Imperial Sentiments: Donald Trump, Greenland and Colonial Real Estate

Global Research, August 23, 2019

Haven’t the critics worked it out yet?  US President Donald Trump chugs to the coal of nonsense that may come in the wrapping of some sense. Initial mad-cat comments, when cobbled together, might reveal some pattern in time.   

Take, for instance, the recent offer to purchase Greenland.  Considered laughable, purchasing territories has notable, historical precedent in US foreign policy.  Territorial aggrandizement through such means has been something of a US specialty, complementing the usual technique of brutal military conquest. 

The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 was a steal by President Thomas Jefferson, almost doubling the territory of the United States.  Alaska also went the way of purchase, being transferred by Russia to the US in 1867 for $7.2 million.  It was something the Russians would come to rue: within a half-century, that amount had been earned back a hundred times over.

That same decade saw US State Department officials turn their attention to Greenland.  An 1868 publication for the department compiled by Benjamin Mills Peirce casts more than a fleeting eye on the resources of both Iceland and Greenland, acknowledging the treaty with Denmark which was ostensibly meant to cede control of the islands of St. Thomas and St. John to the US.  (The US State Department describes this attempt on the part of Secretary of State William Henry Seward to acquire the Danish West Indies rather laconically as “peaceful territorial expansion”.)   

This observation in the report comes with its inaccuracies, largely based on premature optimism: the US Senate spitefully rejected the treaty, despite being ratified by the Danish parliament and its approval by the very limited suffrage plebiscite.  Anger was expressed at Seward’s persistent support for the troubled President Andrew Jackson during impeachment proceedings.  US interest persisted, though it was the turn of the Danish upper house to return the serve of repudiation in 1902 in refusing to ratify the agreement.  It took the winds of the First World War to encourage a formal transfer of the Danish West Indies on April 1, 1917.

The 1868 report uses rather familiar language to Trump’s, both in political and economic terms.  The Danish authorities are held to task for their great neglect of invaluable development opportunities.  Iceland is praised for “pasture and arable lands, its valuable mines, its splendid fisheries, and its unsurpassed hydraulic power”.  Fully developed (read, by US efforts), a population of one million might be sustained.  The population of Greenland is similarly “neglected by Denmark”, despite the island having vast quantities of fauna varieties for the kill, among them “whale, walrus, seal, and shark, cod, ivory-cod, salmon, salmon-trout, and herring”.  Obtaining it for the US would make good political and commercial sense: it would flank “British America on the Arctic and Pacific” and force her away from Britain “to become a part of the American Union.”

Enough seriousness was given to Trump’s offer to warrant copy across the media spectrum.  The Brookings Institution’s Scott R. Anderson was not hopeful that discussions would go anywhere. “Unfortunately for the president, buying and selling Greenland is, in all likelihood, a legal and political impossibility.” 

Anderson acknowledges a traditional acquisitiveness towards Greenland, being a gem of mineral and natural resource wealth. Furthermore, its proximity to Russia and the Arctic, in Anderson’s words,

“makes it a major strategic asset for staging various military and intelligence facilities.” 

This point is already noted by a US presence at the Thule Air Base, something maintained since the Second World War with Danish consent.  Admittedly, that presence was encouraged by Nazi Germany’s occupation of the kingdom in 1940, leaving Greenland to slide into the American orbit. Six years later, President Harry Truman wanted to formalise the move by suggesting a sum of $100 million for the island.

Given that the Danish government already permits a degree of US influence, it might have been more prudent of Trump to simply exercise it via traditional forms of seemingly benign encroachment.  That approach can be seen in Australia, where an increased US military presence is being felt by way of US marines on rotation in the Northern Territory.  But such a technique seems all too quiet for the Trump boardroom of hiring and firing.  On Wednesday, he cancelled a planned visit to Denmark, deeming the comments made by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen “nasty”.   

Frederiksen’s degree of nastiness was simply one of puzzlement.  Talking about purchasing Greenland was “an absurd discussion”, even though the US did acquire the Danish West Indies through purchase and has kept a roaming eye, wallet at the ready, to expansion in the Atlantic.  On Sunday, she told a television reporter that, “Thankfully, the time when you buy and sell other countries and populations is over. Let’s leave it there.”  She did make one gentle concession.  “Jokes aside, we would naturally love to have an even closer strategic relationship with the US.”  Deeper cooperation “on Arctic affairs” is still on the table.   

Despite Frederiksen’s occasional asides at the United States, Danish foreign policy has been closely aligned with the United States since the attacks of September 11, 2001, bucking a long history of non-interventionism.  The Danish Parliament gave its unqualified approval to US actions in retaliation and committed troops to the warring enterprises in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.  Danish military casualties per capita are the highest of any of the coalition partners in those haphazard efforts.  This shedding of blood has led to such emetic observations as those of former Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, describing the kingdom as “America’s largest and smallest ally”. (An exhibition at the Museum of Danish America in 2017 proclaimed without reserve that the US and Denmark “have the longest unbroken diplomatic relationship in the world, beginning in 1801.”) 

There is also Denmark’s strained and blighted relationship with Greenland, making it susceptible to foreign influence.  The largely self-governing entity has capitalised on Danish indifference, attempting to lure Chinese investment to develop three airports to secure better connections to the US and Europe.  (Denmark reluctantly caved in last year in an effort to keep the PRC at bay.)  Greenland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has, however, drawn the line over a proposed sale.

“We’re open for business,” went an official tweet, “not for sale”. 

Greenland MFA 🇬🇱@GreenlandMFA

is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism. We’re open for business, not for sale❄️🗻🐳🦐🇬🇱 learn more about Greenland on: http://Greenland.com 

Greenland – The Official Tourism Site. Find your adventure here! – [Visit Greenland!]

All about Greenland. Find travel offers and ideas for your next adventure. Get inspired and plan your trip to Greenland here.

visitgreenland.com

9,717 people are talking about this
The Greenland spat has revealed the obstinate ahistorical context of Trump’s world.  Allies, for one, are to be hectored, their efforts dismissed as paltry.  Despite Danish contributions to the foolhardy efforts of the US imperium, Denmark could still be scolded for spending a mere 1.35% of GDP on NATO.

“They are a wealthy country,” tweeted Trump, “and should be at 2%”. 

The president had been insulted, his ego put down by the prime minister of a small state.  “You don’t talk to the United States in that way, at least under me,” he told reporters in Washington.  “I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off.”  The US was never blown off and remains the oversized fly in the ointment of Denmark’s foreign policy.  As for Greenland, Trump might have asked its own prime minister, Kim Kielsen.

*

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Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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Kashmir, genocide and the spirit of resistance

 

Kashmir, genocide and the spirit of resistance

Farhan Mujahid Chak

Kashmir, genocide and the spirit of resistance

NGO Genocide Watch has issued a genocide alert on Kashmir [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 August, 2019

Genocide Watch lists Ten Stages of the genocidal process. Now, Kashmir exhibits all those stages, especially when considering India’s current horrendous onslaught on Kashmiri civil liberties, writes Farhan Mujahid Chak.
What is so revolting about tyranny that it stirs the human spirit in such a way, compelling us to resist? Instinctively, the thought of oppression pierces at the very essence of our human condition.

Film, music, art and literature all celebrate those who, with an unconquerable will, struggle against all odds and defy persecution.

Yet, victory is no easy feat.

Throughout history one will find countless substantiations that victory comes from the esprit de résistance. And, prominent English author George Orwell’s evocative short story Animal Farm applauds just that, while reprimanding despotism.

Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own… What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion!”For Orwell, subjugation must be resisted, since acquiescence only prolongs suffering; there can be no two-minds about it.

