America’s Permanent War Agenda Threatens World Peace

America’s Permanent War Agenda Threatens World Peace

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Today is the most perilous time in world history. What’s going on should terrify everyone.

Endless US wars of aggression against sovereign independent states threaten world peace, stability and security.

Its megalomaniacal quest for world dominance risks eventual nuclear war against one or more countries – North Korea and Iran the most likely targets, Russia and perhaps China later on.

Madness defines America’s agenda, undemocratic Dems as bloodthirsty as Republicans. Humanity is at risk of annihilation like never before.

Full-blown tyranny is a hair’s breath away to quash homeland dissent and harden control, the nation on a fast track toward becoming Nazi Germany with nukes, ICBMs and other super-weapons, ready to use them against invented enemies.

No real ones exist so they have to be invented. Trump and ultra-hawkish generals in charge of geopolitical policy want wars and lots of them – ongoing in multiple theaters, new ones planned, ready to be launched at their discretion.

Will North Korea be struck next, followed by Iran? Will Washington use nuclear weapons for the first time since gratuitously against defeated Japan?

Will the Trump administration goad North Korea into a military response by cross-border provocations – the strategy used by Harry Truman to launch the 1950s war – US aggression, not North Korea’s, as falsely claimed to this day.

America uses the Security Council as a platform for its agenda, fortunately restrained by Sino/Russian veto power, Britain and France going along with US policies, virtual appendages of its imperial madness.

On Friday, Rex Tillerson represented Washington in a ministerial session on North Korea. Days earlier, he floated the idea of talks without preconditions.

Rejected by Trump through his press secretary, his position changed, saying “North Korea must earn its way back to the table.”

US provocations and pressure will continue until “denuclearization is achieved” – an unattainable goal.

Why would the DPRK abandon its most important deterrent, genuinely fearing US aggression could come any time, a strong defense essential for its security?

It would be irresponsible for its leadership to leave the country defenseless. Advancing its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities is the most important way to give Washington pause about attacking the country – knowing it can strike back hard.

At Friday’s Security Council session, Tillerson called for toughening positions against North Korea, bellowing:

“The United States will use all necessary measures to defend itself against North Korean aggression.”

Fact: The DPRK never preemptively attacked another country throughout its post-WW II history, defending itself in the 1950s against Truman’s war.

Fact: Its leadership and military threaten no countries now. America threatens everyone, the most belligerent nation in world history – at war at home and/or abroad throughout its history, responsible for countless tens of millions of deaths, numbers way exceeding any other imperial state.

Tillerson sounded like political prostitute Nikki Haley, saying “(t)he United States will not allow (the DPRK) to hold the world hostage.”

“We will continue to hold North Korea accountable for its reckless and threatening behavior today and in the future.”

“We ask every nation here to join us in exerting sovereignty to protect all of our people. We ask all to join a unified effort to achieve a complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

As long as America threatens DPRK security, its leadership and military won’t ever abandon their most effective defense.

East Asia and everywhere else is threatened by Washington’s rage for global dominance.

North Korea threatens no one!

A Final Comment

At Friday’s SC ministerial meeting, North Korean UN ambassador Ja Song-nam said the following:

“Our possession of nuclear weapons was an individual self-defensive means of defending our sovereignty and rights of resistance and development from the US nuclear threat and if anyone is to be blamed for it, the US must be held accountable.”

“There are several nuclear power states all over the world now, but there is no country like the US who is continuing to openly threaten and blackmail other countries with its nuclear weapons.”

His remarks were accurate. Washington is responsible for Korean peninsula brinkmanship, not Pyongyang!

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The Roaring Mountain that Gave Birth to a Mouse

16-12-2017 | 08:20

Donald Trump’s recognition of “Jerusalem” Al-Quds as the “Israeli” capital spawned mass protests and sporadic violence in different corners of the globe.

Trump Bibi

The near-universal condemnation of the move was accompanied by extensive analysis in the mainstream media – at times exaggerating the significance of the declaration.

This was in part what Washington was hoping for, as the Al-Quds decision is little more than a desperate attempt to delay the seemingly unstoppable process of the suppression of American influence in the Middle East.

It is precisely this decline of American hegemony in the region that has given way to new, US-fuelled crises – a decades-old Washington doctrine, which maintains that US influence can only be preserved through chaos and confrontation.

But Trump’s provocative declaration – merely a follow-up to existing US legislation dating back to 1995 – is unlikely to have the desired effect. The White House maneuver has not only helped to isolate the US. It is also altering the geopolitical landscape to Washington’s disadvantage.

The Saudi-“Israeli” alliance

Trump’s declaration is also linked to his administration’s obsession with subverting Iran.

For Saudi Arabia and its few remaining satellite states, Iran has officially become enemy number one.

There is only one regional entity that shares that level of hostility towards Tehran, and that’s “Israel.”

This unholy alliance, which is hoping to redefine the concept of ‘resistance’ in the Arab psyche, is spurred on by the White House, with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner playing the role of mediator.

Responding to the Al-Quds announcement earlier this month, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah rightfully pointed out that “Trump had support from the Arabs, or else he wouldn’t have been able to do this.”

“The Arab governments will scream for a few days then go on with the occupation,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said.

Barley a week passed before the Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf offered the most public demonstration of their emerging alliance with “Israel,” which came in the form of a Bahraini delegation strolling through the streets of Al-Quds, hosted by city’s occupiers.

But just like Trump’s declaration, the Bahraini visit – aimed at getting the Arab street accustomed to the idea of open “Israeli”-Arab ties – appears to have backfired.

