Facing Propaganda The dirty war on Syria مواجهة بروباغندا الحرب القذرة على سوريا

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A Decalogue: The Ten Theses of American Empire-Building: A Dialogue

Global Research, November 10, 2018

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First published by Global Research on August 11, 2018

Introduction

Few, if any, believe what they hear and read from leaders and media publicists. Most people choose to ignore the cacophony of voices, vices and virtues.

This paper provides a set of theses which purports to lay-out the basis for a dialogue between and among those who choose to abstain from elections with the intent to engage them in political struggle.

Thesis 1

US empire builders of all colors and persuasion practice donkey tactics; waving the carrot and wielding the whip to move the target government on the chosen path.

In the same way, Washington offers dubious concessions and threatens reprisals, in order to move them into the imperial orbit.

Washington applied the tactic successfully in several recent encounters. In 2003 the US offered Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi a peaceful accommodation in exchange for disarmament, abandonment of nationalist allies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In 2011, the US with its European allies applied the whip – bombed Libya, financed and armed retrograde tribal and terrorist forces, destroyed the infrastructure, murdered Gaddafi and uprooted millions of Africans and Libyans. . . who fled to Europe. Washington recruited mercenaries for their subsequent war against Syria in order to destroy the nationalist Bashar Assad regime.

Washington succeeded in destroying an adversary but did not establish a puppet regime in the midst of perpetual conflict.

The empire’s carrot weakened its adversary, but the stick failed to recolonize Libya ..Moreover its European allies are obligated to pay the multi-billion Euro cost of absorbing millions of uprooteded immigrants and the ensuing domestic political turmoil.

Thesis 2

Empire builders’ proposal to reconfigure the economy in order to regain imperial supremacy provokes domestic and overseas enemies. President Trump launched a global trade war, replaced political accommodation with economic sanctions against Russia and a domestic protectionist agenda and sharply reduced corporate taxes. He provoked a two-front conflict. Overseas, he provoked opposition from European allies and China, while facing perpetual harassment from domestic free market globalists and Russo-phobic political elites and ideologues.

Two front conflicts are rarely successful. Most successful imperialist conquer adversaries in turn – first one and then the other.

Thesis 3

Leftists frequently reverse course: they are radicals out of office and reactionaries in government, eventually falling between both chairs. We witness the phenomenal collapse of the German Social Democratic Party, the Greek Socialist Party (PASOK), (and its new version Syriza) and the Workers Party in Brazil. Each attracted mass support, won elections, formed alliances with bankers and the business elite – and in the face of their first crises, are abandoned by the populace and the elite.

Shrewd but discredited elites frequently recognize the opportunism of the Left, and in time of distress, have no problem in temporarily putting up with Left rhetoric and reforms as long as their economic interests are not jeopardized. The elite know that the Left signal left and turn right.

Thesis 4

Elections, even ones won by progressives or leftists, frequently become springboards for imperial backed coups. Over the past decade newly elected presidents, who are not aligned with Washington, face congressional and/or judicial impeachment on spurious charges. The elections provide a veneer of legitimacy which a straight-out military-coup lacks.

In Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela, ‘legislatures’ under US tutelage attempted to ouster popular President. They succeeded in the former and failed in the latter.

When electoral machinery fails, the judicial system intervenes to impose restraints on progressives, based on tortuous and convoluted interpretation of the law. Opposition leftists in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador have been hounded by ruling party elites.

Thesis 5

Even crazy leaders speak truth to power. There is no question that President Trump suffers a serious mental disorder, with midnight outbursts and nuclear threats against, any and all, ranging from philanthropic world class sports figures (LeBron James) to NATO respecting EU allies.

Yet in his lunacy, President Trump has denounced and exposed the repeated deceits and ongoing fabrications of the mass media. Never before has a President so forcefully identified the lies of the leading print and TV outlets. The NY Times, Washington Post, the Financial Times, NBC, CNN, ABC and CBS have been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the larger public. They have lost legitimacy and trust. Where progressives have failed, a war monger, billionaire has accomplished, speaking a truth to serve many injustices.

Thesis 6

When a bark turns into a bite, Trump proves the homely truth that fear invites aggression. Trump has implemented or threatened severe sanctions against the EU, China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea and any country that fails to submit to his dictates. At first, it was bombast and bluster which secured concessions.

Concessions were interpreted as weakness and invited greater threats. Disunity of opponents encouraged imperial tacticians to divide and conquer. But by attacking all adversaries simultaneously he undermines that tactic. Threats everywhere limits choices to dangerous options at home and abroad.

Thesis 7

The master meddlers, of all times, into the politics of sovereign states are the Anglo-American empire builders. But what is most revealing is the current ploy of accusing the victims of the crimes that are committed against them.

After the overthrow of the Soviet regime, the US and its European acolytes ‘meddled’ on a world-historic scale, pillaging over two trillion dollars of Soviet wealth and reducing Russian living standards by two thirds and life expectancy to under sixty years – below the level of Bangladesh.

