Syria reserves right to respond any violation to territorial unity of country

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem stated in his address to UN General Assembly that the country reserves the right to respond to any violation of its territorial unity.
De-escalation Zones

He also underlined that creation of de-escalation zones in Syria is a temporary measure.

“Notwithstanding its commitment to the memorandum on the ‘de-escalation zones,’ Syria reserves the right to respond to any violation by the other party. Syria also stresses that these zones are a temporary arrangement that must not violate the territorial unity of Syria,” the minister said.

He stated that the victory over terrorists in Syria is possible after the Aleppo, Palmyra, Deir ez Zor liberation.

“My country, along with its steadfast people and its brave army, supported by our loyal allies, is marching steadily towards the goal of rooting out terrorism. The liberation of Aleppo and Palmyra, the lifting of the siege of Deir Ez-Zor and the eradication of terrorism from many parts of Syria prove that victory is now within reach,” Muallem said.

“For more than six years, Syrians have endured the worst and have made great sacrifices to defend their country in the face of a terrorist war of unprecedented brutality, which has spared no one and no-thing, targeting innocent people, services, the infrastructure and cultural heritage. Despite it all, Syria is determined, more than ever, to eradicate terrorism from every part of the country, without exception, thanks to the sacrifices of our army and the steadfastness of our people,” Muallem said.

Damascus will increase its reconciliation efforts in order to restore stability in the country, Syrian Foreign Minister stated.

“Syria is determined to scale up reconciliation efforts, whenever possible, because it is the best means to alleviate the suffering of Syrians and restore stability and normalcy,” the minister said, adding that the efforts undertaken so far “have allowed tens of thousands of IDPs [internally displaced persons] and refugees to go back home” and helped improve the living conditions of a great number of Syrians who had fallen victim to terrorist crimes.

In August, Syrian government forces, backed by Russian aviation, liberated the town of Al-Sukhnah, overlooking the strategic M20 highway which connects Deir ez-Zor with Palmyra, and are now moving northeast methodically flushing out jihadist militants on both sides of the highway.

Meanwhile, the Russian Aerospace Forces and warships in the Mediterranean are clearing the way for the advancing Syrian government forces with airstrikes and cruise missile attacks.

US-led Coalition Actions

Walid al-Moualem expressed hope that Astana process will help the country to reach ‘actual cessation of hostilities’.

“We are encouraged by the Astana process and the resulting ‘de-escalation zones’ and hope that it will help us reach an actual cessation of hostilities and separate terrorist groups, such as ISIL [Daesh], Al-Nusra [Nusra Front, both terrorist groups banned in numerous countries] and others, from those groups that have agreed to join the Astana process,” Muallem said in his address to the UN General Assembly.

According to him, the US-led coalition against Daesh achieved no result in the fight against terrorism in Syria, killing more civilians than militants. He noted that the anti-terror fight in the country impossible without the coordination with the Syrian government, claiming that any foreign presence without its permission is illegal.

“We have declared more than once that it is impossible to combat terrorism without coordination with the Syrian government. This is the only way to make real gains in the war on terrorism. Any presence of foreign troops on Syrian grounds, without the consent of the government, is considered a form of occupation, a wanton aggression, and a flagrant violation of international laws and the Charter of the United Nations,” Muallem said.

“While the coalition failed to make any meaningful progress against the terrorist group of ISIL [Daesh], the Syrian Army, along with its allies and friends, has been able to secure real and significant gains and drive out terrorists from large parts of the Syrian Desert,” Muallem said in his address to the UN General Assembly.

“The so-called ‘International Coalition’ led by the US, which was created three years ago to allegedly fight terrorist groups such as ISIL [Daesh], has killed much more innocent Syrians, mostly women and children, than terrorists and has destroyed vital infrastructure that Syrians have worked for years to build. It has also used phosphorus bombs and other internationally-prohibited weapons before the eyes of the whole world,” Muallem added.

The United States, Russia, Iran and other players are running out of room to avoid direct conflicts as territory ruled by the Daesh terrorist group (banned in Russia) shrinks and fighting becomes more intense, the private intelligence firm Soufan Group warned in a report on Friday.

The report cited last week’s shelling of Syrian government units, including Russian special forces, by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as well as the bombing of SDF forces and embedded US special-operations units, by Russian planes as one example of conflicts that are likely to intensify.

On September 21, Russian military spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov warned US commanders that Russia would target SDF and US personnel operating near the city of Deir ez-Zor, if Russian and Syrian forces continued to come under fire from those areas, according to the report.

Chemical Weapons

The foreign minister also confirmed Syria’s commitment to Geneva process, intention to achieve progress in these negotiations.

“The Syrian government reaffirms its commitment to the Geneva process and further progress on that track. This process has yet to bear fruit in the absence of a genuine national opposition that can be a partner in Syria’s future, and as countries with influence over the other party continue to block any meaningful progress,” Muallem said in his address to the UN General Assembly.

He reaffirmed Damascus’ readiness to accept UN experts for investigation on reports about chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun.

“And as was the case after every accusation of this kind, we confirmed our readiness to receive and cooperate with UN investigation teams,” Muallem said in his address to the UN General Assembly.

On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces announced that several dozen people had been killed in a suspected chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s province of Idlib. Four days later, the United States fired missiles at a Syrian government airbase in Idlib in response to the alleged attack, which the White House blamed Damascus for, albeit without providing evidence.

