هكذا تحاصر أميركا لبنان وسورية اقتصادياً ومالياً 1/2

باريس – نضال حمادة

مسؤول سابق في صندوق النقد الدولي يقول: احتياط مصرف لبنان 2.5 مليار دولار والباقي دولارات رقمية…

نعود بك أيها القارئ الكريم إلى مقالة «البناء» في شهر تشرين الثاني الماضي بعنوان (مسؤول سابق في صندوق النقد الدولي عشرات ملايين الدولارات تخرج يومياً من لبنان إلى أربيل). عُدنا والتقينا هذا المسؤول السابق في باريس وهو من أصل عربي ليحدّثنا عن تشاؤمه بمستقبل الوضع في لبنان، اقتصادياً وسياسياً وربما أمنياً حسب قوله، يشير إلى أن الأميركي ترك الفرنسي يتحرك قليلاً ثم وضع أمامه كل العراقيل التي يتصوّرها والتي لا يتصوّرها، وبالتالي النتيجة هي أن فرنسا وحدها لا يمكن لها ان تنقذ الوضع في لبنان من دون رضا أميركا.

يقول المسؤول المالي إن احتياطي مصرف لبنان يبلغ مليارين ونصف مليار دولار نقداً، بينما بقيت المليارات هي عبارة عن أرقام على الكمبيوتر لا أكثر، ومصرف لبنان أمام أكثر من معضلة فهو لا يمكن له أن يحوّل هذه الأرقام الى ليرة لبنانية لأنه رقمياً يكون قد خسر كل احتياطه الوهميّ من الدولارات. وهذا ما سوف يسرّع الانهيار المالي، مضيفاً أن مبلغ «الكاش» الموجود يكفي لاستيراد الحاجات الأساسية من النفط والدواء والقمح حتى آخر السنة الحالية.

الاقتصاد السوري تأثر بالانهيار اللبناني، حيث يقول المسؤول المالي الدولي السابق، هناك 40 مليار دولار تعود لرجال أعمال وتجار سوريين. وهذا كل ما يملكونه كانوا وضعوه في المصارف اللبنانية، والآن بعد اكتشاف النهب الذي تعرّضت له ودائعهم أصبحوا من دون إمكانيات للاستيراد وبالتالي انكشف الوضع السوري اقتصادياً كالوضع اللبناني على أزمات تمويل عمليات الاستيراد. وبالتالي شهدنا أزمات متزامنة من نقص في المحروقات في لبنان وسورية، وهذا كان عملاً مقصوداً ومدروساً بعناية، فالنظام المصرفي اللبناني استُخدم معبراً لسحب كميات العملة الصعبة الموجودة في لبنان وسورية تمهيداً لإسقاط البلدين في زمن الصراع على السيطرة على الشرق الأوسط.

ما يريده صندوق النقد من لبنان هو تسليم كامل لكل المرافق المربحة للدولة اللبنانية وبأبخس الأثمان. يقول المسؤول المالي الدولي معقباً أن مبلغ الاحد عشر ملياراً الموعود به لبنان من سيدر لن تسد رمق اللبنانيين إلا لفترة محدودة طالما أن فاتورة الاستيراد السنوي للبنان تعادل ستة عشرَ مليار دولار. وأضاف ان الولايات المتحدة عملت من خلال إغلاق المطالبة بإغلاق الحدود البرية بين لبنان وسورية على تفاقم الأزمة الاقتصادية وجعلها تصل الى مشارف الانهيار.

غداً الجزء الثاني: لعبة المعابر كيف حاصرت أميركا سورية ولبنان؟

حرب المعابر هكذا تحاصر أميركا سورية ولبنان

باريس – نضال حمادة

نكمل كلامنا مع المسؤول السابق في صندوق النقد الدولي، الذي قال إن أميركا أطبقت الطوق على سورية ولبنان عبر السيطرة على المعابر الحدودية في البلدين، بداية في سورية حيث عملت أميركا على منع الدولة السورية من الاستفادة من الوضع العسكري الذي أصبح لمصلحتها، وذلك عبر السيطرة او التحكم بكل المعابر بين سورية ودول الجوار بدءاً من معبر نصيب في الجنوب حيث يرفض الأردن فتحه بحجج واهية ويمدّد فترة إغلاقه دورياً من دون سبب، ويُعتبر معبر نصيب مع الأردن طريقاً مهماً لنقل البضائع السورية الى الخليج العربي واستيراد البضائع من الخارج عبر البر، في المرتبة الثانية يأتي معبر المالكية مع العراق وهو يقع في شرق سورية. هنا يقول الخبير الاقتصادي الدولي إن المعبر من الجهة العراقية يتمركز فيه ويسيطر عليه بالكامل الجيش الأميركي الذي يمنع نقل أية بضائع من سورية وإليه. ويقول إن الحكومة العراقية تخلّت عن المعبر لصالح القوات الأميركية بعد تولي مصطفى الكاظمي منصب رئيس وزراء العراق.

يقول الخبير الاقتصادي الدولي هناك أيضاً في الشرق السوري معبر التنف الذي تسيطر عليه القوات الأميركية، كما تمنع أميركا إيران والعراق وسورية من فتح معبر البوكمال، حيث تنفذ الطائرات الحربية الأميركية غارات متكررة على القوافل التجارية في المنطقة وعلى المواقع العسكرية المحيطة بالمعبر.

في لبنان يبدو الأمر أسهل بسبب وجود حدود بريه مغلقة مع فلسطين المحتلة، وبالتالي تبقى الحدود السورية اللبنانية التي تضغط اميركا لإغلاق ما تبقى سالكاً منها خصوصاً في البقاع الشمالي الذي تأتي المطالبة بإغلاق الحدود بينه وبين سورية ضمن سلم أولويات أجندة صندوق النقد الدولي، يختم المسؤول السابق في صندوق النقد الدولي كلامه.

Six More Kurdish SDF Militiamen Killed in Deir Ezzor and Raqqa Provinces

September 19, 2020 Arabi Souri

Syria News Kurds SDF PKK YPG PYD Asayish USA NATO Turkey
Land Thieves and Oil Thieves

Six more militiamen of the US-sponsored Kurdish militia SDF were killed in separate attacks targeting them in the provinces of Deir Ezzor and Raqqa, in northern Syria.

A military vehicle carrying Kurdish SDF armed militiamen was targeted with an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) near the Al Omar oil field in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor yesterday. The explosion killed two of the militiamen.

Another IED was detonated in a gathering of the Kurdish SDF militiamen in the vicinity of the town of Sabha, in the eastern countryside of the province. The explosion left an unspecified number of the militiamen injured.

Two attacks against the Kurdish separatist SDF militiamen in the Raqqa province left four of them killed and others injured, the first attack was in the Dar’iyah district in the western suburbs of the city of Raqqa. Two of the militiamen were shot dead.

The other attack was near the Sugar factory to the north of Raqqa city where a military vehicle used by the separatist militiamen was targeted and left two of them killed and others injured.

A day earlier, two Kurdish SDF separatist militiamen were killed in Ain Eissa, in the further in the north of Raqqa province.

A group of ultra-radical Kurdish fighters was brought to Syria from the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq by the US regimes of Barack Hussein Obama and his successor Donald J. Trump with a goal of creating cantons that would later be merged into a ‘Greater Kurdistan’, a sister apartheid state to Israel. These fighters created the group known as the SDF under the guise of fighting ISIS, which was also created and sponsored by a number of NATO member states and their oil-rich Gulfies. The base of this newly formed militia was from former members of the PKK, YPG, PYD, and other Kurdish militias. The USA pays handsome salaries to whoever joins its proxies and fights against the Syrian people, the more radical these groups are the higher the pay.

Active US officials worked hard to lure the Syrian Arab tribes in the northern regions of the country to join its efforts in destabilizing Syria, by promises of rebuilding what the US proxies and the US-led illegal coalition to sponsor ISIS in Syria and Iraq destroyed and by intimidating and kidnapping of young men, and children, of these tribes and force-conscript them into its fighting militia.

The SDF is an essential tool in stealing the Syrian riches in partnership with Trump forces and Israeli companies, their focus is mainly on stealing the oil, gas, and wheat produced mainly in the north and northeastern regions of Syria, namely the provinces of Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, and Hasakah. They continue the theft started by the Turkish madman Erdogan and his anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood radical terrorists.

Lately, attacks against the separatist Kurdish SDF militias have been on the increase, especially after these militias assassinated a number of the tribes’ elders who refused their presence and their Israel-like oppression of the people of these regions.

Separatist Kurdish SDF Militia work for the USA
Separatist Kurdish SDF Militia – Trump and Erdogan’s oil and wheat thieves partners. [Archive]
Kurdish PYD Asayish SDF Torching Wheat Farms in Qamishli
Trump SDF forces burn Syrian wheat fields, June 2019.
NATO terrorists burning Syrian wheat crops in Ras Al Ayn - Hasakah
US-sponsored Kurdish separatists burned Syrian wheat fields (Video)

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Russia responds to Trump’s revelation about potentially assassinating Bashar Al-Assad

By News Desk -2020-09-19

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:20 P.M.) – Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia, responded to U.S. President Donald Trump’s revelation about wanting to assassinate Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad after Washington accused his government of carrying out a chemical weapons attack.

“We recently heard about plans to assassinate the president of a sovereign state, President Bashar Al-Assad,” Nebenzia said during the U.N. Security Council session on Friday. “How is this not a policy of regime change?”

Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations stressed that “the unilateral sanctions, which are unlawful in and of themselves, which are used as a tool of collective punishment and aim to stir up social discontent impede the efforts of those who want peace in Syria.”

He called on parties that show their lack of respect for international law to abandon this practice.

Trump previously said in a televised interview with Fox News earlier that he had the opportunity to “get rid of Bashar al-Assad,” but then Defense Secretary James Mattis objected.

For its part, Damascus condemned the recent statements of U.S. President Donald Trump, stressing that Trump’s recognition of such a step confirms that the U.S. administration is a rogue and outlaw country, and is pursuing the same methods as terrorist organizations with killing and liquidation without taking into account any legal, humanitarian or ethical measures.

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

September 18, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Question: I’ll start with the hottest topic, Belarus. President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visited Bocharov Ruchei. Both sides have officially recognised that change within the Union State is underway. This begs the question: What is this about? A common currency, common army and common market? What will it be like?

Sergey Lavrov: It will be the way our countries decide. Work is underway. It relies on the 1999 Union Treaty. We understand that over 20 years have passed since then. That is why, a couple of years ago, upon the decision of the two presidents, the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus began to work on identifying the agreed-upon steps that would make our integration fit current circumstances. Recently, at a meeting with Russian journalists, President Lukashenko said that the situation had, of course, changed and we must agree on ways to deepen integration from today’s perspective.

The presidential election has taken place in Belarus. The situation there is tense, because the opposition, backed by some of our Western colleagues, is trying to challenge the election outcome, but I’m convinced that the situation will soon get back to normal, and the work to promote integration processes will resume.

Everything that is written in the Union Treaty is now being analysed. Both sides have to come to a common opinion about whether a particular provision of the Union Treaty is still relevant, or needs to be revised. There are 31 roadmaps, and each one focuses on a specific section of the Union Treaty. So, there’s clearly a commitment to continue the reform, a fact that was confirmed by the presidents during a recent telephone conversation. This is further corroborated by the presidents’ meeting in Sochi.

I would not want that country’s neighbours, and our neighbours for that matter, including Lithuania, for example, to try to impose their will on the Belarusian people and, in fact, to manage the processes in which the opposition is unwittingly doing what’s expected of it. I have talked several times about Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s situation. Clearly, someone is putting words in her mouth. She is now in the capital of Lithuania, which, like our Polish colleagues, is strongly demanding a change of power in Belarus. You are aware that Lithuania declared Ms Tikhanovskaya the leader of the Republic of Belarus, and Alexander Lukashenko was declared an illegitimate president.

Ms Tikhanovskaya has made statements that give rise to many questions. She said she was concerned that Russia and Belarus have close relations. The other day, she called on the security and law-enforcement forces to side with the law. In her mind, this is a direct invitation to breach the oath of office and, by and large, to commit high treason. This is probably a criminal offense. So, those who provide her with a framework for her activities and tell her what to say and what issues to raise should, of course, realise that they may be held accountable for that.

Question: Commenting on the upcoming meeting of the presidents of Russia and Belarus in Sochi, Tikhanovskaya said: “Whatever they agree on, these agreements will be illegitimate, because the new state and the new leader will revise them.” How can one work under such circumstances?

Sergey Lavrov: She was also saying something like that when Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin went to Belarus to meet with President Lukashenko and Prime Minister Golovchenko. She was saying it then. Back then, the opposition was concerned about any more or less close ties between our countries. This is despite the fact that early on during the crisis they claimed that they in no way engaged in anti-Russia activities and wanted to be friends with the Russian people. However, everyone could have seen the policy paper posted on Tikhanovskaya’s website during the few hours it was there. The opposition leaders removed it after realising they had made a mistake sharing their goals and objectives with the public. These goals and objectives included withdrawal from the CSTO, the EAEU and other integration associations that include Russia, and drifting towards the EU and NATO, as well as the consistent banning of the Russian language and the Belarusianisation of all aspects of life.

