Interview with A.B. Abrams about his latest book and the war in Syria

September 12, 2021

Interview with A.B. Abrams about his latest book and the war in Syria

by Andrei for the Saker blog

A.B. Abrams has just released a new book entitled World War in Syria – Global Conflict on the Middle Eastern Battlefields.  Here are two locations were you can order this most interesting volume:

For those who don’t remember who Abrams is, here are two of his previous contributions to the Saker blog:

The book got A LOT of praise already, so I posted a few endorsements at the end of this interview (see at the bottom)

Rather than offer my own endorsement or write a full review, I decided to interview Abrams about both his book and his views on the international aggression against Syria.  I hope you enjoy it and, yes, get the book!

Andrei


1)–Please introduce us to your new book!  Tell us what was your main purpose in writing it and whom, what audience, did you want to reach?

I wrote this book to provide one of the first comprehensive histories of the Syrian War published to mark ten years after it began in 2011. The book places the war in the context of both the history of Syria’s decades long conflict with Western interests which began in the late 1940s, as well as broader Western geopolitical goals in the region and beyond. The title ‘World War in Syria’ reflects an assessment of the conflict primarily not through the paradigm of a civil war, as is more common in the West, but rather as a global conflict which has pitted the Western Bloc and its regional partners against Damascus and its allies – namely Russia, Iran, North Korea and Hezbollah. The war has seen special forces and other assets from all these parties deployed to Syrian soil, with the West, Turkey, the Gulf States and Israel undertaking considerable military, economic and information warfare efforts to bring about the Syrian government’s overthrow.

The book shows the Syrian War as part of a broader trend towards countries outside the Western sphere of influence, namely the minority of countries without Western military presences on their soil, being targeted for destabilisation and overthrow. For targeting countries with significant Muslim populations, Western cooperation with radical Islamist elements to support such objectives has been common, as seen in Indonesia (1950s and early 60s), Chechnya, Afghanistan (1979-92), and Yugoslavia among others. These precedents are explored at the beginning of the book to provide context to Western efforts to employ similar means against Syria.

The book is not aimed at any specific audience, but at anyone with a general interest in the Syrian War, Western, Russian, Iranian or Turkish foreign policy, Middle Eastern politics, contemporary military affairs, insurgency or terrorism. It follows a previous book published in 2020 on the history of North Korea’s 70 year war with the United States, which similarly sought to provide a comprehensive analysis of a major conflict between the U.S.-led Western Bloc and a targeted country including the Western way of war and the use of both economic and information warfare.

2)–Do you believe that Putin is “allowing” (or even helping!) Israel to bomb Syria? Or maybe the Russian and Syrian air defenses are totally ineffective?  How do you explain all the Israeli strikes?

Russia’s position on Israeli strikes has been interesting and caused a great deal of debate and in some cases controversy. I assess that Russian military intervention in Syria in 2015 had the limited goals of supporting counterinsurgency efforts and limiting Western and Turkish efforts to illegally occupy Syrian territory through the imposition of safe zones and no fly. The Russian presence has also served to deter Western and Turkish attacks, as evidenced by the vast discrepancy between the massive strikes planned under Obama to topple the government in 2013, and the very limited attacks carried out under Trump in 2017 and 2018. A longer term goal has more recently materialised with the entrenching of the Russian military presence in Latakia on Syria’s western coast, with Russia’s sole airbase in the region expanded and increasingly oriented away from counterinsurgency operations and towards providing a strategically located asset against NATO.

The expectation among many that Russia ought to prevent Israeli strikes on Syria may well be a result of the Soviet position in the 1980s, when the USSR threatened to intervene if Israel attacked Syria. This resulted in the confinement of Israeli-Syrian clashes that decade to within neighbouring Lebanon’s borders. A number of factors, however, mean that this is no longer feasible. Unlike in the 1980s, Israel is today far from the most pressing threat to Syrian security, while the discrepancy in military capabilities favours Israel much more strongly. Under the Netanyahu government, Russia also cultivated close ties with Israel as a valuable partner with a degree of policy independence from the Western world which could, for example, sell on sensitive Western technologies as it did with the Forpost drone to Russia or with American air defence technologies to China. Israel’s ability to act independently of Western hegemonic interests to some degree has been an asset to Moscow as well as Beijing to strengthen themselves against the West through cooperation. Thus the relationship between Moscow and Tel Aviv is very different from what it was in the 1980s, as is Moscow’s relationship with Damascus, meaning that Russia will be less inclined to take a hard line against Israeli strikes.

Perhaps most importantly, the fact that Russia has not taken a harder line in protecting Syria from Israeli attacks reflects Russia’s much diminished power to influence events beyond its borders compared to the Soviet era. The Russian military intervention in Syria was its first major military action outside the former USSR since the 1980s, and was a major feat considering the poor state of the military just seven years prior in its war with Georgia. The Russian military is nevertheless already stretched protecting its own forces in Syria and deterring Western or Turkish escalation, which is far from easy considering how far these operations are from Russian soil. Unlike in the late Soviet era, Russia no longer has the world’s second largest economy, a large sphere of influence of developed allied economies for support, a blue water navy, 55,000 tanks or 7000 fighters/interceptors. Its military is capable, but if it took on Israel directly as well as Turkey, the West, and the jihadist insurgency at the same time for all attacking Syria, the risk of escalation would be significant and would force it to divert considerable resources away from its own defence – resources which are far more scarce than those the USSR had 40 years ago.

Russia has nevertheless deployed its top fighters the Su-35s, and on at least one occasion Su-34s, to intercept Israeli F-16s before they could attack Syria, which alongside the strengthening of Syrian air defences has made it more difficult for Israel to strike. Russia does not condone Israeli strikes, but they have not been an immediate priority. Although they are damaging particularly to Iranian interests, such strikes do not seriously threaten Syria’s stability and have generally pursued limited goals. While Israel has called for greater Western intervention against Syria in the past, Tel Aviv’s own limitations mean it is not looking to overthrow the Syrian government singlehandedly. This contrasts to Turkey, whose president has stated multiple times and recently in 2020 that the intention is to maintain an occupation and hostile relations until the Damascus government is overthrown. This also remains a long term objective for the West currently through economic warfare, theft of Syrian oil and targeting of crops.

Israeli aircraft have since February 2018 relied in the large majority of attacks on launching standoff weapons from a safe distance outside Syrian airspace, meaning for Syrian ground based air defences to engage them and they must instead intercept the missiles as they approach and cannot target the aircraft themselves. Syria is itself aware of its limitations, and against both Israeli and Turkish strikes it has refrained from escalating by deploying its own fighters/interceptors to attack the enemy aircraft. Syrian aircraft optimised for air to air combat have instead been held in reserve to respond to more serious full scale attacks like the kind the U.S. and is allies were planning in September 2013. As Syrian defences improve with the delivery of the first new fighters as aid from Russia in 2020, the refocusing of resources away from counterinsurgency, and the possible placing of new S-300 systems under Syrian control, the country’s airspace may again begin to be respected as it largely was before the war began. If Syria does begin to deploy fighter units for air defence duties it will reflect a renewed sense of faith in the country’s security, although Turkey rather than Israel is likely to be the first target due to the heated nature of conflict over the Turkish occupation of Idlib and the much weaker state of Turkey’s air force.

3)–I have always suspected that the former Syrian regime (of Assad Sr.) was full of Israeli agents.  My evidence?  The impossible to organize without top complicity murder of Imad Mughniyeh (his widows also believes that, by the way, she is in Iran now) or the huge list of defectors/traitors and other officials/officers who quickly took their money and joined the international war in Syria.  Has that now changed, do you feel that the government is stable and in control?

Based on my knowledge of Syria and Arab nationalist republics more generally, while strong fifth columns have almost certainly been prevalent they are unlikely to be predominantly pro-Israeli and much more likely pro-Western. Although Syria’s Ba’athist government aligned itself very closely with the USSR particularly from 1982, much of the elite and the population maintained strongly pro-Western sentiments. This included the current president in his initial years who, according to Western sources cited in the book, was looking to pivot the country towards closer alignment with the West while sidelining Russia, Iran and the Ba’ath Party. Many in the Arab world even in states which are formally aligned against Western interests aspire to integration and a degree of Westernisation, which has long been a leading weakness in Arab nationalist states’ efforts to establish themselves as independent powers.

The West’s colonial legacy provided a strong basis since the middle of the last century to cultivate considerable soft power in the Arab World. This was perhaps most clearly alluded to by Mohamed Heikal, a leading intellectual of the non-aligned movement and Minister of Information for the United Arab Republic, who noted regarding the political and military elites of Arab republics in the 1950s, 60s and 70s: “All the formative influences in the new leaders’ lives- the books they had read, the history they had learned, the films they had seen- had come from the West. The languages they knew in addition to their own were English or French – Russian was, and remained, a mystery to them. It was impossible for them to remain unaffected by all that they had heard about the communist world- the closed society, the suppression of thought, the ‘Stalinist terror’… they wanted to keep their distance.” Heikal stressed that many of these leaders would turn to the West for assistance “almost automatically,” as the psychology of colonialism persisted. Many of those who turned to a partnership with the Soviets did so only because they were given no other choice, having been refused by the West.

This remains largely true until today at many levels of Syrian society. Perhaps one of the most striking examples was documented by a journalist accompanying the Syrian Arab Army to the frontlines engaging Western-backed insurgents. While the West made war on Syria, it was clear that strongly Western supremacist sentiments persisted throughout the population as a result of Western soft power, with Syrian soldiers on the frontlines reported to exclaim regarding their country: “Look how beautiful this land is! It is almost as beautiful as Europe!” Such sentiments were common even in wartime. The idea of Western primacy and supremacy, long engrained across much of the world through colonial rule, remained a key weakness which made it far from difficult for the Western world to cultivate westphilian fifth columns. According to multiple sources, including British journalist Patrick Seale, this included the President Hafez Al Assad’s brother who had a love for all things American and for parties with Western belly dancers. In this way Syria and Arab nationalist states bear a strong contrast to Western adversaries such as North Korea, which placed a strong emphasis on political education and on ensuring new generations did not grow up seeing the world through paradigms that promote Western supremacy (see Chapters 18 and 19 of my prior book that cover that topic.)

Regarding Israel, while there are strongly pro-Western sentiments within Syria and the Arab world, there are also strong anti-Israeli sentiments which, combined with Israel’s lack of any comparable soft power, makes pro-Israeli fifth columns much more difficult to cultivate. It is highly possible, however, that pro-Western elements in Syria could be led to pursue actions which, while furthering Western interests, also benefit Israel as you mentioned.

4)— How did the war in Syria really start?  Can you give us a summary of the true story (the full story is in your book) of how what began with some local protests (almost) ended with the Takfiris in control of Damascus?

It is difficult to do this question justice with a summary answer as there are so many factors at play. One could trace the origin back to 2007, when following Hezbollah’s unexpected military successes against Israel the previous year the Bush administration began to perceive Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, rather than Al Qaeda, as its primary adversaries. This also led to the first mentions of the possibility of manipulating Al Qaeda-type jihadist groups with the help of regional allies (Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in particular) to focus on attacking Syria and other Iranian partners. By 2009 militants were receiving Western training for operations in Syria. Pro-Western activists in Syria and other Arab countries were also receiving training in the U.S. supported by the State Department, Google, Facebook and others on how to stir unrest using tools such as social media. Media networks and most notably Al Jazeera, which had a long history of being heavily influenced by Western intelligence, began in 2011 to be put to use to vilify the Syrian government, and the Qatari monarchy soon after would lead calls for a Libya-style Western assault.

On the ground in the war’s initial weeks the Syrian government faced large scale incursions by well armed and trained militants from across the Turkish and Jordanian borders, and simultaneously a number of largely peaceful protests against living conditions in some cities. Confusion was sown and the situation quickly escalated out of control. Mass privatisation of public property, years of crop failures, and disparity between the conservative Muslim rural population and the much more liberal lifestyle in major cities, were among a multitude of factors detailed which fuelled unrest and provided foreign powers with an opening to destabilise the country. These details are all fully referenced in the book itself as well as a much more elaborate explanation of the multitude of preparations and incidents which paved the way to war.

5)–Could you please compare and contrast, HOW the Russian and Iranian interventions happened, WHAT these forces did to turn the tide and then tell us WHAT the Russian and Iranian PLANS were and are for Syria – do these two actors more or less agree, or do they have different visions for the future of Syria?

The Russian and Iranian stances towards Syria have contrasted from the war’s outset, with Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev administration in particular being openly resigned to seeing the Syrian state toppled and offering Damascus little in the way of support in the conflict’s critical early stages. Although Russian support increased from 2012 almost as soon as a new administration came to power, namely with arms sales and a blocking of Western efforts to target Syria through the United Nations, it would be three more years before Russia felt the need to deploy its forces. Iranian efforts to make a case for Russian intervention to Moscow, namely through Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani who met with President Putin in 2015, was an important factor.

Iran by contrast, alongside Hezbollah and North Korea, had boots on the ground from 2012-13 and were all committed to supporting counterinsurgency efforts and preserving the Syrian state. For Iran the fall of Syria to Western-backed jihadists as Afghanistan had fallen in 1992 was seen as unacceptable. As senior Iranian cleric Mehdi Taeb famously said: “If the enemy attacks us and wants to take either Syria or [the outlying Iranian province of] Khuzestan, the priority is to keep Syria… If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.” Iran has thus been much more heavily invested in supporting Damascus throughout the war than Russia has.

There have been similarities between Russian and Iranian support for Syria. Both have sought to support the Syrian economy with Iran emerging as the country’s largest trading partner shortly after the war began, although it has since been displaced by China, while Russia has shown a strong interest in post war investment. Both sought to avoid relying too heavily on deployment of their own manpower on the frontlines as the Soviets had in Afghanistan, and instead focused on arming and training auxiliary forces. Russia, for example, oversaw the creation and arming of the Syrian 5th Corps and provided T-62M and T-72B3 tanks from its own reserves, while Iran facilitated the deployment of allied paramilitaries such as the Afghan Hazara Fatemiyoun. Russia’s military intervention was aimed largely at demonstrating new capabilities to NATO, with many of its strikes meant more than anything as shows of force. An example was in November 2015 when its air force flew Tu-160 supersonic bombers from the Arctic around Ireland and through the Straits of Gibraltar to fire cruise missiles over the Mediterranean at insurgents in Syria before returning to Russia – which was initially widely dismissed by Western officials as phantastic before being confirmed several hours later. Iran’s intervention was significantly quieter and received less fanfare in local media, but was more persistent and tenacious due to the much higher stakes the conflict represented for Tehran. The Iranian and Hezbollah campaigns have also involved much more significant clashes with Israel, as well as with Turkey in Hezbollah’s case, while Russian units have seldom fired on or been fired on by forces from state actors. A significant number of other major contrasts between Iranian and Russian interventions exist, but for the sake of brevity I will restrict the examples to those above.

Although both share the goal of restoring Syrian territorial integrity and bolstering Damascus, Russia and Iran certainly have different visions in accordance with their very different ideological positions, which themselves contrast with Syria’s Ba’athist socialist party-state that is much closer to the USSR, China or North Korea than to either of them. Iran’s influence has led to the growth of Shiite paramilitary groups in Syria which have been major supporters of the Syrian Arab Army on the ground, but their presence contrasts with Syria’s long history of secularism and separation of religion from the state and the security apparatus. This influence may well have an impact on Syrian political culture and policies as it did in neighbouring Iraq. Russia under the current liberal democratic capitalist system, or ‘Western liberalism with Russian characteristics’ as some have referred to it, also has a much greater ideological gap with Damascus than it did in the Soviet era. Russia has been known to try to influence states to move in this direction with reform, most notably Belarus, and could well seek to have a similar influence in Syria. Syria’s ruling party, for its part, is likely to resist both influences but accommodate Russian and Iranian interests on its soil in exchange for their continued economic and military support.

6)–How do you see the future of Syria, Israel and the future of the Middle East?  What has that war changed?

The Syrian War, and the NATO assault on Libya which began almost simultaneously in March 2011, have reshaped the Arab world and Middle East profoundly by in one case removing, and in the other seriously weakening the two Arab states which had longest and most persistently opposed Western hegemony. From the late 1970s and early 1980s, as Iraq and Egypt pivoted to align themselves with the West, Syria and Libya alongside South Yemen and Algeria remained the only countries which had not been absorbed into the Western sphere of influence.

The Syrian conflict marked a turning point in several trends in regional affairs. The U.S.’ refusal to invest heavily in the conflict, particularly in 2013 when a full scale assault had been expected, marked an important step in the Obama administration’s Pivot to Asia initiative. This has since been carried forward by Trump and Biden to focus resources on countering China and North Korea specifically and reduce commitments in the Middle East. The Syrian War set an important precedent for how the Western Bloc could seriously erode an adversary at a very low cost. The campaign avoided the need for tens of thousands of Western boots on the ground as in Iraq and instead relied on jihadist militant groups, with much of the funding to support them coming from the Gulf States and Turkey. While the CIA was responsible for organisation and logistics and for coordinating between the insurgency’s Western-aligned sponsors, the Pentagon budget was not seriously affected by the war. A similar mode of attack was seen in Libya, although jihadists there were less effective and had a much smaller support base and Western air power was applied much more to compensate. Attempts to replicate this low cost means of neutralising Western adversaries are likely.

Other major turning points were seen in Turkey, where its attempt to play a leading role in forcing the overthrow of the Syrian government marked the beginning of a more assertive and interventionist foreign policy stance which recently materialised in its intervention against Armenia in 2020. In Egypt Western support for jihadists in Libya and Syria, and ties between these jihadists and the Muslim Brotherhood domestically, contributed to alienating the Egyptian Military from the West after it took power in 2013. The region also saw Russia remerge as a major player with its first significant combat operations since the early 1970s. Moscow sought to use the strong impression its intervention had made to capitalise on discontent among traditional Western clients such as the Gulf States and Egypt and form new partnerships of its own.

For Syria itself, as the war largely comes to an end, the world in the 2020s is one very different from when the war begun with China having since emerged as the world’s leading economy and Russia having seemingly abandoned its hopes for integration into the West to pursue a more independent foreign policy. This shift has seriously dampened the impacts of Western sanctions on Damascus, with Huawei rebuilding its telecoms networks and China providing everything from busses to power generators as aid which make it far easier Syria and other Western targets in similar positions to survive. Nevertheless, the continued occupation in the north by Western powers led by the U.S., and in Idlib by Turkey, will continue to pose a serious threat until restored to Syrian government control. Occupied areas reportedly hold 90% of Syria’s oil output, which will continue to be illegally expropriated to undermine Damascus’ reconstruction efforts. Idlib meanwhile, as the largest Al Qaeda safe haven the world has seen since September 2001, continues to be a launching pad for jihadist attacks into Syria. Both Idlib and the northern regions could form the bases for Kosovo-style partitioning of Syria enforced by NATO, and for Damascus it will thus be a leading priority to prevent this and impose continued costs on Western and Turkish forces. An example of how this could be done was the Syrian government ballistic missile strike on an oil facility run by militants under Turkish protection in March 2021.

7)– Last, but not least, what is, in your opinion, the US end goal for Syria (and Lebanon)?

The primary goal is the removal of the Ba’ath Party and Syrian military establishment as organisations which can arrange their domestic and foreign policies and their security with a great deal of independence from the West, and are thus able to oppose Western hegemony in the region. Their continued existence has for decades been a thorn in the side of Western efforts to shape the Middle East in line with its interests. In Lebanon the same applies for Hezbollah. This is hardly a U.S. goal exclusively, but is shared by the major NATO members such as Britain, Germany, France and Turkey and is in the common interests of furthering Western global hegemony.