Syrian authorities have refuted any involvement in the incident, saying that the complete elimination of the Syrian government’s stockpile of chemical weapons was confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in January 2016. Russia considers US claims of having evidence that Damascus used chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun unfounded.

Source: Sputnik

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Listening to The Donald at the UN

By The Saker

September 21, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  Late this morning, outraged emails started pouring in.  My correspondents reported “getting sick” and having their “heart ache”.  The cause of all that?  They had just watched Trump’s speech at the UN.  I sighed and decided to watch the full speech for myself.  Yeah, it was painful.

You can read the full (rush,not official) text here or watch the video here.  Most of it is so vapid that I won’t even bother posting the full thing.  But there are a few interesting moments including those:

We will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been

This short sentence contains the key to unlock the reason behind the fact that while the US military is extremely good at killing people in large numbers, it is also extremely bad at winning wars.  Like most Americans, Trump is under the illusion that spending a lot of money “buys” you a better military.  This is completely false, of course.  If spending money was the key to a competent military force, the US armed forces would have already conquered the entire planet many times over.  In reality, they have not won anything meaningful since the war in the Pacific.

Having surrounded himself with “Mad Dog” kind of “experts” on warfare, Trump is now reusing that old mantra about how money buys you victory and this is something extremely important.  This kind of magical thinking signals to the countries most threatened by the USA that the Americans are unable to engage in a basic “lessons learned” kind of exercise, that history teaches them nothing and that, just like all this predecessors, Trump conflates handing out money to the Military Industrial Complex with preparing for war.  Frankly, this is good news: let the Americans spend themselves into bankruptcy, let them further neglect their military and let them continue to believe that this kind of magical thinking will bring them to victory.

[Sidebar: for the record, I have met and studied with plenty of excellent, well-educated, honorable, courageous and patriotic American officers and the kind of money-centered hubris I describe above is in no way directed at them, if only because they know even much better than I how bad the situation really is.  There are plenty of highly-educated officers in the US armed forces who understand history and who know that money brings corruption, not victory.  But they are mostly kept at ranks no higher than Colonel and you will often find them in military teaching institutions and academies.  Having studied with them and become good friends with many of them, I feel sorry for them and I know that if they had the means to stop this insanity they would]

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies. From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerge victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.

The only question here is whom exactly Trump’s speech-writers are aiming that nonsense at?  Do they really think that there is anybody out there who sincerely believes this?  If the target audience are US middle schools then, yes, okay.  But does anybody believe that US middle school students listen to UN speeches?!  Okay, maybe senile folks also believe that, I sure know a few who will swallow it up and ask for more, but why speak to that audience from a UN podium?  Is it not embarrassing when such nonsense is greeted in total silence instead of a standing ovation from all the putatively grateful countries out there who are so deeply grateful for all these altruistic and heroic sacrifices.  My only explanation for why this kind of nonsensical drivel was included in this speech is that it has become part of the ritual of typical American “patriotic liturgy”: big hyperbolic sentences which mean nothing, which nobody takes seriously or even listens to, but who have to be included “because they have to”.  This reminds me of the obligatory Lenin quote in any and all Soviet speeches and statements, they also were basically filtered out by any thinking person, everybody knew that, but that’s how things went on then.  It is really sad, and scary, to see how much the USA of the 2017 looks like the Soviet Union of the 1980s.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

Wow!  Now that is a sentence which could only be written by a person utterly unaware of the impact it will have on the intended audience (in theory, all of mankind, this is the UN, after all).  Totally destroy North Korea.  I wonder how this will be received in South Korea and JapanNo, I don’t mean by the puppet regimes in Seoul and Tokyo, but by the people.  Will they simply dismiss it as hot air or will they be horrified.  I bet for the former reaction.  It is much more psychologically comfortable to dismiss it all under the heading “nah, that’s crazy shit, they don’t mean it and they sure as hell ain’t gonna do it” rather than think for just a few minutes about the implications and consequences of such a threat.  And let me be clear here: the United States most definitely do have the means to totally destroy North Korea.  For one thing, they already did so during the Korean war, and they can easily repeat that today.  That does not mean that they can win a war against the DPRK.  There is a huge difference between laying waste to a country and winning a war against it (see Israel vs Hezbollah).  The only way to meaningfully win a war against the DPRK is to invade it, and that the Americans cannot do, not even close.  In contrast, the DPRK probably has the means to invade at least the northern part of South Korea, including Seoul.  At the very least, they can totally destroy it.  Along with much of Japan.  I wonder if the USA decided to one day “protect” South Korean and Japan by “totally destroying North Korea”, will they be totally shocked when they realize that the South Koreans and the Japanese will turn out not to be grateful for such a “protection”?

Last month I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operation, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

What we see here is undeniable evidence that far from being “real warriors” or “strategists” the military gang around Trump (Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, etc.) are either primitive grunts or folks who owe their rank to political protection.  Why do I say that?  Because none of what Trump describes as a “strategy for victory” is, in fact, a strategy.  In fact, the US has not had anything remotely resembling a strategy in Afghanistan for years already.  If it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable, really.  What we really see here is the total absence of any strategy and, again, a total reliance on magical thinking.  Ask yourself a basic question: have you ever heard from any Trump administration or any US General anything which would suggest to you that these guys have i) a clear goal in mind ii) an understanding of what it would take to achieve this goal and iii) a timeframe to achieve this goal and iv) an exit strategy once this goal is achieved?  No?  Well, that is not your fault, you did not miss anything.  They really don’t have it.  The amazing reality is that they don’t have a goal even defined.  How one achieves “victory” when no goal is even defined is anybody’s guess.

