Russia Showcases Operations Of Its Combat Drones In Syria. Time To Push Idlib?

South Front

Russia released a video showing its Orion combat drone carrying out strikes on targets in Syria. This marked the very first time such footage was being released. It shows the drone’s operation, lock-on and launching of a payload on a militant target. The Orion is a long-flight duration attack-reconnaissance UAV, that can also carry out airstrikes. According to the report, this type of UAV has carried out 38 sorties, including 17 strike missions.

Meanwhile, a new electronic surveillance system has been spotted at the Russian-operated Hmeimim Air Base. The Avtobaza-M can determine the parameters of signals and types of radars, track air and seaborne objects by their electronic signature and support higher air defense command and control posts with data.

Despite the ISIS threat in central Syria, the focus of the key players is evidently shifting towards Idlib. The US and its ally-to-be Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) will begin active movements soon.

Russia reported that HTS is preparing to stage a chemical attack, similar to those that led to US missile strikes back in 2018 and earlier. More than once, the US-led coalition carried out strikes on Syrian government forces, in punishment of alleged chemical weapons usage.

This sense of urgency is also felt in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The government forces are opening a civilian corridor to evacuate civilians from Greater Idlib.

This is likely because an offensive is on the way, the SAA is preparing, likely together with Russia and some Iranian support to push on the biggest militant stronghold left in Syria. To prime the location, the SAA carried out heavy shelling, killing or injuring at least 5 militants in the process.

This is likely an ideal moment to push for Idlib, because Turkey is focused in Northeastern Syria, and so is the US. The SAA has deployed large amounts of forces in that region, which is out of the way.

It also moved its short-range defense systems to Iraq, which makes it an even more opportune moment for the SAA and Russia to push to push in another direction, and namely Idlib. The following days will show whether this evacuation of civilians is, indeed, a preparation for an offensive.

The ceasefire regime and the demilitarized zone are largely non-functional, despite Russia’s efforts to implement them. Turkey, the other co-signatory, is focused on fighting the Kurdish in the north. Even without that distraction, it seldom paid any attention to adhering to the rules set out in the deal.

The Syrian Arab Army, and its allies, likely need to push before HTS are completely rebranded as “moderate opposition” and their ties to al-Qaeda are forgotten. Additionally, this needs to be happen before ISIS pushes further out from central Syria.

ARRANGING THE MIDDLE EAST NARRATIVE TO PUSH THE AGENDA FORWARD

South Front

The United States is returning to a level of activity in the Middle East unseen in nearly 4 years. This development has become obvious over the weeks since Joe Biden became US President, firstly with a large deployment into Syria, and subsequently with smaller ones.

On February 9th, the Pentagon said that it was no longer in Syria to protect and exploit oil fields.

It is now back to hunting ISIS. Back to the square one of 2014 and the Obama era. ISIS somehow obliged by ramping up their activities throughout Syria.

It is a mystery that they were able to make such a sharp and sudden resurgence. It should also be noted that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces allegedly have about 10,000 ISIS terrorists imprisoned.

This statement of intent denotes a massive shift in posture for the US.  When defending the oil fields the US troops were mostly static, when hunting ISIS they can, once again, roam around and carry out various operations.

It appears likely that Idlib is now also in focus – US combat drones were observed surveying Greater Idlib. Idlib is a mixed bag – it has Turkish troops, Russians, the Syrian Arab Army along with terrorists and the moderate opposition, although confusing these two groups can be forgiven. The newest, future, US ally is there – the soon-to-be-rebranded Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

An indication of expected escalations and attacks are the Russian and Syrian military drills being carried out near Aleppo during effective wartime. Russia, separately, carried out a naval drill near Tartus.

And, as if by design, long-range missiles attempted to strike Russia’s forces at the Hmeimim Air Base. Drones occasionally attempt to infiltrate its airspace, but missiles are a rare sight.

Meanwhile in Western Daraa, the rebel leaders submitted to Damascus, likely fearing the upcoming chaos and wanting to choose a side.

Finally, the Biden administration is also working to secure Israeli support. The State Department said it doesn’t endorse Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but doesn’t oppose it. It also provided a $9bn weapon sale as consolation. Tel Aviv is likely to use these weapons to counter its nemesis – Iran. It does so by targeting alleged Iranian interests in Syria.

Syria remains the lynchpin of US Middle East policy but the US posture in Iraq and Afghanistan has also changed. Withdrawing from the region is now out of the question – ISIS is making a resurgence, and there are other groups targeting American forces and convoys.

In Afghanistan, specifically, if the withdrawal does not move forward, the Taliban are also likely to begin targeting the US again.

The democrats are back in control and back to spreading democracy in the Middle East.

Israel Strikes Syria To Celebrate Whitewashing Of Al-Qaeda In Idlib

South Front

 04.02.2021 

You can read this article in German. LINK

Israel is becoming increasingly assertive in its strikes and raids, allegedly against Iranian positions, on Syrian soil.

This is more than likely owed to the fact that US activity is at a low-point following Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Israel feels threatened by the slim possibility that the Iran Nuclear Deal will be revived. As such it is left to fend for itself and it appears to be doing so quite ferociously.

In the late hours of February 3rd, the Israeli military launched a large-scale attack on southern Syria. The Syrian Arab Army General Command said that that air-to-ground and ground-to-ground missiles were launched in a heavy barrage.

According to local sources the barrage targeted Damascus International Airport, Mezzeh Military Airport, a Syrian Arab Army base near the district of Kiswah, and a series of military sites in Daraa and al-Quneitra.

The Syrian military says that some of the missiles were intercepted, others caused only material damage.

Israel’s primary targets in the region are Iranian positions, or those of pro-Iranian groups and proxies. This includes Hezbollah targets, to limit the efforts of its Lebanese neighbor.

It is plain to notice what has changed in the most recent attack – it was launched from Israeli soil. In usual practice, the Israeli air force encroaches on Lebanese airspace to carry out its raids.

On February 3rd, however, an Israeli drone was targeted by a Hezbollah anti-aircraft missile. This is a rare occurrence, even if it only targets a drone. It means that the airspace encroachment is becoming more dangerous.

This is a testament to Hezbollah’s increasing capability in limiting Israel’s freedom of action.

The increasing Israeli activity in both frequency and scale, are providing a window of opportunity to ISIS terrorists throughout Syria, and predominantly in Homs and Deir Ezzor.

In the early hours of February 3rd, a surprise attack by an ISIS cell resulted in the deaths of at least 12 pro-Syrian government fighters.

There has been an increased intensity of ISIS attacks in recent weeks. It is quite self-evident that this arose amid Israel’s continued attacks on Syrian Army positions and civilian infrastructure under the pretext that they host Iranian forces.

Even if the Syrian Arab Army is preoccupied with defense, its allies in the form of Russia and Iran are picking up the slack.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is set to establish a tribal force in Deir Ezzor. The main aim of this force will be to support the Iranian and pro-Iranian forces in the region and to serve in a style similar to the “ISIS Hunters”. Despite Israel’s “best efforts” Tehran’s influence in Syria is growing, and this is more evidence of that.

A region that has received less attention in recent weeks, due to the general chaos, is Idlib.

Russian warplanes continue pounding the al-Qaeda-linked “moderate opposition” in the area, attempting to put a stop to its adventurism beyond the demilitarized zone. The ceasefire must hold and Moscow attempts to limit militants’ attempts to compromise it.

Meanwhile, the terrorists in Idlib are being whitewashed, and presented anew as “freedom fighters”. PBS Frontline presented the head of Jabhat al-Nusra (currently Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham) as a reformed hero, working towards peace. For years he had a $10 million bounty on his head for leading the world’s No 1 terrorist organization. That appears to be no more, he is now a hero fighting against suppression.

The chaos in the Middle East is growing, amid increasing Israeli activity and renewed attempts to whitewash known terrorists by MSM. Despite Damascus’, Moscow’s and Tehran’s best efforts, the situation has the potential to get much worse, before it gets any better.

الفرصة الذهبيّة لوليد جنبلاط

ناصر قنديل

لم يفاجئ وليد جنبلاط أحداً من اللبنانيين برسمه معادلة جديدة لتخيير حزب الله بين اثنتين، فهو دائم الحركة على هذا الخط ذهاباً وإياباً، ويملك قدرة الاستدارة التي لا ينافسه عليها أحد، ويفسّرها بالتأقلم مع المتغيرات، او بالقفز من المراكب الغارقة، كما وصف انقلابه على سورية عشية الحرب الأميركيّة على العراق، ثم عاد فوصف بالتعبير ذاته نعيَه للحركة التي قادها وأسماها بثورة الأرز، متجاوزاً حساسيته المفرطة ضد الرموز التي تختصر لبنان بعناوين يعتبرها خاصة بالمسيحيين، قبل أن يسارع إلى شرعنة محميّة أرز الباروك مانحاً الأرز صفة العبور بين الطوائف والرمزيّة الجامعة، لكن جنبلاط شديد الانتباه الى أنه تهرّب من استعمال معادلته السابقة التي كان يعرضها على حزب الله بدلاً من معادلة اليوم «الحياد أو قاعدة الصواريخ»، فهو لا يريد لأحد أن ينتبه أنه خلع معادلته السابقة «هانوي أم هونغ كونغ»، لأن فضيحة نموذج هونغ كونغ التي كان من دعاتها وروّادها والمبشّرين بها تتجسّد بصورة مأساويّة في يوميات اللبنانيين الذين سرقت مصارف «هونغ كونغ» ودائعَهم، ونهبت الفوائد المرتفعة لفلسفة هونغ كونغ مقدراتهم تحت شعار تثبيت سعر الليرة، التي صارت اليوم بلا سعر، وطارت معها مداخيل اللبنانيون الذين دعاهم جنبلاط لتجنّب نموذج الإفقار الذي تمثله هانوي ووعدهم إن فعلوا وسمعوا نصيحته بالحصول على نموذج هونغ كونغ، وهو يريد أن ينسحب خلسة من نموذجه المتداعي الذي لم يسقط لأن اللبنانيين خالفوا جنبلاط وساروا وراء نموذج هانوي، واقتصاد المقاومة والتوجّه شرقاً، بل لأن اللبنانيين صدّقوا وصفة جنبلاط بنبوءة هونغ كونغ وسلّموا أمرهم لعرّابيها في المال والسياسة والمصارف، فقرّر التسلل هرباً من الذاكرة، والقفز مجدداً من مركب غارق جديد.

يعود جنبلاط لدعوة الحياد، لأن ليس فيها شبهة هونغ كونغ، متمنياً أن يُصيب اللبنانيين نسيان آخر وفقد ذاكرة ثانٍ ،غير نسيانهم لترويجه لكذبة هونغ كونغ، بأن لا ينتبهوا إلى أنه صاحب معادلة أخرى، بعد الخروج السوري من لبنان وليس قبله، وبعد انقسام 14 و8 آذار وليس قبله، والمعادلة كانت الإصرار ثم الإصرار على صناعة تفاهم وطني مع حزب الله يقوم على حفظ السلاح كمصدر قوة لا بديل عنه في مواجهة خطر العدوان، ويضيف محذراً من دعوات الحياد التي كان يرفعها بعض حلفائه في 14 آذار، ويقول من موقع المختلف مع حزب الله محذراً من خطورة وصفة الحياد، «يحيد لبنان ولاحقاً كما أراكم وكما ترونني يطلب من لبنان مجدداً الالتحاق بحلف مشابه للسابع عشر من أيار»، وجنبلاط يعلم أكثر من سواه أن المناخ العربي الذي يدعو الى التلاقي معه اليوم من موقع دعوته المستجدّة للحياد هو الفلك السائر في مسارات أقل ما ستطلبه من لبنان هو نموذج مشابه لاتفاق 17 أيار.

