NCC at the Station: Shall we take the train to Geneva?


Louay Safi (R), spokesperson for the Syrian National Coalition, speaks to journalists during the Syrian peace talks at the United Nations headquarters on February 11, 2014 in Geneva. (Photo: AFP-Phillipe Desmazes)

Published Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Representative of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB), Haythem Manna (blue), attends the Syrian Opposition Conference in Cairo on 2 July 2012. (Photo: AFP – Khaled Desouki)
National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change in Syria (NCC) seems to have mastered the waiting game, waiting for the Syrian National Coalition (SNC). Ever since the Syrian National Council was “dissolved” and a broad meeting of the Syrian opposition in Cairo (May 2012) and throughout the Doha meetings, which gave birth to the coalition, the NCC would be mentioned as a participant of sorts in those meetings.
Today, the NCC is waiting for the meeting of the SNC’s political committee to decide on two proposals; one political and the other organizational, which were agreed upon in a meeting in Cairo between the NCC General Coordinator Hassan Abdul-Azim and the head of the SNC, Ahmad al-Jarba.
If the proposals are passed, the NCC would be participating on its own terms in the next round of talks at Geneva II. Now more than ever, its leaders have been giving the impression that they will hop on the Geneva train. Although they missed yesterday’s stop, there are other stops and as they claim, the road is long.

A senior source at the NCC confirms the presence of an international decision “for the NCC to join the Geneva process.” Observers note that the “expansion of the opposition’s delegation” is for various reasons, starting with the delegation’s inadequacy and its weak representation.

For example, Hadi al-Bahra, who headed the opposition’s negotiating team in one of the first round’s sessions, gained his experience to face Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, from selling cars in Saudi Arabia.
According to NCC sources, who followed up on the most recent meeting in Cairo, an agreement was reached for the NCC to be represented by five seats, three at the main negotiating table and two consultative seats. The question of who will be representing the NCC took up an important part of its executive office meeting on Sunday, which lasted five hours.
The so called “internal opposition” is optimistic. They deliberated the question of giving one seat to a militia group, meaning the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Obstacles and vetoes were removed, according to a senior official. There is no veto against the head of the NCC in the diaspora, Haytham Manna, or the head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Saleh Muslim, he added.
Sources from the SNC met this “positivity” from the NCC with a similar position, except with the “figures who have a problem with the revolution.” The sources did not mention the names of the individuals, but they are Haytham Manna and Saleh Muslim.
Hisham Mroue, a member of the coalition’s political committee, confirms the veto of his colleague, “Figures like Hassan Abdul-Azim and NCC member Aref Dalila have kept their places in efforts to expand the Coalition’s delegation, despite Egyptian and Western efforts to get the NCC to choose its own representatives.”
The Facebook page of the media office president in the NCC, Munther Khaddam, is rife with critics and gloaters. “The NCC’s repeated disappointments with the coalition is a cause for pity and sorrow,” someone comments to Khaddam’s criticism of “the coalition leadership’s disregard of all the understandings in Cairo.”
Dependency on international decisions and the NCC’s reliance on their “friends” to impose its presence in Geneva carry a degree of pragmatism. If it was Jarba’s decision, he would never have shook Abdul-Azim’s hand in his life.
The NCC is promoting that the meeting was “imposed” on the coalition. Yet this is the same “game of nations,” which had kept the “internal opposition” away from the international scene. In the event that the NCC participates in the international peace conference, the same international game, which led to its embarrassment in front of its Syrian supporters, would be the only way for “Manna and co.” to be present in the corridors of “peaceful settlement hotels.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
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President Bashar Al-Assad’s Interview with Agence France Presse