With Russia’s revival under President Putin, Washington financed a large army of self-styled ‘non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) to organize electoral campaigns, recruited moguls in the mass media and directed ethnic uprisings. The Russians are retail meddlers compared to the wholesale multi-billion-dollar US operators.

Moreover, the Israeli’s have perfected meddling on a grand scale – they intervene successfully in Congress, the White House and the Pentagon. They set the Middle East agenda, budget and priorities, and secure the biggest military handouts on a per-capita basis in US history!

Apparently, some meddlers meddle by invitation and are paid to do it.

Thesis 8

Corruption is endemic in the US where it has legal status and where tens of millions of dollars change hands and buy Congress people, Presidents and judges.

In the US the buyers and brokers are called ‘lobbyists’ – everywhere else they are called fraudsters. Corruption (lobbying) grease the wheels of billion dollars military spending, technological subsidies, tax evading corporations and every facet of government – out in the open, all the time and place of the US regime.

Corruption as lobbying never evokes the least criticism from the mass media.

On the other hand, where corruption takes place under the table in Iran, China and Russia, the media denounce the political elite – even where in China over 2 million officials, high and the low are arrested and jailed.

When corruption is punished in China, the US media claim it is merely a ‘political purge’ even if it directly reduces elite conspicuous consumption.

In other words, imperial corruption defends democratic value; anti-corruption is a hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships.

Thesis 9

Bread and circuses are integral parts of empire building – especially in promoting urban street mobs to overthrow independent and elected governments.

Imperial financed mobs – provided the cover for CIA backed coups in Iran (1954), Ukraine (2014), Brazil (1964), Venezuela (2003, 2014 and 2017), Argentina (1956), Nicaragua (2018), Syria (2011) and Libya (2011) among other places and other times.

Masses for empire draw paid and voluntary street fighters who speak for democracy and serve the elite. The “mass cover” is especially effective in recruiting leftists who look to the street for opinion and ignore the suites which call the shots.

Thesis 10

The empire is like a three-legged stool it promotes genocide, to secure magnicide and to rule by homicide. Invasions kills millions, capture and kill rulers and then rule by homicide – police assassinating dissenting citizens.

The cases are readily available: Iraq and Libya come to mind. The US and its allies invaded, bombed and killed over a million Iraqis, captured and assassinated its leaders and installed a police state.

A similar pattern occurred in Libya: the US and EU bombed, killed and uprooted several million people, assassinated Ghadaffy and fomented a lawless terrorist war of clans, tribes and western puppets.

“Western values” reveal the inhumanity of empires built to murder “a la carte” – stripping the victim nations of their defenders, leaders and citizens.

Conclusion

The ten theses define the nature of 21st century imperialism – its continuities and novelties.

The mass media systematically write and speak lies to power: their message is to disarm their adversaries and to arouse their patrons to continue to plunder the world.

*

Prof. James Petras is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews

Via The Saker

October 18, 2018

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews, Moscow, October 16, 2018

Question: The issue of Russia’s financial contribution to the Council of Europe has long been on the agenda after Russia’s voting right was suspended. How important is the Council of Europe to Russia? What, in your view, is the likely solution to this impasse?

Sergey Lavrov: The Council of Europe is going through a serious crisis and not because Russia suspended its contribution more than a year ago but due to the reasons you mentioned: because Russia was denied the right to vote. This happened in 2014 as punishment for the free expression of will by Crimea residents, who voted in favour of reintegration with Russia at a referendum. This punishment was imposed on the members of parliament that were elected by the population of Russia and sent as a delegation to the Council of Europe.

The sanctions imposed in 2014 became tougher in 2015. As a result, the Russian members of parliament were stripped of all rights whatsoever and were only allowed to be present at the meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and listen to anti-Russia statements without having an opportunity to answer, which is, strictly speaking, regular practice in any normal parliament where, even if tensions are running high, it is always possible to answer and compare different positions. Our members of parliament were denied this right for three years even though from 2014 until 2017 we made the required contributions. In so doing, we warned that this could not go on forever because without due representation at the assembly and without the opportunity to state its position it would be unwise for Russia to pay for Russophobic activities; the same goes for any other country that might end up in a similar situation for that matter. So we warned everyone that we would be forced to suspend our contributions at some point. We did this in the summer of 2017, making it clear that as soon as the rights of our members of parliament at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe were unconditionally and fully reinstated, we would immediately pay our debts.

I want to stress that our decision on this point has worked. Many sensible MPs and functionaries in the Council of Europe have become aware of the seriousness of the situation. Michele Nicoletti, the then President of the Parliamentary Assembly, and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland were struggling to find a way out of this absolutely abnormal situation.