We are not against the Belarusian language, but when they take a cue from Ukraine, and when the state language is used to ban a language spoken by the overwhelming majority of the population, this already constitutes a hostile act and, in the case of Ukraine, an act that violates its constitution. If a similar proposal is introduced into the Belarusian legal field, it will violate the Constitution of Belarus, not to mention numerous conventions on the rights of ethnic and language minorities, and much more.

I would like those who are rabidly turning the Belarusian opposition against Russia to realise their share of responsibility, and the opposition themselves, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and others – to find the courage to resist such rude and blatant manipulation.

Question: If we are talking about manipulation, we certainly understand that it has many faces and reflects on the international attitude towards Russia. Internationally, what are the risks for us of supporting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko? Don’t you think 26 years is enough? Maybe he has really served for too long?

Sergey Lavrov: The President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, did say it might have been “too long.” I believe he has proposed a very productive idea – constitutional reform. He talked about this even before the election, and has reiterated the proposal more than once since then. President of Russia Vladimir Putin supports this attitude. As the Belarusian leader said, after constitutional reform, he will be ready to announce early parliamentary and presidential elections. This proposal provides a framework where a national dialogue will be entirely possible. But it is important that representatives of all groups of Belarusian society to be involved in a constitutional reform process. This would ensure that any reform is completely legitimate and understandable for all citizens. Now a few specific proposals are needed concerning when, where and in what form this process can begin. I hope that this will be done, because President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly reaffirmed carrying out this initiative.

Question: Since we started talking about the international attitude towards Russia, let’s go over to our other partner – the United States. The elections in the US will take place very soon. We are actively discussing this in Russia. When asked whether Russia was getting ready for the elections in the US at the Paris forum last year, you replied: “Don’t worry, we’ll resolve this problem.” Now that the US elections are around the corner, I would like to ask you whether you’ve resolved it.

Sergey Lavrov: Speaking seriously, of course we, like any other normal country that is concerned about its interests and international security, are closely following the progress of the election campaign in the US. There are many surprising things in it. Naturally, we see how important the Russian issue is in this electoral process. The Democrats are doing all they can to prove that Russia will exploit its hacker potential and play up to Donald Trump. We are already being accused of promoting the idea that the Democrats will abuse the mail-in voting option thereby prejudicing the unbiased nature of voting. I would like to note at this point that mail-in voting has become a target of consistent attacks on behalf of President Trump himself. Russia has nothing to do with this at all.

A week-long mail-in voting is an interesting subject in comparing election systems in different countries. We have introduced three-day voting for governors and legislative assembly deputies in some regions. You can see the strong criticism it is subjected to, inside Russia as well. When the early voting in the US lasts for weeks, if not months, it is considered a model of democracy. I don’t see any criticism in this respect. In principle, we have long proposed analysing election systems in the OSCE with a view to comparing best practices and reviewing obviously obsolete arrangements. There have been instances in the US when, due to its cumbersome and discriminatory election system, a nominee who received the majority of votes could lose because in a national presidential election the voting is done through the Electoral College process rather than directly by the people. There have been quite a few cases like that. I once told former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in reply to her grievances about our electoral system: “But look at your problem. Maybe you should try to correct this discriminatory voting system?” She replied that it is discriminatory but they are used to it and this is their problem, so I shouldn’t bother.

When the United States accuses us of interference in some area of its public, political or government life, we suggest discussing it to establish who is actually doing what. Since they don’t present any facts, we simply recite their Congressional acts. In 2014, they adopted an act on supporting Ukraine, which directly instructed the Department of State to spend $20 million a year on support for Russian NGOs. We asked whether this didn’t amount to interference. We were told by the US National Security Council that in reality they support democracy because we are wreaking chaos and pursuing authoritative and dictatorial trends abroad when we interfere in domestic affairs whereas they bring democracy and prosperity. This idea is deeply rooted in American mentality. The American elite has always considered its country and nation exceptional and has not been shy to admit it.

I won’t comment on the US election. This is US law and the US election system. Any comments I make will be again interpreted as an attempt to interfere in their domestic affairs. I will only say one thing that President Vladimir Putin has expressed many times, notably, that we will respect any outcome of these elections and the will of the American people.

We realise that there will be no major changes in our relations either with the Democrats or with the Republicans, as representatives of both parties loudly declare. However, there is hope that common sense will prevail and no matter who becomes President, the new US Government and administration will realise the need to cooperate with us in resolving very serious global problems on which the international situation depends.

Question: You mentioned an example where voters can choose one president and the Electoral College process, another. I even have that cover of Time magazine with Hillary Clinton and congratulations, released during the election. It is a fairly well-known story, when they ran this edition and then had to cancel it.

Sergey Lavrov: Even the President of France sent a telegramme, but then they immediately recalled it.

And these people are now claiming that Alexander Lukashenko is an illegitimate president.

Question: You mentioned NGOs. These people believe that NGOs in the Russian Federation support democratic institutions, although it is no secret to anyone who has at least a basic understanding of foreign and domestic policy that those NGOs act exclusively as institutions that destabilise the situation in the country.

Sergey Lavrov: Not all of them.

Question: Can you tell us more about this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have adopted a series of laws – on public associations, on non-profit organisations, on measures to protect people from human rights violations. There is a set of laws that regulate the activities of non-government organisations on our territory, both Russian and foreign ones.

Concepts have been introduced like “foreign agent,” a practice we borrowed from “the world’s most successful democracy” – the United States. They argue that we borrowed a practice from 1938 when the United States introduced the foreign agent concept to prevent Nazi ideology from infiltrating from Germany. But whatever the reason they had to create the concept – “foreign agent” – the Americans are still effectively using it, including in relation to our organisations and citizens, to Chinese citizens, to the media.

In our law, foreign agent status, whatever they say about it, does not prevent an organisation from operating on the territory of the Russian Federation. It just needs to disclose its funding sources and be transparent about the resources it receives. And even that, only if it is engaged in political activities. Initially, we introduced a requirement for these organisations that receive funding from abroad and are involved in political projects to initiate the disclosure process. But most of them didn’t want to comply with the law, so it was modified. Now this is done by the Russian Ministry of Justice.

Question: Do you think that NGOs are still soft power?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course. In Russia we have about 220,000 NGOs, out of which 180 have the status of a foreign agent. It’s a drop in the ocean. These are probably the organisations, funded from abroad, that are more active than others in promoting in our public space ideas that far from always correspond to Russian legislation.

There is also the notion of undesirable organisations. They are banned from working in the Russian Federation. But there are only about 30 of them, no more.

Question: Speaking about our soft power, what is our concept? What do we offer the world? What do you think the world should love us for? What is Russia’s soft power policy all about?

Sergey Lavrov: We want everything that has been created by nations and civilisations to be respected. We believe nobody should impose any orders on anyone, so that nothing like what has now happened in Hollywood takes place on a global scale. We think nobody should encroach on the right of each nation to have its historical traditions and moral roots. And we see attempts to encroach upon them.

If soft power is supposed to promote one’s own culture, language and traditions, in exchange for knowledge about the life of other nations and civilisations, then this is the approach that the Russian Federation supports in every way.

The Americans define the term “soft power” as an attempt to influence the hearts and minds of others politically. Their goal is not to promote their culture and language, but to change the mood of the political class with a view to subsequent regime change. They are doing this on a daily basis and don’t even conceal it. They say everywhere that their mission is to bring peace and democracy to all other countries.

Question: Almost any TV series out there shows the US president sitting in the Oval Office saying he’s the leader of the free world.

Sergey Lavrov: Not just TV series. Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that America is an exceptional nation and should be seen as an example by the rest of the world. My colleague Mike Pompeo recently said in the Czech Republic that they shouldn’t let the Russians into the nuclear power industry and should take the Russians off the list of companies that bid for these projects. It was about the same in Hungary. He then went to Africa and was quite vocal when he told the African countries not to do business with the Russians or the Chinese, because they are trading with the African countries for selfish reasons, whereas the US is establishing economic cooperation with them so they can prosper. This is a quote. It is articulated in a very straightforward manner, much the same way they run their propaganda on television in an unsophisticated broken language that the man in the street can relate to. So, brainwashing is what America’s soft power is known for.

Question: Not a single former Soviet republic has so far benefited from American soft power.

Sergey Lavrov: Not only former Soviet republics. Take a look at any other region where the Americans have effected a regime change.

QuestionLibya, Syria. We stood for Syria.

Sergey Lavrov: Iraq, Libya. They tried in Syria, but failed. I hope things will be different there. There’s not a single country where the Americans changed the regime and declared victory for democracy, like George W. Bush did on the deck of an aircraft carrier in Iraq in May 2003, which is prosperous now. He said democracy had won in Iraq. It would be interesting to know what the former US President thinks about the situation in Iraq today. But no one will, probably, go back to this, because the days when presidents honestly admitted their mistakes are gone.

QuestionHere I am listening to you and wondering how many people care about this? Why is it that no one understands this? Is this politics that is too far away from ordinary people who are nevertheless behind it? Take Georgia or Ukraine. People are worse off now than before, and despite this, this policy continues.

Will the Minsk agreements ever be implemented? Will the situation in southeastern Ukraine ever be settled?

Returning to what we talked about. How independent is Ukraine in its foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think that under the current Ukrainian government, just like under the previous president, we will see any progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements, if only because President Zelensky himself is saying so publicly, as does Deputy Prime Minister Reznikov who is in charge of the Ukrainian settlement in the Contact Group. Foreign Minister of Ukraine Kuleba is also saying this. They say there’s a need for the Minsk agreements and they cannot be broken, because these agreements (and accusing Russia of non-compliance) are the foundation of the EU and the US policy in seeking to maintain the sanctions on Russia. Nevertheless, such a distorted interpretation of the essence of the Minsk agreements, or rather an attempt to blame everything on Russia, although Russia is never mentioned there, has stuck in the minds of our European colleagues, including France and Germany, who, being co-sponsors of the Minsk agreements along with us, the Ukrainians and Donbass, cannot but realise that the Ukrainians are simply distorting their responsibilities, trying to distance themselves from them and impose a different interpretation of the Minsk agreements. But even in this scenario, the above individuals and former Ukrainian President Kravchuk, who now heads the Ukrainian delegation to the Contact Group as part of the Minsk process, claim that the Minsk agreements in their present form are impracticable and must be revised, turned upside down. Also, Donbass must submit to the Ukrainian government and army before even thinking about conducting reforms in this part of Ukraine.

This fully contradicts the sequence of events outlined in the Minsk agreements whereby restoring Ukrainian armed forces’ control on the border with Russia is possible only after an amnesty, agreeing on the special status of these territories, making this status part of the Ukrainian Constitution and holding elections there. Now they propose giving back the part of Donbass that “rebelled” against the anti-constitutional coup to those who declared these people terrorists and launched an “anti-terrorist operation” against them, which they later renamed a Joint Forces Operation (but this does not change the idea behind it), and whom they still consider terrorists. Although everyone remembers perfectly well that in 2014 no one from Donbass or other parts of Ukraine that rejected the anti-constitutional coup attacked the putschists and the areas that immediately fell under the control of the politicians behind the coup. On the contrary, Alexander Turchinov, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and others like them attacked these areas. The guilt of the people living there was solely in them saying, “You committed a crime against the state, we do not want to follow your rules, let us figure out our own future and see what you will do next.” There’s not a single example that would corroborate the fact that they engaged in terrorism. It was the Ukrainian state that engaged in terrorism on their territory, in particular, when they killed [Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic] Alexander Zakharchenko and a number of field commanders in Donbass. So, I am not optimistic about this.

Question: So, we are looking at a dead end?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, we still have an undeniable argument which is the text of the Minsk Agreements approved by the UN Security Council.

QuestionBut they tried to revise it?

Sergey Lavrov: No, they are just making statements to that effect. When they gather for a Contact Group meeting in Minsk, they do their best to look constructive. The most recent meeting ran into the Ukrainian delegation’s attempts to pretend that nothing had happened. They recently passed a law on local elections which will be held in a couple of months. It says that elections in what are now called the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics will be held only after the Ukrainian army takes control of the entire border and those who “committed criminal offenses” are arrested and brought to justice even though the Minsk agreements provide for amnesty without exemptions.

Question: When I’m asked about Crimea I recall the referendum. I was there at a closed meeting in Davos that was attended by fairly well respected analysts from the US. They claimed with absolute confidence that Crimea was being occupied. I reminded them about the referendum. I was under the impression that these people either didn’t want to see or didn’t know how people lived there, that they have made their choice. Returning to the previous question, I think that nobody is interested in the opinion of the people.

Sergey Lavrov: No, honest politicians still exist. Many politicians, including European ones, were in Crimea during the referendum. They were there not under the umbrella of some international organisation but on their own because the OSCE and other international agencies were controlled by our Western colleagues. Even if we had addressed them, the procedure for coordinating the monitoring would have never ended.

Question: Just as in Belarus. As I see it, they were also invited but nobody came.

Sergey Lavrov: The OSCE refused to send representatives there. Now that the OSCE is offering its services as a mediator, I completely understand Mr Lukashenko who says the OSCE lost its chance. It could have sent observers and gained a first-hand impression of what was happening there, and how the election was held. They arrogantly disregarded the invitation. We know that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is practically wholly controlled by NATO. We have repeatedly proposed that our nominees work there but they have not been approved. This contradicts the principles of the OSCE. We will continue to seek a fairer approach to the admission of members to the organisation, but I don’t have much hope for this. Former OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger made an effort with this for the past three years but not everything depended on him – there is a large bloc of EU and NATO countries that enjoy a mathematical majority and try to dictate their own rules. But this is a separate issue.