The news sparked widespread outrage in Bahrain and across the region, further eroding the legitimacy of the Arab monarchies.

The Iranian-Turkish strategic alliance

The accelerated unveiling of the US-Saudi-“Israeli” axis has further alienated the Arab masses while adding to the already mounting anti-“Israeli” and anti-US sentiment in the region.

The growing level of discontent has opened the door for other Middle Eastern powers to expand their clout, substituting American fuelled-chaos with regional stability and security.

Iran and Turkey have already enjoyed a great deal of success in this respect in both Syria and Iraq’s Kurdistan, where the US and its allies have been outwitted.

The Al-Quds crisis offers yet another arena for potential cooperation and the enhancement of the strategic alliance.

The two states are now leading the Muslim world’s opposition to the US president’s declaration. Moreover, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan have voiced the sharpest condemnation of Riyadh’s tacit approval of Trump’s move.

At this week’s extraordinary summit of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) President Rouhani threw the spotlight on regional countries that are cooperating “with the United States and the Zionist regime and determining the fate of Palestine.”

In the lead-up to the conference, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused some Arab states of offering “very weak responses” on Al-Quds.

Not surprisingly perhaps, Arab monarchs stayed clear of the summit in Istanbul, dispatching lower-level officials.

Of course that did nothing to impede the expanding Ankara-Tehran alliance. The two have found common ground on Palestine – the latest on a long list of challenges being posed by Iran and Turkey to the US-Saudi-“Israeli” axis.

Russia’s role

Shortly after Trump recognized Al-Quds as the “Israeli” capital, Russia’s Vladimir Putin journeyed to the Middle East, visiting no less than three countries.

The first stop was Syria, where he downgraded the Russian military presence following a successful campaign against US-backed militant groups.

Next on the list was Egypt, where he inked a number of important agreements, including one that allows Russia’s armed forces to use Egyptian military bases.

The Russians and the Egyptians also found common ground on Libya, where Moscow is once again playing a prominent role.

Putin then traveled to Turkey, where he voiced his backing for Erdogan’s rejection of the Al-Quds declaration.

These are the relationships and diplomatic overtures that are shaping the new Middle East. Everything else comprises mere manipulation and attempts to sow unrest by leaders whose armies are in retreat on all fronts.

Washington’s only response to its waning influence has come in the form of symbolic gestures and confused statements about what others in the region are doing.

Source: Al-Ahed

Putin’s Syrian withdrawal announcement: an analysis

December 12, 2017

Putin’s Syrian withdrawal announcement: neither a full Russian withdrawal nor victory in Syria

by Alexander Mercouris (cross-posted with The Duran by special agreement with the author)

At a time when President Putin is undertaking a tour of the Middle East it would have been politically speaking extremely unwise for him not to have made a stop-over to meet the Russian troops at the Khmeimim air base whom Putin himself sent to Syria.

A failure to do so might have conveyed the impression that Putin takes these troops for granted, an impression which Putin is far too good a politician to want to give.

No Soviet leader – not Brezhnev or Gorbachev – ever visited the Soviet troops sent by the USSR to Afghanistan in the 1980s.

That however was at a time when the USSR did not have competitive elections.  With Russia due to hold Presidential elections in March Putin cannot afford to appear as indifferent to the Russian troops in Syria as the Soviet leaders were towards the Soviet troops they had sent to Afghanistan.

Doing so would make a very bad impression, not just amongst the troops themselves but also across the whole Russian military and with the troops’ families.

With Russia’s military – including Russia’s military families – constituting one of Putin’s strongest electoral constituencies, needlessly annoying them is not a mistake Putin is going to make just three months before he stands for re-election as Russia’s President.

That this was the reason for Putin’s visit to Khmeimim air base and for his making his withdrawal announcement is shown by what he said to the troops when he was there.

In order to show this I will reproduce these comments here in full as the Kremlin’s website reports them

The most important thing for a military person – and we are very much aware of this – is the defence of our Fatherland, our people. This is not just the purpose of military service, but also the purpose of life for those who have devoted themselves to serving their people.

At the same time, a soldier is truly tested for loyalty to the Fatherland in a military operation fraught with huge risks to life and health. Here, in Syria, far from home, you are doing exactly that – you are protecting our country.

By helping the people of Syria to maintain their statehood, to fight off attacks by terrorists, you have inflicted a devastating blow to those who have directly, brazenly and openly threatened our country.

We will never forget the sacrifices and losses incurred in the struggle against terrorism both here in Syria and in Russia. However, it will not make us fold our hands and retreat. This is not in our peoples’ nature.

On the contrary, this memory will continue to motivate us to eradicate this absolute evil – terrorism – whatever face it hides behind.

Yes, the threat of terrorism around the world is still very high. However, the task of combating the armed groups here in Syria, the goal that needed to be addressed with the help of the large-scale use of the armed forces, has been largely resolved – and brilliantly resolved. Congratulations!

Our Armed Forces and our defence contractors have shown the growing power of the Russian Army and Navy, and the high combat capability of the various military units.

Pilots, sailors, members of special forces, reconnaissance, troop-control and logistic support units, military police, medical personnel, field engineers and advisers working in the battle units of the Syrian Army have displayed the best qualities of Russian soldiers, such as courage, heroism, combat cohesion, determination, as well as excellent training and professionalism.

The Homeland is proud of you. I am convinced that you will always faithfully serve the Fatherland, defend and uphold our national interests, our country and its people.

Syria has been preserved as a sovereign and independent state. Refugees are returning to their homes. Favourable conditions have been created for a political settlement under the UN. The Russian Centre for the reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria continues to operate in line with international agreements.

