A SYRIAN LEADER TELLS HIS COUNTRY’S STORY: AN INTERVIEW WITH SAA GENERAL HASSAN HASSAN

In Gaza

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Eva Bartlett sits down for an exclusive interview with the head of the Syrian Arab Army’s Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan.

August 5, 2019, Mint Press News

For years, international headlines spotlighting Syria have claimed that the Syrian government, army, and its allies were guilty of a variety of atrocities. Yet as time has passed, many of the accusations levied at government and its allies have been shown to have been either falsified, staged (as in the case of allegations of chemical attacks in eastern Ghouta), or actually committed by the myriad terrorist groups operating in the country.

For their part, Syrian leadership has maintained from the start that the demonstrations in their country were not peaceful, from 2011 and on. Media in the West and the Gulf vilified Syria’s leadership, featuring story after story of government-imposed violence while ignoring or whitewashing the violence of the burgeoning armed groups flooding into Syria.

From as early as 2011, armed groups were throwing civilians from rooftops and committing beheadings, kidnappings, and massacres. The year 2011 alone saw multiple massacres of civilians and security forces committed by what the media called “unarmed protesters” and later by the “Free Syrian Army.” This was the same year that many in the media were insisting that a “peaceful revolution” was underway.

Since that time, those same armed groups, as well as the many iterations they spawned, have starved, tortured, imprisoned, murdered, maimed and even harvested the organs of Syrian civilians, in addition to killing Syrian and allied soldiers and journalists and destroying much of the country’s infrastructure.

To give a voice to the often ignored “other side” — those Syrians that have been working to defend their country since 2011 —  Eva Bartlett interviewed the Syrian Arab Army’s Head of Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan. General Hassan’s shelves and large wooden desk are covered with stacks of books, family photos, and various homages to the country he serves — the general holds a Ph.D. in geopolitical studies. The following is a transcript of Bartlett’s interview with Hassan following the 74th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Arab Army.

 

Eva Bartlett (EB) | I would like to begin by asking you your thoughts on how honest Western and Gulf media’s reporting on Syria has been, especially regarding their choice of lexicon — for example, regarding the Syrian Army, the Syrian Government, what they call rebels — and the events in Syria in general.

General Hassan (GH) | Media has been one of the weapons of mass destruction used in this war on Syria. The biased media, in addition to the takfiri [Salafi] fatwas — especially the fatwas — have been the weapons that contributed most to the destruction taking place in Syria, including the destruction of human beings, vegetation, civilization,…everything.

President Bashar al-Assad emphasized more than once the necessity of countering the rhetoric used. I can elaborate for two or more hours on the terms used. However, I will limit myself to some examples.

The Free [Syrian] Army is among the lexicons used. What “army” and what “freedom” are they talking about? Every army is known for its discipline, hierarchy, fighting strategies in both defense and attack, and the cause it fights for.

The so-called Free Syrian Army has none of these qualities, except for the ability to kill. The media tried to put into circulation the term Assad’s Brigades or Assad’s Forces. Our army is the Syrian Arab Army, which includes in each of its formations soldiers from all Syrian governorates, with no exception.

I’ll give you an example. Almost three months ago, the militants supported by Turkey targeted a Syrian army position to the north of Latakia. Twelve soldiers were martyred as a result. Each soldier is from a different governorate. This is the Syrian Arab Army.

They used the term “defection.” There is no defection in the Syrian Arab Army; defection did not really occur in the Syrian Arab Army but there are some cases of soldiers running away. The term “defection” is used when a brigade or a squad defect from a certain army. Until now, the Syrian Arab Army has not witnessed what might be called defection even within its smallest units.

In order to spread the idea of defection they resorted to unsophisticated lies. In 2012 they said that General Mohammad al-Rifa’i, commander of the Fifth Squad, had defected from the army. This lie was circulated through the media. Yet, Syrian TV interviewed the general, who had retired in 2001, 11 years prior.

Gangs would stop civilian or military vehicles on highways, hold soldiers hostages, film them and force them at gunpoint to declare that they had defected [from the army].

I’ll give an example available from the internet of their lies regarding the term the Free Syrian Army. Anyone can check the Free Syrian Army term through Google. We type Abu Saqr al-Asadi — right here, I have typed Abu Saqr al-Souri [the Syrian]. We now find [the result] “face to face with the fighter Abu Saqr al-Asadi who ate the heart of a soldier.” (Abu Saqr is also transliterated as Abu Sakkar, as per the BBC article referred to by General Hassan).

That was in 2013 when he was filmed cutting into the chest of the soldier and eating his heart. It is here on Google from the BBC Arabic website. This is not a Syrian media outlet. It is a Western outlet. It is not a pleasant sight to watch him chewing the soldier’s heart.

Abu Saqr al-Asadi was a fighter in the Al-Farouq Brigades, which was an armed rebel organization formed by the Free Syrian Army. When he died he was a member of the Nusra Front. So, he was a member of the Free Syrian Army, used to be with the Farouq Brigades, and then joined the Nusra Front.

I could speak for hours about the issue of lexicon. For instance, they talked about what is called the armed opposition. How could opposition be armed?! Opposition is a political term. Opposition is a political party that did not win elections. Such a party plays the role of opposition in the parliament. These militant groups want to govern the country, the people and everything by armed force. Does this sound normal? Never was there a term called “armed opposition,” except when they spoke about these terrorist gangs.

 

EB | So in the article you’ve just shown, the English version, the BBC did not report it as an act of carnage. They humanized Abu Saqr and asked him what drove him to do such a desperate act?

GH | This is the media war. Either they say he is violent or they say he is an angel; hasn’t he demonstrated how he cut out an organ and ate a piece of it? When the BBC describes a man who ate the heart of a dead soldier as a peaceful man, how then would they describe beasts?

 

EB | Regarding events in Syria in 2011, both Western and Gulf media called it a peaceful unarmed uprising for many months, even for up to a year. Do you have an example of attacks by what the West called unarmed protesters against the Syrian army, police or security forces in 2011?

GH | In 2011 they said the reason behind the first spark was that the army, or another security body, pulled out the nails of some children in Dara`a. Over the past eight years, it has become clear that all of the armed groups are equipped with video cameras and live-streaming devices. Can any of them provide us with a video of one child whose nails were pulled out? Where are these children? Why couldn’t the media that fabricated such lies film the pulled-out nails?

Let’s go back to the peaceful uprising. On April 10, 2011, less than a month after the beginning of the so-called uprising, an army convoy transporting soldiers back to their homes was intercepted on the highway from Tartous to Banias. Nine people were martyred: two officers, five warrant officers, and two civilians. They also fired at the ambulances that tried to reach the wounded.

Other examples are the Nawa massacre in Dara`a, the Jisr al-Shoghur massacre, and the Asi River massacre — where they live-streamed the dumping of people into the river. All these massacres were perpetrated before the end of June 2011.

That is the peaceful [Arab] spring the Western and Gulf media talked about.

Are these examples enough, or should I cite more? It’s important to me that Western readers know how many lies and how much deception there has been, especially by the media.

I’ll give you another minor example. Usually, the BBCAl-Jazeera and France 24, etc. would broadcast that an explosion took place in a certain area. However, there was no explosion. But 15 to 30 minutes later an explosion would take place in the same area. It was like a code to the armed groups to carry out the explosion.

I’ll provide you with a more comprehensive example. When the area of Ma`raba [near al-Tal, a suburb of Damascus] was targeted by the Israeli enemy, cameras were focused on the targeted area even before the missiles hit.

 

EB | So, they were ready?