Returning to Crimea, I have read a lot about this; let me give you two examples. One concerns my relations with former US Secretary of State John Kerry. In April 2014, we met in Geneva: me, John Kerry, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and then Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrey Deshchitsa. We compiled a one page document that was approved unanimously. It read that we, the representatives of Russia, the US and the EU welcomed the commitments of the Ukrainian authorities to carry out decentralisation of the country with the participation of all the regions of Ukraine. This took place after the Crimean referendum. Later, the Americans, the EU and of course Ukraine “forgot” about this document. John Kerry told me at this meeting that everyone understood that Crimea was Russian, that the people wanted to return, but that we held the referendum so quickly that it didn’t fit into the accepted standards of such events. He asked me to talk to President Vladimir Putin, organise one more referendum, announce it in advance and invite international observers. He said he would support their visit there, that the result would be the same but that we would be keeping up appearances. I asked him why put on such shows if they understand that this was the expression of the will of the people.

The second example concerns the recent statements by the EU and the European Parliament to the effect that “the occupation” of Crimea is a crude violation of the world arrangement established after the victory in World War II. But if this criterion is used to determine where Crimea belongs, when the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic joined the UN after WWII in 1945, Crimea did not belong to it. Crimea was part of the USSR. Later, Nikita Khrushchev took an illegal action, which contradicted Soviet law, and this led to them having it. But we all understood that this was a domestic political game as regards a Soviet republic that was the home to Khrushchev and many of his associates.

Question: You have been Foreign Minister for 16 years now. This century’s major foreign policy challenges fell on your term in office. We faced sanctions, and we adapted to them and coped with them. Germany said it obtained Alexey Navalny’s test results. France and Sweden have confirmed the presence of Novichok in them. Reportedly, we are now in for more sanctions. Do you think the Navalny case can trigger new sanctions against Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with our political analysts who are convinced that if it were not for Navalny, they would have come up with something else in order to impose more sanctions.

With regard to this situation, I think our Western partners have simply gone beyond decency and reason. In essence, they are now demanding that we “confess.” They are asking us: Don’t you believe what the German specialists from the Bundeswehr are saying? How is that possible? Their findings have been confirmed by the French and the Swedes. You don’t believe them, either?

It’s a puzzling situation given that our Prosecutor General’s Office filed an inquiry about legal assistance on August 27 and hasn’t received an answer yet. Nobody knows where the inquiry has been for more than a week now. We were told it was at the German Foreign Ministry. The German Foreign Ministry did not forward the request to the Ministry of Justice, which was our Prosecutor General Office’s  ultimate addressee. Then, they said that it had been transferred to the Berlin Prosecutor’s Office, but they would not tell us anything without the consent of the family. They are urging us to launch a criminal investigation.

We have our own laws, and we cannot take someone’s word for it to open a criminal case. Certain procedures must be followed. A pre-investigation probe initiated immediately after this incident to consider the circumstances of the case is part of this procedure.

Some of our Western colleagues wrote that, as the German doctors discovered, it was “a sheer miracle” that Mr Navalny survived. Allegedly, it was the notorious Novichok, but he survived thanks to “lucky circumstances.” What kind of lucky circumstances are we talking about? First, the pilot immediately landed the plane; second, an ambulance was already waiting on the airfield; and third, the doctors immediately started to provide help. This absolutely impeccable behaviour of the pilots, doctors and ambulance crew is presented as “lucky circumstances.” That is, they even deny the possibility that we are acting as we should. This sits deep in the minds of those who make up such stories.

Returning to the pre-investigation probe, everyone is fixated on a criminal case. If we had opened a criminal case right away (we do not have legal grounds to do so yet, and that is why the Prosecutor General’s Office requested legal assistance from Germany on August 27), what would have been done when it happened? They would have interviewed the pilot, the passengers and the doctors. They would have found out what the doctors discovered when Navalny was taken to the Omsk hospital, and what medications were used. They would have interviewed the people who communicated with him. All of that was done. They interviewed the five individuals who accompanied him and participated in the events preceding Navalny boarding the plane; they interviewed the passengers who were waiting for a flight to Moscow in Tomsk and sat at the same bar; they found out what they ordered and what he drank. The sixth person, a woman who accompanied him, has fled, as you know. They say she was the one who gave the bottle to the German lab. All this has been done. Even if all of that was referred to as a “criminal case,” we couldn’t have done more.

Our Western partners are looking down on us as if we have no right to question what they are saying or their professionalism. If this is the case, it means that they dare to question the professionalism of our doctors and investigators. Unfortunately, this position is reminiscent of other times. Arrogance and a sense of infallibility have already been observed in Europe, and that led to very regrettable consequences.

Question: How would you describe this policy of confrontation? When did it start (I mean during your term of office)? It’s simply so stable at the moment that there seems no chance that something might change in the future.

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken on this topic. I think that the onset of this policy, this era of constant pressure on Russia began with the end of a period that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, a time when the West believed it had Russia there in its pocket – it ended, full stop. Unfortunately, the West does not seem to be able to wrap its head around this, to accept that there is no alternative to Russia’s independent actions, both domestically and on the international arena. This is why, unfortunately, this agony continues by inertia.

Having bad ties with any country have never given us any pleasure. We do not like making such statements in which we sharply criticise the position of the West. We always try to find compromises, but there are situations where it is hard not to come face to face with one another directly or to avoid frank assessments of what our Western friends are up to.

I have read what our respected political scientists write who are well known in the West. And I can say this idea is starting to surface ever stronger and more often – it is time we stop measuring our actions with the yardsticks that the West offers us and to stop trying to please the West at all costs. These are very serious people and they are making a serious point. The fact that the West is prodding us to this way of thinking, willingly or unwillingly, is obvious to me. Most likely, this is being done involuntarily. But it is a big mistake to think that Russia will play by Western rules in any case – as big a mistake as like approaching China with the same yardstick.

Question: Then I really have to ask you. We are going through digitalisation. I think when you started your diplomatic career, you could not even have imagined that some post on Twitter could affect the political situation in a country. Yet – I can see your smile – we are living in a completely different world. Film stars can become presidents; Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook can become drivers of political campaigns – that happened more than once – and those campaigns can be successful. We are going through digitalisation, and because of this, many unexpected people appear in international politics – unexpected for you, at least. How do you think Russia’s foreign policy will change in this context? Are we ready for social media to be impacting our internal affairs? Is the Chinese scenario possible in Russia, with most Western social media blocked to avoid their influence on the internal affairs in that country?

Sergey Lavrov: Social media are already exerting great influence on our affairs. This is the reality in the entire post-Soviet space and developing countries. The West, primarily the United States, is vigorously using social media to promote their preferred agenda in just about any state. This necessitates a new approach to ensuring the national security. We have been doing this for a long time already.

As for regulating social media, everyone does it. You know that the digital giants in the United States have been repeatedly caught introducing censorship, primarily against us, China or other countries they dislike, shutting off information that comes from these places.

The internet is regulated by companies based in the United States, everyone knows that. In fact, this situation has long made the overwhelming majority of countries want to do something about it, considering the global nature of the internet and social media, to make sure that the management processes are approved at a global level, become transparent and understandable. The International Telecommunication Union, a specialised UN agency, has been out there for years. Russia and a group of other co-sponsoring countries are promoting the need to regulate the internet in such a way that everyone understands how it works and what principles govern it, in this International Union. Now we can see how Mark Zuckerberg and other heads of large IT companies are invited to the Congress and lectured there and asked to explain what they are going to do. We can see this. But a situation where it will be understandable for everyone else and, most importantly, where everyone is happy with it, still seems far away.

For many years, we have been promoting at the UN General Assembly an initiative to agree on the rules of responsible behaviour of states in the sphere of international information security. This initiative has already led to set up several working groups, which have completed their mandate with reports. The last such report was reviewed last year and another resolution was adopted. This time, it was not a narrow group of government experts, but a group that includes all UN member states. It was planning to meet, but things slowed down due to the coronavirus. The rules for responsible conduct in cyberspace are pending review by this group. These rules were approved by the SCO, meaning they already reflect a fairly large part of the world’s population.

Our other initiative is not about the use of cyberspace for undermining someone’s security; it is about fighting crimes (pedophilia, pornography, theft) in cyberspace. This topic is being considered by another UNGA committee. We are preparing a draft convention that will oblige all states to suppress criminal activities in cyberspace.

QuestionDo you think that the Foreign Ministry is active on this front? Would you like to be more proactive in the digital dialogue? After all, we are still bound by ethics, and have yet to understand whether we can cross the line or not. Elon Musk feels free to make any statements no matter how ironic and makes headlines around the world, even though anything he says has a direct bearing on his market cap. This is a shift in the ethics of behaviour. Do you think that this is normal? Is this how it should be? Or maybe people still need to behave professionally?

Sergey Lavrov: A diplomat can always use irony and a healthy dose of cynicism. In this sense, there is no contradiction here. However, this does not mean that while making ironic remarks on the surrounding developments or comments every once in a while (witty or not so witty), you do not have to work on resolving legal matters related to internet governance. This is what we are doing.

The Foreign Ministry has been at the source of these processes. We have been closely coordinating our efforts on this front with the Security Council Office, and the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media and other organisations. Russian delegations taking part in talks include representatives from various agencies. Apart from multilateral platforms such as the International Telecommunication Union, the UN General Assembly and the OSCE, we are working on this subject in bilateral relations with our key partners.

We are most interested in working with our Western partners, since we have an understanding on these issues with countries that share similar views. The Americans and Europeans evade these talks under various pretexts. There seemed to be an opening in 2012 and 2013, but after the government coup in Ukraine, they used it as a pretext to freeze this process. Today, there are some signs that the United States and France are beginning to revive these contacts, but our partners have been insufficiently active. What we want is professional dialogue so that they can raise all their concerns and accusations and back them with specific facts. We stand ready to answer all the concerns our partners may have, and will not fail to voice the concerns we have. We have many of them.

During the recent visit by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Russia, I handed him a list containing dozens of incidents we have identified: attacks against our resources, with 70 percent of them targeting state resources of the Russian Federation, and originating on German territory. He promised to provide an answer, but more than a month after our meeting we have not seen it so far.

Question: Let me ask you about another important initiative by the Foreign Ministry. You decided to amend regulations enabling people to be repatriated from abroad for   free, and you proposed subjecting the repatriation guarantee to the reimbursement of its cost to the budget. Could you tell us, please, is this so expensive for the state to foot this bill?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, these a substantial expenses. The resolution that provided for offering free assistance was adopted back in 2010, and was intended for citizens who find themselves in situations when their life is at risk. Imagine a Russian ambassador. Most of the people ask for help because they have lost money, their passport and so on. There are very few cases when an ambassador can actually say that a person is in a life-threatening situation and his or her life is in danger. How can an ambassador take a decision of this kind? As long as I remember, these cases can be counted on the fingers of my two hands since 2010, when an ambassador had to take responsibility and there were grounds for offering this assistance. We wanted to ensure that people can get help not only when facing an imminent danger (a dozen cases in ten years do not cost all that much). There were many more cases when our nationals found themselves in a difficult situation after losing money or passports. We decided to follow the practices used abroad. Specifically, this means that we provide fee-based assistance. In most cases, people travelling abroad can afford to reimburse the cost of a return ticket.

This practice is designed to prevent fraud, which remains an issue. We had cases when people bought one-way tickets knowing that they will have to be repatriated.

Question: And with no return ticket, they go to the embassy?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, after that they come to the embassy. For this reason, I believe that the system we developed is much more convenient and comprehensive for dealing with the situations Russians get into when travelling abroad, and when we have to step in to help them through our foreign missions.

Question: Mr Lavrov, thank you for your time. As a Georgian, I really have to ask this. Isn’t it time to simplify the visa regime with Georgia? A second generation of Georgians has now grown up that has never seen Russia. What do you think?

Sergey Lavrov: Georgians can travel to Russia – they just need to apply for a visa. The list of grounds for obtaining a visa has been expanded. There are practically no restrictions on visiting Russia, after obtaining a visa in the Interests Section for the Russian Federation in Tbilisi or another Russian overseas agency.

As for visa-free travel, as you know, we were ready for this a year ago. We were actually a few steps away from being ready to announce it when that incident happened with the Russian Federal Assembly delegation to the International Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, where they were invited in the first place, seated in their chairs, and then violence was almost used against them.

I am confident that our relations with Georgia will recover and improve. We can see new Georgian politicians who are interested in this. For now, there are just small parties in the ruling elites. But I believe our traditional historical closeness, and the mutual affinity between our peoples will ultimately triumph. Provocateurs who are trying to prevent Georgia from resuming normal relations with Russia will be put to shame.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way as Ukraine. In Ukraine, the IMF plays a huge role. And the IMF recently decided that each tranche allocated to Ukraine would be short-term.

Question: Microcredits.

Sergey Lavrov: Microcredits and a short leash that can always be pulled a little.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way. We have no interest in seeing this situation continue. We did not start it and have never acted against the Georgian people. Everyone remembers the 2008 events, how American instructors arrived there and trained the Georgian army. The Americans were well aware of Mikheil Saakashvili’s lack of restraint. He trampled on all agreements and issued a criminal order.