The two bases, in Tartous and Khmeimim, will continue to operate on a permanent basis. If the terrorists raise their heads again, we will deal unprecedented strikes unlike anything they have seen.

In just over two years, the Russian Armed Forces and the Syrian Army have defeated the most combat-ready group of international terrorists. In this connection, I have decided to redeploy most of the Russian military contingent from the Syrian Arab Republic to Russia.

You are returning victorious to your homes, your families, parents, wives, children and friends.

I hereby order the Defence Minister and the General Chief of Staff to start redeploying units of the Russian army group to their permanent bases.

The Homeland is waiting for you, friends. Godspeed! Thank you for your service.

The key point is that Russia’s deployment to Syria was a controversial step in Russia, including amongst Russia’s military.

As The Saker for one has repeatedly and correctly pointed out the Russian military unlike the US military is not structured to intervene constantly abroad but is overwhelmingly focused on a single mission, which is the defence of the Russian homeland ie. of Russia itself.

The Saker summed it up perfectly with these words written in an article which can be found here

The legal purpose of the Russian Armed Forces.

The Federal Law N61-F3 “On Defense”, Section IV, Article 10, Para 2 clearly states that the mission of the Russian Armed Forces is to

repel aggression against the Russian Federation, the armed defence of the integrity and inviolability of the territory of the Russian Federation, and to carry out tasks in accordance with international treaties of the Russian Federation“. 

That’s it.  Defend the territory of Russia or to carry out tasks in accordance to ratified treaties.  These are the sole functions of the Russian Armed Forces.

The Russian Constitution, Chapter IV, Article 80, Para 2 clearly states that

The President of the Russian Federation shall be guarantor of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, of the rights and freedoms of man and citizen. According to the rules fixed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, he shall adopt measures to protect the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, its independence and state integrity, ensure coordinated functioning and interaction of all the bodies of state power“.

Now, for an American used to having, on average, about one new war every year, this might seem mind boggling, but the Russian Federation has absolutely no desire to become an “anti-USA” and get involved in constant military operations abroad.  Not only that, but the laws of the Russian Federation specifically forbid this.

Russia is not the world’s policeman, she does not have a network of 700-1000 bases worldwide (depending on your definition of ‘base’) but an army specifically designed to operate within 1000km or less from the Russian border and the President does not have the legal mandate to use the Russian armed forces to solve foreign crises.

Deployment of Russian troops relatively far from the Russian homeland to a place like Syria is for the Russian military a considerable departure from its normal role, and is something which has to be explained carefully if it is to attract support.

Putin has succeeded in doing this because he has explained carefully to the Russian military and to the Russian people that this deployment is actually in defence of Russia itself, since the Jihadist terrorist groups Russia is fighting in Syria are a threat to Russia.

The Russians have had to fight a bitter war against Jihadism on their own territory in the northern Caucasus during the 1990s and the 2000s, and have also suffered sustained Jihadi terrorist attacks on their main cities on a scale that no Western country – not even the US – has experienced.

No Russian wants to go through that again, so it was not difficult to persuade most Russians that preventing the establishment of a Jihadi enclave in Syria which might become a springboard for a Jihadist terrorist offensive against Russia was for Russia an urgent security interest.

Maybe the intervention in Syria also serves other purposes, though I personally doubt it.  However it is important to stress that this was the reason Putin gave to justify the intervention to the Russian military and to the Russian people, and why they agreed to support it.

However though most Russians – including critically the great majority of Russians serving in the military – have understood and accepted the need for the Syrian intervention and have supported it, it most definitely is not a war which the Russian people have enthusiastically embraced, and which they wish to see perpetuated indefinitely.

A comparison of Russian attitudes towards the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria illustrates the point.

Whilst there is no shortage of men in Russia who are willing to go and fight as volunteers to protect the Russian speaking people of the Donbass – regarded by all Russians as their kith and kin – there has been no similar flood of volunteers signing up to fight the Jihadis in Syria.

On the contrary most Russians – including those who serve in the military – want to see the war in Syria ended as soon as possible, and the troops once their mission is successfully accomplished quickly brought home.

Putin understands this completely, and this explains many of the things he said in his address to the troops at Khmeimim air base.

Thus the address begins with an acknowledgement that for Russian soldiers

…..the most important thing….is the defence of our fatherland, our people.

(bold italics added)

Compare those words with The Saker’s words quoted above.

The address then went on to repeat that this is a war carried out in defence of Russia

By helping the people of Syria to maintain their statehood, to fight off attacks by terrorists, you have inflicted a devastating blow to those who have directly, brazenly and openly threatened our country.

(bold italics added)

Note that flowery language of the sort beloved by US or Western leaders about defending things such as ‘values’ and ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ appear nowhere in Putin’s address.  Not only does Putin have no time for such language but the Russian troops he was addressing have no time for it either.

Having then congratulated the troops on their victory Putin then went on to fulfil what the troops and their families consider to be the explicit promise which was made to them when they were sent to Syria: that at the earliest possible opportunity they would be brought home

You are returning victorious to your homes, your families, parents, wives, children and friends.

I hereby order the Defence Minister and the General Chief of Staff to start redeploying units of the Russian army group to their permanent bases.

The Homeland is waiting for you, friends. Godspeed! Thank you for your service.

(bold italics added)

Given that the war in Syria is now visibly winding down, politically speaking it would have been risky for Putin on the eve of an election to have done otherwise.

If all this explains the reasons for Putin’s visit to Khmeimim air base and his withdrawal announcement, it is nonetheless in no sense the end of the affair.