GH | The cameras were aimed at the area where the missiles were supposed to hit. At the moment that the missiles hit the targeted area, members of armed groups began cheering “Allahu Akbar… Allahu Akbar.” This was documented by their cameras; definitely not Syrian media cameras. At the same time, armed groups in eastern Ghouta attacked Damascus from seven fronts.

As an ordinary person — not as a military figure– I could tell it was a role carried out by three. First, the one who carried out the aggression, and that is the Zionist entity [Israel].

Second, the media outlets that were assigned to broadcast the aggression before it was carried out.  And third, the armed groups who attacked Damascus. Therefore, the cameraman and those militants are substitute recruits of the Israeli enemy. I cannot call them but the substitute army of Israel and the United States.

According to confessions by Israeli and American officials, including previous U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ISIS was made by America. Later on, ISIS was classified as a terrorist organization.

Thus, those terrorists made in the U.S. are the rebels of the peaceful [Arab] spring later circulated in the region by means of the foreign media outlets.

 

EB | According to Israeli media, Israel is fighting terrorism, Muslim extremists. However, there are reports of Israel treating militants or terrorists in Israeli hospitals. Can you please outline Israel’s role in the war on Syria?

GH | Everything that has taken place in Syria and in the region — all the blaze erupting in the region,  under what they falsely called the Arab Spring — serves the interests of Israel. These are not my own conclusions; rather, it is the Israeli media who talk about this. The Israeli prime minister appeared on television when he visited wounded terrorists, injured while fighting the Syrian army, being treated in Israeli hospitals. This is number one.

The other issue is that every time the Syrian Arab Army is making an apparent advance, Israel conducts an aggression [airstrike]. When Israel is unable to achieve its objective, it seeks the help of the United States, just as it did when the U.S. Air Force targeted the Tharda Mountains in Deir ez-Zor as the Syrian army was en route to clear Deir ez-Zor of terrorists.

I hope that you underscore the following statement: Those who sponsor terrorism don’t fight it.Israel is an entity based on both killing and falsehood. When Palestine was already inhabited, they claimed that Palestine was a land without people and wanted to give it to people without a land. Thus, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, gave what the U.K. didn’t own to those who didn’t deserve it.

In 2019, Trump did the same and gave the Golan to Israel as if Trump inherited it from his own father. Who gave Trump the right to give other people’s property to others? The issue here is that international law needs power to protect it. Unfortunately, the United States is still the superpower of the world and the financial and economic despot of the world. U.S. officials are indifferent to falsehood, humanity, law or human rights. All this means nothing to them.

I would like to remind foreign readers that Iraq was destroyed under the pretext of having weapons of mass destruction. The whole world still recalls Colin Powell when he presented what he called a satellite image as evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. When Powell left office, he admitted to U.S. media outlets that that moment was the darkest in his lifetime. The question is: When did he admit it? How many innocent victims were killed as a result?

How come a sovereign state was occupied without international legitimacy? American officials don’t care about this. Wherever the U.S. has interfered around the world, the result has been more killing, destruction, and suffering and successive U.S. administrations are competing to serve Israel.

 

EB | Syria has been accused of using chemical weapons against civilians. Does the Syrian army use chemical weapons against civilians?

GH |  An official mission came to Syria and demanded that the Syrian government carry out an official investigation. They delayed for years before the mission arrived. And those who came submitted an untruthful report.

Syria signed the agreement and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited Syria and checked all places and the existing stockpile [of chemical weapons] was destroyed on a U.S. vessel. Accordingly, The OPCW announced that Syria was chemical weapons-free.ve

The Syrian Government has been accused of using chemical weapons many times, in eastern Ghouta and in other areas. Under this pretext, [th U.S. and its allies] launched their aggression on Syria. Syria affirmed many times through statements by Syrian officials, both before and after the agreement was signed, that Syria does not in any way intend to use chemical weapons and that Syria has not used nor will it use chemical weapons.

After the declaration of this organization [OPCW] that Syria is free from chemical weapons, how could Syria use something that it does not have? Despite evidence that chemical substances and weapons entered into areas under the control of militant groups in Syria through Turkish borders, investigations were not resumed.

There are a number of videos showing how the armed groups were the ones using chemical weapons themselves. Each time Syria was accused of using chemical weapons, the Syrian army was on the verge of finishing a military operation. Is it logical they’d use chemical weapons — which would prevent the declaration of victory?

With regard to their claim of using chemicals in Ghouta, the areas there are interconnected. Those who use chemical weapons cannot protect themselves. When those terrorists used chemicals there, both the civilians and the military were hit, as was the case in Khan al-Asal and elsewhere. This was exposed in the [UN] Security Council by Bashar al-Ja’afari.

Syria does not possess chemical weapons. Syria has never used chemical weapons before. Syria cannot use a chemical weapon for a simple reason, or for two reasons in fact: Ethically, Syria does not believe in using chemicals [weapons]. This is number one. Second, Syria does not own chemical weapons.

 

EB | The Rukban Camp is near the U.S. base of al-Tanf. One question is about the U.S. relationship with ISIS in that area and whether or not America has been fighting ISIS in the area. Also, according to Western media, refugees evacuated from Rukban to centers in Homs, for example, are taken and thrown in prison.

For example, the Canadian Globe & Mail, citing a Qatari-based organization, said that from 2017 to 2019 around 2,000 Syrians who returned to government-controlled areas (in general and not from Rukban specifically) were detained and 784 are still in prison. How would you reply to accusations that people returning home were detained or forced to serve in the Syrian army?

GH | In relation to ISIS and the U.S., I can say that a mother does not eat her own son. ISIS is a U.S. product, according to American confessions. However, America sometimes becomes a cat and eats some of its own kittens when they become a burden.

America uses ISIS, fights with ISIS, not against ISIS. Whenever the role of some armed ISIS fighters comes to an end, the U.S. abandons or gets rid of them. The U.S. does not care whether those members get killed or not.

However, when the U.S. needs them, it sends helicopters to evacuate them, just like what happened when Deir ez-Zor was liberated. American helicopters would land and evacuate ISIS leaders together with their families and fly them somewhere else.

Rukban Camp is within the sight of the Americans in the Tanf base. U.S. surveillance can distinguish a hen from a rooster on a street anywhere in the world. How is it that ISIS members are able to move at the Tanf border without being observed by the U.S. military there? How can the U.S. convince the world that it is fighting ISIS when the latter’s members move freely under U.S. observation?

Four months ago, I was working with the Head of the Russian Reconciliation Centre, General Victor Kopcheshen. He told me that the Russian government received an official reply from the Americans that they would not allow any Syrian or Russian to come close to the 55-kilometer line around Rukban Camp to help evacuate people from the camp.

Less than four months ago we first began evacuating a few hundred [people] from Rukban. Now, the number of people who returned from Rukban Camp has exceeded 15,000 (As of July 31, that number has reached 17,458 according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense). Can anyone provide me with the name of even one person who left Rukban and got detained? These claims are flagrant lies.


Author’s note | 

I asked officials at the UN about the accusation that the Syrian government was imprisoning former residents of Rukban, I detailed their reply in a separate article for MintPress:

“David Swanson, Public Information Officer Regional Office for the Syria Crisis UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs based in Amman, Jordan, told me regarding claims of substandard conditions and of Syrians being forcefully held or mistreated in the centers that:

‘People leaving Rukban are taken to temporary collective shelters in Homs for a 24-hour stay. While there, the receive basic assistance, including shelter, blankets, mattresses, solar lamps, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, food parcels and nutrition supplies before proceeding to their areas of choice, mostly towards southern and eastern Homs, with smaller small numbers going to rural Damascus or Deir-ez-Zor.

