The forthcoming inevitable battle for Middle-East Peace

May 05, 2021

The forthcoming inevitable battle for Middle-East Peace

by Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

The alleged stray ground-to-air Syrian missile that landed near the nuclear reactor in Dimona Israel carried many messages; both overt and covert.

And, as if the fact that this missile managed to penetrate Israel’s formidable ‘Iron Dome’ was not embarrassing enough for Israel, the official Israeli report alleged that the missile was actually Iranian-made; not Russian as initially perceived by the world.

In other words, the Israeli report is saying that its ‘Iron Dome’ has been easily penetrated by a missile that is 1) not meant to hit ground targets, 2) had already spent its fuel and maneuverability and was literally on a free fall trajectory by gravitation and not propulsion, 3) yet it penetrated the allegedly most advance air defense system in the world, and 4) above all, it was made in Iran; a nation ‘crippled by sanctions and governed by ‘fundamentalist Mullas’.

Seriously, Israel has never before admitted a defense failure that is even close to such similar proportions.

Ironically, almost simultaneously, Iran revealed photos of an American aircraft carrier taken by a drone; not to forget mentioning that Iran also revealed that it has developed kamikaze drones ready to attack any target within their range in the Gulf.

But the Dimona incident alone cannot be seen in isolation of the recent Russian ‘diplomacy’ initiatives in the Middle East. I have deliberately put the word diplomacy under inverted comas, because that Russian version of diplomacy has a side that proves its worth in both traditional diplomatic ways as well as ones that are unorthodox.

Russia has thus far been very tight-lipped about its objectives in the Middle East. My own analysis of it has landed me in hot water with Russian friends and media allies, and I accept their stand. Perhaps they do not want me to ‘spoil the hidden agenda’, but my role as an analyst is not going to stop, and their views, directives, and concerns will not make me feel guilty for expressing my analyses and predictions.

In this portrayal of recent regional political events in the Middle east, I am relying on bits of pieces of information from here and there, but the analysis of it all is based on my own understanding of what makes sense in combining all what is currently taking place. My analysis does not represent the views of any blog, news agency or government. I have expressed similar views earlier, but events keep progressing, and in every step of the way, it seems that my initial prediction about the Russian initiative in the Middle East was accurate. So here is an updated summary of it all with a bit repetition of earlier material for the benefit of first-time readers.

Ever since Russia responded to Syria’s request to offer military aid, Russia responded with accepting the request under certain conditions; conditions that stipulate a Syrian-Israeli peace settlement agreement.

But this wasn’t all. Putin’s Russia is trying to reverse what Kissinger did to Russia some forty years ago when he catapulted the USSR out of Middle East politics and conned Egypt into accepting a unilateral peace deal with Israel in the so-called Camp David Accords.

Ever since then, Russia has been deprived of a role to play in the Middle East, none at all, until Putin sent troops into Syria and thereby changing the status quo not only in the Middle East, but also heralding the end of the single global superpower status of the post USSR USA.

The post-USSR world has seen Russia suffering from huge American-based NATO encroachments in Eastern Europe, and the current impasse in Ukraine is only one aspect of it. Former Warsaw Pact nations have gone full dipole away from Russia and in cahoots with their new-found Western ‘allies’. The Stalin era might have left a bitter taste in the palate of some East European countries, but this was a long time ago, and nations like Poland and Ukraine surely must understand and know who are their historic regional and global allies. With the era of Nazism and Fascism in the dust bin of history that Europe would like to forget, even Germany and France ought to realize that today’s Russia cannot be associated with Stalin’s-USSR any more than today’s Germany and France can be associated with Hitler and Petain.

And, if Poland wants to remained mentally entrenched in the Stalin era and forget about who liberated it from Nazi occupation, it should look further back in history and remember that the partition of Poland in the 19th Century was not only orchestrated by the Russian Czars, but also in collaboration with Prussia and Austria.

As discussed in the previous article, the current animosity of Eastern European nations towards Russia is not something that can be rationally explained and justified.

Back to the Middle East.

Only Russia can broker a peace deal in the Middle East, a deal that includes not only Syria and Israel, but also Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The main sticking elements in any such deal are Israel and Turkey, and to a lesser extent Iran.

In the same previous article mentioned above, I predicted a win-win scenario that Russia will broker between Iran and Saudi Arabia; one that guarantees the mutual withdrawal of Iran from Syria and Saudi Arabia from Yemen. As a matter of fact, a few days ago Saudi Crown Prince MBS announced that he wants to have a good relationship with Iran. Is this a sign that this deal is closer than we think? Perhaps not, but I cannot think of any other reason.

Turkey will undoubtedly want a bite of the cherry, and I not sure how will Russia be able to diplomatically appease Erdogan without giving him too much more than what he has taken already. However, his recent stand on Ukraine has put him in deep hot water with Russia and in any future bargains, he will find that his Ukraine venture will be used against him. He has deliberately introduced a bargaining chip that can be used only against himself.

This leaves Israel; how to bring Israel to the negotiating table for a deal that is unlike all previous American-brokered deals.

All American-brokered deals have thus far been based on providing Israel with the lion’s share and the Arab party with very little; especially when it came to making deals with the Palestinian Authority. Furthermore, on top of the political and strategic gains that America delivered to Israel in all of those deals, America ensured that Israel continued to have military superiority and that Arabs would never be able to score a major military victory, even if united.

Despite the October 1973 (ie Yom Kippur War) and what followed it, all the way up to the July 2006 war with Hezbollah, and the humiliations that Israel suffered from all of those military engagements, Israel remains mentally entrenched in the euphoria of the huge Six-Day War win of June 1967 and what ensued afterwards, resulting in what can best be described as the invincible army complex.

Israel will not be prepared to sign a peace agreement with Syria while it believes that it continues to have this military superiority; the power to shape events in its favour. For Israel to change course and become more realistic, it needs either a new generation of political leaders who are more rational, or a reality check; a punishment if you wish.

This is why it is that, inasmuch as the corridors of negotiations are opening up and the tables are being prepared, so are the drums of war.

It is worthy to note here that major reconstructions have not begun in Syria yet. The underlying message here is that perhaps Syria is expecting more carnage, and that reconstruction will have to wait. Why reconstruct twice? In its current state of devastation, Syria has little to lose.

Israel, on the other hand, is in a very vulnerable situation, and the Dimona incident has exposed this gaping hole.

Syria has exercised great restraint in the face of the ongoing Israeli airstrikes. Even though an Israeli jet was downed a few years ago, by-and-large, Syria has remained non-respondent. We do not know exactly what is happening behind the scenes, but it seems that Israel is misreading Syria’s lack of response and seeing weakness, despite information from Russia that such is not the case. Israel will continue to act like the regional bully, refusing to sit at the negotiating table as an equal partner, unless it receives a significant hit.

This hit is not necessarily one that will cause much carnage in Israel such as civilian and military loss of life. Putin will not accept or allow such a level of devastation to be inflicted on Israel. After all, a significant fraction of Israel’s population is originally Russian. Putin, furthermore, is intent on convincing Israel that it is Russia, and not America, that can give Israel real peace with its Arab neighbours.

To this effect, Israel only needs to lose a few fighter-jets, ten, maybe twenty, finding itself unable to defend key military and strategic land targets in order for it to realize that the days of military superiority are gone.

The Dimona incident is a forewarning, but only if Israel wants to read in between the lines. Otherwise, there will be a war in the Middle East, a war that will be intended to be contained and limited to be a punch, a powerful punch, but not a knockout.

With this said, this is the Middle East, a very volatile region, with many volatile heads. A limited war aimed at showing who has muscle may end up spiraling out of control and into something very large. With experience of such unpredictability, Syria is presenting to Israel that a long war will bring more destruction upon Israel than it will on an already destroyed Syria.

What seems certain is that peace initiatives are on the table, but not all parties are yet convinced that they will attend such talks as equal partners before some arms are twisted and statures rattled.

RUSSIAN-SYRIAN GAS CONTRACT HINTS AT SYRIA’S RECOVERY

Source

 09.04.2021

Russian-Syrian Gas Contract Hints At Syria’s Recovery

Submitted by Steven Sahiounie.

The Syrian government signed a 4-year contract in March with Capital Limited, a Russian firm, to conduct oil and gas exploration in the area known as block No. 1 in the Syrian exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of the Tartous province.

The disputed maritime area covers 2,250 square kilometers on the Syrian-Lebanese maritime borders in the Mediterranean Sea.

Large reservoirs of natural gas have been discovered under the seafloor of the eastern Mediterranean and the neighboring nations and energy exploration companies are eager to exploit these gas deposits.

The Levantine basin has proven reserves of more than 60 trillion cubic feet of gas. The US Geological Survey has estimated that 1.7 billion barrels of oil lie in the basin, and as much as 122 trillion cubic feet of gas. That amount of gas is equivalent to about 76 years of gas consumption in the European Union (EU).javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels and serves as a transition fuel towards more renewables, and to replace coal and nuclear electric generation across the EU.  Gas is the energy of demand for the EU, which is the biggest emerging gas market in the world.

In December 2013, Damascus entered into a major agreement with Moscow to explore oil and gas in the offshore territorial waters for 25 years.  Drilling and exploration costs were estimated at $100 million.  Russia would finance these activities with expenditures recovered from eventual production.

The 2013 deal for gas exploration involved Russia’s SoyuzNefteGaz; however, the current contract involves two Russian companies, Capital Limited and East Med Amrit.

The area in which Russian companies are being allowed to operate is disputed by the Lebanese, with the maritime borders drawn by the Syrians, especially in Block No. 1, overlapping significantly with Block No. 1 and Block No. 2 on the Lebanese side, and encroaching approximately 750 square kilometers within Lebanon’s maritime border.

Lebanon was busy demarcating its southern maritime and land borders with Israel for years, without making any progress.

On April 6, Lebanese caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe said that Lebanese President Michel Aoun held a phone conversation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss the demarcation of maritime borders between the two countries. Wehbe said Aoun confirmed in his call with Assad that “Lebanon won’t accept to diminish from its sovereignty over its waters”, and confirmed that his country sticks to demarcating the maritime borders via negotiations, and not court disputes.

The majority of the land borders between the two countries have been demarcated in 1971, while the maritime borders between Syria and Lebanon have not been delineated. Lebanon had previously demarcated its maritime borders in 2011, and in 2014 launched a round of primary licenses and invited bids for Block No. 1 in the north, but Syria did not recognize the Lebanese demarcation. Damascus objected to the unilateral Lebanese demarcation of its exclusive economic zone in the north, by sending a protest letter to the United Nations in 2014.

Wehbe said that Beirut must negotiate with Damascus about the demarcation of maritime borders.

“This is not an act of aggression but every state demands its rights according to its perspective,” Wehbe said, adding that negotiations must take place within the framework of international laws and the brotherly relations between the two countries.

In late 2010, a dramatic discovery was made in the eastern Mediterranean of a huge natural gas field offshore, in what geologists call the Levant or Levantine Basin. The discovery set into motion a geopolitical plan devised in Washington and Tel Aviv back in 1996.  By March 2011 Syria was immersed into a revolution instigated and fueled by the CIA on orders from President Obama.

In August 2011 findings were revealed by Syrian exploration companies of an immense gas field in Qara near the border with Lebanon and near the port of Tartus, which was leased to the Russian navy. The gas reserves are believed to be equal to or exceed those of Qatar.  The US-backed rebels kept the fighting focused in the area to prevent the recovery of the gas.

Trump ordered the US troops illegally occupying Syria to stay and steal the oil.  The US military prevents the Syrian government from using the oil in the northeast to rebuild or recover from 10 years of war.

The US, NATO, and the EU all worked in coordination to destroy Syria and keep it from reaching its potential as an energy-sufficient nation.

Washington’s ‘regime-change’ strategy was based on instigating internal chaos in Syria through the use of CIA training and weapons of armed fighters following Radical Islam, which they thought would end with an Islamic State as opposed to the existing secular government in Damascus, and supported through the coffers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both nations state sponsors of Radical Islam.

The US lost the war in Syria. But, Washington will continue to isolate Russia and try to prevent the unchanged government in Damascus from the gas reserves off-shore.

Turkey began the US-NATO war against Syria as a team player. Turkey was used as a transit point for all the hundreds of thousands of foreign terrorists from the four corners of the globe who flocked to Syria on Team-USA to oust the Syrian government, in favor of Radical Islam. However, Turkey feels left out of the lucrative gas deals, and envious of its neighbors in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey is trying to disrupt energy exploration. Meanwhile, it is the babysitter of the Al Qaeda terrorists in control of Idlib and determined to maintain the status quo in Idlib.

While Russia has been in the Syrian port of Tartus for decades, it was in 2015 that they were invited to Syria militarily in the darkest days of terrorist expansion.  The Russians have a long and bloody experience with Radical Islamic terrorists on Russian soil. With Syria laying on the southern front of Russia, it was seen as a national security threat to allow an Islamic state to be proclaimed in Damascus, even if it was only the Muslim Brotherhood politicians supported by the US and housed in hotels in Istanbul.

The Russians felt they could either defeat the terrorists in Syria or wait and fight them on the streets of Moscow. Radical Islam is neither a religion, nor a sect, but a political ideology that is very difficult to deal with once US weapons are placed in their hands.

In 2012, F. William Engdahl wrote a prophetic article Syria, Turkey, Israel and a Greater Middle East Energy War. He wrote, “The battle for the future control of Syria is at the heart of this enormous geopolitical war and tug of war. Its resolution will have enormous consequences for either world peace or endless war and conflict and slaughter.”

Engdahl theorized that Syria would ultimately be a major source for Russian-managed gas flows to the EU.

In late 2015, Pepe Escobar, a journalist with Asia Times, wrote a groundbreaking article Syria: Ultimate Pipelineistan War”.

Escobar wrote, “Syria is an energy war. With the heart of the matter featuring a vicious geopolitical competition between two proposed gas pipelines, it is the ultimate Pipelinestan war.”

In the article, he takes you back to 2009 when Qatar proposed to Damascus the construction of a pipeline traversing Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria to Turkey, to supply the EU.

However, in 2010 Syria chose a competing project, the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. That choice set into motion what the western media terms as the Syrian civil war, but in reality was never civil, and was a classic US ‘regime-change’ project which featured a cast of thousands, and among the supporters were the heads of state from most of the civilised world.

After 10 years of war, Syria may finally be approaching the endgame. President Assad’s government is looking to post-war recovery and reconstruction, which will need foreign and domestic investments. The energy sector is crucial. Syria’s oil exports accounted for 30% of pre-war revenue, and the prospect of gas output was revealed just as the war ramped up. US and EU sanctions will make foreign investment difficult, but the world is watching Russia in the waters off Syria.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist and political commentator.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Maria Saadeh, former independent Syrian MP, on the blockade of Syria

Presentation at the London webinar ‘A Decade of War on Syria – Future Trajectories’, hosted by The European Centre for Extremism Studies [www.eurocse.org] in Cambridge’s #Syria​​ Program.

James Jeffrey’s Confessions: We Destroyed the Syrian Pound and Prevented Russia, Iran and Assad from Feeling Victory (1) اعترافات جيمس جيفري: دمّرنا الليرة السوريّة ومنعنا روسيا وإيران والأسد من الشعور بالانتصار… (1)

James Jeffrey’s Confessions: We Destroyed the Syrian Pound and Prevented Russia, Iran and Assad from Feeling Victory (1)

Paris – Nidal Hamada

In a lengthy interview with The Monitor, former U.S. special envoy to Syria James Jeffrey made confessions about his country’s Syria policy, which can rightly be said to be the kind of scandal revealed by WikiLeaks documents.

James Jeffrey said: I convinced Secretary Pompeo of the USA administration that Iran should be treated as a nuclear problem like North Korea and that it represents a threat to security in the region, and we supported the Israeli air campaign against Iranian targets in Syria, we told them if you did not address the Iranian presence in Syria will not succeed in the war against ISIS, and we invoked the administration’s war against terrorism to justify the “Israeli” air campaign against Iranian targets in Syria, so we made a policy in Syria that is at the heart of our Iranian policy and the result was relatively successful, because we got a lot of Turkish assistance.

 Elsewhere, James Jeffrey says: “We have stepped up the pressure of siege and isolation on Assad, we have kept along the line to prevent any reconstruction assistance that the country needs, see what happened in the Syrian pound, you see what happened to the Syrian economy, it was a very useful strategy.”

 On the Iranian issue, he also says that “Iran’s ability in Syria to impose an equation similar to south Lebanon through long-range missiles stopped because of the Israeli air campaign, and the continuation of this campaign is due to The American diplomatic support and I will not enter into more details on the subject, we have stopped Iran’s long-term objectives and put its presence under pressure, but I do not know if it is enough to force it to leave Syria. I know that this is an important element for any broader agreement and no matter how much pain we attribute to the Russians, the regime in Syria and the Iranians, this will not disappear until Iran leaves Syria.”

