Capitalism is Double-billing Us: We Pay from Our Wallets only for Our Future to Be Stolen from Us

October 26, 2020

Air pollution in London. (Photo: File)

Here is a word that risks deterring you from reading on much further, even though it may hold the key to understanding why we are in such a terrible political, economic and social mess. That word is “externalities”.

It sounds like a piece of economic jargon. It is a piece of economic jargon. But it is also the foundation stone on which the west’s current economic and ideological system has been built. Focusing on how externalities work and how they have come to dominate every sphere of our lives is to understand how we are destroying our planet – and offer at the same time the waypost to a better future.

In economics, “externalities” are usually defined indifferently as the effects of a commercial or industrial process on a third party that are not costed into that process.

Here is what should be a familiar example. For decades, cigarette manufacturers made enormous profits by concealing scientific evidence that over time their product could prove lethal to customers. The firms profited by externalizing the costs associated with cigarettes – of death and disease – on to those buying their cigarettes and wider society. People gave Philip Morris and British American Tobacco their money as these companies made those smoking Marlboros and Lucky Strikes progressively unhealthier.

The externalized cost was paid – is still paid – by the customers themselves, by grieving families, by local and national health services, and by the taxpayer. Had the firms been required to pick up these various tabs, it would have proved entirely unprofitable to manufacture cigarettes.

Inherently Violent

Externalities are not incidental to the way capitalist economies run. They are integral to them. After all, it is a legal obligation on private companies to maximize profits for their shareholders – in addition, of course, to the personal incentive bosses have to enrich themselves, and each company’s need to avoid making themselves vulnerable to more profitable and predatory competitors in the marketplace.

Companies are therefore motivated to offload as many costs as possible on to others. As we shall see, externalities mean someone other than the company itself pays the true cost behind its profits, either because those others are too weak or ignorant to fight back or because the bill comes due further down the line. And for that reason, externalities – and capitalism – are inherently violent.

All this would be glaringly obvious if we didn’t live inside an ideological system – the ultimate echo chamber enforced by our corporate media – that is complicit either in hiding this violence or in normalizing it. When externalities are particularly onerous or harmful, as they invariably are in one way or another, it becomes necessary for a company to obscure the connection between cause and effect, between its accumulation of profit and the resulting accumulation of damage caused to a community, a distant country or the natural world – or all three.

That is why corporations – those that inflict the biggest and worst externalities – invest a great deal of time and money in aggressively managing public perceptions. They achieve this through a combination of public relations, advertising, media control, political lobbying and the capture of regulatory institutions. Much of the business of business is deception, either making the externalized harm invisible or gaining the public’s resigned acceptance that the harm is inevitable.

In that sense, capitalism produces a business model that is not only rapacious but psychopathic. Those who pursue profit have no choice but to inflict damage on wider society or the planet, and then cloak their deeply anti-social – even suicidal – actions.

Psychopathic Demands

A recent film that alludes to how this form of violence works was last year’s Dark Waters, concerning the long-running legal battle with DuPont over the chemicals it developed to make non-stick coatings for pots and pans. From the outset, DuPont’s research showed that these chemicals were highly dangerous and accumulated in the body. The science overwhelmingly suggested that exposed individuals would be at risk of developing cancerous tumors or producing children with birth defects.

There were huge profits to be made for DuPont from its chemical discovery so long as it could keep the research hidden. So that’s exactly what its executives did. They set aside basic morality and acted in concert with the psychopathic demands of the marketplace.

DuPont produced pans that contaminated its customers’ food. Workers were exposed to a cocktail of lethal poisons in its factories. The company stored the toxic waste products in drums and then secretly disposed of them in landfills where they leached into the local water supply, killing cattle and producing an epidemic of disease among local residents. DuPont created a chemical that is now everywhere in our environment, risking the health of generations to come.

But a film like Dark Waters necessarily turned a case study in how capitalism commits violence by externalizing its costs into something less threatening, less revelatory. We hiss at DuPont’s executives as though they are the ugly sisters in a pantomime rather than ordinary people not unlike our parents, our siblings, our offspring, ourselves.

In truth, there is nothing exceptional about the DuPont story – apart from the company’s failure to keep its secret hidden from the public. And that exposure was anomalous, occurring only belatedly and against great odds.

An important message the film’s feelgood ending fails to deliver is that other corporations have learned from DuPont’s mistake – not the moral “mistake” of externalizing their costs, but the financial mistake of getting caught doing so. Corporate lobbyists have worked since to further capture regulatory authorities and to amend transparency and legal discovery laws to avoid any repetition, to ensure they are not held legally liable, as DuPont was, in the future.

Victims of Our Bombs

Unlike the DuPont case, most externalities are never exposed. Instead, they hide in plain sight. These externalities do not need to be concealed because they are either not perceived as externalities or because they are viewed as so unimportant as to be not worth factoring in.

The military-industrial complex – the one we were warned about more than half a century ago by President Dwight Eisenhower, a former US general – excels in these kinds of externalities. Its power derives from its ability to externalize its costs on to the victims of its bombs and its wars. These are people we know and care little about: they live far from us, they look and sound different to us, they are denied names and life stories like us. They are simply numbers, denoting them either as terrorists or, at best, unfortunate collateral damage.

The externalities of the west’s war industries are opaque to us. The chain of cause and effect is nowadays obscured as “humanitarian intervention”. And even when war’s externalities come knocking at our borders as refugees flee from the bloodshed, or from the nihilistic cults sucked into the power vacuums we leave behind, or from the wreckage of infrastructure our weapons cause, or from the environmental degradation and pollution we unleash, or from the economies ruined by our plunder of local resources, we still don’t recognize these externalities for what they are. Our politicians and media transform the victims of our wars and our resource grabs into, at best, economic migrants and, at worst, barbarians at the gate.

Snapshots of Catastrophe

If we are entirely ignorant of the externalities inflicted by capitalism on victims beyond our shores, we are gradually and very late in the day waking up to some of capitalism’s externalities much closer to home. Parts of the corporate media are finally admitting that which can no longer be plausibly denied, which is evident to our own senses.

For decades politicians and the corporate media managed to veil two things: that capitalism is an entirely unsustainable, profit-driven, endless consumption model; and that the environment is being gradually damaged in ways harmful to life. Each was obscured, as was the fact that the two are causally connected. The economic model is the primary cause of environmental damage.

People, especially the young, are slowly awakening from this enforced state of ignorance. The corporate media, even its most liberal elements, is not leading this process; it is responding to that awakening.

Last week the Guardian newspaper prominently ran two stories about externalities, even if it failed to frame them as such. One was about micro-plastics leaching from feeding bottles into babies, and the other about the toll air pollution is taking on the populations of major European cities.

The latter story, based on new research, specifically assessed the cost of air pollution in European cities – in terms of “premature death, hospital treatment, lost working days and other health costs” – at £150 billion a year. Most of this was caused by pollution from vehicles, the profitable product of the car industry. The researchers admitted that their figure was an under-estimate of air pollution’s true cost.

But, of course, even that underestimate was arrived at solely on the basis of metrics prioritized by capitalist ideology: the cost to the economy of death and disease, not the incalculable cost in lost and damaged human lives, and even less the damage to other species and the natural world. Another report last week alluded to one of those many additional costs, showing a steep rise in depression and anxiety caused by air pollution.

The other story, on baby bottles, is part of a much bigger story of how the plastics industry – whose products are derivatives of the fossil fuel industry – has long been filling our oceans and soil with plastics, both of the visible and invisible kind. Last week’s report revealed that the sterilization process in which bottles are heated in boiling water resulted in babies swallowing millions of micro-plastics each day. The study found that plastic food containers were shedding much higher loads of micro-plastics than expected.

These stories are snapshots of a much wider environmental catastrophe unfolding across the planet caused by profit-driven industrialized society. As well as heating up the climate, corporations are chopping down the forests that don’t burn down first, ridding the planet of its lungs; they are destroying natural habitats and soil quality, and they are rapidly killing off insect populations.

These industries’ externalities are, for the time being, impacting most severely on the natural world. But they will soon have more visible and dramatic effects that will be felt by our children and grandchildren. Neither of these constituencies currently has a say in how our capitalist “democracies” are being run.

Perception Managers

Capitalism isn’t only harming us, it’s double-billing us: taking first from our wallets and then depriving us of a future. We have now entered an era of deep cognitive dissonance.

Unlike a few years ago, many of us now understand that our futures are at grave risk from changes in our environment – the effect. But the task of today’s perception managers, like those of yesteryear, is to obscure the main cause – our economic system, capitalism.

The increasingly desperate effort to dissociate capitalism from the imminent environmental crisis – to break any perception of a causal link – was highlighted early this year. It emerged that counter-terrorism police in the UK had included Extinction Rebellion, the west’s main environmental protest group, on a list of extremist organizations. Under related “Prevent” regulations, teachers and government officials are already required by law to report anyone who they suspect of being “radicalized”.

In a guide explaining the purpose of the list, officials and teachers were told to identify anyone who speaks in “strong or emotive terms about environmental issues like climate change, ecology, species extinction, fracking, airport expansion or pollution”.

Why was Extinction Rebellion, a non-violent, civil disobedience group, included alongside neo-Nazis and Islamic jihadists? A whole page is dedicated to the threat posed by Extinction Rebellion. The guide explains that the organization’s activism is rooted in an “anti-establishment philosophy that seeks system change”. That is, environmental activism risks making apparent – especially to the young – the causal connection between the economic system and damage to the environment.

Once the story broke, the police hastily rowed back, claiming that Extinction Rebellion’s inclusion was a mistake. But more recently establishment efforts to decouple capitalism from its catastrophic externalities have grown more explicit.

Last month England’s department of education ordered schools not to use any materials in the curriculum that question the legitimacy of capitalism. Opposition to capitalism was described as an “extreme political stance” – opposition, let us remember, to an economic system whose relentless pursuit of growth and profit treats the destruction of the natural world as an uncosted externality.

Paradoxically, education officials equated the promotion of alternatives to capitalism as a threat to free speech, as well as an endorsement of illegal activity, and – inevitably – as evidence of antisemitism.

Suicidal Trajectory

These desperate and draconian measures to shore up an increasingly discredited system are not about to end. They will get much worse.

The establishment is not preparing to give up on capitalism – the ideology that enriched and empowered it – without a fight. The political and media class proved that with their relentless and unprecedented attacks on Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn over several years. And Corbyn was offering only a reformist, democratic socialist agenda.

The establishment has also demonstrated its determination to cling on to the status quo in its relentless and unprecedented attacks on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is locked away, seemingly indefinitely, for revealing the externalities – the victims – of the west’s war industries and the psychopathic behavior of those in power.

Efforts to end the suicidal trajectory of our current “free market” system will doubtless soon be equated with terrorism, as the Prevent strategy has already intimated. We should be ready.

There can be no escape from the death wish of capitalism without recognizing that death wish, and then demanding and working for wholesale change. Externalities may sound like innocuous jargon, but they and the economic system that requires them are killing us, our children and the planet.

The nightmare can end, but only if we wake up.

– Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). Visit his website www.jonathan-cook.net. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example
Also see the Video

Zeinab Daher

[And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah, “They are dead.” Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not.] – Holy Quran, Surat al-Baqarah, verse 154.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

As you enter his house, you have to notice how simple, humble and cozy it is. The house where Hajj Hatem Adib Hmedeh, better known as Alaa 125, raises his small family, sends you positive vibes due to the amicable atmosphere spread over its simple details.

Although the family is used to his absence [because he spends almost all his time at work, in the forefronts of the battlefield], they enjoy a unique relationship that is based on respect, love, appreciation and modesty.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

The down-to-earth leader, who represents a model to all those who got to know him, favored resistance to having a very well paid job abroad as soon as he graduated with a degree in telecommunication engineering.

In this regard, his wife Mrs. Mariam Fakhreddine told us that as soon as he graduated in 1994, he was offered a job in his domain with a net monthly salary of 3000$, which he strictly rejected, as he finds the duty to resist the occupier at the first level of his priorities.

The man who loves and encourages education, also mastered in electronic engineering, and then continued studies in physics.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

As much as he is dedicated to his job, Hajj Alaa devotes all his emotions to the family he belongs to. His wife stressed that whenever he can, he calls, asks about their needs, and expresses how much he misses and loves his two kids, namely his beloved Fatima.

Hajj Hatem Hmedeh does not care for any detail regarding the materialistic life. He can manage to live with any situation, no matter what simplicities or difficulties life would bring.

The pious man, his wife describes him, performs his religious duties with all the devotion of a real worshipper. His relationship with Allah almighty is way more important than the life people live.

The most important among his deeds is to fulfill all divine duties. He considers that when a person does not make any behavior that angers Allah, then he would have never made any single deed that harms his worshippers.

The husband supported his partner during her hard times of either failing or successful pregnancies. He was pleased whether Allah wanted to gift him with his daughter and son, or whether two previous pregnancies were destined to death.

When he comes home, he benefits from the time to give his wife a break from taking care of the children. He takes it upon himself to take care for them, teach them their lessons, take them out, play with them and compensate them with the short times he can spend there.

The father doesn’t kiss his beloved 11 years old Fatima but on her hands. However, he lets his 8 years old Ali acquire much of his characteristics. Ali, his mom says, looks very like his dad. Referring to his behavior more than the physical shape, Mrs. Mariam stresses that he takes care of his sister as if a man is doing so.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

When Ali learned that his father is martyred, he told everybody who was at their home not to cry: “Don’t bother him, my father doesn’t like to hear someone crying.”

