EU Parliamentarian Calls to Sanction Vanessa Beeley and All Observers of Donbass Referendums

Global Research, September 30, 2022

By Max Blumenthal and Anya Parampil

The Grayzone 29 September 2022

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MEP Nathalie Loiseau of France is lobbying for individual sanctions on all observers of the Russian-organized referendums in the Donbass region. She has singled out journalist Vanessa Beeley not only for her coverage of the vote, but for her reporting on the foreign-back war against Syria’s government.

A French Member of European Parliament (MEP), Natalie Loiseau, has delivered a letter to EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell, demanding the European Union place personal sanctions on all international observers of the recent votes in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and certain Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine.

Obtained by The Grayzone from an EU source, the letter is currently being circulated among European parliamentarians in hopes of securing a docket of supportive signatures.

“We, as elected members of the European Parliament, demand that all those who voluntarily assisted in any way the organization of these illegitimate referendums be individually targeted and sanctioned,” Loiseau declared.

The French MEP’s letter came after a group of formally Ukrainian territories held a vote on whether or not to officially incorporate themselves into the Russian Federation in late September. Through the popular referendum, the independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which announced their respective successions from Ukraine in 2014 following a foreign-backed coup against the government Kiev, as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhia, voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Russian Federation.

Loiseau singled out Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist who traveled to the region to monitor the vote. Extending her complaint well beyond the referendum, the French MEP accused Beeley of “continuously spreading fake news about Syria and acting as a mouthpiece for Vladimir Putin and Bashar el [sic] Assad for years.”

Loiseau, a close ally of French President Emanuel Macron, specifically demanded Beeley be “included in the list of those sanctioned.”

Beeley responded to Loiseau’s letter in a statement to The Grayzone:

“Imposing sanctions on global citizens for bearing witness to a legal process that reflects the self-determination of the people of Donbass is fascism. Should the EU proceed with this campaign, I believe there will be serious consequences because the essence of freedom of speech and thought is under attack.

Russia’s referendums: drawing a line with NATO

In mid-September 2022, Beeley and around 100 other international delegates traveled to eastern Europe in order to observe a vote to join the Russian Federation in the regions of Kherson, Zaporozhia, and the independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Why did their presence trigger such an outraged response from Western governments? The answer lies in the recent history of these heavily contested areas.

The formally Ukrainian territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia fell under Russian control earlier this year as a result of the military campaign launched by Moscow in February, while the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics declared their independence from the government in Kiev in 2014.

Russia began its special military campaign in Ukrainian territory on February 24. The operation followed Moscow’s decision that same week to formally recognize the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic (the Donbass Republics) in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass have been embroiled in a bloody trench battle with the US-backed government in Kiev since 2014.

Ukraine’s civil conflict broke out in March 2014, after US and European forces sponsored a coup in the country that installed a decidedly pro-NATO nationalist regime in Kiev which proceeded to declare war on its minority, ethnically Russian population.

Following the 2014 putsch, Ukraine’s government officially marginalized the Russian language while extremist thugs backed by Kiev massacred and intimidated ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine. In response, separatist protests swept Ukraine’s majority-Russian eastern regions.

Russia Recognizes Two Donbass Republics to Stop Ukraine’s Violence

The territory of Crimea formally voted to join Russia in March of that year, while the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region declared their unofficial independence from Kiev that same month. With support from the US military and NATO, Ukraine’s coup government officially declared war on the Donbass in April 2014, launching what it characterized as an “Anti-Terrorist Operation” in the region.

Russia trained and equipped separatist militias in Donetsk and Lugansk throughout the territories’ civil campaigns against Kiev, though Moscow did not officially recognize the independence of the Donbass republics until February 2022. By then, United Nations estimates placed the casualty count for Ukraine’s civil war at roughly 13,000 dead. While Moscow offered support to Donbass separatists throughout the 2014-2022 period, US and European governments invested billions to prop up a Ukrainian military that was heavily reliant on army and intelligence factions with direct links to the country’s historic anti-Soviet, pro-Nazi deep state born as a result of World War II.

Russia’s military formally entered the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, following Moscow’s recognition of the Donbass republics. While Russian President Vladimir Putin defined the liberation of the Donbass republics as the primary objective of the military operation, he also listed the “de-nazification” and “de-militarization” of Ukraine as a goals of the campaign. As such, Russian troops have since secured control of Ukrainian territories beyond the Donbass region, including the territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia.

Facing increased Western investment in the Kiev-aligned bloc of Ukraine’s civil war, authorities in the Donbass republics announced a referendum on membership in the Russian Federation in late September 2022, with Moscow-aligned officials in Kherson and Zaporozhia announcing similar ballot initiatives. Citizens in each territory proceeded to approve Russian membership by overwhelming majorities.

The results of the referendum not only threatened the government in Kiev, but its European and US backers. Western-aligned media leapt to characterize the votes as a sham, claiming Moscow’s troops had coerced citizens into joining the Russian Federation at the barrel of a gun. Their narrative would have reigned supreme if not for the hundred or so international observers who physically traveled to the regions in question to observe the referendum process.

Observers like Vanessa Beeley now face the threat of returning home to the West as wanted outlaws. But as Loiseau’s letter made clear, the British journalist was in the crosshairs long before the escalation in Ukraine.

Beeley among European journalists targeted and prosecuted for reporting from Donetsk

Vanessa Beeley was among the first independent journalists to expose the US and UK governments’ sponsorship of the Syrian White Helmets, a so-called “volunteer organization” that played frontline role in promoting the foreign-backed dirty war against Syria’s government through its coordination with Western and Gulf-sponsored media. Beeley also played an instrumental role in revealing the White Helmets’ strong ties to Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, as well as its members’ involvement in atrocities committed by Western-backed insurgents.

Beeley’s work on Syria drew harsh attacks from an array of NATO and arms industry-funded think tanks. In June 2022, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which receives funding from a variety of NATO states, corporations and billionaires, labeled Beeley “the most prolific spreader of disinformation” on Syria prior to 2020. (According to ISD, Beeley was somehow “overtaken” by The Grayzone’s Aaron Mate that year). The group did not provide a single piece of evidence to support its assertions.

Though Beeley has endured waves of smears, French MEP Natalie Loiseau’s call for the EU to sanction the journalist represents the first time a Western official has moved to formally criminalize her work. Indeed, Loiseau made no secret that she is targeting Beeley not only for her role as an observer of the referendum votes, but also on the basis of her opinions and reporting on Syria.

Loiseau’s push to issue personal sanctions against EU and US citizens comes on the heels of the German government’s prosecution of independent journalist Alina Lipp. In March 2020, Berlin launched a formal case against Lipp, who is a German citizen, claiming her reporting from the Donetsk People’s Republic violated newly authorized state speech codes.

Prior to Lipp’s prosecution, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue launched a media campaign portraying her as a disseminator of “disinformation” and “pro-Kremlin content.”

In London, meanwhile, the UK government has imposed individual sanctions on Graham Philips, a British citizen and independent journalist, for his reporting from Donetsk.

And in Brussels, Loiseau’s campaign against Beeley appears to have emerged from a deeply personal vendetta.

Who is Natalie Loiseau?

In April 2021, Beeley published a detailed profile of Loiseau at her personal blog, The Wall Will Fall, painting the French MEP as a regime change ideologue committed to “defending global insecurity and perpetual war.” Beeley noted that Loiseau served as a minister in the government of French President Emanuel Macron when it authorized airstrikes in response to dubious allegations of a Syrian government chemical attack in Douma in April 2018.

Beeley also reported that Loiseau has enjoyed a close relationship with the Syria Campaign, the public relations arm of the White Helmets operation. This same organization, which is backed by British-Syrian billionaire Ayman Asfari, was the sponsor of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue report which branded Beeley a “top propagator of disinformation” on Syria.

Loiseau has taken her activism into the heart of the European parliament, using her position as chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defense to silence colleagues who ask to many questions about the Western campaign for regime change in Syria.

During an April 2021 hearing, MEP Mick Wallace attempted to question Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General Fernando Arias about allegations he personally aided the censorship of an OPCW investigation which concluded no chemical attack took place in Douma, Syria in April 2018.

Loiseau immediately descended into a fit of rage, interrupting Wallace and preventing him from speaking.

“I cannot accept that you can call into question the work of an international organization, and that you would call into question the word of the victims in the way you have just done,” Loiseau fulminated.

Wallace responded with indignation, asking, “Is there no freedom of speech being allowed in the European Parliament any more? Today you are denying me my opinion!”

A year later, Wallace and fellow Irish MEP Clare Daly sued the Irish network RTEfor defamation after it broadcast an interview with Loiseau during which she baselessly branded them as liars who spread disinformation about Syria in parliament.

Now, Loiseau appears to be seeking revenge against Beeley, demanding that she be criminally prosecuted not just for serving as a referendum observer, but for her journalistic output.

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The editor-in-chief of The Grayzone, Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican GomorrahGoliathThe Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

Anya Parampil is a journalist based in Washington, DC. She has produced and reported several documentaries, including on-the-ground reports from the Korean peninsula, Palestine, Venezuela, and Honduras.

Featured image: Left: French MEP Nathalie Loiseau Right: Journalist Vanessa Beeley (Source: The Grayzone)

The original source of this article is The Grayzone

Copyright © Max Blumenthal and Anya ParampilThe Grayzone, 2022

Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari: Why They ‘Punish’ Syria

SEPTEMBER 27, 2022

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

Tim Anderson

Syria’s centuries-old refusal to take orders from foreign powers and its resistance to repeated foreign interventions has led to its ‘punishment’ by frustrated imperial forces, says Syria’s Vice Foreign Minister Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari.

Syria’s centuries-old refusal to take orders from foreign powers and its resistance to repeated foreign interventions has led to its ‘punishment’ by frustrated imperial forces, says Syria’s Vice Foreign Minister Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari. “We are like Cuba; or perhaps Cuba is like us”, said the veteran diplomat.

That independent history can be traced back to ancient times, when Queen Zenobia broke away from Roman rule. It was inflamed a century ago when Sultan Pasha Al-Atrash led the Great Arab Revolt of the 1920s against the French colonial power. And it rose again with Syria’s defeat of a massive, decade-long proxy war, driven by Washington and other NATO states, “Israel” and some of the Gulf monarchies.

But while Syria, at great cost, has defeated mass terrorism, according to Dr. Al-Jaafari, the “unprecedented” military interventions, occupations and economic war remain. The USA and Turkey, two NATO states, occupy huge swathes of Syrian land in the north and east and the Israeli occupation remains in the south. Each provides safe haven for terrorist groups.

These days Washington does not even bother to deny that it is stealing Syrian oil and wheat. It even signs UN declarations supporting the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria, while occupying Syrian land out of spite, to punish and divide the peoples of the region, for the benefit of Israeli and US hegemony.

Syria as an Arab nation once included current-day Iskenderun, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. Colonists tried to crush its Pan-Arab ideology, which rose against the French and the British, leading to the hard-fought renewal of independence in 1947. Dr. Al-Jaafari says Pan-Arabism, which forms the basis of the Syrian Arab Baath Party and other groups (like Nasserites and the SSNP), is a reflection of the region’s Arab-speaking peoples, with a shared history, aspiration and culture.

Further, Syria, almost uniquely in the region, has led the process of separating religion from politics which, in turn, supports its broader, inclusive Arab traditions and historic defense of multiple and rich social communities. Syria’s famous pluralism was attacked by the NATO-sponsored terrorist groups, mainly Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS/DAESH, who abused minority communities while slaughtering anyone who backed the Damascus government.

The country remains under a severe US economic blockade, backed by the European Union, and subject to multiple foreign occupations. Repeated ‘chemical weapons of mass destruction’ scams, false flag massacres, fake claims of ‘freedom and democracy’, ‘moderate armed opposition’ slogans and the demonizing of President Assad were all part of a war to destroy, not just the Syrian government, but the Syrian state.

Dr. Al-Jaafari says that “from day one the Western strategy was based on making Syria a failed state”. That meant undermining Syria’s means of subsistence and strength – wheat, water, oil, the Tabqa dam, irrigation for agriculture, health systems and energy sources. “When you are a failed state, you lose your sovereignty; once you lose your sovereignty they can do to you whatever they want, because there is no state.”

“Our strength,” he says, “was to counter this strategy; and that is why they are extremely upset. We resisted their strategy and they failed It cost them trillions of dollars, eleven years of depriving the Syrian people of their basic needs. But they failed … We won the war, diplomatically speaking … militarily speaking, not yet”.

“The game is over … I think we preserved what is essential, we preserved the state, the country, the dignity, the independence and the political independence. It is costly yes, it has been so costly. But nowadays nobody says that we are wrong.”

Yet they do try to falsify history. If we look at the distorted ‘open source’ site Wikipedia we will see that ‘The Dirty War on Syria’ is listed as the ‘Syrian Civil War’. It is nothing of the sort. It is one of more than 20 proxy wars Washington has driven in the first two decades of this century.

Dr. Al-Jaafari points out that a UN sub-committee on Afghanistan’s Taliban in 2017 listed 101 countries as having exported terrorists to Syria. A number, like Indonesia, had governments friendly to Syria. On top of this, Israelis and the two largest NATO armies still occupy Syria. This is hardly a ‘civil war’.

Even though the Astana process (involving Russia, Iran and Turkey) has made some progress, by helping create ‘de-escalation zones’, Turkey under Erdogan has done tremendous damage to Syria. Dr Bashar says: “the Turkish policy has caused Syria and the Syrian people great damage, great damage.” On top of its support for the terrorist groups, the Turkish government has attacked critical civilian infrastructure.

Syria had an agreement with Turkey on sharing water which committed to passing 500 cubic meters per second, down the Euphrates. Yet for the last 10 years, “they have allowed less than half of this”, causing great damage to the electricity-generating Tabqa dam: “They did the same to a station in Al-Hasakah governate.”

So there have been chronic shortages of water for agriculture, as well as the theft of oil and wheat by the Americans. In Iraq, the situation is even worse. “Now the Iraqis walk in the [bed of the Tigris] river”.

Turkey is part of NATO and “is benefiting greatly from the American wrongdoings in the region… sharing benefits from the chaos that they themselves created.”

The Vice Minister made two points about aid and the refugees. He tells countries saying they want to provide ‘aid’: “We don’t need” your aid. He says Syria needs to rebuild its own capacities, reopening factories and creating employment.

He tells them “lift the sanctions so that the refugees can go back to their villages. “However these countries “know what they are doing … they spent millions of dollars on the refugees so that they don’t go back to their homeland.”

These foreign states use correct words about refugees having “dignified and safe” lives. But their programs serve to keep them forever in the camps. “They will not come back because they don’t have jobs and homes.”

Instead of spending billions of dollars on the refugees, Dr. Al-Jaafari aks, “why not give them all $10,000 each, enough to restart their lives back home? Why not pay them $10,000 once, instead of the same amount every year?”

What the enemies of Syria did to Syria “has gone beyond the threshold”, he says. “In my opinion, they did it … because we did not punish them for what they did in Iraq … that was the biggest mistake ever.”

Yet there have been great geopolitical changes in recent years. “The whole world is shifting”, he says, with the rise of BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and other blocs. “The whole Asian part of the world” has given up on Western-dominated organizations like the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank.

“They don’t believe in that anymore and they want to create alternatives … let me say eastern alternatives, and this is very important.” The geopolitical center is shifting because the west has committed so many errors. This “might be a positive development, it might be a prelude to further confrontation, or it might be both.” In any case, he says, it is a sign that “enough is enough”.

Asked if Syria has applied to join the SCO, Dr. Al-Jaafari replies “of course, we submitted our request … recently.”

‘Regime change’ in Hamas and a return to Syria

The removal of Khaled Meshaal from power was necessary for normalization with Damascus to occur

September 26 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By The Cradle’s Palestine Correspondent

In mid-September, Palestinian resistance movement Hamas issued a statement indicating that it had restored relations with Syria after ten years of estrangement, effectively ending its self-imposed exile from Damascus.

After the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in March 2011, at the height of the so-called Arab Spring, Hamas – in line with its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) – turned its back on its once-staunch Syrian ally and threw its support behind the mostly-Islamist “revolution.”

As governments collapsed in key Arab states, the Ikhwan felt the time was ripe for their organization to ascend to a leadership role from Gaza to Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Syria.

Yet the decision by Hamas’ leadership to leave Damascus was met with strong opposition from influential circles within the movement, especially in its military arm, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

Despite Hamas’ official position toward Syria, internal opposition to the break in relations remained for years, most notably from Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar, and a number of Al-Qassam Brigades leaders such as Muhammad al-Deif, Marwan Issa, Ahmad al-Jabari and Yahya al-Sinwar.

Today, that balance has shifted notably. Sinwar is currently Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, and his alliance is in strong ascendence within the movement.

From Amman to Damascus to Doha

But back in 2011, the person with the final say over the decision to abandon its Syrian ally was the then-head of Hamas’ Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal.

Meshaal was the director of the Hamas office in Amman in 1999 when the Jordanian government decided to expel him. He travelled between the airports of a number of Arab capitals, which refused to receive him, under the pretext that there were agreements with a superpower requiring his extradition.

Only Damascus agreed to receive him. Despite the tension that historically prevailed in the Syrian state’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, Meshaal was given freedom to work and built a personal relationship with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. In the years that followed, Hamas was granted facilities and resources that it did not enjoy in any other Arab capital.

Syria opened its doors to train hundreds of resistance fighters from the Al-Qassam Brigades and to manufacture quality weapons, such as missiles and reconnaissance drones.

One Syrian source told The Cradle that the privileges enjoyed by Hamas leaders and members in Syria were not available even to Syrian citizens. In addition to the high cost of Meshaal’s residence and security in Damascus, the state provided him and his associates with dozens of luxury homes in the capital’s most affluent neighborhoods.

Syria was also at the forefront of countries that facilitated the arrival of high-quality weapons into the besieged Gaza Strip. A source in the resistance tells The Cradle that the first Kornet missile to reach Gaza between 2009 and 2011 came from Syria with the approval of President Assad, and was received by then-Chief of Staff of Al-Qassam Brigades Ahmed al-Jabari.

