Sayyed Nasrallah: After Every Victory We Will Witness US Chemical Play

April 15, 2018

Syria aggression

Sara Taha Moughnieh

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah expressed from Al-Beqaa his support for Al-Ghad Al-Afdal (Better Tomorrow) list with all its members even if they were not directly related to Hezbollah.

Speaking at an electoral rally that Hezbollah held Sunday in Mashghara, Beqaa, Sayyed Nasrallah said that

“Al-Ghad Al-Afdal list reflects the spirit of loyalty and resistance, and every list for Amal Movement is a list for Hezbollah, and every list for Hezbollah is a list for Amal movement in all the regions.”

His eminence reassured his support for candidate Mohammad Nasrallah, saying “he is a representative of both Amal Movement and Hezbollah and has the best qualifications and commitments,” and called for wide participation in the elections.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the people of Eastern Biqaa and Rashaya are a major element of the resistance and its battle in defending their land for large numbers of leaders and fighters were martyred during the resistance operations against the Israeli occupation and ISIL.

“Due to that, this region supports this list, and its strong presence in the parliament, cabinet, and state institutions is a real guarantee for the resistance and the golden equation… In addition to the armament, the resistance needs a shield to rely on against conspiracies,” he said.

On the environmental level, his eminence referred to Litani river and Qaroun lake pollution prevention projects and assured that the parliament members hold the responsibility of that especially after the budget has been approved.

On the existential level, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the Israeli enemy poses threat on the existence of people in this region because it has projects in this region that are based on its geographic location which is close to occupied Palestine.

“The diversity in Eastern Beqaa and Rashaya is fundamental and old and it should be preserved and protected so that people can stay in their lands and villages… even though the enemy today is too weak to wage a land attack on Eastern Beqaa, Rashaya, and the South after the Merkava massacre that took place, precautions must be taken, and harmony between Army, Resistance, and People would be the strategic response to any threat,” he added.

In a similar context, Hezbollah secretary general wondered about the reason why some parts in Eastern Beqaa still incite against the resistance knowing that it ensures their safe and honorable existence… stressing that the social and economic bilateral relations between the people in Beqaa and Damascus has always been a normal thing.

Based on that, his eminence called upon some people in Beqaa to reconsider their political options because

“whoever bargains on the destruction of Syria for the sake of the US and Israel would be deceived”.

On another hand, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed the importance of co-living in the region and asked people to prevent any political conflict from transforming into a sectarian one.

“Whoever has no evidence refers to sectarian fanaticism, any movement or party that has a clear cause does not need to stir incitements. In contrast, whoever has no credibility and is weak refers to inciting people against one another…”  he further stated.

Regarding the US assault on Syria Saturday, Hezbollah secretary general noted that US-France-Britain hastened the attack on Syria because they wanted to end it before the “Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” delegation – which wanted to examine the soil in Douma – arrives to Syria on Sunday.

“(US president Donald) Trump and the French president are aware that this is a play, this is why they hastened the assault on Douma… just another evidence on the US arrogance,” Sayyed Nasrallah affirmed, adding that “France and England were just a cover so that the US wouldn’t be blamed alone, because the size of targets did not require all this alignment…”

His eminence praised the bravery of the Syrian Air Defense Forces, and listed the supposed goals behind the US-France-Britain attacks.

“If it was to submit and blackmail, it failed. If it was to frighten and break the morale of the Syrian people and their allies, this also failed and the opposite happened. If it was to lift the morale of the militants, the attack frustrated and disappointed them according to what their leaders stated. Finally, if their goal was to change the equation for the benefit of Israel, the Israelis were also frustrated and stated that Trump’s beautiful rockets got a zero result…”

“They Claimed that they wanted to destroy the chemical infrastructure in Syria… and after every victory we will witness a similar chemical play… (Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic) Imam Ali Khamenei constantly states that producing chemical weapons is prohibited and all evidence assure that Iran is not seeking to own chemical weapons, yet it is still being punished over that accusation and Syria is suffering that too.”