Should the West achieve its objective, what follows could be a civil war as seen in Libya after Gaddafi’s death, in which NATO powers support both sides to ensure any outcome is favourable to Western interests, or the establishment of a client government as the West recently achieved in Sudan with a coup April 2019. While five major motivations for making war on Syria are explored in detail in the book, at the heart of all of them is that the Syrian government was not part of the Western-led order, did not align itself with Western policy objectives against Iran, China and others, and did not house Western soldiers on its soil. This made the state’s existence unacceptable to the West, as did its close security cooperation with Iran, North Korea and Hezbollah. Whether the outcome of Western intervention is a partitioning, a unified Syria remade as a client state, or an indefinite civil war, the primary goal of neutralising Syria as an independent actor would be achieved. Once the goal of destroying the party, state and military was thwarted, and it became clear from 2016 that the Syrian government would retain power, the Western and Turkish goal changed to prolonging the conflict, creating Kosovo-type enclaves under NATO control, and placing downward pressure on Syrian living standards and the economy. They could thereby impede post-war recovery and a return to normality and ensure that Syria would remain weakened and a burden to its allies.

–Thank you!!

PRAISE FOR WORLD WAR IN SYRIA

“Impressive in its scholarship, pondered in its judgements, above all
searing in its dissection of Western powers’ war on Syria waged over

many decades, the book is a must-have on the bookshelves of any seri-
ous fair-minded student of Syria.”

– Peter Ford, British Ambassador to Syria from 2003–2006.
“The most detailed history of the war in Syria so far, providing a richness

of highly interesting details, as well as a critical analysis of its com-
plex international and domestic dimensions, rarely encountered in other

Western publications.”
– Nikolaos van Dam, former Special Envoy for Syria, 2015–16.
Ambassador of the Netherlands to Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Germany and
Indonesia, 1988–2010. Author of Destroying a Nation: The Civil War
in Syria.
“A. B. Abrams explores the widening scope of the Syrian conflict in his
important book. Solving Syria’s civil war will require a regional approach
engaging stakeholders whose interests are fundamentally opposed.”
– David L. Phillips, Senior Adviser in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama State
Departments. Former Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. Director of
the Program on Peace-Building and Human Rights, Columbia University
ISHR.

“Abrams is a meticulous guide to the labyrinth of Syria’s modern polit-
ical history.”

– Richard W. Murphy. U.S. Ambassador to Syria, 1974 to 1978. Consul in
Aleppo, Syria, 1960–63.
“A. B. Abrams has written an extremely informative and illuminating

account on the international dimension of the origins, outbreak and evo-
lution of the Syrian conflict. His empirically rich analysis in this nuanced

and comprehensive study make it one of the best books, if not the best
book, written about the Syrian crisis. This book is a MUST read for
anyone who wants to understand the Syrian conflict, the Middle East,
and the role of the great powers in the region.”
– Jubin Goodarzi, Professor and Deputy Head of International Relations,
Webster University, Geneva. Former consultant and political adviser
on Middle Eastern affairs for the UNHCR. He formerly held posts at
Chatham House, CSIS and the Ford Foundation.
PRAISE FOR WORLD WAR IN SYRIA

“An insightful and dispassionate record of the Syrian Maelstrom and the
West’s role as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”
– John Holmes, Major General and Director Special Forces (ret.), British
Army.
“This is a sad tale of betrayal and conspiracy. Not just theory but facts
meticulously uncovered by Abrams. The conspiracy was part of broader
trends in the United States and Europe towards the non-Western World.

Since its fight for independence from French rule in 1946, Syria’s strug-
gles to remain free of Western hegemonic ambitions have continued to

play out for decades culminating in the crisis which emerged in 2011 and
became a proxy war of international proportions.”
– Dawn Chatty, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration
at the University of Oxford. Fellow at the British Academy. Author of
Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State.
“Abrams’ book provides essential historical and geopolitical context to
Syria’s ten-year war, reflecting a particularly deep and comprehensive
understanding of the conflict and of the country’s strategic importance.”
– Military Watch Magazine.
“Supported by a weight of evidence, this book sets out the context and
details of the Syrian conflict and effectively helps the reader to chart a
course between the overwhelming complexity of the crisis and Western
efforts to tell a simplified story of events on the ground. It will be of
interest to researchers, students and those interested in the messy reality
of one of the past decade’s foremost crises.”
– Jack Holland, Associate Professor in International Security at the
University of Leeds. Author of Selling War and Peace: Syria and the
Anglosphere.

“A well-researched and well-written book. Abrams provides the his-
torical context of post-independence Syria within which one can find

the reasons why the war became such a nodal point for regional and
international intrigue. While doing so, he also hones in as no one else
previously has – on some critical turning points during the civil war that
determined the direction of the conflict.”
– David Lesch, Leader of the Harvard-NUPI-Trinity Syria Research
Project. Ewing Halsell Distinguished Professor of Middle East History
at Trinity University. Author of Syria: A Modern History and Syria: The
Fall of the House of Assad.

“The countries intervening in Syria without approval of the Security
Council under Chapter VII were consciously violating international
law. Abrams’ intensive, highly-documented work provides an excellent
resource for understanding the historical and present dimensions of the
conflict.”
– Alfred De Zayas, Professor, Geneva School of Diplomacy. Former UN
Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable
International Order.
“A. B. Abrams has written a timely, balanced and insightful account
of the Syrian war. The book is well-researched and provides both the

necessary historic context but reveals also present-day drivers that re-
sulted in Syria becoming a theater for regional and global competition

for influence.”
– Alex Vatanka, senior fellow in Middle East Studies at the U.S. Air Force

Special Operations School. Senior fellow and director of the Iran pro-
gram at the Middle East Institute, Washington D.C. Adjunct professor at

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“An impressive and comprehensive feat of in-depth research, most
notably concerning developments in political and military strategy of
international actors in the Syrian war. The author provides a unique and
sophisticated chronological overview of pre-war socio-political and
economic realities in Syria, a detailed description of the conflict over its

entire duration, and an outline of possible post-war scenarios. An excep-
tional feature of the book lies in the author’s profound understanding of

how supplies of specific armaments on both sides influenced the course
of the war. World War in Syria is an excellent work, highly beneficial for

war and security studies professionals and students, as well as for histo-
rians, international relations scholars and the general public wishing to

better understand the effects of external involvement on the development
and outcome of the Syrian conflict.”
– Daria Vorobyeva, Centre for Syrian Studies, University of St. Andrews.
Co-Author of The War for Syria: Regional and International Dimensions
of the Syrian Uprising.

“A superb narrative dealing with tactical, operational and strategic mat-
ters of that war, in as fine military history writing as any by the first rate

military historian, and also shows a horrendous toll this war exerted on
the people of Syria. It is a superb book which makes a great contribution
to the field of study of the Middle East and of global politics and balance
of forces.”
– Andrei Martyanov, former naval officer. Frequent contributor to the U.S.
Naval Institute Blog. Author of The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs.

Twitter Suspended My Account to Appease the Zionist Lobby; Help Me Get It Back!

Source: Al Mayadeen

Laith Marouf

Twitter supports the rights of Zionists to harass Palestinians on its platform and threaten their livelihood and their income.

Twitter Suspended My Account to Appease the Zionist Lobby; Help Me Get It Back!

My 11-year-old Twitter account has been permanently banned by the USA-based social media platform. In its email to me announcing the decision, Twitter quotes 4 of my tweets as evidence of the accusations that I am in violation of their rules against “hateful conduct”, and that I “promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.” Twitter further states: “Additionally, if we determine that the primary purpose of an account is to incite harm towards others on the basis of these categories, that account may be suspended without prior warning.”

There are many things that could be said about the legality of Twitter granting itself the power to judge speech or to levy accusations of crimes actionable under the Criminal Code of Canada and Title 18 of the US Code of Laws. By appointing itself judge, jury and executioner, and claiming the power to permanently sully the reputation of individuals, it usurps their rights under the basics of Natural Justice and Common Law, denying their right to the presumption of innocence, to knowing their accuser and the accusations against them, to cross-examine their accusers and present a defense, and finally to be judged by their peers.    

But in my opinion, the most flagrant violation of rights in the decision to ban me lies in equating the political ideology of Zionism with a race, ethnicity, or a national origin; and, more importantly, to imply that opposing the Settler Colonial ideology of Zionism, and the violence, genocide, and infanticide that are results of its quest to create an exclusively “Jewish” State; is in itself an act that “promotes violence against” or “directly attack or threaten” other people. 

Zionism: a political ideology, not a race, ethnicity, national origin or religion 

Let us unpack this for a minute. Zionism is a political ideology, like Capitalism or Communism, etc. Those who adhere to Zionism come from all walks of life. Therefore, criticizing Zionism is not targeting anyone based on their “Race”, as there is no such thing as a Zionist race; all kinds of abhorrable people pronounce that they are Zionist, from Irish-American President Biden to Brazilian President Bolsanario. Criticizing Zionism is not targeting anyone based on their “ethnicity”; there are Zionist Germans, Zionist Anglos, Zionist French, etc. Criticizing Zionism is not a hateful conduct based on someone’s national origin, as there are many “Israeli” Palestinian citizens and a plurality of other Israelis who are not Zionist. And finally, criticizing Zionism is not targeting anyone based on its religious affiliation, for the largest numbers of those who call themselves Zionists are Christian North Americans and Europeans, and there are many followers of the Jewish faith that reject Zionism.

So, if there is no “other” as defined by Twitter, how can its accusations of “hateful conduct” that “promote[s] violence” or “direct attacks” or “threaten” be accepted? Although there are no valid “victims” in the accusations by Twitter, let us nevertheless take a look at the language it finds threatening and hateful. 

Twitter objects to my use of the following terms: 

– Zionism is Jewish White Supremacy, Genocide and Infanticide. 

– Apartheid Canada and Apartheid “Israel”.

Zionism is a Settler project to Colonize Palestine with European citizens some of which professed Judaism and to create an Imperialist beachhead colony that perpetually causes war in Western Asia and North Africa, and physically fractures the geographic continuity of the Arab world. To create and maintain the Colony, Zionism and its followers committed and continue to perpetrate Genocide against the Indigenous population of Palestine and  Infanticide against the Palestinian children. Zionism works to maintain the White Supremacist Imperialist structures that oppress the Arabic-speaking people; i.e. Zionism is Jewish White Supremacy. Since the Balfour Declaration by the British Empire, and the official launching of the Zionist Colony, more than a million Palestinians were murdered, and since only the beginning of 2021, Apartheid Israel killed at least 200 Palestinian children.

As for Apartheid “Israel” and Apartheid Canada, not much needs to be said when every major human rights organization on the planet – and in historic Palestine – have labeled the Colony as Apartheid, and when thousands of Indigenous children are being excavated from mass graves in Apartheid Canada, and the whole world knows about the Infanticide Camps nefariously named Residential Schools.

In any case, whether you agree with my opinion or not, they all fall under fair and free speech and do not target, harass or advocate violence against a group of people based on their religion, ethnicity or national origin. Looking at the tweets in question, it is clear the complaint against me came from a man named Mark Goldberg. I’ll explain a few things below.

Media Law and Policy, from CRTC to Twitter

I work as a Consultant for Broadcasting Law and Policy, specifically the rights of Indigenous Nations, Racialized communities and/or those who are living with disabilities; communities granted Protections with laws and policies, i.e. Protected Groups. My work can be viewed here.

Part of my work is testifying at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in Canada on files like the license renewal of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC, and its compliance with its license conditions and Broadcasting Act provisions, in regards to the rights of Protected Groups to Access, Reflection and Employment at the network.

My work naturally attracts the attention of individuals who support the Zionist ideology. To them, it is very angering to see a Palestinian citizen of Apartheid Canada appearing at the Commission speaking about these important issues.

In that light, Mr. @Marc_Goldberg, who himself is very involved in the Broadcasting sector and hosts an annual conference for the industry, began harassing me online; first in a general manner, and then specifically in regards to my comments at the CRTC during the CBC hearing. 

On the 22nd of January, 2021, Goldberg tweeted attacking CMAC’s presentation at the hearing, targeting our suggestion that CBC reporters have a duty to point out when the Canadian state violates its treaty obligations with Indigenous Nations. 

Later in the day, Goldberg tweeted a second attack on CMAC, in regards to the CBC administration banning the use of the word ‘Palestine’ on its platforms, and attached a link stating “Palestine doesn’t exist”. 

Because we are both involved in Journalism and Media Production and Policy, and are Public persons and have no private life as such, I did not make a Twitter complaint against him. 

Unfortunately, my policy of respecting his right to free speech led Goldberg to increase his harassment. As the most recent war in Palestine raged two months ago, Goldberg posted a link to a funding grant I received from the CRTC. The file was related to a CRTC call for comments on how the Commission can deliver on its duties as laid out in the Accessible Canada Act (ACA). CMAC, where I work as a Senior Policy Consultant, helped Indigenous and Racialized Communities living with disabilities to participate and produce interventions on the record that would address their rights as prescribed by the ACA. 

Mr. Goldberg was asking how someone like me (a Palestinian) would get funding for this work at the CRTC. He was putting my livelihood and income at risk, and, therefore, bullying me in my workspace that he is also present in. Hence, he was crossing the threshold between Verbal Harassment to Physical Harassment that causes financial harm. Even then, I believed that I could just respond through the exercise of free speech, pointing out how his opinions, which I disagree with and find racist, don’t seem to be stopping the CRTC from participating in his annual industry conference. 

Mr. Goldberg harassed me for months publicly on Twitter, on Hearings I participated in at the CRTC, all relating to the rights of Indigenous and Racialized peoples and/or living with disabilities. Mr. Goldberg attempted to harm my livelihood because he disagreed with my opinions that are protected under the law at the Commission; a Tribunal with powers superseding a Federal Superior Court, where I am held legally responsible under the law for what I say. Because Mr. Goldberg knew he could not challenge my work at the CRTC because it was legally sound, he chose to harass me on Twitter. And when he lost the public debate online after I engaged him, he had the audacity to complain to Twitter about my replies to his harassing posts regarding my work and income.

I hope this lays out the Legal Obligations of Twitter in regards to these specific tweets. The posts Mr. Goldberg complained about, are related to work and speech I presented at a Tribunal of the Canadian Government, where I was/am legally liable for my work. My interventions were accepted on the record of the CRTC. Therefore, in deeming my tweets violent and discriminatory, Twitter is assuming powers by superseding those of the CRTC and usurping the legitimate appeal process that requires complaints to be presented to a Federal Court of Appeal in Canada or to the Governor in Council (the Cabinet of Ministers). (You can watch/listen to CMAC’s oral presentation at the hearing, where we open with “Apartheid Canada” and speak of Palestine, at this link

My assessment of why Mr. Goldberg targeted my account is confirmed by his latest tweet on the subject, where he gloats about having my account suspended and seems to suggest he is also targeting Carleton University professor, Dwayne Winseck. 

Finally, Twitter quotes a fourth tweet I made in its email, outlining its decision to suspend my account. In that tweet, I stated: “if you come to my home and try to steal it or harm my children, it will lead to a bullet in your head.” 

Obviously, there is no promotion of violence against any “Protected Groups” in this statement, except if you consider House Thieves or Children Killers are protected groups. What is ironic about this tweet is the fact that I wrote it, while visiting my wife’s family in Louisiana, a “Stand your grounds” state, where by law a person has the right to shoot and kill anyone who invades their home and harms their children. Of course, we know that “Stand your grounds” doesn’t apply to Black/Brown/Arab peoples, and is a privilege reserved for White Colonists in the USA or Apartheid “Israel”. By dictating that my post was promoting violence, Twitter is asserting that  Colonists have the full right of looting, pillaging and murdering children; considering that the settler’s behavior supersedes the rights of the Colonized populations to defend themselves. 

Twitter usurped the powers of Courts and accused innocents of legally actionable crimes under the criminal laws of Canada and the USA. It denies the basic rights guaranteed under Natural and Common Law, including the presumption of innocence, the right to cross-examines the accuser, and the right to be judged by equal peers. It appoints itself as judge, jury and executioner; and shields Supremacy, Genocide, Infanticide and Apartheid from criticism. It supports the rights of Zionists to harass Palestinians on its platform and threaten their livelihood and their income. Furthermore, it asserts that any fight back against this behavior is threatening, violent and itself a form of harassment.

Private Corporations and the rights to free speech

In my 20 years of activism for the liberation of Palestine, I have faced many injustices similar to this Twitter Ban, and almost all stem from the same speech. In 2001, I was the first Arab candidate to be elected to a student union executive in Canada; at Concordia University in Montreal. Within months I was expelled summarily through a Dictate from the President of the University for writing that “Zionism is Jewish Supremacy”. During our 6-month court battle, Concordia argued that it is not a public institution but, rather, a private corporation that can refuse service to any “customer” (not student?!?). This is the same argument that Twitter makes. Although the judge erroneously agreed that Concordia is a private corporation, he nevertheless ruled that it cannot expel a customer without affording them the basics of Natural Justice and Common Law when it accuses them of crimes prescribed in the Criminal Code and that if it did not do so, it then would be violating the Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms (Constitution). Concordia had no choice but to reinstate me as a student and then afford me an internal hearing that abides by the minimums of Common Law. Naturally, I won in the tribunal under these conditions. 

A year later, the Chair of the Department of History at Concordia, who was also the Chair of the Zionist lobby group, the Human Rights League of B’nai B’rith, decided to accuse me of promoting hate because I said Zionism is Jewish Supremacy and that “Israel” is an Apartheid state. The internal Concordia tribunal that was convened to rule over these accusations, after months of deliberations, also found that my statements are covered under fair speech and cannot be considered hate speech no matter how appalled and angered my critics were. 

Given that none of the Tweets quoted in the decision to suspend my account can be construed as promoting hate or violence against a Protected Group; given that it is clear my accuser is actually harassing me online; given that the grave accusations leveled against me are actual crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada; given that my basic rights under Natural Justice and Common Law dictate that I must have a fair trial before being found guilty of such crimes; the only legal and ethical thing Twitter can do is to remove the suspension on my account and restore my tweets.

I urge all readers to tweet this article at @Twitter @TwitterSuppport and @Jack and ask for my account to be reinstated. 

The Persian Gulf is Once Again at the Center of Western Provocations

17.08.2021 

Author: Viktor Mikhin

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As part of a concerted effort to pressurize Iran ahead of the expected resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna, Washington and its European allies appear to be using a mysterious and not entirely understandable attack on an oil tanker operated by Israel to extract additional concessions from Tehran.   In doing so, says the well-informed Iranian newspaper Ettelaat, they are unwittingly playing into the hands of an Israeli scheme aimed at railroading the very nuclear deal that Washington and the Europeans are supposedly trying to revive. The controversy over the recent attack on the Israeli Mercer Street continues unabated, and the US and Britain rushed to bring the issue even to the UN Security Council. However, they failed to reach a consensus on Iran there.

In this connection, it may be recalled that an Israeli ship was attacked off the coast of Oman on July 29 while it was sailing from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. An oil tanker operated by Zodiac Maritime, owned by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer, was reportedly attacked by suicide drones. A Zodiac Maritime spokesman said two crew members, British and Romanian nationals, died in the attack. The attack, for which Tel Aviv, London, and Washington instantly and unsubstantiated accused Iran, marked the beginning of a coordinated diplomatic campaign against Tehran at a time when nuclear talks on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal had stalled after six rounds of painstaking negotiations in Vienna. The last round of talks in Vienna was completed more than a month ago, and differences over how to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are still unresolved. The US has steadfastly refused to lift all sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration and to give assurances that it will not withdraw from the JCPOA again, as it did in the past. The sixth round was also held when a transfer of power in Iran connected with the June 18 presidential elections, in which Ebrahim Raisi won a confident and predictable victory.

