British radio station interviews the Saker

January 19, 2017

Wrongheaded Anti-Trump Protests


  Except for short-lived Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, America hasn’t seen sustained street protests since the largely inner city civil rights movement and Vietnam War years, notably on college campuses nationwide – memorable because they poved committed activism works.

Peaking in 1968, anti-war rage got Lyndon Johnson, in a March 31 address, to announce “I shall not seek, nor will I accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

Despite multiple US war theaters since the Clintons raped Yugoslavia, street protests for peace are notably absent.

Endless US wars of aggression rage. Most Americans barely notice, indifferent about mass slaughter and destruction, mindless about their tax dollars enriching Wall Street and war-profiteers, while social justice increasingly goes begging.

Instead of demanding peace, equity and justice, they’re indifferent about US imperial rampaging, waging war on humanity at home and abroad.

Following Trump’s surprise electoral triumph, thousands took to the streets in US cities nationwide, mostly students and other youths.

Outside New York’s Trump International Hotel, they shouted “Not my president!” “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” “Trump makes America hate!” “Impeach Trump” – even though he won’t be inaugurated until January 20, and as a businessman, has no public record, unlike Hillary’s unaccountable high crimes.

In Chicago near where I live, hundreds protested near Trump Tower, then marched through the city’s loop. Smaller groups blocked traffic on Lake Shore Drive near my downtown residence.

Demonstrators chanted “Not my president,” “No Trump, no KKK, no fascists USA.” Some drivers honked horns and raised clenched fists outside their car windows.

Arrests were made, including for obstructing traffic, reckless conduct, criminal trespass and resisting arrest.

Most Americans are deplorably out-of-touch and uninformed, relying largely on television propaganda for news and misinformation.

Trump isn’t the problem. Nationwide protests should rage against America’s system – a one-party state with two right wings, exclusively serving wealth, power and privilege, matter who holds top posts.

The world’s richest nation was thirdworldized. Unprecedented wealth extremes exist, Republicans and Democrats in lockstep on issues mattering most. A single major difference separates them.

Hillary as president would risk nuclear war on Russia, perhaps followed against China and Iran. Trump would rather exploit planet earth for profit than destroy it, his business interests along with it.

Democracy in America is pure fantasy. Voters have no say whatever. Powerful interests control everything – sacrificing social justice to use national resources for warmaking and enriching corporate predators, at the expense of governance of, by and for everyone equitably.

Instead of resisting an increasingly tyrannical system, a hugely unjust one, energy is wasted against a president-elect with no public record. So it’s unknown how he’ll govern until he’s sworn in over two months from now.

America’s dirty system persists because activism doesn’t challenge it, energy wasted against Trump, instead of the dirty system and deep state dark forces running it.

Change won’t happen until equity and justice replaces it. Grassroots revolution alone can work.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. – See more at:

President al-Assad: “United States and its Western allies are to blame for failure of latest ceasefire”

Syrian Free Press

Bashar al-Assad -Paris Match-990x260-HOME

(Damascus, 3/11/2016) ~ President Bashar al-Assad asserted that the United States and its Western allies are to blame for the failure of latest ceasefire, because terrorism and terrorists are for them a card they want to play on the Syrian arena.

In an interview given to the Serbian newspaper Politika, President al-Assad said that Russia is very serious and very determined to continue fighting the terrorists, while the Americans base their politics on a different value as they use the terrorists as a card to play the political game to serve their own interests at the expense of the interests of other countries in the world.

President al-Assad pointed out that Western countries wanted to use the humanitarian mask in order to have an excuse to intervene more in Syria, either militarily or by supporting the terrorists.

Following is the full text of the interview:


Question 1: Mr. President, why has the latest Syria ceasefire failed? Who is to blame for that?

President Assad: Actually, the West, mainly the United States, has made that pressure regarding the ceasefire, and they always ask for ceasefire only when the terrorists are in a bad situation, not for the civilians. And they try to use those ceasefires in order to support the terrorists, bring them logistic support, armament, money, everything, in order to re-attack and to become stronger again. When it didn’t work, they ask the terrorists to make it fail or to start attacking again. So, who’s to blame? It’s the United States and its allies, the Western countries, because for them, terrorists and terrorism are a card they want to play on the Syrian arena, it’s not a value, they’re not against terrorists. For them, supporting the terrorists is a war of attrition against Syria, against Iran, against Russia, that’s how they look at it. That’s why not only this ceasefire; every attempt regarding ceasefire or political moving or political initiative, every failure of these things, the United States was to be blamed.

Question 2: But which country is supporting terrorism? Saudi Arabia? Qatar?

President Assad: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey…

Journalist: Turkey?

President Assad: Because they came through Turkey with the support of the government, direct support from the government.

Journalist: Directly?

President Assad: Direct support from the government, of course.

Journalist: With money or with armament?

President Assad: Let’s say, the endorsement, the greenlight, first. Second, the American coalition, which is called “international coalition,” which is an American. They could see ISIS using our oil fields and carrying the oil through the barrel trucks to Turkey under their drones…

Journalist: This is the Syrian oil?

President Assad: In Syria, from Syria to Turkey, under the supervision of their satellites and drones, without doing anything, till the Russians intervened and started attacking ISIS convoys and ISIS positions and strongholds. This is where ISIS started to shrink. So, the West gave the greenlight to those countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and actually those countries, those governments are puppets; puppets to the West, puppets to the United States, they work as puppets, and the terrorists in Syria are their proxy, the proxy of those countries and proxy of the West and the United States.

Question 3: But money for marketing this oil, who has the money? Turkey?

President Assad: In partnership between ISIS and Turkey. Part of the money goes to ISIS because this is how they can make recruitment and pay salaries to their fighters. That’s why ISIS was growing before the Russian intervention, it was expanding in Syria and in Iraq. And part of the money is going to the Turkish government officials, mainly Erdogan himself and his family.

Journalist: Erdogan himself?

President Assad: Of course, of course. They were directly involved in this trade with ISIS.

Question 4: Mr. President, do you believe the Russians and Americans can ever agree over Syria? Can Russia and the USA be partners in the war against terrorists in Syria?

President Assad: We hope, but in reality, no, for a simple reason: because the Russians based their politics on values, beside their interest. The values are that they adopt the international law, they fight terrorism, and the interest that if you have terrorists prevailing in our region, that will affect not only our region but Europe, Russia, and the rest of the world. So, the Russians are very serious and very determined to continue fighting the terrorists, while the Americans based their politics on a different value, completely different value, their value is that “we can use the terrorists.” I mean the Americans, they wanted to use the terrorists as a card to play the political game to serve their own interests at the expense of the interests of other countries in the world.

Question 5: The situation about bombing the Syrian Army near the airport in Deir Ezzor… How did the American air attack on the Syrian Army happen? Was it a coincidence or not?

President Assad: It was premeditated attack by the American forces, because ISIS was shrinking because of the Syrian and Russian and Iranian cooperation against ISIS, and because al-Nusra which is Al Qaeda-affiliated group had been defeated in many areas in Syria, so the Americans wanted to undermine the position of the Syrian Army; they attacked our army in Deir Ezzor. It wasn’t by coincidence because the raid continued more than one hour, and they came many times.

Journalist: One hour?

President Assad: More than one hour. There were many raids by the Americans and their allies against the Syrian position. At the same time, they attacked a very big area; they didn’t attack a building to say “we made a mistake.” They attacked three big hills, not other groups neighboring these hills, and only ISIS existed in Deir Ezzor. There is no… what they called it “moderate opposition.” So, it was a premeditated attack in order to allow ISIS to take that position, and ISIS attacked those hills, and took those hills right away in less than one hour after the attack.

Journalist: ISIS attacking Syrian position after American…?

President Assad: Less than one hour, in less than one hour, ISIS attacked those hills. It means that ISIS gathered their forces to attack those hills. How did ISIS know that the Americans would attack that Syrian position? It means they were ready, they were prepared. This is an explicit and stark proof that the Americans are supporting ISIS and using it as a card to change the balance according to their political agenda.

Journalist: And after that, America said sorry, huh?

President Assad: They said they regret, they didn’t say sorry. [laughs]

Question 6: Mr. President, who is responsible for the attack on the Red Cross convoy near Aleppo, and what weapons were used for the destruction of the Red Cross convoy?

President Assad: Definitely the terrorist groups in Aleppo, because those are the ones who had an interest. When we announced the truce in Aleppo, they refused it. They said “no, we don’t want a truce.” They refused to have any convoys coming to eastern Aleppo, and that was public, it’s not our propaganda, it’s not our announcement, they announced it. And there was a demonstration by those militants to refuse that convoy. So, they have interest in attacking that convoy, we don’t have. It wasn’t in an area where you have Syrian troops, and at the same time there were no Syrian or Russian airplanes flying in that area anyway. But it was used as part of the propaganda, as part of the narrative against Syria in the West; that we attacked this humanitarian convoy, because the whole war now in Syria, according to the Western propaganda, is taking the shape of humanitarian war. This is the Western mask now; they wanted to use the humanitarian mask in order to have an excuse to intervene more in Syria, and when I say intervene it means militarily or by supporting the terrorists.

Journalist: This is like the situation in former Yugoslavia, in the war in Yugoslavia, also in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the war in Kosovo, humanitarian problems.

President Assad: It’s a different era, maybe, a different shape, but the same core, what happened in your country, and what’s happening now in our country.

Question 7: And the Western propaganda spoke about the problem of using the chemical weapons and the barrel bombs.

President Assad: The same, to show that you have a black-and-white picture; very very bad guy against very very good guy. It’s like the narrative of George W. Bush during the war on Iraq and on Afghanistan. So, they wanted to use those headlines or those terms in their narrative in order to provoke the emotions of the public opinion in their countries. This is where the public opinion would support them if they wanted to interfere, either directly through military attacks, or through supporting their proxies that are the terrorists in our region.

Question 8: I see the news in the last days, the Amnesty International condemned a terrorist group for using the chlorine, the chemical weapons in Aleppo.