The war in Syria is not over and it is not won.  Though ISIS’s back has been broken, it is still a force under arms in rural Deir Ezzor where it has recently taken the offensive against the US’s Kurdish allies.

In addition hundreds of ISIS fighters are still roaming free in the desert regions of central Syria even if they no longer control any important towns there.  These bands of fighters still pose a significant security threat, and will continue to do so for some time.

Further west Syria’s Idlib province remains under Jihadi control.

Worse still, there is now growing evidence that ISIS is trying to redeploy as many of its fighters as it can from central and eastern Syria to Idlib province.

With the Syrian military as always heavily over-stretched and still not in full control of much of the countryside it seems that this apparently planned redeployment of ISIS fighters from central and eastern Syria to Idlib province is not only taking place, but that it is actually meeting with some success.

Recently there have been reports of bitter fighting in Idlib province between Al-Qaeda – previously in undisputed control of the province – and the ISIS fighters who are being redeployed there from central and eastern Syria.  Moreover it seems that with Al-Qaeda severely weakened because of the massive losses it suffered last year in the Great Battle of Aleppo, it is ISIS which is gaining the upper hand in this fighting.

Whilst it is probably still alarmist to say that ISIS’s caliphate which has been driven out of Raqqa, central Syria and Deir Ezzor is now in the process of reconstituting itself in Idlib, the possibility that something like that might happen is certainly there, and the Russians cannot be unaware of it.

Elsewhere there are still significant pockets of Jihadi resistance in south western Syria, especially in the Golan Heights and near Damascus, whilst the Syrian government still faces a serious problem with the US-backed Kurds who currently control around a fifth of Syria’s territory in the north.

Last but not least there are still thousands of US troops in Syria, uninvited and potentially dangerous, with no one outside the Pentagon and CENTCOM knowing exactly how many of them there are.

Though victory in Syria is therefore now in sight, it is premature to declare it, as Putin did in his comments to the troops in Khmeimim air base.

As it happens Putin’s comments show that he knows this perfectly well.  How else to explain comments like this?

We will never forget the sacrifices and losses incurred in the struggle against terrorism both here in Syria and in Russia. However, it will not make us fold our hands and retreat. This is not in our peoples’ nature.

On the contrary, this memory will continue to motivate us to eradicate this absolute evil – terrorism – whatever face it hides behind…..

The two bases, in Tartous and Khmeimim, will continue to operate on a permanent basis. If the terrorists raise their heads again, we will deal unprecedented strikes unlike anything they have seen.

(bold italics added)

Those familiar with the history of the Syrian war know that we have been here before.

In March 2016, shortly after the Russians negotiated a cessation of hostilities agreement in Syria with the US, Putin announced a very similar draw down of Russian troops from Syria.

In the event within weeks it had become clear that the cessation of hostilities agreement with the US was a dead letter.  After a short break Jihadi attacks on Syrian military positions resumed, and the Russians were obliged to reverse their drawn down and escalate again their air campaign.  The Great Battle of Aleppo and the struggle against ISIS in Palmyra, central Syria and Deir Ezzor followed.

With both Al-Qaeda and ISIS routed conditions for a drawn down are more favourable this time.  However Putin’s comments show that the Russians stand ready to reverse the drawn down if the need arises, just as they did before.

As for peace in Syria, that will only be achieved when fighting in Syria finally stops, with all the Jihadis there having been either killed or forced to lay down their arms, and with all of Syria’s territory which was previously under Jihadi or Kurdish control once more returned to the control of the Syrian government in Damascus.

Only then will it be possible to declare victory in Syria.

لو لم يكن هناك نصرالله

 

لو لم يكن هناك نصرالله

ديسمبر 16, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– بعد انكشاف علني للموقف السعودي كشريك في خطة أميركية «إسرائيلية» يشكل الاعتراف بالقدس عاصمة بـ«إسرائيل» جزءاً منها، صار لا بدّ من إعادة رسم للمشهد المرتبط بالقضية الفلسطينية وما سيترتّب على المواجهة السياسية، والتي تشكل الحكومات العربية والإسلامية والدولية محورها، والسعودية ركن رئيسي في صياغة هذه المستويات الثلاثة. فالتساؤل عن سقف للموقف العربي والإسلامي يتوّج بقطع العلاقات«إسرائيل»، صار جوابه معلوماً. فالضغط السعودي سيمنع ذلك، فكيف إنْ كان المعنيون لا يريدون قطع علاقات وسيكتفون بالغطاء السعودي؟ وكيف يمكن تخيّل موقف مصري أو أردني يذهب لقطع العلاقات«إسرائيل»، والسعودية تقف علناً في مؤتمرات تنسيقية مشتركة مع «إسرائيل» تحت عنوان جبهة ضدّ إيران وتحالف ضدّ حزب الله بقيادة واشنطن؟ وكيف سنتوقع موقفاً تركياً يترجم الكلام الخطابي عن القدس بقطع التعاون والتنسيق مع «إسرائيل»، تحت عنوان الموقف الإسلامي فيما السعودية تنظّر وتسوّق للعلاقة«إسرائيل»؟ وهل طبيعي أن يتوقع أحد موقفاً أوروبياً جدياً لحماية القدس وربط كلّ تسوية للقضية الفلسطينية بها، في ظلّ موقف سعودي يسوّق لتسوية عنوانها شعار الدولتين، لكن الدولة الفلسطينية بلا القدس سلفاً؟ وهل ستسعى أوروبا لدور وسيط تفاوضي، بينما تقول السعودية إنّ أميركا وحدها مؤهّلة لهذا الدور؟