With that thought, consider India’s settler-colonial project and unilateral, illegal and undemocratic revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy by abrogating article 370.

Condemned worldwide, reputable NGO’s such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all strongly chastised India.

Recently, the United Nations convened an emergency Security Council meeting, the first in over 50 years, on the deteriorating situation in Kashmir calling for respect of relevant UN resolutions.

More pecifically, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern at the ongoing human rights situation and David Haye, the UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression described the situation in Kashmir as ‘draconian’.

Yet, most terrifyingly, the renowned NGO Genocide Watch has issued a genocide alert on Kashmir – the first ever. This, in the backdrop of Modi, and other BJP leaders, monstrously using the grotesque term ‘Final Solution’ for Kashmir

Strictly, Genocide Watch lists Ten Stages of the genocidal process. Now, Kashmir exhibits all those stages, especially when considering India’s current horrendous onslaught on Kashmiri civil liberties, terrorising the entire population, cutting off all of their communication, flouting international law and norms, and conducting a litany of human rights abuses.First, an unforgiving binary of ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ labelled ‘classification,’ is disseminated.

In Kashmir, the Indian state translates “us” into supporters of their army/occupation forces, and ‘them’ to Kashmiri Muslims. Of course, preventative measures would include fostering universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic/racial divisions and actively promoting inclusion.

In Kashmir, the Indian state translates ‘us’ into supporters of their army/occupation forces, and ‘them’ to Kashmiri Muslims

Yet, this is precisely what the fascist Bhartiya Janata Party does not want. They need to spread the false threat of terror to rationalise their persecution.

Second, symbolisation’ is the process when, combined with visceral hate, symbols are forced upon unwilling members of the purported pariah group: such as the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge or Kashmiri Muslims with their distinctive language and apparel being issued ID cards designating them as Muslims.

Third, the genocidal project moves forward by clear ‘discrimination’ in which the dominant group uses law, custom, and political power to deny Kashmiri Muslims basic rights.

It is driven by an exclusionary ideology and legitimises the victimisation of Kashmiri Muslims by labels of such as ‘separatist’ ‘fanatic’ and ‘terrorist.’

Fourth, heightened levels of bias, prejudice and disempowerment lead to the ‘dehumanisation’ stage, which incapacitates the normal human revulsion against murder.

Heightened levels of bias, prejudice and disempowerment lead to the ‘dehumanisation’ stage, which incapacitates the normal human revulsion against murder

At this stage, hate propaganda in print, on hate radios, and in social media is used to vilify the victim group – Kashmiri Muslims. It is even incorporated into Hindutva school textbooks, preparing the way for incitement.

Fifth, the grotesque phenomenon of genocide is always well-planned and requires ‘organisation.’ This is done by the Indian state, that uses Hindutva militias to provide deniability of state responsibility – such as Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants, who may be disguised as the additional 38,000 India soldiers being sent to Kashmir.

Recall, that there are already nearly 700,000 heavily armed Indian Army troops and police that dominate Kashmir. Why send more?

Sixth, extremists need to enhance ‘polarisation’ – in order to drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarising propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction.

Hindutva extremists target moderates – from all religions/backgrounds, intimidating and silencing the centre. Moderates from the perpetrators’ own group are most able to stop genocide. For this reason, all those who had previously been dealing with the Indian state are now under arrest, including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

Seventh, at this ‘preparation’ stage, BJP leaders have, chillingly, spoken about the “Final Solution” which they use as euphemisms to cloak their intentions of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Eighth, as the stages of genocide advance, ‘persecution’ is heightened. The victim group’s most basic human rights are systematically violated through extrajudicial killings, rape torture and forced displacement.

Death lists are drawn up and property is expropriated. Currently, Kashmiri Muslims are locked down, subject to arbitrary arrest, torture, rape, and murder.

The victim group’s most basic human rights are systematically violated through extrajudicial killings, rape torture and forced displacement

Ninth, ‘extermination’ begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” At this terrifying moment, the armed forces often work with RSS militias to do the killing.

Tenth, the final stage ‘denial’ lasts throughout the entire genocidal process. It is among the surest indicators of the likelihood of genocidal massacres.

The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. All the while they claim all is normal in Kashmir. In Kashmir, the denial has gone to such laughable levels that Modi and the BJP say their goals are to “bring prosperity and development” and to “end terrorism.”

Most worrisome, India is declaring to the world that they have begun to gradually ease the communications blockade. That is false.

This cowardly rhetoric of disingenuous ‘easing’ of the lockdown is used to deflect international attention. A total internet, land-line and communication ‘blackout’ is ongoing. And, ominously, foreshadows something more sinister forthcoming. That is, the real possibility of genocide in Kashmir.

Yet, amid these awful scenes of death, desolation and despair, Kashmiris have only become emboldened with the spirit of ‘rebellion’.

There is no other choice. Faced with an unruly, unforgiving adversary, all must unite.

Farhan Mujahid Chak is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Qatar University.

Down The Path of Justice, Oppression Becomes an Inspiration

By Nour Rida

So little has been written in mainstream media on Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, yet many people are learning about his case and cause. Nigerian people have been taking to the streets of the capital, to demand the immediate release of ailing the Muslim cleric.

Sheikh Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a 2015 raid by security forces that left more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons dead. His wife also sustained serious wounds. The Islamic Human Rights Commission [IHRC], based in London, said earlier this week that the cleric’s health condition has further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.

On this note, the Sheikh’s daughter, Suhaila al-Zakzaky, told al-Ahed news “The updates we have on my father’s condition is that he is still having difficulty getting things done. He is experiencing a lot of pain physically, and as a result it is difficult for him to sleep. His blood pressure has been fluctuating. Generally we have been very concerned; the doctors have not been able to conduct any proper further investigations into his condition. So, there is no full or conclusive statement on the status of his health.”

According to earlier reports, medical examinations on the Sheikh have found that the levels of lead toxicity in his body are much higher than the critical levels previously reported and 45 times over the normal acceptable limit. They have also found worrying levels of cadmium poisoning in the Sheikh. The news said that such are the levels of toxicity that the doctors have concluded that Sheikh Zakzaky is at risk of death unless he is urgently treated.

The daughter said she had no information on how lead poisoning took place. “I am not exactly sure how lead got there, they might have done it, and a medical team must investigate the case to conclude if he was poisoned or comment on how the lead got into his blood in first place.”

Answering whether she has direct contact with her father today, Suhaila pointed out “Yes, we do have direct contact because they gave him a phone now. Since the court case, they have allowed him to have a phone.”

Nigerians, according to the young activist, are protesting the injustice to which Sheikh Zakzaky is being subjected. “As you know there have been continuous protests almost on a daily basis and when it comes to the people, tremendous numbers have come to condemn what the government is doing,” Suhaila noted, adding “There are also some people who believe whatever the news says and think that the government is doing the right thing. The president’s aide held a press conference and claimed that the government has no power to interfere in the judicial process. However, the Islamic movement is trying as hard as possible to spread awareness and allow people to understand what is truly going on. It is so far very impressive how people are realizing the truth, and even many people in the government today condemn what is taking place.”

In regards on how this experience has affected her life, Suhaila explained “I would say that we have always expected possible adversities to be faced, and the massacre and the events that followed after to me, are more like what I would call the cost of this path (of justice). The only thing I can say is that it affects my outlook on everything. You know we have already sacrificed down this path, therefore it serves as an inspiration or motivation which would hopefully make us more steadfast.”