When she was 8 years old, Fatima sent her father a flower with a person she knew could deliver it. Three days later, the caring father called her: “Thank you my sweetheart, your flower has been delivered.” Some three years later, the flower was still saved very well with the loving father. When he was martyred, it was found among his belongings.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

Other than his military suit, Hajj Alaa just owns three shirts, a couple of trousers and a pair of shoes. “My military suit is my clothes,” the martyr always says.

Whenever a problem happens to be, Martyr Leader Hajj Hatem Hmedeh depends on the divine intervention that facilitates solving it. His every time comment is that Allah hears and sees everything: “I am with you both, I hear and I see,” Holy Quran, surat Taha, verse 46.

However, he so much believes in the sensed tangible evidence rather than a group of words said without any proof. His famous word, his wife says: “Words are illusions, truth is numbers.”

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

Whether among his family members, companions or all the people who loved his soul, the martyred leader will ever be living in the minds, hearts, souls and entire lives of the people whom he admired, and who loved him truly in return.

Note: The verbs in this article describing the martyr’s personality have been written in the simple present tense because as the title said “martyrs do not die”, Hajj Alaa’s deeds will never stop taking place because the soul will ever be more effective than the body.

Source: Al-Ahed News

President Assad Interview with Sputnik TV and the Full Interview Transcript

President Bashar Assad interview with Russian Sputnik

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad gave a couple of interviews to Russian media commemorating the Russian fifth year of military intervention in Syria aiding the Syrian army combating US-sponsored terror.

In this interview with the Russian Sputnik TV addresses a number of current topics including the Turkish instigation of the current escalations in Nagorno-Karabach, Erdogan’s use of foreign and Syrian mercenary terrorists in his interventions in Syria, Libya, and now between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Trump’s plot to assassinate him, his take on the US elections and expectations of the new US president in regards to US meddling in Syria, COVID 19 and the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, and the military and political relations between Syria and Russia.

President Assad also addressed the Israeli occupation of the Golan, the Iranian presence in Syria, and the US and Turkish occupation of parts in eastern and northern Syria.

On the upcoming US elections and Trump’s nomination or a Nobel Peace Prize, President Assad: ‘There’s no president in the USA, there’s a CEO who implements the will of the board: the lobbyists for major corporations, those are the banks, armaments, oil… etc.’

President Assad also answered a question whether he intends to run for the coming Syrian presidential elections next year, and about the Syrian army’s need for modern weapons including S400 or advanced versions of S300 air defense systems.

Sputnik TV has been releasing short clips of the interview, here they released what’s believed to be half of the interview on their French YouTube channel with French subtitles.

We’ve added English subtitles to this part of the interview based on the transcript provided by SANA for people who prefer to read and people with hearing disabilities in the following video followed by the transcript of the full interview, both parts

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad gave a couple of interviews to Russian media commemorating the Russian fifth year of military intervention in Syria aiding the Syrian army combating US-sponsored terror.

In this interview with the Russian Sputnik TV addresses a number of current topics including the Turkish instigation of the current escalations in Nagorno-Karabach, Erdogan’s use of foreign and Syrian mercenary terrorists in his interventions in Syria, Libya, and now between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Trump’s plot to assassinate him, his take on the US elections and expectations of the new US president in regards to US meddling in Syria, COVID 19 and the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, and the military and political relations between Syria and Russia.

President Assad also addressed the Israeli occupation of the Golan, the Iranian presence in Syria, and the US and Turkish occupation of parts in eastern and northern Syria.

On the upcoming US elections and Trump’s nomination or a Nobel Peace Prize, President Assad: ‘There’s no president in the USA, there’s a CEO who implements the will of the board: the lobbyists for major corporations, those are the banks, armaments, oil… etc.’

President Assad also answered a question whether he intends to run for the coming Syrian presidential elections next year, and about the Syrian army’s need for modern weapons including S400 or advanced versions of S300 air defense systems.

Sputnik TV has been releasing short clips of the interview, here they released what’s believed to be half of the interview on their French YouTube channel with French subtitles.

We’ve added English subtitles to this part of the interview based on the transcript provided by SANA for people who prefer to read and people with hearing disabilities in the following video followed by the transcript of the full interview, both parts:https://videopress.com/embed/PQWtLurT?preloadContent=metadata&hd=1The video is also available on BitChute.

Question 1: Mr. President, thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to have this interview at these days when we remember that five years ago the Russian assistance came to Syria. So, after five years of the Russian military operation, nowadays can you say that the war in Syria now is over?

President Assad: No, definitely not. As long as you have terrorists occupying some areas of our country and committing different kinds of crimes and assassinations and other crimes, it’s not over, and I think their supervisors are keen to make it continue for a long time. That’s what we believe.

Question 2: And what moments of the heroism of the Russians do you recall and keep in your heart? Which of them do you consider worth telling to your grandchildren, let’s say?

President Assad: There are so many, and I remember some of them, of course. After five years of this cooperation between the Syrian and the Russian army in a vicious war, I think heroism is becoming a collective act; it’s not individual, it’s not only a few cases of heroism that you remember. For example, if you think about military aircraft pilots – the air force, Russian pilots kept flying over the terrorists on a daily basis, risking their lives, and you had a few aircrafts that had been shot down by the terrorists. If you talk about the other officers, they are supporting the Syrian army not in the rear lines, but in the front lines and as a consequence you had martyrs. What I’m going to tell my grandchildren someday is not only about this heroism, but I’m also going to talk about these common values that we have in both our armies that made us brothers during this war; these noble values, faithful to their causes, defending civilians, defending the innocent. Many things to talk about in this war.

Question 3: And what moment does symbolize for you a turning point during this conflict, during this war?

President Assad: It’s been now nearly ten years since the war started, so we have many turning points that I can mention, not only one. The first is in 2013 when we started liberating many areas, especially the middle of Syria, from al-Nusra. Then in 2014, it was in the other direction when ISIS appeared suddenly with American support and they occupied a very important part of Syria and Iraq at the same time; this is when the terrorists started occupying other areas, because ISIS was able to distract the Syrian Army from fulfilling its mission in liberating the western part of Syria. Then the other turning point was when the Russians came to Syria in 2015 and we started liberating together many areas. In that stage, after the Russians came to Syria to support the Syrian Army, I’d say the turning point was to liberate the eastern part of Aleppo; this is where the liberation of other areas in Syria started from that point. It was important because of the importance of Aleppo, and because it was the beginning of the liberation – the large-scale liberation, that continued later to Damascus, to the rest of Aleppo recently, and other areas in the eastern part of Syria and the southern part. So, these are the main turning points. If you put them together, all of them are strategic and all of them changed the course of this war.

Question 4: I now will turn to some actual news, and we in Russia follow what now is happening in the region of the Armenian and Azerbaijanian conflict, and definitely Turkey plays a role there. Is it negative or positive, that is not for me to judge, but I would like to ask you about Turkey’s and Erdogan’s policies. So, in recent years, Turkey has been trying to maximize its international influence. We all see its presence in Libya, its intervention into Syria, territorial disputes with Greece, and the now open support to Azerbaijan. What do you think about that kind of behavior of Ankara and Erdogan personally, and should the international community pay more attention to this sort of neo-Othmanism.

President Assad: Let’s be blunt and clear; Erdogan has supported terrorists in Syria, and he’s been supporting terrorists in Libya, and he was the main instigator and initiator of the recent conflict that has been going on in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia. So, I would sum his behavior as dangerous, for different reasons. First of all, because it reflects the Muslim Brotherhood behavior; the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist extremist group. Second, because he’s creating war in different areas to distract his own public opinion in Turkey from focusing on his behavior inside Turkey, especially after his scandalous relations with ISIS in Syria; everybody knows that ISIS used to sell Syrian oil through Turkey under the umbrella of the American air forces and of course the involvement of the Turks in selling this oil. So, this is his goal, and this is dangerous. So, whether the international community should be aware or not, the word “international community” in reality is only a few countries: the great powers and rich countries, and let’s call them the influencers on the political arena. The majority of this international community is complicit with Turkey in supporting the terrorists. So, they know what Turkey is doing, they are happy about what Turkey is doing, and Turkey is an arm for those countries in fulfilling their policies and dreams in this region. So, no, we cannot bet on the international community at all. You can bet on international law, but it doesn’t exist because there’s no institution to implement international law. So, we have to depend on ourselves in Syria and on the support of our friends.

Question 5: So, more about this conflict. There were reports that some terrorists from the groups that were fighting previously in Syria are now being transferred to this conflict zone between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Can you confirm that? Do you have any information about fighters going from Syria to…?

President Assad: We definitely can confirm it, not because we have evidence, but sometimes if you don’t have evidence you have indicators. Turkey used terrorists coming from different countries in Syria. They used the same method in Libya; they used Syrian terrorists in Libya, maybe with other nationalities. So, it’s self-evident and very probable that they are using that method in Nagorno-Karabakh because as I said earlier, they are the ones who started this problem, this conflict; they encouraged this conflict. They want to achieve something and they’re going to use the same method. So, we can say for sure that they’ve been using Syrian and other nationalities of terrorists in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Question 6: Let’s turn now to the relations between our countries, Russia and Syria. Are there any plans for your contacts or meetings with President Putin?

President Assad: We have regular contact, mainly over the phone, whenever something new happens or whenever there is a need for these conversations. Of course, we’re going to talk in the future, we’re going to meet in the future, but that depends on the political situation regarding Syria. And as you know now because of the Coronavirus the whole world is paralyzed, so in the near future I think the conversation will be on the phone.

Question 7: And will you raise the question of the new credits for Syria? For new loans?

President Assad: In our economic situation, it’s very important to seek loans, but at the same time, you shouldn’t take this step without being able to pay back the loan. Otherwise, it’s going to be a burden, and it’s going to be a debt. So, it has two aspects. Talking about loans is in our minds, and we discussed it with our Russian counterparts, but we have to prepare for such a step before taking it seriously, or practically, let’s say.

Question 8: Recently, the delegation from Russia came, and Vice Prime Minister Borisov was here. Is now Syria interested in buying anti-aircraft systems like S-400 or demanding for additional S-300?

President Assad: Actually, we started a plan for upgrading our army two years ago, and it’s self-evident that we’re going to do this upgrade in cooperation with the Russian Ministry of Defense, because for decades now, our army depends fully on Russian armaments. But there are priorities, it’s not necessarily the missiles, maybe you have other priorities now regarding the conflict on the ground. So, there’s a full-scale plan, but we have to move according to these priorities. Usually, we don’t talk about the details of our military plans, but in general, as I said, it’s upgrading the army in every aspect of the military field.

Question 9: You definitely follow the presidential campaign in the United States. And do you hope that the new US President, regardless of the name of the winner, will review sanctions policies towards Syria?

President Assad: We don’t usually expect presidents in the American elections, we only expect CEOs; because you have a board, this board is made of the lobbies and the big corporates like banks and armaments and oil, etc. So, what you have is a CEO, and this CEO doesn’t have the right or the authority to review; he has to implement it. And that’s what happened to Trump when he became president after the elections –

Journalist: He used to be CEO for many years before.

President Assad: Exactly! And he is a CEO anyway. He wanted to follow or pursue his own policy, and he was about to pay the price – you remember the impeachment issue. He had to swallow every word he said before the elections. So, that’s why I said you don’t expect a president, you only expect a CEO. If you want to talk about changing the policy, you have one board – the same board will not change its policy. The CEO will change but the board is still the same, so don’t expect anything.

Question 10: Who are this board? Who are these people?

President Assad: As I said, this board is made up of the lobbies, so they implement whatever they want, and they control the Congress and the others, and the media, etc. So, there’s an alliance between those different self-vested interest corporations in the US.

Question 11: So, Trump pledged to withdraw American troops from Syria but he failed to do that. Now he’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Do you think if he manages to bring American troops home, is he going to be awarded that Nobel Peace Prize?

President Assad: He’s nominated?

Journalist: He is nominated.

President Assad: I didn’t know about this. If you want to talk about the nomination for peace, peace is not only about withdrawing your troops; it’s a step, it’s a good step, and it’s a necessary step. But peace is about your policy, it’s about your behavior. It means to stop occupying land, to stop toppling governments just because they are not with you, to stop creating chaos in different areas of the world. Peace is to follow international law and to support the United Nations Charter, etc. This is peace, this is when you deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama had this prize; he had just been elected and he hadn’t done anything. The only achievement he had at that time maybe, was that he moved from his house to the White House, and he was given a Nobel Prize. So, they would give it to Trump for something similar. I don’t know what is it, but definitely not peace.

Question 12: So, Trump acknowledged recently that he intended to eliminate you personally, and that the Pentagon Chief Mattis persuaded him not to do so. Did you know about that at that time, and were some measures undertaken to prevent it?

President Assad: Assassination is American modus operandi, that’s what they do all the time, for decades, everywhere, in different areas in this world, this is not something new. So, you have to keep it in your mind that this kind of plan has always existed for different reasons. We have to expect this in our situation in Syria, with this conflict, with the Americans, they occupy our land, and they are supporting the terrorists. It’s expected; even if you don’t have any information, it should be self-evident. How do you prevent it? It’s not about the incident per se – it’s not about this plan regarding this person or this president, it’s about the behavior. Nothing will deter the United States from committing these kinds of vicious actions or acts unless there’s an international balance where the United States cannot get away with its crimes. Otherwise, it’s going to continue these kinds of acts in different areas, and nothing would stop it.

Question 13: And were there any other attempts on you during your presidency?

