Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari: Why They ‘Punish’ Syria

SEPTEMBER 27, 2022

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

Tim Anderson

Syria’s centuries-old refusal to take orders from foreign powers and its resistance to repeated foreign interventions has led to its ‘punishment’ by frustrated imperial forces, says Syria’s Vice Foreign Minister Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari.

Syria’s centuries-old refusal to take orders from foreign powers and its resistance to repeated foreign interventions has led to its ‘punishment’ by frustrated imperial forces, says Syria’s Vice Foreign Minister Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari. “We are like Cuba; or perhaps Cuba is like us”, said the veteran diplomat.

That independent history can be traced back to ancient times, when Queen Zenobia broke away from Roman rule. It was inflamed a century ago when Sultan Pasha Al-Atrash led the Great Arab Revolt of the 1920s against the French colonial power. And it rose again with Syria’s defeat of a massive, decade-long proxy war, driven by Washington and other NATO states, “Israel” and some of the Gulf monarchies.

But while Syria, at great cost, has defeated mass terrorism, according to Dr. Al-Jaafari, the “unprecedented” military interventions, occupations and economic war remain. The USA and Turkey, two NATO states, occupy huge swathes of Syrian land in the north and east and the Israeli occupation remains in the south. Each provides safe haven for terrorist groups.

These days Washington does not even bother to deny that it is stealing Syrian oil and wheat. It even signs UN declarations supporting the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria, while occupying Syrian land out of spite, to punish and divide the peoples of the region, for the benefit of Israeli and US hegemony.

Syria as an Arab nation once included current-day Iskenderun, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. Colonists tried to crush its Pan-Arab ideology, which rose against the French and the British, leading to the hard-fought renewal of independence in 1947. Dr. Al-Jaafari says Pan-Arabism, which forms the basis of the Syrian Arab Baath Party and other groups (like Nasserites and the SSNP), is a reflection of the region’s Arab-speaking peoples, with a shared history, aspiration and culture.

Further, Syria, almost uniquely in the region, has led the process of separating religion from politics which, in turn, supports its broader, inclusive Arab traditions and historic defense of multiple and rich social communities. Syria’s famous pluralism was attacked by the NATO-sponsored terrorist groups, mainly Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS/DAESH, who abused minority communities while slaughtering anyone who backed the Damascus government.

The country remains under a severe US economic blockade, backed by the European Union, and subject to multiple foreign occupations. Repeated ‘chemical weapons of mass destruction’ scams, false flag massacres, fake claims of ‘freedom and democracy’, ‘moderate armed opposition’ slogans and the demonizing of President Assad were all part of a war to destroy, not just the Syrian government, but the Syrian state.

Dr. Al-Jaafari says that “from day one the Western strategy was based on making Syria a failed state”. That meant undermining Syria’s means of subsistence and strength – wheat, water, oil, the Tabqa dam, irrigation for agriculture, health systems and energy sources. “When you are a failed state, you lose your sovereignty; once you lose your sovereignty they can do to you whatever they want, because there is no state.”

“Our strength,” he says, “was to counter this strategy; and that is why they are extremely upset. We resisted their strategy and they failed It cost them trillions of dollars, eleven years of depriving the Syrian people of their basic needs. But they failed … We won the war, diplomatically speaking … militarily speaking, not yet”.

“The game is over … I think we preserved what is essential, we preserved the state, the country, the dignity, the independence and the political independence. It is costly yes, it has been so costly. But nowadays nobody says that we are wrong.”

Yet they do try to falsify history. If we look at the distorted ‘open source’ site Wikipedia we will see that ‘The Dirty War on Syria’ is listed as the ‘Syrian Civil War’. It is nothing of the sort. It is one of more than 20 proxy wars Washington has driven in the first two decades of this century.

Dr. Al-Jaafari points out that a UN sub-committee on Afghanistan’s Taliban in 2017 listed 101 countries as having exported terrorists to Syria. A number, like Indonesia, had governments friendly to Syria. On top of this, Israelis and the two largest NATO armies still occupy Syria. This is hardly a ‘civil war’.

Even though the Astana process (involving Russia, Iran and Turkey) has made some progress, by helping create ‘de-escalation zones’, Turkey under Erdogan has done tremendous damage to Syria. Dr Bashar says: “the Turkish policy has caused Syria and the Syrian people great damage, great damage.” On top of its support for the terrorist groups, the Turkish government has attacked critical civilian infrastructure.

Syria had an agreement with Turkey on sharing water which committed to passing 500 cubic meters per second, down the Euphrates. Yet for the last 10 years, “they have allowed less than half of this”, causing great damage to the electricity-generating Tabqa dam: “They did the same to a station in Al-Hasakah governate.”

So there have been chronic shortages of water for agriculture, as well as the theft of oil and wheat by the Americans. In Iraq, the situation is even worse. “Now the Iraqis walk in the [bed of the Tigris] river”.

Turkey is part of NATO and “is benefiting greatly from the American wrongdoings in the region… sharing benefits from the chaos that they themselves created.”

The Vice Minister made two points about aid and the refugees. He tells countries saying they want to provide ‘aid’: “We don’t need” your aid. He says Syria needs to rebuild its own capacities, reopening factories and creating employment.

He tells them “lift the sanctions so that the refugees can go back to their villages. “However these countries “know what they are doing … they spent millions of dollars on the refugees so that they don’t go back to their homeland.”

These foreign states use correct words about refugees having “dignified and safe” lives. But their programs serve to keep them forever in the camps. “They will not come back because they don’t have jobs and homes.”

Instead of spending billions of dollars on the refugees, Dr. Al-Jaafari aks, “why not give them all $10,000 each, enough to restart their lives back home? Why not pay them $10,000 once, instead of the same amount every year?”

What the enemies of Syria did to Syria “has gone beyond the threshold”, he says. “In my opinion, they did it … because we did not punish them for what they did in Iraq … that was the biggest mistake ever.”

Yet there have been great geopolitical changes in recent years. “The whole world is shifting”, he says, with the rise of BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and other blocs. “The whole Asian part of the world” has given up on Western-dominated organizations like the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank.

“They don’t believe in that anymore and they want to create alternatives … let me say eastern alternatives, and this is very important.” The geopolitical center is shifting because the west has committed so many errors. This “might be a positive development, it might be a prelude to further confrontation, or it might be both.” In any case, he says, it is a sign that “enough is enough”.

Asked if Syria has applied to join the SCO, Dr. Al-Jaafari replies “of course, we submitted our request … recently.”

‘Regime change’ in Hamas and a return to Syria

The removal of Khaled Meshaal from power was necessary for normalization with Damascus to occur

September 26 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By The Cradle’s Palestine Correspondent

In mid-September, Palestinian resistance movement Hamas issued a statement indicating that it had restored relations with Syria after ten years of estrangement, effectively ending its self-imposed exile from Damascus.

After the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in March 2011, at the height of the so-called Arab Spring, Hamas – in line with its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) – turned its back on its once-staunch Syrian ally and threw its support behind the mostly-Islamist “revolution.”

As governments collapsed in key Arab states, the Ikhwan felt the time was ripe for their organization to ascend to a leadership role from Gaza to Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Syria.

Yet the decision by Hamas’ leadership to leave Damascus was met with strong opposition from influential circles within the movement, especially in its military arm, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

Despite Hamas’ official position toward Syria, internal opposition to the break in relations remained for years, most notably from Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar, and a number of Al-Qassam Brigades leaders such as Muhammad al-Deif, Marwan Issa, Ahmad al-Jabari and Yahya al-Sinwar.

Today, that balance has shifted notably. Sinwar is currently Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, and his alliance is in strong ascendence within the movement.

From Amman to Damascus to Doha

But back in 2011, the person with the final say over the decision to abandon its Syrian ally was the then-head of Hamas’ Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal.

Meshaal was the director of the Hamas office in Amman in 1999 when the Jordanian government decided to expel him. He travelled between the airports of a number of Arab capitals, which refused to receive him, under the pretext that there were agreements with a superpower requiring his extradition.

Only Damascus agreed to receive him. Despite the tension that historically prevailed in the Syrian state’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, Meshaal was given freedom to work and built a personal relationship with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. In the years that followed, Hamas was granted facilities and resources that it did not enjoy in any other Arab capital.

Syria opened its doors to train hundreds of resistance fighters from the Al-Qassam Brigades and to manufacture quality weapons, such as missiles and reconnaissance drones.

One Syrian source told The Cradle that the privileges enjoyed by Hamas leaders and members in Syria were not available even to Syrian citizens. In addition to the high cost of Meshaal’s residence and security in Damascus, the state provided him and his associates with dozens of luxury homes in the capital’s most affluent neighborhoods.

Syria was also at the forefront of countries that facilitated the arrival of high-quality weapons into the besieged Gaza Strip. A source in the resistance tells The Cradle that the first Kornet missile to reach Gaza between 2009 and 2011 came from Syria with the approval of President Assad, and was received by then-Chief of Staff of Al-Qassam Brigades Ahmed al-Jabari.

Also crucial to the Palestinian resistance was the arrival of Iranian and Russian missiles that entered Gaza via Syrian arms depots.

Meshaal chooses Doha

It is important to recognize that while the decision to leave Damascus was not by any means unanimously agreed upon within Hamas, as political bureau chief, it was ultimately Meshaal’s call.

A Hamas source informed The Cradle that in September 2011, six months after the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, Meshaal received an invitation from the Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, to visit Doha. Recall that Qatar was one of the first states to fund and arm the Islamist opposition in the brutal Syrian war.

According to al-Thani’s estimates, the “Syrian revolution” was likely to end in the overthrow of the Assad government. He is reported to have advised Meshaal to abandon the sinking ship, so to speak, because if the rebellion is successful, “those who stayed with him [Assad] will drown, as happened with the late President Yasser Arafat, when Saddam Hussein was defeated in Gulf War,” the source described.

In an attempt to win over Hamas from Iran’s patronage, al-Thani offered to financially support the movement and to provide a geographical space for operations in the Qatari capital and in Turkish territory.

Meshaal is said to have informed his host that such a decision could not be taken unilaterally, and that he needed to refer to Hamas’ Political Bureau and Shura Council for buy-in.

Internal dissent 

On his way back to Damascus, Meshaal made pit stops in a number of regional countries to inform Hamas’ leadership of the Qatari offer. Suffice it to say, the deal was rejected by the majority of members of the Political Bureau and the Al-Qassam Brigades.

The Hamas source says: “The second man in Al-Qassam, Ahmad Al-Jabari, rejected the treachery against the Syrian leadership, along with Mahmoud al-Zahar, Ali Baraka, Imad al-Alami, Mustafa al-Ladawi, and Osama Hamdan.

On the other hand, Meshaal had the support of Musa Abu Marzouk, Ahmed Yousef, Muhammad Ghazal, Ghazi Hamad and Ahmed Bahr, in addition to a number of the movement’s sheikhs such as Younis al-Astal, Saleh Al-Raqab, and Ahmed Nimr Hamdan, while the head of the Hamas government in Gaza at the time, Ismail Haniyeh, did not have a decisive position.

Meshaal’s opponents were of the opinion that as Hamas is a resistance movement, it would be ill-advised to sever ties with the region’s Axis of Resistance – Iran, Hezbollah and Syria – and that leaving this alliance left little options other than to join the “Axis of Normalization” [with Israel].

Meshaal then received a call from Kamal Naji, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in which he was informed that the Syrians “are aware of all the details of your visit to Qatar, and of the discussion taking place in the Hamas leadership.”

According to the source, Naji advised Meshaal that Hamas “will not find a warm embrace like Syria, and that despite its historical disagreement with the Muslim Brotherhood, Damascus will not ask Hamas to take any declared position on the Syrian crisis.”

The source in Hamas told The Cradle: “The Qataris felt that Meshaal was unable to take such a fateful stance.” At this point, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi (considered to be the spiritual guide of the Ikhwan) intervened to pressure both Haniyeh and Abu Marzouk, who had not yet made up their minds.

Fateful meetings

Meshaal was later invited to visit Turkey, where he met leaders of Syrian armed groups, accompanied by the Qatari Minister of Intelligence and officers from Turkish intelligence.

They convinced him that “a few steps separate the opposition from the Republican Palace in the Mezzeh neighborhood of Damascus, and that the days of the Assad regime are numbered.”

The meeting of Hamas’ political bureau in Sudan was the turning point. In that gathering, to the surprise of some participants, both Haniyeh and Abu Marzouk weighed in to side with Meshaal, and it was decided to “discreetly” withdraw from Damascus.

After the decision was taken, the Qataris worked to further enhance Meshaal’s position within Hamas, through an extraordinary visit by the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, to the Gaza Strip – the first for an Arab head of state. During this visit, al-Thani provided generous support with more than $450 million provided for reconstruction and the implementation of development projects.

Hamas’ fateful decision to abandon Damascus, however, was not met with the same enthusiasm by the movement’s military wing, who believed the move made little strategic sense.

Back to Damascus

In the following years, major regional changes contributed to the downfall of Khaled Meshaal and his removal from his position leading Hamas’ Political Bureau.

The Syrian state remained steadfast in the face of collective NATO-Gulf efforts to unseat Assad; Russian military intervention altered the battlefield balance of power; the Syrian political and armed opposition began to disintegrate and suffer heavy losses; the Ikhwan’s rule in Egypt and its control over Libya and Tunisia began to collapse; and a stand-off with Qatar caused Saudi Arabia and the UAE to alter their position on Syria.

With these stunning regional setbacks, it quickly became apparent that neither Qatari nor Turkish support offered any real strategic value for Hamas’ resistance model – nor could they hope to fill the void left by the reduction in Iranian and Syrian military support.

Moreover, Al-Qassam Brigades found itself facing severe financial difficulties, unable to secure the salaries of its members, let alone sustain any meaningful armed resistance against Israel’s continuous assaults and occupation.

At the time, Hamas’ revenues were derived mainly from taxes imposed on Gaza’s residents, while Qatari support, under US supervision, was limited to providing the expenses of the Hamas leadership in Qatar, and providing seasonal financial grants to government employees in Gaza.

Meshaal’s fall from power  

Cumulatively, these events and the stagnation of the Palestinian resistance convinced Hamas’ leadership of the need to reshuffle its regional cards. The freed prisoner, Yahya al-Sinwar, was the initial spark to revamp a fresh new agenda, following his sweeping victory as the new Hamas leader in Gaza.

Sinwar, one of the historical leaders of Al-Qassam Brigades, decided to reset relations with Iran and Hezbollah, and work toward the movement’s eventual return to Damascus.

Meshaal, realizing that regional changes were no longer in his favor, tried to flatter the Syrian state more than once in media statements. But a firm decision had already been taken across the Axis of Resistance that Meshaal was no longer a welcome or trustworthy figure.

This was especially the case after it became clear to the Syrian security services that Meshaal was involved, along with dozens of Hamas members, in supporting armed groups, exposing secret sites of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Lebanese resistance Hezbollah, smuggling weapons to armed opposition in the strategically-located Yarmouk refugee camp and eastern Ghouta region, and providing them with expertise in digging secret tunnels.

Meshaal’s isolation became crystal clear at the end of December 2021, when Hezbollah refused to receive him during a Beirut visit, even though he was officially the external relations officer for Hamas.

According to the Hamas source, Meshaal tried to disrupt the consensus of the leadership of the Political Bureau and the Shura Council on restoring relations with Syria, when he “leaked, at the end of last June, the decision taken in the Political Bureau meeting to return to Damascus.”

Hamas, post-Meshaal

Meshaal’s leak caused media chaos, followed by attempts to pressure Hamas to reverse course. A statement issued by eight of the most important Muslim Brotherhood scholars, advised Hamas to reconsider its decision because of the “great evils it carries for the Ummah.”

Meshaal meanwhile, remained busy trying to restore relations with Jordan, in parallel with Iran, Lebanon and Syria. However, with the recent announcement by Hamas that it would return to Syria, “the efforts made by Meshaal and the Qataris behind him have gone unheeded,” says the movement’s source.

The normalization of relations between Hamas and Syria is significant, not only for the military dividend it could reap for the Palestinian resistance, but also because it can pave the way for Turkey and Qatar to re-establish their Syria ties, although Doha would do so very reluctantly.