Source: Al-Manar

 

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الحريري رأس حربة الغرب بوجه حزب الله

مارس 24, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– ليس كلام رئيس الحكومة سعد الحريري عن أنّ الهدف من معاركه الانتخابية هو حزب الله شدّ للعصب، لأنه يعلم أنّ حليف حزب الله في بيروت الذي تمثله جمعية المشاريع الخيرية سيحصد مقعداً نيابياً بأصواته التي تضمن له المقعد في أيّ لائحة يشكلها بالتعاون مع مرشحين آخرين، كما يعلم أنّ مقعد النائب السابق أسامة سعد مضمون بتصويت الناخبين في أيّ لائحة يشكّلها سعد بمعزل عن التصويت الشيعي في الدائرة يوفر فرصاً إضافية لفوز المرشح الماروني إبراهيم عازار، على حساب مرشح حليف حزب الله الذي يمثله التيار الوطني الحر، وفي باقي الدوائر لا تشارك بين تيار المستقبل وحزب الله على التنافس في دوائر مشتركة، لأنّ حال المقعد الشيعي في زحلة تضمنه أصوات الناخبين الشيعة، وكذلك حال المقعد الشيعي في البقاع الغربي، وحال الحليف السني هناك الوزير السابق عبد الرحيم مراد، فلماذا افتعال عنوان للمعركة الانتخابية اسمه حزب الله؟

– يفتّش الحريري عن الأماكن التي لحزب الله فيها مرشحون ولوائح، ويسعى لتجميع أيّ تحالفات ولو كانت لا تشبهه سياسياً، أملاً بالتأثير على لوائح حزب الله، وخصوصاً منح مرشح سني سينضمّ لكتلة المستقبل إذا حجزت اللائحة مقعداً لها ونال مرشحه العلني أو المموّه أصواتاً تفضيلية كافية، وإلا السعي لترجيح كفة مرشّح شيعي على حساب أحد مرشحي اللائحة، أو أحد الحلفاء المسيحيين فيها. وهذا ما يقوله تشكيل لوائح يشارك فيها المستقبل أو يدعمها من تحت الطاولة، في دوائر الجنوب والبقاع، والقضية لا تتصل بتنافس مشروع لنيل فرص الفوز بمقاعد إضافية، بل بهمّ والتزام عنوانهما المواجهة مع حزب الله التي أعلنها عنواناً لمعركته الانتخابية في خطاب الإعلان عن لائحة بيروت.

– بات واضحاً أنّ حملة تهميش اللواء أشرف ريفي، سعودياً، والتبنّي الأوروبي الأميركي لمؤتمري روما وباريس المشبوهَيْن، وحملات لوائح الحريري المباشرة وغير المباشرة، حلقات في سلسلة واحدة عنوانها إعادة اعتماد الحريري رأس حربة الغرب في مواجهة حزب الله، فلمؤتمر روما وظيفة تتصل بفتح ملف سلاح حزب الله، تحت عنوان شرط دولي غربي للمساهمة في دعم الجيش والأجهزة الأمنية، هو وضع استراتيجية عسكرية، تسمّى دفاعية وليس فيها من الدفاع شيء، لأنّها مطلوبة خالية من كلّ ما يزعج «إسرائيل» ويضع حداً لانتهاكاتها للسيادة اللبنانية. فالاستراتيجية التي سيرتبط بها دعم الجيش والأجهزة الأمنية مطلوب أن تجيب عن سؤال يتصل بمستقبل سلاح حزب الله، وإظهار موقف رسمي مستعدّ للتفاوض على هذا السلاح ورفع الغطاء عنه، ومؤتمر باريس هو مؤتمر يتلطّى وراء دعم لبنان اقتصادياً، لقول الشيء نفسه في السياسة، أنّ هناك مليارات تنتظر لبنان، لكنها تنتظر موقف لبنان من سلاح حزب الله، علماً أنّ المليارات المزعومة هي المزيد من الديون ليس إلا، ولا يُخفى على أحد أنّ تحديد مواعيد للمؤتمرين تسبق الانتخابات، وتستعجل إقرار الموازنة بالتهويل والضغط بعيداً عن الحرص الدستوري على الاستحقاق الدستوري المتعلق بالموازنة نفسها، كلّه ضمن روزنامة مدروسة معاكسة لمصلحة لبنان ومصلحة الراغبين بالدعم لو كانوا صادقين. فالطبيعي في بلد يذهب لانتخابات كلبنان أن تنتظر هذه المؤتمرات الانتهاء من الاستحقاق الانتخابي وما تفرزه من واقع حكومي، للتفاوض مع حكومة باقية لا حكومة راحلة، والتطلع لبرنامج تصدّقه قوى نالت تفويضاً شعبياً طازجاً، لا قوى راحلة وقد لا يعود بعضها، أو لا يستعيد حجمه وموقعه، فالتوقيت مشبوه، كما الهدف، تلميع للحريري، وتقديمه بوابة للعلاقة بالأوروبيين والغرب والخليج، في قضيتي الأمن والمال.

– بعد الانتخابات كلام من نوع آخر.

