Turkish drone strikes kill over two dozen Syrian soldiers in Idlib: Monitor

Sunday, 01 March 2020 2:51 AM  [ Last Update: Thursday, 01 March 2012 2:57 AM ]

A picture taken during a guided tour organised by the Syrian army shows government orces in the area of al-Lirmoun, north of Aleppo, on February 17, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish drone strikes have reportedly killed 26 Syrian soldiers in northwestern Syria, in an apparent response to the deaths of 33 Turkish soldiers who were killed on Thursday during a Syrian army offensive against terrorists in Idlib.

“Twenty-six members of the Syrian army were killed when Turkish drones targeted positions of the Syrian government forces in the Idlib and Aleppo countryside,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Saturday.

The apparent retaliation came after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike by Syrian forces on Thursday. A 34th soldier later died from his injuries.

Earlier on Saturday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened reprisals for the killing of dozens of Turkish troops in Syria on Thursday.

With diplomacy sponsored by Ankara and Moscow to ease tensions in tatters, Turkey has come closer than ever to confrontation with Russia on the battlefield in Syria.

Ankara urges Moscow to step aside

The Turkish president says he has asked President Vladimir Putin for Russia to stand aside in Syria and let Turkey fight Syrian forces alone.

Speaking in Istanbul, Erdogan said he had told Putin in a phone call to stand aside and let Turkey “do what is necessary” with the Syrian government. He said Turkey did not intend to leave Syria right now.Russia cites Syria agreement but Erdogan sounds belligerentRussia says it has agreed with Turkey to ease tensions in Syria

Meanwhile, the Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, have kept up air strikes in Idlib, attacking the strategic city of Saraqeb which sits on an important road connecting Damascus and Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory war monitor reported.

The Syrian army’s air strikes are part of a major offensive to cleanse the province, part of the last remaining territory held by Turkey-backed terrorists.

Macron calls for ceasefire, urges Turkey to stop flow of migrants

French President Emmanuel Macron urged his Russian and Turkish counterparts on Saturday to halt hostilities in Syria and agree to a lasting ceasefire, his office said.

Macron told the Russian and Turkish leaders in separate phone calls that he was “deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe” caused by the Syrian offensive in the province of Idlib.

“The President of the Republic stressed that an immediate cease to hostilities was needed and called on Russia and Turkey to establish a durable and verifiable ceasefire as they committed to France and Germany at the four-way summit in Istanbul in the autumn 2018,” his office said in a statement.

Macron also expressed solidarity with Turkey over the recent deaths of its soldiers in Syria, and urged Turkey to cooperate with the European Union on migrant flows.

The remarks came after Erdogan threatened to let thousands of refugees cross into Europe.

Around 13,000 migrants have gathered along the Turkish-Greek border, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said as several thousand migrants were in skirmishes with Greek police firing tear gas across the frontier.

“What did we do yesterday? We opened the doors,” Erdogan said in Istanbul.

“We will not close those doors…. Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises.”

He was referring to a 2016 deal with the European Union to stop refugee flows in exchange for billions of euros in aid. Turkey already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees.


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Erdogan Says Asked Putin to ‘Step Aside’ to Allow Turkey to Deal With Syria ‘One on One’ – Reports

Sputnik

 29.02.2020

The Russian and Turkish presidents spoke by telephone on Friday amid the escalating tensions in Idlib, where the Syrian Army has been entangled in a shooting war with Turkish troops and Ankara-backed militants in recent weeks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to leave Ankara “face to face” with Syrian authorities in the conflict over Idlib during Friday’s talks.

“I asked Mr. Putin: ‘What’s your business there? If you establish a base, do so but get out of our way and leave us face to face with the regime,” Erdogan said, speaking to reporters in Istanbul, his comments cited by AFP.

Erdogan also warned that the “Syrian regime” would “pay the price” for the deaths of Turkish troops in Idlib, and said that if Russia left Damascus one-on-one with Turkey, “we will do what is necessary.”

Erdogan confirmed that Turkey had opened its borders with the European Union for Syrian refugees, and that some 18,000 migrants had already crossed the border into the EU. According to the Turkish president, Ankara could not “handle a new refugee wave” from Syria. Earlier, Turkish officials told media that Ankara had opened its borders with the European bloc amid the escalating conflict in Idlib.

“We have been saying for a long time that we are not obligated to accept such a number of refugees. You promised us assistance, but are doing nothing, so we opened our borders yesterday. 18,000 refugees have already passed through, and today this number will be 25,000-30,000, and we will not close our doors because the EU must keep its word,” Erdogan said, presumably referring to the March 2016 Turkey-EU migrant deal.

Putin and Erdogan spoke by telephone amid tensions in Idlib, the restive Syrian province where tens of thousands of militants remain concentrated, and where dozens of Syrian and Turkish troops have now been killed amid weeks of clashes.

Also on Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that the recent talks with Turkey had led to the consideration of “concrete steps” aimed at achieving “lasting stability in the Idlib de-escalation zone.”

“Both sides confirmed their goal to reduce tensions on the ground while continuing the fight against terrorists,” the Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, in an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Idlib on Friday, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya emphasized that the Syrian Army had every right to eliminate terrorists in Idlib and anywhere else on its sovereign territory.

“In recent months,  the terrorists who captured Idlib, mainly from [al-Nusra*] had dramatically increased attacks against civilians in neighbouring settlements and the Syrian military. In response to the constant violations of the ceasefire inside the Idlib de-escalation zone, the Syrian Army of course has every right to respond and to squash the terrorists,” Nebenzya said.

The Russian diplomat stressed that Russia could not restrict Syria from fulfilling the requirements on fighting terrorism set out in the Security Council’s own resolutions, especially since Damascus was doing so on its own territory. He added that he hoped that a return to the Astana agreements could help prevent a repetition of the series of events which led to the deaths of Turkish and Syrian troops.

For his part, Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari accused Turkey of aggression in Syria, and alleged that Ankara was using its Idlib observation posts to provide support for terrorists. The diplomat stressed that Syria would do everything necessary to protect its citizens and defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Idlib Crisis Deepens

Simmering tensions in the Idlib de-escalation zone were ramped up again on Thursday, when Nusra terrorists initiated a large-scale attack on Syrian Army positions. Syrian troops returned fire, with at least 33 Turkish troops killed in response. On Friday, the Russian millitary said the Turkish forces caught in the crossfire should not have been there in the first place. Turkish media later reported that the Turkish army had destroyed some 130 pieces of Syrian military hardware in recent weeks.

On Friday, Greek media reported that Athens had vetoed a planned NATO statement expressing solidarity with Ankara over the deaths of the Turkish troops. Greece reportedly made the decision despite opposition from the US, the UK, France and Germany.

Russia has repeatedly accused Turkey of proving unable to fulfill several key obligations related to the Idlib de-escalation zone, including the requirement to separate armed militants ready for peace talks with Damascus from jihadists.

The Syrian Army began an offensive in the Idlib de-escalation zone in late 2019 following repeated terrorist attacks on Syrian forces, which claimed the lives of dozens of Syrian troops. Tensions in Idlib escalated dramatically earlier this month after a Syrian artillery strike killed over half-a-dozen Turkish troops at one of the twelve observation posts Turkey has dotting the Syrian province. The attack prompted an escalatory response by Ankara, and threats of a full-blown military campaign.

Along with the tens of thousands of armed rebels and jihadists, Idlib is home to as many as three million civillians, and is the most populous Syrian territory outside Damascus’s control.


* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

استشهاد عدد من عناصر الجيش السوري وحزب الله في غارات تركية على ريفيْ حلب وإدلب

الميادين نت

استشهاد عدد من جنود الجيش السوري وحزب الله بغارات تركية ليل السبت على مواقعهما في منطقة الزربة بريف حلب، بالتزامن مع ارتفاع عدد قتلى القوات التركية إلى 36 في قصف للجيش السوري على إدلب.

المقاتلات التركية نفذت عدة غارات على مواقع الجيش السوري وحلفائه في منطقة الزربة بريف حلب (أرشيف)

أدّت غارات تركية على ريفي حلب وإدلب ليل أمس السبت إلى استشهاد عدد من جنود الجيش السوري، وحزب الله.

مراسل الميادين أفاد بأن المقاتلات التركية نفذّت عدة غارات على مواقع الجيش السوري وحلفائه في منطقة الزربة بريف حلب، بالتزامن مع قصف مدفعي.

وأضاف أن المجموعات المسلحة تحاول أن تستغل القصف التركي لإعادة تجميع قواتها لمهاجمة المناطق المحررة في ريف حلب.

إلى ذلك، ارتفع عدد قتلى الجيش التركي في الساعات الماضية إلى 36. 

وبالتزامن، أعلنت وزارة الدفاع التركية في بيان مقتل أحد جنودها، وإصابة إثنين آخرين في قصف مدفعي للجيش السوري في محافظة إدلب.

وقالت الوزارة إن القصف المدفعي للجيش السوري استهدف عناصر الجيش التركي، الموجودين في إدلب لتحقيق وقف إطلاق النار، وفق البيان التركي.

في غضون ذلك، أعلنت الخارجية الروسية أن المباحثات الروسية التركية في أنقرة انتهت بالاتفاق على خفض التوتر على الأرض ومواصلة الحرب على الإرهاب.

وأعلنت الخارجية في بيان أنه “جرى التركيز من الجانبين على الحد من التصعيد على الأرض مع مواصلة مكافحة الإرهابيين المعترف بهم كذلك، من مجلس الأمن الدولي في الأمم المتحدة”.

في المقابل، أعلن الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان إنه طلب من الرئيس الروسي السماح للجيش التركي بالتعامل مع سوريا من دون تدخل موسكو.

وورأى إردوغان أنه “في حال لم تنجح قواته في سوريا فإن كل الجماعات الإرهابية هناك ستتوجه لاحقاً إلى تركيا”، وفق تعبيره.

واتهم الرئيس التركي أميركا وروسيا “لأنهما لم تفيا بوعودهما في الاتفاقيات الموقعة مع بلاده”. وقال:”قلت لبوتين ماذا تفعلون هناك؟ إذا كنتم تريدون إنشاء قاعدة، فهيا إفعلوا ذلك، لكن ابتعدوا من طريقنا.. إتركونا لوحدنا مع النظام السوري”.

وفي السياق، أعلن إردوغان فتح أبواب الهجرة من بلاده إلى أوروبا أمام اللاجئين خلال الفترة المقبلة.  وقال: “قلنا إننا سنفتح الأبواب أمام اللاجئين، لم يصدقونا، فتحنا الأبواب والآن يوجد 18 ألف لاجئ عند الحدود”، متوقعاً أن يرتفع العدد إلى 25 ألفاً”.

إردوغان أضاف، “لن نغلق الحدود أمام طالبي الهجرة عبر تركيا.. فنحن نستضيف نحو أربعة ملايين سوري في بلادنا ولا طاقة لنا لاستيعاب موجة هجرة جديدة.. كذلك هناك أكثر من مليون ونصف مليون لاجئ سوري هربوا من الهجمات في إدلب باتجاه حدودنا”.

السلطات اليونانية منعت أربعة ألاف لاجئ من الدخول إلى أراضيها، واستخدمت الشرطة الغاز المسيل للدموع، فيما رمى بعضهم الحجارة باتجاه قوات الأمن اليونانية.  وأعلنت الحكومة اليونانية تعزيز قواتها عند الحدود البرية والبحرية مع تركيا.

وردّاً على إردوغان، قال نائب وزير الخارجية اليوناني إن “ابتزاز إردوغان لن ينجح”. 

Turkey Asks NATO to Join Its War Against Syria and Russia

February 29, 2020

Eric Zuesse for The Saker blog

The spokesperson for the Islamist party of Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has called upon all of NATO to go to war against Syria for Syria’s having killed dozens of Turkey’s troops in order for Syria to defeat Turkey’s invasion and military occupation of Syria’s Idlib Province, which borders on Turkey. Going to war against Syria would mean going to war also against Russia, which is in Syria to protect Syria’s sovereignty over its own territory. If the United States accepts that Turkish proposal, then World War III will consequently result.

Darius Shahtahmasebi reported for Russia’s RT News on the morning of February 28th,

Turkey is calling for NATO’s protection after 33 of its soldiers were killed in an apparent Syrian airstrike in Idlib, allegedly while fighting in terrorist ranks. In the regional chaos that ensues, only one player stands to gain.

Speculation over what’s to come next has seen #article 5 trending on Twitter in the hours following the attacks, after Omer Celik, spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AKP party, indicated to reporters in Ankara that he was looking at requesting formal NATO protection against Damascus and, by proxy, the Russian air force.

“We call on NATO to [start] consultations. This is not [an attack] on Turkey only, it is an attack on the international community. A common reaction is needed. The attack was also against NATO,” Celik told Turkish media.

Article 5 of the NATO treaty says an attack on one member is an attack on them all.

The US State Department also condemned the attack, stating that it stands by its “NATO ally Turkey.” It further stated that it continues to “call for an immediate end to this despicable offensive by the Assad regime, Russia and Iranian-backed forces.” Never one to let us down, the US envoy to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson also told journalists that “everything is on the table.”

This is the opportunity for U.S. President Donald Trump to join his opposition, Democratic Party’s, and even his own Party’s, hate-Russia campaign, by unleashing World War III, if he wants to. (For example, it was a unified Congress, both Parties, that forced him, on 17 July 2018, to reverse himself and say that Russia had assisted in his having become the U.S. President. He needed to be forced in order to say he agreed with that statement.)

Internally, within Islamist-ruled Turkey, the official Anadolu Press Agency sub-headlined one English-language news report, “Crisis in Idlib has crossed all limits, says presidential spokesman after regime attack martyrs 33 Turkish troops” and opened, “Turkey’s presidential spokesman on Friday called on the international community to take measures to de-escalate tensions in Syria after dozens of Turkish soldiers were martyred in a late night attack by the regime forces.” No mention was made, about those ‘martyrs’, that this had occurred in Syrian territory, where Turkish forces were invaders and military occupiers, and that the ‘regime’ they referred to is Syria’s committedly and ideologically secular, non-sectarian, Government, which is the only internationally recognized Government that Syria has (but from which Islamist Turkey is now trying to seize Syria’s Idlib Province and to include it within Turkey’s own territory).

By 7PM Turkish time on Friday the 28th, Firat Kozok of Bloomberg News headlined “Turkey Says It Has No Choice But to ‘Loosen’ Stance on Refugees” and reported that

Turkey is pressed by developments in Syria’s Idlib and has no choice but to “loosen” its policy of preventing refugees from travelling on to Europe, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun told reporters in Ankara.

“If Idlib falls, then millions of Syrian refugees will try to escape to Turkey and Europe. Turkey no longer has the possibility to provide resources for and help these people,” Altun said.

This is applying pressure upon the European member-nations in NATO to either join Turkey’s now very hot war against both Syria and Russia, or else to become faced with Turkey’s release of the tens of thousands of ‘rebels’ (mainly jihadists) whom Turkish forces in Syria’s Idlib Province have been protecting against military fire from Syria’s Army and from Russia’s Air Force.

The events that led to this critical impasse were reported by me last night (the 27th), and that report thus continues here, in order to provide context to these events:

“Turkey Now Claims Syria’s Idlib Province as Turkish Territory”

Eric Zuesse

On February 26th, Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s President, told his Islamist political party that Idlib, which is the most heavily jihadist of all of Syria’s provinces and the province where Syria had been sending jihadists who had been defeated but not killed by the Syrian army elsewhere in the Syrian war, is now permanently under Turkey’s protection, and belongs to Turkey — Turkish territory. Russia’s RT news headlined on the 26th, “‘We’re the hosts there’: Erdogan says Turkey won’t pull back from Syria’s sovereign territory, gives Assad ultimatum to retreat”, and reported that,

The Turkish leader has ruled out withdrawal from Idlib, where his forces are backing militants fighting the Syrian Army. He also gave Damascus an ultimatum to retreat beyond Turkey’s observation posts placed on Syrian soil.

“We will not step back in Idlib. We are not the guests in this realm, we are the hosts,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a meeting of his AK party on Wednesday. Vowing to bring “the regime’s attacks” to an end, Erdogan said Ankara is giving Damascus time to pull forces back from Turkish observation posts.

The very next day, on the 27th, the Turkish English-language newspaper Yeni Safak bannered “Situation in Syria’s Idlib ‘in favor of Turkey’: Turkish president says Turkey has also reversed situation in Libya, which was previously in favor of Libyan warlord Haftar” and they reported that Erdogan saw signs that Turkey was introducing new international realities in both Syria and Libya.

Later on the 27th, RT headlined “33 Turkish soldiers confirmed killed in Idlib airstrike as Erdogan chairs emergency meeting on Syria” and reported that “Turkish officials attributed the strike to the Syrian military.” However, any Turkish retaliation against Syrian forces would not only be met by Russian defense of Syrian forces but would be clearly a Syrian response to Turkish aggression and therefore any U.S. involvement supporting Turkey in this matter would be America’s participating in Turkey’s blatantly illegal grab for Idlib. Even America’s allies in Europe and elsewhere might then turn away from the U.S., and away from Turkey.

This extraordinarily assertive position by Erdogan results from the sequence of events that will be described here:

U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. allies made unequivocally clear in late August and early September of 2018 that if Syria and Russia would try to restore Syrian Government control over Syria’s Idlib Province, then the U.S. and its allies would greatly escalate their war against Syria’s Government. For example, on 3 September 2018, Trump tweeted, “President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province. The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.” South Front reported, the following day, that,

Trump’s tweet comes as Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the start of his visit to Damascus said that “terrorists must be purged” from the province and Idlib in its entirety must be returned under government control.

“Syria’s territorial integrity should be safeguarded and all tribes and groups, as one society, should start the reconstruction process, and the refugees should return to their homes,” Mr Zarif said.

Zarif met with President Assad and the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. They mostly discussed the expected September 7th summit, which will happen in Tehran. Russian, Turkish, Syrian and Iranian leaders are supposed to meet and discuss the situation in Idlib.

A statement from Assad’s office said that Iran and Syria “had similar views on the different issues” that are to be discussed.

On 10 September 2018, I wrote that “Unless Syria will simply hand its most heavily pro-jihadist province, Idlib, to adjoining Turkey, which claims to have 30,000 troops there and is planning to add 20,000 more,” there would be a war between NATO member Turkey, which has invaded there, versus Russia, which — at Syria’s request — has been assisting Syria’s Government to conquer all of Syria’s jihadists. Syria’s Army has gradually liberated and retaken most of Syria’s territory from jihadists, but had been using Idlib Province as a collection-area for the ones who were holding Syrian civilians as human shields. Syria was bussing into Idlib the tens of thousands of jihadists that surrendered. This was being done so as to minimize the numbers of civilians who would be killed when Syria’s army would retake an area, under Russian air-cover. This would allow the civilians there to escape to Syrian-Government-held territory, and the armed forces of Syria and Russia then to move in and slaughter the jihadists who remained there, so that Syria would retake that area from the U.S.-backed jihadists.

Then, seven days later, I headlined “Putin and Erdogan Plan Syria-Idlib DMZ as I Recommended”, and reported that,

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan jointly announced on September 17th in Tehran, “We’ve agreed to create a demilitarized zone between the government troops and militants before October 15. The zone will be 15-20km wide,” which compares to the Korean DMZ’s 4-km width.

