The Syrian Test of Trump-Putin Accord

The U.S. mainstream media remains obsessed over Russia’s alleged “meddling” in last fall’s election, but the real test of bilateral cooperation may come on the cease-fire in Syria, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

July 09, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The immediate prospect for significant improvement in U.S.-Russia relations now depends on something tangible: Will the forces that sabotaged previous ceasefire agreements in Syria succeed in doing so again, all the better to keep alive the “regime change” dreams of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists?

Or will President Trump succeed where President Obama failed by bringing the U.S. military and intelligence bureaucracies into line behind a cease-fire rather than allowing insubordination to win out?

These are truly life-or-death questions for the Syrian people and could have profound repercussions across Europe, which has been destabilized by the flood of refugees fleeing the horrific violence in the six-year proxy war that has ripped Syria apart.

But you would have little inkling of this important priority from the large page-one headlines Saturday morning in the U.S. mainstream media, which continued its long obsession with the more ephemeral question of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would confess to the sin of “interference” in the 2016 U.S. election and promise to repent.

Thus, the headlines: “Trump, Putin talk election interference” (Washington Post) and “Trump asks Putin About Meddling During Election” (New York Times). There was also the expected harrumphing from commentators on CNN and MSNBC when Putin dared to deny that Russia had interfered.

In both the big newspapers and on cable news shows, the potential for a ceasefire in southern Syria – set to go into effect on Sunday – got decidedly second billing.

Yet, the key to Putin’s assessment of Donald Trump is whether the U.S. President is strong enough to make the mutually agreed-upon ceasefire stick. As Putin is well aware, to do so Trump will have to take on the same “deep-state” forces that cheerily scuttled similar agreements in the past. In other words, the actuarial tables for this cease-fire are not good; long life for the agreement will take something just short of a miracle.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will have to face down hardliners in both the Pentagon and CIA. Tillerson probably expects that Defense Secretary James “Mad-Dog” Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo will cooperate by ordering their troops and operatives inside Syria to restrain the U.S.-backed “moderate rebels.”

But it remains to be seen if Mattis and Pompeo can control the forces their agencies have unleashed in Syria. If recent history is any guide, it would be folly to rule out another “accidental” U.S. bombing of Syrian government troops or a well-publicized “chemical attack” or some other senseless “war crime” that social media and mainstream media will immediately blame on President Bashar al-Assad.

Bitter Experience

Last fall’s limited ceasefire in Syria, painstakingly worked out over 11 months by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and approved personally by Presidents Obama and Putin, lasted only five days (from Sept. 12-17) before it was scuttled by “coalition” air strikes on well-known, fixed Syrian army positions, which killed between 64 and 84 Syrian troops and wounded about 100 others.

In public remarks bordering on the insubordinate, senior Pentagon officials a few days before the air attack on Sept. 17, showed unusually open skepticism regarding key aspects of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement – like sharing intelligence with the Russians (an important provision of the deal approved by both Obama and Putin).

The Pentagon’s resistance and the “accidental” bombing of Syrian troops brought these uncharacteristically blunt words from Foreign Minister Lavrov on Russian TV on Sept. 26:

“My good friend John Kerry … is under fierce criticism from the U.S. military machine. Despite the fact that, as always, [they] made assurances that the U.S. Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, supported him in his contacts with Russia … apparently the military does not really listen to the Commander in Chief.”

Lavrov specifically criticized Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford for telling Congress that he opposed sharing intelligence with Russia despite the fact, as Lavrov put it, “the agreements concluded on direct orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama [who] stipulated that they would share intelligence.” Noting this resistance inside the U.S. military bureaucracy, Lavrov added, “It is difficult to work with such partners.”

Putin picked up on the theme of insubordination in an Oct. 27 speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club, in which he openly lamented:

“My personal agreements with the President of the United States have not produced results. … people in Washington are ready to do everything possible to prevent these agreements from being implemented in practice.”

On Syria, Putin decried the lack of a “common front against terrorism after such lengthy negotiations, enormous effort, and difficult compromises.”

Lavrov’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, meanwhile, even expressed sympathy for Kerry’s quixotic effort, giving him an “A” for effort.after then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter dispatched U.S. warplanes to provide an early death to the cease-fire so painstakingly worked out by Kerry and Lavrov for almost a year.

For his part, Kerry expressed regret – in words reflecting the hapless hubris befitting the chief envoy of the world’s “only indispensible” country – conceding that he had been unable to “align” all the forces in play.

With the ceasefire in tatters, Kerry publicly complained on Sept. 29, 2016: “Syria is as complicated as anything I’ve ever seen in public life, in the sense that there are probably about six wars or so going on at the same time – Kurd against Kurd, Kurd against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sunni, Shia, everybody against ISIL, people against Assad, Nusra [Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate]. This is as mixed-up sectarian and civil war and strategic and proxies, so it’s very, very difficult to be able to align forces.”

Admitting Deep-State Pre-eminence

Only in December 2016, in an interview with Matt Viser of the Boston Globe, did Kerry admit that his efforts to deal with the Russians had been thwarted by then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter – as well as all those forces he found so difficult to align.

“Unfortunately we had divisions within our own ranks that made the implementation [of the ceasefire agreement] extremely hard to accomplish,” Kerry said. “But it … could have worked. … The fact is we had an agreement with Russia … a joint cooperative effort.

“Now we had people in our government who were bitterly opposed to doing that,” he said. “I regret that. I think that was a mistake. I think you’d have a different situation there conceivably now if we’d been able to do that.”