In a separate statement, US CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said that based on the fact that “the vertical stabilizer is identical to those identified on one of the Iranian UAVs designed and manufactured for the one-sided kamikaze attack, we could assume that Iran was actively involved in the attack.”  In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of the G7 countries (Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States) condemned Iran for the attack. “This was a deliberate and targeted attack and a clear violation of international law,” the statement said. “All available evidence points to Iran.” There is no excuse for this attack.   Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh instantly responded that the G7 condemnation consisted of unfounded accusations. “Israel is likely to be the real culprit behind the attack,” the spokesman added. “For experts and those who know the history of our region, it is nothing new that the Zionist regime is scheming such plots,” Said Khatibzadeh emphasized.

Sensing a change of plans in Tehran, the US and its European allies launched a diplomatic campaign to intimidate Iran into returning to the talks in Vienna without any new demands. Washington’s main concern was that the negotiating team of new President Ebrahim Raisi would return to Vienna with new spirit and demands, amounting to a reversal of the American progress made in the last six rounds. This concern is not groundless: the Tehran Times, which presents the official point of view, reported that the Iranians were even considering, among other options, abandoning the results of the Vienna talks under Hassan Rouhani. The same newspaper, citing official sources, concludes that Tehran may reject the results and set a new agenda for negotiations with the West to resolve the remaining issues in a new format and spirit.  This is why the US, in an apparent attempt to influence the plans of the Iranian ayatollahs, has sought to increase diplomatic pressure on Iran since the end of the sixth round. They have threatened and are threatening to withdraw from negotiations, openly opposed to lifting all sanctions, and have even prepared new oil sanctions against Iran.

Then there was the incomprehensible attack on Mercer Street, which the US and its allies saw as a gift to exert further pressure on Iran. While the hype surrounding this attack is still going on, the known provocateur, Britain and its allies, in a spirit of high probability, have concocted several stories about the hijacking of commercial ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman. Once again, they have accused Iran, without evidence and with impudence, of playing a role in these events. How can we not recall the dirty work of London and its notorious international organization Médecins Sans Frontières in accusing Damascus of the use of poisonous substances?

Iran fully understands the ulterior motives behind this drama, which the West has habitually turned into a farce. Iranian officials warned the West not to engage in dirty propaganda games to gain concessions. Commenting on the alleged attempted seizure of a ship in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian Embassy in Britain stated on Twitter: “To mislead the public around the world for diplomatic gain in New York is not fair game.” But this unfair game can lead to the opposite result. The US and Britain have enlisted Israel’s help in their campaign of putting pressure on Iran, which is likely to have unintended consequences for them.

“We have just heard a distorted statement about the Mercer Street incident. Immediately after the event, Israeli officials blamed Iran for the incident. That’s what they usually do. This is a standard practice of the Israeli regime. Its purpose is to divert world attention from the regime’s crimes and inhumane practices in the region,” said Zahra Ershadi, the charge d’affaires ad interim of Iran’s permanent mission to the United Nations. She made the remarks after a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on the recent oil tanker incident in the Gulf of Oman.

Israel’s ambassador to the US and the UN, Gilad Erdan, threw aside his restraint and revealed some of these targets. He said that Israel would ultimately like to see the current regime in the Islamic Republic of Iran overthrown. “In the end, we would like [the government] to be overthrown and [for] regime change to take place in Iran,” Gilad Erdan said when asked about Israel’s strategy toward the Islamic Republic, according to the Times of Israel. The statement was made after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s blunt remarks that Tel Aviv allegedly knows for a fact that it was Iran that attacked Mercer Street.

Regardless of Israel’s goals for Iran, the current approach of London and Washington is unlikely to produce results, as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has unequivocally and firmly made it clear that the West is unlikely to succeed in intimidating the Iranians and the country’s leadership. Moreover, no one will force the Iranians to give up their legal rights and freedoms.

Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” .

Mleeta National Monument of Resistance – the “Miracle of Lebanon”

Steve Sweeney
International Editor of the Morning Star newspaper in Britain.

11 Jul 2021

Steve Sweeney

Source: Al Mayadeen

“the National Monument is not about war, it is about peace.”

“We are blessed” Mohammad tells me, a sentence he would repeat a number of times during our gatherings.

He is referring to the so-called “Miracle of Lebanon,” the 2006 war that catapulted Hezbollah to legendary status in the country, as it became the first Lebanese force to defeat “Israel”.

And it was a loss that led to serious recriminations in Tel Aviv as Israeli soldiers were humiliated by the resistance fighters, in a war they were expected to win, but instead, ended up weakening the Zionist regime and strengthening the very forces they hoped to crush.

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The victory remains a source of national pride and certainly boosted the standing of the Shia political movement in the minds of the Lebanese people.

This was a war that pitted resistance fighters against one of the most technically advanced nations on the planet. “Israel” has the world’s fourth-largest military and, despite denials, is a major nuclear power.

But as Robert Taber points out in his seminal work ‘The War of the Flea’, a conventional army cannot defeat a resistance force fighting for a sacred cause that carries the support of the civilian population.

“Yes, here, the resistant had much more than the support of his own people,” Mohammad said, “all inhabitants in surrounding areas were part of the forces that fought against “Israel”. The resistance couldn’t have survived and arisen without the support its people.”

We are at the National Monument, in the mountainous village of Mleeta in southern Lebanon, the site of the 2006 resistance base, described disparagingly by Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper as “Hezbollah’s Disneyland.”

It was clear that the newspaper, known for supporting Nazi Germany during the 1930s has never set foot in the former Hezbollah military post that has been turned into a museum commemorating the 2006 war.

Far from the “theme park where children are indoctrinated the glory of martyrdom,” the Mleeta museum is a respectful commemoration to the Lebanese people martyred during “Israel’s” war.

In fact, it is not different from war memorials in other countries, including Britain’s Imperial War Museum or the Museum of the Battle of Normandy in France.

But not for the first time, the Daily Mail was missing the point as Mohammad explained “the National Monument is not about war, it is about peace.”

Opening in 2010 to mark the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Hezbollah’s ability to oust “Israel” from Lebanon. The popular tourist site consists of original Hezbollah bunkers and a 200 meter tunnel that was made a fully operational resistance command center.

An array of weapons, including anti-aircraft guns, that were used in the defeat of the Zionist entity are displayed on the so-called Martyr’s Hill, which also commemorates all those who sacrificed their lives defending Lebanon.

“We are blessed” Mohammad told me once again. 

He is referring to the natural green blanket that provided the resistance fighters with camouflage, making the base impenetrable and undetectable despite the close proximity of the Israeli Sujud military post.

“The trees here remain green all year round, Mohammad told me, “Night vision doesn’t work. They didn’t know Hezbollah was here, they never discovered the military base” my guide explained as he pointed at the mountain opposite where the Zionist soldiers were located.

“Nature always defeats technology,” he said,” It is the master of everything. This is the nearest place to God.”

But life in the mountains was tough. The nearest hospital was over an hour away and it was difficult for those who were wounded to receive treatment. 

Movements were restricted to avoid detection and it was cold – fires were not allowed to avoid them being spotted by Israeli surveillance planes.

“There were no roads as there are now,” Mohammad explained. “Volunteers were expected to make their own way here, which wasn’t easy as they would have to carry weapons and missiles too.”

A large part of the resistance was what Hezbollah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah has described as “the brain war” which had a huge impact on moral as “Israel” did not know what technology Hezbollah fighters were using.

His infamous statement stressing that “Israel” is “weaker than a spider’s web” is encapsulated in a showpiece at the entrance of the museum, which proudly displays helicopters and tanks downed by the resistance.

“This was a turning point in the war” Mohammad said as he indicated the destroyed Merkava tank. Known as God’s chariot, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) believed that it was indestructible.

“The resistance did something that “Israel” didn’t expect,” he added. “This was one of their most elite tanks and it was destroyed by the resistance forces. It was a harsh damage to the Israeli military and people’s moral, who turned against the war.”

The war that was supposed to be won swiftly by “Israel”, ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire and the withdrawal of IDF troops just a month after the invasion was launched.

Nearly 2000 Lebanese people were killed and around one million internally displaced as Israeli missiles destroyed civilian infrastructure.

During the war, the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada backed “Israel”. Washington provided “Israel” with precision-guided missiles as part of the so-called “War on Terror.”

The British government, led at the time by Tony Blair, shamefully blocked a move by the European Union to call for an immediate ceasefire.

This was a stark contrast to the people of those nations who demonstrated, claiming an end to “Israel’s” war.

Chants of “We are all Hezbollah” reverberated on the streets of London which provoked some controversy as leading figures in the smaller left-wing parties scurried to tell their members not to join in.

What it reflected was an expression of unconditional solidarity with the resistance party, rejecting the media’s portrayal of Hezbollah, classified as an “Islamist terrorist party.”

It was a British, European, US classification that triggered nervousness around the chants.

Another guide named Mohammad – “we are all called Mohammad here” he joked – said that this was a hypocritical move designed to delegitimize the resistance.

“They are guilty of double standards” he added as we discussed Operation Timber Sycamore – the covert CIA program; millions of dollars in cash, weapons and training were channeled to a myriad of Salafi groups in Syria.

“We are against terrorism” he told me, as he went on to condemn any actions against the people of Europe, Britain and the US.

At the time of writing, Lebanon is going through another crisis – an economic crash due, in large part, to the US Caesar sanctions that aimed people’s starvation and submission, with the intention of disarming Hezbollah.

To do so would be to leave the people of Lebanon at the mercy of “Israel” and trigger a potential massacre. The monument in Mleeta serves as a reminder of why that must never be allowed to happen.

It is not up to the US – or for that matter the Western liberal left – to determine how the Lebanese people resist. The only beneficiaries of a disarmed Hezbollah are “Israel” and US imperialism.

We saw during “Israel’s” recent bombardment of the Palestinian people in the besieged Gaza strip efforts to delegitimize the resistance through the media and other channels by branding Hamas – the democratically elected government – as terrorists.

Deranged, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has used the Hezbollah bogeyman to demonize Venezuela, Cuba and other Latin American countries, insisting on having operating cells there.

This dangerous narrative shifts the focus away from the real global terrorists – US imperialism. 

Washington has at least 800 military bases across the world and has funded death squads and supported coups in Latin America and the Middle East at great human cost.

Fearful of the decline of the dollar as the world currency – and with it the ability of the US finance capital to control world markets – it has embarked on a new Cold War against China and imposed crippling sanctions on other countries during the middle of the pandemic.

As Sayed Nasrallah said about “Israel”, the US is weaker than a spider’s web. But this also makes it more dangerous.

Hezbollah remains an important force in the fight against US imperialism and supporting the rebuilding of Lebanon. We might not agree on everything – in fact we almost certainly don’t. But this is to miss the point.

The future of Lebanon must be determined by its people, not external forces driven by their own imperialist interests.The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

A Western-backed war couldn’t destroy Syria, now sanctions are starving its people

June 16, 2021, RT.com

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-by Eva K Bartlett

A little over a decade ago, Syrians lived in safety and financial security. After ten years of war on Syria, while safety has largely returned, Syrians are struggling to exist under increasingly crippling Western sanctions.

As Syrian analyst Kevork Almassian noted“Were it not for the CIA regime change war, arming & training tens of thousands of multinational terrorists, draconian sanctions, foreign occupation of North & East, looting the oil & burning the wheat, Syria would’ve now a brilliant economy & high standard of living.”

When I first visited Syria in 2014, and in the years following, mortars and missiles fired from terrorist groups occupying eastern Ghouta pummeled Damascus on a daily basis. Likewise in government-controlled areas of Aleppo, and elsewhere around Syria.

Parents never knew if their children would return from school, or be shelled while at school. Untold numbers of Syrian civilians have been maimed over the past decade by such shelling, untold numbers more killed.

So one might expect that in 2021, with most of the terrorism in Syria eradicated, Syrians would have begun returning to the normal lives they had ten years prior. But the brutal sanctions have truly wrought hell on Syrians over the years, and under the latest ones, life has gotten exponentially worse.

Last year, I was in Syria for half of the year, after the borders closed due to Covid confusion. With ample time on my hands, I walked for hours around Damascus daily. One afternoon, wanting to get a good view of the city, I walked along narrow lanes going up the side of Qasioun mountain, encountering locals who spoke of community and supporting one another in hard times.

I had stopped to take a photo of the vista when a young girl’s voice called out to me. Shortly after, I was seated in her family’s humble sitting room, drinking cold water and talking with the family.

Only by chance did I learn that the father was ill with prostate cancer and suffering greatly for a want of affordable medications, increasingly difficult to get a hold of due to the sanctions. And that was in April, before the sadistically-named Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act came into effect months later.

I say sadistically, because these sanctions, while ostensibly intended to target the Syrian government and its allies in order to punish and discourage supposed “war crimes” against civilians, in reality inflict endless misery on those same Syrian civilians. This is, as I wrote, something former US envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, boasted about, reportedly saying that the sanctions “contributed to the collapse of the value of the Syrian pound.”

It’s a pattern we’ve already seen with Western sanctions – in Venezuela, they have not only made people’s lives hell, but as I also wrote, have killed up to 40,000 Venezuelans in the span of one year, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

A recent guest article in the Financial Times addressed Syria’s ongoing (and orchestrated) economic crisis, with particular attention to the sanctions, noting that 60% of Syrians are suffering from food insecurity.

That number might actually be significantly higher, as in a July 2020 article detailing the illegality of the sanctions, the author cited 83% of the population living below the poverty line. That article noted, of the Caesar sanctions:

“Unlike the pre-existing sanctions, they apply to transactions anywhere in the world that engage the Syrian Government or certain sectors of the Syrian economy, even when those transactions have no connection to the United States.

“Such sanctions cripple a state’s economy; disrupt the availability of food, medicines, drinking water, and sanitation supplies; interfere with the functioning of health and education systems; and undermine people’s ability to work.”

These are not unintended effects – they are the whole idea.

The FT article notes that after the Caesar Act came into effect, the Syrian pound, “lost almost 70% of its value against the dollar in the following months. This spurred an inflationary spiral affecting food prices, which more than tripled in 2020.”

And, in contrast to how the US pretends to “protect” Syrians with these sanctions, the Caesar Act is, “severely affecting the local economy especially in the construction, energy, and financial sectors, blocking any possibility of reconstruction in this phase of lower-intensity conflict.”

Although I continued to follow events in Syria after leaving in late September 2020, when I returned in the last week of May this year, even I was surprised at the skyrocketed cost of basic things. About half a kilo of hummus that was 400 Syrian pounds last year is 2,200 now. At the current official exchange rate of 2,500 that’s slightly less than a dollar – but the average salary in Syria is around 50-60,000 Syrian pounds/month.

The FT article noted a kilogram of beef “costs about a quarter of a public employee’s average monthly salary. For perspective, in Italy this translates as €700 per kg. In the UK? £300 per lb.”

I chatted with a friend who has just one child. He described spending 15,000 (about $6) on vegetables, that would last several days. That’s a quarter of his salary gone, and many expenses still to pay.

In the Midan district of Damascus—an area usually brimming with shoppers coming for the famous sweet shops there, but not crowded the day I went—a cigarette vendor I spoke with described how he struggles to provide food for his wife and two sons. Like the majority of Syrians, selling cigarettes is a second job for him. Some are working three jobs, morning to late evening, and still can’t make ends meet.

He spoke of the self-sufficiency Syria had prior to the war, how everyone had work, but now, people are suffocating.

“We are rationing! I used to buy a kilo of meat every month, but now I buy 200 grams. My salary is 55,000, and if I can earn 50,000 from this second work, I will have 100,000 Syrian pounds. But, this amount is still not enough.”

“Yesterday, I bought some yogurt, cheese, a box of mortadella (meat), and a box of tissues. I paid 11,000 Syrian pounds. This is for one day, and just breakfast.”

He said a dearth of fertilizers and insecticides, due to sanctions, is directly impacting the agricultural sector.

While in Damascus, I also met with French humanitarian, Pierre Le Corf, who has lived in Syria for six years, most of that time in Aleppo. Le Corf, working and living with some of the poorest and most affected Syrians in Aleppo, spoke of how the sanctions are designed to kill hope, in addition to killing civilians.

“You might not see people starving in the street, but that’s not what suffering is. People are suffering in silence. More and more, the youth are leaving the country, not because they want to leave Syria or feel oppressed, but because they feel that they have no hope anymore.

The currency went from 50 Syrian pounds [for a dollar, before the war] to 4,000 Syrian pounds. People work from morning to night, and at the end of the day, their kids might ask for a banana. One kilogram of bananas is 5,000 Syrian pounds. When you earn 60,000 a month…”

He spoke of the pressure the US puts on every company and person who deals with Syria, that they can be imprisoned, fined. “They are forcing companies to not work with Syria,” to isolate Syria.

“I know families for who I’m trying to figure out how to bring them medicines that they can’t find any more. A week ago, I went to bury a guy who we had been bringing medicine, because we couldn’t find it any more. It became 90,000 pounds a box, he needed four boxes a month. He needed more medicine and better treatment that we can’t have, because it’s forbidden. Forbidden why? Because they pretend it’s ‘double use’, maybe it could be used for the army. The people are paying the price, no one else.

In an interview on Syria Insider, British journalist Vanessa Beeley condemned the sanctions against Syria, saying:

“Western governments are starving the Syrian people. They are depriving them of their right to return home, because the rebuilding process is being delayed. They are punishing the Syrian people for the resistance of the Syrian people against what they want to impose upon them. It’s nothing to do with the Syrian government or President Assad.”

Sanctions are never ever non-lethal practises. They are almost the most lethal of all weapons used in the hybrid war against the people of a targeted nation.

“At the same time as the sanctions are in place, the West is stealing the oil, burning the food resources, selling the food resources outside of Syria, all to deprive the Syrian people of their own resources, of the abundance of their own country.”

In a recent, detailed, presentation focussing on the sanctions, Beeley highlighted their effects not only on incomes, food, medicines, but also on fuel, industry, agriculture, health care and hospitals, electricity and water.

She aptly noted: “One could argue that the US Coalition is responsible for genocide in Syria under Genocide Convention article II (e) – deliberately inflicting on the group, conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

“The US Coalition is effectively following a policy of collective extermination of the Syrian people by military and economic means. This is a crime against Humanity, a war crime and a flagrant violation of the right to life & a life of dignity.”#Syria https://t.co/m8YxqIlUHR— vanessa beeley (@VanessaBeeley) June 14, 2021

In US President Joe Biden’s meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin today, perhaps among the scripted talking points there was tut tutting of Syria and Russia’s alleged preventing of humanitarian aid, a tired old trope debunked but still trumpeted by hypocrites in the West.

And while such integrity-devoid Western representatives launch accusation after accusation at Syria and Russia, it is abundantly clear that the suffering of Syrians is a product of the illegal war on Syria and the deadly, criminal, sanctions against the Syrian people.

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Peace in the Middle East is a prerequisite for Global Peace.

Peace in the Middle East is a prerequisite for Global Peace.

May 28, 2021

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

Without going into history, how the Jewish State of Israel was created in the middle of the Arab World (Muslim World), let’s focus on the current issues and find a solution. As long as it was recognized by the United Nations in 1948, we have to accept this reality; either one likes it or not. The irony is that, since 1948, Israel kept on expanding and pushing Arabs out of their homes and lands and forcing them to leave their land and property, either to immigrate to other countries or live a miserable life in refugee camps.