Though the understanding that Erdogan had reached with Iran’s President Rouhani and with Russia’s President Putin was that this would be only a temporary measure in order to get the U.S. and its allies to cease threatening World War III if Syria and Russia promptly let loose and slaughtered the ‘rebels’ in Idlib (those being Americas’s previous main fighters to defeat and replace Syria’s Government), Erdogan soon presented clear indications that he actually wanted to seize Syrian territory and to get as much of it as he could — that his goal in Syria included expanding Turkey into Syria. His temporary policing function, as agreed-to by Russia, to isolate and not allow to escape the defeated jihadists who had become trapped there, turned out to be far more than that: it turned out to be Erdogan’s protection of those jihadists.

On September 25th of 2018, I had bannered “Turkey Now Controls Syria’s Jihadists”, and presented the historical background behind this. Then, on 14 July 2019, I headlined “Turkey Will Get a Chunk of Syria: An Advantage of Being in NATO”, and explained that because of NATO’s backing of Turkey’s seizure of Syrian territory, Turkey was already committed to the construction of Syrian branches of Turkey’s Gaziantep University and of Turkey’s Harran University, as well as of building supportive infrastructure for those facilities — absorbing portions of northern Syria into Turkey.

So, this has been a gradual process, and now Erdogan, backed by U.S.President Trump and by NATO, will be saving the lives of the tens of thousands of jihadists (plus their families) who had been defeated elsewhere in Syria, and who thus will avoid what the U.S. and its allies had warned would be a ‘humanitarian crisis’ of mass-slaughtering those defeated jihadists (which the U.S. and its allies still call ‘Syrian rebels’ — even though most of them aren’t even Syrian).

As I noted in the 14 July 2019 article:

At that time, just prior to the Tehran conference — and this was actually the reason why the conference was held — the U.S. and its allies, and the U.N., were demanding that an all-out invasion of Idlib, which had been planned by the Governments of Syria and of Russia, must not take place, for ‘humanitarian’ reasons. There was all that ‘humanitarian’ concern (led by the United States) for the world’s biggest concentration of Nusra and Nusra-led jihadists — and for Syria’s most jihadist-supporting civilian population. So much ‘kindness’, such ‘admirable’ ‘humanitarianism’. Furthermore the U.S. Government was threatening to greatly increase its forces against Syria if that invasion by Syria and by Russia into Idlib (which is, after all, part of Syria — so, what business is it, even of the U.N., at all?) were to be carried out. The Tehran conference was meeting in order to resolve that emergency situation (mainly America’s threats of a possible war against Russia), so as to forestall this attack.

Trump’s backing of Turkey’s aggression was taking the United States even deeper into his predecessor, Barack Obama’s, support of jihadists in order to overthrow Syria’s non-sectarian Government and install one that would be acceptable to the fundamentalist-Sunni Saud family who own Saudi Arabia.

And now Erdogan again is threatening Russia with WW III if Russia continues to defend Syria’s sovereignty over Idlib — Syria’s most-jihadist province.

On February 26th, Yeni Safak bannered “Turkey will never compromise on Sochi deal for Syria, says Erdoğan”; so, Erdogan is openly threatening WW III if Russia and Syria resist Turkey’s seizure of Idlib and protection of its many thousands of jihadists.

Although the U.S. has led this apparent victory for jihadists and for international aggression, Turkey’s Erdogan has been its spearhead. Russia and Iran had not agreed to this. Certainly, Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, hadn’t agreed to anything like this outcome. Turkey, in its 10 September 2018 agreement with Russia and with Iran, had committed itself to separating-out and killing the jihadists; but, instead, Turkey has been protecting them, and now will be absorbing them, and taking Idlib Province from adjoining Syria. As recently as 22 October 2019, Erdogan had promised Putin in Sochi that “The two sides reiterate their commitment to the preservation of the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria,” and that, “They emphasize their determination to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations and to disrupt separatist agendas in the Syrian territory.” Yeni Safak’s February 26th article opened “Turkey will never compromise on the Sochi deal on embattled Idlib, Syria, and it expects the deal to be implemented, said the country’s president on Wednesday.” Turkey “expects the deal to be implemented” while blatantly violating it.

Brett McGurk, a leading neoconservative in the Administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, admitted, on 27 July 2017, that “Idlib Province is the largest Al Qaeda safe-haven since 9/11, tied directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri,” and that “to send in tens of thousands of tons of weapons and looking the other way as these foreign fighters come into Syria, may not have been the best approach,” but yet the U.S. regime continues that approach, and backs Turkey’s grab of Idlib and protection of those jihadists. Previously, McGurk had been U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the anti-Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition. He had supported jihadists led by al-Nusra (Syrian branch of Al Qaeda) and supported separatist Kurds in Syria, to overthrow Syria’s Government. Even the liberal (or Democratic Party, pro-Obama) neoconservative Washington Post  had not hidden the fact that “The U.S. team, headed by senior White House adviser Robert Malley and State Department envoy Brett McGurk” had informed the newspaper that “Russia was said to have rejected a U.S. proposal to leave Jabhat al-Nusra off-limits to bombing as part of a cease-fire” — the fact that Obama was actually protecting those jihadists (though not protecting ISIS or ‘ISIL’). Obama backed al-Qaeda there, and so does Trump. However, when Trump ran for the Presidency in 2016, he promised to reverse Obama’s obsession to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That, and similar promises he made, were antithetical to the most-basic commitments of the U.S. Establishment. They became his implacable enemies.

Finally, on 10 November 2016, right after Trump’s election, that same newspaper, the WP, bannered “Obama directs Pentagon to target al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, one of the most formidable forces fighting Assad” and, without noting that Obama had supported that “al-Qaeda affiliate” until then, but instead falsely reporting that “the administration had largely ignored until now” it, said: “While Obama, White House national security adviser Susan E. Rice, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and special presidential envoy Brett McGurk agreed with [the super-neoconservative Obama Secretary of Defense Ashton] Carter on the need to keep the focus on the Islamic State, they favored shifting resources to try to prevent al-Nusra from becoming a bigger threat down the road.” That was extreme euphemism, coming from this extremely neoconservative liberal newspaper. Actually, Obama had built his overthrow-Assad operation mainly upon al-Nusra, to train and lead the tens of thousands of foreign jihadists who had been pouring into Syria. The Washington Post was one of the most lying, deceptive, newspapers reporting anywhere in the world about international relations, very heavily slanted neoconservative — in favor of expanding the U.S. mega-corporate empire. Whereas the separatist Kurds were America’s main proxy-army fighting in Syria’s northeast, al-Nusra led America’s proxy-armies everywhere else in Syria. That 10 November 2016 WP article also asserted “But aides say Obama grew frustrated that more wasn’t being done by the Pentagon and the intelligence community to kill al-Nusra leaders given the warnings he had received from top counterterrorism officials about the gathering threat they posed.” That’s another lie, because Secretary of State John Kerry had actually fought inside the Administration against Obama’s policy on that, and the policy came from Obama himself — and NOT from his subordinates (such as Ashton Carter), as that lying newspaper alleged. The article referred to “the expanded push against al-Nusra” — but here is the reality: by no later than December 2012 Obama had settled upon al-Nusra to lead America’s overthrow-Assad campaign inside Syria. And the reason for that has very deep historical roots — all hidden from the American public. Instead of such realism, that propaganda-organ, in its article on 10 November 2016, wrote:

A bitterly divided Obama administration had tried over the summer to cut a deal with Moscow on a joint U.S.-Russian air campaign against al-Nusra, in exchange for a Russian commitment to ground Syrian government warplanes and to allow more humanitarian supplies into besieged areas. But the negotiations broke down in acrimony, with Moscow accusing the United States of failing to separate al-Nusra from more moderate rebel groups and Washington accusing the Russians of war crimes in Aleppo.

‘Humanitarian’. How stupid does the owner of the Washington Post think that the American public is in order for it still to believe that its Government really cares about being “humanitarian” around the world — especially in countries it’s trying to conquer, such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia …? Really? He thinks it’s that stupid? Or, does he think his newspaper can help to make them so misinformed?

That rabidly anti-Russian newspaper continued there:

Russia had accused the United States of sheltering al-Nusra, a charge repeated Thursday in Moscow by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“The president doesn’t want this group to be what inherits the country if Assad ever does fall,” a senior U.S. official said. “This cannot be the viable Syrian opposition. It’s al-Qaeda.”

Officials said the administration’s hope is that more-moderate rebel factions will be able to gain ground as both the Islamic State and al-Nusra come under increased military pressure.

The article also featured a headline and link to their 9 November 2016 news-story, “Intelligence community is already feeling a sense of dread about Trump”. Even back then, the Democratic Party’s billionaires were pumping their agents’ allegations which would lead to Russiagate, the Mueller Report, and ultimately to Ukrainegate and Trump’s impeachment for being insufficiently supportive of President Obama’s 2014 coup and conquest of Ukraine, which Obama had started planning by no later than 2011. All of that was a warning to any current or future U.S. President, that to buck the collective will of America’s billionaires is to commit political suicide. It doesn’t make any difference what the President’s Party is — the dictate, from the billionaires, applies to any U.S. President. This ‘restored Cold War’ is nothing of the sort — on the U.S. side, the war secretly continued uninterrupted, even after the Soviet Union ended its communism, and its Warsaw-Pact mirror of America’s NATO military alliance.

UPDATE: On February 28th, the German Government news-agency Deutsche Welle (DW) bannered “Idlib: ‘I’d rather suffer bombs than Assad’” and provided an extensive interview by telephone with someone in Idlib who says that she supports democracy and tolerance of all religions and is determined to overthrow the present Government of Syria. If her pro-democracy, anti-jihadist, allegations are honest, then she is an extraordinary exception for Idlib, as has been documented by the periodic polls that the British polling firm Orb International took throughout Syria and reported during 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018. For examples:

In the 2014 report (page 12) only 4% of the people sampled in Idlib said that they supported “The Assad Government.” This was far lower than the percentages in any other Syrian province. 52% supported either “armed opposition” or “Violent religious extremist groups.” This was far higher than in any other province except ISIS-controlled Raqqah, where it was 59%.

In the 2015 report (page 7), 35% of the people sampled in Idlib said that al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) was a “Completely positive influence”; an additional 35% said it was a “Somewhat positive influence.” That 70% support for al-Qaeda was by far the highest found in any of Syria’s provinces.

If the person who was at the other end of that DW phone-call was authentic, then she was anything but representative of the people in Idlib.

At around 10 AM Eastern time in the U.S. on the 28th, Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper headlined “Erdoğan and Putin may meet next week, Kremlin says”, and reported that “Erdoğan and Putin spoke over the phone Friday to try to defuse tensions that rose significantly in northwestern Syria after 33 Turkish troops were killed in a Syrian regime airstrike.” Either Erdogan is trying to find a face-saving way out of his huge gamble, or Putin is trying to prevent WW III, or both. An hour later, that newspaper bannered “Turkey determined to remove Assad regime from Syria’s Idlib, Erdoğan tells Trump.” Why is it that a country can proudly proclaim in a headline that it will commit international aggression in blatant violation of international law and yet not be roundly damned by the publics in all countries for doing such a vile thing?

At around noon, U.S. Eastern time, on the 28th, Turkey’s TRT World bannered “NATO and the West’s dereliction of duty in Syria and Turkey” and opened: “If the West and NATO continue on the path they have chosen, it will allow Vladimir Putin to reshape the post-Soviet world order in his image.” After trying to scare Europe’s leaders by threatening to overwhelm them with maybe hundreds of thousands of released jihadists who have been basically penned-up in Idlib, Erdogan was trying to appeal to those leaders’ obligations to NATO, America’s anti-Russian military alliance.

At around 1:30 PM U.S. Eastern time on the 28th, Britain’s Guardian headlined “Nato expresses ‘full solidarity’ with Turkey over Syria airstrikes” but NATO chief “Stoltenberg offered no immediate promise of assistance to Turkey,” and the article went on to report that the UK and five of its allies would bring the matter to the U.N. Security Council on Friday night (where Turkey’s demands would even more certainly go nowhere). The reality of Stoltenberg’s statement (which had been issued at 12:33 Eastern time) was a total humiliation to Erdogan’s fantasies that because of his country’s NATO membership he could get the U.S. to invade Russia. Stoltenberg gave the standard NATO hate-talk against Russia and its allies, however, saying that “Allies condemn the continued indiscriminate air strikes by the Syrian regime and its backer Russia in Idlib province.” Even when a NATO member engages in clear-cut foreign aggression in violation of the U.N. Charter’s prohibiton against that, and explicitly violating the International Criminal Court’s “Crime of Aggression”, NATO will spew its standard hate-propaganda against the countries that were and are victims of that blatantly illegal aggression by the NATO member-country. Notwithstanding NATO’s sometimes diplomatic language, it is — after Russia ended its side of the Cold War in 1991 — basically an extremely dangerous militarized hate-organization, of which every one of its member-nations should be profoundly embarrassed to belong.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

TURKISH SULTAN-IN-CHIEF GOES WILD, THREATENS PUTIN, CLAIMS THOUSANDS SYRIAN TROOPS WERE KILLED

South Front

On February 29, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came with a new group of claims on the situation in Syria’s Idlib and Turkish agressive actions in the region.

Erdogan claimed that the operation in Idlib is not a gamble and is not an attempt to expand Turkish border. The Turkish President added that Turkish forces entered the region under a request from the “Syrian people” (i.e. al-Qaeda terrorists that use civilians as human shields) and Turkey will not leave the area until the “people” request this (i.e. Turkey wants to occupy the region).

Erdogan said that he told President Vladimir Putin that Russia must leave Turkey with the “regime” (the legal Syrian government) one on one.

On top of that the Turkish president claimed that Turkish forces killed over 2,100 Syrian troops, destroyed 300 pieces of military equipment and 7 chemical depots. If these numbers are close to the reality, it reamsin unclear how the Syrian Army continues advancing in southern Idlib, while all Turkish successes were limited to capturing Saraqib and losing a few dozens of troops.

The Turkish president statement also adressed the current situation with the EU migration crisis. Erdogan officially confirmed that Turkey is now intentionally sending refugees to Europe.

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“What did we do yesterday? We opened the doors,” Erdogan said. “We will not close those doors … Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises.”

The Turkish leader said 18,000 refugees had gathered on the Turkish borders with Europe since February 28, adding that the number could reach as many as 30,000 on February 29. The Erdogan government is as always trying to blackmail the EU in an attempt to get from it financial and diplomatic support to Turkish actions in the Middle East. Apparently, Erdogan has his own specific vision of how his country should win friends and influence the international community.

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برود غربي حيال مناشدات أنقرة: الجيش السوري على مشارف «M4»

الأخبار 

السبت 29 شباط 2020

بات الجيش السوري على مقربة من طريق حلب – اللاذقية من جهة أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي (أ ف ب )

تابع الجيش السوري عملياته في أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي، حيث تَمكّن من السيطرة على عدد من القرى والبلدات، بالغاً مشارف الطريق الدولي حلب – اللاذقية (M4). في هذا الوقت، تَصاعد التجاذب الروسي – التركي على خلفية مقتل عشرات الجنود الأتراك في ريف إدلب الجنوبي أول من أمس، فيما أتى التفاعل الغربي مع مناشدات أنقرة دعمها في الشمال السوري بارداًفي ظلّ ردّ تركي وُصف بـ«الهزيل» على مقتل أكثر من ثلاثين جندياً تركياً بغارات جوية روسية – سورية في إدلب أول من أمس، تابع الجيش السوري تقدمه في منطقة سهل الغاب في أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي، حيث سيطر على قرى خربة الناقوس والمنصورة وتل واسط والزيارة والمشيك وزيزون الجديدة وقسطون، ليصل إلى مشارف الطريق الدولي حلب – اللاذقية (M4)، والذي باتت تفصله عنه كيلومترات قليلة فقط، فيما يفصله عن مدينة جسر الشغور الاستراتيجية أقلّ من 10 كم. وتهدف العمليات العسكرية في أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي، وريف إدلب الجنوبي، إلى الوصول إلى الطريق المذكور، ووصله بالطريق الدولي حلب – حماه، علماً أن الطريقين يلتقيان في مدينة سراقب الاستراتجية جنوب شرق مدينة إدلب، والتي أعاد المسلحون السيطرة عليها فجر يوم الأربعاء، وقطعوا بذلك الطريق الدولي «M5». ولم تفلح محاولات الجيش السوري، منذ ليل الخميس – الجمعة، في استعادة السيطرة على المدينة؛ إذ انطلق عبر محورَي تل الشيخ منصور والدوير، من دون أن يحرز تقدّماً.

في غضون ذلك، وفي إطار الردّ التركي على مقتل الجنود الأتراك في بلدة بليون في ريف إدلب الجنوبي، قصفت المدفعية التركية نقاطاً ومواقع للجيش السوري في اللاذقية وحلب وإدلب. وطال القصف بلدتَي نبل والزهراء شمالي حلب، ومواقع للجيش في أرياف إدلب الجنوبية والشرقية. ونشرت وزارة الدفاع التركية مقطع فيديو يظهر، بحسبها، استهداف تلك المواقع، فيما اكتفت دمشق بتصريح لمصدر في وزارة الخارجية، قال فيه إن «الجيش لن يسمح للدول الغربية ووكلائها بتأبيد سيطرة الإرهابيين في سوريا». وأضاف المصدر أن الجيش «سيستمرّ في تنفيذ مهامّه المتمثلة في إنهاء الوجود الإرهابي في كلّ أنحاء سوريا». في هذا الوقت، برزت مساعٍ دبلوماسية روسية لتخفيف الاحتقان، وتجنّب أيّ صدام مباشر مع أنقرة، على رغم مشاركة القوات الروسية في غالبية عمليات القصف الجارية في إدلب. وكانت أرسلت موسكو، عقب اشتداد التطورات في إدلب، وفداً إلى أنقرة للاجتماع بالمسؤولين الأتراك. وأعلنت وزارة الخارجية التركية، أمس، أن تلك المحادثات انتهت، وأن «الوفد الروسي في الطريق إلى بلاده». وأشارت الوزارة إلى أن المسؤولين الأتراك أبلغوا الوفد الروسي «ضرورة تطبيق وقف دائم لإطلاق النار فوراً في إدلب»، و«ضرورة انسحاب قوات الحكومة السورية إلى الحدود المقرّرة في اتفاق خفض التصعيد المبرم عام 2018 بين تركيا وروسيا».

بوتين وإردوغان قد يلتقيان الأسبوع المقبل في موسكو

في غضون ذلك، أعلن الكرملين، أمس، على لسان المتحدث باسمه ديمتري بيسكوف، أن «الرئيسين الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، والتركي رجب طيب إردوغان، قد يلتقيان الأسبوع المقبل في موسكو». وكان بيسكوف أعلن، في وقت سابق، أن بوتين بحث مع أعضاء مجلس الأمن الروسي الوضع في إدلب، مشيراً إلى أن «الجانب التركي لم يبلغنا بوجود العسكريين الأتراك في أماكن تجمّع الإرهابيين»، مضيفاً أن «الجنود الأتراك قتلوا خارج نطاق نقاط المراقبة». وجدّد القول إن «القوات التركية فشلت في السيطرة على أعداد كبيرة من المسلحين ومنع أعمالهم العدائية تجاه المواقع الروسية»، متابعاً أن روسيا «اتخذت جميع التدابير اللازمة لضمان أمن تركيا على طول الحدود السورية التركية». في المقابل، أعلن البيت الأبيض أن الرئيس الأميركي، دونالد ترامب، ونظيره التركي، اتفقا في اتصال هاتفي على «ضرورة وقف النظام السوري وروسيا وإيران للهجمات في إدلب». وجدّد ترامب، في خلال الاتصال، «تأكيده دعم جهود تركيا لخفض التصعيد في شمال غرب سوريا وتجنب كارثة إنسانية». كذلك، أعلنت الرئاسة التركية أن أردوغان «أبلغ ترامب باستعداده لدفع الجيش السوري إلى المواقع المحدّدة في اتفاق سوتشي».