The Globe’s Viser described Kerry as frustrated. Indeed, it was a tough way for Kerry to end nearly 34 years in public office.

After Friday’s discussions with President Trump, Kremlin eyes will be focused on Secretary of State Tillerson, watching to see if he has better luck than Kerry did in getting Ashton Carter’s successor, James “Mad Dog” Mattis and CIA’s latest captive-director Pompeo into line behind what President Trump wants to do.

As the new U.S.-Russia agreed-upon ceasefire goes into effect on Sunday, Putin will be eager to see if this time Trump, unlike Obama, can make a ceasefire in Syria stick; or whether, like Obama, Trump will be unable to prevent it from being sabotaged by Washington’s deep-state actors.

The proof will be in the pudding and, clearly, much depends on what happens in the next few weeks. At this point, it will take a leap of faith on Putin’s part to have much confidence that the ceasefire will hold. 

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  As a CIA analyst for 27 years, he led the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and, during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, conducted the early morning briefings with the President’s Daily Brief.  He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

This article was first published by Consortium News 

See also – New study shows Clinton lost election because of growing working class opposition to war

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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Russian Foreign Ministry makes public parts of agreement with US on Syria

Now U.S. regime ask Russia not to bomb al-Nusra ~ Sergey Lavrov: “U.S. seems to want to use al-Nusra to overthrow al-Assad”

 

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Syria Free Press

The United States seems to want al-Nusra Front terrorist group to remain in some form in Syria and use it to achieve own goals, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

ST. PETERSBURG (Sputnik) ~ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the US earlier this month to convince those rebel groups which they support in Syria to leave areas where al-Nusra Front militants are present.

Earlier, Washington asked Moscow to direct its airstrikes solely at al-Nusra Front and refrain from targeting so-called “moderate” rebels, working with al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

“The Americans are now saying that they are unable to remove the ‘good’ opposition members from the positions held by al-Nusra Front, and that they will need another two-three months. I am under the impression that there is a game here and they may want to keep al-Nusra Front in some form and later use it to overthrow the [Assad] regime,” Lavrov said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The US-Russian brokered ceasefire entered into force on ceasefire agreement came into force across Syria on February 27. Terrorist organizations such the Daesh and al-Nusra Front are excluded from the truce.


usa-isis-terrorists-01

RELATED:

Washington’s Achilles Heel in Syria:
Why US Asked Russia Not to Bomb Nusra

In a slight turn of events, Washington asked Moscow to direct its airstrikes solely at al-Nusra Front and refrain from targeting so-called “moderate” rebels, working with al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, but, Russian officials and experts have said it is not rational since these militants are coordinating attacks against government forces and civilians.

(Sputnik) ~ In other words, those who work with al-Nusra Front even if they do so from time to time are de facto not moderate – whether they are described as such or not.

“The Obama Administration thus continues with the fiction that there are completely separate, vetted, moderate rebels who are dedicated to creating an inclusive, multi-cultural, multi-confessional, secular and democratic Syria as soon as both [Daesh] and the Assad government are defeated,” political analyst Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, noted ironically.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the US to convince those rebel groups which they support in Syria to leave areas where al-Nusra Front militants are present. The Americans “are telling us not to hit [al-Nusra Front], because there is ‘normal’ opposition next to it,” the diplomat said. “But that opposition must leave terrorists’ positions, we long have agreed on that.”

In fact, this agreement was reached months ago, but it has not been implemented yet, making counterterrorism efforts in Syria less efficient.

twt-russ-1

Interestingly, both Moscow and Washington view al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization. In this context, distancing itself from al-Qaeda’s offshoot should have been a non-issue for what Russian officials often have referred to as “patriotic” opposition. Why are they not severing ties will al-Qaeda then?

Some have tried to defend these groups by saying that they have been forced to stay with al-Nusra Front.

“To be sure, it has been clear for years that the US-allied anti-Assad rebels in Syria lean on al-Qaeda’s military prowess for their survival. Some US officials stress that Nusra and opposition forces currently are working together on occasion and that such cooperation is not born out of shared ideology but practical wartime necessity,” the Daily Beast asserted.

But what wartime necessity could justify killing civilians? For instance, in May, al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, a group that the US considers to be moderate, killed 19 civilians in a joint attack on the Alawite village of Zara, located in the Hama province.

“They killed elderly people, took children and women as captives,” Abdou Khalifa, a villager wounded in the attack, told RT last month. Another villager, Munzer Qasem, referred to the attack as a massacre. “I heard of two or three entire families killed. Abu Naval’s family was killed. He was an old man and was killed together with his daughters. They were slaughtered in their own house.”

Meanwhile, al-Nusra Front have managed to regroup and resupply, taking advantage of the nationwide ceasefire and “moderate” rebels in their midst, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported on Saturday.

In the last few days they have launched attacks on Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, as well as Ard al-Wata, Rasha and Kinsibba in the ‪‎Latakia‬ province, Tesnin in the Homs province, Marj al-Sultan in the Damascus province and the northern region of al-Manshiya neighborhood in the ‪‎Daraa‬ province.

The latest assaults claimed the lives of more than 270 civilians.

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“Why is no one asking why … moderates would want to associate themselves with al-Qaeda in the first place? Why do they seek to integrate into al-Qaeda command structures? How are they not to be considered ducks when they walk like ducks and quack like ducks?” Daniel McAdams asked.

http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.003003&lon=38.430176&z=7&m=bs

click on map to enlarge ~ here for the original link


SOURCES:SputnikNewsSputnikNews
Submitted by SyrianPatriotsWar Press Info Network at:
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/usa-use-al-nusra_ts/
~

Syrian Army Targets ISIL Positions in Homs, Deir EzzorLocal Editor

Syrian ArmyUnits of the Syrian army and armed forces, supported by the Syrian air force continued on Saturday combating terrorism in several provinces in the country, destroying terrorist positions, dens and vehicles as well as killing and injuring scores of them.