After Eleven days of recent aggression, it is encouraging that the ceasefire has been implemented. There were multiple reasons for the truce, but the most important was public opinion, which was condemning Israel worldwide. Almost all big cities all over the World have witnessed mass protests, demonstrations, and agitations. It seems the whole World was standing in solidarity with Palestinians. Although few Governments, like the UK, US, and France, were supporting Israeli acts of brutalities, but the public in their own countries was against Israeli aggressions. Some of the biased Western Media was supporting Israel and fabricating lame excuses and irrational justification for Israeli aggressions. But Social Media has played a positive role and rectified public opinion globally. Of Course Russian, and Chinese pressure was also irresistible on the State of Israel to stop air raids. On the ground, within Israel, a civil war erupted among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Moreover, the Israeli defense system was not so much practical and could not save its territories from rocket attacks. There are reports that the Israeli defense system has shot down its own drones and fighter jets too. Also, there are reports that Israeli security forces killed one suspect within Israel, which was identified as American Jew later on.

Since 1848, Isreal was building its defense and spending lavishly. American economic assistance and Military aid were generous. Even during the recent 11 days conflict, the US was supplying the latest and advanced weapons to Israel, which is an open breach of the UN charter and all norms of the civilized World. Even the US was behind to postpone three times the UNSC statement to stop killings of innocent Palestinians.

Israeli defense capabilities are unmatched in the whole region. With Nuclear weapons, hi-tech, advanced systems, missiles, and the latest war techniques, Israel maintains hegemony. There is no comparison between the whole Arab World’s defense capabilities with Israel alone. Nothing to talk about Palestine or Gazza only, which is a fraction of Israel and that is too dependent on Israel for day-to-day life even.

Looking at the Israeli atrocities and brutalities against the Arab World since 1948, one can reach the conclusion that The Jewish State of Israel is Zionist, aggressive, and illegitimate. Based on its military might, it keeps on expanding and becoming bigger and stronger day by day.

This phenomenon is not new; history tells us there were Germany and Japan, two aggressive countries, and were held responsible for World Wars. But soon, they were brought to justice and held responsible for war crimes. They were made to pay war compensation, and their Military might was scattered and capped to revive in the future. Under the treaty, both Germany and Japan were prevented from rebuilding their Military power again. Both countries are still paying for war crimes, compensation as well as could not reconstruct their military might again.

Once it is established that Israel is an aggressive state and held responsible for killings of Muslims in millions, making them homeless in millions, and refused to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors. It is time for International Community to take action.

The international community must do more to safeguard the lives and fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, who continue to suffer under illegitimate foreign occupation. It should also not condone the violations of international law that underpin global and regional security.

For long-lasting and durable Peace in the region, it is imperative that the Palestinian people are granted their inalienable right to self-determination according to respective UN consensus. It is believed that a viable, independent, and contiguous original Palestinian State, with the pre-1948 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, is the only just, comprehensive and ever-lasting solution to the Palestine issue in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions. All Arab lands occupied in 1967 and 1973 should be returned back to Arabs.

International Community should mobilize all possible humanitarian assistance for the devastated Palestinian population in Gaza and other parts of the occupied territories. In addition to the UNRWA emergency appeal, the UN Secretary-General should launch a comprehensive humanitarian aid plan to deliver succor and sustenance to the Palestinians. There is a dire need to provide medical teams, medicines, and other supplies, food, and other necessities to Gaza and other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories immediately. Egypt’s immediate supply of humanitarian assistance to Gazza is highly appreciated. Israel must open all the access and entry points to Gaza to ensure the timely and urgent delivery of international aid and end the siege of Palestine immediately.

The UN General Assembly should call for concrete steps to protect the Palestinians and should deploy an international peace force, as was called for in General Assembly Resolution ES-10/20 and as demanded by the Islamic Summit Conference held on 18 May 2018.

If the Security Council cannot approve immediately to send the safeguarding force, a “coalition of the willing” can be shaped to provide at least civilian observers to monitor a cessation of the hostilities and supervise the delivery of humanitarian help to the Palestinians.

The UN Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to offer safety to Israel’s Arab (Muslims and Christians both) citizens living within Israel who are being lynched and murdered by fascist Israeli gangs at the present time.

The UN General Assembly should condemn: Israel’s forcible and illegal eviction of Palestinians, including in Al-Jarrah district of Jerusalem and constantly construction of Jewish new settlements; the onslaught against Palestinian worshipers in Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa mosque, the first Qibla of Islam, during the month of Ramadan; and Israel’s brutal and indiscriminate aerial and land wild-bombardment of Gaza.

Israel’s crimes against humanity should not spurt accountability. There should be no exemption for violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and other human rights Conventions. The Human Rights Council, the ICC, the ICJ, and other avenues should be actuated to ensure Israeli accountability for its war crimes.

International Community should enhance concrete efforts to end Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and to dismantle the illegal settlements and the apartheid-like regime Israel has enforced in the occupied territories. The General Assembly should secure unconditional implementation of resolution 242 of November 1967 in which the Security Council declared the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and demanded that Israel withdraw its armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 war. It is, therefore, commanding to initiate bold steps to secure the implementation of the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions calling for the establishment of a viable, independent, and contiguous original Palestinian State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. President of Palestine (Fateh Group) Mehmood Abbas’s call for an International Conference to secure a peaceful settlement must be appreciated.

The Palestine catastrophe is at the heart of the chaos and conflicts in the Middle East. It is also the principal root cause of the humiliation and irritation in the Muslim and Arab world – anger which breeds extremism and often spawns acts of violence. A just solution for Palestine is imperative for the preservation of regional and global peace and security. It is to be understood well that Peace and stability in the Arab-Isreal are vital for international Peace, stability, and prosperity. Our next generations deserve a peaceful and happy life; we must understand that the Peace in Middle-east is an energy-rich region and can play a vital role in the global economy and prosperity. Peace in the Middle-east is a prerequisite for international Peace

It is only through determined and significant action that this Assembly can reinstate the credibility of the United Nations and demonstrate its effective role in stabilizing world peace and global order based on equity and justice.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

President Bashar Al Assad Won Re-election with 95.1% of the Total Votes

ARABI SOURI 

Syrian President Bashar Assad and First Lady Asmaa Assad

President Bashar Assad won the presidential election race with a whopping 95.1% of the total voters, contender Mr. Mahmoud Ahmad Mar’ai came second with 3.3%, and Mr. Abdullah Salloum Abdullah came 3rd with 1.5%.

The Speaker of the Syrian Parliament announced the results which he received in turn from the Constitutional Court shortly before midnight, Damascus local time, in a televised broadcast, and he detailed:

The total number of eligible voters in the country and in the diaspora reached 18,107,109 voters.

The total number of voters who cast their votes: 14,239,140 voters, an overwhelming outcome of 78.64%.

The total number of votes incumbent President Bashar Assad received: 13,540,860, that’s 95.1%.

Total number Mr. Mahmoud Ahmad Mar’ai received: 470,276 votes, that’s 3.3%.

Total number Mr. Abdullah Salloum Abdullah received: 213,968 votes, that’s 1.5%.

There were massive rallies all over the country flooding the streets of every city in support of President Assad starting from the 16th of the month when the campaign started, the Syrians packed all the cities waiting for the results while in joy as they consider this the main milestone in their victory over the US-waged war of terror and war of attrition over a whole decade.

President Assad’s reelection was anticipated, the Syrian people are people of pride and they honor their heroes who fight for them and despise those who have betrayed them. A high outcome of the voters for the elections was also expected but not at the levels we’ve followed in all the cities across the country, save the Al-Qaeda stronghold in Idlib which is run by the Turkey-sponsored Nusra Front (aka Al Qaeda Levant) and parts of northeastern Syria under the control of the US-sponsored Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists.

The enemies of Syria in the USA, EU, Gulfies, Israel, Al Qaeda and the Kurdish SDF terrorists have declared their intentions not to recognize the Syrian Presidential election citing different reasons and that was before the elections took place, their recognition is not required by the Syrian constitution.

One of the main masterminds behind the terrorist war against Syria wrote in an article after watching the Syrians yesterday interacting with the election all over the country, President Assad and the first lady voting in Duma, which followed the Syrians abroad flocking in large numbers to the Syrian diplomatic and consular missions abroad showing their support to President Assad, the former US ambassador to Syria and head of terrorist groups Robert S. Ford wrote: ‘The US policy in Syria failed.’ Let’s hope the White House junta of Joe Biden will realize the lesson and fix its policies, the sooner the better for them.

President Bashar Assad is now the Syrian president for the coming 7 years, the US officials and their Western European stooges, the Gulfies, and other enemies of humanity can howl to the moon now, they can also start with their u-turn from their evil and criminal policies that led to hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed, maimed, displaced, and impoverished. The NATO and stooges officials can also start rebuilding proper bridges back to Syria and come humble filled with the humiliation of the defeated in one of the worst global wars of terror waged by the world’s superpowers and super-rich countries against a single small country.

Congratulations to the victors of the war, the Syrian people now under the leadership of Bashar Assad will write a better chapter of history, a brighter one, and a chapter full of pride and honor.

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British schoolchildren face punishment for wearing Palestine flags and keffiyeh’s

Students said they were threatened with detention, expulsion and barred from taking exams due to their pro-Palestine activism

Children across the UK have faced disciplinary action for their Palestine activism on school premises (AFP)

By Areeb Ullah

Published date: 26 May 2021

Schoolchildren in the UK are being punished for their pro-Palestine activism on school premises, with some being disciplined for wearing keffiyehs and holding Palestine flags.

Several students who spoke to Middle East Eye said they were threatened with detention, expulsion and being blocked from taking their exams if they continued protesting for Palestinian rights on school premises.

The forms of activism being penalised by schools include displaying the Palestinian flag on face masks or their hands and putting up posters designed by students to educate their peers on the Israel-Palestinian issue.

Every student and teacher who spoke to MEE requested anonymity as they feared possible repercussions from their school for speaking out.

Picture of Palestine posters put up by students at Allerton George in Leeds (Supplied)
Picture of Palestine posters put up by students at Allerton George in Leeds. Students had to take pictures in secret as phones are banned on school premises (Supplied)

Pupils who spoke to MEE attended schools in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Rochdale and different areas of London.

Taking inspiration from last year’s Black Lives Matter protests (BLM) and her school’s awareness campaigns on LGBT rights and mental health, Jay assumed Allerton George would encourage discussion on Palestine.

But when students put up posters around the school in communal areas without permission, teachers quickly took them down.

“The teachers went as far as ripping the Palestine posters into pieces and scrunching the ripping the Palestine posters into pieces and scrunching them up in our faces,” Jay told MEE.

“When we asked why they took down the posters, the teachers said they didn’t have to justify it to us and were given clear instructions to take down these posters as they were seen as sending antisemitic messages.”

Jay stressed the messages on the posters were not antisemitic and said: “End Israeli Apartheid, End illegal Occupation and Free Palestine”. 

She added: “They took our lanyards from us because they had the Palestine flag.

“When we asked them why it was okay to wear BLM or LGBTQ+ flags on our lanyards but not Palestine, they couldn’t give us an answer and later said as a political cause, it caused distress to others.”

Students from Allerton Grange later posted a video of headteacher Mike Roper describing the Palestinian flag as a “call to arms” and “symbol of antisemitism”. Roper has since apologised after facing protests outside the school. 

‘Posters were torn down and binned’

Jay said the school had refused to take down the Israeli flag displayed in the library after seeing the Palestine flag taken down.

Allerton George had not responded to MEE’s requests for comment at the time of this article’s publication.

Some teachers from other schools who spoke to MEE also confirmed that students were placed in detention for putting up posters in support of Palestine.

Like Jay, Sam from West London put up posters in his school for Palestine on their class boards and wore badges to raise awareness about Palestine.

“We put up small Palestinian flags and posters on our class poster boards wearing badges that read ‘Free Palestine’, drawing Palestine flags on our hands and wearing keffiyehs to spread awareness and pique student interest,” Sam told MEE.

“The posters were torn down and binned, the students were told to remove their badges at the threat of suspension from school and all ‘flags and symbols’ were removed from sight at the threat of detention.” 

Sam added that students were threatened with being withdrawn from their GCSE exams if they refused to delete a video of senior staff taking down posters or wore a Palestine badge.

Aisha faced a similar situation as Sam did at Brampton Manor Academy in Newham, east London, where she says she was punished for wearing a Free Palestine badge in her school.

She said her teachers banned students from protesting and threatened them with detention if they continued putting them up. 

Students fear speaking out

Several students from other parts of the UK also expressed their disappointment at how their schools reacted towards their activism following the BLM protests.

Letters given to MEE that were sent to teachers and parents by Redbridge Council and a school in Birmingham told them that schools are “apolitical” bodies and could not allow students to participate in Palestine protests despite holding discussions for BLM and selling poppies to students.

Ilyas Nagdee, an activist who campaigns against the Prevent strategy, said children and their parents had contacted him about schools clamping down on pro-Palestine activism.

‘What we are seeing now is a product of years of Prevent trying to micro-manage political conversations’

– Shereen Fernandez, Queen Mary University

His call-out on Twitter to help students facing issues at school for their Palestine protests was retweeted 1,300 times at the time of writing.

Since then, Nagdee has received nearly a hundred requests for help, with many students afraid to speak out publicly.

“The cases we have received span the entire length of the country with hotspots where there are sizeable Muslim communities. The sanctions applied are wide in range, from young people being spoken to in class or given lunchtime isolation all the way to exclusions,” said Nagdee.

“We are also receiving a growing number of concerned parents who are contacting us due to fear their child has fallen into the clutches of Prevent or fearful of visits from the police.

Prevent in schools

Shereen Fernandez, a lecturer at Queen Mary University in London who specialises in Prevent in schools, believes the school reaction to Palestine protests is a direct result of the Prevent strategy telling teachers that campaigning for Palestine is associated with extremism.

Prevent is a strand of the British government’s counter-terrorism strategy that aims to “safeguard and support those vulnerable to radicalisation, to stop them from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism”.

It was publicly launched in the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings and was initially targeted squarely at Muslim communities, prompting continuing complaints of discrimination and concerns that the programme was being used to collect intelligence.

“Although Prevent will maintain that schools are ‘safe spaces’, that is not the case, as teachers will be anxious about approaching ‘controversial’ topics like Palestine because of its alleged association to extremism as indicated in the training material.”

“Symbols of solidarity such as wearing a badge supporting Palestine has been enough to refer students in the past to Prevent.”

In 2016, MEE revealed that the UK government told teachers in schools, colleges and universities to monitor Muslim students who display an interest in Palestine as being susceptible to terrorism.

And in 2014, Rahmaan Mohammadi, a 17-year-old student from Luton, was reportedly referred to Prevent and visited by the police after he organised a Palestine fundraiser at his school.

A teacher from Mayfield school in the London area of Ilford said the school’s reaction to pro-Palestine protests was “confusing”, adding that colleagues perceive “pro-Palestine activism as racism”.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Prevent is involved in constructing that line for schools across the country, and I’d say issues like BLM and poppies are allowed because they are considered neutral enough for schools to talk about.”

Mayfield School had not responded to MEE’s requests for comment by the time of this article’s publication.

Nagdee, the activist, said that many parents who spoke to him said they feared their children would be referred to Prevent because of their campaigning.

‘Biased’ assemblies

Following the protests, many schools across the UK held assemblies to address student concerns on raising awareness. 

But students who spoke to MEE said the assemblies fuelled further anger among students.

Images posted online showed students protesting at Judgemeadow Community College in Leicester after it was perceived to minimise Palestinian suffering. 

It remains unclear whether students in the video were punished for protesting.

Sam noted how his teacher described the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians as similar to a “messy bedroom” and disputed the phrasing of tensions as a “conflict”. 

“To address the discomfort many students felt about censorship of student voices, they organised an assembly on the concept of ‘conflict’ where the events in Palestine was compared to a ‘messy bedroom where a rebellious child and their parent had differing opinions on how it should be dealt with,” said Sam. 

“It just felt patronising and demeaning to us all.” 

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Presidential Elections in Syria

Wednesday, 26 May 2021 10:17

ST


Today Syria witnesses presidential elections across the country in a stable and organized manner .There are over 12000 polling stations for 18 million voters, with three presidential candidates to choose from. Syria, a country that was previously on the rise has for the last ten years witnessed horrific events which led to bloodshed and major destruction to some of its infrastructure. However Syria is on the way to recovery and reconstruction. Taking major strides in amending many of its laws and modernizing them, Syria will in the future reap its rewards. Holding presidential elections is an important route to setting the path and righting the wrong. Accompanying these elections are parliamentary groups from different countries .Their role is that of observer. As for Syrians living abroad presidential elections were held on the 20th of May. Oddly enough some counties that boast of democracy banned Syrian citizens living in their countries to go to the Syrian embassy to vote. A fallacy of democracy.

On this issue Ambassador Ounfoan Al Na’eb Syria’s ambassador to South Africa and in an exclusive interview with Syriatimes said the following”

Thursday, 20th May 2021, witnessed the holding of the Syrian Presidential Elections at the Embassies of the Syrian Arab Republic and its Consulate Missions abroad, including the Syrian Embassy in the Republic of South Africa, which hosted one of the polling stations.

The polling station opened its doors at 07.00AM (08.00 AM in Damascus’s time). The station saw a continuous turnout of the Syrian citizens to cast their votes in the Presidential elections, until the closing of the polling station. Perhaps, that was the most eye-catching sight during the voting day, despite the huge distance from their cities to Pretoria, the political capital of the Republic of South Africa.

Some of the Syrians had travelled more than 1000km, from cities like Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth, by planes or even by driving, to practice their rights in the elections. Some voters were over 80 years old, and some were as young as 18years old. The most beautiful scene was the Syrian children who accompanied their parents to the polling stations. They expressed their desire to vote, if not in these current elections, then in the next. Other parents told us that their children were pushing them to go and vote as it is a duty of every Syrian towards Syria which embraced them, and their fathers and grandfathers before.”

Ambassador Ounfoan continued to say “During the polling process, one could sense the love and care that the voters hold for Syria, through their facial expressions, before even listening to their words, and through the smiles and positivity they were emenating.

The polling process – which does not exceed 10 minutes from the moment of approaching the election committee, to slide the envelope inside the ballot box – extended to more than 30 minutes, as the voters used this time to chat with the Embassy’s staff about their memories and overwhelming feelings for Syria, the caring mother, and its sister, South Africa and their new life in it.

Thousands of kilometres that separate Syria from South Africa, did not succeed in changing those feelings towards Syria. The long and exhausting flight hours never prevented them from visiting it, to reunite with the extended family members. One of the young Syrians who hasn’t exceeded 13 years of his age, insisted on his Syrian father and South African mother to spend his summer vacation in Syria after he visited it for the first time and met with his relatives back there. He even started his Arabic language lessons to be able to communicate with his cousins in his next visit.

Holding of the Presidential Elections in Syria and abroad has several indicators:

–         It is an inevitable result of clinging of the honest Syrians to their homeland, and their unity around their firm State. It is a culmination of the military and political victories that were achieved by Syria in its war on the externally – sponsored terrorism, a culmination of the sacrifices of our noble martyrs, who gave their blood to protect our nation and defend our great people.

–         It is an affirmation of the existence of the Syrian State and its viability, a reiteration of upholding the legitimacy that led Syria to escape the dark terrorism tunnel, the legitimacy that some Western sponsoring- terrorism states attempt to destroy through arming, training, and funding armed terrorist groups and sending them secretly and openly to Syria. This is exactly what prevented countries like Germany for example to allow holding these elections in our embassy in Berlin and that is living proof of the continuous interference by some Western states in the Syrian internal affairs. Such irresponsible acts represent a stark violation of the UN Charter that oblige states to not interfere in internal affairs of other states.