وعلى رغم مناشدة أنقرة حلفاءها في «حلف شمال الأطلسي» دعمها، فقد اكتفى «الحلف» بالتعبير عن تضامنه معها، من دون أن يقدّم تعهّدات بإجراءات جديدة للدفاع عن القوات التركية. وقال الأمين العام للحلف، ينس ستولتنبرغ، إن «الحلفاء وافقوا على المحافظة على الإجراءات القائمة حالياً لتعزيز قدرات تركيا الدفاعية الجوية». بالتوازي مع ذلك، ردّت المفوضية الأوروبية على التهديدات التركية بفتح الحدود أمام اللاجئين السورييين للتدفق نحو أوروبا، بإعلانها أن الاتحاد يتوقّع من تركيا «احترام تعهّداتها الواردة في الاتفاق الهادف للحدّ من تدفق المهاجرين من سوريا»، وفق ما قال المتحدث باسم المفوضية بيتر ستانو . أما الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة، أنطونيو غوتيريش، فقد اعتبر أن وقف إطلاق النار في إدلب «هو الحاجة الأكثر إلحاحاً الآن قبل خروج الوضع عن السيطرة»، واصفاً استهداف القوات التركية بـ«أكثر اللحظات إثارة للقلق خلال فترة الصراع في سوريا». ومن المنتظر أن يعقد مجلس الأمن الدولي اجتماعاً طارئاً لمناقشة التصعيد الأخير في سوريا، وفق ما ذكر دبلوماسيون.

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Syrian Refugees in Turkey Ready to Cross Border Into Greece – Video

Sputnik

29.02.2020

Migrants continue to arrive to the Greek islands, although authorities remain reluctant to relocate them to the mainland, despite promises to do so.

Live from the Turkish city of Edirne west of Istanbul on the border between Turkey and Greece, as refugees travel towards Greece amid a reported change in Turkish border control policy.

On Friday, Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AKP party, said that Ankara was no longer able to contain the flow of refugees from Syria toward the country’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria.

By doing so, Turkey renounces its agreement with the EU, which suggested the closure of the Syrian-Turkish border in exchange for billions of dollars in aid for refugees staying in Turkey. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly accused the EU of not doing enough and is apparently now seeking to draw European and other Western powers into the standoff over Idlib.

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Are Russia and Turkey on a collision course?

THE SAKER • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 

[this analysis was written for the Unz Review]

The murder of the Iranian hero-martyr General Soleimani created a situation in which a war between Iran and the Axis of Kindness (USA/Israel/KSA) became a real possibility but, at the very last minute, Uncle Shmuel decided that he had no stomach for a full-scale war against Iran. Wise decision.

This, however, does not at all imply that the AngloZionist Empire decided to stand by idly, far from it. The need to take quick and determined action became particularly acute following the huge anti-US demonstrations in Iraq (well over one million people in the streets!) which directly put at risk the US occupation (the MSM would call it “presence”) in both Iraq and Syria.

At the same time, Turkish President Erdogan’s refusal to remove all the “bad terrorists” from the Idlib province eventually resulted in a joint Syrian-Russian offensive to liberate the province. That offensive, in turn, clearly infuriated the Turks who warned of a major military operation to prevent the Syrians from liberating their own country.

This begs the question: are Russia and Turkey really on a collision course?

There are certainly some very worrying warning signs including a number of very harsh statements by Erdogan himself, and a suddenly re-kindled Turkish interest for the US “Patriots”.

On the ground in Idlib, the Turks have clearly provided the “bad terrorists” with a lot of support including equipment, MANPADs, tanks and armored personnel carriers. The Turks actually went as far as sending special forces to assist the “bad terrorists” directly. Finally, from footage taken by Russian and Syrian drones, and even the “bad terrorists” themselves, it appears undeniable that Turkish MLRS and regular artillery provided the “bad terrorists” with fire support.

Both sides also agree that a number of Turkish personnel were killed (they only disagree on how many and what these Turks were doing in Syria).

Finally, and most ominously, there is even a video circulating on the Internet which appears to show a US “Stinger” being fired by the “bad terrorists” at a Russian aircraft which, thank God, managed to evade it (unlike 2 Syrian Army helicopters which were shot down).

So the first conclusion that we can come to is that the Turks are already engaged in combat operations against the Syrians. For the time being, these combat operations are just below the threshold of “credible deniability”, but not by much. For example, if the Turks had shot down a Russian aircraft you can be pretty certain that the Russian public opinion (which has still not forgiven Erdogan for the downed Su-24) would have demanded that the Russian Aerospace Forces massively retaliate (just as they have every time Russian military personnel have been killed) kill scores of Turks.

The Russian position is very straightforward. It goes something like this:

The Turks committed to remove all the “bad terrorists” from the Idlib province, leaving only the “good terrorists” who are committed to a ceasefire and a political peace process in place. That did not happen. In this case, the Syrians clearly have to do themselves what the Turks refused (or could not) do. The Russian military presence in Syria, and the Russian military operations, are all absolutely legitimate and legal: the legitimate government of Syria invited the Russians in, and the UNSC agreed to back the Syrian peace process. Thus the Russian Aerospace Forces’ strikes against the “bad terrorists” are absolutely legal. Furthermore, Russia very much deplores the presence of regular Turkish units among the “bad terrorists” which is both illegal and very unhelpful. Finally, the Russian Aerospace forces have no way to determine who sits in which tank, or who provides artillery cover for the operations of the “bad terrorists”. Thus, if Turkish military personnel are killed in Syrian or Russian operations, this would be entirely the fault of Ankara.

So far the Turkish military operation has been rather unsuccessful and limited.

But Erdogan is now promising a major attack.

Will that happen and what can the Turks really do?

First and foremost, Turkey does not have the means to enter into a full-scale conflict with Russia. Turkey cannot do that for political, economic and military reasons:

Political: the simple truth is that Turkey (and Erdogan) desperately need Russian political support, not only towards the West, but also towards Iraq, Iran or Israel. Furthermore, Erdogan has now clearly deeply alienated the Europeans who are fed up with Erdogan’s constant threats to open the “refugees” spigot. As for the Turks, they have already known for years that the EU will never accept them and that NATO will not support Turkey in its (very dangerous) operations in Iraq and Syria.

Economic: Turkey’s economy really suffered from the sanctions introduced by Russia following the shooting down of the Russian Su-24 by Turkish aircraft (backed by USAF fighters). What was true then is even more true now, and the Turkish public opinion understands that.

Military: the past years have been absolutely disastrous for the Turkish armed forces which were purged following the coup attempt against Erdogan. This sorry state of affairs is indirectly confirmed by the very poor performance of Turkish forces in Syria.

What about a conflict limited to Syria?

Again, Turkey is in a bad position. For one thing, the Syrians and, even more so, the Russians control the airspace above Idlib. The Turks are so frustrated with this state of affairs that they have now reportedly asked the US to deploy Patriot missiles in southern Turkey. This is a rather bizarre request, especially considering that Turkey purchased S-400s from Russia or how pathetically the Patriots actually performed (recently in the KSA and elsewhere before that). This, by the way, might well be a case of fake news since, apparently, there are no Patriots available for Turkey even if the US agreed to sell.

Then there is the bellicose rhetoric we hear from Erdogan. For example, he recently declared that:

“The regime, backed by Russian forces and Iran-backed militants, are continuously attacking civilians, committing massacres and shedding blood, (…) I hereby declare that we will strike regime forces everywhere from now on regardless of the [2018] deal if any tiny bit of harm is dealt to our soldiers at observation posts or elsewhere.”

That kind of language is, of course, very dangerous but, at least so far, the Turkish operation has been both limited and unsuccessful. Syrian President Assad was not impressed and declared that:

It also means that we must not rest idle, but prepare for the battles to come. As a result, the battle to liberate the Aleppo and Idlib countryside continues regardless of some empty sound bubbles coming from the north (vain threats from Erdogan), just as the battle continues to liberate all of Syrian soil, crush terrorism and achieve stability.

In the meantime, in Iraq, the US has apparently dug-in and categorically refuses to leave. In practical terms this means that the Iraqis will have to step up their anti-US campaign both politically (more protests and demonstrations) and militarily (more IEDs, convoy attacks and, probably soon, drone, cruise missile and ballistic missile attacks on US targets in Iraq). I don’t believe that the US will be able to sustain that kind of pressure in the mid to long term, especially not in an election year (which promises to be hellish anyway). Right now, the Idiot-in-Chief seems to think that threatening Iraq with “very big sanctions” is the way to restore good relationships. In reality, all this will do is to further inflame anti-US feelings in Iraq and the rest of the region.

Then there is the tactical situation. Please check these two maps: (click on map for a higher resolution)

The part in red shows the government controlled areas. The light blue (or light green on the 2nd map) show the Turkish deployment. The part in olive green (or darker green on the 2nd map) shows the parts of the Idlib province which are still under Takfiri occupation. Finally, the small region around Tell Rifaat are controlled by the Kurds.

The Syrian forces, backed by Russia, have now pushed back the latest Turkish+Takfiri attack north and west of Aleppo and they are now attacking the southern tip of the Takfiri occupation zone around the Zawiya mountain and highlands, see here:

The Syrians have options here. They can either gradually push north, or they can try to envelop the Takfiri forces in a “cauldron”. Finally, the Syrians would score a major victory if they succeeded in regaining control of the highway between Aleppo and Latakia (in blue on the map).

As for the Turkish-backed Takfiris, they are pushing very hard towards Idlib, so far with only moderate and temporary successes (they typically take a location at hugecost in lives and equipment and then cannot hold on to it as soon as the Syrians and Russians bomb the crap out of their newly conquered positions).

All of this is taking place while Syrian, Russian, Turkish and US patrols are regularly meeting, often in rather tense situations which could quickly escalate into a firefight or, even worse, an open battle. There is also the risk of an incident in the air since these four nations also conduct air operations over Syria. And, just like in the case of the ground operations, Syrian and Russian air operations are legal under international law, Turkish, US or Israeli operations are not and constitute an act of “aggression” (n.b: the highest crime under international law).

So far, the various negotiations between the parties have not yielded any result. This might change on March 5th when a conference on Syria attended by Turkey, Russia, France and Germany will meet (probably in Istanbul) to try to find a negotiated solution. Considering that Turkish soldiers are killed every day and already that 2 Syrian helicopters have been shot down, this might be too late to avoid an escalation.

I will conclude here by posting a (minimally corrected) machine translation of a Russian translation of a text originally written by a Turkish political commentator and translated into Russian by a Telegram channel: (emphasis added)

Russia’s strategy from the very beginning was to return full control of Syrian territories to Assad. And Moscow was implementing its plans, getting closer to the goal step by step. As long as Damascus will not take Idlib, the operation will continue. You don’t need to be an expert in this field to understand this. This is obvious. Someone says that Erdogan’s trip to Ukraine played a role in the offensive operations of Damascus. In fact, this visit is the result of the Syrian army’s offensive. The Turkish President went to Kiev just after tensions rose between the Turkish armed forces and the Russian side. Erdogan is in Ukraine made statements that have caused irritation in Moscow.

Turkish diplomacy was at an impasse. We discussed for a long time that you can’t put all your eggs in one Russian basket. And they said: we will buy the S-400, build a nuclear power plant, and develop tourism. And Putin was made a hero in our country. And now the defense Secretary is talking about buying American patriot air defense systems. And the President is talking about acquiring Patriot. “We did not succeed with Russia, we will get closer to the United States” – this is not how foreign policy is done. We need consistency in foreign policy. It is not appropriate for a country with a strong military power to change sides between world powers once a week.

What we are still discussing these days: we need to get closer to Europe and the US against Russia. These discussions worry our entrepreneurs who work with Russia. The tourism sector is concerned. Without Russian tourists, our tourism sector cannot fill all the volumes and make a profit. We have not yet been able to resolve these issues, and we are discussing a clash with Russia. Let’s remember what happened after Turkey shot down a Russian plane. Our tourism sector could not recover for two years. What to expect from a military clash. We have to talk about it.

The goal of our state: to live in peace on our land, and keep all the troubles away from yourself, while doing this to attract new troubles – this is not an indicator of a good military strategy or a well-thought-out diplomatic strategy. Everyone should understand this.

The risk for Erdogan is obvious: in case of a serious confrontation with Russia (and Syria AND Iran, don’t forget them!), the consequences for Turkey might be severe, resulting in a sharp rise in anti-Erdogan feelings in Turkey, something he can hardly afford.

And that brings us to the current US/NATO/CENTCOM posture following the assassination of General Soleimani I mentioned in the beginning of this article. The risks of a quick and dangerous escalation involving the US and Iran are still extremely high. The same can be said for the risks of a resumption of anti-US attacks by Iraqi Shia forces. Then there are the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Yemen, which Uncle Shmuel probably would prefer to end, but has no idea how. In these countries a rapid escalation could occur at any time, especially following Iran’s officially declared goal to kick the US out of the Middle-East. And now, there is a risk of major escalation between Turkey, Syria and Russia: such an escalation would have a major potential to suck in the US forces in the region, even if nobody does so deliberately (or if the Iranians do that very deliberately).

Right now Uncle Shmuel is busy with a strategic PSYOP trying to get Russia and Iran into a conflict (see this propaganda piece for example). That will not work, as both the Russians and the Iranians are waaaaaaay too savvy to fall for such primitive things. The US also tried to instigate riots inside Iran, but they quickly petered out (as did the rumors about the US deliberately shooting down the Ukrainian airliner).

The Middle-East is impossible to predict, it is too complex and there are too many possible factors which influence the situation. Still, my guess is that the March 5th conference, assuming it takes place, will force Erdogan to back down and re-pledge his commitment to bringing back security to the Idlib province. That is, as far as I can see, the only way for Erdogan to avoid an embarrassing military defeat with possibly very serious political consequences.

Conversely, should there be an open clash between Turkey and Syria+Russia, then I don’t see NATO intervening to back Turkey. At the most, the US/NATO can send forces to “protect” Turkey and equipment, but in both cases these would not be effective (the problems of the Turkish military are too big to be solved by such mostly symbolic actions). While some more rabid countries (Poland, Netherlands, UK and, of course, the USA) might be tempted to get a major NATO action going against Syria and, through that, against Russia, the mentally saner EU countries have exactly zero desire to end up in a war against Russia, not over the Ukraine, and not over Syria.

Thus while Erdogan is desperately trying to pit the US against Russia, this will not work, especially since this latest pro-US “zag” will only further alienate Iran (and the rest of the region). I predict that after the March 5th conference, Erdogan will be forced to resume his “friendship” with Putin and basically cave in.

If that does not happen, for whatever reason, an escalation will be pretty close to inevitable.

PS: Colonel Cassad (aka Boris Rozhin) has published on his blog an interesting article which looks at a theory which, apparently, is popular in the Middle-East and Russia. This theory says that what is taking place is a gigantic show, a deception, in which both Russia and Turkey appear to be at odds, but in reality are working hand in hand to disarm the Takfiris and exchange territory. Here are, in his opinion, the possibly indications of such a collaboration: (machine translated and minimally corrected)

  1. After some formalities, Turkey resumed joint patrols with the Russian military in Rojava, which is carried out in a routine manner.
  2. Russia has increased the quota for the supply of Turkish tomatoes to Russia despite the fact that Russia threatened to block the supply of Turkish tomatoes.
  3. US did not give Turkey patriot missile, which was described in the Turkish media referring to anonymous sources in the Turkish government. No actual support from the United States and NATO, Turkey has not received.
  4. Despite the fact that the SAA was not going to stop the offensive and continued to surround the Turkish observation points, Turkey has effectively given Assad’s carte blanche for all of February, stating that no major combat operation will be initiated before the beginning of March.
  5. The main chain of the new observation points were deployed by Turkey to the North of highway M-4. The southern direction is not actually strengthened. Attempts to cover the Kafr will Sagna or Kafr Nabl were not undertaken, although this is more important points than Nairab.
  6. The bulk of the Pro-Turkish militants were drawn to Idlib and Carmine, while the southern front was actually exposed for Assad there is a situation of maximum favour for liberation dozen cities and towns.
  7. The battle of Niravam turned into a week-long meat grinder, where the militants engaged in stupid frontal assaults against Syrian positions with heavy losses but capturing Neirab, there is virtually nothing on the operational level, they did not win – losing people and most importantly – time.
  8. The Russian and Turkish military keep all channels of communication and exchange information, including on the movement of Turkish columns. The Russian military help to supply the surrounded Turkish observational points in the rear of Assad.
  9. Moscow and Ankara have repeatedly stressed that not to seek a military conflict with each other, preferring to seek resolution of disputes through diplomatic means.

And Rozhin adds:

Why all this may be part of a backroom deal? Because such a scenario would allow Turkey to look like a defender of Idlib, which is in strong opposition to the plans of Assad and Putin. At least visually. As for Assad and Putin, they can claim to have liberated part of the Idlib province. The battle of Niravam in this logic allow Erdogan to save face before “in the interests of peace and security,” to sign a new deal with Russia with a new line of demarcation, which officially has already been discussed at negotiations in Moscow on 17-18 February. Officially, the Turks rejected it. But it’s official. And if we assume that the agreement already exists and this just fixed sight 5 March, while Assad released another piece of Idlib and the militants “An-Nusra” will be partially disposed in the battles with the SAA in Idlib and in the southern frontal attack on the front under Niranam. In favor of this version may indicate the previous experience of transactions between Russia and Turkey, when Ankara loudly growled at Assad, but de facto did not prevent the Assad regime to clean up the enclaves and win the battle for Aleppo. Against this version can play what the Turks themselves are suffering losses in manpower, and further concessions to Russia may undermine Erdogan’s positions in Idlib, so he tries to bargain.

I personally doubt this version, if only because this is a very tricky and dangerous way to get things done, and because of the many threats and even ultimatums Erdogan is constantly spewing. A more likely explanation for all of the above is that 1) the Takfiris are desperate and are running out of steam and 2) the Turks are afraid of a serious confrontation with Russia. Rozin concludes:

I think that by March 5 the question of whether there is was a secret deal or not will finally be clarified, since Erdogan’s threats are all focusing on early March, at which point he will have to either attack or chose to play the role of peacemaker, which “diplomatically” stopped the advance of Assad.

Here I can only agree with him.

Quo Vadis, Lebanon?

Global Research, December 03, 2019

Good bye, Lebanon, metaphorically and truly.

Good bye to a country which, many believe, actually has already ceased to exist.

For five long years I have been commuting between the Asia Pacific and the Middle East.And Beirut, for all that time, was one of my homes.

I arrived in Beirut when the situation in the region was beginning to be unbearable; when destabilized, tortured Syria commenced losing its children in large numbers. They were forced to leave their homeland, heading for Beirut and the Beqaa Valley, and in fact, to all parts of the world. I arrived when Syrian refugees were freezing to death, exploited and brutalized in ancient, godforsaken villages lost in the deep, lawless Lebanese valleys.

I was not supposed to write about it, but I did. I was not supposed to see what I saw. It was the UN’s shame, a well-hidden and well covered one, obscured by technical jargon. Refugees were not called refugees, and camps were not really officially registered as camps. What you had clearly seen with your own eyes, you were told, was actually totally something else. But it wasn’t. Eyes hardly lie.

Lebanon’s mirages, sandcastles and myths. If you live here, they surround you, suffocate you, choke you, all the time.

I arrived when the Palestinians began rebelling inside the horrific camps; hopeless, monstrous places where tens of thousands of human beings have been forced to live, for decades, without help, with hardly any rights.