[Sidebar: without going into a lengthy discussion of Afghanistan, I would say that the only chance to get anything done, any viable result at all, is to negotiate a deal with all the parties that matter: the various Afghan factions, of course, but also with the Taliban, Pakistan, Iran and even Russia.  Pakistan and Iran have a de-facto veto power over any outcome for Afghanistan.  This may not be what the USA would want, but this is the reality.  Denying reality is just not a smart approach to these issues, especially if “victory” is the goal]

In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person. No society could be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

When I heard these words I felt embarrassed for Trump.  First, it is absolutely pathetic that Trump has to claim as his success the victories with the Syrians, the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah have achieved against the Wahabi-crazies of Daesh/al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/etc, especially since the latter are a pure creation of the US CIA!  The truth is that it was the Americans who created this Wahabi monster and that they aided, protected, financed, trained and armed it through all these years.  The USA also viciously opposed all the countries which were serious about fighting this Wahabi abomination.  And now that a tiny Russian contingent has achieved infinitely better results that all the power of the mighty CENTCOM backed by the Israeli and Saudi allies of the USA in the region, The Donald comes out and declares victory?!  Pathetic is not strong enough a word to describe this mind-bogglingly counter-factual statement.  And then, just to make things worse, The Donald *proudly* mentions the failed attack against a Syrian air force base which had nothing to do with a false flag fake chemical attack.  Wow!  For any other political leader recalling such an event would be a burning embarrassment, but for The Donald it is something he proudly mentions.  The hubris, ignorance and stupidity of it all leaves me in total awe…

Next The Donald went on a long rant about how bad Maduro and Venezuela were, which was terrible, but at least predictable, but then he suddenly decided to share this outright bizarre insight of his:

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.

Since when did Trump become an expert on political science and world history anyway?  Who does he think he is lecturing?  Yet another US middle school classroom?!  Does he not realize that a good number of the countries represented at the UN consider themselves Socialist?!  Furthermore, while I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that Socialist and Communist ideas have often been a disaster in the 20th century, Socialism in the 21st century is an entirely different beast and the jury is still very much out on this issue, especially when considering the social, political, economic, ecological, psychological and even spiritual disaster Capitalism is now proving to be for much of the planet.  Being the President of a country as dysfunctional as the USA, Trump would be well-advised to tone down his arrogant pontifications about Socialism and maybe even open a book and read about it.

I won’t even bother discussing the comprehensively counter-factual nonsense Trump has spewed about Iran and Hezbollah, we all know who Trump’s puppet-masters are nowadays so we know what to expect.  Instead, I will conclude with this pearl from The Donald:

In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they love. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

Echoing the nonsense he spoke while in Poland, Trump is now clearly fully endorsing that fairytale that “The West” (in which Trump now hilariously includes Poland!) has defeated Hitler and saved the world.  The truth is that the Nazis were defeated by the Soviets and that all the efforts of the Poles, French, Brits and even Americans were but a minor (20% max) sideshow to the “real event” (Those who still might believe in this nonsense can simply read this).  Yet again, that the Americans would feel the need to appropriate for themselves somebody else’s victory is, yet again, a clear sign of weakness.  Do they expect the rest of the planet to buy into this nonsense?  Probably not.  My guess is that all they want is to send a clear messages to the Comprador elites running most countries that this is the “official ideology of the AngloZionist Empire” and if they want to remain in power they better toe the line even if nobody takes this stuff seriously.  Yup, back to a 1980s Soviet kind of attitude towards propaganda: nobody cares what everybody else really thinks as long as everybody continues to pretend to believe the official propaganda.

[Sidebar: When my wife and I watched this pathetic speech we starting laughing about the fact that Trump was so obscenely bad that we (almost) begin to miss Obama.  This is a standing joke in our family because when Obama came to power we (almost) began to miss Dubya.  The reason why this is a joke is that when Duya came to power we decided that there is no way anybody could possibly be worse than him.  Oh boy were we wrong!  Right now I am still not at the point were I would be missing Obama (that is asking for a lot from me!), but I will unapologetically admit that I am missing Dubya.  I do.  I really do.  Maybe not the people around Dubya, he is the one who truly let the Neocon “crazies in the basement” creep out and occupy the Situation Room, but at least Dubya seemed to realize how utterly incompetent he was.  Furthermore, Dubya was a heck of a lot dumber than Obama (in this context being stupid is a mitigating factor) and he sure did not have the truly galactic arrogance of Trump (intelligence-wise they are probably on par)].