–         It is the best response of the great Syrian People to the looting of their resources such as oil and wheat by the Western states, and imposing unilateral coercive measures which deprived them from their basic life needs, such as preventing them from importing the necessary vaccines to provide immunity for the Syrian children from diseases and sicknesses, thus preventing them from an equal chance to other peoples around the world to get COVID-19 vaccines.

–         It is a clear and explicit message from the Syrian expatriates. A message stating that Syria is resistant to conspirators, and it belongs to the Syrians, and its future will only be written by the Syrians from all spheres categorically deny any foreign mandate or dictates. They build the future and accomplish it with hard and devoted work.

I would like to conclude by thanking the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, and my colleagues in our Ministry, Embassies and Diplomatic and Consular Missions, as well as applauding the efforts provided by my colleagues in our Embassy in Pretoria, Syrians and South Africans, to make this Presidential Elections a success, and to demonstrate to the whole world that this ugly terrorist war, which was launched on Syria since a decade, and the unilateral, coercive, illegal and unethical measures, will not defeat or weaken the determination of the Syrians, rather, it will strengthen their resolve to march forward, and restore our mother country Syria to light the whole world with its civilization and culture.

Reem Haddad

Editor-in-chief

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Iran backs Palestine because it is independent, says Lebanese analyst

May 24, 2021 – 17:18

By Reza Moshfegh

Amin Hoteit

TEHRAN – A senior Lebanese political analyst says that Iran adheres to the Palestinian cause while many Arab countries have neglected Palestine in order to satisfy the colonialists and the Zionist regime and their American master.

Amin Hoteit says Iran has adopted such a policy toward Palestine because it is an independent and sovereign state.

“There is a big difference between a sovereign, independent ruler who safeguards the interests of his nation and a subordinate ruler who guards the interests of foreigners,” Hoteit tells the Tehran Times.

“Iran adheres to Palestinian cause while many Arabs neglect Palestine in order to satisfy the colonialists and the Zionist regime, and their American master,” the Lebanese analyst notes.

After 11 days of Israeli bombing, Gaza remains strong. The Israeli regime was forced to agree to a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Resistance forces in Gaza forced Israeli settlers to seek shelters by firing hundreds of missiles at different parts of occupied territories.
Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What is the status of Palestine in the Arab and Islamic world?

A: Palestine is part of the Arab and Islamic lands, and within this framework, we say that the Islamic world should be coherent and united in the face of Israel as God says in Quran: “Indeed this, your religion, is one religion, one and I am your Lord, so worship Me.” (Al-Anbya – Verse: 92)

On the one hand, according to Islamic logic, the attack on Palestine means an attack on the Islamic Ummah.

On the other hand, Palestine contains the most important sanctities of Muslims, including Jerusalem, which hosts Muslim’s first Qiblah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque; and there are other religious symbols related to Islam and Christianity.

Third, the Palestinian people are part of the Arab people and the Islamic Ummah, and attacking that part means attacking the whole. For all of this, Palestine, in its three dimensions -the land, the people, and the holy sites-has a fundamental position for the Arab and Islamic world.

Q: Why does Iran, after the Islamic Revolution, has kept insisting on liberating the Palestinian lands?

A: What distinguishes Iran from other Arab countries is that first it is an independent, sovereign state whose rule stems from the will of the people and was established on the basis of an Islamic revolution that seeks to achieve the nations’ rights and resist the usurpers.

Therefore, Iran is working for the sake of Islam, the people, and the Islamic Ummah. This feature does not exist in most Arab regimes, wherein the ruler is appointed by foreigners.

 In Arab states, a ruler comes and goes by an external decision, and policies and governments are determined by powers outside the countries. Therefore, at a time when we find that Iran is a country in which the rule emanates from the people and takes care of the interests of the people and nations, most of Arab rulers are guardians of the interests of foreign powers.

 There is a big difference between a sovereign, independent ruler who safeguards his nation’s interests and a subordinate ruler who guards the interests of foreigners. For this reason, Iran adheres to the Palestinian cause while many Arabs neglect Palestine in order to satisfy the colonialists and the Zionist regime and their American master.

Q: How do you see the stances of Arab states towards the Palestinian issue? How do you assess normalization of ties with Israel?

A: Unfortunately, some Arabs are heading towards overt surrender to the Israeli enemy.

Under the slogan of normalization of ties with Israel and the forged Abraham Accords, these regimes accepted to be slaves of Israel and servants of American interests, providing it with resources and reassurance. This approach should be stopped.

We call on Arab people to move against this approach adopted by their governments. They need to retreat from this treacherous behavior.

Normalization of ties with Israel, in our opinion, is a betrayal of the Ummah and a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. It violates their rights and legitimacy.
That is why we find that today there are sides and groups in the Arab and Islamic world that condemn normalization of ties with the Zionist regime and call for an end to it and a return to the idea of Palestine from the river to the sea.

Q: Is it possible to bet on the American-European role in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

A: The Palestinian tragedy is a result and product of European-American conspiracy.

The Europeans continue to insult Palestine and the Palestinian people since they adopted the Sykes–Picot Agreement in Britain and France, which was followed by the Balfour Declaration.

Then, they decided to partition Palestine in the United Nations, which was ruled by Europeans and Westerners. 

They are insulting the Arab world and the Islamic Ummah by aggression against Palestine.

Whoever harmed Palestine cannot heal its wounds, and therefore we are not betting on a real European stance or on a just and fair American position in order to restore rights to their owners.

The only bet is on the peoples, on the will of the Muslim nations, and on the governments that line up in support of the resistance axis, which constitutes a milestone in the modern era.

Resistance forces have succeeded to withstand colonial domination in the region and now are drawing a scheme of liberating Palestine in the people’s minds.

Q: How could Israel preoccupy Islamic countries with internal disputes and divert attention from the Zionist threats?

A: Israel is afraid of the unity of the Arab-Islamic world because if the Arabs and the Muslims get united, what Imam Khomeini said about the Zionist regime’s demise will be realized.

To divide the Islamic world and preventing Muslim unity, Israel is working to undermine the Arab-Islamic frontier. Unfortunately, it finds those who listen to it and engage in its projects.

The comprehensive war that targeted Syria, and the great strife that has been called the Arab Spring, are not but a case of conspiracy plotted by the Zionists and Europeans to disperse and divide Muslims so that they do not unite to liberate Palestine.

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Gaza – US and the West Supports Israel’s Crimes Against Humanity – Understanding the Never-Ending Conflict

May 18, 2021

Gaza – US and the West Supports Israel’s Crimes Against Humanity – Understanding the Never-Ending Conflict

By Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

“I said we would exact a very heavy price from Hamas and other terror groups, and we are doing so and will continue to do so with great force,” Netanyahu said in a fiery video address.

Israel’s PM Netanyahu is a war criminal and should be held accountable for war crimes throughout his PM-ship of Israel, according to the 1945 / 1946 Nuremberg trials criteria. His crimes against humanity, against a defenseless Palestine are comparable to the Holocaust.

In 2016 Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu had been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The trial is ongoing but has temporarily been “suspended”. Netanyahu has dismissed the charges as hypocritical and acts as if they didn’t exist. Even though he lacks the majority to form a government, he acts with impunity, because he can – he can because he has the backing of the United States.

More importantly, Israel has been accused before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for crimes against humanity and war crimes against Palestine. The prosecutor of the ICC, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, said on 3 March 2021 that she has launched an investigation into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories. She added the probe will look into “crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed” since June 13, 2014, and that the investigation will be conducted “independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favor.”

In a quick response, PM Netanyahu accused the Court of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism. Of course, the quickest and often most effective defense and counter-attack is calling any accusation, no matter how rightful it is, as anti-Semitism. Calling someone an anti-Semite shuts most people up, no matter whether the accusation is true or false. That explains in part why nobody dares to even come forward with the truth about crimes committed by Israel.

Imagine, Jews were the chief victims of the German Third Reich – a Nazi Regime, and today the descendants of these very Jews, persecuted and slaughtered in Nazi-concentration camps, allowed the transformation of Israel into a Zionist Fourth Reich, executing Palestinians Holocaust-style. They have done this with impunity for the last 73 years, with the current massacres reaching unheard-of proportions.

Pro-Palestine protests take place around the world – and especially now, finally, throughout Europe. Workers and young people joined protests across Europe on Saturday, 15 May, including in London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid, to oppose Israel’s bombardment of the Palestinian population in Gaza. The demonstrations coincided with the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe Day, 14 May 1948)—marking the founding of the state of Israel, through the forced expulsion of 760,000 Palestinians from their villages.

Here is what one protester, Khalid, in Manchester, UK, had to say. Khalid held a placard reading “Lift the siege of Palestine-Stop bombing Palestine”. He said, “Israel should know better. They know how it feels to be exterminated. They had no homeland and came to Palestine as guests and now they have taken the Palestinians’ homes and are trying to throw them out. The Palestinians have no water, they have no food. You have got people like [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson and presidents colluding with Israel and giving them money to destroy human life” – http://www.defenddemocracy.press/protests-across-europe-against-israeli-war-on-gaza/

Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, always take place with the unwavering support of the United States. No US presidential candidate has a chance of being “elected” to the empire’s highest chair, the Presidency, without having proven his or her unquestioned support for Zionist-Israel. Without that western support, Israel’s war against and oppression of Palestine would soon be over.

Palestine could start breathing again and become a free country, an autonomous, sovereign, self-sustained country, what they were before the forced UN Partition Plan for Palestine, and as was foreseen by UN Resolution 181 II of 1947. This genocidal conflict situation has lasted almost three quarters of a century – and has little chance to abate under the current geopolitical constellation of the Middle East and the world, where obedient submission to US-Israeli command and atrocities is the name of the game.

Background
The conflict started basically with the creation of Israel. The UK, since the end of WWI and the Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, occupier of the Palestine Peninsula (Palestine and Transjordan, see map), proposed to the UN as a condition for UK withdrawal, the creation of Israel in the western part of what was then known as Palestine and Transjordan. The so-called UN Partitian Plan for Palestine, was voted on 29 November 1947 by the UN General Assembly, as Resolution 181 (II). The then 57 UN members voted 33 (72%) for, 13 against the resolution, with 10 abstentions, and one absent. The Palestinian Authority was never consulted on this proposal. Therefore, for many scholars the UN Partition Plan’s legality remains questionable.

The Plan sought to resolve the conflicting objectives and claims of two competing movements, Palestinian nationalism and Jewish nationalism, or Zionism. The Plan also called for an Economic Union between the proposed two states, and for the protection of religious and minority rights.

However, immediately after adoption of the Resolution by the General Assembly, a civil war broke out and the plan was not implemented. The remnants of this civil war, the non-acceptance by Palestine of this UN Resolution 181, for which the historic owners of the land were not consulted, are lingering on as of this day.

British Mandate Palestine map

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the British administration was formalized by the League of Nations under the Palestine Mandate in 1923, as part of the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. The Mandate reaffirmed the 1917 British commitment to the Balfour Declaration, for the establishment in Palestine of a “National Home” for the Jewish people, with the prerogative to carry it out.

The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War, announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The question is still asked today: How legitimate was that declaration in terms of international law? Many academics see this declaration still today as a unilateral move and a breach of international law, as no consultation of the Palestine Authority ever took place.
——

In the November 1947 UN General Assembly vote, the US was among the 33 countries voting FOR the Partition Plan. Interestingly, though, President Truman later noted, “The facts were that not only were there pressure movements around the United Nations unlike anything that had been seen there before, but that the White House, too, was subjected to a constant barrage. I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders—actuated by political motives and engaging in political threats—disturbed and annoyed me.” – This Zionist pressure was to set the bar for what was to follow – up to this day.

David Ben-Gurion, Zionist statesman and political leader, was the first Prime Minister (1948–53, 1955–63) and defense minister (1948–53; 1955–63) of Israel. In a letter to his son in October 1937, Ben-Gurion explained that partition would be a first step to “possession of the land as a whole” (emphasis added by author).

As of today, seventy-three years later and counting, the conflict is not resolved. To the contrary. It has become the longest lasting war, or aggression rather, in recent human history. A war it isn’t really, because a sheer oppression and literal slaughter against a perceived enemy, like Palestine that has no weapons to speak of, being bombarded and shot with the most sophisticated US-sponsored weapons systems, cannot be called a war. It is sheer genocide. The Palestinian weapons of choice are mostly rocks; rocks thrown by Palestinians at the Israeli IDF invaders, who then mow them down with machine guns, mostly civilians, women and children.

The Israel armed-to-the-teeth Defense Forces (IDF), invade Gaza and Palestinian West Bank areas with the most sophisticated machine guns, bombs, white phosphorus, practicing indiscriminate killing. The IDF destroys Palestinian living quarters, administration buildings, schools, shops, the little manufacturing industries that makes up their economy – destroying a people already teetering at the edge of extreme poverty and despair. No mercy. What does one call people who are committing such unspeakable crimes?

What does one call this style of aggression? – Literally killing hundreds, thousands of people without defense, in the world’s largest open prison – Gaza – home to more than 2 million people, living in misery, housing and infrastructure constantly destroyed, painfully partially rebuilt – just to be destroyed and bombed to pieces again. Those who don’t die from Israeli direct aggressions, may die from the indirect effects – famine, misery, disease and suicide – of this constant, abject hostility perpetuated upon what was supposed to be, according to the UN Partition Plan, an autonomous Palestine home of the Palestine people.

It is an ongoing – seemingly never-ending conflict, ever since the first Intifada beginning in December 1987 (Intifada in the context of the Israeli-Palestine conflict is a concerted Palestinian attempt to shake off Israeli power and gain independence).

The Oslo Accords I and II are a pair of agreements between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), of 1993 and 1995, respectively, sponsored by Norway in an attempt to achieve peace between the two parties. The Oslo Accords failed bitterly, over the issue of Jerusalem that was to become the religious capital for both countries, but Israel refused, claiming Jerusalem as her own, making the holy city to Israel’s capital. The first foreign leader recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, was US President Donald Trump on 6 December 2017.
—-

There was, however, another, less talked-about but equally important issue – an issue of survival – within the Oslo Accords: The fair sharing of the water resources. Israel never agreed, as about 85% of all water resources of what used to be the Palestinian Land, falls currently within the borders of what was defined by the Partitian Plan as Palestine. This is based on a World Bank study, in which I participated. On the insistence of Israel, the US vetoed publication of the study. Hence, the report was never officially published and publicly available.

Subsequent, so-called Peace processes, mostly US-sponsored, failed as of this day, because both Israel and the US have no interest in finding a peaceful solution. Neither one of the two nations have an interest in a Peace Accord, as the US needs the conflict to keep control over the Middle East, while Israel has no intentions to give up (slave)-control over Palestine, as her wellbeing depends on the overall control of what used to be Arab-Palestinian territory, and especially Palestine’s water resourcesWithout them, Israel would be a dry and unproductive desert.

There is a purpose behind these illegal, but ever-growing number of Israeli settlements on Palestine territories: Control over water. The settlements are usually over or near underground water resources. This is one way of controlling Palestine’s water. This happens not only in the so-called West Bank, but also in Gaza, where water resources are really scarce. Gaza is the world’s per capita water-scarcest area. The few Gaza water tables are super-posed by Israeli settlements.

This totally illegal and often UN-condemned Israeli Settlements strategy – also totally ignored by Israel – gradually reduces Palestine land and increases Israel’s control over crucial Palestinian water resources. See map

The impediment of being able to manage their own water resources, therefore increasing their food self-sufficiency through their own agriculture, makes out of Palestine an Israeli slave-state.

In addition, Israel has a handle on opening or closing the Gaza border, letting at will minimal food, medication and other life-essentials into Gaza, as well as allowing exactly the number needed of low-paid Palestinians (literally slave-labor) cross the border in the morning to work in Israel, and having to return at night to their Palestine homes. It is sheer Apartheid exploitation. Furthermore, Israel does not recognize Gaza’s territorial Mediterranean waters which would be a means towards Palestinians self-sustention and economic industrial activity.

According to an OECD report of 2016, Israel ranks as the nation with the highest poverty rate among OECD countries, i.e. 21% of Israelis are living under the poverty line. This is more than Mexico, Turkey and Chile. The OECD average is about 11%. This figure (21%) may be slightly exaggerated, given the relatively large informal sector and transfer payments to Israel from Jews abroad, as well as from international Jewish organizations.

Nevertheless, it is clear that Israel is economically not autonomous and needs Palestine to survive, both in terms of confiscated Palestinian water resources, as well as Palestinian slave labor. Therefore, there is hardly any hope for the UN-planned two-state solution to eventually materialize. There is little hope that this situation will change under the current geopolitical conditions. The US wants to dominate the Middle East and needs Israel as a garrison state that will be armed to the teeth for the US – to eventually grow and become Washington’s proxy ruler of the Middle East.

A question that is rarely asked, if ever: What is Hamas’ role in this never-ending Israeli-Palestine conflict? Since 2007 Hamas is officially governing the 2-million-plus population of the 363 square kilometer Gaza Strip. Hamas is also the Palestine paramilitary or defense organization. Hamas is said to be funded largely by Iran. Is it true? And if so, is Iran the only funder of Hamas?

It is odd, however, that ever so often, Hamas attacks Israel by launching unsophisticated rockets at Israeli cities, rockets that most often are intercepted by the IDF defense system, or cause minimal damage. But they cause, predictably minimal damage against an IDF which is US-equipped with the latest technology weapons- and defense systems.

Yet, a Hamas attack on Israel prompts regularly a ferocious retaliation; bombardments, not so much aiming at Hamas, as Netanyahu intimidates, “We would exact a very heavy price from Hamas and other terror groups…” , but at the civilian populations. The heaviest casualties are civilian Gaza citizens, many women and children among them, after an Israeli “self-defense” retaliation. This is of course no self-defense. The Hamas attacks usually follows an Israeli provocation.

Why would Hamas hit back, knowing that they won’t wreak any damage on Israel, yet they will trigger each time a deadly massacre on the Gaza population? – At the outset, Israeli provocations look like “false flags”. Could they be false flags with the willing participation of Hamas? If so, with whom does Hamas collaborate?

These are questions which certainly do not have an immediate answer. But the 14-year pattern of repeatedly similar events begs the question – is there another (Hamas) agenda behind what meets the eye?
——-

What is nearly as criminal as the IDF’s aggressions, is the almost complete silence of the west, and the world at large, vis-à-vis Israel’s atrocities committed on the Palestinian population. It is an unspoken tolerance for the carnages Israel inflicts on Palestine, especially in the Gaza Strip, the world’s largest open-air prison.

For example, the political UN body, despite hundreds of Resolutions, condemning and flagging Israel’s illegal actions against Palestine, including the ever-increasing number of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestine territories, seems to be hapless against Israel. Weak condemnations of Israel, calling both parties to reason – leaves Israel totally cold and undisturbed. There is no punishment whatsoever, not from the UN system, not from the western allies, most of whom are Washington and NATO vassals.

The Biden Administration has taken the usual imperialist position of cynical neutrality, like it was an uninvolved disinterested player, while painting up Israel as being some kind of victim instead of the brutal Zionist apartheid state that it is. It is important to remember that the creation of Israel was so that the US had a garrison state to protect her interests in the Middle East.

Take the UN Secretary General. Instead of condemning Israeli ruthlessness and demanding accountability, the spokesman for UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, merely called on the Netanyahu regime to “exercise maximum restraint and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”

The Secretary General himself reiterates his commitment, including through the Middle East Quartet, “to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.” The Quartet, set up in 2002, consists of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia. Its mandate is to help mediate Middle East peace. As of this day they have not achieved any tangible results.