Also crucial to the Palestinian resistance was the arrival of Iranian and Russian missiles that entered Gaza via Syrian arms depots.

Meshaal chooses Doha

It is important to recognize that while the decision to leave Damascus was not by any means unanimously agreed upon within Hamas, as political bureau chief, it was ultimately Meshaal’s call.

A Hamas source informed The Cradle that in September 2011, six months after the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, Meshaal received an invitation from the Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, to visit Doha. Recall that Qatar was one of the first states to fund and arm the Islamist opposition in the brutal Syrian war.

According to al-Thani’s estimates, the “Syrian revolution” was likely to end in the overthrow of the Assad government. He is reported to have advised Meshaal to abandon the sinking ship, so to speak, because if the rebellion is successful, “those who stayed with him [Assad] will drown, as happened with the late President Yasser Arafat, when Saddam Hussein was defeated in Gulf War,” the source described.

In an attempt to win over Hamas from Iran’s patronage, al-Thani offered to financially support the movement and to provide a geographical space for operations in the Qatari capital and in Turkish territory.

Meshaal is said to have informed his host that such a decision could not be taken unilaterally, and that he needed to refer to Hamas’ Political Bureau and Shura Council for buy-in.

Internal dissent 

On his way back to Damascus, Meshaal made pit stops in a number of regional countries to inform Hamas’ leadership of the Qatari offer. Suffice it to say, the deal was rejected by the majority of members of the Political Bureau and the Al-Qassam Brigades.

The Hamas source says: “The second man in Al-Qassam, Ahmad Al-Jabari, rejected the treachery against the Syrian leadership, along with Mahmoud al-Zahar, Ali Baraka, Imad al-Alami, Mustafa al-Ladawi, and Osama Hamdan.

On the other hand, Meshaal had the support of Musa Abu Marzouk, Ahmed Yousef, Muhammad Ghazal, Ghazi Hamad and Ahmed Bahr, in addition to a number of the movement’s sheikhs such as Younis al-Astal, Saleh Al-Raqab, and Ahmed Nimr Hamdan, while the head of the Hamas government in Gaza at the time, Ismail Haniyeh, did not have a decisive position.

Meshaal’s opponents were of the opinion that as Hamas is a resistance movement, it would be ill-advised to sever ties with the region’s Axis of Resistance – Iran, Hezbollah and Syria – and that leaving this alliance left little options other than to join the “Axis of Normalization” [with Israel].

Meshaal then received a call from Kamal Naji, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in which he was informed that the Syrians “are aware of all the details of your visit to Qatar, and of the discussion taking place in the Hamas leadership.”

According to the source, Naji advised Meshaal that Hamas “will not find a warm embrace like Syria, and that despite its historical disagreement with the Muslim Brotherhood, Damascus will not ask Hamas to take any declared position on the Syrian crisis.”

The source in Hamas told The Cradle: “The Qataris felt that Meshaal was unable to take such a fateful stance.” At this point, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi (considered to be the spiritual guide of the Ikhwan) intervened to pressure both Haniyeh and Abu Marzouk, who had not yet made up their minds.

Fateful meetings

Meshaal was later invited to visit Turkey, where he met leaders of Syrian armed groups, accompanied by the Qatari Minister of Intelligence and officers from Turkish intelligence.

They convinced him that “a few steps separate the opposition from the Republican Palace in the Mezzeh neighborhood of Damascus, and that the days of the Assad regime are numbered.”

The meeting of Hamas’ political bureau in Sudan was the turning point. In that gathering, to the surprise of some participants, both Haniyeh and Abu Marzouk weighed in to side with Meshaal, and it was decided to “discreetly” withdraw from Damascus.

After the decision was taken, the Qataris worked to further enhance Meshaal’s position within Hamas, through an extraordinary visit by the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, to the Gaza Strip – the first for an Arab head of state. During this visit, al-Thani provided generous support with more than $450 million provided for reconstruction and the implementation of development projects.

Hamas’ fateful decision to abandon Damascus, however, was not met with the same enthusiasm by the movement’s military wing, who believed the move made little strategic sense.

Back to Damascus

In the following years, major regional changes contributed to the downfall of Khaled Meshaal and his removal from his position leading Hamas’ Political Bureau.

The Syrian state remained steadfast in the face of collective NATO-Gulf efforts to unseat Assad; Russian military intervention altered the battlefield balance of power; the Syrian political and armed opposition began to disintegrate and suffer heavy losses; the Ikhwan’s rule in Egypt and its control over Libya and Tunisia began to collapse; and a stand-off with Qatar caused Saudi Arabia and the UAE to alter their position on Syria.

With these stunning regional setbacks, it quickly became apparent that neither Qatari nor Turkish support offered any real strategic value for Hamas’ resistance model – nor could they hope to fill the void left by the reduction in Iranian and Syrian military support.

Moreover, Al-Qassam Brigades found itself facing severe financial difficulties, unable to secure the salaries of its members, let alone sustain any meaningful armed resistance against Israel’s continuous assaults and occupation.

At the time, Hamas’ revenues were derived mainly from taxes imposed on Gaza’s residents, while Qatari support, under US supervision, was limited to providing the expenses of the Hamas leadership in Qatar, and providing seasonal financial grants to government employees in Gaza.

Meshaal’s fall from power  

Cumulatively, these events and the stagnation of the Palestinian resistance convinced Hamas’ leadership of the need to reshuffle its regional cards. The freed prisoner, Yahya al-Sinwar, was the initial spark to revamp a fresh new agenda, following his sweeping victory as the new Hamas leader in Gaza.

Sinwar, one of the historical leaders of Al-Qassam Brigades, decided to reset relations with Iran and Hezbollah, and work toward the movement’s eventual return to Damascus.

Meshaal, realizing that regional changes were no longer in his favor, tried to flatter the Syrian state more than once in media statements. But a firm decision had already been taken across the Axis of Resistance that Meshaal was no longer a welcome or trustworthy figure.

This was especially the case after it became clear to the Syrian security services that Meshaal was involved, along with dozens of Hamas members, in supporting armed groups, exposing secret sites of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Lebanese resistance Hezbollah, smuggling weapons to armed opposition in the strategically-located Yarmouk refugee camp and eastern Ghouta region, and providing them with expertise in digging secret tunnels.

Meshaal’s isolation became crystal clear at the end of December 2021, when Hezbollah refused to receive him during a Beirut visit, even though he was officially the external relations officer for Hamas.

According to the Hamas source, Meshaal tried to disrupt the consensus of the leadership of the Political Bureau and the Shura Council on restoring relations with Syria, when he “leaked, at the end of last June, the decision taken in the Political Bureau meeting to return to Damascus.”

Hamas, post-Meshaal

Meshaal’s leak caused media chaos, followed by attempts to pressure Hamas to reverse course. A statement issued by eight of the most important Muslim Brotherhood scholars, advised Hamas to reconsider its decision because of the “great evils it carries for the Ummah.”

Meshaal meanwhile, remained busy trying to restore relations with Jordan, in parallel with Iran, Lebanon and Syria. However, with the recent announcement by Hamas that it would return to Syria, “the efforts made by Meshaal and the Qataris behind him have gone unheeded,” says the movement’s source.

The normalization of relations between Hamas and Syria is significant, not only for the military dividend it could reap for the Palestinian resistance, but also because it can pave the way for Turkey and Qatar to re-establish their Syria ties, although Doha would do so very reluctantly.

With the decision to sideline the Meshaal camp within Hamas, it would seem that Hamas – and not Syria – has ultimately been the subject of regime change in this regional geopolitical battle for influence.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Saad Hariri and the collapse of Lebanon

The Syrian regime-change war and Lebanon’s economic collapse happened under Saad Hariri’s watch, but the Future Movement leader is seldom mentioned for the pivotal role he played in Lebanon’s unravelling

Photo Credit: The Cradle

September 12 2022

By William Van Wagenen

In 2005, US neoconservatives centered around then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s office began collaborating with Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, defected former Syrian Vice President Abd Al-Halim Khaddam, and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to topple the Syrian government.

Washington did so as part of an effort to topple the governments of seven countries in five years, including Libya and Iran, using the so-called ‘War on Terror’ as a pretext.

However another crucial, though overlooked collaborator in the regime change effort was pro-Saudi Lebanese politician Saad Hariri. And his actions would soon see massive repercussions unfold in his own country.

The dynastic Hariris

In 2005, Saad’s father, former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, was assassinated in a massive car bombing, which a highly-politicized UN-backed court pinned on two individuals affiliated with Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah. In the wake of Rafiq’s death, Saad came to head not only the Saudi-supported Future Movement – Lebanon’s leading Sunni political party – but also the multi-billion-dollar Hariri business conglomerate established by his father in Saudi Arabia.

Initially, the US, French, and Israeli governments quickly blamed Syria for Rafiq’s killing. Presumably, Saad was motivated to participate in the US-led regime change effort in Syria as a result.

But business interests also played a role as Saad wished to gain control over Syria’s telecommunication sector. This is something his father had previously tried, but failed to accomplish.

As French journalist Georges Malbrunot details in his book The Road to Damascus, Syria first launched its mobile phone industry in the early 2000’s, and Lebanon’s prime minister at the time, Rafiq Al-Hariri, wanted to invest in one of the two Syrian companies that had just been created for this purpose.

But Rami Makhlouf, cousin of Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad and the dominant investor in the sector, blocked Rafiq’s efforts. Malbrunot notes further that according to a lawyer close to the Syrian government, “there was an immediate veto from the intelligence services against Hariri.”

While the Baath Party may have considered the telecommunications sector to be of strategic importance – and therefore not open to outsiders – Assad would have also been concerned about Hariri’s direct role in bribing top Syrian officials, including then-Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, prior to his defection, among a broad slate of other grievances.

In the wake of Rafiq’s assassination, Saad was quick to pick up his father’s baton. At the time the Christian Science Monitor reported that:

“[Saad Hariri] may be a newcomer to Lebanese politics, but Hariri is no neophyte. He ran his father’s massive construction company, Saudi Oger, for over a decade and has extensive financial interests in telecommunications in the Middle East. He is ranked at 548 in Forbes Magazine’s annual list of billionaires with an estimated fortune of $1.2 billion. His father was ranked 108th with $4.3 billion. Hariri has adopted his father’s globe-trotting existence, holding talks with Jacques Chirac, the French president and a close family friend, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Middle East leaders.”

Saad’s support of Salafi-jihadists

In addition to running his deceased father’s business conglomerate, Saad was active in protecting Al-Qaeda affiliated militant groups in Lebanon.  Journalist Seymour Hersh notes that according to a 2005 International Crisis Group (ICG) report, Hariri had helped release four Salafist militants from prison who had previously trained in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and were arrested in Lebanon while trying to establish an Islamic state in the north of the country.

Hariri also used his influence in parliament to obtain amnesty for another 29 Salafist militants, including seven suspected of bombing foreign embassies in Beirut a year prior. Hersh notes that according to a senior official in the Lebanese government, “We have a liberal attitude that allows Al-Qaeda types to have a presence here.”

In the wake of the radical Fatah Al-Islam’s 2007 battle with the Lebanese army, which destroyed the Nahr Al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, Charles Harb of the American University of Beirut (AUB) observed that Saad was giving “political cover” to “radical Sunni movements” that could be directed and employed against the Resistance Axis of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.

Harb also noted the involvement of Saudi intelligence in cultivating these groups. He explained that “Several reports have highlighted efforts by Saudi officials to strengthen Sunni groups, including radical ones, to face the Shia renaissance across the region. But building up radical Sunni groups to face the Shia challenge can easily backfire.”

Start of the ‘Syrian Revolution’

In early 2011, US planners exploited dissatisfaction among certain segments of Syrian society – not only pro-western liberals but also the country’s Salafi community – to spark initial ‘Arab Spring’ type protests in the country.

Saad Hariri’s interest in gaining control of the Syrian telecommunication network via any successful regime-change operation was hinted at during the first protest in Daraa, a predominantly Sunni governorate, on 18 March, 2011.

As Syrian sociologist Muhammad Jamal Barout revealed, protestors in Daraa chanted against Rami Makhlouf and demanded that his businesses be expelled from the province (recall that Makhlouf held the dominant position in Syria’s telecommunications sector).

Salafist militants, including from Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), quickly began attacking Syrian security forces under the cover of the early protests. US planners facilitated these attacks (with the help of Prince Bandar), in the hope of unleashing a sectarian civil war on the country comparable to that which had destroyed Iraq starting in 2003.

The Future Movement and Salafi terror

Prominent opposition and human rights activist Haitham Manna provided evidence that elements close to Saad Al-Hariri were among those funneling weapons to the Salafist militants in Syria, including in Daraa, in part to secure financial interests.

According to Muhammad Jamal Barout, Manna’ publicly disclosed in an interview on Al-Jazeera on 31 March, 2011, that “he had received offers to arm movements from Raqqa to Daraa three times by parties he did not identify in the interview.”

Barout additionally writes that, according to Manna, there were secret communications between some Syrian businessmen abroad who found themselves bent on revenge against the Assad government because their interests had been harmed by the network of the pro-government businessman Makhlouf.

Furthermore, these groups were willing to fund and arm opposition movements throughout the country. Barout notes that these businessmen apparently had relations with professional networks capable of delivering weapons to any location in Syria and that some members of the Future Movement in Lebanon were among those arranging these weapons shipments.

One name pops up more than others: Okab Sakr, the MP from Hariri’s Future movement made infamous in phone conversations leaked to Lebanese media outlet Al Akhbar, in which he directly discusses large weapons transfers to Syrian militants.

Writes The Guardian of Hariri’s close confidant: “Every time Okab is in town the weapons start to move across the border,” said a rebel colonel from the Jebel al-Zawiya region, who calls himself Abu Wael.

Sakr eventually fled the country to avoid repercussions for his illicit activities, and admitted to his role in arming the Syrian conflict, which dragged Lebanon into the messy and dangerous fray.

Within no time, Fatah Al-Islam and other militants previously under the protection of Hariri and Saudi intelligence in Lebanon were soon identified on the battlefield in Syria. Dr. Haytham Mouzahem, director of the Beirut Center for Middle East Studies explained that, “When the uprising in Syria began in 2011, many of the remaining Fatah al-Islam members crossed the border and joined groups in the Free Syrian Army [FSA].”

This provided one indication among many that the FSA – as it was known then – was not secular, democratic, or comprised primarily of army defectors, as is often claimed, but rather consisted primarily of Salafist militants, including many affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

The role of Al-Qaeda militants from Lebanon came further into focus in the summer of 2011, when Der Spiegel reported that a prominent Salafist cleric in Tripoli was sending fighters into Syria as early as summer 2011 because, in his view, “Assad is an infidel” and “There is a holy war in Syria and the young men there are conducting jihad. For blood, for honor, for freedom, for dignity.”

According to one of the fighters interviewed by the German magazine, around 60 percent of the Lebanese fighters crossing the border from Tripoli to Homs had previously fought in Iraq.

Syrian fallout: Refugees flood into Lebanon

As the months and years passed, more and more jihadists flooded into Syria. As they did, and as fighting with the Syrian army and its allies intensified and became more brutal and sectarian, more and more Syrian civilians flooded into Lebanon to flee the conflict back home.

With the onset of war in Syria in 2011 and subsequent US sanctions, the Syrian economy began to massively contract, which in turn caused the closely connected Lebanese economy to gradually slow as well.

Given that Lebanon is a small country facing its own disastrous economic crisis, it has been unable to provide decent living conditions for even its own 5.5 million residents, let alone for the 1.7 million Syrian refugees present in the country.

Because US planners, along with their many regional collaborators including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Lebanon and others, launched a dirty war on Syria in 2011 causing millions of Syrians to flee their homes and seek refuge in bordering states, it is the US and its close allies that bear most of the responsibility for the current refugee crisis Lebanon now faces.

Accommodating such a large number of refugees would always be difficult, but this became near impossible after the October 2019 Lebanese banking crisis, which in turn caused what the World Bank described as a “brutal” economic contraction of a magnitude “usually associated with conflicts or wars.” Even relatively prosperous and middle-class Lebanese were plunged into poverty, losing most of their life savings, as the Lebanese lira quickly plunged.

A Hariri legacy: Lebanon’s economic collapse

The origins of the crisis can be traced to the creation of a banking infrastructure based on efforts to maintain a currency peg between the Lebanese lira and US dollar.

This system was established by Lebanese central banker Riad Salameh in the 1990’s in the wake of the Lebanese civil war, presumably to restore economic stability needed after the wild currency swings seen throughout the conflict.

Then-prime minister Rafiq Hariri had appointed Salameh – his personal money manager at US brokerage firm Merrill Lynch – as governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank.

To maintain the peg, Salameh effectively established a Ponzi scheme that enriched wealthy Lebanese as well as the bankers themselves. As the New York Times explained:

“Lebanon’s Central Bank promised that 1,507 Lebanese lira would be worth exactly $1 and that Lebanese banks would always exchange one for the other. That policy brought stability, but it also required Lebanon’s banks to hold a large store of U.S. dollars . . . so the banks could make good on the promise to exchange 1,507 lira for $1 at any point. Lebanese firms also needed dollars to pay for imported goods, a large part of the economy in a country that produces little of what it consumes. . . . To keep dollars flowing in, the head of Lebanon’s Central Bank developed a plan: Banks would offer very generous terms — including an annual interest of 15 percent or even 20 percent — to anybody who would deposit dollars. But the only way for banks to make good on these terms was by repaying the initial depositors with money from new depositors. Of course, there is a name for this practice: a Ponzi scheme.”

The receipt of such high interest rates on deposits allowed wealthy Lebanese both at home and abroad to slowly loot the country. Commercial bankers benefitted as well, by receiving a handsome spread on the interest rate paid by the central bank and forwarded to depositors. The Hariri family benefited directly from the system, both as owners of huge US dollar deposits as well as owners of their own commercial bank, Bankmed.

Riad Salameh personally benefitted from the system as well, setting up a brokerage firm with his brother, Forry Associates, that took some $330 million in fees for brokering the sale of government bonds between 2002 and 2015, $200 million of which were allegedly transferred to Salemeh’s personal accounts with various Lebanese banks, including with Hariri’s Bankmed. These transfers led to the ongoing investigation of Salemeh by European officials on charges of money laundering and embezzlement.