The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters on three occasions and has found the situation there adequate. The United Nations continues to advocate and call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian assistance and access to Rukban as well as to all those in need throughout Syria. The United Nations also seeks the support of all concerned parties in ensuring the humanitarian and voluntary character of departures from Rukban.’

Hedinn Halldorsson, the Spokesperson and Public Information Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based in Damascus, told me:

‘We looked into this when the rumours started, end of April, and concluded they were unfounded – and communicated that externally via press briefings in both Geneva and NY. The conditions in the shelters in Homs are also adequate and in compliance with standards; the UN has access and has done three monitoring visits so far.’”


GH | I would like to stress a point concerning military service in the army. Several presidential decrees have been issued. Any Syrian citizen [living] abroad who wishes to settle his status and return to Syria can benefit from those decrees, which invalidate any other verdict issued against that Syrian citizen.

These decrees do not nullify a Syrian citizen’s rights nor their duties. Syrian citizens who return to Syria are still Syrian citizens and therefore still have the duties of Syrian citizens. The decrees granted them a grace period of six months to settle their legal status.

For example, a person who lost their official ID, or army service registry or anything, can settle their legal status during this period. It is a normal official procedure to call for duty those who are subject to mandatory or reserve military service. This procedure has been applied to all Syrian citizens in all provinces, not only those who return.

I cannot say just respect the rights and ignore the duties. Everyone is equal before the law. They have to obey what Syrian law states and the majority of them are loyal and doing their duties enthusiastically.

But the people who have their status settled do not have the right to commit a crime. If I had a son living abroad who returned and settled his status, does it give him the right to commit an offense against his neighbors or to kill somebody or commit a crime? The law is the law and must be adhered to.

 

EB | Western media say that Iran and Russia’s presence in Syria is an attempt to occupy Syria and control it. What are the roles of Iran and Russia in Syria?

GH | Before I answer your question, let us decide what logic we’re using. Are we using the logic of international law or the law of the jungle? Who has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people? It is only the Syrian state that has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people. No other side has the right to speak for them. Surely, those who are speaking in the name of the Syrian people do not know the Syrian people. It is really strange that the governments of those who kill the Syrian people are acting as if they were advocates of the Syrian people.

According to international law, it is the right of any state to defend itself when such a country faces hazards endangering its own existence. Such a country has the right to defend its existence and sovereignty by using all means possible. In this respect, this country has the right to rely on its relations with friends and allies as well, no matter whether those allies are Russian, Iranian or any other ally. Neither the U.S., Israel nor the Gulf states have anything to do with this. It is a matter of Syrian sovereignty.

The other thing has to do with the military presence of any country on the territory of another state. Such a presence can be legal in one of the following two cases: when invited by the state concerned, or through a resolution issued by the [UN] Security Council. Otherwise, such a presence is an occupation.

Therefore, there is no reason for the Syrian state to be ashamed of its stance on the presence of Iran or Russia in Syria. The Syrian State declares its stances clearly and explicitly: that the presence of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah is based upon an official invitation by the Syrian government. Thus, their presence is legal according to international law. Can anyone in the West — or the media outlets who claim to be neutral — convince any Syrian citizen that the U.S. presence or the Turkish presence is legal?

The Syrian State says they are forces of occupation. There is no [UN] Security Council resolution allowing them to be present in Syria. So what is the meaning behind their presence? They are using the law of force, rather than the force of law. Thus, they are referring back to the law of the jungle and not to the force of international law.

Those occupiers support terrorism, created terrorism, and are still financing it according to a confession made by the former Qatari prime minister that his country spent $37 billion to arm and finance armed groups in Syria. The Qatari PM confessed that his country and the armed groups had agreed to destroy Syria. Yet, they disputed when things went out of their control. They paid the armed groups to hunt the prey. However, they disputed among themselves when the prey escaped.

 

EB | Syria welcomed Palestinian refugees and has supported the Palestinian resistance. Could you please explain the role of some Palestinians in the events in Syria within the past few years, whether in fighting terrorism or supporting it.

Will Hamas Challenge Fatah in the West Bank?

GH | The Syrian State does not deal with people and does not take stances based on reactions. The Syrian state has its own constants and principles, and it [continues to] adhere to these constants and principles even in its ninth year of war. Syria still believes that the cause of Palestine is the central cause of the Arab world.

So, when some Palestinian groups choose to affiliate themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood rather than being loyal to the Palestinian cause and to Syria, it makes Syria [even] more committed to its principles. Especially as these days, the world knows well that the Muslim Brotherhood [has become] the basis of evil since they’ve adopted terrorism.

The Palestinian cause remains the central cause. Syria will always take interest in the Palestinian cause, in spite of the fact that some [Palestinians] were eager to be part of the war on the Syrian State. Even though weapons that were supposed to be used to fight Israel were used in the war on Syrian citizens.

The Syrian State is now recovering and history will remember those [Palestinians] as traitors. History will show that Syria has been, and will be, loyal to the Palestinian cause.

The Yarmouk Camp is back under Syrian sovereignty. The camp is now free from those who carried weapons and used them against Syrian citizens, whatever names they used — ISIS, Nusra or otherwise — and regardless of their nationality, Palestinian or otherwise. All of them are now gone, thanks to the sacrifices made by the Syrian people the heroism of the Syrian Arab Army and the wisdom of our leader, President Bashar al-Assad.

 

EB | Some Palestinians remained loyal to Syria, including in fighting terrorism, like the Quds Brigade…

GH | Yes, of course. Surely. There are loyal people even inside occupied Palestine. Not all people are ungrateful to those who help them. Not all people bite the hand that is stretched out to help them. Only traitors bite that hand.

 

EB | When eastern Aleppo and eastern Ghouta were being liberated, Western and international media said that the Syrian army was massacring and raping civilians there and that both the Syrian and the Russian militaries were bombing hospitals. Now, they are saying that 29 hospitals in Idlib have been targeted. What would you say about these accusations?

GH | We have liberated eastern Ghouta. We have also liberated eastern Aleppo. In both locations, a number of field hospitals were shown on television with piles of medicine. This implies that these hospitals were not bombed. This is very briefly.

The other point is that when a building is selected as a command center for armed groups under the pretext of its being a hospital, does this mean we should let those positioned in eastern Ghouta target Damascus on a daily basis with their shells?

Didn’t the world watch those angels of mercy, when they entered Adra industrial town, burning people alive in ovens and throwing civilians off fourth and fifth floors?

We’re talking about war here, we’re talking here about armies of terrorists equipped with light, medium and heavy weapons and empires of media around the world, in addition to the regional and world powers supporting them.

It is the duty of the Syrian State, before being its own right, to provide the Syrian people with protection against terrorism. The problem with the national Syrian media is that it does not reach the West.

Crossing points are identified as corridors for the exit of civilians before any military operation gets started in a populated area. Such corridors are then equipped with ambulances, medical services and every other need. Who targeted the nurses, doctors and civilians on their way out when citizens were evacuated from eastern Ghouta?

Has anybody seen the photo of the Syrian soldier carrying an old woman on his back and a child on his arm? That soldier knew he could drop as a martyr carrying this heavy load. Other soldiers fell as martyrs while they were helping civilians escape.

That number, 29 hospitals, is a lie in itself. It is more than the number of [national] hospitals available all over Syria. Do they allocate a hospital for every twenty or thirty people? This is illogical.