He also said that Russia is winning politics and it knows that there is no military solution to the crisis, and we have clearly told them that we will lift the sanctions, and that Assad will return to the Arab League and will drop the diplomatic blockade if they accept our offer put by Pompeo in Sochi in 2019, they know what this offer is.”

(Part2: Turkey kurds and how were they lying to Trump?).

اعترافات جيمس جيفري: دمّرنا الليرة السوريّة ومنعنا روسيا وإيران والأسد من الشعور بالانتصار

باريس – نضال حمادة

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في مقابلة طويلة أجراها مع (ذي مونيتر) أدلى المبعوث الأميركي الخاص السابق الى سورية جيمس جيفري بكلام أشبه بالاعترافات حول سياسة بلاده في سورية، يمكن القول عنها بحق إنها من نوع الفضائح التي كشفتها وثائق «ويكيليكس».

قال جيمس جيفري: لقد أقنعت مع وزير الخارجية بومبيو أعضاء الإدارة الأميركية أنه يجب التعامل مع إيران على أنها مشكلة نوويّة على غرار كوريا الشمالية وأنها تمثل تهديداً للأمن في المنطقة، كما دعمنا الحملة الجوية «الإسرائيلية» ضدّ الأهداف الإيرانية في سورية، قلنا لهم إذا لم تعالجوا التواجد الإيراني في سورية فلن تنجحوا بالحرب ضدّ داعش، وتذرّعنا للإدارة بالحرب ضدّ الإرهاب لتبرير الحملة الجوية «الإسرائيلية» على أهداف إيرانية في سورية، هكذا صنعنا سياسة في سورية تدخل في صلب سياستنا الإيرانية العامة وكانت نتيجتها ناجحة نسبياً، لأننا حصلنا على الكثير من المساعدة التركية.

 في مكان آخر يقول جيمس جيفري: «لقد صعّدنا ضغوط الحصار والعزلة على الأسد، لقد حافظنا على طول الخط على منع أية مساعدة لإعادة الإعمار التي يحتاجها البلد، أرأيتم ماذا حلّ بالليرة السورية، أرأيتم ماذا حلّ بالاقتصاد السوري، لقد كانت استراتيجية مفيدة جداً».

 في الشأن الإيراني يقول أيضاً «إنّ قدرة إيران في سورية على فرض معادلة شبيهة بجنوب لبنان عبر صواريخ بعيدة المدى توقفت بسبب الحملة الجوية الإسرائيلية، ويعود استمرار هذه الحملة إلى الدعم الدبلوماسي الأميركي ولن أدخل بتفاصيل أكير عن الموضوع، لقد أوقفنا أهداف إيران البعيدة المدى ووضعنا وجودها تحت الضغط، لكن لا أعرف إذا كان كافياً حتى يجبرها على ترك سورية. أنا أعرف أن هذا عنصر مهمّ لأيّ اتفاق أوسع ومهما كان الألم الذي نسبّبه للروس وللنظام في سورية وللإيرانيين فهذا لن يختفي قبل مغادرة إيران لسورية».

قال أيضاً «إنّ روسيا تكسب بالسياسة وهي تعلم ان لا حلّ عسكرياً للأزمة، وقد قلنا لهم بشكل واضح إننا سوف نرفع العقوبات، وإنّ الأسد سوف يعود الى الجامعة العربية وسوف يسقط الحصار الدبلوماسي في حال قبلوا بعرضنا الذي طرحه بومبيو في سوتشي عام 2019، هم يعرفون ما هو هذا العرض».

(الجزء الثاني: تركيا الأكراد وكيف كانوا يكذبون على ترامب؟).

Syria’s International Conference On Refugees Is A Masterclass In Balancing

12 NOVEMBER 2020

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Syria

The kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria has mostly drawn to a close, as evidenced by the milestone event of the country hosting an international conference on the return of refugees, which resulted in several significant outcomes that speak to the masterful execution of its “balancing” strategy and raise hope that the Arab Republic will eventually transform into the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of China’s visionary W-CPEC+ corridor across Eurasia.

Strategically Disarming “Weapons Of Mass Migration”

Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees is a milestone event for the country’s war which shows that the kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror against it has mostly drawn to a close. President Assad’s keynote speech saw the Syrian leader thanking his Russian and Iranian wartime allies for their help getting to this point and encouraging his compatriots abroad to finally return home. He claimed that some of their host countries are exploiting them for financial and other reasons, strongly hinting that they’re being used against their will as “Weapons of Mass Migration” like Ivy League scholar Kelly M. Greenhill earlier described such a phenomenon. In connection with that, President Assad condemned those states which continue to impose illegal sanctions against the Arab Republic, which has disincentivized some refugees from returning home and thus results in artificially perpetuating this historic humanitarian crisis that was initially sparked by their external war of regime change aggression against his people through terrorist means.

Syria’s “Balancing” Act

Thankfully, Syria can count on its Russian and Iranian wartime allies to help reconstruct the ruined country and thus facilitate the return of millions of refugees to their homeland. To this end, Russia promised to allocate $1 billion as well as open up a trade mission in Damascus while Iran suggested setting up an international fund for this purpose. Both countries seem poised to enter into a “friendly competition” with one another for reconstruction contracts and market space which can only work out to Syria’s ultimate benefit. The Arab Republic is therefore expected to retain its carefully calibrated “balancing” act between them, wisely doing its utmost to prevent the emergence of any complete dependence on either of them in the future. This strategy is consistent with what it’s always pursued over the decades and represents its masterful execution which too many other small- and medium-sized states previously attempted but to no avail. Even worse, many of Syria’s peers saw this strategy backfire on them, thus leading to either their ruin or full dependence on one partner.

Full credit goes to Syria’s world-class diplomats for being able to manage such a difficult policy with such success. Not only are they “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but they also managed to attract the important participation of other countries in their international refugee conference, most curious of which for some observers is Pakistan. Those who only casually follow Syrian affairs might have missed it, but Islamabad recently dispatched massive medical aid to the Arab Republic. This and its participation in the international conference show that the “global pivot state” (which the author previously referred to it as) is capable of bold foreign policy moves independent of its close American, Saudi, and Turkish partners. Pakistan, just like Syria, is also practicing its own “balancing” act between its aforementioned three traditional partners and its three newest ones of Russia, China, and Iran. In fact, it can be argued that Pakistan and Syria are in the process of synergizing their respective “balancing” strategies for the betterment of Eurasia.

Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria”

To explain, not only is Syria “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but also between India and Pakistan too. Although Damascus and Delhi have a long history of close relations, Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shabaan told the Hindustan Times in August 2017 that her country is becoming hesitant about India’s role in its reconstruction after Prime Minister Modi’s highly publicized trip to “Israel” where he did everything from sign intergovernmental deals solidifying their de-facto alliance to even walking barefoot with Netanyahu along the beach. The author realized at the time that this is “Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria” whereby Islamabad could flex its anti-Zionist credentials to present itself as a much more credible partner than pro-Zionist Delhi in pursuit of strengthening the two state’s historic relations that reached their high point in 1974 after a Pakistani pilot flying a Syrian jet shot down an “Israeli” fighter flying over the occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s diplomats were evidently receptive to Pakistan’s outreaches, hence the steady improvement of ties.

The Winding Road To W-CPEC+

It’s not just nostalgia for their Old Cold War-era ties nor their shared hatred of “Israel” that’s bringing them closer together nowadays, but pro-Chinese Silk Road pragmatism. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and its western branch corridor (W-CPEC+) through Iran has the chance of not only reaching Russia by running parallel with the stalled North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) across Azerbaijan but can also extend as far as Syria via Iraq. China is the little-discussed third economic force apart from Russia and Iran which is engaged in a “friendly competition” with its partners to develop Syria, and the improvement of Syrian-Pakistani relations as is presently happening could result in W-CPEC+ extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, all of which are allied with one another. It’ll of course take a lot of political will from all sides — not least of all Pakistan — to see this ambitious vision through, but if successful, then it could revolutionize Mideast geopolitics.

All five countries — China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and Syria — would benefit from this outcome. The People’s Republic is the world’s second-largest economy and actively eyeing more positions in the Eastern Mediterranean to complement its prospective ones in “Israel”, albeit via more geopolitically reliable mainland routes than the maritime ones connecting it to the self-professed “Jewish State”. Pakistan has an interest in bolstering its credential as the “global pivot state” by having CPEC serve as the platform for integrating Eurasia more closely together. Iran, which is desperately seeking all manner of sanctions relief, is reportedly negotiating a gargantuan economic agreement with China and would certainly benefit by facilitating more East-West trade through its territory. As for Russia, its recent control over Tartus means that it could profit from any Syrian export of Chinese products through that port. As for the Arab Republic itself, its expected benefit is that this vision would accelerate its reconstruction and allow it to finally actualize its pre-war “Five Seas Strategy”.

Concluding Thoughts

All told, Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees was about much more than just its titular topic. Reading between the lines of the details that have since been revealed about this milestone event, it was actually a masterclass in Syria’s “balancing” strategy. The Arab Republic proved that its diplomats are among the most highly skilled in the world after successfully “balancing” between Russia and Iran, as well as India and Pakistan, all with the aim of fulfilling its visionary “Five Seas Strategy” which some argue was partially responsible for provoking the Hybrid War of Terror that’s been viciously waged against it for almost an entire decade already. In the best-case scenario, Syria will eventually serve as the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of the W-CPEC+ corridor connecting that strategic body of water with the Pacific Ocean via a several-country-long mainland commercial corridor. The successful fulfillment of this vision would revolutionize not only Mideast geopolitics, but also Eurasian geopolitics as a whole, which thus makes it an urgent priority for all.

Syria’s International Conference On Refugees Is A Masterclass In Balancing

By Andrew Korybko

Source

The kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria has mostly drawn to a close, as evidenced by the milestone event of the country hosting an international conference on the return of refugees, which resulted in several significant outcomes that speak to the masterful execution of its “balancing” strategy and raise hope that the Arab Republic will eventually transform into the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of China’s visionary W-CPEC+ corridor across Eurasia.

Strategically Disarming “Weapons Of Mass Migration”

Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees is a milestone event for the country’s war which shows that the kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror against it has mostly drawn to a close. President Assad’s keynote speech saw the Syrian leader thanking his Russian and Iranian wartime allies for their help getting to this point and encouraging his compatriots abroad to finally return home. He claimed that some of their host countries are exploiting them for financial and other reasons, strongly hinting that they’re being used against their will as “Weapons of Mass Migration” like Ivy League scholar Kelly M. Greenhill earlier described such a phenomenon. In connection with that, President Assad condemned those states which continue to impose illegal sanctions against the Arab Republic, which has disincentivized some refugees from returning home and thus results in artificially perpetuating this historic humanitarian crisis that was initially sparked by their external war of regime change aggression against his people through terrorist means.

Syria’s “Balancing” Act

Thankfully, Syria can count on its Russian and Iranian wartime allies to help reconstruct the ruined country and thus facilitate the return of millions of refugees to their homeland. To this end, Russia promised to allocate $1 billion as well as open up a trade mission in Damascus while Iran suggested setting up an international fund for this purpose. Both countries seem poised to enter into a “friendly competition” with one another for reconstruction contracts and market space which can only work out to Syria’s ultimate benefit. The Arab Republic is therefore expected to retain its carefully calibrated “balancing” act between them, wisely doing its utmost to prevent the emergence of any complete dependence on either of them in the future. This strategy is consistent with what it’s always pursued over the decades and represents its masterful execution which too many other small- and medium-sized states previously attempted but to no avail. Even worse, many of Syria’s peers saw this strategy backfire on them, thus leading to either their ruin or full dependence on one partner.

Full credit goes to Syria’s world-class diplomats for being able to manage such a difficult policy with such success. Not only are they “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but they also managed to attract the important participation of other countries in their international refugee conference, most curious of which for some observers is Pakistan. Those who only casually follow Syrian affairs might have missed it, but Islamabad recently dispatched massive medical aid to the Arab Republic. This and its participation in the international conference show that the “global pivot state” (which the author previously referred to it as) is capable of bold foreign policy moves independent of its close American, Saudi, and Turkish partners. Pakistan, just like Syria, is also practicing its own “balancing” act between its aforementioned three traditional partners and its three newest ones of Russia, China, and Iran. In fact, it can be argued that Pakistan and Syria are in the process of synergizing their respective “balancing” strategies for the betterment of Eurasia.

Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria”

To explain, not only is Syria “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but also between India and Pakistan too. Although Damascus and Delhi have a long history of close relations, Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shabaan told the Hindustan Times in August 2017 that her country is becoming hesitant about India’s role in its reconstruction after Prime Minister Modi’s highly publicized trip to “Israel” where he did everything from sign intergovernmental deals solidifying their de-facto alliance to even walking barefoot with Netanyahu along the beach. The author realized at the time that this is “Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria” whereby Islamabad could flex its anti-Zionist credentials to present itself as a much more credible partner than pro-Zionist Delhi in pursuit of strengthening the two state’s historic relations that reached their high point in 1974 after a Pakistani pilot flying a Syrian jet shot down an “Israeli” fighter flying over the occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s diplomats were evidently receptive to Pakistan’s outreaches, hence the steady improvement of ties.

The Winding Road To W-CPEC+

It’s not just nostalgia for their Old Cold War-era ties nor their shared hatred of “Israel” that’s bringing them closer together nowadays, but pro-Chinese Silk Road pragmatism. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and its western branch corridor (W-CPEC+) through Iran has the chance of not only reaching Russia by running parallel with the stalled North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) across Azerbaijan but can also extend as far as Syria via Iraq. China is the little-discussed third economic force apart from Russia and Iran which is engaged in a “friendly competition” with its partners to develop Syria, and the improvement of Syrian-Pakistani relations as is presently happening could result in W-CPEC+ extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, all of which are allied with one another. It’ll of course take a lot of political will from all sides — not least of all Pakistan — to see this ambitious vision through, but if successful, then it could revolutionize Mideast geopolitics.

All five countries — China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and Syria — would benefit from this outcome. The People’s Republic is the world’s second-largest economy and actively eyeing more positions in the Eastern Mediterranean to complement its prospective ones in “Israel”, albeit via more geopolitically reliable mainland routes than the maritime ones connecting it to the self-professed “Jewish State”. Pakistan has an interest in bolstering its credential as the “global pivot state” by having CPEC serve as the platform for integrating Eurasia more closely together. Iran, which is desperately seeking all manner of sanctions relief, is reportedly negotiating a gargantuan economic agreement with China and would certainly benefit by facilitating more East-West trade through its territory. As for Russia, its recent control over Tartus means that it could profit from any Syrian export of Chinese products through that port. As for the Arab Republic itself, its expected benefit is that this vision would accelerate its reconstruction and allow it to finally actualize its pre-war “Five Seas Strategy”.

Concluding Thoughts

All told, Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees was about much more than just its titular topic. Reading between the lines of the details that have since been revealed about this milestone event, it was actually a masterclass in Syria’s “balancing” strategy. The Arab Republic proved that its diplomats are among the most highly skilled in the world after successfully “balancing” between Russia and Iran, as well as India and Pakistan, all with the aim of fulfilling its visionary “Five Seas Strategy” which some argue was partially responsible for provoking the Hybrid War of Terror that’s been viciously waged against it for almost an entire decade already. In the best-case scenario, Syria will eventually serve as the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of the W-CPEC+ corridor connecting that strategic body of water with the Pacific Ocean via a several-country-long mainland commercial corridor. The successful fulfillment of this vision would revolutionize not only Mideast geopolitics, but also Eurasian geopolitics as a whole, which thus makes it an urgent priority for all.

روسيا وتركيا وسورية والوقت الأميركيّ الحرج هل يستفيد لبنان؟

ناصر قنديل

بينما كان العالم منشغلاً في معرفة اسم المرشح الرئاسي الأميركي الذي تؤيده موسكو، كنا منشغلين بوضع اللمسات الأخيرة على خطة شهور الانتقال بين ولايتين رئاسيتين أميركيتين، سواء للرئيس نفسه أو لرئيس آخر، هذا الكلام المنسوب لمسؤول في الفريق الروسي المتابع للسياسة الدولية، تبدو ترجمته قد بدأت عملياً على جبهتين محوريتين في مفهوم الأمن القومي الروسي، هما جبهة القوقاز والجبهة السورية، حيث ليس من باب المصادفة أن يتزامن ظهور دور الراعي الروسي في تثبيت وقف النار في ناغورني قره باغ مع انعقاد المؤتمر الخاص بعودة النازحين السوريين الى بلادهم، وليس خافياً أن الحركة الروسية في الملفين تقتنص الإنجاز من موقع الاشتباك مع مصالح وسياسات أميركية وإسرائيلية واضحة، وبالاحتكاك مع حركة تركية لا تنضبط تحت السقف الروسي وتسير على حافة خطوط التماس.