President Assad: In Aleppo, exactly, that happened a few days ago, and actually, regardless of these chemical attacks, we announced yesterday that the terrorists killed during the last three days more than 80 innocent civilians in Aleppo, and wounded more than 300. You don’t read anything about them in the Western mainstream media. You don’t see it, you don’t hear about it, there’s nothing about them. They only single out some pictures and some incidents in the area under the control of the terrorists just to use them for their political agenda in order to condemn and to blame the Syrian government, not because they are worried about the Syrians; they don’t care about our children, or about innocents, and about civilization, about infrastructure. They don’t care about it; they are destroying it. But actually, they only care about using everything that would serve their vested interests.

Question 9: And now, your army… you are the supreme commander of Syrian military forces. Your army now has not any chemical weapons?

President Assad: No, we don’t. Since 2013, we gave up our arsenals. Now, no we don’t have. But before that, we have never used it. I mean, when you talk about chemical weapons used by the government, it means you are talking about thousands of casualties in one place in a very short time. We never had this kind of incidents; just allegations in the Western media.

Question 10: Mr. President, when do you think the Syrian war will end?

President Assad: When? I always say less than one year is enough for you to solve your internal problem, because it is not very complicated internally. It’s becoming more complex only when you have more interfering by foreign powers. When those foreign powers leave Syria alone, we can solve it as Syrians in a few months, in less than one year. That’s very simple, we can, but providing that there’s no outside interference. Of course, that looks not realistic, because everybody knows that the United States wanted to undermine the position of Russia as a great power in the world, including in Syria. Saudi Arabia has been looking how to destroy Iran for years now, and Syria could be one of the places where they can achieve that, according to their way of thinking. But if we say that we could achieve that situation where all those foreign powers leave Syria alone, we don’t have a problem in solving our problem.

How? First of all, by stopping the support of the terrorists by external countries like the regional ones like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and by the West, of course, mainly the United States. When you stop supporting terrorists in Syria, it won’t be difficult at all to solve our problem.

Question 11: Mr. President, is it true that Syria is the last socialistic country in the Arab world?

President Assad: Today, yes. I don’t know about the future, how is it going to be. We are socialist, but of course not the closed type.

Journalist: Humane socialism, because your government is supporting the education with the subvention, like the Swedish-type socialism.

President Assad: I don’t know a lot about the Swedish-type, but let’s say that in Syria, we have an open economy, but at the same time we have a strong public sector, and that public sector played a very important role in the resilience of the Syrian society and the government during the war. Without that public sector, the situation would have been much more difficult. So, we’re still socialist, and I think the war proved that the socialism system is very important for any country, taking into consideration that I’m talking about the open socialism, that could allow the freedom of the public sector to play a vital role in building the country.

Question 12: And your big companies… this is the state companies or private companies?

President Assad: We have both. But usually in such a situation, the public sector always plays the most important part. As you know, the private sector could feel the danger more and could suffer more and in some areas could quit the whole arena, the economic arena, because of the insecurity. So, that’s why you have to depend in such a situation more on the public sector, but still the private sector in Syria plays a very important part beside the public.

Question 13: And you have very very tolerance atmosphere with other churches, Christians, Muslims, and…

President Assad: It’s not tolerance, actually; they are part of this society. Without all different colors of the society – Christians, Muslims, and the different sects and ethnicities – you won’t have Syria. So, every Syrian citizen should feel fully free in practicing his rituals, his traditions, his beliefs. He should be free in order to have a stable country. Otherwise you won’t have Syria as a stable country. But I wouldn’t call it tolerance. Tolerance means like we accept something against our will; no, Muslims and Christians lived together for centuries in Syria, and they integrate in their life on daily basis, they don’t live in ghettos.

Question 14: No separate schools for Muslims, for Christians, young people, no?

President Assad: No, no. You have some schools that belong to the church, but they are full of Muslims and vice versa. So, you don’t have, no. We don’t allow any segregation of religions and ethnicities in Syria, that would be very dangerous, but naturally, without the interference of the government, people would like to live with each other in every school, in every place, in every NGO, in the government, that is the natural… That’s why Syria is secular by nature, not by the government. The Syrian society has been secular throughout history.

Question 15: And, Mr. President, it’s been one year since Russian air forces took part in the Syrian war, how much has Russia helped you?

President Assad: Let’s talk about the reality. Before the Russian interference, ISIS was expanding, as I said. When they started interfering, ISIS and al-Nusra and the other Al Qaeda affiliated groups started shrinking. So, this is the reality. Why? Of course, because it’s a great power and they have great army and they have great firepower that could support the Syrian Army in its war. The other side of the same story is that when a great country, a great power, like Russia, intervene against the terrorists, in coordination with the troops on the ground, and in our case, it’s the Syrian Army, of course you’re going to achieve concrete results, while if you talk about the American alliance, which is not serious anyway, but at the same time they don’t have allies on the ground, they cannot achieve anything. So, the Russian power was very important beside their political weight on the international arena, in both ways they could change the situation, and they were very important for Syria in defeating the terrorists in different areas on the Syrian arena or battlefield.

Question 16: Is the Syrian society divided by the war today?

President Assad: Actually, it’s more homogenous than before the war. That could be surprising for many observers because the war is a very deep and important lesson for every Syrian. Many Syrians before the war didn’t tell the difference between being fanatic and being extremist, between being extremist and being terrorist. Those borders weren’t clear for many, because of the war, because of the destruction, because of the heavy price that affected every Syrian, many Syrians learned the lesson and now they know that the only way to protect the country and to preserve the country is to be homogenous, to live with each other, to integrate, to accept, to love each other. That’s why I think the effect of the war, in spite of all the bad aspects of any war like this war, but this aspect was positive for the Syrian society. So, I’m not worried about the structure of the Syrian society after the war. I think it’s going to be healthier.

Question 17: And a question about the American presidential elections; who would you like to win in USA presidential elections, Trump or Hillary?

President Assad: I think in most of the world, the debate about this election is who’s better, Clinton is better or Trump. In Syria, the discussion is who’s worse, not who’s better. So, no one of them, I think, would be good for us, let’s say, this is first. Second, from our experience with the American officials and politicians in general, don’t take them at their word, they’re not honest. Whatever they say, don’t believe them. If they say good word or bad word, if they were very aggressive or very peaceful, don’t believe them. It depends on the lobbies, on the influence of different political movements in their country, after the election that’s what is going to define their policy at that time. So, we don’t have to waste our time listening to their rhetoric now. It’s just rubbish. Wait for their policies and see, but we don’t see any good signs that the United States is going to change dramatically its policy toward what’s happening in the world, let’s say, to be fair, or to obey the international law, or to care about the United Nation’s Charter. There’s no sign that we are going to see that in the near future. So, it’s not about who’s going to be President; the difference will be very minimal, each one of them is going to be allowed to leave his own fingerprint, just personal fingerprint, but doesn’t mean change of policies. That’s why we don’t pin our hopes, we don’t waste our time with it.

Question 18: Mr. President, the last question: The relation between Serbia and Syria, do you have any message for people in Serbia?

President Assad: I think we didn’t do what we have to do on both sides in order to make this relation in a better position, before the war. Of course, the war will leave its effects on the relation between every two countries, that would be understandable, but we have to plan for the next time because your country suffered from external aggression that led to the division of Yugoslavia and I think the people are still paying the price of that war. Second, the war in your country has been portrayed in the same way; as a humanitarian war where the West wanted to intervene in order to protect a certain community against the aggressors form the other community. So, many people in the world believe that story, the same in Syria; they use the same mask, the humanitarian mask.

Actually, the West doesn’t care about your people, they don’t care about our people, they don’t care about anyone in this world, they only care about their own vested interest. So, I think we have the same lessons, may be a different area, we are talking about two decades’ difference, maybe different headlines, but actually the content is the same. That’s why I think we need to build more relations in every aspect; cultural, economy, politics, in order to strengthen our position, each country in his region.

Question 19: But Syrian government, you and Syria’s state, supporting Serbia in the problem of the Kosovo?

President Assad: We did, we did, although the Turks wanted to use their influence for Kosovo, in Kosovo’s favor, but we refused. That was before the war, that was seven or eight years ago, and we refused, in spite of the good relation with Turkey at that time. We supported Serbia.

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you for the interview, thank you for your time.

President Assad: Not at all. Thank you for coming to Damascus.


Syrian Arab News Agency
Submitted by SyrianPatriots
War Press Info Network at:

President Vladimir Putin answers questions from Russian journalists, on the sidelines of BRICS summit ~ [Full Transcript in English]


Syrian Free Press

The President of Russia Vladimir Putin answered questions from Russian journalists following the BRICS Summit
(16 October 2016)

President Vladimir Putin took part in the eighth BRICS summit. The meeting started in narrow format and then continued with participation of the BRICS countries’ delegations.
On the summit’s agenda were plans to strengthen the BRICS strategic partnership as a key international organisation and develop multifaceted cooperation through the group.

The summit participants also discussed fighting international terrorism and reaching a settlement in Syria, bolstering global economic and financial stability, and improving the global governance system.

In followup of the summit, the BRICS leaders adopted a number of documents, including the Goa Declaration and the Action Plan for its implementation.

Among the documents adopted are the Provision on the BRICS Customs Cooperation Committee, the Memorandum of Understanding between BRICS Diplomatic Academies, and the Memorandum of Understanding for the Establishment of the BRICS Agricultural Research Platform.

Following is the full transcript of the answered questions of President Putin to the Russian journalists on the sidelines of BRICS summit


Question 1: Much is being said in the Western media about BRICS going through a rough patch. Since Brazil got a new president, the country has been allegedly thinking whether it needs BRICS. There is little secret about the tension that exists between India and China. In fact, the US has been increasingly proactive regarding India.

You have said on a number of occasions that you view BRICS as an important and viable association. How serious do you think are the challenges, if any, that BRICS face? Will BRICS succeed in overcoming them and what are the development prospects for BRICS in general?

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Some of our partners are always trying to dig up issues and challenges, no matter what we do. But as we say in Russia, why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own.