يعرف جنبلاط أن الحياد كذبة لا تقلّ آثامها عن كذبة هونغ كونغ، والكذبة الجديدة كالقديمة لا تملك أجوبة عن أسئلة اللبنانيين، ماذا عن مصير اللاجئين الفلسطينيين ومشروع التوطين؟ وماذا عن دور لبنان الاقتصادي في ظل التطبيع الخليجي الإسرائيلي، والتفاهمات التي تطال المرافئ والمصارف؟ ولبنان كما وصفه ميشال شيحا مرفأ ومصارف، كما يعلم جنبلاط علم اليقين بأن وصفة الحياد هذه لن تتحقق كما لم تتحقق وصفة هونغ كونغ فلكلتيهما مهمة واحدة هي ذرّ الرماد في عيون اللبنانيين لاستعدائهم على سلاح المقاومة، لكن لا إمكانات واقعية لأصحاب هذه النماذج الوهمية على خلق معادلات تحاصر السلاح، وقد زاد جنبلاط علماً بذلك بعد التطورات التي قالت إنه فقد دور بيضة القبان المستندة الى إمساكه بموقع الجبل الجغرافي في ربط بيروت بالبقاع والبقاع بالجنوب وبيروت بالجنوب، والممسك بخيوط منع أو تمرير الفتنة بين السنة والشيعة، وهذه كلها قد اختبرت وتبخّرت، لذلك قرر ذات يوم ان يخفض سقف طموحاته ويرتضي رسم سياساته على خطوط نقل وتسويق الترابة الى سورية، ولما اصطدم بأن حزب الله لا يتاجر، نام واستيقظ على حملة منظمة قادها ضد مؤسسة القرض الحسن ليقول متوهماً لحزب الله لقد ضبطتك متلبساً بالجرم المشهود، قبل أن يخرج السيد حسن نصرالله، ويطمئنه أن لا مرابحة في مؤسسة القرض الحسن، وبالتالي لا مصلحة للباحثين عن مرابح بالدخول على خطها، وجنبلاط يعلم أيضاً أن الأيام المقبلة حبلى بالكثير من التطورات، وها هم الذين يثق براداراتهم يبشرونه بالانشغال الأميركي عن المواجهة مع إيران وحزب الله، بل من بينهم اليوم كثر هم الذين يحذرونه من أن رفع العقوبات الأميركية عن إيران قد لا يكون بعيداً، كما بشّروه قبل خمسة أعوام بقرب توقيع الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، فلماذا يجازف جنبلاط وهو لاعب على حافة الهاوية محاولاً تقليد نموذجها الأصلي في سورية، وفقاً لوصف هنري كيسنجر للسياسة السورية، لكن جنبلاط عندما يلعبها يفعل من دون مجازفة، فلماذا تغيير العادات السليمة في الزمن الخطأ؟

الناصحون يقولون، إن هذا الأسلوب في التخاطب مع حزب الله لا يُجدي، وإن من يقدم أوراق اعتماده للخليج في زمن تخبط حاكم الخليج في ظل الشعور بوحشة التخلي الأميركي، يصحّ فيه القول «يطعمو الحج والناس راجعة»، ويقول هؤلاء ربما يكون سوق المشتقات النفطية الذي يملك فيه جنبلاط خبرة لا تقلّ عن خبرته في سوق الترابة، هو الفرصة الذهبيّة لجنبلاط، فالعرض الإيراني ببيع لبنان المشتقات النفطية بالليرة اللبنانية لا يزال قائماً، والخشية من العقوبات الأميركية يجب الا تخيف جنبلاط، وهي في طريق الزوال، وربما «تنقش معه» ويستطيع إضافة لتجارة المشتقات في لبنان أن يشرعن بيع المشتقات الى سورية بدلاً من التنديد بالتهريب، فهل يفاوض جنبلاط على الوكالة الحصرية للمشتقات النفطية الإيرانية؟ ولكن هل ينبّهه المستشارون الى انه لا يحتاج في هذه الحالة لرفع السقوف، ويمكن له دقّ الباب ليسمع الجواب؟

البعض يظنّ أن رقصة جنبلاط الأخيرة ليست تجارية بل أمنية، وتتصل بمشاغباته حول التحقيقات في تفجير مرفأ بيروت، وحملته الهوائية التي لم يهتم لها أحد بتوجيه الاتهامات لسورية بالوقوف وراء صفقة النترات الى لبنان، فهل يعلم جنبلاط ما لا يعلمه الآخرون عن أدوار لبنانية متورطة في شراء النترات وتخزينها لحساب الجماعات المسلحة في سورية التي سماها ذات يوم بالممثل الشرعيّ الوحيد للشعب السوري داعياً لشرعنة سيطرة جبهة النصرة على جرود عرسال، متحدثاً عن نصرة لاند اسوة بفتح لاند التي قامت في منطقة العرقوب أواخر الستينيات من القرن الماضي؟ وهل كان طريق النترات هو من نصرة لاند إلى الداخل السوري؟

MYSTERIOUS AIRCRAFT POUND TURKISH OIL SMUGGLERS IN SYRIA. US SUPPLY CONVOYS ARE BLOWN UP IN IRAQ

South Front

The first month of 2021 was marked by a new round of violence in Syria. The situation was especially complicated in Greater Idlib, northern Aleppo and in the central desert.

On January 8, ISIS terrorists launched a large attack on government forces in the eastern countryside of Hama. After a series of clashes with the Syrian Army and pro-government militias, terrorists captured a number of positions near the towns of Rahjan and al-Shakusiyah. As of January 12, ISIS cells retreated from these positions under pressure from the army. Nonetheless, at least 19 government troops and 12 ISIS members were killed in the clashes.

Meanwhile in the eastern countryside of Homs, ISIS cells destroyed a pickup of the al-Quds Brigade, a Palestinian pro-government group, with an improvised explosive device. According to pro-opposition sources, at least 44 pro-government fighters have been killed in the clashes in the desert area since the start of the year. The number of the eliminated terrorists is reportedly over 35.

Sources affiliated with Russia-linked private military contractors claim that the deterioration of the security situation in western Deir Ezzor is a result of the withdrawal of a majority of Russian specialists from the area.

At the same time, Iranian-backed forces continue their work to expand the Imam Ali Base near al-Bukamal. The base, operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is allegedly designed store precision-guided missiles in a network of underground tunnels in the area. The base was repeatedly targeted by Israeli and even US strikes in 2019 and 2020. Despite this, the strikes did not cause any major impact as the base’s military infrastructure has been steadily expanding.

January 9 also became the first day of 2021 when the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out strikes on terrorist targets in Greater Idlib. Strikes hit several hills in outskirts of the town of Kabani, which is known for being stronghold of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Turkistan Islamic Party. A day earlier, forces of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham shelled Syrian Army positions in northern Lattakia injuring several soldiers.

These developments coincided with some strikes by some ‘mysterious aircraft’ that once again bombed Turkish-linked oil smugglers in northern Aleppo. This time the infrastructure of the smugglers was destroyed near the village of Tarhin.

The situation in neighboring Iraq is also not stable. Just on January 9, 3 supply convoys of the US-led coalition became targets of IED attacks in the central and southern regions of the country. These attacks are a logical continuation of the ongoing standoff between the US-Israeli bloc and the Iranian-led Axis of Resistance. Iranian-backed forces in Iraq conduct these attacks as a part of their campaign to force the US to withdraw its forces from the country.

While some expect that a Biden administration would be less interested in an increase of confrontation with Iran, there are no indications that the sides can fully settle their contradictions in any way in the nearest future. Therefore, the entire region will remain a battleground for the warring blocs.

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How West, Central and South Asia are interconnecting

How West, Central and South Asia are interconnecting

January 02, 2021

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted on Asia Times

It’s one of those quintessential journeys that make people dream: Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad by train. Let’s call it ITI.

Soon, in early 2021, ITI will become a reality. But, initially, just as a freight train. The deal was recently sealed at the 10th meeting of the transport and communication ministers of ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) in Istanbul.

ITI’s official name is actually the ECO Container Train. Trial runs started in 2019. The 6,500 km overland journey should now take 11 days – compared to the roughly 45 days across sealanes for trade between Western Europe and Pakistan.

ECO is a very interesting – and strategic – organization, virtually unknown outside of Asia, uniting Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, the five Central Asian “stans”, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan.

Some of these players are also members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); some are part of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU); and almost all of them are partners to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

They have come up with a ECO Vision 2025 that emphasizes connectivity as a springboard to “social and economic development”, privileging trade, transportation, energy and tourism. ECO seeks to de facto integrate West, Central and South Asia plus the Caucasus. For all practical purposes, ECO straddles most of the New Silk Roads developing across a large part of Eurasia.

That pesky Sultan, again

The ITI/ECO Container Train will be yet another layer of connectivity running in parallel to the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, centered on the Caucasus, and as we have seen in a previous Turkey/New Great Game column, a key plank of Ankara’s trade strategy.

Soon, ITI/ECO will also link with the European rail networks via that 76-km long engineering marvel – the undersea Marmaray railway tunnel in Istanbul. Of course opportunities abound for branching out to parts of the Middle East. By the end of the decade, ITI/ECO may well go high-speed rail – think Chinese investment.

The fascinating counterpoint to the Marmaray undersea tunnel is the Trans-Caspian: the actual connection between the BTK in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

As you can see here , the strategically designed layout of the ports allows instant roll on-roll off from the cargo trains to huge freight ferries.

Iran, for instance, is building a roll on-roll off shipping port in Bandar-e Anzalī on the Caspian Sea – which will be used to export merchandise but also oil and gas transiting via Russia or Kazakhstan, both Caspian nations, and thus bypassing any further blockade imposed by the US.

The interlink of ITI/ECO with BTK will solidify yet another important East-West trade corridor. Apart from the northern corridors linking with the Trans-Siberian, every East-West trade corridor across Eurasia goes through Turkey. That gives President Erdogan a wealth of options – as Beijing knows too well. The Xian-Istanbul corridor is as important as the Xian-Kazakhstan-Russia corridor.

Our previous Turkey/New Great Game column provoked serious debate in Istanbul. Political analyst Ceyda Karan remarked Erdogan “has only one card: Turkish geopolitics. He doesn’t care how many soldiers will die in Libya or Syria. He doesn’t care about the Turkish people”.

Esteemed Professor Korkut Boratav, now a nonagenarian eminence in macroeconomics, wondered how I could “ascribe those important roles to our chief”, referencing Erdogan.

Well, it’s all about playing geoeconomics. Erdogan certainly has leveraged his Rolodex across Eurasia, in terms of foreign policy, going no holds barred in the manipulation of all sorts of proxy gangs practicing all manner of extremisms. But ultimately what The Sultan really needs is trade and foreign investment in his battered economy.

So trade connectivity is essential. But the problem always remains his own strategy. Supporting, feeding and weaponizing an army of ISIS/Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Uighur/Caucasian jihadi proxies is not exactly a sound business strategy.

Erdogan seems to be everywhere – Libya, Azerbaijan, the Turkish-northwest Syrian border. Strategists in Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Islamabad of course are asking questions: what for, exactly?