في أذربيجان قواعد عسكرية أميركية ونقاط ارتكاز إسرائيلية تتصل بمشروع الحرب مع إيران، وفي أرمينيا حكم يدور في الفلك الأميركي، وفي حرب ناغورني قره باغ بين أذربيجان وأرمينيا تمثل تركيا مشروعاً خاصاً بالتنسيق مع أذربيجان في مواجهة أرمينيا، والحركة الروسية تتوّج سريعاً وبأمر عمليات ينقل مئات الجنود من الشرطة العسكرية الروسية وآلياتهم، لفرض وقف للنار، في منطقة تتوسط دولتين غير مواليتين، للسياسات الروسية ولكن في بيئة جغرافية استراتيجية لم يعد ممكناً تجاهل ثقل الحضور الروسي فيها، خصوصاً مع متغيرات السنوات الأخيرة وما شهدته من تصاعد في الحضور العسكري الروسي، وترسم موسكو خطوطاً حمراء للدور التركي، وتضع أرمينيا مجدداً تحت إبطها، وتنتشر قواتها على خط تماس مع أذربيجان وبرضا حكومتها، بصورة تجعل مشهد الانتشار الأميركي والروسي في جغرافيا واحدة شبيهاً بالمشهد السوري.

في سورية يتصدّر الرئيسان السوري بشار الأسد والروسي فلاديمير بوتين، الدعوة لانعقاد مؤتمر النازحين عبر لقاء جمعهما قبل يوم من انعقاد المؤتمر المخصّص لعودة النازحين، وملف العودة منذ سنتين موضوع اهتمام الرئيس الروسي الذي أطلق مبادرة خاصة تجمّدت عند خطوط الاشتباك مع الأميركي، والالتزام العربي والأوروبي والأممي بالسقوف الأميركية، لكن هذه المرة نجح المؤتمر باجتذاب مشاركة الأمم المتحدة، ودولة الإمارات، ومشاركة لبنانية وازنة، وبدا أن المؤتمر قد تزامن مع قرارات سوريّة تشجيعيّة ذات أهمية لضمان العودة الواسعة، سواء عبر ما أعلنه الرئيس الأسد من اتجاه لاتخاذ إجراءات تتصل بالإعفاءات، أو بضمانات أمنية للذين كانوا على ضفاف المعارضة، أو عبر ما ترجمه كلام نائب وزير الخارجية السورية فيصل المقداد بالإعلان عن توجيهات الرئيس الأسد بتأمين المسكن والمدرسة والطبابة للعائدين.

خلال شهور ستكون أميركا في وضع حرج، في التعامل مع خيارات صعبة لمرحلة الانتقال، وموسكو المستعدّة لفرضيات متشائمة لا تعتقد بإمكانية تحققها عبر حماقات عسكرية وأمنية تخرج الوضع عن السيطرة، تضع ثقلها لفرض حقائق ووقائع جديدة، عنوانها وضع سورية على سكة مسار السلم الداخلي، وفقاً لضوابط جديدة للدور التركي، وملف عودة النازحين ومن خلفه مشروع إعادة الإعمار سيكونان على الطاولة، مع دعوة مفتوحة للأميركيين للانسحاب وللإسرائيليين بالتوقف عن العبث، ودعوة موازية للأوروبيين والعرب للانضمام لخيار السلم في سورية، بينما على ضفة موازية تتجه موسكو لحسم الوضع في القوقاز، الذي يشكل الانسحاب الأميركي والإسرائيلي سقفاً لا يمكن تفاديه للسياق الذي بدأ بانتشار الشرطة العسكرية الروسية، وحيث تركيا أيضاً مطالبة بالانتباه للخطوط الحمر الروسية، وحيث أوروبا مدعوة للخروج من سلبيتها.

لبنان أمام فرصة ذهبية ليكون ملف عودة النازحين من لبنان الى سورية، الترجمة الواقعية المتاحة. والتردّد هنا خسارة لبنانية قد يصعب تعويضها إذا ربط لبنان مصير عودة النازحين السوريين بساعة توقيت غير لبنانية.

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

September 9, 2020 Arabi Souri

Russia High-level Delegation in Damascus to Support Syria

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

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

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

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

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

Transcript of the English translation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dima Nassif – Damascus, Al-Mayadeen

End of the report by Al Mayadeen

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

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موسكو ومشروع جذب فرنسا إلى سورية تحت عنوان الإعمار

ناصر قنديل

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

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

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

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

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

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Battleground Beirut: Western colony or back to the East?

Battleground Beirut: Western colony or back to the East?

August 12, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – republished from Asia Times by permission of author

As much as Covid-19 has been instrumentalized by the 0.001% to social engineer a Great Reset, the Beirut tragedy is already being instrumentalized by the usual suspects to keep Lebanon enslaved.

Facing oh so timely color revolution-style “protests”, the current Lebanese government led by Prime Minister Diab has already resigned. Even before the port tragedy, Beirut had requested a $10 billion line of credit from the IMF – denied as long as trademark, neoliberal Washington consensus “reforms” were not implemented: radical slashing of public expenses, mass layoffs, across the board privatization.

Post-tragedy, President Emmanuel Macron – who’s not even capable of establishing a dialogue with the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests in France – has opportunistically jumped in full neocolonial mode to pose as “savior” of Lebanon, as long as the same “reforms”, of course, are implemented.

On Sunday, France and the UN organized a videoconference to coordinate donor response – in conjunction with the European Commission (EC), the IMF and the World Bank. The result was not exactly brilliant: a paltry 252 million euros were pledged – once again conditioned by “institutional reforms”.

France came up with 30 million euros, Kuwait with 40 million, Qatar with 50 million and the EC with 68 million. Crucially, neither Russia nor Iran were among the donors. The US – which is harshly sanctioning Lebanon – and GCC allies Saudi Arabia and UAE pledged nothing. China had just a pro forma presence.

In parallel, Maronite Christians in Brazil – a very powerful community – are sending funds for the color revolution protests. Former President Michel Temer and industrialist tycoon Paulo Skaf even flew to Beirut. Former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel (1982-1988) maintained a lot of businesses in Brazil with funds he skimmed when in power.

All of the above points to neoliberalism taking no prisoners when it comes to keeping its deadly grip on Lebanon.

The Hariri model

Lebanon’s profound economic crisis, now aggravated by the Beirut port blast, has nothing to do with Covid-19 or the US proxy war on Syria – which brought a million refugees to the nation. It’s all about proverbial neoliberal shock and awe, conducted non-stop by the Hariri clan: former Prime Ministers Rafiq, assassinated in 2011, and Saad, chased out of power last January.

The Hariri model was focused on real estate speculation and financialization. The Solidere group, controlled by Arab investors and a few Lebanese, Hariri included, destroyed Beirut’s historical downtown and rebuilt it with luxury real estate. That’s the classical rentier neoliberalism model that always profits a tiny elite.

In parallel, the Bank of Lebanon was attracting funds from the tony Lebanese diaspora and assorted Arab investors by practicing very generous interest rates. Lebanon suddenly had an artificially strong currency.

A small middle class sort of flourished throughout the 2000s, comprising import-export traders, the tourism sector and financial market operators. Yet, overall, inequality was the name of the game. According to the World Inequality Database, half of Lebanon’s population now holds less wealth that the top 0.1%.

The bubble finally burst in September last year, when I happened to be in Beirut. With no US dollars in circulation, the Lebanese pound started to collapse in the black market. The Bank of Lebanon went berserk. When the Hariri racket imposed a “Whatsapp tax” over calls, that led to massive protests in October. Capital embarked on free flight and the currency collapsed for good.

There’s absolutely no evidence the IMF, the World Bank and assorted Western/Arab “donors” will extricate a now devastated Lebanon from the neoliberal logic that plunged it into a systemic crisis in the first place.

The way out would be to focus in productive investments, away from finance and geared towards the practical necessities of an austerity-battered and completely impoverished population.

Yet Macron, the IMF and their “partners” are only interested in keeping monetary “stability”; seduce speculative foreign capital; make sure that the rapacious, Western-connected Lebanese oligarchy will get away with murder; and on top of it buy scores of Lebanese assets for peanuts.

BRI or bust

In stark contrast with the exploitative perpetuation of the Western neoliberal model, China is offering Lebanon the chance to Go East, and be part of the New Silk Roads.

In 2017, Lebanon signed to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In 2018, Lebanon became the 87th member of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Over the past few years, Lebanon was already taking part in the internationalization of the yuan, offering bank accounts in yuan and increasing bilateral trade in yuan.

Beijing was already engaged in discussions revolving around the upgrading of Lebanese infrastructure – including the expansion of Beirut harbor.

This means that now Beijing may be in the position of offering a renewed, joint rebuilding/security deal for Beirut port – just as it was about to clinch a smaller agreement with Diab’s government, focused only on expansion and renovation.

The bottom line is that China has an actual Plan A to extricate Lebanon from its current financial dead end.

And that’s exactly what was, and remains, total anathema to US, NATO and Israel’s interests.

The Trump administration recently went no holds barred to prevent Israel from having China develop the port of Haifa.

The same “offer you can’t refuse” tactics will be applied with full force on whoever leads the new Lebanese government.

Beirut is an absolutely key node in BRI’s geopolitical/geoeconomic connectivity of the Eastern Mediterranean. With Haifa temporarily out of the picture, Beirut grows in importance as a gateway to the EU, complementing the role of Pireus and Italian ports in the Adriatic.

It’s crucial to note that the port itself was not destroyed. The enormous crater on site replaces only a section quayside – and the rest is on water. The buildings destroyed can be rebuilt in record time. Reconstruction of the port is estimated at $15 billion – pocket money for an experienced company such as China Harbor.

Meanwhile, naval traffic is being redirected to Tripoli port, 80 km north of Beirut and only 30 km away from the Lebanon-Syria border. Its director, Ahmed Tamer, confirms “the port has witnessed during the past years the expansion work by Chinese companies, and it has received the largest ships from China, carrying a big number of containers”.

Add to it the fact that Tripoli port will also be essential in the process of Syria reconstruction – to which China is totally committed.

BRI’s Southwest Asia connectivity network is a maze including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

China is already planning to invest in highway and railroads, further to be developed into high-speed rail. That will connect BRI’s central China-Iran corridor – fresh from the $400 billion, 25-year strategic partnership deal soon to be signed – with the Eastern Mediterranean.

Add to it the role of the port of Tartus in Syria – bearing a strong Russian naval presence. Beijing will inevitably invest in the expansion of Tartus – which is crucially linked by highway to Lebanon. The Russia-China strategic partnership will be involved in the protection of Tartus with S-300 and S-400 missile systems.

Historically, in a larger axis that went from Samarkand to Cordoba, with strong nodes such as Baghdad and Damascus, what slowly evolved in this part of Eurasia was a syncretic civilization superimposed over an ancestral regional, rural and nomad background. The internal cohesion of the Muslim world was forged from the 7th century to the 11th century: that was the key factor that shaped the lineaments of a coherent Eurasia.

Apart from Islam, Arabic – the language of religion, administration, trade and culture – was an essential unifying factor. This evolving Muslim world was configured as a vast economic and cultural domain whose roots connected to Greek, Semitic, Persian, Indian and Arab thought. It was a marvelous synthesis that formed a unique civilization out of elements of different origin – Persian, Mesopotamian, Byzantine.

The Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean were of course part of it, totally open towards the Indian Ocean, the Caspian routes, Central Asia and China.

Now, centuries later, Lebanon should have everything to gain by ditching the “Paris of the Orient” mythology and looking East – again, thus positioning itself on the right side of History.

Lebanon economic crisis: Sovereignty and solidarity are the keys to prevent collapse

Source

9 July 2020 11:14 UTC | 

By Hicham Safieddine, He is a lecturer in the History of the Modern Middle East at King’s College London. He is author of Banking on the State: The Financial Foundations of Lebanon (Stanford University Press, 2019).

As the US ramps up financial pressure, a political struggle is underway over whether Lebanon should turn eastwards to China, Russia and Iran for relief

Lebanese protesters take part in a symbolic funeral for the country in Beirut on 13 June (AFP)

Lebanon has joined the club of sanctioned nations by proxy. Limited sanctions were already in place, but the US Caesar Act targeting Syria has cast its net over Lebanon’s entire economy. 

The country’s crumbling financial system had been gasping for fresh foreign funds. It is now stuck between the anvil of morbidly corrupt Lebanese elites obstructing reform, and the hammer of financial coercion by western powers.

On top of accelerating inflation that has rippled into Syria, the spectre of sanctions in the wake of failed International Monetary Fund talks has triggered a political tussle inside Lebanon over turning eastwards to China, Russia and Iran for relief.

Wedded to the West

This is not the first time that Lebanon has been unhinged by shifts in the global and regional balances of power. But it is one of the most dangerous crises. Sanctions on top of financial bankruptcy, oligarchic manipulation, regional instability, coronavirus and a global slump, are a recipe for total collapse.

There is no denial of the impending calamity. But the undignified media spectacle of apocalyptic suffering, divorced from a serious discussion of the tough choices Lebanon faces, borders on sanctions-mongering and accentuates this very suffering.

Aside from being a historic fiction, Lebanese neutrality today is wishful thinking

The first choice is clinging to the West and forgetting the rest through negative neutrality. In real terms, this means passive normalisation with Israel and active distancing from Syria, both of which meet western expectations. Aside from being a historic fiction, Lebanese neutrality today is wishful thinking. 

Firstly, calls for neutrality underestimate the nature and extent of the ongoing geo-economic war, of which the Caesar Act is the latest salvo. Having lost the proxy war militarily, Washington is flexing its powerful financial muscle – powered by dollar supremacy in global markets – to spoil reconstruction efforts in Syria by its lesser rivals, Russia, China and Iran. 

More broadly, financial sanctions are now a fixture of US foreign policy, with the majority of affected states in the Middle East. These sanctions are part of a multi-front war that involves tertiary actors such as Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf states and are tied to reconstruction in Iraq and Syria, geo-military rivalries in Yemen and Libya, settler-colonial expansion in Palestine, and control over gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean. Lebanon is engulfed by these conflicts from all four cardinal directions.

Political suicide

Secondly, neutrality vis-a-vis Syria in particular is economic euthanasia and political suicide given the two countries’ shared borders, common history, interdependent economies, joint threat of Israeli aggression, oligarchic and authoritarian governing elites, and – as these sanctions have shown – converging financial crises. 

Neutrality would cut Lebanon off from its only land lifeline to Syria and the wider region at a time when air and sea travel are grounded thanks to Covid-19. It would also revive animosity between the two peoples while doing little to alleviate the crisis or topple ruling elites. 

Lebanon protests: We should not let the ruling class reproduce itself again Read More »

In addition, western powers continue to play the game of double standards, feigning concern while tightening the noose. While Washington slapped criminal sanctions on the entire population of Lebanon, its ambassador in Beirut singled out the usual suspect, Hezbollah, for destabilising the country. The accusation was parroted by her British counterpart, while a sniffer dog at London’s Heathrow Airport – as this author witnessed firsthand – frisked Lebanese expatriates carrying much-needed cash back home. Travellers caught “red-handed” were interrogated without cause. 

To top it off, Gulf states within the western orbit are also withholding aid while awash with trillions of dollars in sovereign funds.

Finally, US allies themselves, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are anticipating a decline in the global role of the US. More to the point, European states, as well as the US, have multibillion-dollar trade and financial ties with China and the rest of the east – but they have no qualms about denying Lebanon and the region their sovereign share of ties.

Going East

Despite these realities, resistance to seeking eastern alternatives persists. Dependency on western and Gulf capital runs deep within Lebanese society, beyond the banking and business sectors. 

The private education and NGO sectors, home to large segments of highly visible pro-uprising activists, are heavily reliant on western funding. These material ties are augmented by an internalised cultural affinity to all things western and prejudice against all things eastern. Some resistance is also driven by a blind rejection and immature ridicule of any proposals uttered by status-quo forces.

A man walks past a money exchange company in Beirut on 1 October (AFP)
A man walks past a money exchange company in Beirut on 1 October (AFP)

In theory, turning eastwards increases bargaining power vis-a-vis the West, diversifies sources of foreign investment, and could offer practical and quick solutions to pressing problems such as power generation, waste management and transportation infrastructure. But in reality, it is not the easy way out it is being portrayed to be.

Firstly, its current proponents reduce the turn eastwards to a tool against western intervention that would strengthen ties with the Syrian regime without holding the latter accountable for its role in the killing, displacement and destruction in Syria, or curbing the stranglehold of Syrian oligarchs associated with the regime on the country’s economic future. 