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PRELIMINARY RESULTS: PUTIN ACHIEVES DECISIVE VICTORY IN RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

19.03.2018

South front

Preliminary Results: Putin Achieves Decisive Victory In Russian Presidential Election

Russian President and Presidential candidate Vladimir Putin at a polling station during the presidential election in Moscow, Russia March 18, 2018. Yuri Kadobnov/POOL via Reuters

The Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) has published preliminary results of the 2018 presidential election [55.34% of ballots processed].

  • Vladimir Putin is leading with about 75% of votes.
  • Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin is running second with about 13%.
  • A candidate from the so-called “liberal opposition” Ksenia Sobchak currently has about 1.5%.

The voter turnout is currently 59.93%.

Vladimir Putin is going to secure a decisive victory in the Russian presidential election 2018. A large-scale campaign of the so-called “liberal opposition”, backed up by Western power holders, aimed at discrediting the election has resulted in a total failure. The voter turnout of 59,93 shows that a major part of the Russian population has ignored the opposition’s appeals to ignore the election in order to declare it illegitimate.

Even if claims of the so-called “liberal opposition” and the “international community” about alleged “mass forgeries” are close to some kind of reality and the current government has “added” additional 5-6% to Putin [it’s hardly possible to add more under the conditions of live broadcasting from polling stations], the current Russian president has achieved a resounding victory.

It’s interesting to note that Grudinin, a candidate from Russia’s Communist Party, has achieved the second result with about 13%. Grudinin has been the Putin’s competitor that has shown himself as professional politician. One the same time, the communist candidate has more hard-line views on the governemnt and foreign pilicies that Russia should implement.

On the same time, the “liberal opposition” candidate, Sobchak, has failed. She and her backers from pro-Western power elites have tried to exploit the desire of changes among the population, especially among middle-class in big cities. Sobchak, a pop-tv anchor, has promoted herself as a “none-of-the-above” candidate and called on all who do not want to vote in favour of Putin to support her. This strategy has appeared to be inefficient.

Earlier today, the CEC’s website and information center have faced a cyber-attack from from 15 countries. However, no furious reports over the meddling of 15 states into the Russian election have been seen in the MSM so far. In turn, the Russians have reacted to the attack without drama.

In coming days, SF will continue providing reports about the results of the Russian presidential election and further developments.

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يا معالي الوزير.. كلّها انتخابات

يا معالي الوزير.. كلّها انتخابات

مارس 9, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– إذا عطفنا كلام وزير الداخلية نهاد المشنوق في حواره المتلفز ليل أمس، مع كلامه من منبر وزراء الداخلية العرب في الجزائر لا نستطيع إلا أن نشمّ روائح الانتخابات رغم الوجدانيات التي أراد الوزير ربط موقفه من قضية المسرحي زياد عيتاني بها، مستذكراً ما وصفه باتهامه بالعمالة وتعرّضه للتهديد وموقفه البطولي في مواجهة ذلك، مقابل نصائح تذكّر منها نصيحة للوزير السابق أشرف ريفي بإصدار بيان يهين نفسه به لطي الملف، والسؤال هنا هو بالاستذكار الذي أراده المشنوق نفياً لتهمة الاعتبارات الانتخابية في موقفه من ملف اتهام عيتاني، هل حشر اسم ريفي كان مجرد ذكر للوقائع، وهل استعراض موقف من الذاكرة لنيل التعاطف من جهة، واستعراض البطولة من جهة مقابلة، مجرد تذكّر لشاهد على العصر، أم هو جوهر الخطاب الانتخابي؟

– يا معالي الوزير، هل تتذكر أنّ هناك من جرى اتهامه بما لا يقلّ خطورة عما وصفته باتهامك بالعمالة، بعد اغتيال الرئيس رفيق الحريري، وبمؤتمر صحافي رسمي لرئيس الحكومة، وبدون أيّ دليل، واقتُحم منزله وتمّ النيل من سمعته والتحريض على قتله، وكانت الأجهزة الأمنية التي تتباهى بصدقيّتها، هي مَن فبرك ومَنْ أعدّ ملفات الاتهام والشهود الزور، وهي مجرد مسخرة وفعل انتقام مريض وتوظيف سياسي مشبوه، وأنّ هؤلاء لبنانيين مثلك لهم عائلاتهم وسمعتهم ووطنيتهم، ولك كشخص أن تخالفهم الرأي، لكن لا يحقّ كوزير أن تستذكر حادثة أقلّ شأناً مما تعرّضوا له بفضل إنجازات تيارك السياسي الذي وظف مسؤولية شخصياته السياسية على أجهزة أمنية ليوظّفها لحساباته الفئوية، والمبرّر الوحيد لذاكرتك الأحادية هو شخصنة الحدث طلباً للتعاطف، والحساب انتخابي، والنفي هنا يأتي في معرض التأكيد.