President Assad: I didn’t hear of any attempt, but as I said, it’s self-evident that you have many attempts, or maybe, plans to be more precise. I mean, let’s say, were they active or on hold? Nobody knows.

Question 14: Now I turn back to the situation in Syria, and will you run for presidency in the year 2021?

President Assad: It’s still early to talk about it because we still have a few months. I can take this decision at the beginning of next year.

Question 15: Interesting. And have you congratulated Mr. Alexander Lukashenko with his inauguration in Belarus, and do you probably see similarities between political technologies that were used by the UK and the US to support Belarusian opposition, and those methods that were used against Syria and against the Syrian state in information war?

President Assad: I did send a congratulation letter to President Lukashenko and that’s normal. With regards to what’s happening in Belarus: regardless of the similarities between the two countries – Syria and Belarus – or the differences, regardless of whether you have a real conflict or an artificial one in a country, the West – as long as it hasn’t changed its hegemonic policy around the world – is going to interfere anywhere in the world. If you have a real problem in your country, whether it’s small or big, it’s going to interfere. And if it’s domestic, they’re going to make it international just to interfere and meddle in your affairs. If you don’t have problems, they’re going to do their best to create problems and to make them international again in order to meddle in your affairs. This is their policy.

So, it’s not about what’s happening in Belarus. Like any other country, Syria, Belarus, your country, every country has their own problems. Does the West have the right to interfere or not? That’s what we have to oppose. So, going back to your question, yes, it’s the same behavior, it’s the same strategy, it’s the same tactics. The only difference is the branding of the products, different headlines. They use certain headlines for Russia, others for Venezuela, another one for Syria, and so on. So, it’s not about Belarus; it’s about the behavior of the West and it’s about their strategy for the future, because they think with the rise of Russia, with the rise of China, with the rise of other powers around the world, this is an existential threat for them, so the only way to oppose or to face this threat is by creating chaos around the world.

Question 16: So, you have already mentioned the Coronavirus and it affected all humankind. Was someone from the government infected, or maybe you personally?

President Assad: Thank God, no. And I don’t think anyone from our government has been infected.

Question 17: That’s good news. And would you personally like to take the Russian vaccine?

President Assad: Of course, in these circumstances, anyone would love to be vaccinated against this dangerous virus. But I think it’s not available for the international market yet, but we’re going to discuss it with the Russian authority when it’s available internationally to have vaccines for the Syrian market. It’s very important.

Journalist: Yes, and Russians have already suggested that it can be available for our international partners…

President Assad: They said in November it could be available.

Question 18: So, you will be asking for the Russian vaccine?

President Assad: Yes, definitely, it’s a necessity at these times.

Question 19: And in what amount?

President Assad: That depends on how much is available and we have to discuss the amount that we need with the health authority in Syria.

Question 20: So, you are going to have negotiations in detail with the Russian authorities.

President Assad: Definitely, of course. Everybody in Syria is asking about the Russian vaccine and when it’s going to be available.

Question 21: Now, on the backdrop of the pandemic outbreak, does the public demand to change the constitution still exist? Because Coronavirus created a new paradigm in the world, and certainly in politics. So, the problems and the Geneva talks cast doubts on the question of whether the need to change the constitution still exists. What do you think about that?

President Assad: No, there’s no relation between the Coronavirus and the constitution. We changed the constitution in 2012 and now we are discussing the constitution in the Geneva talks. We had a round of negotiations nearly one month ago. So, the Coronavirus delayed those rounds, but it didn’t stop them.

Ultimately, the Geneva negotiations are a political game, it’s not what the public – the Syrians, are focused on. The Syrian people are not thinking about the constitution, nobody is talking about it. Their concerns are regarding the reforms we need to enact and the policies we need to change to ensure their needs are met. This is what we are discussing at the moment and where our concerns are, and where the government is focusing its efforts.

Question 22: So, you say that the Geneva talks should continue, and the constitution on the agenda, and still there should be more discussions?

President Assad: Yes, of course. We started and we’re going to continue in the next few weeks.

Question 23: Will Syria decide to conduct a trial against the White Helmets, and do you think that there should be a sort of international investigation on their activities, probably under the UN umbrella?

President Assad: When there is a crime, you don’t take the knife or the weapon to trial, you send the criminal to trial. In this case, the White Helmets are just the tools or the means – the weapon that’s been used for terrorism. They were created by the United Kingdom, supported by the United States and of course France and other Western countries, and used directly by Turkey. All these regimes are the real father and mother of the White Helmets, so they have to be held accountable even before the White Helmets themselves. Now, the question is do we have international laws to pursue such procedures? No, we don’t. Otherwise, the United States wouldn’t get away with its crimes in Iraq for example, in Yemen, or in different areas. Not only the United States, but also France, the UK and different countries, and the US in Syria. But you don’t have these institutions that could implement such laws, as I mentioned earlier. So, no, we have to focus more on the perpetrators, the real perpetrators, the real supervisors. They are the Western countries and their puppets in the region.

Question 24: But should probably any step be undertaken concretely toward the White Helmets? Because they are still active?

President Assad: Yes, of course, they are criminals. I’m not saying anything different. Before they were the White Helmets, they were al-Nusra; there are videos and images of all those criminals, so they have to be tried in Syria. But when you talk about the White Helmets as an institution, it’s made by the West. So, they are criminals as individuals, but the White Helmets is a Western institution – an extremist terrorist organization – based on the al-Nusra organization.

Question 25: You say that the presence of the US and Turkish army in Syria is illegal. What will you do to stop it?

President Assad: It is an occupation and, in this situation, we have to do two things: the first is to eliminate the excuse that they’ve been using for this occupation, which is the terrorists – in this case ISIS. Most of the world now know that ISIS was created by the Americans and is supported by them; they give them their missions, like any American troops. You have to eliminate the excuse, so, eliminating the terrorists in Syria is priority number one for us. After that, if they, the Americans and the Turks, don’t leave, the natural thing that will happen is popular resistance. This is the only way; they won’t leave through discussion or through international law since it doesn’t exist. So, you don’t have any other means but resistance and this is what happened in Iraq. What made the Americans withdraw in 2007? It was because of the popular resistance in Iraq.

ISIS, the Bombshell Interview to Impeach Obama

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Question 26: So, what do you think about the agreement between the US and the Syrian Kurds in terms of extracting oil? And will you undertake any measures against it?

President Assad: This is robbery, and the only way to stop this robbery is to liberate your land. If you don’t liberate it, no measure will stop them from doing this because they are thieves, and you cannot stop a thief unless you put him in prison or you deter him somehow by isolating him from the area where he can commit his robbery. So, the same thing has to be done with those thieves. They have to be expelled from this region; this is the only way. And the Syrian government should control every part of Syria, so the situation will return to normal.

Question 27: How do you assess the situation in Idlib? How is Syria going to resolve the problem of expelling terrorists from there, and how many of them fight now there, how many terrorists, to your assessment?

President Assad: Since 2013, we adopted a certain, let’s say, methodology in dealing with these areas where the terrorists control mainly the civilians or the cities. We give them the chance to give up their armaments and in return, they are granted amnesty from the government; that has succeeded in many areas in Syria. But if they don’t seek reconciliation, we have to attack militarily, and that’s what happened in every area we have liberated since 2013. This methodology applies to the areas where there were national reconciliations and the fighters were Syrian. However, Idlib is a different case; most of the foreigners in Syria are concentrated in Idlib, so they either go to Turkey – this is where they came from or came through, or they go back to their countries or they die in Syria.

Question 28: In Europe?

President Assad: Mainly in Europe. Some of them came from Russia, from Arab countries, from so many countries around the world. All those Jihadist extremists wanted to come and fight in Syria.

Question 29: So, now this area is under the, let’s say, the supervision and the common operations by Russians, by Turks, sometimes by Americans. Do you see that this cooperation is efficient, and how this experience can be used in the future?

President Assad: No, I don’t think it’s efficient for a simple reason: if it was efficient, we wouldn’t have gone to war recently in many areas in Aleppo and Idlib. Because the Turkish regime was supposed to convince the terrorists in that area to withdraw and pave the way for the Syrian Army and the Syrian government and institutions to take control, but they didn’t. Every time they give the same commitment; they haven’t fulfilled any of their promises or commitments. So, no, I wouldn’t say this cooperation was effective, but let’s see. They still have another chance to withdraw the terrorists north of the M4 in Idlib. This is their latest commitment in agreement with the Russian side, but they haven’t fulfilled it yet. So, let’s wait and see.

Question 30: Do you consider the possibility of negotiations with Israel in terms of, you know, stopping the hostile activities? And is it possible that in the future Syria will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, as several Arab countries did recently?

President Assad: Our position is very clear since the beginning of peace talks in the nineties, so nearly three decades ago, when we said peace for Syria is about rights. Our right is our land. We can only have normal relations with Israel when we have our land back. It’s very simple. So, it is possible when Israel is ready and Israel is not ready. It has never been ready; we’ve never seen any official in the Israeli regime who is ready to move one step towards peace. So, theoretically yes, but practically, so far, the answer is no.

Question 31: So, this news from other Arab countries who have established recently, I thought probably can be an impetus for Syria and Israel to start negotiations, but as I understand there are no negotiations between your countries underway at the time.

President Assad: No, there is none, nothing at all.

Question 32: You have already mentioned the enforcement of your armed forces. What are the obstacles for it? Do you see any obstacles for enforcing your armed forces?

President Assad: When you talk about big projects, you always have obstacles, but you can overcome these obstacles; nothing is impossible. Sometimes it could be financial, sometimes it could be about priorities, sometimes it could be about the situation on the ground. This is the only obstacle. Otherwise, no, we don’t have any obstacles. We are moving forward in that regard, but it takes time. It’s a matter of time, nothing more.

Question 33: Some international players say that Iranian withdrawal from Syria is a precondition for the economic restoration of the country and cooperation with the Syrian government, of the Western governments and probably the businesses. Will Syria agree with this condition, and will it ask Iran to withdraw, if ever?

President Assad: First of all, we don’t have Iranian troops and that’s very clear. They support Syria, they send their military experts, they work with our troops on the ground, they exist with the Syrian Army. But let’s take one practical example: nearly a year ago, the Americans told the Russians to ” convince the Iranians that they should be 80 kilometers away from the border with the Golan Heights” that is occupied by the Israelis. Although there were no Iranian troops, the Iranians were very flexible, they said “ok, no Iranian personnel will be south of that line” and the Americans said that if we can agree upon this, we are going to withdraw from the occupied eastern part of Syria on the borders with Iraq called al-Tanf. Nothing happened, they didn’t withdraw. So, the Iranian issue is a pretext for occupying Syrian land and supporting terrorists. It’s used as a mask to cover their real intentions. The only way for them to implement what they are saying is when Syria becomes a puppet state to the United States. That’s what they want, nothing else. Everything else they talk about is just lies, false flag allegations. So, I don’t think there’s any real solution with the Americans as long as they don’t want to change their behavior.

Question 34: And the last question: is there anything that you are proud of, and anything that you are sorry for doing or not doing?

President Assad: During the war?

Journalist: During your presidency.

President Assad: You have to differentiate between the policies and between the implementation. In terms of policies, from the very beginning, we have said we’re going to listen to the Syrian people and that’s why we reformed the constitution in 2012. We have said we’re going to fight the terrorists and we are still doing that after ten years. We have said that we have to preserve our independence – national independence and that’s what we are fighting for, and we have to make alliances with our friends. So, regarding these policies, I think we were right. Not trusting the West? We were right on many fronts. In terms of implementation, it’s about the tactics, it’s about many things that you may say were wrong. For example: were the reconciliations wrong? Because in some areas those people who had amnesty, didn’t go back to the rule of law. So, you can say this is wrong, but in reality, those reconciliations were very important steps. I don’t think that in the policies we were wrong. You have many mistakes regarding the implementation anywhere and sometimes on a daily basis.

Journalist: Ok, Mr. President, our time is running out, so again, thanks a lot for this frank and lengthy interview.

President Assad: Thank you. Thank you for coming to Syria.

Journalist: Thank you very much

End of the interview transcript in English.Related Videos

Related News

Xinjiang: An In-Depth Analysis and Resource Compilation

Source

Based on a handful of think tank reports and witness testimonies, Western governments have levied false allegations of genocide and slavery in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. A closer look makes clear that the politicization of China’s anti-terrorism policies in Xinjiang is another front of the U.S.-led hybrid war on China.

This resource compilation provides a starting point for critical inquiry into the historical context and international response to China’s policies in Xinjiang, providing a counter-perspective to misinformation that abounds in mainstream coverage of the autonomous region.


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction and Summary
  2. Timeline of Events
    1. 1989-2016
      1. Formation of the World Uyghur Congress (1989-2006)
      2. Violence and Unrest (2009-2016)
      3. Chinese Anti-Terrorism Policy and Context (2012-2016)
    2.  2017-present
      1. The Seeds of Controversy (2017-Aug 2018)
      2. Entrenching the Narratives (Aug 2018-Jan 2020)
      3. U.S. Pursues Unilateral Action (Jan 2020-present)
    3. On the Nature of Unsubstantiated Allegations
  3. Resources
    1. Overview
    2. Chinese Perspectives on the Problem of Terrorism
    3. Geopolitical Context
    4. Poverty Alleviation and Economic Development in Xinjiang
    5. Overview of Chinese Minority/Religious Policies
    6. The Misinformation Industrial Complex
    7. Views from Xinjiang: People, Cultures, and History

1. Introduction and Summary

In the mid-2010s, China launched far-reaching de-radicalization and economic development programs in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Before then, few casual Western observers were even aware of the province’s existence, which makes up 17% of China’s land and whose population consists of 65% ethnic minority peoples. Fewer still could speak to the autonomous region’s complex political, cultural, and religious history as well as to its complex legacies as a crossroads between diverse peoples over many centuries.