And I left when the country collapsed. When the gap between the haves and have nots reached such enormous proportions, that it often began to appear that there were actually two different countries, even universes, on the same tiny geographical territory that is called Lebanon.

*

But before I left, there was an uprising.

Of course, periodically, there are rebellions here, which are misleadingly called “revolutions”. The“revolution” of 2005, of 2015, and now again, in 2019.

I worked in the center of Beirut, in the squares packed with the protesters. I tried to understand, to analyze, to find context.

And what did I witness? Huge clenched fists, those of the Serbian “Otpor”, a CIA-Serbian (extreme right-wing) ‘organization’, which forced the government of Slobodan Milosevic out of power, and which later infiltrated and destroyed genuine revolts all over the Middle East; revolts cynically called by the Western mass media – “Arab Spring”.

I actually saw many signs of Otpor, a sister group of Canvas, and when I asked protesters in Beirut whether they knew what these organizations represented, they replied that “no”, they didn’t but “they’d definitely ask their designers”.

There was a lot of waving of flags, plenty of singing, and even dancing. Rebellion Lebanese-style. One big party. Smiles, laughter, even when things get desperate.

Protesters have many grievances, and they are willing to discuss them, openly: corruption, hardship, almost non-existent social services, and hardly any future.

But do not look for any signs of ideology here, in 2019: this is not a communist, or even a socialist, rebellion, although historically, Lebanon has vibrant socialist and communist movements, both of them.

One thing is certain: protesters “do not like ‘elites’”, but you will search in vain for slogans denouncing capitalism; something that is so common in Chile and of course, in Bolivia (but not in Hong Kong, where the riots are clearly backed by the West and by some local ‘elites’).

Protesters do not like electricity blackouts, water shortages, filth accumulated everywhere because of the failed garbage collection and recycling. The protesters hate the high prices, and traffic jams.

But what do they want, really?

*

They want a “better Lebanon”. But what is that?

A Lebanon free of racism, for instance? No, I never saw any signs denouncing racism.

When I first began living here, I was horrified by the bigotry of the locals.

A driver working for one of the UN agencies, did not even try to hide his ‘beliefs’:

“The Turkish nation has improved. In the past, they only screwed Asian women, and as a result, they all looked like dogs. After they conquered the Balkans, and began screwing European women, their stock got better.” 

Arriving at Rafik Hariri International Airport, I often saw humiliated Philippine, Ethiopian, or Kenyan women, locked in crowded rooms, guarded by Lebanese security forces. They looked like slaves, treated like meat. Unhurriedly, their “owners” would come to fetch them, signing release papers, leading them away.

The abuse of domestic workers in Lebanon is horrific; torture, rape and death are common. Foreign workers are regularly committing suicide. While there is hardly any legal protection for them.

Is this going to change? Are protesters demanding a “better Lebanon” which would once and for all finish with this sort of discrimination?Again, I have never heard about such demands.

And what has been sustaining Lebanon, financially, for decades?

All over West Africa, unscrupulous, racist and brutal Lebanese businesspeople have been exploiting local folks, while plundering natural resources. The things that I heard in Ivory Coast, would shock even the most hardened readers. But are there any slogans in Beirut demanding theplunder of West Africa stop?

Another fabled source of income are the narcotics, grown and processed in the Beqaa Valley. If it were to be marijuana, who cares? But Lebanon is producing heroin and cocaine, but above all, so-called “combat drugs”, including Captagon, which is used on the battlefields of Syria and Yemen. Captagonis regularly smuggled out of the country by the Saudis, and used in jihadi operations, as I have reported.

Is this going to end? Are Lebanese protesters demanding a “better Lebanon” without drugs that are helping to kill and torture tens of thousands of innocent people, all over the region?

What are the other sources of income here? Banking, of course. Banks that operate all over the Middle East, and the Gulf.

And, of course, “foreign aid”. Aid which is supposed to “help the immigrants”, as well as the poor Lebanese who are “suffering from the waves of refugees”, arrivingfrom countries destabilized by the West. These funds regularly disappear, fully or partially”,into the deep pockets of the Lebanese elites, who make sure to generate profits no matter what: when the refugees keep arriving, and even when they leave.

Before I departed, I spent one week wandering all around Beirut, day and night, searching foranswers, looking for signs that the protesters were really determined to change the country. Not just for themselves, but for everyone in Lebanon, and for the entire Arab world.

I encountered too many abstract slogans, most of them of Western origin. Not even a trace of Syrian Pan-Arabism. Nothing that would even remotely resemble internationalism. This was clearly a “European-style” rebellion.

*

As always, the Lebanese security forces were intimidating me and many others.

Coming to Martyr’s Square, at night, I only pointed the lens of my camera in the direction of a group of lazy, cynical looking soldiers, and it propelled them immediately into action. They tried to force me to delete the images, to apologize. I did not budge. I had no problem photographing police in Hong Kong, or in Paris, Chile or other places. And I have had enough, after 5 years here, of these inept and arrogant brutes.

But here, the armed forces are “unique”; not much is expected from them. It is Hezbollah which comes to the rescue of Lebanon whenever it is attacked by Israel. Hezbollah fighters are well trained, and they are disciplined. While the Lebanese army (and its various “forces”) is manned by those who cannot find a decent job. If it protects somebody or something, it is the Lebanese regime, sustained by the West and Saudi Arabia.

I refused to hand over my phones and cameras to them.

Arrest me,” I offered, extending both my hands.

They did not. It would be too much effort, and paperwork.

Later, the protesters hugged me:

“It is great that you did not surrender your material to them. You see, if it was us, the Lebanese, they would beat us up, and smash our cameras.” 

A lady protester added:

“You never know what they are hiding, but they are hiding something, always. Perhaps they did not want the world to see how lazy they are. They stand here, in clusters, doing nothing, chatting. Then, when they get tired of doing nothing, they mobilize and attack us. They are unpredictable.”

A couple of months ago, during the short conflict between Israel and Lebanon (Israeli drone attack and Hezbollah retaliation), I managed to drive to the border, as I had on several previous occasions.

Almost the entire defense of Lebanon has been resting on the shoulders of Hezbollah, with UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) troops, consisting of Indonesian, South Korean, Italian, Ghanaian and others forces, patrolling the frontier in armored vehicles, and providing mostly psychological deterrence from the large fortified bases, including the one at Naqoura.

Lebanese armed forces have very little ability to defend their country. That includes the Lebanese Air Force, which mainly counts on things that could be described as toy airplanes, with converted Cessna models.

Now, theLebanese army and police are facing and confronting their own people, protecting the regime in Beirut, as well as foreign, mainly Western and Saudi, interests.

*

But back to the main question which is, surprisingly, very rarely asked by the Western mass media outlets: “What do Lebanese people really want? What is the goal of the uprising?”

Rebellion began on October 17, against proposed tax on WhatsApp calls. It soon turned into call for resignation of the entire government; call for total overhaul of the Lebanese system. Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, resigned. Others stayed, but country has been paralyzed for weeks.

Some Lebanese call what is happening on the streets of Beirut, Tripoli and other cities, an “October Revolution”, but in reality, this uprising has very little to do with the iconic Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

However, one positive thing is that many Lebanese people are now calling for direct democracy, and for a people’s parliament.

Alessandra Bajec recently wrote for The New Arab newspaper:

“Protests and strikes are not the only nationwide thing dominating Lebanon. Open discussions held by groups of citizens is the latest phenomenon happening on the streets of Lebanon. 

A series of open discussions led by a variety of groups of citizens are held daily around Lebanon helping to feed the hearts and minds of the revolutionary movement since the start of the country’s so-called “October Revolution”. 

I witnessed those gatherings in Beirut. It is an impressive idea, in a way far more advanced than what has been observed in Europe, during the recent protests in France and elsewhere.

It is clear that Lebanese rebels have had enough of the sectarian politics, of savage capitalism (although, this is not being pronounced as such), and of the endemic corruption.

For decades, after the devastating Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), thecountry remained bitterly divided. Again, it is actually something that is not supposed to be discussed, even mentioned, but allegiances in this nation of (officially) 4.4 million, have been commonly pledged toreligious leaders and movements, and not to the state.

David Morrison wrote in Labor & Trade Union Review:

“Lebanon’s political system has a uniquely confessional character, which has its origin in the National Pact of 1943.  Under this unwritten Pact, the President of the Republic must be a Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the President (Speaker) of the Parliament a Shiite Muslim. 

What is more, 50% of the 128 seats in the Parliament are allocated to Christians, and 50% to Muslims, and these allocations are further sub-divided for Christian and Muslim sects.  In total, seats are allocated to each of 18 sects.  Nationally, the 64 Christian seats are allocated as follows: Maronite 34, Greek Orthodox 14, Greek Catholic 8, Armenian Orthodox 5, Armenian Catholic 1, Protestant 1 and Others 1; and the 64 Muslim seats are allocated as follows: Sunni 27, Shiite 27, Druze 8 and Alawite 2. 

So, in total Christians have 50% of the seats, and the Sunni and Shiite communities just over 20% each. 

There was no provision in the National Pact for altering these allocations to reflect demographic changes.  And there is still none today.  These allocations may have corresponded to the proportion of each sect in the electorate at one time, but they certainly don’t today.  But it’s impossible to say with any precision what they should be, since there hasn’t been a national census since 1932.  This is a very sensitive issue within Lebanon, an issue that has the potential to trigger civil conflict.” 

Naturally, this sclerotic and stale system of secretive divides and coalitions, led to outrageous corruption. Religious and family clans managed to amass tremendous wealth, while enjoying almost absolute impunity.

Discussing sensitive political issues with various Lebanese protesters and activists in 2015 (“You Stink” movement), as well as during the recent uprising of 2019, I came to the clear understanding that most of the educated protesters (and Lebanon is without any doubt one of the most educated nations in the Arab world), have been totally rejecting the sectarian system. In fact, they were thoroughly disgusted with it.

As early as in 2015, one of the main demands was to “unite Lebanon”; to make sure that it gets governed by people elected based on their virtues and excellence, instead of religious beliefs.

Particularly young people have had enough of those escapes to Cyprus (in order to get married), if a couple belonged to two different religions, or if one or both individuals had no religion at all. They were revolted by the fact that their child could no be registered in their own country, if there was no official Lebanese marriage certificate.

And most of the people I spoke to, understood that the shocking lack of transparency on which the Lebanese regime has been thriving, only serves those very few extremely rich individuals and families. The economy of the country is shattered, debt is at 150% GDP, basically unserviceable, and the divide between the rich and poor, monstrous. For millions, leaving the country became the only option. But luxury marinas are full of lavish yachts, while Maserati sport cars and Range Rover SUVs are parked all over the capital, in front of luxury restaurants and bars.

The Lebanese revolutionaries are organizing open discussions, but that is not all – they want a totally new political system.

The problem is, they are not sure, which one.

But, they are certain that by holding open forums and public meetings,they will, eventually, find out what precisely it is they want.

Alessandra Bajec continues witha description of direct-democracy groups:

Rachad Samaha, a social activist and core member of the free discussions group adds, “We were talking among ourselves about how we could be more involved in the revolution… not just by joining protests, but through helping to bring people together to discuss issues that we are all fighting against. We can then reach some common ground.” 

Centering such group discussions over the need to change the current political system, and put an end to sectarianism, and possible ways to fix the country’s rapidly declining economy has been the leading drive for prompting exchanges of views between people from within the largest protest movement. 

The major matters of national concern voiced by citizens taking part in the talks include the accelerating economic crisis, the embezzlement of public funds, the decades-long ruling political elites who are being held responsible for the deepening crisis, and the confessional system, where power is divided among sects and has created patronage networks and clientelism at the detriment of the population.” 

All this is true. But this is Lebanon, the Middle East, where nothing is really simple.

Here, the West has a tremendous influence, and so do the best allies of Washington in the region, the Saudis. All this money ‘wasted’, all that eye-closing, simply ought to have guaranteed certain allegiances.

Under the surface, the West, Israel and Saudi Arabia are all after Iran, and Iran is allied with Hezbollah, and Hezbollah is the only true and powerful social force in Lebanon, where almost everything public has been already privatized, or stolen, or both.

Hezbollah is also the only true protection that Lebanon has, against Israel. While the West does not want anyone to be protected against Israel.

Predictably, Hezbollah is on the “terrorist list” of the United States, and on the lists of several of its allies.

Hezbollah had a strategic alliance with the previous government of Hariri, who resigned several weeks ago (and Hezbollah was warning against pushing for the collapse of the government, and even tried to clear the roadblocks erected by the protesters).

Now, what will really happen if the protesters win? Who will be benefiting? What if the old regime collapses; what if there is no more Hezbollah, and no more protection against the “Southern Neighbor”?

*

What kind of Lebanon can replace this present, terribly inefficient, even brutal and corrupt state?

If you are in Achrafieh neighborhood, the richest place in Lebanon, where the old Christian money resides, you would be told, by many, things that you would most likely not want to hear.

You’d be “explained” that Lebanon was supposed to be a Christian country, that the French created it as the only Christian state in the Middle East. You would hear Palestinians being insulted, horribly, and you would see posters of extreme-right-wing political leaders.

Once, there, I had a haircut, and an old barber parted with me, by raising his right hand into the air, and shouting: “Heil Hitler!” (After that, I quickly switched to a Syrian barber).

A neighbor once told me:

“French imperialism? Oh, but we would love to have the French back! That would be brilliant, to be colonized by them, again, no?” 

It was not a joke. He meant it. Each and every word, that he uttered.

These things are not supposed to be written about, at least not in the mainstream press. But this is not the mainstream press, and I believe that without understanding these nuances, it is impossible to understand Lebanon, and what could happen if the revolution wins.

Who is singing and dancing at the center of Beirut? Who is demanding for the resignation of the entire regime? Are these mainly Christians or Muslims? I am not sure. Judging by the number of headscarves, most likely, the majority are not Muslim. But again, I am not sure. This is not a question that one can present, to the protesters.

This is definitely not a revolution that would advance the interests of the Muslim-socialist Iran. And the same could be said about what is going on, simultaneously, in Iraq.

Can Western-backed “secularism” convert Lebanon into a Western outpost in the Middle East? Could it further hurt, even damage, Syria? Theoretically, yes. Could it hurt the interests of non-Western, anti-imperialist countries like Russia and China? Most definitely.

Is that what is happening? Could this be another shade of the “Color Revolutions”, or a continuation of the so-called Arab Spring?

No one can answer these questions, yet. But the situation has to be monitored, extremely carefully. Given the history of Lebanon, given its position in the world, its political and economic orientation, as well as education, the country can go either way. Given the choice, people could opt for a socialist state, or of returning to the Western colonial realm.

The West is doing all it can to bring Lebanon into its orbit. The clenched fists of Otpor are clear proof and warning of it. It is a well documented fact, that Canvashas been operating here at least since 2005.

 

*

Leaving Beirut, at the gate, I was once again stopped by anofficer of the security forces. He was rude. They always search for Israeli stamps or for exit stamps, or something, in the passports. And I had enough of him. Here, at Rafik Hariri, I saw them, for years, humiliating Ethiopian women, crushing Syrians, while treating like gods, white visitors from Europe and the United States.

“Why not fight Israelis, instead of women and children?” I suggested to him, grinning.

And all hell broke loose. And they dragged me away from the gate. And the giant Boeing 777-300 had to wait, as Air France refused to back down and download my luggage and leave me behind.

They called some generals back in Beirut. They were jumping around, shouting something, bluffing. I couldn’t care one single bit. My work here was finished. In Paris, I had nine days to kill, writing, before departing for South America. Waiting there, or in some filthy jail in Lebanon, made very little difference to me. I would have liked to be in Damascus, but my visa had already expired. So, I just waited.

In the end, they let me go. Prisoners who are not scared, are not fun to hold.

The airplane maneuvered towards the runway, then the engines roared, and we took off. Halas.

My memory cards are holding hours of footage from all corners of Lebanon. I was not sure what will I do with it.

Above all, I was not sure what the Lebanese will do with their own country.

A giant clenched fist was stickingout from the Martyr’s Square. Was this a foreign implant, a well-planned sabotage, or a genuine symbol of resistance?

On Independence Day, the fist was burned down, destroyed. Vandals!, screamed foreign media. I am not sure: this is extremely complex country.

The country was collapsing. Perhaps it has already collapsed. People were talking, shouting, singing. Some were living in dire misery. Others were driving Ferraris and torturing imported maids.

The country has been desperately trying to go forward. But forward could mean many, many different directions. In Lebanon, for each person, for each group: forward is towards somewhere else!

*

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Andre Vltchek

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published.

All images in this article are from the author

The Explosion in Lebanon Has Been Delayed: Until When?

Posted on

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

Europe is concerned about the Lebanese political crisis and its potential spillover consequences in case of a civil confrontation. Even if the European states do not have differing strategic objectives in Lebanon from the US, a civil war will affect Europe directly, as refugees will be flocking from the neighbouring continent.

Reaching an agreement over a new government to prevent further unrest is proving difficult. Sources in Beirut believe it may take several months to form a new government, as was the case in forming the last government. Some wonder if it might not be better to wait for the results of the US elections before forming a new government. Or perhaps a new government will only emerge after a major security event, like the assassination of the late Prime Minister Rafic Hariri which triggered a political tsunami in the country. All indications on the ground point to the prospect of a civilian confrontation arising from the absence of a robust central government that can take in hand the security of the country. Can Lebanon avoid a civil confrontation?

The closure of the main roads and the “deliberate” incompetence and inaction of the security forces – due to US requests to tolerate the closure of main axes linking Lebanon with the capital – is no longer a surprising behaviour.

The main roads now closed have been carefully selected: closed are the roads linking the south of Lebanon to Beirut and linking Baalbek and the road to Damascus with the capital Beirut. These areas are mainly inhabited and used by Shia. The roads are being blocked mainly in certain sectarian areas controlled by Sunni supporters of the caretaker Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Druse ally Walid Joumblat. The closure of other roads in the Christian dominated Dbayeh by the pro-US Christian leader Samir Geagea, leader of the “Lebanese Forces”, and in Tripoli seem to be kind of diversions of attention from the main goal: challenging Hezbollah.

Sources in Beirut believe the objective is to exasperate the Shia who represent the society that protects Hezbollah. The goal is to force the organisation into the streets. Hezbollah is aware of this and is trying to avoid responding to provocations. The closure of these roads is an invitation to Hezbollah to take the situation in hand and direct its weapon against other Lebanese citizens, as indeed happened on the 5th of May 2008.

In 2008, Druse minister Marwan Hamadé – directed by Walid Joumblat – and pro-US Prime Minister Fouad Siniora asked Hezbollah to cut its fibreoptic private communication system linking all corners of the country. Israel never ceased to monitor the Hezbollah cable that, due to its high-security system and regular control, had managed to neutralise all Israeli tapping devices attached to it by Israeli Special forces during their infiltration to Lebanon for this exact purpose. An effort was made by the Lebanese government in May 2008 to cut the cable to break through Hezbollah’s high-security system, the key to its command and control in time of peace and especially in time of war. This insistent attempt – despite repeated warnings – provoked two days later a demonstration of force by Hezbollah occupying the entire capital in a few hours with no serious victims. Lebanese pro-US armed mercenaries who gathered and hid in Beirut to trigger a civil war on this day, anticipating Hezbollah’s possible reaction, were neutralised in no time despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on their supposed readiness for war against Hezbollah in the streets of Beirut.