There are always issues, anywhere and in relations between any countries. Does this mean that countries whose representatives talk about BRICS this way do not have any issues with their closest strategic partners and allies? As a matter of fact, they have plenty of issues.

If there were no problems, they would have signed and ratified the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a long time ago, and would have resolved many other issues. However, the issues they face are still there, and they are real. So there is nothing special about having problems. This is how things work across the world.

Every country, and even more so major powers, has its own interests that may run counter to those of its closest allies. That said, what underpins the mutual interest of BRICS countries? It is underpinned by the similarity of their economies and the objectives that they face. This is so obvious that you do not even have to be an expert to understand this. All it takes is to look at their economic structure, development patterns, growth rate and objectives.

You know, it is this objective interest in maintaining contacts and promoting cooperation in various areas that lies at the core of our association and encourages optimism.

Furthermore, to be honest I am pleased with this meeting, because for the first time I saw that all parties involved were genuinely interested in developing relations within this framework, which could pave the way to cooperation in specific areas.

New areas of cooperation and frameworks, for example, industrial cooperation, are being developed on top of structures that already exist, such as the New Development Bank and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement with a total capital of $200 billion, a substantial amount that will further increase in the future.

We are discussing introducing uniform technical standards. These are fundamental initiatives that pave the way to harmonising economic development and policies.

Yesterday night, my Brazilian colleague and I had a lengthy conversation to review the state of our respective economies. As it turns out, we have much in common. We face common global challenges and it would be easier to overcome them if we combine our efforts.

All in all, I have quite a positive view of this association, and I think that BRICS has every chance to develop further.

Question 2: US Vice President Joseph Biden promised yesterday to send you a message and respond to the hacking that the US blames on Russia…

Vladimir Putin: There is nothing surprising about that.

Question 3: As a matter of fact, it was a threat coming from a very high-ranking official, and if I am not mistaken, it targeted you personally. Do you expect hacking attacks on Russia or some other kinds of attacks?

Vladimir Putin: You can expect anything from our US friends. But was there anything new in what he said? As if we didn’t know that US government bodies snoop on and wiretap everyone?

Everyone knows this all too well, there has long been no secret about it and there is sufficient evidence to support this. Billions of dollars are channelled into this activity, with the NSA and the CIA working on it alongside other government bodies. There are both witness accounts and full-fledged confessions.

In fact, they are spying not only on their real or potential enemies, but also on their allies, including the closest ones. We know about so many wiretapping scandals involving top government officials from countries that are allies of the United States, so there is absolutely nothing new here.

The only new thing is that for the first time the US has acknowledged at such a high level, first, that they actually do this, and second that they are making some kind of a threat, which of course is inconsistent with the norms of international dialogue. This is obvious.

Apparently, they are a little bit nervous. The question is why. I think there is a reason. You know, in an election campaign, the current government carefully crafts a pre-election strategy, and any government, especially when seeking re-election, always has unresolved issues. They need to show, to explain to the voters why they remained unresolved.

In the US, there are many such problems, they certainly have enough of them. While it’s the leading economy in the world, a great power, no doubt, it still has a lot of unsolved problems. For example, the massive public debt is a time bomb for the US economy and for the global financial system. Nobody knows what to do. Maybe devaluation in the future might help, or something. But what? There’s no answer. This is just an example.

More examples can be cited in foreign policy. The Middle East reconciliation process, broadly speaking, is certainly stalling, including between Israel and Palestine, unfortunately. Moreover, tensions are growing between the United States and their regular allies in the region.

We are not going to go deep into this business – it is their problem. I’m just saying that there are many problems, and in these conditions, many choose to resort to the usual tactics of distracting voters from their problems.

In my view, this is exactly what we are witnessing. How do you do it? Try to create an enemy and rally the nation against that enemy. Iran and the Iranian nuclear threat did not work well for that. Russia is a more interesting story. In my opinion, this card is being played now.

I said recently at a VTB forum that it is not wise to sacrifice Russian-American relations to solve current internal political problems, because it is destroying international relations in general.

By the way, I have not fully answered your question. This part has to do with your second one – about who is developing relationships, with whom and how. India, for example, is making friends with the United States. Good for them! The United States is a great power, and India is a great power. Great powers have interests and they pursue these interests in a multilateral format. It is impossible to imagine the modern world any different.

The more intense, the more global these processes are, the more stable the world is. I hope that, once this debate is over, once this difficult period in the political life of the States comes to an end, we will have a chance to restore relations between Russia and the United States.

Remark: So we shouldn’t see this as a threat?

Vladimir Putin: I just said, anything could happen. With this global surveillance, I assume they do have certain information. That information can be easy to compile.

People can be fed a half-truth or a quarter-truth, or even just a bit of truth diluted in lies, and this information can be used to mislead the public in one country or another. Russia is no exception, we are often the target of these attacks. We already know that.

Question 4: Mr President, did you know you are featured in the new episode of the cartoon The Simpsons? You are boosting Trump in it. What is your actual preference? You have been asked many times – Clinton or Trump?

And one more question: the US Vice President said recently that we cannot influence the US election results. Frankly, are we even trying to interfere? Do we even need to?

Vladimir Putin: What did he say, precisely? We cannot fundamentally affect them. So the reporter needed to press him: not fundamentally, or not at all? He seemed to be acknowledging that we actually could play a role, but I would like to reassure you all, including our American partners and friends: we have no plans to influence the election campaign in the United States.

The answer is very simple: we do not know what will happen after the US President is elected. Ms Clinton chose her aggressive rhetoric and aggressive stance with regard to Russia, and Mr Trump, on the contrary, is calling for cooperation, at least against terrorism.

We will certainly welcome anyone who wants to work with us, and no, we are not interested in quarrelling constantly with anyone, which only creates threats to oneself and the world, or at the very least makes it harder to achieve the desired results in the fight against terrorism.

We do not know what will happen after the election. We do not know whether or not presidential candidate Trump will follow through on his intentions, how far he will go in cooperation with us, whether Ms Clinton will stick to her harsh anti-Russian rhetoric if she is elected President, or maybe she will also adjust her position. We cannot know this now.

I will repeat this again: sacrificing Russian-American relations for the sake of internal political events in the US is harmful and counterproductive. This is not the first time. Look at all the previous election campaigns – it’s the same story again and again, as I said.

And then they whisper in our ear: “Just wait it out. This will pass, and things will go back to normal.” You know, this is not even funny anymore. But if someone wants a confrontation, it is not our choice. Confrontation means problems. We do not want that. On the contrary, we would like to find common ground and work together to address global challenges facing Russia and the United States and the world.

Question 5: On Friday, a CSTO summit took place in Yerevan, where Alexander Lukashenko said that the organisation needs to formulate new priorities, to become at least respected if not feared. Could you clarify what was discussed exactly, what new priorities? Do you believe that other military organisations do not even notice the CSTO? And, talking about priorities: is the Nagorno-Karabakh situation a priority for the CSTO?

Vladimir Putin: I will start with what you ended with. We have spoken about Nagorno-Karabakh and a definite tension arising between other countries, former Soviet republics. Here is what I think – and I told my colleagues about this – you see, there are issues that arise between NATO member states, for example, between Turkey and Greece on the Cyprus issue. This is nothing new.

It is well known that these problems have persisted for many years, decades even. But is NATO going to war with one side then the other? And for us, it does not even matter whether a country, a former Soviet republic, is part of the CSTO or not. It matters that we have special, historical relations with all these countries, and they are closer and deeper than the relations between NATO member states. We cannot but take this into account.

The CSTO was created to address external threats. Certainly, we have to somehow respond to what is happening next to us, but we must strive for all problems with roots in the past to be solved peacefully, through compromises – compromises that both parties are willing to accept. In this context we have discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and other problems.

In fact, what I just said is not so different from Mr Lukashenko’s stance. But it is better to ask him to clarify what he was thinking and what he considers necessary to do. He is a rather impressive speaker, and he will elaborate on this himself.

Question 6: May I ask a question about the domestic economy? With Rosneft acquiring Bashneft as part of the privatisation programme, we are now privatising Rosneft. The potential buyers are still unknown, but Rosneft said it planned a share buyback, which is perfectly fine as corporate practices go, but on the other hand, this would not be a real privatisation. Do you agree with that?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I do. I will explain.

You are absolutely right, a buyback is not our goal. The idea is not to get Rosneft to buy back its own shares and call it a day. Even if that happens, it is only an intermediate step to real privatisation, also with strategic investors, maybe international ones, but under the control of the state, because Rosneft is under state control, and government representatives on the board can still control it.

If Rosneft is able to sell its own shares together with the Russian Government, if we do this, it will be a natural step, this large-scale privatisation of a major Russian state-owned company, without losing controlling interest.

But if the market is low, if we cannot reach an agreement, then we do not exclude a buyback as a preliminary step for further work toward privatisation. So I would like to reassure you, as well as the experts who are closely monitoring this: we are not going to build state capitalism, as I’ve said many times.

We will follow the path of real privatisation, but not in a falling market. And if we had to, we would stick with those who understand that the market is falling but will go up again, and are willing to become an investor with a certain premium.

Or we will do a little time lag, but still, the state budget will get the money one way or another this year, that’s the point.

I would say this is a fairly cautious, even intricate plan that the Government has approved.

Question 7: Mr President, could I ask a question about the cancellation of your visit to France. French President Francois Hollande said he wanted to discuss the situation in Syria with you, but you cancelled the trip. Why did that happen?

Vladimir Putin: You may have misunderstood the President of France. The main purpose, the main reason for my planned trip to France was to attend the opening of our religious and cultural centre and to visit a Russian art exhibition.

In fact, the purpose of the visit was just that – our joint attendance of these international cultural events. However, the circumstances surrounding the Syrian problem for some reason made France decide that part was now impractical as a joint activity.

As for the second question, we have not even negotiated it, as it happens. We have issues beside Syria, so it would have been possible to discuss other issues. Also, France is not as deeply involved in the Syrian peace process. At one point the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier reached the shores of Syria, and we agreed to work together to an extent, but after a couple of days, the ship turned around and headed for the Suez Canal. What was there to discuss, then?