However, since 2018, Western media and state officials have put Chinese government policy in Xinjiang under intense scrutiny, citing just a handful of think tank reports and witness testimonies to lodge charges of forced labor, slavery, and genocide.       

Having saturated Western media, these charges are difficult to systematically refute. The situation on the ground is complex, and there are limits to what we can know. While we recognize that there are aspects of PRC policy in Xinjiang to critique, these critiques should be debated and resolved on Chinese terms and in Chinese dialogues, and not be used as crude ammunition in the U.S.-led geopolitical assault on China. Based on the history of Western atrocity propaganda, its funding sources, and the poor quality of the ‘research’ being pushed, we are skeptical that the U.S.—having engaged in two decades of perpetual war in Muslim-majority nations—has any legitimate moral interest or grounds on which to defend Muslim religious rights in Xinjiang. 

Moreover, given the history of PRC ethnic and religious minority policy, and the reports from first-hand delegations to Xinjiang from countries and organizations including Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and even the World Bank, neither genocide nor slavery accurately describe the realities of Xinjiang. It is not a coincidence that these accusations have ramped up during a period of unprecedented Western antagonism towards China. Instead, these unfounded claims serve primarily to build consensus for conflict, intervention, and war with China. 

The effectiveness of Western propaganda lies in its ability to render unthinkable any critique or alternative—to monopolize the production of knowledge and truth itself. In this context, it is important to note that the U.S. and its allies are in the minority when it comes to its critiques of Chinese policy in Xinjiang. At two separate convenings of the UN Human Rights Council in 2019 and 2020, letters condemning Chinese conduct in Xinjiang were outvoted, 22-50 and 27-46. Many of those standing in support of Chinese policy in Xinjiang are Muslim-majority nations and/or nations that have waged campaigns against extremism on their own soil, including Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, and Nigeria. On the issue of Xinjiang, the clear break in consensus between the Global South and the U.S. bloc suggests that Western critiques of Xinjiang are primarily politically motivated. 

These resources are preceded by a timeline that focuses on the events preceding China’s Xinjiang de-radicalization program, the international responses it provoked, and other relevant contexts.       

This resource list is intended only for initial inquiry into the immediate controversy over China’s de-radicalization program in Xinjiang. In the spirit of seeking truth from facts, this resource does not offer definitive answers, nor is it comprehensive in scope. It aims only to be a starting point for critical inquiry, and we urge readers to seek a diversity of sources and form their own opinions. A more complete and nuanced view requires further study into the region’s history, China’s policies towards ethnic and religious minorities, and ongoing geopolitical developments.

Note: There are several ways to spell “Uygur” in English, including “Uygur,” “Uighur” and “Uyghur.” “Uyghur” is perhaps the most common in international settings, although “Uygur” is the official romanization by the Chinese government. We will use “Uyghur” in accordance with the common spelling in Western dialogue, except when referring specifically to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Similarly, the common Western spelling of “Kazakh” and “Kyrgyz” differs from the Chinese government’s official romanizations of “Kazak” and “Kirgiz.” We will similarly use the common Western spelling.


2. Timeline of Events

a. 1989-2016

From 1990-2016, China considered the terrorism problem to be particularly severe in Xinjiang. It is a period marked by immense difficulty and upheaval for China, unilateral U.S. military action throughout West Asia, and rapid Chinese economic growth.

i. Formation of the World Uyghur Congress (1989-2006)

➤ 1989 June 4 – The Tiananmen June 4th Incident, born of contradictions from market reform, inflamed by Gorbachev’s perestroika, and combined with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its fall on December 26, 1991, sparks a generational crisis in China. A wave of disillusioned students and upwardly-mobile young people leave China for the U.S. and other Western nations, with some receiving lavish attention and platforms as ‘dissidents’ who serve a strategic interest for U.S. ambitions vis-a-vis China.

  • Some of the most prominent Uyghur diaspora activist leaders today are as follows: Erkin Alptekin, Rushan Abbas, Dolkun Isa, Rebiya Kadeer, Omer Kanat, and Nury Turkel. Of these six, four arrived in the West on or after 1989 (Abbas 1989; Isa 1994; Turkel 1995; Kadeer 2005, as the cause célèbre of Turkel). Alptekin left around 1949 as part of the Guomindang’s defeat and Kanat left in 1971.  

➤ 1990 April 5 – Baren Township Riots, considered the first terrorist attack of a phase lasting till 2016 during which terrorism was considered a severe problem in Xinjiang. This is also the first attack China has attributed to the then East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), now Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) (ETIM/TIP). (see White Paper: The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang)

➤ 1996 November – The World Uyghur Youth Congress (WUYC) is established in Germany, with Omer Kanat and Dolkun Isa playing important roles. Both of them still hold high positions (Chairman of the Executive Committee and President, respectively) in the WUYC’s successor organization, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC). Kanat apparently left China in 1971 to Afghanistan, then to Turkey in 1979, before moving to the United States in 1999; Isa left China in 1994. Kanat has served as the Senior Editor of Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service from 1999 to 2009.

➤ 1998 April – The Uyghur American Association (UAA) is founded. One of the people who played an important rule in its founding is Rushan Abbas, who would serve as Vice President for the UAA for two terms while also reporting for Radio Free Asia. Abbas arrived in the United States in 1989 and co-founded the United States’ first Uyghur association, the Uyghur Overseas Student and Scholars Association, in 1993.

  • Abbas would later serve the United States at Guantanamo as a linguist and a translator. This has caused some netizens to doubt her legitimacy to speak on human rights issues.

➤ 2001 June 15 – In the inaugural meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China identified the “three evils” (the Chinese term 三股势力 is more akin to the “three forces” or “three influences”) of extremism (极端主义), separatism (分裂主义), and terrorism (恐怖主义). It has since applied this framework to the terrorism problem in Xinjiang. (see The Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism)

➤ 2001 September 11 – The 9/11 attacks claim the lives of 2,977 people (excluding the perpetrators). In response, the United States begins to wage the “War on Terror” and engaged itself in combat in at least 24 countries. This war has displaced anywhere between 37 to 59 million, according to a recent report (September 2020) from Brown University. This report also notes that 801,000 have died as a direct result from combat, but “indirect deaths” may reach up to 3.1 million after a war that has lasted almost two decades. 

➤ 2002 September 11 – The United Nations registers the ETIM/TIP as a terrorist organization. As of 2020, the United States Department of State has still not classified the ETIM/TIP as a terrorist organization, although the Department of State designated ETIM/TIP under E.O. 13224 prohibiting transactions with “Persons Who Commit, Threaten To Commit, or Support Terrorism” on September 3, 2002.

➤ 2003 December 15 – China designates the ETIM/TIP, the WUYC, and two other organizations as terrorist organizations.

➤ 2004 April 16 – The WUC is founded in Munich, merging the East Turkestan National Congress and the WUYC. Its inaugural president is Erkin Alptekin, the son of Isa Yusuf Alptekin, a Guomindang affiliate who was virulently anti-communist (to the point that he largely opposed the Soviet-backed Second East Turkistan Republic) and violently opposed marriage between Hans and Uyghurs. Isa Alptekin remained active in Turkey after the Communist victory in China. 

  • Presumably around the same time, the Uyghur American Association founded the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) with a supporting grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The UHRP was co-founded by Nury Turkel, who arrived in the United States in 1995 and was appointed to be a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on May 26, 2020.
  • The NED has since boasted on May 29, 2020 that it “has awarded $8,758,300 to Uyghur groups since 2004, serving as the only institutional funder for Uyghur advocacy and human rights organizations.”
  • Erkin Alptekin himself is a longtime affiliate of the CIA, helping the CIA to build up “network of contacts with the Uighur separatist elements” in the 1970s and 1980s, and enjoying close relations with the 14th Dalai Lama. (see Raman, Bahukutumbi. “US & Terrorism in Xinjiang.” South Asia Analysis Group (Paper no. 499) (2002).)

➤ 2006 November 26 – Rebiya Kadeer is elected president of the WUC. Kadeer was sentenced to 8 years in prison for providing state information to foreign entities in 2000. This was after a career as a business owner, Vice-Chairwoman of the Xinjiang Federation of Industry and Commerce, Vice-Chairwoman of the Xinjiang Association of Women Entrepreneurs, and as a member of the 8th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. She was given leave on March 17th, 2005 to seek medical treatment in the United States on condition that she not engage in any subversive activities abroad.


ii. Violence and Unrest (2009-2016)

The extent of terrorist violence in China during this period is not well known in the West. Although there were many attacks between 1990 and 2016 and not all of the information is yet available, some high-profile attacks are as follows:

➤ 2009 July 5The Urumqi Riots, 197 killed, 1700 wounded. Chinese investigations allege that the riots were enflamed by foreign entities such as the WUC to undermine regional stability and unity. As an aside, due to Facebook’s failure to provide information to the Chinese government following the attacks, Western social media was banned from China.

➤ 2013 October 28 – Tiananmen Attack, 5 killed, 40 wounded. Usmen Hasan, along with his mother and wife, drives a jeep through a crowd at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square before setting the vehicle on fire. Authorities find “extremist religious content” and a jihadi flag in the remains of the vehicle.

➤ 2014 March 1 – Kunming Train Station Attack, 31 killed, 141 wounded. Eight attackers burst into the city’s rail station, stabbing people at random before police arrive at the scene. Officials identify the leader of the group as Abdurehim Kurban, and state that insignias and flags worn by the attackers point to political involvement as “East Turkestan” separatists. The international community, including U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, joins China in denouncing the attack as an act of terrorism. 

➤ 2014 May 22 – Urumqi Attack, 39 killed and 94 injured as attackers drive two cars into a crowded marketplace and throw explosives towards surrounding buildings.

➤ 2014 July 30Assassination of Imam Jume Tahir at the Id Kah Mosque after morning prayers. Tahir was the practicing imam of Id Kah, China’s largest mosque, as well as a deputy to the National People’s Congress and vice president of the China Islamic Association. Tahir had called for peace and stability amidst rising violence in the region. (see also)

➤ 2016 September 6 – Kyrgyzstan’s state security service attributed the suicide bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek to the ETIM/TIP.


iii. Chinese Anti-Terrorism Policy and International Context (2012-2016)

➤ 2012 October 30 – Chinese officials announce that since May 2012, ETIM/TIP has been participating in the Syrian Civil War, which had started in early 2011. (Later Anadolu Agency report from 2014)

➤ 2014 May 25 – The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region issues a notification on “Striking Hard Against Terrorist Activities Within the Confines of the Law,” indicating a turn of attention towards the problem of terrorism in Xinjiang.

➤ 2015 – A “Turkish passport plot” (see Global Times report) is exposed in which Turkey provided false passports to Chinese nationals in third countries (usually Thailand & Malaysia) for passage to Turkey.

➤ 2015 January 1Shohrat Zakir, a CPC cadre of Uygur nationality, assumes his current position of Chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. He additionally remains the Deputy Party Secretary of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a position he has held since December 2014, and Secretary of the Party Group of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a position he has held since December 2013. This is in culmination of a decades-long career serving the CPC and Xinjiang, including serving on the Party Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) from December 2005 to June 2011.

➤ 2015 May 29 – China receives a loan from the World Bank on the “Xinjiang Technical and Vocational Education and Training Project,” a five-year project lasting until April 30, 2020. It is the “fourth technical and vocational education and training project that the World Bank has supported in China since 2007.” This loan would be reviewed by the World Bank later on November 11, 2019. On March 31, 2019, it was reported that 113,880 students had enrolled in schools funded by this project, of which 40,413 were women and 65,015 were minorities.

➤ 2015 July – Thailand repatriates 109 Chinese nationals allegedly en route to Turkey to join terrorist groups in Syria. A few weeks later on August 17, 2015, terrorists detonated a bomb in Bangkok, claiming 20 lives. 2 Chinese nationals of the Uyghur nationality were charged. The prevailing theory is that it was in retaliation for the repatriation.

➤ Mid-2015 – The ETIM/TIP becomes settled in Idlib Province, Syria, particularly in the city of Jisr al-Shughur, near the border with Turkey. The ETIM/TIP occupation of Jisr al-Shughur is marked by “changing demographics” (p. 15) and sectarian violence.

➤ 2015 October – France begins operating “de-radicalization programs.” It would seem these programs have since garnered mostly criticism from the public, but mainstream Western discourse has not accused France of cultural genocide.

  • While France’s de-radicalization program largely attracted controversy, programs like Denmark’s preceding France’s mostly went unnoticed, even being praised as a “groundbreaking de-radicalization program focused on providing opportunity to reintegrate versus punishment.”
  • A year later in October 2016, the United Kingdom began the “Desistance and Disengagement Programme” aimed at “address[ing] the root causes of terrorism, build resilience, and contribute towards the deradicalisation of individuals.”
  • New York Times reported on Kazakhstan’s de-radicalization program on August 10, 2019.

➤ 2015 December 27 – The 12th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passes the “Anti-Terrorism Law” (Chinese-language text), the first of its kind in the country.

➤ 2016 Chen Quanguo is appointed the Party Secretary of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the First Commissar of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (The First Commissar of XPCC is always held by the Party Secretary of Xinjiang). As his previous tenure from 2011 to 2016 was as the Party Secretary of Tibet Autonomous Region, Western NGOs cite Chen’s influence for alleged increase in human rights abuses in Xinjiang. A year later in 2017, Chen would be appointed a seat in the Politburo while retaining his two posts.