We are talking about taking their word for it. There were many cases when we took their word for it, but then it all boiled down to zilch. In 2003, Colin Powell, a test tube – that was an academic version. An attack on Iraq followed. Many years later, Tony Blair admitted that there had been no nuclear weapons in Iraq. There were many such stories. In 1999, the aggression against Yugoslavia was triggered by the OSCE representative in the Balkans, US diplomat William Walker, who visited the village of Racak, where they found thirty corpses, and declared it genocide of the Albanian population. A special investigation by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found they were military dressed in civilian clothes. But Mr Walker loudly declared it was genocide. Washington immediately seized on the idea, and so did London and other capitals. NATO launched an aggression against Yugoslavia.

After the end of the five-day military operation to enforce peace, the European Union ordered a special report from a group of invited experts, including Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini. She was later involved in the Minsk process, and then she was asked to lead a group of experts who investigated the outbreak of the military conflict in August 2008. The conclusion was unambiguous. All this happened on the orders of Mikheil Saakashvili, and as for his excuses that someone had provoked him, or someone had been waiting for him on the other side of the tunnel, this was just raving.

Georgians are a wise nation. They love life, perhaps the same way and the same facets that the peoples in the Russian Federation do. We will overcome the current abnormal situation and restore normal relations between our states and people.


In addition, if you follow the Minister, follow up on this interview with Sputnik

Exclusive: Sergei Lavrov Talks About West’s Historical Revisionism, US Election and Navalny Case

RUSSIAN CLOUDS OVER TURKISH-BACKED JIHADI PARADISE IN IDLIB

SouthFront

Russian Clouds Over Turkish-Backed Jihadi Paradise In Idlib
Video

On September 16, hundreds of protesters gathered near those Turkish military positions in Greater Idlib, which are surrounded by the Syrian Army, demanding the full withdrawal of the Turkish Army from Syria.

The largest protests took place near Turkish observation posts at Murak and Alsurman. Both these posts were surrounded by Syrian troops during the military operation against Turkish-backed al-Qaeda terrorists in southern Idlib. A majority of the protesters who took part in the event were from the nearby towns and villages, including Murak, Alsurman and Tell Touqan.

In the best traditions of Turkish ‘democracy’, Turkish soldiers from the Murak observation post responded to the protesters with tear gas.

Later on the same day, the Turkish government claimed that the observation posts had become the target of provocations and even individual attacks fomented by the ‘Assad regime’. According to the Turkish side, Turkish forces successfully repelled the provocation.

Meanwhile, Russian-Turkish military consultations on the conflicts in Syria and Libya have been ongoing in Ankara. According to Russian state media, Moscow proposed that the Turkish military reduce the number of observation posts in Greater Idlib, but the proposal was rejected. Nonetheless, Russian state media reported, citing their own sources, that Turkey had agreed to reduce the number of troops deployed in Idlib.

Currently, Ankara has almost 10,000 troops and thousands of pieces of military equipment, including battle tanks and artillery, in northwestern Syria. If the media reports are true, the formal and widely-promoted withdrawal of a dozen Turkish military trucks with several dozen troops will not change the situation strategically. Ankara has repeatedly demonstrated that it is not interested in a real fight against terrorism in Syria and that it in fact uses Idlib terrorist groups to promote its own agenda. This posture could be changed only under the increasing pressure of circumstances and regular friendly reminders from Turkey’s ‘strategic partners’.

As one such reminder over the past few days, the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted more than a hundred airstrikes on infrastructure and positions of the Turkish-backed terrorists. These strikes started last weekend and as of the morning of September 17, it does not seem that they will be fully halted anytime soon. Clouds have once again gathered over the jihadi paradise, which is being created by the Erdogan government in northwestern Syria.

AVERTING BARBAROSSA II: THE LIANA SPACE RADIOELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM

Averting Barbarossa II: The Liana Space Radioelectronic Surveillance System
Video

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

At the end of the Cold War, the level of international tension has considerably declined for at least a decade, thanks to widespread multilateral disarmament bolstered by a variety of arms control regimes for conventional and nuclear armaments. That decade also saw the rapid deterioration of Russia’s early warning and surveillance systems as satellites launched during the Soviet era exhausted their service lives and crashed into the atmosphere without being replaced. At first, this was either not seen as an urgent priority by Russian decisionmakers or, if it was, there were more urgent priorities for scarce defense funding in an era of a prolonged economic crisis.

Fast-forwarding a decade, we find ourselves in a radically different situation. There is no more “end of history” optimism in the air, nor is there a sense of durable US hegemony either that seemed so permanent in the 1990s. Unfortunately, history tells us that such shifts in the global balance of power are fraught with danger, as the fading hegemon has an incentive to resort to extreme, reckless measures to preserve that hegemony. What makes the current situation unprecedented is this being the first hegemonic transition of the nuclear age. In the past, nuclear deterrence existed only in the context of relatively stable bipolar and then unipolar systems. Does nuclear deterrence mutually assured destruction still work under conditions of a multipolar system experiencing a hegemonic transition?

International relations theory has no answer to that question, but the US national security establishment appears to think that it doesn’t, particularly in an era of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, drone and missile swarms, hypersonic delivery vehicles, and possibly even directed energy weapons. Crash US programs in developing all of the above, far beyond anything that might be termed reasonable defensive sufficiency under conditions of the US spending far more on defense than anyone else in the world, do raise the possibility of long-term plans to prevail in the new round of great power competition through not only covert action and “hybrid warfare”, but also, if an opportunity arises, through good old fashioned strategic first strike which need no longer be delivered using nuclear weapons.

The point of Cold War-era nuclear arms treaties was not to limit the number of nuclear warheads for its own sake. Rather, it was to deprive the two superpowers of their ability to launch a disarming and decapitating strike which, given technologies of the era, could only be launched using nuclear weapons.  That is still the case today, but may not be by 2030 should the US complete its planned rearmament with a large array of land-, air-, and sea-based long-range stealthy and hypersonic weapons. Even the US Army, with its plans for “1,000-mile cannon” is once again getting into the game of strategic strike, to speak nothing of land-based hypersonic missiles. And strategic strike using non-nuclear warheads is a novel scenario in which the old “mutually assured destruction” calculations may not apply. Combined with the explosive growth of US anti-ballistic missile programs, if the rest of the world stands still, by 2030 US decision makers might find themselves tempted to launch such a strategic strike against even a major nuclear weapons state like Russia or China, to say nothing of mid-level powers like Iran or North Korea, particularly if they have no nuclear deterrent to begin with.

Except the rest of the world is not about to stand still, and the Liana space surveillance system is an important component of the Russian response to US initiatives. The imminent era of post-nuclear strategic strike demands strategic defense and stability cannot be provided solely by anti-ballistic early warning systems. They would simply provide warning of an attack once it was underway, and in view of the possibility that large numbers of hypersonic missiles could be launched very close to Russia’s borders from the territory of NATO member-states following a rapid and covert deployment, as well as submarines and stealthy bombers, that warning might come too late to make an effective response possible. To make matters worse still, US drive to destroy the Open Skies Treaty that is supposed to prevent precisely that kind of a covert preparation for a first strike, is also indicative of what the long-term US plans are.

Liana is therefore intended to provide that kind of strategic early warning, as well as operational target designation, in the event of an attempted surprise first strike. The satellite constellation is to consist of two types of satellites. The first, Pion-NKS, is a 6.5 ton satellite intended for a 67-degree, 500km orbit, with service life of more than three years. It’s development is nearly complete at the Arsenal Design Bureau. It is a high-resolution radar reconnaissance satellite, capable of positively identifying “car-sized” objects on the Earth’s surface. The second component of the Liana will be Lotos-S, a six-ton satellite operating on a 67-degree, 900km apogee orbit, and performing passive detection, identification, and location of electronic emitters, including radio communications. It was developed by the Arsenal Design Bureau, in collaboration with several other scientific research institutions. Both types of satellites are expected to be launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, using the proven and reliable Soyuz-2-1b launch vehicles. The complete Liana configuration is to consist of two Pion-NKS and two Lotos-S satellites, and open-source information sources suggest the two satellite types have a fair amount of component commonality in order to allow them not only to complement one another, but to perform each other’s primary missions though in a degraded form. So far there have been three Lotos-S launches from Plesetsk, with the first 2009 one being a failure, and the 2015 and 2018 one a success. No Pion-NKS launches have been scheduled yet, but the satellite’s advanced stage of development suggests they will occur in the coming years.

Technological advances mean that once complete, Liana will serve as a replacement for both the Legenda naval surveillance and target designation satellite network, and the Tselina radioelectronic reconnaissance one, thus providing Russian decisionmakers with the ability to monitor troop deployments and electronic activity that would inevitably precede a strategic first strike. Liana will also no doubt prove itself useful in non-Doomsday scenarios as well. The Syria experience revealed the need for reliable detection and target designation of NATO cruise-missile launch assets, including aircraft, submarines, and surface vessels. Liana’s capabilities mean both the assets themselves, other than submarines, and their communications can be monitored to reveal preparations for a strike and provide targeting information as well. It is not clear Russia would have been able to accurately strike at US warships launching cruise missiles at Syria had they been directed against Russian bases. The absence of radar surveillance satellites was a painful gap in Russia’s capabilities at that time, one that will be filled in the coming years.

Trump Says He Wanted to Kill Syria’s Assad, But Mattis Blocked Him

 September 16, 2020

Trump Mattis

ٍSource

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wanted to assassinate Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2017, but that his then-secretary of defense Jim Mattis opposed the operation.

“I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set,” Trump told the morning show Fox & Friends. “Mattis didn’t want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general, and I let him go.”

The revelations support reporting that came out in 2018 when Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward published his book “Fear: Trump in the White House” and which the president denied at the time.

“That was never even contemplated,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on September 5, 2018.

Trump’s Tuesday remarks came as he castigated Mattis, whom the president hailed as a “great man” when he hired him to run the Pentagon, before soured on the retired general who eventually resigned in late 2018.

Trump was reportedly mulling assassinating Assad after the alleged chemical attack in April 2017.

The US leader said American forces should “go in” and “kill” Assad, Woodward reported in his book.

The journalist — famous for uncovering the 1970s Watergate scandal that brought down US president Richard Nixon — wrote that Mattis told Trump he would “get right on it” but returned with plans for a more limited airstrike.

Trump told Fox he did not regret the decision not to target Assad, saying he “could have lived either way with that.”

“I considered him certainly not a good person, but I had a shot to take him out if I wanted and Mattis was against it,” Trump said. “Mattis was against most of that stuff.”

Source: Agencies

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Haaretz: Sayyed Nasrallah Not Wrong About Stretching “Israeli” Army to the Limit

Haaretz: Sayyed Nasrallah Not Wrong About Stretching “Israeli” Army to the Limit

By Staff, Haaretz

The high alert on the northern border has been in force for more than a month and a half. Under the flood of other news, it’s not the main thing on the mind of the “Israeli” public and media.

According to the “Israeli” news outlet Haaretz, Hezbollah has tried twice to avenge the martyrdom of a fighter martyred in July in an “Israeli” bombing attack at Damascus Airport.

The devastating explosion at the Beirut port on August 4 completely changed the agenda in Lebanon, the news outlet went on to say. But very quickly it became clear that it had no effect on the plans of Hezbollah leader His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who is determined to kill an “Israeli” soldier before declaring a return to calm on the border.

Sayyed Nasrallah is trying to hold the rope at both ends, according to Haaretz. He denies the “Israeli” allegations about the foiling of attempted attacks, but is proud that the “Israeli” army is so tense waiting for Hezbollah’s response.

Haaretz added that the alert along the border has been long and nerve-racking, taking up the time of Military Intelligence as well, far beyond what “Israelis” might think. The “Israeli” army is continuing to call up reservist officers to reinforce command posts, to deploy relatively large forces in the entity’s north and to keep its distance from the fence. It doesn’t want to provide Hezbollah with a target for an operation.

The containment policy was decided at the very top, by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, War Minister Benny Gantz and army chief Aviv Kochavi, the news outlet explained.

For years, the “Israeli” entity has been waging a war between the wars in the north alleging that one of its goals is to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. If Sayyed Nasrallah establishes a new balance of threats, he can also influence moves attributed to the “Israeli” entity in Syria, according to the “Israeli” daily.

Based on the report by Haaretz, under Sayyed Nasrallah’s formula of deterrence, for every Lebanese death in an “Israeli” attack, even if it occurs in Syria, Hezbollah will mount a response. His Eminence’s temptation lies in stretching the equation to force the entity to think three times before every attack in Syria.

Furthermore, Netanyahu likes to boast about the close strategic and military cooperation with the Trump administration. Several times he has praised Trump for his decision in January to assassinate General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force.

The United States is indeed pursuing an aggressive line against Tehran while gradually stepping up the sanctions pressure. But, like the “Israeli” entity, the Americans have to protect themselves against a possible response to the offensive moves they’ve made.

Israel Bombs with Missiles the Outskirts of Aleppo 11 September 2020

September 11, 2020 Arabi Souri

Syrian Army air defense repel incoming Israel missiles in the outskirts of Aleppo

A new missile bombing by Israel against the outskirts of Aleppo province this dawn was reported by the official Syrian News Agency SANA.