There is also something strange about all the field hospitals that we discovered. Saudi, Israeli and U.S. medicine was found in these hospitals. How did such medicine reach the terrorists? Did it come from underneath the ground?

And those who had been targeting Damascus and Aleppo are all of sudden depicted as angels of mercy, peace and freedom advocates calling for democracy?

It’s worth pointing out to people in the West that it has been proven that only a limited number of the fighters in armed groups came from western Europe and North America, while tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, came from other countries.

The Turkish president declares that such terrorists are free to leave Syrian territory whenever he gets upset with Europe or the U.S. Subsequently, EU countries and the U.S. get so horrified at the possibility of those terrorists returning home.

The EU countries and the U.S. do not want any of those terrorists to return. Why is it that they do not want them to come back? Are they not their own citizens? They say that such terrorists will spread terrorism, so they spread terrorism there while they plant roses and flowers here? Is it okay for terrorists to spread terror here while they’re forbidden to return to their own countries?

Briefly, these are the types of lies spread by the West.

I’m calling on each and every citizen of Western countries, as I am absolutely sure that they have pure human emotion, not to believe the Western media. I want them to be certain that their governments have participated in the killing of the Syrian people and in the killing of Syrian children. Their governments participated in the killing of Syrian women and the killing of the Syrian elderly and convinced them [Western citizens] that they were promoting something else [freedom].

 

EB | Recently, journalists from CBS and Sky News were in Idlib. I believe one of the two groups, Sky News, claimed that it was targeted by the Syrian army. Could they be reporting independently of al-Qaeda or any of the other terrorist groups in Idlib? They claim they are not [embedded] with al-Qaeda. Is this feasible? Is this realistic? 

GH | It’s a funny question. You’re a journalist. Surely, this is not the first time you have visited Syria. Have you faced any obstacles while entering Syria as a journalist? Do any Western or European countries accept the entry of foreign journalists illegally into their countries?

Sky News, the BBC, and Al Jazeera teams conduct live transmissions while embedded with armed groups — the terrorists. I wish that the mental power of the Syrian soldiers could become super advanced so that they can order shells to avoid foreign correspondents who are side by side with terrorists. The army is responding to attacks launched by terrorists — soldiers and officers of the Syrian army cannot give orders to an exploding shell to avoid this or that.

The most important question is this: What are they doing there? How did they enter? Who is in control in Idlib? Isn’t it the Nusra Front? How are they [the journalists] allowed to be there? They are there under the protection of the Nusra Front. They are under the protection of an internationally-designated terrorist organization. Their countries should hold them accountable for communicating with terrorist groups before asking why the army is targeting them.

 

EB | How can Idlib be liberated when Turkish forces occupy northern Syria and there are civilians in Idlib, in addition to the 70,000 al-Qaeda and other terrorist fighters?

GH | There were civilians and armed groups in Homs. There were civilians and armed groups in Ghouta as well. There were civilians and armed groups all over Dara`a.  All these regions have been liberated. The majority of citizens remained there while the terrorists were wiped out. Idlib is no exception. Eastern parts of the Euphrates are no exception either.

Each square centimeter of Syrian land is part and parcel of Syria as a whole. It is the duty and the right of the Syrian State to eradicate terrorism.

Unless under an invitation by the Syrian government, any foreign military presence on the Syrian territory is a force of occupation. The Syrian State is entitled to face such an occupation with every possible means.

The Syrian State has opened the door wide for reconciliation. The Syrian State trusts the wisdom of Russian and Iranian friends and relies on its relations with Turkey.

Surely each Syrian citizen, civilian or military, wishes that not even one drop of blood be spilled. This does not mean to yield to occupation in any way.

Idlib will be freed either through reconciliations or a political agreement. Otherwise, the Syrian State will find the means to liberate Idlib in the same way it liberated all other regions. I am absolutely certain — not as an officer but rather as a citizen — I know how Syrian citizens think; they believe that Idlib will be freed, as will each and every inch of the Syrian territory.

The presence of U.S., Turkish, or any other occupation force does not mean such a force is a destiny that cannot be faced. As long as we [the Syrian State] spare no effort or means — whether military, political, economic or diplomatic —  to win this war [against terrorism] by God’s will, and I hope it is not going to be through military action. But if things reach a dead-end, Idlib will not remain under occupation.

 

EB | Can you speak to the importance of liberating Idlib, not only for Syria’s territorial integrity but also for the villages in Northern Hama that are affected by terrorists in Idlib? The media is not talking about Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other places being attacked by terrorists.

GH | When Mhardeh and Sqailbiyeh are targeted, as a Syrian citizen, I do not see these two towns as less important than Damascus. Likewise when the neighborhoods of Homs were targeted.

All areas inhabited by Syrian citizens under the control of the Syrian State have been targets for those armed terrorist groups that are supported by the West, which claims it is standing by human rights and cares about the interests of the Syrian people.

For Syrian citizens, the liberation of each centimeter, or rather each grain of sand, is as important as the liberation of Idlib. Of course, the existence of armed groups in Idlib leads to abnormal circumstances that cause dysfunction in citizens’ daily lives. Thus, it is important to liberate Idlib to guarantee the return of normal life in Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other areas.

At the same time, it is important to end the occupation by the U.S. and its allies.

I hope that each European or American citizen will ask: Why do Syrian citizens return to areas that have been liberated? Why do citizens welcome the army? Why do citizens — except those who are held hostage by terrorists — flee from areas under the control of terrorist groups?

The civilians residing in terrorist-held areas are helpless hostages. A year ago all of the neighborhoods in eastern Ghouta were populated by terrorists. If the Syrian army had been shelling civilians in the past, why not do now? Why are people now living in peace there?

These are questions that I put forward to people living in the West. I hope they are human enough to ask [themselves] these questions.

 

EB | Regarding misinformation from international media on the Syrian Arab Army, portraying them as murderers and rapists. Can you speak about the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army throughout these eight years of war?

GH | I will answer your question with a question. Syria is an area of 185,000 square kilometers. According to United Nations documents, 360,000 armed terrorists infiltrated Syrian territory.

I would like to draw an example other than Syria. I’ll give the U.S., the superpower of the world, as an example. Let’s suppose that 36,000, rather than 360,000, terrorists infiltrate any state of the United States. That’s 10 percent of the number of terrorists who made their way into Syria. Let’s also suppose that such terrorists are supported by world powers. What would have happened to the U.S.?

The achievements of the Syrian Arab Army are not ordinary; these achievements are miraculous accomplishments.

The two greatest armies in modern history have failed to achieve what the Syrian Army has accomplished. In Afghanistan, fewer than 10 percent of the number of terrorists in Syria were able to defeat two armies: the Red Soviet Army and the U.S. Army.

But, the Syrian Army defeated such terrorism. According to military theory, any fight between an army and terrorist militia of armed gangs will end with the armed gangs winning. This has been evident throughout military history.

For the first time in the history of humankind, a traditional army has defeated armies of militant groups. The Syrian Army fought battles that can be classified as new in military science. The Syrian Army fought above ground and underground battles in addition to their battles against the media war, intelligence war, information war, economic war, gang and street-to-street wars. Despite all of that, the Syrian Army achieved victory. Therefore, can we imagine the magnitude of the sacrifices made in this respect by the Syrian Army?

In the first months of this war, the Syrian leadership realized that the terrorists wanted Syrians to be used to seeing blood everywhere. So, soldiers were forbidden from carrying weapons, even handguns, when they went to areas of so-called demonstrations to prevent demonstrators from destroying infrastructure.