➤ 2016 December 23 – Adrian Zenz begins his career pivot to Xinjiang after a brief focus on Tibetan language and culture (and born-again Christian writings) with a Foreign Affairs article about Xinjiang’s police and surveillance apparatus.


b. 2017-Present

The waning of the severity of extremist violence in Xinjiang by 2017 coincided with elevated antagonisms in the U.S.-China relationship. The Trump Administration’s inaugural National Security Strategy document identified China as a strategic threat to U.S. power, setting the stage for ongoing trade, tech, and ideological attacks on China. During this time, the U.S. raised the issue of Xinjiang in international bodies and federal legislation as part of its efforts to isolate China on the world stage.

i. The Seeds of Controversy (2017-Aug 2018)

➤ 2017 March 6 – President Donald Trump signs Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” or “Travel Ban 2.0,” superseding EO 13769 issued on January 27, 2017. It originally banned the entry of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—all Muslim-majority countries. This was all done quickly after President Trump assumed his post on January 20, 2017, after fervently advocating a “Muslim Ban” during his candidacy (see J. Sotomayor’s dissent in Trump v. Hawaii). 

➤ 2017 March 14 – Zenz joins the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief and continues his pivot to Xinjiang, initially focusing on the securitization of Xinjiang. (2017-3-14 Article, 2017-9-21 Article, 2018-3-12 Article) Interestingly, Adrian Zenz’s March 14th, 2017 article was considered a “fair assessment,” if biased, by Ian Goodrum, writer and digital editor for China Daily, indicating that there may have been a time Adrian Zenz did not feel as clearly “led by God” on a mission against China, as he indicated on May 21, 2019.

➤ 2017 March 29 – The 12th Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region passes the “Xinjiang De-radicalization Regulations” (Chinese-language text). Contemporary mainstream media’s focused criticisms on the “ban on long beards, veils” (Al-Jazeera) articulated in Article 9 of the original Regulations and not on Article 14, which outlined education and psychological counseling as part of de-radicalization work. 

➤ 2017 May 11 – Syrian ambassador tells China that up to 5000 ethnic Uyghurs were fighting in various militant groups in Syria.

➤ 2017 June 1 – China releases the white paper “Human Rights in Xinjiang – Development and Progress.”

➤ 2017 August 1 – WUC begins activism and writing on “internment camps,” citing April and May as the first months of detainment of Uyghur citizens. Sporadic reporting include: 

  • September 10, 2017 Human Rights Watch report alleging “thousands” of detainees. Interestingly, Human Rights Watch reported that “State media in Xinjiang, including the Xinjiang Daily, have reported on these facilities,” which would seem to contradict Reuters’ later 2018 headline that the facilities were “secret.” 
  • January 22, 2018 Radio Free Asia report claims “around 120,000” detainees based on information provided by an anonymous source from Chasa Township (possibly 恰萨美其特乡)
  • February 28, 2018 Foreign Policy article by a “Special Correspondent” on “A Summer Vacation in China’s Muslim Gulag.”
  • March 13, 2018 Newsweek Japan article (Japanese-language) by Naoko Mizutani (Japanese researcher previously barred from China for her support of Rebiya Kadeer) reporting “890,000 or more” detainees based on an unverified “leak” by Istiqlal TV (Uyghur-language, “leaked information” at 3:14), a Turkey-based media platform advocating for separatism from China. Also runs the English-language Turkistan Times.
    • As an aside, Rebiya Kadeer has also previously visited the Yasukuni Shrine on May 14th, 2012. The Yasukuni Shrine honors, among others, 1068 war criminals, including 14 Class A war criminals, as ruled by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.

➤ 2017 September – Presumably around this time, Rushan Abbas founds the Campaign for Uyghurs.

  • On November 12, 2017, Dolkun Isa takes Rebiya Kadeer’s place as President of the World Uyghur Congress. Although Kadeer said, “It is time for the younger generation to take up the leadership role at the WUC,” Isa seems to have been involved in diaspora Uyghur organizations longer than she has, at least overtly (since at least 1996 for Isa and since at least 2005 for Kadeer). 
  • Similarly, Omer Kanat sometime in 2017 took up both the Chairman of the World Uyghur Congress Executive Committee and Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

➤ 2018 April 26 – Mike Pompeo, former Director of the CIA and notoriously proud of lying, cheating, and stealing, assumes office as Secretary of State, heralding a new era of rapidly deteriorating U.S.-China relations.

  • Prior to assuming the post of the United States’ foremost diplomat, Pompeo had a long and distinguished history of being a relentless Islamophobe. Among other instances, he declared that “silence [in condemning the 2013 Boston bombings] has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit.”

➤ 2018 May 15 – Zenz starts to fix his eyes on Xinjiang’s de-radicalization program and criticizes education as de-radicalization work authorized by Article 14 of the Xinjiang De-radicalization Regulations. Between “several hundred thousand and just over one million” detainees are “estimate[d]” from “information from various sources…”, citing specifically Naoko Mizutani’s Newsweek Japan article.

➤ 2018 May 29 – The United States Department of State, Office of International Religious Freedom releases the 2017 Report on International Religious Freedom. Its report on China raises concerns that “human rights groups and others reported hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims… forcibly sent to re-education camps…”

➤ 2018 August 3 – Chinese Human Rights Defenders publishes a report “China: Massive Numbers of Uyghurs & Other Ethnic Minorities Forced into Re-education Programs.” This is the report taking eight anonymous interviewees and extrapolating 1 million incarcerated (or even up to 3 million) from their unverified statements.


ii. Entrenching the Narratives (Aug 2018-Jan 2020)

➤ 2018 August 10 – Meeting of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It is here that Gay McDougall alleged concentration camps, forcing the controversy over the de-radicalization program in general, and the vocational centers in particular, into wide public discourse for the first time. (press release, 2018-8-13)

  • Reuters on the same day erroneously reported it as “U.N. says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.” Most news outlets failed to clarify that the UN CERD—let alone a sole committee member thereof—cannot speak for the UN; Gay McDougall said she had credible reports but failed to cite them.
    • Grayzone rebuttal by Ben Norton & Ajit Singh
  • The Press release actually reads: “Committee Experts, in the dialogue that followed, congratulated China for creating extraordinary prosperity and lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, including in the eight multi-ethnic provinces and regions, but remain concerned over the growing inequality, particularly for ethnic minorities who continued to disproportionately experience poverty… A great source of concern was racial discrimination in the context of laws fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism, particularly against Tibetans, Uyghurs, and other ethnic minorities.” (As it turns out, Gay McDougall was both the only American at the meeting and the only person at the meeting to bring up “internment camps”)

➤ 2018 August 20 – While being interviewed by Max Blumenthal from the Grayzone, Omer Kanat admits that the “one million” figure was from “Western media estimates.” 

➤ 2018 September 6 – Adrian Zenz publishes “Thoroughly Reforming Them Towards a Healthy Heart Attitude: China’s Political Re-Education Campaign in Xinjiang” in the Central Asian Survey, a peer-reviewed article version of Zenz’s May 15, 2018 report. In it, Zenz clarifies the sources for his estimate of “approx. 1,060,000”: Naoko Mizutani’s Newsweek Japan article and Radio Free Asia.

➤ 2018 October 9 – The 13th Standing Committee of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region People’s Congress amends the “Xinjiang De-radicalization Regulations” (amended Chinese text here) to expressly outline vocational education as a central strategy for de-radicalization work (Global Times report, SCMP report) (Relevant changes: Article 14 amended; Articles 17, 21, 33 added).

  • It is important to note that vocational education is not unique to Xinjiang. For instance, the Ministry of Education reported in 2015 that 7.25 million adult students were undergoing non-academic degree higher education, while the Ministry reported in 2018 that 11.3 million students were registered in vocational colleges. The white paper “Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang” provides further that from 2014 to 2019 “Xinjiang provided training sessions [vocational education] to an average of 1.29 million urban and rural workers [annually], of which 451,400 were in southern Xinjiang.” This 1.29 million figure here is for all vocational education, not just persons who undergo vocational education as a part of the de-radicalization program.

➤ 2018 November 1 – The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) publishes “Mapping Xinjiang’s ‘re-education’ camps,” a report analyzing satellite imagery. Mainly, ASPI analyzes “28 facilities,” but alleges 181 (Agence France-Presse) or “as many as 1,200” (Adrian Zenz) such facilities, although an examination of their cited sources reveals no evidentiary basis for such allegations. (Note: ASPI is primarily funded by the Australian government and maintains strong funding relationships with weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon and Lockheed Martin)

➤ 2018 November 15 – China releases the white paper “Cultural Protection and Development in Xinjiang.”

➤ 2018 December 19 – Relying on ASPI personnel and witnesses, AP condemns Hetian Taida Apparel for using “forced labor” due to its public association with a vocational training program, which AP insinuated were “concentration camps.” The Hetian Taida Apparel ordeal is the birth of the “forced labor” allegations in the current controversy. 

➤ 2018 December 28-30 – Diplomats from 12 countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Thailand, and Kuwait) visit Xinjiang. Pakistani diplomat Mumtaz Zahra Baloch reported that the delegation was given full and open access to three vocational centers and that she “did not find any instance of forced labor or cultural and religious repression” during her tours of the region.

➤ 2019 January 6 – Reuters visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 January 9-16 – A media group of 12 representatives from 6 countries (Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 January 22 – The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation announces its one-week-long visit to China. This is presumably the visit on which the later OIC resolution is based.

➤ 2019 January 25-31 – A media delegation from Egypt visits Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 February 16-19 – Senior diplomats from the permanent missions of eight countries to the United Nations Office at Geneva visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 February 22-27 – A group of 11 journalists from Indonesia and Malaysia, as part of the ASEAN Elites China Tour 2019, visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 February 25-27 – Around 200 representatives of 50 political parties from nearly 30 countries visit Urumqi Xinjiang for a meeting aimed at showcasing China’s ethnic policy in Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 February 28-March 2 – Diplomats from Myanmar, Algeria, Morocco, Vietnam, Hungary, Greece, Singapore and the mission of the League of Arab States visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 March 1-2 – 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Resolutions on Muslim Communities and Muslim Minorities in the Non-OIC Member States (OIC/CFM-46/2019/MM/RES/FINAL), ¶20 of Resolution No.1/46-MM [pg.5] (“… commends the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens…”).

➤ 2019 March 18 – China releases the white paper “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang.” A transfer employment program for 100,000 people was mentioned and would presumably be the object of consternation in the ASPI report of March 2020 alleging slavery.

  • CGTN summary with some infographics

➤ 2019 March 25 – The European Union rejects China’s offer of Xinjiang tour, but says it is open to one later. The EU would sit on its rain check for 539 days before once again demanding “independent” investigations into Xinjiang on September 14, 2020, despite the nearly 1,000 personnel from diplomatic, media, and academic circles who were invited to visit Xinjiang in 2019. 

➤ 2019 March 27-29 – Milan Bacevic, Serbian Ambassador to China, and Selim Belortaja, Albanian Ambassador to China, visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 May 7 – NPR releases its report on its visit to a vocational center.

➤ 2019 May 10 – Val Thompson, founder and publisher of International Focus Magazine – Houston, writes on his experiences visiting Xinjiang. He states that in his group of media visitors were journalists from “Afghanistan, Egypt, Belgium, Bangladesh, Belarus, Jordan, Japan, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia, UAE, USA, Switzerland, and a Geneva Delegation.”

➤ 2019 June 15 – Under Secretary-General of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office Vladimir Voronkov visits Xinjiang and reaches a “broad consensus” with China on the issue of counter-terrorism.

➤ 2019 June 18 – BBC’s visit to a vocational center.

➤ 2019 June 18-21 – Diplomats from 14 countries (including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Laos, Malaysia, Nigeria, Serbia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Togo) and a representative from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation based in Geneva visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 July 1 – Hong Kong protestors storm and vandalize the Legislative Council. It would appear that Western media would spend most of the remaining summer fixated on Hong Kong.

➤ 2019 July 8, 12 – 41st Session of the Human Rights Council. Two joint letters took opposing views of China’s conduct in Xinjiang.

  • A/HRC/41/G/11 [criticizing] – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom [22]
  • A/HRC/41/G/17 [supporting] – Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Congo (Republic of), Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of), Kuwait, Laos, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Palestine [50]

➤ 2019 July 12 – Adrian Zenz pushes the “forced labor” angle with his paper, “Beyond the Camps: Beijing’s Grand Scheme of Forced Labor, Poverty Alleviation and Social Control in Xinjiang,” which would not get peer-reviewed until its publication in the Journal of Political Risk (a journal with a long history of involvement with U.S. military and intelligence) on December 10, 2019. Zenz relies on scaremongering about China’s poverty alleviation programs and pair assistance programs (whereby a richer province gives monetary and other material aid to poorer provinces, manifesting in factories or educational support) to draw foregone conclusions of forced labor. One such poverty alleviation workshop mentioned in Zenz’s report can be seen in this vlogger’s video.

➤ 2019 July 14-22 – Journalists from 24 countries including India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, and Uzbekistan visit Xinjiang.

  • One of the journalists on this trip was Tunç Akkoç, General Manager of Turkey’s Aydınlık Daily (newspaper of Turkey’s Vatan Partisi). His report published on Xinhua is as follows. (2019-8-11)
  • Aydınlık Daily and Vatan Partisi have since rebuked the United States’ position in the controversy (Aydınlık 2020-2-21, Vatan Partisi’s statement reported in Aydınlık 2020-9-10 [Turkish language]).