Homs

Units of the army, supported by the army’s air force, destroyed 3 positions and a bomb car for ISIL near al-Rayan village, al- Tleilah and Ark in Homs eastern countryside, a military source told SANA.

The Syrian army also repelled an attack launched by ISIL terrorists on it positions between Qasr al-Heer and al-Qaryatain.

Meanwhile, an army unit destroyed an explosive-loaded vehicle for ISIL before it reached al-Rayan village turn some 20 kms to southeast of Homs city, the source added

Deir Ezzor

The army’s air force carried out special raids on the dens and sites of ISIL terrorists in Deir Ezzor countryside.

A military source told SANA that the raids ended up with destroying two positions and vehicles for ISIL in the south and west parts of Deir Ezzor airport.

Hama

Army units foiled an ISIL attempt to attack military posts in the eastern countryside of Hama province.

A field source told SANA Saturday that army units heavily clashed during the past hours with groups of ISIL terrorists sneaked into the vicinity of military posts near the village of al-Mefakr at the eastern countryside of Salamiyeh city.

The clashes ended up with killing and injuring a number of ISIL terrorists and destroying their weapon-loaded vehicles.

Daraa

Army units destroyed a mortar launcher of al-Nusra Front (Qaeda branch in the Levant) terrorist organization at the northwestern side of al-Masbah on the road of al-Sadd, a military source told SANA.

A terrorist group which was fortifying positions located southern Khazan al-Karak neighborhood in Daraa al-Balad was also eliminated, according to then source.

Source: Agencies

18-06-2016 – 16:56 Last updated 18-06-2016 – 16:56

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Speak-out and organize to stop the US-led destruction of Iraq and Syria now

Oct 4, 2014, Tony Seed’s Weblog

Windsor – Rally and Speak-Out: Stop the U.S.-Led Destruction of Iraq and Syria Now!

Saturday, October 4 — 11:00 am
Meet at City Hall Square — Speak Out starts at 11:45 am
Organized by: Windsor Peace Coalition
For information: windsorpeace@hotmail.com of 226-975-2010

The Windsor Peace Coalition calls on all those in Windsor and Essex County who stand for peace and justice to join us in saying NO! to the U.S.-led destruction of Iraq and Syria.

The only “debate” about it in Parliament is over how Canada will be involved in a new US-led war in the region. Canadians don’t want debates on how best to invade, destabilize and interfere in other countries’ affairs; we want to end it.

It is brutally ironic that October 7 marks the 13th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that was launched under bogus pretexts and which Canada is still embroiled in today through NATO.

Don’t let the warmongers in Parliament speak in your name! Don’t let them embroil us in another war of aggression under bogus pretexts that will only lead to more chaos and violence and crimes against the people of the world!

We call on all unions, political parties, community groups and everyone else to speak out NOW! Spread the word far and wide to co-workers, friends and family and through social and other media. Join in!

Invest in our Communities, Not in War!
Anti-War Picket every Saturday — 11:00 am-12:00 noon
Corner of Ottawa St. and Walker Rd.


Edmonton Anti-War Picket


Friday, October 10 — 4:30 p.m.
109 Street and 88 Avenue
Organized by: Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism (ECAWAR)
For information: www.ecawar.org

Halifax
Weekly Anti-War Picket
Fridays — 4:00-5:00 pm
Corner of Spring Garden Rd. and Barrington St.
Organized by: No Harbour for War
For information: noharbourforwar@hotmail.com


November 21, 2009: Haligonians mount a vigorous protest against the First Halifax International Security Forum, funded by DND and ACOA.

Rally to Oppose the Halifax War Conference
Saturday, November 22 — 1:00 pm
Halifax Peace & Freedom Park (formerly Cornwallis Park) Hollis & South Sts. 
For information: Facebook

The 6th annual Halifax International Security Forum will be convened on November 21-23 as a platform for warmongering and empire building of U.S. imperialism and the NATO bloc, in which the Harper Government is fully embroiled. 

Warmongers from more than 50 countries will join U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Sen. John McCain, Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and some 300 others at the Washington, DC -based Forum “to learn from each other, share opinions, generate new ideas, and put them into action.”

The first 2009 forum was dedicated to popularizing NATO’s then new “security doctrine.” Ensuing forums have provided a stage to justify NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” in Libya and Africa, Syria and Iran. Closely following the NATO’s Summit in September at Newport, Wales this forum will no doubt further the dark plans of NATO to attack and destroy the Assad government in Syria under the guise of destroying ISIL “Islamic terrorism”,  and to use Ukraine as a battering ram and platform on which to foster major aggression against Russia.

The warmongering forums also form the venue for the United States to form new military arrangements to integrate the Canadian Forces under its command. In 2009, US Secretary of State Robert Gates announced that US Marines would henceforth exercise in the Arctic to “defend Canadian sovereignty.” In 2011, Hagel announced that Canada had signed a still secret protocol to join Obama’s Asia Pivot strategy aimed at China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The forum has increasingly put on the table the issue of “energy security” – to ensure that Canadian oil and gas production and export conform with the plans of the U.S. and NATO, in which energy is viewed as a weapon against rival powers such as Russia. Taking into account Fortress America or Fortress North America, the security perimeter agreement, part of the SPP agreement (Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement of North America), their program is a union of North American monopolies in which all the working class and the resources of Canada and Mexico are annexed by the USA so as to compete more effectively with Europe for the domination of Asia.