There’s no realistic geoeconomic scenario for him to bypass Russia. He may use Azerbaijan as a sort of de luxe messenger between Turkey and Israel – and perhaps, subsequently, profit from Israel’s courtship of Persian Gulf monarchies. After all, as far as allies in the Arab world are concerned, the only player he can really count on is Qatar. Follow the money: Doha by itself won’t finance an economic boom in Turkey.

Let a million trade corridors bloom

Silly rumors about the demise of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are greatly exaggerated – considering they are a sub-section of American propaganda. CPEC is a complex, very long-term project whose implementation, according to the Chinese timetable, has not even started.

What Islamabad must be aware of is how much sexier, in comparison, is Tehran, when seen with Beijing’s eyes. Pakistan counts mostly on Imran Khan’s efforts. Iran has a wealth of oil, gas, gold and an array of crucial minerals. As India famously shot itself in the back – once again – by de facto abdicating from investing in Chabahar port in Iran, China stepped in. The $400 billion China-Iran deal is way more comprehensive than CPEC, at roughly $64 billion.

Back on the road, the good news is Iran-Pakistan seem to be focused on increasing connectivity. It boggles the mind that until recently there was only one crossing along their 900 km border. Finally they decided to open two more border gateways.

This is hugely important, because the first gateway is in ultra-sensitive Sistan-Balochistan province – constantly susceptible to Salafi-jihadi infiltrators – and only 70 km away from strategic Gwadar port.

As far as tourism goes – what the Chinese describe as “people to people exchange” – that’s an extra dimension, because Pakistanis can now easily cross the border, reach Chabahar, and then go by train to Iran’s holy sites Najaf and Karbala.

Finally, there’s the all-important Russian factor – which always commands Erdogan’s undivided attention.

Arguably Moscow’s top strategic priority is to decouple the EU from any US/NATO-imposed Dr. Strangelove impulses. So a EU trade alliance with Beijing – now in progress, via their investment treaty – cannot but be a win-win, as it spells out closer European integration with the Eurasian century, driven by China but with Russia, crucially, positioned as the premier security provider.

And as President Putin once again made it clear in his year end’s vows, BRI and the EAEU are increasingly merging.

Quite a few readers have noted that Russia has now achieved the tripartite capacity that Kissinger once declared essential for US strategic leadership: mastery of weapons exports; control of energy flows; and agriculture exports. Not to mention diplomatic finesse – widely respected all across Eurasia and the Global South.

Meanwhile, Eurasia goes with the flow: let a million trade corridors – Trans-Siberian, BTK, ITI/ECO – bloom.

Turkey pivots to the center of The New Great Game

Turkey pivots to the center of The New Great Game

December 28, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

When it comes to sowing – and profiting – from division, Erdogan’s Turkey is quite the superstar.

Under the delightfully named Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the Trump administration duly slapped sanctions on Ankara for daring to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defence systems. The sanctions focused on Turkey’s defence procurement agency, the SSB.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s response was swift: Ankara won’t back down – and it is in fact mulling how to respond.

The European poodles inevitably had to provide the follow-up. So after the proverbial, interminable debate in Brussels, they settled for “limited” sanctions – adding a further list for a summit in March 2021. Yet these sanctions actually focus on as-yet unidentified individuals involved in offshore drilling in Cyprus and Greece. They have nothing to do with S-400s.

What the EU has come up with is in fact a very ambitious, global human-rights sanctions regime modeled after the US’s Magnitsky Act. That implies travel bans and asset freezes of people unilaterally considered responsible for genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings and crimes against humanity.

Turkey, in this case, is just a guinea pig. The EU always hesitates mightily when it comes to sanctioning a NATO member. What the Eurocrats in Brussels really want is an extra, powerful tool to harass mostly China and Russia.

Our jihadis, sorry, “moderate rebels”

What’s fascinating is that Ankara under Erdogan always seems to be exhibiting a sort of “devil may care” attitude.

Take the seemingly insoluble situation in the Idlib cauldron in northwest Syria. Jabhat al-Nusra – a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria – honchos are now involved in “secret” negotiations with Turkish-backed armed gangs, such as Ahrar al-Sharqiya, right in front of Turkish officials. The objective: to boost the number of jihadis concentrated in certain key areas. The bottom line: a large number of these will come from Jabhat al-Nusra.

So Ankara for all practical purposes remains fully behind hardcore jihadis in northwest Syria – disguised under the “innocent” brand Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Ankara has absolutely no interest in letting these people disappear. Moscow, of course, is fully aware of these shenanigans, but wily Kremlin and Defence Ministry strategists prefer to let it roll for the time being, assuming the Astana process shared by Russia, Iran and Turkey can be somewhat fruitful.

Erdogan, at the same time, masterfully plays the impression that he’s totally involved in pivoting towards Moscow. He’s effusive that “his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin” supports the idea – initially tabled by Azerbaijan – of a regional security platform uniting Russia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Erdogan even said that if Yerevan is part of this mechanism, “a new page may be opened” in so far intractable Turkey-Armenia relations.

It will help, of course, that even under Putin pre-eminence, Erdogan will have a very important seat at the table of this putative security organization.

The Big Picture is even more fascinating – because it lays out various aspects of Putin’s Eurasia balancing strategy, which involves as main players Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.

On the eve of the first anniversary of the assassination of Gen Soleimani, Tehran is far from cowed and “isolated”. For all practical purposes, it is slowly but surely forcing the US out of Iraq. Iran’s diplomatic and military links to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon remain solid.

And with less US troops in Afghanistan, the fact is Iran for the first time since the “axis of evil” era will be less surrounded by the Pentagon. Both Russia and China – the key nodes of Eurasia integration – fully approve it.

Of course the Iranian rial has collapsed against the US dollar, and oil income has fallen from over $100 billion a year to something like $7 billion. But non-oil exports are going well over $30 billion a year.

All is about to change for the better. Iran is building an ultra-strategic pipeline from the eastern part of the Persian Gulf to the port of Jask in the Gulf of Oman – bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, and ready to export up to 1 million barrels of oil a day. China will be the top customer.

President Rouhani said the pipeline will be ready by the summer of 2021, adding that Iran plans to be selling over 2.3 million barrels of oil a day next year – with or without US sanctions alleviated by Biden-Harris.

Watch the Golden Ring

Iran is well linked to Turkey to the west and Central Asia to the east. An extra important element in the chessboard is the entrance of freight trains directly linking Turkey to China via Central Asia -bypassing Russia.

Earlier this month, the first freight train left Istanbul for a 8,693 km, 12-day trip, crossing below the Bosphorus via the brand new Marmary tunnel, inaugurated a year ago, then along the East-West Middle Corridor via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, across Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

In Turkey this is known as the Silk Railway. It was the BTK that reduced freight transport from Turkey to China from one month to only 12 days. The whole route from East Asia to Western Europe can now be travelled in only 18 days. BTK is the key node of the so-called Middle Corridor from Beijing to London and the Iron Silk Road from Kazakhstan to Turkey.

All of the above totally fits the EU’s agenda – especially Germany’s: implementing a strategic trade corridor linking the EU to China, bypassing Russia.

This would eventually lead to one of the key alliances to be consolidated in the Raging Twenties: Berlin-Beijing.

To speed up this putative alliance, the talk in Brussels is that Eurocrats would profit from Turkmen nationalism, pan-Turkism and the recent entente cordiale between Erdogan and Xi when it comes to the Uighurs. But there’s a problem: many a turcophone tribe prefers an alliance with Russia.

Moreover, Russia is inescapable when it comes to other corridors. Take, for instance, a flow of Japanese goods going to Vladivostok and then via the Trans-Siberian to Moscow and onwards to the EU.

The bypass-Russia EU strategy was not exactly a hit in Armenia-Azerbaijan: what we had was a relative Turkey retreat and a de facto Russian victory, with Moscow reinforcing its military position in the Caucasus.

Enter an even more interesting gambit: the Azerbaijan-Pakistan strategic partnership, now on overdrive in trade, defence, energy, science and technology, and agriculture. Islamabad, incidentally, supported Baku on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Both Azerbaijan and Pakistan have very good relations with Turkey: a matter of very complex, interlocking Turk-Persian cultural heritage.

And they may get even closer, with the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INTSC) increasingly connecting not only Islamabad to Baku but also both to Moscow.

Thus the extra dimension of the new security mechanism proposed by Baku uniting Russia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia: all the Top Four here want closer ties with Pakistan.

Analyst Andrew Korybko has neatly dubbed it the “Golden Ring” – a new dimension to Central Eurasian integration featuring Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and the central Asian “stans”. So this all goes way beyond a possible Triple Entente: Berlin-Ankara-Beijing.

What’s certain as it stands is that the all-important Berlin-Moscow relationship is bound to remain as cold as ice. Norwegian analyst Glenn Diesen summed it all up: “The German-Russian partnership for Greater Europe was replaced with the Chinese-Russian partnership for Greater Eurasia”.

What’s also certain is that Erdogan, a master of pivoting, will find ways to simultaneously profit from both Germany and Russia.

Leaked files show how UK govt spent millions exploiting Syrian women in cynical PR offensive

RT

18 Dec, 2020 15:17 

Leaked files show how UK govt spent millions exploiting Syrian women in cynical PR offensive
FILE PHOTO: Women stand as they wait their turn to cast the votes inside a polling station during the parliamentary elections in Douma, in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, Syria July 19, 2020 ©  REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

By Kit Klarenberg, an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. Follow Kit on Twitter @KitKlarenberg

A swath of leaked documents reveals the lengths to which the British government went to paint the Syrian opposition in a flattering light. They also confirm that women unknowingly formed part of this effort.

The leaked UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) documents reveal a variety of covert ways in which London sought to not only propagandize women in Syria, but to exploit them as weapons in a vast information warfare campaign waged at home and abroad.

The papers are among bombshell files released by hacktivist collective Anonymous, which expose a number of cloak-and-dagger actions undertaken by Whitehall against Damascus. Women figured prominently in a number of the plans, which cost the FCO millions of pounds over many years.

‘Outreach initiatives’

The propaganda value of women in conflicts has long-been well understood and cynically exploited by governments.

A leaked US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) memorandum from March 2010 on covert means of increasing flagging support for NATO’s Afghanistan mission noted women in the country “could serve as ideal messengers” in “humanizing” the military occupation, due to their “ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory.”

“Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women…could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the mission,” the document noted. “Media events that feature testimonials by Afghan women would probably be most effective if broadcast on programs that have large and disproportionately female audiences.”

Over a decade later, Afghanistan remains one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman, by some margin.

Roughly a year after that CIA memo was authored, A Gay Girl in Damascus, a blog purportedly written by Syrian-American lesbian Amina Arraf, garnered significant mainstream attention. Widely hailed for her “fearless” and “inspiring” eyewitness reporting, the author was lauded as a symbol of the “progressive” revolution erupting in the country.

In June  2011, Amina’s cousin announced on the blog she (Amina) had been kidnapped by three armed men in the Syrian capital. In response, numerous Facebook pages were set up calling for Amina’s release and ‘liked’ by tens of thousands, #FreeAmina trended widely on Twitter, journalists and rights groups begged Western governments to demand her release, and the US State Department announced it was investigating her disappearance.

Six days later, it was revealed ‘Amina’ was in fact Tom MacMaster, a US citizen residing in Scotland. While corporate news outlets hurriedly rushed to forget all about the hoax they’d so comprehensively fallen for, their appetite for dubious ‘human interest’ stories emanating from the crisis evidently wasn’t diminished.

‘Huge global coverage’

In July 2019, an image of two young Syrian girls trapped in rubble in opposition-occupied Idlib attempting to haul their sister to safety as she dangled off the precipice of a dilapidated building, their father looking on in horror above, spread far and wide on social media.