➤ 2019 July 21 – China releases the white paper “Historical Matters Concerning Xinjiang.”

➤ 2019 August 17 – China releases the white paper “Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang” (this is the white paper that states that “No terrorist incidents have occurred in Xinjiang for nearly three years since the education and training started.”). 

➤ 2019 August 17-23 – A media group from 16 countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 August 19-21 – Diplomats from Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and Nigeria visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 August 28-September 1 – Diplomats from Yemen, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 August 29 – ABC’s visit to the vocational centers.

➤ 2019 September 9-12 – Diplomats from 16 African countries (including Burundi, Djibouti, Uganda, Lesotho, Sudan and Zimbabwe) and the African Union visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 October 17 – Amy K. Lehr & Mariefaye Bechrakis from Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) publish “Connecting the Dots in Xinjiang: Forced Labor, Forced Assimilation, and Western Supply Chains.” Noticeably, in the interceding 10 months since the Hetian Taida Apparel report, the researchers do not have another “‘smoking gun’ for forced labor in Xinjiang,” and are left with witness testimonies and Zenzian logic that vocational training and rural poverty alleviation carries “a significant risk that in many cases the detainees and rural poor are not participating by choice,” without anything to back up that assertion.

  • Global Times 10/25 rebuttal

➤ 2019 October 29 – 74th Session of the General Assembly (A/C.3/74/SR.37).

  • Total 24 countries and the European Union criticized China’s position on Xinjiang
    • ¶41 – United Kingdom joint statement on behalf of itself, Albania, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, United States
    • Represented in joint statement and criticized in individual capacity: United States (¶43)
    • Criticized in individual capacity: European Union (¶58), Turkey (¶45)
  • Total 57 countries supported China’s position on Xinjiang
    • ¶40 – Belarus joint statement on behalf of itself, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Congo (Republic of), Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of), Laos, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Togo, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Palestine
    • Represented in joint statement and supported in individual capacity: Bolivia (¶56), Burundi (¶52), Cambodia (¶49), Cameroon (¶48), China (¶66), Cuba (¶53), Congo (Republic of) (¶77), Equatorial Guinea (¶60), Guinea (¶70), Laos (¶76), Myanmar (¶61), Nicaragua (¶64), Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of) (¶73), Pakistan (¶68), Syria (¶55), Zimbabwe (¶57)
    • Supported in individual capacity: Ethiopia (¶72), Kyrgyzstan (¶59), Saudi Arabia (¶75 – note: qualified support)

➤ 2019 November – Sometime in November, Former Deputy Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives Fahri Hamzah led a delegation to visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 November 11 – World Bank releases a statement regarding its visit to Xinjiang concerning the vocational centers, finding no aberrations.

➤ 2019 November 16 – New York Times publishes a story about “leaked documents” concerning Xinjiang. These documents had strange grammatical errors and have been disavowed as false.

➤ 2019 December 5 – CGTN releases two specials about terrorism in Xinjiang, with footage never released to the public before, including footage of the above-mentioned attacks. They were made available to YouTube on December 11th. 

➤ 2019 December 9 – Xinhua reports that students “participating in education and training programs of standard spoken and written Chinese, understanding of the law, vocational skills and deradicalization at vocational education and training centers” have all graduated.

By the end of 2019 – 

  • Nearly 1,000 personnel from diplomatic, media, and academic circles were invited to visit Xinjiang in 2019. 
  • Xinjiang received more than 200 million tourists in 2019, up 41.6% from 2018’s 150 million.
  • From 2014 to 2019, nearly 2,923,200 residents of Xinjiang constituting 737,000 households were lifted out of poverty, dropping the poverty rate from 2013’s 19.4% to 1.24%. (original Chinese editorial, English summary) 645,000 were lifted out of poverty in 2019 alone. Xinjiang must still lift another 165,000 people out of poverty to meet China’s 2020 goals for poverty alleviation. (see CGTN report)

iii. U.S. Pursues Unilateral Action (Jan 2020-present)

➤ 2020 January 23 – Having confirmed human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 in tandem with the World Health Organization, China locks down Wuhan City and later the entire Hubei Province. While still pushing the Xinjiang issue, Western media became fixated on the pandemic response, seizing on human suffering to push a political and often racist agenda.

➤ 2020 February – Adrian Zenz publishes a report about the “Karakax List” in the Journal of Political Risk, supposedly a leaked document from 2017 provided by the Uyghur Human Rights Project proving collection of information about 3,000 Uyghurs and detention of 311 of them in Karakax (Moyu) County.

➤ 2020 March 1 – ASPI publishes “Uyghurs for sale,” a report alleging forced labor (and, notably, “slavery”) of Uyghur people around China. This seems to be scrutinizing the transfer employment program from an earlier Chinese white paper. It also builds on the material previously pushed by Adrian Zenz and CSIS. 

  • 2020 March 26 Grayzone rebuttal by Ajit Singh. Global Times 3/1, 3/16 rebuttals.

➤ 2020 April 4 – China holds a national mourning ceremony for the victims and first responders of COVID-19. China’s ability to contain COVID comes in sharp contrast to the United States, which declared a state of emergency on March 13th and has since watched its situation worsen significantly. The United States accelerates escalation of tensions with China.

➤ 2020 June 17 – President Trump signs the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act into law, ending a process started after it was first passed as a bill by the Senate on September 11, 2019.

➤ 2020 June 18 – CGTN releases another special about terrorism in Xinjiang, Tianshan: Still Standing

➤ 2020 June 29 – Adrian Zenz publishes a report alleging mass sterilization of Uyghur people through the Jamestown Foundation. This report has a blatant mathematical error

➤ 2020 July – 44th UN Human Rights Council meeting, in which two joint statements took opposing sides as to China’s conduct in Xinjiang

  • [criticizing] (2020-6-30) – United Kingdom on behalf of itself, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland [27]
  • [supporting] (2020-7-1) – Belarus on behalf of itself, Bahrain, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, China, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of), Laos, Lesotho, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe [46]
  • The criticizing statement also attacked China’s sovereignty on Hong Kong, leading to a same-day joint statement on Hong Kong made by Cuba on behalf of 53 countries.

2020 July 6 – The Washington Post editorial board publishes the opinion piece, “What’s happening in Xinjiang is genocide,” marking the rapid escalation of allegations. The opinion references “new evidence” of forced sterilizations, but cites only Adrian Zenz’s June 2020 report for the Jamestown Foundation and an Associated Press “investigative report” which similarly relies on Zenz’s research.

➤ 2020 July 16 – An Urumqi resident is found to be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 (Chinese source), leading to an identified COVID-19 cluster in Urumqi, Xinjiang, which had until then seen minimal cases since January 25. However, China’s efforts to combat COVID in Xinjiang go largely unreported.

  • As an aside, photos from February 19, 2020 show doctors, police, and border guards on horseback on snowy Kurte (Ku’erte) Plains (near the border with Mongolia), Fuyun County, Altay Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (Business Insider and People’s Daily Wechat Post). This demonstrates the extent of China’s COVID response, as officials made sure every person was provided for, in this case agro-pastoral citizens in border regions. 

➤ 2020 July 24 – In response to the United States ordering the Chinese Consulate in Houston to close, China ordered the United States Consulate in Chengdu to close. Radio Free Asia among others speculated that this would stymie United States intelligence gathering on Xinjiang.

➤ 2020 July 30 – Amy K. Lehr of CSIS publishes a brief “Addressing Forced Labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Toward a Shared Agenda.” Particularly noticeable about this brief is its emphasis on the XPCC, with assertions cited backed up by sources from Radio Free Asia, Uyghur Human Rights Project, and Citizen Power Initiatives for China (an otherwise opaque organization based in Brookline, Massachusetts founded by Yang Jianli, a self-described “Tiananmen survivor”). Footnote 33 cites Bao Yajun’s article on the XPCC but misrepresents the source, which does not mention labor camps as Lehr asserts.

➤ 2020 July 31 – The United States imposes Global Magnitsky sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps over accusations that it is connected to human rights abuses against minorities in Xinjiang. The sanctions include Chen Quanguo, the first Politburo member to be sanctioned by the United States. 

➤ 2020 July 30 and August 7 – Coda Story—a self-described counterweight to Russian and Chinese “disinformation” funded by the U.S. and EU—runs two pieces seeking to undermine The Grayzone, Jerry Grey, and Carl Zha, some of the few Western sources to contradict the mainstream media narrative on Xinjiang. 

  • The Grayzone’s rebuttal by Ben Norton (8/18).

➤ 2020 August 15-16Carl Zha and Daniel Dumbrill both release interviews held with Arslan Hidayat, an activist noted for spreading many lies about Xinjiang by faking captions and taking Douyin and other videos out of context on social media (see this Twitter thread, which also exposes similar lies made by CJ Werlemen, who would shortly afterwards write an article alleging 9 million incarcerated in Xinjiang). Among other happenings, Hidayat admits to putting fake captions on videos he posts as well as to having no hard evidence for his claims, instead relying on mainstream media and “scholars” like Adrian Zenz. Hidayat also displays a seeming ignorance of the general contours of Xinjiang history and its people.

➤ 2020 August 17 – Radio Free Asia reports that Xinjiang hospital kills babies, relying on witnesses and Adrian Zenz’s mathematically suspect June 29 report.

➤ 2020 August 24 – CJ Werlemen at Byline Times reports “evidence that up to nine million Uyghurs are unaccounted for and allegations Chinese authorities plan to kill, incarcerate or convert the whole population.” His only source is Dr. Erkin Sidick, President of the Uyghur Projects Foundation and senior advisor to the World Uyghur Congress, who left China in the late 1980s and whose own sources are ever reliable anonymous Chinese government sources. The report also cites Zenz’s mathematically suspect June 29, 2020 report and the NYT’s November 16, 2019 grammatically wanting “leaks” to back up Dr. Sidick’s otherwise baseless allegations. Near the end of the article, Dr. Sidick decides to liberally tamper with the statistics to prove his own foregone conclusions.

➤ 2020 August 25 – CGTN releases a new documentary collecting the experiences of students of the vocational centers, Lies and truth: Vocational education and training in Xinjiang.

➤ 2020 August 27 – Buzzfeed, backed by ASPI and Open Technology Fund (part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which runs Radio Free Asia, and a key supporter of 2019 Hong Kong riots) among others, pushes a two-part report relying satellite imagery, blanked-out images on Baidu Maps which are otherwise common occurrences, and witness testimony to further the Western narrative on Xinjiang. One such “camp” is in actuality an apartment complex with a five-star rating.

➤ 2020 September 2 – After about a month and a half, the COVID-19 cluster in Xinjiang is contained and Urumqi’s lockdown is lifted.

➤ 2020 September 9 – The U.S. State Department creates a new page just for propagandizing “CCP”’s atrocities in Xinjiang, in addition to releasing a short condemnatory video. Neither add anything new. The webpage relies on “recent, documented evidence” for “forced population control,” presumably Adrian Zenz’s mathematically suspect June 29 report; “NGO estimates and media reports” for “forced labor,” presumably ASPI’s and CSIS’ scare pieces; and unsubstantiated nonsense such as “CCP target[ing]… Uyghur language and Uyghur music.”

➤ 2020 September 14 – The United States restricts cotton and apparel imports from Xinjiang, citing “forced labor.” Both cotton and apparel industries are important to poverty alleviation and economic development in Xinjiang.

➤ 2020 September 15 – China agrees to and will arrange for European Union diplomats in China to visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2020 September 17 – China releases the white paper “Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang.” Some actors have twisted the white paper’s statistics (“Every year from 2014 to 2019 Xinjiang provided training sessions to an average of 1.29 million urban and rural workers, of which 451,400 were in southern Xinjiang”) to allege that China admitted to interning “8 million” into camps (presumably 1.29 x 6 = 7.74 for the headlining “8 million”). It bears repeating that this figure includes normal vocational education as well as those educated in institutions funded by the 2015 World Bank project. To date, the Chinese government has not released a figure on the number of people who have undergone vocational education as part of its de-radicalization program.

  • The relevant statistics in the original Chinese reads as follow: 据统计,2014年至2019年,全疆年均培训城乡各类劳动者128.8万人次,其中,南疆地区年均培训45.14万人次。

2020 September 22 – The U.S. Congress passes the “Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act,” authorizing sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and any other Xinjiang entity as determined by the discretion of the Department of Commerce. It expressly targets China’s poverty alleviation and pair-assistance programs designed to develop Xinjiang and bring residents out of absolute poverty. For more about the genocidal impact of U.S. sanctions as a form of economic warfare primarily targeting civilians, see Robin Davis, Onyesonwu Chatoyer, & Nancy Wright, “Sanctions Kill: The Devastating Human Cost of Sanctions,” Hood Communist (blog), March 26, 2020.

2020 September 23 – ASPI launches a “Xinjiang Data Project” (reportedly mapping “380 sites of suspected re-education camps, detention centres and prisons that have been built or expanded since 2017”) with an accompanying report on “Cultural erasure.” The former in particular has been heavily criticized online for designating common schools and offices as concentration camps and listing the renovated Keriya Aitika Mosque as demolished.


c. On the Nature of Unsubstantiated Allegations

The World Uyghur Congress began conducting activism based on the allegation of Xinjiang “concentration camps” in August 2017, four months after the promulgation of the Xinjiang De-radicalization Regulations. The controversy entered mainstream Western discourse a year later in August 2018 with Gay McDougall’s unsubstantiated claims at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. 