Today, the goal is to see Hezbollah controlling the streets and arming anti-government Syrians and Lebanese. The goal is to take the Lebanon issue to the United Nations so as to justify a foreign intervention. The aim is not to see Hezbollah defeated by the initial clashes; the firepower, training and military organisation of Hezbollah cannot be defeated by enthusiastic mercenaries and locals. The aim is to deprive Hezbollah of its legitimacy and pay a heavy price for its “unforgivable” victories in Syria and Iraq and its support to the Palestinians and the Yemeni.

Lebanon’s financial problems are not the primary issue. In Congressional testimony, the former US Under Secretary of State and Ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffery Feltman, told the US Congress that “Lebanon’s entire external debt (around $35 billion) is in line with the estimates of what Saudi Arabia is bleeding every year in pursuing a war in Yemen ($25-$40 billion).”

Regional and international financial support to Lebanon will be injected with one purpose: to trigger a civil war in the hope of defeating Hezbollah in the long term. This might also save Israel from a severe political crisis by provoking a war against Lebanon rather than an internal conflict among Israelis, as seems possible after two failed attempts to form a government.

Most Lebanese are aware of the sensitive and critical situation in the country. Most fear a civil war, particularly in view of the behaviour of the Lebanese Army and other security forces who are now standing idle and yet refusing to keep all roads open. These actions by the security forces are greatly contributing to the possibility of an internal conflict.

Sincere protestors with only a domestic agenda have managed to achieve miracles by crossing all sectarian boundaries and carrying one flag: an end to corruption and associated poverty and the return of stolen capital to Lebanon. Protestors are asking the judiciary system to assume its responsibility and for the country to head towards a secular ruling system. But sectarian elements and foreign intervention are managing to divert attention from the real national demands that have been overwhelming the Lebanese since decades.

The foreign intervention is not relying on the justified demands of protestors in its confrontation with Hezbollah. It is relying on sectarian Lebanese who want to contribute to the fall of Hezbollah from the inside. This is not surprising because Lebanon is a platform where the US, EU, and Saudis are strongly present and active against the Axis of Resistance led by Iran. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Hussein Salame warned in his most recent speech that these countries risk “crossing the line”.

Since the “Islamic Revolution” in 1979 Iran has not initiated a military or preventive war on its neighbours, but has limited its action to defending itself and in building its “Axis of Resistance”. Recently, Iran proposed – to no avail – a HOPE (Hormuz Peace Endeavor) to its neighbours, seeking a commitment to the security of the Middle East separately from any US intervention.

Iran defeated the mainstream international community when it helped prevent the fall of the government in Damascus after years of war. It has effectively supported Hezbollah and the Palestinians against Israel, favoured ally of the US; Iran stood next to Iraq and prevented a hostile government reaching power; Iran has also supported the defence of Yemen against Saudi Arabia’s useless and destructive war. Iran’s enemies are numerous and have not given up. They tried but failed to achieve their objectives in 2006 in Lebanon, in 2011 in Syria, in 2014 in Iraq and in 2015 in Yemen. Today a new approach is being implemented to defeat Iran’s allies: the weaponization of domestic unrests, motivated by legitimate anti-corruption demands for reform, at the cost of “incinerating” entire countries, i.e. Lebanon and Iraq.

Protestors have failed to offer a feasible plan themselves and caretaker Prime Minister Hariri is trying to punch above his parliamentary weight by seeking to remove political opponents who control more than half of the parliament. Lebanon has reached a crossroads where an exchange of fire is no longer excluded. The conflict has already claimed lives. Thanks to manipulation, Lebanon seems to be headed towards self-destruction.

Proofread by C.G.B and Maurice Brasher

This article is translated free to many languages by volunteers so readers can enjoy the content. It shall not be masked by Paywall. I’d like to thank my followers and readers for the confidence and support. If you like it, please don’t feel embarrassed to contribute and help fund it for as little as 1 Euro. Your contribution, however small, will help ensure its continuity. Thank you.

Copyright ©  https://ejmagnier.com, 2019

ما هو المطلوب من الحراك في لبنان؟

نوفمبر 22, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

يزدادُ تأثير الدور الخارجي على الحراك في لبنان بشكل يبدو الجزء المطلبي منه، تائهاً الى حدود الضياع السياسي والاغتراب عن الواقع الوطني.

ما يؤكد هذه الإشكالية هو الصمت المطبق لأهل الحراك انفسهم على سلسلة مواقف أميركية وأوروبية وإسرائيلية تتعلق بدورهم وأهدافهم الى جانب تسلل قوى داخلية لبنانية اليهم تنفذ حركات شارعية خاصة بها، تخدم إصرارها على قيادة الطبقة السياسية الطائفية، انما بسلسلة مواربات لغوية توحي وكأنهم من قلب الحراك.

وهذا يهدّد استمرار الحراك كحركة مطلبية تريد إلغاء الطائفية السياسية والفساد السياسي وتطمح الى قانون انتخابات على اساس الدائرة الوطنية الموحّدة.

البداية هنا، مع آخر برامج العمل الاخوية التي أطلقها سفير أميركا السابق في لبنان جيفري فيلتمان على منبر الكونغرس، مشيداً بالحراك اللبناني على اساس انه قوة محلية تريد انتزاع لبنان من مخالب الإرهاب الإيراني وسلاح حزب الله. واعتبر ان لبنان مهدّد بالانهيار السياسي والاقتصادي إذا لم يستجب سياسيّوه لمطالب الحراك وأولها حكومة تكنوقراط ونزع سلاح حزب الله وحماية اسرائيل عبر تطبيق القرار الدولي 1701 الذي ينص على سحب كل ما له علاقة بحزب الله من خط الحدود مع فلسطين المحتلة بعمق لبناني الى حدود الستين كيلومتراً متوعّداً بوقف الاستثمارات الغربية والخليجية في لبنان ومنع توظيف اللبنانيين في الخليج، وتوقيع عقوبات اقتصادية قاتلة على لبنان، لأن المطلوب بموجب فيلتمان، حكومة تكنوقراط من اهل الحراك اللبناني بقيادة سعد الحريري تمنع حزب الله من التدخل في موضوع اتفاق إسرائيلي لبناني على اقتسام آبار النفط عند الحدود البحرية للبنان مع الكيان المحتل، مع تسليم الحفر والاستثمار لشركات أميركية والتعهد بإبقاء النازحين السوريين على الأراضي اللبنانية والامتناع عن أي علاقات مع سورية.

هذا ما يريده فيلتمان، فهل هذا هو مشروع الحراك اللبناني، كما يقول فيلتمان؟ وهل يقبل هذا الحراك بعريضة وقعها 240 نائباً من الكونغرس الأميركي طالبوا فيها بضمان أمن إسرائيل ؟ وبالتالي تجريد حزب الله من سلاحه وإسقاط ما أدعوه من مشروع إيراني في الشرق الأوسط.

كما أن إسرائيل أيدت الحراك اللبناني، وكذلك السعودية التي تصرّ على انتخابات مسبقة في بلاد الأرز، علماً بأن آل سعود لا يعرفون معنى الانتخابات ولا يطبّقونها في بلدانهم حيث الوراثة والقرون الوسطى والحرية بحد السيف هي السائدة حتى إشعار آخر.

لناحية اوروبا، فإن معظم بلدانها تريد تسوية سياسية في لبنان إنما على قاعدة أمن إسرائيل البري والمهدّد من إرهاب إيران وسلاح حزب الله.

لذلك عندما اقترح أمين عام حزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله بضرورة انفتاح لبنان اقتصادياً على الصين وروسيا وإيران، إنما كان يردّ على تحذيرات أميركية بشكل مسبق، كانت ترده معطياتها من مصادر دولية، وبالفعل يعتبر الخبراء أن الدواء في اقتراح السيد الوحيد الذي بوسعه مجابهة التهديدات الأميركية والحرص على سيادة لبنان واستقراره.

وإذا كان هناك قسم أساسي من الحراك ينتمي الى الفئات الطبقية الوطنية فإن القسم الأكبر من منتحلي صفته، يعملون على تدمير الاستقرار الوطني الذي بناه حزب الله بمجابهة اسرائيل منذ 1982 حتى 2016، وتحالفه مع العماد عون في كنيسة مار مخايل الشهيرة، التي أمنت هذا الاستقرار حتى 2019 وسط اضطرابات كبيرة تجتاح العالم العربي بأسره والجوار المباشر.

وهذا واضح في تسلل أحزاب القوات اللبنانية والاشتراكي والمستقبل الى الحراك، وسيطرتها على اسمه، وإقفال طرقات المقاومات التي تربط بيروت بالجنوب والبقاع على أيدي جماعات جنبلاط الاشتراكية وخط الرينغ – الكورة من قبل القوات لصاحبها جعجع، أما اخطر الحركات فاستعمال مناطق صيدا والبقاع الغربي وعكار وطرابلس كنقاط للتجييش المذهبي عبر انتحال اسم الحراك والاختباء في عباءته من قبل حزب المستقبل. فكلما تضايق الحريري في مفاوضاته وابتعدت عنه رئاسة الوزراء كان يضخ سياسات التحشيد في هذه المناطق ويؤلبها مذهبياً.

للتوضيح، فإن هذه الأحزاب طائفية ومتّهمة بأكبر فساد سياسي في تاريخ لبنان ومرتبطة بالخط السعودي الأميركي، وبعضها لديه روابط مع اسرائيل .

لذلك فإن أضعف الإيمان من الجناح الأصلي للحراك أن يصدر بياناً يستنكر ما قاله فيلتمان والكونغرس والسعودية مصراً على سلاح المقاومة ودورها في الاستقرار الوطني وهزيمة الارهاب.

كما أن على الحراك أن يتبرأ من التسلل الجنبلاطي الحريري الجعجعي الكتائبي، معلناً أنه لا يقبل بأي تحالف مع هذه القوى الطائفية التي تستثمر في الأحياء والأموات والأوطان ومصالح الطبقات والفئات.

وبذلك يستطيع الحراك أن يطالب بالتغيير السياسي ويصدقه الجميع عندما يرفض الادوار الطائفية الكامنة، ونصائح فيلتمان وتحيات اسرائيل ، وبوسعه التيقن أن سلاح المقاومة حريص على الأمن الوطني والحقوق السياسية والاقتصادية والطبقية والاجتماعية لكل اللبنانيين.

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President al-Assad: The American presence in Syria will generate military resistance which will exact losses among the Americans and force them to leave

Friday, 15 November 2019 09:34

DAMASCUS-  President Bashar al-Assad has stressed that nobody believes that Turkey will repatriate 3 million Syrian refugees to the northeast of the country and this is a deceptive humanitarian slogan raised by Turkish regime to create an ethnic conflict in this area and to bring the terrorists and their families into this region in order to create a new extremist community in line with the vision sought by President of the Turkish regime, Erdogan.

In an interview given to RUSSIA 24 and ROSSIYA SEVODNYA, President al-Assad clarified that  most of the Kurds are patriots who support their state and the Syrian people, but there are groups, some of these groups are Kurds, some are Arabs, working under American command and there is currently a dialogue with them, since the return of the Syrian Army to north, to convince them that stability is achieved when all of us are committed to the Syrian constitution.

He said: “ After nine years of war, I think that most people understand the importance of embracing the state regardless of political differences.”

President al-Assad emphasized that every war will result in a lot of changes in society but it doesn’t mean dividing the country, moving towards separation; throwing out the constitution or weakening the state, confirming that the war should be an experience from which we come out with a stronger, not weaker homeland.

He pointed out that the American presence in Syria will generate a military resistance which will exact losses among the Americans, and consequently force them to leave.  “However, America cannot believe that it will live comfortably in any area it occupies.  We remind them of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Syria will not be an exception.”

President al-Assad indicated that the immediate and most effective solution is to unite as Syrians and as patriots and this would cause the Americans to leave the Syrian territory.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, first of all I’m grateful to you for finding the time to answer our questions despite the difficult circumstances.

The world’s attention is now focused on the situation in the northeast of the Syrian Arab Republic.  What is your personal assessment of the Russian-Turkish agreement on Syria?

President Assad:  Our assessment is certainly positive, not because we trust Turkey, which hasn’t been honest in meeting all the commitments it made previously, whether in Astana or elsewhere.  Our assessment is positive becasue there is no doubt that Russia’s involvement has positive aspects, because otherwise we would have been faced with three options.  The first was the Turkish plan or agenda, with its Muslim Brotherhood and Ottoman dimensions.  The second option was the American plan, which is connected with the Turkish one, and was meant for the Turkish incursion to complicate the situation in Syria, and consequently push us away from the solution we all felt we were approaching.  The third option was the German proposal, i.e. internationalizing the region, and consequently imposing international protection.  All these plans are ultimately designed by the American leadership.  Here is the significance of the positive Russian role, which outmaneuvered these plans and neutralized the Kurdish pretext, in order to prepare the ground for Turkey’s withdrawal.

Question 2: Why is Russia helping Syria, in general?

President Assad: We cannot answer this question without talking about the Russian role; Russia is a superpower and has international duties and responsibilities.  These responsibilities serve the world and also, Russia and the Russian people.  Russia has the choice of either playing the role of a superpower, or withdrawing into itself and becoming a very ordinary state, which would not be good for the world.  In this context, the military presence in Syria is part of the framework of the global balance of power, because the world today is not governed by legal criteria, but rather by the criteria of power.  Therefore, the Russian power, from a military perspective, is necessary for balance in the world.

A second aspect is fighting terrorism which has two sides: the first is moral and the second is legal, i.e. international law, because terrorism is supported by well-known states.  There is a third aspect, which is protecting Russian interests.  This terrorism has no borders, no political borders. Today, it might be in Syria, but also in the farthest point in Asia. It might also exist in Europe, like the terrorist operations which happened in the past years; and it might also be in Russia, and you recall what happened over ten years ago, when terrorists kidnapped and killed innocent people in schools and theatres.  You have known and lived through terrorism in the Chechen Republic and other places, and you still do.  You cannot fight terrorism only where it exists.  It must be fought all over the world.

Moreover, Russia, through the role it’s playing, has the exact opposite vision of the West, which believes that international law is at odds with its interests; Russia believes that international law serves its own interests and also its joint interests with other countries.  For all these reasons, Russia is helping Syria.

Question 3:  Going back to Turkey, what do you think of Ankara’s intention of repatriating the Syrian refugees to the areas under the control of the Turkish army and the militants which support it in the northeast of the country, taking into account that these refugees might number about 3 million people?

President Assad:  Nobody believes that Turkey will repatriate 3 million Syrian refugees to this area; this is a deceptive humanitarian slogan.  Even if they wanted to, this is not possible because it would create a conflict between the owners of the land, the cities, the villages, the homes, the farms, and the fields on the one hand, and these newcomers, on the other; those who own these places will never renounce their rights in these areas, so this would create an ethnic conflict.

However, the real reason behind Turkey bringing the militants and terrorists who fought and were defeated in Syria, is to move them and their families into this region in order to create a new extremist community in line with the vision sought by the President of the Turkish regime, Erdogan.  This is the real goal.  In either case, both are dangerous and aim at destabilizing Syria.  Therefore, we certainly reject it.

Question 4:  The Sochi agreement contributed to normalizing the situation in northeastern Syria and prepared the ground for the return of the legitimate control of the Syrian government east of Euphrates and some areas in the northeast of the country.  But the population in those areas has been cut off from the state’s central authority as a result of ISIS’s behavior.  What are the steps you intend to take in order to engage the local authorities of the Kurdish autonomous administration?  This is because fighting ISIS was carried out by both the government forces in that area and by the YPG.

President Assad:  I want to separate the two cases, because ISIS was created by American will and carried out its activities under an American cover.  We are convinced, and we have information, that America has used ISIS as a military tool to strike at the Syrian Army and to distract the military forces fighting terrorism, at the forefront of which is Syria.

With regards to the Kurdish forces, we need to correct certain concepts.  The term is being misused and it is being promoted by the West to give the impression that the forces operating there are Kurdish and that the region is Kurdish.  First, I would like to make it clear that this region in the north and northeast of Syria is an Arab-majority region; over 70% of its population are Arabs, not the other way around.  The groups fighting there are a mixture of Kurds and others; the Americans support the Kurdish groups and installed them in a leadership role in order to give the impression that it is a Kurdish region and to create a conflict between the Kurds and the other groups in Syria.  We remained in contact throughout the war with these groups, despite our knowledge that some were being used and directed by the Americans; they were armed and funded by the Americans and their public statements were dictated by them.  This does not mean that the Kurds are not patriots; I stress that most of the Kurds are patriots who support their state and the Syrian people like any other segment of Syrian society, but some of these groups are Kurds, some are Arabs, and there might be others working under American command.  These are the groups we have continued to engage.

Since the return of the Syrian Army to these areas, there is currently a dialogue to convince them that stability is achieved when all of us are committed to the Syrian constitution, because this constitution reflects the will of the people.  And when the Syrian Arab Army returns, it does so together with other state institutions, which are also an expression of the Syrian constitution and people.

Some progress has been achieved recently after the Turkish invasion in this area.  Russia plays an important role in this issue based on the same principles that I just mentioned.  Sometimes we move forward, other times we move backward partly because of the American pressure on the armed groups in Syria not to respond to the Syrian state; this is expected.  Now we are more optimistic that things are moving in right direction, because after nine years of war, I think that most people understand the importance of embracing the state regardless of political differences, or differences with the government or the ruling party.  The state in every part of the world embraces everybody; I believe that we are moving in this direction.

Question 5: Have I understood you correctly, that the status quo in the northeast of the country is as it is because of outside interference? I mean, the views that there are problems with the Kurds that can never be solved.

President Assad:  The problems are with some of the Kurds; I stress once again that most of the Kurds have been in Syria for decades and there are no problems with them.  There are however, extremist groups, extremist in the political sense, which are making propositions closer to separation.  Some of these propositions are related to federalism and Kurdish self-rule.  As I mentioned earlier, this is an Arab region, and if anyone is to talk about federalism, it shall be the Arabs, because they are the majority; this is self-evident.  Unlike, the situation in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey, there is no Kurdish majority in this region of Syria.

As to cultural and other rights, I always give the example of the Armenians because they are the latest comers to Syria – about a hundred years ago.  They have their schools, churches, and full cultural rights.  Why would we give cultural rights to one segment of Syrian society and not to others?   Simply, this group has made separatist propositions which we shall never accept, not today, not tomorrow, not as a state, not as a people.  This is the problem.  Today, all these American-supported groups claim that the situation has changed after the war – of course the situation has changed.  It is normal that every war will result in a lot of changes in society.  However, war doesn’t mean dividing the country, or moving towards separation; it doesn’t mean throwing out the constitution or weakening the state.  The war should be an experience from which we come out with a stronger, not weaker homeland.  We shall never accept any separatist propositions under any circumstances.

Question 6:  Mr. President, despite all this, how do you evaluate the role played by the YPG in the fight against ISIS?  Because according to their figures, thousands of their fighters were killed defending their towns and villages inside Syria.

President Assad:  A large number of Syrians have been killed defending their villages in all regions, not only in that region.  It is not fair to talk about one segment of Syrians, because all Syrians defended their homeland, and all of them have defended their towns and villages. When people sense an existential threat, they must defend themselves, this is self-evident. But I wouldn’t put this defense in a political framework because that would mean giving America a certificate of good conduct and implying that all American-supported forces have been fighting ISIS, and consequently America has been fighting terrorism.  We all know and we have all stated – in Syria, Russia, and other countries, that America has supported ISIS.

We must distinguish between the citizens who achieved real results defending their villages and killing or eliminating a large number of terrorists, on the one hand, and the political agenda which is linked to America, on the other; we need to be accurate.

Question 7:  In October, the deadline for the withdrawal of YPG 30 kilometers from the Turkish borders expired, and Ankara claimed that YPG has not withdrawn.  Where are the YPG units now?  Where are they located?  The equally important question is: how would these units be integrated with the Syrian Armed Forces, particularly since there was an announcement and a proposal in this regard?