The HISF is a 100 per cent U.S. operation lock, stock and barrel, paid for by millions of our taxdollars handed over by the Harper government to the US organizers. The agenda is one of nation-wrecking and the usurping of decision-making in the sphere of foreign and military policy of Canada, as shown by the fact that the offices of the HISF are located at 1717 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, DC. This necessitates the elimination of the opposition and resistance of the workers and peoples including the First Nations to the unrestrained plunder of our land, labour and resources.

It is unacceptable that Halifax, or any Canadian city, be used as a venue to plan further crimes against the peace and the peoples of the world. Bring your banners, bring your music and statements, and most of all bring your friends to oppose this war conference.

HANDS OFF SYRIA, IRAQ & IRAN!

HANDS OFF PALESTINE & UKRAINE!

WAR CRIMINALS – OUT OF HALIFAX!

CANADA OUT OF NATO!    DISMANTLE NATO!

WE NEED AN ANTI-WAR GOVERNMENT!

NO HARBOUR FOR WAR!

For further info: noharbourforwar@hotmail.com

http://tonyseed.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/speak-out-and-organize-to-stop-the-us-led-destruction-of-iraq-and-syria-now/

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Another ceasefire in Gaza? No, thank you

Published time: September 03, 2014

A Palestinian sits under a tent next to houses that witnesses said were heavy shelled by Israel during the offensive, in the Shejaia neighbourhood east of Gaza City August 31, 2014. (Reuters)

A Palestinian sits under a tent next to houses that witnesses said were heavy shelled by Israel during the offensive, in the Shejaia neighbourhood east of Gaza City August 31, 2014. (Reuters)

Last week, Palestinians and Israelis agreed to yet another ceasefire of hostilities in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians appeared triumphant. After more than 2,100 mostly-civilian deaths, tens of thousands injured or displaced and chunks of Gaza buried under rubble, they managed to get Israel to serve up some“concessions.”

Israelis seemed decidedly glum. Only 69 died, but there was no decisive “victory”either, which always rankles with the IDF and makes politicians drop in the polls.

There was more bad news for Israel. The IDF launched a major air and ground military offensives and did not come close to destroying its adversaries’ leadership, organization, military capabilities and alliances. During the seven weeks of brutal attacks against the densely-populated civilian centers, Israel managed to put the Palestinian issue back on the Arab map, draw unprecedented global censure, and give wings to the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaign to undermine Israel’s economy. Israel also managed to unify Palestinian political parties across the board – a minor miracle – and make regional heroes out of the “Palestinian Resistance.” With every lash of Israel’s whip, Palestinians found new determination to break the siege of Gaza and end Israel’s occupation.

That’s all well and good, but here’s what needs to be clear: Palestinians did not achieve their goals either.

So then, what’s with all the jubilation over a mere “ceasefire?” When did countless dozens of ceasefires ever end the siege of Gaza or end the occupation? Did ceasefires ever stop Palestinians from getting killed? Did homes and mosques and schools and playgrounds ever get built because of a ceasefire? Did coastal Gaza ever grow lush and rich and free with an Israeli “ceasefire?”

Of course not.

Israel loves ceasefires. It is part of the occupation game. Every so often, Israel flexes its muscles and beats up Gaza. The trigger doesn’t even have to come from Gaza – the place is simply a convenient punching bag and is easily justified by the“Hamas-Terror” language beamed through western media.

The goal is always the same, regardless of what the Israelis publicly claim: To take down Hamas & Company a notch or two; to inflict pain on the population of Gaza in hope that they will turn on their leaders; to cripple Gaza enough to keep Palestinians busy rebuilding lives, but not fighting occupation.

The ideal Gaza attack is short and brutal. The longer it continues, the harder it becomes for Israel to control all the “variables” of conflict, and the more likely it is to “incur loss.” Israeli casualties, surprise Palestinian weapons/tactics, negative publicity…these kinds of things can make a routine exercise of “punishing Gaza” into a public relations disaster for a sitting Israeli prime minister.

So a short-and-brutal Gaza attack is always key.

Palestinians Hamas supporters celebrate with people what they said was a victory over Israel, in Gaza City August 27, 2014. (Reuters)

Palestinians Hamas supporters celebrate with people what they said was a victory over Israel, in Gaza City August 27, 2014. (Reuters)

Israel pursues ceasefires from almost the moment it kicks off an assault. Not directly – that would appear weak – but through interested parties that “seek to promote peace.”

And ceasefires they get. Palestinians in Gaza are naturally grateful for the lull in violence, international players pat themselves on the back for doing something about the “Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” and Israelis are satisfied that they have met each and every one of their goals.

Until Israel decides Gaza needs another beating.

Who breaks the ceasefires?

A 2009 study that tracked patterns of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza over the course of 8 years reveals some astonishing data. Unlike what western mainstream media coverage of the conflict suggests, Israel violates the vast majority of ceasefires by “killing a Palestinian” first.

MIT’s Nancy Kanwisher, Princeton University’s Johannes Haushofer and Tel Aviv University’s Anat Biletzki concluded the following in their exhaustive study:

“It is overwhelmingly Israel that kills first after a pause in the conflict: 79 percent of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a Palestinian, while only 8 percent were interrupted by Palestinian attacks (the remaining 13 percent were interrupted by both sides on the same day). In addition, we found that this pattern — in which Israel is more likely than Palestine to kill first after a conflict pause — becomes more pronounced for longer conflict pauses. Indeed, of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted 24, or 96 percent, and it unilaterally interrupted 100 percent of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days.”