For months the soldiers confronted the militants knowing that they could be martyred. However, the discipline of the Syrian army pushed the soldiers to do their missions without carrying a weapon.

Let any Western citizen imagine how it would be for a soldier with no weapons facing armed militants to stop them from destroying infrastructure and targeting civilians.

This is the Syrian army. The Syrian army cleared most of the Syrian regions occupied by the fiercest types of terrorism ever witnessed in the history of mankind.

 

EB |  Thank you very much for your time and for the interview in general.

GH |  I also would like to thank you all for what you’ve done so far and for all of the questions you raised. I kindly request that you share my replies with foreign readers.

Personally, I think your role as an objective journalist transcends the traditional role of journalism. It reflects an ethical responsibility of telling the truth about what you’ve seen. If you want to help the Syrian people, the greatest help you can offer the Syrian people is to tell the truth you have seen with your own eyes, not just what is said all over the internet.

Again, anyone can look up Abu Saqr al-Souri and see how he ate the heart of a dead soldier. He was a member of the so-called peaceful group of the Free Syrian Army, when he was killed — he was with the Nusra Front. This can be enough to convey the message.

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CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE – WHITE HELMETS, “BANA AL-ABED” AND KILLING “EVIL RUSSIANS”

South Front

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - White Helmets, “Bana al-Abed” and Killing “Evil Russians”

Since the formal defeat of ISIS’ self-proclaimed caliphate and so-called “moderate rebels” in most of Syria, the Middle Eastern country, has largely disappeared from the front-pages of mainstream media outlets. Nonetheless, the narrative management operation to distort the real situation in the war-torn country and demonize the Damascus government and its allies fighting foreign-backed radical militant groups continues.

The upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is an obvious example of the scale and spread of this campaign. The official trailer for the new part of the franchise features “heroic actions” of the White Helmets, “big bad Russians” bombing civilians and a kid in a gas mask apparently signaling the expected usage of “Assad’s chemical weapons” mantra in the story-telling.

The description of the first missions of the coming part of the world franchise reveals that they will incorporate Russian soldiers laughing while killing civilians as well as using chemical weapons against civilians. So, a “Bana al-Abed”-styled girl will have to kill some “evil Russkies”.

It appears that the goal of this effort is to bring back into attention some propaganda narratives that appear to have, at least partially, died down in recent years under pressure of facts. It’s an open secret that the White Helmets have deep ties with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria) and other radical groups de-facto playing a role in their propaganda wing and participating in staging chemical attack provocations.

The Twitter account of Bana al-Abed became widely known during the battle for Aleppo in 2016. The account operator, using the name and photos of the then 7yo girl, was writing scripted tweets blaming the “Assad regime” and Russia for civilian casualties, spreading fake news and even calling to start a new world war if that’s what’s needed to rescue what the account described as “innocent civilians”. After defeat of the radical groups controlling her part of the city, Bana and her parents withdrew from Aleppo alongside other members of militant groups that had reached a surrender deal with the Damascus government. Later, she and her family appeared in Turkey where Bana’s image continued to be used as a tool of the ongoing campaign against Syria. Her case is a sad example of how kids are being used for war propaganda purposes.

An interesting fact is that the “Call of Duty” game writer is not even hiding that the mainstream video game franchise seeks to indoctrinate its users. Taylor Kurosaki said that “he wants “Call of Duty” to be spoken of as on par with the best war films, and he hopes ‘Modern Warfare’ will inspire fans to check out the harrowing and eye-opening documentaries ‘The White Helmets’ or ‘Last Man in Aleppo”.” It’s no surprise that both mentioned “documentaries” were designed to glorify the White Helmets and militant groups they were assisting by their work and had little in common with the real situation in parts of the country, including, at some point, eastern Aleppo, controlled by MSM-promoted “moderate rebels”.

However, the latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare game, underlined a tendency that is by no means new. In some cases, modern video games, movies and even comic books are infested with war propaganda even more than news pieces released by CNN and similar media outlets.

Even DC comics, in late 2018, in its Doomsday Clock crossover with Watchmen showcased a superhero from Syria, called Sandstorm, who could control the desert sands. The generic stereotype boy called Nabil Azmah was from Douma, which isn’t even in the desert. He was later killed in the comics, fighting against the “Assad regime.” According to his fictional biography, his family were killed by fighters allied to Assad and his sister was gassed.

To top it off, in the next issue, Russian President Vladimir Putin was portrayed as the bad guy and even picked a fight with Superman, after a US superhero – Firestorm – democratically turned Russian citizens on Red Square into glass.

These tendencies are nothing new. DC comics, in the 80s, portrayed Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who concludes a deal with Batman’s infamous enemy the Joker. The Joker then says that Iranians and him have a lot in common, namely “being insane.”

The mainstream entertainment industry is doing its best to “inform”  American youth of who the “good guys” are in Syria and around the world, even if these “good guys” accidentally appear to be members of al-Qaeda.

This situation is a demonstration of how little propaganda capabilities Syria, Venezuela, China, Iran or Russia really do have in comparison with their “Western partners”. In most cases, the US and the EU use bogeyman stories about the mighty Russian, Chinese, Iranian and even Syrian propagandists as formal justification to tighten censorship and to increase their own propaganda efforts.

Syria Military Operation to Liberate Idlib Has Begun. Estimated 40,000 Terrorists in Idlib

The last terrorist-held territory under attack

Global Research, May 08, 2019

The zero-hour has arrived in Idlib, as the long awaited military operations to clear the last remaining terrorist-controlled area in Syria has begun.  It is estimated that there are 40,000 terrorists, some with their families, and they comprise many different terrorist groups, which are now aligned under one umbrella.  Colonel Suheil Al-Hassan of the Tiger Forces is part of the ground forces advancing on the province, in the wake of air strikes.   Idlib’s population, about 2 million today, has changed since 2011.

Idlib was one of the first areas infiltrated by the Radical Islamic political ideology of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).  The very first murder in Idlib by the Syrian ‘rebels’ in 2011 was the pharmacist Dr. Samir Kanatry, who was killed and then burnt up inside his pharmacy in August 2011 at Ma’arat Numan.  He was murdered because he was advocating secular values.  The US-backed FSA were sectarian from the outset, and any secular political ideals were their enemy.

The majority of Syrians do not support armed revolution in order to create a new sectarian based Syrian government. The ‘rebels’ only hope was to incite a military intervention by US-NATO forces based on a fabricated story of a chemical attack.  They tried this ploy repeatedly, and it never succeeded.  Even aligning them with Al Qaeda didn’t work, as the FSA and Al Qaeda developed their own ‘wars’ amongst themselves.

Beginning in 2011 many residents of Idlib fled: some to Latakia as a safe-haven from the ‘rebels’, who by then were clearly acting as terrorists.  Some of the residents of Idlib sided with the terrorists, and yet others fled to Turkey which is close by, with promises not only of safety, but financial support, and possible long term benefits from Turkish citizenship and income.

The current residents in Idlib are a very mixed bag: almost 4,000 of them are Chinese citizens. They are Uyghers from the far West of China, which is a Turkic speaking Muslim population.  Pres. Erdogan of Turkey inticed them to come to Turkey on passports he had issued, and then cross the border into Syria.  He supported their Jihad to Syria, and they brought parents, wives, and children and they are well-armed.   Pres. Erdogan sees the Uyghurs as ‘long lost cousins’, sharing the same root language as modern Turkey.

The “White Helmets” are in Idlib, too.  This award-winning video troop has been evacuated from other terrorist areas which were cleared by the SAA.

Why are the “White Helmets” (WH) only in areas under terrorist control?