With the decision to sideline the Meshaal camp within Hamas, it would seem that Hamas – and not Syria – has ultimately been the subject of regime change in this regional geopolitical battle for influence.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

The real US agenda in Africa is hegemony

September 21, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, first published at The Cradle and posted with the author’s permission

Forget development. Washington’s primary interest in Africa today is keeping the Chinese and Russians out.

In a rational environment, the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) would discuss alleviating the trials and tribulations of the Global South, especially Africa.

That won’t be the case. Like a deer caught in the geopolitical headlights, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued platitudes about a gloomy “winter of global discontent,” even as the proverbial imperial doomsayers criticized the UN’s “crisis of faith” and blasted the “unprovoked war” started by Russia.

Of course the slow-motion genocide of Donbass russophone residents for eight years would never be recognized as a provocation.

Guterres spoke of Afghanistan, “where the economy is in ruins and human rights are being trampled” – but he did not dare to offer context. In Libya, “divisions continue to jeopardize the country” – once again, no context. Not to mention Iraq, where “ongoing tensions threaten ongoing stability.”

Africa has 54 nations as UN members. Any truly representative UNGA meeting should place Africa’s problems at the forefront. Once again, that’s not the case. So it is left to African leaders to offer that much-needed context outside of the UN building in New York.

As the only African member of the G20, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently urged the US not to “punish” the whole continent by forcing nations to demonize or sanction Russia. Washington’s introduction of legislation dubbed the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act, he says, “will harm Africa and marginalize the continent.”

South Africa is a BRICS member – a concept that is anathema in the Beltway – and embraces a policy of non-alignment among world powers. An emerging 21st century version of the 1960s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is strengthening across the Global South – and especially Africa – much to the revulsion of the US and its minions.

Back at the UNGA, Guterres invoked the global fertilizer crisis – again, with no context. Russian diplomacy has repeatedly stressed that Moscow is ready to export 30 million tons of grain and over 20 million tons of fertilizer by the end of 2022. What is left unsaid in the west, is that only the importation of fertilizers to the EU is “allowed,” while transit to Africa is not.

Guterres said he was trying to persuade EU leaders to lift sanctions on Russian fertilizer exports, which directly affect cargo payments and shipping insurance. Russia’s Uralchem, for instance, even offered to supply fertilizers to Africa for free.

Yet from the point of view of the US and its EU vassals, the only thing that matters is to counter Russia and China in Africa. Senegal’s President Macky Sall has remarked how this policy is leaving “a bitter taste.”

‘We forbid you to build your pipeline’

It gets worse. The largely ineffectual EU Parliament now wants to stop the construction of the 1,445 km-long East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) from Uganda to Tanzania, invoking hazy human rights violations, environmental threats, and “advising” member countries to simply drop out of the project.

Uganda is counting on more than 6 billion barrels of oil to sustain an employment boom and finally move the nation to middle-income status. It was up to Ugandan Parliament Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa to offer much-needed context:

“It is imprudent to say that Uganda’s oil projects will exacerbate climate change, yet it is a fact that the EU block with only 10 percent of the world’s population is responsible for 25 percent of global emissions, and Africa with 20 percent of the world’s population is responsible for 3 percent of emissions. The EU and other western countries are historically responsible for climate change. Who then should stop or slow down the development of natural resources? Certainly not Africa or Uganda.”

The EU Parliament, moreover, is a staunch puppet of the biofuel lobby. It has refused to amend a law that would have stopped the use of food crops for fuel production, actually contributing to what the UN Food Program has described as “a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude.” No less than 350 million people are on the brink of starvation across Africa.

Instead, the G7’s notion of “helping” Africa is crystallized in the US-led Build Back Better World (B3W) – Washington’s anaemic attempt to counter Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – which focuses on “climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality,” according to the White House. Practical issues of infrastructure and sustainable development, which are at the heart of China’s plan, are simply ignored by the B3W.

Initially, a few “promising” projects were identified by a traveling US delegation in Senegal and Ghana. Senegalese diplomatic sources have since confirmed that these projects have nothing whatsoever to do with building infrastructure.

B3W, predictably, fizzled out. After all, the US-led project was little more than a public relations gimmick to undermine the Chinese, with negligible effect on narrowing the $40-plus trillion worth of infrastructure needed to be built across the Global South by 2035.

Have YALI, will travel

Imperial initiatives in Africa – apart from the US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM), which amounts to raw militarization of the continent – brings us to the curious case of YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative), widely touted in the Washington-New York axis as “the most innovative” policy of the Obama years.

Launched in 2010, YALI was framed as “empowering the new generation of Africa leadership” – a euphemism for educating (or brainwashing) them the American way. The mechanism is simple: investing in and bringing hundreds of young African potential leaders to US universities for a short, six-week “training” on “business, civil leadership, entrepreneurship, and public management.” Then, four days in Washington to meet “leaders in the administration,” and a photo op with Obama.

The project was coordinated by US embassies in Africa, and targeted young men and women from sub-Saharan Africa’s 49 nations – including those under US sanctions, like Sudan, Eritrea, and Zimbabwe – proficient in English, with a “commitment” to return to Africa. Roughly 80 percent during the initial years had never been to the US, and more than 50 percent grew up outside of big cities.

Then, in a speech in 2013 in South Africa, Obama announced the establishment of the Washington Fellowship, later renamed the Mandela-Washington Fellowship (MWF).

That’s still ongoing. In 2022, MWF should be granted to 700 “outstanding young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa,” who follow “Leadership Institutes” at nearly 40 US universities, before their short stint in Washington. After which, they are ready for “long-term engagement between the United States and Africa.”

And all that for literally peanuts, as MWF was enthusiastically billed by the Democrat establishment as cost-efficient: $24,000 per fellow, paid by participant US universities as well as Coca-Cola, IBM, MasterCard Foundation, Microsoft, Intel, McKinsey, GE, and Procter & Gamble.

And that didn’t stop with MWF. USAID went a step further, and invested over $38 million – plus $10 million from the MasterCard Foundation – to set up four Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Senegal. These were training, long distance and in-class, at least 3,500 ‘future leaders’ a year.

It’s no wonder the Brookings Institution was drooling over so much “cost-efficiency” when it comes to investing “in Africa’s future” and for the US to “stay competitive” in Africa. YALI certainly looks prettier than AFRICOM.

A few success stories though don’t seem to rival the steady stream of African footballers making a splash in Europe – and then reinvesting most of their profits back home. The Trump years did see a reduction of YALI’s funding – from $19 million in 2017 to roughly $5 million.

So many leaders to ‘train’

Predictably, the Joe Biden White House YALI-ed all over again with a vengeance. Take this US press attache in Nigeria neatly outlining the current emphasis on “media and information literacy,” badly needed to tackle the “spreading of disinformation” including “in the months leading up to the national presidential election.”

So the US, under YALI, “trained 1,000 young Nigerians to recognize the signs of online and media misinformation and disinformation.” And now the follow-up is “Train the Trainer” workshops, “teaching 40 journalists, content creators, and activists (half of whom will be women) from Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Zamfara, and Katsina how to identify, investigate, and report misinformation.” Facebook, being ordered by the FBI to censor “inconvenient,” potentially election-altering facts, is not part of the curriculum.

YALI is the soft, Instagrammed face of AFRICOM. The US has participated in the overthrow of several African governments over the past two decades, with troops trained under secrecy-obsessed AFRICOM. There has been no serious Pentagon audit on the weaponizing of AFRICOM’s local “partners.” For all we know – as in Syria and Libya – the US military could be arming even more terrorists.

And predictably, it’s all bipartisan. Rabid neo-con and former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, in December 2018, at the Heritage Foundation, made it crystal clear: the US in Africa has nothing to do with supporting democracy and sustainable development. It’s all about countering Russia and China.

When it learned that Beijing was considering building a naval base in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, the Biden White House sent power envoys to the capital Malabo to convince the government to cease and desist. To no avail.

In contrast, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was received like a superstar in his recent extensive tour of Africa, where it’s widely perceived that global food prices and the fertilizer drama are a direct consequence of western sanctions on Russia. Uganda leader Yoweri Museveni went straight to the point when he said, “How can we be against somebody who has never harmed us?”

On 13-15 December, the White House plans a major US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington to discuss mostly food security and climate change – alongside the perennial lectures on democracy and human rights. Most leaders won’t be exactly impressed with this new showing of “the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa.” Well, there’s always YALI. So many young leaders to indoctrinate, so little time.

Syria: US occupation base in Al-Shaddadi comes under rocket attack

18 Sep 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Local media report on a rocket attack targeting a US occupation military base in Al-Hasakah Governorate, near the Syria-Iraq border, on Sunday morning.

The US military base in Al-Shaddadi

    The US occupation base in Al-Shaddadi, in the Syrian eastern province of Al-Hasakah, was targeted by rockets. 

    Local media reported on Sunday morning that a rocket attack targeted the US occupation facility in Al-Hasakah governorate, near the Syria-Iraq border.

    No further details were revealed on the attack.

    Several explosions were heard from the American occupation base in Deir Ezzor Province about two weeks ago. Some speculated that the explosions were caused by three rockets hitting the base.

    Read next: Rocket bombing targets US occupation base in Syria

    The US occupation bases in Syria come under rocket and drone attacks frequently.

    Earlier in July, violent explosions rocked a US occupation Army base in Al-Jebsa oil fields in eastern Syria, Sputnik reported Wednesday.

    The Russian agency quoted informed sources as saying that they heard strong explosions in the northern and western countryside of the oil city of Al-Shaddadi, which includes the largest US base in Al-Hasakah Governorate.

    Sputnik pointed out that the explosions coincided with an intense overflight of warplanes and helicopters of the so-called “International Coalition” that took off from its base in Al-Shaddadi and fired flares, as information reported that the base was being targeted with missiles.

    Sources revealed to Al Mayadeen that the missiles that targeted the US base in Al-Jabsa were launched from Tal Al-Shayer near the Iraqi border, an SDF-controlled region.

    One of the missiles fell 200 meters from an aircraft runway within the base, and two close to the residential area, according to the sources. 

    What is the US doing in Syria?

    Besides being an occupation that backs armed groups for its own operations and agenda in the region, the US occupation forces continue to steal Syrian oil by smuggling it from their bases in Syria to their bases in Iraq.

    Convoys of tens of vehicles, including tankers loaded with stolen oil from oil fields occupied by US forces in Syria, are frequently seen crossing toward northern Iraq, in addition to trucks loaded with military equipment.

    The US interference in the crisis-stricken Middle Eastern country continues to be exposed, from occupation to military agenda and the theft of oil.

    US forces smuggle dozens of oil tankers out of Syria

    In one of the latest acts of a series of US forces looting Syrian oil, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on September 9 that a US convoy loaded with looted Syrian oil left from the illegitimate Al-Mahmoudiyah crossing and entered Iraqi territory.

    According to the Syrian agency, “a convoy of the US occupation forces, consisting of 88 tankers loaded with stolen Syrian oil, left from the illegitimate Al-Mahmoudiyah crossing and entered Iraqi territory.”

    The local sources mentioned that the US convoy exited the Syrian territories toward the bases of the US occupation in northern Iraq.

    It is noteworthy that US forces control about 90% of Syria’s oil-producing territory, depriving the government of its most significant source of fuel and income.

    Some local reports reveal that US forces smuggle not only oil out of the country but also indispensable food supplies.

    In August, the Syrian Oil Ministry revealed that the US occupation forces loot the majority of Syria’s oil, knowing that the daily production of the eastern oil fields is 80.3 thousand barrels.

    The United States has been for years supporting the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militias, and the US-backed forces are currently occupying parts of the provinces of Al-Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, and Raqqa, where the largest Syrian oil and gas fields are located.

    The actions carried out by the United States constitute state piracy with the aim of plundering Syria’s oil resources and depriving the Syrians of their own resources amid a harsh economic situation caused largely by the US occupiers.

    «حماس»: عائدون إلى سوريا

    الجمعة 16 أيلول 2022

    رجب المدهون

    تبادَل مسؤولو الحركة والمسؤولون السوريون، خلال لقاءات دورية جمعتْهم، ملاحظات حول فترة القطيعة وما سبقها (أ ف ب)

    أخيراً، وبشكل رسمي، وبعد صدور العديد من المؤشّرات المتلاحقة والمتسارعة في هذا الاتّجاه، أعلنت حركة «حماس» قرارها العودة إلى سوريا، مؤكدةً العمل على ترجمته لإنهاء سنوات طويلة من القطيعة مع دمشق، التي «احتضنت شعبنا الفلسطيني وفصائله المقاوِمة لعقود من الزمن»، كما قالت الحركة. ويأتي بيان الأمس ليُتوّج، بحسب معلومات «الأخبار»، سلسلة من اللقاءات التي جرت بين مسؤولي «حماس» والمسؤولين السوريين، وتخلّلتها مراجعات للفترة السابقة، وتبادل ملاحظات حول الملفّات التي «تجب معالجتها بشكل جدّي»، ليصل العمل حالياً إلى مرحلة «بناء الثقة»، تمهيداً للتطبيع الشامل والواسع

    غزة | كما كان متوقّعاً بعد سلسلة لقاءات ومباحثات رعاها «حزب الله»، أصدرت حركة «حماس»، أمس، بياناً أعلنت فيه وقوفها إلى جانب سوريا في وجه «المخطّطات الهادفة إلى تقسيمها»، مؤكّدة سعيها لترجمة قرارها باستعادة علاقاتها مع دمشق. وبحسب ما علمته «الأخبار» من مصادر «حمساوية»، فإن البيان يأتي في ضوء استمرار اشتغال الحركة على تطبيع هذه العلاقات بعد سنوات من القطيعة، و«مواجهة العقبات التي تحاول أطراف خارجية وضعها في طريق تسوية جميع الخلافات مع السوريين». وكشفت المصادر أن مباحثات عدّة انطلقت بعد معركة «سيف القدس» بين «حماس» والقيادة السورية، برعاية من الأمين العام لـ«حزب الله» السيد حسن نصرالله، حيث تمّ كسر الجمود كخطوة أولى، بينما وصل العمل في الفترة الأخيرة إلى مرحلة «بناء الثقة تمهيداً لاستعادة العلاقة بشكل أكبر وأوسع». وتبادَل مسؤولو الحركة والمسؤولون السوريون، خلال لقاءات دورية جمعتْهم، ملاحظات حول فترة القطيعة وما سبقها، والملفّات التي «تجب معالجتها بشكل جدّي لإنهاء الخلاف»، مع إبداء ملاحظات حول كيفية تجاوُز المسبّبات الخارجية والداخلية التي أعاقت التطبيع سابقاً. وأكدت المصادر أن هذا المسار سيتسارع خلال الفترة المقبلة، «في ضوء المتغيّرات والتحدّيات الإقليمية والدولية التي تُواجه محور المقاومة ككلّ، في ظلّ تَشكّل تحالف التطبيع بين الدول العربية ودولة الاحتلال برعاية أميركية، بما يشكّل تهديداً للمحور وأطرافه».