President Assad:  The Russian-Turkish agreement regarding the withdrawal of these armed groups must be implemented.  As I said previously, they are a mixture of Kurds and Arabs, but their leadership is Kurdish.  They need to withdraw because they provided the Turks with the pretext to implement their plan, which they have been dreaming of since the beginning of the war; they need to withdraw 30 kilometers.

As to implementation, they announced that they would implement and this has happened in some areas, but it hasn’t been implemented fully and this is to be expected.  These types of measures do not happen overnight or quickly; there isn’t necessarily a central control over all the groups fighting in a particular area.  Militias often fight and take their decisions in a chaotic manner and that’s why things are implemented in a particular place and not in another.  We are cooperating with Russia in order to fully implement this agreement, after which we should tell the Turks to start withdrawing.

As for integrating these groups into the Syrian Army, we have followed a principle since the beginning of reconciliations in 2013 that all those who hand in their weapons get full amnesty and return to normal civilian life like any other citizen, and they may join the Syrian Arab Army.  This has happened in many places; some of those who had fought with the terrorists later joined the Syrian Arab Army and fought within its ranks and were even martyred.

After the Russian-Turkish agreement, the Syrian Ministry of Defense announced that it was prepared to integrate all those fighters into the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army using various means appropriate to that region.  The official response we received was that they were not prepared to join the Syrian Arab Army and that they insist on keeping their weapons in those areas.  Also, within the framework of Syrian-Russian cooperation, we are trying to convince these fighters to join the Syrian Arab Army and fight against the Turkish invaders, which is the correct and proper way to restore the lands whose loss they have caused in northern Syria. We have to keep trying and we’ll see how things progress in the next few weeks.

Question 8:  Mr. President, in fact, the war has ended in the largest part of Syria.  People are returning to their homes in their villages. What is the Syrian leadership doing in order to provide the necessary requirements for their life there? Are there statistics about the number of restored houses or schools in those areas? And what are the main difficulties faced in preparing for the restoration of normal lives for these citizens?

President Assad:  In Syria, the biggest concerns facing any citizen on a daily basis are the economic conditions and the ability to meet basic needs, as well as providing education to their children and healthcare.  In every area we enter, we immediately start to restore the schools and provide the necessary requirements, including teachers and other resources; we also ensure that hospitals are functioning.  Similarly, we pay attention to the living conditions. However, living conditions in Syria are subject, in one way or another, to a number of external factors, particularly the Western sanctions against Syria which affect the provision of heating oil, fuel, and consequently electricity.  The embargo imposed on Syria prevents foreign investment into the country, in addition to other forms of embargo.  We are able to provide the basic needs, albeit at a minimum; sometimes we are unable to provide them in a sufficient manner.  All of this is a result of the embargo.  We are looking for other methods; and our friends, Russia, Iran, and sometimes China, are providing some humanitarian assistance. These are the priorities and the needs of our citizens that we are trying to meet, albeit at a bare minimum.

Question 9:  The more important question is: in order to ensure the return of normal life to the country, and the return of refugees, it is necessary to provide job opportunities.  Is there a process of rebuilding destroyed facilities?  And is the process of rebuilding them difficult under these tough sanctions?

President Assad:  Yes, it is difficult, but not impossible.  Away from any delusional or imaginary scenarios, practically speaking, there are a number of industries – the pharmaceutical industry for example, where the number of factories has risen significantly since the beginning of the war, this is also the case in other sectors.  Of course, the pace is not as it should be, or as we want it to be, in order to provide for the return of refugees who are also looking for job opportunities.  However, the mere fact that we are able to create new industries, a few of which are heavy industries, is at odds with the existing economic conditions for a country in a state of war, which usually can only create small or perhaps medium-sized industries.  We need to now look for better ways to encourage investment because of the sanctions.  We are currently studying our old investment law – which has been amended several times, to encourage the inflow of capital or at least the investment of capital already within the country which is not subject to foreign sanctions.  Despite all this and despite the Western and American embargo, there are a few limited foreign investments.

Question 10:  Going back to the question of the political solution, militants continue to hand in their weapons; and we know that the Syrian government, and you personally, are doing a lot in order to reintegrate these people in society.  What are your next plans in terms of providing assistance to the militants and their families whose legal status have been settled?

President Assad:  This is an important point, and a critical challenge.  There are various aspects that need to be addressed.  First, we have children, because you correctly referred to families and not just militants in the abstract case.  These militants have a family and they are part of a community, albeit small, but an extremist community.  Their children have lived for a long period, sometimes their formative years, outside of the law and away from national curricula, as such they have learned wrong concepts.  We announced a few weeks ago that schools would integrate these pupils within their programs and according to their age, so that they could adjust into the national curriculum within a few years and assimilate to patriotic concepts.

A second aspect is the religious extremism which has been promoted for years, and has become entrenched in the minds of entire communities in the areas governed by Al Qaeda and Wahabi ideology under the names of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, Tahrir al-Cham, Jaish al-Islam, and others, it doesn’t matter who, because they all belong to one ideology and one doctrine. In Syria, the religious establishment plays a very important role in this regard; you cannot talk to those extremists in the beginning about national and humanitarian issues.  They must first understand that the religious concepts they have learned are wrong and distorted, and in contradiction with religion.  We are working extensively in order to flush out these wrong concepts.

The third aspect is that these communities have lived outside the law; they don’t know the meaning of the state, of laws, courts of law, traffic police, and other instruments used by society to organize itself.  This is the more difficult aspect.  The challenge here is how to reintroduce the state in the best possible way to these towns and villages, in order to restore concepts of law and order.  These are the areas we are constantly working on, through various institutions, in order to reintegrate this community into Syrian society and ensuring they have a strong sense of patriotism.

Question 11: Mr. President, I have an important question also about the humanitarian situation, which has to do with the Kurdish population.  During the war, Kurdish children used the Kurdish language in their education and have not received official certificates or government documents proving the educational stage they reached.  This is a big problem now, because they cannot continue studying and learning, and they cannot work in an official and a professional manner.  Is there a plan to solve this problem?  Is such a plan ready, or is it still under preparation?

President Assad:  This issue is linked to the previous question; the implementation of this point was announced by the Ministry of Education immediately after the Turkish invasion, two or three weeks ago.  The Ministry stated it welcomes the integration of students who studied the Kurdish curriculum into our national education system in the post-primary stage.  This is a practical solution and the normal course of action; otherwise how can we ask these students or young people to reintegrate into our homeland if they are isolated or unaccepted in the national education system.

Intervention: But there are children and young people who have completed their education, but they don’t have official government documents to certify that.  How can this problem be solved?

President Assad:  There is no other option but to accept these certificates.  Young people are not only integrated through school, but also through higher institutes, universities, and other educational institutions.  If we want them to properly integrate into society and become productive individuals who contribute to building their country, we must find the appropriate procedural solutions in order to integrate them into the educational system.  The first solution I referred to, was announced two weeks ago because it was the easiest and the quickest; other solutions are in the pipeline and will also be announced in the coming weeks.

Question 12:  Mr. President, according to the media, Trump announced an expansion of American presence in Syria, particularly in the northeast of the country, under the pretext of protecting the oil fields.  Is there a military solution to this problem?  And when would such a military operation start?

President Assad:  I have always said that an occupier cannot occupy a piece of land without having agents in that country, because it would be difficult for them to live in a completely hostile environment.  Therefore, the immediate and most effective solution is for us to unite as Syrians and as patriots.  This would cause the Americans to leave, and they would not be able to stay, neither for oil nor for anything else.

However, with time, when the occupier remains – the Iraq experience is still fresh in the minds of Americans and the result, for them, was unexpected; for us however, it was clear and I did say in one of my interviews after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that occupation will generate military resistance.  Similarly, the American presence in Syria will generate a military resistance which will exact losses among the Americans, and consequently force them to leave.  Of course, we are not contemplating a Russian-American confrontation, this is self-evident, and it doesn’t serve neither our interests, nor the Russians nor international stability; it is dangerous.  However, America cannot believe that it will live comfortably in any area it occupies.  We remind them of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Syria will not be an exception.

Question 13:  Concerning the American behavior here, particularly in relation to Syrian oil, don’t you believe that this behavior is that of a government gang?  And what are the losses to Syria as a result of Washington’s behavior?

President Assad:  You are absolutely correct, not only because they are looting oil, but because America is structured as a political system of gangs.  The American president does not represent a state – he is the company CEO, and behind this CEO there is a board of directors which represent the big companies in America – the real owners of the state – oil and arms companies, banks, and other lobbies.  So, in reference to Syrian oil, this is the expected result of the American regime, which is led by companies acting for their own interests.

Having said this, I would like to remind you of something more significant than merely describing them as a gang.  One of the most important factors, which led to Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II, was oil; some even say that it was the only factor and there was no other reason for him to invade.  Today, America is doing the same thing; it is imitating the Nazis.  So, we can very simply liken American policy today with Nazi policy: expansion, invasion, undermining the interests of other nations, trampling on international law, international conventions, human principles, and others – all for the sake of oil.  What’s the difference between this policy and Nazi policy?  Can anybody from the American regime give us an answer to this question? I don’t think so.

Question 14:  Would Syria lodge a complaint at the United Nations about the United States looting Syrian oil?  And does Damascus have specific plans to demand compensation for the looted oil from Washington?

President Assad:  Of course, this is to be expected.  However, you and I, and many others in the world know that there is no United Nations because there is no international law; and so, all complaints lodged at the United Nations remain in drawers.  As I mentioned earlier, there is a quasi-state, governed by gangs and based on the principle of power.  These gangs are thieves and the conflict between them is over profits, gains, and losses.  It is not a conflict over ideologies or political parties; the conflicts between Trump and others in America are conflicts over spoils and gains.

That’s why today we live in a world similar to a jungle, closer to the period before World War II, rather than after it.  We will send a complaint, but it will remain in the drawers.

Question 15:  In Istanbul, one of the founders of the White Helmets died a few days ago, the organization whose involvement in producing fake videos on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria was uncovered several times.  And now there are hypotheses that this founder of the White Helmets in Syria did not die, but was rather killed.  What do you think of that? What happened in Istanbul?

President Assad:  In order not to look at this as an isolated case, we must look at it in the broader context of similar incidents.  The American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was killed weeks ago; they said that he had committed suicide in prison.  He was killed because he had many important details and secrets about prominent figures in the American and British regimes, and possibly other countries as well.

One of the leading members of the White Helmets was killed in a German prison; they also claimed he committed suicide.  Now the main founder of the White Helmets is killed.  He was actually an officer and worked throughout his career with NATO, in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, and Lebanon, and later he founded the White Helmets in Syria. What is the link between the history of this individual and humanitarian work, which is supposedly the domain of the White Helmets, but you and I both know, that they are part of Al Qaeda.  If we take into account the killing of Bin Laden and recently al-Baghdadi, I believe these individuals were killed because they had important secrets and thus had become a burden; and since their role had expired, it was necessary to get rid of them.  Therefore, if we look at all these stories as parts of one panoramic picture, we cannot believe that they committed suicide or died a natural death.  All these names, and maybe others, were killed because their role had ended and it was necessary to bury their secrets with them.  Why were al-Baghdadi and Bin Laden killed?  Because were they to remain alive, there may have come a time or circumstance where they would have revealed the truth.  Maybe the founder of the White Helmets was writing his memoir and this is not acceptable.  These are all probabilities, but they are very likely probabilities, because the alternative is not convincing for me.

Intervention: So, you believe that Western intelligence agencies are behind the death of the former MI6 agent?

President Assad:  Of course, these are the acts of intelligence agencies, the question is which ones?  In general, when we refer to Western intelligence agencies, including the Turkish and some other intelligence agencies in our region, we know that they are not run by independent states.  Rather, they are branches of the main intelligence agency, the CIA; this is the reality.  They all work under the orders of one master in coordination and in harmony with one another.  So, there is a high probability that the Turkish intelligence carried out the hit under instructions from foreign intelligence agencies.  Once again, these are probabilities, but this is the nature of relations among Western intelligence agencies or those working with them.

Question 16:  Mr. President, the constitutional committee has started its work in Geneva. Do you think that its work will be useful? And does Damascus have red lines if crossed by proposals of this committee that would be unacceptable?

President Assad:  There is an attempt to portray that the solution to the war in Syria will come about as a result of the constitutional committee.  The war did not start because of a disagreement or a division over the constitution.  The war in Syria started because there were acts of terrorism which killed members of the military, the police, and civilians and also destroyed public and other properties.  So, the war ends when terrorism ends.  There was a parallel political track through which America wanted to propose the idea of a transitional body.  This idea was rejected by us in Syria and by all countries that believe in international law.  Consequently, the Sochi talks began and created the constitutional committee.  The constitutional committee discusses the constitution; and for us, the constitution, like any other text, should be revised and amended in accordance with new developments in Syria; it is not a holy text.  We had no problem with this, and so, we continued along with this track.

However, in order not to be over optimistic and make unrealistic propositions, we must explain the structure of this constitutional committee.  It has three parties; one representing the viewpoint of the Syrian government, one representing civil society – which has different viewpoints, and the third party is appointed by Turkey.  So, imagine that you, as Russians, want to amend the Russian constitution, and you’re told that one of the parties in the committee mandated with this task is appointed by foreign countries.  You would not only reject that proposition, but you would also deem it as reckless and at odds with logic and reality.  This is what happened in the constitutional committee. We are negotiating with a party appointed by the Turkish government, which of course means America; the front is Turkey, but this is a de facto position.

In order to expect results from this committee, every one of its members should have their allegiance to the Syrian people, they cannot belong to a foreign state and publicly declare their allegiance to it.  Will they be allowed to be genuine Syrians?  Can anyone who belongs to another state come back and belong to his homeland?  I don’t want to give an answer, but I think these are logical questions that everyone watching this interview will have logical answers to.

Question 17: Mr. President, during the war, and a result of the sanctions, the Syrian economy has been greatly affected. And now there is a lot of talk about corruption. What are the reforms and changes to the economy which you intend to make in the near future? And are there mechanisms in place to support the national currency?

President Assad:  Strengthening the economy first needs modern and developed investment laws. I referred to this aspect earlier and mentioned that we are in the process of upgrading these laws.  You touched on fighting corruption in your question and this is an important aspect, whether it is to strengthen the economy, to enforce the law or to support the Syrian Pound; these are all interrelated.  We started fighting corruption many years ago and this is ongoing and at an accelerated pace, especially with the discovery of a number of corruption cases.  This is expected, because war creates chaos, and chaos is a very good environment for terrorism, on the one hand, and corruption, on the other.  We are moving forward in enforcing the law.

However, fighting corruption and strengthening the economy also need new laws.  The gaps that are related to the weakness of the economy, on the one hand, and to widespread corruption, on the other, are due to the weakness inherent in our laws.  Almost a year ago, we created a committee of legal experts tasked with developing the laws in order to close the gaps which allow for corruption.  This in itself supports the Syrian Pound while at the same time encouraging investment, because they are both interrelated.  Our policy is not one of speculation; it is a policy which aims to create a strong economy, which in itself would support the national currency.

Question 18: Mr. President, in the countries neighboring Syria, there are demonstrations against governments, mainly in Lebanon and Iraq, and last August there were demonstrations in the Jordanian capital of Amman.  Doesn’t that remind you of the start of the unrest in Syria in 2011? What is your take on that?  Who has an interest in what is happening?  And what are the initial objectives of this?

President Assad:  No, they are not similar to what happened in Syria.  What happened in Syria in the beginning was that money was paid – and this is documented – to groups of people to come out and demonstrate.  There were a few that demonstrated because they wanted changes in particular areas, but this was not the general situation.  The killing started from the early days.  There were shootings, which means that the demonstrations were not spontaneous.  The money was available, and the weapons ready, so, we cannot liken this situation with those in other countries.

Certainly, if these demonstrations in a number of neighboring countries are spontaneous and genuinely express a national desire to improve political, economic, and other conditions, then to do so, they must remain patriotic.  Countries which interfere with everything throughout the world, like America and the West, and particularly Britain and France and others, will certainly take advantage of this situation in order to play a role and push things in a direction that serves their interests.  The most important thing is that they [the demonstrations] remain within a national framework.  If they do, the results will surely be positive, because they express the will of the people in these countries.  But if there is foreign interference, it will certainly be against the interests of the homeland.  This is what we have known and experienced clearly in Syria.  That’s why I hope that these movements are a genuine driver towards improvement within all sectors and at all levels.

Question 19:  Mr. President, the last question, which might be a little personal. We know very well that you like driving cars; and every citizen in your country knows that you prefer to drive your car by yourself.  Now, the largest part of Syria has become free from war, and that’s why the roads have become safer.  Does your security detail have less work during your movements now?  And have you seen, by yourself, the positive changes in the country while driving your car, particularly that not every head of state drives their own car?

President Assad:  I have been doing this since my first day in office, I haven’t changed my nature.  I would like to stress an important point, which is that my security detail hasn’t changed before or during the war.  It has remained the same. We haven’t introduced any additional measures, neither in relation to driving a car nor with regards to the security motorcade.  They remain the same, because one of the objectives of the terrorists and those who support them, and the psychological pressure as a consequence, was to create a state of terror in Syria.  So, when officials feel afraid, citizens must feel afraid too; this is one aspect.

The other is not related to the war.  I drive my car because I don’t like the trappings of the position; this is my nature.  I’m self-dependent, I have always driven my car and that hasn’t changed.  I prefer to let my personality dictate the position rather than allow the trappings of power to dictate who I am.  This has always been my principle: before and during the war, and it will not change.  Neither terrorism nor anything else will succeed in changing my nature and my relationship with people.

As to its impact on people, I believe that every citizen in any country in the world likes their officials to be natural and not superficial, to be spontaneous without show and spectacle.  I believe that this is one of the strengths of any official who cares about his relationship with people, and who likes to be as close to them as possible.  An official cannot exaggerate and claim to live a completely normal life, but at the same time they should not separate themselves from people, otherwise they would lose this relationship.  This is one of the many aspects which connect me to the Syrian people.

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you for your candid answers.  We wish you all the best.  Thank you.

President Assad:  Thank you, I am very happy to meet you.  I would like, through you, to convey my warm regards to the friendly and brotherly Russian people.  Today, we don’t just have shared familial ties, as was the case in previous decades, we have also shed blood in our joint confrontation with terrorism.  Thanks again.

Journalist: Thank you

Adapted by the Syrian News Agency (SANA)

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Assad: EU Should Fear the Terrorists It’s Backing in Syria, Not Refugees

Assad: EU Should Fear the Terrorists It’s Backing in Syria, Not Refugees

By Staff, RT

Speaking to RT’s Afshin Rattansi, Syrian President Bashar Assad said it’s hypocrisy for European nations to fear that Ankara will send refugees to Europe, but continue to sponsor terrorism in Syria.

The Syrian leader argued that the primary concern for Europe should not be the Syrian refugees which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now threatens to release to Europe, but the “hundreds of thousands” of terrorists Europe allied itself with.

Assad told Afshin Rattansi that while there might be some extremists among those who fled the war-torn country, the majority of the refugees do not pose any acute threat, as opposed to hardened terrorists who may turn on their patrons.

The relationship between Europe and Turkey is love-hate, Assad said. He noted that although the EU “hates” the Turkish leader, European nations cannot but listen to what he has to say.