Nor is the turn eastwards preconditioned by cleaning house in Lebanon itself. The oligarchs who looted public wealth for so long will not bear the costs of financial loss, let alone face justice for their crimes. Without these corrective measures, Chinese or other foreign investments are likely to turn into dividing up the spoils of sanctions. It will reinforce existing structures of oppression, clientelism and inequality.

Secondly, Chinese capital is not manna from heaven or a communist free lunch. Reports of plans for nine development projects worth more than $12bn sound promising and may offer some respite, but these come with strings attached.

They include possible privatisation of state assets, government guarantees to compensate potential losses that will ultimately come out of citizens’ pockets, continued – even if partial – reliance on dollar-based banking systems, and access to energy resources, which in the case of Lebanon are confined to potential energy reserves in a hotly contested sea zone. 

Sovereignty deficit

Formal state-to-state protocols are preconditions for all of the above, the same way they are for requesting legal assistance to return stolen assets deposited in Switzerland or other offshore financial havens. 

Whether turning west, east or inwards, fixing Lebanon’s political regime is crucial to restoring external and internal sovereignty

Government decrees are also needed internally to to implement the basic demands of the uprising and resolve the crisis in a fair and expedited manner. These include legislating capital controls, forcing the oligarchs and their banking agents to bear the costs of collapse, implementing universal healthcare, redistributing wealth through progressive taxation, clearing up violations of coastal beaches to revive tourism in a competitive neighbourhood, reforming unjust labour and personal status laws, and subsidising productive economic activity. 

In other words, whether turning west, east or elsewhere, fixing Lebanon’s political regime is crucial to restoring external and internal sovereignty, without which major change is unlikely to happen.

Since its founding, Lebanon has had a sovereignty deficit in relation to foreign powers and its ruling oligarchy. It is now facing the twin challenge of restoring both amid unfavourable conditions. 

The path to sovereignty does not place all foreign actors in the same basket. Aware of its own economic limitations and position as part of the Global South, and in the face of US threats, Lebanon should adopt a strategy of positive neutrality that plays on the contradictions of the ongoing geo-economic war to maximise the gains of its people – not its usurping elites or neocolonial masters, old or prospective. 

Dignity and social justice

Fighting for sovereignty on both fronts, external and internal, in the face of global powers, requires the mustering of tremendous political strength. This is not possible without a well-organised mass movement that is still missing in Lebanon, let alone the absence of regional solidarity stretching from Iraq to Palestine, which incorporates geopolitics into revolutionary struggle. 

In Lebanon, the starting point is necessarily Syria. Whatever the sensitivities, prejudices and complications associated with Syrian-Lebanese relations, they need to be reconfigured in a manner that serves rather than sidelines the fundamental demands of both uprisings for political dignity and social justice. 

Lebanon protests: The people want the downfall of the banks Read More »

This includes, first and foremost, confronting the contradictions of fighting against the two major historical forces impacting them today: oppressive regimes on the one hand and Zionist colonisation and occupation on the other.

All proclamations to the contrary, this is not a straightforward matter given the alignments on the ground. 

Another would be redrawing the terms of struggle across class, rather than nationalist, lines. This means finding common cause with Syrian and Palestinian workers in Lebanon, beyond the liberal paradigm of refugee rights, as well as uniting efforts to dislodge the ruling elite in both countries without further foreign intervention.

A third would be a united vision of managing the global shift from West to East in coordination with fellow Global South nations.

Devising solutions to these and other thorny issues that are both morally defensible and politically viable is not an obvious or easily achievable task. But with street mobilisation on the wane and community solidarity in the face of hardship taking a front seat, they may be the necessary rites of passage for both struggles beyond the current stalemate.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

The US Lost in Syria – So Now They’re After Their Business and Military Affiliates

Source

By Mona El-Hajj

The US Lost in Syria – So Now They’re After Their Business and Military Affiliates

Beirut – After 9 years of a war which had torn, killed and exiled millions from their homeland, Syria has fought hawkish NATO powers and diabolic militias which devastated the country. However, unlike Libya and Iraq whose land has been destroyed and economically annexed by US, their allies and proxies, Syria approaches the finish line as Gulf and other foreign investors set foot on Syrian land to discuss post-war reconstruction efforts.

With that being said, it would be naive to assume that Syria will be able to reconstruct without a fight. As US foreign policy fails miserably before the entire planet, they’re betting on their last chips – an optimistic venture – that they still have a chance at crushing the Syrian government. The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which does anything but protect civilians, came into effect on June 17. According to the US State Department, the sanction bill is to hold the Syrian government accountable for the ‘widespread death of civilians’ and to seek ‘justice for those suffering under the [Syrian President Bashar] Assad regime’s brutality’ – baseless allegations deflated by renowned journalists around the world, such as Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, who have visited and explored Syria throughout the war as opposed to “experts” who haven’t read a shred of its history.

Independent Journalists Vanessa Beeley & Eva Bartlett Puncture the ...

As Syria’s UN Representative Bashar al-Jaafari puts it, the Caesar bill isn’t much different than the previous sanctions, but instead serves as a form of psychological warfare to frustrate the Syrian population further. The major difference is that this time, any individual or business who wish to deal with the government are condemned and sanctioned.

Although Pompeo reinforced that the sanctions are to hold the regime accountable on their own terms, this is fraudulent on many counts. The sanctions do not aim to punish President Assad himself, but rather worsen the humanitarian hell in which people have been living under in the past 9 years (and, crushing the Lebanese Resistance on their way). As Pompeo smugly articulates in his press statement, “the United States remains committed to working with the UN and international partners to bring life-saving assistance to the Syrian people.” What would muddle with logic here is that, if the US were so concerned with the welfare of the Syrian people, why have US forces burnt down over 200 dunums of wheat, barley and other crop fields in Hasaka before the sanctions came into effect?  If the United Nations is a credible humanitarian organization that assists those in need, why hasn’t it condemned the US burning of crop fields?

Sanctions don’t ‘change political behavior’ of regimes and enforce ‘accountability for human rights abuses;’ this theory has proven nil statistical significance. Sanctions starve people, deprive them of basic necessities like oil and gas and hold essential medication from them under the sunshade of ‘dual use’. Morality, morbidity and trauma rates go higher, and under maximum pressure, their effects last for generations. Given the reality that sanctions have almost never resulted in ‘regime change,’ then they are just a sadistic pursuit by the Global North to punish people for resisting imperialism. It is sufficient to take a good look at Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, whose governance have become nearly immune to international pressure.

Once again, the US is dictating the world who to normalize relations with and who not to. They coerce the world who to be friends with and who not to. On its way, it hacks its way into the scene, tells Lebanon, an economic and military ally to Syria, that they will be punished if they were to trade with their own neighbor. As if Sykes-Picot wasn’t enough to divide West Asia, this is a clear reattempt at destroying any form of unison between the two countries and thus instantiating divide through economic restrictions and punishment.

Syria, an already war-torn country, is flattened by an economic crisis and shortages as a result of 9 years of war trauma. While Lebanon, minus the sanctions, today suffers from the depreciation of the Lira and one of the worst economic crises in its history since the 1975 Civil War. With the rise of the dollar crisis in Lebanon, the IMF, the Lebanese Central Bank and other institutions hold back dollar injections into the country, fueling a high demand and short supply. Knowing that goods are largely imported in Lebanon, the currency of transaction is naturally by the dollar, which has recently started to smother entire households making ends meet on low incomes. Syria, a country which has criminalized the use of dollar on land, enjoys strong economic ties with Lebanon, through which they deal by the Lira. This entails that the function of the sanctions isn’t only to affect Syria alone, but it is also to cut Lebanon’s main trade partner which only exacerbates the dollar crisis in the country. Wishful thinking-ly, America’s proxy, “Israel”, through such a tactic, thinks they could coerce Hezbollah into trading its weapons for food.

From infrastructure and basic necessities comes security, and America’s parasite – “Israel” – cannot allow for a strong, stable Syria to heal, and a Lebanon which continually threatens their existence. As Lebanon has recently transitioned into a new government, with a new prime minister and cabinet, MSM has turned to paint it as ‘Hezbollah-led government’ in attempt to delegitimize and punish it on the short run. Under such premise, “Israel” pushes America into a cost-effective war to crush Hezbollah – not militarily – but through sanctioning the Lebanese government, which has a high possibility given the terms and conditions of the Caesar Act. Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reassured the Lebanese that the government will not end trade with Syria, and neither will the community starve. Deviating the economic hues of the country to the East seemed like a plausible solution, proposing more ties with China and Iran. The world awaits the repercussions of economic terrorism, which will eventually end up in defeat as it always has.

Greece’s Renewed Relations with Syria Further Isolates Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research, May 08, 2020

On Tuesday, the Greek Foreign Ministry finally announced a restoration of relations between Greece and Syria and assigned former ambassador to Syria and Russia, Tasia Athanassiou, as a Special Envoy of Greece’s Foreign Ministry for Syria. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias confirmed this from his Twitter. The appointment of Athanassiou is extremely strategic as she was Greece’s ambassador to Damascus from 2009 to 2012, meaning she is already familiar with Syria and their authorities.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said that contacts will be made for the “international aspects of Syria and related humanitarian action, as well as coordination of actions in view of the ongoing efforts to rebuild Syria.”

Although the Foreign Ministry claims that the suspension of diplomatic relations “was dictated by the security conditions,” we know it was ordered by former Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in December 2012 under orders from NATO and the European Union who were, and in some instances, still backing jihadists against the secular government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Greece became a country ruled by European banker, EU, and NATO puppets from 2010 onwards when on May 2 of that year, the so-called socialist government of George Papandreou signed the first of three bailout packages with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF. This caused a 25% contraction of the Greek economy, an unemployment rate of 27% and skyrocketed poverty. Any semblance of Greek independence in domestic and foreign policy was lost.

However, moving to 2020, the economic and geopolitical situation in Greece and its surrounding region has drastically changed. Diplomatic sources quoted by Kathemirini, one of Greece’s oldest and most respected newspaper, said that the decision to appoint a Special Envoy for Syria is part of Greece’s steady activity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region. According to the sources, Greece’s increased desire in contributing to efforts in resolving the Syrian crisis was stated by Dendias in his meetings with the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Otto Pedersen.Turkish Intervention in Libya: Another Erdogan Reckless Attempt to Revive Neo-Ottoman Empire

Therefore, a major reason for the reopening of relations with Syria is to further tilt the balance of power in the East Mediterranean in Greece’s favor against Turkey, especially at a time when Ankara does not have a single ally in the region, with the exception of the besieged Muslim Brotherhood government in Libya that is nearly collapsed because of the Libyan National Army’s assault.

The reopening of relations between Athens and Damascus comes at a time when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is making a strong push for a “Blue Homeland” that aims to annex Greece’s Eastern Aegean islands and maritime space. Turkey for nine years attempted to oust Assad from power through various means, including an unsuccessful invasion attempt of Idlib province earlier this year, as well as its continued support for terrorist organisations. In addition, Erdoğan is propping up the Muslim Brotherhood government in Libya by importing jihadists from Syria to the North African country.

Although Erdoğan has failed in all of these endeavours, Turkey still remains a major threat, even at a time when it is facing economic catastrophe with the Turkish lira at a near record low to the U.S. dollar and Turkey’s three largest banks, Garanti, Akbank and İşbank, on the verge of bankruptcy. Even with this looming economic disaster, Turkey still manages to find the funds to violate Greek airspace on a daily basis, send weapons to Libya and fund terrorist organizations in Syria.

As the Eastern Mediterranean becomes a potential major warzone because of Turkey’s aggression, Greece is now renewing relations with old friends. Hafez al-Assad, previous president of Syria and father to Bashar al-Assad, pledged that if Turkey was ever to go to war with Greece, Syria would automatically open a new front in southern Turkey in support of Greece.

Athens however is not completely independent from NATO and the EU. This suggests that although renewing relations with Syria is absolutely critical in protecting its sovereignty, perhaps Greece has gotten approval from the EU and/or NATO to do this.  Greece is perhaps the most important of the very few European countries that have maintained or reopened relations with Syria because of its history of friendly relations, as well as thousands of years of religious, cultural, financial and ethnic ties.

It can be suggested that as the war in Syria begins to end, continued only by Turkey’s refusal to stop backing terrorist organizations in Idlib, the EU wants to try and take advantage of lucrative reconstruction contracts that will be on offer and investment opportunities. It is unlikely that European companies will win reconstruction contracts, but the reality is that Assad has survived the near 10-year efforts to have him removed, and is not going anywhere. Greece could be used as an outlet for the EU to open dialogue and relations with Damascus again.

This is only speculative, but what is for certain is that by reopening relations with Syria, Greece is consolidating the emerging East Mediterranean order and opposes Turkish hegemony in the region. Greece will always have close relations with Cyprus, and has also entered a military alliance with Egypt, supports the Libyan National Army against Turkish-backed forces, and has strong military and energy ties with Israel. Relations with Syria has essentially finalized the strangulation of Turkey’s attempted hegemony of the Eastern Mediterranean and made it the most isolated country in the region – despite Athens’ insistence on improving ties with Ankara if it finally abandons its aggressive foreign policy.

*

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

Featured image is from InfoBricsThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Paul Antonopoulos, Global Research, 2020

الاستدارة الكاملة لأبو ظبي نحو دمشق

وفاء العم


مسألة الانفتاح الخليجيّ على دمشق لن تطول، ولا شك في أن الإمارات ستقودها.

وضع ملف مرحلة إعادة إعمار سوريا على طاولة محمد بن زايد لدراسته

تعتزم الإمارات عزماً غير قابل للتأويل على إعادة علاقاتها مع دمشق إلى ما قبل العام 2011، بل إلى أكثر من ذلك في السياسة والاقتصاد، فالإمارات أيضاً ما قبل 2011 ليست كما بعده، وهي الحاضرة في معادلة اليمن ومنطقة شمال أفريقيا والقرن الأفريقي، والتي تؤدي دور رأس الحربة في مواجهة مشروع الإخوان المسلمين بقيادة تركيا وقطر في المنطقة.

في السياسة، كانت أبو ظبي قبل إعادة فتح سفارتها في دمشق تضع نصف قدم لدى الحكومة السورية ونصف قدم مع المعارضة. وقد دعمت قوى سياسية معارضة بعينها، كتيار “الوعد” السوري على سبيل المثال، كما دعمت فصائل مسلّحة داخل ما عرف باسم “الجيش الحر”، أهمها فصيل “الجبهة الجنوبية” المدعوم من “مركز العمليات العسكرية” في الأردن، المعروف بغرفة عمليات “الموك”، واستخدمت هذه الفصائل لمواجهة فصائل أخرى إسلامية، صُنفت إرهابية، وكانت مدعومة من تركيا وقطر.

ولكن في مرحلة لاحقة، وتحديداً ما بعد القطيعة مع قطر في العام 2017، ومع إصرار الأخيرة على الإبقاء على قاعدة “الريان” العسكرية التركية في أراضيها، والتخطيط لبناء قاعدة عسكرية ثانية في الخريف القادم، ناهيك بإصرار الدوحة على المضي قدماً في تحالفها مع أنقرة من دون تراجع، رغم كل الضغوط الخليجية، كل ذلك دفع الإمارات إلى إعادة قراءة تحالفاتها، والاتجاه نحو الانفتاح أكثر على دمشق، على اعتبار أن الدولة السورية تحولت إلى عصا في خاصرة المشروع التركي في المنطقة.

 يقول أحد المقربين من دوائر صناعة القرار: “أثبتت دمشق أنها كانت عصية على العثمانية الجديدة”. عموماً، اتخذ القرار في العام 2018، وتمت إعادة العلاقات الدبلوماسية.

على سكة العلاقة مع دمشق، اتخذت أبو ظبي خطوات جريئة، لن يكون آخرها اتصال ولي العهد محمد بن زايد بالرئيس السوري بشار الأسد. تنسحب الإمارات من دعم المعارضة السورية، أو بشكل أدق تبحث عن شكل جديد للمعارضة يناسب ما يمكن تسميته “الاستدارة الكاملة” نحو دمشق، كما تحضّر لسلة من الدعم المالي والاقتصادي. وإذا احتاج الأمر إلى دعم لوجستي عسكري، فلن تتردد في دعم دمشق لموجهة التركيا.

وفي المعلومات، وضع ملف مرحلة إعادة الإعمار على طاولة محمد بن زايد لدراسته.. خطة طموحة واستثمارات كبيرة، وفود كانت قد وصلت، ووفود ستصل قريباً إلى دمشق.