The agency quoted a Syrian military source: ‘At 1:30 in the morning, the Zionist enemy launched air aggression around Aleppo with bursts of missiles.’

The military source added: ‘Our air defense means responded to the aggression and dropped most of the enemy missiles.’, as per SANA.

Israel bombs the outskirts of Aleppo 11 September 2020

There is not much information about this latest Israeli aggression as of the time of writing this report, however, a recent escalation against the states not under the US hegemony, partially or completely, is being carried out by the NATO camp, escalations as this military bombing, two similar bombings in the past month alone, increased hostility against the Palestinians who are refusing to give their homes away to foreign European imported Zionist settlers, fires and explosions in Lebanon, Iraq, and even Jordan, which is a 100% British protectorate but still a considerable portion of its population are patriotic, and the ever-increasing sanctions.

Syria’s wildfires burning large swathes of Syria’s breathing lung the al Ghab Forests are seen as not innocent at all, in their numbers, areas targeted, and timing, as if the USA is continuing to suffocate the Syrian people out of their last breathes or push millions more into refugee camps.

Both embattled Netanyahu in ‘Israel’ and Trump in the Untied States need any success to grasp upon abroad by all means of intimidation, war crimes, or direct military intervention like the one early this morning on Aleppo, they need to cover their failures, both of them, on all policies they followed especially domestically and in the wake of the COVID 19 consequences by ways of diverting attention by the usual method: a military adventure abroad. Erdogan, the Turkish madman, is in the same boat along with the Saudis who are failing miserably in their criminal war against Yemen.

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Syrian Air Defenses Destroy ‘Israeli’ Missiles Over Aleppo

Syrian Air Defenses Destroy ‘Israeli’ Missiles Over Aleppo

By Staff, Agencies

Syrian air defenses thwarted a new ‘Israeli’ act of aggression against the war-ravaged Arab country, shooting down a number of hostile missiles in the skies over the strategic northwestern province of Aleppo.

Syria’s state-run television, citing a military statement, reported that the ‘Israeli’ aircraft fired several missiles at areas in the vicinity of Aleppo at 1:30 a.m. local time on Friday, but most of the projectiles were intercepted and destroyed before hitting any of their targets.

The statement said that the attack targeted al-Safirah town, located 25 kilometers east of Aleppo city.

Late on September 2, Syrian air defense systems engaged hostile targets near the Tiyas Military Airbase, also known as the T-4 Airbase, in the country’s central province of Homs.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported at the time that Zionist warplanes fired missiles from the direction of al-Tanf region in southeastern Syria.

The report, quoting an unnamed Syrian military source, added that most of the missiles were shot down and the rest caused only material damage.

The development came only two days after two Syrian soldiers were martyred and seven others sustained injuries in an ‘Israeli’ missile attack against military sites in southern Damascus.

The assault was reported to have been launched from the occupied Golan Heights.

The Zionist entity frequently attacks military positions inside Syria.

The Tel Aviv regime mostly keeps quiet about the attacks on Syrian territories which many view as knee-jerk reaction to Syrian government’s increasing success in confronting terrorism.

Jaafari to UNSC: US, Turkey, White Helmets Plot Chemical Attack in Idlib

September 11, 2020 Miri Wood

Syrian Ambassador to the UNSC Bashar Jaafari
H.E. Bashar al Jaafari

Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, His Excellency Dr. Bashar al Jaafari dropped another bombshell at the 84th meeting of the UNSC on the ‘Syrian chemical weapons’ file since the passage of UNSCR 2118 (2013), noting that a certain American envoy recently visited Turkey to plot out a new chemical weapons attack in Idlib.

This meeting of 10 September was one of the most tediously repetitious in terms of the same strident, criminal lies of the NATO klansmen running the United Nations. Even the normal cacophony of the House Servant echolalia was a bit more annoying than usual.

UNSC: Mostly NATO klan & underlings.

A simple synopsis of the NATO Security Council members as follows: UK, liar; France, liar in French; US, liar by weary enough to emit the parapraxis of “damned findings” instead of “damning” something or other; Germany, liar; Belgium, liar; Estonia, liar auditioning for future penholder gig.

H.E. Bashar al Jaafari noted UNSC being turned into a platform for North Atlantic Treaty Organization to support Turkish aggression against Syria. [Archive]
H.E. Bashar al Jaafari noted UNSC being turned into a platform for North Atlantic Treaty Organization to support Turkish aggression against Syria. [Archive]

Additionally, all of the lies told by the liars were based on the lies of the ignoble OPCW, which traded its once noble goals in a Mephistophelean pact with Dick Cheney, to eject Jose Bustani from its leadership.

Not only are its reports on Ltamenah and Khan Sheikhoun criminal lies against Syria — based on lies from al Qaeda, including the stethoscope-less White Helmets — its very reports admit that investigators did not enter either place because the safety of the investigators in the midst of al Qaeda havens could not be guaranteed.

syria - Terrorists of Ltamenah. Archive.
Medics of Ltamenah, . Archive.

His Excellency Vassily Nebenzia was on righteous fire. The videos of his statement and his exchange with the German liar who persisted in deviating from the lying topic of the OPCW lies against Syria, to lie that Russia had poisoned some silly ‘opposition’ guy that nobody ever heard of until he allegedly keeled over in flight, will be added to this report when they become available.

H.E. Vassily Nebenzia, Russia's Permanent Representative to the UNSC
H.E. Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UNSC

The UK liar chimed in to disgustingly reaffirm her country’s complete support of the organ trading, kidnapping, necrophiliac, pedonecrophiliac, criminally insane murdering White Helmets — who are also likely engaged in marketing abducted Syrian children on the dark web.

White Helmets humanitarians on the corpses of murdered Syrian soldiers whose boots have been stolen.
white-helmets
Snuff porn, war porn, pedonecrophilia. Courtesy, White Helmets.
alqaeda-white-helmets
White Helmets abusing corpses of murdered Syrian soldiers in Daraa. [Archive]
White Helmets
How did a White Helmet come into possession of a dead fetus & why does this pervert play with the body?
femicide Now soaked boy wipes water from his eyes. Baby on bed is soaked & shivering.
Now soaked boy wipes water from his eyes. Baby on bed is soaked & shivering.
Two White Helmets with Syrian soldiers kidnapped in Khan Touman, 7 May 2016.
femicide Hollywood elite excludes Syrian women captives from #MeToo!
Kidnapped Syrian women put into cages are not considered part of the #MeToo movement.
afp
Syrian boy tortured for two Helmet photo op ‘rescues.’

Just as Ambassador al Jaafari was about to speak, the French liar rudely interrupted and in English snarled her support of the criminal lies of the German, that had been hurled against the Russian ambassador.

As always, H.E. Jaafari threw pearls before swine.

As always, the noble diplomat used his intellect as a boxer uses his fists.

— Miri Wood

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Russia Affirms its Support to Syria Economically, Politically, and Militarily

September 9, 2020 Arabi Souri

Russia High-level Delegation in Damascus to Support Syria

Russian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs led a high-level delegation to the Syrian capital Damascus to affirm Moscow’s position towards its oldest continuous and reliable friend, and at times a close ally, in the face of an unprecedented dirty war of terror and attrition waged against it by the world’s superpowers and super-rich countries.

The delegation included the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and a host of business representatives, the visit included a meeting with President Bashar Assad and resulted in a number agreements covering the rebuilding of Syria’s infrastructure and emphasizing on Syria’s sovereignty, territorial unity and integrity.

In addition to facing the NATO-sponsored merciless terrorists, US proxy separatist militias, and the blockade, the COVID 19 measures added further burden to the Syrian economy, with sporadic forest fires in one of its remaining fertile regions not infested by the terrorists or occupation forces.

The following is a compiled report by the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news station covers the important outcomes of the visit and side of the press conference held by the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, and the Syrian and Russian foreign ministers Walid al-Muallem and Sergey Lavrov:

https://videopress.com/embed/VzcBrQzD?preloadContent=metadata&hd=1The video is also available on BitChute.

Transcript of the English translation:

The work on the Syrian track depends on what was reached between the Russian, Iranian and Turkish presidents, with the support and approval of the Syrian leadership, and that what unites the three countries’ views is seeking to prevent the Iraqi and Libyan scenario despite the differences in viewpoints.

With regard to the issue of Syria’s sovereignty, territorial unity, and integrity, all the charters and documents issued through the Astana track, like all the Russian-Turkish bilateral agreements, literally stipulate the two countries ’commitment to the sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of Syria, noting that the territories under the control of the Syrian government have expanded significantly after signing the additional Russian-Turkish memorandum.

Of course, there are significant differences in the positions of Moscow, Ankara, and Tehran on how to conduct the Syrian settlement, and we can see them in the statements of the representatives of these countries, but what unites Russia, Iran, and Turkey is the steadfast pursuit of preventing a recurrence of the Iraq or Libya scenario. Our joint action within the framework of the Astana process depends on the imperative of respecting the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Syria, the importance of preventing any external interference in its internal affairs, and the importance of preventing any external incitement to the separatist atmosphere.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said that the debate on the Syrian constitution will continue until an agreement is reached, indicating that what will come out of the constitutional committee will be submitted to a popular referendum.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem: With regard to the next constitution, this is up to what the members of the Constitutional Committee reach from both sides, if they want to amend the existing constitution or produce a new constitution, in both cases the product will be submitted to a popular referendum in order to ensure that it represents the widest popular representation.

There is no timetable for (preparing) the constitution. This constitution occupies special importance and a popular sanctity that cannot be completed in a hurry under pressure. This must be accomplished in a way that achieves the aspirations of the Syrian people. The debate on it will continue until they reach an understanding among themselves, and it has nothing to do with the presidential elections.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Yuri Borisov, said: Most of the areas rich in natural resources are outside the control of the Syrian government, which constitutes an obstacle to the Syrian trade, given that it is an important source of revenue.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Yuri Borisov: Unfortunately, we have to admit that most areas rich in oil and gas are currently outside the control of the Syrian government, bearing in mind that the gas and oil trade were an important source of revenue for the Syrian budget and the same is related to fertile agricultural areas, and this fact harms food security Syria is also forced to import oil and grains after it was exporting them. The draft of the new agreement on expanding commercial, industrial, and economic cooperation between Russia and Syria includes more than 40 new projects, including reconstruction projects for energy institutions and infrastructure for the energy sector, in addition to the reconstruction of a number of hydroelectric power stations that were built by the Union (USSR) or with the participation of Soviet experts, in addition, a work contract has been signed for a Russian company on the Syrian coast to extract oil at sea, and this contract is awaiting its ratification.

The tragic situation in Syria and these obstacles are caused by the destructive position of the American administration, in addition to the unwillingness of the Kurds to communicate with Damascus and hand over control to the legitimate government in Damascus over the agricultural areas and oil and gas fields.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is in Damascus for the first time in eight years, accompanied by a large delegation, to strengthen relations between Moscow and Damascus.

Economically, Moscow seemed to continue to strengthen economic cooperation through agreements to be signed between Russia and Syria. Politically, regarding the Syrian presidential elections, Lavrov was clear by saying: The elections are the sovereign decision of the Syrian Arab Republic. While it was confirmed by Minister Al-Moallem that the Syrian presidential elections are taking place on schedule next year.

Minister Lavrov’s statements did not deviate from the expectations and readings prior to his arrival in Damascus. The Russian minister folded the eight years from the time of his first visit and the Syrian war with three titles as a way out that Damascus needs to get out of the complexities of the crisis, in the work of the Constitutional Committee, economic cooperation, and the completion of the war on terror.

It was not arbitrary that the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Yuri Borisov, sat on one platform with the Russian and Syrian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Al-Muallem. Giving the economic dimension a place in the visit to Damascus was one of its most important goals in the agreements to rebuild the infrastructure in the energy and economy sector and expand Russian investments to alleviate the consequences of Caesar’s sanctions.

The few hours in the presidential palace also carried many messages, and the presidential statement went beyond just pre-registering the points of agreement between the two parties, but turned into a message about a partnership to be held in the war on economic sanctions and overcoming the blockade.

President Assad Receives Visiting Russian Delegation Headed by Dy PM Borisov and FM Lavrov
Russian Delegation in Damascus Meet President Assad
Russian Delegation Meeting President Bashar Assad

The meeting confirmed the continuation of the political process through the Astana track, which set a horizon and an exit point for the war in the hands of Moscow, Tehran, and Damascus, and continues to neutralize the Western powers that seek to divide Syria, and in the work of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva without a timetable for rewriting or amending the constitution, and there is no political solution except from inside Syria. According to UN Resolution 2254, in conjunction with the elimination of the remaining hotbeds of terrorism, to prevent a recurrence of the Libya and Iraq scenario in Syria.

Moscow sends to Damascus a high-level political and economic delegation to re-establish the general lines of its strategy in support of the Syrian state, and Moscow realizes that its position in the Syrian file is an essential part of its rise again in the world, but it is also mainly in ensuring fundamental issues that confirm the unity of soil and the Syrian map.

Dima Nassif – Damascus, Al-Mayadeen

End of the report by Al Mayadeen

When the whole world’s economies struggle from the consequences of COVID 19 and the strict measures implemented to contain it, the western hypocrite and criminal officials doubled-down their sanctions on the Syrian people, who are still fighting ISIS which the west itself claim is the worst terrorist organization, claiming they are helping them by killing them slowly, Trump imposed his Caesar Act regime of sanctions, not applied to any other country on the planet, and the European Union renewed their draconian sanctions for a further year.