Furthermore, Suhaila underscored that she strongly believes that the detention of her father does make the Islamic movement stronger. “I believe that many people are finding out more about the Islamic movement not only due to the detention of my father but also due to the massacres that have happened. In terms of Nigeria for example, we have had a great level of supporters that we never knew we had. These people who show support to the Islamic movement did not bother to look into the Islamic movement earlier or even understand what it’s about. But now they show a great deal of support. Even on an international level, I believe that people, especially outside of Nigeria do not know much about the Islamic movement and with the level of media silence still a lot of people have become acquainted with the Islamic movement because of this, and hence yes I think it makes the Islamic movement stronger.”

Suhaila concluded that she, like many other young activists, will remain to participate in protests to sound her objection to the unjust detention of the Sheikh who is not only a father but also a leader in her eyes.

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HRW: US-Saudi Aggression Warships Deliberately Attack Fishing Boats, Amount to War Crime

News – Yemen

US-Saudi aggression naval forces have carried out at least five deadly attacks on Yemeni fishing boats since 2018, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday. Aggression warships and helicopters have been involved in attacks that killed at least 47 Yemeni fishermen, including 7 children, and the detention of more than 100 others, some of whom were tortured in custody in Saudi Arabia.

The aggression attacks on fishermen and fishing boats appear to be deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects in violation of the laws of war. US-Saudi Aggression officials who ordered or carried out the attacks or tortured detainees are most likely responsible for war crimes, HRW said in a report.

“Coalition naval forces repeatedly attacked Yemeni fishing boats and Yemeni fishermen without any apparent determination that they were valid military targets,” said Priyanka Motaparthy, acting emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “Gunning down fishermen waving white cloths or leaving shipwrecked crew members to drown are war crimes.”

The report indicated that Human Rights Watch  interviewed survivors, witnesses, and knowledgeable sources about seven fishing boat attacks: six in 2018 and one in 2016. Civilians died in five of them. After they gathered there, aggression forces opened fire with light weapons, killing or wounding several men and boys.

Warships and helicopters were involved in the attacks from short distances away, so the civilian nature of the fishing boats should have been clear. it added. The fishermen waved white cloths, raised their hands, or otherwise showed they posed no threat. In three attacks, aggression forces did not attempt to rescue men adrift at sea, and many drowned.

A fisherman described the attack on his boat: “The helicopter was close, about three meters up. They said [over a megaphone] ‘go forward,’ and four or five [fishermen] went forward, and the rest were near the [boat’s] stern. I was in the middle. Then they hit us with the big gun with bullets.” Seven fishermen died.

The US-Saudi aggression also detained, without charge, at least 115 fishermen, including 3 children, in Saudi Arabia for between 40 days and more than two-and-a-half years, HRW said. Seven former detainees said that Saudi authorities tortured and ill-treated apprehended fishermen and boat crew members and denied them contact with their families, legal counsel, and Yemeni pro-aggression government representatives.

The attacks and detentions severely affected remote fishing communities that lost the primary earners for dozens of families. They have also deterred other fishermen from going to sea. “Before the war, fishing was good,” said the wife of a fisherman. “But we heard that eight men from the neighborhood next to us were killed … so [my husband] stopped going.”

The San Remo Manual on Armed Conflict at Sea, which is widely viewed as reflecting customary laws of war at sea, requires attacking forces to do everything feasible to limit attacks to military targets. Vessels are presumed to be civilian unless they are carrying military equipment or presenting an immediate threat to the attacking vessel. “Small coastal fishing vessels” are specifically exempt from attacks. These vessels must submit to identification and inspection when required, and follow orders, including orders to stop or move out of the way. The laws of war also place a duty on parties to the conflict, whenever circumstances permit but particularly after an engagement, to take all possible measures to search for and collect the wounded and shipwrecked.

The US-Saudi aggression has consistently failed to investigate alleged war crimes and other unlawful attacks, including the attacks on fishing boats, HRW said. No coalition personnel are known to have been disciplined or prosecuted for attacking Yemeni fishing boats.

 Countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and France should immediately cease all sales and transfers of weapons, including warships and helicopters, to Saudi Arabia, and should carefully review sales to coalition members given the possibility they could be used in committing violations, Human Rights Watch said.

“The naval attacks on Yemeni fishing boats make it clear that the Saudi-led coalition is not only killing civilians through countless illegal airstrikes, but also while conducting operations at sea,” Motaparthy said. “How much more proof do countries continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia need to stop all sales, including of warships, or risk becoming complicit in war crimes.”

Leading a coalition of its allies, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall the former regime, which had been friendly to Riyadh, but whose officials fled the country.

The coalition has also imposed a naval blockade of Yemen. The aggression is estimated to have left 56,000 Yemenis dead.

The US-Saudi aggression has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

#Yemen #US_Saudi_Aggression #Human_Rights_Watch #Fishermen

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Gantz’s Electoral Campaign Is Focused on Gaza’s Vulnerability

Image result for Gantz’s Electoral Campaign Is Focused on Gaza’s Vulnerability
Ramona Wadi
August 14, 2019

Five years after the colonial massacre unleashed by Israel on Gaza, known as Operation Protective Edge, Israeli politicians are still eyeing the enclave for ultimate destruction. Former IDF Chief and leader of the Blue and White Party, Benny Gantz, is promoting the same violent tactics that formed part of his earlier electoral campaign: invade Gaza and assassinate Hamas leaders if the conditions Israel demands are not accepted.

“We will aim for the toppling of Hamas, take action to assassinate all Hamas leaders and go in with ground forces for however long we want,” Gantz remarked during a press conference in Sderot.

As the IDF Chief of Staff during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Gantz oversaw the scale of bombardment and massacres against Palestinians civilians. The deliberate violence, which also targeted Gaza’s infrastructure, left thousands of Palestinians displaced. Over 2,000 Palestinians were killed and 11,231 injured, according to UN reports.

Netanyahu has so far refrained from another large-scale aggression against Gaza. While his strategic, intermittent bombing has earned him widespread criticism in within Israel’s settler-society, Netanyahu has merely changed tactics but not ideology. Without any overt declarations of targeting Gaza, Netanyahu is normalising the Israeli agenda and deflect criticism from the international community. The latter was put to the test a few months ago last May, when Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza elicited rhetoric from the international community justifying Israel’s purported right to “defend itself” while blaming Hamas.

While attempting to portray himself as different from Netanyahu, Gantz is merely offering another trajectory of implementing Zionist colonial violence. Israeli media is already running reports of a possible coalition government between Likud and the Blue and White party, thus signalling that despite alleged differences, Netanyahu and Gantz are still in accordance over political issues, notably Gaza, settlement expansion and the prevention of any form of a Palestinian state.

Gantz’s party is proposing the elimination of the Hamas leadership and destruction of its “headquarters, warehouses, operatives,” after which it would “fix the humanitarian situation in Gaza.” This plan of action was outlined by Gabi Ashkenazi, under whose direction as IDF Chief of Staff Operation Cast Lead unfolded in 2008.

Such exploitative comments illustrate Gaza’s vulnerability. In recent years, Palestinians in Gaza have suffered increasing deprivation as a result of endeavours by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community to render humanitarian aid conditional. UN officials have even stated their preference for a return to PA rule in Gaza to facilitate their humanitarian operations. Again, depriving Gaza of basic necessities is also blamed upon Hamas.

Gantz’s solution is to eliminate a political leadership and resistance movement in a large scale, drawn out aggression that will affect Palestinians in Gaza who are still suffering the consequences of the previous Israeli bombardments. Humanitarian aid, according to Gantz, is conditional upon Hamas’s elimination. As Gaza is rendered fragile to Israeli threats and their implementation, the manipulation of humanitarian aid for Palestinians, already a plan in action, will be consolidated.