In the interceding time, claims of concentration camps, cultural genocide, demographic genocide, slavery, and mass sterilization have saturated media and political discourse. The evidentiary weakness of these rapidly escalating claims is evinced by the shifting numbers of alleged detainees, which has ebbed and flowed from 120,000 on the low end to up to 9 million out of a Uyghur population of roughly 12 million (2019).

While Western media often paints Xinjiang as a black box, Xinjiang has in fact never been closed or restricted to outside visitors until the outbreak of COVID-19 in January 2020 (unlike Tibet Autonomous Region, which requires most foreigners to acquire special permits to visit). Indeed despite the nearly 1,000 visits by outside observers and 200 million tourists to Xinjiang in 2019, no convincing photo or video evidence has emerged of supposed genocide in Xinjiang, much less the complete absence of any recent refugee crisis originating from Xinjiang.

Photos and videos fallaciously used to prove, show, or insinuate either concentration camps or slave labor of Xinjiang people include:

It is clear that the burden of evidence for disproving allegations of slavery and genocide in Xinjiang has been set far higher than the burden of evidence for lodging these allegations in the first place. With the popular imagination saturated with images of alleged atrocities, it is difficult to argue for any course of U.S. action other than sanctions, isolation, and intervention. Such is the nature, by intent, of atrocity propaganda as it has been wielded to justify U.S. imperial adventurism. If nothing else, the context and evidence provided in this timeline should make clear that spurious claims based on weak evidence have been wielded unilaterally by the U.S. and its allies to spurn China despite broad international approval for Chinese policy in Xinjiang.


3. Resources

a. Overview

These readings are general overviews of Xinjiang in general and the current controversy in particular. They can act as effective one-stop resources for those seeking a quick summary.  

Ang, Matthias & Wong, Kayla. “Different media report differently on controversial Xinjiang re-education camps in China. Read them all.”, Mothership, July 21, 2019.

  • Ang and Wong offer an even-handed survey of the biases and conflicting diagnoses of different news reports on the Xinjiang controversy. The authors don’t try to take a side but advocate seeking a diversity of sources. 

Kanthan, Chris. “Xinjiang and Uyghurs – What You’re Not Being Told,” World Affairs Blog (blog).

  • A quick collection of facts about key cultural, historical, and political aspects of Xinjiang.

Notes on China-Uighur Controversies: An Ever Increasing Collection of Notes, Links, Sources, & Observations

  • A well-sourced and extensive ongoing Google Document written by a leftist in critical evaluation of the Xinjiang controversy.

Singh, Ajit & Max Blumenthal. “China detaining millions of Uyghurs? Serious problems with claims by US-backed NGO and far-reach researcher ‘led by God’ against Beijing.” The Grayzone. December 21, 2019.

  • A rather thorough examination of the handful of sources from which claims of ‘millions’ in concentration camps has been uncritically adopted by mainstream media. The argument focuses on the personal records and financial ties of frequently-cited ‘experts’ such as Adrian Zenz. 

Zhao, He. “Xinjiang: Facts vs. Fiction.” Medium. November 16, 2019.

  • This is perhaps the quickest yet comprehensive read on Xinjiang generally and the current controversy in particular. 

b. Chinese Perspectives on the Problem of Terrorism

These sources document the scope and extent of the recent history of terrorism in China, which received little attention in the Western press. These sources also highlight official Chinese perspectives on how to resolve the problem as peacefully as possible. China’s stated policies of economic development and poverty alleviation are key pathways towards improving social stability and tackling some of the root causes that foment violence—an approach that stands in stark contrast to the tactics employed during the U.S. so-called “War on Terror.” 

It is important to note that Western reports and figures have failed to differentiate between generalized vocational education in Xinjiang—which is an aspect of poverty alleviation programs throughout China—and vocational education as part of targeted de-radicalization programs.

CGTN. “Fighting terrorism in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 50:01. December 11, 2019.

  • CW: Violence. This documentary in particular is notable for releasing previously unreleased footage of terrorist attacks as well as extensive interviews with a wide variety of people including victims, former terrorists, religious authorities, locals, and police. [some of the interviewees speak in Uyghur]

CGTN. “The Black Hand – ETIM and Terrorism in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 29:06. December 11, 2019.

  • CW: Violence. This documentary shares some footage with the above, but otherwise is a shorter film focused more on the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM/TIP), its links to al- Qaeda, and the international nature of the threat it poses. [some of the interviewees speak in Uyghur]

CGTN. “Tianshan: Still Standing – Memories of fighting terrorism in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 57:52. June 18, 2020.

  • CW: Violence. This documentary revisits the lingering impacts of terrorism in today’s Xinjiang. Some highlights include the revisiting of Dilqemer’s story from the “Fighting terrorism” documentary; new interviews with police and locals such as Memet Jume, son of former Id Kah imam Jume Tahir assassinated in 2014, and Muhpira Rahman, a female People’s Armed Police member; and exclusive looks at Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County and the Chinese-Afghan border. [some of the interviewees speak in Uyghur; the interviewee Memetrehim Ibrahim speaks in Sarikoli] 

CGTN. “Lies and truth: Vocational education and training in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 35:08. August 25, 2020.

  • CW: Violence. This documentary focuses on vocational centers and their students. There is some overlap with the “Embracing a New Life” mini-series (see below), particularly in the stories of the painter Ablizkari Ubul and dancer Aqida Arslan. Has a short section near the end containing comments by international observers to Xinjiang. [some of the interviewees speak in Uyghur]

Why are western media silent on China’s documentaries on Xinjiang?CGTN. December 9, 2019. (Based on Tong, Li. “CGTN发“大尺度”新疆反恐纪录片,西方媒体却沉默了.” Guancha. December 9, 2019.)

  • From a Chinese perspective, this article questions why Western voices which claim to value human rights have not paid heed to issues of violence and terrorism directed against civilians in Xinjiang and beyond. 

Joint Letter to Mike Pompeo, From Scholars and Religious Personnel in Xinjiang.” Tianshan Net. July 19, 2019.

  • A letter from about 100 scholars and religious personnel in Xinjiang rebuking comments made by Secretary Pompeo.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang. 2019. 

  • A white paper concerning the broader strategy against terrorism undertaken in Xinjiang.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang. 2019.

  • A white paper focusing specifically on the vocational centers and their operations.

Sha, Yuan. “China’s contribution to the international counter-terrorism cause.” CGTN. September 26, 2019.

  • Paraphrasing remarks made by Wang Yi at the UN – clearly identifying poverty as a root cause of terrorism.

Ed. Xiang, Bo. “Full transcript: Interview with Xinjiang government chief on counterterrorism, vocational education and training in Xinjiang.” Xinhua. October 16, 2018. 

  • Xinhua interview with Shohrat Zakir, Chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, concerning the roots of terrorism, poverty alleviation and education as solution, and the vocational centers.

c. Geopolitical Context

These sources place the current controversy in light of geopolitical interests. In particular, the Belt and Road Initiative, a massive Chinese-led multi-national infrastructure project that has drawn ire as a threat to U.S. unipolarity, runs through Xinjiang as a strategic region connecting China to North and West Asia.

While the U.S. has long recognized that its naval supremacy in the South China Sea could effectively “strangle” China’s economy in the event of hot war, Xinjiang in particular and the Belt and Road Initiative in general provide an overland route for Chinese trade which undermines U.S. military supremacy. As such, these sources contextualize the Xinjiang controversy amidst broader U.S. efforts to contain and isolate China.

Al-Ghadhawi, Abdullah. “Uighur Jihadists in Syria.” Center for Global Policy. March 18, 2020.

  • A short article about the circumstances surrounding ethnic Uyghur fighters in Syria.

Azam, Azhar. “BRI is instrumental to realizing ‘no poverty’ vision.” CGTN. October 18, 2019.

  • A short article making clear BRI’s role in Xinjiang’s poverty alleviation as well as its potential for poverty alleviation in other countries.

Bhadrakumar, M.K. “US lacerates China’s Uighur wound.” Indian Punchline (blog). March 28, 2019.

  • Indian Punchline is a blog run by M.K. Bhadrakumar, a retired career diplomat of India. This blogpost—slightly dated now given the evolution of the controversy—properly examines the Xinjiang controversy in the U.S.’s strategic calculus.

Fuller, Graham E. & S. Frederick Starr. “The Xinjiang Problem.” Central Asia-Caucasus Institute. 2003.

  • An interesting dated report on the then situation in Xinjiang, written by a former Vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council and CIA Station Chief in Kabul. Not only a primer on some of the longer-term background of the issue through the lenses of the United States (and a light on the severity of the terrorism issue), but also a window into a prior time in which a prominent United States thinker urged cooperation with China to defeat terrorism and to avoid over-politicizing the issue in the hopes of greater global stability. 

Gunaratna, Rohan. “Salafism in China and its Jihadist-Takfiri strains.” Al Mesbar Studies & Research Center. January 18, 2018.

  • A short report on Salafism in China and the connection of some of its more extremist strands to terrorist activities over time.

Novák, Izak. “The War on China.” Izak Novák (blog). April 17, 2020.

  • A general overview essay about the longstanding decades-long strategy of the United States against China. Importantly, it discusses the Belt and Road Initiative as a strategy to break out of U.S. encirclement, hegemonism, and imperialism, and Xinjiang’s central importance to the BRI.

Prashad, Vijay. “Trade and tensions between the U.S. and China.” Monthly Review. August 3, 2020.

  • Only a small part of this article is about Xinjiang, but it places the Western fixation on it into proper context in advancing Western “political and commercial ends.”

Ron Paul Liberty Report. “‘What is the Empire’s Strategy?’ – Col. Lawrence Wilkerson Speech at Ron Paul Institute Media & War Conference.” YouTube video, 26:10. August 22, 2018. 

  • One former U.S. military official’s insider perspective as to why the United States is in Afghanistan. He asserts it “has nothing to do with fighting terrorism” and more to do with establishing military control over a territory of strategic interest to Chinese trade routes. Time stamp starting at 20:55 is included in the link. 

d. Poverty Alleviation and Economic Development in Xinjiang

These sources describe a small slice of Xinjiang’s poverty alleviation efforts and economic development initiatives, while exploring the real and concrete impacts these programs have on the lives of ordinary people.

Animal husbandry helping to drive up incomes.” CGTN. May 7, 2020.

China’s Xinjiang generates 260 bln kWh clean electricity.” Xinhua. August 8, 2020.

  • Xinjiang is quickly becoming a hub for green energy production and distribution. This short note and video offers a small glimpse into the greening of Xinjiang and China.

E-commerce development boosts farm produce sales.” CGTN. May 6, 2020.

Voices from the Frontline: China’s War on Poverty. Film. Directed by Peter Getzels. The Kuhn Foundation & PBS Socal, 2020. [available here]

  • A documentary hosted by Robert Lawrence Kuhn offering an insightful look into the war against absolute poverty. The documentary not only provides an on-the-ground look at the procedures and effects of poverty alleviation efforts as well as their often imperfect executions, but also shine a light on the workings of the Communist Party of China, including mobilization, promotion, corruption, monitoring, and discipline. Kuhn travels to Hainan, Gansu, Guizhou, Xinjiang, and Sichuan, gaining a rare and balanced insight into Chinese society and policies. Ironically, some of the entities involved in poverty alleviation in Xinjiang, such as the one highlighted by the documentary, are the very entities being sanctioned and boycotted by U.S. legislation and private brands such as H&M. [the interviewees speak in a wide variety of local dialects and accents; the Xinjiang interviewees except for Murzabek Tapi speak in Kazakh]
  • First aired on May 11 and 12 of 2020, and despite its award-winning status, the documentary was quickly taken down barely a week after release on May 20, citing “editorial standards.” Kuhn called it “a shame” that PBS removed his film from its platform due to “extraneous internal political matters in the United States.”

Jie, Shan. “Xinjiang scores victories in the war on poverty.” Global Times. December 18, 2019.

  • A very short and succinct article with small snippets of human stories concerning poverty alleviation in Xinjiang.

Labor transfer program boosts employment.” CGTN. May 8, 2020.

Localized factories lift Xinjiang locals out of poverty.” CGTN. May 8, 2020.

Lu, Yin & Zhang Xinyuan. “Xinjiang’s millennial entrepreneurs make the most of the Internet age.” Global Times. July 4, 2016.

  • An older article from 2016 about new Xinjiang entrepreneurs harnessing both the power of the internet and the increasing interconnectivity of Xinjiang to the world via the Belt and Road Initiative.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang. 2020.

  • This white paper provides an overview of the employment and labor in Xinjiang, providing statistics, giving personal anecdotes, and highlighting labor laws and the efforts being made to improve them, in the context of poverty alleviation programs.

Trans-regional job offers help Xinjiang farmers shake off poverty.” CGTN. May 3, 2020.

Villagers get access to clean water as projects continue.” CGTN. May 2, 2020.

Wellness of people in remote areas safeguarded.” CGTN. May 4, 2020.

Ed. Yang, Yi. “China highlights support to Xinjiang through pairing assistance.” Xinhua. July 16, 2019.

  • Pairing assistance is a common practice in the People’s Republic whereas richer provinces and localities directly send aid, expertise, and cadres to poorer provinces and localities in order to help them develop. This is a short article about the visit of a senior Party official Wang Yang to Xinjiang and the re-emphasizing of this program. 

e. Overview of Chinese Minority/Religious Policies

These sources provide a quick overview of China’s policies towards minority nationalities and religion, with some focus on efforts with relevance to Xinjiang and Islam. 