Because they do NOT WANT to achieve any peace. For the reasons mentioned before, Peace is not in the interest of Israel, nor in the interest of the West, led by the United States. To keep the conflict burning, sacrificing hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of Palestinian lives is not important. It’s just a collateral damage of a larger agenda – control over the Middle East and her riches, a step towards controlling the entire world.

Time and again, Guterres disgraced himself and the office he holds by failing to denounce US/NATO/Israeli aggression and demand accountability for high crimes too serious to ignore.

If the UN is incapable or unwilling of assuming the responsibility of reigning in Israel, perhaps the Group of 77 (by now more than 120 UN member countries) should take a joint stand, exerting pressure on Israel, asking as an intermediary for outright negotiating with Israel and Palestine to reach a sustainable peace settlement, including the original two-state solution, back to the pre-1967 Israeli-Palestine borders. Let us, the UN, become pro-active in seeking and finding a permanent solution for the stressed-to-death, starving and tortured Palestinians, especially those from the Gaza Strip.


Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

In Wake of HRW Apartheid Report, Israeli Propagandists Launch Global PR Offensive

By Alan Macleod

Source

Much of the online anger at the Human Rights Watch report was actually manufactured by an Israeli government-sponsored app, Act.IL, which organized supporters of the Jewish state to act in sync to create an artificial groundswell of opposition to it. 

NEW YORK — A recently released bombshell Human Rights Watch (HRW) report has made waves around the world. For the first time, the New York-based non-governmental organization has categorized Israel as an apartheid state guilty of “crimes against humanity.”

The 213-page study goes into detail about a range of racist laws and policies carried out by successive administrations, concluding that there is an “overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem.”

The report accuses the state of Israel of widespread “institutional discrimination” and of “denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights…solely because they are Palestinian and not Jewish.” It further notes that, across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, it has “sought to maximize the land available for Jewish communities and to concentrate most Palestinians in dense population centers.”

“Prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change,” said the organization’s executive director, Kenneth Roth. “This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

Perhaps most importantly, Human Rights Watch is now openly calling for global action to end the repression. The report asks the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute those involved in Palestinian persecution. While not explicitly endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sactions (BDS) movement, Human Rights Watch directly advocates that “[s]tates should impose individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against officials and individuals responsible for the continued commission of these serious crimes,” and for businesses to “cease business activities that directly contribute to the crimes of apartheid and persecution.”

A big splash

The report was widely covered across the world and has been heralded by Palestine solidarity activists, with experts seeing it as a potential turning point in the struggle for Palestinian sovereignty. “It was inevitable that Human Rights Watch would have to declare Israel an Apartheid state and, from what I hear, Amnesty International is going to be next to say it,” Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada told MintPress. “It puts Israel’s backers in a difficult spot because Human Rights Watch is really part of the establishment so they cannot just dismiss it and it makes it impossible to ignore… It is harder for them to say Human Rights Watch is anti-Semitic, but they’re trying it anyway,” he added.

Trying indeed. Michigan Congresswoman Lisa McClain tweeted that “Human Rights Watch has shown again how they have an anti-Israel agenda,” suggesting they instead focus their attention on China or Iran’s repressive governments. “Hostility and hypocrisy are HRW’s hallmarks when it comes to Israel,” wrote the American Jewish Committee. The Jerusalem Post’s editorial board was equally condemnatory, denouncing what they saw as the “cynical appropriation of the suffering of the victims of the actual apartheid regime.” Other Israeli journalists described the report as “a disgrace to the memory of the millions who suffered under that policy [apartheid] in South Africa.” The news even made enough waves to force a response from the White House. Press Secretary Jen Psaki replied that “[a]s to the question of whether Israel’s actions constitute apartheid, that is not the view of this administration.”

Organized spontaneity

Yet much of the online anger at the report was actually manufactured by an Israeli government-sponsored app, Act.IL, which organized supporters of the Jewish state to act in sync to create an artificial groundswell of opposition to it. The app, which reportedly has a budget of over $1 million per year, instructed users to leave combative comments on Facebook, Twitter, and popular news outlets, and to like and promote others who did the same.

Human Rights Watch’s Facebook post announcing the report’s release has received over 1,400 comments, hundreds of them written in a similar, scathingly negative tone. One that the app directly told users to signal boost, for instance, described Palestinians as a people “indoctrinated with hate for Israel and Jews for over 100 years,” and claimed they were paid salaries to murder Israelis. It also presented the 1967 war and occupation as a humanitarian effort to bring electricity and other infrastructure to Arabs.

Another “mission” Act.IL gave its users was to promote a Facebook comment attacking the report as “nothing more than hate speech” and calling its lead author a “rabid anti-Zionist and Israel hater.”

Omar Shakir HRW
One of the many images provided to Act.IL users for their astroturfing campaign against HRW

Act.IL is one of the chief tools in Israel’s online public relations enterprise. The app debuted in 2017 and is part of what Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan called an “Iron Dome of Truth.” “Our cell phones are the number one weapon against us,” he explained, noting that public opinion in the U.S. was beginning to turn against them. While most of the app’s nearly 20,000 users are volunteers, a core of them are paid operatives, with many students receiving scholarships as a reward for their work.

The app has been designed to feel like a game, with points assigned for completing “missions” such as sharing pro-Israel videos, reporting anti-Israel content, signing petitions, or attending online seminars. Users can track their progress on leaderboards, earn badges and prizes, and chat with other members of the community. While it might feel like Animal Crossing or World of Warcraft for some, its creators see this very much as a new front in the war against Palestine. Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked categorizes BDS as “another branch of terrorism in the modern age,” and has been an important voice in taking the fight to a new front.

An Act.IL mission encouraging astroturfing of online discussions. Source |
@AntiBDSApp

There is also an online toolkit full of folders of responses to typical questions and issues that arise. Users can, for instance, go to the BDS folder to find stock replies to their arguments. Or they can go to a specific folder to find articles, images and videos they can use to demonize Hamas.

The missions are organized by outlet, so users can, for instance, target only Facebook, Telegram, or other platforms they are most familiar with. At the time of writing, there are 10 missions each to complete on Facebook and YouTube, 30 on Instagram, 25 on Twitter.

One current challenge is to upvote an answer to a question on Quora that asks about the validity and purpose of checkpoints in the West Bank. The answer claims they are purely about protection from terror attacks, and claims that Red Crescent ambulances are used to ferry bombs around the area. Other missions include pressuring an online store to remove a bag with a message stating “Make Israel Palestine Again.”

Act.IL
An Act.IL “mission” encouraging users to demand the removal of products with pro-Palestinian messaging

“It is quite astounding how openly they do it. But, of course, when you see a comment online, you wouldn’t necessarily think that it was coming from the Israeli government, but this is essentially what is happening,” Winstanley said. “Israel is not the only state to do this, but they do it fairly successfully.”

For all this, however, it is clear that Act.IL has a serious problem with user retention and lacks the volunteer numbers for it to be truly game changing.

Controlling the message

In a time of heightened awareness about foreign government interference online, it is particularly surprising that these operations can be openly carried out across virtually every major platform. Big tech companies like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are constantly deleting tens of thousands of Russian, Chinese, Iranian and Cuban accounts belonging to what they claim are organized, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns.

In an effort to gauge the legality of its operations, MintPress reached out to Facebook, YouTube, Quora, and other big platforms used by Act.IL. We received no response from any of them. While this is particularly noteworthy — as these companies have teams of public relations representatives and are extremely forthright and timely with responses on other issues — it is perhaps not surprising. Facebook especially has long been working closely with the Israeli government in deciding which voices to censor. As far back as 2016, Ayelet Shaked boasted that Facebook removed 95% of the posts her office asked them to. Yet when Shaked herself called for a genocidal war against Palestine and its women, who give birth to “little snakes,” not only did the post remain online, it received thousands of likes and was widely circulated.

“The concern is that Facebook is adopting Israeli policy and terminology when it comes to defining what incitement is,” said Nadim Nashif, co-founder of 7amleh, the Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media. 7amleh was therefore dismayed when last year, Facebook appointed former Israeli Minister of Justice Emi Palmor to its Oversight Board, the council having the final say in the moderation of content on the platform used by 2.6 billion people worldwide. In her role as justice minister, Palmor was directly implicated in the persecution and subjugation of Palestinians.

Earlier this year, an Israeli Defense Forces soldier attempted to sue a Palestinian-American activist living in California over an allegedly slanderous Facebook post condemning her for participating in ethnic cleansing. Remarkably, the plaintiff attempted to convince a California judge to apply Israeli law to the incident, despite the fact that both she and the defendant are American citizens.

Inside the world of academia, professors critical of Israel have found themselves pushed out of the profession. In 2007, prominent critic of Israel Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul University for political reasons. Seven years later, the University of Illinois “unhired” Steven Sailata for his comments denouncing Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza. Emails showed that wealthy donors put significant pressure on the university to pull the plug on him. More recently, Cornel West was blocked from a tenured job at Harvard this year, despite having previously held tenure at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. “Being the faculty advisor for the Palestinian student group was the one that probably went outside of the line for many Harvard staff,” West told Krystal Ball and Kyle Kulinski. “It’s a joke. It’s ridiculous. It’s ludicrous. It’s preposterous that it wouldn’t have something to do with politics.”

Top media figures have also paid the price for their support of BDS. CNN fired commentator Marc Lamont Hill after he made a speech at the United Nations calling for a free Palestine. Meanwhile, journalist Abby Martin was blocked from speaking at a conference at Georgia Southern University last year after she refused to sign a contract promising to renounce BDS. Georgia is one of dozens of U.S. states to have anti-BDS legislation, essentially forcing any would-be recipient of public contracts or funds, including government employees, to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel. Martin is currently suing the state of Georgia.

Perhaps the greatest PR victory for the Israel lobby in recent years was its defamation campaign against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. The lifelong pacifist, anti-racist campaigner was transformed into a raging anti-Semite in the minds of many, thanks to a massive propaganda onslaught. In the three months before the 2019 election, there were 1,450 articles in national British newspapers linking Corbyn with anti-Semitism, chiefly because of his support for Palestinian liberation. Much of this was orchestrated by Israel and its lobby, which worked closely with journalists and politicians keen to see the socialist politician’s demise. The media blitz succeeded. When media researchers asked the public what percentage of Labour members faced official complaints over anti-Semitism, the average guess was 34%. The actual answer was less than 0.1%; and more than half of those complaints were made by one person. Corbyn lost the election and the U.K. chose Boris Johnson.

Winstanley, whose documentary “How they brought down Corbyn” premiered last week, told MintPress:

“The most effective propaganda strategy against [Corbyn] was the fabrication that he was an anti-Semite on the basis of his past criticisms of Israel and his Palestinian solidarity. In my view, the maliciously fabricated anti-Semitism crisis against the Labour Party was the main factor in his [being deposed] as Labour Party leader. Without this factor, he would have made it to Number 10 Downing Street and become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.”

Apartheid states

While Human Rights Watch’s report is new, the charge of apartheid is not. In 2017, a United Nations report “clearly and frankly concludes” that Israel is “a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people.” Earlier this year, Israeli human rights organization B’TSelem also used the word “apartheid,” claiming that Israel had established “a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

In the wake of World War Two and the Holocaust, Israel was created by the United Nations in 1947, cutting a section of territory from the British mandate of Palestine to form a new state. While it was immediately recognized by the international powers, Arabs who lived in the region were dead against it, leading to a war in 1948. David Ben Gurion and the founding fathers of Israel immediately began a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the local population, razing their villages and forcing them to flee. Today there are more than 5 million Palestinians registered as refugees.

While many defenders of Israel today balk at the comparison to apartheid South Africa, the two countries were close friends for much of the late 20th century, seeing themselves as similar settler colonial projects surrounded by hostile nations. Furthermore, leaders of the African liberation movement saw themselves as part of the same struggle as those in Palestine. “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” Nelson Mandela said in 1997. “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a statement endorsing BDS. “Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government,” he added.

A turning tide

The Human Rights Watch report is the latest reference point showing Western public sympathies swaying towards Palestine. During the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race, a number of top-tier candidates very publicly shunned the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, refusing to attend the AIPAC conference. Last week, the Pilsbury family called for a global boycott of the food company that bears its name. “As long as General Mills [which owns the Pilsbury brand] continues to profit from the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinian people, we will not buy any Pillsbury products,” they stated, denouncing the building of a factory on illegal settlement land.

Advocates for Palestine hailed Human Rights Watch’s study. Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies wrote:

There can be little doubt that much of HRW’s decision to issue this report now was based on the recognition that not only is it no longer political suicide to call Israeli apartheid what it is, but that we are now at a tipping point whereby failing to call out apartheid risks losing credibility for a human rights organization. It’s a huge victory for our movement.”

The battle, however, is far from won, and it is clear that the Israel lobby will continue to fight to hold back the tide until it is insurmountable.

Dr Bouthaina Shaaban: a decade of dirty war on Syria

May 8, 2021

Facebook bans Iran’s Press TV page

Political Analyst: Fakhrizadeh’s Assassination An Act of War, Antagonists Will Be Punished

Political Analyst: Fakhrizadeh’s Assassination An Act of War, Antagonists Will Be Punished 

By Elham Hashemi

Tehran – On 21 November 2020, The Times of ‘Israel’ said that the ‘Israeli’ regime along with the US are planning ‘covert ops’ against Iran as Trump’s term ends. Only six days later, prominent Iranian physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated in a terrorist attack in Damavand area near the capital Tehran.

This crime comes as a desperate attempt to put more pressure on Tehran amid the constant US and allies attempts to hamper Iran from advancing in the different fields, including nuclear development for peaceful purposes. Iran’s Fars news agency reported that Fakhrizadeh had been targeted on Friday in an attack involving at least one explosion and shooting by a number of assailants in Absard city of Damavand County, Tehran Province.

The media office of Iran’s Defense Ministry said Fakhrizadeh, who headed the ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research [SPND], “was severely wounded in the course of clashes between his security team and terrorists and was transferred to hospital,” where he succumbed to his wounds and was announced as martyr. 

Commenting on the topic, political analyst and University of Tehran Professor, Dr. Seyed Mohammad Marandi said “This assassination shows that western intelligence agencies and the terrorist organizations that they support such as the MEK along with the apartheid regime and the other regional actors are waging war against Iranian people.” 

He explained “It is interesting when one remembers that every time a terrorist is arrested, or a terrorist is executed or a spy is captured, Western media immediately say that these people are innocent, and that they are hostages; as if they have some sort of special knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes. Yet it is these very same spies and terrorists that accumulate knowledge and carryout murder and destruction.” 

“Nevertheless, this is an act of war, and the Iranians will make sure that its antagonists are punished as a result of the murder of this high ranking Iranian official,” Dr. Marandi noted. 

Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, military advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, vowed in his tweet a crushing response to the perpetrators.

The tweet read “We will come down hard on those who killed Martry Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, just like thunder and we will make them regret their deed. In the final days of their allied gambler’s political life, the Zionists are after intensifying pressure on Iran in order to trigger an all-out war.”

Also, Iran’s Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said in a statement that “The assassins of martyr Fakhrizadeh will see a harsh revenge,” promising that they will be punished. He also assured that the path Farikhzadeh started will never stop. 

The political analyst pointed out that “It is ironic that when Western regimes claim that the Russians attempted to murder or assassinate an asset of theirs in the UK, the whole of NATO, Europe and North America is up in arms. But when an actual act of murder is carried out in Iran, Western media outlets gloat and try to show the victim as the guilty party rather than the terrorists and the regimes that stand behind those terrorists.”   

Fakhrizadeh’s name was mentioned in a presentation in May 2018 by ‘Israeli’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which he repeated baseless claims about the Iranian nuclear program. Netanyahu described the scientist as the director of Iran’s nuclear program and said, “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh.”

Related

Anglo-Zionist Smearing of Jeremy Corbyn

By Stephen Lendman

Source

While anti-Semitism is real, time and again the accusation is made to smear and discredit individuals or groups for justifiable criticism of Israel.

It’s also an unjustifiable tactic used to divert attention from Israeli high crimes of war, against humanity, and persecution of Palestinians for not being Jewish — especially by Jewish state officials.

Anyone forthrightly criticizing Israeli apartheid ruthlessness is vulnerable to unjustifiable vilification.

Zionism is tyranny by another name. It’s undemocratic, hateful, ruthless, racist, destructive, and hostile to peace, equity, justice, and the rule of law.

It’s a monster threatening anyone and anything it opposes, a cancer infesting Israel, America, other Western societies and elsewhere.

The late Joel Kovel called Zionism “a machine for the manufacture of human rights abuses.”

Daring to criticize Israel and Zionist extremism got him fired by Bard College. Other US academics have been mistreated the same or in similar ways.

Zionism is an ideological scourge. It considers Jews superior to others. Nazism believed in Aryan superiority.

Anglo-Zionism is a hugely destructive force threatening everyone everywhere. 

Britain’s so-called Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was legislatively established by the militantly hostile to peace, equity and justice Tony Blair regime in 2006.

Pretending to promote and enforce equality and non-discrimination in the UK, it unjustly and irresponsibly accused former Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn of “serious failings (on the issue of) addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints (sic).” 

“Our investigation has highlighted multiple areas where its approach and leadership to tackling antisemitism was insufficient (sic),” according to its interim EHRC head Caroline Waters, adding:

“This is inexcusable and appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle antisemitism rather than an inability to do so (sic).”

Time and again in the West, anti-Semitism is over-hyped, and irresponsibly used to smear legitimate critics of Israeli viciousness.

Corbyn’s support for Palestinian rights got him falsely accused of anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions — the price he paid for honesty.

Throughout last year’s campaign ahead of parliamentary elections in Britain, establishment media one-sidedly supported hardline PM Boris Johnson-led Tories over Labor leader Corbyn’s progressive change agenda.

Last April, Keir Starmer replaced him as Labor leader in the wake of the vilification campaign against him that cost the party 59 seats in parliament.

On Thursday, a Labor spokesman said Corbyn was suspended from the party, pending an investigation, adding:

Under his leadership, the party became “institutionally anti-Semitic (sic).”

The phony accusation reflects how Israeli critics in government, academia, and other walks of life are systematically and wrongfully vilified.

Israeli influence in the West has much to do with singling out legitimate critics for vilification.

Often they’re sacked or in Corbyn’s case prevented from gaining a Labor Party electoral victory and being suspended — for doing the right thing.

Earlier and current anti-Semitism charges against Corbyn were and remain manufactured, not legitimate.

UK owned and controlled BBC propaganda falsely claimed anti-Semitism became “a big problem” in Britain’s Labor Party after “Corbyn’s election” as party leader in September 2015 (sic), adding:

“Mr Corbyn and his allies on the left had spent decades campaigning for Palestinian statehood, in contrast with the more nuanced position taken by many of his predecessors (sic).”

“Nuanced” is code language for one-sidedly supporting Israel, ignoring its decades of high crimes against Palestinians and regional states.

Accusations of anti-Semitism are longstanding canards used against public figures, academics, and others who forthrightly criticize Israel and call for accountability.

Ignored is that anti-Zionism isn’t anti-Semitism.

Yet the long ago discredited canard keeps resurfacing against figures like Corbyn and numerous other profiles in courage like him.

Remarks by Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Putin addressed the 17th annual Valdai Club session in Moscow at a time of likely protracted economic Depression and endless US-initiated global conflicts.

Commenting on whether the world order abides by rules or ignores them, he said the following:

“Regrettably, the game without rules is becoming increasingly horrifying…” 

US hegemonic aims create global disorder, not the other way around.