– عربياً وإسلامياً ودولياً سيكون التضامن الرسمي مع القضية الفلسطينية، أقرب لرفع العتب، وسيأخذ بالضمور والتراجع، كلما أخذ الموقف السعودي بالظهور للعلن أكثر، وقد بدأ ذلك يظهر، والمعركة ستكون فلسطينية بامتياز، فعلى جبهة القيادة الفلسطينية، تدرك السعودية أنّ الخصم الذي ستواجهه لتسويق مشروعها الفلسطيني هو القيادة الفلسطينية إذا لم يتمّ إخضاعها وترويضها، وأن التأثير المعنوي للقيادة الفلسطينية في المستويات العربية والإسلامية والدولية سيكون سلبياً على خطّتها ما لم تمسك بالقرار الفلسطيني، لذلك يتوهّم مَن يظنّ أنّ المعركة على القرار الفلسطيني قد انتهت بقول ولي العهد السعودي للرئيس الفلسطيني محمود عباس، أنتم تقرّرون ونحن لن نضغط عليكم، بعدما عرض عليه أمرين، الأول القبول بما سُمّي «صفقة القرن»، أيّ دولة فلسطينية في غزة وبعض التجميل في الضفة ومن دون القدس، والثاني إعادة محمد دحلان للقيادة الفلسطينية. فالمعركة تبدأ لتوّها، ومَن يعرف العقل السعودي وماذا قيل للرئيس سعد الحريري في الزيارة التي سبقت احتجازه، من أنّ السعودية تحترم خصوصية قيادته للملف اللبناني، يعرف ما ينتظر الرئيس الفلسطيني سعودياً.

– المعركة على القيادة الفلسطينية ستكون الأشدّ شراسة، وسيبذل فيها المال وتشتغل المخابرات، وستستعمل «إسرائيل» ما لديها من ملفات وأوراق تهدّد بها قيادات فلسطينية لضمان أحد أمرين، أن يسير عباس بالخيار الأميركي السعودي «الإسرائيلي»، ويجازف مهما كانت التبعات. فالمال والعلاقات واللعبة هنا، أو سيتمّ تعويم دحلان وإحاطته بمجموعة رموز فلسطينية تحت عنوان مكافحة الفساد، واتهام عباس بشتى الاتهامات الصحيحة والملفّقة، وسيُدعم دحلان بالمال الذي يُقطع عن عباس، ويتولى دفع الرواتب التي سيُضطر عباس إذا صمد سياسياً لوقفها، وسينسّق مع الأجهزة «الإسرائيلية» والعربية تحت شعار أنّ الذي يجري هو مواجهة مشتركة للنفوذ الإيراني والميليشيات الإيرانية، وأنّ عباس رهينة لهذا النفوذ وتلك الميليشيات، كما يقول أشرف ريفي وخالد الضاهر عن سعد الحريري.

– كان السؤال مع محنة الرئيس الحريري ونهايتها السعيدة، ماذا لو لم يكن هناك السيد حسن نصرالله، الذي شكّل الخلفية المطمئنة لموقف رئيس الجمهورية الحاسم برفض التعامل مع الاستقالة المفخّخة، لكن السؤال فلسطينياً أكبر بكثير، فالقضية ليست بحجم ما جرى في لبنان، بل أكبر من حجم كلّ ما يجري في المنطقة، وهي الحلقة الأهمّ في رسم ختام حروب المنطقة، التي كانت تقف «إسرائيل» والسعودية معاً في إشعالها، وستقفان معاً اليوم لإطفاء الشعلة المقدّسة فيها التي تمثلها القدس، والتي تشكل للسيد نصرالله حرب حروبه كلها، لذلك ستقف السعودية و«إسرائيل» وأميركا في حلف عنوانه مواجهة حزب الله، هو الحلف الفعلي ذاته لإسقاط القدس من جدول أعمال العرب والمسلمين والعالم، وسيتطلع الفلسطينيون الصادقون في إيمانهم بفلسطين والقدس نحو السيد نصرالله، قوى المقاومة أولاً، ومن يريد مواجهة الضغوط والانضواء تحت راية القدس، لكن الكلمة الفصل ستقولها فلسطين ومقاومتها، رأس رهان السيد نصرالله، الذين سينجحون حكماً في مواصلة الانتفاض والمقاومة، ويحاولون الجمع بينهما لحرب استنزاف تترنّح تحت ضرباتها منظومة الأمن «الإسرائيلية» فترضخ أو تهرب إلى الأمام بحرب جديدة تكون فيها الضربة القاضية، وفي كلتيهما سيكون السيد نصرالله بالمرصاد، وسيبقى يؤرقهم حتى تأتي تلك الساعة.

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How Russia expedited Syria’s victory

How Russia expedited Syria’s victory

Vladimir Putin addressing troops at the Hmeimim airbase, Syria, Dec 11 2017
Vladimir Putin addressing troops at the Hmeimim airbase, Syria, Dec 11 2017

On Monday, Vladimir Putin unexpectedly interrupted his journey to Egypt, stopping off at Russia’s Hmeymim airbase in Syria and announcing the windup of Russia’s most successful military campaign abroad. Thousands of combat sorties have been flown, tens of thousands of terrorists and their infrastructure have been destroyed, and hundreds of Syrian cities and towns have been liberated. We have previously published accounts of how Russian pilots, special ops, marines, doctors, and diplomats spent two years helping the lawful president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, hold his country together and rid it of terrorists.