تعرف أبو ظبي كيف تطوّع التحديات، وتتمرَّس في فنون الاستثمار، وعينها على قطاعات البناء والنقل والتجارة. في العام 2018، استأنفت الإمارات التجارة البرية مع سوريا، وأرسلت أول قافلة تجارية متجهة نحو الأراضي السورية عن طريق معبر “نصيب”. وفي العام 2019، تسارعت وتيرة النشاط التجاري مع سوريا عبر ميناء “جبل علي” الذي استقبل مئات الشحنات لنقلها براً إلى سوريا. 

طبعاً، يأتي ذلك ضمن مشروع موانئ دبي العالمية، بإنشاء ممر توريد بطول 2500 كيلومتر بين المنطقة الحرة في دبي ومعبر نصيب – جابر الحدودي، لتسهيل الحركة التجارية في هذه المنطقة.

بالتوازي، تبادلت وفود تجارية الزيارة بين البلدين في العام 2019، رغبة في استئناف الأعمال التجارية والاستثمارية. وهنا، لا بد من التذكير بأنّ الإمارات أدارت مشاريع كبرى وضخمة في سوريا قبل الأزمة بمليارات الدولارات.

ربما يجدر السؤال هنا عن وتيرة الانفتاح الاقتصادي، لاعتبارين الأول مسارات الوضع الأمني، والآخر استمرارية العقوبات الأميركية، وما قد تمارسه الأخيرة من ضغوط للحيلولة دون ذلك، ناهيك بما تفرضه مرحلة كورونا، وتأثيرها في الاقتصادي العالمي، والانهيارات في أسعار النفط العالمية، ولكن ذلك لن يغير من واقع تحوّل السياسة الخارجية الإماراتية نحو سوريا.

هذه السياسة ربما تثير أجواء من عدم الارتياح لدى الرياض، التي ترى أن الإمارات ذهبت منفردة في الانفتاح على دمشق. بالنسبة إلى الرياض، ليست الإشكالية في خطوة الانفتاح، وإنما في التوقيت، كما أنها تضع في الحسبان التنسيق مع واشنطن المستاءة أصلاً من الإمارات، غير أن الأخيرة لن تنتظر في ظل احتدام الصراع بينها وبين تركيا من جهة، وفي ظل سيطرة أجواء عدم الثقة بسياسة واشنطن من جهة أخرى. 

وفي المجمل، إنَّ مسألة الانفتاح الخليجيّ على دمشق لن تطول، ولا شك في أن الإمارات ستقودها.

This is what is going on now in liberated areas in Idleb

IDLEB, (ST)_The official in charge of Idleb governorate Mohammad Fadi al-Saadon has affirmed that there is cooperation with international organizations to rebuild Khan Sheikhoun city after the Syrian army liberated it from terrorist groups in August 2019. “The extent of the damage in Khan Shikhon , Maarret al-Noaman and  Taman’aa cities in Idleb has been evaluated and we are working on removing rubbles and repairing sewage pipes and main roads in order to facilitate the return of the displaced people to their homes,” al-Saadon said.He added that 2 schools were equipped in the city of Khan Shikhoun in order to receive the students, who returned with their families. 

The government will fund several development projects in liberated areas in Idleb, according to the official, who cited that several fuel stations will be put into service for vehicles passing through the  Hama-Aleppo international road . Moreover, municipalities will be provided with tractors and street sweepers to clean the roads. As for the current situation in Senjar village and nearby villages that were liberated last year, al-Saadon said that 48 schools and service centers were opened there . “Three health centers  will be opened in Hawwa, Senjar, Hmimat al-Dayer towns soon. And we are working now with international organizations to supply Hmimat al-Dayer area with water. ” Around 200 literacy courses plus awareness courses will be held in liberated villages by the Ministry of Labaour and Social Affairs in cooperation with international organizations. These courses aim at making the participants aware of the risks of explosive wastes and how to carry out small and micro projects. 

Basma Qaddour

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Aleppo’s Mansoura Electricity Power Station back in Service

 

Aleppo Mansoura electricity power station back to service

Al Mansoura electricity power station outside Aleppo is back in service after the General Electricity Company of Aleppo finished repairing the damages in the station due to terror.
This station provides electric power to the areas recently cleaned from NATO’s sponsored terrorists, areas like Zerbeh, Mansoura, Hreitan, and Llayramoun. As soon as the Syrian Arab Army declares an area secure from terrorists and their landmines and improvised explosions, the state’s municipal and infrastructure companies enter to evaluate the damages caused by the terrorists and immediately work on restoring the life to these areas.
The following report by SANA from the station sheds some light:


This is in continuation of the work started in Zerbeh immediately after the area was cleaned from al-Qaeda terrorists loyal to the Turkish madman Erdogan:
Syria’s economy is under attack by the world’s worst criminals spearheaded by the superpower the USA and its European lackeys and regional agents and stooges including the super-rich Gulfies and super criminal country of Turkey under Erdogan and the constant criminal entity called Israel.
The fading US empire still thinks by destroying the infrastructure of independent countries and imposing sanctions on them to impede their rebuilding efforts would extend its lifeline and their misery, while there’s no worse misery than killings of the Syrians by the ‘humanitarian bastards’ and their ‘moderate rebels’, ‘freedom fighters’, and lunatics, the US empire has exhausted all its chances to continue its hegemonic existence and it’s time to collapse.
Syria, meanwhile, is suffering increased shortages in gas to generate electricity, prior to the war the country was self-sufficient and was exporting the excess of electric power to neighboring countries, now the US troops are looting that gas and oil from the wells in the northeast of the country to finance their terrorist groups across the region, and Syria’s allies are reluctant in supplying the country with its basic needs out of fear of the US sanctions. Hopefully, soon enough they can man up and stand the challenge that is threatening them as well.

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Unknown Soldiers of the Syrian Electricity Army Restore Two More Stations

March 9, 2020 Miri Wood

Demigod linemen return electricity to Aleppo towns.

The unknown soldiers of the Syrian electricity army have restored two more power stations put out of service by NATO supported terrorists. The Zerbeh and ICARDA power plants south of Aleppo again provide civilians with the electricity needed to light their homes, and their work places. These plants had been destroyed by terrorist thugs run by the madman of Turkey, Erdogan.

electricity
Demigod lineman of the Syrian Electricity Army, restoring cable.

The Syrian Arab Army recently liberated these neighborhoods; Erdogan’s ongoing outrage over Syria belonging to Syria and not to Turkey, resulted in an almost immediate — and deadly — war criminal aerial bombing of SAA and Hezb Allah soldiers in Zerbeh.

electricity
“Let there be light.”
“And there was light, and it was good.”

Hossan Haj Ismail is the Director of the Northern Region Branch of the Electrical Department. He told SANA of the multiple damages done to transformers, of cables that had been cut, of vandalism perpetrated by terrorists committed to locking civilians into darkness. He reported on the successful rehabilitation of these power plants, and that technical workshops were in place to lay a 35 km line from Zerbeh to the ICARDA station. The Ministry of Electricity has drawn up a plan for the rehabilitation of the Zerbeh station 232/66 kV and ICARDA station 66-20 kV to feed the surrounding industrial areas.

In September 2017, back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated much of the Caribbean. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced into the barbarity of life without electricity; the lucky ones for weeks, the others, for months.

Just one apartment complex on St. Croix, where transformers were destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Electricity linemen scouts came to see if there were any pieces that could be salvaged from the wreckage, as there was a massive shortage of materials.
There was nothing to be culled; one lineman launched a kick to the mess, in frustration.

What could possibly be worse than a natural disaster which wipes out electricity for hundreds of thousands of human beings?

The bombing of electricity plants in Syria, is infinitely worse; the support of ordinary westerners for the ‘beasts with two legs’ who would permanently put out the light for an entire country, is an inexcusable abomination.

The Syrian Electricity Army – The Unknown Soldiers

— Miri Wood

Assad to Russia 24: Erdogan Aligned with Al Qaeda Because of his Muslim Brotherhood Ideology

March 5, 2020 Miri Wood

President Bashar al Assad told Russia-24 TV that Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood ideology, not Turkish national interests, is the cause of his sending troops illegally into Syria, to fight for al Qaeda in Idlib.

Dr. Assad also discussed the challenges of the American occupation of Syrian oil fields and Syrian monies stolen by foreign banks.

Syria News provides the full transcript of the recent interview by Yevgeny Primokov, courtesy of SANA.

Journalist:  Hello! This is “International Review” with Yevgeny Primakov. Today, we are in Damascus, in our temporary studio. His Excellency, President Bashar al-Assad, is not our guest in the studio; rather, we are his guests. Mr. President, thank you very much for receiving us and giving us the time to conduct this interview. We are happy to be with you and to see that you are in good health in these difficult circumstances.

President Assad:  You are welcome. I am very happy to receive a Russian national television station.

Question 1:  Thank you very much Mr. President. Clearly, the most important topic now, besides the war on terrorism that your country is waging, are the events in the Idlib governorate, and the danger of confrontation between the Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey. The Turkish forces are directly supporting what is called “the opposition,” although we see in their ranks elements which belong to terrorist organizations, which are affiliated to Al Qaeda and other organizations. Turkish troops are also taking part in attacks against Syrian forces. The question is: what has changed in the relations between you and Erdogan, between Syria and Turkey? Before 2011, Erdogan used to call you “brother,” and your two families were friends. What has changed and pushed things to where they are now?

President Assad:  The core of the issue is American policy.  At a point in time, the United States decided that secular governments in the region were no longer able to implement the plans and roles designated to them; of course, I am referring to the countries which were allies of the United States and not those like Syria which are not.  They decided to replace these regimes with Muslim Brotherhood regimes that use religion to lead the public.

In doing this, things would become easier for American plans and Western plans in general.  This process of “replacement” started with the so-called Arab Spring.  Of course, at the time, the only Muslim Brotherhood-led country in the region was Turkey, through Erdogan himself and his Brotherhood affiliation.  Prior to this, our relations with them were good in both the political and economic fields; we even had security and military cooperation.  There were no problems at all between Syria and Turkey.  We didn’t do anything against them and we didn’t support any forces hostile to them. We believed them to be neighbours and brothers.  But Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood affiliation is much stronger than all of this and he returned to his original identity and built his policies with Syria according to this ideology.

It is well-known that the Muslim Brotherhood were the first organisation to endorse violence and use religion to gain power. Now, if we ask ourselves, why are Turkish soldiers being killed in Syria?  What is the cause they are fighting for?  What is the dispute?  There is no cause, even Erdogan himself is unable to tell the Turks why he is sending his army to fight in Syria.  The single reason is the Muslim Brotherhood and it has nothing to do with Turkish national interests.  It is related to Erdogan’s ideology and consequently the Turkish people have to die for this ideology.  That’s why he is unable to explain to the Turkish people why his soldiers are being killed in Syria.

Question 2:  Is there any hope of establishing any kind of communication between Turkey and Syria gradually, at least between the military and the intelligence, and in the future, maybe, diplomatic relations?

President Assad:  During the past two years, numerous intensive meetings took place between Russian and Turkish officials, and despite the Turkish aggression a few meetings were held between Syrian and Turkish security officials.  Our shared objective with the Russians was to move Turkey away from supporting terrorists and bring it back to its natural place.  For Syria, and for you also, Turkey is a neighbouring country.  It is natural to have sound relations with a neighboring country; it is unnatural under any pretext or any circumstance to have bad relations.  So, as to your question, is it possible?  Of course it is, but we can’t achieve this outcome while Erdogan continues to support the terrorists.  He has to stop supporting terrorism, at which point things can return to normal because there is no hostility between the two peoples.  The hostility is caused by political actions or policies based on vested interests.  On the level of the Syrian nation and the Turkish nation, there are neither differences nor conflicts of interests.  So, yes, these relations should return to normal.

Question 3:  Is this your message to the Turkish people, that there is no hostility against them?  Have I understood you correctly?

President Assad:  Of course, we used to describe them as brotherly people, even now, I ask the Turkish people: what is your issue with Syria?  What is the issue for which a Turkish citizen deserves to die?  What is the hostile act, small or large, carried out by Syria against Turkey during or before the war?  There is none.  There are mixed marriages and families, and daily interactions and interests between Syria and Turkey.  In Turkey, there are groups of Syrian Arab origin and there are groups in Syria of Turkish origin.  These interactions have existed throughout history; it is not logical that there is a dispute between us.

Question 4: Mr. President, I realize that I am talking to a head of state; nevertheless, I can’t but ask about the human dimension. This person [Erdogan] shook your hand, was your guest, you received him, and he called you a brother and a friend, etc.. Now, he allows himself to say all these things. How does that affect you emotionally?

President Assad: I have met people who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood from different countries.  He is one of them from Turkey, there were some from Egypt, Palestine and others; they have all done the same thing.  

They used to say nice things about Syria or about their personal relationship with me, but when things change, they turn against the person.  That’s how the Muslim Brotherhood are: they have no political, social, or religious ethics.  For them, religion is not a form of good, it is violence; this is their principle.  Erdogan is a member of the opportunistic Muslim Brotherhood and so it is normal for him to do what he has done.  The lack of clarity and endless lying are part of their nature.

Question 5: The war in your country has been going on for nine years.  It is twice as long as the World War II, the Great Patriotic War, and soon we will mark the 75th anniversary of our victory in it, which is a very important event for Russia.  What strength does the Syrian people store that enables them to survive and triumph and avoid despair?  What is the secret?  Is it an internal strength, or something else?  Or is it simply that you have better weapons?

President Assad:  There are several factors which should be considered.  The fact that we are a small country, means these factors make us a strong country in this war.  First and foremost, national awareness and public opinion.  Without the widespread awareness of the Syrian people that what is happening is the result of a Western conspiracy against their country, Syria might have perished or been destroyed very quickly.  This popular realization produced a national unity despite different political leanings or different cultural and social affiliations – ethnic, religious or sectarian groups.  This awareness created unity with the state in confronting terrorism; this is a very important factor.

The second factor is the Syrian people’s legendary capacity for sacrifice, which we have witnessed primarily through the Syrian Arab Army.  Under normal circumstances, one would believe that these sacrifices can only be found in movies or novels, while in fact they were apparent in every battle and this is what protected the country.

In addition to the sacrifices of the army, the people themselves sacrificed.  They have been living in extremely difficult circumstances: continuous shelling, sanctions and bad economic conditions.  Nevertheless, the people remained steadfast with their country.

The third factor is the public sector, which has played an important role in keeping the state together.  In the worst of circumstances, salaries continued to be paid, schools kept running and daily essential services were provided to citizens.  Bottom line services continued to be provided so that life continues.

In addition to these factors, there is the fact that our friends have supported us, particularly Russia and Iran.  They have supported us politically, militarily, and economically.  All these factors together have helped Syria remain steadfast up until now.

Question 6: If you don’t mind, I’ll dwell on these factors for more details, and we will start with the Syrian society and what you have said about its diverse culture and tolerance among its different ethnic, cultural and religious groups. The extremist terrorists have struck a severe blow to this Syrian characteristic by promoting extremist demands and an extremist ideology. Yesterday, we were in the Old City of Damascus, and we couldn’t imagine what the situation would be like if the black flag of the caliphate appeared in Damascus, something which can only be imagined with horror. To what extent is Syria ready to rebuild itself as a multicultural state, tolerant, secular, etc.?

President Assad:  What I’m about to say may sound exaggerated, but by nature I speak in real terms and do not like exaggeration.  In actual fact, Syrian society today in terms of coherence and the social integration of its different segments, is better than it was before the war.  This is for a simple reason: war is a very important lesson to any society, a lesson that extremism is destructive and that not accepting the other is dangerous.  As a result, these segments within our society came together.

If you go to the Old City or to any area under government control, you will not see this problem at all.  On the contrary, as I mentioned, things are better than before.  The problem is in the areas which were outside government control.  That’s why I’m not concerned at all in this regard, despite the attempted Western narrative to show that the war in Syria is between sects, which is not true.  A war between sects means that you come today to this area and find one colour, and in another area you find another colour, and in another place a third and a fourth colour; this is not the case. You will see all the colours of Syria, without exception, in the state-controlled areas.  Whereas in the terrorist-controlled areas, they are not looking for a colour, but for parts of one colour, which is the extremist colour.  This is because only extremists at the far end of extremism could live with them and that is why a large number of people fled the terrorist-controlled areas to state-controlled areas.  That is why I’m not concerned at all in this regard.  The challenge, however, will be in the areas which were occupied by the terrorists.

Question 7: This raises the question of the possibility of granting an amnesty. There are many people who were misled by the propaganda of the terrorists and extremists. Some of them committed crimes. Others were members of armed groups which committed terrorist acts. But there are those who did not carry weapons, or carried them without killing people. What are the grounds on which the government can reach out to them? And can there be compromises through which such people can be forgiven? This is a very important moral question. And in addition to the moral dimension, there are legal aspects as to resolving their status and integrating them in society, and maybe in the army as well.