Putin mocked the notion of “import(ing) democracy,” calling it “a shell or a front (without) a semblance of sovereignty,” adding:

“People in the countries where such schemes have been implemented were never asked for their opinion, and their respective leaders are mere vassals.” 

“(T)he overlord decides everything for the vassal.”

“(O)nly the citizens of a particular country can determine their public interest(s).”

Nothing less than remaining free from external control is acceptable. Without it, sovereignty and fundamental freedoms are lost to a higher power.

“A strong, free and independent civil society is nationally oriented and sovereign by definition,” said Putin, adding: 

“It grows from the depth of people’s lives and can take different forms and directions.”

It’s free from interests of exploitive foreign powers.

“The duty of the state is to support public initiatives and open up new opportunities for” it people, said Putin.

“This is the guarantee of Russia’s sovereign, progressive development, of genuine continuity in its forward movement, and of our ability to respond to global challenges.”

“Some countries (seek) to divide the (global) cake…to grab a bigger piece” for themselves.

There’s no ambiguity about where Putin’s fingers pointed.

Russia is a significant country on the world stage, its status growing in importance, not ebbing.

Putin: “(T)hose who are still waiting for Russia’s strength to gradually wane, the only thing we are worried about is catching a cold at your funeral.”

As Russia, China, and other nations rise, the US “can hardly claim exceptionality any longer.”

The more unacceptably it behaves toward nations free from its imperial control, the more it furthers its own decline.

Separately on the 70th anniversary of China’s involvement in Washington’s preemptive war on North Korea — the first of many more US post-WW II acts of aggression against nonbelligerent states — Xi Jinping warned US hardliners about Beijing’s determination to challenge their unacceptable actions.

China “resist(ed) US aggression” against North Korea from 1950 to an uneasy 1953 armistice — after which Washington’s war on the country by other means began and continues to this day.

“Seventy years ago, the imperialist invaders fired upon the doorstep of a new China,” said Xi, adding: 

“The Chinese people understood that you must use the language that invaders can understand – to fight war with war and to stop an invasion with force, earning peace and respect through victory.”

“The Chinese people will not create trouble but nor are we afraid of (it), and no matter the difficulties or challenges we face, our legs will not shake and our backs will not bend.”

If US aggression rears its ugly head again in East Asia, China is prepared to defend its security and sovereign rights.

“(U)nilateralism, protectionism, and ideology of extreme self-interest are totally unworkable, and any blackmailing, blockades and extreme pressure are totally unworkable,” Xi stressed. 

“Any actions that focus only on oneself and any efforts to engage in hegemony and bullying will simply not work – not only will it not work, but it will be a dead end.”

China promotes world peace, stability and cooperative relations with other countries.

Washington’s agenda is polar opposite, seeking dominance over other nations — wars by hot and other means its favored strategies. 

Over time, its drive for hegemony is self-defeating.

If the US provokes war with China to dominate the Asia/Pacific unchallenged, Xi’s message is that Beijing will resist with the full force of its considerable might.

The same goes for Russia. Along with China, Kremlin leadership wants peace, but will capably defend itself against US aggression if occurs.

Neither country will bend to the will of another at the expense of their sovereign rights.

Xi laid down a red line, saying “people of China are now united, and are not to be trifled with.”

Beijing long ago confronted US aggression when the military strength of both countries greatly favored Washington.

While still superior to China militarily, the disparity between both countries greatly narrowed.

Beijing’s nuclear and other super-weapons would pose a formidable challenge to US preemptive war on the country.

According to political scientist Xie Maosong, Xi’s message to Washington was “we will fight and we will win” if the US war party pushes things too far.

Worlds apart differences between both countries are irreconcilable because of US hegemonic rage.

It’s waging war on China by other means to undermine its development on the world stage.

Hostile US actions risk direct confrontation. Unthinkable hot war is possible — because of escalating provocations by Washington that threaten China’s national security.

The US is a warrior state, a violent state, a destabilizing state, an outlaw lawless state, a belligerent state at war on humanity in pursuit of its imperial aims.

Instead of stepping back from the brink in the Asia/Pacific, both wings of its war party continue to heighten tensions — risking possible war with China or Russia. 

If attacked by a foreign aggressor, they’re able to hit back hard and effectively anywhere worldwide.

Neither will sacrifice its sovereign rights to a foreign power — what no nation should do.

Bully-Boy Minister’s Christmas Message to UK Universities….

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

Adopt anti-Semitism definition that’s ‘too vague to be useful’, or I’ll axe your funding!
Gavin Williamson ef951

Gavin Williamson is Education Secretary in the screwball government of Boris Johnson. And he has just threatened universities that they could have their funding cut if they don’t adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism before Christmas.

Williamson wrote to vice-chancellors last week saying he was “frankly disappointed” that there were still “too many disturbing incidents of anti-Semitism on campus and a lack of willingness by too many universities to confront this”, and that the number of universities adopting the definition “remains shamefully low”.

“These providers are letting down all their staff and students, and, shamefully, their Jewish students in particular,” he said.

He insists that adopting the IHRA definition “is morally the right thing to do” – and he underlines morally! “You should have no doubt: this government has zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism. If I have not seen the overwhelming majority of institutions adopting the definition by Christmas then I will act.”

“The repugnant belief that anti-Semitism is somehow a less serious, or more acceptable, form of racism has taken insidious hold in some parts of British society, and I am quite clear that universities must play their part in rooting out this attitude and demonstrating that anti-Semitism is abhorrent.”

The OfS said they will explore with the Department for Education what practical steps should be taken to ensure the IHRA definition’s wider adoption. But Universities UK were more cautious: “We recommend universities do all they can to tackle anti-Semitism, including considering the IHRA definition, whilst also recognising their duty to promote freedom of speech within the law.” And that last bit is what Williamson ought to have considered before stupidly going off the deep end.

Individual right of free expression in all higher education institutions

Williamson’s first problem is his ignorance. He’s completely at odds with the opinion of top legal experts who were asked for their views by Free Speech on IsraelIndependent Jewish VoicesJews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. In a nutshell, those in public life cannot behave in a manner inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of expression which applies not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or anyone else.

There is a further obligation to allow all concerned in public debate “to express their opinions and ideas without fear, even if these opinions and ideas are contrary to those defended by the official authorities or by a large part of public opinion, or even if those opinions and ideas are irritating or offensive to the public”.

Read Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Williamson, which says that everyone has the right to freedom of expression including “freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”

Also, check Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says the same sort of thing, subject of course to the usual limitations required by law and respect for the rights of others.

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee recommended that before accepting the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, two caveats should be included:

  • It is not anti-Semitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest anti-Semitic intent.
  • It is not anti-Semitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest anti-Semitic intent.

The Government, in its eagerness to appease the Zionist lobby, dropped the caveats saying they weren’t necessary.

Eminent human rights lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC also criticised the definition. Firstly, it wasn’t a legally binding so didn’t have the force of a statutory one. And it couldn’t be considered a legal definition of anti-Semitism as it lacked clarity. Therefore any conduct contrary to the IHRA definition couldn’t necessarily be ruled illegal.

Secondly, the language was far too vague to be useful as a tool.  In Tomlinson’s view the Government’s decision to adopt the IHRA Definition was simply a freestanding statement of policy, a mere suggestion. No public body is under an obligation to adopt or use it, or, given the unsatisfactory nature of the definition, should be criticised for refusing.

He warned that if a public authority did decide to adopt the definition then it must interpret it in a way that’s consistent with its statutory obligations. In particular, it cannot behave in a manner inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

A further obligation put on public authorities is “to create a favourable environment for participation in public debates for all concerned, allowing them to express their opinions and ideas without fear, even if they are contrary to those defended by the authorities or by a large part of public opinion”.

So, in Tomlinson’s opinion the IHRA Definition doesn’t mean that calling Israel an apartheid state that practises settler colonialism, or advocating boycott, divestment or sanctions (BDS) against Israel, can properly be characterized as anti-Semitic. Furthermore, a public authority seeking to apply the IHRA Definition to prohibit or punish such activities “would be acting unlawfully.”

Government’s ‘naive stance’

Retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley, also offered advice criticising the IHRA working definition for lack of legal force. “At the same time, it is not neutral: it may well influence policy both domestically and internationally.”

He added that the right of free expression, now part of our domestic law by virtue of the Human Rights Act, “places both negative and positive obligations on the state which may be put at risk if the IHRA definition is unthinkingly followed”. Moreover the 1986 Education Act established an individual right of free expression in all higher education institutions “which cannot be cut back by governmental policies”.

Sedley was of the view that the IHRA definition is open to manipulation and “what is needed now is a principled retreat on the part of government from a stance which it has naively adopted in disregard of the sane advice given to it by the Home Affairs Select Committee.”

Williamson’s second problem is his prejudice. He’s a fanatical Israel worshipper and far from neutral in the hype surrounding anti-Semitism in the UK. In January 2018 when he was defence secretary he addressed an audience of over 250 Conservative Friends of Israel and supporters, including 50 parliamentarians, telling them that “Britain will always be Israel’s friend” and praising Israel as a “beacon of light and hope, in a region where there is so much hatred and hurt”. He added: “We shouldn’t underestimate how difficult it is to keep that light bright and burning”.

Recalling his visit to Israel as a teenager, he said: “What I found was a liberal, free, exciting country that was so at ease with itself, a country that absorbed and welcomed so many people. That made an enormous impression upon me”.

Williamson condemned the “completely unreasonable…sheer simple hatred” channelled towards Israel and asked: “If we are not there to stand up for a country, whose views and ideals are so close, or are simply our own, what are we as a nation? What are we in politics, if we cannot accept and celebrate the wonderful blooming of democracy that is Israel?”

Achingly funny. And highlighting the UK’s role in the creation of Israel, he said: “Britain and Israel have an amazing relationship. We would like to think that we were very much at the birth of the nation, and very much helped it in terms of its delivery and coming into the world”.

He said that Britain and Israel have “a strong and firm relationship of working together. It’s a relationship of partners….  It’s a partnership of equals. A partnership of friends”.

So hopelessly brainwashed.

Then, in April 2018 at a similar meeting to celebrate the regime’s 70th anniversary Williamson waxed lyrical describing Israel as a “light unto the nations” and adding that not only do Israel and Britain face shared security threats, “our relationship is underpinned by a shared sense of values: justice, compassion, tolerance”. He emphasised that Israel is a “liberal, free and exciting country” and that the UK-Israel relationship is the “cornerstone of so much of what we do in the Middle East”.

Breaching the Ministerial Code?

But Gavin Williamson is not the only Government minister to threaten our universities in this crude manner. A year ago Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick vowed to take action against universities and “parts of local government” who, he said, had become “corrupted” by anti-Semitism. He directed his attack on the universities who receive public money but “choose not to accept our IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and use it when considering matters such as disciplinary procedures”.

Writing in the Sunday Express, he added: “I will use my position as Secretary of State to write to all universities and local authorities to insist that they adopt the IHRA definition at the earliest opportunity.

“I expect them to confirm to me when they do so. Failure to act in this regard is unacceptable and I will be picking up the phone to Vice Chancellors and local government leaders to press for action, if none is forthcoming.”

According to Wikipedia Jenrick’s wife was born in Israel and their children are brought up in the Jewish faith. He told the Board of Deputies he would not tolerate local authority approved BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigns against those profiteering from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. “Local authorities should not be wasting time and taxpayer’s money by dabbling in foreign policy or pursuing anti-Israel political obsessions, but instead focusing on delivering first class local public services.” The same could be said of his colleague Williamson’s pro-Israel obsession – and his own – when they should be getting on with governing Britain, but of course they are exempt from their own rules.

Both Jenrick and Williamson appear to fall foul of the Ministerial Code. The first two paragraphs are enough to banish them to outer darkness, one would have thought.

1.1 Ministers of the Crown are expected to maintain high standards of behaviour and to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety.

1.2 Ministers should be professional in all their dealings and treat all those with whom they come into contact with consideration and respect. Working relationships…. should be proper and appropriate. Harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place is not consistent with the   Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated.

Elsewhere the Code decrees that “ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests” and they are expected to observe the Seven Principles of Public Life. The Principle of Integrity states that holders of public office “must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence their work”.

That suggests to me they ought to be slung out on their ear and never allowed near the levers of power again. But nobody in government is principled enough or has the balls to do it.

What do you think?

Leaked Docs Expose Massive Syria Propaganda Operation Waged by Western Govt Contractors and Media

Source

Leaked Docs Expose Massive Syria Propaganda Operation Waged by Western Govt  Contractors and Media — Strategic Culture

September 26, 2020

Western government-funded intelligence cutouts trained Syrian opposition leaders, planted stories in media outlets from BBC to Al Jazeera, and ran a cadre of journalists. A trove of leaked documents exposes the propaganda network.

Ben NORTON

Leaked documents show how UK government contractors developed an advanced infrastructure of propaganda to stimulate support in the West for Syria’s political and armed opposition.

Virtually every aspect of the Syrian opposition was cultivated and marketed by Western government-backed public relations firms, from their political narratives to their branding, from what they said to where they said it.

The leaked files reveal how Western intelligence cutouts played the media like a fiddle, carefully crafting English- and Arabic-language media coverage of the war on Syria to churn out a constant stream of pro-opposition coverage.

US and European contractors trained and advised Syrian opposition leaders at all levels, from young media activists to the heads of the parallel government-in-exile. These firms also organized interviews for Syrian opposition leaders on mainstream outlets such as BBC and the UK’s Channel 4.

More than half of the stringers used by Al Jazeera in Syria were trained in a joint US-UK government program called Basma, which produced hundreds of Syrian opposition media activists.

Western government PR firms not only influenced the way the media covered Syria, but as the leaked documents reveal, they produced their own propagandistic pseudo-news for broadcast on major TV networks in the Middle East, including BBC Arabic, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and Orient TV.

These UK-funded firms functioned as full-time PR flacks for the extremist-dominated Syrian armed opposition. One contractor, called InCoStrat, said it was in constant contact with a network of more than 1,600 international journalists and “influencers,” and used them to push pro-opposition talking points.

Another Western government contractor, ARK, crafted a strategy to “re-brand” Syria’s Salafi-jihadist armed opposition by “softening its image.” ARK boasted that it provided opposition propaganda that “aired almost every day on” major Arabic-language TV networks.

Virtually every major Western corporate media outlet was influenced by the UK government-funded disinformation campaign exposed in the trove of leaked documents, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, CNN to The Guardian, the BBC to Buzzfeed.

The files confirm reporting by journalists including The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal on the role of ARK, the US-UK government contractor, in popularizing the White Helmets in Western media. ARK ran the social media accounts of the White Helmets, and helped turn the Western-funded group into a key propaganda weapon of the Syrian opposition.

The leaked documents consist mainly of material produced under the auspices of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All of the firms named in the files were contracted by the British government, but many also were running “multi-donor projects” that received funding from the governments of the United States and other Western European countries.

In addition to demonstrating the role these Western intelligence cutouts played in shaping media coverage, the documents shine light on the British government program to train and arm rebel groups in Syria.

Other materials show how London and Western governments worked together to build a new police force in opposition-controlled areas.

Many of these Western-backed opposition groups in Syria were extremist Salafi-jihadists. Some of the UK government contractors whose activities are exposed in these leaked documents were in effect supporting Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and its fanatical offshoots.

The documents were obtained by a group calling itself Anonymous, and were published under a series of files entitled, “Op. HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] Trojan Horse: From Integrity Initiative To Covert Ops Around The Globe. Part 1: Taming Syria.” The unidentified leakers said they aim to “expose criminal activity of the UK’s FCO and secret services,” stating, “We declare war on the British neocolonialism!”

The Grayzone was not able to independently verify the authenticity of the documents. However, the contents tracked closely with reporting on Western destabilization and propaganda operations in Syria by this outlet and many others.

UK Foreign Office and military wage media war on Syria

A leaked UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office report from 2014 reveals a joint operation with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development to support “strategic communications, research, monitoring and evaluation and operational support to Syrian opposition entities.”

The UK FOC stated clearly that this campaign consisted of “creating network linkages between political movements and media outlets,” by the “building of local independent media platforms.”

The British government planned “Mentoring, training and coaching for enhanced delivery of media services, including digital and social media.”

Its goal was “to provide PR and media handling trainers, as well as technical staff, such as cameramen, webmasters and interpreters,” along with the “production of speeches, press releases and other media communications.”

An additional 2017 government document explains clearly how Britain funded the “selection, training, support and communications mentoring of Syrian activists who share the UK’s vision for a future Syria… and who will abide by a set of values that are consistent with UK policy.”

This initiative entailed British government funding “to support Syrian grassroots media activism within both the civilian and armed opposition spheres,” and was targeted at Syrians living in both “extremist and moderate” opposition-held territory.

In other words, the UK Foreign Office and military crafted plans to wage a comprehensive media war on Syria. To establish an infrastructure capable of managing the propaganda blitz, Britain paid a series of government contractors, including ARK, The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), Innovative Communication & Strategies (InCoStrat), and Albany.

The work of these firms overlapped, and some collaborated in their projects to cultivate the Syrian opposition.

Western government contractor ARK plays the media like the fiddle

One of the main British government contractors behind the Syria regime-change scheme was called ARK (Analysis Research Knowledge).

ARK FZC is based in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. It brands itself as a humanitarian NGO, claiming it “was created in order to assist the most vulnerable,” by establishing a “social enterprise,  empowering local communities through the provision of agile and sustainable interventions to create greater stability, opportunity and hope for the future.”

In reality ARK is an intelligence cutout that functions as an arm of Western interventionism.

In a leaked document it filed with the British government, ARK said its “focus since 2012 has been delivering highly effective, politically-and conflict-sensitive Syria programming for the governments of the United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Canada, Japan and the European Union.”

ARK boasted of overseeing $66 million worth of contracts to support pro-opposition efforts in Syria.

On its website, ARK lists all of these governments as clients, as well as the United Nations.

ARK contractor Syria UK US Australia Canada

In its Syria operations, ARK worked together with another UK contractor called The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), which is directed by Richard Barrett, a former director of global counter-terrorism at MI6.

ARK apparently had operatives on the ground inside Syria at the beginning of the regime-change attempt in 2011, reporting to the UK FCO that “ARK staff are in regular contact with activists and civil society actors whom they initially met during the outbreak of protests in spring 2011.”

The UK contractor boasted an “extensive network of civil society and community actors that ARK has helped through a dedicated capacity building centre ARK established in Gaziantep,” a city in southern Turkey that has been a base of intelligence operations against the Syrian government.

ARK played a central role in developing the foundations of the Syrian political opposition’s narrative. In one leaked document, the firm took credit for the “development of a core Syrian opposition narrative,” which was apparently crafted during a series of workshops with opposition leaders sponsored by the US and UK governments.

ARK trained all levels of the Syrian opposition in communications, from “citizen journalism workshops with Syrian media activists, to working with senior members of the National Coalition to develop a core communications narrative.”

The firm even oversaw the PR strategy for the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the leadership of the official armed wing of Syria’s opposition, the Free Syrian Army (FSA). ARK created a complex PR campaign to “provide a ‘re-branding’ of the SMC in order to distinguish itself from extremist armed opposition groups and to establish the image of a functioning, inclusive, disciplined and professional military body.”

ARK admitted that it sought to whitewash Syria’s armed opposition, which had been largely dominated by Salafi-jihadists, by “Softening the FSA Image.”

ARK contractor Syria soften FSA image

ARK took the lead in developing a massive network of opposition media activists in Syria, and openly took credit for inspiring protests inside the country.

In its training centers in Syria and southern Turkey, the Western government contractor reported, “More than 150 activists have been trained and equipped by ARK on topics from the basics of camera handling, lighting, and sound to producing reports, journalistic safety, online security, and ethical reporting.”