True, we are always willing to negotiate with everyone. Moreover, we are interested in more countries being involved in this process, especially such a large and great power like France with its capabilities.

But, again, this was not the main purpose of my trip to Paris, and when the main reason was cancelled, it simply made no sense to discuss the minor issues on the agenda.

I would like to repeat, although France is part of the Friends of Syria Group, it is not as deeply involved in Syrian issues.

Question 8: Mr President, you mentioned in your interview with the French media that the Americans ignored our information regarding the Tsarnaev brothers. Is there any interaction or dialogue between us?

Vladimir Putin: There is always a dialogue. As regards this information… I have already forgotten when this was; you probably remember better. This took place before the tragic events at the Boston Marathon.

Several months prior, we had informed our American partners. Russia’s Federal Security Service did this at my instruction by sending them an official written notification, warning that these two people could pose a danger, and we proposed working together on it. We never received a response.

Sometime later, Mr Bortnikov [Head of the Federal Security Service] approached me and said, ”They haven’t responded.“ I told him to send another notification, and he did so. As far as I remember, we received a response after the second or the third time, saying: ”They are citizens of the United States, you should mind your own business; we will figure it out on our own.“ And I said, ”Ok, that’s that.“

A month or two later, a terrorist attack took place at the Boston Marathon. This is more proof that the position of those who push for cooperation in fighting terrorism is the right one. We have always held this opinion.

But there are also examples of positive cooperation. For example, during preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, US intelligence agencies established a good working, relationship with us and helped us provide security. We appreciated this.

Question 9: Mr President, we know that you also talked with our partners from India and China yesterday. Can you tell us about it? Did you pay special attention to certain issues? We know about an important agreement signed with India for S-400 Triumf systems. How big is the deal, and when are they due? Have you discussed any other aspects of military technical cooperation?

Vladimir Putin: Indeed, India is one of our priority partners, and a strategic partner. I should not need to recall the time of the popular Hindi Rusi bhai-bhai slogan (Indians and Russians are brothers). In fact, little has changed since then, and our relations have grown stronger if anything.

But military technical cooperation is not the only area of interest to us. Unfortunately, we have not fully taken advantage of our capabilities in the civilian economy, and there is so much we could do there.

India is a huge market with 1.25 billion people. Moreover, a significant portion of the Indian population has fairly high living standards that match average European income levels. That is a very big and lucrative market for our products.

We tried to find additional niches for cooperation. The options were broad, for example, more contact in space research, aviation, and mechanical engineering in general. As for military technical cooperation, the quality of that cooperation is quite high, maybe even better than with many other countries: we do not just sell India high-tech modern weaponry, but we also have joint research projects.

The S-400 Triumf contract is worth not hundreds of millions, but billions of dollars.

We have also agreed to improve the BrahMos missile, which will be land-, air- and sea-launched. We will also work to increase its range. And we will work together on a fifth-generation aircraft. It has basically made its maiden flight, but there are some issues we need to work out. I am talking about the T-50 fighter plane.

As I have said, our relations in this area can be described by our willingness to help our Indian friends acquire additional competences. You know that we have organised the assembly and production of the latest T-90 combat tanks and the Sukhoi Su-30 aircraft here.

Question 10: Considering the theme of this BRICS summit, can you tell us whether you discussed Syria in detail, bearing in mind the fact that an agreement on the deployment of a Russian air force group in Syria was ratified shortly before your trip here? Do the BRICS leaders have a common stance on Syria?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, they share a common stance in general and in other terms. All of us agree on the need for a consistent fight against terrorism. And all of us believe that there is no other solution to the Syrian problem other than a diplomatic one.

In this context, I have informed all of our colleagues and friends in this five-member group about our view on the situation in Syria and, in particular, around Aleppo.

Question 11: Mr President, a trip to Berlin is being planned. As your aide said, it all depends on whether those representing the conflicting parties will be able to make any progress. What is your take on this? Do you intend to go? You are asked quite frequently about resolving the conflict in Ukraine, and you have to repeat time and again that, to put it bluntly, the ball is in the court of the Ukrainian authorities who are not doing what they are supposed to. In your opinion, how could this change? This situation with no war, but no peace either cannot last forever.

Vladimir Putin: I hope it will not last forever, and I hope that all these problems will be resolved as quickly as possible.

As for the trip to Berlin, we have agreed with the President of France and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, by telephone, that it would be advisable to meet in Berlin only if our aides, who I think met on Saturday and Sunday in Minsk, took the dialogue to the point where we could meet to formalise these arrangements. If the aides are unable to reach an agreement, it would make the Normandy format meeting premature.

Regarding the question of whether Ukraine is delivering on its commitments. I am aware that my colleague Petro Poroshenko has published an article – I think it appeared in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – in an attempt to once again shift the responsibility to Russia and alluding to unsettled security issues. I believe this is only a pretext for doing nothing on the political track.

We need to work along several tracks at the same time by resolving security issues while also undertaking political initiatives for promoting a settlement in general and in the long run. Otherwise it will be impossible to bring about a resolution. How can people who live in Donbass be sure that they will not be persecuted, detained and imprisoned on charges of separatism or terrorism?

A lot of people could face groundless accusations unless an amnesty law is enacted in advance. But how can people be sure that their rights will be respected and guaranteed, if not by having the Rada adopt a law on the special status of the region and including it in the Constitution?

Why does it need to be in the Constitution? If this law is simply adopted and implemented, tomorrow it could be declared unconstitutional. Everybody understands this, so it needs to be introduced into the Constitution. Everybody knows this, and they have spent 17 hours in Minsk discussing it through the night. If it is not done, it means that the current government is not ready to resolve the issues its regions in the southeast face.

Question 12: Mr President, I would like to discuss BRICS again.

You are wearing a navy-blue suit in the “family” photo. Tell me, please, did they suggest this suit to you, or was it your choice given the Indian tradition that navy-blue symbolises power and the struggle against evil? And one more question: Michel Temer was next to you. You said that you spoke with the President of Brazil. Should we trust WikiLeaks that reported in 2011 that Mr Temer had allegedly been recruited as an informant by the United States? Please reassure us.

Vladimir Putin: Look, we started by discussing the fact that the United States overhears and eavesdrops on everyone. All of you are being watched by these services. It’s not a joke, and I’ll tell you why. You have certain information because you are members of the presidential pool. You are used to hearing and seeing certain things, and speaking with certain people.

You chat freely on the telephone, on open communications systems; you broadcast everything you consider essential, as well as all your thoughts or just conjecture. This is of interest. So it is possible to open a file on each of you, and it has probably been done. And they may monitor your conversations. All this is systematised, consolidated and analysed. This is what the US National Security Agency is doing.

Remark: And what about Russian secret services?

Vladimir Putin: Russian secret services operate strictly in line with the law. As we have learned from former NSA officials, that agency even violates US law. We act only under court rulings, and it turns out that they don’t do this. There is a big difference between Russian and US secret services’ approaches.

I don’t know who has been recruited and where, and I don’t care. You know, people at a certain level are guided by the interests of their own country, state and people. I cannot imagine, even theoretically, that a different approach is possible. I simply cannot even imagine it. We always work with representatives of a government, and we try to build positive and trustful interstate relations.

Question 13: Mr President, what do you think about the possibility of new sanctions over Syria? And one more question. The Mosul offensive is underway, with artillery shelling and also air raids by our allies who have been criticising Russia so strongly. These actions appear to be similar. Why the double standards?

Vladimir Putin: As for the sanctions, you know our attitude to sanctions. They are counter-productive and harmful. But the main thing is that they never attain the goals set by those who impose them.

In general, regarding sanctions against Russia, no matter whether introduced over developments in southeastern Ukraine or in Syria, I can tell you that the goal of those who formulate and advocate this policy is not to settle a specific problem, for example, in southeastern Ukraine, but to contain Russia.

Even without Ukraine, they would have found some other pretext. They are simply dissatisfied with the fact that Russia is becoming, and I would even say that it has become, a full international player, has consolidated politically and has shown a willingness to work with any partner. International issues require concessions and compromises. But they do not want to compromise – they want to dictate their will.

This is the style that our US partners have developed over the past 15 or 20 years, and they appear unable to change it. Do you see that there is no dialogue? They just tell us what should be done and how. And then they invent methods to make everyone around them accept their positions. Their formula is “He that is not with us is against us.” This is their logic. But this is not productive, which explains the increasing number of failures.

The goal of these sanctions is not to settle a problem, but to contain the strengthening of Russia as a full member of the international community. This is their goal. But it cannot be achieved with these methods.

Now as concerns Mosul, the similarity is obvious. When we are told that there are many humanitarian issues around Aleppo we can, of course, refer to Mosul and tell our partners that they should remember that this city has hundreds of thousands of people too. This is a city with over 1 million people, and air strikes and shelling are very dangerous in terms of potential civilian casualties.

We hope that our American and, in this case, French partners will take selective action and do everything to reduce or, better yet, rule out civilian victims. Of course, we will not build up hype about this like our Western partners do because we understand that we have to fight terrorists and there is no other way besides continued fighting.

Question 14: To continue with Syria, Russian Navy flagships, an aircraft carrier and the Moskvaguided missile cruiser are departing for the Mediterranean. Does this mean that there will be an attack on terrorist strongholds?

Vladimir Putin: Do you really expect me to say when and where something might start?

Question 15: Then another question on the same issue. Russia’s diplomatic relations with the US have been aggravated by the Syrian issue. Do you expect…

Vladimir Putin: Excuse me?

Question 16: Relations with the US have been aggravated by the Syrian issue.

Vladimir Putin: Do you really think so?

Question 17: It appears to me they have.

Vladimir Putin: You are mistaken. Think about Yugoslavia. This is when it started. I was not even the president yet. Was it me who turned the plane around over the Atlantic? I think it was Primakov.

Question 18: Yes, Yevgeny Primakov.

Vladimir Putin: By the way, Boris Yeltsin was also in favour and agreeable until he took a very tough stance on Yugoslavia. Then everybody started bringing up his drinking and other compromising behaviour. That is when it all started.