President Assad:  In this type of war, amnesty must be a core element of domestic policy.  We cannot restore stability if we do not grant amnesty for the mistakes that have been made.  From the very beginning of the war, we have regularly enacted amnesty decrees pardoning all those who acted against the national interest. In the areas which were controlled by the militants, we have conducted what we call local reconciliations that have resulted in the state legally pardoning individuals; all those who hand in

their weapons, receive amnesty provided that they return to their normal civil life under the authority of the state and the rule of law. This process has been very successful and restored stability to a large number of areas, and we are continuing to implement this policy.

There are very limited cases which cannot be granted amnesty, for example those who committed criminal acts and premeditatedly killed large numbers of people; most of these are terrorist leaders.  However, in terms of the broader situation, I believe that most people want to return to the state, because a large number of them who carried weapons were actually forced to do so.  They had no choice: either you carry weapons or you are killed.  These people are not necessarily extremists.  They do not have a terrorist past.  They are ordinary people who were forced to carry weapons.

Similarly, there are those who had to take political or public positions in the media in favour of the terrorists for the same reasons, we know this for a fact.  That’s why I believe that most of these people do support the state and were cooperating and communicating with us throughout.  So, I fully agree with you, we must continue providing amnesty and we must continue with this process in the new areas we liberate, especially since we want most Syrians inside and outside Syria to return to their country.

Question 8: Now, we will talk about rebuilding the state, but the state always consists of people. When we talk about terrorists, we either force them to drop their weapons or persuade them to drop them and go back to their senses. Conversely, there are those who have their perceptions of justice; and you certainly meet state officials, whether in the security or police agencies, who have to reach out and resolve the status of those who became terrorists on the other side. These officials might resent that and find it difficult to accept. For instance, if I see this individual who used to aim his weapon at me living with me now on the same street and buying bread from the same bakery as I do, how should I behave? What do you say to state supporters who are not always prepared to accept such an amnesty or such an act of forgiveness?

President Assad:  At the beginning of the war we used to see such cases.  I recall when I passed the first amnesty decree, many Syrians resented it not only within the government, but also the broader public because some may have lost a family member from the terrorism.  In the beginning, it was not easy to tell them that we will grant amnesty in order to restore stability.  However, this was the case for the first few months only.  Today, if you ask anybody or at least those who support the state, regardless of whether they work in the government or not, this is now accepted because they have seen the results.  In fact, in many cases they are the ones pushing for an amnesty and a settlement, which helps greatly.  So, there are no longer different viewpoints, because the facts on the ground have shown that this is the right thing to do and that it is good for Syria.

Question 9: As to the situation on the ground, I’ll not talk about who controls this or that area, because the situation on the ground is fluid and ever-changing and should be left to the military. But it is clear now that the state has restored large areas in southern Idlib governorate. Here, peaceful life will return, as happened in other areas, in Eastern Ghouta, Deir Ezzor, and the other areas liberated previously. What will the state do when it goes into the liberated areas? Where will it start its work? And what is the most important aspect to restoring peaceful life?

President Assad: In many of the areas we have liberated, there are no civilians since most had left when the terrorists arrived.  The first thing we do is to restore the infrastructure in order to enable the local population to return.  The first thing they need is electricity, water, roads, police, municipalities, and other services.  They need all these service providers; this is the first challenge.  The second, which is equally important, is rebuilding schools so that they are able to receive students.  If the infrastructure is available and I can’t send my children to school, what’s the point, it means I can’t go back to this area.  So, schools and health services are fundamental after the exit of terrorists and the restoration of security.  Later, of course, we engage with the local community to identify who was involved with the terrorists through various actions.  As I mentioned earlier, this is an important step towards reconciliation and resolving the status of these people in order to restore normal life to the city.

Question 10: What are the difficulties which emerge during this process? And are there sleeper cells which undermine the process of reconstruction? What are the problems facing you?

President Assad:  When I mentioned that the pardons and reconciliations have been successful, this doesn’t mean that the success was a hundred percent; nothing is perfect.  Some of these people still have terrorist leanings and extremist ideology, and are still cooperating with extremist groups in other areas and carrying out terrorist acts.  In the past few weeks, there have been a number of explosive devices planted in different places or under cars.  These terrorist acts have claimed the lives of many victims.  However, this doesn’t mean that we stop the process of reconciliations, but rather we need to hunt down these sleeper cells.  We have been able to arrest a large number of them, but there are others that are still active.  One sleeper cell might carry out a number of acts giving the impression that a full organisation exists.  Whereas in fact it is one cell made up of a group of individuals and by arresting them you are able to restore safety and security.  However, this challenge will remain, because terrorism still exists in Syria and outside support in the form of weapons and money is still at large.  Therefore, we do not expect to eliminate these sleeper cells in the foreseeable future.  We will continue to eliminate cells and others will appear, until things return to normal in Syria.

Question 11: Mr. President, in two months’ time, if I’m not mistaken, the country will hold parliamentary elections, in these difficult circumstances. How difficult will that be? Or, would they proceed according to plan, and nothing will stop or obstruct them?

President Assad: There is a constitution and we are governed by it.  We do not give in to Western threats or Western wishes, and we do not consider any factor other than the constitution.  The issue of postponing constitutional deadlines, whether for presidential or parliamentary elections, was raised with us several times and we refused to do so during the war.  Parliamentary elections will be held in a few months’ and we will proceed according to the constitutional agenda regardless of anything else.

Question 12: We talked about the domestic situation, let’s now talk about the outer environment. The Syrian Arab Republic has been subjected since 2011 to tightly-enforced isolation, not only by the Americans and the Europeans, which was expected, but also by the Arab League and its member states, including the Arab Gulf states. We know that the UAE embassy was reopened, and that Oman did not close its embassy and continued to work as usual. Do you see a positive change on the part of the Arab world, or is the situation still as it was, and that isolation persists? And what are the prospects of your contacts with the European Union? I’ll not ask about the Americans, for everything regarding them is unfortunately clear.

President Assad: Most Arab countries have maintained their relations with Syria, but not publicly for fear of pressure.  These countries have expressed their support for Syria and their wishes for us to defeat terrorism. However, Western pressure and American in particular, was severe on these countries to remain distant and not to open their embassies in Syria, particularly the Gulf states.  Europe however, is completely different.  In fact, for us, Europe for more than two decades and even before this war, has been absent on the global political arena. Europe has ceased to exist since 2003, after the American invasion of Iraq.  Europe surrendered completely to the United States and its role was limited to implementing what it was charged with by the American administration.

So, whether they communicate with us or not, the result is the same.  Whether they open embassies or not, there is no value.  We have met with a number of security officials from most European countries and they have been reasonable but they are unable to change course.  Some have frankly said, “we are unable to change, our politicians cannot change their policies because the European policy is linked to the American policy.”  They climbed the tree and are simply unable to come down.  That’s why we do not waste our time talking about a European role and European policy.  The master is the American.  We can talk about the Americans and this automatically includes the Europeans.

But in answer to your question, yes, there is a change.  There are clear convictions that this war has not achieved what those countries, or some of the colonialist countries wanted, that the Syrian people have paid the price, that stability has paid the price and now the Europeans are paying the price.  The problem of refugees in Europe is huge, but they will not change in the near future.  This is my conviction.

Question 13: Now, Turkey is blackmailing Europe by using the migrants. And this is what Erdogan is doing right now.

President Assad:  Turkey started sending the second wave of refugees to Europe as a form of blackmail.  Erdogan had threatened that he would send refugees.  Yesterday, there were videos on various media outlets about the beginning of a migrant movement towards Europe.

Question 14: In one of your answers, you touched on the relation with Russia. We consider it a relation of partnership. But this relation went through difficult years when Russia limited its presence in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Many people saw that as a betrayal, and that Russia turned its back on its old allies and partners. Now, how do you describe these relations which have been strengthened naturally during nine years of war? Since our aforementioned opponents, including the Europeans and the Americans, who are “evil tongues” as we say in Russia, claim that Syria is under Russian control. Is that true in reality. For our part, we look at this relation as a partnership and an alliance.

President Assad:  Our relations with you span more than six decades; this is not a short period of time and it covers several generations.  We know each other very well and this relationship has been through various experiences.  Through the different circumstances, including the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, our relations with Russia have always been based on mutual respect, a peer-to-peer relationship.  We have never felt at any time, even during this war, that Russia is trying to impose its views on us.  They have always treated us with respect; even when we differed, they respected the views of the Syrian government.  This is a general rule that has governed the past decades and hasn’t changed because it is based on Russian customs, traditions, and perspectives.  So, on a bilateral level the relationship between Syria and Russia is clearly a partnership, particularly now after the war, this partnership has become stronger and more reliable.

However, if we wanted to view our relationship with Russia from a different perspective, which is Russia’s international role, the issue is different.  Today, many small countries and even countries of medium strength around the world, look towards Russia and rely to a large extent on its role, because it is Russia’s duty today to restore international balance to the global arena.  The presence of the Russian military base in Syria is not only aimed at fighting terrorism but also at creating an international political balance in the Security Council, as well as a military balance in different areas with a view of restoring the Russian role.  Restoring this role is in the interest of all states, including Syria and other small and medium-sized countries as I mentioned.   Therefore, we view this relationship from two perspectives: a partnership on the bilateral level and a relationship based on this international role, which we hope will continue to increase as has been the case since President Putin came to power in 2000 and restored Russia’s position.

Question 15: Now we are talking about military and political support. What about the economy? Going back to rebuilding Syria, are there large Russian – or non-Russian – projects which help in reconstruction? Is there a state or a company which is prepared to come and invest in the Syrian economy without fear of sanctions or political problems caused by the United States and Europe? For instance, there used to be a flourishing pharmaceutical industry in Aleppo, which used to export its products throughout the Middle East, and you, as a doctor, know that. Are there any ideas to restore industrial production in the pharmaceutical field or other fields? And to what extent the lack of resources will affect these economic projects, considering that oil is now outside state control and is controlled by a power, which came from beyond the Atlantic and built its bases there under the pretext of protecting oil?

President Assad:  When we built our infrastructure in Syria in the 1970s and the 1980s, we did not have oil at that time.  It was built with Syrian money and with Syrian capabilities.  So, we know we have the capabilities and can provide the resources.  There is a lot of Syrian capital within Syria and mostly abroad and should most certainly take part in this process.

Since 2018, there has been a great interest from big companies outside of Syria – Arab and non-Arab, to participate in the reconstruction.  However, what’s happening is that the Americans are applying huge pressure and threatening individuals and companies alike; this has no doubt frightened some of these companies.  This is happening even with regard to Russian companies.  There are several Russian companies which want to invest in Syria but fear taking any step.  Chinese companies have the same problem.

However, every problem has a solution.  Most recently, a number of large international companies have started to come to Syria using different methods which enable them to evade the sanctions.  So, there is a possibility now for these companies to work in Syria without facing sanctions.  Of course, I cannot discuss these methods, but we have started to see a return of foreign investment.  It is true that the movement is slow, but I believe it is a good start – a promising start, to support the reconstruction process which we have started.  We did not wait; we have begun in some areas and in order to expand there must be a larger number of companies and investments.

Question 16:  What are the areas which you consider priorities or most attractive to investors?

President Assad:  Of course, the most important is rebuilding the destroyed suburbs.  I think this will be of high interest for investment companies and several have already expressed interest; this is certainly a profitable area.  Another sector is oil and gas, which is also profitable.  There are already a number of Russian companies that have started operating in Syria during the past few years and are now planning to increase production.  The biggest obstacle preventing expansion in this sector is the terrorist and American occupation of the most important sites of oil wells in Syria.  The Americans know this of course, and that’s why they continue to occupy the oil wells and obstruct the reconstruction process.  In short, these are the most important sectors.  Of course, there are many other areas which any society needs, but are less important for international companies.

Question 17: As we know, there is a big problem caused by freezing Syrian funds in foreign banks.  Is it difficult to finance some contracts because of that?

President Assad:  That’s true.  This is robbery in every sense of the word; but if the money is stolen it doesn’t mean that as a state and as a society we should stop creating wealth.  We have many capabilities and this is one of the reasons why we have survived nine years of war.  They are well aware that if the war stopped completely, Syrian society is capable of rising in a strong manner and that we will be stronger economically than we were before the war. This is why they have resorted to threatening Syrian and foreign companies.  In other words, if a Syrian citizen wants to invest in Syria, they will likely be sanctioned, or oil revenues are prevented from returning to Syria. The more important factor is the ongoing war, which discourages companies and prevents them from coming to Syria.  If these three factors are eliminated, we have no problem in rebuilding the country.  We have strong human and material resources in Syria and we also have faithful friends like Russia and Iran who will help us.

Question 18: Mr. President, we talked about Idlib in general, and touched on the oil fields east of the Euphrates river controlled by the Americans, and we know that there is a power outage every four hours, and we know that power plants are mostly fueled by oil products. This factor – controlling oil and oil products – is crucial for Syrian economy. Do you have any plans to restore control over the areas east of the Euphrates? How are you going to proceed in that direction?

President Assad:  Militarily the priority now is Idlib, this is why we see Erdogan using all his force and no doubt under American directives.  This is because by liberating Idlib we will be able to move towards liberating the eastern regions.  As I have said on several occasions, for them, Idlib militarily is an advanced post.  They have used all their power to obstruct the liberation of Idlib, so that we do not move eastward.  However, despite not yet advancing towards the eastern region, we are still in direct communication with the population there.  There is a great deal of anger and resentment on their part against the American occupation and against the groups acting on behalf of the Americans.

I believe that this anger will build up gradually and there will be resistance operations against the occupiers.  It is the national and constitutional duty of the state to support any act against an occupying power.  As time goes by, the Americans will not have a population supporting them but a population standing against the American occupation.  They will not be able to stay, neither for the oil nor to support terrorists like ISIS and al-Nusra or any other reason.  The same of course, applies to the Turks who are occupying the northern part of Syrian territories.  If they do not leave through political negotiations, they must leave by force.  This is what we will do.  This is also our patriotic duty as Syrians.

Question 19: It’s good that we have arrived at this difficult issue. If we talk about the Kurds who live in the east and northeast of the country, and who might not be happy with the Americans and the Turks, particularly the Turks, with whom they have a longstanding enmity. Their relationship with Damascus is difficult because they are separatists and supported the United States at one point and became its allies. The question here is about reunifying the Syrian Arab Republic and reintegrating its territories within its legal borders. How are you going to build your policy regarding the Kurds, taking into account that Damascus has almost accused them of treason because they signed an agreement with the Americans. Do you have a plan in that regard? What’s the price for integrating them? What can you give the Kurds? And what are the things which you cannot give them?

President Assad:  We are in contact with the Kurdish political groups in northern Syria, the problem is that some of these groups, not all of them, operate under American authority.  We do not say “the Kurds” because the larger part of the Kurds are patriotic groups or tribes which support the state; however, these groups have no voice.  Those who control the area are small groups acting with the Americans.

As to what is sometimes referred to as the “Kurdish cause,” there is no such cause in Syria for a simple reason. Historically, there are Kurds who live in Syria; these groups which came to the north did so during the last century and only as a result of the Turkish oppression.  We have hosted them in Syria.  Kurds, Armenians and other groups came to Syria and we had no problem with that.  For example, there is no Syrian-Armenian issue.    There is a great diversity in Syria and we do not have an issue with that diversity, so why would we have a problem with the Kurds?!  The problem is with the groups that started to promote separatist propositions a few decades ago, mainly in the early 1980s.  Yet despite this, when the Turkish state during various periods oppressed and killed the Kurds in Turkey, we supported them.  We haven’t stood against their cause, if they call it a cause.  In Syria, they were given a nationality, even though they were not Syrian.  We have always been positive regarding the Kurdish issue.  Therefore, what is called “the Kurdish cause” is an incorrect title, a false title.

The problem right now is dealing with the Americans.  The Americans are occupiers; they occupied our lands.  The Americans are thieves stealing our oil.  You cannot play both sides: between those who protect the law and those who break it.  You cannot stand with the police and the thief at the same time, this is impossible.  You are either with the police or the thief.  So, we cannot reach results in any dialogue with them, even if we were to meet thousands of times, unless they take a clear position, a patriotic position: to be against the Americans, against occupation and against the Turks because they too are occupiers.

Quite simply, this is our demand.  This is a national position and as a government we are responsible for the constitution and for our national interests.  The whole Syrian people accept nothing less than them taking a stand against the occupation.  As for anything else, if they have other demands, the Syrian people have demands too.  How do we achieve results? We engage in discussions and then we can decide: do we change the constitution? Do we change the law? Or any other measure, this is all possible.  This is a Syrian-Syrian dialogue. However, the government in Syria does not own the constitution; the people own the constitution and therefore they are the ones who can change the constitution.