The photo, snapped by a photographer for Syrian news service SY24, went viral the world over. Unbeknownst to the overwhelming majority of observers, though, SY24 was created and funded by The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), founded by Richard Barrett, a former MI6 counter-terrorism director.

In a file submitted to the FCO, TGSN boasted of how “campaigns” it broadcast via SY24 generated “huge global coverage,” having been seen by “many hundreds of millions of people,” and “attracting comment as far as the UN Security Council.”

SY24 content was produced by a network of ‘stringers’ in Syria that TGSN trained and provided with equipment, including “cameras and video editing software.” The firm drew particular attention to a team of female journalists it had tutored, “who provide about 40 percent of all SY content,” and were part of “a broad ‘network of networks’” enabling TGSN “to drive stories into the mainstream.”

TGSN also established a dedicated centre for training female journalists to produce content for SY24 in Idlib, “accessing stories that male journalists cannot,” which were then shared on social media. It boasted that almost half of SY24’s followers were women, “a remarkably high ratio for Syria-focused platforms.

‘Communications surges’

Carefully cultivating an entirely misleading image of an inclusive, credible ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition was of paramount importance to the FCO – it helped whitewash the barbarous nature of the various ‘rebel’ factions London was backing in the region, while simultaneously engendering support among Western publics for regime change.

In order to engage the “international community” to this end, TGSN, in conjunction with ARK – a shadowy “conflict transformation and stabilization consultancy” headed by veteran FCO operative Alistair Harris – planned“communication surges” around “key dates” such as International Women’s Day.

In a particularly elaborate example of such a “surge,” the pair collaborated on a campaign, ‘Back to School,’ in which young Syrians returned to education while Idlib City Council, opposition commanders, and other elements on the ground concurrently engaged in a “unified” communications blitz, using “shared slogans, hashtags and branding.”

Rebel fighters were sent to “clear roads” and “enable children and teachers to get to schools,” all the while filmed by the pair’s voluminous local journalist network, footage of which was then “disseminated online and on broadcast channels.” Ensuring “female teachers” received sizable coverage in the Western media was a key objective of the campaign.

In many of the leaked files, ARK boasts of the huge network of journalists it trained and funded in Syria, who would cover such PR stunts; their reports in turn fed to the firm’s “well-established contacts” at major news outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, New York Times, and Reuters, “further amplifying their effect.”

‘Thrust by tragedy’

However, other documents make clear ARK well-understood the immense difficulties inherent in promoting the role of women internally and externally during the crisis.

One file on “[incorporating] the role of women in the moderate opposition” notes Syrian women in rebel-occupied areas faced “an almost overwhelming variety of problems,” and “the space for women to participate in public life has contracted significantly as the conflict has progressed.”

As a result, ARK said it was “extremely aware of the risks of promoting women’s participation beyond currently accepted social norms…given the potential to hinder message resonance or result in a backlash against female participation.” It therefore proposed to “subtly reframe the narrative of women…increasing the amount of coverage of their initiatives and opinions as the context allows.”

One such means of “subtle reframing” was Moubader (which translates to “a person who takes initiative”), a media asset comprising a “high-quality hard copy monthly magazine with widespread distribution across opposition-held areas of Syria,” with a website and Facebook page boasting over 200,000 likes as of December 2020.

Moubader was established by ARK in 2015 specifically to achieve “behavioural change” in readers, at Whitehall’s request. “Given the importance of broadcast television as a trusted source” in Syria, ARK also sought FCO funding to develop a Moubader TV programme to “leverage stories and values to maximum effect and reach an even wider audience.”

Documents submitted to the FCO by another psyops contractor, Albany, similarly noted women’s access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity had “been debilitated” during the crisis, with issues such as early marriage, child military recruitment, and “transactional sex” exacerbated. The UN defines the latter as “non-commercial sexual relationships motivated by an implicit assumption that sex will be exchanged for material support or other benefits.”

Still, Albany considered so many Syrian women having been “thrust by tragedy into head of household and breadwinner positions” over the course of the crisis as a golden opportunity to propagandize them and, in turn, their families, while promoting the ‘inclusive’ nature of the opposition, by creating and partnering with female civil society organizations and journalists.

ARK likewise believed women to be a “critical audience” given the number of Syrian households headed by women –“up to 70 percent”– so sought to ensure they were well-represented in all its domestic and international “broadcast products,” as well as on social media.

‘Jihadis You Pay For’

Unsurprisingly, the files make no acknowledgement of the fact this increasingly hostile environment for women in Syria directly resulted from foreign efforts to destabilise and depose its government.

Islamic State, (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and al-Nusra are rightly notorious for their monstrous treatment of women in the areas which they occupied, which included widespread rape, sexual violence and abduction.

However, many armed opposition groups, backed by foreign powers, whether openly Salafist or not, imposed stringent restrictions on women in the areas they occupied, requiring them to wear hijabs and abayas, doling out extreme punishments for failing to comply, imposing discriminatory measures prohibiting them from moving freely, working, attending school, and more.

There are indications FCO contractors were in close quarters with such activities. For instance, in December 2017 BBC Panorama documentary Jihadis You Pay For alleged FCO cash distributed on its behalf by Adam Smith International (ASI) in Syria ended up in the pockets of Free Syrian Police (FSP) officers who’d stood by passively while women were stoned to death.

The program focused on the Access to Justice and Community Security (AJACS) program, under which ASI funded and trained FSP, an unarmed civilian force set up to reestablish law and order in opposition-controlled areas.

In a perverse irony, leaked ASI files relating to the project indicate it, too, sought to exploit women for propaganda purposes, applying a gender policy to AJACS “which [aimed] to encourage female participation in justice and policing,” and boasting of how, of the 1,868 police officers it trained under the scheme, six – 0.32 percent ­­– were female.

Quite some revolution. As Human Rights Watch notes, prior to 2011, women and girls across the country were “largely able to participate in public life, including work and school, and exercise freedom of movement, religion, and conscience.” While the Syrian penal code and laws governing issues such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance, contains provisions discriminatory to women, the country’s constitution guarantees gender equality.

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ALSO ON RT.COM

Russian Forces Blow Up a Terrorists’ Command Cave in Idlib Countryside

  ARABI SOURI

Russian forces engineers blow up a cave used by terrorists in Idlib

Russian forces engineers operating in Syria blew up a cave formerly used as a command center by the ‘Izzat Army’, a NATO-sponsored terrorist group, in the province of Idlib.

The cave in the city of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib countryside was used by the ‘Izzat Army’ as their headquarters, ‘Izzat Army’ is one of the thousands of the Free Syrian Army umbrella of terrorist groups.

A video report by the Russian Military TV Zvezda aired footage showing the cave with long corridors that diverge into separate rooms; the total area of ​​the cave is not less than 1,000 square meters. To build it, they used technology, and all the dirty and hard work, as is customary among the radicals, was performed with the help of slave labor.

The video is also available on BitChute.https://www.bitchute.com/video/sURkgbb4kzJ7/

The terrorist group stuffed the cave with massive quantities of weapons, munition, food and medical supplies, and comfort means for sleeping and other things. The idea was by the terrorists to use this cave for a very long period of time avoiding aerial strikes by the Syrian and Russian air forces before they hastily fled the region when the Syrian armed forces with their allies advanced toward them, just like the terrorists in all other areas with their large numbers fleeing the battlefields when faced with the determined owners of the land, the Syrian Arab Army men and their allies.

Russian engineers blow up a cave used by terrorists in Idlib
The cave was so big an army truck could move easily inside it

It took the engineering units of the SAA and the Russian corps more than a month to clear the cave of all explosives planted in it by the terrorists.

The Syrian Arab Army and allies cleaned Khan Sheikhoun from NATO-sponsored terrorists and from the Turkish army personnel in August last year, 2019. The SAA and its allies were advancing further north to clean the rest of Idlib before halting their military operation after the Turkish madman Erdogan begged the Russian President Putin for a ceasefire and pledged to implement the Astana agreements and withdraw his forces (the Turkish army and Al Qaeda terrorists – Nusra Front ‘HTS’ and others) from the province without showing his people they were defeated by the Syrian forces. Erdogan, the hypocrite anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood he is, of course, is yet to fulfill his pledge to this date despite the withdrawal of some of his forces

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حسان اللقيس ومعركة الجليل

Hezbollah Drones Capture Footage of Zionist Military Command Sites in Galilee, Shebaa Farms: Israelis Concerned about Nightmare Scenario (Videos)
Mission Accomplished: Hezbollah Drone Flew over Galilee, Returned Safely

التعليق السياسي

تعمّد الإعلام الحربي في المقاومة الإسلامية إحياء ذكرى استشهاد القائد المقاوم حسان اللقيس الذي يُعتبر مؤسس سلاح الجو في قوات المقاومة، والمبدع في قيادة وتطوير جهاز الطائرات المسيّرة، عبر تضمين الحلقة الأخيرة من وثائقي التحرير الثاني قسماً خاصاً عن الطائرة المسيَّرة للمقاومة التي حلقت فوق منطقة الجليل أثناء المناورة العسكرية التي أجراها جيش الاحتلال قبل أيام وبثت في الحلقة مشاهد قامت الطائرة المسيّرة بتصويرها لمنطقة قيادة جيش الاحتلال في الجليل بالتفصيل.

القادة الميدانيّون وقادة غرف العمليات في المقاومة وهم يشرحون تفاصيل الإنجازات العسكرية التي أنجزتها المقاومة، والخطط العسكرية التي قاموا بوضعها، كاشفين عن مستوى من التفوّق والرفعة في العلوم العسكرية، لكن الأهم كان ما قالوه عن علاقة حرب التحرير الثاني بالحرب المقبلة في الجليل، وجاء كلام رئيس المجلس التنفيذي في حزب الله السيد هاشم صفي الدين عن هذه الحرب المقبلة رسالة واضحة لكيان الاحتلال عن انتقال حزب الله من مرحلة توازن الردع الى مرحلة اللاتوازن مستعيداً الوضعية التي كان عليها الأمر معكوساً لصالح جيش الاحتلال قبل إنجاز تحرير العام 2000.

قادة جيش الاحتلال لا ينكرون ما قاله قادة المقاومة عن تفوّق المقاومة في مجال قدرة الاشتباك، وفي المعنويات، وبالمقابل بلوغهم مرحلة توازن في قدرة النار مع جيش الاحتلال ما يجعل أي مواجهة مقبلة بين المقاومة والاحتلال محسومة لصالح المقاومة، ولم تكن خافية المكانة التي يحتلها سلاح الجو في الجهوزية المتقدّمة للمقاومة قياساً بأحادية السيطرة على الجو لصالح جيش الاحتلال، وإذا كان ما هو ظاهر من هذا السلاح هو الطائرات المسيّرة فإن قادة الاحتلال يتحدّثون عمّا هو أهم.

أسرار التحرير الثاني - الحلقة التاسعة - المشاة بالمشاة | شبكة برامج قناة  المنار

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The Smearing of Robert Fisk…Now That He Can’t Defend Himself

DECEMBER 3, 2020

Jonathan Cook: the View from Nazareth - www.jonathan-cook.net
Jonathan Cook is a Nazareth- based journalist and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism [ MORE ]

BY JONATHAN COOK

Something remarkable even by the usually dismal standards of the stenographic media blue-tick brigade has been happening in the past few days. Leading journalists in the corporate media have suddenly felt the urgent need not only to criticise the late, much-respected foreign correspondent Robert Fisk, but to pile in against him, using the most outrageous smears imaginable. He is suddenly a fraud, a fabulist, a fantasist, a liar.