In short, Israel can’t sit still when things are calm in Gaza for too long.

The study also manages to debunk a widespread Israeli myth about its need to retaliate against “Palestinian rockets.” The researchers amassed precise quantitative data from the IDF and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem on the numbers of Qassam rockets fired between January 2001 and April 2008: “3,645 Qassam rockets fired, but only 15 associated fatalities.”

The researchers then tracked Israeli actions before and after the rocket firings in order to ascertain if their reactions were retaliatory or not (the study tracks the same behaviors for Palestinians).

Seven years of data demonstrates that “Israeli military actions against Palestinians may lead to escalation of violence rather than incapacitation of Palestinian military operations against Israel.” In other words, Israel knows full well that attacks on Palestinians results in “escalation” of conflict.

The report arrives at a startling conclusion after examining the data patterns:

“If prevention of attacks was the main reason for Israeli attacks, one would expect Israeli killings of Palestinians to occur not only before but also after rocket attacks; in fact, one might argue that killings of Palestinians by Israel should increase strongly following rocket attacks, reflecting Israeli operations to shut down the cells that were responsible for the attacks. However, we find that killings of Palestinians by Israel do not in fact increase significantly following rocket attacks. This result suggests that the killings of Palestinians by Israel preceding rocket attacks are usually not preventative measures to suppress rocket attacks.”

If no ceasefire, then what?

Israel has managed to create a conflict-within-a-conflict: all eyes are on Gaza’s next ceasefire, not on ending the occupation. The terms of most of these ceasefires are violated, either immediately or shortly thereafter. After the last major escalation in November 2012, the ceasefire deal was never implemented. There was simply no mechanism for enforcing the agreement, and there never will be one. It is like the Oslo Agreement – a never-ending “process” that doesn’t ever outline the end game, but leaves things up to “further discussion.”

An Israeli soldier directs a tank onto a truck at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip August 27, 2014. (Reuters)

An Israeli soldier directs a tank onto a truck at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip August 27, 2014. (Reuters)

Israel has also cleverly managed to limit its military theater to Gaza. No more battling across borders with Arab states; no more “Intifadas” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel today has managed to not only physically “Balkanize”Palestinian territories, but also to mentally Balkanize them.

Palestinians are the only ones that can break the occupation and force an end-game, but this will not come about playing by Israel’s rules. Gaza may be the last battlefield, but it is a powerful one. Israel loses every single day it fights with Palestinians – each day brings undeterminable risk to the entire colonial enterprise that is the “Jewish State.”

Palestinian-born Adnan Abu Odeh, a trustee of the International Crisis Group (ICG) and former Jordanian minister, senator and chief of the royal court to King Hussein, framed it this way last week:

“Israel’s locomotive is Zionism. The issue with Israel’s conflicts with Gaza and with southern Lebanon is not about how many Israelis were killed. The issue to them is deeper. Israel is based on two things: bringing Jews from all over world to Israel (Aliyah) and keeping Jews there. Gaza and Lebanon hurt them this way – Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will hesitate. And those already there, they are thinking whether they made a mistake. This is a strike at the core of Zionism.”

Beating up on Gaza periodically is one way of allaying Jewish fears. “See, we are strong, we are masterful, we have this Iron Dome.”

But to see Gaza unbowed after 50 days of conflict – the missile capabilities of Palestinian Resistance undiminished, irrespective of “targeted” Israeli operations… That makes Israelis think twice.

What if Palestinians in Gaza did not cease fire? What if nobody and nothing could halt Palestinian outrage and determination to battle through? What if all“concessions”’ were rejected and only a total and immediate end to Israel’s occupation would stop the fight?

What would Israel do? Would it kill every Palestinian in Gaza? Could it bomb any more schools than it already has? When Palestinians inside Gaza swear allegiance to “Resistance” more than Palestinians outside, who has the right to thwart that spirit?

Israel is built on a narrative of persecution and genocide. There is a point at which killing Palestinians triggers vastly “diminishing returns” and we started seeing that as Palestinian casualties rose toward a horrifying new threshold of 2,000 deaths, and the term “genocide” started to be commonly used in relation to Israel’s behavior.

But when the Palestinian Resistance accepted Tel Aviv’s latest ceasefire, it took that tally down to zero. Next time around, the international community starts counting at “0” and Israel knows full well that it has conditioned people to tolerate a 1,000-2,000 casualty “result.”

The question is: can Gaza afford to stop fighting until it affects fundamental change in Israel’s behavior – until it establishes “deterrence” against further attack or halts the occupation? I think not. The biggest mistake Palestinians made with the first and second Intifadas was halting them and making “deals.”

Israel’s greatest fear is that Palestinians will break out of the ordered processes and patterns set up to control them. That would mean NOT accepting a deal; not participating in the ceasefire game. It also means – and this is crucial – rejecting Oslo, dismantling the compliant Palestinian Authority, reinstating the inclusive PLO as the “sole legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people.”

A wheelchair is seen as Palestinians stand atop the ruins of the headquarters of El-Wafa rehabilitation hospital, which witnesses said was destroyed during a seven-week Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 28, 2014. (Reuters)

A wheelchair is seen as Palestinians stand atop the ruins of the headquarters of El-Wafa rehabilitation hospital, which witnesses said was destroyed during a seven-week Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 28, 2014. (Reuters)

Moreover, it means embracing armed resistance against Israel as a tenet of the struggle against occupation. You need the “stick” to make the “carrot” more palatable– an obvious tactic that somehow manages to elude the “well-behaved natives” that head the PA.