Russia enters the conflict

By the fall of 2015, the war in Syria had already dragged on for four long years. The mass anti-government demonstrations that began in March 2011 had quickly escalated into skirmishes with the military. And terrorist factions immediately “hijacked” these popular protests. Soon, the leading role in the battle against the ruling regime was being played by extremists from the Islamic State, Jabhat Al Nusra, Al-Qaeda, and many factions within what has been called the “moderate opposition” – mainly in the Free Syrian Army that has been so championed by the West.

From the very beginning, Russia provided diplomatic support to Syria. Back in the spring of 2011, Vitaly Churkin, the late Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, vetoed the draft Security Council resolutions being proposed by some Western and Arab countries that were anti-Syrian in nature.

In addition, Russia backed the government of Bashar al-Assad by supplying arms, military equipment, and ammunition, in addition to training officers and providing military advisers.

Syrian Army got from Russia
Syrian Army got from Russia

But as the terrorist organizations and forces of the “moderate opposition” continued to make territorial gains, it became clear that this support was not enough. The Syrian Arab Army was running out of steam. Huge losses, shortages of the most essential materials, plus low morale forced those soldiers loyal to Assad to cede more and more territory, retreating as far as the coastal province of Latakia and the city of Damascus. By September 2015, it looked like Syria’s leader had only a few weeks left in power.

Areas of control in Syria in September 2015
Areas of control in Syria in September 2015

So that month, at the request of President Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s Federation Council approved Vladimir Putin’s decision to move Russian troops into Syria. On Sept. 30, a Russian military operation began in that country.

The composition of the Russian air fleet

The composition of the air fleet often changed in accordance with the tasks assigned to it. Based on the data at hand, at various times it included:

  • Up to ten multi-role Su-35S fighter jets
  • Up to four Su-27SMs
  • From 12-16 two-seater Su-30SM fighter jets
  • Up to 12 Su-34 fighter-bombers
  • Up to 30 Su-24M front-line bombers
  • Up to 12 Su-25SM close-support aircraft
  • Up to 15 multipurpose Mi-8 helicopters in various modifications
  • Up to 15 Mi-24 and Mi-35 attack helicopters
  • Up to five Ka-52 attack helicopters

Strikes were even launched against the terrorists’ base camps from inside the Russian Federation.

  • Six supersonic Tu-160 missile carriers
  • Five Tu-95MS strategic bombers
  • From 12-14 Tu-22M3 long-range bombers-missile carriers

The A-50 early warning and control aircraft, the Tu-214R, and the Il-20M1 radio reconnaissance plane coordinated air operations, carried out reconnaissance missions, and pinpointed targets for the strike formations.

Russian forces in Syria

Air and naval activities

Russian aviation really ran the show in Syria. Militant training camps, command posts, weapons and ammunition depots, oil fields, and convoys of gasoline tankers found themselves decimated by massive attacks launched from the Hmeymim airbase, the staging bases for air strikes, and the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. Bombers, close-support aircraft, and fighter planes, taking advantage of their total mastery of the air, managed to destroy more than 100,000 different terrorist facilities. The first wave of the massive air strikes against IS came at the end of 2015. That was when Russian planes pulverized a buried IS command post, underground bunkers, and warehouses in the province of Hama.

During their high-profile mission to “seek and destroy” gasoline tankers, Su-34 fighter-bombers managed to sniff out approximately 500 tanker trucks carrying petroleum products, plus dozens of oil refineries, grinding them into the sand. That was a punch to the gut of the IS war chest, as its main source of income was the illegal sale of black gold.

In late 2015, the Syrian desert was rattled by the most powerful blow yet – strategic Tu-160 bombers, Tu-95MSs, and long-range Tu-22M3s dropped more than three dozen missiles and a multitude of bombs, destroying the command posts of IS detachments in the Idlib and Aleppo provinces, as well as training camps for suicide bombers. In the summer of 2016, long-range Tu-22M3 bombers took off from Hamadan Airbase in Iran and blew out their bomb bays over militant targets in Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, and Idlib. Regular air sorties supported the Syrian operation from beginning to end.

In addition to aircraft, Russia also put its combat ships, submarines, and coastal missile systems to effective use in Syria. Some types of weapons got their first test under battle conditions. In November 2016, to be exact, the Russian military employed its Bastion coastal-defense missile systems to spectacularly obliterate a large warehouse belonging to the militants with the help of its Onyx anti-ship missiles.

In October 2015, the Russian Navy was responsible for a widely reported cruise-missile attack from the Caspian Sea that annihilated militant positions with an unprecedented show of strength. The Dagestan, a missile-armed frigate, and the Grad Sviyazhsk and Veliky Ustyug small missile patrol ships released an enormous swarm of Kalibr cruise missiles that flew over several countries to blow up more than a dozen targets in militant-controlled territory. In June 2017, the Russian Navy’s Admiral Essen and Admiral Grigorovich frigates, as well as its Krasnodar submarine, used Kalibr cruise missiles to inflict a powerful blow from the Mediterranean Sea against terrorist command posts and ammunition depots in Hama province.

The capture of Aleppo marked the final turning point for the government forces in Syria, after which it was possible to withdraw about half of the air formations from the Hmeymim airbase in May 2017 and send them home.

The makings of victory

Russian aircraft were able to administer continuous, nonstop strikes against targets belonging to terrorist groups in Syria. From the onset of the military operation until September 2017, over 30,000 sorties were flown and about 92,000 attacks on terrorists were carried out.

Russian planes bashed terrorists with the active support of the most elite force in the Russian military, the soldiers from the Special Operations Forces, who conducted reconnaissance missions, corrected the moves of aircraft and artillery, trained Syrian soldiers and officers, conducted raids deep into enemy territory, set up countless ambushes along the routes of terrorist convoys, and neutralized the leaders of outlaw gangs. The ships and airplanes of the Syrian Express had an important role to play, supplying weapons, armored vehicles, and ammunition to the embattled country. Russian doctors were responsible for true acts of heroism, treating the civilians and servicemen who had suffered injuries in the war.