As a result of that work, the attention of all members of the Parliamentary Assembly was drawn to the fact that there is a basic document that all bodies of the Council of Europe, including the Parliamentary Assembly, must be guided by in their work. This is the Statute of the Council of Europe – a fundamental document, an imperative, so to say. It says that all Council of Europe member states enjoy equal rights in any Council of Europe format, whether the Parliamentary Assembly, or the Committee of Ministers, or any other organ.

We pointed this out and asked our colleagues in the Parliamentary Assembly to comply with the document they signed when they endorsed the decision to establish the Council of Europe and to honour the terms on which Russia joined the organisation. Once again, I will point out that the term written in the Statute is the complete equality of the delegations of all Council of Europe member states, including in the Parliamentary Assembly.

Instead, a small, but very loud and aggressive group of delegations from countries that are well known to everyone (I won’t bother mentioning the names; they have been pushing an anti-Russia stance in the European Union, as well as NATO, the United Nations and the OSCE) set forth the premise that besides the Statute of the Council of Europe there are also the Rules of Procedure for the Parliamentary Assembly. These Rules of Procedure stipulate that decisions be adopted through a vote and by a very narrow majority. The most they were willing to do was to consider whether these rules should be changed to make it harder to restrict the rights of one delegation or another.

Our response was simple and tough. No regulations, rules or procedures can compare in significance with the fundamental document – the Statute of the Council of Europe, which, let me point out once again, proclaims the mandatory equality of all delegations in all structures of the Council of Europe.

Therefore, we will propose that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe pass a resolution confirming the indisputability of this statutory provision – this is its function. If that decision is blocked, it will be a deliberate step by those, who, in their anti-Russia fervour, simply want to “bury” Europe.

Please note that since our MPs were stripped of the right to vote, the Parliamentary Assembly has already elected, if I am not mistaken, 24 judges to the European Court of Human Rights. And the total number is 47. So, the majority of judges in the European Court are judges elected in the absence of the Russian votes.

Similarly, a new High Commissioner for Human Rights was elected without the Russian MPs. Next June, a new secretary general of the Council of Europe will be elected. So, due to the suspension of our right, which is granted to us by the Statute of the Council of Europe, to participate in these votes, the above functionaries of the Council of Europe (the judges, the commissioner for human rights and soon, if this issue persists, the secretary general) will, in fact, not be legitimate for us. Therefore, I do hope that all our partners, including and in the first place those who made this mess, who decided to punish the deputies chosen freely by the will of the people who are residents of Crimea – that they have become aware of the seriousness of the situation and the responsibility that they are taking upon themselves.

Question: Thorbjorn Jagland said they would make the budget without Russia’s funds. Our Russian MPs say that one of the options is leaving the Council of Europe. Is Russia considering this possibility?

Sergey Lavrov: Thorbjorn Jagland has no other option than to create the budget using the current funding under circumstances where we are not paying our share. We, again, recently stated that as soon as our rights are restored we will pay our dues to the Council of Europe in full. The European Court of Human Rights has been largely formed without our participation, so its legitimacy for Russia is rather dubious, just like the legitimacy of the Commissioner for Human Rights. I have heard the Russian parliamentarians’ statements to the effect that if this outrage continues, the Council of Europe will be signing its own death warrant. I do not think that Russia’s participation in Council of Europe is more important for Russia than for the European countries. This is my firm conviction. We joined the Council of Europe on the principle that it provides for a pan-European, universal legal and humanitarian space. I am sure that those who have dealt a blow to this space through illegitimate actions that violate the Statute and seek to deprive the Russian delegation of their equal rights, they know what they are signing up for. If they want to push Russia out of the Council of Europe, we won’t give them the pleasure; we will leave the organisation ourselves. Let those in the majority, who are aware of the provocative nature of this plan initiated by a small but loud group of countries, work within this group. It is unacceptable to ruin a pan-European organisation to satisfy the ambitions of certain politicians in some European capitals. Everyone is aware of this. I hope that most sensible people will be brave enough to prevent this from happening.

Question: Is Russia doing anything to prove to the West that we are reliable and can be trusted after what has happened to the Skripals and all those hacking attack charges?

Sergey Lavrov: Our Western colleagues are priding themselves on having built a rule-of-law state in their countries; rule of law and the rules-based order are allegedly what the historical West has created as well as what all others should accept and reproduce, including the judicial system. There is English law and there is Roman law, but in both cases for someone to start proving his innocence he should hear the concrete charges. We have not been presented with such charges. We are baselessly being convinced that we have “highly likely” done something unlawful in Salisbury, then in Amesbury, and later we did something unlawful in Catalonia. Allegedly, we have meddled in all these matters. They are also accusing us of having played our sad role in Brexit and of many other sins. But not one single concrete charge has been presented.