    وأعلنت حركة «حماس»، في بيان أمس، بعنوان «أمّة واحدة في مواجهة الاحتلال والعدوان»، مُضيّها في «بناء وتطوير علاقات راسخة مع الجمهورية العربية السورية، في إطار قرارها باستئناف علاقتها مع سوريا الشقيقة، خدمةً لأمّتنا وقضاياها العادلة، وفي القلْب منها قضية فلسطين، ولا سيّما في ظلّ التطوّرات الإقليمية والدولية المتسارعة التي تحيط بقضيتنا وأمّتنا»، مُجدّدةً تمسّكها بـ«استراتيجيتها الثابتة، وحرصها على تطوير وتعزيز علاقاتها مع أمّتها ومحيطها العربي والإسلامي، وكلّ الداعمين لقضيتنا ومقاومتنا». ودانت الحركة «بشدّة، العدوان الصهيوني المتكرّر على سوريا، وخاصة قصف مطارَيْ دمشق وحلب أخيراً»، مؤكدةً «وقوفنا إلى جانب سوريا في مواجهة هذا العدوان». وأعربت عن تقديرها «للجمهورية العربية السورية قيادةً وشعباً، لدورها في الوقوف إلى جانب الشعب الفلسطيني وقضيته العادلة»، متطلّعةً إلى أن «تستعيد سوريا دورها ومكانتها في الأمّتَين العربية والإسلامية»، مبديةً دعمها لـ«كلّ الجهود المخلصة من أجل استقرار وسلامة سوريا، وازدهارها وتقدّمها». وإذ كرّرت «موقفنا الثابت من وحدة سوريا أرضاً وشعباً»، و«رفضنا أيّ مساس بذلك»، فقد جزمت «(أننا) ننحاز إلى أمّتنا في مواجهة المخطّطات الصهيونية الخبيثة، الهادفة إلى تجزئتها وتقسيمها ونهب خيراتها، ونقف صفاً واحداً وطنياً وعربياً وإسلامياً لمقاومة العدو الصهيوني، والتصدّي لمخطّطاته». كما دعت إلى «إنهاء جميع مظاهر الصراع في الأمة، وتحقيق المصالحات والتفاهمات بين مكوّناتها ودُولها وقواها عبر الحوار الجادّ، بما يحقّق مصالح الأمّة ويخدم قضاياها». ولفتت إلى «التطوّرات الخطيرة التي تمسّ بشعبنا الفلسطيني وقضيّته العادلة، وأبرزها مظاهر التطبيع ومحاولات دمج العدو الصهيوني ليكون جزءاً من المنطقة، مع ما يرافق ذلك من جهود للسيطرة على موارد المنطقة، ونهب خيراتها، وزرع الفتن والاحتراب بين شعوبها ودولها، واستهداف قواها الفاعِلة والمؤثّرة، الرافضة والمقاوِمة للمشروع الصهيوني»، مشيرةً في هذا السياق إلى «استمرار العدوان الصهيوني على سوريا الشقيقة، بالقصف والقتل والتدمير، وتصاعُد محاولات النيل منها وتقسيمها وتجزئتها، وإبعادها عن دورها التاريخي الفاعل، ولا سيما على صعيد القضية الفلسطينية»، مُذكّرةً بأن «سوريا احتضنت شعبنا الفلسطيني وفصائله المقاوِمة لعقود من الزمن، وهو ما يستوجب الوقوف معها، في ظلّ ما تتعرّض له من عدوان غاشم».
    وكان نائب رئيس حركة «حماس» في قطاع غزة، خليل الحية، أكد، في حديث إلى «الأخبار» أواخر حزيران الماضي، أن ثمّة قراراً اتُّخذ بـ«السعي إلى استعادة العلاقة مع دمشق»، بعد «نقاش داخلي وخارجي على مستوى الحركة شارك فيه قياديون وكوادر ومؤثّرون وحتى معتقلون داخل السجون». وأوضح الحية أنه «تمّت مناقشة الظروف والتوقيت والشكل»، كما «تمّ وضْع خطّة سيتمّ تنفيذها بمساعدة الحلفاء»، مضيفاً أن «هناك تَوجّهاً نحو البيئة الأوسع، التي تشمل أصحاب الرأي والمفكّرين والعلماء، ومن ثمّ الأطر الشعبية الأوسع»، متابعاً «(أننا) وضعنا تركيا وقطر في أجواء تَوجّهنا هذا، وهما لا تُعارضانه». وسبق كلامَ الحيّة بأسبوع، حديثٌ مشابه نقلته وكالة «فرانس برس» عن مسؤول رفيع المستوى في «حماس»، جاء فيه أن «الاتّصالات مع سوريا في تَحسّن، والعلاقات في طريق عودتها بالكامل إلى ما كانت عليه»، وأن «زيارات عدّة قام بها قادة الحركة إلى سوريا». وإلى جانب تلك التصريحات، أعلن الأمين العام لـ«حزب الله»، غير مرّة، في أحاديث صحافية، اهتمامه «بشكل شخصي» بتسوية العلاقة بين «حماس» وسوريا، مؤكداً أن الأخيرة منفتِحة على هذا المسار الذي وصفه بـ«الإيجابي».

    «حماس»: سوريا احتضنت شعبنا الفلسطيني وفصائله المقاوِمة لعقود من الزمن


    يُذكر أن مصدراً قيادياً في «حماس» أكّد لـ«الأخبار»، بالتوازي مع انتهاء معركة «سيف القدس» في أيار 2021، أن لدى الحركة قراراً مسبقاً ببحْث عودتها إلى الأراضي السورية عندما تحين الفرصة المناسبة، «وفي ضوء الرسائل الإيجابية التي نقلها لنا عدد من قادة فصائل المقاومة في سوريا عقب لقائهم الأخير بالرئيس بشار الأسد، وترحيبه بجميع الفصائل من دون استثناء، وتوجيهه التحيّة إلى حماس»، فإن هذا القرار سيتعزّز. وأشار المصدر، آنذاك، إلى أن الحركة ستبدأ مشاورات مع «حزب الله» وإيران خلال الفترة القريبة، بهدف جسّ نبض السوريين حول عودة العلاقة معهم، متوقّعاً أن تكون الردود السورية إيجابية، ومن دون شروط مسبقة، الأمر الذي سيفتح الباب أمام التطبيع، كخطوة أولى تتبعها عودة قيادات «حمساوية» إلى الأراضي السورية في وقت لاحق. ولم يُخفِ المصدر، في ذلك الوقت، وجود محاولات سابقة من قِبَل أطراف في محور المقاومة لترميم العلاقة بين الحركة والسوريين، غير أن تلك المحاولات اعتراها عدد من العقبات، آملاً أن يكون الانتصار الذي حقّقته المقاومة في غزة خلال معركة «سيف القدس» بوّابة لإزالة العقبات المذكورة، في ظلّ الاتفاق على برنامج المقاومة ومواجهة الاحتلال الإسرائيلي، وتمسّك «حماس» بمبدأ عدم التدخّل في الشؤون الداخلية للدول العربية، وتعزيز العلاقات معها بهدف تجميع طاقات الأمة لدعم المقاومة.

    فيديوات ذات صلة

    May 31, 2018

    مقالات ذات صلة

    Fire, loud explosions reported in US occupation base east of Syria

    September 14, 2022  00:26

    Source: Agencies

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Local sources report a massive explosion and smoke coming from a US occupation base in Syria.

    In 2019, Trump announced US troops would largely withdraw from Syria, with the exception of a small force that would remain to ‘protect’ oil resources (AFP)

      A massive explosion was reportedly heard in the province of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria, on Wednesday afternoon.

      Smoke was reported rising from the vicinity of a US occupation base in the Omar oil field, east of Deir Ezzor, local media reported. 

      Sputnik reported that plumes of smoke were visible for a decent amount of time.

      US troops flew drones in the sky of the area while the fire was blazing from the US base, according to the report.

      Local sources reported to Sputnik that several explosions were heard after the fire broke out in the US base. The cause of the fire and loud explosion was not revealed to the media.

      Read next: Rocket bombing targets US occupation base in Syria

      What is the US doing in Syria?

      Besides being an occupation that backs armed groups for its own operations and agenda in the region, the US occupation forces continue to steal Syrian oil by smuggling it from their bases in Syria to their bases in Iraq.

      Convoys of tens of vehicles, including tankers loaded with stolen oil from oil fields occupied by US forces in Syria, are frequently seen crossing toward northern Iraq, in addition to trucks loaded with military equipment.

      The US interference in the crisis-stricken Middle Eastern country continues to be exposed, from occupation to military agenda and the theft of oil.

      US forces smuggle dozens of oil tankers out of Syria

      In the latest act of a series of US forces looting Syrian oil, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on September 9 that a US convoy loaded with looted Syrian oil left from the illegitimate Al-Mahmoudiyah crossing and entered Iraqi territory.

      According to the Syrian agency, “a convoy of the US occupation forces, consisting of 88 tankers loaded with stolen Syrian oil, left from the illegitimate Al-Mahmoudiyah crossing and entered Iraqi territory.”

      The local sources mentioned that the US convoy exited the Syrian territories toward the bases of the US occupation in northern Iraq.

      It is noteworthy that US forces control about 90% of Syria’s oil-producing territory, depriving the government of its most significant source of fuel and income.

      Some local reports reveal that US forces smuggle not only oil out of the country but also indispensable food supplies.

      In August, the Syrian Oil Ministry revealed that the US occupation forces loot the majority of Syria’s oil, knowing that the daily production of the eastern oil fields is 80.3 thousand barrels.

      The United States has been for years supporting the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militias, and the US-backed forces are currently occupying parts of the provinces of Al-Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, and Raqqa, where the largest Syrian oil and gas fields are located.

      The actions carried out by the United States constitute state piracy with the aim of plundering Syria’s oil resources and depriving the Syrians of their own resources amid a harsh economic situation caused largely by the US occupiers.

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        Turkey informs ‘Syrian opposition coalition’ of need to leave: Sputnik

        13 Sep 2022 22:41

        Source: Sputnik

        By Al Mayadeen English 

        The Turkish intelligence service informs the members of the ‘Syrian Opposition Coalition’ that they need to “end all political and media activities related to the coalition on the Turkish territories, by the end of this year at the latest.”

        Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu with officials from the so-called ‘Syrian opposition coalition’, August 24, 2022 (Anadolu Agency)

        Informed sources told Sputnik on Tuesday that a Turkish intelligence service “informed the members of the so-called ‘Syrian Opposition Coalition’ of the need to leave the Turkish territories by the end of this year.”

        Read: Ankara orders ‘Syrian Opposition Coalition’ to leave Turkey

        The sources added that “this statement, which constitutes a turning point for this [political] entity, whose activities are based in Turkey, came after a political decision that was taken in Turkey recently against the background of the Syrian-Turkish rapprochement under the auspices of Russia.”

        Sputnik revealed that “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government decided to close all offices of the opposition coalition in Turkey and to stop funding its members in accordance to a specific timetable that ends by the end of this year at the latest.”

        The sources added, “A number of members of the Syrian Opposition Coalition were informed by the Turkish security services that they need to find another place to carry out their political activity outside the Turkish territories and to end all political and media activities related to this coalition by the end of this year at the latest.”

        “Those from the coalition members having Turkish citizenship or permanent residence who wish to stay on the Turkish territories will be allowed to, but without engaging in any political or media activity,” the sources confirmed.

        Read: US, Turkish occupation of Syria must end: Syrian Defense Minister

        In this context, the sources indicated that “the members of the coalition have already begun to search for other options to open offices in some Gulf countries.”

        Over the past years, Ankara has been securing special offices for the so-called “Syrian Opposition Coalition” on its territory, in addition to providing its members with monthly salaries in addition to a package of other privileges.

        Read: Supporters of armed groups attack Turkish checkpoints in Idlib, Aleppo

        Mathew Levitt: You Have to Take Hezbollah’s Radwan Forces Seriously

        September 13, 2022

        By Staff, Jpost

        While no one wants to drag the region into a war, the “Israelis” are more cautious to prevent the eruption of a full-fledged war with the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah in the light of the worsening security situation in the “Israeli”-occupied Palestinian territories.

        In recent month, the apartheid “Israeli” regime has been preoccupied with the Iran nuclear deal, in addition to constantly delaying natural gas extraction from the Karish field after warnings by the resistance group. Thus, for “Israel”, going to war means that there is much at stake.

        For its part, Hezbollah, which launched drones toward the Karish gas field in July, has warned the “Israeli” entity of a military action against it if it proceeds with gas extraction from the gas rig.

        Referring to Karish, Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned in early August that “the hand that reaches for any of this wealth will be severed.”

        But Hezbollah’s warning to the “Israelis” do not come from void.  

        According to Matthew Levitt, director of the Jeanette and Eli Reinhard Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hezbollah has grown “with an estimated 150,000 rockets and munitions that can hit anywhere” in occupied Palestine.

        Levitt believed that “in the next war, Hezbollah will try to fire close to 4,000 rockets per day to start, followed by some 2,000 per day until the last day of the conflict.”

        In a recent interview with Walla, the “Israeli” Occupation Forces [IOF]’s Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Uri Gordin said the IOF will prioritize the northern part of the entity, “since 50% of Hezbollah’s arsenal is aimed at cities 15 km from the border with Lebanon, including Nahariya, Acre, Safed and Kiryat Shmona.”

        “Another 40% of Hezbollah’s missiles can reach Haifa and surrounding areas. Only 5% can reach targets further to the south,” he added.

        “Hezbollah has not given up on work on its precision munition project,” Levitt said. He believes that the majority of the “Israeli” airstrikes in Syria are part of the “Israeli” entity’s so-called “war between the wars” campaign and that these airstrikes have been targeting components for the project.

        Levitt adds that Hezbollah has sophisticated drones that can be used for reconnaissance missions or carry munitions to hit targets.

        To add salt to the wound, former “Israel” Air Force [IAF] Commander Maj.-Gen Amikam Norkin has said the IAF lost its aerial superiority over Lebanon.

        Nonetheless, Hezbollah is believed to have gained significant battlefield e experience throughout its involvement in Syria.

        Hezbollah’s elite Radwan forces are a force to be feared and are spread across southern Lebanon waiting for the order to wage a military action in the “Israeli”-occupied Palestinian territories.

        “You have to take the Radwan forces seriously,” said Levitt.

        In addition to the on-the-job training and weapons [including American-made AR-15s], the Radwan forces “are disciplined,” Levitt noted.

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        Saad Hariri and the collapse of Lebanon

        The Syrian regime-change war and Lebanon’s economic collapse happened under Saad Hariri’s watch, but the Future Movement leader is seldom mentioned for the pivotal role he played in Lebanon’s unravelling

        Photo Credit: The Cradle

        September 12 2022

        By William Van Wagenen

        In 2005, US neoconservatives centered around then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s office began collaborating with Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, defected former Syrian Vice President Abd Al-Halim Khaddam, and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to topple the Syrian government.

        Washington did so as part of an effort to topple the governments of seven countries in five years, including Libya and Iran, using the so-called ‘War on Terror’ as a pretext.

        However another crucial, though overlooked collaborator in the regime change effort was pro-Saudi Lebanese politician Saad Hariri. And his actions would soon see massive repercussions unfold in his own country.

        The dynastic Hariris

        In 2005, Saad’s father, former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, was assassinated in a massive car bombing, which a highly-politicized UN-backed court pinned on two individuals affiliated with Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah. In the wake of Rafiq’s death, Saad came to head not only the Saudi-supported Future Movement – Lebanon’s leading Sunni political party – but also the multi-billion-dollar Hariri business conglomerate established by his father in Saudi Arabia.

        Initially, the US, French, and Israeli governments quickly blamed Syria for Rafiq’s killing. Presumably, Saad was motivated to participate in the US-led regime change effort in Syria as a result.

        But business interests also played a role as Saad wished to gain control over Syria’s telecommunication sector. This is something his father had previously tried, but failed to accomplish.

        As French journalist Georges Malbrunot details in his book The Road to Damascus, Syria first launched its mobile phone industry in the early 2000’s, and Lebanon’s prime minister at the time, Rafiq Al-Hariri, wanted to invest in one of the two Syrian companies that had just been created for this purpose.

        But Rami Makhlouf, cousin of Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad and the dominant investor in the sector, blocked Rafiq’s efforts. Malbrunot notes further that according to a lawyer close to the Syrian government, “there was an immediate veto from the intelligence services against Hariri.”

        While the Baath Party may have considered the telecommunications sector to be of strategic importance – and therefore not open to outsiders – Assad would have also been concerned about Hariri’s direct role in bribing top Syrian officials, including then-Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, prior to his defection, among a broad slate of other grievances.

        In the wake of Rafiq’s assassination, Saad was quick to pick up his father’s baton. At the time the Christian Science Monitor reported that:

        “[Saad Hariri] may be a newcomer to Lebanese politics, but Hariri is no neophyte. He ran his father’s massive construction company, Saudi Oger, for over a decade and has extensive financial interests in telecommunications in the Middle East. He is ranked at 548 in Forbes Magazine’s annual list of billionaires with an estimated fortune of $1.2 billion. His father was ranked 108th with $4.3 billion. Hariri has adopted his father’s globe-trotting existence, holding talks with Jacques Chirac, the French president and a close family friend, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Middle East leaders.”