And a huge role in the resolution of the Syrian crisis was played by the Russian diplomats who set in motion the negotiations in Astana. Those made it possible to establish the de-escalation zones in Syria that are still operating effectively today.

Syrian peace talks in Astana
Syrian peace talks in Astana

But of course it was the Syrian people who won the real victory – the Russian military just helped to remind them that the enemy can be defeated even if it enjoys the unconditional support of the West.

What comes next

It was revealed in late November that the Russian forces currently stationed at the Hmeymim airbase near Latakia and the naval base in Tartus would remain there. Their presence will clear the path for Russia to fend off any threat in the Eastern Mediterranean and to thus ensure the strategic parity that guarantees long-term peace in this volatile region. While the Syrian peace process is under its way the situation in the country and around is very fragile. The key game players and war profiteers are still on the ground and they are not to leave the Syrian territory. So the primary goal is to prevent anybody from the “defeated party” to undermine the talks and to secure desperately needed reconstruction programs, renovation and stabilization of normal social, economic and political life in Syria.

Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.

From ‘Russia-Gate’ to ‘israel-Gate’, As one fake scandal fades, a real one emerges

From ‘Russia-Gate’ to ‘Israel-Gate’

As one fake scandal fades, a real one emerges

Life is full of surprises. Like that time you were counting on a new bike for Christmas, and were totally certain your parents were going to come through, and then – lo and behold! – on Christmas morning there it was: a spanking brand-new Segway! The final evidence that, despite your best efforts, you’d always be a nerdy little dork. (And yes, a pocket calculator turned up in your stocking,)

That’s just what happened to #TheResistance this holiday season. For months they’ve been salivating heavily in anticipation of the turning of Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor now charged with lying to the FBI. Flynn has admitted doing so on at least two occasions, both involving his answers to questions about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kisylak. During the transition – after Trump’s election but before he took office – Flynn was talking to the Russians about two subjects: the possible blowback from the Obama administration’s decision to impose more sanctions and close the Russian compound in Maryland, and the Russian position on the controversial UN resolution condemning Israel for building yet more “settlements” on Palestinian land.

The incoming Trump team was “intensely focused on improving relations with Moscow and was willing to intervene to pursue that goal,” as the New York Times phrased it, even as the war cries in the Democratic party got louder and demagogues like Adam Schiff waved the bloody shirt of Russia-gate. That took balls: and here’s another instance where the alleged non-interventionists ensconced in the world of thinktanks and academia fail to give the Trump people the credit that is their due.

Think about it, folks: both the US and the Russians possess enough nuclear firepower to destroy all life on earth several times over. This sword of Damocles is hanging over us by a thread, just as it loomed large during the last cold war with Moscow. It’s a  machinery of annihilation that is set on hair-trigger alert, and any number of events could unleash it: a miscalculation, a foolish bluff, a misunderstanding, a technical glitch, a showdown similar to the Cuban missile crisis. All that stands between us and utter extinction is the hope that this apparatus of death can be restrained by mutual agreement. Bravo to the Trump administration for making peace a priority. If this is now a crime, and even “treason,” as the mouth-breathers of #TheResistance would have it, well then let the Washington Inquisition make the most of it.

I feel obligated to repeat my admonition of the various Beltway careerists who light up the small firmament of anti-interventionism: why no defense of the White House on this vitally important issue?

Given the scope of a special counsel’s powers, and the wide berth he is given to pursue possible violations to the law far removed from his original mandate, perhaps we should have expected that some other foreign connection would come to light. Flynn was instructed by none other than Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, to approach “every member of the Security Council” to block the resolution condemning the seizure of Palestinian property. The Russians were directly contacted by Flynn, who asked them to veto the resolution in the Security Council.

Flynn’s unsuccessful efforts on behalf of the Israelis were the fruit of an Israeli appeal to the incoming Trump administration. The day after Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador on this subject an anonymous Israeli official told CNN “that Israel – and reportedly the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, himself – had contacted Trump to seek his assistance in killing the resolution.”

As special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe continues, the full extent of the covert Israeli effort to undermine what was then US policy will come to light, and this may prove to be the most revealing aspect of the whole affair.

What’s interesting is that an Israeli official would come right out and brazenly boast of having turned to the Trump team to stop the resolution:

“The official – in comments that may come back to haunt the White House – said that Israel had ‘implored the [Obama] White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump.

“‘We did reach out to the president-elect,’ the official added, ‘and are deeply appreciative that he weighed in, which was not a simple thing to do.’”

By inserting that information into the public record, the legal case against both Flynn and possibly other figures in the Trump administration is considerably strengthened. Which makes one wonder: did the Israelis deliberately burn Trump?

Yes, I’m indulging in pure speculation, and yet why would an Israeli official openly discuss such a delicate matter? Even as the outgoing Obama-bots were setting the trap for Flynn – an effort Tel Aviv may well have been privy to – the Israelis were letting the world know that they had the Americans in their pocket.

This is more grist for Mueller’s mill: aside from that, Kushner has financial and political links to Israel, and these are now likely coming under the special counsel’s scrutiny. One can now see what direction this investigation may be taking us: Instead of revealing collusion between the Trump team and the Russians, the Flynn indictment exposed Kushner’s collusion with Israel.

Has Russia-gate morphed into Israel-gate?