Five days after the latest ceasefire went into effect, Israel announced its biggest land-grab in 30 years, from five Palestinian villages in the West Bank.

On the same day, Israel began its game of unraveling ceasefire “concessions” by insisting on more “process.” A key ceasefire deal term was to allow Palestinians to import building materials to help rebuild the devastation in Gaza. After 50 days of negotiations, Tel Aviv now insists a “bilateral committee” be established to oversee this process, consisting of Israel, the PA and the UN? This post-deal demand, the Israelis know, means that All Things will perpetually be tied up in “discussions.”

Ceasefire? Please.

Israel and its western/Arab allies have a goal. They plan to dismantle the Palestinian Resistance in this last Gaza battlefield. To do that, they will carefully begin to insert their PA partners into all aspects of Gaza’s administration. We will see more initiatives like this after US Secretary of State John Kerry’s upcoming visit to the region. His Saudi and Egyptian partners are on board. Israel will lead this game.

What should Gaza do? It should beef up its existing alliances and continue stockpiling its weapons arsenal. Israel must continue to endure losses, experience pain, and watch its citizens flee the “unpredictability” – take their second passportsand leave. There is absolutely no other way forward – none whatsoever.

Palestinians will never have political chips worth a dime in negotiations with a right-wing Israeli administration unless they can affect the “Aliyah” of Jews to Israel.

Ceasefire? A hollow victory indeed.

Sharmine Narwani for RT

Follow@snarwanion Twitter

Cairo Talks Resumed: ’Israel’ Warns, Resistance Ready for All Possibilities

Local Editor

Palestinian Delegation

The indirect talks between the Palestinian and the Israeli negotiators in Cairo are to be resumed today to conclude an agreement on a long-term truce in the light of an Egyptian suggestion in this regard.

Egypt suggested implementing a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and resuming the negotiations in a month.

Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said ‘Israel’ would not agree to any proposal which did not offer a clear answer to the entity’s  security needs.

For their part, Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements announced that they are ready for all the possibilities and that the Zionist government has to accept the Palestinian conditions in order to reach a final agreement.

The Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank expressed their solidarity with their delegation to Cairo and asserted that they prefer war to a degrading agreement.

The Palestinians also accused the Israeli government of resorting to deception in order to shun implementing any agreement’s provisions which meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.

Source: Al-Manar Website

17-08-2014 – 15:45 Last updated 17-08-2014 – 15:45

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Franklin Lamb: Introducing the Syria Resistance (PFLI) and it’s Leader

ED NOTE: Thanks to our friend Dr. Franklin Lamb for introducing the Syrian resistance and its Leader Ali Kayali fighting in all fronts, shoulder to shoulder with the Syrian Arab Army,  the takfirs sponsored by the zionists world order and its tools Saudia, Qatar, Turkey and the So-called March 14 movement. The resistance will continue until full liberation of Syrian Land, including south Syria (Palestine) and every inch of Syrian Land occupied by Turkey.
I added some pictures and the videos
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North of Latakia, Syria Posted on 
https://i2.wp.com/www.iskenderun.org/Fotogaleri/Sahil/iskenderun_sahil013.jpg
Every school kid here in Syria learns at an early age about the various colonial land grabs that have lopped off key parts of their ancient country, and they receive instruction about their national duty to recover this sacred territory. The concept applies equally to still-occupied Palestine, or at least it did before the 2011 uprising got started, albeit since then a degree of resentment has arisen over participation by some Palestinians with rebel groups seeking to topple the Syrian government.
https://i0.wp.com/i.imgur.com/COy9D.jpg
Be that as it may, one such land grab historically remembered, and which is currently galvanizing resistance on behalf of Syria, is that of Iskenderun, north of Latakia, in a disputed Syria-Turkish border area. As Turkish, Saudi, and Qatari-sponsored jihadists continue to enter the country, well worth remembering is it that Iskenderun is rich in natural resources and that for thousands of years it was part of Syria. But that status changed more than half a century ago when France cut it off from Syria and grafted it onto Turkey—and now some pro-government militias are fighting to get it back.
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The name derives from Alexander the Great, who around 333 BC encamped in the area and ordered a city be built, although the exact site of the historic city is subject to dispute. At any rate, the strategic importance of Iskenderun comes from its geographical relation to Syrian Gates, the easiest approach to the open ground of Hatay Province and Aleppo, and the dispute over it has been heating up recently, partly as a result of the current crisis.
It all started on July 5, 1938, when Turkish forces under Colonel Sukril Kanath launched an aggression, with French approval, and ethnically cleansed the local Armenian Christian and Allawi populations. The Turkish invasion was enabled by the French, partners with Britain in Sykes-Picot, who had remained as illegal occupiers of Syria, a holdover from the League of Nations mandate. The French were complicit in a rigged referendum, essentially ceding to Turkey this Syrian territory, which by then was referred to as the Republic of Hatay. It was a land grab. Pure and simple. And it was part of a secret deal to secure Turkey’s help with the fast approaching war with Germany. Paris and Ankara struck a deal: Turkey, while not joining the allies against Germany, declared neutrality and essentially sat out World War II.