Posted on January 20, 2014 by 

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President Bashar Al-Assad’s Interview with Agence France Presse
Jan 20, 2014
AFP: Mr. President, what do you expect from the Geneva conference?
President Assad: The most basic element, which we continuously refer too, is that the Geneva Conference should produce clear results with regard to the fight against terrorism in Syria. In particular, it needs to put pressure on countries that are exporting terrorism, – by sending terrorists, money and weapons to terrorist organisations, – especially Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and of course the Western countries that provide political cover for these terrorist organisations. This is the most important decision or result that the Geneva Conference could produce. Any political solution that is reached without fighting terrorism has no value. There can be no political action when there is terrorism everywhere, not only in Syria but in neighbouring countries as well. From the political side, it is possible for Geneva to contribute to a process of dialogue between Syrians. There has to be a Syrian process within Syria and whilst Geneva could support this, it cannot be a substitute for it.
AFP: After nearly three years of devastating war and the big challenge of reconstruction in the country, is it likely that you will not be a candidate for the presidency?
President Assad: This depends on two things: It depends on personal aspirations or a personal decision, on the one hand, and on public opinion in Syria, on the other. As far as I am concerned, I see no reason why I shouldn’t stand; as for Syrian public opinion, there is still around four months before the election date is announced. If in that time, there is public desire and a public opinion in favour of my candidacy, I will not hesitate for a second to run for election. In short, we can say that the chances for my candidacy are significant.
AFP: In these past years, have you thought for a moment about losing the battle, and have you thought of an alternative scenario for you and your family?
President Assad: In any battle, there is always the possibility of winning and losing; but when you’re defending your country, it’s obvious that the only choice is to win. Should Syria lose this battle that would mean the spread of chaos throughout the Middle East. This battle is not confined to Syria and is not, as Western propaganda portrays, a popular uprising against a regime suppressing its people and a revolution calling for democracy and freedom. These lies have now become clear to people. A popular revolution doesn’t last for three years only to fail; moreover, a national revolution cannot have a foreign agenda. As for the scenarios that I have considered, of course these types of battles will have numerous scenarios – 1st, 2nd, 3rd……tenth, but they are all focused on defending the country not on running away from it. Fleeing is not an option in these circumstances. I must be at the forefront of those defending this country and this has been the case from day one.
AFP: Do you think you are winning this war?
President Assad: This war is not mine to win; it’s our war as Syrians. I think this war has, if you will, two phases. The first phase, which took the form of plans drawn up at the beginning, was the overthrow of the Syrian state in a matter of weeks or months. Now, three years on, we can safely say that this has failed, and that the Syrian people have won. There were countries that not only wanted to overthrow the state, but that also wanted to partition the country into several ‘mini-states;’ of course this phase failed, and hence the win for the Syrian people. The other phase of the battle is the fight against terrorism, which we are living on a daily basis. As you know, this phase isn’t over yet, so we can’t talk about having won before we eliminate the terrorists. What we can say is that we are making progress and moving forward. This doesn’t mean that victory is near at hand; these kinds of battles are complicated, difficult and they need a lot of time. However, as I said, and I reiterate, we are making progress, but have not yet achieved a victory.
AFP: Returning to Geneva, do you support a call from the conference for all foreign fighters to leave Syria, including Hezbollah?
President Assad: Clearly the job of defending Syria is responsibility of the Syrian people, the Syrian institutions, and in particular the Syrian Army. So, there would be no reason for any non-Syrian fighters to get involved had there not been foreign fighters from dozens of countries attacking civilians and Hezbollah especially on the Syrian-Lebanese border. When we talk about fighters leaving Syria, this would need to be part of a larger package that would see all the foreign fighters leave, and for all armed men – including Syrians – to hand over their weapons to the Syrian state, which would consequently achieve stability. So naturally, yes, one element of the solution in Syria – I wouldn’t say the objective – is for all non-Syrian fighters to leave Syria.
AFP: In addition to the prisoner exchange and a ceasefire in Aleppo, what initiatives are you ready to present at Geneva II?
President Assad: The Syrian initiative was put forward exactly a year ago, in January of last year. It’s a complete initiative that covers both political and security aspects and other dimensions that would lead to stability. All of these details are part of the initiative that Syria previously put forward. However, any initiative, whether this one or any other, must be the result of a dialogue between Syrians. The essence of anything that is proposed, whether it’s the crisis itself, fighting terrorism, or the future political vision and political system for Syria, requires the approval of Syrians. Our initiative was based on a process to facilitate this dialogue rather than a process to express the government’s point of view. It has always been our view that any initiative must be collective and produced by both the political actors in Syria and the Syrian people in general.
AFP: The opposition that will participate in Geneva is divided and many factions on the ground don’t believe it represents them. If an agreement is reached, how can it be implemented on the ground?
President Assad: This is the same question that we are asking as a government: when I negotiate, who am I negotiating with? There are expected to be many sides at Geneva, we don’t know yet who will come, but there will be various parties, including the Syrian government. It is clear to everyone that some of the groups, which might attend the conference, didn’t exist until very recently; in fact they were created during the crisis by foreign intelligence agencies whether in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, the United States or other countries. So when we sit down with these groups, we are in fact negotiating with those countries. So, is it logical that France should be a part of the Syrian solution? Or Qatar, or America, or Saudi Arabia, or Turkey? This doesn’t make any sense. Therefore, when we negotiate with these parties, we’re in fact negotiating with the countries that are behind them and that support terrorism in Syria. There are other opposition forces in Syria that have a national agenda; these are parties that we can negotiate with. On the issue of the vision for Syria’s future, we are open for these parties to participate in governing the Syrian state, in the government and in other institutions. But as I mentioned earlier, anything that is agreed with any party, whether in Geneva or in Syria, must be subject to people’s endorsement, through a referendum put to Syrian citizens.
AFP: In this context, could the ceasefire agreements that have been started in Moadimiya and Barzeh be an alternative to Geneva?
President Assad: The truth is that these initiatives may be more important than Geneva, because the majority of those fighting and carrying out terrorist operations on the ground have no political agenda. Some of them have become professional armed robbers, and others, as you know, are takfiri organisations fighting for an extremist Islamic emirate and things of that kind. Geneva means nothing for these groups. For this reason, the direct action and the models that have been achieved in Moadamiyeh, in Barzeh and other places in Syria has proven to be very effective. But this is separate from the political process, which is about the political future of Syria. These reconciliations have helped stability and have eased the bloodshed in Syria, both of which help pave the way for the political dialogue I mentioned earlier.
AFP: Are you prepared to have a prime minister from the opposition in a future government?