Question 20: If we take into account what is happening in Idlib, which we talked about at the beginning of the interview, and that Turkey is one of the main opponents of the Kurds, does the idea of reaching a reconciliation with the Kurds tempt you on these grounds? You can choose not to answer this question if you like.

President Assad:  On the contrary, this is a logical question.  These Kurdish groups which claim to be against Turkish occupation and issue statements that they will fight, did not fire a single bullet when the Turks invaded.  Why?  Because the Americans identified which area the Turks would enter and the boundaries that they should reach, as well as the areas that these groups should leave.  So, do we agree on statements or on actions?  We want to agree on the actions.  In their statements, they have said that they are against the Turks, but they are not doing anything against them at all.  They are neutral.  They are moving in line with the Americans and the Turks.  Only the Syrian government and other segments of Syrian society are fighting the Turks and losing martyrs every day.  Other than that, I agree with you.  If they were to say “we will agree with you against the Turks,” my response would be, we are ready, send your fighters so that together we can defend our land.

Question 21: In this region, there is also a very old enemy of the Syrian Arab Republic, which always reminds people of itself, Israel, or the Zionist entity as you call it. How do you see the “great” Deal of the Century, the gift given to us by American President Donald Trump? Where might it take us? I don’t mean to influence your answer in any way. I’m only recalling what is being discussed in Russia, that the deal as a solution for the Palestinian cause is simply a dead end.

President Assad:  Our relations with the United States were restored during the Nixon administration in 1974.  Since that time, we have met with numerous American officials in the administration, with presidents and members of Congress, and we have learned one thing only: anything an American politician does, is first and foremost to serve his personal interests in relation to the next elections.  They do not think of higher national American interests.  They do not think of world stability, or of international law, or the rights of peoples.  This doesn’t exist in their policies.  They only think of their elections and nothing else.

As to the ‘deal of the century,’ this proposition was made at this particular time only for the next American elections.  The presidential elections will be held at the end of this year.  So, the idea is meaningless, an empty shell.  The idea, if applied, is not harmful, but rather destructive to the Middle East and the peace process which started in the early 1990s.  However, when would their idea succeed and when would it fail?  It succeeds if the people of this region agree that it should succeed.  If you review all political and official statements, as well as public opinion on social media, you will find a total rejection of this plan, including from states and governments allied with America and those that have relations with Israel.  So, it’s safe to say that it is a stillborn plan.  Trump might be able to use it in his next elections in order to please the Israeli lobby in the United States.  But after that, we will probably not hear about the ‘deal of the century’ until the next elections. At which point there will be another and worse plan presented for the next elections.

Question 22: Thank you very much Mr. President. I have one final question, maybe a more emotional question. To what extent have these past nine years been difficult psychologically for you? To what extent have they been difficult to your family? Your wife has founded and manages one of the biggest charities in Syria which provides a great deal to children, to the wounded, and to restoration of normal life. I realize that I might be asking embarrassing questions, and I apologize for that, but to what extent have you suffered from what is happening within your family? And when you look back at what you have done during the past nine years, do you say to yourself that you haven’t done what you should have done on certain issues, or that a mistake was made in this regard and the right thing was done on another issue, and more should have been done?

President Assad:  There are two sides to this question: one is the formal, when I think about this war in my official capacity within the state and the other is the personal.

As an official, the first thing you think of in this situation is protecting the country; this is your duty as a head of state.  Here we can take as an example something that lives on as a tradition, which is the Great Patriotic War in Russia.  Your relations with Germany, like any other country, were good.  You had normal relations: agreements, engagements, meetings and you had not done anything against Germany.  Nevertheless, the Nazis attacked Russia and you lost 26 million martyrs, maybe more.  Was there any other choice but to defend your country?  No, that was the only choice.  The decision taken by the Russian leadership at the time was the right decision supported by the Russian people who defended their country.  Were there mistakes?  Of course, there are mistakes in every action.  Are there political or military decisions which could have been better?  Certainly, for everything has flaws and errors.  The same applies to us in Syria.  The decisions which we took from day one, were to preserve the sovereignty of Syria and to fight terrorists until the end, and we are still doing that.  After nine years, I believe that had we taken a different direction, we would have lost our country from day one.  That’s why this decision was the right one.  As to the mistakes made in daily matters, they are always there, of course.  Every time there is a mistake, we should correct it and change the decision.  This is the normal thing to do.

On a personal level, here I am like any other citizen; every individual has ambitions for his country.  Especially that before the war, we were advancing and achieving significant growth, and the country was developing at a fast pace.  It is true that we had many problems because when the reform process moves quickly, it has negative aspects, maybe in the form of corruption or policy mistakes.  But by and large, our national capabilities were improving and developing.  After nine years, when you see how far behind you are economically, technologically, culturally and educationally, of course there is a sense of frustration at times at a personal level.  Certainly, in the end, any war regardless of its causes or outcomes, is a very bad thing.  You cannot have a positive feeling towards any war.  You will always feel pain and frustration.  On a daily basis, you are losing good people and draining your resources.  So, there is certainly a kind of pain that you feel on a daily basis on a personal level.  However, at the same time, this pain should be the motivation and the incentive for you to do more and to have confidence and hope that you are capable of becoming stronger and better than before.

Journalist:  You have confirmed once again that a person like you can only have one position, the position of the statesman, because the views you have expressed are the views and the position of a statesman.

Mr. President, thank you very much for agreeing to give us this interview.  Today we have been with President of the Syrian Arab Republic, Bashar al-Assad, and this was “International Review.” I am Yevgeny Primakov, wishing you all the best.

President Assad: Thank you.

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Assad after Aleppo’s Liberation: Despite Erdogan’s Loud Bark, All of Syria Will Be Liberated

Source

Statement by Bashar al-Assad, President of the Syrian Arab Republic, on February 17, 2020.

Translation: resistancenews.org

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stated that the Liberation of the city of Aleppo did not mean the end of the war, the fall of enemy plans, the end of terrorism, or the surrender of enemies, but that it certainly meant that they had bitten the dust, as a prelude to their complete defeat which will inevitably occur sooner or later.

Transcript:

O our noble and honorable families of Aleppo.

(I send you my sincere) greetings (in recognition) of (your) steadfastness and (your) perseverance. (I send you) greetings of faith in God and in the nation. (I send you) greetings of courage and sacrifice. Our Syrian Arab Army brings you all these greetings via the sacrifices of its fighters.

When the city of Aleppo was liberated at the end of 2016, I declared that what would follow the Liberation of the city of Aleppo would be radically distinct from what preceded, because it was a major turning point. I said this based on my knowledge of the hearts and the determination of our armed forces. I said this based on my certainty about the patriotism of the people of Aleppo and their loyalty to their homeland and to the national army. I firmly believed it would overturn enemy calculations.

This is what happened. Aleppo had to pay a big price for that, equal to the greatness of its people and the patriotism of its stance. Years of brutal and atrocious bombing have struck most neighborhoods, causing tens of thousands of martyrs and wounded, orphans, bereaved fathers and mothers, widows. Years of siege without water, electricity and other essentials for life (because the terrorists wanted) Aleppo to kneel and its children to surrender. And with each treacherous shell dropped (because terrorist groups were constantly violating ceasefire agreements), the hope of enemies increased so that Aleppo would become another Aleppo (at their image), another Aleppo that has never existed throughout History… (Our enemies aspired to an) Aleppo which would not form with its twin, Damascus, two wings by which the country can fly. On the contrary, they aspired to see a city of Aleppo whose children would line up alongside the traitors, kneeling and prostrating before their masters, begging for a few dollars and lots of shame. This is what they dreamed of.

But as for (what really happened in) our real world, with each enemy shell dropped, the fear was washed away and the will to face this challenge increased. With each martyr who rose (to heaven), the national spirit has grown and faith in the country has been deepened ever more. In our real world, the real Aleppo has remained: Aleppo with its history, its noble heritage and its authenticity. And because it is so, Aleppo’s people have not only resolved to resist through resilience, with what it means in terms of pain, suffering and crisis, but also through action, work and the initiative to produce and move forward, which continued throughout the years of the siege, despite conditions totally contrary to all economic logic. Despite everything, this city continued to contribute, even if it was in a minimal way, to the national economy, and I am convinced that this type of steadfastness and firmness, which reflects the solid will and the deeply rooted affiliation to the nation, is the one that will bring Aleppo out of the ashes of war to restore its natural and pioneering position in the economy of Syria.

It is true that the Liberation of Aleppo in 2016 did not achieve the desired security for the city at the time, and it remained exposed to shells of betrayal and cowardice (fired from Aleppo’s countrysidethat we finally liberated). And it is also true today that winning a battle does not mean winning a war, but it is the abstract military logic that is based on ends and results. Because as far as national logic is concerned, victory begins with the start of steadfastness, from the very first day. And with this logic, Aleppo triumphed, and Syria triumphed. We have all triumphed over the fear that they tried to sow in our hearts. We triumphed over the illusions they tried to instill in our minds. We have triumphed over disintegration, hatred, betrayal and all those who represent, possess and practice these evils.

However, we are fully aware that this Liberation does not mean the end of the war, the end of enemy plots, the end of terrorism, or the surrender of enemies. But it certainly means that they have bitten the dust, as a prelude to their total defeat which will inevitably occur sooner or later.

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.

Our Syrian Arab Army will never fail to fulfill its national duties, and will only be what it has always been, namely an army drawn from the people and at the service of the people. In history, armies have only triumphed when their people have united with them in their battle, and when they themselves have united with the people in his vision and in defense of his cause. This is what we have seen in Aleppo and other Syrian cities: you have embraced the army and it has protected you, defended you and sacrificed for you.

Today, as we live moments of joy, we must remember that these moments were reached by years of pain, anguish and sorrow, of absence of our beloved ones who sacrificed their lives for the lives and happiness of others. And as we bow with reverence to the greatness of our martyrs and the wounded, it is our duty to bow respectfully to the greatness of their glorious families. If victory is to be dedicated, then it must be dedicated to them. If anyone has to take credit for it, then they have should take the credit.

I salute them for the children they have raised, and I salute their children for their sacrifices. I salute each of the heroes of our great army and behind them our auxiliary forces. I salute the resistance of their bodies in the cold and frost, while we are blessed with the benefits of heat and security (thanks to them).

I pay tribute to our brothers, friends and allies who stood alongside the army, shoulder to shoulder on the battlefields, and guardian eagles in the sky. Their blood mixed with the blood of our army for the land of Aleppo, Aleppo the faithful to its homeland, faithful to its history, which will not forget the blood of those who sacrificed for it, and which will become again what it was, and will be reborn even stronger.

O our beloved people of Aleppo, I congratulate you on this day which consecrates the victory of your determination, by which we will lead the greatest battle for the (re)construction of Aleppo. By the will of all Syrians, we will (re)build Syria and we will continue the Liberation (of all of our territory), with the Grace of God.

Peace be upon you, as well as God’s Mercy and Blessings.

Donate as little as you can to support this work and subscribe to the Newsletter to get around censorship.

“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…” Hassan Nasrallah

ALEPPO CITY’S COUNTRYSIDE FULLY SECURED, SYRIANS IN ALEPPO CELEBRATE THE END OF TERRORISM

Ibrahim Mohammadon Sunday

For the first time since 19-07-2012
#Aleppo city is free of terrorism

#Syriab_Arab_Army 🇸🇾✌🏻💪🏻❤️

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In December 2016, the Syrian Arab Army, Russia & allies liberated the northern Syrian city of Aleppo of the al-Qaeda and equally-heinous terrorists who had occupied and terrorized civilians in the city since 2012.

In the years subsequent, Aleppo to a large degree returned to peace, with rebuilding occurring in the hard-hit Old City, with displaced Syrians returning (contrary to the lies of UK Channel 4, among other war propagandizing media).

Yet, civilians since that Aleppo’s liberation continued to be terrorized by the presence of terrorists in the countryside of Aleppo.

Last year (January 2019), visiting Aleppo, I returned to the Lairamoun industrial district in the city’s west. I had been there in November 2016, had seen the nightmarish underground prison of the Free Syrian Army, used to hold Syrian soldiers and civilians alike, a true dungeon replete with suffocating solitary confinement cells.

In January 2019, I went to a factory 500 metres from al-Qaeda snipers. Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi explained to me how the factory owner and workers defied the existence of terrorists at close proximity and re-opened the textile factory.  As he spoke, he took me to a door which, when opening, exposed us to potential sniper fire–the sniper fire the courageous factory workers were exposed to.

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Al-Qaeda stronghold near Lairamoun, Aleppo, 400 to 500 metres from textile factory

Shehabi’s powerful words include:

“This factory is on a front line in the war against terror. 400 to 500 metres away, the Tajik Brigades of the Islamic Turkistan Army, a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria.

This factory was rubble two years ago. We rehabilitated it. We are doing this as a message of defiance against all who conspired against the people of Aleppo, against the economy of Syria. The enemy was sniping at us , launching mortars, when we were fixing this factory to work again.

Show me one place in the world with a production situation like this, a factory being rehabilitated under these circumstances.

This is why they out us under sanctions, this is why they consider us enemies.

How can I be an enemy of freedom and democracy if I want our people to work, to make money, my country to have a production economy, and I don’t yield to al-Qaeda gangs in close proximity to me.

…imagine the difficult situation in which these heroes, the factory workers and owners, had to go through in order to defy al-Nusra and defy Turkey, and rise up again from the ashes. This is a real example of how you rise up, undefeated.”

Eva Karene Bartlettabout 12 months ago

After filming Fares Shehabi / Faris Shihabi speaking powerfully about the courage and resilience of a Lairamoun factory owner and its workers 100s metres from al Qaeda snipers,
[see: https://www.facebook.com/EvaBoBeeva/posts/2344877145522266 ]

Firas Darwish explained some terrorist graffiti left on the outside of the factory: a terrorist sniper nicknamed Abu Mohammed, proud of head shots. …See More

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Fares Shehabion Sunday

هكذا كانت #حلب في أسوأ ايامها عام ٢٠١٣..!

عشنا في حصار كامل في كل شيء و فقدنا اكثر من ١١ الف شهيد مدني و ٦٠ الف جريح و لم نستسلم و لم نتخاذل و لم نفقد الامل للحظة لا في أنفسنا و لا في جيشنا و لا في قائدنا..!

اليوم نعيش حلم اصبح حقيقة..نعيش معجزة صنعها هذا الجيش الجبار و الذي لولاه لكنا جميعاً في خبر كان.. …See More

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In November 2016 I wrote of the terrorism Aleppo civilians experienced that month and in prior months:

My article on the November 3 terrorist attacks noted:

On the afternoon of Nov. 3, after meeting with Dr. Mohammed Batikh, director of Al-Razi Hospital, the victims of terror attacks which had begun a few hours prior began to arrive one after another, maimed and critically injured. The vehicle bombings and bombardment of Grad missiles, among other attacks, left 18 people dead and more than 200 injured, according to Dr. Zaher Hajo, the head of forensic medicine at Al-Razi Hospital.

The body of a civilian who was killed in the Nov. 3 attacks in Aleppo. Nov. 3, 2016. (Photo: Eva Bartlett)

The corridors and emergency ward at Al-Razi Hospital, one of two state-run hospitals in Aleppo, quickly became clogged with the injured and grieving family members. In one crowded interior corridor, one of the wounded screamed out in pain: “Ya, Allah! Ya, Allah!”

In another corridor, a 15-year-old boy with a cast on one leg and bandages on his head, said the mortar attack which injured him had killed his 4-year-old cousin and left his 6-year-old cousin with critical injuries.

In a front room, a mother wailed for her son who had suffered severe injuries. She screamed and pleaded for someone to save him, her only son. Not long after, though, the news came in: the 26-year-old had died. Her son, a doctor, was not the first medical professional to die in terrorists’ routine bombings of Aleppo neighborhoods.

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Dr. Nabil Antaki, a gastroenterologist from Aleppo, with whom I met on my trips to Aleppo in July and August, messaged me in October about his friend and colleague, Dr. Omar, who was injured on Oct. 6 when terrorist factions unleashed an attack on Jamiliye Street, killing 10 people. Just a few days after the attack, Dr. Omar, too, died.

At the morgue behind Al-Razi Hospital on Nov. 3, inconsolable family members leaned against the wall or sat on the pavement, coming to grips with the deaths of loved ones.

One 14-year-old boy had been there on Nov. 2, when his father was killed. On Nov. 3, he returned when his mother was killed. Both of this boy’s parents are dead, both killed in terrorist attacks on the city’s New Aleppo district.

A man spoke of a 10-year-old nephew who was shot in the head by a terrorist sniper while the boy was on his roof.

A woman and her children leaned against an iron rail next to the door to the morgue, weeping over the death of her husband, their father, who was killed while parking a car. When the man’s mother arrived, she collapsed, shrieking in grief.