Furthermore, Gantz is proposing is the re-establishment of Israeli presence in the enclave – a notion which is prevalentamong other Israeli candidates, albeit with different interpretations.  The ground invasion, therefore, must not be thought of merely as a military action tied to a specific operation, but as a possible prelude envisaged by the former IDF chiefs to contain Gaza from within – along with the illegal blockade that continues to threaten the wellbeing of Palestinians.

Once again, the Israeli electorate is facing propaganda that pits Netanyahu’s refined and brutal strategy against the violent “deterrence” promoted by Gantz. Yet, talk of a possible coalition only highlights how close both agendas are in terms of destroying Gaza.  Netanyahu has prepared the groundwork in terms of influencing the international community to turn a blind eye to Israel’s assaults on Gaza. A prospective Israeli government with Netanyahu and Gantz at the helm will build upon what Israel has so far accomplished in generating oblivion when it comes to Palestinians in Gaza.

Erdogan Betrays Putin, Again, Throws Himself Under the US Feet

 

Turkey / Turkish President Recep Tayib Erdogan New Ottoman رجب طيب اردوغان العثمانيون الجدد

Against all odds considering the enhancing relations with Russia and Iran and bitter relations with the USA and enmity relations with the US’s Kurdish militias, the Turkish regime reached an illegal agreement to establish a ‘safe zone’ inside Syria with his US ‘frenemies’ against international law and in blatant breach to Syria’s sovereignty, Turkey has long claimed it respects, only in media. The same US that supported the military coup attempt against Erdogan in 2016 and was saved by Russian Putin.

First, watch this short video showing late Necmettin Erbakan, Erdogan’s own mentor, speaking about the Turkish pariah and Erdogan proving what his mentor says:

What else to expect from a sick personality that sold his soul to evil for a promised futuristic role on the account of hundreds of thousands of dead bodies of Muslims at most, Christians, and even of his own followers? The head of the Turkish regime the pariah Erdogan is playing in the pastime after his free fall in his country’s latest municipal elections and ratings and before his final eradication from the political life in his country holds on to the last stray with his old masters.

Recep Tayib Erdogan is ready to send Turkey to sleep with not only who pays more, but who would just pat on the butts of the largest country overlooking the Levant. Instead of being the main player in the region, the Turks have accepted to be the most fingered country in the region, for nothing tangible.

Nothing strange in what some with no honorable principle would call pragmatism in international relations where it’s more like selling off to the current ‘man’ in the room. Erdogan has breached each article of the famous Adana Acrrod between Turkey and Syria, which regulates the relations between the two countries and allowed Turkey to strengthen its economy when Syria opened the gates of the rest of the world for Turkey after the Europeans closed it for them. Not only did the regime of Erdogan breach the agreement but went as far as opening Turkey’s bedroom as a whorehouse to every rapist the lunatic could bring from all sides of the planet to destroy the Syrian state and cause the maximum damage to the Syrian people’s lives and their source of living.

The same Erdogan who, with his old buddy Abdallah Gul, turned against their own mentor Erbakan, and after the demise of Erbakan and reaching power, he turned against his own buddy Gul who freed him from prison and appointed him as the prime minister.

Erdogan replaced Gul with Ahmet Davotuglo to later turn against him as well in his path to absolute dictatorship. The current main threat to unseat Erdogan from the lavish presidential palace is his former strong ally Turkish former minister of economy Ali Babacan who resigned from Erdogan’s AKP Islamist party in anticipation to form a new party ahead of the next presidential elections in Turkey.

During the same period, the same Erdogan took his country from being a secular country to far radical anti-Islam Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood style in order to control the branches of this satanic cult across the Arab countries and beyond in the NATO-led Arab Spring plot to destroy the Arab countries with national armies and then control it under neo-Ottoman Islamist leadership.

Erdogan and Putin Meet in Moscow Discuss Syria

Haven’t we warned that Turkey is the US’s trap for Russia?

The relations with Russia are quite unique, the Russian President saved Erdogan’s neck, literally, and to get paid by betrayal after the other by the ever opportunist. The Russian leadership ran out of patience being the guarantor of the Syrian state in the Astana de-escalation agreement in regards to Idlib, while the Turkish regime instead of dismantling its loyal terrorists, especially those of Al-Qaeda, Hurras Al-Din, Turkestan Islamist Party, Uighurs, and their terrorist affiliates, it was strengthening these terrorist groups.

Mr. Putin, in addition, opened up opportunities for the Turkish economy allowing Russian tourism to Turkey, Russian investments in a nuclear power that Russia finances, the South Stream gas pipeline, and allowing Turkish construction companies to work in Russia.

Erdoğan
Erdoğan

When cornered in Idlib, Erdogan pulled the East Euphrates card, using the ever foolish Kurds who worked as the justification for Turkish intrusions in Syria from Jarabulus to Afrin to threatening to enter Manbij, and now to create a safe zone north of Syria across the Syrian borders with Turkey. The US couldn’t be happier, with the roles changing between it and its puppet Turkey, Trump will be using the Obama mistake of not selling Patriot missiles to Turkey to justify the US’s acceptance of the Russian S400 missiles deal with Turkey, and now they’re moving to the next step in Syria, the old plot to carve out large pieces of the country and grant it left and right, stealing Syrian riches for the interests of Israel, only.

Erdogan Delivering FSA

Nobody is asking why Israel, the supposed to be the main concerned party about the S400 in the hands of the largest Muslim army in NATO, is very silent and not criticizing this step when it went mad against Russia’s selling the very old generations of S300 to both Syria and Iran. Seems the Israelis have full trust in their man in Turkey when it comes to their own existential threats.

Erdogan, USA with you
Erdogan don’t worry, Uncle Sam with you to the end.. of you.

Erdogan does not only prove himself a constant betrayer and a flipflop, but he also has to add further steps when receiving the new ‘Jewish’ anti-Russian president of Ukraine and declaring in his presence the rejection of the Russian annexing of Crimea. He could have kept Turkey’s already known position in this regard within the diplomat channels but instead showed Mr. Putin where he positions himself more: biting the only hand that saved his neck, literally – I know I repeated this, and flipping over all agreements he committed his country to for some promised role in an already failed evil project.

We are still waiting for a Russian and Iranian official public position on this latest move by the Turkish regime since both countries are parties to the Astana agreements with Turkey.

Syria, on its part, has issued a strong official statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemning this latest brazen violation of international law and the sovereignty of the Syrian territories, labeled the presence of both Trump forces and Erdogan forces in Syria as ‘occupation forces’ with all the military, legal, and political consequences attached to labeling a force as an occupation force.

The Syrian statement also called on the separatist Kurds to return to their country after the US and Turkey have exposed their ill intentions towards Syria, and warned this is the only and last chance the Kurds have.

A SYRIAN LEADER TELLS HIS COUNTRY’S STORY: AN INTERVIEW WITH SAA GENERAL HASSAN HASSAN

In Gaza

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Eva Bartlett sits down for an exclusive interview with the head of the Syrian Arab Army’s Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan.

August 5, 2019, Mint Press News

For years, international headlines spotlighting Syria have claimed that the Syrian government, army, and its allies were guilty of a variety of atrocities. Yet as time has passed, many of the accusations levied at government and its allies have been shown to have been either falsified, staged (as in the case of allegations of chemical attacks in eastern Ghouta), or actually committed by the myriad terrorist groups operating in the country.

For their part, Syrian leadership has maintained from the start that the demonstrations in their country were not peaceful, from 2011 and on. Media in the West and the Gulf vilified Syria’s leadership, featuring story after story of government-imposed violence while ignoring or whitewashing the violence of the burgeoning armed groups flooding into Syria.