President Assad: That depends on who this opposition represents. When it represents a majority, let’s say in parliament, naturally it should lead the government. But to appoint a prime minister from the opposition without having a majority doesn’t make any political sense in any country in the world. In your country, for example, or in Britain or elsewhere, you can’t have a prime minister from a parliamentary minority. This will all depend on the next elections, which we discussed in the Syrian initiative; they will reveal the real size of support for the various opposition forces. As to participation as a principle, we support it, of course it is a good thing.
AFP: Are you prepared to have, for example, Ahmed Jarba or Moaz Khatib, be your next prime minister?
President Assad: This takes us back to the previous question. Do any of these people represent the Syrian people, or even a portion of the Syrian people? Do they even represent themselves, or are they just representatives of the states that created them? This brings us back to what I mentioned earlier: every one of these groups represents the country that created them. The participation of each of these individuals means the participation of each of those states in the Syrian government! This is the first point. Second, let’s assume that we agreed to the participation of these individuals in the government. Do you think that they would dare to come to Syria to take part in the government? Of course they wouldn’t. Last year, they claimed that they had control of 70% of Syria, yet they didn’t even dare to come to the areas that they had supposed control of. They did come to the border for a 30-minute photo opportunity and then they fled. How can they be ministers in the government? Can a foreigner become a Syrian minister? That’s why these propositions are totally unrealistic, but they do make a good joke!
AFP: Mr. President, you said that it depends on the results of the elections, but how can you hold these kinds of elections if part of Syria’s territory is in the hands of insurgents?
President Assad: During this crisis, and after the unrest started in Syria, we have conducted elections twice: the first was municipal elections and the second was parliamentary elections. Of course, the elections cannot be conducted in the same way they are conducted in normal circumstances, but the roads between Syrian regions are open, and people area able to move freely between different regions. Those who live in difficult areas can go to neighbouring areas and participate in the elections. There will be difficulties, but it is not an impossible process.
AFP: Now that opposition fighters are battling jihadists, do you see any difference between the two?
President Assad: The answer I would have given you at the beginning of the events or during its various phases, is completely different to the answer today. Today, there are no longer two opposition groups. We all know that during the past few months the extremist terrorist groups fighting in Syria have wiped out the last remaining positions that were held by the forces the West portrays as moderates, calling them the moderate or secular forces, or the Free Syrian Army. These forces no longer exist. We are now dealing with one extremist group made up of various factions. As to the fighters that used to belong to what the West calls ‘moderate forces,’ these have mostly joined these extremist factions, either for fear or voluntarily through financial incentives. In short, regardless of the labels you read in the Western media, we are now fighting one extremist terrorist group comprising of various factions.
AFP: Would it be possible for the army and the opposition to fight against the jihadists side by side?
President Assad: We cooperate with any party that wants to join the army in fighting terrorists, and this has happened before. There are many militants who have left these organisations and joined the army to fight with it. So this is possible, but these are individual cases. This is not an alliance between ‘moderate’ forces and the army against terrorists. That depiction is false and is an illusion that is used by the West only to justify its support for terrorism in Syria. It supports terrorism under the pretext that it is backing moderation against extremist terrorism, and that is both illogical and false.
AFP: The state accuses the rebels of using civilians as human shields in areas under their control, but when the army shells these areas, do you not think this kills innocent people?
President Assad: The army does not shell neighbourhoods. The army strikes areas where there are terrorists. In most cases, terrorists enter particular areas and force out the civilians. Why do you think we have so many displaced people? Most of the millions of displaced people in Syria have fled their homes because terrorists forcefully entered their neighbourhoods. If there are civilians among these armed groups, why do we have so many displaced people? The army is fighting armed terrorists, and in some cases, terrorists have used civilians as human shields. Civilian casualties are unfortunately the consequences of any war. There is no such thing as a clean war in which there are no innocent civilian victims. This is the unfortunate nature of war, and that is why the only solution is to put an end to it.
AFP: Mr. President, some international organisations have accused the government and the opposition of committing abuses. After this war ends, would you be ready for there to be an investigation into these abuses?
President Assad: There is no logic to this claim made by these organisations. How can the Syrian state be killing its own people, and yet it is still standing three year on, despite the fact that there are dozens of countries working against it. Had the Syrian state been killing its people, they would have revolted against it long ago. Such a state could not survive for more than few months; the fact that it has resisted for three years means that it has popular support. Such talk is more than illogical: it is unnatural. What these organizations are saying is either a reflection of their ignorance of the situation in Syria, or, in some cases, it shows they are following the political agenda of particular states. The Syrian state has always defended its civilians; it is well documented, through all the videos and the photos circulating, that it is the terrorists who are committing massacres and killing civilians everywhere. From the beginning of this crisis, up until today, these organizations do not have a single document to prove that the Syrian government has committed a massacre against civilians anywhere.
AFP: Mr. President, we know of foreign journalists who were kidnapped by the terrorist groups. Are there any foreign journalists in state prisons?
President Assad: It would be best for you to ask the relevant, specialised agencies on this issue. They would be able to give you an answer.
AFP: Would a reconciliation be possible, one day, between Syria on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey on the other?
President Assad: Politics changes constantly, but this change depends on two factors: principles and interests. We share no common principles with the states you mention; these states support terrorism and they have contributed to the bloodshed in Syria. As for interests, we need to ask ourselves: will the Syrian people agree to shared interests with these countries after everything that has happened and all the bloodshed in Syria? I don’t want to answer on behalf of the Syrian people. If the people believe they share interests with these states, and if these states change their policy on supporting terrorism, it is plausible that the Syrian people might agree to restore relations. I can’t individually as President, answer on behalf of all the Syrian people at such a time. This is a decision for the people.
AFP: Mr. President, you were welcomed on the occasion of July 14 (Bastille Day) in the Elysee Palace in Paris. Are you now surprised by France’s position, and do you think France may one day play some kind of role in Syria?