The firm flooded Syria with opposition propaganda. In just six months, ARK reported that 668,600 of its print products were distributed inside Syria, including “posters, flyers, informative booklets, activity books and other campaign-related materials.”

In one document spelling out the UK contractors’ communications operations in Syria, ARK and the British intelligence cutout TGSN boasted of overseeing the following media assets inside the country: 97 video stringers, 23 writers, 49 distributors, 23 photographers, 19 in-country trainers, eight training centers, three media offices, and 32 research officers.

ARK emphasized that it had “well-established contacts” with some of the top media outlets in the world, naming Reuters, the New York Times, CNN, the BBC, The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Times, Al Jazeera, Sky News Arabic, Orient TV, and Al Arabiya.

The UK contractor added, “ARK has provided regular branded and unbranded content to key pan-Arab and Syria-focused satellite TV channels such as Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic, Orient TV, Aleppo Today, Souria al-Ghadd, and Souria al-Sha’ab since 2012.”

“ARK products promoting HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) priorities by fostering attitudinal and behavioural change are broadcast almost every day on pan-Arab channels,” the firm bragged. “In 2014, 20 branded and un-branded Syria reports were produced on average by ARK each month and broadcast on major pan-Arab television channels such as Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, and Orient TV.”

“ARK has almost daily conversations with channels and weekly meetings to engage and understand editorial preferences,” the Western intelligence cutout said.

The firm also took credit for placing 10 articles per month in pan-Arab newspapers such as Al Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat.

US-UK program Basma cultivates Syrian media activists

The Syrian opposition media war was organized within the framework of a project called Basma. ARK worked with other Western government contractors through Basma in order to train Syrian opposition activists.

With funding from both the US and UK governments, Basma developed into an enormously influential platform. Its Arabic Facebook page had over 500,000 followers, and on YouTube it built up a large following as well.

Mainstream corporate media outlets misleadingly portrayed Basma as a “Syrian citizen journalism platform,” or a “civil society group working for a ‘liberatory, progressive transition to a new Syria.’” In reality it was a Western government astroturfing operation to cultivate opposition propagandists.

Nine of the 16 stringers used by Al Jazeera in Syria were trained through the US/UK government’s Basma initiative, ARK boasted in a leaked document.

In an earlier report for the UK FCO, filed just three years into its work, ARK claimed to have “trained over 1,400 beneficiaries representing over 210 beneficiary organisations in more than 130 workshops, and disbursed more than 53,000 individual pieces of equipment,” in a vast network that reached “into all of Syria’s 14 governorates,” which included both opposition- and government-held areas.

ARK UK contractor Syria media map

The Western contractor published a map highlighting its network of stringers and media activists and their relationships with the White Helmets as well as newly created police forces across opposition-controlled Syria.

ARK UK contractor Syria opposition media map

In its trainings, ARK developed opposition spokespeople, taught them how to speak with the press, and then helped arrange interviews with mainstream Arabic- and English-language media outlets.

ARK described its strategy “to identify credible, moderate civilian governance spokespeople who will be promoted as go-to interlocutors for regional and international media. They will echo key messages linked to the coordinated local campaigns across all media, with consortium platforms able to cover this messaging as well and encourage other outlets to pick it up.”

In addition to working with the international press and cultivating opposition leaders, ARK helped develop a massive opposition media super-structure.

ARK said it was a “key implementer of a multi-donor effort to develop a network of FM radio stations and community magazines inside Syria since 2012.” The contractor worked with 14 FM stations and 11 magazines inside Syria, including both Arabic- and Kurdish-language radio.

To propagate opposition broadcasts across Syria, ARK designed what it called “Radio in a Box” (RIAB) kits in 2012. The firm took credit for providing equipment to 48 transmission sites.

ARK also circulated up to 30,000 magazines per month. It reported that “ARK-supported magazines were the three most popular in Aleppo City; the most popular magazine in Homs City; and the most popular magazine in Qamishli.”

A Syrian opposition propaganda outlet directly run by ARK, called Moubader, developed a huge following on social media, including more than 200,000 likes on Facebook. ARK printed 15,000 copies per month of a “high-quality hard copy” Moubader magazine and distributed it “across opposition-held areas of Syria.”

The British contractor TGSN, which worked alongside ARK, developed its own outlet called the “Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office (RFS),” a leaked document shows. This confirms a 2016 report in The Grayzone by contributor Rania Khalek, who obtained emails showing how the UK government-backed RFS media office offered to pay one journalist a staggering $17,000 per month to produce propaganda for Syrian rebels.

Another leaked record shows that in just one year, in 2018 – which was apparently the final year of ARK’s Syria program – the firm billed the UK government for a staggering 2.3 million British pounds.

This enormous ARK propaganda operation was directed by Firas Budeiri, who had previously served as the Syria director for the UK-based international NGO Save the Children.

40 percent of ARK’s Syria project team were Syrian citizens, and another 25 percent were Turkish. The firm said its Syria team staff had “extensive experience managing programmes and conducting research funded by many different governmental clients in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Turkey, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and other conflict-affected states.”

Western contractor ARK cultivates White Helmets “to keep Syria in the news”

The Western contractor ARK was a central force in launching the White Helmets operation.

The leaked documents show ARK ran the Twitter and Facebook pages of Syria Civil Defense, known more commonly as the White Helmets.

ARK took credit for developing “an internationally-focused communications campaign designed to raise global awareness of the (White Helmets) teams and their life saving work.”

ARK also facilitated communications between the White Helmets and The Syria Campaign, a PR firm run out of London and New York that helped popularize the White Helmets in the United States.

It was apparently “following subsequent discussions with ARK and the teams” that The Syria Campaign “selected civil defence to front its campaign to keep Syria in the news,” the firm wrote in a report for the UK Foreign Office.

“With ARK’s guidance, TSC (The Syria Campaign) also attended ARK’s civil defence training sessions to create media content for its #WhiteHelmets campaign which launched in August 2014 and has since gone viral,” the Western contractor added.

In 2014, ARK produced a long-form documentary on the White Helmets, titled “Digging for Life,” which was repeatedly broadcast on Orient TV.

While it was running the White Helmets’ social media accounts, ARK bragged that it was boosting followers and views on the Facebook page for Idlib City Council.

The Syrian city of Idlib was taken over by al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, which then went on to publicly execute women who were accused of adultery.

While effectively aiding these al-Qaeda-aligned extremist groups, ARK and the British intelligence cutout TGSN also signed a document with the FCO hilariously pledging to follow “UK guidance on gender sensitivity” and “ensure gender is considered in all capacity building and campaign development.”

Setting the stage for lawfare on Syria

Another leaked document shows the Western government-backed firm ARK revealing that, back in 2011, it worked with another government contractor called Tsamota to help develop the Syrian Commission for Justice and Accountability (SCJA). In 2014, SCJA changed its name to the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA).

The Grayzone exposed CIJA as a Western government-funded regime-change organization whose investigators collaborated with al-Qaeda and its extremist allies in order to wage lawfare on the Syrian government.

ARK noted that the project initially worked “with seed funding from the UK Conflict Pool to support investigative and forensic training for Syrian war crimes investigators” and has since “grown to become a major component of Syria’s transitional justice architecture.”

Since the US, European Union, and their Middle East allies lost the military phase of their war on Syria, CIJA has taken the lead in trying to prolong the regime-change campaign through lawfare.

InCoStrat creates media network, helps them interview al-Qaeda

In the leaked documents, another UK government contractor called Innovative Communications Strategies (InCoStrat) boasted of building a massive “network of over 1600 journalists and key influencers with an interest in Syria.”

InCoStrat stressed that it was “managing and delivering a multi donor project in support of UK Foreign Policy objectives” in Syria, “specifically providing strategic communication support to the moderate armed opposition.”

Other funders of InCoStrat’s work with the opposition in Syria, the firm disclosed, included the US government, the United Arab Emirates, and anti-Assad Syrian businessmen.

InCoStrat served as a liaison between its government clients and the Syrian National Coalition, the Western-backed parallel government that the opposition tried to create. InCoStrat advised senior leaders of this Syrian shadow regime, and even ran the National Coalition’s own media office from Istanbul, Turkey.

The Western contractor took credit for organizing a 2014 BBC interview with Ahmad Jarba, the then-president of the opposition National Coalition.

The firm added that “journalists have often reached out to us in search of the appropriate people for their programmes.” As an example, InCoStrat said it helped plant its own Syrian opposition activists in BBC Arabic reports. The firm then added, “Once making the initial connections we encouraged the Syrians to maintain the relationships with the journalists in the BBC instead of using ourselves as the conduit.”

Like ARK, InCoStrat worked closely with the press. The firm said it had “extensive experience in engaging Arab and international news media,” adding that it worked directly with “heads of regional news in major satellite TV networks, press bureaus and print media.”

“Key members of InCoStrat have previously worked as Middle East correspondents for some of the world’s largest news agencies including Reuters,” the Western contractor added.

Also like ARK, InCoStrat established a vast media infrastructure. The firm set up Syrian opposition media offices in Dera’a, Syria; Istanbul and Reyhanli, Turkey; and Amman, Jordan.

InCoStrat worked with 130 stringers across Syria, and said it had more than 120 reporters working inside the country, along with “an additional five official spokesmen who appear several times a week on international and regional TV.”

InCoStrat also established eight FM radio stations and six community magazines across Syria.

The firm reported that it penetrated the armed opposition by developing “strong relationships with 54 brigade commanders in Syria’s southern front,” that involved “daily, direct engagement with the commanders and their officers inside Syria,” as well as defected officers Free Syrian Army (FSA) units in government-held Damascus.

In the leaked documents, InCoStrat boasted that its reporters organized interviews with many armed opposition militias, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

Don’t just plants media stories; “initiate an event” to create your own scandals

In its media war on Damascus, InCoStrat pursued a two-pronged campaign that consisted of the following: “a) Guerrilla Campaign. Use the media to create the event. b) Guerrilla Tactics. Initiate an event to create the media effect.”

The intelligence cutout therefore sought to use the media as a weapon to advance tangible political demands of the Syrian opposition.

In one case, InCoStrat took credit for a successful international campaign to force the Syrian government to lift its siege of the extremist-held opposition stronghold of Homs. The Grayzone contributor Rania Khalek reported on the crisis in Homs, which was besieged by Damascus after the far-right Sunni fundamentalists that controlled it began carrying out sectarian massacres against religious minorities and kidnapping Alawite civilians.

“We connected international journalists with Syrians living in besieged Homs,” InCoStrat explained. It organized an interview between Britain’s Channel 4 and a doctor in the city, which helped raise international attention, ultimately leading to an end to the siege.

In another instance, the UK contractor said it “produced postcards, posters and reports” comparing the secular government of Bashar al-Assad to the fundamentalist Salafi-jihadists in ISIS. Then it “provided a credible, Arabic-English speaking Syrian spokesperson to engage the media.”

The campaign was very successful, according to InCoStrat: Al-Jazeera America and The National published the firm’s propaganda posters. The British contractor also organized interviews on the topic with The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The Guardian, The Times, Buzzfeed, Al-Jazeera, Suriya Al-Sham, and Orient.

InCoStrat Syrian opposition media Assad ISIS

After regime change comes Nation Building Inc.

InCoStrat has apparently been involved in numerous Western-backed regime-change operations.

In one leaked document, the firm said it helped to train civil society organizations in marketing, media, and communications in Afghanistan, Honduras, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. It even trained a team of anti-Saddam Hussein journalists inside Basra, Iraq after the joint US-UK invasion.

In addition to contracting for the United Kingdom, InCoStrat disclosed that it has worked for the governments of the United States, Singapore, Latvia, Sweden, Denmark, and Libya.

After NATO destroyed the Libyan state in a regime-change war in 2011, InCoStrat was brought in in 2012 to conduct similar communications work for the Libyan National Transitional Council, the Western-backed opposition that sought to take power.

Coordinating with extremist militias, cooking news to “reinforce the core narrative”

The leaked documents shed further light on a UK government contractor called Albany.

Albany boasted that it “secured the participation of an extensive local network of over 55 stringers, reporters and videographers” to influence media narratives and advance UK foreign policy interests.

The firm helped create an influential Syrian opposition media outfit called Enab Baladi. Founded in 2011 in the anti-Assad hub of Daraya, at the beginning of the war, Enab Baladi was aggressively marketed in the Western press as a grassroots Syrian media operation.

In reality, Enab Baladi was the product of a British contractor that took responsibility for its evolution “from an amateur-run entity into one of the most prominent Syrian media organizations.”

Albany also coordinated communications between opposition media outlets and extremist Islamist opposition groups by hiring an “engagement leader (who) has deep credibility with key groups including (north) Failaq ash-Sham, Jabha Shammiyeh, Jaysh Idleb al Hur, Ahrar ash-Sham, (center) Jaysh al Islam, Failaq al Rahman, and (south) Jaysh Tahrir.” Many of these militias were linked to al-Qaeda and are now recognized by the US Department of State and European governments as official terrorist groups.

Unlike other Western government contractors active in Syria, which often tried to feign a semblance of balance, Albany made it clear that its media reporting was nothing more than propaganda.

The firm admitted that it trained Syrian media activists in a unique “newsroom process” that called to “curate” news by “collecting and organising stories and content that support and reinforce the core narrative.”

In 2014, Albany boasted of running the Syrian National Coalition’s communications team at the Geneva Peace talks.

Albany also warned that revelations of Western government funding for these opposition media organizations that were being portrayed as grassroots initiatives would discredit them.

When internal emails were leaked showing that the massive opposition media platform Basma Syria was funded by the United States and Britain, Albany wrote, “the Basma brand has been compromised following leaks about funding project aims.”

The leaks on social media “have damaged the credibility and trustworthiness of the existing branded platform,” Albany wrote. “Credibility and trust are the key currencies of the activities envisaged and for this reason we consider it essential to refresh the approach if the content to be disseminated is to have effect.” The Basma website was taken down soon after.

These files provide clear insight into how the Syrian opposition was cultivated by Western governments with imperial designs on Damascus, and was kept afloat with staggering sums of cash that flowed from the pockets of British taxpayers – often to the benefit of fanatical militiamen allied with Al Qaeda.

While Dutch prosecutors prepare war crimes charges against the Syrian government for fighting off the onslaught, the leaked files are a reminder of the leading role that Western states and their war-profiteering companies played in the carefully organized destruction of the country.

thegrayzone.comThe views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Who Buys This Phony ‘Anti-Semitism’ Smear Language?

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

If you support the genuine inheritors of the Holy Land you’re ‘pro-Semitic’.
smear weapon 28d34

Semites are a language group not a religious group. They spoke (and still do) Semitic languages, especially the Canaanite and later Aramaic dialects of Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. 

The Western world today is seething with accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’, a threatening term with nasty connotations. Before 1879 nobody had heard of ‘anti-Semitism’ although hard feelings towards Jews as a religious group had existed for many centuries. One thinks immediately of the atrocities of the first Crusades (1096), the massacre at York in 1190, and the expulsion of Jews from England by Edward I in 1290 (only to be allowed back in 1657 by Oliver Cromwell). But discrimination against Jews existed long before, in various countries and for various reasons.

Then along came a German agitator and journalist, Wilhelm Marr, who coined the expression ‘anti-Semitism’ knowing full well that it embraced all Semitic peoples including Hebrews, Arabs and Christians of the Holy Land. It wasn’t long before it was twisted to become a metaphor for hostility only toward Jews based on a belief that they sought national and even world power. More recently Holocaust denial and criticism of the state of Israel’s vile behaviour have been considered anti-Semitic. Anti-Zionism too is claimed to be anti-Semitic because it singles out Jewish national aspirations as illegitimate and a racist endeavour. Which of course they are, as Israel’s recently enacted nation state laws prove.

Indeed, some hardcore Israel flag wavers regard any pro-Palestinian, pro-Syrian or pro-Lebanese sentiments to be anti-Semitic even though those peoples are constantly victims of Israeli military aggression.

A catch-all smear weapon

The hijacking of the term anti-Semitism and its fraudulent conversion into a propaganda tool for defending the Zionist Project has enabled brazen attacks on our rights to free speech and attempts to shut down peaceful debate on Israel’s crimes. The word anti-Semitism, as now used, is a distortion of language and a deliberate misnomer larded with fear and trembling for those touched by it. This prompted Miko Peled, the Israeli general’s son, to warn a Labour Party conference that “they are going to pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn… the reason anti-Semitism is used is because they [the Israelis] have no argument…”

And so they did. Jeremy Corbyn, a genuine anti-racist, critic of Israel and champion of Palestinian rights, was soon gone. He was the only British leader who might have reduced Israel’s sinister influence on UK policy. But his Labour Party, like the cowards they are, surrendered to Israel lobby pressure and helped bring him down. Israel’s pimps at Westminster and in local parties across the country were able to chalk up a famous victory.

They even managed to force the Party to adopt the discredited International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and incorporate it into the Party’s code of conduct. The new leader is their obedient stooge. He has publicly bent the knee, tugged the forelock.

 Who has the claim?

However, it has been shown that most Jews today are not descended from the ancient Israelites at all. For example, research by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published by the Oxford University Press in 2012 on behalf of the Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution, found the Khazarian Hypothesis to be scientifically correct, meaning that most Jews are Khazars and confirming what some scholars had been saying. The Khazarians converted to Talmudic Judaism in the 8th Century and were never in ancient Israel.

No doubt these finding will be challenged by Zionist adherents till the end of time. But DNA research suggests that no more than 2 per cent of Jews in present-day Israel are actually Israelites. So, even if you believe the myth that God gave the land to the Israelites, He certainly didn’t give it to Netanyahu, Lieberman and the other East European thugs who infiltrated the Holy Land and now run the apartheid regime. It seems the Palestinians (Muslim and Christian) have more Israelite blood. They are the true Semites.

As for Zionists’ preposterous claim to exclusive sovereignty over Jerusalem, the city was at least 2000 years old and an established fortification when King David captured it. Jerusalem dates back some 5000 years and the name is likely derived from Uru-Shalem, meaning “founded by Shalem”, the Canaanite God of Dusk.

In its ‘City of David’ form Jerusalem lasted less than 80 years. In 928BC the Kingdom divided into Israel and Judah with Jerusalem the capital of Judah, and in 597BC the Babylonians conquered it. Ten years later in a second siege the city was largely destroyed including Solomon’s temple. The Jews recaptured it in 164BC but finally lost it to the Roman Empire in 63BC. A Christian (Crusader) kingdom of Jerusalem existed from 1099 to 1291 but held the city for only 101 of those years. Before the present-day shambles, cooked up by Balfour and stoked by the US, the Jews had controlled Jerusalem for around 500 years, say historians – small beer compared to the 1,277 years it was subsequently ruled by Muslims and the 2000 years, or thereabouts, it originally belonged to the Canaanites.

Counter-measure

Since the three main Semitic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – all have historical claims to Jerusalem and a presence there, and masses of non-Semitic believers around the world also wish to visit the holy places, the best solution seems to be the one recommended by United Nations General Assembly resolutions 181 and 194: that Jerusalem is made a corpus separatum, an open city administered by an international regime or the UN itself. Why this hasn’t been implemented isn’t clear. We’ve seen the abominable discrimination inflicted on Palestinian Muslims and Christians by Israel since seizing control of Jerusalem.

The other side could play word games too – and with more honesty. Anti-Semitism has been fashioned by the Zionists into a catch-all smear weapon. What if pro-Palestinian groups and the BDS movement declared themselves (in correct parlance) to be ‘pro-Semitic’, i.e. supportive of all those with genuine ancestral links to the ancient Holy Land and entitled to live there in freedom?

They could coin a new expression just like Marr and establish it through usage.

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