As the protracted Syrian war – aided by Hariri and his allies -across Lebanon’s only viable land border tore into Lebanon’s fragile economy, and the flow of new US dollars entering the Lebanese banking system also began to slow, Salameh’s Ponzi scheme became unsustainable, and finally began to collapse in October 2019.

Lebanese banks began to restrict US dollar withdrawals for small depositors to minor amounts, while secretly allowing wealthy and connected clients to pull out huge sums for transfer abroad. Soon, small depositors, who had themselves deposited dollars, were restricted to withdrawing an unreasonable equivalent in Lebanese liras instead.

The value of the lira quickly dropped by some 90 percent, wiping out the life savings of many and causing mass poverty as prices of everything, including essential goods, skyrocketed. According to banker and political commentator, Ehsani, the total losses for depositors amount to roughly $111 billion.

According to Syria’s President Assad, some $40 billion of those frozen deposits may be of Syrian origin, with huge negative ramifications for the country’s finances and reconstruction efforts.

The October 2019 economic collapse was accompanied by wide-spread protests expressing anger against Lebanon’s broader political class, pressuring Saad Hariri to step down as prime minister.

Despite the key role played by the Hariri-Salameh political clique in establishing, benefitting from, and finally collapsing the Lebanese banking system, and subsequently the entire economy, both Hariri and Salameh continue to enjoy diplomatic and political support from their backers in Washington.

In February 2020, amidst criticism of Salameh’s role in precipitating the crisis, US ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea suggested to Lebanese TV it was “a mistake to scapegoat any one person or institution for Lebanon’s economic collapse” and that Salameh, still “enjoys great confidence in the international financial community.”

The reason for this was provided, at least in part, in April 2019 when Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar published minutes of a meeting between the US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism Financing and Financial Crimes, Marshall Billingsley, and the (former) Lebanese Economy Minister, Mansour Bteish. The minutes cite a US official saying:

“We need a governor of the Banque du Liban [central bank] and a deputy governor who we can trust, and who is sensitive and with whom confidential information about terrorist financing and money laundering can be exchanged. The situation today is that we trust Governor Riad Salameh and (former) Deputy Governor Muhammad Baasiri.”

As US planners have not been fighting terrorism, but rather funding and arming al-Qaeda affiliated groups to use as proxies in their war against Syria between 2011 and 2017, this suggests Salameh continues to enjoy US protection to avoid details of terrorist financing, in particular Saad Hariri’s role in arming terrorist groups in Syria on behalf of US planners, from coming to light.

It is difficult to imagine that Lebanon can emerge from its current crisis, or deal with corruption and poor governance plaguing the country, while US influence over Lebanese affairs remains dominant and oppressive US sanctions against Syria remain in place.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Peace with Syria: The final piece in Turkey’s foreign policy puzzle

August 15 2022

Ankara has managed to reset relations with several neighbors, yet normalization with Damascus has remained the most elusive, until recently. Why now? And what will it take?

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Hasan Ünal

The 5 August meeting in Sochi between Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin has given rise to speculation in the west over Turkish-Russian rapprochement – and its possible negative impact on western efforts to curtail the imminent multipolar order.

Western NATO states have reason to be concerned about Ankara’s recent moves, given the momentum created on 19 July during Astana talks in Tehran – between Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Erdogan, and Putin – geared to resolve the Syrian crisis.

United against the States

What was striking about the meeting in the Iranian capital was its defiant tone, slamming US-led unipolarity (the so-called rules-based order), and accusing Washington of looting Syria’s resources and sponsoring terrorism, all while demanding that the US exits the region immediately.

Washington has long sought to undermine the Astana Process, launched in January 2017 by Russia, Iran and Turkey to demilitarize the Syrian conflict and establish ceasefires. To that end, it manipulated Turkey’s ill-defined Syria policy, expecting that Ankara and Moscow would collide head-on over “opposition-controlled” Idlib or elsewhere, thereby hindering possible rapprochement between the two Eurasian states.

However, it seems as if the Erdogan-Putin meeting has instead advanced beyond their earlier encounter on 29 September 2021, also held in Sochi, where it was then leaked that the two leaders had somewhat agreed on a broad geopolitical vision.

The two leaders focused on a wide range of areas of close cooperation – particularly on trade and economy – but also on prospective fields of mutual benefit such as defense industry ventures, as well as on regional issues like Syria, Crimea, and Cyprus.

Turkey’s shift on Syria

Although few details have been released following that closed-door meeting, it is interesting to note the discernable change in Ankara’s stance on Syria since then.

There is now serious talk of normalization with Damascus and a renewal of the Syrian-Turkish 1998 Adana Agreement, which will entail a joint effort to defeat US-sponsored Kurdish separatists in Syria, especially in the areas to the east of the Euphrates where the latter are striving to install a US-backed statelet.

As things stand, there is no reason why Erdogan and Putin could not iron out a deal to end the Syrian conflict, especially since Ankara – in an 18-month flurry of diplomatic outreach to regional foes – has largely given up on its Muslim Brotherhood-oriented foreign policy by mending ties with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and even Israel.

Today, Erdogan’s personal obstinacy over Syria remains the main hurdle obstructing an overall peace with Turkey’s war-stricken southern neighbor.

Why make peace?

The Turkish president certainly has a lot to gain from a well-orchestrated rapprochement with the Syrian government. For starters, Ankara and Damascus could agree on a protocol to repatriate millions of Turkish-based Syrian refugees back to their places of origin, and renew the Adana Agreement to create a common front against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliates.

Conceivably, Erdogan could even ask Damascus to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – a very dear issue for Ankara – in return for Turkey’s full support for the re-establishment of Syrian sovereignty over all its territories, including those areas currently under Turkish occupation.

With strong Russian guidance, is not entirely inconceivable that the two states could return to a comfortable neighborly states quo, with trade, investment, and reconstruction activities leading the way.

It would be a far cry from the 1998 to 2011 Syrian-Turkish ‘golden era,’ when Ankara studiously worked to bolster friendly relations with Damascus, to such an extent that joint-cabinet meetings were occasionally held between the administrations of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Erdogan, where the latter would refer to the former as “my brother.”

Today, the emerging multipolar order makes diplomatic and economic re-engagement all the more conducive, because as NATO’s Madrid Summit demonstrated, the west needs Turkey more than ever, and Ankara’s moves to normalize relations with Damascus is less likely to incur a significant cost than before the Ukraine crisis erupted.

Indeed, even before events in Europe unfolded, Turkey undertook several military operations against the PKK/ Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria, much to Washington’s dismay and outrage.

Ankara could proceed with these operations with less censure today, but it has not. Turkey appears to have realized – possibly under Russian advisement – that without normalization with Damascus, Turkish military moves on Kurdish separatists would yield significantly fewer results.

Problems closer to home

Moreover, Erdogan’s administration has been beset by the contentious domestic issue of the millions of Syrian refugees who remain inside Turkey. The days when the president and his close associates were preaching Islamic solidarity in defense of hosting Syrian refugees have long past.

The mood across Turkey has changed dramatically amid rising inflation, a collapse of the lira, and the general public’s disenchantment with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). For the first time since Erdogan’s ascension to power in 2003, the masses sense that his once-unbeatable, Islamist-leaning populist party may be defeated in upcoming presidential polls slated for May-June next year.

True or not, there are public rumblings that the AKP – to escape an election loss – plans to bestow millions of Syrian refugees with Turkish citizenship, allowing them to vote in the pivotal polls.

The disoriented outlook of Turkey’s main opposition party has always played to Erdogan’s advantage in previous elections. The feeble-looking Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who took the helm of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) after a sex scandal involving its previous leader, has never managed to rally the public around him.

Importantly, Kılıçdaroğlu has typically trailed behind Erdogan in opinion polls because of his pro-American, pro-EU approach to almost everything – at a time when anti-US sentiment in the country polls at a startling 85 to 95 percent of the population.

Repatriating refugees

Furthermore, Kılıçdaroğlu and his party do not make any clear-cut pronouncements about a peace with Syria. If anything, the CHP was as critical of Assad as Erdogan’s AKP, and its spokespeople barely weighed in on the divisive Syrian refugee issue, even though economically-challenged Turkey currently hosts more refugees than any other country.

The entry of a new figure – Ümit Özdağ, a professor of Political Science and International Relations, who recently formed the Party of Victory (Zafer Partisi) – onto the Turkish national political scene, has introduced a radical change in the discourse about Syrian refugees and their repatriation.

Almost overnight, Özdağ has gained widespread support from voters across the political spectrum. His unexpected surge in the polls has clearly contributed to a reassessment by the government and ruling party on the Syrian issue.

Ankara needs Damascus

Today, almost all voices from the CHP to the AKP are floating arguments for some sort of repatriation, but as even the Turkish public understands, this cannot be done without normalization with Damascus.

Hence, Erdogan’s test-balloon musings to Turkish journalists on his flight back from Sochi, hinting that Putin had repeatedly recommended that Ankara coordinate with Damascus on any military operation in Syria to rout out the PKK/SDF.

Despite the positive national outlook on normalizing with Syria, Erdogan won’t have a smooth path ahead. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s untimely remark a few days ago that Ankara should try to bring the Syrian opposition (a clear reference to the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army) and the Assad government together with a view to striking a deal, didn’t go down well at all with those oppositionists.

It almost led to an uprising in Syrian areas under Turkish control – particularly in Azaz, where militants burned down Turkish flags and vowed to fight to the bitter end against the “Assad regime” and even Turkey.

Same old foreign policy

The statement the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued following these events underlined the long hard slog to a Syrian peace settlement, and revealed the depth of the Erdogan government’s involvement with these militants.

As it has predictably done since 2011, the FM statement conveniently shifted blame back onto the Syrian government for foot-dragging toward overall peace and reconciliation.

But Ankara desperately needs to drop its tired old refrain: demanding that Damascus agrees to a new constitution, pushing for federalization of the state, and insisting on new Syrians elections, under a care-taker government, composed of opposition politicians, and preferably without Assad at its helm.

Having failed to oust Assad militarily, Turkey once imagined it could unseat him through this convoluted political and electoral formula. Erdogan’s logic was that the millions of Syrians under Ankara’s influence – both in Turkey, as well as in Turkish-controlled Syrian territories – in addition Syrian Kurds in areas under the PKK/PYD, especially to the east of the Euphrates, would vote Assad out.

Trading the ‘rebels’ for the Kurds

This ‘fantasy’ contrasts sharply with realities on the Syrian ground, and also totally undermines Turkey’s own national interests.

Years of these haphazard AKP policies, premised on the unrealistic scenario of a sudden collapse of Assad’s government, all while stealthily transforming the country into a jihadist paradise – in the name of democracy – has instead become Ankara’s biggest foreign policy quagmire, and has emboldened its separatist Kurdish foes as never before.

Furthermore, Erdogan’s disastrous Syria policy has isolated Turkey for almost a decade in the region, even among Sunni states, and threatened to set off a conflagration with Russia, a major source of energy and tourism for the Turkish economy.

In fairness, the Turkish leader appears to be making some sound political maneuvers of late, and reaching out to Damascus is the most important of these for the region’s stability. Whether Erdogan will crown his new grand foreign policy moves with a Syrian peace by normalizing relations with Damascus remains to be seen.

If he doesn’t take this bold step, particularly in advance of Turkey’s presidential elections, Erdogan runs the risk of joining the long list of politicians determined to oust Assad, who have themselves left or been ousted from office under the weight of the so-called “Assad Curse.”

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Author

أنقرة تُغضب جماعاتها: خطوة أولى نحو دمشق

السبت 13 آب 2022

خرجت الإضرابات في بعض مناطق الشمال السوري عن السيطرة بعد إحراق العلم التركي (أ ف ب)

 علاء حلبي 

لم يخرج مولود جاويش أوغلو، في تصريحاته الأخيرة حول محادثاته مع فيصل المقداد، عن المؤشّرات التي ما فتئت أنقرة تبعث بها في الآونة الأخيرة، حول رغبتها في الانفتاح التدريجي على دمشق، بهدف إيجاد حلول لأزمة اللاجئين وتحقيق مكاسب ميدانية، يمكن رجب طيب إردوغان تجييرُها لمصلحته في الانتخابات الرئاسية. وعلى رغم أن تلك التصريحات أثارت موجة غضب ورفض في الشمال السوري، قادتها أطراف عدّة تجمع في ما بينها المصلحة في بقاء الوضع القائم، إلّا أن تركيا بدت راغبة في ضبط الشارع بما يتوافق مع تكتيكاتها السياسية، وفي الوقت نفسه استثماره في الضغط على شريكَي «أستانا»، موسكو وطهران، ومِن خَلفهما دمشق


خلال مؤتمر صحافي لوزير الخارجية التركي، مولود جاويش أوغلو، وفي ردّه على سؤال يتعلّق بالأوضاع في سوريا، أجاب رأس هرم الدبلوماسية التركية باستفاضة، شارحاً موقف بلاده من الانفتاح على دمشق، والذي وضع له شروطاً متّصلة بـ«الحرب على الإرهاب»، في إشارة إلى «قسد» التي تَراها أنقرة امتداداً لحزب «العمال الكردستاني»، مشيراً في الوقت ذاته إلى الاقتناع الذي بات مترسّخاً لدى تركيا بضرورة إجراء ما سمّاه «مصالحة» بين الحكومة والمعارضة لضمان وحدة الأراضي السورية. أوغلو أشار أيضاً، في سياق حديثه، إلى «لقاء عابر على الواقف» أجراه مع وزير الخارجية السوري، فيصل المقداد، على هامش اجتماع مجموعة دول «حركة عدم الانحياز» في بلغراد، في تشرين الأول من العام الماضي، نافياً وجود أيّ تواصل مباشر بين الرئيسَين التركي رجب طيب إردوغان، والسوري بشار الأسد، مفنّداً بذلك شائعات أطلقتها وسائل إعلام مرتبطة بحزب «العدالة والتنمية» الحاكم في تركيا بهذا الخصوص، كانت قد نفتها دمشق أيضاً. غير أنه عاد وأكد أن موسكو تدفع في الاتّجاه المذكور، والذي تريد تركيا، في المقابل، أن يبدأ بلقاءات أمنية في الوقت الحالي، تتركّز، بحسب ما يُفهَم من كلامه، على «اتفاقية أضنة» المُوقَّعة عام 1998 بين سوريا وتركيا.
ولم يكد الوزير التركي ينتهي من تصريحاته، حتى بدأت تَظهر دعوات في الشمال السوري إلى الخروج في تظاهرات رافضة لها، تحت عناوين عديدة؛ أبرزها «لا للصلح». على إثر ذلك، شهدت مناطق عدّة تسيطر عليها فصائل تابعة لأنقرة، وأخرى في إدلب التي تَحكمها «هيئة تحرير الشام»، تظاهرات تخلّلتها – في ريف حلب الشمالي – عمليات إحراق للعلم التركي، وهتافات مناوئة لأنقرة. وأفادت مصادر ميدانية، «الأخبار»، بأن هذه التظاهرات خرجت لدوافع عديدة، بعضها شخصي يتعلّق بوجود تيّارات رافضة لأيّ انفتاح على دمشق، وبعضها الآخر مرتبط بجهات بعينها لا ترغب في تغيير الوضع القائم، من بينها صناعيون وتجّار يملكون استثمارات عديدة ويستفيدون من ارتباط مناطقهم بالاقتصاد التركي، وبعضها الثالث تقف وراءه تيّارات تابعة لـ«الإخوان المسلمين»، الذين بدأ نشاطهم يطفو على السطح في أعقاب عمليات إعادة هيكلة قامت بها تركيا لـ«الائتلاف» المعارض، قلّصت بموجبها حضورهم داخله.

تزامنت حركة الإضرابات في الشمال السوري مع ظهور موجة رفض للسلطة الأمنية التي تفرضها تركيا


وجاءت موجة الاحتجاج الجديدة تلك، بالتزامن مع ظهور بوادر تمرّد على السلطة الأمنية التي تفرضها تركيا في الشمال، تجلّت في عمليات شطب لعبارات مؤيّدة لأنقرة، واستبدال أخرى بها ترَفض هذه التبعية، وهو ما أعقبته حملة أمنية ألقت خلالها الفصائل القبض على عدد من الأشخاص، وعمّمت أسماء آخرين، بتهمة «الإساءة لتركيا». ويبدو أن حركة الإضرابات هذه خرجت عن السيطرة في بعض المواقع، وخصوصاً بعد إحراق العلم التركي، والذي استنفرت أنقرة على إثره قادة الفصائل وبعض المؤثّرين في الشارع من أجل استنكار الواقعة بوصْف المحروق «راية مقدسة»، والدعوة إلى احترام «التضحيات التركية والعلاقة المتينة مع أنقرة». كما أصدر «المجلس الإسلامي»، الذراع الدينية لأنقرة في الشمال، بياناً اتّهم فيه «مندسّين» بالوقوف وراء ما سمّاه «حرْف الأمر عن مساره وتهديد مصالح الثورة». وفي السياق نفسه، كشفت المصادر الميدانية أن اجتماعاً عقده مسؤولون أمنيون وعسكريون أتراك، مع قادة بعض الفصائل في ريف حلب الشمالي، أبلغوا فيه الأخيرين ضرورة منع انزلاق الشارع إلى معاداة تركيا، بشتّى السبل، ومن بينها اعتقال الأشخاص «المسيئين»، مُتوقّعة اعتقال مَن أحرقوا العلم وردّدوا شعارات مناوئة لأنقرة بتهم عدّة؛ من بينها «الإساءة لتركيا»، و«إلحاق الضرر بالمال العام»، ولا سيما مع انتشار فيديو الإحراق في وسائل الإعلام التركية، وإثارته مخاوف من موجات عنف جديدة ضدّ اللاجئين السوريين في تركيا. وعلى عكْس حالة الانفلات التي ظهرت في مناطق سيطرة الفصائل، لم تشهد إدلب، التي يُحكِم أبو محمد الجولاني سيطرته عليها، أيّ حوادث تُذكر، في ما من شأنه أن يضيف نقطة إضافية إلى رصيد الجولاني الذي ترغب أنقرة في توحيد مناطق نفوذها تحت سيطرته.
بالتوازي مع ذلك، وفي محاولة لتخفيف حدّة الاحتقان، وفي الوقت نفسه استثمار حركة الشارع في الضغط على دمشق، خرج المتحدّث باسم الخارجية التركية، تانجو بيلجيتش، ببيان لتفسير تصريحات أوغلو، ذكر فيه أن تركيا أدت دوراً رائداً في الحفاظ على وقف إطلاق النار، وإنشاء «اللجنة الدستورية» من خلال عمليّتَي أستانا وجنيف، وقدّمت الدعم الكامل للمعارضة ولجنة التفاوض في العملية السياسية، مُحمِّلاً دمشق مسؤولية عرقلة الحلّ السياسي. وختم بيانه بالتأكيد أن تركيا «ستواصل مساهمتها النشطة في الجهود المبذولة لتهيئة الظروف المناسبة للعودة الطوعية والآمنة للاجئين، وإيجاد حلّ للنزاع وفقاً لخريطة الطريق المنصوص عليها في قرار مجلس الأمن الدولي الرقم 2254، بالتعاون مع جميع أصحاب المصلحة في المجتمع الدولي. وبينما اشتعلت مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي بمواقف رافضة لأيّ انفتاح تركي على دمشق أطلقها قياديون في الفصائل، لم تَخرج عن «الائتلاف» أيّ تصريحات في هذا السياق، في استمرار لسياسة الصمت التي اتّبعها طوال الشهر الماضي، بعد توالي التصريحات التركية حول الرغبة في التعاون مع الحكومة السورية. وتفسّر المصادر نفسها التي تحدّثت إليها «الأخبار»، ذلك، بأنه رغبة من أنقرة في فصْل ما يجري في الشارع عن المسار السياسي، لاستثمارهما معاً في الضغط على دمشق وموسكو وطهران، ما يعني في المحصّلة ربْط أيّ خطوة نحو دمشق باستمرار المصالح التركية، وما ينجم عنها من مكاسب.