In conclusion, what I take away from this speech is a sense of relief for the rest of the planet and a sense of real worry for the USA.  Ever since the Neocons overthrew Trump and made him what is colloquially referred to as their “bitch” the US foreign policy has come to a virtual standstill.  Sure, the Americans talk a lot, but at least they are doing nothing.  That paralysis, which is a direct consequence of the internal infighting, is a blessing for the rest of the planet because it allows everybody else to get things done.  Because, and make no mistake here, if the USA cannot get anything constructive done any more, they retain a huge capability to disrupt, subvert, create chaos and the like.  But for as long as the USA remains paralyzed this destructive potential remains mostly unused (and no matter how bad things look now, Hillary President would have been infinitely worse!).  However, the USA themselves are now the prime victim of a decapitated Presidency and a vindicative and generally out of control Neocon effort to prevent true American patriots to “get their country back” (as they say) and finally overthrow the regime in Washington DC.  Step by step the USA is getting closer to a civil war and there is no hope in sight, at least for the time being.  It appears that for the foreseeable future Trump will continue to focus his energy on beating Obama for the status of “worst President in US history” while the Neocons will continue to focus their energy on trying to impeach Trump, and maybe even trigger a civil war.  The rest of us living here are in for some very tough times ahead.  As they say in Florida when a hurricane comes barreling down on you “hunker down”.

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This article was first published by The Saker 

Evidence of israeli apartheid, pillage and murder handed to Hague court

Source

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders are personally liable for war crimes, say human rights investigators. (via Facebook)

 

Four Palestinian human rights organizations on Wednesday handed 700 pages of evidence of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

This comes as two Palestinian communities in the West Bank face imminent, total Israeli destruction.

The crimes detailed in the dossier include persecution, apartheid, the extensive theft, destruction and pillage of Palestinian property and evidence of the “wilful killing and murder” of hundreds of Palestinians since 2014.

Shawan Jabarin, director of the human rights group Al-Haq, said the dossier “provides a compelling and reasonable basis” for the prosecutor to open an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by Israel in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

This is the fourth dossier the human rights groups have provided the court. While it focuses on the West Bank, the previous files related to crimes committed by senior Israeli civilian and military officials during the 2014 attack on Gaza.

Death threats and harassment

Jabarin handed the file to the court in The Hague along with colleague Nada Kiswanson.

Kiswanson and other human rights investigators affiliated with Al-Haq have been the targets of a long-running campaign of harassment and death threats that a veteran Israeli analyst has tied to Israeli government “black ops.”

Al-Haq believes the threats are tied to Kiswanson’s work preparing the dossiers for the international court. The government of the Netherlands, where the court is based, has said that a criminal investigation has been opened into the threats.

“Israeli Jewish domination”

According to a statement from Al-Haq, the latest file “addresses Israel’s endeavor to enlarge its territory and ensure Israeli Jewish domination therein by altering the demographic composition of the occupied Palestinian territory.”

Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said that Israel’s transfer of settlers into occupied Palestinian land “constitutes a unique war crime in that is coupled with the confiscation of massive tracts of Palestinian land, the extensive destruction of Palestinian property and the tearing apart of the Palestinian social fabric and way of life.”

Although Israel’s violations in the occupied West Bank can be looked at separately from those in Gaza, Issam Younis, director of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, explained how they are linked: “The isolation of Gaza, in addition to the regular, full-scale military assaults, ultimately enables Israel to consolidate its control over the whole occupied Palestinian territory and deny Palestinians their internationally recognized right to self-determination.”

Pressure

Israel’s conduct during the 2014 Gaza war, as well as allegations of numerous crimes in the West Bank, are currently the subject of a preliminary examination by the Hague prosecutors.

They must decide whether to open a full investigation, which could lead to formal indictments of Israeli officials and military personnel.

There is no time limit on the preliminary examination, and the prosecutors are under constant pressure from Israel and the United States to let Israel off the hook. They have every incentive to sit on their hands.

Sham self-investigations

Last month, two human rights groups concluded that Israel’s own system for investigating alleged crimes against Palestinians by its forces is a sham.

Hundreds of cases, including the notorious killings of four boys playing football on a beach in July 2014, have not resulted in any accountability for the perpetrators.

In May 2016, B’Tselem announced it would no longer cooperate with Israeli military investigations of killings and other attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

“We will no longer aid a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation,” the Israeli human rights group’s director explained.

When it comes to crimes like apartheid and settler colonization, Israel would obviously do nothing to investigate and punish itself – since these crimes are planned and executed by the state itself.

But even in situations where Israel recognizes – at least on paper – that a certain act is a crime, there has been zero accountability.

This should be an important factor in the prosecutors’ decisions because according to its founding statute, the International Criminal Court only steps in when national judicial authorities are unwilling or unable to carry out genuine proceedings.

Villages face destruction

Whether the court acts is not just a matter of accounting for the past, but of stopping ongoing crimes.

This month, B’Tselem warned top Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defense minister Avigdor Lieberman and the military chief of staff, that they would be personally liable for war crimes if they proceed with the apparently imminent destruction of Khan al-Ahmar and Susiya, two communities in the West Bank.

“The demolition of entire communities in the occupied territories is virtually unprecedented since 1967,” B’Tselem said.

Robert Piper, the top UN humanitarian aid official in Palestine, tweeted, “All eyes on the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar at risk of forcible transfers by Israeli authorities over the coming days.”

He inadvertently identified a problem in which the UN plays a major part: the so-called international community stands on the sidelines and just watches as Israel commits crimes daily.

It is obvious that Israel will never bring itself to justice and that it is up to the International Criminal Court to act. It has mountains of evidence in its hands. The question is whether it has the independence and the will to do its job.