What is most ironic is that the journalists doing this are some of the biggest frauds themselves, journalists who have made a career out of deceiving their readers. In fact, many of the crowd attacking Fisk when he can no longer defend himself are precisely the journalists who have the worst record of journalistic malpractice and on some of the biggest issues of our times.

At least I have the courage to criticise them while they are alive. They know dead men can’t sue. It is complete and utter cowardice to attack Fisk when they could have made their comments earlier, to his face. In fact, if they truly believed any of the things they are so keen to tell us now, they had an absolute duty to say them when Fisk was alive rather than allowing the public to be deceived by someone they regarded as a liar and fantasist. They didn’t make public these serious allegations – they didn’t air their concerns about the supposedly fabricated facts in Fisk’s stories – when he was alive because they know he would have made mincemeat of them.

Most preposterous of all is the fact that the actual trigger for this sudden, very belated outpouring of concern about Fisk is a hit-piece written by Oz Katerji. I’m not sure whether I can find the generosity to call Katerji a journalist. Like Elliot Higgins of the US government-funded Bellingcat, he’s more like an attack dog beloved by establishment blue-ticks: he is there to enforce accepted western imperial narratives, disguising his lock-step support for the establishment line as edgy, power-to-the-people radicalism.

Anyone who challenges Katerji’s establishment-serving agenda gets called names – sometimes very rude ones. Fisk is just the latest target of a Katerji hatchet job against any journalist (myself, of course, included) who dares to step outside of the Overton Window. That these “serious” journalists think they can hang their defamation of Fisk on to anything said by Katerji, most especially the thin gruel he produces in his latest article, is truly shameful. If their concerns really relate to journalistic integrity and reliability, Katerji would be the very last person to cite.

Katerji’s prime area of western narrative enforcement is the Middle East – perhaps not surprisingly, as it is the place where there is an awful lot of oil that western states and corporations are desperate to control. But one should not ignore his wide-ranging efforts to boot-lick wherever he is needed on behalf of western establishment narratives.

Here he is desperately trying to breathe life into two fairytales: that the election of the leftwing Evo Morales as Bolivia’s president was fraudulent, and that Morales was forced to resign last year rather than that he was ousted in a CIA-backed military coup. Notably, Katerji was clinging to these discredited story lines as late as last month, long after even the liberal corporate media had abandoned them as no longer tenable.

Katerji was also, of course, an enthusiastic recruit to evidence-free establishment smears that Labour was overrun with antisemitism under the leadership of the leftwing Jeremy Corbyn, the very same anecdotal claims promoted by the entire corporate media.

Not only that, but he even had the gall to argue that he was speaking on behalf of Palestinians in smearing Corbyn, the only leader of a major European party ever to champion their cause. Labour’s new leader Keir Starmer, like most other politicians in the wake of the Corbyn episode, has all but disappeared the Palestinians from the political agenda. Katerji must be delighted – on behalf of Palestinians, of course.

But Katerji’s beef with Fisk derives chiefly from the fact that the Independent’s foreign correspondent broke ranks with the rest of the western press corps over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Katerji is part of what – if we were being more brutally honest about these things – would be called the west’s al-Qaeda lobby. These are a motley crew of journalists and academics using their self-publicised “Arabhood” to justify the intimidation and silencing of anyone not entirely convinced that ordinary Syrians might prefer, however reluctantly, their standard-issue dictator, Bashar al-Assad, over the head-chopping, women-stoning, Saudi-financed jihadists of Islamic State and al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria; or who question whether the western powers ought to be covertly funding and backing these extremists.

Exercise any doubt at all on either of these points and Katerji will lose no time in calling you an “Assadist”, “war crimes denier”, “antisemite”, “9/11 truther” and worse. Then in yet more evidence of a circle jerk, those establishment blue ticks, even ones beloved by much of the left, will cite his smears as proof that you are indeed an Assadist, war crimes denier, and so on.

Here are just a few examples of Katerji engaging with those critical of the imperial western narrative on Syria, so you get the idea:

Back in 2011 and 2012, in what looked like the possible eruption of an Arab Spring in Syria, the arguments of Katerji and co at least had an air of plausibility. But their real agenda – one that accorded with western imperialism rather than an Arab awakening – became much clearer once local protests against Assad were subsumed by an influx of jihadi fighters of the very kind that had been labelled “terrorists” by the western media everywhere else they appeared in the Middle East.

Inevitably, anyone like Fisk who adopted a position of caution or scepticism about whether the majority of Syrians actually wanted a return to some kind of Islamic Dark Age incurred the wrath of Katerji and his cohorts.

But Fisk infuriated these western al-Nusra lobbyists even further when he visited the town of Douma in 2018 and raised serious questions about claims made by the jihadists who had been ruling the town that, just before Assad’s forces drove them out, the Syrian military had bombed it with chemical gas, killing many civilians. The story, which at that stage was based exclusively on the claims of these head-chopping jihadists, was instantly reported as verified fact by the credulous western media.

Based solely on claims made by the al-Qaeda franchise in Douma, President Donald Trump hurriedly fired off missiles at Syria, in flagrant violation of international law and to cheers from the western media.

Fisk, of course, knew that in discrediting the evidence-free narrative being promoted by the western press corps (who had never been in Douma) he was doing himself no favours at all. They would resent him all the more. Most of his peers preferred to ignore his revelations, even though they were earth-shattering in their implications. But once the official watchdog body the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued its report into Douma many months later, implicitly backing the jihadists’ version of events, Fisk’s earlier coverage was snidely dismissed by fellow journalists.

Sadly for them, however, the story did not end there. Following publication of the OPCW’s Douma report, a number of its senior experts started coming forward as whistleblowers to say that, under pressure from the US, the OPCW bureaucracy tampered with their research and misrepresented their findings in the final report. The evidence they had found indicated that Assad had not carried out a chemical attack in Douma. More likely the jihadists, who were about to be expelled by Assad’s forces, had staged the scene to make it look like a chemical attack and draw the US deeper into Syria.

Of course, just as the corporate media ignored Fisk’s original reporting from Douma that would have made their own accounts sound like journalistic malpractice, they resolutely ignored the whistleblowers too. You can scour the corporate media and you will be lucky to find even an allusion to the months-long row over the OPCW report, which gained enough real-world prominence to erupt into a major row at the United Nations, including denunciations of the OPCW’s behaviour from the organisation’s former head, Jose Bustani.

This is the way frauds like Katerji are able to ply their own misinformation. They sound credible only because the counter-evidence that would show they are writing nonsense is entirely absent from the mainstream. Only those active on social media and open-minded enough to listen to voices not employed by a major corporate platform (with, in this case, the notable exception of Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail) are able to find any of this counter-information. It is as if we are living in parallel universes.

The reason why Fisk was so cherished by readers, and why there was a real sense of loss when he died a month ago, was that he was one of the very few journalists who belonged to the mainstream but reported as though he were not beholden to the agenda of his corporate platform.

There were specific reasons for that. Like a handful of others – John Pilger, Seymour Hersh, Chris Hedges among them – Fisk made his name in the corporate media at a time when it reluctantly indulged the odd maverick foreign correspondent because they had a habit of exposing war crimes everyone else missed, exclusives that then garnered their publications prestigious journalism awards. Ownership of the media was then far less concentrated, so there was a greater commercial incentive for risk-taking and breaking stories. And these journalists emerged in a period when power was briefly more contested, with the labour movement trying to assert its muscle in the post-war decades, and before western societies were forced by the corporate elite to submit to neoliberal orthodoxy on all matters.

Notably, Pilger, Hersh and Hedges all found themselves struggling to keep a place in the corporate media. Fisk alone managed to cling on. That was more by luck. After being forced out of Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspaper for breaking a disturbing story in 1989 on the US shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane, he found a new home at Britain’s Independent newspaper, which had been recently founded. As a late-comer to the British media scene, the paper struggled not only to make money but to create a distinctive identity or gain any real visibility. Fisk survived, it seems, because he quickly established himself as one of the very few reasons to buy the paper. He was a rare example of a journalist who was bigger than the outlet he served.

Readers trusted him because he not only refused to submit to his peers’ herd-think but endlessly called them out as journalistically and intellectually lazy.

Those now trying to tarnish his good name are actually inverting the truth. They want to suggest that support for Fisk was cultish and he was hero-worshipped by those incapable of thinking critically. They will say as much about this piece. So let me point out that I am not without my own criticisms of Fisk. I wrote, for example, an article criticising some unsubstantiated claims he made during Israel’s massive bombardment of Lebanon in 2006.

But my criticism was precisely the opposite of the blue-tick crowd now traducing him. I questioned Fisk for striving to find an implausible middle ground with those establishment blue ticks (before we knew what blue ticks were) by hedging his bets about who was responsible for the destruction of Lebanon. It was a rare, if understandable, example of journalistic timidity from Fisk – a desire to maintain credibility with his peers, and a reluctance to follow through on where the evidence appeared to lead. Maybe this was a run-in with the pro-Israel crowd and the corporate journalists who echo them that, on this occasion, he did not think worth fighting.

The discomfort Fisk aroused in his peers was all too obvious to anyone working in the corporate media, even in its liberal outlets, as I was during the 1990s. I never heard a good word said about Fisk at the Guardian or the Observer. His death has allowed an outpouring of resentment towards him that built up over decades from journalists jealous of the fact that no readers will mourn or remember their own passing.

Fisk’s journalism spoke up for the downtrodden and spoke directly to the reader rather than, as with his colleagues, pandering to editors in the hope of career advancement. In the immediate wake of his death, his colleagues’ disdain for Fisk was veiled in weaselly language. As Media Lens have noted, the favourite term used to describe him in obituaries, even in his own newspaper, was “controversial”.

“It turns out that the term ‘controversial’ is only applied in corporate media to political writers and leaders deemed ‘controversial’ by elite interests.

“This was unwittingly made clear by the big brains at the BBC who noted that Fisk ‘drew controversy for his sharp criticism of the US and Israel, and of Western foreign policy’. If Fisk had drawn ‘controversy’ from China, Iran or North Korea, the ‘weasel word’ would not have appeared in the Beeb’s analysis…

“In corporate media newspeak, ‘controversial’ can actually be translated as ‘offensive to power’. The term is intended as a scare word to warn readers that the labelled person is ‘dodgy’, ‘suspect’: ‘Handle with care!’ The journalist is also signalling to his or her editors and other colleagues: ‘I’m not one of “them”!’”

The journalists who now claim Fisk was a fraud and fantasist are many of those who happily worked for papers that readily promoted the gravest lies imaginable to rationalise an illegal attack on Iraq in 2003 and its subsequent occupation. Those publications eagerly supported lies supplied by the US and British governments that Iraq had WMD and that its leader, Saddam Hussein, was colluding with al-Qaeda – claims that were easily disprovable at the time.

Journalists now attacking Fisk include ones, like the Guardian’s Jessica Elgot, who have been at the forefront of advancing the evidence-free antisemitism smears against Corbyn. Or, like the Guardian’s Hannah Jane Parkinson, have engaged in another favourite corporate journalist pastime, ridiculing the plight of Julian Assange, a fellow journalist who puts their craven stenography to shame and who is facing a lifetime in a US super-max jail for revealing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even the Guardian’s Jason Burke, who claims to have experienced Fisk’s lying first-hand while working for the Observer newspaper in 2001 (as was I at that time), has been unable to come up with the goods when challenged, as the pitiable Twitter thread retweeted here confirms:

Noticeably, there is a pattern to the claims of those now maligning Fisk: they hurry to tell us that he was an inspiration in their student days. They presumably think that mentioning this will suggest their disillusionment was hard-earned and therefore make it sound more plausible. But actually it suggests something different.