President Assad: No, I am not surprised, because when that reception took place, it was during the period – 2008 to 2011 – where there was a attempt to contain Syria’s role and Syria’s policy. France was charged with this role by the United States when Sarkozy became president. There was an agreement between France and the Bush administration over this, since France is an old friend of the Arabs and of Syria and as such it is better suited to play the role. The requirement at that time was to use Syria against Iran and Hezbollah, and to pull it away from supporting resistance organisations in the region. This French policy failed, because its goal was blatantly obvious. Then the so-called Arab Spring began, and France turned against Syria after it had failed to honour the pledge it had made to the United States. This is the reason behind the French position during that period why it changed in 2011. As for France’s role in future, let’s talk frankly. Ever since 2001 and the terrorist attacks on New York, there has been no European policy-making to speak of (and that’s if we don’t look back even further to the 1990s). In the West, there is only an American policy, which is implemented by some European countries. This has been the case on all the issues in our region in the past decade. Today, we see the same thing: either European policy is formulated with American blessing, or American policy is adopted by the Europeans as their own. So, I don’t believe that Europe, and particularly France, which used to lead the European policy in the past, is capable of playing any role in the future of Syria, or in neighbouring countries. There is another reason too, and that is that Western officials have lost their credibility. They no longer have double standards; they have triple and quadruple standards. They have all kinds of standards for every political situation. They have lost their credibility; they have sold their principles in return for interests, and therefore it is impossible to build a consistent policy with them. Tomorrow, they might do the exact opposite of what they are doing today. Because of this, I don’t think that France will play a role in the immediate future, unless it changes its policy completely and from its core and returns to the politically independent state it once was.
AFP: How long do you think Syria needs to rid itself completely of its chemical weapons stockpiles?
President Assad: This depends on the extent to which the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will provide Syria with the necessary equipment to carry out the process. So far, the process of making this equipment available has been quite slow. On the other hand, as you know dismantling and neutralizing the chemical materials is not taking place inside Syria nor by the Syrian state. A number of countries in different parts of the world have accepted to carry out that process; some have agreed to deal with the less dangerous materials, whilst others have refused completely. Since, the timeframe is dependent on these two factors – the role of the OPCW and the countries that accept to neutralize the materials on their territories – it is not for Syria to determine a timeframe on this issue. Syria has honoured its part by preparing and collecting data and providing access to inspectors who verified this data and inspected the chemical agents. The rest, as I said, is up to the other parties.
AFP: Mr. President, what has changed in your and your family’s daily, personal lives? Do your children understand what has happened? Do you talk to them about this?
President Assad: There are a few things that haven’t changed. I go to work as usual, and we live in the same house as before, and the children go to school; these things haven’t changed. On the other hand, there are things which have affected every Syrian household, including mine: the sadness which lives with us every day – all the time, because of what we see and experience, because of the pain, because of the fallen victims everywhere and the destruction of the infrastructure and the economy. This has affected every family in Syria, including my own. There is no doubt that children are affected more deeply than adults in these circumstances. This generation will probably grow up too early and mature much faster as a result of the crisis. There are questions put to you by children about the causes of what’s happening, that you don’t usually deal with in normal circumstances. Why are there such evil people? Why are there victims? It’s not easy to explain these things to children, but they remain persistent daily questions and a subject of discussion in every family, including my own.
AFP: Through these years, what was the most difficult situation you went through?
President Assad: It’s not necessarily a particular situation but rather group of elements. There are several things that were hard to come to terms with, and they are still difficult. The first, I believe, is terrorism; the degree of savagery and inhumanity that the terrorists have reached reminds us of what happened in the Middle Ages in Europe over 500 years ago. In more recent modern times, it reminds us of the massacres perpetrated by the Ottomans against the Armenians when they killed a million and a half Armenians and half a million Orthodox Syriacs in Syria and in Turkish territory. The other aspect that is difficult to understand is the extent of Western officials’ superficiality in their failure to understand what happened in this region, and their subsequent inability to have a vision for the present or for the future. They are always very late in realizing things, sometimes even after the situation has been overtaken by a new reality that is completely different. The third thing that is difficult to understand is the extent of influence of petrodollars in changing roles on the international arena. For instance, how Qatar was transformed from a marginal state to a powerful one, while France has become a proxy state implementing Qatari policies. This is also what we see happening now between France and Saudi Arabia. How can petrodollars make western officials, particularly in France, sell their principles and sell the principles of the French Revolution in return for a few billion dollars? These are only a few things, among others, which are difficult for one to understand and accept.
AFP: The trial of those accused of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri has begun. Do you think it will be a fair trial?
President Assad: Nine years have passed since the beginning of this trial. Has justice been served? Every accusation was made for political reasons. Even in the past few days, we have not seen any tangible proof put forward against the parties involved in the case. The real question should be: why the timing? Why now? This court was set up nine years ago. Have the things produced in the last few days been uncovered only now? I believe that the whole thing is politicized and is intended to put pressure on Hezbollah in Lebanon in the same way that it aimed at putting pressure on Syria in the beginning, immediately after al-Hariri’s assassination.
AFP: You have said the war will end when terrorism is eradicated. But the Syrians and everyone else want to know when this war will end. Within months? After a year? In years to come?
President Assad: We hope that the Geneva conference will be able to provide an answer to part of this by exercising pressure on these countries. This aspect has nothing to do with Syria; otherwise we would have put pressure on these states from the beginning and prevented terrorism from entering Syria. From our side, when this terrorism stops coming in, ending the war will not take more than a few months.
AFP: It appears Western intelligence agencies want to re-open channels of communication with Damascus, in order to ask you for help fighting terrorism. Are you ready for that?
President Assad: There have been meetings with several intelligence agencies from a number of countries. Our response has been that security cooperation cannot be separated from political cooperation, and political cooperation cannot be achieved while these states adopt anti-Syrian policies. This was our answer, brief and clear.
AFP: You have said in the past that the state has made mistakes. In your view, what were the mistakes that could have been avoided?
President Assad: I have said that mistakes can be made in any situation. I did not specify what those mistakes were because this cannot be done objectively until the crisis is behind us and we can assess our experience. Evaluating them whilst we are in the middle of the crisis will only yield limited results.
AFP: Mr. President, without Russia, China and Iran’s help, would you have been able to resist in the face of the wars declared against you?
President Assad: This is a hypothetical question, which I cannot answer, because we haven’t experienced the alternative. Reality has shown that Russian, Chinese and Iranian support has been important and has contributed to Syria’s steadfastness. Without this support, things probably would have been much more difficult. How? It is difficult to draw a hypothetical picture at this stage.
AFP: After all that has happened, can you imagine another president rebuilding Syria?
President Assad: If this is what the Syrian people want, I don’t have a problem with it. I am not the kind of person who clings to power. In any case, should the Syrian people not want me to be president, obviously there will be somebody else. I don’t have a personal problem with this issue. Thank you very much Mr. President.