Unlike our partners, we did build a rule-of-law state, because we hold sacred our international legal commitments and hope that all others will do the same. We have advised the British Government dozens of times, in keeping with conventions existing in our bilateral relations (the Council of Europe conventions, incidentally), of the need to utilise the mechanism for mutual assistance in criminal cases. After numerous reminders on our part, they replied officially that the British Government could not do that out of national security considerations. As is clear to everyone, this reply lacks substance and is disrespectful of the British legal system, among others. Therefore, as soon as we are presented with concrete facts, we will be ready to sit down and talk. The same goes for allegations that we have meddled in the US elections. Moreover, in both cases, we have long been suggesting – even before Donald Trump was elected president and before the Salisbury incident – that we should start concrete work on cybersecurity, where professionals, first of all, will exchange their concerns and respond to these mutual concerns, and, secondly, devise certain universal rules that will make it possible to rule out or dramatically reduce the abuse of cyberspace, which is used by terrorists, criminals, drug addicts, pedophiles, and many other people, who must be restrained in every possible way. In response, we hear only that Russia should mend its ways, if it wants to be talked to. This is neither serious nor the way adults behave.

Unlike our accusers, we ask some very concrete questions: there is a convention on legal assistance, let us use it; there is the Chemical Weapons Convention, which says that if a state party has questions to ask another state party, the country that has conceived a question must put this question directly in a bilateral format to the country, to which this question is addressed. Nothing of the kind has been done.

Yet another utterly concrete question, which we have been asking for too long now and which is shameful to ignore for much longer, is: where are Yulia and Sergey Skripal? If the evidence we have been presented with includes just the corpses of a cat, a hamster, and a poor, unstably housed woman, as well as a scent-bottle, it all looks grotesque. I don’t want to belittle the seriousness of cases involving the use of chemical substances, but if someone wants to gamble on this and put up a show to amuse the public and rally the European community against the Russian Federation, then this is shameful. If someone is seriously concerned about these problems, there is no need to tell the untruth. You should prove your accusations with facts, including by presenting to the public Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia. While Sergey has British nationality apart from Russian citizenship, Yulia is just a citizen of Russia. She appeared on television just once, uttered a clearly filmed monologue, and added that she wanted to return back to Russia. No one has seen her since then. Her relative, Viktoria, has failed to obtain a visa. She was harassed at the British Embassy in Moscow, where they repeatedly urged her to change the documents, rewrite the questionnaires or bring new photographs. In the end she was left without a visa. There are many other factors preventing relatives of these people from contacting them. So, we are in favour of legal solutions to any problems. The rabid accusation in the spirit of “highly likely” or “we don’t see any other plausible explanation” are just not serious.

Question: What about Bellingcat? All these investigations…

Sergey Lavrov: That’s part of the same story, really. White Helmets, or Bellingcat – it’s all the same. It’s not a secret for anyone, and Western journalists openly write about this, that Bellingcat is closely connected with the special services that use it to channel information intended to influence public opinion. No matter how many times we were told that the White Helmets are truth lovers, human rights champions and humanitarian workers who save people in the most difficult situations. More and more facts are popping up confirming their close connection with ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra. This is more like they are not at all benefactors working “answering the call of the heart,” but rather for getting payment. As for the staged videos, the locals are not allowed to leave the site until these people arrive with their cameras. There are a lot of facts like this that have become public.

Moreover, quite recently, three months ago maybe, our Western colleagues decided, as they said, to “save” the units of the White Helmets in southern Syria after non-Syrian forces left the de-escalation zones established there by Russia, the United States and Jordan. Their positions were taken over by the Syrian army, which has now restored the order on the Golan Heights established by the UN Security Council resolution of 1974, which Israel also supported. Representatives of the White Helmets, 400 people with their families, urged to take them to Jordan for a period of three or four weeks, and then, as was announced, Britain, Canada, Germany and Holland would take them. Three months have passed. They are still there. According to our data, Western countries, which promised Jordan to take these people and move them to Europe and Canada, have browsed through some of their dossiers and became horrified. Their past suggests that European countries would be scared of accepting such people with prominent criminal tendencies.

Question: Do you believe that diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom and Western countries can improve?

Sergey Lavrov: All relations do not boil down to just diplomatic relations. There are other relations, including cultural relations that have not disappeared anywhere and which continue to evoke tremendous interest among Russian, British and American citizens and those of the EU countries. There are also economic relations that, incidentally, concern Russian citizens and the relevant business circles to a considerable extent, and these relations are the subject matter of ongoing contacts.

Diplomatic relations depend on the extent to which various partners are ready to respect diplomatic proprieties. Our British colleagues who, to be honest, started wrecking our relations, are not seriously committed to diplomatic proprieties today. I have already said that we have failed to receive any reply after sending dozens of diplomatic notes. Many requests to the Foreign Office also went unanswered. One gets a strong feeling that the United Kingdom’s current authorities have decided to vent their domestic frustrations, including Brexit, on Russia and to explain their domestic problems by Russian scheming. It appears that the Democratic Party of the United States has set this example by justifying its election campaign defeat by the fact that Donald Trump waged an unfair struggle, with Russia allegedly assisting him during this process. It is sad when domestic political squabbles start affecting relations between leading states. They continue to face a problem linked with Brexit. A struggle is now underway for the post of the leader of the Conservative Party, for holding new elections and so on.