You see, as I just said: they do not like our growing independence, that’s the problem. Then it continued with Iraq, which we did not initiate, by the way. I know this very well because they tried to convince me to take up a stance on Iraq that was eventually taken up by the German and French leaders. After Saddam Hussein was hanged, everybody was happy. Remember what they said? “You were against it but they came in and won.” Whether or not they won is a question.

Just like Libya, Iraq was never a centre of terrorism. But after all the government institutions were destroyed, both countries turned into hotbeds of terrorism. Now we are at a point where we have to storm Mosul with one million people with aircraft, tanks and artillery. This is the outcome. How to proceed with Libya is not clear at all.

The state ceased to exist. Now it is a hotbed of terrorism, with a massive flow of refugees. Are you sure our relations with the US deteriorated because of Syria? No, not because of Syria but because of attempts by one country to impose its decisions on the entire world.

We are not against this country, but we are against unilateral and ill-considered decisions that disregard the historical, cultural and religious specificities of any country, even if there are conflicts and tensions there.

Question 19: So we cannot hope for improvement or de-escalation until a new administration takes over?

Vladimir Putin: I believe one should always hope for the best. We maintain contact with the current US administration. Mr Kerry has recently met with Mr Lavrov, and, in general, we maintain contact with President Obama. The US administration is continuing to work, although there is less than a month left until election day. I believe the [US presidential] election is in November?

They are continuing to work, and we have to hand it to them, they are working intensively and to the last day. As I said, we maintain contacts in nearly all areas, and we will work with our US partners, but only if they are willing to work with us.

Question 20: Mr President, your position on sanctions is well known, and I share it completely. But what about response…

Vladimir Putin: This is all you need to say.

Remark: This is not what the question is about…

Vladimir Putin: It is a pity; it could have been a good ending.

Question 21: My question is about response measures. It is clear that we have reciprocated. In my occupation, I often meet with representatives of both big and small businesses, those who export their products and those who are working within BRICS.

All of them tell me that our response measures only increase the burden of Western sanctions on Russian business. Our Chinese and Indian partners look at this situation and wonder whether they should start an investment project with Russian companies in light of these sanctions and counter-sanctions. This is not good for them. Since these sanctions have been in place for several years, we could review the situation and consider a change of policy. Maybe we could ease our response measures or make them more selective?


Vladimir Putin: I will explain my position. I have stated it, but now I will try to explain it.

First, I do not agree when our response measures are described as sanctions. They are not sanctions, but response measures taken to protect our market. Look at what is happening, and you will see that we had to take these measures.

For example, certain limitations have been approved against us in the financial arena, so that our banks cannot refinance their loans, whereas our market is completely open to our partners. Overall, the situation that has developed since the early 1990s has prevented our farmers from holding even a small place on the Russian market.

It is true that we used sanctions against Russia to impose certain restrictions [against the West]. And look at what has happened: despite a falling GDP and industrial production in 2015 and 2014, our agricultural output grew by 3.6 percent a year.

We have very accurate figures now. Just recently, we had to import 1.4 million tonnes of chicken meat. Now we produce so much that we have to export it. We almost completely meet the domestic demand. The situation is similar with pork. Not exactly the same, but we are getting closer.

Yes, we have some problems with the vegetable market and even more with the fruit market, but we knew this would happen. There has been a certain increase in domestic prices, but this provided an opportunity for domestic producers – with government support, of course. And they have this support. We could debate whether there should be more or less support, but it exists and it is significant for getting back on track and filling the necessary niches in our own market.

Right now we are, for example, improving our relations with Turkey and opening certain niches. When I was in Turkey I noted that we opened the way for stone fruit and citrus imports. Russia does not produce stone fruit or citrus fruit. Then why would we hold them back? On the contrary, this would create competition for other importers.

Now, as for the so-called import replacement in industrial production. I will be honest with you. I had big concerns and doubts. Therefore, we regularly meet with defence and civil production representatives to discuss the state of these areas and the outcome. This includes, for example, our decision that major state-run companies must provide for a certain part of the market for Russian small and medium-sized enterprises.

So you see, it has a real effect. They received funds to market their products, and high-tech products account for a significant part here. The scope is growing, to say nothing about import replacement in the defence industry. It is unacceptable that in microelectronics we depend on spare parts for the Strategic Missile Troops or other very sensitive systems. This dependency is gradually fading, not only with regard to Ukrainian suppliers, but other countries as well, including European countries and the US.

One hundred percent – I would like to stress this – of our helicopters used to be outfitted with Ukrainian engines. Now this is over. We built one engine plant and are now finishing another. It could be operating already. But it will be a completely different production.

Import replacement is not limited to transferring production of one engine to Russia. No, it means production at a completely different technological level. In this respect, it is certainly part of the country’s development.

It is the same situation, only a more complex process, for the Navy, where we will soon see the completion of work to develop new engines for our vessels. This work will have synergy effect for civilian sectors too. Regarding Ukraine, let me thank you for raising this question. As far as the situation there goes, we see, sadly, that the country is regressing and a de-industrialisation process is underway there.

But our Ukrainian partners have only to say the word and we will be ready to involve Ukrainian industry in the effort to meet our consumption demands. This includes joint cooperation to modernise Ukraine’s defence enterprises and civilian sectors. But this is possible only if, as I said, the needed conditions are in place and our partners want this themselves.

Finally, on the question of how our BRICS partners have responded to our response measures taken against the countries that imposed sanctions on us, I do not see any concern on their part because we have not and have no plans to set any restrictions on the goods they produce.

Furthermore, the restrictions that we introduced for the countries that imposed sanctions against us give our BRICS partners and other partners new opportunities on the Russian market. They are making active use of these opportunities too. I therefore see no problems and complications here.

Question 22: Will Russia face new sanctions?

Vladimir Putin: What I want to say here is that we made a conscious choice to introduce restrictions on agricultural products. This was an asymmetrical measure. They imposed sanctions on industrial goods, some kinds of what they consider dual-purpose goods, and financial restrictions. We could not do the same in response, it would have made no sense, and so we took measures in a sector which would cause them problems.

As you can see, the losses are now into the billions. These are not our estimates, but those of Western European experts and representatives of the various sectors in question, including in industry. We took action in areas in which it was to our advantage to act.

We will not take any action purely for the sake of punishing others and end up punishing ourselves at the same time. We will not buy a ticket and then not travel. This is not the road we will take. We have no plans for now and have not looked at any countermeasures. We will need to wait and see what our partners do and make our decisions accordingly.

Thank you all for your attention.

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The Wahhabi Chronicles (part one)

“There is no compulsion in religion,” – Holy Qur’an

June 07, 2016

by Mohsin Siddiqui for the Oceania Saker Blog

I have been meaning to write about what it means to grow up in the Saudi Arabian Wahhabi model, what has held me back thus far is more about “Where do I begin?”

The beast is complex, pathological and has many facets to its manifestation in various areas of your life. It simply permeates every little part of your existence either willingly, subconsciously or via the guilt complex that it feeds on.

My intention here is not to proselytize nor is it to prescribe a remedy. Instead it is to share my experience with you.

I was born in the heydays of the oil boom in Saudi Arabia to expatriate parents from my native Pakistan. We lived happy – somewhat dysfunctional – lives as most would assume. We did better than our extended family and made sure we shared with those back home. My parents were average Sunni Muslims who observed prayers whenever they remembered – with the exception of Friday prayers that most Muslims religiously observe – and tried to generally stick to the ‘norms’ of the faith but nothing too strictly.

Life was good and we had plenty of good fortune that many did not have. My parents wanted us to study in English schools and paid handsomely for that ‘privilege’ in Saudi Arabia. At age 3 I was put on the conveyor belt of what we call the expatriate English educational system in Saudi Arabia. The school was owned and run by a Saudi prince and had relatively good standing in the community at the time. Our English teachers were predominantly British & Irish with a sprinkle of Americans and then a dominance of South Africans in the later years of schooling. An exception to this rule was of course the teachers who taught us Arabic, Quran and Islamic Studies; Mostly Egyptians and members of other Arab states.

I do not remember religion really playing a big role in my early life other than observing prayers when my father took me for prayers or when it was Ramadan and we fasted. As children we were eager to fast and show that we were adults, win school competitions by memorizing the Quran and other such “religious” observance. It was less dogma and more mimicking and following what others were doing in the community in general. Social policing is a common activity in Muslim communities; Your devotion to God is under constant check and invasion of your privacy a trivial matter.

The religious drive creeps in slowly, first it is keeping up image with the good neighbours and then it is trying to outdo them. Of course, all of this in the name of securing your heaven; For example If you memorize the Quran then your parents get a home in heaven. Prayers became more regular as we grew older and the school system pumped out more things to adhere to.

We had two classical Arabic classes and a Quaran class per day. We had to memorize verses, hadith (Prophets sayings) and other Islamic theology.  We also had a Quran teacher come at home to teach us how to recite the Quran. This is a common thing to do in the Muslim world and most families do this irrespective of their own religiousness.

What most people do not understand is that in a society like Saudi Arabia (or a predominantly Islamic community) it is quite normal to pray regularly, read the Quran, follow Islamic teachings and think nothing of it. It is a habit almost and you are kind of blind to the affect it is creating in you on the inside. There is little else for adults to do other than be pious. Pretty soon my mother also joined a Quran school to be more in tune with what she saw as her duty as a good Muslim. In Saudi Arabia, women have little option to do anything but basically be more religious. One could argue that men too have ultimately that as the only unrestricted avenue of ‘personal development’. Religion trumps everything.

And everything changed when my mother was introduced to the teachings of Abu A’la Maududi of the Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islami movement. To illustrate how close he was to the Wahhabi cause, one only has to note that he was the 2nd (in absence) funeral prayer carried out in the Kaaba (that black cube in Mecca) in history.

So after one summer break, we returned from Pakistan with literally a whole library of books. I did not see much of my mother that year, she was busy reading. We did more takeaways that year than in any recent memory and I was happy with all the fried chicken I was getting.