It indicates instead that in their youthful idealism they aspired to become a journalist who would dig out the truth, who would monitor centres of power, who would comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. To do, in fact, exactly what Fisk did.

But once they got a footing on the corporate career ladder, they slowly learnt that they would need to adopt a more “nuanced” approach to journalism – certainly if they hoped to progress up that ladder, earning the right to their blue tick, and gaining a big enough salary to cover the mortgage in London or New York.

In other words, they became everything they despised in their student days. Fisk was the constant reminder of just how much they had sold out. His very existence shamed them for what they were too cowardly to do themselves. And now in death, when he cannot answer back, they are feasting on his corpse like the vultures that they are, until there is nothing left to remind us that, unlike them, Robert Fisk told uncomfortable truths to the very end.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

Syria: The complicated scene

By Abir Bassam

November 24, 2020 – 10:49

It is a dirty war that has been going on in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. Almost nine and a half tragic years have passed. The three countries were subjected to all kinds of terror and brutally destroyed. Actually, what has been going on is a world war! All weapons were used and tested and many countries were involved.

It was a real dirty war, in which the West and the Americans and their allies in the region have used the worst kind of men: a group of collaborators and barbaric terrorists. 

The worst kinds of mercenaries from all over the world were sent to Syria. They practices the ugliest inhumane deeds: they decapitated heads, literally ate hearts, and burned people alive to death. 

These groups were directly led by generals from the U.S., France, and Turkey. This information was supported by different informed resources that reported capturing French, British, and Turkish officers since 2015, in particular, during the invasion of Idlib. The district was invaded by a tenth of thousands of terrorists from Nusra, especially its group Fateh al-Sham which is directly supported and trained by Turkey, and Ahrar al-Sham which was directly supported by the Americans. The invasion was directly led by the Turkish tank battalions and the NATO alliances. 

By December 2015, the northeast of Syria was also invaded by another terrorist group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS]. ISIS was created with the utmost attention of Hilary Clinton, during Barak Obama’s administration. This was revealed by Donald Trump during his election campaign in 2016. ISIS swept over the al-Jazeera region and extended to Palmira through the Syrian Desert and occupied Homos, the biggest Syrian district. It was directly protected by the American extending military bases in northern Syria and the eastern base in al-Tanf. ISIS attacked both the Syrian government forces and the opposition factions. 

The plan was to allow ISIS invasion of northern-eastern Syria territories and western-northern Iraqi territories in order to terminate the opposition factions in the region. It was carefully planned by Obama’s administration and in particular his vice president Joe Biden, the new president of the United States of America.

Under the pretense of fighting terrorism, the Americans were back in Iraq and restored bases in Iraq, built new ones in Syria and reestablished new militia groups in the area of the northeast, mainly Kurdish groups. They were trained and equipped by the Americans. For the U.S., it was a necessary step to launch a Kurdish federalism on the Syrian territories.  

Nonetheless, the U.S. had set the return plan before withdrawing from Iraq in 2010. Upon its departure, the American administration empowered the al-Qaeda group in Iraq, and supported its existence, as Trump declared and accused Hillary Clinton of being the mastermind behind it. ISIS was basically the American approach to siege Syria, and eventually, apply the plan of division in the region and establish a Kurdish state. 

Saying that may seem to be naive and simple. However, executing the plan required initiating “revolutions” in other Arab countries, recruiting media specialists, recruiting special personnel to initiate eruptions by social media, and consuming billions of dollars in the process, of which the Saudi kingdom and Qatar were the main contributors.

In 1992, I was on a visit to al-Hassaka and al-Qamishli. I was just a young beginner in journalism. I was conducting an investigation report about the Yazidis. At that stage, a large number of Yazidis and Kurds were immigrating to Syria. They escaped the biased and brutal treatment of Saddam Hussein and the fanatic Turks. These Kurds were building a wide network in Europe. They bought sympathy and support to establish a federation in Iraq in 1996. The process was facilitated by the Americans after the second Persian Gulf War in 1991 as Saddam’s power was fading.

The idea of having a similar kind of federation in Syria became appealing to both the Americans and Israelis. The size of Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad’s presence in the Iraqi Kurdistan is not a secret anymore. It is an established fact. The Americans also facilitated the Israeli presence in northeast Syria, especially those who came with American nationality to work in the oil fields.

The Turkish president Erdogan was one of the supporters of the American plan to dismantle Syria. Erdogan was able to recruit Qatar to the best interest of Turkey. Both countries were discontent with the Syrian government’s refusal to allow building the Qatari gas pipeline to Turkey through its territories. Syria saw that a move that would discomfort its allies in Russia and Iran. However, Erdogan had bigger plans in Syria. In the northwest region, Erdogan mainly saw the Idlib and Aleppo districts as the extent of Turkey, and a head starts to initiate the Ottoman dream. 

This dream vanished to thin air when Syria started liberating the area occupied by ISIS in West Euphrates, and al-Gab plain after cleaning the Damascus area, Homos, and the center of Syria from terrorism with unlimited support from Russia. The second shock Erdogan received when the Americans started supporting the establishment of the Kurdish federation in al-Hassaka. 

The Kurdish militia was founded in October 2015 under the name Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF]. SDF in its formation includes Kurds from Syria and others who came mainly from Turkey and other countries, most of them do not speak Arabic, unlike the Syrian Kurds. 60% of the militia includes Arab Syrians, according to the Pentagon. There are other nationalities included among the formation of SDF, who are Turkmens, Armenians, Circassians, and Chechens, who came from all over Asia.

In 2016, SDF updated its constitution from a separate federal state into an Autonomous Administration of Northern and East Syria [NES] and declared SDF as its official defense force, which complicated the Syrian political scene, furthermore. Now NES or SDF are cooperating with the official American forces in east-north of Syria and serve as “the Southern Lebanese Army, [SLA]” in South Lebanon during the Israeli occupation in South Lebanon. As SLA has tried to establish an independent state in South Lebanon, SDF or NES is trying to acquire the same course. 

Since 2018 the Syrian army, with the help of allies – Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah- has been able to liberate most of the occupied lands. However, the liberation coincided with the rise of economic pressure on Syria. The price of the Syrian lira if compared to the American dollar dropped and its purchasing value decreased. It was due to the economic sanctions that were imposed on Syria, and lately “Caesar Law” which was activated in the mid of June 2020. 

In 2018, the American troops withdrew from the north of Syria and were redeployed in the al-Hassaka district around the Syrian richest oil fields. The American companies, in particular ARAMCO, are now draining the Syria oil to the interest of NES and financing the American troops stationed in the northern-eastern area of the Euphrates in Syria. Actually, Syria is facing an internal problem with the lack of petroleum resources. The hard winter is coming and the lines for buying the diesel needed for heating the houses will be crowded as much as the lines for gasoline.

After burning and stealing the wheat plains in the al-Jazeera district by the Americans and the Turks, the bread prices went 25% higher. Shortage in bread supplies was triggered by the government’s decision to set the bread rations. The Americans were literally applying Kissinger’s policy which states that nations are ruled by bread, not by arms. The shortage of bread and petroleum products is new to the Syrian population; therefore, the successive Syrian governments are facing major challenges since the beginning of 2019. 

Caesar Law added additional pressure on the countries that may establish economic and commercial deals with Syria. The law was imposed at a time in which the world is suffering from COVID-19 epidemic, which spread in Syria as well. In addition, Syria needs to deal with the issue of the Syrian refugees. It is a dilemma that needs to be dealt with appropriately. The refugees’ dilemma is used as a political card to force the Syrians to submit to the American political demands, which are set on two levels: national and international.

On the national level, the international community wants to pressure the Syrian government into implementing a new constitution based on the sectarian division of power, just like Lebanon, which would diminish the presidential authority and redistribute it, as it happened in Tunisia and Sudan, which would divide the power of the head of the state. The second issue is related to the question of the forcibly disappeared people, who were kidnapped or killed by the rebel groups, and treating the killers and kidnappers as political opponents without subjecting them to trials. This issue will be a matter of conflict, and will not be accepted by those whose families and friends were kidnapped or killed. This fact was revealed a few days ago by the new Syrian Foreign Minister, Mr. Feisal Muqdad. 

On the international level, the requirements of the international community, i.e. the U.S., have become common knowledge.  Since 2003, after the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, came to Syria and laid down the U.S. demands: dismantling Hezbollah arms, ending Syrian support to the resistance groups in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq, and ending cooperation with Iran in the region. The end means, as usually explained, is ensuring the security of Israel. 

Naturally, the Syrians refused American demands. Therefore, we should make no mistake and assume that what had happened in the Arab region under the pretense of “Arab Spring” was meant for the destruction of Syria in order to dismantle it into minor sectarian states that can be easily controlled to the best interest of “Israel” and America.

Hence, Syria requires two essential needs to start its reconstruction process: the first is lifting the sanctions imposed on it; and the second is to end the American occupation in the northeast area. However, the West insists on linking lifting the sanctions to the political process. But when it comes to the achievement of the liberation from the Americans this process cannot be realized unless the national resistance would be highly activated in the northeast of Syria. It is America that we all know. It did not end its occupation of Vietnam, Korea, and eventually Iraq in 2010 until the number of causalities becomes unbearable in the American community.

Syria’s essential needs were clearly stated by its president Bashar Al-Assad on two occasions, the first was during a video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the 10th of November. The second time was in his speech at the opening of the International Conference on the Return of the Refugee in Damascus [ICRRD] on the 11th of November.

During his visit on the 5th of November to the exhibition “Producers 2020” in “Tekia Sulaymaniyah” in the capital, Damascus. It was attended by producers from the Aleppo governorate whose facilities, workshops, and shops were damaged during the war. President al-Assad talked about the economic impact of the issue of shortage of oil supplies and burning the wheat fields in northeastern regions. 

He also explained that the economic problem was clearly becoming worse when the banks in Lebanon blocked the Syrian deposits. President al-Assad said that there is vagueness about the Syrian deposit’s estimations. Its assessment ranges from 20 billion dollars to 42 billion dollars. The blockade has been going on for years. He added the crisis began years before the Caesar Law and began years after the siege. It coincided with the money disappearance in the Lebanese banks. Furthermore, al-Assad declared that we do not know what the real number is, and this figure for an economy like the Syrian one is a frightening number.

Al-Assad’s declaration became one week before ICRRD to which Lebanon was invited. Was this a message to Lebanon? It could be, although many observers have denied it. The denial is basically based on Syria’s previous special treatment of Lebanon. Lebanon in the Syrian considerations are two contradictory facts: the first, Lebanon is an opening to the western world with bipolar swings. The first swing expressed in the historical Arab and regional ideology.

And the second swing is expressed in the lining towards a Western ideology, with the tendency to sign normalization agreements with “Israel”. The second group was of great concern to the Syrians since the creation of Lebanon. It is known as the right-wing groups, who allied with the Americans and the Israelis. 

The second fact, Lebanon as a state is based on providing services and tourism. It is considered to be the lung that Syria needs to breathe with. However, this lung health became worse since 2011, when the United States accused the Lebanese Canadian Bank of laundering terrorism money. And then again in 2016, since many banks faced the same accusations and were prohibited to deal with customers that the U.S. listed them as Hezbollah members.