من التحوّلات الميدانية إلى التحوّلات السياسية

 I 

سبتمبر 18, 2017

زياد حافظ

فجأة وبعد حالة إنكار غريبة يركّز الإعلام الغربي والعربي على التطوّرات العسكرية التي تحصل في الميدانين السوري والعراقي. المقالات والتعليقات والمداخلات التلفزيونية وغيرها من وسائل التواصل العام والخاص تغصّ بمعلومات وآراء متعدّدة. معظم هذه الآراء تجمع على أنّ التطوّرات الميدانية ستحمل تطوّرات سياسية. فما هي هذه التحوّلات السياسية المرتقبة؟

في رأينا لقد بدأت منذ فترة التحوّلات السياسية على الصعيد الدولي والإقليمي والعربي، لأنّ التحوّل الاستراتيجي حصل مع إيقاف المشروع الأميركي في العراق، وصمود المقاومة في لبنان وغزّة، ومع صمود سورية في وجه العدوان الكوني. أما التداعيات السياسية فهي متعدّدة. فلا يمكن إجراء مقاربة للتحوّلات الدولية من دون مقاربة انعكاساتها إقليمياً وعربياً، وكما لا يمكن قراءة المشهد الإقليمي بعيداً عن التطوّرات الدولية والعربية، وأخيراً لا يمكن فهم التطوّرات في المشهد العربي من دون الالتفات إلى التحوّلات الدولية والإقليمية. فأيّ قراءة لأيّ مشهد تصبح قراءة متعددة الأبعاد.

فعلى الصعيد الدولي نشهد بروز كتلة سياسية وجغرافية وبشرية واقتصادية وعسكرية في العالم أكبر وأفعل من مجموعة «المجتمع الدولي» المكوّن أساساً من الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد الأوروبي، وذلك منذ تبيّن أنّ الهيمنة الأميركية تتعثر في مطلع الألفية الجديدة. المجموعة الجديدة هي مجموعة بريكس. لن نسترسل في سرد التطوّرات التي رافقت نشأة بريكس، بل نكتفي بما حصل في اللقاء الأخير لقمة تلك الدول التي عُقدت في مدينة زيامين الصينية. فالقمة الأخيرة لها دلالات عديدة إضافة إلى أنها المدينة التي كان عمدتها في السابق الرئيس الصيني الحالي زي جين بينغ.

الدلالة الأولى تكمن في طريقة الاستقبال الحارّ والفائض في الاحترام لمسؤولي الدول المشاركة خلافاً عن الاستقبال الرسمي والمتعالي والبارد أحياناً الذي يحصل في الغرب تجاه الدول التي تعتبرها دول الغرب أقلّ شأناً لا ننسى دفع الرئيس الأميركي لرئيس الجبل الأسود في اجتماع قمة الأطلسي الأخير أمام الشاشات .

الدلالة الثانية هي مضمون المحادثات سواء على الصعيد السياسي أو الاقتصادي. ففلسفة هذه المجموعة هي الاستقرار ضمن حدود القوانين الدولية واحترام الدول، وبهذا تختلف مع دول «المجتمع الدولي» التي تضرب عرض الحائط المواثيق الدولية والقانون الدولي. فقرار رفض أيّ مغامرة عسكرية في الأزمة الكورية كان بمثابة «نقض» لبعض التوجّهات الأميركية التصعيدية تجاه كوريا الشمالية. ويأتي هذا التوافق بعد اهتزازات في العلاقات بين الصين والهند ومحاولات الأخيرة في بلورة مبادرة منافسة لمبادرة الحزام والطريق الواحد، وذلك مع اليابان وبعض الدول الأفريقية تحت عنوان الممرّ الأفريقي الآسيوي للنمو.

أما على الصعيد الاقتصادي فكانت القرارات تثبّت المضيّ في إنشاء منظومة مالية دولية مستقلّة عن الدولار ما يحصّن الاستقلالية السياسية التي تتّسم بها هذه الدول. وعلى ما يبدو فإنّ هذا التوجّه يقلق الإدارة الأميركية التي وجّهت على لسان وزير المال ستيفين منوخين تحذيراً للصين بمنعها من «الدخول إلى النظام المالي الأميركي والدولي للدولار»، كما ذكر موقع «فورين بوليسي» و «روسيا اليوم». جاء هذا التحذير بعد اعتراض الصين على عقوبات قاسية بحق كوريا الشمالية غير أنّ التهديد الأميركي أبعد من ملابسات الأزمة الكورية. غير أنّ الصين وحلفاءها ماضون في إنشاء المنظومة المالية الموازية للدولار لردع الهيمنة الأميركية على العالم من الناحية الاقتصادية. فما يحصل في الميدان السوري والعراقي يُترجم على الصعيد الدولي بالمزيد من الاستقلالية عن الهيمنة الأميركية.