From as early as 2011, armed groups were throwing civilians from rooftops and committing beheadings, kidnappings, and massacres. The year 2011 alone saw multiple massacres of civilians and security forces committed by what the media called “unarmed protesters” and later by the “Free Syrian Army.” This was the same year that many in the media were insisting that a “peaceful revolution” was underway.

Since that time, those same armed groups, as well as the many iterations they spawned, have starved, tortured, imprisoned, murdered, maimed and even harvested the organs of Syrian civilians, in addition to killing Syrian and allied soldiers and journalists and destroying much of the country’s infrastructure.

To give a voice to the often ignored “other side” — those Syrians that have been working to defend their country since 2011 —  Eva Bartlett interviewed the Syrian Arab Army’s Head of Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan. General Hassan’s shelves and large wooden desk are covered with stacks of books, family photos, and various homages to the country he serves — the general holds a Ph.D. in geopolitical studies. The following is a transcript of Bartlett’s interview with Hassan following the 74th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Arab Army.

 

Eva Bartlett (EB) | I would like to begin by asking you your thoughts on how honest Western and Gulf media’s reporting on Syria has been, especially regarding their choice of lexicon — for example, regarding the Syrian Army, the Syrian Government, what they call rebels — and the events in Syria in general.

General Hassan (GH) | Media has been one of the weapons of mass destruction used in this war on Syria. The biased media, in addition to the takfiri [Salafi] fatwas — especially the fatwas — have been the weapons that contributed most to the destruction taking place in Syria, including the destruction of human beings, vegetation, civilization,…everything.

President Bashar al-Assad emphasized more than once the necessity of countering the rhetoric used. I can elaborate for two or more hours on the terms used. However, I will limit myself to some examples.

The Free [Syrian] Army is among the lexicons used. What “army” and what “freedom” are they talking about? Every army is known for its discipline, hierarchy, fighting strategies in both defense and attack, and the cause it fights for.

The so-called Free Syrian Army has none of these qualities, except for the ability to kill. The media tried to put into circulation the term Assad’s Brigades or Assad’s Forces. Our army is the Syrian Arab Army, which includes in each of its formations soldiers from all Syrian governorates, with no exception.

I’ll give you an example. Almost three months ago, the militants supported by Turkey targeted a Syrian army position to the north of Latakia. Twelve soldiers were martyred as a result. Each soldier is from a different governorate. This is the Syrian Arab Army.

They used the term “defection.” There is no defection in the Syrian Arab Army; defection did not really occur in the Syrian Arab Army but there are some cases of soldiers running away. The term “defection” is used when a brigade or a squad defect from a certain army. Until now, the Syrian Arab Army has not witnessed what might be called defection even within its smallest units.

In order to spread the idea of defection they resorted to unsophisticated lies. In 2012 they said that General Mohammad al-Rifa’i, commander of the Fifth Squad, had defected from the army. This lie was circulated through the media. Yet, Syrian TV interviewed the general, who had retired in 2001, 11 years prior.

Gangs would stop civilian or military vehicles on highways, hold soldiers hostages, film them and force them at gunpoint to declare that they had defected [from the army].

I’ll give an example available from the internet of their lies regarding the term the Free Syrian Army. Anyone can check the Free Syrian Army term through Google. We type Abu Saqr al-Asadi — right here, I have typed Abu Saqr al-Souri [the Syrian]. We now find [the result] “face to face with the fighter Abu Saqr al-Asadi who ate the heart of a soldier.” (Abu Saqr is also transliterated as Abu Sakkar, as per the BBC article referred to by General Hassan).

That was in 2013 when he was filmed cutting into the chest of the soldier and eating his heart. It is here on Google from the BBC Arabic website. This is not a Syrian media outlet. It is a Western outlet. It is not a pleasant sight to watch him chewing the soldier’s heart.

Abu Saqr al-Asadi was a fighter in the Al-Farouq Brigades, which was an armed rebel organization formed by the Free Syrian Army. When he died he was a member of the Nusra Front. So, he was a member of the Free Syrian Army, used to be with the Farouq Brigades, and then joined the Nusra Front.

I could speak for hours about the issue of lexicon. For instance, they talked about what is called the armed opposition. How could opposition be armed?! Opposition is a political term. Opposition is a political party that did not win elections. Such a party plays the role of opposition in the parliament. These militant groups want to govern the country, the people and everything by armed force. Does this sound normal? Never was there a term called “armed opposition,” except when they spoke about these terrorist gangs.

 

EB | So in the article you’ve just shown, the English version, the BBC did not report it as an act of carnage. They humanized Abu Saqr and asked him what drove him to do such a desperate act?

GH | This is the media war. Either they say he is violent or they say he is an angel; hasn’t he demonstrated how he cut out an organ and ate a piece of it? When the BBC describes a man who ate the heart of a dead soldier as a peaceful man, how then would they describe beasts?

 

EB | Regarding events in Syria in 2011, both Western and Gulf media called it a peaceful unarmed uprising for many months, even for up to a year. Do you have an example of attacks by what the West called unarmed protesters against the Syrian army, police or security forces in 2011?

GH | In 2011 they said the reason behind the first spark was that the army, or another security body, pulled out the nails of some children in Dara`a. Over the past eight years, it has become clear that all of the armed groups are equipped with video cameras and live-streaming devices. Can any of them provide us with a video of one child whose nails were pulled out? Where are these children? Why couldn’t the media that fabricated such lies film the pulled-out nails?

Let’s go back to the peaceful uprising. On April 10, 2011, less than a month after the beginning of the so-called uprising, an army convoy transporting soldiers back to their homes was intercepted on the highway from Tartous to Banias. Nine people were martyred: two officers, five warrant officers, and two civilians. They also fired at the ambulances that tried to reach the wounded.

Other examples are the Nawa massacre in Dara`a, the Jisr al-Shoghur massacre, and the Asi River massacre — where they live-streamed the dumping of people into the river. All these massacres were perpetrated before the end of June 2011.

That is the peaceful [Arab] spring the Western and Gulf media talked about.

Are these examples enough, or should I cite more? It’s important to me that Western readers know how many lies and how much deception there has been, especially by the media.

I’ll give you another minor example. Usually, the BBCAl-Jazeera and France 24, etc. would broadcast that an explosion took place in a certain area. However, there was no explosion. But 15 to 30 minutes later an explosion would take place in the same area. It was like a code to the armed groups to carry out the explosion.

I’ll provide you with a more comprehensive example. When the area of Ma`raba [near al-Tal, a suburb of Damascus] was targeted by the Israeli enemy, cameras were focused on the targeted area even before the missiles hit.

 

EB | So, they were ready?

GH | The cameras were aimed at the area where the missiles were supposed to hit. At the moment that the missiles hit the targeted area, members of armed groups began cheering “Allahu Akbar… Allahu Akbar.” This was documented by their cameras; definitely not Syrian media cameras. At the same time, armed groups in eastern Ghouta attacked Damascus from seven fronts.

As an ordinary person — not as a military figure– I could tell it was a role carried out by three. First, the one who carried out the aggression, and that is the Zionist entity [Israel].

Second, the media outlets that were assigned to broadcast the aggression before it was carried out.  And third, the armed groups who attacked Damascus. Therefore, the cameraman and those militants are substitute recruits of the Israeli enemy. I cannot call them but the substitute army of Israel and the United States.

According to confessions by Israeli and American officials, including previous U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ISIS was made by America. Later on, ISIS was classified as a terrorist organization.