– في الجزائر كنت ممثلاً للبنان وحكومته، يا معالي الوزير، فهل تأتينا بمستند من البيان الوزاري للحكومة أو من قرارات مجلس الوزراء ما يخوّلك أن تقول، ما بدا بالنيابة عن مجلس الوزراء السعودي وليس عن مجلس الوزراء اللبناني، وفيه حرفياً أنّ «التمدّد الإيراني هو أحد أسباب الأزمة الأمنية والسياسية في العالم العربي، ولبنان العربي لم ولن يسمح بأن يكون شوكة في خاصرة العرب، ويجب ألا تيأسوا وألا تستسهلوا تسليم لبنان لإيران أو غيرها. فمن يسلّم لبنان يكون يسلّم نفسه، وهذا هو درس التاريخ الذي تعلّمناه معاً بكلفة عالية عالية عالية والمشروع الإيراني الذي لم ينجح في أن يكون عامل استقرار وإنماء في أيّ بقعة وصل إليها، فهذا الدور لم ينتج إلا الأزمات، لكنّ هذا لا يعفينا من السؤال: ماذا فعلنا في المواجهة مع إيران أو في الحوار معها؟». فهل هذا كلام وزير لبناني أم وزير سعودي، وما في هذا الكلام من تحريض ضمني على مَن يُفترض أنهم أدوات الدور الإيراني الذي تحذّر من مخاطره وتتعهّد بمقاومته، والمعني هنا شريك في الوطن وفي الحكومة، واللعب بنار الفتن يبدأ من هنا يا معالي الوزير، أم هذا هو شدّ العصب المذهبي عشية الذهاب للانتخابات؟ وهل هذا التزام بالنأي بالنفس الذي تدّعون أنه مطلبكم، وهل الحديث بنبرة سعودية له وظيفة غير الانتخابات وطلب الودّ، ولو بانتهاك حدود المسؤولية الدستورية؟

– معالي الوزير، بيننا وبين الانتخابات شهران، فإذا

كنت من اليوم مستعداً لارتكاب هذه التجاوزات ووزارتك هي المعنية بالعملية الانتخابية ونزاهتها، فأنت أكثر المطالبين بين زملائك بإثبات الحياد بالقدرة على الفصل بين صفتك الوزارية وكونك مرشحاً، وإ ثبات الحياد الوزاري في ملفات الانتخابات بمواقف الوزير وتصريحاته وسلوكه، وأول الثقة بالأمن، يا معالي الوزير، ليست الثقة بالأجهزة الأمنية التي لا تُعوزها الأهلية ولا الشجاعة ولا الكفاءة، ولا الثقة بالقضاء الذي لا تعوزه أهلية وكفاءة وشجاعة. أول الثقة بالأمن كما بالانتخابات هي الثقة بوجود وزير قبضاي شجاع يحمي الأجهزة من التدخلات السياسية، ويترفّع عن توظيف صفته الوزارية لحساب فريقه السياسي وحكماً لحساب مصالحه السياسية، والوقت لم يفُت بعد.

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Putin’s Syrian withdrawal announcement: an analysis

December 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The legal purpose of the Russian Armed Forces.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus the address begins with an acknowledgement that for Russian soldiers

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

(bold italics added)

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

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

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

(bold italics added)

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

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

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

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

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

(bold italics added)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(bold italics added)

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

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

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

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

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

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

They are not riddles: The release of the detainee Maatouq The emergence of Abu Mustafa into public The Sub – elections in Deir Al Zour ليست ألغازاً: تحرير الأسير معتوق إطلالة أبو مصطفى انتخابات فرعية في دير الزور

They are not riddles: The release of the detainee Maatouq The emergence of Abu Mustafa into public The Sub – elections in Deir Al Zour