Iran in Geneva … finally, Saudi Arabia Rejects Iran’s Participation

Iran in Geneva … finally

Top News Articles  Nasser Kandil writes,

– As we expected before, Iran received the invitation to attend Geneva Conference on Syria, because, as we also said, the Conference is apparently on Syria, but it implies the formulation of the regional order.

– The American Reservation is like a Hollywood  since Ban Ki-moon cannot send the invitation without an American approval, and if he did not get Kerry-Lavrov agreement on the invitation, he would not send it.

– The pretext is that Iran received the invitation, as all other countries, which implies that the Conference is a complement to the Geneva 1 and the an application of its resolutions. So,  accepting the invitation indicates an acceptance of its implications, thus Iran does not need to declare this as a condition for acceptance of invitation.

– Saudi’s announcement and  the statement of coalition that object Iran’s attendance are just an  entrance to accelerated negotiations that will take place behind the scenes to ensure the success of the Conference and a Saudi-Iranian normalization that precede or follow the agreement in Geneva.

– Holland is the only one late, he always harasses to be insulted, he did not need to comment on the matter in order not to confirm his stupidity again, so as  a French journalist told him once on the sidelines of the Top Twenty “Mr. President they bring you for the sake of insulting you”.

– Geneva components are ready and the coalition is enforced to attend.

Trans. Dima younes

– See more at: http://top-news.me/en/share.php?art_id=540#sthash.lCIKkEgC.dpuf

From Al-Manar

Iran receives UN invitation to attend Geneva2.
Iran affirmed that it has received an invitation for attending the international conference on Syria, Geneva2. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told the Iranian News Agency (IRNA) on Monday that Iran received an official invitation from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to attend Geneva 2 conference on Syria.

2014-01-20 13:36:52


Aoun Describes Hariri’s Stance Concerning Cabinet as Brave.
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun hailed on Monday ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s stance regarding the cabinet formation process, describing it as “brave.” “Hariri’s stance facilitates the formation of the new cabinet and is a foundation for also forming a new parliament,” Aoun said.

2014-01-20 12:39:00


Russia Warns Iran’s Absence from Syria Talks Unforgivable Mistake.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said the absence of Iran from this week’s peace talks on the Syrian crisis would be an “unforgivable mistake”. “Not to ensure the presence at this event of all those who may directly influence the situation, I think, would be an unforgivable mistake,” Lavrov told a televised press briefing.

“So I fully support the responsible and principled approach by U.N. Secretary General (Ban Ki-moon), who sent an invitation to those countries that influence the situation, including the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Lavrov added the Iran’s absence would make the talks that are due to start on Wednesday in the Swiss city of Montreux a “sham”.

2014-01-20 12:34:17


Syrian President Expects to Run Again, Rejects Power Deal.
Syria’s President Bashar Assad said there is a “significant” chance he will seek a new term and ruled out sharing power with the opposition seeking his ouster, in an exclusive interview with Agence France Presse before the Geneva II peace talks.

Speaking on Sunday at his presidential palace in Damascus, Assad said he expected Syria’s war to grind on. And he called for the talks scheduled to begin on Wednesday in Montreux in Switzerland to focus on what he termed his “war against terrorism”.

“I see no reason why I shouldn’t stand,” he said of presidential elections in June. If there is “public opinion in favor of my candidacy, I will not hesitate for a second to run for election”. “In short, we can say that the chances for my candidacy are significant.”

Assad appeared at ease, wearing a navy blue suit and smiling regularly throughout the 45-minute interview.

2014-01-20 12:26:22 – See more at: http://top-news.me/en/smsview.php#sthash.Gy0ECc6T.dpuf

Making War, Not Peace In Syria

By Stephen Lendman

12-22-13

My PhotoOn January 22, so-called Geneva II peace talks begin in Montreux, Switzerland. On January 24, they’ll continue in Geneva.

They’re dead on arrival before beginning. Radicalized elements dominate anti-Assad forces. They reject peace.


So does Washington. Syria is Obama’s war. US-supported death squads wage it. Obama didn’t target Syria to quit. He wants Assad ousted.

He wants a pro-Western stooge replacing him. He bears full responsibility for what’s happening. He’s been ravaging and destroying Syria since March 2011.
He’s not about to stop now. He’s gone all out to perpetuate conflict. He deplores peace. He rejects it out of hand.

His agenda is war without mercy. It shows in countless atrocities against Syrian civilians. Conflict without end continues daily. Resolving it peacefully is more illusion than reality.

Washington decided years ago to oust Assad. War on over half a dozen regional countries was planned.

Conflict without end rages in Afghanistan. Saddam and Gaddafi were toppled. Iraq and Libya remain cauldrons of violence. War on Syria shows no signs of ending. Iran’s turn awaits.

America is a warrior nation. It’s addicted to war. It’s been this way from inception. It’s history is blood-drenched. Things are worse now than ever.

The business of America is war. Militarism writ large is the national pastime. It’s a hugely destructive addiction. Over-the-top ideologues make policy.

Project for the New American Century (PNAC) neocons haven’t gone away. They reinvented themselves. They’re now called the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).

Their agenda remains unchanged. Imperialism writ large reflects it. They believe achieving unchallenged dominance requires:

  • significant defense spending increases;
  • replacing independent governments with subservient pro-Western ones;

and

  • “accept(ing) responsibility for American’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.”

America’s war on humanity rages. Freedom is vanishing in plain sight. So is social justice.

Enemies are invented. They’re needed to perpetuate conflict. Dominance involves controlling world markets, resources and cheap labor.

It means perpetual war against peace, stability and security. It’s about plundering the world for profit. It’s about making it unfit to live in.

Syria reflects what can happen anywhere. It’s population numbers around 22.5 million. An estimated nine million are internally or externally displaced.

Misery defines their status. Obama bears full responsibility. He’s a war criminal multiple times over. He wants Syrian sovereignty destroyed.

He wants war, not peace. Waging one after another lets US war profiteers gorge at the public trough.

Plunder assures obscene profits. Business is better than ever. America’s permanent war policy assures it.

Military spending is hugely wasteful. A previous article discussed a black hole of Pentagon unaccountability. Trillions of dollars are wasted.

Massive waste, fraud and abuse reflects official policy. Enormous grand theft persists. Sweetheart deals, bribes, kickbacks and over-billing are commonplace.
Was isn’t hell. It’s a bonanza. It’s hugely profitable. Why else would so many conflicts be waged?

Blank check corruption sacrifices peace, equity and justice. Out-of-control warmaking persists. Don’t bet on Geneva II changing things.

So far, five permanent Security Council members, Arab League countries, EU representation, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and 26 other nations will participate in Geneva.

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement said:

“(T)he overwhelming majority of countries is aware that there is no alternative to political and diplomatic means in settling the Syrian crisis, what Russia has been insisting on from the very beginning.”

“(T)he political process should contribute to consolidation of efforts of all Syrians in the war on terrorism.”

The ministry stressed the importance of

“finalizing a representative composition of external delegates and inviting influential regional players to secure a lasting settlement in Syria and to fulfill future solutions of the conference.”

“Russia and the United Nations believe that Iran should be added to (the participant) list.”

Washington blocked Iran’s participation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded, saying:

“There are signs of the positive impact Iran could have on the (conflict) settling process.”