For some reason, the “Russian card” has become quite popular among politicians. Possibly, they don’t have enough creativity for doing something else. They simply blame Russia for everything, without trying to take into consideration their  electorate and believing that their voters will accept any concoction.

It is amusing to see British representatives rushing all over Europe after the Salisbury incident and demanding that the EU countries take part in sanctions. They have persuaded many countries, but not all of them, to expel Russian diplomats after the Salisbury incident. Today, they are also inventing some new systematic sanctions that the whole of the EU would have to impose on any violators of the chemical weapons ban and lots more. It appears that a country, now leaving the EU, is frantically trying to influence the EU’s Russian policies. I believe that the UK wants to rein in the EU with regard to Russia and other matters concerning international affairs. It is not up to me to decide to what extent this meets the EU’s interests as well as their dignity.

Question: Is Russia worried about the political and even economic fallout in connection with the Jamal Khashoggi case.

Sergey Lavrov: You are so metaphorical! I support the current calls for a speedy investigation as soon as possible. We praise the agreements between Turkey and Saudi Arabia on the various steps being taken to make it possible to conduct this investigation. I do hope that the international community will get to know the results.

Question: The media has reported today that President of Syria Bashar al-Assad is set to visit Crimea. Does Russia plan to involve Syria in Crimean matters? There are plans for economic activities there.

Sergey Lavrov: President of Syria Bashar al-Assad is our partner. We regularly exchange visits with our Syrian colleagues at the level of presidents, ministers of foreign affairs, trade and economic development. Our military personnel and secret services also maintain contacts. This is very important for combating terrorism. The Russian regions are interested in various opportunities being provided by Syria for expanding economic, cultural, humanitarian and educational ties. Quite recently, Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov visited Damascus at the invitation of President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. As is customary in normal diplomatic practices, he handed over an invitation from Russian leaders for Bashar al-Assad to visit the Russian Federation, including Crimea. Well, that’s about it.

Please come to Crimea. They are telling us that human rights are being violated in Crimea. But all those who are concerned with this matter have repeatedly been able to see what life is really like there. Those trying to make a politically motivated story out of this insist that they will only go to Crimea via Ukrainian territory. This is out of the question because Crimea is part of the Russian Federation under the results of the March 2014 referendum that involved the people of Crimea. But for some reason, not all Western journalists want to go there and see everything with their very own eyes. They have every opportunity to see how the people of Crimea live. If they are interested in a political game, they strike an attitude and say that they will only visit Crimea via Ukrainian territory. This is unprofessional.

Speaking of professionalism, I would like to mention another aspect, namely, Donbass. In effect, Ukraine is divided by the frontline. Provocations continue despite the Minsk Agreements and all attempts by members of the Normandy format and the Contact Group to fulfil all the agreements. Thank God, there are no large-scale hostilities like back in 2014 and early 2015, but regular firefights occur, despite regular “school,” “harvest” and “Christmas” ceasefire agreements. We have been asking officials from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine not to issue sterile reports listing attacks on communities, the number of killed and wounded civilians. Instead, we are expecting them to provide specific updates on the developments in various sections of the demarcation line and to focus on attacks against civilian facilities and casualties and fatalities among the civilians. In September 2017, the OSCE issued the first such report listing the location of attacks and the damage incurred. This was a difficult job because the Ukrainian authorities tried hard to forbid the OSCE from publishing this report. According to this report, five times more civilian facilities were damaged in the areas controlled by the self-defence fighters. The responsibility for this rests with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Civilians living in such places also sustained six-seven times more casualties and fatalities. Any military expert would use this data to note that such a correlation between damage and civilian casualties and fatalities means that, by all appearances, the Armed Forces of Ukraine attack civilian facilities in communities, including kindergartens, hospitals and schools. For their part, self-defence fighters retaliate by hitting positions from which they are being attacked. I have mentioned journalism and professionalism. Representatives of the Russian media work non-stop, seven days a week and 24 hours a day in areas controlled by self-defence fighters. They show the extent of damage and the real results of the operations involving the Armed Forces of Ukraine. If our Western partners are saying that Russia and the separatists are to blame for everything, and that the Minsk Agreements would be immediately fulfilled as soon as Russia wants this to happen, and that Ukraine has allegedly fulfilled them almost completely (this is what some of our European colleagues and US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker are saying), then it would probably be no problem to send BBC, CNN and Euronews correspondents to areas controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to show everyone how people live there and  the extent of damaged civilian facilities, if any. I have repeatedly spoken with journalists I know about this but failed to get any reply. They are simply looking at me, nodding but doing nothing. If Donetsk and Lugansk are accused of everything, including aggressive behaviour, then it would be appropriate to send journalists there, so that they would work honestly in areas allegedly severely attacked by self-defence fighters. Over all these years, BBC and someone else sent their groups there only once or twice, and that was all about it.