سبتمبر 24, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The Americans and their allies endeavored to trade with the understanding accomplished by Hezbollah with ISIS after a clear victory on the militants of ISIS in the barrens of Lebanon and Syria. This understanding depended on transferring the remaining militants and their families along with their  individual weapons to Deir Al Zour in exchange of revealing the fate of the Lebanese kidnapped soldiers and liberating the martyrs’ bodies and a detainee who belongs Hezbollah. The Americans and their groups in Iraq and Lebanon accompanied with the satellite channels and newspapers funded and operated by Saudi Arabia hastened to distort the image of Hezbollah and the clarity of its victory and accusing it with the seriousness in fighting ISIS which the victories and the blood of the martyrs prove. The Americans have waged a war of disrupting the understanding by hindering the bus of the militants of ISIS in the desert, but Hezbollah did not get embarrassed, on the contrary it defended its understanding, showing the ethics of wars and the concept and the strategy of the positive psychological warfare in order to dismantle ISIS and to prepare for the surrender of ISIS’s militants in its next battles, it has perfected the use of the campaign which was waged against it to show how Hezbollah deals,  its fighting value, its military features and in preparation for the surrender of ISIS’s soldiers whenever they are besieged by its fighters, being confident that they will not be treated brutally as they treat their victims.

In the last stages of the understanding, the arrival of the convoy to its destination, and the release of the resistant detainee Ahmed Maatouq all the balances of forces which surround the war in Syria have been brought. The Americans as Hezbollah have made every effort, but this time the word of America was versus the word of Hezbollah and the war was in its peak at the borders of the Euphrates towards Deir Al Zour, till Jacob Amirdor said that Israel fought in 2006 to push Hezbollah to beyond Litani, it is two kilometers away from the borders from the side of khardali. Now Hezbollah is on the borders of the Euphrates expanding hundreds of kilometers, so within days the war of Deir Al Zour has been resolved, and the Americans announced that they stopped following-up the convoy which belongs to ISIS depending on a Russian request, that convoy continued its way and reached its destination, thus Hezbollah was able to liberate its resistant detainee. Therefore, it was proven that the word of Hezbollah was the influential, moreover America which tried to trade to undermine the understanding and did everything possible to disable its Implications has turned into a partner in implementing it in favor of Hezbollah, as it is a partner that offers the participation to liberate the detainees of Hezbollah on the day of exchange after the war of July to ensure the arrival of the martyr Samir Al-Kuntar liberated to Lebanon. These are the real balances of forces in the region for those who know the meaning of reading politics and strategies.

*****

The leader of Hezbollah Al Hajj Abu Mustafa has made a rare TV interview from Deir Al Zour after raising the siege, he emerged as a political and high intellectual leader, he chose his expressions very accurately. He talked within minutes what is enough to draw the course of the war in Syria and the path of Hezbollah in it. He said that emerging to media is a translation of the equation “we will be where we should be” into “we will be as we should be” When it is needed to emerge publically we emerge and vice versa. He said that the military steps are decided by the Syrian leadership and we carry out what the leadership demands. He added that the decision of the Secretary-general of Hezbollah of emerging to public is in order to show this axis of resistance in its strategic victory and in all its aspects from Russia, Iran, Iraq Syria, and Lebanon, where Palestine is the cause, giving every part of this axis a meaningful feature, Abu Mustafa read a written text and repeated sentences which he said twice, he was a distinctive leader in his performance, but many times he spoke fluently without a text, so the smoothness of the expression was an honesty and a credibility to a leader as his indication to the symbolism of the five pillars of the axis of resistance “friendly Russia, Iran is the Islam, Iraq is the Arabism, Syria of Al-Assad , and the resistant Lebanon”, with these pillars the resistance is wining by its morals, culture, courage, and faith.

*****

Few days ago immediately after the liberation of Deir Al Zour the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad issued a republican decree in which he determined the date of the sub-elections in Deir Al Zour on the thirtieth of September for a vacancy of a parliamentary seat, while the Lebanese officials are escaping from holding anticipating sub-elections for months and years. Between the security situations of Syria especially Deir Al Zour and the situations of Lebanon, we know the meaning of the existence of a country and the appropriate conditions for holding elections, and how the men in powers are. So those who say that the elections in Syria are blocked, their problem is not in the appropriate security and administrable conditions but the blocking, and those who are afraid to hold them on their account, will lose more when the date is postponed, so hasten to do so today, it is better than tomorrow or is not as bad as tomorrow.