“Almost everybody talks about it in private conversations, and some officials have started speaking publicly in favor of Iran taking part in the conference.”

“(T)hose who oppose the participation of Iran do this coming from ideological considerations rather than common interests.”

UN/Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi downplayed US obstructionism, saying:

“Our partners in the United States are still not convinced that Iran’s participation would be the right thing to do.”

“We have agreed that we will be talking a little bit more to see if we can come to an agreement on this question.”

“On Iran, we haven’t agreed yet. But it is no secret that we in the United Nations welcome (its) participation…”

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will represent Washington. Her presence isn’t encouraging.

She’s no honest broker. She’s no peacemaker. She represents Washington’s imperial agenda. She’s militantly anti-Assad.

In congressional testimony on Iran, she lied to Senate Foreign Relations Committee members. She shamelessly accused Tehran of deception.

“We know (it’s) part of (Iran’s) DNA,” she said. If she said this about virtually any US ally, she’d be fired. She argued against Iran’s legitimate uranium enrichment right.

She wrongfully blames Assad for Obama’s war. She disgracefully accused him of atrocities committed by US backed death squads.

Deputy Foreign Ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov will represent Russia.

“Iran’s participation is important from the viewpoint of future implementation of the agreements that may be reached during direct inter-Syrian dialogue,” Gatilov stressed.

Syrian opposition elements willing to attend haven’t decided who’ll represent them.

“There have lately been signals from some (Syrian) opposition members on the desirability of shifting the time of the conference,” said Gatilov.

“This is related primarily to the opposition’s unpreparedness to announce the composition of its delegation by” the agreed on December 27 date.

“The key point is that the opposition should announce the composition of its delegation. Without resolving this issue, it is hard to expect that the conference will take place,” he added.

So-called Free Syrian Army commander general Salim Idris said FSA will attend. He doesn’t represent dominant radicalized forces. They’re waging holy war on Syria.

Al Nusra leader Abu Mohammad al Jolani rejects peace talks. He won’t recognize whatever Geneva decides.

It’s “an attempt to resuscitate the regime,” he said. Nations attending “do not represent the people who sacrificed with their blood.”

They’re “accomplices in selling out the blood that has been shed. We cannot allow the Geneva II game to fool the nation, to push us back 50 or 100 years.”

Syrians face bleak future prospects. Obama bears full responsibility. In his weekly national address, he ignored them.

He thumbed his nose at Americans. Most households struggle to get by. They’re one lost paycheck away from homelessness and hunger. Times are tougher than ever for growing millions.


Obama lied about economic growth prospects, “expanding opportunity, (and) building an America that offers everyone who works hard the chance to get ahead, and every child a fair shot at success.”

He expressed confidence about “more progress together in the year to come.”
“Have a great weekend and a very Merry Christmas,” he added.

Poverty, unemployment, underemployment, hunger and homelessness assure misery for millions of Americans.

Syrians struggle daily to survive. Prospects going forward continue grim. War without end persists.

Peace is nowhere in sight. It remains a distant hope. Maybe someday. Not now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago.
He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour
http://www.dailycensored.com/making-war-peace-syria/
http://www.dailycensored.com/making-war-peace-syria/

Syria Précis

Truth as an Issue

by Thierry Meyssan

One of the challenges of preparing for the Geneva conference is to write the history of Syria. The NATO powers and the Gulf Cooperation Council are trying to impose their version of events which would give them a clear advantage at the negotiating table. Hence a sudden avalanche of articles and summary reports in the Western and the Gulf press.

The West and the GCC assert that the Syrian crisis is in line with the “Arab Spring .” According to this view, the “Bashar regime” would have bloodily suppressed the democratic aspirations of its people. NATO and the GCC would have then intervened to protect the civilian population.

The reality is quite different: the United States planned the destruction of Syria at a meeting on September 15, 2001, at Camp David. They began to prepare this by adopting the Syria Accountibility Act on December 12, 2003. They tried to plunge Syria into war first by causing the adoption of Resolution 1559 by the Security Council, then killing the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri and accusing President al-Assad of ordering the assasination. This scenario having failed, they subcontracted the war to the United Kingdom and France who prepared themselves via the Treaty of Lancaster on November 2, 2010. The signal for the commencement of operations was given by the United States from Cairo in early February 2011.

February 2011 – July 2012: the fourth generation war

From that date, and for 15 months, NATO and the GCC launched a fourth generation war, based entirely on their domination of the mass media. They convinced the world, including the Syrians, that the whole country had risen, though the most important events did not exceed 5,000 people. Thanks to snipers and commandos, they staged a bloody crackdown. However, in March-April 2012, after the fall of the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr, Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated the withdrawal of France, while in May, the Syrians began to doubt Al-Jazeera’s reports and in June, Washington accepted its defeat at the Geneva Conference.

During this period , the combatants were either Syrian Takfirist (including 3000 captured in Baba Amr) or foreign professionals, particularly the Libyan members of al- Qaeda controlled by Abdelhakim Belhaj. Together, they formed the Free Syrian Army, flanked by British and French officers, with the logistical support of Turkey.

July 2012 – August 2013: War, Nicaragua Style

François Hollande ’s election as French president and the appointment of Laurent Fabius as Zionist Ministry of Foreign Affairs relaunched the war. Relying on CIA General David Petraeus and the expertise of Ambassador Robert S. Ford (former assistant to John Negroponte), France signalled a new war, this time Nicaragua style, by gathering the “Friends of Syria” in Paris on July 6th, 2012. Two weeks later, a mega-attack decapitated the army by assasinating members of the National Security Council. Immediately, 40,000 foreign jihadists, supported by a few thousand Syrians and supervised by French and British officers, began the assault on Damascus. This was the moment of truth. The Syrians, hitherto very passive, helped their army to defend the capital and repel the invaders. There followed a year of cruel and bloody war that killed more than 100,000 martyrs.