The Pentagon Threatening to Revive ISIS

Jaafari Demands UN Halt Terrorists without Borders, Looters of Syria

Hearing is Not Like Seeing: NATO’s Terrorists Burning Syrian Wheat Crops – Video

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Tucker: President Trump wants US troops out of the Middle East

Source

موسكو ومشروع جذب فرنسا إلى سورية تحت عنوان الإعمار

ناصر قنديل

أن تكون زيارة وفد حكوميّ روسيّ رفيع الى دمشق هي الزيارة الثانية لوزير الخارجية الروسيّة سيرغي لافروف لسورية، فذلك يعني رمزيّة يُراد لها أن تؤشر لما هو غير عادي، وأن يقول لافروف في ختام الزيارة إن عودة الوضع الطبيعيّ في سورية بنسبة كبيرة يفتح ملف إعادة الإعمار كأولوية، وأهمية حشد الدعم الدولي لذلك، فهذا يعني أن ثمة في المضمون ما يدعو لمناقشة على درجة عالية من الجدية للمشهد الدولي والإقليمي وبلورة توجهات تتصل بتحديد الوجهات المستهدفة في عملية إعادة الإعمار على خلفيّة سقوط الرهانات الخارجية على العبث بالاستقرار الداخلي في سورية، ونجاح مشروع الدولة السورية في فرض حضوره والصمود بوجه التحديات بدعم مستمر ونوعي وثابت من الحلفاء، فماذا عساه يكون، إضافة لما يمكن أن يقدمه تعزيز دعم الحلفاء في روسيا وإيران للدولة السورية وتعزيز التعاون الاقتصادي مع القطاعين العام والخاص في سورية، ليحتاج اللقاء على هذا المستوى من الأهمية التي أريد تسليط الضوء عليها؟

خلال سنوات قليلة مضت كانت روسيا وهي تقدم نموذج علاقتها مع تركيا، بالتعاون مع إيران، تتوجّه نحو الحلقة الثانية من التموضع في صفوف حلف الحرب على سورية، للانتقال من ضفة الحرب إلى ضفة السلم، والحلقة الثانية تمثلها فرنسا المهتمّة منذ زمن بإعادة الإعمار في سورية، وفي عيون موسكو أن الوقت حان لباريس التي تدرك وصول الحرب على سورية إلى طريق مسدود، كما تدرك حجم التوازن الذي تحرص عليه موسكو بين أنقرة وباريس في ليبيا، تعرف وقد بدأت مهمة رعاية النهوض الاقتصادي في لبنان من بوابة التسوية السياسية، أن البداية من لبنان تعني التحضير للتوجه نحو سورية، العمق الطبيعي للاقتصاد اللبناني، وممره الإلزامي نحو الأسواق العربية في الخليج والعراق، وعمقه السياسي في بيئة استراتيجية يشكل النفط والغاز طرفها الأول، والصراع بين محور المقاومة والحلف الأميركي الإسرائيلي طرفها الثاني، وتقف روسيا على نقاط ومفاصل هاتين المعادلتين بدقة تعرفها باريس، تفتح الطريق الموازي الذي لا بد منه لمبادرة فرنسية تسير بين النقاط في المعادلتين على الضفة اللبنانية، لا تكتمل من دون أن تتحصن بالتوجه نحو سورية.

فرنسا بعيون روسية تمثل ثلاث معادلات ترسم موقفها وموقعها، فهي شريك روسيا في التمسك بالاتفاق النووي الإيراني الذي خرجت منه واشنطن، ومؤخراً وقفت فرنسا مع روسيا في وجه المسعى الأميركي لتجديد الحظر على السلاح على إيران خلافاً لما ينص عليه الاتفاق النووي، وفرنسا منافس لتركيا في المتوسط وتحتاج لتوازن دولي وإقليمي معها على مستوى الفاعلين في البيئة الاستراتيجية الواحدة، وطرف التوازن هنا هو روسيا وإيران، وهما على تواصل مع فرنسا وسمعتا منها رغبة واضحة بالتعاون الإقليمي الذي تعرف فرنسا أن بوابته سورية، وفرنسا أظهرت في لبنان رغبة بتوجيه رسالة مفادها أنها لا تأتي لتنفيذ أجندة تقييد وحصار الحليف اللبناني لروسيا وإيران في سورية الذي يمثله حزب الله، الحليف الاستراتيجي للدولة السورية الذي يحمّله بعض خصوم سورية مسؤولية هزيمتهم في الحرب عليها، ولدى فرنسا معطيات كافية عن مساع تركية لطلب الدعم من حزب الله وروسيا وإيران لوراثة الدورين السعودي والفرنسي في لبنان، مقابل تنازلات تركيّة في سورية، ولم تلق الدعوات التركية الاستجابة التي كانت تسعى إليها أنقرة.

موسكو التي تعمل على خطّ حوار بين الدولة السورية والجماعات الكردية التي تربطها علاقات مميزة بفرنسا، ضمن معادلة خروج أميركي سلس من سورية، كما تعمل على توسيع نطاق الترتيبات المشتركة مع تركيا في منطقة ادلب لتعزيز الاستقرار وتقدّم مسار حضور الدولة السورية بالتوازي مع تقدّم المسار السياسي الذي كانت تعتبره فرنسا شرطاً للتقدم نحو مشروع إعادة الإعمار، هي موسكو التي تعلن عن أولوية إعادة إعمار سورية وحشد الدعم الدولي لها لتمنح فرنسا فرصة تلتقطها لبلورة صورة أشمل للدور المتوسطي لفرنسا الذي لا يكتمل بدون الحلقة السورية، وفي سورية دولة رفضت علاقات تحت الطاولة عرضها الفرنسيون مراراً، وكان جوابها على مثل هذه الدعوات المتكررة أن الأولوية هي لعودة العلاقات الدبلوماسية، وأن السفارة الفرنسية في دمشق هي الجهة الصالحة لبحث كل الأمور ذات الاهتمام المشترك.

في زمن عقوبات قانون قيصر تبدو فرنسا مدعوة لموقف مشابه تجاه سورية من الموقف تجاه لبنان، بالفصل بين مسار الإعمار في سورية ومسار المواجهة الأميركية مع إيران، أسوة بمسعى الفصل بين إنقاذ الاقتصاد اللبناني ومسار المواجهة ذاته.

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سورية الأسد… وإعادة رسم خطوط التماس بألوان النفط والغاز!

محمد صادق الحسيني

فيما تمضي القيادة السورية وحلفاؤها الإقليميون بخطى وطيدة دفاعاً عن ثوابتها وملفاتها القومية والوطنية من فلسطين والجولان وصولاً الى الداخل السوري الخاصة بالدستور والسيادة ووحدة الأراضي، تحركت القيادة الروسية في اندفاعتها الجديدة الاقتصادية السياسية نحو دمشق من أجل وضع ملامح مرحلة مستجدة لا بدّ منها في مواجهة تحوّلات شرق المتوسط المتلاحقة…

مصادر واسعة الاطلاع على مطبخ صناعة القرار الروسي تقول بأنّ الوفد الروسي الكبير الذي زار دمشق في الساعات الماضية برئاسة نائب رئيس الوزراء بيسلوف وكلّ من رئيس الديبلوماسية الروسية لافروف والسيد بوغدانوف باعتباره نائب وزير الخارجية المكلف بالمنطقة، حمل معه ورقة سياسية اقتصادية متكاملة تحمل ثلاثة بنود مرحلية أساسية فيها مصلحة دمشق أولاً ومن ثم لكلّ من موسكو وحلفاء دمشق الآخرين أيضاً وهي التالية:

أولاً: تجميد الميادين السورية والصراعات السياسية من الآن الى حلول الصيف المقبل بهدف إنجاح الاستحقاق الانتخابي الرئاسي السوري بحيث تجري الانتخابات في أوسع المحافظات والأراضي السورية بشكل قوي داخليا ومقبول دستورياً ويكبّل ألسنة المجتمع الدولي المتطلب والمعاند…

في هذه الأثناء تقوم الدول الضامنة في أستانة بتثبيت مناطق خفض الصراع في ادلب وتعزيز الإنجازات فيها

كما تضمن روسيا احتضان الورقة الكردية والمعارضات «المعتدلة» باتجاه ضبط اندفاعتها تحت مظلة الدولة الوطنية السورية.

ثانياً: ضخّ الدم في دورة إعادة بناء الاقتصاد السوري انطلاقاً من حقول النفط والغاز غير المنتجة بعد ولكنها الجاهزة بالمسح الجيولوجي من خلال تنشيط العمل فيها تحت مظلة روسية حفاظاً على حقوق الطاقة السورية من أن تذهب سدى أو أن تتعرّض للضياع وسط صراعات الطاقة شرق المتوسط التي تتناهشها القوى الإقليمية والدولية الطامعة بثروات المتوسط الهائلة…

تجدر الإشارة مثلاً الى انّ بئراً واحدة من النفط في الحقل ١٤ شمال طرطوس يحتوي على كميات يُقال إنها ثلاثة أضعاف إنتاج الكويت…

ثالثاً: إدراج سورية كلاعب أساسي وتنشيط دورها وحقها القومي والإقليمي والعالمي في الدفاع عن أمن واستقرار المتوسط، وهو ما تراه روسيا بأنه ينبغي ان يصبّ في إطار «تحالف المصلحة الواسع» مع تركيا عملياً ومن معها بضمانة روسية لمواجهة ما يسمّونه بديل خط نابوكو الذي دمّرت سورية من أجله (كان يُراد أن يمرّ من سورية بديلاً لخطي الغاز الروسي والإيراني لأوروبا) واليوم انتقل ليكون عبر الكيان الصهيوني بالتعاون مع مصر وقبرص واليونان وبرعاية فرنسية وناتوية (الناتو)…

وتعتقد موسكو في هذا الاتجاه بأنّ مثل هذا التحالف الموسع من شأنه أن يوقف الاندفاعة الاستعمارية الفرنسية ضدّ لبنان وامتداداً الى السواحل الليبية..

الأهمّ من كلّ هذا فإن موسكو ورغم أولوية مصالحها الاقتصادية ترى بأنّ مثل هذه الخطوات الثلاثة: ايّ تثبيت خطوط الميدان، وتنشيط الاقتصاد السوري عبر مظلة الطاقة الروسية، وتحالف الطاقة الموسع ضدّ الاندفاعة الفرنسية الغربية، من شأنه ان يمرّر السنة الأصعب اقتصادياً وسياسياً على سورية في ظلّ الحصار الأميركي، بأقلّ الخسائر فضلاً عن تثبيته لحكم الرئيس المقاوم بشار الأسد السيادي والقوي على عكس ما يروّج الغرب الاستعماري بأنّ موسكو تبحث عن فيدرالية او حكم انتقالي أو إعادة بناء سورية بتفصيل معاد للعروبة…!

وهو ما نفاه رجال الاقتصاد والديبلوماسية الروسية بشكل واضح وصريح في مؤتمرهم الصحافي المشترك مع الوزير وليد المعلم يوم أمس في دمشق.

مرة أخرى علينا كدول وقوى محور المقاومة التسريع في إعادة رسم خطوط دفاعاتنا الداخلية الوطنية والقومية والحضارية بالصلابة اللازمة حتى نخفف دفع أثمان تحالفات الأمر الواقع التي تفرضها الأحداث المتسارعة…!

وحدة الدم ووحدة الساحات بوجه ما يُراد لنا من مشاريع سايكس بيكو جديدة او للتقليل من إطالة صراعنا مع العدو الرئيسي بسبب حاجاتنا الخارجية التي لا بدّ منها حتى لصديق معتمد مثل روسيا…

والأهمّ من ذلك إعادة ترميم وتدعيم وتعزيز محور المقاومة وهو السلاح الأمضى والقاطع أمام كلّ التحديات.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

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Russian and Syrian Foreign Ministers Hold a Joint Presser in Damascus

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other officials attend a meeting in Damascus, Syria September 7, 2020

Sputnik-Middle East
The Russian delegation headed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in the Syrian capital of Damascus for talks on the state of affairs in the Syrian Constitutional Committee and the current situation in the Arab country.

A live broadcast shows Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem holding a joint press conference in Damascus.

The talks on various topics including the state of affairs in the Syrian Constitutional Committee and the current situation in Syria come after a third meeting of the committee wrapped up on 29 August.

This is Lavrov’s first visit to Syria since February 2012.

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The hypothetical compromise: The end of 10 years of war in West Asia

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September 5, 2020 – 23:12

On my way back from the south to Beirut two months ago, Elea crossroad in Saida was closed. As I took the long [S] turn to be able to reach Beirut road again, I came across the Lebanese Army.

I stopped the car next to one of the officers and asked him: “What is going on? They are not more than 20 young men and women! How could they? Why don’t you send them back home? The officer said: “It is better to let them steam off!” He added: “It is the Turkish intelligence! They are sending millions of American dollars to start eruption and chaos in Lebanon.”

The Lebanese Army confirmed the information a while after the incident. On the 4th of July, Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammad Fahmi announced that four citizens, including two Syrians, were arrested as they were trying to smuggle $4 million. He said that the money was meant to finance “violent street movements”.

