفصح عنها حلفاء واشنطن في لبنان وخارجه، كشروط لنهوض لبنان، بينما هي في الحقيقة الثمن الذي تطلبه واشنطن لإيقاف حربها المالية على لبنان. السؤال هو هل ما يجري بيننا وبين واشنطن، مباشرة أو عبر البوابة الأوروبية ومنها مؤتمر سيدر ومصيره المعلّق، ومنها كيفية تعامل شركات التصنيف الائتمانية، والبنك الدولي وصندوق النقد الدولي، هو عضّ أصابع ينتظر الصراخ، أم لعب على حافة الهاوية رهانا على السقوط، أم هو قرار بدفع لبنان نحو الانهيار، وليس بمستطاع لبنان ربط مصيره بالتنبؤات؟ لذلك ستقول لنا حدود المسافة التي ستتجرأ فرنسا على قطعها نحو مساعدة لبنان، حقيقة القرار الأميركي، فإن كان القرار هو إسقاط لبنان فلن تجرؤ فرنسا أو سواها في الخليج وغير الخليج على التمرّد، وفي هذه الحالة على اللبنانيين، أو على الأقل الذين لا ينتظرون السقوط ليرقصوا على قبور أبناء وطنهم، التفكير في كيفية الاستعداد لخيارات جذرية تبدو اليوم مستغربة، لكنها قد تصبح في الغد ممراً إلزامياً لمنع السقوط، وفي طليعتها التكامل الغذائي والنفطي والكهربائي والاستهلاكي مع سورية والعراق، ووضع الخطط اللازمة لترجمة ذلك عندما يصير الاختيار قائماً بينها وبين ترك السقوط المدوّي يقع.

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