During this period, the United States stood back , leaving their allies to do the work on site. At most, they tried to influence Qatar and Saudi Arabia to limit the weight of jihadists and promote secular mercenaries. Recruitment centers were opened in Tunisia and Afghanistan. Airlifts were organized from Libya and Yemen to deliver tens of thousands of jihadists who came to die in Syria. As in Nicaragua, they found Syrians to support them, but ultimately they served to control the “liberated zones” rather than to fight the regular army face to face.

From August, 2013 to today: the failure of NATO

Noting their new failure, the NATO and GCC powers tried to ignore the Russian and Chinese vetoes in the Security Council. By organizing a crime to which they would attribute a huge symbolic significance, they would justify international intervention to protect civilians so they could finish by bombing the country as they did in Libya.

The chemical attack on ghoutta , August 21, 2013, was organized by NATO. The weapons were transported from a Turkish army barracks to Damascus and the usual media war was mobilized to make this episode more serious than any other event.

But the unexpected deployment of the Russian fleet off the Mediterranean coast would have forced the Pentagon to attack from the Red Sea, flying over Jordan and Saudi Arabia, that is to say, plunging their allies into the war. Washington, having given up on entering a regional conflict, U.S. diplomacy has since sought to prepare for the Geneva 2 conference.

Geneva 2

The Geneva 2 Conference, which will probably be held in late January, 2014, will put an end to three years of war. Depending on the version we retain of events, Syria will have experienced a civil war or will have been victorious against foreign aggression.

Thierry Meyssan
Translation
Roger Lagassé
Source
Al-Watan (Syria)

GENEVA II: TRUTH AS AN ISSUE

Posted on November 21, 2013 by Alexandra Valiente
What has been happening in Syria for the past three years? According to NATO and GCC media reports, the “regime” has shed blood to suppress a democratic revolution. However this version is contradicted by the current support for the government estimated at, according to sources, between 60 and 90 % of the population. The truth is quite different: NATO and the GCC have successively lost a war of succession and a fourth generation Nicaraguan-type war. It is they, and they alone, who organized and financed the death of 120,000 Syrians.
One of the challenges of preparing for the Geneva conference is to write the history of Syria. The NATO powers and the Gulf Cooperation Council are trying to impose their version of events which would give them a clear advantage at the negotiating table. Hence a sudden avalanche of articles and summary reports in the Western and the Gulf press.
The West and the GCC assert that the Syrian crisis is in line with the “Arab Spring .” According to this view, the “Bashar regime” would have bloodily suppressed the democratic aspirations of its people. NATO and the GCC would have then intervened to protect the civilian population.
The reality is quite different: the United States planned the destruction of Syria at a meeting on September 15, 2001, at Camp David. They began to prepare this by adopting the Syria Accountibility Act on December 12, 2003. They tried to plunge Syria into war first by causing the adoption of Resolution 1559 by the Security Council, then killing the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri and accusing President al-Assad of ordering the assasination. This scenario having failed, they subcontracted the war to the United Kingdom and France who prepared themselves via the Treaty of Lancaster on November 2, 2010. The signal for the commencement of operations was given by the United States from Cairo in early February 2011.

February 2011 – July 2012: the fourth generation war

From that date, and for 15 months, NATO and the GCC launched a fourth generation war, based entirely on their domination of the mass media. They convinced the world, including the Syrians, that the whole country had risen, though the most important events did not exceed 5,000 people. Thanks to snipers and commandos, they staged a bloody crackdown. However, in March-April 2012, after the fall of the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr, Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated the withdrawal of France, while in May, the Syrians began to doubt Al-Jazeera’s reports and in June, Washington accepted its defeat at the Geneva Conference.
During this period , the combatants were either Syrian Takfirist (including 3000 captured in Baba Amr) or foreign professionals, particularly the Libyan members of al- Qaeda controlled by Abdelhakim Belhaj. Together, they formed the Free Syrian Army, flanked by British and French officers, with the logistical support of Turkey.

July 2012 – August 2013: War, Nicaragua Style

François Hollande ’s election as French president and the appointment of Laurent Fabius as Zionist Ministry of Foreign Affairs relaunched the war. Relying on CIA General David Petraeus and the expertise of Ambassador Robert S. Ford (former assistant to John Negroponte), France signalled a new war, this time Nicaragua style, by gathering the “Friends of Syria” in Paris on July 6th, 2012. Two weeks later, a mega-attack decapitated the army by assasinating members of the National Security Council. Immediately, 40,000 foreign jihadists, supported by a few thousand Syrians and supervised by French and British officers, began the assault on Damascus. This was the moment of truth. The Syrians, hitherto very passive, helped their army to defend the capital and repel the invaders. There followed a year of cruel and bloody war that killed more than 100,000 martyrs.
During this period, the United States stood back , leaving their allies to do the work on site. At most, they tried to influence Qatar and Saudi Arabia to limit the weight of jihadists and promote secular mercenaries. Recruitment centers were opened in Tunisia and Afghanistan. Airlifts were organized from Libya and Yemen to deliver tens of thousands of jihadists who came to die in Syria. As in Nicaragua, they found Syrians to support them, but ultimately they served to control the “liberated zones” rather than to fight the regular army face to face.

From August, 2013 to today: the failure of NATO

Noting their new failure, the NATO and GCC powers tried to ignore the Russian and Chinese vetoes in the Security Council. By organizing a crime to which they would attribute a huge symbolic significance, they would justify international intervention to protect civilians so they could finish by bombing the country as they did in Libya.
The chemical attack on ghoutta , August 21, 2013, was organized by NATO. The weapons were transported from a Turkish army barracks to Damascus and the usual media war was mobilized to make this episode more serious than any other event.
But the unexpected deployment of the Russian fleet off the Mediterranean coast would have forced the Pentagon to attack from the Red Sea, flying over Jordan and Saudi Arabia, that is to say, plunging their allies into the war. Washington, having given up on entering a regional conflict, U.S. diplomacy has since sought to prepare for the Geneva 2 conference.

Geneva 2

The Geneva 2 Conference, which will probably be held in late January, 2014, will put an end to three years of war. Depending on the version we retain of events, Syria will have experienced a civil war or will have been victorious against foreign aggression.
Translation
Roger Lagassé

MAKRAM KHOURY-MACHOOL TELLS THE TRUTH

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2013 AT 12:43AM GILAD ATZMON

Listen to this brave intellctual spreading truth!!!