He added that instructions were given via WhatsApp to promote violence against the government.

The Turkish role in the Arab countries has been escalating since the war on Syria in 2011. It is not a secret anymore that tens of thousands of terrorist fighters entered Syria through Turkey and were protected by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime. Unfortunately, the Arab region is not only facing a new Ottoman dream but also a new wave of colonialism led by the Americans and their puppets.  

In his speech on the 10th of Muharram, Ashura, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah several times repeated that Syria has won the war. Nasrallah’s description of Syria’s situation is shared with several observers, who perceive that Syria awaits the international political solution. Nonetheless, whether it is going to be a compromise, or it is going to coincide with Syrian political demands, we need to wait and see.

It is practical to understand the complications in West Asia. The region has been on a hot tin roof since the burst of the Arab eruptions in 2011.  The Americans titled the eruptions as “the Arab Spring” are now recognized as the “Arab Drought.” 

The area has been going through an endless chain of wars with terrorism and occupation forces, which exhausted it and awaiting compromises. Complicated and interrelated files, such as the war on Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt, and Libya, need to be solved. However, there are two factors that delay the solution. The first is Turkey, which seems to have its own agenda. And the second is the so-called Deal of the Century. 

Today, the struggle has been fueled among the allies, who started the war on Libya, Syria, and Yemen. According to several resources, the powers that have led the wars are now accelerating the steps towards proper solutions. And each one of them is trying to save face and withdraw with minimum losses. 

Ten exhausting years have passed on West Asia (the Middle East). It witnessed the discovery of gas fields in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. Countries and their major companies are rushing to ensure shares in the new gas fields’ investments. Amongst them is Turkey, which is demanding a place in the eastern Mediterranean shores.

Accordingly, through the “Muslim Brotherhood” parties, Turkey has found a way to be part of the struggle in West Asia. It seems that Turkish President Erdogan is trying to undo the Ottoman’s defeat in the First World War. He is leading to constant wars against Arab countries. For most of the Arabs in the region, these wars are manipulating the Islamic world and leading to the destruction of their countries. It distorts the attention from the true enemy, which is “Israel,” and leads to the rise of Islamic “radicalism” and terrorism. 

Turkey has accelerated the struggle with Arab countries in Libya. Add to that, the current military exercises by Greece and Turkey over the rights of natural gas fields and the legal rights in the marine economic zones. The exercises have escalated EU awareness towards Turkish intentions. Subsequently, it led to further tension with the EU. 

The main force behind the current events in West Asia was the U.S. plan to create what they call” the New Middle East”. The plan was supposed to be applied by force in 2003, starting with the war on Iraq, but it failed. Combined regional forces resisted Iraq’s division, and the resistance was able to force the final withdrawal of the Americans in 2011. Ironically, in the same year, the Arab eruptions started in different Arab countries. 
Nonetheless, ten years of a brutal war on Syria revealed the following aims:

1-     The war mainly aimed to secure the safety of Israel. The Americans set in mind that controlling Syrian territories will eventually lead to controlling the flow of arms to Hezbollah.

2-     Controlling the gas and petrol pipes running through Syria to Turkey and Europe. By doing so, Iran, Russia, and eventually China fuel trade will be monitored and controlled.

3-     Changing the Arab regimes to pro-Turkish or Islamic Brotherhood’s governments and Saudi controlled ones to control the Arab decision in the Arab League and eventually dissolve it.

4-     Making way for the (Persian) Arab Gulf countries to sign peace treaties with Israel, this has already started with Abraham Accord.

5-     Giving Israel full control over gas and oil production and distribution through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Not all of the goals set were achieved! The power of Turkey was controlled in Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, and Libya. Furthermore, Europe now considers Turkey as a greater danger to the peace and security of West Asia, Northern Africa, and Greece. In addition, Europe was flooded by waves of migrants that crossed to the continent through Turkey, whom it used as a pressure card to manipulate Europe for greater benefits.

This has provoked different European countries that saw their interests were threatened, not only by Turkey but also by the United States. The latter has taken the world into economic chaos after the election of Donald Trump, who canceled all trade agreements and the nuclear agreement with Iran. Trump prohibited European trade with Iran and China and issued sanctions that disabled Europe.

Therefore, Iran’s successive diplomatic and legal victories at the UN Security Council in August were the first step towards a solution and a serious step towards peace in the region. They represent the first political triumph of the axis of resistance. The sequence of events is directing now towards another series of steps that should be perceived soon.

Soon the Syrian forces and its allies are heading towards implementing the Astana Accord by force. As soon as the Syrian Army is in control of Jesser al-Shogor and the Zawiah Mountain again, it will take control of the Syrian territories from Latakia to the Syrian-Iraqi borders, east of the Euphrates included.

Once the Syrian accomplishment is reached in Jesser al- Shogor, the Americans are not only leaving Iraq but Syria as well. In addition, the Iranians are leading now negotiations with Western powers through the German mediator concerning the nuclear agreements. However, an informed person revealed that the talks are including terms to end the American presence in Syria. This means that all foreign forces, including Turkish ones, are leaving, through force or voluntarily.

However, the Turks are negotiating with the Russians the possibility of keeping a couple of cities, but the Syrians refused it.

After the big blast in Beirut’s harbor on the 4th of August, the Turkish foreign minister offered to rebuild the harbor when he visited Beirut. This must-have provoked the French again. Erdogan’s new attempts to be involved in Lebanese affairs has raised doubts over his intentions for the European Union [EU], especially France. Paris tries not to allow Turkey to approach Beirut’s harbor. This would leave Turkey as the biggest loser in the region again. 

The upheaval Turkey created with Greece is leading it again to a conflict with Europe. Although Germany is leading to serious negotiations with all sides of the dispute, it seems that there are not any foreseen solutions in the near future. Europeans now identify Erdogan as the supporter of radical militant groups fighting in different Arab countries. These actions are of great concern to Europe. Rumor has it; Turkey now needs to be controlled. Western powers are planning to divide it again into two states, Western Turkey and Islamic Turkey. Of course, that is left for time to tell.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer.

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To Capture and Subdue: America’s Theft of Syrian Oil Has Very Little To Do With Money

By Steven Chovanec

Source

WAR FOR EMPIRE

Years of US support to Al-Qaeda and ISIS and efforts to effect regime change in the country have culminated in the theft of Syria’s oil, but is that really America’s coup de gras in Syria?

Near the end of July, one of the most important recent developments in U.S. foreign policy was quietly disclosed during a U.S. Senate hearing. Not surprisingly, hardly anybody talked about it and most are still completely unaware that it happened.

Answering questions from Senator Lindsey Graham, Secretary of State Pompeo confirmed that the State Department had awarded an American company, Delta Crescent Energy, with a contract to begin extracting oil in northeast Syria. The area is nominally controlled by the Kurds, yet their military force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), was formed under U.S. auspices and relies on an American military presence to secure its territory. That military presence will now be charged with protecting an American firm from the government of the country that it is operating within.

Pompeo confirmed that the plans for implanting the firm into the U.S.-held territory are “now in implementation” and that they could potentially be “very powerful.” This is quite a momentous event given its nature as a blatant example of neocolonial extraction, or, as Stephen Kinzer puts it writing for the Boston Globe, “This is a vivid throwback to earlier imperial eras, when conquerors felt free to loot the resources of any territory they could capture and subdue.”

Indeed, the history of how the U.S. came to be in a position to “capture and subdue” these resources is a sordid, yet informative tale that by itself arguably even rivals other such colonial adventures.

To capture and subdue

When a legitimate protest movement developed organically in Syria in early 2011, the U.S. saw an opportunity to destabilize, and potentially overthrow, the government of a country that had long pushed back against its efforts for greater control in the region.

Syria had maintained itself outside of the orbit of U.S. influence and had frustratingly prevented American corporations from penetrating its economy to access its markets and resources.

As the foremost academic expert on Middle East affairs, Christopher Davidson, wrote in his seminal work, “Shadow Wars, The Secret Struggle for the Middle East,” discussing both Syria and Libya’s strategic importance, “the fact remained that these two regimes, sitting astride vast natural resources and in command of key ports, rivers, and borders, were still significant obstacles that had long frustrated the ambitions of Western governments and their constituent corporations to gain greater access.”

With Syria,” Davidson wrote, “having long proven antagonistic to Western interests… a golden opportunity had presented itself in 2011 to oust [this] administration once and for all under the pretext of humanitarian and even democratic causes.”

US Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman meet with Syrians at the Yayladagi camp on the Turkish-Syrian border. April 10, 2012. Umit Bektas | Reuters.

The U.S., therefore, began organizing and overseeing a militarization of the uprising early on, and soon co-opted the movement along with allied states Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar. Writing at the end of 2011, Columbia University’s Joseph Massad explained how there was no longer any doubt that “the Syrian popular struggle for democracy [has] already been hijacked,” given that “the Arab League and imperial powers have taken over and assumed the leadership of their struggle.”

Soon, through the sponsoring of extremist elements, the insurgency was dominated by Salafists of the al-Qaeda variety.

According to the DIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by 2013 “there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad” and “the U.S. was arming extremists.” Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that “although many in the American intelligence community were aware that the Syrian opposition was dominated by extremists,” still “the CIA-sponsored weapons kept coming.”

When ISIS split off from al-Qaeda and formed its own Caliphate, the U.S. continued pumping money and weapons into the insurgency, even though it was known that this aid was going into the hands of ISIS and other jihadists. U.S. allies directly supported ISIS.

U.S. officials admitted that they saw the rise of ISIS as a beneficial development that could help pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to give in to America’s demands.

Leaked audio of then-Secretary of State John Kerry revealed that “we were watching… and we know that this [ISIS] was growing… We saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage — that Assad would then negotiate.” As ISIS was bearing down on the capital city of Damascus, the U.S. was pressing Assad to step down to a U.S.-approved government.

Then, however, Russia intervened with its air force to prevent an ISIS takeover of the country and shifted the balance of forces against the jihadist group. ISIS’ viability as a tool to pressure the government was spent.

The arsonist and the firefighter

So, a new strategy was implemented: instead of allowing Russia and Syria to take back the territories that ISIS captured throughout the war, the U.S. would use the ISIS threat as an excuse to take those territories before they were able to. Like an arsonist who comes to put out the fire, the U.S. would now charge itself with the task of stamping out the Islamist scourge and thereby legitimize its own seizure of Syrian land. The U.S. partnered with the Kurdish militias who acted as their “boots on the ground” in this endeavor and supported them with airstrikes.

The strategy of how these areas were taken was very specific. It was designed primarily to allow ISIS to escape and redirect itself back into the fight against Syria and Russia. This was done through leaving “an escape route for militants” or through deals that were made where ISIS voluntarily agreed to cede its territory. The militants were then able to escape and go wreak havoc against America’s enemies in Syria.

Interestingly, in terms of the oil fields now being handed off to an American corporation, the U.S. barely even fought ISIS to gain control over them; ISIS simply handed them over.

FILE – In this April 6, 2018 file photo, shows a former farmer working at a primitive refinery making crude oil into diesel and other products, in a village controlled by a U.S-backed Kurdish group, in Rmeilan, Hassakeh province, Syria. Syrians living in government-controlled areas have survived eight years of war now face a new scourge in the form of widespread fuel shortages. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Syria and Russia were quickly closing in on the then-ISIS controlled oilfields, so the U.S. oversaw a deal between the Kurds and ISIS to give up control of the city. According to veteran Middle East war correspondent Elijah Magnier, “U.S.-backed forces advanced in north-eastern areas under ISIS control, with little or no military engagement: ISIS pulled out from more than 28 villages and oil and gas fields east of the Euphrates River, surrendering these to the Kurdish-U.S. forces following an understanding these reached with the terrorist group.”

A man works a primitive refinery making crude oil into diesel in a U.S-backed Kurdish village in Rmeilan, Syria, April 6, 2018. Hussein Malla | AP

Sources quoted by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that ISIS preferred seeing the fields in the hands of the U.S. and the Kurds rather than the Syrian government.

The rationale behind this occupation was best described by Syria expert Joshua Landis, who wrote that the areas of northern Syria under control of the Kurds are the U.S.’ “main instrument in gaining leverage” over the government. By “denying Damascus access to North Syria” and “controlling half of Syria’s energy resources” “the U.S. will be able to keep Syria poor and under-resources.” So, by “promoting Kurdish nationalism in Syria” the U.S. “hopes to deny Iran and Russia the fruits of their victory,” while “keeping Damascus weak and divided,” this serving “no purpose other than to stop trade” and to “beggar Assad and keep Syria divided, weak and poor.”

Or, in the words of Jim Jeffrey, the Trump administrations special representative for Syria who is charged with overseeing U.S. policy, the intent is to “make life as miserable as possible for that flopping cadaver of a regime and let the Russians and Iranians, who made this mess, get out of it.”

Anchoring American troops in Syria

This is the history by which an American firm was able to secure a contract to extract oil in Syria. And while the actual resources gained will not be of much value (Syria has only 0.1% of the world’s oil reserves), the presence of an American company will likely serve as a justification to maintain a U.S. military presence in the region. “It is a fiendishly clever maneuver aimed at anchoring American troops in Syria for a long time,” Stephen Kinzer explains, one that will aid the policymakers who hold “the view that the United States must remain militarily dominant in the Middle East.”