Question: Speaking of President of Syria Bashar al-Assad once again, does Syria plan to conduct economic operations in Crimea or not?

Sergey Lavrov: This depends on the extent to which this region and a certain region in Syria, be it Damascus, Latakia or any other, are interested in specific projects. This was the first meeting between the Head of Crimea and representatives of the Syrian leadership. Quite possibly, they will be able to discuss mutually beneficial projects after assessing the local situation.

Bush & Blair’s Iraq war was key that opened door to Syria’s current hell

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The ruins of buildings near the Clock Square in Raqqa, Syria, October 18, 2017 © Reuters / Erik De Castro

By John Wight
Source

As with the Vietnamese people, so with the Syrians. Their struggle against imperialism and hegemony has earned them a place at history’s table that can never be relinquished. Because, if you penetrate beyond the obfuscations peddled by Western ideologues, the conflict in Syria at its core has been anti-imperialist in character.

The hell visited on Syrian society has been in many respects a continuation of the hell visited on Iraq in 2003, after 13 years of sanctions had already killed two million of its people, including half a million children.

During this sanctions period, former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, in a rare moment of candor for a functionary of the empire, provided us with an invaluable insight into the pristine barbarism which lurks behind the mask of democracy and human rights that such people usually wear for the purposes of confusing the public mind as to who and what they truly are.

The interviewer, Lesley Stahl, put it to Albright that half a million Iraqi children had died due to the sanctions, and asked if she thought the price “is worth it.” Albright without hesitation answered Yes. “We think the price is worth it.

Getting to the grips with the beast of Western hegemony obligates us to grapple with the salient truth that Albright’s grotesque and perverse worldview, providing her with the ability to insouciantly account for the murder by sanctions of half a million Iraqi children, is the same worldview which drove the US war against Vietnam, that has underpinned the six decades of economic warfare against the Cuban people, the covert military interventions in South and Central America in the 1980s, support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan over the same period, and the ongoing effort to effect regime change in Venezuela.

It is also, be in no doubt, the thinking that informed the West’s approach to Libya in 2011 when the country’s difficulty presented itself as their opportunity.

In other words, it is the worldview of those so sick with the ideology of hegemony there is no monstrous act, no crime or slaughter that cannot be undertaken in its cause, necessitating the abstraction of millions of lives as mere flotsam and jetsam in order to justify their suffering as a “price worth paying.”

Returning to Iraq in 2003, the scourge of Salafi-jihadism that has scarred Syrian society was hatched in the course of that war, wherein ISIS (Islamic State) began life as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) under one Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. According to Stanford University, an institution not hitherto known to be a hotbed of pro-Assad sentiment, this particular history unfolded thus:

The Islamic State (IS), also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) is a Salafi-jihadist militant organization in Syria and Iraq whose goal is the establishment and expansion of a caliphate. The group has its origins in the early 2000s, when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi began training extremist militants. The group was a major participant in the Iraqi insurgency during the American occupation, first under the name Jama’at al-Tawhid wa’al-Jihad and then, after swearing fealty to Al-Qaeda, as Al-Qaeda in Iraq.”

This reason why this trajectory is so important to reaffirm, and why it must detain us, is to emphasize that the roots of what later befell Syria were planted in Iraq by the US-led war unleashed there in 2003. Bush and Blair’s war was the key that unlocked the gates of hell out of which this medieval barbarism sprung to devastating effect. Those who believe otherwise, such as former US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, would do well to ponder that without Iraq being pushed into the abyss of societal collapse, carnage and resulting sectarian bloodletting, the Salafi-jihadism of al-Zarqawi et al would have been denied the conditions required to feed its growth and spread.

Washington not Damascus or Moscow created and incubated the Frankenstein’s Monster of ISIS, in the same laboratory of US imperialism in which the Khmer Rouge was created in the 1970s and Al-Qaeda in the 1980s.

What Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s, Afghanistan in the 1980s, and Syria today have in common, of course, is Moscow’s stance. It is a matter of historical record that without Soviet (Russian) aid to the Vietnamese in the 1960s and 70s, they would not have prevailed, and it is likewise a matter of record that the grim fate to befall Afghanistan in the 1990s was predicated on the forced withdrawal of Soviet forces as the country began to flounder under the weight of the internal contradictions that were to lead to its demise.

Though the cost to the world of the end of the Soviet Union will never be compensated – measured not only in the medieval abyss into which Afghanistan was plunged, but also in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the aforementioned decimation of Iraq – without Moscow’s recovery to the point of being able to intervene militarily in Syria in 2015, Damascus today would be occupying a place in the same graveyard.