الدلالة الثالثة، وهي ربما الأهمّ في اللقاء الأخير، هو الانفتاح على العالم. فدعوة مصر وغينيا وتايلاند والمكسيك وطاجكستان ترمز إلى إقناع العالم أنّ الغرب ليس المرجع الوحيد للقرار السياسي والاقتصادي العالمي. دعوة مصر لها دلالات عديدة. فعبر مصر تدخل بريكس الوطن العربي كما تركّز وجودها في القارة الأفريقية مع وجودها في الجنوب عبر جمهورية جنوب أفريقيا إحدى الدول المؤسسة لمجموعة بريكس، ووجود غينيا الغنية بالموارد الطبيعية من معادن بوكسيت، ذهب، الماس والتي رفضت منذ استقلالها الهيمنة الفرنسية على مقدّراتها. فهي منذ حكم الرئيس المؤسس للجمهورية الغينية أحمد سيكو توري خارج منطقة الفرنك الأفريقي «سي أف آه» والنفوذ الفرنسي المباشر. فثلاث دول أفريقية وازنة مشاركة أو مدعوّة كمراقب في مجموعة بريكس لها معانٍ كثيرة أهمّها أنّ الدول المستعمرة القديمة تراجعت سيطرتها وهيمنتها بشكل ملحوظ على القارة الأفريقية. أما دعوة المكسيك فهي مع البرازيل الدولة في أميركا اللاتينية صاحبة الشأن الاقتصادي الأبرز وعلى أبواب الولايات المتحدة. فيما بعد نعتقد أنّ فنزويلا وكوبا ستصبحان ضمن مجموعة بريكس اللاتينية.

أما على الصعيد الأميركي فحالة الإرباك هي المسيطرة على مفاصل الإدارة والحكم كافة. فالتحوّلات الميدانية في سورية والعراق لا تساعد على حسم الإرباك. فمن جهة هناك نزعة الرئيس إلى عدم التورّط في حروب جديدة، ومن جهة أخرى هناك نزعة القيادات العسكرية التي لا تعرف كيف تنهي الحروب لتقلّل من خسائرها. فبعد الحرب العالمية الثانية لم تربح الولايات المتحدة حرباً في العالم رغم انخراطها في حروب مستمرة. والآن هي منخرطة بشكل أو بآخر في حروب في سبع دول من دون نتيجة إيجابية لها تذكر. فالميل الطبيعي عند القيادات العسكرية هي المزيد من التدخل لأنها لا تستطيع أن تقرّ بهزيمة ميدانية. هذا هو الحال في أفغانستان والعراق وسورية واليمن والصومال وباكستان وكاميرون.

هنا لا بدّ من ملاحظة تطوّر جديد في موقف المؤسسة العسكرية وهو عدم الرضوخ لمشيئة الكيان الصهيوني. هناك دلائل عديدة عن ذلك التحوّل الذي بدأ منذ بضع سنوات في جلسات استماع للقيادات العسكرية في الكونغرس الأميركي مفادها أنّ سياسات حكومة الكيان تهدّد الأمن العسكري للقوّات الأميركية في المشرق العربي.

أما الحضور العسكري الأميركي في الساحتين العراقية والسورية فهو محدود، ولا يستطيع تغيير المعادلات الاستراتيجية التي ترسم في الميدان. كلّ ما يمكن أن تفعله هو محاولة في إمساك ورقة للتفاوض. فروسيا التي تقود الحملة السياسية للحلّ السياسي للصراع في سورية تحرص على حفظ ماء الوجه الأميركي من دون أن يسبّب ذلك أيّ ضرر لمصالحها في سورية والعراق وعامة المشرق، ولكن كلّ ذلك يُبقي اليد العليا لروسيا وحلفائها الإقليميين والدولة السورية.

وأخيراً على الصعيد الأوروبي، فبات واضحاً أنّ الدول الوازنة في الاتحاد تجنح إلى الإقرار بالهزيمة الميدانية والسياسية في سورية وتحاول التخفيف من الخسائر وحفظ دور ما في المعادلة السياسية الجديدة، وربما المساهمة في إعادة إعمار سورية. فالاتحاد الأوروبي يتعرّض لهزّات عديدة وقوية نتيجة سياسات خاطئة أدّت إلى تدفّق اللاجئين من سورية والعراق ما مسّ بالأمن القومي الداخلي لدول الاتحاد.

سبتمبر 19, 2017

Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate

JUNE 27, 2017

Several articles have been published about the “legal limbo” in which Palestinian Jerusalemites exist and proposals as to what Israel ought to do about this 50-year old travesty, among them being righting “the wrong” of denying Palestinian Arabs in East Jerusalem Israeli citizenship.

In my view, such articles both define the injustice done to Palestinians deceptively and are meant simply to normalize the idea of Palestinian Jerusalemites becoming Israeli citizens, in the same way I might normalize the poll that American Jews are increasingly losing their connection to Israel by writing about it, especially if I were to headline my article “Breaking Taboo”, as Maayan Lubell does, or make the title echo a classified ad for the lovelorn, or question “Jewish identity” by “layering it with complexity” – i.e., by tying it to Israel.

Lubell’s article (Haaretz, Aug 5, 2015) is titled “Breaking Taboo, East Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship: In East Jerusalem, which Israel captured during the 1967 war, issues of Palestinian identity are layered with complexity.” It begins with this:

“I declare I will be a loyal citizen of the state of Israel,” reads the oath that must be sworn by all naturalized Israeli citizens. Increasingly, they are words being uttered by Palestinians. In East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan during the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed, a move not recognized internationally, issues of Palestinian identity are layered with complexity.

While Israel regards the east of the city as part of Israel, the estimated 300,000 Palestinians that live there do not. They are not Israeli citizens, instead holding Israeli-issued blue IDs that grant them permanent resident status. While they can seek citizenship if they wish, the vast majority reject it, not wanting to renounce their own history or be seen to buy into Israel’s 48-year occupation. And yet over the past decade, an increasing number of East Jerusalem Palestinians have gone through the lengthy process of becoming Israeli citizens, researchers and lawyers say.