*****

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

 

ليست ألغازاً: تحرير الأسير معتوق إطلالة أبو مصطفى انتخابات فرعية في دير الزور

سبتمبر 15, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– جهد الأميركيون وحلفاؤهم للمتاجرة بالتفاهم الذي أنجزه حزب الله مع داعش بعد نصر واضح على مسلحي التنظيم في جرود لبنان وسورية، يقضي بنقل ما تبقى من المسلحين وعائلاتهم بأسلحتهم الفردية إلى محافظة دير الزور مقابل كشف مصير العسكريين اللبنانيين المخطوفين وتحرير جثامين شهداء وأسير لحزب الله، واستنفر الأميركيون جماعاتهم من العراق ولبنان والقنوات الفضائية والصحف المموّلة والمشغلة من السعودية لتشويه صورة حزب الله ونقاء نصره، واتهامه بجدية حربه على داعش التي تتحدّث عنها الانتصارات ودماء الشهداء. وخاض الأميركيون حرب تعطيل التفاهم بحجز قافلة مسلحي داعش في الصحراء، فلم يُصَب حزب الله بالإحراج بل خرج مدافعاً عن تفاهمه مقدّماً فيه أطروحة في أخلاقيات الحرب وفي منهج واستراتيجية حرب نفسية إيجابية لتفكيك داعش والتمهيد لمسار استسلام مسلحيها في معاركه المقبلة، وأحسن استثمار الحملة ضده لتنقلب وجهاً من وجوه الدعاية للحزب وقيمه القتالية ومناقبيته العسكرية، وتمهيداً لاستسلام عناصر داعش، كلما حوصروا من مقاتليه، واثقين أنهم لن يعامَلوا بالوحشية التي عاملوا بها هم كل مَن وقع بين أيديهم.

– استُحضرت في آخر فصول التفاهم، ببلوغ القافلة مكان وصولها النهائي وتحرير الأسير المقاوم أحمد معتوق، كلُّ موازين القوى المحيطة بالحرب في سورية وعليها، فرمى الأميركيون بثقلهم ورمى حزب الله بثقله. وكانت الأمور هذه المرة كلمة أميركا مقابل كلمة حزب الله، والحرب في ذروتها على ضفاف الفرات ونحو دير الزور، حتى قال يعقوب عميردور إن إسرائيل قاتلت عام 2006 لتدفع حزب الله إلى وراء الليطاني وهو يبعد كيلومترين عن الحدود من جهة المطلة الخردلي، وها هو حزب الله على ضفاف الفرات يتوسّع مئات الكيلومترات، وخلال أيام حُسمت حرب دير الزور، فأعلن الأميركيون أنهم بطلب روسي أوقفوا متابعة القافلة الخاصة بداعش، فأكملت مسيرها ووصلت نقطة النهاية وحرّر حزب الله أسيره المقاوم معتوق. وكسر الإرادات هنا يقول إن كلمة حزب الله خرجت هي العليا، لا بل إن أميركا التي تاجرت للنيل من التفاهم وبذلت كل ما تستطيع لتعطيل مفاعيله، تحوّلت شريكاً في تنفيذه لحساب حزب الله، كما لو أنها شريك يقدم المساهمة لتحرير أسرى حزب الله يوم التبادل بعد حرب تموز، لضمان وصول الشهيد سمير القنطار محرراً إلى لبنان، هذه هي موازين القوى الحقيقية في المنطقة لمن يعرف معنى قراءة السياسة والاستراتيجيات.

– أطل القيادي في حزب الله الحاج أبو مصطفى في لقاء تلفزيوني نادر الحدوث، من دير الزور بعد فك الحصار عنها، فظهر قائداً سياسياً وفكرياً عالي الثقافة دقيق الاختيار في التعابير، قال بدقائق ما يكفي لرسم مسار الحرب في سورية ومسيرة حزب الله فيها، فقال إن الإطلالة على الإعلام ترجمة لمعادلة نكون حيث يجب أن نكون بمعادلة نكون كيف يجب أن نكون، فعندما يقتضي الظهور علناً نظهر علناً وعندما يقتضي أن لا نظهر فلا نظهر، وقال إن الخطوات العسكرية تقررها القيادة السورية ونحن ننفّذ ما تطلبه القيادة. وقال إن قرار الأمين العام لحزب الله بالظهور العلني ليظهر محور المقاومة في هذا النصر الاستراتيجي بتجلياته كلها، ومعه روسيا الصديقة، من إيران الإسلام إلى عراق العروبة وسورية الأسد إلى لبنان المقاومة ففلسطين القضية، مانحاً كل ركن في المحور صفة ملازمة ذات مغزى.

رأ أبو مصطفى في بعض كلامه نصاً مكتوباً وكرّر جملاً قالها مرتين، فكان قائداً مميزاً في الأداء، لكنه تدفق مرات بلا نص فكانت سلاسة التعبير صدقاً ومصداقية لقائد، مثل ترميزه لخماسية أوصاف أركان محور المقاومة، بهؤلاء تنتصر مقاومة رصيدها أخلاق وثقافة وشجاعة وإيمان.