Iran and Hezbollah have also played an indispensable role in the struggle for Syria’s survival, expending blood and treasure in the event, while the Syrian Arab Army’s sacrifice has been immeasurable.

The glorification of war and conflict, especially among those living safely many miles away from its horrors and brutality, conceals and sanitizes its bitter truths. Those who do glorify it, who view it in the manner of a parlor game, should take a moment to study and imbibe the words of Jeannette Rankin, who said: “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”

The war in Syria confirms the abiding truth of those words when we take into account the mammoth destruction it has wrought, the tragic human cost, and how it has shaken Syrian society to the very limits of endurance. It means that while the country’s survival as an independent non-sectarian state may by now be certain, its ability to fully recover from the earthquake Rankin describes is something only time will tell.

But the fact that the country has managed to achieve its survival and, with it, the opportunity to recover, is predominately the achievement of the Syrian Arab Army, whose complexion is a microcosm of the very society and people it has defended – Sunnis, Shia, Druze, Christians, Alawites, etc.

Robert Fisk, whose reports from Syria since the conflict began have been indispensable in helping us navigate its trajectory, informs us that something of the order of 70-80,000 Syrian soldiers have perished. This constitutes a staggering toll in a country whose army stood at 220,000 at the start of the conflict. More crucially, it is a toll that could not possibly have been borne without the solid support of the Syrian people for the army and its government, led by President Bashar Assad, over these past eight years.

Idlib is now the last bastion of militant-held territory in the country and, though of course folly to count chickens, by all accounts events on the ground point inexorably to the complete liberation of the country sooner rather than later. Yet isn’t it an interesting study in the space that exists between the ideology and reality of Western hegemony and unipolarity that not one mainstream journalist has joined the obvious dots between ascribing rebel status to the assorted Salafi-jihadist groups whose conception of a society is a living hell, and the government and armed forces fighting to prevent it from coming into being.

This is never better illustrated than the fact that not one Western journalist denouncing the Syrian government and its motives during the war would have dared to set foot within so much as an inch of militant-held territory, knowing that if they did they would be peremptorily abducted, tortured and slaughtered.

In which direction Syria heads after the fighting ends is without reservation a matter for its people. It is hard to believe that it could hope to return to the status quo that existed before, though, not after the elemental suffering and sacrifice that has been endured and made by so many.

One thing that is quite certain: the nation and society that began life as a colonial construct has, over the course of the conflict, rallied at a seminal point in its history to assert the right never to be colonized by anyone again.

Saudi writer on RT: ‘Syria, Iraq, & Gulf states belong to Saudi Arabia’ – English Subtitles

The Saker

October 13, 2018

Assad: Idlib Agreement Is Temporary Measure

South Front

 

Assad: Idlib Agreement Is Temporary Measure

07.10.2018

On October 7, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said that the Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement on the northern governorate of Idlib is a “temporary measure” and vowed to restore his government control of the whole territory of Syria.

“What we have witnessed recently of Western hysteria ahead of Idlib battle stems from the fact that it is a fateful thing for them, because the Syrians’ victory in it will lead to the failure of their plans and to Syria’s return as yet a more serious prospect in the face of their project in the region than it was before,” the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted Assad remarks during a meeting of the Central Committee of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party in the city of Damascus as saying.

Furthermore, al-Assad predicted that Syria’s enemies will ramp up their attempts to drain it militarily, politically, economically and socially as it progresses towards victory. The Syrian president noted that this will incur internal challenges, which are no less serious than the ongoing war.

Last month, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a press conference that the deconfliction agreement on Idlib is an intermediate step, which is aimed at eradicating the terrorist threat.

Under the agreement, a 15-20km demilitarized zone will be established around Idlib by October 20. Opposition sources confirmed that the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) is already withdrawing its heavy weapons from the zone. However, more radical groups are yet to obey the agreement.

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تسويات التغاضي بدلاً من تسويات التراضي

أكتوبر 5, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– يتفق كل المتابعين لقضايا العالم والمنطقة على اعتبار معركة تحرير حلب الحدث المفصلي الذي رسم التوازنات، التي لا تزال ترسم ما بعد حلب من معادلات. ومعركة حلب هي ثمرة تحوّلين كبيرين: الأول هو التفاهم النووي مع إيران بشراكة أميركية حاسمة، والثاني هو الدخول الروسي الحاسم على خط تغيير قواعد الحرب في سورية وكسر التوازن السلبي الذي هدّد وحدة سورية، وحمل ذبور تقسيمها وتقاسمها وإدخالها في الفوضى، حيث كانت الشراكة الإيرانية مع روسيا شرطاً رئيسياً لتحقيق ما تحقق. وقد صار واضحاً اليوم أن التفاهم النووي وفقاً للفهم الأميركي كان عرضاً أميركياً على إيران للقبول بتسوية بالتغاضي تقوم على الحصول على ميزات التفاهم ومكاسبه، مقابل الخروج من الحرب في سورية، بعدما بدا أن مثل هذا الاتفاق بالتراضي مستحيل، وتسويات التغاضي هي صيغة مبتكرة لمراعاة الإحراج الذي تسبّبه تسويات التراضي لأحد طرفيها أو لكليهما، فتقوم على التصرّف بوحي قواعد سلوك لمضمون تسوية غير معقودة رسمياً، لكنها مفهومة لطرفيها عملياً.