        Saad’s support of Salafi-jihadists

        In addition to running his deceased father’s business conglomerate, Saad was active in protecting Al-Qaeda affiliated militant groups in Lebanon.  Journalist Seymour Hersh notes that according to a 2005 International Crisis Group (ICG) report, Hariri had helped release four Salafist militants from prison who had previously trained in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and were arrested in Lebanon while trying to establish an Islamic state in the north of the country.

        Hariri also used his influence in parliament to obtain amnesty for another 29 Salafist militants, including seven suspected of bombing foreign embassies in Beirut a year prior. Hersh notes that according to a senior official in the Lebanese government, “We have a liberal attitude that allows Al-Qaeda types to have a presence here.”

        In the wake of the radical Fatah Al-Islam’s 2007 battle with the Lebanese army, which destroyed the Nahr Al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, Charles Harb of the American University of Beirut (AUB) observed that Saad was giving “political cover” to “radical Sunni movements” that could be directed and employed against the Resistance Axis of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.

        Harb also noted the involvement of Saudi intelligence in cultivating these groups. He explained that “Several reports have highlighted efforts by Saudi officials to strengthen Sunni groups, including radical ones, to face the Shia renaissance across the region. But building up radical Sunni groups to face the Shia challenge can easily backfire.”

        Start of the ‘Syrian Revolution’

        In early 2011, US planners exploited dissatisfaction among certain segments of Syrian society – not only pro-western liberals but also the country’s Salafi community – to spark initial ‘Arab Spring’ type protests in the country.

        Saad Hariri’s interest in gaining control of the Syrian telecommunication network via any successful regime-change operation was hinted at during the first protest in Daraa, a predominantly Sunni governorate, on 18 March, 2011.

        As Syrian sociologist Muhammad Jamal Barout revealed, protestors in Daraa chanted against Rami Makhlouf and demanded that his businesses be expelled from the province (recall that Makhlouf held the dominant position in Syria’s telecommunications sector).

        Salafist militants, including from Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), quickly began attacking Syrian security forces under the cover of the early protests. US planners facilitated these attacks (with the help of Prince Bandar), in the hope of unleashing a sectarian civil war on the country comparable to that which had destroyed Iraq starting in 2003.

        The Future Movement and Salafi terror

        Prominent opposition and human rights activist Haitham Manna provided evidence that elements close to Saad Al-Hariri were among those funneling weapons to the Salafist militants in Syria, including in Daraa, in part to secure financial interests.

        According to Muhammad Jamal Barout, Manna’ publicly disclosed in an interview on Al-Jazeera on 31 March, 2011, that “he had received offers to arm movements from Raqqa to Daraa three times by parties he did not identify in the interview.”

        Barout additionally writes that, according to Manna, there were secret communications between some Syrian businessmen abroad who found themselves bent on revenge against the Assad government because their interests had been harmed by the network of the pro-government businessman Makhlouf.

        Furthermore, these groups were willing to fund and arm opposition movements throughout the country. Barout notes that these businessmen apparently had relations with professional networks capable of delivering weapons to any location in Syria and that some members of the Future Movement in Lebanon were among those arranging these weapons shipments.

        One name pops up more than others: Okab Sakr, the MP from Hariri’s Future movement made infamous in phone conversations leaked to Lebanese media outlet Al Akhbar, in which he directly discusses large weapons transfers to Syrian militants.

        Writes The Guardian of Hariri’s close confidant: “Every time Okab is in town the weapons start to move across the border,” said a rebel colonel from the Jebel al-Zawiya region, who calls himself Abu Wael.

        Sakr eventually fled the country to avoid repercussions for his illicit activities, and admitted to his role in arming the Syrian conflict, which dragged Lebanon into the messy and dangerous fray.

        Within no time, Fatah Al-Islam and other militants previously under the protection of Hariri and Saudi intelligence in Lebanon were soon identified on the battlefield in Syria. Dr. Haytham Mouzahem, director of the Beirut Center for Middle East Studies explained that, “When the uprising in Syria began in 2011, many of the remaining Fatah al-Islam members crossed the border and joined groups in the Free Syrian Army [FSA].”

        This provided one indication among many that the FSA – as it was known then – was not secular, democratic, or comprised primarily of army defectors, as is often claimed, but rather consisted primarily of Salafist militants, including many affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

        The role of Al-Qaeda militants from Lebanon came further into focus in the summer of 2011, when Der Spiegel reported that a prominent Salafist cleric in Tripoli was sending fighters into Syria as early as summer 2011 because, in his view, “Assad is an infidel” and “There is a holy war in Syria and the young men there are conducting jihad. For blood, for honor, for freedom, for dignity.”

        According to one of the fighters interviewed by the German magazine, around 60 percent of the Lebanese fighters crossing the border from Tripoli to Homs had previously fought in Iraq.

        Syrian fallout: Refugees flood into Lebanon

        As the months and years passed, more and more jihadists flooded into Syria. As they did, and as fighting with the Syrian army and its allies intensified and became more brutal and sectarian, more and more Syrian civilians flooded into Lebanon to flee the conflict back home.

        With the onset of war in Syria in 2011 and subsequent US sanctions, the Syrian economy began to massively contract, which in turn caused the closely connected Lebanese economy to gradually slow as well.

        Given that Lebanon is a small country facing its own disastrous economic crisis, it has been unable to provide decent living conditions for even its own 5.5 million residents, let alone for the 1.7 million Syrian refugees present in the country.

        Because US planners, along with their many regional collaborators including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Lebanon and others, launched a dirty war on Syria in 2011 causing millions of Syrians to flee their homes and seek refuge in bordering states, it is the US and its close allies that bear most of the responsibility for the current refugee crisis Lebanon now faces.

        Accommodating such a large number of refugees would always be difficult, but this became near impossible after the October 2019 Lebanese banking crisis, which in turn caused what the World Bank described as a “brutal” economic contraction of a magnitude “usually associated with conflicts or wars.” Even relatively prosperous and middle-class Lebanese were plunged into poverty, losing most of their life savings, as the Lebanese lira quickly plunged.

        A Hariri legacy: Lebanon’s economic collapse

        The origins of the crisis can be traced to the creation of a banking infrastructure based on efforts to maintain a currency peg between the Lebanese lira and US dollar.

        This system was established by Lebanese central banker Riad Salameh in the 1990’s in the wake of the Lebanese civil war, presumably to restore economic stability needed after the wild currency swings seen throughout the conflict.

        Then-prime minister Rafiq Hariri had appointed Salameh – his personal money manager at US brokerage firm Merrill Lynch – as governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank.

        To maintain the peg, Salameh effectively established a Ponzi scheme that enriched wealthy Lebanese as well as the bankers themselves. As the New York Times explained:

        “Lebanon’s Central Bank promised that 1,507 Lebanese lira would be worth exactly $1 and that Lebanese banks would always exchange one for the other. That policy brought stability, but it also required Lebanon’s banks to hold a large store of U.S. dollars . . . so the banks could make good on the promise to exchange 1,507 lira for $1 at any point. Lebanese firms also needed dollars to pay for imported goods, a large part of the economy in a country that produces little of what it consumes. . . . To keep dollars flowing in, the head of Lebanon’s Central Bank developed a plan: Banks would offer very generous terms — including an annual interest of 15 percent or even 20 percent — to anybody who would deposit dollars. But the only way for banks to make good on these terms was by repaying the initial depositors with money from new depositors. Of course, there is a name for this practice: a Ponzi scheme.”

        The receipt of such high interest rates on deposits allowed wealthy Lebanese both at home and abroad to slowly loot the country. Commercial bankers benefitted as well, by receiving a handsome spread on the interest rate paid by the central bank and forwarded to depositors. The Hariri family benefited directly from the system, both as owners of huge US dollar deposits as well as owners of their own commercial bank, Bankmed.

        Riad Salameh personally benefitted from the system as well, setting up a brokerage firm with his brother, Forry Associates, that took some $330 million in fees for brokering the sale of government bonds between 2002 and 2015, $200 million of which were allegedly transferred to Salemeh’s personal accounts with various Lebanese banks, including with Hariri’s Bankmed. These transfers led to the ongoing investigation of Salemeh by European officials on charges of money laundering and embezzlement.

        As the protracted Syrian war – aided by Hariri and his allies -across Lebanon’s only viable land border tore into Lebanon’s fragile economy, and the flow of new US dollars entering the Lebanese banking system also began to slow, Salameh’s Ponzi scheme became unsustainable, and finally began to collapse in October 2019.

        Lebanese banks began to restrict US dollar withdrawals for small depositors to minor amounts, while secretly allowing wealthy and connected clients to pull out huge sums for transfer abroad. Soon, small depositors, who had themselves deposited dollars, were restricted to withdrawing an unreasonable equivalent in Lebanese liras instead.

        The value of the lira quickly dropped by some 90 percent, wiping out the life savings of many and causing mass poverty as prices of everything, including essential goods, skyrocketed. According to banker and political commentator, Ehsani, the total losses for depositors amount to roughly $111 billion.

        According to Syria’s President Assad, some $40 billion of those frozen deposits may be of Syrian origin, with huge negative ramifications for the country’s finances and reconstruction efforts.

        The October 2019 economic collapse was accompanied by wide-spread protests expressing anger against Lebanon’s broader political class, pressuring Saad Hariri to step down as prime minister.

        Despite the key role played by the Hariri-Salameh political clique in establishing, benefitting from, and finally collapsing the Lebanese banking system, and subsequently the entire economy, both Hariri and Salameh continue to enjoy diplomatic and political support from their backers in Washington.

        In February 2020, amidst criticism of Salameh’s role in precipitating the crisis, US ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea suggested to Lebanese TV it was “a mistake to scapegoat any one person or institution for Lebanon’s economic collapse” and that Salameh, still “enjoys great confidence in the international financial community.”

        The reason for this was provided, at least in part, in April 2019 when Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar published minutes of a meeting between the US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism Financing and Financial Crimes, Marshall Billingsley, and the (former) Lebanese Economy Minister, Mansour Bteish. The minutes cite a US official saying:

        “We need a governor of the Banque du Liban [central bank] and a deputy governor who we can trust, and who is sensitive and with whom confidential information about terrorist financing and money laundering can be exchanged. The situation today is that we trust Governor Riad Salameh and (former) Deputy Governor Muhammad Baasiri.”

        As US planners have not been fighting terrorism, but rather funding and arming al-Qaeda affiliated groups to use as proxies in their war against Syria between 2011 and 2017, this suggests Salameh continues to enjoy US protection to avoid details of terrorist financing, in particular Saad Hariri’s role in arming terrorist groups in Syria on behalf of US planners, from coming to light.

        It is difficult to imagine that Lebanon can emerge from its current crisis, or deal with corruption and poor governance plaguing the country, while US influence over Lebanese affairs remains dominant and oppressive US sanctions against Syria remain in place.

        The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

        هجوم استخباري إسرائيلي على سوريا

        الأخبار  

        السبت 10 أيلول 2022

        (أ ف ب )

        منذ اندلاع الأزمة في سوريا، وحصول الفوضى على أكثر من صعيد، لمست الجهات الأمنية الخاصة في الدولة السورية والقوى المساندة للنظام، تعاظم النشاط الأمني المعادي في أكثر من منطقة سورية. وكانت أصعب مهمة على الأجهزة الأمنية، التمييز بين عمليات التجنيد التي شملت مواطنين وموظفين وعسكريين من النظام لمصلحة دول تعمل على إسقاط النظام، وبين الذين تبين أن الاستخبارات الإسرائيلية هي من يقف خلف عمليات التجنيد لأجل القيام بجمع معلومات تخص مراكز عسكرية وأمنية ومدنية للنظام، وكذلك لقوات الحرس الثوري الإيراني ومراكز حزب الله في عدة مناطق من سوريا.

        وإلى جانب التجنيد المباشر الذي شمل مواطنين في مناطق الجنوب المتاخمة للجولان المحتل أو القرى اللصيقة بالحدود الشرقية الجنوبية للبنان، كان لافتاً أن العدو لجأ أيضاً إلى استخدام الأزمة الاقتصادية في سوريا لاستخدام عدد من اللاجئين السوريين في أوروبا وبعض الدول العربية لأجل تجنيدهم مقابل إنجاز مهام بالتعاون مع أقاربهم أو أعوانهم داخل سوريا مقابل مبالغ مالية كان يجري تبرير وجودها بدعم المنظمات الإنسانية العالمية للسوريين المتضررين من الأزمة.
        ومنذ أكثر من عامين، اعتقلت الاستخبارات السورية عدداً من المشتبه في تعاونهم مع العدو، سواء من عناصر عسكرية أو موظفين في الدولة أو مواطنين عاديين، بعد تعاون وثيق مع جهاز أمن المقاومة الإسلامية في لبنان. وبعد انكشاف شبكة التجنيد الكبرى بواسطة شبكات التواصل الاجتماعي نهاية العام الماضي في لبنان، أمكن للأجهزة اللبنانية العثور على دلائل تشير إلى تجنيد سوريين موجودين داخل سوريا، وحصل تنسيق غير مباشر أدى إلى توقيف غالبية هؤلاء.
        وتبين في وقت معين أن الاستخبارات الإسرائيلية عمدت إلى التركيز على تجنيد عملاء من أبناء مناطق الساحل السوري والذين ينتمون إلى الطائفة العلوية، لاعتقاد العدو بأن هؤلاء يتمتعون بحرية حركة أكبر داخل سوريا وداخل المؤسسات العسكرية والأمنية. وكان العمل الأمني من قبل النظام وحلفائه في سوريا قد تطور بصورة مختلفة بعدما لجأ العدو إلى تنفيذ أكثر من عملية أمنية داخل سوريا مستغلاً الفوضى القائمة من جهة، ومستفيداً من مساعدة أرضية وفرت من خلال عملاء محليين ناشطين، وقد وصلت جرأة العدو إلى حد قيام مجموعة كوماندوس منها بالانتقال إلى قلب العاصمة دمشق وخطف أحد الأشخاص قبل إعادة إطلاق سراحه بعد مدة في بلد أفريقي.
        وقبل أسابيع، تبلغت السلطات السورية معلومات أولية عن الطبيب العميل، وبعد التدقيق في معطيات تم جمعها بطرق مختلفة، عمدت السلطات السورية إلى توقيف أفراد عائلة الطبيب السوري وآخرين من أصدقائهم وتم التحقيق معهم، وقد تبين أن والده وشقيقيه قد أقرا بالتعامل عن معرفة لاحقة، وأنهم وقعوا ضحية المغريات المالية من جهة، وأنهم كانوا يعتقدون أنهم يساعدون على تحسين الواقع الاقتصادي والمعيشي في سوريا.
        لكن المحققين السوريين واجهوا المعتقلين بمعطيات ووثائق جعلتهم يقرون بما قاموا به، وقد تم العثور على أجهزة كومبيوتر وهواتف وعلى مواد خاصة بعدد من الوزارات السورية بحوزة الموقوفين، خصوصاً أن المشغل الإسرائيلي كان يسعى إلى جمع كل الخرائط التي تعطيه فكرة على كل ما هو موجود تحت الأرض في العاصمة السورية ومحيطها، سواء بما خص شبكات المياه أو الصرف الصحي أو الهاتف أو الأسلاك الكهربائية وخلافه. بالإضافة إلى معطيات حول الجهات المسؤولة وأسماء المسؤولين عنها ومعطيات عنهم وبياناتهم الشخصية.
        معلوم أن سوريا لم يسبق أن أعلنت رسمياً عن هذه التوقيفات أو غيرها، والمصادر الرسمية فيها لا تعلق على هذه الأخبار، لكن الأكيد أن السلطات السورية أقامت محاكمات عسكرية للعملاء الذين أدينوا بالتعامل مع العدو، وطبقت بحقهم العقوبات المنصوص عنها في القانون السوري والتي تقضي في غالبية الحالات الشبيهة بالإعدام شنقاً أو رمياً بالرصاص.