Why have we never seen any WH rescuing people in places that were targeted by the ‘rebels’?  Recently, a missile fell on the Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia and destroyed a home: why weren’t the WH there to pull the injured from the rubble?

Raed Saleh, the main organizer of the WH recently spoke with National Public Radio in the USA, and he said,

“The revolution still goes on.  We have not lost. This revolution continues.”

He also admitted that his group still receives funding from the US government.  It appears his focus is not helping to rescue people or any humanitarian project: his goal is a “revolution”.  This proves the group is not neutral, or humanitarian.

They work strictly within a political framework that was developed by the US-NATO organizers of the destruction of Syria.  The question not asked of him by NPR is: “How much support does the revolution have among the current population in Syria?”  The majority of Syrian citizens who have never left Syria, and have endured 8 years of armed conflict, want peace.  They want to rebuild their lives, homes, and businesses.

Russia and Turkey entered into a de-escalation agreement on Idlib last year.  This agreement was supposed to entail the Al Qaeda affiliates, as well as ISIS and all other recognized terrorist groups, moving away from civilian areas, thus allowing forces to target and eliminate terrorists, while protecting innocent civilians.  However, the agreement did not cause the separation of the innocent from the terrorists.

In fact, some terrorist groups fought with each other and innocent civilians were killed and injured, as well as some armed groups made new alliances that moved their designation from ‘rebels’ to terrorists.  Many people wondered why would Russia and Turkey make a pact to safeguard and protect armed groups?  Turkey has always been a supporter of the armed groups, including Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Jibhat al Nusra, which is the leading force occupying Idlib.

Idlib residents are Americans, French, Belgian, Australian, British, North African, and Saudi Arabian.  Some are Syrians but were originally from Aleppo, Deraa, Homs, East Ghouta and other locations far removed from Idlib. The Syrians living in Idlib today were mainly bussed to Idlib, as their areas fell to the SAA, and they chose to live in exile in Idlib rather than surrender and resume peaceful life.

The Western media warns of the largest humanitarian disaster waiting to happen in Idlib if the SAA and its Russian allies take the area.  One wonders where the Western media was when those terrorists in Idlib shot missiles repeatedly at Kessab, Latakia, Slonfa, Hama, Aleppo, Jeblah, and M’Hardeh.  Where were the cries about deaths, injuries, and loss of property such as schools, and homes in places targeted by the terrorists?

In fact, many industries which lay on the perimeter of Idlib are unable to recover or rebuild, even though peace is restored, because they live under the threat of missile and drone attacks, launched by the terrorists who are protected in Idlib.  An example is Kessab, which was attacked, destroyed and occupied in March 2014 by the FSA and Al Qaeda.  The Christian village is far from Idlib, yet the missiles still land there and have landed in the school while children were playing.

America and her western allies, including the Arab Gulf monarchies, have the policy to prevent Syria from peaceful recovery and rebuilding.   They are demanding ‘regime-change’ prior to rebuilding, even though they lost the war.  Once Idlib is retaken by the SAA, the US-NATO project for the “New Syria” made in their image will be declared dead.

*

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This article was originally published on InfoRos.

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BBC-staged footage on Syria’s Douma Western media’s ‘theater of absurd’: Russia

Source

Press TV – February 14, 2019

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacts during the annual news conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, on January 16, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacts during the annual news conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, on January 16, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Russia says the latest revelations by BBC that the footage of an April chemical attack near the Syrian capital was fabricated proves the “theater of absurd” in Western media’s coverage of events in the Arab country.

“Over the past few years, and not just in Syria, we have been witness to a travesty being staged by the West and its media agencies, which on [the one] hand brags about brilliant democratic goals and support for civilians of a sovereign state, but on the other does not … give a damn about … international law, various forms of freedom and rights of a nation or a certain minority,” the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.

The footage broadcast by BBC showed people being treated after a chemical attack in Douma.

BBC Syria producer Riam Dalati wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that the issue had been investigated for six months.

Zakharova added, “The culmination of this theater of absurd may be a statement by a BBC producer, who confirmed based on his own research that the footage [in Douma] had been staged with direct participation of [the so-called civil defense group] White Helmets.

She further pointed out that Russia wanted to listen to BBC’s explanation because it actively covered the events in favor of the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

The Western-backed White Helmets group, which has been repeatedly accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging fictional chemical attacks, published a video in April 2018, alleging that Syrian government forces had launched a chemical assault in the city of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of Damascus.

The US has warned it would respond to any possible chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces with retaliatory strikes, stressing that the attacks would be stronger than those conducted by American, British and French forces last year.

On April 14, 2018, the US, Britain and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma.

Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the Douma attack, an allegation rejected by the Syrian government.

On September 11 last year, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov censured the US threats to use military force against Syria as part of Washington’s blackmail policy.

“Unlike the United States, Britain and their allies, Russia provides particular facts on a daily basis through its Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry as well missions in New York, The Hague and Geneva. We particularly name geographical points, where preparations are underway for certain terrorist groups backed by the US and its allies to carry out provocations,” Ryabkov said.

 

Source of pro-israel (apartheid state) guerrilla warriors on social media exposed

Source of pro-Israel Guerrilla Warriors on Social Media Exposed
By Nasim Ahmed

In this photo illustration, The Twitter logo is displayed on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 in this arranged photograph on September 25, 2016 in Paris, France (Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

A number of prominent Jewish-American leaders are funding covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists, The Forward has found. The Jewish daily newspaper, which has been publishing valuable information concerning the source of funding for these hyper-aggressive and shadowy groups – which spearhead coordinated hate campaigns against critics of the Zionist state – has uncovered the identities of those behind hidden social media accounts.

Community heads and prominent Jewish organisations with a carefully-crafted, respectable public profile have donated millions to fund secret projects targeting students and lecturers, the report has found. On a number of occasions, their blind support for Israel has seen them bankroll far-right and anti-Muslim hate groups.

The latest pro-Israeli group to be exposed by The Forward is the campaign targeting the pro-Palestinian campus network Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP is said to be the most well-known advocate of the Palestinian cause on US campuses. It has been the target of a pro-Israel group known as SJP Uncovered, which anonymously attacks student activists affiliated with SJP across the country. With more than 100,000 followers on Facebook, SJP Uncovered has gone after pro-Palestinian students by maintaining a veil of anonymity that is said to be all-but impenetrable.

Until now, the source of funding for SJP Uncovered had been a mystery. The Forward has now been able to shed light on the organisation to reveal that the site is a secret project of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), a Washington DC-based pro-Israel organisation tied to most mainstream funders and organisations in the Jewish community.

On its official website, the ICC says that its vision is to create a campus environment where “dialogue and ideas are freely exchanged about Israel”. Publicly, the ICC presents a respectable face typical of nearly all pro-Israeli groups, but privately it is funding one of the most aggressive and shadowy student groups responsible for hateful campaigns against critics of the Zionist state. The Forward revealed that the ICC paid over $1 million in the 2016/2017 fiscal year to SJP Uncovered, in that time also running vicious campaigns against students with the aid of political consulting firms.

Until around 2014, the ICC is said to have been a standard pro-Israel advocacy group receiving donations from the largest and most mainstream Jewish-American foundations. In 2015, its operations changed to “covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists, often with the help of top-tier paid professional political consultants,” according to the investigative report.

Describing the change in focus, one former pro-Israeli campus official said: “It was clear that the old way of doing business […] was not making the cut, and was not enough, and there was a totally new offensive approach to things.” He added:

The overall framing was [that] the pro-Israel community is no longer going to sit back and let things happen, they are going to go on the offense […] It was very clear that going on the offensive to them meant going after students and the organizations that were bringing BDS.