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قمة بوتين – رئيسي – أردوغان: الأسد المنتصر

July 18, 2022 

 ناصر قنديل


غالباً ما كانت الدولة السورية تتعرّض لضغوط مواطنيها في الشمال مطالبة بعمل عسكريّ يُنهي الاحتلال الأميركي والاحتلال التركي ومشروع الكانتون الكردي الذي تقيمه قوات قسد، وكان كثيرون يذهبون للتحذير من خطورة أن تكون صورة تقاسم جغرافيا الشمال السوري نهائيّة، وتعني تحوّل وحدة التراب السوري إلى شيء من الماضي، بينما كان كثيرون يرمون سهام الاتهام على حلفاء سورية، روسيا وإيران، بسبب علاقاتهما الجيدة مع تركيا ما يتيح اتهامهما بالتردد في دعم أية عملية عسكرية سورية نحو المناطق الخاضعة لسيطرة الجماعات الإرهابيّة المدعومة من تركيا. وبالمثل لعلاقاتهما الجيّدة بقوات قسد التركية، واعتبار هذه العلاقة سبباً لتردد مماثل؛ بينما كان كل من القيادتين التركية والكردية يتقاسمان عدم الوفاء بالتعهدات، وتطبيق التفاهمات، ويواظبان على الخداع، فكلما اشتدت الضغوط العسكرية يبديان الاستعداد السياسي الإيجابي، ثم لا يلبثان يعودان إلى لغة المماطلة وأسلوب الخداع والتنصل من الالتزامات.

خلال الأيام القليلة الماضية، وبينما الأجواء السائدة محكومة بالإعلان التركيّ عن اكتمال الاستعدادات لعمليّة عسكريّة كبيرة شمال سورية، مرّة تحت ذريعة ضرب الجماعات الكردية التركية المناوئة، ومرة تحت عنوان ضمان منطقة آمنة لعودة النازحين المقيمين في تركيا، دخل الجيش السوري بلدة منبج الواقعة تحت سيطرة الميليشيات التابعة لقسد، والمرشّحة لتكون أول أهداف العملية العسكرية التركية، وبلغ عدد البلدات والمدن والقرى التي انتشر فيها الجيش السوري، بما فيها تل رفعت، أكثر من عشرين، وتجري الاستعدادات المتسارعة لتوسيع حجم الانتشار ليشمل المزيد، بينما تتجه المزيد من الحشود العسكريّة للجيش السوري شمالاً مزوّدة بالأسلحة الثقيلة.

يجري ذلك عشية انعقاد القمة الثلاثية الروسية الإيرانية التركية في طهران، التي تستضيف القمة التي ستجمع الرؤساء فلاديمير بوتين والسيد إبراهيم رئيسي ورجب أردوغان، وقد سبقتها تحضيرات ومشاورات ورسائل متبادلة ومبادرات، منذ إعلان الرئيس التركيّ محاولاً الاستفادة من حرب أوكرانيا، عن نيّته بتوسيع نفوذه داخل الأراضي السورية، وكان أول المواقف هو القرار الذي اتخذته الدولة السورية بالتصدّي العسكري لهذه العملية التركية، بمعزل عن كيفية تفاعل الميليشيات الكردية من جهة، وحدود قدرة الحلفاء على اتخاذ مواقف داعمة من جهة أخرى. وقد أبلغت سورية القيادتين الروسية والإيرانية بموقفها، كما أبلغت قيادة قسد أن قوات الجيش السوري ذاهبة الى الحدود لمنع التوغل التركي، وسنتصدّى لكل من يقف في طريقها.

تبلور الموقف الروسيّ الإيرانيّ المشترك الذي تبلغته سورية بالوقوف معها في قرارها، وتمّت صياغة موقف سياسيّ استراتيجيّ مشترك عنوانه، مسار أستانة سيسقط مع انطلاق العملية العسكرية التركية، وتبلغت القيادة التركية بذلك، وبدأت مبادرة روسية وأخرى إيرانية لبلورة مسار سياسي سوري تركي، يضع الاعتبارات السيادية السورية أولاً، حيث الالتزام التركي بالانسحاب العسكري من الأراضي السورية، واعتبار اتفاق أضنة أساساً لتنظيم الوضع عبر الحدود، كما تبلغت قيادة الميليشيا الكردية موقف كل من روسيا وإيران، بأن انتشار الجيش السوريّ وحده يمثل ضمانة تجنيب مناطق سيطرة هذه الميليشيات وسكانها مخاطر الحرب، وبدأت المساومة التركية التقليدية على جوائز ترضية، سواء في تولي ملف تجارة الحبوب الأوكرانيّة، أو الاتفاقيات التجارية التركية الإيرانية والروسية في مجال الطاقة وأسعار الغاز الذي يشكل أعلى فاتورة تركيّة بالعملات الصعبة، واحتمالات تسديدها بالعملة المحلية.

قمة طهران نقطة تحوّل في مسار الوضع شمال سورية، حيث الصبر الاستراتيجي، والتربّص عند المنعطفات، والمصداقية في التحالفات، عناصر منحت سورية فرصة أن تكون المنتصر الذي يخرج رابحاً في جغرافيا يتقاسمها الاحتلال التركي والاحتلال الأميركي، لتعود وحدة سورية وسيادتها في المقدّمة مجدداً.

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Hamas’ return ticket to Damascus won’t come cheap

The Palestinian resistance movement’s complicated relationship with Syria is headed for a reset, but it won’t be on their terms.

July 06 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Despite excited media reports of a Hamas-Syria rapprochement, nothing is finalized: the Palestinian resistance movement has much more to prove still.

By The Cradle’s Palestine Correspondent

On 21 June, two unnamed Hamas sources told Reuters that the Palestinian resistance movement had decided to restore ties with Damascus following a decade-long rift after Hamas expressed support for the Syrian opposition.

The news caused a row, and it seems that this may have been the purpose behind its leak.

Shortly after the report, dozens of websites, satellite channels and media commentators in Turkey, Qatar, and the UK who are sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood – the political Islamist group to which Hamas belongs ideologically – distanced themselves from Hamas, which has neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

However, comments made by the head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, has added credence to these claims.

In a speech before the National Islamic Conference in Beirut, on 25 June, Haniyeh said, “The time has come after ten years to make historic reconciliations in the Islamic nation.”

“What is happening in the region today is very dangerous as Israel is paving the way through military and security alliances to fight Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas,” he added.

So how accurate are the reports about “high-profile” secret meetings between Hamas and the Syrians? Is there a relationship between Haniyeh’s visit to Beirut and the timing of these revelations?

The heavy legacy of Khaled Meshaal

When Hamas left Syria over a decade ago, the office of Khaled Meshaal, who was the head of the movement’s Political Bureau at the time, justified the decision as stemming from “moral premises.”

They contended that the Hamas movement stands with the people in deciding who will rule them, saying “even if the ruler supports our right, we will not support his falsehood.” This reverberated within the movement, and the majority of its popular base supported “Syrian revolution” in the face of “the regime that is slaughtering its people.”

That was back in 2011, when the so-called Arab Spring helped sweep the Muslim Brotherhood (MB or Ikhwan) and its affiliates into power in Egypt and Tunisia, and paved the way for the MB-aligned Syrian armed opposition to take control of the outskirts of Damascus. .

But only four years later (2015), the picture was completely reversed: Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a Gulf-backed military coup; Tunisian President Kais Saied turned against the Brotherhood’s Ennahda party and removed it completely from the political scene. And Damascus gradually regained control over the vital parts of Syria.

In the wider region, the regime of Omar Al-Bashir fell in Sudan, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in Libya, Yemen, Jordan and Kuwait was severely diminished.

New leadership, a new direction

It was inevitable that these significant region-wide changes would also transform Hamas’ leadership to reflect the new political scene. In 2017, Ismail Haniyeh was appointed head of the Political Bureau, while that same year, Yahya Al-Sinwar, who was released from Israeli prisons in 2011, became the leader of the movement in Gaza.

Seen as a hawk, Sinwar relies on the absolute support of the movement’s military arm, the Al-Qassam Brigades, and as such, introduced a new political approach to Hamas’ regional relations.

Although Sinwar’s first move was to reorganize relations with Cairo after a four-year estrangement, by far his most important change was to revive Hamas’ relations with the Axis of Resistance, making it the movement’s top foreign policy priority.

Within a few years, the Hamas leader in Gaza had re-established full relations with Iran and Hezbollah, but its return to Damascus still remains the biggest obstacle.

In order to thaw the ice with Syria, Iran mediated first, followed by Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and more recently, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). This deadlock was not broken until after the Hamas operation “Sword of Jerusalem” in May 2021.

Testing the waters

In that same month, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad responded to a greeting from Al Qassam Brigades, conveyed by the Secretary General of PIJ Ziad Al-Nakhaleh, with a corresponding greeting. After that, contacts began to increase between Syrian officials and Hamas leaders.

Syrian sources informed The Cradle that a year ago it was decided to “reduce security measures against a number of Hamas members in Syria, release a number of detainees, and reveal the fate of other missing persons.”

But that didn’t achieve normalcy between Syria and Hamas either. There are those within the latter, it appears, who continue to sabotage progress made with Damascus.

To understand the dynamics of this particular relationship – present and its future – it is necessary to review its stages throughout the years.

From Amman to Damascus

Hamas began paving the way for its relationship with Syria in the early 1990s through visits made by its official Musa Abu Marzouk. In 1992, Mustafa Al-Ledawi was appointed as the head of an unofficial office for the Hamas in Damascus.

The great leap occurred with the visit of the founder of Hamas, the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, to Damascus in 1998. This official visit, and the warm reception accorded Yassin, constituted a huge breakthrough in relations, after which the late President Hafez Al-Assad authorized Hamas’ official presence in Syria, providing it with political and security facilities and logistical and material support.

Despite previous bad blood between Damascus and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, notably in regard to the Hama massacre in 1982, there were several prudent reasons for the Syrian government and Hamas to collaborate.

One reason can be traced to the rivalry between Hafez Assad and the late Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat, who sided with the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War (1990–91) after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on 2 August, 1990.

On 21 November, 1999, a plane carrying Hamas’ then-political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal landed at Damascus airport, after being expelled from Jordan and refused a reception by many Arab capitals.

Since then, a number of political bureau members relocated to Damascus, and Hamas’ activities in Syria intensified. Between 2000 and 2010, the relationship further strengthened over several events, including the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the 2005 withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon, the 2006 July war between Israel and Hezbollah, and most importantly, the Israeli aggression against Gaza in 2008.

Syrian support

Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar, who was interviewed by The Cradle in Gaza, talks about an important detail that the media did not mention at the time. When Hamas formed its first government in Gaza in 2007, in which Zahar was foreign minister, “Syria was the only Arab country that recognized the diplomatic red passport issued from Gaza.”

Zahar says: “The Syrian leadership gave us everything. On my first visit to Damascus, we were able to solve the problem of hundreds of Palestinian refugees stuck on the Syrian-Iraqi borders, and Syria adopted the Palestinian calling code (+970), and expressed its willingness to provide support to the elected Palestinian government. For that, it faced an Arab, international, and American war.”

Today, Zahar is the designated official tasked by Sinwar to revive the relationship with Damascus. This was confirmed by sources in Hamas, who said that he traveled to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage, and may head from there to Damascus.

These details are meaningful: it means Egypt is spared the censure of allowing Zahar to travel to Syria, and would avoid an awkward situation for Cairo in front of the US, Israelis and Gulf Arabs.

From Damascus to Doha and Ankara

The Syrian crisis that erupted in March 2011 put Hamas in a unique bind of its own making. Fellow Palestinian Islamists in PIJ, for example, did not take a radical position on the “revolution” from 2011 to 2017, and were content with maintaining their offices in Damascus, although its political and military leadership relocated to Beirut due to deteriorating security conditions.

On the other hand, Hamas issued its first statement regarding the Syrian crisis on 2 April, 2011, in which it affirmed its support for the Syrian people and leadership, and considered that “Syria’s internal affairs concern the brothers in Syria… We hope to overcome the current circumstances in order to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people, and preserve Syria’s stability and its internal cohesion, and strengthening its role in the line of confrontation and opposition.”

This wishy-washy statement did not hide the hostile stance of the movement’s members and elites, who all adopted the anti-Syrian narrative. On 5 November, 2011, the Syrian security forces stormed the offices of Hamas, confiscated its assets, and shuttered them.

In early 2012, Meshaal traveled to Doha, Qatar, before holding a scheduled meeting with Bashar Al-Assad. Hamas declared that the meeting “will not be useful.”

Hamas and the opposition

On 8 December, 2012, the movement burned bridges with Damascus when Meshaal and Haniyeh raised the flag of the “Syrian revolution” during a celebration marking the movement’s launch in the Gaza Strip in front of tens of thousands of their supporters.

In a parade held during the celebration, a number of members of the Al-Qassam Brigades wore the opposition flag on their backs.

The Syrian government’s reaction was no less restrained. Assad accused Hamas of actively participating in the war against the Syrian state by supporting Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra, and by providing instructions to opposition factions on ways to dig tunnels and fortify them to withstand aerial bombardment.

Other opposition militant groups such as Bait Al-Maqdis, Faylaq Al-Rahman and Army of Huda announced that they were affiliated with Hamas.

Once an Ikhwani, always an Ikhwani

In 2016, Assad said in an interview with Syrian newspaper Al-Watan: “We supported Hamas not because they are Muslim Brotherhood, but rather we supported them on the grounds that they are resistance. In the end, it was proven that the Ikhwani (member of Muslim Brotherhood) is Ikhwani wherever he puts himself, and from the inside remains a terrorist and hypocrite.”

All this may seem a thing of the past, but it still affects the formation of a new relationship between the two parties, especially after the return of turncoat Meshaal and his team a year ago to important leadership positions in Hamas.

Although the majority of the movement’s leadership has changed, the old legacy of Meshaal still weighs heavily on everyone, especially in Damascus. There are many in Syria who still warn the “wound is open;” that Hamas has not yet closed it, but rather wants a “free return.”

Understanding Hamas’ structure

Before explaining Hamas’ recent decision to restore ties with Syria, it is necessary to know how the movement is run to ensure representation and accountability. Hamas has a Shura Council of 15 members, chosen in elections in which cadres of certain organizational ranks participate.

These cadres choose their representatives in the local advisory councils from different regions (West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, territories occupied in 1948, and prisons). As for members of Hamas’ base, they elect their representatives in the General Consultative Council, which in turn elects the Political Bureau.

Despite this ‘healthy democracy,’ the position on Syria produced two contradictory currents:

The first current is led by Meshaal, who was head of the Political Bureau until 2017. It includes Ahmed Youssef, a former adviser to Haniyeh, and Nayef Rajoub, one of the most prominent leaders of Hamas in the West Bank.

The second current has no specific leader, but Zahar was the public face before Sinwar joined him.

Between these two viewpoints, Ismail Haniyeh and Musa Abu Marzouk maintain a state of ‘pragmatism’ by taking a middle position between the Qatar-Turkey axis and the Axis of Resistance.

Although the decision to leave Syria was taken with the full approval of the members of the Shura Council and members of the Political Bureau, the entire burden of the decision was placed on Meshaal. The man, who was a personal friend of Assad and Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah, became blacklisted by the Axis of Resistance.

Meshaal’s influence

All prior efforts to restore relations between Hamas and Syria were a “waste of time” as long as Meshaal was at the helm of the movement. This was not only the opinion of the Syrians, but of many Iranians as well.

In 2015, for example, when there were media reports about efforts to restore Hamas-Syrian relations, the Iranian Tabnak website (supervised by General Mohsen Rezaei, a leader in the Revolutionary Guards and currently one of the advisors to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) launched a scathing attack against Meshaal.

At that time, Meshaal had refused to visit Tehran if he was not received at the highest levels – that is – to meet specifically with Khamenei. The Tabnak website wrote: “Meshaal and the Hamas leaders lined up two years ago on the side of the international terrorists in Syria… They are now setting conditions for the restoration of relations between Hamas and Iran as if Iran did not have any conditions.”