        من ملف : الموساد في دمشق: قصة الطبيب والضباط

        Israel Bombs Aleppo Airport for the Second time in One Week

         ARABI SOURI 

        Israel (read: the USA, rest of NATO, and the Gulfies) bombed Aleppo International Airport taking the airport out of service for the second time in one week.

        A Syrian military source said in a statement conveyed by the Syrian news agency Sana:

        “At approximately 8:16 p.m. this evening, the Israeli enemy carried out an air aggression with a number of missiles from the direction of the Mediterranean, west of Latakia, targeting Aleppo International Airport.”

        The military sources added that the aggression led to material damage to the airport runway rendering it out of service.

        Official and local sources have not reported any casualties from this Israeli war crime at the time of this report.

        Reminder: bombing civilian facilities is a war crime defined by all conventions and international treaties, bombing an international airport during its operation is an Israeli level of war crime sanctioned by its sponsors in the so-called collective west and will not go unpunished.

        Israel, the US’s advanced criminal tool in the region, is proving to those still hesitant that its very existence is an existential threat to the people of the region, a threat to the world’s peace order, and a threat to humanity as a whole.

        Syrian Civil Aviation has suspended all arriving and departing flights to the airport, diverting them to Damascus International Airport as it assesses the damage to the airport’s infrastructure, mainly the runways, rendering it unsafe for commercial flights and the passengers on board such flights.

        The Syrian Ministry of Transportation urged all passengers scheduled for departure from the airport to contact their air travel and booking agencies to reschedule their flights.

        It took the Syrian civil aviation two days to repair the damages from the previous Israeli bombing of the Aleppo International Airport on the 31st of August, the technicians are still assessing the damages from this aggression at the time of this report.

        Israel only exists with the massive funding it receives from US and EU taxpayers, the massive funding from most of the Gulfies, and the ‘ironclad‘ protection it receives from the collective west, their claims that they are protecting its ‘democracy’ is a farce in the face of their own citizens who they suck their blood dry to finance their antichrist project in Israel; if someone thinks otherwise, just watch Biden’s latest Satanic speech again.

        Zionism is an anti-Jewish ideology built on the myth of creating a homeland for the Jewish in diaspora in contradiction to the teachings of the Torah that literally prevent the Jews from creating a country of their own as they are, as per their own books, punished by God to be dispersed amongst the nations for the mischief they have collectively committed when the Jews of the Levant had a Jewish state of their own.

        Another myth is that the homeland of all the Jews in the diaspora is in Palestine, Judaism is a religion and not a race or ethnicity, Zionism is not a religion, it’s a political movement, and the early Zionists even considered Argentina and Crimea as potential places to build their state before they settled on Palestine with the help of the British. To put it into perspective think of what relates Christians in the Philippines or Africa, or Europe to Palestine. Or what relates a newly converted European Muslim to Mecca in Arabia?

        The history of the creation of Israel, the current day state not Israel the nickname of Prophet Jacob son of Isaac son of Ibrahim (Abram), and all the massacres, crimes against humanity, and war crimes it committed and is committing against the real Semite people of the Levant is evidence that this Zionist movement is an antichrist movement sponsored by very influential western bankers and mega-churches like the Evangelical Church in the USA, in order to ‘unleash the beast’, the signs are all on the walls and only fools will not see them, the same fools who will worship the antichrist instead of God.

        Syria, the last secular country in the region, is engaged in a war of terror and war of attrition waged against its people by the world’s super-rich and superpower countries for the past 11.5 years, this came after decades of isolation and sanctions imposed on the country not to force export western ‘values’ to its conservative people, it’s because of its refusal to recognize the so-called ‘state of Israel’, the Syrians know much better than everybody else that the return of Jesus Christ will be in Damascus, in particular, he will descend from Heavens onto the white eastern minaret of the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus and will lead the believers in the final battle of Armageddon. If you consider all of these biblical details as myths, you better read the Talmud and the Tanakh, the Zionists’ books they wrote to misinterpret the Ten Commandments, and the Torah, the two books that base the constitution of the so-called state of Israel.

        Syria might or not respond in kind in a tit for tat for these repeatitive Israeli war crime bombing of Aleppo International Airport, Syria has a priority duty now to enhance its defenses and help the world rid of the kingdom foothold of the antichrist, and it’s advancing rapidly in this process despite the US-sponsored and protected war crimes committed against it and against its people by Israel, ISIS, Al Qaeda variants, and NATO armies, the US army and the Turkish army, and the host of ‘intelligence’ agencies of the west and Gulfies.


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        Syrian forces eliminate notorious ISIS leader

        ISIS was officially defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria in 2019, but sleeper cells of the extremist group still carry out attacks in both countries

        September 05 2022

        (Photo Credit: AFP)

        ByNews Desk

        On Monday, 5 September, Syrian security forces eliminated a notorious ISIS commander in Syria’s Deraa governorate.

        The terrorist leader was behind the assassination of several officers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Internal security forces.

        The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted an official source, saying that security forces killed Muhammad Iyad Abdul Razzaq, nicknamed “Abu Qassem al-Aqrabawi,” in a swift operation.

        Al-Aqrabawi is a resident of Quneitra governorate and the right-hand man of the slain terrorist Abu Salem al-Iraqi.

        The operation began with Syrian units engaging Al-Aqrabawi’s hideout, capturing various weapons in the process. According to SANA, the military objective resulted in the injury of one soldier.

        Pro-opposition sources confirmed the killing of the ISIS commander by the military intelligence service in Al-Yadoudah village in western Deraa countryside.

        The military source indicated that Al-Aqrabawi was involved in many assassinations, including detonating a bus belonging to the Army, the kidnapping of soldiers, and the attack on Al Muzayrib police station in cooperation with terrorist Abu Tariq al-Subaihi.

        The terrorist leader also participated in the assassination of a member of the reconciliation committee, Sheikh Ahmed al-Baqirat, in Deraa governorate,  last year.

        On 15 August, the security authorities eliminated Mahmoud Ahmed Al-Hallaq, nicknamed Abu Omar al-Jabari.

        Additionally, SAA units managed to neutralize Abu Salem Al-Iraqi (Iraqi Nationality), one of the most wanted ISIS terrorists in Syria’s southern governorate of Deraa.

        Al-Iraqi committed suicide, using an explosive belt when his house was surrounded by security forces in Adwan, the western countryside of Deraa.

        A security source said Al Iraqi had been a military chief in the terrorist group.

        ISIS was officially defeated in Iraq in 2017, and two years later in Syria, but sleeper cells of the extremist group still exist in various locations, still carrying out terrorist attacks in both countries.

        Who benefits from UNIFIL’s new amendments to its mission in Lebanon?

        September 3, 2022

        Source: Al Mayadeen

        By Al Mayadeen English 

        An unprecedented UNSC statement is released: UNIFIL does not require “prior authorization or permission from anyone” to conduct missions “independently.”

        As UNIFIL announces the renewal of its mandate in Lebanon, the United Nations body consisting of 10,000 military personnel attempts to extend its set of privileges over the population in the South by not requiring “prior authorization or permission from anyone to undertake its mandated tasks, and that it is allowed to conduct its operations independently.”

        The statement, shockingly and unapologetically, “calls on the parties to guarantee UNIFIL’s freedom of movement, including by allowing announced and unannounced patrols.”

        The UN body’s latest statement arrives against a tense backdrop where confrontation may be at the door between Lebanon and the Israeli occupation over the latter’s threat to occupy the Karish gas field, stripping Lebanon of its own maritime territory and right. Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed that the Lebanese Resistance will target the drilling platform in case a demarcation agreement with the Lebanese government is not reached in addition to enabling Lebanon to explore its own resources. 

        UNIFIL has been patrolling South Lebanon since 1978, and was established under UN resolution 425 to “monitor the cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel” as it claims, in addition to supporting “the Lebanese authorities in keeping the area south of the Litani River free of unauthorized armed personnel, weapons, or other related assets.” 

        The latest addition to the UN’s mandate raises questions (and eyebrows) on whether UNIFIL not needing prior permission to perform its missions is an Israeli demand that falls within Washington and “Tel Aviv’s” attempts to expand the scope of UN missions in the South. 

        Within this context, Lebanese Brigadier-General Hisham Jaber spoke to Al Mayadeen “UNIFIL’s missions have been stipulated since it began its missions in Lebanon, and there have been minor amendments to it that were made by the Security Council – which determines its tasks – not the United Nations or its secretary-general.” 

        Contrary to the UN statement’s demands, Jaber stresses that the mandate “needs prior permission if it wants to deviate from the tasks entrusted to it,” and that the intention behind this statement can be interpreted by keeping in mind that “Israel” has, for long, “been trying to incite the modification of UNIFIL’s missions to make it police its missions, and search for weapons even inside Lebanese neighborhoods and villages.” 

        Jaber pointed out that “UNIFIL has repeatedly tried to enter homes and schools to search for weapons, in deviation from the tasks entrusted to it at the behest of Israel,” in an attempt to normalize the situation for the Lebanese, attempting to make searches a regular reality for the population. 

        UNIFIL has long condoned Israeli violations despite 16 years since Resolution 1701 was passed by the UN Security Council, which calls for the full cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and “Israel.” According to Jaber, UNIFIL forces have not been able to detect abt violations from the Lebanese side, but it is trying, through installing cameras and surveillance, to cater to the Israeli desire to register a Lebanese violation of resolution 1701. 

        He explained that the Lebanese Army’s presence in the South is Lebanon’s guarantee that UNIFIL will stick to the tasks assigned to it and will not deviate from them. However, its statement calling for ‘independence’ from Lebanese jurisdiction will most likely serve “Tel Aviv.”

        Lebanese political commentator and journalist Hassan Olleik warned that such a move would, in fact, jeopardize the very continuation and existence of UNIFIL in South Lebanon. He told Al Mayadeen, “UNIFIL’s [top] priority is to secure the stability of its forces, because the closer it comes to playing the role that Israel and the US want for it, the higher the level of tension will be between the UNIFIL and the residents of the South, and this matter puts UNIFIL’s leadership, elements, mechanisms and assets at risk.” 

        He added that the “inspection of private property requires permission from the Lebanese Army and judiciary, because UNIFIL’s mission cannot bypass Lebanese law, and for this reason, the Lebanese authorities treated this amendment with some indifference.”

        UNSC Resolution 1701, which was passed after the 2006 war, entails monitoring the cessation of hostilities, monitoring the deployment of the Lebanese army along the Blue Line, and Israeli withdrawal from the South, in addition to ensuring that the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River is free of any armed manifestations. The resolution also assists the Lebanese government, at its request, in securing its borders and crossings to prevent the entry of any weapons without its consent.

        Modifying the missions of UNIFIL has always been a demand by the US and “Israel” that has been translated into several attempts in recent years within the Security Council to push for the expansion of these missions to include all of the South, allowing it to monitor any movements that could be a prelude to some security or military action on the borders. Attempts have also been made to expand these missions to include the Lebanese-Syrian border.

        These attempts clashed with the opposition of major countries, including France and Russia, and mainly to a categorical Lebanese rejection at the official and popular levels as well. The area north and south of the Litani has witnessed many problems between the people and UNIFIL soldiers, in refusal of the international forces’ attempts to change their rules of operation on their own.

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        For 18 months, as ISIS advanced, the US did nothing to stop them

        September 02 2022

        Source

        Photo Credit: The Cradle

        By William Van Wagenen

        In 2017, US and allied Kurdish forces bombarded the city of Raqqa, the bastion of ISIS in Syria and the de-facto capital of the terror group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

        Concurrent to this, US forces conducted massive air strikes on the Iraqi city of Mosul, to support Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces against ISIS there too.

        But the US-led campaigns in Mosul and Raqqa falsely suggest that the US and ISIS were implacable enemies. These battles created the perception that the US was committed to fighting Al-Qaeda and its various splinter groups, in a continuation of the so-called “War on Terror” begun by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11.

        Supporting ISIS’ territorial advances

        However, a closer look at events in both Iraq and Syria paints a very different picture: The US and its allies, both directly and indirectly, colluded with ISIS to attain specific geopolitical objectives. The terror group that captured the world’s attention in 2014 was in fact a vital and valuable tool for US policy planners.

        Evidence of this is rife. In June 2014, when ISIS fighters swept across the Syrian border to first capture Mosul, the largest city of its caliphate, the US military monitored the ISIS convoys crossing from Syria using drones and satellite systems, but took no action to bomb them.

        Earlier, in an October 2013 visit to the White House, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had warned Obama administration officials that, “The weapons provided to those killers in Syria have been smuggled to Iraq, and those wolves that came from different countries to Syria are now sneaking into Iraq.”

        Maliki’s warnings were spot on. He took his case to Washington because it was clear – even then – that weapons the US and its allies were the pumping into Syria were being passed from so-called “moderate rebels” to Al Qaeda and other extremist militants.

        Then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk, who worried about a possible ISIS advance even on Baghdad at the time, described fellow US officials advocating the policy of allowing ISIS to take Mosul as “completely out of their minds.”

        Two months later, ISIS fighters coming from Syria in the west, and Mosul in the east, assaulted the Sinjar region of Iraq, home to the Yazidi religious minority. Within the course of a few days, ISIS fighters massacred thousands of Yazidi men and boys, while enslaving some 7,000 Yazidi women and children.

        The US looks the other way

        At the time, US President Barack Obama claimed he would act to avert a “potential act of genocide” against the Yazidis, but then turned a blind eye to the ensuing ethnic cleansing.

        Although the US president approved limited air strikes to reverse ISIS’ advance on Erbil – the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Northern Iraq (where US oil companies and diplomats were based) – Obama simultaneously refused to bomb ISIS militants to prevent the massacre of Yazidis in the village of Kocho, despite desperate pleas from US-based Yazidi activists to do so.

        In yet another example of blatant US military inaction, on 20 May, 2015, ISIS conquered the Syrian city of Tadmur at the site of ancient Palmyra, famous for its Roman ruins, thereby paving the way for the terrorist organization to push closer to Damascus.

        Once again, US military planners had ample opportunity to bomb ISIS convoys advancing across the open desert from Raqqa on route to assault the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but chose to watch instead.

        The following year, the LA Times reported that:

        “As Islamic State [ISIS] closed in on Palmyra, the U.S.-led aerial coalition that has been pummeling Islamic State in Syria for the past 18 months took no action to prevent the extremists’ advance toward the historic town — which, until then, had remained in the hands of the sorely overstretched Syrian security forces. The U.S. approach in Palmyra contrasted dramatically with the very proactive U.S. bombardment of Kobani during 2014-15 on behalf of U.S.-allied Kurdish militias fending off a furious Islamic State offensive.”

        How can these contradictions be explained? Why did US planners allow ISIS to grow and expand in Mosul, Sinjar, and Palmyra for 18 months between 2014 and 2015, only to conduct two brutal military campaigns, causing massive civilian suffering, to defeat the terror group in Raqqa and Mosul in 2017? In the fight against ISIS, whose side was the US really on?

        Backing terrorists to regime-change Syria

        The answer lies partly in US policy toward the Syrian government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Washington initially wished to use ISIS as leverage to oust Assad from power, as part of a broader effort at regime change that had started long before. Once ISIS was no longer useful to this end, US planners turned against the group, as has been the norm whenever US assets pass their expiry date.

        To accomplish this regime-change, the US and its allies partnered with Jihadi-Salafis, including from Al-Qaeda in Iraq, to launch a dirty war on the Syrian state in 2011, attacking Syrian police, soldiers and security forces under the cover of the anti-government protests that initially appeared to be part of broader region-wide Arab uprisings.

        The early anti-government protests in Syria, including the first protests in Deraa in March 2011, were also orchestrated by US planners, with assistance from activists of both liberal and Islamist orientation, including from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Sarouri trend.

        With the help of allied intelligence agencies in the region, the US pumped billions of dollars of weapons and aid to Salafist militant groups in Syria in subsequent years, hoping these militants could successfully topple the Assad government on the US and Israel’s behalf.