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Commander Ali Kayali, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Iskenderun
Syria, rather than being expansionist, as it is sometimes accused of by Turkey and the Zionist regime, has actually been losing territory, not gaining it. “We lost northern Palestine in 1918, Lebanon in 1920, and the Iskenderun area through French duplicity,” said a retired diplomat here. “Surely Lebanon must also be returned to Syria. It was never a real country and it never will be as far as I am concerned. It is part of Syria!”Indeed, as Robert Fisk points out, after the First World War, most Lebanese wished their land to remain part of Syria (see the results of the King-Crane Commission) rather than live in a separate “nation” under French domination. As we parted, the gentleman shook my hand and declared: “Of course Iskendurun is part of Syria. No honest person can deny this!”
Enter one remarkable Syrian nationalist, Ali Kayali, aka “Abu Zaki”. So how did a polite gentleman from this region of Turkish-occupied Syria end up leading one of the most effective resistance militias in the northern theater in the current Syrian crisis? Basically he did it the same way as untold numbers of Palestinians supporting young Syrian men during the early 1980’s.
Ali went to Beirut to resist the 1982 Zionist aggression. There he was baptized by fire, so to speak, carrying the banner of his new group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Iskenderun (PFLI) under the tutelage of Dr. George Habash and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Ali fought in a number of south Lebanon fronts, and also inside West Beirut, but then after the PLO withdrawal (on 8/20/82), he returned to Syria, to Tartous, joining the rebellion against PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. Near Bedwari camp he fought, as part of the Fatah Intifada uprising, this following the PLO split along -pro-Arafat and pro-Hafez Assad cleavages.

Later, Ali undertook study on his own in Tartous (Tripoli, Syria), and at one point escaped from prison in Turkey where he had been jailed for demonstrating against the fascist regime in Ankara. Returning to Syria, he joined Syrian Army battles against the Bilal Shaaban-led Al Tawhid Islamic (Muslim Brotherhood ), following which he and the PFLI moved to the area of Halba in Akkar, Lebanon, and organized a resistance training camp. Eventually, however, he returned to Syria to continue the fight to liberate the Syrian territory of Iskenderun, and while supported by Syrian citizens, the Kayali-led group was not formally part of the Syrian security/resistance apparatus.

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Commander Ali discussing PFLI positions
Speaking with non-government analysts in Latkia, this observer was repeatedly told that the PFLI has the reputation of understanding the geography and politics of the Syrian coast area where its fighters are currently active, including Aleppo, Banias, between Tartous and the countryside around Latakia, as well as the Idlib, Homs and Damascus areas.

As PFLI fighters and officials put it, “Syria will not kneel to the Zionist-Arab project to destroy the unity and independence of the Syrian Arab Republic.” According to one PFLI spokesperson, the group “supports and stands in the same trench, hand in hand with the state, confronting two foreign projects—the first being to destroy the achievements of the Syrian people and Syria’s social fabric and multi-cultural heritage, and the second being to infiltrate foreign intruders.”

One place the PFLI is currently fighting is the strategic rebel bastion of Yabrud, in the Qalamoun Mountains, north of Damascus, near the Lebanese border. On 3/3/14, during a meeting with this observer and some of his associates, Ali Kyali received a phone call relaying information that Sahel village, about four miles from Yabrud, had come under control of Syrian and pro-Syrian forces, including the PFLI. Remarkably open with battlefield details, Ali explained that pro-Syria forces do not want to occupy Yabrud, but rather the strategy is to control the villages surrounding it in order to trap al Nursa and other rebel militia inside. Asked about the trapped local population and reminded of the fate of the inner city populations of Aleppo, Homs and a dozen other locations, Ali shrugged and turned up his palms.

Today (3/7/14) the PFLI is fighting to try to cut off the road linking Yabrud to Arsal in eastern Lebanon, whose majority population supports the Syrian revolt. PFIL fighters were involved last week with the fall of Al-Sahl, a town a little over a mile south of Yabrud, and now are fighting in and around Yaboud, preparing for the anticipated final assault. According to Ali’s personal bodyguards, they are facing Al-Qaida’s Syria affiliate, al-Nusra Front. Some of PFLI’s 3000 troops are also fighting this week in Douma, Jobar, Aleppo, the countryside around Lattakia, and Deralcia near Nubek on the main Damascus-Homs highway. They also played a key role earlier in Baniyas, in the battle between Tartous and Latakia. One YouTube clip being given to visitors to the PFLI HQ in Latakia shows the group’s participation, including women, in a recent important battle against the ISIS:

The PFLI organization receives a variety of random and sporadic support from the local community, according to Mr. Kayali and his staff, but they, like most militia, need money and weapons and regular supplies of food. Also needed are places for the fighters to sleep, as well as more uniforms to accommodate a sharp influx of applicants seeking to join their ranks. Additionally there is the matter of funding death benefit payments for the families of PFLI men and women killed during resistance.

PFLI fighters are not paid salaries, which sets them apart financially from many Gulf-backed and Western-trained militia, who can garner monthly salaries from $500-$1,000. By contrast, pro-government popular committees, numbering approximately 5,000, and National Defense units, whose fighters number around 25,000, receive approximately 20,000 Syrian Pounds, or $126 a month. Footing much of this bill are Syrian businessmen such as Rami Mahlouf, cousin of President Bashar Assad. Regular Syrian army recruits get only 3000 Syrian pounds, or about $20 monthly, but they also receive food and lodging and health and travel benefits. Syrian army reservists are said to receive approximately $10.50 per month.