Thus, those terrorists made in the U.S. are the rebels of the peaceful [Arab] spring later circulated in the region by means of the foreign media outlets.

 

EB | According to Israeli media, Israel is fighting terrorism, Muslim extremists. However, there are reports of Israel treating militants or terrorists in Israeli hospitals. Can you please outline Israel’s role in the war on Syria?

GH | Everything that has taken place in Syria and in the region — all the blaze erupting in the region,  under what they falsely called the Arab Spring — serves the interests of Israel. These are not my own conclusions; rather, it is the Israeli media who talk about this. The Israeli prime minister appeared on television when he visited wounded terrorists, injured while fighting the Syrian army, being treated in Israeli hospitals. This is number one.

The other issue is that every time the Syrian Arab Army is making an apparent advance, Israel conducts an aggression [airstrike]. When Israel is unable to achieve its objective, it seeks the help of the United States, just as it did when the U.S. Air Force targeted the Tharda Mountains in Deir ez-Zor as the Syrian army was en route to clear Deir ez-Zor of terrorists.

I hope that you underscore the following statement: Those who sponsor terrorism don’t fight it.Israel is an entity based on both killing and falsehood. When Palestine was already inhabited, they claimed that Palestine was a land without people and wanted to give it to people without a land. Thus, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, gave what the U.K. didn’t own to those who didn’t deserve it.

In 2019, Trump did the same and gave the Golan to Israel as if Trump inherited it from his own father. Who gave Trump the right to give other people’s property to others? The issue here is that international law needs power to protect it. Unfortunately, the United States is still the superpower of the world and the financial and economic despot of the world. U.S. officials are indifferent to falsehood, humanity, law or human rights. All this means nothing to them.

I would like to remind foreign readers that Iraq was destroyed under the pretext of having weapons of mass destruction. The whole world still recalls Colin Powell when he presented what he called a satellite image as evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. When Powell left office, he admitted to U.S. media outlets that that moment was the darkest in his lifetime. The question is: When did he admit it? How many innocent victims were killed as a result?

How come a sovereign state was occupied without international legitimacy? American officials don’t care about this. Wherever the U.S. has interfered around the world, the result has been more killing, destruction, and suffering and successive U.S. administrations are competing to serve Israel.

 

EB | Syria has been accused of using chemical weapons against civilians. Does the Syrian army use chemical weapons against civilians?

GH |  An official mission came to Syria and demanded that the Syrian government carry out an official investigation. They delayed for years before the mission arrived. And those who came submitted an untruthful report.

Syria signed the agreement and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited Syria and checked all places and the existing stockpile [of chemical weapons] was destroyed on a U.S. vessel. Accordingly, The OPCW announced that Syria was chemical weapons-free.ve

The Syrian Government has been accused of using chemical weapons many times, in eastern Ghouta and in other areas. Under this pretext, [th U.S. and its allies] launched their aggression on Syria. Syria affirmed many times through statements by Syrian officials, both before and after the agreement was signed, that Syria does not in any way intend to use chemical weapons and that Syria has not used nor will it use chemical weapons.

After the declaration of this organization [OPCW] that Syria is free from chemical weapons, how could Syria use something that it does not have? Despite evidence that chemical substances and weapons entered into areas under the control of militant groups in Syria through Turkish borders, investigations were not resumed.

There are a number of videos showing how the armed groups were the ones using chemical weapons themselves. Each time Syria was accused of using chemical weapons, the Syrian army was on the verge of finishing a military operation. Is it logical they’d use chemical weapons — which would prevent the declaration of victory?

With regard to their claim of using chemicals in Ghouta, the areas there are interconnected. Those who use chemical weapons cannot protect themselves. When those terrorists used chemicals there, both the civilians and the military were hit, as was the case in Khan al-Asal and elsewhere. This was exposed in the [UN] Security Council by Bashar al-Ja’afari.

Syria does not possess chemical weapons. Syria has never used chemical weapons before. Syria cannot use a chemical weapon for a simple reason, or for two reasons in fact: Ethically, Syria does not believe in using chemicals [weapons]. This is number one. Second, Syria does not own chemical weapons.

 

EB | The Rukban Camp is near the U.S. base of al-Tanf. One question is about the U.S. relationship with ISIS in that area and whether or not America has been fighting ISIS in the area. Also, according to Western media, refugees evacuated from Rukban to centers in Homs, for example, are taken and thrown in prison.

For example, the Canadian Globe & Mail, citing a Qatari-based organization, said that from 2017 to 2019 around 2,000 Syrians who returned to government-controlled areas (in general and not from Rukban specifically) were detained and 784 are still in prison. How would you reply to accusations that people returning home were detained or forced to serve in the Syrian army?

GH | In relation to ISIS and the U.S., I can say that a mother does not eat her own son. ISIS is a U.S. product, according to American confessions. However, America sometimes becomes a cat and eats some of its own kittens when they become a burden.

America uses ISIS, fights with ISIS, not against ISIS. Whenever the role of some armed ISIS fighters comes to an end, the U.S. abandons or gets rid of them. The U.S. does not care whether those members get killed or not.

However, when the U.S. needs them, it sends helicopters to evacuate them, just like what happened when Deir ez-Zor was liberated. American helicopters would land and evacuate ISIS leaders together with their families and fly them somewhere else.

Rukban Camp is within the sight of the Americans in the Tanf base. U.S. surveillance can distinguish a hen from a rooster on a street anywhere in the world. How is it that ISIS members are able to move at the Tanf border without being observed by the U.S. military there? How can the U.S. convince the world that it is fighting ISIS when the latter’s members move freely under U.S. observation?

Four months ago, I was working with the Head of the Russian Reconciliation Centre, General Victor Kopcheshen. He told me that the Russian government received an official reply from the Americans that they would not allow any Syrian or Russian to come close to the 55-kilometer line around Rukban Camp to help evacuate people from the camp.

Less than four months ago we first began evacuating a few hundred [people] from Rukban. Now, the number of people who returned from Rukban Camp has exceeded 15,000 (As of July 31, that number has reached 17,458 according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense). Can anyone provide me with the name of even one person who left Rukban and got detained? These claims are flagrant lies.


Author’s note | 

I asked officials at the UN about the accusation that the Syrian government was imprisoning former residents of Rukban, I detailed their reply in a separate article for MintPress:

“David Swanson, Public Information Officer Regional Office for the Syria Crisis UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs based in Amman, Jordan, told me regarding claims of substandard conditions and of Syrians being forcefully held or mistreated in the centers that:

‘People leaving Rukban are taken to temporary collective shelters in Homs for a 24-hour stay. While there, the receive basic assistance, including shelter, blankets, mattresses, solar lamps, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, food parcels and nutrition supplies before proceeding to their areas of choice, mostly towards southern and eastern Homs, with smaller small numbers going to rural Damascus or Deir-ez-Zor.

The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters on three occasions and has found the situation there adequate. The United Nations continues to advocate and call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian assistance and access to Rukban as well as to all those in need throughout Syria. The United Nations also seeks the support of all concerned parties in ensuring the humanitarian and voluntary character of departures from Rukban.’

Hedinn Halldorsson, the Spokesperson and Public Information Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based in Damascus, told me:

‘We looked into this when the rumours started, end of April, and concluded they were unfounded – and communicated that externally via press briefings in both Geneva and NY. The conditions in the shelters in Homs are also adequate and in compliance with standards; the UN has access and has done three monitoring visits so far.’”


GH | I would like to stress a point concerning military service in the army. Several presidential decrees have been issued. Any Syrian citizen [living] abroad who wishes to settle his status and return to Syria can benefit from those decrees, which invalidate any other verdict issued against that Syrian citizen.