        Achieving this goal relied in part on establishing what US intelligence analysts described as a “Salafist principality” in the majority Sunni regions of eastern Syria (Raqqa and Deir Ezzor) and western Iraq (Mosul). Destroying the Baathist Syrian state by dividing the country along ethnic, religious and tribal lines had been a goal of US neoconservative planners since at least the 1990’s.

        After an intra-jihadi civil war, ISIS as an organization emerged as the most powerful faction in the broader US-backed Salafist insurgency, and in 2014 established the desired Salafist principality, or caliphate, with Raqqa and Mosul as its two main strongholds.

        Funneling weapons to terrorists

        Though US-backed Persian Gulf sheikhdoms supported ISIS directly, according to admissions from US Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, Washington’s support for the terror group, and its sister organization, the Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda’s Syrian subsidiary), was indirect.

        US support for ISIS (and Nusra) came in the form of money and weapons channeled through what was formally known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Weapons were then passed on to, or captured by, ISIS and Nusra. US planners simply had to flood the country with weapons, then turn a blind eye to where the weapons would certainly end up.

        Though allegedly composed of deserters from the Syrian army fighting to establish a secular, democratic state, in fact the FSA never existed as a real army, but instead functioned largely as brand adopted by many of the Salafist militant groups fighting on the ground. The most capable of the Salafist militants fighting under the FSA banner would then graduate to fight for the more respected Jihadi groups, whether ISIS or Nusra.

        Prominent FSA groups whose fighters eventually defected to ISIS in significant numbers include the Farouq Brigades in Homs, Liwa al-Hajar al-Aswad in Yarmouk camp, the Ahfad al-Rasoul Brigades, the Military Council, the Revolutionary Council, and Liwa al-Sa’qa in Deir al-Zour, and Saqour al-Sham in Idlib.

        Fighters from these Salafist groups, and the western and Gulf weapons funneled to them through the FSA leadership, therefore formed the foundation upon which both ISIS and the Nusra Front were built, and which finally enabled ISIS to establish the Salafist principality in Iraq and Syria desired by US planners.

        The FSA brand provided a secular facade to the Salafist and Al-Qaeda dominated insurgency, allowing US and allied countries to publicly justify providing military support to the insurgency, while feigning opposition to the Al-Qaeda groups.

        Western media and think tank analysts claimed this military aid was going to help the “Syrian people” resist a dictator, even though the groups comprising the insurgency had little popular, support, generally fought alongside and in support of the Al-Qaeda groups, and broadly terrorized most Syrians with their sectarian ideology and hatred of religious minorities.

        Assisting ISIS in Syria

        After conquering Mosul in June 2014, ISIS crossed back into Syria to conquer Deir Ezzor province, with the help of local FSA brigades.

        According to Samer al-Ani, an opposition media activist from Deir Al-Zour, several fighting groups affiliated to the US-backed Military Council quietly assisted ISIS in the assault on the province. Al-Ani warned that “money being sent through members of the [US-backed] National Coalition to rebels in Deir Ezzor risks going to ISIS,” and that “these groups pledged loyalty to ISIS four months ago, so this was not forced as a result of ISIS’s latest push, as happened elsewhere. Such collaboration was key to the takeover of Deir Ezzor in recent weeks, especially in areas where ISIS could not defeat the local forces so easily.”

        Assistance from local FSA factions allowed ISIS to quickly capture a string of strategic towns and cities along the Euphrates River, including Al-Bukamal on the Iraqi border, followed by Al-Shuhayl (known as Nusra’s capital), Al-Mayadeen, and much of Deir Ezzor city itself. This allowed ISIS to expel Nusra from the province.

        ISIS relied on FSA factions not only for manpower but also for weapons. Newsweek reports that according to a report by UK-based Conflict Armament Research, ISIS obtained much of their “arsenal as a result of former President Barack Obama’s support for rebels in Syria,” and that these weapons “included a powerful anti-tank missile launcher bought from a Bulgarian manufacturer by the U.S. Army and wielded by ISIS only weeks later.”

        Al-Jazeera reported in July 2013 that according to the ISIS commander for Aleppo province at the time, Abu Atheer, “we are buying weapons from the FSA. we bought 200 anti-aircraft missiles and Koncourse anti-tank weapons. We have good relations with our brothers in the FSA.”

        Konkurs missiles were provided to FSA groups via the CIA’s regional allies, while the US intelligence agency trained FSA fighters in the use of these weapons in Jordan and Turkey starting in November 2012. When asked about the CIA training, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney simply said, “We have stepped up our assistance, but I cannot inventory for you all the elements of that assistance,” and that “We have provided and will continue to provide substantial assistance to the Syrian opposition, as well as the Supreme Military Council.”

        ISIS was able to acquire US and Gulf supplied weapons so quickly because, in many instances, FSA commanders had secretly pledged allegiance to ISIS. Such FSA commanders were therefore able to deliver weapons from the US-backed Supreme Military Council (SMC) to ISIS almost immediately upon receiving them.

        Syrian oppositionist news website Deir Ezzor 24 notes for example that FSA commander Abu Seif Al-Shaiti of Ahfad Al-Rasoul attended a meeting in Turkey with western and Gulf intelligence officials where he pledged to fight ISIS in exchange for a large shipment of new weapons.

        ISIS then put him on a wanted list as a result. Instead of fighting ISIS, Abu Seif simply pledged allegiance to the organization and delivered all the weapons to the ISIS leadership that he had received from his former western and Gulf sponsors.

        US policy makers were aware of this phenomenon, but chose to look the other way, suggesting they were satisfied that their weapons were ending up with jihadists, be they Nusra or ISIS.

        In 2015, The Cradle columnist Sharmine Narwani asked US Central Command spokesman Lieutenant Commander Kyle Raines about why Pentagon-vetted fighters’ weapons were showing up in Nusra’s hands. Raines responded: “We don’t ‘command and control’ these forces—we only ‘train and enable’ them. Who they say they’re allying with, that’s their business.”

        A full year after Obama declared the US military would “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, the organization was at the height of its power, controlling some 50 percent of Syrian territory, including the strategically important Yarmouk refugee camp at the door step of Damascus.

        Patrick Coburn of the Independent reported in September 2015 that “the majority of the 17 million Syrians still in the country live in government-controlled areas now threatened by ISIS. These people are terrified of ISIS occupying their cities, towns and villages because of its reputation for mass executions, ritual mutilation and rape against those not obedient to its extreme variant of Sunni Islam.”

        Russian airpower obstructs US plans

        In the fall of 2015, both ISIS (from its strongholds in Deir Al-Zour and Raqqa) and Nusra (in Idlib and Aleppo) were threatening to conquer Damascus and raise their respective black flags over virtually the entire country.

        At this critical juncture, the Syrian government formally requested intervention from Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to help thwart ISIS’ significant advances by directing Russia’s Air Force to strike the terror group’s capabilities and manpower.

        Despite accelerated CIA shipments of TOW missiles to the FSA and Nusra, it quickly became clear that the tide of the war would soon turn as a result of Russian airpower. The Russian bombing campaign targeted the Salafist insurgency broadly, including ISIS, enabling the Syrian army and allied Iranian-backed ground forces to make crucial gains.

        Had Washington been serious about fighting ISIS, US warplanes would have unleashed a massive bombing campaign against ISIS in 2014 and 2015, as the danger of Damascus falling, and the possible massacre of large numbers of its inhabitants, both religious minorities and Sunnis who supported the government, was very real.

        Instead, despite the terror felt by millions of Syrians, US planners showed their real intentions by viewing the brutal ISIS advance toward Damascus with approval. In a private meeting with members of the Syrian opposition, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that the US had welcomed the 2015 ISIS advance on Damascus, to use it as leverage to force Assad step down from power.

        As Kerry explained, “that is why Russia came in. They didn’t want a Daesh [ISIS] government and they supported AssadAnd we know this was growing. We were watching. We saw that Daesh [ISIS] was growing in strength. And we thought Assad was threatened. We thought we could manage that Assad might then negotiate. Instead of negotiating, he got Putin to support him.”

        US policy pivots

        Shortly after the announcement of the September 2015 Russian intervention, US planners realized that any effort to topple the Syrian government via their jihadi proxies would now likely fail. The leverage that the ISIS threat gave US planners against the Syrian government would soon dissipate due to Russian bombs. Washington had few options left and quickly pivoted, abandoning their ISIS card.

        The US bombing campaign which was previously limited to blocking any ISIS advance only in Kurdish areas, now intensified and transformed into a concerted effort to defeat ISIS militarily.

        The US began to heavily invest in their budding partnership with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to give the US new boots on the ground in the conflict. Rebranded by the Pentagon as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), these US-backed Kurdish forces agreed to participate in Washington’s campaign to conquer as much territory (then under ISIS control) as possible, before Russian and Syrian forces were able to do so.

        This arguably created a “race to Berlin” dynamic resembling the competition between Allied and Soviet forces to conquer Germany from the Nazis in the Second World War.

        While initiating the campaign to defeat ISIS in Raqqa, the US still welcomed any progress the terror group might make against the Syrian government.

        As an example, when Russian and Syrian forces were able to retake Palmyra and liberate it from ISIS in March 2016, the LA Times noted this of White House officials:

        “[They have] difficulty publicly lauding advances against Islamic State by Assad and his allies, including the Russians and Iranians, after years of calling for Assad’s fall” and that the Russian success in combating ISIS created a “dilemma” for US planners, because “Washington has endeavored to portray the battle against Islamic State as a project of the United States and its allies, while accusing Moscow of attacking ‘moderate’ rebels instead of the extremists. Palmyra seems to embody an alternative narrative.”

        US dissatisfaction at the defeat of ISIS in Palmyra was also expressed by State Department spokesperson Mark Toner at a press briefing in March 2016, when Toner refused “to laud” the Syrian and Russian effort to liberate the city.

        With ISIS in decline, the US decided instead to take over large swathes of northeastern Syria from the terror group, including the country’s major energy and grain producing regions, to provide Washington with new leverage against Damascus, which desperately needed these resources to successfully govern and rebuild the country once the war ended.

        US control of these crucial areas would also exacerbate and help maintain the already existing and crushing US economic sanctions on Syria, in the hope of impoverishing Syrians to spur them to turn against the Assad government.

        Conquest masked as liberation

        US and Kurdish forces ultimately succeeded in capturing Raqqa from ISIS in October 2017 while effectively destroying the city and killing large numbers of civilians in one of the most vicious military assaults in recent memory.

        The US military-funded think tank, the Rand Corporation, noted the “shocking level of destruction” caused by the US-SDF assault on Raqqa. As a result, in only four months of fighting, “Raqqa endured the most structural damage by density of any city in Syria,” while “60 to 80 percent of it was estimated to be uninhabitable.”

        According to the Rand researchers, “the battle for Raqqa is a cautionary tale about civilian harm in 21st-century conflicts.” Much of the death and destruction resulted from the decision to encircle the city, which prevented the creation of civilian exit corridors, followed by airstrikes and artillery bombardment of heavily populated urban areas, effectively burying civilians in the basements of their destroyed homes.

        When a ceasefire was finally reached, causing civilians to think they would be evacuated in bus convoys, US planners allowed the remaining ISIS militants to be evacuated instead, after any benefit to civilians by allowing the ISIS fighters to escape had largely already been lost.

        The BBC reported on a “secret deal that let hundreds of IS [ISIS] fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city,” and which included some of ISIS’ “most notorious members.” Presumably, this would allow US planners to resurrect the ISIS card if needed in the future.

        US and Kurdish forces then pushed to the eastern side of the Euphrates River, blocking the advance of the Syrian army, which had successfully defeated ISIS with Russian help in Deir Ezzor and reached as far as the western side of the river.

        US and Kurdish forces continue to occupy Raqqa and northeast Syria at the time of this writing in 2022. The US military presence on Syria’s eastern borders also replaces ISIS’ role to impede Iraqi-Syrian relations, and importantly, to impede an Iranian land route all the way to the borders of occupied Palestine.

        ISIS’s invasion and occupation of key swathes of territory across northern Syria and Iraq served to delineate the borders of areas Washington seeks to control. The US then championed its Kurdish allies to “liberate” those territories.

        “This is conquest masquerading as liberation,” writes Assyrian writer Max Joseph.

        The US military presence also allows Washington to directly control Syria’s strategically important agriculture, oil, and electricity producing regions previously under ISIS control. In this way, the Syrian government is still denied crucial access to the resources needed to rebuild the country and feed its population in the face of crippling US-imposed economic sanctions.

        And the US plunders those resources liberally, in broad daylight. In August, the Syrian oil ministry reported that the US and its Kurdish foot soldiers “steal up to 66,000 barrels every single day from the fields occupied in the eastern region,” accounting for 83 percent of the country’s daily production.

        Pressure from Washington against the Syrian government has therefore been maintained, with the Kurdish-led SDF now fulfilling ISIS’ previous role in implementing US foreign policy in West Asia.

        Ukraine: Somewhere between Afghanization and Syrianization

        Ukraine is finished as a nation – neither side will rest in this war. The only question is whether it will be an Afghan or Syrian style finale.

        August 30 2022

        Photo Credit: The Cradle

        By Pepe Escobar

        One year after the astounding US humiliation in Kabul – and on the verge of another serious comeuppance in Donbass – there is reason to believe Moscow is wary of Washington seeking vengeance: in the form of the ‘Afghanization’ of Ukraine.

        With no end in sight to western weapons and finance flowing into Kiev, it must be recognized that the Ukrainian battle is likely to disintegrate into yet another endless war. Like the Afghan jihad in the 1980s which employed US-armed and funded guerrillas to drag Russia into its depths, Ukraine’s backers will employ those war-tested methods to run a protracted battle that can spill into bordering Russian lands.

        Yet this US attempt at crypto-Afghanization will at best accelerate the completion of what Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu describes as the “tasks” of its Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine. For Moscow right now, that road leads all the way to Odessa.

        It didn’t have to be this way. Until the recent assassination of Darya Dugina at Moscow’s gates, the battlefield in Ukraine was in fact under a ‘Syrianization’ process.

        Like the foreign proxy war in Syria this past decade, frontlines around significant Ukrainian cities had roughly stabilized. Losing on the larger battlefields, Kiev had increasingly moved to employ terrorist tactics. Neither side could completely master the immense war theater at hand. So the Russian military opted to keep minimal forces in battle – contrary to the strategy it employed in 1980s Afghanistan.

        Let’s remind ourselves of a few Syrian facts: Palmyra was liberated in March 2016, then lost and retaken in 2017. Aleppo was liberated only in December 2016. Deir Ezzor in September 2017. A slice of northern Hama in December and January 2018. The outskirts of Damascus in the Spring of 2018. Idlib – and significantly, over 25 percent of Syrian territory – are still not liberated. That tells a lot about rhythm in a war theater.

        The Russian military never made a conscious decision to interrupt the multi-channel flow of western weapons to Kiev. Methodically destroying those weapons once they’re in Ukrainian territory – with plenty of success – is another matter. The same applies to smashing mercenary networks.

        Moscow is well aware that any negotiation with those pulling the strings in Washington – and dictating all terms to puppets in Brussels and Kiev – is futile. The fight in Donbass and beyond is a do or die affair.

        So the battle will go on, destroying what’s left of Ukraine, just as it destroyed much of Syria. The difference is that economically, much more than in Syria, what’s left of Ukraine will plunge into a black void. Only territory under Russian control will be rebuilt, and that includes, significantly, the bulk of Ukraine’s industrial infrastructure.

        What’s left – rump Ukraine – has already been plundered anyway, as Monsanto, Cargill and Dupont have already bagged 17 million hectares of prime, fertile arable land – over half of what Ukraine still possesses. That translates de facto as BlackRock, Blackstone and Vanguard, top agro-business shareholders, owning whatever lands that really matter in non-sovereign Ukraine.

        Going forward, by next year the Russians will be applying themselves to cutting off Kiev from NATO weapons supplies. As that unfolds, the Anglo-Americans will eventually move whatever puppet regime remains to Lviv. And Kiev terrorism – conducted by Bandera worshippers – will continue to be the new normal in the capital.