The body of a civilian who was killed in the Nov. 3 attacks in Aleppo.

And in the midst of all of this, all these women and children, a car arrived at the morgue with the body of yet another victim of the day’s terror attacks, Mohammed Majd Darwish, 74. His upper body was so bloody that it was unclear whether he had been decapitated.

Near the morgue, Bashir Shehadeh, a man in his forties, said his family had been displaced already from Jisr al-Shughour, a city in Idlib. His mother, some of his friends, and his cousin have been killed by terrorist factions’ shellings. He said enough was enough, and called on the SAA to eliminate the terrorist threat.

Al-Razi’s Dr. Batikh said a private hospital, Al-Rajaa, was hit by a mortar attack. “They cannot do operations now, the operating room is out of service.”

One of the most notable attacks on hospitals was the December 2013 double truck bombing of Al-Kindi Hospital, the largest and best cancer treatment hospital in the Middle East. I have previously reported on other attacks on hospitals in Aleppo, including the May 3 rocket attack which gutted Al-Dabeet, a maternity hospital, killing three women. On Sept. 10, Dr. Antaki messaged me:

Yesterday, a rocket, sent by the terrorists, hit a maternity hospital in Aleppo in Muhafazat Street. Two persons working in the hospital were injured. No death. But the point is that it is a hospital and it was hit by a rocket.”

Dr. Batikh and Dr. Mazen Rahmoun, deputy director of Al-Razi, said the hospital once had 68 ambulances, but now there are only six. The rest, they said, were either stolen by terrorist factions or destroyed.

Aleppo’s doctors continue to treat the daily influx of injured and ill patients in spite of the dearth of ambulances and effects of Western sanctions which mean a lack of medical equipment, replacement parts, and medicine for critical illnesses like cancer.

According to the hospital’s head forensic medicine, Dr. Hajo, in the last five years, 10,750 civilians have been killed in Aleppo, 40 percent of whom were women and children. In the past year alone, 328 children have been killed by terrorist shelling in Aleppo, and 45 children were killed by terrorist snipers.

Humanitarian Crossings: Shelling of Castello Road

Less than 100 metres away, the second of two mortars fired by terrorist factions less than 1 km from Castello Road on Nov. 4. The road and humanitarian corridor were targeted at least six times that day by terrorist factions. Nov. 4, 2016. (Photo: Eva Bartlett)

On Nov. 4, prior to our 9:30 a.m. arrival at the Bustan al-Qasr crossing and until our departure an hour later, no one had been able to cross from the area just beyond crossing, which is occupied by Jaysh al-Fatah militants.

Two weeks prior to our arrival, journalists had reported that terrorist factions heavily shelled the crossing and areas around it starting in the early morning.

A Syrian general at the crossing confirmed that shelling had taken place on Oct. 20, adding that three police officers had been wounded. A journalist in the delegation asked the general what he would say to Syrian civilians like Bashir Shehadeh, who demanded that the SAA eliminate the terrorist factions.

“We need to be patient, because the civilians there are not able to leave, they are not guilty,” the general replied. “We don’t work the way that the terrorists work.”

Regarding the amnesty decree issued by President Bashar Assad in late July, the general explained that terrorists who want to be granted amnesty could lay down their arms. Those who choose to go on to Idlib would be granted safe passage by the Syrian government and army, in coordination with the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

According to the general, when two militants arrived at the Bustan al-Qasr crossing about two months ago, they surrendered their arms and proceeded under amnesty.

Five months ago, he said, 12 civilians crossed there, were treated in Aleppo’s hospitals, and returned to their homes in terrorist-held eastern Aleppo.  

At the Castello Road humanitarian crossing, the large green buses which were said to be evacuating militants from areas of eastern Aleppo in recent weeks were there again, waiting to ferry away more. Ten ambulances, three buses, and 14 minivans were lined up in anticipation of any civilians or militants trying to leave terrorist-occupied areas, whether for safe passage elsewhere or to settle in government-secured areas of Aleppo.

Ten ambulances wait at the Castello Road crossing to treat anyone exiting via the humanitarian corridors established by the Syrian government and Russia, including militants who lay down their arms. Nov. 4, 2016. (Photo: Eva Bartlett)

George Sire, 25, an anesthesiologist at Salloum Hospital in Aleppo, was one of the volunteers who arrived at the crossing with five of the private hospital’s ambulances, at the request of the Syrian government.

When speaking with a Syrian commander about permitting men who had used arms against Syrian civilians and soldiers to lay down their arms and reconcile, he said they are sons of the country and urged them to reconcile.

At around 1:30 p.m. the first shell struck, hitting near Castello Road. About 10 minutes later, while I was being interviewed, a second hit, this time considerably closer, within 100 meters — close enough, in fact, to create a cloud of dark smoke over the road. It prompted security to usher me away from the road and move our delegation away from the crossing.

I later learned that another five shells targeted the crossing, injuring a Syrian journalist and two Russian soldiers.

No one passed through this or any of the other seven humanitarian corridors that day.

And:

“Last Friday, I visited one of Aleppo’s main public parks, a once-beautiful park where fountains danced to the songs of Arab greats like Oum Kalthoum, and simple cafes were full.

Now the fountains are dry, the main one littered with rubble from one of many terrorist shellings of the park, and one of the main cafes out of commission after being hit by a terrorist shell roughly a year and a half ago.

While people do continue to frequent the park, the risk of being killed by a mortar or rocket remains, as pretty much everywhere in greater Aleppo.

I had read about the July 22, 2016, terrorist rocket on the park which killed civilians while they were in the park on a summer Friday.

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Photo via Pierre Le Corf

SANA news reported on that day that: “Eleven civilians were killed, among them a child and two women, while 44 others were injured in terrorist attacks with rocket shells and sniper bullets on neighborhoods and the public facilities in Aleppo city on Friday.

…eight civilians were killed and 34 others injured in a rocket shell fired by terrorist groups on the public park.”

In November, a local took me to the area where the murdered woman was sitting when the rocket’s shrapnel killed she, another woman, a child, and injured nearby civilians.

The park was busy this Friday, not as busy as a hot summer day would have seen it, but still had people sitting on such benches or on the plastic chairs of the cafe behind where the murdered women had been sitting.

Walking around the large park, we saw evidence of shelling…on the pavement and in the small plots of grass. Some were like the small holes in the pavement that I’m used to seeing in the Old City of Damascus, ravaged by terrorists’ mortars. Others were mini-craters in the grass, including one near a cafe which was hit apparently about a year and a half ago.

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Speaking with local security there, they estimated that between 40-50 shells have hit the park in the past few years. The number could be greater, or less, but the fact is the park has been targeted, as have public places around the city of over 1.5 million people, who on a daily basis facethis mortar/rocket/Grad missile/explosive bullet/gas canister terrorism.

This park in summer would have not only been a spot to try to briefly escape the hell of 6 years of foreign war on Syria, but would also have had many displaced Syrians who have fled terrorist-occupied areas to government-secured areas, many of whom during the day sought refuge in the shade from blistering heat.

Without electricity for years, thanks to the terrorist factions who control the area where the power plant is, Aleppo residents who can afford it buy power by the ampere. Many can only afford the basics–some light bulbs and power for their fridge.

From a photo essay I published in mid-2016, after my second Aleppo visit:

The power plant lies in areas controlled by terrorist factions. For years, Aleppo residents have suffered from a lack of power, and compensate by purchasing generator-supplied electricity. Not cheap, some opt to buy just 1 ampere worth, which according to Aleppo resident Nabil Antaki costs around 4000 Syrian pounds a month (roughly US$8) . Two amperes will run a small television. Four amperes, a fridge, small television and a few bulbs.

10

Many others can’t afford that, period. I remember the suffocating heat even on an August visit to Aleppo, staying in a friend’s place without electricity or water…the desire to be out in an open place where one could breathe, sweat less, was strong…

In the canal running through the park, a boy around 14 years old stripped to his underwear and dove in, swept down river by the quick current, scrambling out and up the wall to dive in anew. When we passed the river a little later, a girl had joined in. I asked whether this would be frowned upon and my friend laughed at me, “We are not al-Qaeda here.” (I remembered the words of a man who I’d spoken with the night before, who spoke of al-Nusra in occupied eastern areas forcing women and girls to cover even their wrists and hands. This girl would have no freedom in areas occupied by the West’s “rebels”.)

Scenes like these, of seeming normalcy, can be shattered in an instant, with the fall of a mortar or shell fired by terrorists which the West deems as “moderates” and whose crimes Western leaders continue to ignore.

Eva Karene Bartlettabout 3 years ago

Last Friday, I visited one of Aleppo’s main public parks, a once-beautiful park where fountains danced to the songs of Arab greats like Oum Kalthoum, and simple cafes were full.

Now the fountains are dry, the main one littered with rubble from one of many terrorist shellings of the park, and one of the main cafes out of commission after being hit by a terrorist shell roughly a year and a half ago.

While people do continue to frequent the park, the risk of being killed by a …See More

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Small public park in Aziziya. People who are displaced frequent such parks, to get out of the small apartments or government-supplied shelters they live in.12

From Aziziya district, on July 4, half a kilometer away, the explosion of a terrorist-fired bomb. Around 5 pm, this is a busy time when streets are packed with cars and pedestrians; terrorists know they can kill and maim more civilians when attacking at these busy hours. Minutes later, an anti-aircraft explosive bullet landed roughly 15 metres away from my Aziziya venue. Had it landed on one of the parked cars, there would have been many casualties. A day later, such an explosive bullet killed the mother of an Aleppo friend, at her home. Photo: Eva Bartlett

In that 2016 photo essay, I wrote also about the villages of Nubl and Zahra’a, north of Aleppo:

Hell Cannon-fired gas canister bombs litter the countryside around Aleppo and on the route to Nubl and Zahra’a. These, and larger variations, are what Western-backed terrorists have rained down on the city of Aleppo, as well as besieged Foua and Kafarya in Idlib governorate. Manufactured locally, fired upon civilians daily, gas canister bombs get virtually no mention in corporate media, although their impact is deadly.

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The roughly 65,000 people of Nubl and Zahra’a villages, under siege from terrorist factions of the so-called FSA, al-Nusra, and affiliated factions for three and a half years, were on February 3, 2016, liberated from the choke-hold which strangled them. Zeinab Sharbo, 25, and Mounthaher Khatib, 26, each have young children who suffered for want of food and basic elements of life, and who were traumatized by the terrorists’ bombing of the villages. Although corporate media, when deigning to mention the villages, usually focused on their predominately Shia composition, Sunnis also live in the villages. According to Zeinab, “Sectarianism wasn’t a problem before, we were brothers and sisters, we intermarried with neighbouring villages.”

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Abdul Karim Assad, 7, has painful face disfiguration from a terrorist-fired mortar which burned his face. Under siege at the time, the boy was only treated with basic medical care in a barebones hospital in Zahra’a. The boy is not originally from Nubl, but from Idlib, from which his grandfather fled when terrorists invaded. He is another poster child for the terrorism inflicted upon Syria.

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Aleppo’s over 1.5 million residents are depending on trucks from outside of the city to bring in the basics of life. Unable to use the main highway, and now unable to use the paved Ramouseh road, trucks travel an extended distance over many rough dirt roads to enter Aleppo from its north.

Dabbit

The Dabeet maternity hospital, the inside destroyed and outside badly damaged on May 3, 2016, by terrorist rocket fire, is one of numerous hospitals targeted by terrorists in Syria. The May 3 attack killed three women. A week later, the hospital was hit by terrorist mortar fire. Aleppo’s Kindi hospital, destroyed by terrorists, was one of the largest cancer hospitals in the region.

*

Back to the present.

The Press Office of President Assad on February 17, 2020 published his latest speech, addressing this restoration of peace to Aleppo and the need to do so in Idlib. Syriana Analysis has subtitled this speech:

Partial transcript of recent speech by President Assad:

“When Aleppo city was liberated at the end of 2016, I said that what was before the liberation of Aleppo city will not be the same as what will be after that, and I based that on my knowledge of where the members of our Armed Forces are aiming with their hearts and minds. I based that on my conviction that the patriotism of the people of Aleppo and their fealty to their homeland and the homeland’s army will overturn the calculations of the enemies.

“This is what happened, but Aleppo had to pay a great price equal to the greatness of its people and the patriotism of its position; years of violent and barbaric shelling that affected most neighborhoods, tens of thousands of martyrs, injured people, orphans, people who lost children, and widows. Years of siege without water or electricity or other life necessities, all for Aleppo to kneel and for her people to surrender.

“With every treacherous shell that had fallen, the enemies’ hopes would grow that Aleppo would become another Aleppo, one that never existed throughout history, an Aleppo that does not constitute with its twin Damascus the wings by which the homeland soars; rather an Aleppo whose people would stand with traitors in front of masters, kneeling and prostrating themselves before them, beginning for a few dollars and much disgrace.

“That was in their dreams; but in our real world, with every shell that fell, fear fell and the will to challenge grew. With every martyr, nationalist spirit grew and faith in the homeland became stronger. In our real world, it remained the real Aleppo, the Aleppo of history, nobility, and authenticity. And because it is so, its people did not settle for steadfastness just in the sense of bearing of pain and suffering and acceptance of the status quo; but rather in the sense of work and production that persisted throughout the years of the siege despite the conditions that contradict any economic sense.

“Despite that, this city kept contributing – even if at a bare minimum – to national economy, and I am confident that this type of steadfastness which reflects a concrete will and a deep-rooted sense of belonging is what will raise Aleppo from the ashes of war and restore its natural and leading position in Syria’s economy,” President al-Assad said.

President al-Assad added “It is true that liberating the city in 2016 did not achieve the desired safety for the city at the time, and it remained under the threat of treacherous and cowardly shells, and it is also true today that victory in one battle does not mean victory in the war, but that is by the abstract military logic which is based on endings and results; however, by national logic, victory begins with the beginning of steadfastness even if it was at day one, and by that logic, Aleppo is victorious, and Syria is victorious. We are all victorious over the fear they had tried to instill in our hearts, victorious over the delusions they tried to instill in our minds, victorious over fragmentation, hatred, betrayal, and all those who represent or bear or practice these qualities.

“However, we are fully aware that this liberation does not mean the end of the war, or the failure of schemes, or the disappearance of terrorism, or the surrender of enemies, but it certainly means rubbing their noses in the dirt as a prelude for complete defeat, sooner or later,” the President affirmed.

“It also means that we must not relax; rather we must prepare for the coming battles. Therefore, the battle to liberate the countryside of Aleppo and Idleb will continue regardless of some empty sound bubbles coming from the north, and the battle for liberating all Syrian soil, crushing terrorism, and achieving stability will also continue.”

His Excellency went on to say “Our Syrian Arab Army will never hesitate to carry out its national duties, and it will be as it always has been: an army from the people and for the people. Throughout history, no army has emerged victorious unless the people are united with it in its battle, and when it is united with the people in their vision and cause, and this is what we have witnessed in Aleppo and other Syrian cities, where you embraced the army it protected you, defended you, and made sacrifices for you.

“While we are experiencing times of joy, we must remember that these moments have been made possible by years of pain, heartache, and sadness, for the loss of a dear one that gave their life for the lives and happiness of others. As we bow in honor of the greatness of our martyrs and injured people, it is also our duty to stand in honor of the greatness of their mighty families. If victory is to be dedicated, then it is dedicated to them, and if anyone should receive credit for it, then they deserve the credit. I salute them for the children their raised, and salute their children for their sacrifices. I salute every one of the heroes of our great army and the allied forces begin them. I salute the strength of their bodies in the cold and frost as we bask in warmth and safety.”

President al-Assad went on to salute “our brothers, friends, and allies who stood shoulder to shoulder with the army on the ground and were guardian eagles in the sky, their blood intermingling with the blood of our army that was spilled in Aleppo, Aleppo the faithful to its homeland and history, which will never forget the blood of those who made sacrifices for it, and which will return as it was and stronger.

“Our beloved people in Aleppo, I congratulate you on the victory of your will, the will by which we will wage the greater battle: the battle to build Aleppo. By the will of all the Syrian people we will build Syria, and we will continue liberation, God willing.”

If you haven’t already read it, consider reading my January 2019 compilation:

Turns Out President Assad Was Right About Terrorism in Syria; Turns Out He Has Massive Popular Support in Syria

Eva Karene Bartlett about a year agoTurns Out President Assad Was Right About Terrorism in Syria; Turns Out He Has Massive Popular Support in SyriaIn the workshop of a Sunni Syrian, with his Christmas tree, Imam Ali photo, Quranic calligraphy, and photo of President Bashar al-Assad .See More

because corporate media has been lying to you, not Syria’s president, not Russia.

-Related: US to grant $35 million to promote its fake news bubble in Syria & control local media

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