So what is the reader to conclude from the “and yet” at the end of the quotation above? One way of looking at it is to see “the increasing number” of Palestinian Jerusalemites seeking Israeli citizenship as finally surrendering to the imperative of power and brutal facts on the ground, impelled by an otherwise unlivable life.

Another is to regard these Palestinians as traitors to the Palestinian cause, normalizing and legitimizing their enemy’s power, as there is often the implication in references to Palestinians seeking Israeli citizenship that Jerusalemites, through their applications for such citizenship, are signaling approval for the Israeli state, when in fact they seem to be doing it for practical reasons- so they can acquire some basic rights that Israel otherwise denies them.

A third is to see it from the point of view of Palestinian cartographer Khalil Tafakji – as yet another defeat for the Palestinian Authority in the context of Oslo’s so-called “peace process”.

Tafakji is quoted in this Haaretz report as saying,

“If this continues, what will the Palestinians negotiate about? They want to negotiate on the land – they have already lost the land. They want to negotiate for the population and the population is being lost.”

In other words the Palestinian view that Tafakji expresses is a lose/lose situation, not the win/win one espoused by another Haaretz article on the subject like the following.

Nir Hasson’s article (Haaretz, June 20, 2017) also has clues as to the function of such articles in the Israeli “liberal” media and co-dependent publications like the New York Times. These are often embedded right in the title or subheading – in this case:

“50 Years After Six-Day War, East Jerusalem’s Palestinians Remain Prisoners in Their City: Study shows how ambivalent Israeli policies and denial of the problem have created a status that doesn’t exist anywhere else on earth: Native-born residents who are not citizens of the state in whose capital they live.”

One glance at the word “capital” in the subheading frames it all for us, hasbara style. What may lull the suspicions of the unwary reader is that the piece does, in fact, highlight the severe problems created for Palestinians by Israeli policies of judaization in the expanded municipality of Jerusalem. But in the end, this kind of article is Israeli “self-criticism” of the worst kind, meant to play games with one’s head.

The subtext you may miss is that, similar to the past and ongoing judaization of Israel proper, the goal behind Israel’s policies in Jerusalem is to create, expand and preserve the Zionist Jewish state.
Hasson describes Israeli policy in 1967 in East Jerusalem, when the population was 60,000, as follows:

The [Israeli] ministers assumed that, as in 1948, when a large number of Arabs likewise didn’t get automatic citizenship, over time the East Jerusalemites would request citizenship – an option granted only to them and not to other West Bank residents – and integrate into Israeli society. The ministers did not take into account the strong ties these Arabs had to the West Bank and Jordan, and the unwillingness of Israeli society to absorb a large Palestinian population …. After the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel recognized the ties East Jerusalemites had to the West Bank and allowed them to vote for the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah. This made their legal status even more complicated: permanent residents of the State of Israel with Jordanian travel papers and the right to vote in Palestinian Authority elections.

Notice the telling phrase in the above that is the blind spot of Zionism: “The ministers did not take into account the strong ties these Arabs had to the West Bank and Jordan.” It totally disregards the strong ties of Palestinian Arabs to an Arab Jerusalem, to an Arab Palestine, ties Israel has not succeeded in breaking seventy years after its establishment on a territory of Palestine as a settler-colonial Zionist Jewish state against the wishes of its native inhabitants.

Hasson goes on to say:

Another expression of the relatively enlightened policy of the early years was a law, finally passed in 1973, that enabled East Jerusalemites to be compensated for property they abandoned in western Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Independence, similar to the rights of Jews to get back the property they had to abandon in East Jerusalem during that same war. In the end, the compensation offered was paltry and very few Palestinians tried to claim it. But the debates on the law at least demonstrated an effort to right the wrong…. In recent years there has been considerable talk about the “Israelization” of East Jerusalemites, as reflected in the labor market, the desire to study the Israeli curriculum, and the increased number of requests to get full Israeli citizenship.

Again, notice the Israeli-centric formulation and framing. Palestinians are described as having “abandoned” their property in West Jerusalem, when, in fact, they were denied their right of return to their property by Israel.
Palestinians “abandoned” their property; but the reference to Jews is a reference to their “rights.”

Palestinians turned down “compensation” for no other reason than its paltry size, when, in fact, the Palestinian view on this issue is as Canadian professor Michael Lynk describes it in The Right to Compensation in International Law and the Displaced Palestinians”

“Palestinians advance the compensation issue as a right recognized in international law that would obligate Israel to return, or pay for, the refugee properties expropriated or destroyed in 1948 and afterwards. As well, they argue that Israel must pay damages for pain and suffering, and for its use of Palestinian properties over the past five decades

The dominance of Jewish companies in the labor market in East Jerusalem where many Palestinians are employed (See The Palestinian Economy in East Jerusalem: Enduring annexation, isolation and disintegration), the agonizing choice some Palestinians make in accepting a school curriculum for their children that denies Palestinian heritage and identity but allows them to get ahead at Israeli universities, and the application for Israeli citizenship (mostly denied by Israel) of a minority of Palestinians are all deceptively framed as “a desire” for “Izraelization” and a path to “correcting the injustice”.