Since that time, Meshaal and his team have remained staunchly reluctant to even talk about restoring relations with Damascus. In addition to their loyalty (to some extent) to Turkey and Qatar, they were aware that reviving relations would weaken their organizational position within Hamas, and contribute to increasing the influence of their rivals.

On the other hand, these rivals remained weak until 2017, as Meshaal managed to marginalize Mahmoud Al-Zahar who did not receive any influential positions.

Re-joining the Resistance Axis

The formation of the new Political Bureau meant there were now a large number of officials who were not involved in any public positions on the Syrian crisis – such as Sinwar, Saleh Al-Arouri, and Osama Hamdan, who maintained a balanced relationship with all parties.

Zahar told The Cradle that Sinwar was “convinced” of his theses about the shape of the “last battle with Israel.” He added: “I spoke with Abu Ibrahim (Sinwar) for a long time about restoring the bond with the components of the nation that have hostility to Israel, specifically Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, and this is the pillar of Hamas’ foreign policy in the future.”

Nevertheless, Zahar believes that Damascus “will refuse to deal with the movement’s leadership, which took the lead during the war.” But it is likely that the Syrians will accept to deal with him personally, which he will seek during his forthcoming visit.

What’s Next?

Well-informed sources in Hamas revealed to The Cradle that the movement’s Political Bureau met this month and made the decision to return to Syria, despite Meshaal’s objection.

The resolution has two aims: first, to build a resistance front in the “ring countries” surrounding Palestine; and second, to establish a maritime line of communication between Gaza and the port of Latakia, in Syria.

The sources also revealed that Jamil Mezher, who was recently elected deputy secretary general of the PFLP, conveyed a message from Sinwar to the Syrian leadership calling for the restoration of relations between the two parties.

After his visit to Damascus, Mezher met with Haniyeh in Beirut to discuss the results. Haniyeh also met Nasrallah, as well as Ziad Al-Nakhaleh in an expanded meeting of the leaderships of Hamas and the PIJ in the Lebanese capital. All these events took place in one week.

According to Hamas sources, Haniyeh informed Nasrallah that the movement has unanimously taken an official decision to restore relations with Damascus. The two sides also discussed the demarcation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.

The sources confirm that “Hamas is ready to simultaneously target gas-stealing platforms from the Gaza sea, in the event that Hezbollah targets an exploration and extraction vessel in the Karish field.”

Hamas sources, as well as an informed Syrian source, however, deny holding any recent new meetings between the two parties. The Syrian source reveals that meetings sponsored by Islamic Jihad were held last year.

What does Syria stand to gain?

On the other hand, Damascus has its reasons for postponing the return of this relationship. Of course, internal reasons can be overlooked if Bashar Al-Assad himself makes the decision.

But it is the current regional situation and the re-formation of alliances that worries the Syrian leadership the most.

It is true that Assad the son, like his father, has learned the ropes in dealing with the MB, but now he has no need for a new headache caused by the return of Hamas. There is no great benefit from this return except in one case: the normalization of Syrian relations with Turkey, Qatar, or both.

On Syria’s terms

Only in this scenario, can bridges be re-built with Hamas. But the conditions for this are currently immature, as this normalization will be at the expense of Syria’s relationship with its ally Russia, whether in the issue of gas supplies to Europe or stopping the military operation that Ankara is threatening against Kurdish terrorists in northern Syria.

Syria, which has already improved its relations with the UAE, and is currently working to improve its relations with Saudi Arabia and Jordan, will not include a “losing card” in its stack of cards now.

It will also not compete with Egypt over a file – the relationship with Hamas – which Cairo considers its monopoly in the region.

Also, Damascus is not in the midst of a clash of any kind with the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement, which took advantage of the exit of Hamas to consolidate their position in the Syrian capital and improve their relationship with Assad.

However, when news broke about the possible resumption of Hamas-Syrian relations, this time Damascus did not launch an attack on the movement and did not comment negatively on the news of the rapprochement and the restoration of the relations – as it did previously.

There is no doubt that the battle of the “Sword of Jerusalem” and the presence of a new leadership in Hamas’ Political Bureau has thawed the ice significantly. But the answer to when full rapprochement will be achieved is a decision likely to be made between Assad and Nasrallah.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

40 Years On: Hezbollah’s Past, Present, and Future [Part 4]

 July 4, 2022 

By Mohammad Youssef

The ‘Israelis’ and their allies have never stopped their sinister plots and conspiracies against Lebanon in general and Hezbollah particular. They continued to carry out aggressions and assassinations against Hezbollah leaders. Nevertheless, and to their dismal, this has never affected the resistance’s morals; on the contrary, it has given extra motive for the group to build further its military capabilities and to elevate its experience. The culmination of all of this came when the United States, ‘Israel’, and their allies, with conspiracy and logistics from Gulf states, also began their war against Syria, which came to be known as the war of takfiri terrorist groups to oust Syrian President Bashar Asaad.

This happened in 2011, after years of their massive pressure on Syria. It was when they lost every hope they had to tempt Syria to join their alliance, or at least to accept being part of their consortium. They took advantage of the dire economic situation to sow discord and fuel the social tension in certain parts across Syria. They openly sent arms and brought thousands of their takfiri terrorists from all over the world to fight a war against the Syrian government and people.

Scores of unprecedented horrific mind-blowing massacres and atrocities were perpetrated by those groups who captured sizable parts of Syria to announce their so-called caliphate, which they referred to as the ‘Islamic State’, but were commonly known by the Arabic acronym of ‘Daesh’.

Close to the northern parts of Lebanon, tens of Lebanese villages and thousands of Lebanese citizens used to live there. The takfiri groups started to attack, kidnap, and even kill them. Many warnings were sent to the takfiri groups to stop their aggressions, otherwise the people there, who happened to be Hezbollah followers and supporters, and even some of them are within Hezbollah military body, will have no other choice than defending themselves.

When Hezbollah knew for a fact that those groups have a systematic plan to displace those Lebanese villagers and their families from where they have been living since more than a hundred years, the party’s leadership took a decision to defend them. Later on, the leaders of the takfiri groups and their military forces started to attack the Lebanese villages with booby-trapped cars and rockets. Beirut’s Southern suburb [Dahiyeh] was not an exception. One of the first attacks was by rockets that were launched from the mountains surrounding Dahiyeh from the east, and later suicide attacks with cars started to take place.

The keen and sighted Hezbollah leadership was wise enough to take an early decision that helped Lebanon and Syria eradicate this existential threat.

The first battle Hezbollah got engaged in with the takfiris was in Qusayr, the area facing Hermel region in northeastern Lebanon. This war drew the lines and announced officially Hezbollah’s military participation in Syria.

For the first time in its history, Hezbollah fought a war where its different military divisions had to coordinate and fight together in a systematic plan like a regular army. The battle for Qusayr ended with a significant victory Hezbollah scored upon liberating the entire town from the takfiris, thus guaranteeing the safety and security of the Lebanese citizens and villages in that region, and representing a point of strategic transformation in the war against Syria which was to be won later by the Syrian Army and its allies, mainly Hezbollah. This victory also paved the way for the second liberation in 2017 when Hezbollah fought a fierce war against the takfiris in all the northeastern Lebanese areas. Again, in this battle, Hezbollah offered countless sacrifices for the sake of Lebanon.

Hundreds of Hezbollah fighters fell martyrs and thousands have been wounded, but Lebanon and the Lebanese have once again been saved and protected.

To be continued…

Hamas moves to reinstate ties with Syria in a bid to end feud: Report

The expected conciliation reportedly comes in light of Israel’s growing push to normalize ties with Arab states

June 22 2022

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with Head of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh in 2006. (Photo Credit: SANA/AP)

ByNews Desk- 

A decade after the unanimous decision by the leadership of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to leave its base in Syria, a restoration of  ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad now inches closer to reality.

According to a report by Reuters, Hamas is expected to resume ties with Damascus soon, setting aside the long breakup with Syria.

In the period between 18–19 June, a delegation from Hamas reportedly visited Syria and met with officials, in a bid to rebuild their relationship.

Back in 2011, the Arab world was facing unprecedented turmoil that shocked its foundation and dethroned many of its rulers, leaving no Arab state safe from political upheaval.

At the start of the war on Syria, Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshaal were forced to end the presence of Hamas in Syria in order to preserve its neutrality, in the face of growing popular support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria.

“What pained Abu Walid [Khaled Meshaal] most when leaving Syria were the warm relations with President Al-Assad and the favor Hamas found with the president, which it will never forget,” Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk wrote.

However, it was not long before activists in Hamas were mourned as “martyrs” on social media, fighting against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in Idlib.

In December 2012, Hamas field commander Mohammed Ahmed Kenita was killed fighting the SAA.

According to a report by Palestine Now, Kenita arrived from Gaza four months prior and contributed in the graduation of three military combat courses for rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

But, despite the ever growing sectarian and political differences between the two, Hamas found no other choice but to approach Syria in light of plans by former president Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the signing of the so-called Abraham Accords.

After Syria resumed ties with the UAE and Bahrain, the two states which harshly criticized Syria in the early days of the war, Hamas found the appropriate time to re-establish contact with Syria.

“Haniyeh and I talked about various issues in the region, including Syria, and that the relationship between Hamas and Syria must be re-established. There is a positive atmosphere, even if that takes time. I think that Hamas is moving towards resetting its relationship with Damascus,” said Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, in an interview in late 2021.

On 21 June, Ismail Haniyeh landed in Beirut to meet Lebanese officials and take part in the 31st Islamic National conference.

Haniyeh is also expected to meet with the leader of Islamic Jihad Ziad al-Nakhalah and with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

Russia Warned US Ahead of Airstrikes on Occupied Al-Tanf Base in Syria

Since the start of the Ukraine war, Russia has been bolstering its military cooperation with Syria

June 17 2022

(Photo credit: US Army)

ByNews Desk

US officials revealed to CNN on 17 June that the Kremlin warned Washington before launching airstrikes against US-backed armed groups in southeastern Syria.

Earlier this week, an unidentified drone strike hit Al-Tanf base in southeastern Syria, which stretches for over 50 kilometers and is occupied by the US army.

The airstrikes targeted positions held inside Al-Tanf by fighters from the CIA-trained Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT) armed group, which seeks to overthrow the government in Damascus.

While no casualties were reported from the drone strike, an unnamed US official told CNN that the Russians achieved their goal of “sending a message” that the attack could be carried out without fear of retaliation.

After receiving the Kremlin warning, the Pentagon alerted the fighters to move their positions, according to the unnamed officials.

The drone attack came in response to a roadside bomb attack that MaT had carried out against Russian troops. It also marked the first time that Russian forces had attacked a US-occupied military base in Syria.

Al-Tanf base is one of the most strategic military garrisons for the US occupation in Syria. In addition to housing hundreds of troops, the base is also used to train armed groups waging war against the government of Syria.

Over recent months, Moscow has intensified its military cooperation with Damascus in an effort to help authorities regain full control of the country.

On 15 June, Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, said Moscow would “not turn a blind eye” to Turkish military incursions on Syrian soil.

Lavrentyev firmly stated that Russia would not abandon its allies in West Asia.

A day later, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced the beginning of the process for Syria to formally recognize Donetsk and Luhansk, the two republics in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

In an interview with Russia Today (RT) on 9 June, Al-Assad praised the repositioning of the Kremlin on the global scale, saying Russia has restored a much needed international balance.

“We can look at Russia from two angles: the angle of the ally who, if he wins a battle or if his political position on the world stage becomes stronger, is beneficial for us; and from another angle, Russia’s strength today constitutes a restoration of balance,” President Al-Assad said.

‘Russia has restored a missing international balance’: Syrian president

Bashar al-Assad also said Syria is ready to confront Turkey’s military occupation of its northern region

June 09 2022

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Hemeimeem air base, Syria on 11 December 2017. (Photo credit: Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

ByNews Desk

In an interview with Russia Today (RT) on 9 June, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressed the Turkish plan to invade northern Syria, and talked about the role Russia plays in the world.

In particular, the Syrian leader praised the repositioning of the Kremlin on the global scale, saying it has restored a much needed international balance.

“We can look at Russia from two angles: the angle of the ally who, if he wins a battle or if his political position on the world stage becomes stronger, this is profitable for us, and from another angle Russia’s strength today constitutes a restoration of balance,” President al-Assad said.

He went on to highlight that this previously missing international balance is helpful for besieged nations, such as Syria, on a strategic level.

President Assad also addressed the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, promising to resist any Turkish incursion into Syrian lands.

“Syria will resist any Turkish invasion of its lands at the official and popular levels,” the Syrian president stated.

“Two and a half years ago, a clash occurred between the Syrian and Turkish armies, and the Syrian army was able to destroy some Turkish targets that entered Syrian territory, and the situation will be the same as the capabilities allow. Otherwise, there will be popular resistance,” Al-Assad said.

The Turkish military began a new military campaign in Syria on 25 May, launching an offensive on several villages in the northwestern countryside of Hasakah governorate and the city of Afrin, targeting Kurdish militias, including the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Erdogan said the operation will resume efforts to establish a 30-kilometer ‘safe zone’ along Turkey’s southern borders, claiming threats from the PKK and the People’s Defense Units (YPG).

Russia recently began bombing Turkish-backed rebels in Syria for the first time since the start of the war, with airstrikes on the Syrian–Turkish border on 27 May and on the Aleppo countryside on 29 May.

It is time for Israel’s gut punch

Today, Israel bombed Damascus Airport, tomorrow it could strike the Presidential Palace. Despite the threat of war, Israel must now receive swift, fierce retaliatory measures.

June 13 2022

Eye for an eye: Will Israel’s illegal strike on Damascus airport invite a proportional retaliation against Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv?Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Abdel Bari Atwan

In an escalatory attack on Syria last Friday, Israeli warplanes launched missiles strikes on Damascus International Airport, damaging runways, passenger terminals and crossing a major red line. Tel Aviv’s latest aggression has put Syria’s main passenger airport out of service for days, if not weeks, in a deliberate provocation against the Axis of Resistance.

This aggression, which violates all the previous rules of engagement, came in the immediate aftermath of a month-long Israeli military exercise in the eastern Mediterranean. These drills, we were told, mimicked real-time attacks against Iran, Syria, southern Lebanon, and even the likes of Yemen and Iraq.

“One who is safe from punishment will continue to commit the same crimes”

Hundreds of illegal Israeli missile strikes against Syria have taken place over the past five years, under the pretext of bombing ‘Iranian arms convoys to Hezbollah.’ Over time, these attacks have evolved into the bombing of alleged Syrian and Iranian military targets inside major cities in the Arab republic.

Friday’s Israeli attack occurred just before dawn, a day after Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech promising to target a UK/Greek gas exploration ship near the disputed Karish gas field. What made this latest attack unique was it marked the first time that the Damascus International Airport’s civilian transport area had been targeted by Israeli military strikes.

This means that Tel Aviv has underestimated the threats of retaliation from the Axis of Resistance. Israel, it seems, is subsumed in the fog of self-deception, and like “one who is safe from punishment, will continue to commit the same crimes.”

Will there be a response?

On Al-Quds Day, held on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, Nasrallah stated that the Axis of Resistance will respond to any Israeli aggression within the Syrian depth. He further stressed that the long-held notion that retaliation must be reserved for the “right time and place” has fallen forever. This begs the tough question: Will the Axis respond to the missile raid on a most prominent and important site of the Syrian state, both politically and militarily (i.e., Damascus International Airport), in order to preserve its credibility, prestige and dignity?

The ones to answer this question are the Syrian leadership, and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad personally. While it is clear that a response to this blatant and unprecedented Israeli aggression may lead to a regional war, silence, inaction, and avoidance of “Israeli traps” will almost certainly lead to further escalation from Tel Aviv.

If there is no Syrian or Axis military response to Israel’s crossing of this red line, we should not be surprised if future Israeli raids target all civilian airports, more Syrian infrastructure such as water and electric stations, and possibly the Presidential Palace itself.

Syria is not afraid of war and has fought four of them in the past 40 years – in addition to an 11-year internal war of attrition led by the United States, the European Union, and their Arab allies. The foreign aggressors spent hundreds of billions of dollars to destroy and partition Syria, and overthrow its government, but Damascus did not fall or surrender.

We do not believe Syria can fear a new war, especially because it has a solid army that is hard to defeat and has significant battle experience. Most importantly, we believe that the Syrian military will be difficult to defeat because it belongs to the Axis of Resistance, who itself has a massive arsenal of missiles, submarines and drones.

The likelihood of responding to this blatant Israeli aggression is much greater in our view than the possibilities of silence, even if this response leads to an all-out war. It cannot and should not be a random retaliatory strike, and it requires coordination and consultation with all the arms of the Resistance Axis, the development of a deterrence strategy in which roles are well distributed and integrated, and requires both patience and recklessness to achieve a positive, honorable outcome.

The Russian Role

As Syria’s major power ally, Russia’s silence in the face of years of illegal Israeli strikes – and Moscow’s refusal to green light a Syrian military response or equip it with the necessary defense capabilities such as advanced S-400 missile systems – bears the greatest responsibility for reaching this unfortunate, humiliating situation for the Syrian leadership.

On Sunday, the Syrian army held immediate exercises by order of President Assad, under the supervision of the minister of defense and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces General Ali Mahmoud Abbas, in the presence of the deputy chief of Russian forces present in Syria.

This may be an indication that the response to this Israeli aggression is imminent.

The time has come to respond

The Axis of Resistance should not hesitate to respond to this insult as soon as possible. This legal and justified retaliation should be at least as powerful as the illegal and unjustified Israeli aggression, and it should take place in the occupied Palestinian depth. From the perspective of a legitimate right to self-defense, the response should be tit-for-tat: an airport for an airport, a port for a port, and infrastructure for infrastructure.

We know very well that war is costly, but this time its cost to the Israeli enemy will be much greater because its losses will be “existential,” as Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in his last speech.

Syria did not choose this war; it did not initiate aggression and has demonstrated the highest levels of self-restraint. But now the knife has reached the bone, and restraint has become counterproductive.