Life was still good as it was a period of what I can recall as repentance for all the bad behaviour we were supposedly engaging in. My parents started talking about how un-Islamic society had become and how Dawaa (preaching) is a key pillar of the faith. Of course, that preaching had to start somewhere and usually that ends up being your home. All of a sudden we started having segregated dinner parties and our family friends shrugged it off as just us being pious good Muslims. Soon enough they too were mimicking the behaviour or simply not thinking much of it.

It is interesting to note that this religious – state encouraged & driven – fervour coincided with the NATO destruction of Yugoslavia and the wars in Chechnya. At the time I did not know any better but looking back I can connect the dots of how mass propaganda was used to manipulate millions to be sympathetic to the Jihadi cause.

I went to a segregated school, studied Quran daily (memorized a few dozen chapters) and had no female contact. As such the only opportunity to talk to a girl was during family dinners. I was reaching puberty and when I did my privilege pass was taken away. I was devastated. I had one crush and she too was now off limits.

Teenage rebellion had begun but I did not see it as a rebellion against the religion. There is no avenue for questioning authority and doing so always lands you in trouble. The rebellion was more immature on the grounds of “I want to do what I want” not realizing that the fire ignited was innate to the human spirit’s desire to be free.

I was never really a good Muslim because I just never felt that connection. I really tried but it never happened for me. The bar was always being set higher and you could never be perfect anyway, I thought to myself. After all, not even the prophet was perfect and even he prayed and cried for his own salvation. How do you come out on top of that ladder?

As I grew older more and more regulations came into being; Praying was very important now, observing the correct rituals was paramount and devoting yourself to God was pureness unparalleled. There was a prayer for everything:

  1. i) For going to sleep
    ii) For waking up in the morning
    iii) For exiting your home
    iv) For going to the toilet
    v) For riding in your car
    vi) Prior to taking a bite of your food – each bite
    … I can go on but you get the picture

Pretty soon I had them all memorized and usually ended up just murmuring to myself and pretending that I said it right. I simply adjusted to the new normal. But you cannot fake religious zeal, that is the hardest one to get away with. I was usually found behind the sofa hiding at prayer time – to play video games – and then running up half way to the mosque right before prayers ended and pretending I was exiting the mosque.

On the surface you would think that I was a very average teenager rejecting parental wishes, and I was. However, it is the series of dominating religious directives that get you one way or the other. While I was not very Islamic I did believe in the word of God as I saw it. And the immense feeling of guilt paralysed me. This guilt is a crucial part of the Wahhabi ideology’s feeding ground. You are always unworthy, a slave (you are made to say it over and over again), a miscreant, a low life who would be lucky to bask in the glory of serving “true” Islam.

I took it upon myself to preach about Music being haram (unlawful), calling friends to prayers and lecturing them on being a good Muslim. When it came to praying I was first in line, got up at dawn and really strived to be a good Muslim. This behaviour was not constant and would eventually lapse back to me being a regular kid. However, one thing that is often misunderstood is that just because a Muslim does not observe religious duties does not at all mean that the belief in those duties is any less.

The guilt that I carried for not being a good enough Muslim was constant and actively nourished by my environment. By the time I was in my teens we had extra sessions at home where we read Hadith (the prophets sayings) in a circle every night. This was in addition to the daily Quran lessons at school and home. On Wednesday evenings (equivalent of Friday night as Thursday & Friday were weekends) my dad and I went to English Quran sessions held by faculty members of universities and doctors. Many people showed up for this event as we got great food at the end, you checked off something holy and the depth of the conversation was a little more as they read out Tafsirs of the Quran. Tafsir is more than the translation and includes the associated context or hadith or event at the time of the verses being revealed and/or other meanings that could be derived. Of course this could be a great source of knowledge – the golden age of philosophy in Islam – if done right but if done wrong it just further entrenches the human mind in religious dogma. We, being in Saudi, got the latter experience.

Our Quran teacher was especially pleasant with his contempt for our middle class “riches” such as having a TV aka “Satan Box”. He would also lecture us how we were filthy westerners who sat on the toilet seat like dogs instead of using a hole in the ground eastern style toilet. This upset him greatly for some reason, he made us do ablutions before we sat down for the Quran class while he picked his nose.

Music was strictly forbidden – We were told God would pour molten lead into our ears on judgement day – but TV was ok as long as it was not a woman exposing herself, the state censorship bureau diligently worked day and night to save us teenagers from seeing forbidden flesh. Yes, it was a very important function of the state. American movies and sitcoms were broadcasted round the clock on the Aramco TV channel (The oil giant had a TV channel back then). It was my favourite TV channel.

Growing up in the Kingdom is like a series of controversies out of thin air, contradictions at every turn and a thoroughly frustrating experience of life; A very acute case of cognitive dissonance run amok. We liked Hollywood movies and action blockbusters, dreamed of living it up in America, enjoyed the music (in secret) but hated the country too. When the Gulf war took place in the 90s, we saw ourselves chanting in support of Saddam while he rained down scud missiles causing our school to close down. America was our dream and enemy at the same time.

Children were traumatised and politicised early on with regular trips to mosques, sermons and the constant pro-jihadist point of view. The US funded terrorists in Bosnia were portrayed as heroes, Chechnyan Wahhabi psychopaths were brave warriors and people donated religiously to the cause of Islam. It was fever pitch hysteria during those days.

You would be standing at 2am praying the special night prayers during the holy month of Ramadan and trying to squeeze out a tear. Everyone was weeping for the Muslims of Bosnia – unknowing that it was a NATO orchestrated war to breakup Yugoslavia – and the mosque carpet was damp everywhere. I never managed to squeeze a tear genuinely but later mastered a technique of not blinking to trigger tears.

NATO: Who’s the Aggressor?

Michael Jabara CARLEY | 06.01.2016 | 00:00

There has been much discussion recently of NATO in the mainstream and alternate media. Why was NATO founded in the first place and why did it expand so rapidly after the collapse and dismemberment of the USSR in 1991. According to widely held views in the west, NATO originated as a defensive alliance against an aggressive, menacing Soviet Union after World War II.

There is nothing unusual about this post 1945 representation of the USSR. Western negative perceptions of Russia date back to the 19th century, if not earlier. After the October Revolution of 1917 western Russophobia was exacerbated by the Red Scare. For three years the «Entente» powers tried to throttle the nascent Soviet republic. When the foreign intervention failed, the Entente constructed a cordon sanitaire through the Russian borderlands from the Baltic to Black Seas. The idea was to keep the Bolshevik revolution from spreading into central Europe.

During the interwar years, Western-Soviet relations remained antagonistic. «Russophobia and Sovietophobia are a dense forest of hostility, into which no light penetrates», observed a Soviet diplomat in 1930.

It was «a clash of two worlds», according to one historian. Who said the cold war only began after 1945? Even Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 failed to provoke a western reappraisal of relations with the USSR. France and Britain were unable to sort out their security priorities. Soviet diplomatic efforts to build an anti-Nazi alliance foundered on open or disguised western sympathies for fascism. The crisis of capitalism in the 1930s made fascism attractive, but so did western Sovietophobia.

Even after the German invasion of the USSR in June 1941, the British government could not entirely shed its anti-Soviet enmity. War Office biases were so intense that British diplomats, who were not known for their love of Russia, warned of long-term damage to Anglo-Soviet relations. For a hundred years, said one Foreign Office official in 1944. Sovietophobia went right to the top of the British government. The prime minister, Winston Churchill, worried about Red Army victories. This was a surprising position since until June 1944 the Red Army did most of the fighting against the Wehrmacht. Cabinet colleagues were at times scandalised by Churchill’s anti-Soviet exclamations. In May 1945, a fortnight after VE-Day, the British Chiefs of Staff Joint Planning Committee produced the top secret Operation «Unthinkable», an outrageous, suicidal plan for a new Anglo-American war, backed by German troops in new uniforms, against the USSR. Across the Atlantic, the pragmatic President Franklin Roosevelt sought to calm Churchill and to rein in his own numerous Sovietophobes, though after his death in April 1945 they quickly recaptured control of US policy. Not that it was a hard sell for Harry Truman, FDR’s pedestrian successor and notorious Sovietophobe.

The USSR paid a huge price for victory, no one knows the exact human cost, but estimates are around 27 million civilian and military dead, plus the physical destruction of much of European Russia from Stalingrad in the east, to the Northern Caucasus and the Crimea in the south, to Leningrad and other points to the north, all the way to the Soviet Union’s western frontiers. Some 70,000 cities, towns and villages were laid waste during the war, not to mention tens of thousands of factories, collective farms, schools, hospitals and other public buildings. While the United States became rich and suffered few casualties in comparison to the Red Army, the Soviet Union emerged from the war poor and devastated. The most urgent priority was reconstruction, and for that, Soviet generalissimo Joseph Stalin hoped for help from the Anglo-American allies. Yet in the west the USSR was regarded as a post-war threat to European security. The Russians had let victory go to their heads; they had to be put in their place.

Stalin was aware of Anglo-American hostility, but tried nevertheless for a time to work with his putative «allies» without however sacrificing what he saw as Soviet vital interests. «I am not a propagandist», Stalin said to an American interlocutor, «I am a man of business». Soviet military policy was unprovocative and the huge Red Army was demobilised to approximately 25% of its maximum wartime strength. Big political issues were Poland and Germany. Poland was settled along Soviet lines, but Germany was under joint Allied occupation and there Stalin could not obtain whatever he wished. Having been invaded twice by Germany over the span of little more than a quarter century, Stalin did not want to see the rebuilding of a German state hostile to the USSR.

This was precisely what the United States had in mind. From 1946 onward the US government went about establishing a West German «partial state», integrated into a US dominated western anti-Soviet European bloc. Essentially, it was Churchill’s idea of building a new German counterbalance to the USSR, an idea first conceptualised in Operation «Unthinkable». The eventual Soviet countermove, the Berlin «blockade» in 1948, was a clumsy attempt to gain leverage over the United States to stop the establishment of a West German state. The so-called blockade did not work and served as a splendid pretext for setting up NATO in the following year. In Moscow NATO was viewed as an alliance aimed at the USSR. The West German entry into that alliance seemed like an obvious eventuality.