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“Joan of Arc” with part of her resistance family
For Ali Kayali, the PFLI is also a family matter. His wife and daughter and two sons are deeply connected with its resistance goals. His sons are fighters, as are his wife and daughter when called upon, though in-between time they do other resistance projects. Nicked-named “Joan of Arc,” his 22-year-old daughter attends medical school, but reportedly is also a ferocious fighter and adept battlefield tactician, with dramatic results in a number of battles against rebels over the past nearly two years. She is a strong, no-nonsense feminist and told me she loves to shock takfiris, who sometimes appear amazed to see her and her female unit chasing them up the side of some mountain.
It is said that an army (or a militia, for that matter) travels on its stomach. This observer was treated to an impromptu roadside lunch with half a dozen PFLI fighters last week. Their favorite cook, Mahmoud, a small guy who always seems to wear the same blue shirt, invited us. Within minutes, Mahmoud gathered some twigs and small chunks of wood, lit a small fire, covered it with a metal grate, grabbed a bag of flour, mixed in water, kneaded it a bit, and shaped and roasted some small, irregular round loaves. On these he sprinkled, from another plastic bag, some handfuls of spices. His fast and hot food was delicious, constituting Mhamra manouche (roasted pita bread with spicy red pepper sauce), Zaatar  manouche (oregano, thyme, & sesame seeds), and Jibneh (cheese) manouche.
Captagon Jihad?
Sitting in the lobby of a run-down, less-than-one-star, dockside hotel opposite the Mediterranean, a lodging establishment occasionally used as quarters by various militia, this observer and his companion spoke leisurely one early morning with one of Ali Kyali’s sons and a companion. When not fighting jihadists (in “Have AK-47, Will Travel”-mode), they are among his father’s bodyguards. I have for a while been interested in claims by Western governments that they are supplying “humanitarian non-lethal aid” to rebel groups, including night goggles, telecommunication equipment, and GPS devices. This observer views all such equipment as misnamed and indeed lethal inasmuch as they facilitate one side killing the other via night snipers or through expedition of troop movements. I was a bit surprised to learn what PFLI fighters thought of this kind of equipment being given to their adversaries and labeled ‘humanitarian aid.’
“Not having night goggles, except for some we take off the enemy, is not much of a problem for us because we can sense where al Nusra fighters are, and they tend not to fight at night,” Ali’s son told me.
I asked why the reluctance to fight at night, thinking maybe it had something to do with a religious edict of some sort, but once more I was mistaken.
“No it’s not that, it’s because they are too paranoid and exhausted, from taking captagon and even stronger drugs, to fight at night.”
According the guys I was sitting with, some with more than two years fighting experience with the PFLI, many, if not most, of the Gulf-sponsored jihadists are given bags of pills to enhance their battlefield courage. And it works to a degree. At dawn each day, jihadists take drugs, including large doses of captagon and other widely available drugs. There also are some particularly potent drugs, known locally as “baltcon,” “afoun,” and ”zolm,” as well as opium, heroin, cocaine, and hashish. The main drug routes into the Syrian battle zones, I was advised, run from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Lebanon, with lesser amounts coming via Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. Lebanon’s Bekaa valley apparently produces large amounts of captagon pills for shipment to the Gulf, and now to Syria. Jihadists high on drugs apparently feel invincible, and hostile, and do not fear death. Many are indeed ferocious and fearless fighters during the day, as many media sources have reported. But by nightfall, when the drug wears off, the fighters become exhausted and sometimes are found asleep on the very scene of battle they were fighting from.

“Many of the ‘Gulfies’ are in fact heavily addicted to strong heroin-like drugs. They crave them, and sometimes they even fight with their fellow militiamen to get their ‘fixes.’ We are told by some we capture that sometimes, when one of their comrades is killed, the fallen fighter’s ‘friends’ will descend on his body, not particularly to pray over it, but to rummage his pockets for his drugs.”

In point of fact, in 2011 alone, Lebanese authorities confiscated three amphetamine production labs, in addition to two Captagon-producing labs, which they claim were responsible for sending hundreds of thousands of the pills to the Gulf. The seizure of trucks with captagon in their chassis in Lebanon, and at Beirut airport, shows a growing demand for these products in the Syrian militia market. The UN recently reported that the Middle and Near East are experiencing the majority of drug busts globally.
Al Nusra Front and ISIS—being some of the more extreme “imported jihadists,” as some here call them—claim to be better fighters than Hezbollah, whose units set the fighting skill bar fairly high these days. Some of them claim they have not really started their battle to defeat Hezbollah on its own territory, but will do so when they are ready. But as one PFLI fighter explained, and some of his buddies nodded agreement, only when high on drugs do Qatari/Saudi jihadists exhibit bravery and bravado. Only then do they pose a serious threat, because they ignore normal defensive fighting tactics.
“We know many of these guys quite well. Lots of them were never even religious. There are many who are drug addicts, who get high and lose their fear of dying, so they are dangerous to confront, and they often use strange tactics.”
According to another PFLI source, the “imported Jihadists” die in high numbers because they ignore the battlefield realities. Their average number of dead in any given firefight over the past two years is estimated to be approximately five times the number of Hezbollah casualties, three times the number of PFLI fighters, and twice the number of casualties than the regular Syrian army.
As the Syrian crisis enters its fourth year, with more jihadists arriving and more militia being formed across the political and religious spectrum, the US intelligence community and congressional sources are now predicting the war will continue for another decade or more. It’s anyone’s guess what the post-Syrian crisis period will bring to this region given the rise of ethno-nationalism along with demands for the return of Sykes-Picot land grabs. There are also growing signs of a cataclysmic intifada in Palestine. When you add to all that US intelligence predictions of the overthrow of two, and possibly three, Gulf monarchies, another Hezbollah-Zionist war, plus the deterioration of the social and religious fabric across the region, the future looks bleak indeed.
Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.com).
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