At this point in time, inaction would prolong a deadly siege that has exceeded the limit of starvation. It is why the time for debate is over, and all honorable people should stand in the trenches to defend this nation and its just causes. Syria has sacrificed tens of thousands of martyrs. It has lost lives and territories, but refused to bargain, surrender and normalize relations with the occupation forces. For this, Syrians have paid the heftiest of prices in the Arab and Islamic realm.

We stood, and we will stand, in the trench of Syria, in confronting this Israeli aggression, and responding to it with the same amount of ferocity, if not more. Over the course of 8,000 years of its honorable civilized history, Syria has faced many aggressors, and it will emerge victorious once again.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

الرئيس الأسد في طهران: الحلف القويّ يزداد قوّة

الجمعة 13 مايو 2022

المصدر: الميادين نت

جو غانم 

استراتيجيّات دمشق وطهران المشتركة، فقد تجاوزت بأشواط بعيدة هوامش العلاقات والمكاسب والمصالح السياسية.

الرئيس الأسد في طهران: الحلف القويّ يزداد قوّة

في الشكل السياسيّ العام، قد لا تُشكّل زيارة الرئيس السوريّ بشار الأسد إلى طهران، يوم الأحد 8 أيّار/مايو، مفاجأة لمتابعي الملفات السياسية في المنطقة والعلاقات بين البلدين الحليفين، حتى لو ابتعدت نحو 3 سنوات عن الزيارة السابقة، فهي تأتي ضمن الحراك السياسيّ البينيّ المتوقّع في أيّة لحظة، وذلك ربطاً بطبيعة العلاقات بين البلدين، وبتطورات المنطقة المرتبطة بكلّ تفاصيلها السياسية والعسكرية والاقتصادية بالعاصمتين اللتين شكّلتا محور الأحداث في المنطقة، ووجهة أهداف كلّ المشاريع الدولية للإقليم على مدى العقد الأخير على وجه الخصوص.

لكنْ، ومن جهة أخرى، إنّ هذه الزيارة بعيدة كلّ البعد، في الشكل والمضمون، عن كونها زيارة روتينيّة أو تواصلاً عاديّاً ودوريّاً بين قيادتي بلدين حليفين أو صديقين، فمعظم الحراك السياسيّ الإقليميّ والدوليّ الذي شهدته المنطقة في الأعوام الأخيرة، وما رافقه من تطورات اقتصادية مفتعلة أو قسريّة، وتحرّكات أو خطط وهجومات عسكريّة، كان يستهدف فكّ هذا الحلف المتين بين البلدين أو على الأقلّ إضعافه.

إن دمشق تحديداً تلقّت أكبر قدر من الاستهدافات والضغوطات والإغراءات التي تركّزت بمجملها على هذا البند – الإيرانيّ والمقاوم – الثابت في طريقة التعاطي معها منذ انتصار المقاومة الإسلامية في لبنان، واندحار العدو الصهيوني من الجنوب في العام 2000، ثم اجتياح العراق ودخول مشروع “الشرق الأوسط الجديد” حيز التنفيذ، حتى اللحظة.

تأتي زيارة الرئيس الأسد إلى طهران بعد أقلّ من شهرين على زيارته العاصمة الإماراتية أبو ظبيّ، والتي اعتبرها العديد من المحللين والمتابعين وقتذاك منعطفاً مفصليّاً في السياسة الدولية والإقليميّة حيال الشام، بعد 10 سنوات من محاولات تحطيم سوريا بكلّ السبل، وكسر إرادة دمشق الوطنيّة، وعزلها في أقصى زوايا الضعف السياسيّ والعسكريّ والاقتصادي، لترفع آخر راية بيضاء يمكنها نزعها من مزق خيمة المقاومة، بعد أنْ صبغ العالم الغربي وأدواته الداخلية والإقليمية خريطتها كلها بلون الدم الأحمر. 

لقد قيل الكثير عن زيارة الرئيس الأسد للإمارات، وما سيليها، وذهب البعض بعيداً في الحديث عن نجاح العمل الغربي – العربيّ بإحداث خرق على خطّ دمشق – طهران، متّكئين على تداعيات الحصار الخانق الذي تعانيه سوريا، وحاجتها إلى طوق نجاه يُبعد شبح الجوع المُخيّم على بيوت مواطنيها ومؤسساتها.

وهناك من تحدث عن تحقيق العرب المطبّعين مع العدو الإسرائيليّ نقاطاً جديدة تخدم مشروع العدو، على حساب مشروع المقاومة التي تقف دمشق وطهران على رأسه وفي قلبه.

وقد تحدّثنا حينذاك في “الميادين نت” عمّا أثبتته دمشق دائماً بأنّ كل تلك التحليلات والاستشرافات تثبت جهلاً بالسياسة السورية وثوابتها الوطنية والاستراتيجية، وتنمّ عن ضعف في قراءة حقيقة طبيعة العلاقات السورية – الإيرانيّة، واستسهال في دراسة النتائج والتحديثات الاستراتيجيّة المتتالية التي عمل ويعمل عليها محور المقاومة الممتد ميدانيّاً من طهران إلى أقصى الشمال والشرق السوريّيْن، مروراً باليمن والعراق ولبنان، وبمركزه فلسطين المحتلة.

لذلك كله، يأتي هذا التواصل السوري الإيرانيّ الجديد، وكل تصريح أو جملة وردت خلال هذه الزيارة على لسان الرئيس السوريّ بشار الأسد، والسيد علي خامنئي، والرئيس الإيراني إبراهيم رئيسي، لتعطي فرصة جديدة لمن يريد قراءة الحدث كما ينبغي، ولاستشراف مستقبل المنطقة انطلاقاً من إرادة “محور القدس” وخططه ومشاريعه لمنطقته وشعوبه، لا من زاوية المشاريع والخطط الأميركية والإسرائيلية للمنطقة، والتي تهاوت وتتهاوى تحت ضربات هجوم مضادّ على امتداد ساحات المقاومة في المنطقة وميادينها، وصولاً إلى ميدان الصراع العالميّ الأشمل حول العاصمة الأوكرانية كييف، وعلى مشارف الحدود مع حلف الناتو.

لقد أصرّ الرئيس الأسد بدايةً على تذكّر الشهيد قاسم سليماني، ودوره الكبير في النضال في مواجهة المشاريع الغربية في سوريا تحديداً، وفي المنطقة عموماً، ومحبته لسوريا ومحبة سوريا له، ودوره في ترتيب زيارة الرئيس الأسد إلى طهران قبل 3 سنواتٍ.

وحين يكون اسم اللواء قاسم سليماني، بكلّ ما يعنيه هذا الاسم لأهل المقاومة وأعدائها الذين استهدفوه شخصيّاً، فاتحة الحديث بين قادة البلدين، ويكون خلَفه اللواء إسماعيل قاآني الذي رتّب هذه الزيارة وحضر كل تفاصيلها، فهذا يعني أننا لسنا أمام لقاء روتينيّ وعاديّ لقادة سياسيين عاديين، بل أمام لقاء بين قادة ميدانيين يقاتلون كتفاً إلى كتف لبلوغ غايات استراتيجية كبيرة تتعدّى كلّ ما هو عاديّ وروتينيّ في العلاقات بين الدول.

نحن هنا، وبناءً على كلّ كلمة قيلت في هذه القمّة أو خبرٍ رشح عن كواليسها أمام لقاء بين قادة محور مقاومٍ يتحدّثون لغة واحدة، ويستهلّون كلامهم ويختمونه بالحديث عن المقاومة وحاضرها وجدواها ومستقبلها وطرق تصعيدها وحصد نتائجها، ويبحثون في السياسة من قلب هذا السياق تحديداً، وتبدو وحدة الحال بينهم أمتن وأقوى من أيّ وقت مضى، منطلقين من واقعٍ عمليّ واستراتيجيّ اشتغلوا عليه معاً لسنوات طويلة، وقدّموا فيه الكثير من الأثمان الباهظة والتضحيات النفيسة، ويرون أنّ نتائجه حتى اللحظة باهرة وعظيمة، وتستدعي ظروفه الراهنة لقاءً مثل هذا للتباحث والتشاور ووضع الخطط الاستراتيجية القادمة. 

إنّ فلسطين تشتعل تحت أقدام المحتلّ الذي يتخبّط تحت وقع عمليّات فدائيّة يعجز عن التعامل معها، كما يعجز عن القيام بردّ عسكريّ شامل ومدمّر كعادته في أزمان خلت على مدن فلسطين وقراها، حيث تهدّد قوى المقاومة الفلسطينية العدو بالويل والثبور إذا ما أقدم على ذلك أو على اغتيال أيّ قائد من قادة المقاومة، والعدو يعرف أنّ المقاومة جدّية وقادرة، وهي على قدر التهديدات هذه المرّة، ويعرف أنّ فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية التي تُشكّل عصب هذا المحور، أذابت الكثير من الفروقات والتناقضات والخلافات لمصلحة الهدف الأسمى، كما يعلم أنّ هذا العمل استلزم جهد جميع أطراف محور المقاومة لبلوغه، وعلى رأسهم طهران ودمشق. كما أنّ الواقع الميدانيّ في سوريا واليمن والعراق، والسياسيّ – الانتخابيّ – في لبنان، يُظهر تقدّماً كبيراً وراسخاً لقوى محور المقاومة، مقابل عجز واضح للمحور المعادي وأدواته المحليّة.

وانطلاقاً من هذا كلّه، فإنّ حديث قادة المقاومة في سوريا وإيران خلال هذه الزيارة عن نظام عالميّ جديد هو حديث يصدر عمّن ساهم وشارك في صنع هذا النظام على مستوى الإقليم على الأقلّ، الأمر الذي ساعد كثيراً القوى الدولية الحليفة والصديقة، وعلى رأسها روسيا والصين، في السير باتّجاه المواجهة مع النظام العالمي الذي تقوده الولايات المتحدة، والسعي إلى إزاحته وإرساء نظام جديد.

لقد ساهمت دمشق وطهران وقوى محور المقاومة في المنطقة بشكل أساسيّ ومباشر وفاعل في كسر أخطر المشاريع الغربية والإسرائيلية لمنطقتنا في السنوات العشر الأخيرة وإفشالها، وها هو الرئيس السوريّ بشار الأسد يقف إلى جانب إخوة السلاح في طهران – بعد حديث عن لقاء جمعه بالسيد حسن نصر الله قبل الزيارة إلى طهران – ليعلنوا معاً تمتين هذا الحلف الاستراتيجي، ويبحثوا في سبل ترسيخه وتقدّمه على جميع المستويات، وخصوصاً الاقتصاديّة منها، وذلك بعد أنْ بلغ المستوى العسكريّ والأمني درجة كبيرة من الوضوح في التقدّم والأفضليّة.

 ولعلّ تدشين خطّ ائتمان إيراني جديد باتّجاه سوريا، بالتزامن مع الزيارة، لإمداد دمشق بموارد الطاقة اللازمة للفترة القادمة، أفضل مؤشّر على طريقة العمل الواثق الذي تنتهجه قيادة البلدين. 

من هنا تحديداً، يجب أن يعيد المهتمّون في الإقليم والعالم قراءة العلاقات الثنائية بين سوريا وإيران، قبل أيّ قراءة في تفاصيل النشاطات السياسية التي تضطرب وتعتمل في المنطقة، والتي تشتغل دمشق وطهران معاً على هوامشها المتاحة لتحقيق إنجازات سياسية واقتصاديّة مدروسة تماماً، ولا تخرج عن المصلحة العامة لاستراتيجية المحور، فيما قد تحقّق بعض الهدوء وربط النزاعات على عدة جبهات وميادين، قد يبدو أنّ المحور الآخر يستفيد منها مرحليّاً أو يحدّ من خسائره على الأقلّ. 

وحين يركّز قادة سوريا وإيران في أحاديثهم خلال هذه الزيارة على شعوب المنطقة العربية وموقفها من القضية الفلسطينية، والهوّة الساحقة بينها وبين قادتها وحكوماتها، وهو ما تجلّى في الاحتفال بيوم القدس العالميّ، فإنّ الرسالة تعني تماماً وتحديداً الثقة بقدرة أهل المقاومة وشعبها في المنطقة على عزل كيان الاحتلال الإسرائيليّ، ورهان قادة محور المقاومة الثابت على فشل كلّ محاولات التطبيع العربية مع هذا الكيان المؤقت، أو دمجه في المنطقة ككيان طبيعي ينتمي إلى جسم الإقليم. 

هذا الأمر تحديداً يُظهر موقف دمشق وطهران الدائم من التطبيع، ويضع حدّاً للتأويلات الجديدة والضعيفة التي برزت بعد زيارة الرئيس الأسد إلى الإمارات العربية المتحدة في آذار/مارس الماضي، وخصوصاً أنّ الرئيس الأسد أكّد في تصريح له خلال زيارته طهران أنّ مجريات الأحداث في المنطقة “أثبتت مجدّداً صواب الرؤى والنهج الذي سارت عليه سوريا وإيران منذ سنوات”، وخصوصاً في مواجهة الإرهاب والمشاريع الغربية للمنطقة. وغنيّ عن القول إنّ دمشق وطهران تصنّفان كيان الاحتلال قوّة إرهابية عالميّة مدمّرة، كما تصنّفان الجماعات الإرهابية المتطرفة أدوات لهذا الكيان وللغرب الراعي له.

من المفترض أن يكون كل تعويل خارجيّ أو إقليميّ على كسر حلف طهران – دمشق أو إضعافه قد سقط في هذه الزيارة، كذلك المراهنات على تداعيات الحصار الغربي لسوريا، والحديث عن محاولات عربيّة لإحداث خرقٍ من خلال الانفتاح على دمشق وتعويضها اقتصاديّاً وسياسيّاً، فالاستراتيجية الوطنية السورية تعمل على مسار آخر تماماً، بعيد كلّ البعد عن المقايضات السياسية والاقتصادية، وهي ترى أنّ أيّ انفتاح عربيّ أو دوليّ عليها فرضه صمودها وقتالها المرير على مدى 10 سنوات، وإلى جانبها الحليف والشريك الإيرانيّ، وباقي الحلفاء في محور المقاومة والعالم.

وقد كان تمتين الحلف الاستراتيجيّ بين البلدين وجميع قوى محور المقاومة الموضوعَ الرئيسيّ في هذا اللقاء، وجرى البحث في كلّ السبل الواجب اتّخاذها فوراً لتعزيز هذا الحلف، ولسدّ كلّ نقص اقتصاديّ على جبهاته الداخلية، فقد كان المسؤولون السوريون والإيرانيون يوقّعون اتفاقيات وتفاهمات اقتصادية جديدة، حين كان الرئيس الأسد يقول للمرشد الإيراني السيد علي خامئني والرئيس إبراهيم رئيسي: “إنّ ما يمنع الكيان الصهيونيّ من السيطرة على المنطقة هو العلاقات الاستراتيجية السورية الإيرانية”، وهو السياق الذي اتّبعه جميع المسؤولين في البلدين في تصريحاتهم أثناء الزيارة وبعدها.

ولعلّ قول وزير الخارجية الإيرانيّ السيد أمير عبد اللهيان بعد اللقاء إنّ “زيارة الرئيس الأسد فتحت مرحلة استراتيجيّة جديدة بين البلدين”، وحديثه عن “العزم الإيراني السوريّ على الرقيّ بالعلاقات الثنائية وصولاً إلى أفضل مستوى لائق”، يدلان بشكل واضح على النحو الذي ستجري فيه الأمور على هذا الصعيد في المرحلة القادمة. 

بعد زيارة الرئيس الأسد هذه لإيران، هناك زيارة لأمير قطر على رأس وفد رفيع إلى طهران، وذلك بعد وقت قصير من إعطاء واشنطن أمير قطر صفة “الحليف الاستراتيجيّ”، وفي هذا مؤشّر على أنّ طهران ودمشق استطاعتا وأد جميع الرهانات التي جرى العمل عليها طوال السنوات العشر الماضية، والتي كانت تهدف إلى إسقاطهما وهزيمتهما أو عزلهما تماماً على الأقلّ.

 ومن الواضح أنّ انتصارهما وتقدّم حليفيهما الروسيّ والصينيّ على الجبهات العسكرية والاقتصادية على مستوى العالم، يدفعان دول المنطقة إلى السّعي نحو تعزيز العلاقات معهما، باعتبارهما قوّتين لا يمكن تجاوزهما بعد الآن. 

أمّا استراتيجيّات دمشق وطهران المشتركة، فقد تجاوزت بأشواط بعيدة هوامش العلاقات والمكاسب والمصالح السياسية العادية بين الدول، وبلغت مرحلة العمل كقوّة واحدة مع الشركاء في قوى المقاومة في المنطقة، وها هي تلك الاستراتيجية تعمل بأقصى قوتها على أرض فلسطين المحتلة الآن، إذ تُكمل المقاومة الفلسطينية مهمّة رسم النظام الإقليميّ الجديد.

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

A New Order in West Asia: The Case of China’s Strategic Presence in Syria

9 May 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Mohamad Zreik 

As the world order shifts into a multipolar world, a new balance of power based on economic ties centered in Asia emerges.

A New Order in West Asia: The Case of China’s Strategic Presence in Syria

Unanimity on a new American century had gone unchecked for a decade. The warhawk John Bolton lambasted Xi’s authoritarianism, claiming the new crackdown has made it practically hard for the CIA to keep agents in China.

Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has evolved enormously since its inception. Today, multipolarity has developed, promising long-term progress for everyone who follows its norms. And Syria is one among them, had lately returned to world prominence after defeating a decade-long military offensive by the traditional unipolar actors.

In spite of this, unlawful US sanctions continue to harm the hungry, impede the rehabilitation of essential infrastructure and access to clean water, and restrict the livelihood of millions in Syria.

“We welcome Syria’s involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative,” stated Xi Jinping to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on November 5.

In July 2021, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with the Arab League’s head to discuss Syria’s return to the fold. A four-point plan to end Syria’s multi-faceted crisis was signed by China at the end of the tour, which coincided with Assad’s re-election.

Surrounded by western-backed separatist movements, Syria reiterated its support for China’s territorial integrity. In 2018, China gave Syria $28 million, and in September 2019, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi proposed China-Iraq oil for rebuilding and greater BRI integration.