With the change in emphasis in 2015 towards more aggressive campaigns, the ICC began hiring paid political consultants – including opposition researchers – to work on campuses. It transformed itself into a cog in what is often described as Israel’s secret global war against pro-Palestinian activists, which is operated by a dedicated ministry in Tel Aviv known as the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Its main function is to spearhead Israel’s overt and covert efforts to smear the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is modelled on the global campaign that helped end Apartheid in South Africa. In November, the Electronic Intifada published in full an undercover Al Jazeera documentary that revealed some of the ministry’s tactics. The documentary was censored, allegedly after Israel lobby pressure on Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera.

SJP Uncovered is one of many pro-Israel organisations to emerge from a new consensus within sections of the Jewish-American community. They believed that defeating the global BDS movement was a key priority, which could only be achieved through aggressive means. Such tactics, however, not only risked falling foul of the rules of respectable public institutions, it was bad for their image.  The solution for Zionist and pro-Israel groups, both in the US and Israel, was to adopt secretive and clandestine tactics against their targets in an effort to protect their reputation. One of the best known of these operations is the formerly-anonymous website Canary Mission, which posts political dossiers on college students. The site went live in 2015, and has since grown to include dossiers on thousands of students.

A series of Forward exposés in October revealed that a foundation controlled by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, a major Jewish charity with an annual budget of over $100 million, had donated $100,000 to the website, whose work has drawn comparisons to a McCarthyite blacklist. An Haaretz profile of the Canary Mission found that, for three years, the website had spread fear among undergraduate activists by posting more than a thousand political dossiers on student supporters of Palestinian rights. At the same time, the website had gone to great lengths to hide the digital and financial trail connecting it to its donors and staff. Registered through a secrecy service, the site had been untraceable until recently.

While the federation had assured that it was a “one-time grant” that would never happen again, the uncovering of a publicly respectable pro-Israel organisations giving funds to operate clandestine hate campaigns against pro-Palestinian activists triggered further investigations. The Canary Mission was just the tip of the iceberg, as tax filings seen by the magazine +972 showed that there was a pattern of systemic financing of radical right-wing and anti-Muslim groups.

Why was 2015 pivotal to this shift in strategy? Jewish leaders in the US, says Forward reporter Josh Nathan-Kazis, decided to spend significant communal resources attacking college students in that year because there was a coming-together of Israel’s spy culture and Jewish-American mega donors like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban. Both felt that the work being carried out by mainstream Jewish organisations was unsatisfactory. Wanting to shift the entire tenor of the Jewish communal approach to fighting anti-Semitism and BDS, major Jewish organisations were called to a secret meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During this 2015 meeting, there was a consensus for a push towards more aggressive responses to BDS. A new initiative, named after Jewish guerrilla warriors Maccabees, was formed. On its website, the Maccabee taskforce – which claims that the BDS movement is spreading anti-Semitism across the world – says it is “determined to help students combat this hate by bringing them the strategies and resources they need to tell the truth about Israel”.

Strategies developed by Israeli think tanks like the Reut Institute became the playbook for the aggressive tactics that is said to have come into maturity during that period. These tactics, Nathan-Kazis explains, called for pro-Israel advocates to “out, name and shame” harsh critics of Israel, and to “frame them […] as anti-peace, anti-Semitic, or dishonest purveyors of double standards”. They talked about “establishing a ‘price tag’” for attacks on Israel and “isolating” advocacy groups that attack Israel, while “organizing regular meetings of pro-Israel networks”.

This article was originally published by MEMO” –

Major Psy-Op in Europe Exposed: UK Government Tramples on Values It Vowed to Protect

Major Psy-Op in Europe Exposed: UK Government Tramples on Values It Vowed to Protect

Major Psy-Op in Europe Exposed: UK Government Tramples on Values It Vowed to Protect
Those who have been saying that the West has turned Russia into a scapegoat to be blamed for each and every thing that goes wrong have been proved right. We have witnessed concocted stories invented to denigrate Moscow that have gone viral as directed by the secret services. The UK, the country that is spearheading the anti-Russian information campaign, offers a good example that illustrates how this is being done.An online group of hackers known as Anonymous has just revealed covert UK activities in the EU. According to the documents released by that group, London is in the midst of a major program to interfere in the internal affairs of EU members, the US, and Canada. Anonymous threatens to release more information on the clandestine operations of the UK government, unless it agrees to remove the shroud of secrecy protecting those information-warfare efforts. On Nov. 24 Twitter deleted RT comments on the issue. The UK knows it has friends it can rely on in a crunch.

The Integrity Initiative is a London-based organization set up and funded by the government-friendly Institute for Statecraft, in cooperation with the Free University of Brussels (VUB) to wage information-warfare operations against Russia. Anonymous calls it a “large-scale information secret service.” It aims to “change attitudes in Russia itself” as well as the influence of Russian natives living abroad. The Integrity Initiative’s budget for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2019 is estimated at £1.96 million ($2.51 million). The network has received grants from NATO, the US State Department, and Facebook.

The Initiative’s operations have been kept under wraps. Its activities are conducted by “clusters” of local politicians, journalists, military personnel, scientists, and academics involved in anti-Russian propaganda efforts. The list includes William Browder, a US-British businessman convicted in absentia in Russia for tax evasion.

The Integrity Initiative network has offices from which to conduct its covert operations in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Serbia, Spain, and Montenegro. Its plans to expand to the US, Canada, Eastern Europe, and the MENA region are already underway.

The Anonymous hackers mention Operation Moncloa that was launched in June in Spain to prevent Pedro Baños, a colonel known for his Russia-friendly views, from being appointed the new head of Spain’s influential national security agency.

It’s all part of a broader picture. In March, Prime Minister Theresa May promised to “defeat” Russia with a new cyber-warfare initiative titled the Fusion Doctrine. Back then, Ms. May told British intelligence services to use social media “to prevent the spread of misinformation.” In other words, she has pulled the military into this anti-Russian propaganda effort. Security sources have floated the idea that that the UK must harness “soft power” and “counter-propaganda” on social media networks. Is it possible to imagine any media remaining independent in a country where they’re part of a “soft power strategy” implemented by the government under the rallying cry of protecting national security?

This is the origin of so many fantasies about Russia and the imaginary threat it poses. The plan included an enhanced role for the BBC World Service to promote British “values” abroad, ensuring that the Ofcom shuts down media organizations that fail to meet “high British standards.” Only gullible people can believe that such “values” and “standards” exist. Russia has been used as a bogeyman to justify measures aimed at killing off the freedom of the media. Any story about Russia’s nefarious deeds spread by British news outlets should be taken with a grain of salt.

The UK government is facing some hard times. The Brexit deal with the EU is headed to parliament for approval. It’s impossible to predict whether the MPs will vote yes or no. Both outcomes threaten the very existence of the United Kingdom. The use of the “Russian threat” is seen as one way to keep the nation united and the media under control.

Keeping its activities out of the public eye, the government is doing exactly what it has so indignantly accused Russia of. The pot is calling the kettle black. As the freedom of the press is being suppressed and the media networks are following the government’s instructions about what information they should offer their readers, UK officials continue to brazenly deliver their pompous speeches about the need to protect those very values to which the government itself poses the greatest challenge. Anonymous is right — any responsible government must explain the intentions behind the Integrity Initiative, how exactly it is funded, and why its activities should be shielded from public view.

Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza

Photo Source U.S. Embassy Jerusalem | CC BY 2.0

Whenever bombings and shootings escalate in the Middle East, Israeli propagandists say that Israel is exercising its right of military self-defense against indiscriminate attacks coming from the Gaza Strip. But as this article documents, the right to use force in self-defense is contingent on Israel ending its military occupation and blockade of Gaza.

DON’T MISQUOTE ME ON THAT!

Doubtless some unscrupulous person or persons will quote or interpret this article out of context and claim that I’m saying that Israel has no right to self-defense at all. So, let me be clear: Israel is a nation-state like any other, like it or not. It therefore has the same legal rights as any nation-state, like it or not; including the right to use self-defense when under attack.

However, that right within the context of occupation is contingent on Israel’s adherence to international law; again, just like any state. For example: The US and British forces had no legal right to hurt or kill Iraqis resisting the illegal US-British invasion and occupation, which began in 2003. The only rights that the US and British had there was to leave.

Since 1967, Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip (and the West Bank of the Jordan, which it has now de facto annexed) in violation of international law. Yes, Israel withdrew its illegal colonies from Gaza in 2005, but it maintained the military blockade, which is an act of war and a violation of the IV Geneva Convention, which prohibits collective punishment.

As long as it continues its occupation/annexation of the Palestinian territories, Israel cannot use force in self-defense from attacks, even indiscriminate ones, emanating from Gaza. If it ended the occupation and blockade of the Palestinian territories, then it could argue a case for the use of force, assuming peaceful options are exhausted.

WHAT THE LIBERAL MEDIA SAY

Forget the madcap right-wing (e.g., a Fox News reporter standing next to what he claims is a flaming bakery hit by Palestinian rockets). How are the supposedly more intelligent and humane liberal media reporting the current violence?

The BBC says that “Violence has flared between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, a day after seven militants and an Israeli soldier were killed during an undercover Israeli operation in Gaza.” Militants? It goes on to say that: “Militants fired 300 rockets and mortars at Israel. One hit a bus, seriously injuring a soldier nearby. Israel responded with more than 70 strikes on what it said were targets belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” Responded? Surely the BBC means to say that armed Palestinian groups responded to Israel’sactions, which occurred in the context of its unlawful 50-year occupation?

Notice the use of the word “militants.” The report doesn’t use words like “Zionists” when describing Israelis.

The online article includes an embedded tweet from the Israeli Defense Forces: “RAW FOOTAGE: The skies of southern Israel RIGHT NOW. Dozens of rockets are being fired from #Gaza at Israeli civilians.” There is no embedded video of the shocking conditions in which Palestinian civilians are forced by Israel to live (a point to which we shall return). Near the bottom of the article, the BBC approaches something bordering truthfulness when it says: “Israel, along with Egypt, has maintained a blockade of Gaza,” but it then goes back to the lies: “…since about 2006 in order, they say, to stop attacks by militants.”

The word “occupation” is mentioned not once. So, the gist of the BBC’s reporting is that Gaza is plagued by dangerous Islamists hell-bent on Israel’s destruction and that Israel is doing what it can, sometimes ham-fistedly (as in the latest “botched” special forces operation), to defend itself.

CNN quotes Israeli PM Netanyahu as saying that “Hamas vowed to destroyed Israel,” ergo long-term peace was “impossible.”

The Washington Post claims that the latest “flare-up” was “triggered” by a “botched” Israeli operation inside Gaza. It quotes Israeli Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, that Israelis under Palestinian rocket-fire face “the most severe attack on … civilians by terrorist organizations from Gaza since our 2014 operation [Protective Edge].” Near the end of the article, the reporters mention, casually, Israel’s “tight restrictions on trade and travel.” Below, we’ll take a look at what these “tight restrictions” actually mean.

The New York Times describes what is happening as “An eruption,” rather than a continuation and predictable consequence of Israel’s ongoing brutality. It also mentions Israel’s “tight control over the border,” which has endured since 2005, they claim (not 1967 as is the reality), when Israel withdrew its illegal colonies. Approaching truth toward the end of the article, the NTY, unlike the BBC, quotes Chris Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency, who describes the humanitarian situation in Gaza for nearly 2 million ordinary civilians, half of whom are children, as a disaster and a “collective punishment.”

WHAT HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS SAY

With the exception of the Gunness quote, the media have suppressed the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The crisis is caused by the US-enabled Israeli blockade. Its importance in terms of the number of people affected vastly eclipses the firing of indiscriminate rockets into Israel by armed Palestinian groups.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states:“Palestinians in Gaza are ‘locked in’, denied free access to the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world.” According to the UN children’s fund UNICEF, “more than 96 per cent of abstracted water is polluted and not fit for human consumption due to high salinity levels from sea water intrusion and high nitrate levels from excessive use of agrochemicals and wastewater infiltration.”

Jamie McGoldrick and James Heenan of the UN say:

“All over the occupied Palestinian territory, but particularly in the Gaza Strip, we see children robbed of every right. Families cope with four hours of electricity per day in the sweltering heat. Clean drinking water is expensive and hard to find. The start of the school year in one month will be very difficult for tens of thousands of families who cannot afford basic school supplies.”

When trapped Gazans resist with overwhelmingly non-violent protest, they receive the following treatment, as described by a Red Cross doctor, Gabriel Salazar: “We estimate there are over 1,300 people with complex, sometimes multiple injuries,” care of the Israeli Defense Forces responding to the protests, “that will require at least three to five surgeries each. The recovery period may take months or even years and we believe some 400 will remain with temporary or permanent disability.” Many demonstrators are deliberately shot in the legs and refused treatment by Israel in neighboring Jordan.

IS GAZA STILL OCCUPIED?

Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been unlawfully occupied by Israel since June 1967. This means that every Israeli military action in those territories, except withdrawal, is unlawful. In November 1967, the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 242, which states:

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,…

1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict…

In 2004, the International Court of Justice opined:

“All these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power … Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal … The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”

In 2018, the UN Human Rights Council reaffirmed that Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are occupied by Israel:

“In the resolution, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, two against [the US and Australia], and 14 abstentions, the Council decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018.”

ISRAEL’S RIGHT OF SELF-DEFENSE

Given that the international consensus is that Israel remains the illegal occupying power in the Palestinian territories (including Gaza and East Jerusalem), Israel has no right to use force to defend itself against Palestinian attacks while it remains the illegal occupying power. If Israel ended the occupations of Gaza and the West Bank, it would be entitled to use force in self-defense, assuming that peaceful options are exhausted.

Hyde’s International Law Volume III states: “A belligerent,” i.e., Israel in this case, “which is contemptuous of conventional or customary prohibitions,” i.e., Israel continues to occupy Gaza, “is not in a position to claim that its adversary,” i.e., Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups, “when responding with like for like,” i.e., rocket-fire into Israel, “lacks the requisite excuse” (emphasis in original).

The Annual Digest and Reports of Public International Law Cases 1948 states: “Under International Law, as in Domestic Law, there can be no reprisal against reprisal. The assassin who is being repulsed by his intended victim may not slay him and then, in turn, plead self-defense.” By the same logic, Israel cannot occupy Gaza, collectively punish the population, and then claim to be acting in self-defense against Gazan rocket-fire.

In response to the Gaza massacre 2014, international jurist John Dugard said: “given the fact that Gaza is an occupied territory, it means that Israel’s present assault is simply a way of enforcing the continuation of the occupation, and the response of the Palestinian militants should be seen as the response of an occupied people that wishes to resist the occupation.”

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Dr. T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and the author of several books, including Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and the forthcoming Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (both Clairview Books).

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