Quoting Amnon Ramon of the Jerusalem Institute for Israeli [not for Palestinian] Studies, Hasson’s article also details the problems that Israel faces as a result of the “limbo” residency arrangement imposed on Palestinian Arabs by the Israeli Government – a “hollow sovereignty”, contributing to “instability and violent outbursts, as well as the international community’s refusal to recognize Israel’s legitimacy in Jerusalem.”

But ostensibly, the article is concerned with Israel “righting a wrong” by removing the “legal limbo” under which Palestinian Jerusalemites live, claiming that such a path, will not only relieve Israel’s problems, but is also a path to “justice” – justice as defined by Israel, the oppressor, not by the Palestinians themselves, Israel’s victims.

This brings us to the immediate present. On June 25, 2017, the New York Times published a piece by Isabel Kershner titled “50 Years After War, East Jerusalem Palestinians Confront a Life Divided.”

Again, we have to ask: What is Kershner’s point in this one? Is it really a concern for Palestinians whose lives have been “divided” by Israel or is it another deflection from the illegitimate existence of Israel as a Zionist Jewish entity in Palestine?

Even as Israelis mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the June 1967 war, the Palestinians and most of the world consider the eastern half under occupation, and the city remains deeply divided. But after five decades, dealing with Israel has become unavoidable for residents of East Jerusalem.

The deflection in the quotation above is blatant. Dealing with Israel did not “become unavoidable after five decades.” For Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and all other Palestinian Arabs who want to visit or do business there and for Palestinian Arabs denied return to their property there, or those whose property was seized and/or demolished, dealing with Israel became unavoidable the minute Israel occupied and annexed East Jerusalem.

It is true Palestinian culture and day-to-day life has been under severe assault by Israel for a long time – since 1948 to be exact. The 50-year anniversary of Israel’s brutal occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem (see Living Under Israeli Policies of Colonization in Jerusalem) is an occasion to extol and marvel at Palestinian resilience and sumoud (an Arabic word meaning “steadfastness” that has entered the English language, just as the word “intifada” has). It is not an occasion to normalize and indirectly extol “the reunification of Jerusalem,” whose Palestinian Arab population now accounts for 18% of the Palestinian Arab population of Israel.

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Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.

Protesters call on Gaddafi’s son to lead Libya

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, attends a hearing behind bars in a courtroom in Zintan May 25, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:30 P.M.) – Protesters in Bani Walid rallied on Saturday night calling for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, to lead the country.

“We call on the son of Libya Mujahid Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to lead the national movement to resolve the forms in Libya and to get Libya out from civil war,” al-Sayan tribe spokesperson Ahmad al-Shalahli said.

British-educated Saif al-Islam is a prominent member of Gaddafi’s remaining family.

After his father’s killing, he attempted to flee to Niger but was captured by a rebel group in November 2011. Saif al-Islam was released in the beginning of June, after spending five years in prison.

Despite his release, he is still on the wanted list by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. His current location is unknown.

US Setting Up Military Base In Syria

By South Front

June 20, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – According to local sources, US-led coalition forces have begun setting up a new military base in Tabqah town in the province of Raqqah.

The new base will be located in the military housing area, the Mohammed Fares school as well as the military and security buildings in the third district of the town. US forces reportedly intend to build a command center and residential buildings for its troops. According to opposition sources, USA wants to adopt the new base in Tabqah town as a long-term base in Syria.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports from Kurdish sources appeared arguing that a new agreement between the USA and YPG was made. The agreement will allegedly allow the US military to stay in the YPG-held areas for 10 years. In turn, the US will continue providing military aid to YPG. However, no official sources have reported about this.

The Turkish News Agency Anadolu announced that Washington has supplied YPG and YPJ Kurdish forces in Syria with modern weapons within the last ten days. On June 16 , 50 trucks loaded with weapons arrived through Kurdistan Region border crossings. On June 5, 60 trucks loaded with arms arrived to the SDF-held areas. 20 more trucks arrived on June 12, according to the agency.

According to the Anadolu report, the Kurds received: 12,000 rifles, 6,000 machine guns, 3,500 machine guns, 3,000 RPG-7 bombers and 1,000 grenade launchers of the AT-4 type produced by the United States and LNG grenades, besides near 235 mortar rounds, 100 sniper rifles and 450 7PV night vision sights.

This article was first published by South Front

State Senator Calls US Base in Syria a Violation of International Law

By Sputnik

June 20, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US base in Syria’s At Tanf area is a clear violation of international law, State Senator from Virginia Richard Black told Sputnik.

“We’ve even set up a base at Al Tanf in the southern part, it’s an American base within the country of Syria,” Black said. “You can’t get a more obvious violation of international law than to actually move in and set up a military base in a sovereign country that has never taken any offensive action towards our country.”

The United States last week transferred two high mobility multiple-launch rocket systems from Jordan to the US special operations forces base at At Tanf.

US President Donald Trump, Black added, has unfortunately given authority to people “who are not well-intentioned and they are using that military authority in Syria.”

The senator also noted that Russia, Syria, and its allies are “definitely on the move. ”

“There’s no doubt that the terrorists are being thrown back on every front and I think that’s very encouraging,” he stated.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that the Russian military is analyzing the US deployment of artillery where terrorist formations are said to be virtually absent.

The US-led coalition against Daesh terror group (outlawed in Russia) has twice struck Syrian-government aligned forces in the At Tanf area, and Trump launched a missile strike against a Syrian air base in April.

This article was first published by Sputnik

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

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