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قسد وأردوغان توأمان يتقاتلان

 

أكتوبر 11, 2019

ناصر قنديل


– يعتقد الرئيس التركي أنه يملك قوة راكمها خلال سنوات الحرب على سورية يجب أن تحجز له مكاناً في مستقبلها، وهي مجموعة من عشرات آلاف الأخوان المسلمين المنظمين في جيش عميل لتركيا/ وهو يباهي بذلك ويرفع العلم التركي ويقاتل تحت قيادة الجيش التركي، بما يعيد للذاكرة صورة جيش العميل أنطوان لحد الذي كان يمسك بالشريط الحدودي المحتل في جنوب لبنان قبل تحريره. ويرغب أردوغان ببناء شريط مثله يعيد إليه أعداداً من النازحين ويستولي على نفطه، كما طمحت إسرائيل بالاستيلاء على مياه نهر الليطاني في جنوب لبنان، وقوة الارتكاز التركية من السوريين تشبه الجماعات التي تستند إليها قسد الذين كانوا يرفعون الأعلام الأميركية ويباهون بتبعيتهم لواشنطن، ويقدمون هوية الكانتون الذي قاموا ببنائه على هويتهم الوطنية السورية. وبالمناسبة فعشرات الآلاف هنا وعشرات الآلاف هناك يختصرون عملياً ما سُمّي بـ الثورة السورية ذات يوم على ألسنة الأميركيين والأتراك، وهو الآن يتكشف عن مجموعة عملاء سوريين للأميركيين والأتراك يدفعون ثمن عمالتهم الغبية، أو يؤدون مترتبات عمالتهم الأشد غباءً.

– رغم أصوات القذائف وغارات الطيران، تبدو الأصوات الأعلى هي لتحذيرات متشابهة يطلقها أردوغان وقيادة قسد، ووجهة التحذير هي أوروبا، فالفريقان لا يراهنان على كسب الحرب عسكرياً، وقد أظهرت المواجهات الأولى فراراً متبادلاً من الميدان للجيش الأخواني الذي زجّ به أردوغان، ولجيش قسد، فقد أعمت العيون حياة الترف التي عاشها جيش الأخوان في فنادق تركيا، وفي ترف عائدات البلطجة التي أتاحها لهم أردوغان في مناطق تركية متعدّدة أدت إلى انتفاضات استهدفت النازحين السوريين في اسطمبول وغيرها. وبالمقابل وفي حياة لا تقل ترفاً عاشت جماعة قسد وفرضت الخوات على العرب والأكراد، ويزجّون في المعارك بالذين قاموا بتجنيدهم بالقوة خلال السنة الماضية، وليس خافياً أن عشرات الآبار المحاذية للحدود حفرتها جماعة قسد وجماعة أردوغان مقابل بعضهما البعض تربطها أنابيب تحت خط الحدود، يفرغ فيها جماعة قسد بالصهاريج نفط سورية المنهوب، ويعيد تحميله جماعة أردوغان من الجهة المقابلة لبيعه وتقاسم عائداته مع القسديين، والبنية الرئيسية في الفريقين لا تريد أن تحارب.

– الرهان على وصول الأصوات إلى اوروبا، ومَن يسبق يكسب الحرب، بقدر من القصف والصمود، والأصوات متشابهة. القسديون يلوّحون بخطر عودة داعش، وانهيار معسكر الهول وفرار السجناء إذا تواصل الهجوم التركي، وأردوغان يلوّح بدفع مئات آلاف النازحين السوريين نحو أوروبا، إذا بقيت تضغط وتهدّد بالعقوبات الموجّهة لتركيا دفاعاً عن قسد، وأوروبا الواقعة بين شاقوفي الابتزاز بتدفق النازحين وانفلات إرهابيي داعش، هي ما سيقرّر مستقبل الحرب، والفريقان متشابهان في لعبة الابتزاز، توأم من نصفين برأسين وجسد واحد.

لن يُسمح لأردوغان بالتوغل عميقاً، كي يبقى كابوس داعش نائماً، ولن يسمح لقسد بالحفاظ على الإمارة المستقلة كي لا يتدفق النازحون نحو أوروبا، وستبقى المبادرة للدولة السورية التي ستقرر ساعة صفر وحدها تكون فيها قد قلبت الطاولة فوق رأس الفريقين حماية للسوريين عرباً وأكراداً وأشوريين، وحماية للثروة السورية، التي يتقاسمها اللصوص عبر الحدود، وهي ساعة ليست بعيدة.

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Sayyed Nasrallah: Hezbollah will Bear Responsibility More than Ever, Talk of Hezbollah Ruling Lebanon A Big Lie

Zeinab Essa

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Friday a speech celebrating 31 years on the founding of Jihad  Al-Binaa Association.

In a ceremony held at Dahyieh [The southern Suburbs of Beirut], Sayyed Nasrallah praised the efforts of the Association in serving the people.

“One of the main characteristics of the Resistance is that the military choice was sided by cultural, political, health, social and steadfastness aspects,” he added, pointing out that “Jihad Al-Binaa institution is subject to American sanctions is part of the resistance from the very beginning and we are proud of it.”

Sayyed Nasrallah further stated that “Until 2000, the Association provided great services for the rehabilitation of destroyed homes, compensation and assistance in the agricultural field.”

“Two weeks on the end of the July war, no one was left on streets and this is an unprecedented experience in the human history,” he recalled.

In parallel, Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted that “from the embrace of Jihad Al-Bina Association, the experience of the Wa’ed Foundation was launched with the support of Iran and the assistance provided by the government.”

“One of the tasks of Jihad Al-Bina is combating desertification and spreading the culture of afforestation,” he revealed, clarifying that “over the past years, approximately 10 million and 600,000 trees have been planted.”

On this level, His Eminence underscored that “After 2006, Jihad Al-Binaa’s main responsibility turned to the agricultural sector.”

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah urged all sides to support the agriculture sector and to encourage farmers. “How much is the share of the agricultural sector in ‘Cedre’?”

Calling for adopting 26 Zu Al-Qa’dah to 1 Zu Al-Hijjah as the family week, Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say: “We are all working to educate and rehabilitate people and to set real plans to preserve the family.”

On the recent Lebanese state budget, His Eminence wondered: “Did the previous governments witness discussions over the budget as it did this year?”

“In the economic and financial issue, Hezbollah will bear the responsibility more than any time ago because of its new and influential position in the Lebanese equation,” he announced, pointing out that “The state budget was discussed in a serious manner and some of our recommendations were endorsed.”

Regarding the recent debate on the employment of Palestinian refugees, Sayyed Nasrallah said: “The accusations that Hezbollah is inciting the Palestinian refugees to protest are indeed regrettable.”

“There is a big difference between the Palestinian worker and the foreign worker because he has no country to return to,” he said, noting that “the issue of Palestinian employment must be approached in its strategic and political dimension.”

According to His Eminence, “The issue of Palestinian employment has nothing to do with neutralizing them.”

“The subject of Palestinian employment must be dealt with quietly, humanely and objectively,” he added, urging “a Palestinian-Lebanese dialogue.”

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized that “Hezbollah is not a ruler in Lebanon, but what is going is against its desires and aspirations.”

“One of the aim of the fabrications that Hezbollah is ruling Lebanon aims at making it responsible for all the gaps in Lebanon. Some claim that Hezbollah is ruling Lebanon and controlling the government and parliament. This is the biggest lie,” he said.

His Eminence went on to say:  “One of the goals of inciting against Hezbollah is also to incite the foreign countries, specifically America.”

He also called for referring this incitement to the judiciary because it has great repercussions.

Regarding the latest incident in Qabershmoun, Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed  that Hezbollah has never intervened in the incident of Qabershmoun in Mount Lebanon.

“We respect our allies and do not pressure them; their decision is independent. What we have done is supporting the position of former Minister Talal Arslan. Our ally is aggrieved and the incident truly would have undermined civil peace and his demand is rightful,” he unveiled.

His Eminence addressed the government by asking: “What logic prevents you from discussing the issue of the killing attempt of your colleague minister in the government?”

“When Hezbollah has a problem with someone, we would stand up in his face openly,” he clarified, announcing Hezbollah’s “support for holding the cabinet session as soon as possible and to discuss the Qabershmoun issue at the meeting.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also stated that “the accusations aims to pressure us to pressure Arslan.”

On another level, His Eminence categorically denied the “Israeli” representative’s claim at the United Nation’s Security Council that Hezbollah is using the Beirut port to transfer arms. “These allegations aim at imposing guardianship on the port, the airport and the borders, to achieve what they [the “Israelis”] failed to achieve during the July aggression. ”

“We welcome the decision of Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to stop the agreements with the occupying entity, which is also exhausted by the cessation of security coordination,” he added, emphasizing that “ending the security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and the “Israeli” occupation is a weapon that the Authority should use.”

Hypocrisies About Refugees

July 05, 2019

Hypocrisies About Refugees

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

Here are two visuals from the latest annual U.N. report about the world’s refugee situation, “UNHCR Global Trends 2018”, and though these images don’t pack the emotional punch of a child’s corpse that has just been washed upon a beach after drowning when his family had attempted to escape from a country that the U.S. and its allies were ‘trying to make free’ by bombing it to hell, each of these two pictures below contains a much bigger and more important message than does any such tear-jerking image or anecdote, but each of these pictures requires a bit of intelligence in order to understand it:

The first picture shows the result of the U.S. regime’s regime-change wars under Obama and Trump, in Syria and Venezuela especially. (Syria by using Al Qaeda in Syria to lead jihadists to bring down the Government, and Venezuela by strangulating sanctions that have produced an economic blockade which prohibits food and medicine from being able to reach the population). The 9-year earlier “UNHCR Global Trends 2009”, which covered the end of the George W. Bush Presidency, had reported that “There were 43.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2009,” and that this was up from 42.0 million in 2008. The “UNHCR Global Trends 2007” said only that “available information suggests that a total of 67 million people had been forcibly displaced at the end of 2007”, and so there might have been a reduction during the later years of Bush’s Presidency. In any case, the number of “forcibly displaced people” was stable during the final years of Bush’s second term and the entirety of Barack Obama’s first term, until 2012. 2011 was the first year of the Arab Spring uprisings, which were a CIA production, as was documented by two books from Ahmed Bensada, each of which was well reviewed by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, in her two articles, one on 18 January 2014, and the other on 25 October 2015. Of course, the impression that the American public was presented about the Arab Spring uprisings is that those were spontaneous. Actually, Obama came into office in 2009 hoping to overthrow Syria’s Government.

So, whereas the numbers had been stable for Obama’s first term of office, all hell broke loose throughout his second term, with his invasions of Libya and Syria, plus his continuation of George W. Bush’s occupations of both Afghanistan and Iraq. And, now, under Trump, the number is back again to GWB’s peak level and rising.

As I noted on June 30th under the headline “U.S. Government Tops All For Creating Refugees”, “the U.S. regime’s regime-change operations produce around half of the entire world’s refugee-problem.” That fact is shown in the second visual here. (Just look at Syria and Venezuela there.) What the first visual shows is that the U.S. regime’s attempts to overthrow the Governments of Syria and of Venezuela caused those global totals to soar. Those two nations alone accounted for nearly half of the global total, and part of the rest was from America’s prior invasions: Afghanistan, Iraq, the U.S.-backed coup in Honduras in 2009, etc. America’s invasions and attempted coups (such as in Venezuela) provided the dynamos that drove those rising numbers of refugees.

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton at The Gray Zone headlined on June 19th, “This celebrated Western-funded nonprofit collaborated with al-Qaeda to wage lawfare on Syria” and documented how U.S.-and-allied billionaires and the U.S. Government fund “lawfare,” a war in international courts, and not only a huge international propaganda campaign to demonize Bashar al-Assad, in order to overthrow him. I had previously documented that “U.S. Protects Al Qaeda in Syria”. Actually, Obama bombed Syria’s army at the oil center city of Deir Ezzor on 17 September 2016 in order to enable both Al Qaeda and ISIS to take over that city. The U.S. team talk a storm against “terrorism” but quietly (along with the monarchs of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar) sponsor it as being “boots-on-the-ground” fighters — proxies there, instead of U.S. troops — to bring down leaders such as Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad.

So, when the U.S. and its allies complain about the refugee crisis, and pontificate against “dictators,” and assert international law when they are the worst violators of international law, maybe they enjoy fooling their own public, but outside the U.S. alliance, their lying and evil are obvious. It even shows up clearly in the UNHCR’s statistics (such as those visuals). Obviously, China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and other nations that the U.S. regime labels as ‘enemies’, are not to blame for those tens of millions of refugees. The U.S. and its allies definitely are to blame for it. This isn’t a situation where the pot is calling the kettle black, but instead it’s one where the pot is calling the fresh-fallen snow black, and in which only propagandistic ’news’ media refuse to reveal this to their audiences. The snow is white, and the U.S. regime and its allies are red, covered with their tens of millions of victims’ blood and flaming misery.

International poll after international poll finds that the country which is considered to be “the greatest threat to peace in the world today” by the most people worldwide is the U.S., but that Americans don’t think it’s true. So: who is right? Americans? Or the rest of the world? Now, why would people outside the U.S. believe that way? Maybe it’s because of “communist propaganda”? The most important thing to recognize is that the U.S. is a dictatorship. That scientifically demonstrated fact explains a lot. None of these sanctions and coups and invasions against countries that had never invaded nor in any way endangered the U.S. could exist otherwise than this, because any dictatorship is based upon lies. Invading Iraq was based upon lies. Invading Afghanistan was based upon lies. Invading Syria was based upon lies. Invading Libya was based upon lies. The economic sanctions against Russia are based upon lies.American foreign policies are based upon lies. It’s no wonder, then, why Americans are so misinformed.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Sayyed Nasrallah Warns of ‘The Deal of Century’s Consequences: “Israel” Views Hezbollah A Strategic Threat

Zeinab Essa

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Nasrallah delivered on Saturday a speech in which he tackled various topics.

In a televised speech on the Liberation and Resistance Day, Sayyed Nasrallah called for a huge participation in Al-Quds Day next Friday.

“This year, participating in Al-Quds Day is very important because the Palestinian cause is facing the biggest conspiracy,” he added, pointing out that “The title of Al-Quds Day this year is to confront the ‘Deal of Century’.”

Meanwhile, His Eminence hailed the fact that there exists an overwhelming Palestinian rejection and a firm stance on boycotting the US economic conference to be held in Bahrain.

He further praised the position of the Bahraini scholars, people and political forces that expressed their rejection that Manama becomes a land that embraces the first step of the ‘Deal of the century’.”

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah warned that the US initiative is aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause.

“The conflicts in the Gulf as well as the threats facing Iran are related to the ‘Deal of the Century’,” he revealed.

On the title of the speech, Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed that “what happened on May 25, 2000 had very important consequences.”

“The “Israeli” enemy is seriously and around the clock dealing with the fact that there is a real force the exists in Lebanon,” he added, thanking “all those who offered sacrifices until the liberation was achieved.”

On the same issue, His Eminence underscored that “Lebanon is no longer seen as weak but as strong.”

““Israel” and the US recognize Lebanon’s power and are plotting to get rid of it,” he stated.

In parallel, His Eminence underscored that “the US would have offered southern Lebanon to “Israel” if Hezbollah did not exist.”

“Lebanon is not in a position of weakness. We are standing up for our rights concerning Shebaa Farms, Kfarchouba village as well as the northern section of Ghajar [village],” he went on to say.

Moreover, the Resistance Leader recalled that “After liberation, the enemy and its allies are seeking to destroy Hezbollah, which was immune to all conspiracies.”

““Israelis” describe Hezbollah as a strategic threat to its entity in an attempt to mobilize support and provoke the international community against it.”

“The statement of the Lebanese President and the army’s leadership on the adherence to the liberation of the Shabaa farms was strong,” Sayyed Nasrallah stated, reiterating Hezbollah’s  support for the state and stand with it regarding the demarcation of borders and adherence to all rights in land and water.

He also declared that “Lebanon can stop the Zionist “Israeli” entity from plundering its oil and gas reserves.”

“Hezbollah is part of the deterrent force and has prevented the Israeli enemy from achieving its ambitions,” His Eminence remarked, pointing out that “with the strength of the army, the people and the resistance, we have been able to keep Lebanon strong in the face of our enemy.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also urged the Lebanese to realize their strength in preserving the sovereignty, security, present and future of Lebanon.”

As Hezbollah Leader announced His party’s adherence to Lebanon’s oil rights,  He unveiled that he is optimistic about the possibility of achieving a great victory in this issue.

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah warned that “Bahrain’s conference may open the door to the settlement of the Palestinians in Lebanon and other countries.”

“The Lebanese agree on rejecting the settlement of Palestinians in Lebanon,” he said, calling “for a quick meeting between Lebanese and Palestinian officials to seriously discuss and develop a plan to confront the threat of resettlement.”

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed that “the Lebanese agree on the importance of the return of Syrian refugees to their country.”

“The Lebanese suffer from  the economic and social consequences of the displacement of Syrian refugees,” he said, pointing out that “the US does not want the displaced Syrians to return to their country before the Syrian presidential elections.”

According to His Eminence, “One of the reasons and forms of preventing the Syrians from returning to their country is by encouraging them to stay in Lebanon.”

“There are allegations to intimidate the Syrians from returning to their country,” he said, noting that “the Lebanese agree on the principle of returning the Syrian refuges but disagree on the means to apply it.”

Stressing that “Lebanon is able to face any “Israeli” attempt to take our oil resources,” Sayyed Nasrallah  unveiled that some “Gulf states are pressuring Lebanon to avert the return process through encouraging the Syrian refugees to overstay and intimidating them of return to their country.”

On the internal front, Sayyed Nasrallah recalled that “from the beginning, Hezbollah stressed that the file of the battle of corruption needs patience.”

“In the battle of corruption, there is a need for a renaissance and a national strategy. We will be at the forefront of this confrontation,” he clarified, pointing out that “Hezbollah’s position in the battle of corruption has created a national effort and all the Lebanese have begun to talk about it.”

His Eminence also mentioned that there exists “files that will be revealed soon and we will submit them to the judiciary after completing the budget.”

“We do not want anyone to say that Hezbollah has prevented waste and corruption, but we must reach the goal of ending them,” he said, noting that “unfortunately, there are taxes and fees on the poor and low income group

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President Assad: Only Syrians Decide Country’s Destiny

1-91

February 17, 2019

The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that holding elections of  local councils on time proves the strength of the Syrian people and the state.

President al-Assad,  in a speech  during  his meeting with heads of local councils from all provinces on Monday added that the elections proves the failure of enemies’ bet to turn the Syrian state into a failed state unable to perform its tasks.

President al-Assad stressed that issuing law no. 107 was a significant step for enhancing effectiveness of the local administrations.

The President said that the launch of development projects locally will be integrated with the strategic projects of the state and this in itself is an investment of financial and human resources.

He added that one of the positive aspects of local administration’s law is to broaden the participation in the development of the local community that manages resources.

President al-Assad said that with liberating every inch, there is an agent or a traitor who collapsed after their sponsors betrayed them.

“After the improvement of field situation, we have the opportunity to make a qualitative leap in the work of the local administration that would reflect on all walks of life,” the President said.

President al-Assad added that the local units have become more able today to perform their tasks without depending on the central authority.

He stressed that the policies of some states towards Syria depended on supporting terrorism and promoting the attempt to apply a comprehensive decentralization to undermine the authority of the state.

President al-Assad underlined that the partition scheme isn’t new and it doesn’t stop at the borders of the Syrian state, but it covers the region as a whole.

President al-Assad added “the scheme of imposing hegemony on the world led by the US hasn’t changed and our people’s resistance has become more solid, affirming that the homeland isn’t a commodity and it is sacred and it has its real owners and not thieves.”