These decrees do not nullify a Syrian citizen’s rights nor their duties. Syrian citizens who return to Syria are still Syrian citizens and therefore still have the duties of Syrian citizens. The decrees granted them a grace period of six months to settle their legal status.

For example, a person who lost their official ID, or army service registry or anything, can settle their legal status during this period. It is a normal official procedure to call for duty those who are subject to mandatory or reserve military service. This procedure has been applied to all Syrian citizens in all provinces, not only those who return.

I cannot say just respect the rights and ignore the duties. Everyone is equal before the law. They have to obey what Syrian law states and the majority of them are loyal and doing their duties enthusiastically.

But the people who have their status settled do not have the right to commit a crime. If I had a son living abroad who returned and settled his status, does it give him the right to commit an offense against his neighbors or to kill somebody or commit a crime? The law is the law and must be adhered to.

 

EB | Western media say that Iran and Russia’s presence in Syria is an attempt to occupy Syria and control it. What are the roles of Iran and Russia in Syria?

GH | Before I answer your question, let us decide what logic we’re using. Are we using the logic of international law or the law of the jungle? Who has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people? It is only the Syrian state that has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people. No other side has the right to speak for them. Surely, those who are speaking in the name of the Syrian people do not know the Syrian people. It is really strange that the governments of those who kill the Syrian people are acting as if they were advocates of the Syrian people.

According to international law, it is the right of any state to defend itself when such a country faces hazards endangering its own existence. Such a country has the right to defend its existence and sovereignty by using all means possible. In this respect, this country has the right to rely on its relations with friends and allies as well, no matter whether those allies are Russian, Iranian or any other ally. Neither the U.S., Israel nor the Gulf states have anything to do with this. It is a matter of Syrian sovereignty.

The other thing has to do with the military presence of any country on the territory of another state. Such a presence can be legal in one of the following two cases: when invited by the state concerned, or through a resolution issued by the [UN] Security Council. Otherwise, such a presence is an occupation.

Therefore, there is no reason for the Syrian state to be ashamed of its stance on the presence of Iran or Russia in Syria. The Syrian State declares its stances clearly and explicitly: that the presence of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah is based upon an official invitation by the Syrian government. Thus, their presence is legal according to international law. Can anyone in the West — or the media outlets who claim to be neutral — convince any Syrian citizen that the U.S. presence or the Turkish presence is legal?

The Syrian State says they are forces of occupation. There is no [UN] Security Council resolution allowing them to be present in Syria. So what is the meaning behind their presence? They are using the law of force, rather than the force of law. Thus, they are referring back to the law of the jungle and not to the force of international law.

Those occupiers support terrorism, created terrorism, and are still financing it according to a confession made by the former Qatari prime minister that his country spent $37 billion to arm and finance armed groups in Syria. The Qatari PM confessed that his country and the armed groups had agreed to destroy Syria. Yet, they disputed when things went out of their control. They paid the armed groups to hunt the prey. However, they disputed among themselves when the prey escaped.

 

EB | Syria welcomed Palestinian refugees and has supported the Palestinian resistance. Could you please explain the role of some Palestinians in the events in Syria within the past few years, whether in fighting terrorism or supporting it.

Will Hamas Challenge Fatah in the West Bank?

GH | The Syrian State does not deal with people and does not take stances based on reactions. The Syrian state has its own constants and principles, and it [continues to] adhere to these constants and principles even in its ninth year of war. Syria still believes that the cause of Palestine is the central cause of the Arab world.

So, when some Palestinian groups choose to affiliate themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood rather than being loyal to the Palestinian cause and to Syria, it makes Syria [even] more committed to its principles. Especially as these days, the world knows well that the Muslim Brotherhood [has become] the basis of evil since they’ve adopted terrorism.

The Palestinian cause remains the central cause. Syria will always take interest in the Palestinian cause, in spite of the fact that some [Palestinians] were eager to be part of the war on the Syrian State. Even though weapons that were supposed to be used to fight Israel were used in the war on Syrian citizens.

The Syrian State is now recovering and history will remember those [Palestinians] as traitors. History will show that Syria has been, and will be, loyal to the Palestinian cause.

The Yarmouk Camp is back under Syrian sovereignty. The camp is now free from those who carried weapons and used them against Syrian citizens, whatever names they used — ISIS, Nusra or otherwise — and regardless of their nationality, Palestinian or otherwise. All of them are now gone, thanks to the sacrifices made by the Syrian people the heroism of the Syrian Arab Army and the wisdom of our leader, President Bashar al-Assad.

 

EB | Some Palestinians remained loyal to Syria, including in fighting terrorism, like the Quds Brigade…

GH | Yes, of course. Surely. There are loyal people even inside occupied Palestine. Not all people are ungrateful to those who help them. Not all people bite the hand that is stretched out to help them. Only traitors bite that hand.

 

EB | When eastern Aleppo and eastern Ghouta were being liberated, Western and international media said that the Syrian army was massacring and raping civilians there and that both the Syrian and the Russian militaries were bombing hospitals. Now, they are saying that 29 hospitals in Idlib have been targeted. What would you say about these accusations?

GH | We have liberated eastern Ghouta. We have also liberated eastern Aleppo. In both locations, a number of field hospitals were shown on television with piles of medicine. This implies that these hospitals were not bombed. This is very briefly.

The other point is that when a building is selected as a command center for armed groups under the pretext of its being a hospital, does this mean we should let those positioned in eastern Ghouta target Damascus on a daily basis with their shells?

Didn’t the world watch those angels of mercy, when they entered Adra industrial town, burning people alive in ovens and throwing civilians off fourth and fifth floors?

We’re talking about war here, we’re talking here about armies of terrorists equipped with light, medium and heavy weapons and empires of media around the world, in addition to the regional and world powers supporting them.

It is the duty of the Syrian State, before being its own right, to provide the Syrian people with protection against terrorism. The problem with the national Syrian media is that it does not reach the West.

Crossing points are identified as corridors for the exit of civilians before any military operation gets started in a populated area. Such corridors are then equipped with ambulances, medical services and every other need. Who targeted the nurses, doctors and civilians on their way out when citizens were evacuated from eastern Ghouta?

Has anybody seen the photo of the Syrian soldier carrying an old woman on his back and a child on his arm? That soldier knew he could drop as a martyr carrying this heavy load. Other soldiers fell as martyrs while they were helping civilians escape.

That number, 29 hospitals, is a lie in itself. It is more than the number of [national] hospitals available all over Syria. Do they allocate a hospital for every twenty or thirty people? This is illogical.

There is also something strange about all the field hospitals that we discovered. Saudi, Israeli and U.S. medicine was found in these hospitals. How did such medicine reach the terrorists? Did it come from underneath the ground?

And those who had been targeting Damascus and Aleppo are all of sudden depicted as angels of mercy, peace and freedom advocates calling for democracy?

It’s worth pointing out to people in the West that it has been proven that only a limited number of the fighters in armed groups came from western Europe and North America, while tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, came from other countries.

The Turkish president declares that such terrorists are free to leave Syrian territory whenever he gets upset with Europe or the U.S. Subsequently, EU countries and the U.S. get so horrified at the possibility of those terrorists returning home.

The EU countries and the U.S. do not want any of those terrorists to return. Why is it that they do not want them to come back? Are they not their own citizens? They say that such terrorists will spread terrorism, so they spread terrorism there while they plant roses and flowers here? Is it okay for terrorists to spread terror here while they’re forbidden to return to their own countries?

Briefly, these are the types of lies spread by the West.