Events orchestrated by foreign forces halted this progress. Protests swiftly overthrew Abdul Mahdi’s administration and the oil-for-reconstruction scheme. In recent months, Iraq has rekindled this endeavor, but progress has been modest.

These projects are currently mostly channeled through the 25-year Comprehensive Strategic Partnership deal between China and Iran in March 2021. This might open the way for future rail and energy lines connecting Iran with Iraq and Syria.

At the first formal BRI meeting in April 2019, President Assad stated: “The Silk Route (Belt and Road Initiative) crossing through Syria is a foregone conclusion when this infrastructure is constructed, since it is not a road you can merely put on a map.”

China and Syria are now staying quiet on specifics. Assad’s wish list may be deduced from his previous strategic vision for Syria. Assad’s Five Seas Strategy, which he pushed from 2004 to 2011, has gone after the US began attacking Syria.

The “Five Seas Strategy” includes building rail, roads, and energy systems to connect Syria to the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, Black, Red, and Caspian Seas. The project is a logical link that connects Mackinder’s world island’s states. This initiative was “the most significant thing” Assad has ever done, he claimed in 2009.

Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon were among the countries Assad led delegations to sign agreements with in 2011. President Qaddafi of Libya and a coalition of nations including Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt were building the Great Man-Made River at the time.

We can’t comprehend why Qaddafi was killed, why Sudan was partitioned in 2009, or why the US is presently financing a regime change in Ethiopia until we grasp this tremendous, game-changing strategic paradigm. Diplomatic confidentiality between China and West Asia is so essential in the post-regime transition situation.

Over the last decade, BRI-compliant initiatives throughout West Asia and Africa have been sabotaged in various ways. This has been a pattern. Neither Assad nor the Chinese want to go back to that.

The Arab League re-admitted Syria on November 23, revealing the substance of this hidden diplomacy. They have proved that they are prepared to accept their humiliation, acknowledge Assad’s legitimacy, and adjust to the new Middle Eastern powers of China and Russia: the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Unlike decades of US promises that consider Arab participation as disposable short-term interests, the China-Russia cooperation provides genuine, demonstrable advantages for everybody.

The BRI now includes 17 Arab and 46 African countries, while the US has spent the last decade sanctioning and fining those who do not accept its global hegemony. Faced with a possible solution to its current economic problems and currency fluctuations, Turkey has turned to China for help.

Buying ISIS-controlled oil, sending extremist fighters to the region, and receiving arms from Saudi Arabia and Qatar were all known methods of supporting ISIS and Al Qaeda operations in Iraq and Syria. The CIA’s funding has dwindled in recent months, leaving ISIS with little else to work with.

Though US President Joe Biden reiterated US military backing for the Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), the Kurds’ hand has been overplayed. Many people now realize that the Kurds have been tricked into acting as ISIS’ counter-gang, and that promises of a Kurdish state are as unreal as Assad’s demise. For a long time, it was evident that Syria’s only hope for survival was Russia’s military assistance and China’s BRI, both of which need Turkey to preserve Syria’s sovereignty.

This new reality and the impending collapse of the old unipolar order in West Asia give reason to believe that the region, or at least a significant portion of it, is already locked in and counting on the upcoming development and connectivity boom.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

President Assad Visits Iran, Meets Iranian Leaders Khamenei and Raisi

ARABI SOURI

Syrian President Bashar Assad paid a working visit to the Iranian Capital Tehran, during his visit, President Assad and his hosts emphasized the strong relations between Syria and Iran, its historic roots, continuous developments, and its future growth.

During this visit, the Syrian and Iranian leaders paved the way to increase the cooperation and coordination between their two countries to the highest levels and in all fields including combating terrorism and economic aspects.

The following report by the Syrian Ikhbariya news channel details the visit and its outcome:

The video is also available on BitChute, and Rumble.

Transcript

President Bashar al-Assad made a working visit to the Iranian capital, Tehran, during which he met Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and Ibrahim Raisi, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The meetings dealt with the historical relations that unite Syria and Iran, which are based on a long path of bilateral cooperation and mutual understanding on the issues and problems of the region, and the challenges they face, in addition to topics and issues of common interest and the latest developments on the regional and international arenas.

During his meeting with Mr. Khamenei, President al-Assad affirmed that the course of events proved once again the correctness of the visions and the approach that Syria and Iran have followed for years, especially in confronting terrorism, this confirms the importance of continuing to cooperate in order not to allow America to rebuild the international terrorist system that it used to harm the countries of the world, especially the countries of the region over the past decades, noting that the United States today is weaker than ever.

His Excellency stressed that the Palestinian cause today is re-imposing its presence and importance more and more in the conscience of the Arab and Islamic world thanks to the sacrifices of the heroes of the resistance.

For his part, Khamenei reiterated Iran’s continued support for Syria to complete its victory over terrorism and liberate the rest of the Syrian lands, considering that Syria is achieving historic victories thanks to the steadfastness and courage of its president and the strength and steadfastness of its people and army.

Addressing President al-Assad, Khamenei added: We have no doubt that you will be able to liberate the rest of the Syrian lands and under your leadership, Syria will remain united, and we have to maintain the strong relationship that unites our two countries and peoples, this is beneficial not only for our two countries but also necessary for the region.

In turn, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ibrahim Raisi affirmed that his country has the serious will to expand relations between the two countries, especially the economic and trade relations, both public and private, and that it will continue to provide all forms of support to Syria and its people, especially in light of the difficult economic conditions the world is witnessing and will remain by Syria’s side to help it overcome difficulties, considering that any suffering for Syria is suffering for Iran.

Syrian President Bashar Assad Visits Tehran - Iran Meets Khamenei and Ebrahim Raisi - الرئيس بشار الأسد يزور طهران - إيران ويلتقي خامنئي وإبراهيم رئيسي
From the meetings President Bashar Assad held with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi

President al-Assad described Iran as the leadership and people of the brotherly, friend, and loyal partner, considering that the approach taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran in dealing with regional and international issues does not serve the interests of Iran and Syria only, but all the countries and peoples of the region.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian tweeted that President Assad’s visit and the high-level meetings with the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Iranian President have opened a new chapter in the strategic relations between the two countries; He added: We are determined to raise the relations between the two countries to the appropriate level.

The Iranian foreign minister concluded that “the defeat of the terrorist plot in Syria is due to the cooperation between the two countries.”

End of the transcript.

Despite the very strong decades-long unshaken relations and high level of agreement on most topics of importance between Syria and Iran and in the face of unprecedented challenges, the two countries are yet to achieve the needed levels of bilateral economic cooperation aspired to by the people in the two brotherly countries.

The Syrian – Iranian relations have withstood and overcome the US hegemony and US-led wars direct invasion, terrorism, attrition, blockade, sanctions, assassinations, destabilization, and direct piracy and theft. Their joint cooperation not only foiled the US’s evil plots for the region, but they also managed to weaken the US’s ability to impose its will on the rest of the world by breaking its military might after the illegal invasion of Iraq, and by breaking up the US proxies in the region, mainly Al Qaeda and ISIS.

The hefty price paid by the Syrian people has also saved the people of the world by absorbing the major terrorism and direct aggression shock and awe by the USA, Israel, NATO forces spearheaded by Turkey, and their proxy terrorists of Al Qaeda, and ISIS. The steadfastness of the Syrian leadership, army, and people has awakened Russia, China, and Iran to the dangers of the Western plots and allowed them to build their capabilities to come out of the cold and solidify a front against the imperial Zionist Nazi evil camp of NATO and its stooges.

Syrians are waiting to see a payback visit by the Iranian president to Damascus, it’s been over a decade since an Iranian president visited Syria, long before the US-led war of terror on the Levantine country despite several visits paid by the Iranian presidents around the world including to countries in the region that have been in the enemy camp against Syria, like Turkey, and like Egypt during the rule of the anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood president Morsy.


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Khamenei receives Al-Assad in Tehran: Damascus is a regional power

8 May 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad visited Tehran, where he met with his Iranian counterpart Ibrahim Raisi and Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad with his Iranian counterpart and Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, on Sunday morning, arrived in Tehran and met with Iranian Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

This was the Syrian president’s second visit to Iran since the war on Syria began in 2011.

Iranian leader praised Syria’s president for his steadfastness during the foreign-backed war on the country, saying: “Today, Syria is not the same Syria that it was before the war, although the devastation [of war] was not there at that time, now Syria enjoys a higher degree of respect and credit and all countries look upon it as a power.”

“Some leaders of countries that are neighbors to us and you, have relations with the leaders of the Zionist regime and drink coffee together. However, people of the same countries pour into the streets on [International] Quds Day and chant anti-Zionism slogans, and this is the current reality of the region,” Khamenei added.

“One of the most important of those factors was your own high morale,” the Iranian leader said, adding, “and, God willing, you would be able to reconstruct the ravages of war with the same morale, because you have a great work to do.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, Khamenei said “That honorable martyr harbored a special zeal for Syria and made sacrifices in the true sense of the word. His conduct in Syria was no different from his conduct during the eight-year Sacred Defense in Iran,” referring to Martyr General Qassem Soleimani.

On his account, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said that “the steadfastness of Iran and its unwavering stances in the past four decades on regional issues, particularly on the issue of Palestine, have shown to the entire world that Iran’s path is a correct and principled path.”

Furthermore, he also praised the Iranian leader for carrying on the late Imam Khomeini’s legacy of support for the region’s nations, particularly the Palestinians.

“The steadfastness of the Iranian nation on the principles and fundaments laid by [the late founder of the Islamic Republic] Imam Khomeini, which has continued through your determination, has paved the way for great triumphs of the great nation of Iran and the regional people, especially the people of Palestine,” Al-Assad said.

The Syrian president concluded by saying: “What prevented the Zionist regime of Israel from gaining the rule over the region is the strategic relations between Iran and Syria, which must continue with might”.

It is worth mentioning that Iran’s Nour News reported that the Syrian leader left Tehran for Damascus on Sunday after important talks.

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الأسد للسيد خامنئي: علاقة دمشق بطهران منعت “إسرائيل” من التحكم بالمنطقة

الآحد 8 أيار 2022

المصدر: الميادين نت

الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد يجري زيارةً إلى طهران التقى خلالها نظيره الإيراني إبراهيم رئيسي والمرشد الأعلى علي خامنئي.

الرئيس الإيراني ابراهيم رئيسي مع نظيره السوري بشار الأسد، والمرشد الإيراني السيد علي الخامنئي

دعا المرشد الإيراني السيد علي خامنئي، لدى استقباله الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، اليوم الأحد، إلى “ضرورة التعامل مع سوريا على أنها قوة إقليمية في المنطقة”، مشيراً إلى أنّ “دمشق لم تعد اليوم مثل مرحلة ما قبل الحرب”.

وقال السيد خامنئي، بحسب بيانٍ على موقعه الإلكتروني إنّ “سوريا لم تعد اليوم مثل ما قبل الحرب فمكانتها أصبحت أعلى بكثير من السابق وعلى الجميع أن ينظر إليها اليوم كقوة إقليمية”، مضيفاً أنه “بوجود الروح العالية والتصميم لدى الرئيس والحكومة الإيرانية على توسيع التعاون مع سوريا، يجب بذل الجهود لتحسين العلاقات بين البلدين أكثر من ذي قبل”.

وأشار السيد خامنئي إلى أنّ “بعض قادة دول جوار إيران وسوريا، يجلسون ويقفون مع قادة الكيان الصهيوني ويشربون القهوة سوياً مع بعضهم البعض، ولكن أهالي وشعوب هذه الدول في يوم القدس ملأت الشوارع بالحشود والشعارات المعادية للصهيونية والصهاينة، وهذا هو واقع المنطقة اليوم”.

الرئيس السوري مع السيد علي خامنئي

بدوره، قال الرئيس الإيراني إبراهيم رئيسي خلال استقباله الأسد اليوم إنّ “ما يحدث اليوم في منطقة غرب آسيا هو ما توقعه قائد الثورة الإسلامية قبل فترة بأنّ مقاومة الشعوب أمام المعتدين والمستكبرين ستثمر”، مضيفاً أنّ “جنابكم كوالدكم، تمثّلون وجهاً من وجوه جبهة المقاومة”.

وأوضح رئيسي أنّ “مجاهدي المقاومة أثبتوا أنهم قوة يمكن الاعتماد عليها لإحلال الأمن والاستقرار في المنطقة ولا سيما في سوريا”، لافتاً إلى أنه “عندما كان بعض الزعماء في العالم العربي وخارجه يراهنون على انهيار النظام السوري، اصطفت إيران إلى جانب سوريا حكومةً وشعباً ووقفت معها”.

وشدد الرئيس الإيراني على ضرورة “تحرير كل الأراضي السورية من دنس المحتلين والعملاء الأجانب ويجب طردهم”، مضيفاً أنه يجب تنويع “معادلات ردع إسرائيل” في المنطقة.

وأشار رئيسي إلى أنّ “ما يحسم مصير المنطقة ليس طاولة المفاوضات وإنما مقاومة الشعوب التي تحدد النظام الإقليمي الجديد”.

الأسد: إيران كانت البلد الوحيد الذي وقف إلى جانبنا منذ بداية العدوان 

من جهته، أكد الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد أنّ “البعض يعتقد أنّ دعم إيران لجبهة المقاومة هو دعم بالسلاح فقط، ولكن أهم دعم ومساعدة للجمهورية الإسلامية هو بث روح المقاومة واستمرارها”، مشيراً إلى أنّ “ما جعل الكيان الصهيوني غير قادر على حكم المنطقة هو العلاقة الاستراتيجية بين إيران وسوريا التي يجب أن تستمرّ بقوة”.

وتابع الأسد أنّ “أنقاض الحرب يمكن إعادة بنائها، لكن إذا دمرت الأسس والمبادئ فلا يمكن إعادة بنائها”، لافتاً إلى أنّ بلاده “مستعدة لتعزيز التعاون والتنسيق مع إيران على الصعد الأمنية والسياسية والاقتصادية”.

وشدد الرئيس السوري على أنّ “دور إيران مهم في مكافحة الإرهاب وإيران كانت البلد الوحيد الذي وقف إلى جانبنا منذ بداية مواجهة العدوان الغربي التكفيري”، مضيفاً أنّ “علاقتنا مع إيران استراتيجية والصمود أثبت أنه مؤثر”.

وأردف الأسد: “نشهد انهياراً للدور الأميركي في المنطقة وقد أثبتنا أننا قادرون على الانتصار أمام أميركا والقوى المهيمنة من خلال التعاون الوثيق بين دول المنطقة”، مشيراً إلى أنّ “نجاح المقاومة الفلسطينية أثبت أنّ تطبيع بعض العرب مع إسرائيل له نتائج عكسية”.

وأكد الرئيس السوري أنّ “ما يمنع الكيان الصهيوني من السيطرة على المنطقة هو العلاقات الاستراتيجية الإيرانية السورية”.

حضور وزيري الخارجية وعدد من المسؤولين ولاسيما العميد اسماعيل قاآني قائد قوة القدس

الرئاسة السورية 

هذا وأكدت الرئاسة السورية أنّ “لقاءات الرئيس الأسد في إيران تناولت العلاقات التاريخية القائمة على مسار طويل من التعاون الثنائي”، مضيفةً أنّ “الرئيس الأسد أكد خلال لقاء السيد خامنئي أنّ مجريات الأحداث أثبتت مجدداً صوابية النهج الذي سار عليه البلدان”.

وتابعت أنّ “الأسد أكد أهمية استمرار التعاون لمنع أميركا من إعادة بناء منظومة الإرهاب التي استخدمتها للإضرار بالمنطقة”، مشيرةً إلى أنّ “الرئيس الأسد أكد خلال لقائه السيد خامنئي أنّ القضية الفلسطينية اليوم تعيد فرض حضورها وأهميتها أكثر فأكثر”.

وأردفت الرئاسة السورية أنّ السيد خامنئي “أكد استمرار إيران في دعمها لسوريا لاستكمال انتصارها على الإرهاب وتحرير باقي أراضيها”، لافتةً إلى أنّ “الرئيس الإيراني أكد للرئيس الأسد أنّ لدى إيران الإرادة الجادّة في توسيع العلاقات بين البلدين”.

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Ayatollah Khamenei: Syria Now Looked upon as a Power despite Devastation

 May 8, 2022

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei says despite the devastation done to Syria by years-long war, the country is now looked upon as a major power.

Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks in a Sunday meeting with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad during the latter’s second visit to Tehran.

“Today, Syria is not the same Syria that it was before the war, although the devastation [of war] was not there at that time, but now Syria enjoys a higher degree of respect and credit and all countries look upon it as a power,” the Leader said, referring to major achievements of Syria in both political and military arenas.

Ayatollah Khamenei noted that Syrian president and its nation are now honored by all regional nations, adding, “Some leaders of countries that are neighbors to us and you, have relations with the leaders of the Zionist regime and drink coffee together. However, people of the same countries pour into the streets on [International] Quds Day and chant anti-Zionism slogans and this is the current reality of the region.”

He said various factors were influential in Syria’s resistance and victory in an international war, adding, “One of the most important of those factors was your own high morale and, God willing, you would be able to reconstruct the ravages of war with the same morale, because you have a great work to do.”

The Leader also commemorated the assassinated commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Quds Force Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, saying, “That honorable martyr harbored a special zeal for Syria and made sacrifices in the true sense of the word. His conduct in Syria was no different from his conduct during the eight-year Sacred Defense in Iran.”

Ayatollah Khamenei said the high morale and vibrancy of the Syrian president could facilitated great works, adding, “The president and administration of the Islamic Republic of Iran are also really vibrant and have veer high moral and strong determination and they are very serious about the issue of Syria. this opportunity must be used to promote bilateral relations more than any time before.

According to Iran’s Nour News news agency, following his important talks in Tehran on Sunday, the Syrian leader left for Damascus.

Assad paid his first visit to Tehran in February 2019, after a tripartite Iran-Russia-Syria coalition managed to suppress Takfiri terrorists and restore partial peace to the Arab country.