Funded generously by the United States, the polarisation of Europe continued into the 1950s, and West Germany became a NATO member in May 1955. This development provoked the formation of the Warsaw pact, led by the USSR. Believing western propaganda about an aggressive Soviet Union, an ill-informed person might think that the Warsaw pact provoked the organisation of NATO and not the other way ‘round.

After the collapse and dismemberment of the USSR, NATO ought logically to have been closed down. Even if you accept the NATO line that the alliance was organised for purely defensive purposes against a Soviet threat, there was no USSR and no threat after 1991. It is well known moreover that the US Secretary of State James Baker promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand «one inch» toward the east, a promise that Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush did not keep. NATO post-Soviet expansion cannot logically be explained except as a movement to extend US hegemony eastward. It was an opportune moment. Russia was in turmoil and led by Boris Yeltsin who needed US backing to stay in power. Based on the principle «I can, therefore I will», NATO expanded quickly, inter alia, to include Poland and the Baltic states, former nesting grounds of interwar fascism and anti-Semitism and Russophobic to the core.

In Eastern Europe, NATO membership became a license for impunity: SS uniforms and banners came out of mothballs in the Baltics and a new atavistic wave of Russophobia swept over Poland.

NATO expanded to construct a new anti-Russian cordon sanitaire, suggesting that the US «Deep State» was not sure it had sufficiently weakened the much reduced Russian Federation. It was an insurance policy against any Russian resurgence, and an arm to be used against any state which failed to do US bidding.

Such was the case of Yugoslavia, a multi-national state torn apart by ethnic conflict encouraged by the United States and NATO. If you look at a map of Yugoslavia in 1941 after its partition by Nazi Germany, you will see similarities with the US/NATO dismemberment of «former Yugoslavia».

The west sided with neo-fascists in Croatia, Muslim fundamentalists in Bosnia and Kosovo, portraying its former wartime allies, the Serbs, as villains, aggressors, and perpetrators of genocide. US and NATO bombers attacked Serbia in 1999 to subdue resistance against the loss of the Serbian province of Kosovo. In a flagrant act of aggression, they blew up bridges, trains, and infrastructure and bombed Belgrade, killing civilians in the way.

Clinton invoked the «Responsibility to Protect» (R2P), and claimed NATO represented the «international» community. These were audacious, bogus claims to justify military intervention. The underlying message to any apostate of US domination was submit or be destroyed.

(to be continued)


Michael Jabara CARLEY | 07.01.2016 | 00:00

The US quest for domination did not stop in «former Yugoslavia». After 9/11 in 2001 the US and NATO invaded Afghanistan, though the Afghan Taliban government had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks in the United States. To this day the war in Afghanistan goes on and none too well for the United States. No wonder Afghanistan is called «the graveyard of empires».

Two years later it was the turn of Iraq though this was mostly an Anglo-American venture. The US government claimed that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had «weapons of mass destruction» (WMD), ready to use. R2P was invoked again to justify the new war. A massive invasion led to the destruction of Iraq and the execution of Saddam. Hundreds of thousands of civilians died because of the US invasion or because of prior stringent economic sanctions. Millions became homeless. US authorities turned Iraq upside down in the hopes of finding proof of Iraqi WMDs. It was all a charade. There were no WMDs. On the gallows Saddam bravely accused his executioners of being traitorous US puppets. The United States claimed its objective was to establish «democracy» in Iraq. President Putin, who could no longer tolerate the bogus American narrative, called it «airstrike democracy».

Submit or be destroyed was the real US message. Twelve years later there is no democracy in Iraq, only ruins, continued war and misery.

In 2011 it was the turn of Libya, a rich, independent country, led by Muammar Gaddafi, who for the previous eight years had maintained constructive relations with the west. The US and NATO rolled out a new pretext for R2P. Gaddafi’s forces had attacked the civilian population, a claim as false and preposterous as the WMDs in Iraq. Russia and China abstained in a UN Security Council vote to approve a «no-fly zone», a position they came to regret, because NATO promptly used the resolution as a pretext for an all-out air war against the Libyan government. Libya was destroyed and Gaddafi, sodomised with a bayonet and murdered. The then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, like some ancient tribal barbarian (no offence intended to the latter) gloated and sneered over images of Gaddafi’s bloody corpse. It is reported that Putin has also seen the images and bowed his head in shame and anger. Like Afghanistan and Iraq, Libya remains in ruins, chaos and misery. These are the works, says journalist Pepe Escobar, of the «Empire of Chaos», determined to maintain global hegemony, along with its trusty NATO sidekicks, at whatever cost.

Profligate US/NATO violence did not end there. Encouraged by their «success» in Libya, the United States and some of its NATO «allies», notably France, Britain and Turkey, turned their sights on Syria and its leader Bashar al Assad. After Saddam and Gaddafi, they reckoned, it was Assad’s turn to swing. His days were counted, said US officials. That was back in 2011. The Syrian war continues with no end yet in sight. Like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Syria is in ruins. It is fighting for survival against a US-NATO backed Jihadist invasion. As elsewhere, the United States and important NATO members have allied themselves with Muslim fundamentalists, who go by many names – Jaish al-Fatah, Ahrar ash-Sham, al-Nusra and Daesh, amongst others – but are cut from the same blood-drenched, terrorist cloth.

Closer to Russian borders, the United States inspired the Georgian attack on South Ossetia in 2008 which ended in catastrophe for Georgia. «We have your backs», American officials told the Georgians, but apparently not. In 2014 the Ukraine became the next battlefield where the United States and European Union (EU) supported a fascist coup d’état against the lawfully elected government. The United States intends to make the Ukraine the buckle of its anti-Russian cordon sanitaire. As in Syria, however, complete success has so far eluded the United States, even though the usual signs of its presence, violence, ruin, and chaos, are everywhere to be seen.

What is one to conclude about the conduct of the United States and NATO since 1991? In what way can NATO now be described as a «defensive» alliance? NATO was not abolished because the United States wanted to maintain its military domination in Europe and check any future, however remote resurgence of Russia. It also wanted to discourage any European movement toward political independence from Washington. When the EU discusses creation of an independent military force, for example, you can count on the United States to exercise its veto. An independent EU army, Washington knows full well, would undermine NATO and thus US domination. Ironically, the raison d’être of the EU was to re-establish European political and economic independence, but in fact it has done neither. NATO and the EU, as it presently functions, are institutions enforcing European vassalage to the United States. Instead of protecting European security, NATO has endangered it by dragging Europe into gratuitous US quarrels with Russia and into aggressive US wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.

European leaders like David Cameron, François Hollande, and Angela Merkel are US vassals, so much so that they have undermined their countries’ economic and security interests. What chains bind these leaders to the United States? Is it personal advantage? Are they afraid to act independently? Are European political and military bureaucracies too tightly bound to Washington? Is the Atlanticist «Deep State» too deeply entrenched? Or, are European leaders simply complacent, taking the easy way out and liking the narcotic pleasures of proximity to US «power»?

Since 1991 the United States has become increasingly belligerent and reckless, like Wilhelmine Germany prior to World War I, but far more dangerous. Washington flaunts international law and makes war against or threatens those states which do not recognise US domination. American elites exhibit no remorse for the death and destruction they have wrought. Any why should they? No one can hold them to account. The EU and NATO serve as «international» cover to legitimise US behaviour. It’s the «international community», according to Washington.

Observing these developments, President Putin has become a «truth-teller» challenging Washington’s self-interested, exceptionalist narratives. But he has not threatened Europe, or the United States. On the contrary, he urges broad-based security cooperation and has long proposed Russia-Europe political and economic integration. In spite of these proposals (or because of them, a cynic would say), US policy continues unchanged. When Russia therefore responds to the NATO military build-up in the Eastern Europe by strengthening its defences, don’t call it «aggression».

Can Europeans put a brake on escalating tensions? It will not be easy. The best way, really the only way, is for Europe’s most influential powers to withdraw from NATO. It’s an audacious proposition, I admit, but Europe needs to stop being an American cat’s paw and to establish some political distance from Washington. Only Europe can effectively discourage the present course of US policy. Is it not time to break the long cycle of western Russophobia?

Russia wants to be part of Europe, not against Europe. It’s a formidable country with formidable people, who would be strong allies in the tough fight which we now face against Daesh. Just remember what the Soviet people did during the Great Patriotic War. Ask the Germans; they’ll tell you.

If you get to know the Russians, you’ll find they’re not a bad lot, who love, laugh and weep like any other people, but who will defend their country fiercely like no others. Sure, they have bad apples, but so do we. I for one would rather have Russians with me than against me.

I ask in conclusion, what about you?

Islamic State Coming to Balkans

 Elena GUS’KOVA | 09.07.2015 | 00:00

The waves of refugees from the Middle East hit Europe. It’s not something new for the continent and the Balkans. In the recent 25 years migration, including people evicted from homes and war refugees, has become routine. Serbs left Croatia, Kosovo, the Muslim part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croats left Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jews left Croatia and Bosnia. Last year Albanians unexpectedly went away from Kosovo. According to some reports 100 thousand of them crossed the Serbian border going to Hungary and other European countries.

So many people suddenly left! It took Belgrade a long time to find explanation. The Kosovo authorities said the people left because of rumors that many vacant working places appeared in Germany. The Serbian government was prone to believe the people left homes due to aggravation of social problems. We believe that the unexpected flow of refugees was provoked to put more pressure on Europe and international organizations to make them recognize Kosovo. Kosovo Albanians get impatient waiting for recognition, so they start to act. They have intensified their activities in Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece. Even the statements coming from Tirana have become more radical. In these instances people moved from one place in Europe to another.