Accordingly, the Lebanese banks froze several balances for many customers and in particular the Syrian customers that were importing goods to Syria through Lebanon after imposing an embargo on Syria. It is clear for the Syrians, regardless of the unique relationship with Hezbollah, it is about time that Lebanon should release these balances, and pay its debts to Syria, especially the debts that have been accumulating since 1990, which are the revenues from selling electricity.

Syria, as President al-Assad explained, will need its money in the process of rebuilding the country’s main infrastructure and vital installations, which were destroyed during the liberation war against the terrorist groups. It is a call for Lebanon to join forces with Syria to demand lifting the embargo and to be excluded from Cesar Law consequences because Lebanon needs to open up to Syria for commercial trades towards the east, in particular, to Arab countries, or Lebanon will be demanded to pay back its debts. 

The Americans were pushing Syria and the region since 1973 towards peace and normalization treaties with “Israel”. However, Syria has proven that such an agreement would be difficult to execute unless it was a “peace for land” agreement, which would ensure the right of return of the Palestinian people. An equation, nor the Israeli, neither the Americans are willing to sign for. In addition, Syria’s main condition, during the negotiations held in Oslo in 1992, was the return of all occupied Arab territories. However, the series of recognitions Trump has approved throughout his reign made the return to the negotiation table almost impossible. It also pushed into more complications with the relation between Syria and Lebanon since the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005. The need to separate the Syrian-Lebanese course in the peace process is becoming a must for the Americans. A need until today could not be achieved.

Syria now is subjected to American pressure that requires its approval to initiate peace and normalization agreements with Israel. This goal so far was difficult to achieve, especially after Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel. Even Syria’s allies, in particular Russia, cannot force the Syrians to give up part of their land. Syria’s war on terror has spared all its allies the tragedy of dragging this war into their own territories. 

Hence, Syria prepaid in blood for the security of its “friends” now. History will, sooner or later, reveal this fact. Syria’s insistence on the unity of its land, and its refusal to have any divided authority is now a fact. The Syrians cannot compromise it, and the allies cannot go against it. The course of negotiations the allies led in Astana and Sochi has affirmed it. However, this fact has complicated the Syrian scene furthermore. It might even force the Americans to lead directly the war in the region, whether in arms or diplomacy, since the proxies have proven their disabilities.

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التحرير الثاني

أسرار التحرير الثاني - الحلقة التاسعة - المشاة بالمشاة | شبكة برامج قناة  المنار

تعيدنا حلقات الوثائقي الحربي الذي تبثه قناة المنار تحت عنوان “التحرير الثاني” الى تلك المرحلة الحرجة التي عاشها لبنان مع سيطرة الجماعات الإرهابية على الجرود الشرقية، وتحويلها الى نقطة انطلاق للانتحاريين والسيارات المفخخة والصواريخ نحو عدد من المناطق اللبنانية.

في هذا الوثائقي يكتشف كل لبناني حجم ما قدّمته المقاومة من تضحيات وهو يشهد مغادرة الشهداء كي يتحقق الأمن لأبناء وطنهم ويكتشفون معهم هؤلاء القادة وقدراتهم وصبرهم وووعيهم وكفاءاتهم وشجاعتهم وتنظيمهم فيفخر كل شريف وحر بانتمائه إليهم وامتلاك بلده لهذه القوة التي توفر مع الجيش حماية لبنان من المخاطر.

لا يحتاج اللبناني أن يتفق سياسياً او عقائدياً مع حزب الله ليشعر بالفخر لما قدّمه مجاهدوه للبنان وهو يراهم لا يميزون في مهماتهم وتضحياتهم على أساس ديني او طائفي او عقائدي او حزبي، ويرى أنها تقدمات بلا مقابل ولا يشهد اي استثمار لها لتحسين الموقع السياسي او الطائفي للحزب.

سينتبه اللبنانيون أكثر لما شهدوه وشاهدوه عندما يعرفون حجم الاهتمام بين قادة كيان الاحتلال لما تبثه المنار وما يظهر من مؤهلات وكفاءات عسكرية تخطيطية وتنفيذية. وكيف أن قيادة الكيان واركان جيشه يقفون أمام هذه العمليات العسكرية بصفتها نموذجاً لما سيرونه بأم العين في مواجهات مقبلة في منطقة الجليل والجولان التي يعتبرها قادة جيش الاحتلال شبيهة بجغرافيا مناطق العمليات.

المناورات العسكرية الأخيرة لجيش الاحتلال أصيبت بالإحباط لتدني الروح المعنوية للضباط والجنود المشاركين، وفي التدقيق تبين أن الوثائقي لعب دوراً في هذا التدني المعنوي، وما بدّد استغراب قيادة جيش الاحتلال هو أنها لم تكن في قرارها بإجراء المناورات وعنوانها وموضوعها بعيدة عن هذا التأثر بالوثائقي.

التعليق السياسي

فيديوات متعلقة

180 Faylaq Al-Sham Terrorists Killed and Injured by a Russian Airstrike in Idlib

October 26, 2020 Arabi Souri

180 Terrorists of Faylaq Al Sham Killed in Russian strike in Idlib

Dozens of terrorists from the ‘Faylaq Al-Sham’ group between killed and injured in a Russian airstrike at 9:30 am this morning targeting their training camp in Jabal Duweilah area, in Idlib northwestern countryside.

The number of casualties among the terrorists is on the rise as the reports keep coming from that area especially that most of the injuries are severe, over 80 were killed and more than 100 injured, the latest reports confirm.

This is the largest toll among the terrorists for a long time now especially in the province of Idlib known as ‘the last stronghold of Al Qaeda in Syria’, the terrorists were attending a graduation ceremony in the camp when targeted by the Russian air force.

https://videopress.com/embed/tOx9gd8R?preloadContent=metadata&hd=1The video is also available on BitChute.

Faylaq Al-Sham is part of the anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood international organization which the Turkish madman Erdogan is its political leader, the exiled Egyptian cleric Qaradawi living in Qatar is its spiritual leader, while Qatar is currently the main financier of the international organization, and Ayman Zawahri, the current head of Al Qaeda is one of its main members.

The Faylaq Al-Sham has emerged in the Idlib province and northern Aleppo countryside, it’s one of Turkey’s main terrorist groups opposed to the Saudi-backed Jaysh Islam, another offshoot of Al Qaeda which had its headquarters in Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta, north of Damascus. Most of the terrorist groups were swallowed or eliminated by the Nusra Front aka HTS Hayat Tahrir Sham aka Al Qaeda Levant.

The Muslim Brotherhood organization is banned in Syria and in a number of countries, they were responsible of horrible terrorist attacks during the years 1967 – 1982 then went into hiding and resurfaced again in the ongoing US-sponsored colored revolutions in the Arab world dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’. They reached power in a number of Arab countries, namely Egypt which they were thrown out of the country and banned as an outlaw by a military coup, in Tunisia they lost their momentum although they kept a small majority of members in the parliament there, while the Libyan government out of Tripoli (Wifaq Govt) is also of the brotherhood, which explains their close ties to the Turkish madman Erdogan and his AKP party.

An illegal fuel market was also targeted by a Russian strike a couple of days ago near Jarabulus, in Aleppo countryside, leaving tens of oil tankers destroyed, a major blow to Erdogan’s family illegal business in smuggling stolen Syrian oil and selling it to Israel and other parties while depriving the Syrian people of their own oil.

Escalated Russian targeting of Turkish main groups and concentrations in Idlib in recent days could be understood as a Russian message to the Turkish pariah Erdogan who is accused of instigating the recent fighting in the Nagorno Karabach region between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and after Erdogan spoiled the first ceasefire between the warring parties reached in Moscow earlier this month and trying to spoil the second truce agreed upon this weekend.

Russia and Syria accuse Erdogan of delaying the implementation of the agreements in regard to the opening of the Aleppo – Latakia Highway known as the M4, which was supposed to be open over a year ago and has put Russia in a very uncomfortable and embarrassing situation with its Syrian allies being the main guarantor of the Idlib Agreement.

Expect some trembling in Turkey as Erdogan would be shouting and screaming, these terrorists are ‘closer to Erdogan’s heart than the Turkish Army itself’, as President Assad put it in one of his interviews.

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Trump Plots to Kill President Assad, Sends Him Top Delegation Asking for Help!

October 19, 2020 Arabi Souri

US President Donald Trump - Syrian President Bashar Assad
US President Donald Trump – Syrian President Bashar Assad

Trump sent a top official US delegation to Damascus in August begging for help from the Syrian government in regard to a US mercenary and a US citizen of Syrian origins who disappeared in Syria in 2012 and 2017.

The top delegation included Roger Carsten, a career US ambassador tasked to freeing US spies caught on foreign lands, and Kash Patel, a deputy assistant to the US embattled President Donald Trump.

The news of the visit of the US top officials was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by a Syrian official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who spoke to the Syrian Al Watan Newspaper.

Donald Trump is badly needing any achievement in foreign policy before the presidential elections in his country, especially after failing in every single topic in international relations with foes and enemies alike, even some minor stunts forcing US allies to get closer is marred with uncertainties and destined to fail in the medium and long term, and more importantly, after the miserable conduct of his regime on all domestic policies over the past four years of his unprecedented dictatorship-style ruling despite being the first US president who replaced all his officials during his first term, some of them more than once.

Trump wanted to secure the release of two US citizens who disappeared in Syria, Austin Tice, a freelance mercenary and a former Marine from Texas posing as a journalist, he disappeared in 2012 while training the ‘rebels’ (Al Qaeda Levant) on how to use rocket-propelled grenades against the Syrian army personnel and policemen, in Syria, and Majd Kamalmaz, a US therapist of Syrian origins last seen in 2017.

Syria has never affirmed it has either of the two in its custody while the US insists that they’re held by Syrian law enforcement, or at least can help secure their release. Syria has in the past helped free many US citizens who travel halfway around the planet to find themselves in the wrong hands in the wrong places at the wrong times ‘coincidentally’.

The Syrian source who spoke to Al Watan Newspaper added that the visiting US delegation met with Major General Ali Mamlouk, head of Syria’s national security at his office, and the delegation wanted to discuss a wide range of topics with the Syrian government.

‘This is not the first visit of this high level of US officials to Damascus and has been preceded by three similar visits to Damascus in the past months and years,’ the official source told Al Watan.

President Assad has turned down previous pleas to talk by Donald Trump, one of those pleas was reported by Trump’s former national security advisor Bolton who described the ill-language used by Trump in addressing the Syrian leadership.

Why would Syria accept to help the USA or its president, when the US occupies parts of Syria, helps Israel occupy the Syrian Golan, helps Turkey invade large parts of northern Syria, supports terrorist groups including ISIS in Syriasteals Syrian oil, plots to kill the Syrian president, and imposes inhumane sanctions on the country?! The USA is not that strong, especially in our region, and Syria is not that weak, at all, despite the decade-long war of terror waged against it by the world’s superpowers and super-rich countries.

The source added, as per Al Watan Newspaper: ‘The visiting delegation were surprised to face the same position of Damascus rejecting any discussion or cooperation with Washington before discussing the US troops withdrawal from Syria.’

Damascus insisted on the withdrawal of the occupying American forces from the east of the country and the emergence of real signs of this withdrawal on the ground, the visiting US officials tried to earn Damascus’s cooperation in the ‘American kidnapped’ file, however, Damascus stood its position in prioritizing the US withdrawal first, the Syrian official source conveyed.