Then commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Quds Force Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani accompanied the Syrian president in his first Tehran visit. General Soleimani was later assassinated by the occupying US forces in Iraq upon direct order of then US President Donald Trump.

During their first meeting, Ayatollah Khamenei told Assad that the Islamic Republic was honored to support Syria and considered it equal to supporting the entire resistance front.

The Leader mentioned resistance of Syrian president and people as the main reason behind the defeat of the United States and its regional mercenaries, noting, “The Islamic Republic of Iran considers supporting the Syrian government and people as helping the resistance movement and current, and takes pride in it from the bottom of its heart.”

Source: Press TV

President al-Assad pays work visit to Tehran, discusses with Sayyed Khamenei and Raisi bilateral cooperation, latest developments

8 May، 2022

Tehran, SANA- President Bashar al-Assad paid a work visit to Tehran and met Supreme Leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, and the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Talks during the meetings dealt with the historical relations between Syria and Iran, which are based on a long track of bilateral cooperation and mutual understanding on the issues and problems of the region and the challenges it faces, in addition to topics and issues of common interest and the latest developments on the regional and international arenas.

During his meeting with Khamenei, President al-Assad affirmed that the course of events proved once again the correctness of the vision and approach adopted by Syria and Iran for years, especially in the fight against terrorism.

“This confirms the importance of continuing cooperation in order not to allow America to rebuild the international terrorist system that it used to harm the countries of the world, especially the countries of the region over the past decades,” President al-Assad said, stressing that America today is weaker than ever.

President al-Assad pointed out that the Palestinian cause is increasingly re-imposed its presence and importance in the conscience of the Arab and Islamic world thanks to the sacrifices of the heroes of the resistance.

For his part, Seyyed Khamenei stressed that Iran will continue to support Syria to complete its victory over terrorism and liberate the rest of the country’s lands.

He added that Syria is achieving historical victories thanks to the steadfastness and courage of President al-Assad and the strength and steadfastness of the country’s people and army.

In turn, the Iranian President affirmed that his country is willing to expand relations with Syria, especially economic and commercial ones.

“Tehran will continue to provide all forms of support to Syria and its people, especially amidst the difficult economic conditions the world is witnessing,” Raisi said.

He added that his country will help Damascus overcome difficulties and considered that any suffering for Syria is suffering for Iran.

President al-Assad indicated that Iran is a brotherly country, a friend and a loyal partner, considering that the approach taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran in dealing with regional and international affairs benefits not only the interests of Iran and Syria, but also all the countries and peoples of the region.

Fedaa al-Rhayiah/Shaza Qreima

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Erdogan with Assad: There is no Reconciliation before the Arabs and “Israel” إردوغان و”إسرائيل”.. من المصالحة إلى التحالف العسكري؟

ARABI SOURI

Reconciliation with Damascus will mean for the Turkish President Erdogan to abandon his strategic calculations and projects.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

The news published by Hurriyet newspaper, loyal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on April 3, has received wide attention in most Arab media outlets, as the newspaper stated, “The Turkish authorities are conducting their discussions with the aim of dialogue with the Syrian government, in order to restore relations between the two countries to its nature.”

The media and those who wrote in it did not pay attention to what was stated in the news, as it was said that “Turkey, in all its contacts with the Syrian administration, affirms 3 basic things, namely, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, ensuring the lives of refugees returning to their country, and preventing the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party from any activity in Syria.

Contrary to what President Erdogan asserts on every occasion, Ankara controls about 10% of the Syrian territory, which contradicts the notion of sovereignty and the unity of the Syrian territory. It also provides all kinds of support to tens of thousands of militants of the so-called “National Army” established in Turkey, which it pays the salaries of all its personnel.

On top of that, Ankara’s objection to the Syrian army’s liberation of Idlib and its vicinity, without heeding the accusations leveled against it regarding the relationship with the terrorist of “Al-Nusra Front”, which includes thousands of foreign militants, and which obtains all its needs from Turkey, near Idlib.

As for the return of Syrian refugees to their homes, many, including the leaders of Turkish political parties, wrote and spoke about Ankara obstructing the return of Syrian refugees to their country, and it tells them that the living and security situation in Syria is very bad, and it meets the needs of all Syrians residing in the areas controlled by the Turkish army west and east of the Euphrates, as Defense Minister Hulusi Akar previously said that “Turkey meets the needs of 9 million Syrians, 3.5 million of whom are in Turkey, and the rest are inside Syria.”

Ankara believes that this Turkish position “contributes to the increase in Erdogan’s popularity in Syria in general.” As for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which means the “SDF” and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, the Syrian arm of the PKK, everyone remembers how Ankara had a close relationship with Salih Muslim, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Union Party, and sought to persuade him until the summer of 2015 “to rebel against the Syrian state in exchange for promises to meet his demands in the new Syria after the overthrow of the regime in Damascus.”

As everyone knows, Ankara, under the pretext of the aforementioned Kurdish militias, succeeded in persuading Washington and Moscow to allow it in October 2019 to penetrate east of the Euphrates and control a border strip of 110 km in length and 30 km in depth in some areas, which helped the Turkish forces to take control of strategic locations in the region, as is the case in the Afrin region after taking control of it in March 2018.

All of this explains Ankara’s failure to abide by its commitments in the Sochi and Moscow agreements on Idlib and the Turkish military presence in northern Syria in general, despite the possibilities of a heated confrontation with the Syrian and Russian armies in the region, as happened in February 2020.

It also explains President Erdogan’s constant talk about his rejection of any solution to the Syrian crisis, without recognizing the main Turkish role in this solution, which must meet the Turkish conditions in coordination and cooperation with the Syrian opposition, both political and armed, all of which are moving according to the Turkish agenda supported by Qatar, which is what President Erdogan exploits in his overall bargaining with all parties interested in the Syrian file regionally and internationally, especially with the continuation of their current positions, which can be summed up in not rushing to take any decisive decision to close this file.

President Erdogan sees this regional and international situation as a source of strength for him, as long as the Arab capitals are not encouraged to reconcile with President Assad, and he will not think of reconciling with him until after the leaders of the main Arab countries, led by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar, reconcile.

Reconciliation in President Erdogan’s concept is for these leaders and others to contact President Assad, exchange visits with him, and open their embassies in Damascus with Israeli consent, as they all did (Erdogan as well) with the putschist Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (of Sudan), and together they abandoned Imran Khan (of Pakistan) on American instructions!

In other words, President Erdogan will not take any initiative toward Damascus as long as he sees Assad as his “subordinate governor”, and sees himself as the “Ottoman Sultan”, this is what Assad said, which President Qais Saeed (of Tunisia) reminded last week when he responded to Erdogan’s statements, who described his decision to dissolve the parliament as a “coup,” so he said: “Tunisia is not a province, and we are not waiting for a firman (from the Ottoman Sultan).”

We do not ignore President Erdogan’s efforts to reconcile with Cairo, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi, which he personally accused of plotting against Turkey, at a time when President Assad and the Syrian state did not undertake any hostile action against Turkey, which proved, through its recent actions, that it favors “Israel” with its terrorist regime over neighboring Syria, which through it, it entered the Arab region after the first visit of Prime Minister Abdullah Gul to Damascus at the beginning of 2003.

Although Gul, and even Davutoglu, who was said at the time to be the architect of Turkish foreign policy, became in the trench against Erdogan, it became clear that the prospects for Turkish reconciliation with President Assad will never be easy for the Turkish president.

Erdogan sees such reconciliation as a recognition of the defeat of his (Muslim Brotherhood) ideological project, even if he abandoned it during his bargains with “Tel Aviv” (Hamas and the Palestinians in general), Cairo (Egypt’s Brotherhood), Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

In addition, reconciliation with Damascus will mean at the same time abandoning his calculations, projects, and strategic plans, especially after he established a network of complex military, intelligence, and political relations intertwined with very wide Syrian sectors and groups, and that abandoning it will not be easy for Ankara (what will it do with tens of thousands of militants?), which sees northern Syria as an extension of Turkish geography and a strategic depth for its national security, which Turkish officials have been repeating since the beginnings of the Syrian crisis, and its main player is Erdogan, it seems clear that he will not give up this role until his last breath, as long as no one asks him to do so, and President Assad will not surprise him by visiting Ankara!

Erdogan is waiting for the positions of the Arab capitals, and more importantly, “Tel Aviv”, because he thinks, rather he believes, that it will not initiate any reconciliation with Assad, of course, if he had not agreed with Herzog and Ibn Zayed on that, otherwise reconciliation with Syria must be a priority for Erdogan and the others, this is, of course, if they are not together at the disposal of “Tel Aviv”, the only beneficiary of the years of the bloody “Arab Spring”, during which they were all together in one trench against President al-Assad, and with the confessions of Hamad bin Jassem, who is still whining because “the prey escaped from them.” and catching it again needs more than a miracle!


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إردوغان و”إسرائيل”.. من المصالحة إلى التحالف العسكري؟

حسني محلي 

المصدر: الميادين نت

2022  الاثين 18 نيسان

ينتظر أن يزور خلوصي أكار “تل أبيب” خلال الأيام القليلة المقبلة، يليه زيارة رجب طيب إردوغان.

العلاقات التركية – الإسرائيلية يُتوقّع أن تشهد قفزة نوعية بعد الزيارة التي سيقوم بها إردوغان إلى تل أبيب.

بعيداً عن اهتمامات الإعلام التركي والعربي والدولي، تشهد العلاقات التركية مع الكيان الصهيوني تطورات مثيرة قد تجعل من تل أبيب حليفاً عسكرياً استراتيجياً لأنقرة التي يبدو واضحاً أنها تستعد لمثل هذه المرحلة الجديدة، داخلياً وخارجياً. فقد أعلن وزير الخارجية مولود جاويش أوغلو (14 نيسان/ أبريل) أنه سيزور تل أبيب قريباً جداً، ومعه وزير الدفاع خلوصي أكار، بدلاً من وزير الطاقة الذي كان عليه أن يبحث مع المسؤولين الإسرائيليين تفاصيل التنسيق والتعاون المشترك لنقل الغاز الإسرائيلي والقبرصي والمصري إلى تركيا، ومنها الى أوروبا، وهو الموضوع الذي قيل إنه يحظى بدعم أميركي، كما هي الحال بالنسبة إلى مشروع نقل غاز كردستان العراق إلى تركيا ومنها إلى أوروبا، بتنسيق تركي-إسرائيلي مشترك. ويفسّر ذلك الزيارات المتتالية التي قام بها رئيس إقليم كردستان العراق نيجيرفان برزاني ورئيس حكومة الإقليم مسرور برزاني إلى أنقرة خلال الشهرين الماضيين فقط، وتمّ خلالها أيضاً مناقشة الدور التركي في تأليف الحكومة العراقية الجديدة.  

وعودة إلى زيارة وزير الدفاع خلوصي أكار، والتي من المتوقع لها أن تكون خلال الأيام القليلة المقبلة، وستلحق بها زيارة الرئيس إردوغان إلى تل أبيب، فلا بد من التذكير بالاتفاقية التي سبق أن تمّ التوقيع عليها بين الطرفين في العام 1995-1996. وكان حينها الإسلامي نجم الدين أربكان رئيساً للحكومة، واتفق مع تل أبيب على تحديث طائرات أف-5 وأف-16 ومعها دبابات أم-60 التركية، مقابل المليارات من الدولارات. كما لا بد من التذكير بشراء تركيا (2005) لمجموعة من الطائرات المسيّرة الإسرائيلية، واستخدمتها ضد مسلحي حزب العمال الكردستاني جنوب شرق البلاد وفي شمال العراق. وجاءت موافقة أنقرة (أواسط 2011) على القاعدة الأميركية جنوب شرق البلاد قرب مدينة مالاطيا، في إطار المساعي التركية لتطوير علاقاتها مع تل أبيب. وكانت مهمة هذه القاعدة هي رصد التحركات العسكرية الإيرانية، وإبلاغ تل أبيب بأي صواريخ إيرانية قد تستهدفها حتى يتسنّى للقبة الحديدية التصدي لها قبل دخول الأجواء الإسرائيلية. 

الفتور والتوتر اللذين عانت منهما العلاقات التركية – الإسرائيلية خلال السنوات الأخيرة، لم يمنعا أنقرة من تطوير علاقاتها الاقتصادية والتجارية التي حققت أرقاماً قياسية لا تتناسب مع مقولات الرئيس إردوغان ضد “إسرائيل”. ولكنها تتفق مع الموقف التركي المتناقض، حيث لم تستخدم أنقرة حق الفيتو ضد انضمام “إسرائيل” إلى منظمة التعاون الاقتصادي والتنمية OECD (أيار/ مايو 2010) وانضمامها بصفة مراقب إلى الحلف الأطلسي (أيار/ مايو 2016). 

التناقضات التركية في العلاقة مع تل أبيب بما في ذلك إغلاق ملف سفينة مرمرة (كما هي الحال في إغلاق ملف خاشقجي) يشبّهها البعض بتناقضات السلطان عبد الحميد الذي قيل عنه إنه لم يتنازل عن فلسطين لليهود في الوقت الذي تثبت فيه الوثائق التاريخية عكس ذلك، حيث قدّم الكثير من التسهيلات لليهود للهجرة إلى فلسطين وشراء الأراضي وبناء المستوطنات فيها. 

مع التذكير أيضاً بتلاقي الأهداف التركية والإسرائيلية في سوريا، حيث دعمت أنقرة الفصائل المسلحة التي تقاتل ضد دمشق في الشمال، وكانت تل أبيب تفعل ذلك في الجنوب بدعم من الأردن ودول الخليج، كما هي الحال للوضع على الحدود مع تركيا، وباعتراف حمد بن جاسم. 

زيارة جاويش أوغلو وأكار التي تهدف إلى تحقيق التوازن في علاقات أنقرة مع تل أبيب ودول المنطقة الأخرى بعد المصالحة مع الرياض والقاهرة (سامح شكري سيزور تركيا قريباً) يريد لها الرئيس إردوغان أن تبعد تل أبيب عن نيقوسيا وأثينا، وسبق لهذه الدول الثلاث أن وقّعت على العديد من اتفاقيات التعاون العسكري والأمني والاستخباري، وكان ذلك تارة برضى ودعم مصريين وأخرى إماراتي وسعودي، في الوقت الذي ستسعى فيه أنقرة خلال الزيارة إلى إقناع تل أبيب بأن لا تعترض على بيع طائرات أف-35 الأميركية لتركيا، بعد اتفاق الطرفين التركي والأميركي حول قضية صواريخ أس-400 الروسية التي اشترتها أنقرة من موسكو قبل عامين، من دون أن تقوم بتفعيلها بعد ردّ الفعل الأميركي. 

العلاقات التركية – الإسرائيلية التي يُتوقّع لها أن تشهد قفزة نوعية بعد الزيارة التي سيقوم بها إردوغان إلى تل أبيب، يسعى الطرفان إلى دعمها في شتى المجالات، بما فيها تبادل الزيارات الاستخبارية والإعلامية والأكاديمية ورجال الأعمال، بل وحتى الوفود الدينية في إطار ما يُسمّى حوار الأديان والحضارات المدعوم أيضاً من الإمارات، الطرف الثالث في الحوار والتنسيق، ولاحقاً التحالف التركي – الإسرائيلي. 

ويفسّر ذلك وصف إردوغان لما قام به الشباب الفلسطيني بالعمل الإرهابي، ومن دون أن يقول ذلك بحق عمليات القتل والإجرام التي يقوم بها الجيش والأمن الإسرائيليّان يومياً ضدَّ الفلسطينيين داخل المسجد الأقصى. واعتبر ذلك إبراهيم كالين، المتحدث باسم إردوغان، “خطاً أحمر بالنسبة إلى تركيا”، ناسياً أن أنقرة قد نسيت وتناست كل خطوطها الحمر، عندما سلكت كل الطرق والوسائل من أجل مصالحة تل أبيب، بما في ذلك لقاء إردوغان مع حاخامات اليهود. والأغرب من كل ذلك، أن بعض الدول العربية التي تجرّأت وأصدرت بيانات “الاستنكار” لِما قامت به تل أبيب داخل المسجد الأقصى، رجّحت الحديث عن “استخدام مفرط للعنف بحق الفلسطينيين”، كما ورد ذلك في بيان الخارجية العراقية، وتتوقع لها تل أبيب أن تكون البلد العربي الجديد في مسلسل التطبيع، بعد تسلّم جماعة مقتدى الصدر وحلفائه السلطة في بغداد. وهو الاحتمال الذي يجعل من التنسيق والتعاون والتحالف المحتمل بين تل أبيب وأنقرة أكثر أهمية في حال فشل المساعي الإقليمية والدولية لإعادة ترتيب أمور المنطقة، قبل أو بعد الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، ولذلك علاقة بالتطورات المحتملة في الحرب الأوكرانية. فالدور الإسرائيلي في هذه الحرب لا يختلف كثيراً عن الدور التركي، ما دامت لأنقرة وتل أبيب علاقات وطيدة جداً بكييف في جميع المجالات، والأهم العسكرية والاستخبارية، وهو ما قد يتطلب حواراً وتنسيقاً تركيين -إسرائيليين ينعكسان بنتائجهما المستقبلية المحتملة على موازين القوى في المنطقة، وخاصة إذا فشلت المساعي الإقليمية والدولية في إبعاد إيران عن الحدود مع “إسرائيل” سواء كان ذلك في سوريا ولبنان أم عبر باب المندب الاستراتيجي بالنسبة إلى تل أبيب.

ويبدو أنها تستذكر مقولات مؤسّسها بن غوريون الذي قال: “إسرائيل بحاجة إلى ثلاث رئات تتنفس عبرها الأكسجين في محيطها العربي المعادي، وهي تركيا وإثيوبيا وإيران”.

وبخسارة الأخيرة ترى في كسب الأولى والثانية قضية وجودية، منذ أن اعترفتا بكيانها فور قيامه فوراً، واحتفظتا دائماً معه بعلاقات علنية وسرية، مهما كانت شعارات حكامها المتناقضة، كما هي الحال في علاقات أنقرة بحماس، وضَحّت بها بين ليلة وضحاها من أجل الحليف الجديد! 

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

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