        The Kazakh double game

        By now it’s abundantly clear this is not a mere war of territorial conquest. It’s certainly part of a War of Economic Corridors – as the US spares no effort to sabotage and smash the multiple connectivity channels of Eurasia’s integration projects, be they Chinese-led (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI) or Russian-led (Eurasian Economic Union, EAEU).

        Just like the proxy war in Syria remade large swathes of West Asia (witness, for instance, Erdogan about to meet Assad), the fight in Ukraine, in a microcosm, is a war for the reconfiguration of the current world order, where Europe is a mere self-inflicted victim in a minor subplot. The Big Picture is the emergence of multipolarity.

        The proxy war in Syria lasted a decade, and it’s not over yet. The same may happen to the proxy war in Ukraine. As it stands, Russia has taken an area that is roughly equivalent to Hungary and Slovakia combined. That’s still far from “task” fulfillment – and it’s bound to go on until Russia has taken all the land right up to the Dnieper as well as Odessa, connecting it to the breakaway Republic of Transnistria.

        It’s enlightening to see how important Eurasian actors are reacting to such geopolitical turbulence. And that brings us to the cases of Kazakhstan and Turkey.

        The Telegram channel Rybar (with over 640k followers) and hacker group Beregini revealed in an investigation that Kazakhstan was selling weapons to Ukraine, which translates as de facto treason against their own Russian allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Consider too that Kazakhstan is also part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the EAEU, the two hubs of the Eurasian-led multipolar order.

        As a consequence of the scandal, Kazakhstan was forced to officially announce the suspension of all weapons exports until the end of 2023.

        It began with hackers unveiling how Technoexport – a Kazakh company – was selling armed personnel carriers, anti-tank systems and munitions to Kiev via Jordanian intermediaries, under the orders of the United Kingdom. The deal itself was supervised by the British military attaché in Nur-Sultan, the Kazakh capital.

        Nur-Sultan predictably tried to dismiss the allegations, arguing that Technoexport had not asked for export licenses. That was essentially false: the Rybar team discovered that Technoexport instead used Blue Water Supplies, a Jordanian firm, for those. And the story gets even juicier. All the contract documents ended up being found in the computers of Ukrainian intel.

        Moreover, the hackers found out about another deal involving Kazspetsexport, via a Bulgarian buyer, for the sale of Kazakh Su-27s, airplane turbines and Mi-24 helicopters. These would have been delivered to the US, but their final destination was Ukraine.

        The icing on this Central Asian cake is that Kazakhstan also sells significant amounts of Russian – not Kazakh – oil to Kiev.

        So it seems that Nur-Sultan, perhaps unofficially, somehow contributes to the ‘Afghanization’ in the war in Ukraine. No diplomatic leaks confirm it, of course, but bets can be made Putin had a few things to say about that to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in their recent – cordial – meeting.

        The Sultan’s balancing act

        Turkey is a way more complex case. Ankara is not a member of the SCO, the CSTO or the EAEU. It is still hedging its bets, calculating on which terms it will join the high-speed rail of Eurasian integration. And yet, via several schemes, Ankara allows Moscow to evade the avalanche of western sanctions and embargoes.

        Turkish businesses – literally all of them with close connections to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) – are making a killing, and relishing their new role as crossroads warehouse between Russia and the west. It’s an open boast in Istanbul that what Russia cannot buy from Germany or France they buy “from us.” And in fact several EU companies are in on it.

        Ankara’s balancing act is as sweet as a good baklava. It gathers    economic support from a very important partner right in the middle of the endless, very serious Turkish economic debacle. They agree on nearly everything: Russian gas, S-400 missile systems, the building of the Russian nuclear power plant, tourism – Istanbul is crammed with Russians – Turkish fruits and vegetables.

        Ankara-Moscow employ sound textbook geopolitics. They play it openly, in full transparence. That does not mean they are allies. It’s just pragmatic business between states. For instance, an economic response may alleviate a geopolitical problem, and vice-versa.

        Obviously the collective west has completely forgotten how that normal state-to-state behavior works. It’s pathetic. Turkey gets “denounced” by the west as traitorous – as much as China.

        Of course Erdogan also needs to play to the galleries, so every once in a while he says that Crimea should be retaken by Kiev. After all, his companies also do business with Ukraine – Bayraktar drones and otherwise.

        And then there’s proselytizing: Crimea remains theoretically ripe for Turkish influence, where Ankara may exploit the notions of pan-Islamism and mostly pan-Turkism, capitalizing on the historical relations between the peninsula and the Ottoman Empire.

        Is Moscow worried? Not really. As for those Bayraktar TB2s sold to Kiev, they will continue to be relentlessly reduced to ashes. Nothing personal. Just business.

        The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

        The Siege of West Asia

        TUESDAY 30 AUG 2022

        Source

        By Tim Anderson

        The one redeeming feature of the US-EU siege of West Asia, one of the worst crimes of the 21st century, is that it is forcing a restructuring of international economic relations, away from a Washington-centred unipolar world.

        With multiple failed or failing wars, Washington and its NATO partners and hangers-on have imposed a genocidal economic siege on a contiguous bloc of seven West Asian countries, between the Mediterranean and the Himalayas.

        The physical blockades on Palestine and Yemen are joined by coercive measures on Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Amongst other things, this brutal regional siege has led to 90% of the Syrian population living in poverty  and the blockaded people of Yemen suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

        The aim in all cases has been ‘to starve and cause desperation’ amongst entire populations – as was said about Washington’s blockades on Cuba and on Iran. The explicit aim is imposing ‘deliberate harm’, in the hope of coercing political change. A key associated aim is to help the zionist colony keep stealing Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese land, and so destabilise and cripple the development of the entire region.

        While much of this siege is imposed in the name of ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’ and ‘anti-terrorism’, none of the NATO allied states of the region – like the Saudis, the UAE and Qatar, who actually finance and arm mass sectarian terrorism – face ‘sanctions’.

        The pretexts for this siege are buried in pseudo-legal inventions. The US Treasury’s OFAC database has lists of dozens of ‘sanctioned’ entities and individuals in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen. There are not many ‘sanctions’ against Afghanistan, after 20 years of US and NATO military occupation. However it is notorious that Washington has seized several billion dollars belonging to Afghanistan’s Central Bank, simply because the U.S. is dissatisfied with the current Afghan government. That is certainly a big factor in the looming mass starvation of millions of people in that unfortunate West Asian country.

        So what are sanctions and when can they be justified? In international law two principles are said to limit a state’s retaliation against others: that the response should be ‘in proportion’ to an alleged action by the other; and that any reprisal only comes after attempts at negotiation.

        But retaliation is unlawful when (1) the aim is to damage the economy of another nation, or there is (2) an attempt at political coercion or (3) the measures imposed also damage the rights of third parties. All these illegal elements are at work in Washington’s current regional siege. Such unilateral ‘sanctions’ are now termed ‘unilateral coercive measures’ (UCMs) and subject to special scrutiny at the United Nations.

        For some time international agencies have reported on the catastrophic impact of this siege, for example in Syria and Yemen. Despite the theoretical ‘humanitarian’ exemptions in both US and European coercive measures, the U.S. strangle hold on finance means there is severe impact on essentials such as food, medicine and energy.

        The W.H.O. has reported that unilateral US-EU ‘sanctions’ damage children’s cancer treatment in Syria. Medical studies have condemned Europe’s coercive ‘sanctions’ for their damage to COVID-19 prevention and treatment in Syria, while the UN rapporteur on the impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures, Ms Alena Douhan, has called for an end to Washington’s UCMs which inhibit the rebuilding of Syria’s civilian infrastructure, destroyed by the conflict. “The sanctions violate the human rights of the Syrian people, whose country has been destroyed by almost 10 years of ongoing conflict,” said Ms Douhan.

        Washington’s anti-Syrian ‘Caesar Law’ was also condemned as it attempts to block third party support for the Syrian population. “I am concerned that sanctions imposed under the Caesar Act may exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in the course of COVID-19 pandemic, and put the Syrian people at even greater risk of human rights violations,” she said.

        Siege measures on north African countries have come under similar criticism. In 2015 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the impact of ‘sanctions’ on human rights, Idriss Jazairy, urged States which have imposed UCMs on Sudan to review their policies. “Sudan has been under unilateral coercive measures for two decades without any adaptation .. The signal given by compulsory measures is in contradiction with their proclaimed objectives” he said, referring to the financial restrictions imposed on all business transactions with Sudan.

        In Yemen, the rational is a little different. The US-EU ‘Sanctions’ which sustain the humanitarian crisis are carried out with direct approval by the UN Security Council, under the misguided idea that an interim president from 2014 (Mansour Hadi, in exile in Saudi Arabia for the last seven years) is still the legitimate President of the country. The actual revolutionary government (the only successful revolution of the so-called Arab Spring) led by Ansarallah (disparagingly referred to as ‘Houthi rebels’) is under UNSC sanctions. So the siege on Yemen is authorised under international law, unlike the UCMs against Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

        Nevertheless, a UN body has said that the western powers and their Persian Gulf allies (especially the Saudis and the U.A.E.) waging war on Yemen should be held responsible for war crimes. That 2019 report detailed a range of war crimes over the previous five years, including airstrikes, indiscriminate shelling, snipers, landmines, as well as arbitrary killings and detention, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and impeding access to humanitarian aid.

        This writer has previously argued that the UN Security Council has betrayed the people of Yemen, exacerbating ‘the world’s ‘worst humanitarian crisis’ by demonising and sanctioning the revolutionary government while backing a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) puppet.

        UCM regimes, now so popular with the USA and the European Union, have been condemned by independent UN experts for violating international law and for impeding the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. While UCMs are “imposed mostly in the name of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”, Rapporteur Douhan concludes they actually “undermine those very principles, values and norms” while inflicting humanitarian damage.

        The one redeeming feature of the US-EU siege of West Asia, one of the worst crimes of the 21st century, is that it is forcing a restructuring of international economic relations, away from a Washington-centred unipolar world. In future the BRICS bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and allied groups will play a much greater role.

        Damascus: US Occupation Cost Syria $107.1bn in Oil, Gas Sector Losses

        August 30, 2022

        By Staff, Agencies

        Damascus says the years-long occupation of Syria by the United States has cost the war-ravaged Arab country $107.1 billion in oil and gas sector losses.

        In two identical letters sent to the secretary-general of the United Nations and the president of the UN Security Council, Syria’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday that direct and indirect losses caused by the US occupation of the Arab country are estimated at 107.1 billion dollars till the end of the first half of the current year.

        “According to the figures of the Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources and its accurate statistics, the direct losses suffered by this key vital sector amounted to 24.2 billion dollars as a result of the thefts of oil, gas and mineral resources that have been committed by the terrorist groups and the separatist SDF militia that is spreading in northeastern Syria under the auspices, protection and support of the American forces present in Syria illegally,” said Syria’s foreign ministry, Syria’s official news agency [SANA] reported.

        The US and its allies invaded Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] terrorist group without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. Damascus has repeatedly condemned the unauthorized presence of the US troops in the Arab country.

        The US-led military interference, however, was surprisingly slow in confronting the terrorists, despite the sheer size of the coalition that had enlisted scores of Washington’s allied countries.

        Furthermore, Washington backs the Kurdish People’s Protection Units [YPG] militant group, which is the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] militant, a coalition of militant factions which also receives support from the US and has occupied large parts of northeastern Syria.

        The ministry said “the estimated value of these losses resulting from extraction, smuggling and illegal trade in Syrian oil, gas and mineral resources amounted to $18.2 billion until the end of the first half of this year, and the SDF militia continues to steal and smuggle Syrian oil, gas and mineral resources and illegal trade. The project is under the cover and protection of the American forces present in Syria illegally.”

        The US military has stationed forces and equipment in eastern and northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists. However, numerous confirmed reports indicate that the US forces and their allied SDF militants smuggle large quantities of Syria’s crude oil almost on a daily basis. 

        “These losses are also caused by the sabotage and theft of extracting and transporting Syrian oil, gas and mineral resources facilities by terrorist groups, the estimated value of losses resulting from these crimes amounted to 3.2 billion dollars. In addition to the illegal bombing and aggression perpetrated by the so-called “international coalition” on Syrian oil and gas facilities, the estimated value of the losses resulting from these acts of aggression amounted to 2.8 billion dollars,” the statement added.

        “As for the estimated value of the indirect losses until the middle of this year, it amounted to $82.9 billion, which represents the values of lost production of Syria’s crude oil, natural gas, gas for house use, various oil derivatives and mineral wealth, due to the decline in production down from the expected and planned rates within the framework of normal working conditions as a result of the crimes of sabotage, destruction, theft and illicit trafficking committed by terrorist groups and separatist militias that spread in the areas of oil and gas fields and mineral resources under the protection, sponsorship and cover of the US forces illegally present in Syria,” said the foreign ministry.

        Damascus considers the US presence to be an outright violation of its sovereignty. It says it reserves the right to respond to the occupation as it sees fit.

        Hezbollah: Forty Dimensions of Uniqueness [2/3] – Requirements for the Role of Resistance

        August 27, 2022

        By Housam Matar | Al-Akhbar Newspaper

        Translated by Al-Ahed News

        Hezbollah is a small organization fighting “Israel”, which is a regional entity and project with unlimited international support. Therefore, it needed material and financial assets, cadres, an incubating environment, a logistical structure, a dynamic and charismatic leadership, and a strategic geopolitical depth [national and supranational]. How did Hezbollah achieve this?

        The first article in our three-part series focused on the impact of local and regional components on the emergence of the party and its forty years of experience.

        17- Strict discipline and morality: A widely held notion is that military discipline is the father of all disciplines, and that the concept of bureaucratic organization was born within military formations to enhance the chances of victory before being adapted by other components of the state.

        Hezbollah’s core is its jihadist military apparatus, and everything else within the party serves this core and gains value from it.

        Combative competence requires strict discipline even within non-state/non-governmental movements, especially when their main enemy is highly efficient.

        One of the ways to close the material gap with the “Israeli” enemy is to maximize the use of human resources through strict control, coordination, extracting the best from them, and using them with the highest feasibility, as well as maintaining confidentiality and adhering to the rules.

        This requires a structure that combines hierarchy in the chain of command and flexibility in combat plans.

        The religious dimension, especially concepts such as order [Allah Allah is in your orderly affairs], obedience to the leadership [which descends from the infallible to the Wali al-Faqih (guardian jurist) to the end of the organizational hierarchy according to authority and scope], the culture of keeping secrets, and the jihad spirit help in strengthening the mentality of discipline.

        Thus, discipline within the party has a subjective, cultural, and religious dimension, in addition to the institutional one. This characteristic, i.e., a high degree of military discipline, quickly trickled down to the party’s institutions and formations.

        This is why the organizational structures, both military and civilian, are far more significant than the sum of all individual efforts because the former is the outcome of the latter multiplied by several times the level of discipline.

        18- Ideological framing is a necessary element for all revolutionary movements as it allows them to present their project to the public, create an identity for the organization, chart its course, and determine the objectives. It also compensates for the material impotence in the face of the hostile force.

        The party’s ideology has a religious foundation. Its view is that the world is divided between the oppressed and the arrogant; the main source of the crisis in the region and its people is the structure of domination and occupation, and the path to independence is through Islamic resistance. Accordingly, “Israel” must be removed from existence, and America must be fought as an aggressor and an arrogant political regime as well as the Great Satan who has agents and tools within the region.

        Hezbollah’s key attribute in this regard is its ideology. The group combines religious, political, and historical elements within its ideological framework in a manner that is easy for the public to understand and use and in a formulation that allows it to overlap with third world ideologies hostile to American hegemony, even from completely different premises, for example, leftist and nationalist.

        19- The military rise imposed by the power of the “Israeli” enemy, as the party evolved militarily and organizationally to unprecedented levels.

        The “Israeli” army is very powerful thanks to its accumulation of resources, planning, and massive Western support. It employs those resources effectively, as they constantly increase, linked to the growth of the “Israeli” economy and the continuous infusion of American military resources, both technically and financially.

        Accordingly, the party found itself facing one possibility, other than defeat, which was to work to match the “Israeli” military and security forces in an asymmetric and creative way.