This analysis corroborates the extensive scholarship of people like Mason Gaffney, professor of economics emeritus at the University of California, who, writing in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, sums up his thesis that throughout its history “U.S. military spending has been largely devoted to protecting the overseas assets of multinational corporations that are based in the United States… The U.S. military provides its services by supporting compliant political leaders in developing countries and by punishing or deposing regimes that threaten the interests of U.S.-based corporations.”

In essence, by protecting this “global ‘sprawl’ of extractive companies” the U.S. Department of Defense “provides a giant subsidy to companies operating overseas,” one that is paid for by the taxpayer, not the corporate beneficiaries. It is hard to estimate the exact amount of money the U.S. has invested into the Syria effort, though it likely is near the trillion dollar figure. The U.S. taxpayer doesn’t get anything out of that, but companies that are awarded oil contracts do.

What is perhaps most important about this lesson however is that this is just a singular example of a common occurrence that happens all over the world. A primary function of U.S. foreign policy is to “make the world safe for American businesses,” and the upwards of a thousand military bases the U.S. has stationed across the globe are set up to help protect those corporate investments. While this history is unique to Syria, similar kinds of histories are responsible for U.S. corporation’s extractive activities in other global arenas.

So, next time you see headlines about Exxon being in some kind of legal dispute with, say, Venezuela, ask yourself how was it that those companies became involved with the resources of that part of the world? More often than not, the answer will be similar to how this U.S. company got involved in Syria.

Given all of this, it perhaps might seem to be too mild of a critique to simply say that this Syria enterprise harkens back to older imperial eras where conquerors simply took what they wished: the sophistication of colonialism has indeed improved by leaps and bounds since then.

The Collaborator’s Reward: the UAE, from Syria to Israel

By Tim Anderson

Source

Mohamad Bin Zayed Bashar Assad 9062b

What do Panama’s Manuel Noriega, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and the UAE’s Mohamad Bin Zayed (MBZ) all have in common? They dreamed that their collaboration with the imperial power would allow them the freedom to pursue their own ambitions.

Very wrong. Once Noriega was employed by the CIA to betray compatriot nationalists and to be used as a tool against independent Cuba and Nicaragua, imperialism owned him. Once Saddam was armed (including with poison gas) by NATO countries to attack Revolutionary Iran and slaughter dissident Iraqis, imperialism owned him. And once MBZ collaborated with Mossad against the Palestinian resistance and armed terrorist groups against Syria, imperialism owned him.

After Noriega sought to play a more independent role in Central America the US, under Bush the First, invaded Panama killing thousands (see ‘The Panama Deception’), just to kidnap Noriega and jail him on drug trafficking charges. Saddam was not allowed to pursue his own interests in Kuwait. Instead his ambitions were used as a pretext to starve and then destroy Iraq. Saddam himself was eventually lynched, under US military occupation. MBZ, for his supposed crime of resuming relations with Syria in 2018, was forced to recognise Israel, thus becoming the new disgrace of the Arab and Muslim world. Once a collaborator is owned he is owned.

The UAE gained nothing by openly recognising the zionist regime. There was no political or economic benefit. The UAE was already collaborating deeply with Israel, as evidenced by the open access enjoyed by the Mossad team which murdered Palestinian militant Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in February 2010 (Lewis, Borger and McCarthy 2010), and later kidnapped Australian-Israeli whistle-blower Ben Zygier, after he had provided Dubai authorities with “names and pictures and accurate details” of the team, supposedly in exchange for UAE protection. However Israel kidnapped Zygier in the UAE and he later died from ‘suicide’ in an Israeli jail (Rudoran 2013).

There was no independent motive behind the disgraceful UAE move, other than fear and obedience. The Trump regime pressured and threatened MBZ into recognising Israel, just to help with its 2020 election campaign.

How do we know this? Two months before the UAE officially recognised Israel, Trump envoy James Jeffrey threatened the UAE regime for its renewed relations with Syria, which went against Trump’s subsequent ‘Caesar Act’ (MEMO 2020), a piece of legislation primarily aimed at imposing discipline on third party ‘allies’ which sought to normalise relations with Damascus.

Washington’s ‘Caesar’ law (part of an omnibus NDAA Act) pretends to authorise the US President to impose fines and confiscate the assets of those, anywhere in the world, who “support or engage in a significant transaction” with the Syrian government (SJAC 2020). It aimed at Persian Gulf allies, principally the UAE, and perhaps some Europeans who were considering renewed relations with Damascus (Anderson 2020)

As it happened, in late December 2018, the UAE resumed relations with the Syrian Government and resumed investment in the besieged country. This was despite the anti-Syrian role of the UAE in the early days of the conflict and, in particular, their backing of ISIS terrorism. That role was acknowledged by senior US officials in late 2014.

Head of the US Army General Martin Dempsey in September 2014 admitted that “major Arab allies” of the US funded ISIS (Rothman 2014). The following month US Vice President Joe Biden specified that US allies “Turkey, Qatar and the UAE had extended “billions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons” to all manner of fanatical Islamist fighters, including ISIS, in efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al Assad (Maskanian 2014). Biden later offered a hollow apology to the UAE for his remarks (Al Jazeera 2014). A sanitised Atlantic Council version of this history was that the UAE had backed “armed opposition groups – such as the Free Syrian Army” (Santucci 2020).

In any case, with Washington’s regime change war lost – certainly after the expanded role of Russia in Syria from September 2015 onwards – the UAE began to change tack. In November 2015 UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Anwar Gargash expressed cautious support for Russia’s role and in April 2018 he characterised the conflict as one between the Syrian Government and Islamic extremism. On 27 December the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus (Ramani 2020). Bahrain followed suit the next day. The MBZ regime claims to have provided over $530 million “to alleviate the suffering” of Syria since 2012 (Santucci 2020), though how much of this went into armed Islamist groups is unclear.

But there certainly have been some UAE-funded construction projects in Syria in recent times. No doubt wealthy UAE investors saw some opportunities in post-war reconstruction. The Emirates hosted a Syrian trade delegation in January 2019 and in August 2019 some private Emirati companies participated in the Damascus International Trade Fair (Cafiero 2020).

But in early 2020 the Trump regime passed its Caesar law, aimed at reining in its wandering ‘allies’. In June envoy James Jeffrey pointed his finger at the UAE, saying: “the UAE knows that we absolutely refuse that countries take such steps [in Syria] … we have clearly stressed that we consider this a bad idea … anyone who engages in economic activities … may be targeted by these sanctions” (MEMO 2020).

That could mean big trouble for the UAE. The Obama regime (through the US Treasury’s ‘Office of Foreign Assets Control’) had already ‘fined’ European banks more than 12 billion dollars for their business with Iran and Cuba, in breach of Washington’s unilateral coercive measures (Anderson 2019: 42).

Two months later in August the UAE’s open recognition of Israel presented the semblance of some sort of change in the region. An Atlantic Council paper hoped that might be to derail the UAE’s ‘normalization policy with Syria’ (Santucci 2020). That indeed was one part of the project: tighten the siege on the independent region: from Palestine through Lebanon, Syria and Iraq to Iran. In the process 80% of the besieged Syrian population was living in poverty, and on the brink of starvation (Cafiero 2020). This was a determined if failing strategy, set in place by Bush the Second and carried through faithfully by Obama and Trump, despite the latter’s pragmatic misgivings.

The other part of the project was to strong-arm the little petro-monarchy into boosting the Trump election campaign. The UAE’s recognition of Israel did nothing to help MBZ, but was well received in Tel Aviv (though it did not change the constellation of Resistance forces) and was skilfully presented in the USA as some sort of concession to Palestine. Yet Trump’s flimsy pretext (a ‘freeze’ on further annexations) was quickly discredited. Israeli Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said that a ‘freeze’ was in place before the UAE deal (Khalil 2020). Netanyahu maintained that further annexations were still ‘on the table’ (Al Jazeera 2020). Indeed he had announced such ‘freezes’ before (Ravid 2009).

In any case, Trump was clearly no advocate for Palestinian or Arab rights. He had broken with previous US regimes by giving his blessing to Tel Aviv’s annexation of both East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, disregarding international law (BBC 2019). Disgraced in the region, the UAE was simply acting as Washington’s puppet. That is the collaborator’s reward.

———

References

Al Jazeera (2014) ‘Biden ‘apologises’ to UAE for ISIL remarks’, 6 October, online: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/10/uae-says-amazed-joe-biden-syria-remarks-20141058153239733.html

Al Jazeera (2020) ‘Netanyahu says West Bank annexation plans still ‘on the table’’, 13 August, online: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/netanyahu-west-bank-annexation-plans-table-200813183431066.html

Anderson, Tim (2019) Axis of Resistance: towards an independent Middle East, Clarity Press, Atlanta GA

Anderson, Tim (2020) ‘Trump’s ‘Caesar’ Style Siege on Syria, A Sign of Impending Regional Failure’, American Herald Tribune, 12 June, online: https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/syria-crisis/4218-trump-caesar-style-siege.html

BBC (2019) ‘Golan Heights: Trump signs order recognising occupied area as Israeli’, 25 March, online: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-47697717

Cafiero, Giorgio (2020) ‘The Caesar Act and the United Arab Emirates’, TRT World, 29 June, online: https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/the-caesar-act-and-the-united-arab-emirates-37702

Khalil, Zein (2020) ‘Annexation frozen before UAE deal: Israeli minister’, 16 August, online: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/annexation-frozen-before-uae-deal-israeli-minister/1943528

Lewis, Paul; Julian Borger and Rory McCarthy (2010) ‘Dubai murder: fake identities, disguised faces and a clinical assassination’, The Guardian, 16 February, online: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/feb/16/dubai-murder-fake-identities-hamas

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Massive fires engulf Syria’s western region

By News Desk -2020-09-05

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:40 P.M.) – Syria is witnessing an increase in temperatures of up to 11 degrees higher than the average, which contributed to the occurrence of a number of large fires in several areas in Latakia, Hama and Homs.

According to the agency Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), temperatures are 9 to 11 degrees higher than average in most areas, which is leading to wide-spread fires.

In addition to the high temperatures, the General Directorate of Meteorology predicted in its bulletin this morning that the weather will be between clear and partly cloudy in general, and hazy and dusty in the eastern regions.

The big fires broke out in the forests of Latakia, as well as in Hama near Wadi Al-Ayoun and Aiy Al-Kroum, in addition to the countryside of Homs Governorate, all of which the Syrian fire brigades managed to extinguish, but only after they engulfed many forests.

For its part , the Homs Fire Brigade was able to put out a fire that broke out in the woodlands of the town of Baiyoun in the western countryside of Homs, on the Lebanese-Syrian border near the southern Al-Kabeer River.

Yesterday, Homs firefighters put out several fires in Homs and its countryside, including oil residues, forest and fruit trees and herbs.

IRANIAN RESISTANCE AXIS STRIKES BACK. CONVOYS WITH US EQUIPMENT BLOWING UP IN IRAQ

Iranian Resistance Axis Strikes Back. Convoys With US Equipment Blowing Up  In Iraq
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On September 3, an explosion of an improvised explosive device (IED) targeted a convoy with equipment of the US-led coalition in the southern Iraqi province of Dhi Qar. Iraqi troops that were escorting the convoy suffered no casualties. According to local sources, no significant damage was caused to the equipment. Following the incident, security forces detained 2 suspects near the explosion site. The investigation is ongoing.

However, it is no secret that the attack was likely conducted by one of multiple pro-Iranian Shiite groups that surfaced in the country following the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and several prominent Iraqi commanders by a US strike in Baghdad in January.

Earlier, the Guardians of Blood (also known as Islamic Resistance in Iraq) released a video showing an IED attack on another convoy with US equipment. The attack took place near Camp Taji, north of Baghdad on August 23. During the last few months, such attacks became a regular occurrence across Iraq.

Pro-Iranian forces not only created a wide network of active cells that carry out these operations, but also successfully track movements of US forces and their equipment. According to local sources, a large number of Iraqi security personnel involved in the guarding of US forces and facilities in fact support the Iranian-backed campaign against the United States as well as the public demand of the full US troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Despite loud statements and the handing over of several US bases to the Iraqi military, Washington is not reducing its military presence in the country. Rather it’s regrouping its forces and strengthening the security of the remaining facilities. Tensions are on the rise not only in Iraq.

On September 3, Israel’s ImageSat International released satellite images showcasing the impact of the recent Israeli strikes on Iranian-linked targets near the Syrian capital of Damascus, and in the province of Homs. The report claimed that the strike on the Damascus International Airport destroyed a headquarters and a warehouse used by Iranian forces. The same area was the target of an Israeli attack in February. The strike on the T4 airport in Homs damaged the main runway and an apron. As a result, the air base was temporary placed out of service.

A few days earlier, the Israeli Defense Forces claimed that they had hit approximately 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in August. This supposedly included 35 hits on Hamas weapons manufacturing sites, along with 30 underground sites, 20 observation posts and 10 sites linked to the group’s aerial capabilities such as drones. According to the Israeli side, these strikes were a response to rocket and other attacks from the Gaza Strip. Palestinian groups claim that they just retaliate to permanent pressure and acts of aggression from the Israeli side.

Taking into account the war in Yemen, a large part of the Middle East has been turned into a battleground of the conflict between the Israeli-US bloc and the Iranian-led Axis of Resistance.

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