THE REAL AGENDA:

SYRIA, MALI and DRC

TERRORISM OR RESOURCE WARS?

Speakers:

Lord Frank Judd, Former Minister for Int. Development

Dr Makram Khoury-Machool, Cambridge, UK

Prof. Jeremy Keenan, Author, (SOAS)

Kate Downey, Campaign Group DRC

Vijay Mehta, Chair, Uniting for Peace

Date: Thursday, 7th November, 2013 

Time- 18:00 – 20:30

Venue: The House of Lords


Dr Makram Khoury-Machool’s speech:

My Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen… Good evening…

Mr Chairman (Vijay Mehta), thank you for organizing this event and for inviting me to talk about Syria.

My argument is that: 

In order for the global ruling class in the US, France, UK and their regional allies in the Middle East (in particular Saudi Arabia and Qatar) to maintain their economic dominance and generate additional profit from natural resources in the MENA region, they have been perpetrating the holocaust of the 21s Century in Syria against the People of Syria causing in addition a civilisational catastrophe.

Theoretical framework:

Since Aristotle (384-322 BC), the subject of ethics or ethical behaviour have been chiefly concerned with the human aim of having virtue (Greek aretē) of character (ēthos), having excellent and well-chosen habits… that aim at living well and aspiring for human flourishing.

However, the Italian Philosopher-Politician Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) cautioned us when he said that: ‘politics have no relation to morals.

In his book the Leviathan (1651), the great English social-political theorist Thomas Hobbes postulates WHAT life would be like without government, a condition, which he calls the state of nature.

In that state, each person would have a right, or license, to everything in the world. This, Hobbes, argues, would lead to:

Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes –  a “war of all against all” .

My observation leads me to assume that this is what has been happening in Syria in the last three or so years.

Convening the Geneva II conference, is amongst other reasons, an attempt to portray the super and regional powers as having a ‘social and political contract’, thereby allowing ruling economic classes to falsely declare that:
we are not as greedy and criminal as we are portrayed…

My Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen,

World oil production is headed by Saudi Arabia, with Russia second, the USA third, Iran fourth and China fifth.

In terms of oil reserves, we find that amongst the top ten states are:

Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, UAE and Libya.

Russia is the largest gas producer in the world, with Europe dependent on its gas sourcing.

In world gas production, if, because of their geographical distance, we exclude the USA and Canada, Iran comes second and Qatar third.

In terms of gas reserves, Russia is number one, with Iran and Qatar in fourth place and Saudi Arabia in sixth. With neighbouring Saudi Arabia as one of the ten leading producers of gas in the world, it is clear why the export interests of Qatar and Saudi Arabia are particularly important.
Ranking should give us a clear idea of the alliances that have formed as a result of the Syrian crisis.

Qatar’s pursuit of marketing contracts for Libyan gas and oil supplies, explains its agreement with NATO to attack Libya, its symbolic participation in the air strikes and its support for the rebels to establish a media capability.

Qatar’s aim is to export its gas to Europe, compete with the Russians and gain important political bargaining chips. In order for the export of Qatari gas to Europe to be feasible and competitive, a gas pipe must be laid through Syria.
As Russia’s long-standing ally and with the precedents of numerous joint deals dating back to the USSR era, Syria is unlikely to allow anything to threaten the destabilization of Russia’s interests in their last strategic stronghold in the Arab world.

This is the main reason why Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supporting the opposition’s struggle to topple the Syrian government.

The Operation: How are they doing this?

[Militarily] we have the Anglo-French-American triangle backed by regional NATO allies such as Turkey and Israel and other unlimited cash flow providers such as KSA and Qatar who installed mercenaries in v[e]rious parts of the Syrian Republic.

With a clear division of labour between Western governments, united with Gulf DES-PETROLS (my coinage: Despots with Petrol money), all of the above have been united in the conduct of a bloody currency for future revenue from natural resources and on the way they are forcing a holocaust on Syria.

The international patrons (USA&UK&FR) facilitating their objectives with the petro-dollar despots who employ  ‘Oppo-Mercenaries’
(My coinage, Opposition and mercenaries)… have created on the way one of the worst armed Fascist groups, which are a combination of a Wahabi-salafi terrorists supported by a Zionist and apparently Christian alliance.

One asks, what is the modality that they are adopting?

They have set an agenda to control the natural resources of this rectangle: FROM — >> Mauritania in Western Africa to Somalia in Eastern Africa = Sudan in the South and =Syria to the north. This is the immediate rectangle OF OPERATIONS.

To look and sound apparently ‘reasonable’ and  ‘civil’, some Western politicians or indeed their advisers produce discourse of panic or rhetoric of FALSE ‘MORAL JUSTIFICATION’ (Depending on the concept of the mini campaign).

To create submissive nations, they use the media in v[e]arious languages and particularly in Arabic to disseminate and manage the minds, according to a master plan of propaganda, manipulation and media fabrication.

To fully dominate the region, they use GRAND TERROR managed (they call it military or security units) by some western governments in order to suppress any pockets of local dissent to what might endanger their master plan.

The result of this is that we have:

Millions of SYRIAN refugees, hundreds of thousands of victims and another hundreds of thousands of injured and disabled people; in addition to hundred of thousands of orphans, widows and bereaved traumatized families.

Truly, some of the terrorist actions is indiscriminate and against every human or physical body or archeological site (and one should not single out so easily any group) however, the evidence suggests that other acts of terror are in the form of targeted kidnappings, rapes, dispossessions, displacements and assassinations of Christians so that they drive them out of the country and only to fulfill Israel’s dream of a Jewish-Muslim conflict whereby the Muslims are demonized, defeated and their resources confiscated and managed by the apparently civilized, responsible, moral Western Capitalist .
Finally, we should all unite in order to save the Syrian people,  Syria’s  sovereignty and civilsation, exerting our utmost efforts to bring together all eligible and patriotic factions round the table in order to start talks which would lead to a dialogue and national reconciliation without delay.

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