– مرة أخرى حاولت واشنطن تسوية أخرى بالتغاضي مع روسيا هذه المرّة عبر قمة هلسنكي، عنوانها قبول روسيا بالتخلي عن حماية الدور الإيراني في سورية مقابل الاعتراف بنصرها منفردة، وبمثل ما رفضت إيران مضمون تسوية التغاضي التي تضمنها الفهم الأميركي للتفاهم النووي وتمسّكت بحرفية نصوص التفاهم بإطاره الضيق كتفاهم حول الأبعاد التقنية للملف النووي. رفضت روسيا مضمون تسوية التغاضي، وجاهرت بشرعية الدور الإيراني في سورية وأهميته، وربطته بالسيادة السورية، وعملت بمضمون نصوص تفاهمات هلسنكي كإطار لضمان عودة النازحين السوريين، التي لا تعني للأميركيين أكثر من إطار كلامي لتفاهم مضمونه المنتظر هو تغاضٍ روسي عن الضغوط الأميركية التي تستهدف الدور والوجود الإيرانيين في سورية، ومعهما وجود ودور قوى المقاومة، ولما لم يجدوا تجاوباً روسياً خرجوا من النص الرسمي لتفاهم هلسنكي حول النازحين كما خرجوا من التفاهم النووي مع إيران.

– مع الموقف الواضح والحاسم لكل من إيران وروسيا، تولّت «إسرائيل» مهمة عرض تسوية التغاضي مجدداً على روسيا، عبر محاولة فرض أمر واقع عسكري يتجسد بتمادي حركة سلاحها الجوي في سماء سورية، واستهداف ما تسميه مواقع وقواعد إيرانية تهدد أمن «إسرائيل»، ووضعت في الكفة المقابلة للرفض الروسي مستقبل العلاقة الروسية الإسرائيلية التي كانت تظنّ حكومة الاحتلال أنها تحتل مكانة داخلية في الحسابات الروسية تضعها فوق مرتبة الحرب في سورية والتحالف مع إيران. وكانت رسالة إسقاط الطائرة الروسية، وكان الجواب الروسي أشد وضوحاً وحزماً بنشر صواريخ الـ«أس 300» بيد الجيش السوري وتغيير قواعد الاشتباك.

– انتقلت المبادرة إلى اليد الروسية، فنشر صواريخ الـ«أس 300» بيد الجيش السوري عملياً أكبر من تغيير لقواعد الاشتباك التكتيكية، وأقرب لتغيير استراتيجي في الموازين، لكنه عرض لتسوية بالتغاضي على واشنطن، للتسليم بحصرية الإمساك الروسي بالأجواء السورية مقابل عدم التصادم، فصدرت بيانات مندّدة ومحذرة من الخارجية الأميركية، لكن البنتاغون المعني بالشأن العسكري مباشرة سارع للقبول بتسوية التغاضي عندما أصدر بياناً باسم التحالف الذي تقوده واشنطن في سورية وقال إن الصواريخ لا تؤثر على عمل التحالف.

– تلقفت إيران المبادرة فقدمت عرضاً بتسوية بالتغاضي عنوانها ضرب الجماعات التي تستهدف أمن إيران في سورية والعراق تحت عين واشنطن، مقابل عدم التصادم. وتقبلت واشنطن عملياً العرض، وتغاضت، فصاغت إيران مع حلفائها العراقيين تسوية سياسية بالتغاضي، أنتجت رؤساء للجمهورية ومجلس النواب والحكومة، من دون تفاهم إيراني أميركي، ومن دون فتح لباب الصدام. فالشخصيات التي تبوأت المناصب الدستورية العراقية بدعم إيران وحلفائها صديقة لإيران، لكنها لا تصنف بين أعداء واشنطن، لكنها ليست شخصيات تسوية أميركية إيرانية تقف في منتصف الطريق بين الطرفين، ولا هي بالمقابل شخصيات صديقة لواشنطن لا تصنف بين أعداء إيران.

– بدأ مسار تسويات التغاضي يدخل السياسة من بوابة العراق، وحلقاته المقبلة في سورية كثيرة، بتقبل الأمر الواقع الجديد دون تسويات بالتراضي، وربما تكون الحكومة اللبنانية الجديدة واحدة من نماذج تسويات التغاضي أو فاتحة العودة لتسويات التراضي.

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