The Syrian official source concluded to Al Watan: ‘the Syrian leadership is aware of the influence of the American lobbies on American presidents, their decisions, and their public policies’.

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Erdogan Withdrawing his Besieged Forces from an Illegal Base in Morek

October 18, 2020 Arabi Souri

Turkish observation point 9 in Morek Hama northern countryside besieged by SAA

Trapped by the Syrian Arab Army troops in their illegal military base in Morek after the SAA cleaned the region from Turkey’s-sponsored terrorist groups, Erdogan’s army forces are now packing up.

The Turkish Army loyal to the Turkish Madman and Pariah Erdogan started dismantling the observation towers in the ‘9th base’ besieged illegal military post in the city of Morek, in the northern Hama countryside, local sources confirmed.

Erdogan’s troops seen also dismantling logistical equipment, filling vehicles with petrol, and emptying the ammunition warehouses in an intensified movement, the locals are confirming these are signs that Erdogan troops will be leaving the base they’ve been holed in for over 14 months.

SAA Enters Morek and Surrounds Turkish Regime Observation Point 9

The withdrawal of Erdogan troops from the illegal military base in Morek comes after Russian mediation with the Syrian Arab Army commanders, the Russian military police will oversee the withdrawal of Erdogan army troops from the post to areas under the control of Al Qaeda Levant (HTS – Nusra Front) in Idlib countryside where they will feel safer among their peers, as sources revealed to the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news outlet.

Despite the show off that he’s spreading his influence all over the region and beyond, the Turkish pariah and Sultan wannabe Erdogan is actually losing, he cannot sustain the cost of expansion on his country’s economy even with all the billions he’s receiving from Qatar, maintaining terrorist groups have always been very costly for their sponsors, let alone sending them on suicide missions far from home in useless wars just to help the supposed-to-be enemy of those same terrorists, Israel.

This withdrawal of Erdogan’s army from Morek comes days after the latest in a continuous series of statements by Turkey’s top brass vowing to maintain the Turkish illegal presence in Syria at all costs, Erdogan’s Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar said the Turkish illegal military presence in Syria is ‘Unthinkable and non-negotiable’; they do think they can re-establish their most-hated Ottoman Empire on the ruins of the countries around Turkey using terrorist groups of the anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood cult, the cult that believes in the same ideology that the current head of Al Qaeda Ayman Zawahri follows, no coincidences.

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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.

Iran Says Houthis Use Its Military Know-How In Battle Against Saudi Arabia

South Front

Iran has supplied Ansar Allah (also known as the Houthis) with technical expertise and know-how, a spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said on September 22. However, the general claimed that Yemeni forces “have learned how to produce missiles, drones and weapons in Yemen on their own” and Iran has no military presence in the region. Shekarchi described what Iran is doing across the region as “spiritual and advisory presence”.

“Countries of the resistance front have armies and forces themselves. We provide them with advisory help. In order to share our experience with the people of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, our skilled forces go there and assist them, but this is the people and armies of these countries who stand against the enemies in practice,” the general stated.

Apparently, it was Iranian “spiritual” power which helped the Houthis to regularly pound targets inside Saudi Arabia, including the Kingdom’s capital and key oil infrastructure objects, with missiles and drones, despite the years of Saudi-led air bombing campaigns against Houthi forces and the land and maritime blockade of the areas controlled by them.

Iran also denies reports of weapon and equipment supplies to the Houthis. This means missile components must have appeared in the Houthis’ hands and their missile and combat drone arsenal been expanded thanks to some unrevealed technological breakthrough behind the scenes.

Thus, the military cooperation deal officially signed between the Houthi government and Iran in 2019 was just a formality to highlight the sides’ unity on the frontline in the battle against ‘Zionist plots’ in the region, which became especially obvious in 2020 when the Houthi leadership, alongside with Iran, appeared to be among the most vocal critics of the UAE-Israel and Bahrain-Israel normalization deals. According to them, these developments are a part of the wider Zionist campaign against Middle Eastern nations.

Meanwhile in Syria, sources loyal to the Turkish-backed terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) claim that its members had killed a Russian special forces operator on the contact line near Kafra Nabl in southern Idlib.

According to militants and their supporters, they repelled an attack of pro-government forces there inflicting multiple casualties on the Syrian Army and its allies. Photos showing the equipment of the alleged Russian special forces operator were also released by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham media wing.

Pro-government sources did not report any notable clashes in the area last night or active operations involving Russian units there. According to them, the incident involving the Russian special forces operator may have happened several weeks (or even months) ago. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and their Turkish sponsors probably opted to use the obtained photos as propaganda to create a media victory in September to compensate for the losses and destruction caused by the Russian bombing campaign against the terrorist infrastructure in Idlib.

Details of the incident and the fate of the alleged Russian special forces operator involved in it remain unclear. In general, the Russian Defense Ministry reports all casualties among Russian service members deployed. Further, the militants did not show the body of the supposedly killed fighter. Therefore, if the incident really did take place, the Russian soldier most likely received injures and was then evacuated.

Meanwhile, the Russian Aerospace Forces continued bombing terrorist infrastructure in the Idlib region. Therefore, al-Qaeda and its Turkish sponsors are forced to console themselves with media victories.

هل اقتربت الحرب النهائية في سورية؟

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تتراجع الموانع التي كانت تحول دون فتح معارك واسعة لطرد الأميركيين من شرقي الفرات والأتراك من منطقة ادلب.

هذا استنتاج روسي أطلقه وزير خارجيتهم لافروف الذي أعلن أن المعارضة السورية التقليدية انتهت ولم يبق إلا هيئة تحرير الشام وريثة منظمة القاعدة في ادلب المدعومة من قوات تركية منتشرة فيها، مضيفاً ان الاميركيين في شرق الفرات يحتلون المنطقة بالتعاون مع انفصاليين أكراد وتسرق شركاتهم الاميركية النفط السوري.

هناك اذاً تحولٌ عميقٌ في الموقف الروسي الذي يحدد للمرة الأولى ضرورة العمل على تحرير شرقي الفرات وطرد الهيئات الإرهابية من مناطق النفوذ التركي.

ولتجميل موقفه قال إن الاتراك يعملون على تضييق الرقعة التي يسيطر عليها الإرهاب في ادلب.

لماذا هذه الاندفاعة الروسية المفاجئة؟

يعتقد البعض أنها ردة فعل على التدخلات الاميركية الخطيرة في بيلاروسيا التي تستهدف النفوذ الروسي فيها بالإضافة الى الضغوط الأميركية على المانيا واوكرانيا وتركيا لإلغاء الخطوط التي تنقل الغاز الروسي الى اوروبا.

يمكن إضافة التحركات الاميركية العنيفة لإسقاط الرئيس الفنزويلي مادورو صديق الروس والصينيين.

قد تكون هذه الأسباب راسخة في العقل الروسي، لكنها ليست عناصر وحيدة تحكم المعطيات الحقيقية.

لذلك تجب العودة الى مركزية الأسباب المتعلقة بأمرين: انهيار المعارضات الداخلية السورية واستمرار الاحتلالين التركي والاميركي.

الى جانب حصار اقتصادي اميركي يقفل حدود سورية مع الأردن والعراق ويعمل على إقفالها نهائياً من جهة لبنان، خصوصاً أن معلومات فرنسية كشفت عن سرقة مصرفية مشبوهة أخلت فيها بنوك لبنانية ودائع سورية قيمتها أربعون مليار دولار تقريباً كان رجال أعمال سوريون يستخدمونها لاستيراد بضائع للزوم الأسواق السورية عبر حدود لبنان.

بما يعني أن هذا الحصار الأميركي للبنان وسورية يريد خنق البلدين معاً.

ولا يمكن ايقافه إلا بإلغاء الدور الاحتلالي الأميركي في شرق سورية وذلك لإلغاء المشروع الانفصالي الكردي وتحرير آبار النفط والغاز لإعادة استخدامها في تلبية الاستهلاك السوري الداخلي الذي يتعرّض حالياً لأزمة وقود كبيرة هي جزء كبير من ازمة اقتصادية عامة تدفع بسورية الى مزيد من الفقر.

هذا الى جانب اقتراب موسم الشتاء الذي يستهلك فيه السوريون عادة كميات أكبر من الطاقة.

أما الأسباب الأكثر عمقاً فلها علاقة بإصرار الدولة السورية على تحرير كامل أراضيها المحتلة، انسجاماً مع وطنيّتها وتطبيقاً للقانون الدولي الذي يعتبر أي قوة عسكرية تتموضع في أراضي بلد آخر غير دولتها ومن دون موافقة اصحاب السيادة هي قوة احتلال، يمكن التعامل معها بالقوة المسلحة.

الموضوع اذاً ليس موضوع قوانين دولية ينتهكها الأميركيون بشكل دائم منذ خروجهم الى ملعب المنافسات الدولية بعد انتصارهم في الحرب العالمية الثانية في 1945.

إنها مسألة موازين قوى تدفع مَن يحوز عليها الى تحصيل حقوقه. هذا في حالة سورية، او الاعتداء على الآخرين وفق النموذج الاميركي والتركي.

وفقاً لهذا المعطى المثبت بالأسانيد التاريخية، تستشعر الدولة السورية والحليف الروسي والصديق الايراني ان انتهاء المعارضات السورية الداخلية هو التوقيت الدقيق للبدء بالتعامل مع آخر المعوقات التي لا تزال تعرقل سيادة سورية على كامل أراضيها واستعادتها للموقع الداخلي والإقليمي والازدهار الاقتصادي.

ما يجب التأكيد عليه بعد هذه القراءة ان تصريح لافروف هو نتيجة مشاورات مع الرئيس الأسد وقيادته استناداً الى تغيير في موازين القوى الداخلية لمصلحة حلف الدولة السورية.

لجهة هذه الموازين، يكفي أن هناك تمرداً من أبناء شرق الفرات على الحلف الأميركي – الكردي يتطوّر بسرعة نحو التحالف مع الدولة السورية على الرغم من محاولات سعودية – إماراتية لإعادة جذب العشائر السورية في الشرق لحضن الأميركيين وبالتعاون مع قوات قسد الكردية الانفصالية.

كما أن أبناء ادلب وشريط الحدود السورية مع تركيا يعلنون سخطهم من الدور التركي الذي يصفونه بشبيه الاحتلالات الأميركية والتركية.

هل تندلع الحرب السورية على الأميركيين والأتراك في وقت قريب؟

الظروف أصبحت ناضجة إلا أن الواضح ان الروس يعوّلون على علاقاتهم بالأتراك لإقناعهم بالانسحاب من ادلب ويعتقدون ان انطلاق المقاومة الشعبية السورية في شرقي الفرات بالتنسيق مع الجيش العربي السوري هو الفيصل في إقناع التركي بالتراجع الى أراضيه من دون أي تسويات لا يزال يصرّ عليها بين الدولة السورية والاخوان المسلمين.

تشير هذه المعطيات الى أن الازمة السورية تدخل الحروب الأخيرة من معارك تحرير سورية واستعادتها لسيادتها من جهة ودورها الإقليمي في كبح مسلسل التطبيع من جهة ثانية وتحالفاتها العربية والإقليمية والدولية التي تعمل على إسقاط النظام الأحادي القطبي الاميركي لمصلحة عالم أكثر أماناً واستقراراً.

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RUSSIAN CLOUDS OVER TURKISH-BACKED JIHADI PARADISE IN IDLIB

SouthFront

Russian Clouds Over Turkish-Backed Jihadi Paradise In Idlib
Video

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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