– أصدر الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد قبل أيام وفور تحرير دير الزور مرسوماً جمهورياً يحدّد موعد الانتخابات الفرعية في دير الزور عن مقعد نيابي شاغر في الثلاثين من شهر أيلول الحالي، بينما يتهرّب بعض المسؤولين اللبنانيين من إجراء انتخابات فرعية منتظرة منذ شهور وسنين، ويحاولون تهريب الانتخابات كلها منذ سنين ويكرّرون المحاولة اليوم، وبين حال سورية الأمنية، وخصوصاً دير الزور وحال لبنان تكمن العبرة في الحديث عن معنى وجود الدولة، وعن ظروف مناسبة لإجراء الانتخابات، والأهم كيف يكون رجال الدولة، وللذين يقولون إن الانتخابات في سورية معلّبة، ولذلك لا يهابون إجراءها جواب بسيط، إن مشكلتكم إذن انتظار تعليب الانتخابات وليست الظروف الأمنية والإدارية المناسبة، أو الجواب إذا كانت في سورية ممكنة الإجراء ومعلبة، فلتكن عندكم ممكنة الإجراء ولا تعلّبوها، أما للخائفين من إجرائها على حساباتهم وأوزانها، فالجواب أنكم ستخسرون كلما تأجّل الموعد مزيداً من الحجم والوزن، فزمن هزائم مشروعكم سيتجلى أكثر وأكثر، فسارعوا إليها اليوم أفضل من الغد أو أقل سوءاً، واعملوا بالقول المأثور، «إن هبتَ أمراً فقَعْ فيه، فإن شدّة توقيه أعظم مما تخاف منه».

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The Lucy Stein Gang Rides Into Moscow

September 18, 2017

by Israel Shamir for the Unz Review

The Lucy Stein Gang Rides Into Moscow

Can the Putin Fans League win municipal elections in New York City? Not bloody likely, you’ll murmur, and probably justifiably so. However, in the municipal elections last week, pro-American forces captured one third of the seats in Moscow. A great shock, slightly mitigated by the media silence that accompanied both the election and its results.

As a rule, I do not dwell much on internal Russian politics (as opposed to foreign relations). They are parochial, obscure and not democratic. That is true for internal politics in every country I am aware of, but in Russia, they aren’t even competitive. Kremlin wiseguys try and fix the results with all the subtleness of Democratic primaries under Ms Debbie Wasserman Schultz. This time they had a seemingly brilliant idea: wouldn’t it be nice if few people would turn up at the election booths? Only those requested to vote? So they had zero publicity, zero announcements, zero TV coverage. People were vaguely aware of the municipal elections but the affair was so low profile that very few cared to attend: slightly over ten per cent of the electorate. The cynical subterfuge flopped badly.

In Moscow (which is the only place in Russia that counts) the three main opposition parties, the Communists and the Nationalists, as well as Kremlin-friendly Socialists, were been decimated. Their votes had been snatched by pro-Western liberals, self-described as “those of good genes”, “the fair-faced ones”, “handshake-worthy”; all these epithets vaguely connected in Russian mind with prosperous Jewishness, of sorts, or with Jewified Soviet nomenclature. The best-known names include Ms Lucy Stein, a young Jewish journalist of some notoriety – she installed plaster copies of her breasts and filmed a staged act of a little boy being roughly treated by Putin’s police. Another one is Mr Maxim Katz, a young Jewish activist – he organized the delivery of flowers to the place of the opposition leader Mr Nemtsov’s assassination, allegedly with some profit for himself.

These youngsters (in their early twenties) have been led by Mr Dmitry Gudkov, a Russian Parliament Member and a son of a Russian Parliament Member. This sounds like the House of Lords, but Gudkov the Senior is an ex-KGB colonel, an oligarch and the owner of a bailiff business, rather than a hereditary peer. Gudkov’s people made a loose coalition with Yabloko (Apple, in Russian), a liberal party of some prominence in the Yeltsin years. They are against Putin’s policies, for the restoration of the Crimea to the Ukraine and for an alliance with the liberal West.

While other parties didn’t give a hoot, the liberals cared to come to the neglected elections, and they delivered their voters to the booths. For that purpose, they imported American technology, and one of Sanders’ operatives, a Russian-born Mr Vitali Shklyarov, who had come to set up what they called “a political Uber”, a web app for fielding candidates and getting voters. In addition, they vastly overspent their competitors.