I’m calling on each and every citizen of Western countries, as I am absolutely sure that they have pure human emotion, not to believe the Western media. I want them to be certain that their governments have participated in the killing of the Syrian people and in the killing of Syrian children. Their governments participated in the killing of Syrian women and the killing of the Syrian elderly and convinced them [Western citizens] that they were promoting something else [freedom].

 

EB | Recently, journalists from CBS and Sky News were in Idlib. I believe one of the two groups, Sky News, claimed that it was targeted by the Syrian army. Could they be reporting independently of al-Qaeda or any of the other terrorist groups in Idlib? They claim they are not [embedded] with al-Qaeda. Is this feasible? Is this realistic? 

GH | It’s a funny question. You’re a journalist. Surely, this is not the first time you have visited Syria. Have you faced any obstacles while entering Syria as a journalist? Do any Western or European countries accept the entry of foreign journalists illegally into their countries?

Sky News, the BBC, and Al Jazeera teams conduct live transmissions while embedded with armed groups — the terrorists. I wish that the mental power of the Syrian soldiers could become super advanced so that they can order shells to avoid foreign correspondents who are side by side with terrorists. The army is responding to attacks launched by terrorists — soldiers and officers of the Syrian army cannot give orders to an exploding shell to avoid this or that.

The most important question is this: What are they doing there? How did they enter? Who is in control in Idlib? Isn’t it the Nusra Front? How are they [the journalists] allowed to be there? They are there under the protection of the Nusra Front. They are under the protection of an internationally-designated terrorist organization. Their countries should hold them accountable for communicating with terrorist groups before asking why the army is targeting them.

 

EB | How can Idlib be liberated when Turkish forces occupy northern Syria and there are civilians in Idlib, in addition to the 70,000 al-Qaeda and other terrorist fighters?

GH | There were civilians and armed groups in Homs. There were civilians and armed groups in Ghouta as well. There were civilians and armed groups all over Dara`a.  All these regions have been liberated. The majority of citizens remained there while the terrorists were wiped out. Idlib is no exception. Eastern parts of the Euphrates are no exception either.

Each square centimeter of Syrian land is part and parcel of Syria as a whole. It is the duty and the right of the Syrian State to eradicate terrorism.

Unless under an invitation by the Syrian government, any foreign military presence on the Syrian territory is a force of occupation. The Syrian State is entitled to face such an occupation with every possible means.

The Syrian State has opened the door wide for reconciliation. The Syrian State trusts the wisdom of Russian and Iranian friends and relies on its relations with Turkey.

Surely each Syrian citizen, civilian or military, wishes that not even one drop of blood be spilled. This does not mean to yield to occupation in any way.

Idlib will be freed either through reconciliations or a political agreement. Otherwise, the Syrian State will find the means to liberate Idlib in the same way it liberated all other regions. I am absolutely certain — not as an officer but rather as a citizen — I know how Syrian citizens think; they believe that Idlib will be freed, as will each and every inch of the Syrian territory.

The presence of U.S., Turkish, or any other occupation force does not mean such a force is a destiny that cannot be faced. As long as we [the Syrian State] spare no effort or means — whether military, political, economic or diplomatic —  to win this war [against terrorism] by God’s will, and I hope it is not going to be through military action. But if things reach a dead-end, Idlib will not remain under occupation.

 

EB | Can you speak to the importance of liberating Idlib, not only for Syria’s territorial integrity but also for the villages in Northern Hama that are affected by terrorists in Idlib? The media is not talking about Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other places being attacked by terrorists.

GH | When Mhardeh and Sqailbiyeh are targeted, as a Syrian citizen, I do not see these two towns as less important than Damascus. Likewise when the neighborhoods of Homs were targeted.

All areas inhabited by Syrian citizens under the control of the Syrian State have been targets for those armed terrorist groups that are supported by the West, which claims it is standing by human rights and cares about the interests of the Syrian people.

For Syrian citizens, the liberation of each centimeter, or rather each grain of sand, is as important as the liberation of Idlib. Of course, the existence of armed groups in Idlib leads to abnormal circumstances that cause dysfunction in citizens’ daily lives. Thus, it is important to liberate Idlib to guarantee the return of normal life in Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other areas.

At the same time, it is important to end the occupation by the U.S. and its allies.

I hope that each European or American citizen will ask: Why do Syrian citizens return to areas that have been liberated? Why do citizens welcome the army? Why do citizens — except those who are held hostage by terrorists — flee from areas under the control of terrorist groups?

The civilians residing in terrorist-held areas are helpless hostages. A year ago all of the neighborhoods in eastern Ghouta were populated by terrorists. If the Syrian army had been shelling civilians in the past, why not do now? Why are people now living in peace there?

These are questions that I put forward to people living in the West. I hope they are human enough to ask [themselves] these questions.

 

EB | Regarding misinformation from international media on the Syrian Arab Army, portraying them as murderers and rapists. Can you speak about the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army throughout these eight years of war?

GH | I will answer your question with a question. Syria is an area of 185,000 square kilometers. According to United Nations documents, 360,000 armed terrorists infiltrated Syrian territory.

I would like to draw an example other than Syria. I’ll give the U.S., the superpower of the world, as an example. Let’s suppose that 36,000, rather than 360,000, terrorists infiltrate any state of the United States. That’s 10 percent of the number of terrorists who made their way into Syria. Let’s also suppose that such terrorists are supported by world powers. What would have happened to the U.S.?

The achievements of the Syrian Arab Army are not ordinary; these achievements are miraculous accomplishments.

The two greatest armies in modern history have failed to achieve what the Syrian Army has accomplished. In Afghanistan, fewer than 10 percent of the number of terrorists in Syria were able to defeat two armies: the Red Soviet Army and the U.S. Army.

But, the Syrian Army defeated such terrorism. According to military theory, any fight between an army and terrorist militia of armed gangs will end with the armed gangs winning. This has been evident throughout military history.

For the first time in the history of humankind, a traditional army has defeated armies of militant groups. The Syrian Army fought battles that can be classified as new in military science. The Syrian Army fought above ground and underground battles in addition to their battles against the media war, intelligence war, information war, economic war, gang and street-to-street wars. Despite all of that, the Syrian Army achieved victory. Therefore, can we imagine the magnitude of the sacrifices made in this respect by the Syrian Army?

In the first months of this war, the Syrian leadership realized that the terrorists wanted Syrians to be used to seeing blood everywhere. So, soldiers were forbidden from carrying weapons, even handguns, when they went to areas of so-called demonstrations to prevent demonstrators from destroying infrastructure.

For months the soldiers confronted the militants knowing that they could be martyred. However, the discipline of the Syrian army pushed the soldiers to do their missions without carrying a weapon.

Let any Western citizen imagine how it would be for a soldier with no weapons facing armed militants to stop them from destroying infrastructure and targeting civilians.

This is the Syrian army. The Syrian army cleared most of the Syrian regions occupied by the fiercest types of terrorism ever witnessed in the history of mankind.

 

EB |  Thank you very much for your time and for the interview in general.

GH |  I also would like to thank you all for what you’ve done so far and for all of the questions you raised. I kindly request that you share my replies with foreign readers.

Personally, I think your role as an objective journalist transcends the traditional role of journalism. It reflects an ethical responsibility of telling the truth about what you’ve seen. If you want to help the Syrian people, the greatest help you can offer the Syrian people is to tell the truth you have seen with your own eyes, not just what is said all over the internet.

Again, anyone can look up Abu Saqr al-Souri and see how he ate the heart of a dead soldier. He was a member of the so-called peaceful group of the Free Syrian Army, when he was killed — he was with the Nusra Front. This can be enough to convey the message.

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