“After all of those years, the agents haven’t learnt that nothing gives man his value except his real belonging,” the President said, affirming that the only way to get rid of misguidance is to join the reconciliations and to hand over the arms to the Syrian state.

The President added “We have been able to eliminate terrorism thanks to our armed forces and the support by the supporting forces, the allies, the friends and the brothers.”

The President said “It couldn’t have been possible to protect the homeland without the unified popular will through different segments of the Syrian society.”

“The Syrian people have a deep-rooted history and they have resisted terrorism…We achieve victory with each other not on each other,” President al-Assad said.

President al-Assad said that that the Syrian state is working to return displaced people who left  their homes due to terrorism as their return is the only way to end their suffering.

He underlined that the absence of belonging to the homeland is the weapon used by the outside to target our homeland.

“The absence of belonging to the homeland is the fuel which is used by the foreign parties to target our homeland,” President al-Assad said, adding that the Syrian state works on the return of all the displaced due to terrorism because their return is the only way to end their suffering.

The President noted that the states concerned in the file of refugees are hindering their return and the main basis of the scheme hatched against Syria is the issue of the refugees which has been prepared before the beginning of the crisis.

He indicated that the issue of refugees has been a source of corruption that has been exploited by a number of states which are supporting terrorism, and the return of refugees will deprive those from the political and material benefit.

“The file of the refugees abroad is an attempt by the states which support terrorism to condemn the Syrian state,” the President said, adding ” We will not allow the sponsors of terrorism to transform the Syrian refugees into a political paper to achieve their interests.”

The President called upon everyone who left the homeland due to terrorism to contribute to the reconstruction process as the homeland is for all of its people.

“Our national awareness has foiled the sinister scheme of our enemies which hasn’t finished yet…Some are still entrapped by the schemes of partition hatched by our enemies,” President al-Assad said.

President al-Assad asserted that “Dialogue is necessary, but there is a difference between the proposals that create dialogue and others which create partition and we should focus on the common things.”

“Criticism is a necessary issue when there is a default but it should be objective,” the President noted.

The President stressed that dialogue should be a fruitful one that is based on facts and not emotions, adding that such dialogue differentiates between those who have real problems and those who are opportunistic.

He noted that social media have contributed to a certain extent to the deterioration of the situation in the country.

“We all know that we are in a state of blockade, and we should deal with this positively and cooperatively,” he said, adding that “we shouldn’t think that war is over, and this is addressed to both citizens and officials alike.”

The President pointed out that “We are facing four wars. The first war is a military one; the second is the blockade, the third is via the internet and the forth is the war launched by the corrupt people.”

The state of negligence that happened recently in relation to shortage of gas cylinders is due to the lack of transparency on the part of the institutions concerned towards the citizens, the President noted.

Her stressed that the current situation demands great caution, explaining that since the enemies have failed through supporting terrorism and through their agents, they will seek to create chaos from inside the Syrian society.

He went on saying that the major challenge now is providing the basic living materials to the citizens that are suffering due to the blockade.

“The blockade,” he said, “is a battle in itself. It is a battle of attack and retreat similar to the military battles.”

The President said that those who suffer need to have their problems dealt with, not to listen to rhetorical speeches.

He highlighted the important role the Local Administration plays since “no matter how much honesty, integrity and how many good laws we have, they cannot be managed centrally.”

The President added that “We have laws, but we lack the standards and mechanisms, which even if they exist are weak and not good, and without the standards we will not be able to solve any problems, therefore we have to be practical in our dialogues.”

The President went on saying that

“Suffering is the justification for looking for rights, but it cannot be a justification for treating the truth unfairly, and the truth says that there is war, terrorism and  blockade, and the truth is that there is a lack of morality and there are selfishness and corruption, and part of these facts are out of our hands partially but not entirely.”

The President said that rebuilding the minds and reforming the souls is the biggest challenge, not the reconstruction of the infrastructure.

“When our enemies started the war, they knew that they would leave us destructive infrastructure, and they know that we will reconstruct it, but the hardest thing is to deal with the intellectual structure and we should not fail in that,” the President said.

The President stressed that the future of Syria is decided exclusively by the Syrians.

He said the sovereignty of states is a sacred thing, and that if this sovereignty is violated through aggression and terrorism, this does not mean abandoning its essence, which is the independent national decision.

The President stressed that “the constitution is not subject to bargaining. We will not allow the hostile states to achieve any of their objectives through their agents who hold the Syrian nationality.”

He added that hostile countries are still insisting on their aggression and obstruction of any special process if it is serious like Sochi and Astana.

He said that any role of the UN is welcomed if it is based on the UN Charter.

The President reaffirmed that there will be no dialogue between the national party and the agents, stressing that it is the people’s steadfastness and their support to the Syrian Arab Army is what has protected the homeland.

He went on saying that those who conspired against Syria have failed in their reliance on the terrorists and the agents in the political process, and therefore they have moved to the third stage, which is activating the Turkish agent in the northern areas.

The President made it clear that

“Syria will be liberated to the last inch, and the interferers and occupiers are enemies.”

President al-Assad addressed the groups that serve as agents to the US saying:

“the Americans will not protect you, and you will be a tool for bargaining in their hands. Only the Syrian Arab Army can defend you.”

“When we stand in one trench and aim in the same direction instead of aiming at each other, no threat can make us worried no matter how big,” the President said.

He added

“We will not forget our kidnapped citizens, hundreds of whom have been liberated. We will not stop working until liberating them and we will not spare any chance to ensure their return.”

The President said

“We all have responsibility and a national obligation to stand by the families of the martyrs and the injured.”

“The big recovery and stability will only be achieved through eliminating all the terrorists to the last one,” he stressed.

SourceSANA

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ولدت الحكومة… فهل ستنجح في مواجهة التحديات؟

فبراير 1, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– بعد تسعة شهور ولدت الحكومة اللبنانية، وبدت المحاصصة القائمة على الحساب الطائفي عنصر التعثر الأبرز، وستبقى تظلل المسار الحكومي عند كل منعطف، فتعطل أي أمل حقيقي بمكافحة الفساد الذي يحتمي أصلاً بالمحاصصة الطائفية، وستستقوي المحاصصة على كل وعود إصلاحية، في اعتماد الكفاءة بدلاً من المحسوبية في التوظيف، وستنجح المحاصصة الطائفية بتقاسم المشاريع والتلزيمات والأموال الموظفة من مؤتمر سيدر وغيره، وستنجح المصارف القائمة على المحاصصة ذاتها بنيل نصيبها الوافر من عائدات خدمة الدين وضخّ المزيد من سندات الخزينة، ويمكن تهنئة القيمين على تشكيل الحكومة بنجاحهم في استبعاد أي تمثيل للقوى غير الطائفية، والعابرة للطوائف، تأكيداً للشراكة في ارتكاب جرم المحاصصة الطائفية بكامل الوعي وعن سبق الإصرار.

– اللبنانيون يريدون أن يأملوا خيراً من الحكومة، وأن يقال لهم إنها ستطلق العجلة الاقتصادية وربما تنجح في حل مشاكل الكهرباء والنفايات، وستستفيد من الأموال التي ستضخها القروض لتحريك مشاريع مجدية تخلق المزيد من فرص العمل وتمنح المزيد من الآمال، لكن التجارب المشابهة منذ ثلاثة عقود تقول العكس، وبقوة. فهل سنشهد تغييراً في مقاربة ملفات الكهرباء والنفايات والاتصالات والنفط والغاز، ونحن نسمع عن شركات يجري تأسيسها هنا وهناك ووكالات لشركات أجنبية تسجل على قدم وساق، ومفاوضات على أشكال جديدة من التلزيم تتيح وضع اليد لحيتان مال قدامى وجدد على القطاعات القديمة والجديدة؟

– الحكومة ستعيش كما يفترض لأربعين شهراً، هي المدة التي تفصلنا عن الانتخابات النيابية المقبلة، وهي المدة الباقية لينجز عهد الرئيس ميشال عون بعضاً من الوعود ويحقق بعضاً من الآمال، وسيكون الرئيس ميشال عون وتياره السياسي وفريقه القيادي، وعلى رأسه الوزير جبران باسيل أكبر الخاسرين من فشل الحكومة، حيث سيكون لسان حال الناس في حال الفشل، أن التيار الذي لم يحقق وعوده في ظل وجوده في رئاسة الجمهورية وبحضور نيابي كبير وحجم وزاري وازن، لا يحق له أن يخاطب الناس طلباً لتجديد الثقة به نيابياً ورئاسياً بعد هذا الفشل، ولن يفيد في شيء الحديث عن تعطيل مارسه الآخرون، ففي لبنان دائماً هناك آخرون.

– الرئيس سعد الحريري المحاط بتراجع المكانة السعودية وتراجع مكانته فيها، وبتقدم مكانة سورية وتردّده بالتقدم نحوها، سيواجه ضغوطاً خارجية لربط التمويل بالموقف من سلاح المقاومة، وإغراءات تغطية الحصول على مشاريع تدر مالاً لرجال الأعمال المحيطين به، لكن معيار النجاح والفشل قبيل الانتخابات المقبلة سيكون في قدرته على تقديم وقائع تتصل بحياة الناس وخدماتها ومستوى معيشتها وثقتها بالدولة ومكان الكفاءة فيها ومكانتها بين دول المنطقة، وليس بقدرة ماكينته الانتخابية على التحرك وإنفاق المال. والفشل في هذه الحكومة سيعني مواجهة الحريري وتياره للإستحقاق الإنتخابي المقبل في ظروف أشد قسوة من الاستحقاق الذي مضى.

– ثلاثة أشياء يمكن لرئيسي الجمهورية والحكومة ولتياريهما والحكومة معهما فعلها، تعوّض الخلل في مقاربة الواقع السياسي المحلي والإقليمي، لها مفعولها وآثارها الاقتصادية المفصلية، وأولها السير بقانون انتخاب جديد خارج القيد الطائفي وفقا للتمثيل النسبي، عبر صيغة مجلسي النواب والشيوخ التي نص عليها الدستور، وذلك وحده يضمن بيئة سياسية متحررة من المحاصصة الطائفية يمكن فيها منح الكفاءات أملاً، وقطع الطريق على الفساد وفتح باب المساءلة والمحاسبة. وثانيها تخطي كل التعقيدات العربية وغير العربية في العلاقة مع سورية، والتوجه لمصلحة لبنانية عليا بالتكامل مع سورية، كرئة اقتصادية وفرصة ثمينة نادرة، وشريك في التاريخ والجغرافيا، وليس فقط تحت شعار حل قضية النازحين. وثالثها المجاهرة بأن أولوية لبنان الدفاعية ليست مناقشة مستقبل سلاح المقاومة بل الحصول على شبكة دفاع جوي أو تأمين حماية المظلة الجوية السورية أو الروسية السورية، لوضع حد للانتهاكات التي لن يفعل من يدعون لبنان لنزع سلاح المقاومة، في مواجهتها شيئاً، لبنان المنيع والمحصن بوجه العدوان الإسرائيلي والمتشارك مع سورية في خطط التكامل والإعمار، والذاهب لدولة لا طائفية تتيح مكافحة الفساد وتفتح طريق الأمل للكفاءات، هو لبنان الذي تستطيع هذه الحكومة اعتباره وعدها وجوهر بيانها الوزاري، إن أرادت وأراد القيمون عليها عدم الفشل، والوصول للاستحقاق الانتخابي المقبل بأقل المخاطر على لبنان، وعلى مستقبل الحياة السياسية والاقتصادية والأمنية، أمام فرضيات تعمق العصبيات والتوترات الطائفية وتآكل القوى الوسطية لحساب متطرفي الطوائف الأصليين.

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حساب الأرباح والخسائر نتيجة القمة العربية في بيروت 2019

يناير 22, 2019

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

لم تكن التجاذبات والاشتباكات التي سبقت القمة العربية في بيروت ورافقتها خلال انعقادها لم تكن هذه الاشتباكات من الحجم والمستوى البسيط العادي، بل كانت في بعض وجوهها عميقة جدّية تؤكد حالة الانقسام الداخلي اللبناني والعربي الإقليمي وصولاً الى الدولي حول مسائل كبرى، يحاول البعض إلباسها أقنعة أو التلطّي وراء أقنعة تحجبها.

لقد ظهر أن محاصرة القمة العربية في بيروت جاءت من الداخل والخارج معاً، حصاراً رغب البعض بأن يكون حصاراً للعماد عون ولعهده، وشاء البعض الآخر بأن يكون حصاراً للبنان الذي يحتضن المقاومة او الذي يمتنع عن السير بإملاءات خارجية تحاصر المقاومة او تعزل لبنان عن سورية او تجعله طرفاً في الاشتباك العربي بين المحاور الخليجية التي تريد أن تتمدد لتكون محاور إقليمية برعاية غربية واضحة.

لكن لبنان وبقيادة من العماد عون شخصياً وبدعم مباشر او خفي من قوى وطنية وإقليمية، رفض الانصياع للإملاءات واختط لنفسه سياسة خارجية مضمونها الأساسي: كيف يحمي نفسه ويحفظ حقوقه أولاً ثم كيف يحفظ حقوق الآخرين وعلاقاته وصداقته الاستراتيجية معهم دون أن يتسبب ذلك في عداء او قطيعة مع الآخرين.

لم تكن مهمة لبنان سهلة، فقد كانت بصعوبة مَن يريد أن يجمع الجمر والماء في إناء واحد ويحفظ النار من دون أن تنطفئ كما يحفظ الماء دون أن تتبخّر، أي أن لبنان كان يعرف أن المهمة هذه هي في الحقيقة مهمة شبه مستحيلة إن لم نقل إنها مستحيلة بالمطلق، ومع ذلك قبل لبنان ورئيسه العماد عون التحدّي وسار في الإعداد للقمة تحت شعار قمة حتى بدون رؤساء او ملوك وأمراء، قمة بمن حضر مهما كان عدد الحاضرين ومهما كان مستواهم الوظيفي في بلدانهم، لأن لبنان فهم من الحصار والتضييق أن النجاح هنا يتمثل بالانعقاد بذاته قبل أي أمر آخر.

وهنا لا بدّ من التذكير بأنه عندما استحصل لبنان على موافقة عربية باستضافة القمة، لم يكن بهوية أو مواقف غير التي له اليوم، وبالتالي إن ذرائع الباحثين عن سبب لتعطيل القمة كلها مردودة عليهم، فكل ما يحاولون تسويقه من حجج انما كان قائماً قبل عرض الاستضافة وقبل قرار الموافقة العربية عليها، فلماذا إذن هذا الانقلاب على القمة وحشد الأسلحة لنحرها وتالياً الإساءة الى لبنان والإضرار به؟

ومن جهة أخرى نسأل هل طاقات المعرقلين اختصرت في الحجم الذي مارسوه ضد القمة؟ ام أن هناك محاذير خشيها هؤلاء فامتنعوا عن الذهاب إلى أبعد مما ذهبوا اليه في التقزيم والعرقلة والإفشال؟ فلماذا عرقلوا ولماذا امتنعوا عن الذهاب الى الأبعد؟

أما عن العرقلة والتحجيم فإننا نرى أن أسبابه تعود الى رغبة أميركية خليجية بالضغط على لبنان ليراجع سياسته تجاه المقاومة وتجاه سورية وأن يلتزم بإملاءات «النأي بالنفس» الخادعة التي تترجم حقيقة عداء ضد سورية والتحاقاً بالمحاور الأخرى التي عملت وتعمل ضد المقاومة ومحور المقاومة. وبالتالي كان مستوى الحضور والتراجع الدراماتيكي عن الوعود بحضور هذا الرئيس او ذاك الأمير غايته القول بأن على لبنان أن «يراجع سياسته ويحسن سلوكه» حتى يستحق التفافاً عربياً بمستوى القمة حوله وإلا فانه «لن ينال هذا الشرف». فالعرب لا يستسيغون لبنان العنفوان والمقاومة، ولا يتقبلون بسهولة لبنان المنتصر على «إسرائيل».

أما عن الامتناع عن الذهاب الى الأبعد وصولاً الى حد تطيير القمة أو تأجيلها، أو إفشالها كلياً، فإن سببه عائد الى أن ذلك لو حصل سيصيب الجامعة العربية ذاتها قبل أن يصيب لبنان. فالجامعة هي التي دعت والجامعة هي التي قرّرت ولبنان يتفضل على الجامعة بالضيافة والاستضافة. والجامعة اليوم تحت تأثير ضغط القوى الخاضعة للقرار الأميركي وأميركا بحاجة اليوم على الإبقاء ولو نظرياً على ورقة هذه الجامعة حتى تعود الى استعمالها عند الحاجة.

ومن جهة أخرى يعلم الجميع أن الذهاب الى الأبعد قد يدفع العماد عون وهو رجل كلمة وقرار وموقف ورجل شجاعة ورأي معاً، يدفعه للذهاب الى الأبعد أيضاً وبإمكانه أن يفعل سواء على الصعيد الداخلي او الصعيد الخارجي الإقليمي، وليس من مصلحة هؤلاء دفع العماد عون الى مواقف لا تريحهم. وهذا لا يعني ان العماد لن يقدم الآن، وفي ظل ما حصل من تضييق، على اتخاذ قرارات من هذا القبيل تشمل العلاقة مع سورية ومسالة تشكيل الحكومة وسواها مما قد يجد الرئيس مصلحة وطنية وصيغة انتقامية في اتخاذه.

أما عن حصيلة المواجهة حول القمة وفيها وبدون غوص في القرارات الـ 29 التي اتخذت والتي وفقاً لما نعتقد لن تكون أحسن حالاً من قرارات سبقتها في القمم العربية السالفة التي بقيت حبراً على ورق فإن أهم ما يعنينا من أمر القمة وما أحاط بها ما يلي:

إن مجرد انعقادها في الظروف التي سادت، كان فيها تحدٍّ ربحَهُ لبنان، صحيح أن التأجيل بسبب غياب سورية كان مفيداً في وجه من الوجوه وكان موقفنا واضحاً بهذا الصدد ، لكن الانعقاد مع تمسك لبنان بوجوب عودة سورية وكشف هزالة المواقف العربية من المسألة كان له قيمة سياسية يبنى عليها لاحقاً ويشكل نجاحاً للبنان في هذا المجال.

معالجة مسألة النزوح السوري وضرورة العودة الآمنة دونما ربط بالحل السياسي، كما تريد قوى العدوان على سورية أمر يشكل أيضاً نجاحاً للبنان ولسورية أيضاً، حيث شكل قرار النازحين واللاجئين أساساً يبنى عليه في المواقف الدولية مستقبلاً لمصلحة سورية ولبنان معاً وطبعاً لمصلحة النازحين السوريين الذين يريد الغرب اتخاذهم رهينة أو ورقة ضغط على سورية في إطار الحل السياسي.

أكد لبنان رغم الكثير من العوائق والظروف الذاتية والموضوعية أنه يتمتع بقدرات هامة في مجال الأمن والتنظيم وإدارة اجتماعات من هذا النوع وبهذا المستوى. وفي هذا أيضاً كسب وطني معنوي يحجب الى حد بعيد الخسائر والنفقات المادية التي تكبّدها لبنان في هذا السياق.

أما عن المقاطعين والمعرقلين وفي أي مكان او موقع وجدوا فقد كشفوا أنفسهم وفضحوا قدراتهم المحدودة في التأثير على أمر بحجم ما حصل. وقد يكون ذلك درساً يستفاد منه، ويبقى أن نقول كلمة لممتهني جلد الذات، إنه في المسائل الوطنية يجب أن تتقدم صورة الوطن ومصلحته على مصالح الشخص وذاتيته وأنانيته ولو لحظة واحدة…

أستاذ جامعي وباحث استراتيجي

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