        Thus, under heavy and sustained pressure to maintain a liberating and then deterrent capability, with Iranian-Syrian support, Hezbollah turned into one of the deadliest organizations on a global scale, according to American experts.

        Perhaps the most prominent example in the present day is the party’s precision project [precision missiles and drones]. These have the aim of countering “Israel’s” relative fire superiority in an asymmetric way that allows Hezbollah to hit the entity’s home front, which is of a limited geographical depth.

        The party’s firepower, in quality and quantity, is not possessed by many armies around the world. This power can count on supplies in terms of technology, organization, training, planning, management, storage, secrecy, and knowledge, which is quickly reflected in the party’s other compartments.

        20- Openness to modern sciences and their employment:

        From the beginning, Hezbollah recognized the urgent need for scientific cadres, especially those that could be integrated into military development, and specifically those with basic engineering disciplines.

        With the acceleration of “Israeli” technical progress, which is among the most advanced in the world as a result of the policies adopted by the “Israeli” government to attract technology companies since the 1980s, the party deepened its interest in modern sciences related to the manufacturing of explosive devices, building and using missile capabilities, and expanding in engineering disciplines for underground construction, communication, surveillance, broadcasting, and interception technologies. There is special focus on air and sea, and then programming techniques, artificial intelligence and data analysis.

        Hezbollah achieved this through several avenues, including the transfer of Iranian experience and knowledge, sending student missions to both Syria and Iran, attracting outstanding university youths, and directing university students towards specific specializations.

         It is easy for party members to engage in these disciplines since they are far from philosophical, social, and cultural issues that may conflict with religious beliefs and their interpretations.

        This scientific culture was not confined to the military or hard sciences, but rather expanded to the disciplines of humanities, social, and economic sciences that influence the decision-making process through the establishment of research institutions specialized in public policy affairs (law, economics, and politics), development, statistics, family, education, culture, philosophy, and history. This gave the party a distinct advantage from many parties and political frameworks.

        21- Interest in learning and accumulating experiences:

        The “Israelis” themselves gave them this description, as they find that the party is always interested in drawing lessons and is good at learning from its experiences.

        This quality is related to the need to mainly keep pace with the “Israeli” force and to compensate for the limited material and human resources.

        The institutional environment of the party in its jihadi and organizational units also allows recording, storing, and retrieving data and information and extracting knowledge from it.

        For example, in the documentary the Al-Manar Channel broadcast regarding the resistance operations in Syria and the Lebanese outskirts against terrorist organizations, specialized individuals were present within the various formations.

        Their mission was to document live what is happening. They wore helmets equipped with cameras, and filming teams and officers specialized in studies kept pace with real operations for direct extraction of lessons to later update training and combat plans based on them.

        Specialists in these tasks cite a saying attributed to Imam Ali (PBUH): “The mind is the preservation of experiences.”

        Many institutions and party frameworks are interested in oral documentation of the history of their cadres, especially the founders’ generation. The Foundation for Preserving the Traces of Martyrs collects and archives as many of their works, achievements, and stories as possible and republishes them in the form of stories, biographies, and dramas.

        22- Specialization and integration between military units, or the so-called interlacing of arms:

        With the emergence of new needs and greater capabilities, the party is constantly promoting specialization in the military field, without this leading to separation and isolation between specialized units, but rather bringing them together according to objective and organizational criteria.

        Specialization allows the party to build highly professional and experienced cadres with knowledgeable backgrounds, especially in advanced fields.

        With technical progress in any field, additional specializations appear within it, which helps the party in its secrecy efforts by making information available in each field to a smaller number of individuals, making the possibility of an intelligence breach difficult and limiting its results if it occurs.

        During the July 2006 war, alongside the conventional anti-armor units, a special Kornet missile unit appeared, which caused great damage to “Israeli” armor and contributed to thwarting “Israeli” ground maneuvers.

        This specialized mentality was not limited to the military field of the party but extended to the entire organization. There are civil bodies that manage the affairs of communication with specific segments of the population [youth, students, women, children, unions, free professions, artists, media professionals, teachers, families of martyrs, etc.], and each field has its institutions [health, education, research and studies, social affairs, traditional and new media, etc.].

        23- Progress through realistic achievements: The party was forced to make a radical change in the general mentality prevailing during the eighties, which did not see a horizon for resistance or military victory over the “Israeli” enemy after successive Arab disappointments, the last of which was not Egypt’s exit from the conflict.

        This change was not possible through theorizing and mental persuasion in the beginning. Rather, it required successive success stories that inspire youth, mobilize society, and create faith through resistance.

        One of the most prominent factors of the party’s uniqueness is its focus on bringing about a change in the reality of the conflict and providing an unambiguous answer to the challenge of the occupation.

        Therefore, the first waves of resistance operations were characterized by a lot of valor and human sacrifice – from martyrdom operations [particularly the martyrdom operation of Ahmed Kassir in Tyre in 1982] to operations at the fronts to break into enemy positions and break its prestige, in which a relatively large number of martyrs fell.

        Hezbollah’s success story in resistance is the anchor of its soft power, and it has been a snowball rolling for 40 years. Therefore, the party does not sometimes find itself concerned with much theorizing in the field of resistance, as the experience speaks for itself. It only works on framing it and presenting it to the public in various forms on an ongoing basis.

        24- Control in the battle of awareness and the narrative of victory: In the context of the war with the “Israeli” enemy, Hezbollah managed to achieve a remarkable superiority in the battle of awareness based on establishing its credibility and reliability due to the media performance and leadership charisma of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

        Victory in contemporary wars is no longer decisive because they are non-comprehensive wars, but rather extended, low-intensity wars where victory is achieved through accumulation.

        Because victory is no longer decisive, it has become an imagined and relative issue that depends on expectations, the framing of the battle, and the psychological and media performance of the two sides.

        The “Israeli” enemy has been making unremitting efforts in recent years in the battle of awareness, developing media platforms and networks, and controlling its military rhetoric and terminology to regain the initiative in this field.

        This explains the anti-Hezbollah efforts to correct the credibility of its leadership as a basis for attracting popular support and influencing enemy societies.

        This characteristic of the party reinforces the “Israelis’” reluctance to wage war, as without a decisive outcome it will be easier for the party to present its narrative of the war and its victory in it, whether for the local or regional audience or even segments of the settlers in the “Israeli” entity.

        The bulk of modern wars do not take place on the frontlines, but in the societies of the warring parties. Therefore, the emerging awareness/cognitive wars are active on recent discoveries in neuroscience and psychology, as well as on the massive expansion of social media.

        25- Mastering the calculated dangerous maneuver: There is no doubt that the party is a rational [value-based] player, even if it is good at convincing its opponents that it is not when necessary, especially since it goes with careful calculations towards sometimes unimaginable “adventures.” The need for adventure is related either to necessity or to a window of opportunity or both.

        Hezbollah’s strength and structure, the metaphysical dimension in its culture, and its reliance on a regional lever help it accept “adventures” when necessary.

        The two most recent examples of this are its participation in the Syrian war and the current border-energy escalation with the “Israeli” entity. Participation in the Syrian war was perhaps Hezbollah’s greatest adventure.

        However, after the Syrian opposition became armed, militarized, and international, the party had no other choice but to either accept the challenge or accept the catastrophic outcome of the Syrian war.

        The party was able to employ its limited capabilities in the most efficient way possible on the ground, which contributed to pushing an existential threat to Syria, Lebanon, and the resistance and reducing it to a strategic challenge that can be dealt with for years.

        In the second case, Hezbollah is benefiting from a favorable international moment and from local necessities linked to the collapse to seize the opportunity to regain Lebanon’s invading rights, based on gradual, calculated steps that balance between positioning behind the negotiating process of the Lebanese state and its readiness to go to war if necessary.

        26- Deepening the strategic front: Confronting the Zionist entity is a conflict with the American system of hegemony in the region.

        Any national resistance movement, especially when it belongs to small states, must possess a strategic depth that guarantees it supplies of resources, maneuverability, and political cover.

        Thus, the party had to build a regional strategy based on this need. That is why it was primarily concerned with the relationship with Syria and Iran and for a long time chose to avoid confronting other Arab regimes, built ties with Islamist and nationalist groups and parties in the region, and inspired and supported groups that share the project of confronting hegemony.

        Therefore, when the “Israelis” evaluate the cost of the war with Hezbollah, in addition to the unprecedented losses and damage they will incur, many regional factors will be present about the role of Iraq and Yemen, for example, and how this will affect the normalization project and the party’s ability to use the Syrian front, and whether the lines of fighting inside Palestine will move.

        The Americans’ integration of Arab regimes [such as Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Qatar] and Turkey more clearly in the regional confrontation after the failure of the project to invade Iraq has led to an increase in the party and Iran’s interest in building a strategic depth for the resistance project and protecting its main regional incubators.

        27- Application of hybrid warfare: In its infancy, the party followed the traditional methods of guerrilla warfare due to its relatively limited resources, embryonic experience, and modest human number.

        However, the growth and development of the party’s military power prompted it over time to develop its own model in which it combines guerrilla tactics with the capabilities of regular armies.

        This hybrid method emerged in the fighting in 2006, then in the Syrian war, and this attracted many “Israeli” and Western studies and evaluations.

        The party integrates with remarkable efficiency between war on awareness, media messages, psychological warfare, and security activities, including cyber war, in its military effort.

        It also combines traditional and highly advanced means, such as merging traditional fire media with live images from drones directing fire or the possible combination of conventional and precision missiles in the next war in intensive waves to flood the Iron Dome system and reduce its interception efficiency.

        28- Economization in military force to avoid distraction and attrition: The party is aware of the limits of its strength and its capabilities. Therefore, its performance sometimes appears conservative, but this is related to its leadership’s estimates of force rationing, even if it is sometimes surplus.

        This tendency is linked to the concern that the elements of power will be wasted at the expense of the primary conflict with the “Israeli” enemy.

        This economization of force means using it as little as possible in cases outside the direct conflict with the “Israeli” enemy and using other tools or the threat of force.

        Therefore, the events of May 7, 2008 were an exception to establish the rule to not use weapons at home, and the Syrian war was an exception linked to an existential threat to the resistance.

        Many of the experiences of national forces that have engaged in internal conflicts that have exhausted them, especially with the party’s obsession with sectarian civil war under great external influence hostile to the resistance, are present in the awareness of Hezbollah leaders.

        This surplus in military power sometimes pushes the party to abstain from highlighting and using its political influence at home so that this is not considered an investment in its military power.

        This management of power includes the conflict with the “Israeli” enemy itself, where the resistance accurately calculates each step and its results and what it will reveal in terms of capabilities and feasibility by noting the goal, stage, and cost.

        Power is tempting, so the party is credited with understanding and controlling its limits, not the other way around.

        29- The brilliance of the security and intelligence capabilities: These provide the party’s leadership with a huge amount of political, security, and social data and information at the internal level that are related to the “Israeli” enemy and the arenas that have an impact on the resistance project.

        This intelligence need motivates the party to dedicate significant resources to invest in technology. This investment, data, and information for military and security need is automatically reflected in the rest of the civilian units through the transfer of experience, expertise, and information so that it is employed to extract knowledge to develop political, development, electoral, or media plans.

        30- Youth momentum: The party pays special attention to attracting this segment, as it is in the first place the most capable of fighting and field work.

        The party grew up on young cadres, as the older generation at that time had made its political choices in other formations. Therefore, it was natural that the founding generation of Hezbollah were young people who were looking for a different political project.

        Hezbollah benefits from the nature of the jihad work, which attracts young people who are captivated by the desire for strength, achievement, and heroism and who are more willing to sacrifice.

        Hezbollah allocates a great number of resources and institutions specifically to attracting and integrating young segments into the party. It works to a great extent on rehabilitating them culturally, militarily, and politically and giving them roles that allow them to work and advance in the military and civil fields.

        Therefore, Hezbollah is a young, vibrant, and renewed organization, but this is not without challenges and dilemmas related to the generational difference and the emergence of new cultures and values within the party organization that may raise some tensions.

        Rockets Strike US Base in Eastern Syria Second Time in 24 Hours

        US military personnel were injured during the attack on bases; three during the first incident, one in the second

        August 25 2022

        ByNews Desk- 

        A military facility housing US forces in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor came under attack on 25 August, mere hours after rockets struck US bases in the same area, injuring three US service members.

        According to Syria’s state-run new agency SANA, one US military personnel was injured during the second attack. In response, a US aircraft circled over the area and targeted a Syrian base with projectiles.

        Earlier today, The Washington Post cited a US military source claiming that the aircraft “targeted infrastructure used by groups with ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).”

        Tehran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani dismissed all claims that Iran was involved in either of the 25 August attacks.

        A day prior, three rockets struck a US base near the Conoco gas field in Syria’s northeastern Deir Ezzor countryside.

        The rocket landed inside the base, injuring at least three US soldiers and causing material damage. In retaliation, US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced the destruction of three vehicles and equipment used to launch some of the rockets.”

        Indeed, minutes after that missile attack on US troops, local Syrian sources confirmed combat chopper activity in the area’s airspace.

        Russia media outlet Sputnik said ambulances quickly arrived at the explosion site to transport the casualties and wounded, amid a large deployment of US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militants in the area.

        Conoco is the largest gas field in Syria, producing nearly 10 million cubic meters of natural gas per day. Earlier this month, the Syrian oil ministry revealed that US troops plunder 80 percent of the country’s daily oil output.

        At dawn on 23 August, the US military announced it carried out raids on facilities used by groups allegedly affiliated with the IRGC.

        The US maintains approximately 900 troops in Syria, primarily split between the Al-Tanf base and the country’s eastern oil fields.

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        Syrian air defenses repel Israeli aggression in sky of Misyaf

        August 25, 2022

        Source: Agencies

        By Al Mayadeen English 

        The Syrian air defenses confront an Israeli aggression in the sky of the city of Misyaf in Hama Governorate.

        SANA news agency confirmed Thursday that the Syrian air defenses engaged hostile targets in the sky of Misyaf city in the countryside of Hama Governorate.

        Sputnik reported that violent explosions were sounded in the vicinity of the Misyaf area in the western countryside of the Hama governorate caused by the Syrian air defenses’ response to Israeli aggression in the area.

        According to the agency’s reporter, the Israeli aggression was carried out by warplanes that fired a number of missiles toward some targets in the vicinity of the Misyaf area, west of Hama.

        The reporter pointed out that all the sounds of explosions that were heard in the vicinity of the city of Tartus and its surroundings were caused by the Syrian air defenses’ response to the Israeli missiles, denying any aggression against Tartus.

        It is noteworthy that on August 14, Al Mayadeen correspondent reported that the Syrian air defenses engaged Israeli missiles targeting points in the vicinity of the city of Tartus, noting that the aggression was carried out by Israeli warplanes from over Lebanese territory.

        According to a military source, the Israeli aggression led to the death of three soldiers, and the wounding of three others.

        Hundreds of Israeli airstrikes against Syria

        “Israel” has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Syria in the last few years, completely violating the integrity and sovereignty of Syria and neighboring countries, such as Lebanon.

        It is noteworthy that on June 10, Israeli air attacks destroyed the runways, control tower, reception rooms, and hangars of Damascus International Airport, forcing Syrian officials to cease flights and conduct extensive repairs.

        Russian Deputy Representative to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, revealed that the Israeli airstrikes that hit Damascus International Airport received tacit US approval.

        “It may seem that Israel received a carte blanche to engage in illegitimate unilateral action upon silent approval of Washington that basically blocked all opportunities to have the peace process recovered,” Polyanskiy said.

        US reviews Israeli plans for strikes against Iranian targets in Syria

        According to current and former US officials, “Israel” secretly coordinates with the US on many of the airstrikes it conducts in Syria.

        Behind the curtains, current and former officials say that for several years, many Israeli missions have been reviewed in advance for approval by senior officials at US Central Command and the Pentagon.

        This means that the formal coordination was previously unknown, and the secrecy surrounding it demonstrates how Washington has sought to support its Israeli ally.

        The US review, according to the Wall Street Journal, mainly focuses on Israeli missions in eastern Syria that pass close to the US occupation’s Al-Tanf base.

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