If this is, indeed, the direction Mueller is taking, then this development is certain to end the fondest hopes of #TheResistance. Because it’s highly unlikely any public official, no matter how compromised, is going to be prosecuted for collusion with the Israelis and/or their American lobby. The last time US law enforcement tried that was back in 2009, in the Larry Franklin spy scandal, in which two employees of AIPAC, the powerful Israeli lobby, were prosecuted for procuring vital secrets from National Security Council analyst Larry Franklin. That case was dropped because pursuing it would have revealed yet more secrets.

That was a case of outright espionage: “collusion” is a far different – and much vaguer – matter. In any event, the fact is that after what seems like years of accusations, not a single iota of actual evidence has corroborated the charge that the Trump campaign plotted with Putin to deprive Hillary Clinton of her divine right of succession to the Oval Office. The foundational myth upon which the Mueller investigation rests – the idea that Russia was behind the WikiLeaks email dump – was never real to begin with: the Mueller probe, therefore, once launched, branched out into a more general look at foreign influence on the incoming administration. Which could and should mean that half of Washington will soon be lawyering up.

Iran as Terror Myth

Iran as Terror Myth

According to the U.S. Department of State, Iran foments terrorism: “Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2016…”

The Department of State does its best to create an imaginary, unreal, nonexistent, mythical image of Iran as terror haven. This is false.

If this were true, State could list the terror incidents on American soil that Iran sponsored. They do not, because they cannot. If there were such a list showing the guilt of Iran in causing terrorist acts in America, the U.S. would long ago have declared war on Iran.

The closest Washington can come to blaming Iran for a terror event in America is the incident involving the plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador. The participation of Iran’s government in that affair is highly contested.

We keep getting mass murder attacks on American soil, some of which are terror attacks. List one is here. List two is here. List three, a shorter list that focuses only on radical Islamist attacks during Obama’s 8 years, is here.

How many of these attacks trace back to Iran? NONE. ZERO. None of the 13 attacks in List 3 are even remotely linked to Iran. List 1 doesn’t supply enough data to determine affiliations of terrorists without further research. List 2 is a long Wiki list. Not a single instance of links of a terrorist to Iran occurs among the incidents listed. One case involves an Iranian-American: “Although Taheri-azar was born in Tehran, the capital of Iran, he is a naturalized U.S. citizen who moved to the United States at the age of two.” He had absolutely no connection to Iran.

When it comes to terror attacks on American soil, Iran is totally out of the picture. The U.S. Department of State has created a terror myth concerning Iran.

Any real understanding of terror events in America will also have to acknowledge and accord the proper weight to those attacks whose sources are other than Islamist extremism. These are listed in the Wiki article.

The State Department calls Iran terrorist, not because of anything whatsoever having to do with murders on American soil, but mainly because of Iran’s political and military relations with nearby countries, including Israel, Syria, Lebanon and others.

By calling Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, the State Department hides the truth and makes it easy for Congress to impose sanctions and view Iran as an enemy. The children in Congress, intelligence bureaus and the U.N. can even understand the logic: If Iran is terrorist and terrorism is bad for us, then Iran must be bad and should be squelched. Well, Iran is not terrorist and labeling it as such gets us nowhere.

Leaving Iran aside for a moment, the rest of the logic is flawed too. Terrorism is bad for us when it occurs here. But is it bad for us when it occurs elsewhere or blends into political objectives and conflicts? Not necessarily. There are always bad things going on everywhere and for every person on Earth. This doesn’t mean that the U.S. government should become involved. It easily becomes bad for the government to get involved in all but a tiny, tiny, tiny number, an infinitesimal number, of bad things that are happening in this world. And that’s if the government could even recognize the bad things or knew what to do about them if it did.

The truth is more complex. If Iran has interests in its neighbors, what are they? Why do they have them? Why should the U.S. be interested in their interests? What are the U.S. aims in the region? Once we look at the matter truthfully, we have to recognize differences and conflicts on deeper levels. We do not have the luxury of classifying Iran as a bad guy and leaving it to Nikki Haley to repeat this again and again. The leaders of the U.S. might actually have to study these matters so that they can devise some useful policies. Designating Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism is a substitute for meaningful policies that actually attempt to ameliorate the conflicts of interests that are there. Staying out of these conflicts altogether is a more than viable candidate for a U.S. foreign policy.

Our government’s foreign policy with respect to Iran (and Russia) is poor. Our officials are stuck deeply in a rut of false images and myths. The instigators are neocon think tanks. Neocons establish the myths and the policies. Their thought cuts across political party lines.

The central neocon think tank is the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Its slogan is “FIGHTING TERRORISM AND PROMOTING FREEDOM”. See how tricky words and logic can be? Who can be against fighting Iran if it promotes terrorism? The neocons work stepwise. Get State to designate Iran as terrorist. Sooner or later, fighting terrorism then has to lead to fighting Iran. But Iran as terrorist is MYTH. There is no Iranian terrorism to fight, and even if there were, our government has no obligation or charge to fight it. Neither does our government have an obligation or charge to promote freedom IN OTHER LANDS.

The FDD has “top experts on sanctions, illicit finance, nonproliferation, terrorism, human rights and Iran’s domestic power apparatus.” FDD constantly monitors Iran so that it can maintain the myth of its terrorism and badness. The assumption is always that the U.S. should or must interfere. The FDD should monitor the U.S. government. Would it not find incredible regions of badness permeating the entire enterprise, including those that FDD counts on to fight and sanction Iran? Would it not find amounts of badness that are a hundred times worse than what it finds regarding Iran? For that matter, the FDD should monitor Israel, England, Australia, and other stand-up democracies whom it lauds and claims to defend. What will it find if it’s honest but more badness?

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