Democracy in action? Forsooth! This was a clear-cut example of real (as opposed to imaginary) interference in foreign elections. While endless FBI probes have never produced any tangible proof of Russian interference in the US elections, and the Facebook investigation “revealed that it had sold as much as $150,000 in political ads to pro-Kremlin entities between 2015 and 2017”, the US interference in recent Moscow elections had been vast, powerful and effective. The pro-American forces spent over sixty million dollar in Moscow alone by very conservative estimates, and probably much more. And the funds came from abroad.

The very idea of Russian interference in the US elections had been flattering but silly. The Russians are not in the same league, in speaking of political technologies. The Americans are much more masterful, being trained in a competitive environment. The Russians’ only chance to have fair elections is adopting another American technology, namely the active fight against foreign interference. The Kremlin could and should investigate the path of every US buck to the Stein-Katz Gang, and deal with it as harshly as Americans are dealing with imaginary Russian interference. But would they? I doubt it. The wiseguys who mismanaged elections for Kremlin will do all they can to kill the story. No important Russian media carried it, by direct orders from Kremlin.

We have proof to back up our claims of the US interference in the Russian elections: a confession made by the coordinator for Open Russia, a political body created by Mr Michael Khodorkovsky. This oligarch, once the richest man in Russia, did nine years in a Russian jail for massive tax evasion, white-collar crimes, organized crime and conspiracy for murder, as brutal and ruthless a shark as ever swam murky waters of Russian business and politics.

Mr Khodorkovsky had been an American agent of influence for many years. Since being pardoned by President Putin, he moved abroad and became the focal point for the US-led clandestine campaign for regime change in Russia. Together with other exiled (and wanted) oligarchs, Tel Aviv-based Mr Nevzlinand London-based Mr Chichvarkin, Mr Khodorkovsky funnels money to Russia’s pro-Western opposition.

His coordinator Ms Maria Baronova had been quite close to Mr Khodorkovsky but parted with him some time ago. In her Facebook blog she admits that “Gudkov and Katz are a secret project of M. B. Khodorkovsky” while other elements of the opposition are a public project of Mr Khodorkovsky. In other words, the whole campaign has been organized from Washington, or perhaps from Langley.

As we learned from Wikileaks-published State Department cables, this is the current trend of CIA for orchestrating regime change: instead of sending money directly to the opposition with a courier, they employ oligarchs as go-between. This mode has been used in Syria since 2006, as well as in Lebanon, and now is being applied in Moscow.

The winners of the recent municipal elections in Moscow weren’t just the “fair-faced” children of nomenclature, but appointees of the US deep state. They did it using American know-how and American money. This is the real and very successful interference, and the organisers got away with it.

The Russian post-Soviet political system as organized by Putin’s wiseguys should share the blame. The Communists, Nationalists of Mr Zhirinovsky and Socialists of Mr Mironov have been tamed and house-broken so efficiently that they lost their balls, their will power, their desire for victory – and their voters, as well. People stopped to care about them. The ruling party United Russia isn’t better; it is a toothless clone of the toothless CPSU, the late Soviet Union Communist Party that was dismantled by Gorbachev and Yeltsin without a single objection from millions of card-carrying members. It is a party of people who want to have power and its privileges.

The Ukraine had been ruled by a similar Party of the Regions. Led by Mr Victor Yanukovych, the party fell to pieces after the coup, its members deserting the sinking ship as fast as they could. United Russia will also run away in a case of trouble; they will helplessly watch Mr Khodorkovsky enter the gates of the Kremlin and probably applaud him. The United Russia’s 70% of vote is no guarantee of support for Mr Putin’s independent course. It would be better for Putin to rely upon smaller but more reliable and devoted cadres. Lenin used to say, ‘a small anchovy is better than a big cockroach’.

(This is true for other countries, too, as Mr Trump and Mr Corbyn discovered: their big parties just aren’t reliable. A small and reliable party of their dedicated supporters would be a better bet.)

The Kremlin spokesmen comfort themselves and others by stressing very limited powers of the elected deputies. By law, they may deal with municipal questions only. However, it is not unusual for such bodies to reach for more power in a revolutionary situation. In France, in 1789, the elected parliament was intended to be an advisory to the monarch, but very soon it assumed all the powers and chopped off the king’s head. In the USSR, in 1991, the Russian Federation parliament had very few rights being subservient to the Soviet parliament, but it assumed rights and broke up the USSR.

Forget about Mr Navalny. Perhaps we should get used to the idea that the next president of Russia will be called Maxim Katz, and Lucy Stern his Foreign Minister. That is, unless Mr Putin will do a better job at the forthcoming Presidential elections.

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net

This article was first published at The Unz Review.

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