In recent years refugees from the Middle East (mainly from Syria, Iraq) and Afghanistan have come to settle down in the Balkans. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), or the UN Refugee Agency, the refugees from these countries first arrived in 2008 with 77 asking for asylum in Serbia. In 2013 the number of people asking for asylum grew to 5 thousand to increase to 16 900 in 2014. 22 182 people crossed the Serbian border during the first 5 months of 2015. This is official data about refugees coming to Serbia across Macedonia from the war-torn regions of Middle East and Afghanistan. 95% of the refugees come from Syria and Afghanistan. There is a ground to believe that the real figures are much higher than the official ones.

The refuges from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Tunisia cross the territory of Turkey and then go by sea to Greece. The further route lies through Macedonia and then Serbia. They move toPresevo, a small town located near the border. Albanians account for 90% of its population. The International Federation of Red Cross and local authorities have established a headquarters to manage emergency situations and take care of incoming refugees. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Médecins sans Frontières set up tents and offer the first aid.

Some are legal immigrants while others use trails to enter the country illegally. They use trucks, freight cars and find ways to get around check points. 300-500 people in Presevo ask for asylum daily. In June 15 thousand immigrants got asylum in Serbia. Just think how many have already been settled in the country…

How many Middle East and Afghan Muslims have entered Serbia? Some sources say 10 thousand from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries came to the country during the first four months this year. Totally 30 thousand are expected to have come till the end of the year. Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic says 30 thousand have already entered Serbia with 1, 5 million moreconcentrated at the border between Syria and Turkey. As to our estimates, at least 60 thousand people had crossed the border till July.

According to Office of the United Nations High Commissioner, there are around 60 million refugees in the world with Syria (3, 9 million), Afghanistan (2, 6 million) and Somalia (1, 1 million) topping the list. Hans Friedrich Schodder, the head of the UNHCRRepresentation in Serbia, says the refugees from these countries are more frequently met on the streets, at bus stops and in the parks. It’s worth to pay attention on the UNHCR’s reaction to the refugees problem in Serbia. The organization had turned a blind eye on the issue. Now it has all changed with Schodder calling Serbia a democratic country in the heart of Europe praising it for keeping the border open. He promises to set up the infrastructure to receive refugees. The United Nations calls for doing away with all obstacleson the way of 15 million refugees from Syria and Iraq.

Planned or spontaneous refugee flows go through Hungary keeping away from the borders with Romania or Croatia. According to Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, 40.500 people have asked for asylum in Hungary this year, 28.800 of them came from Kosovo. Others arrived from the Middle East. Europe was indifferent but Hungarians were not very happy about it. Budapest has made a decision to close the border and even erect a high wall along it. Croatia wants to follow suit. Europe is critical of Hungary but it has nothing to offer as an alternative solution. As a result, more people will stay in Serbia and Macedonia. Belgrade is engaged in hard talks on European Union membership. It wants to put its best foot forward and promises to host all the refugees from the East.

Some refugees stay in Macedonia,, some move to the south of Serbia where there are many Muslims-populated areas, while some of them get settled down in Serbia towns and villages on the way. The refugees come without any documents, they get IDs and other papers in Serbia where whatever they say is taken on trust. According to international and Serbian laws, war refugees are not illegal immigrants. That’s why Serbia takes care of them. Refugee camps or reception centers are set up in Banja Koviljaca, a popular tourist town and spa situated in the Loznica municipality, Bogovadia, a town located 70 km from Belgrade, Krnjaca, an urban neighborhood half an hour’s drive from central Belgrade, Senica, a town located in the south of the country, and Tutin, a town and municipality in the Raska region of Serbia – all under the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration.

Europe is slow in tackling the problem of refugees. The text of agreement on the issue is still being worked out. In two years European countries have given refuge to 60 thousand people coming from the Middle East with first stops in Italy and Greece. Nobody is willing to accept binding quotas. The Greek Orthodox countries of the Balkans will have to solve the problem on their own. Serbia faces the fallout from many years of wars. It is also hit by economic crisis. For 20 years it has been unable to solve the problem of Serbian refugees coming from Croatia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The flows of immigrants create a heavy burden for the country to shoulder. But there is one more problem which is almost invisible.

Islamic State Coming to Balkans (II) (Not All Immigrants are Asylum Seekers

Nowadays one can meet young people on the streets of Serbian cities who don’t speak the language and don’t look like refugees. Physically fit, respectful and polite, they normally walk in groups of three trying not to attract attention. According to local media, the majority of immigrants settling down in Serbia are men younger than 27. Muslims account for 94% of the immigrants. 56% of refugees remaining in Serbia are single. They don’t likebeing photographed. Many of them are men of means, in some cases the money is sent by relatives.

It gives rise to concern. Well-trained Islamists with combat experience have an opportunity to enter the country posing as refugees. They go to all the corners of Serbia but mainly concentrate in the south. This is the force that could support the Muslim brothers in the Balkans. The feeling of anxiety is spreading around. Telegraph newspaper writes that terrorists do come along with refugees, especially in view that the majority of immigrants come from war-torn Syria. The newspaper believes that many of them come in organized groups. Some sources report that there are around 1000 Jihadists in the country. Around 200 of them are in Belgrade with others living inLedinci, Zemun, Palilula, Medakovic where they have their own mosques without minarets. Many of them come from Kosovo. Funds come from Vienna.

Zlatko Nikolic, a criminalist, believes that a sleeper agent can easily hide among real refugees. The terrorists vanish in the crowd and wait for the orders to come. Local Wahhabis from Prizren, Bujanovac and Gračanica are responsible for recruitment and coordination. Nikolic believes that many thousands of Muslim immigrants are militants. There are hundreds of thousands followers of Wahhabism in Serbia now.

A video clip is disseminated showing an Islamic State militant asking the Muslims residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina to fill the group’s ranks in the ancient land of Islam or start a fight in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Plant sticky bombs under cars, explode houses, poison them, kill them everywhere – let it be Bosnia, Serbia or Sanjak. You can do it and Allah will help you!”, said Ridwan Khachifi, a Kosovo Albanian known for atrocities he committed in Syria. Retired General Momir Stoyaniovic, a former high standing security service official, said in June 25-28 that Kosovo terrorists planned to commit three terrorist acts in central and southern areas of the country.

Do the Balkan states realize how dangerous it is? To some extent they do. A collegium of Ministry of Internal Affairs took place on June 28 to consider the security situation, especially the problems related to immigration. In Macedonia they reacted more effectively by adopting a law in late June that forbids refugees staying in the country for more than 72 hours. That’s why around 600 people gathered by the end of last month at the border with Greece.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina security services are implementing an $800 billion project collecting biometrics data on foreigners staying in the country. The money camefrom the United States (?).

Husein “Bilal” Bosnic, the leader of the Salafi movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) suspected of activities aimed at supporting the Islamic State (IS), is on trial in Sarajevo for allegedly recruiting BiH citizens to join IS fighters in Syria. Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska, openly said that radical Islam poses danger and needs to be countered. According to him, 34 thousand apartments are being built in Sarajevo and Ilic to accommodate Arabs, 380 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are fighting in the ranks of Islamic State. There are 3400 people on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina who can perpetrate terrorist acts (none of them is Arab).

There are five ammunition producing facilities on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These are potential targets for terrorists. Voislav Seselj, the leader of Serbian Radical Party, openly warns that Washington is preparing the operation Eagleto perpetrate terrorist acts in Serbia and intensify the activities of terror groups in Niš, Čačak, Kragujevac and Belgrade 29. According to him,the groups (1700 men strong formation in Belgrade and 20-30 strong groups in other cities)are waiting for a signal to take up arms. Terrorist acts in the crowded places of big cities will attract policemen. There will be much noise. At this moment Albanians in the south of Serbia will take up arms to accomplish their goal of unification. The Kosovo Albanians will move north to Kosovska Mitrovica. Tirana has always traditionally abstained from interference into the events taking place outside its territory. Now it admits that it is unable to control disgruntled Albanians in the Balkans, especially in Kosovo. Albanians may rise to unite the territories where they make up the majority of population.

The events in Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia provide enough grounds for making conclusions. On the one hand, the scenario of outside management is implemented in all these countries: regime change, the partition of territories, encouragement of extremist activities and suppression of strive for independence. The subservience of political elites is a factor to be used to advantage. Washington has failed to fully accomplish all the goals set. The process has been dragging on for dozens of years. The Republika Srpska still exists and even grows stronger, Macedonia is trying to defend its independence preventing the country from partition, Serbia does not recognize Kosovo and all these countries continue to pin their hopes on Russia and maintain close relationship with Moscow.

On the other hand, radical Islamism has been gaining ground in the Balkans recently. Terrorist groups conduct theirs activities, for instance: Wahabia and Red Rose in the south of Serbia and Montenegro, Tarikat in Montenegro, Al Qaeda cells in the north of Albania. In Bosnia and Herzegovina radical Islamists recruit Islamic State militants and perpetrate terrorist acts. They advocate a united Muslim country to be part of the so called green transversal or “Green Corridor” – a Muslim state in Europe. Looks like we’re witnessing the final phase of the process.

The refugees flow to the Balkans increased in 2014 – the very same year the Islamic State was created. Today the Balkans is flooded with Muslim refugees many of whom get settled down in Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 25 thousand young men, including soldiers with special operations training, are to take up arms at any moment. As we see it, the scenario could be as follows. Albanian radicals supported by Kosovars launch insurgencies simultaneously in Macedonia and in the south of Serbia – the Presevo Valley and Sanjak.

The Kosovo police tries to occupy the Serbs-populated areas. A number of terrorist acts are committed in central Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to distract attention. Police in Macedonia and Serbia launch operations against armed formations of terrorists. Probably, Albanian civilians lose their lives as a result of provocations. Upon command the Islamists, who were peacefully waiting for the moment, rise up in arms to form combat units and rush to help the “perishing” Muslim brothers. Clashes increase in scope with unpredictable outcome. Combats of different intensity take place in Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Weakened, reformed armies and police find it hard to defend the territories of their states, especially Republika Srpska which is part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. NATO or new formations of Islamists come to manage the conflict. At all events the problem will never be solved in favor of Serbia, Macedonia and even Montenegro, which is on the way to NATO membership. We believe that the conflict will spark in late August – early September…

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  


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