Beech, Hannah. “If China is Anti-Islam, Why are These Chinese Muslims Enjoying a Faith Revival?Time. August 12, 2014.

  • A relatively honest Western media attempt to look at Islam in China before the current 2018 controversy. The author notes that thriving Hui Muslim communities in China have also been targeted by terrorist attacks.

CCTV. “Students’ Daily Life [sic] at Xinjiang Islamic Institute in Northwest China.” YouTube video, 2:19. June 19, 2016.

  • This is a short video showing daily life at an Islamic educational institute in China.

Kasim, Muhabbat (Muhabaiti Hasimu). “新世纪新疆双语教学:七大变化,三点建议.” China Minzu Cultural Resources. September 20, 2018. (reprinted from Zhongguo Minzu Bao (China Ethnic News), August 13, 2010, 6)

  • A Uyghur scholar of bilingual education and Turkic languages reflects on the changing situation of bilingual education in Xinjiang, noticing seven changes from her personal experience and leaving three recommendations for the future. Of particular note, it was not until the recent decade that Chinese language was taught to minority children starting in the first grade (previously it started in the fourth grade). [Chinese language]

Li, Qian. “Chinese government goes to great lengths to help Muslims go on the hajj.” Global Times. August 14, 2017.

  • Documents Chinese state programs to offer support for those who want to go on hajj pilgrimage.

Lim, Louisa. “Female Imams Blaze Trail Among China’s Muslims.” NPR. July 21, 2010. 

  • Documents the unique Chinese Muslim tradition of women-led mosques. The article ends with a curious line: “And so it appears the future of female imams in China is threatened — not by the state, not by resistance from inside Islam, but by the forces of market economics.” This seems to reflect the shifting and inconsistent media agenda on China: from ‘ruthlessly capitalist’ forces stymying Chinese state efforts to preserve minority cultures and religious practices to godless Communist entity seeking to wipe out Islam.

Liu, Xin. “Xinjiang Muslims welcome govt’s efforts on hajj journeys.” Global Times. August 2, 2019.

  • A more recent article detailing the governmental measures offering support for rural Xinjiang Muslims who wish to go on hajj pilgrimage.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. National Minorities Policy and Its Practice in China. 1999. 

  • Although dated, many of the policies described in this paper are still in effect today.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. China’s Ethnic Policy and Common Prosperity and Development of All Ethnic Groups. 2009.

  • Like the above, a dry read, but full of data that demonstrates the efforts of the government in minority policies – Qiao recommends drawing attention to the passages in the white paper addressing tax exemption programs (Section V), minority languages, and intangible heritage (Section VI).

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang. 2016.

  • A white paper devoted to the progress of ensuring religious freedom in Xinjiang, although written shortly before the controversial 2017 de-radicalization regulations.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Cultural Protection and Development in Xinjiang. 2018.

  • A white paper devoted specifically to cultural policies in Xinjiang, with special considerations for the minority nationalities of Xinjiang.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China. 2019. 

  • A more recent white paper about China’s progress on human rights issues. Section V is devoted to minority policies.

Why does China have women-only mosques.” BBC. February 23, 2016. 

  • An article which shows that as late as 2016, there was some attempt by the West to understand Islam in China on its own terms, even by the world’s largest “public broadcasting company.”

Zhang, Hui. “China bans anti-Islam words on social media.” Global Times. September 21, 2017. 

  • China’s infamous censoring apparatus actively tries to censor Islamophobic hate speech on social media.

新疆维吾尔自治区计划2020年全面普及双语教育.” Zhongguo Zhengfu Wang. October 6, 2010. 

  • A simple news report from 2010 that explains the plans of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to have widespread bilingual education in the autonomous region by 2020. [Chinese language]

新疆维吾尔自治区人口与计划生育条例 [Xinjiang Population and Family Planning Regulations] (promulgated by the People’s Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, November 28, 2002) (made available on the website of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Health & Hygiene Commission) (current law, rev’d July 28, 2017) (previous version, rev’d June 3, 2010, available on the website 51labour)

  • This is the statute currently governing Xinjiang’s family planning. Particular attention should be placed on the general rule articulated in Article 15, pre and post-2017: [Chinese language]
    • Pre-2017: Couples of urban Han residents can have one child, and couples of ethnic minority residents can have two children. Couples of Han farmers and herdsmen can have two children, and couples of ethnic farmers and herdsmen can have three children.
    • Post-2017: Couples of urban residents can have two children, and couples of rural residents can have three children.

f. The Misinformation Industrial Complex

These sources provide some general context as to the bias and agenda of Western non-state actors, particularly mainstream media and NGOs, which often act in concert with Western imperialist state agendas rather than a check on them. 

In particular, these sources highlight the historic uses of “atrocity propaganda,” through which the U.S. has galvanized public opinion for war and intervention through misrepresentations and outright lies vis-a-vis ‘humanitarian concerns.’ In particular, the wars in Iraq and intervention in Syria provide a historical warning for how mainstream media and research institutes amplify State Department ambitions. 

Bruton, F. Brinley & Tony Brown. “U.S. targets Chinese Uighur militants as well as Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.” NBC News. February 8, 2018.

  • Addresses U.S. aerial bombing campaigns in Afghanistan, painting the U.S. bombing of ethnic Uyghur terrorist camps in Afghanistan as good, even natural. At the same time, the article paints these same actors as repressed freedom fighters in China’s domestic context—clear instances of double standards that speak to U.S. geopolitical interests in the region.  

Butt, Ahsan I. “Why did Bush go to war with Iraq?Al Jazeera. March 19, 2019. 

  • One more exploration of the now infamous lies that built consensus for American intervention in Iraq, a war that has directly led to a disastrous humanitarian crisis.

Fisk, Robert. “Bashar al-Assad, Syria, and the truth about chemical weapons.” Independent. December 8, 2012.

  • An article about the history of Western allegations of atrocities committed in the Middle East in the leadup to war and intervention.

Ignatius, David. “Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups.” The Washington Post. September 22, 1991.

  • This article quotes from the horse’s mouth the role of the National Endowment for Democracy as the “sugar daddy of overt operations” for State Department anti-communist and regime change agendas. The admission of NED intent to undermine ‘enemy nations’ should call into serious question why the NED funds groups as diverse as the World Uyghur Congress to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.  

McIntyre, Jamie. “Meet ETIM, the terrorist group the US just bombed in Afghanistan.” Washington Examiner. February 10, 2018.

  • This article from the right-wing Washington Examiner cites Pentagon officials designating the East Turkistan Islamic Movementas a terrorist group of security concern to U.S. ambitions in the Middle East—a label which speaks to the double standard of Western media when it comes to ETIM/TIP as a threat to U.S. interests or a cudgel to be wielded against China.  

Noble Peace Laureates Slam Human Rights Watch’s Refusal to Cut Ties to U.S. Government.” Alternet. July 6, 2014.

  • An older open letter expressing concern over Human Rights Watch’s “revolving door” with the United States government, causing it to overlook the U.S.’s own abysmal human rights record and subjecting the organization to partisan politics.

Norton, Ben. “Twitter spreads paid US gov’t propaganda while falsely claiming it bans state media ads.” The Grayzone. August 10, 2020.

  • While focused on Twitter and its pushing of American governmental agenda, this article has a helpful section on the U.S. Agency for Global Media, and demonstrates clearly how the agency and its constituent platforms including Radio Free Asia are nothing more than “soft-power arm[s] of the US government,” a context that should be taken into mind when consuming its contents.

O’Neill, Brendan. “The missing people-shredder.” The Guardian. February 24, 2004. 

  • A retrospective inquiry finds the sensationalist accounts of Saddam Hussein’s “people shredder” circulated by Western media in the leadup to the Iraq war were never substantiated. 

Sinophobia Inc: Understanding the Anti-China Industrial Complex.” Qiao Collective. September 3, 2020.

  • An in-depth review of the financial ties of prominent China think tanks such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute reveals a deep conflict of interest: many such institutes are funded by Western state entities and the same weapons manufacturers now cutting record arms deals to equip the anti-China “Pivot to Asia.” Many of the aforementioned think tanks have promulgated serious allegations with regards to Xinjiang.

Singh, Ajit. “Inside the World Uyghur Congress.” The Grayzone. March 5, 2020.

  • An extensively-sourced and medium-length exploration of the World Uyghur Congress, a focal organization from which many of the other organizations advocating East Turkistan independence branches off, and its shady connections with U.S. regime changers and Turkish far-right actors.

Sheridan, Tommy. “Syria and Chemical Weapons – Secrets and Convenient Lies.” Sputnik. May 31, 2019.

  • An article outlining the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and how it was manipulated to serve consensus-building for war against Assad.

Sun, Feiyang. “Letters to the Editor: The Case of the Keriya Aitika Mosque.” CGTN. July 7, 2020.

  • This is an editorial briefly discussing the “case” of the Keriya Aitika Mosque, in which it was claimed that the mosque was demolished and insinuated that the People’s Republic was engaging in mass demolition of places of worship, but it turned out to be renovation work for the historic mosque.

The Propaganda Multiplier.” Swiss Policy Research. March 2019.

  • This article does not talk about Xinjiang, but about the general procedures of “international news coverage” and why stories appearing consistently across “major” and “respectable” news sources is not in fact a strong indicator that it is credible. The current media structure is highly susceptible to misinformation, and in fact government agencies are very involved.

Witness to War. “Former CIA Agent John Stockwell Talks about How the CIA Worked in Vietnam and Elsewhere.” YouTube video, 15:12. September 29, 2017.

  • This video is an interview of a former CIA officer (field case officer) John Stockwell, who speaks about the CIA’s close ties with the news media and journalists, the feeding of “pure raw false propaganda… creating illusions of Communists eating babies for breakfast,” and the particular process through which United States intelligence comes to shape and mold narratives around the world.

Xiong, Jack. “The Fake News in 1990 That Propelled the US into the First Gulf War.” Citizen Truth. May 7, 2018.

  • A somewhat recent article that explores the background of the “Nayirah testimony,” arguably the first instance of atrocity propaganda in the then new world order of American unilateralism. 

Zhang, Chi. “One Uighur Man’s Journey Goes Viral.” Foreign Policy. May 14, 2014.

  • An interesting look at a contemporary account of Xinjiang’s society at the height of the period between 2009 and 2014 when the problem of terrorism was particularly severe in Xinjiang. Not only does this article explore the perspective of an actual Uyghur person living in China, but this article, in tandem with other articles on this list dealing with female imams and Islamic revival in China, shows how drastically the media agenda on China has changed since 2014. This article ultimately provides an even-handed and frank look at a snapshot of Xinjiang before the current controversy of 2018. 

g. Views from Xinjiang: People, Cultures, and History

These are miscellaneous sources covering contemporary Xinjiang, Xinjiang’s diverse people and cultures, Xinjiang’s modern and ancient history, and the little-understood, even within China, Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC). 

Xinjiang’s Diverse People, Cultures, and Experiences

安妮古丽. “191.新疆叼羊比賽見過嗎?哈薩克族馬背上的熱血競技,現場燃爆了!YouTube video, 4:43. August 16, 2019.

  • CW: Animal harm. Anniguli is a Uyghur woman living in Xinjiang who mostly vlogs about her everyday life. Here she spectates Kazakhs participating in the sport, buzkashi. Buzkashi is a traditional Central Asian sport that often involves playing polo with a sheep carcass while on horseback. [Chinese language, some Kazakh can be heard]

安妮古丽. “新疆零下20°怎麼出門?維吾爾美女有妙招,你覺得這樣有效果嗎?YouTube video, 3:55. May 23, 2019. 

  • This is Anniguli’s most popular video to date. Here she mostly remarks on how cold it got in Urumqi. [Chinese language, some Uyghur can be heard accompanying the pedestrian crossing signal]

阿依图娜. “017南疆偏僻的一个巴扎,每天的交易量惊人!和田人都是隐形的富豪?YouTube video, 3:48. July 14, 2020.

  • Ayituna is another Uyghur woman living in Xinjiang who mostly vlogs about her everyday life. Here, in her most popular video to date, she goes to the goat market and watches its bustling business. [Chinese language]

阿依图娜. “054南疆姑娘开始臭美了!迫不及待到厂子拿新裙子,回家换上转个圈!.” YouTube video, 4:10. August 20, 2020.

  • In this video, Ayituna visits a workshop to shop for clothing. The workshop appears to be part of a poverty alleviation program, the type that Adrian Zenz scaremongered about back in July 2019. [Chinese language, Uyghur spoken in the workshop]

CCTV. “Our Stories of the Past 40 Years” Series

CCTV中国中央电视台. “[2019非遗公开课]《十二木卡姆》 表演:莎车县十二木卡姆民间艺术团.” YouTube video, 2:39. June 7, 2019.

  • Muqam is a rich Uyghur musical tradition well-known across China. It was among the first four intangible heritages registered by China to the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008, alongside Guqin, Kunqu Opera, and Mongolian Long Song (Urtiin Duu). This video is a short performance of Muqam as well as traditional Uyghur dance.

CGTN. Amazing Xinjiang Series

  • This CGTN playlist contains a number of Xinjiang-focused videos on various topics and localities, largely low-key and laidback content. 

CGTN. “Assignment Asia Episode 75: Transforming lives and building bridges in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 25:16. November 5, 2017.

  • This video from before the 2018 controversy covers many aspects of developmental work in Xinjiang, including education, labor transfer, grassroots governmental work, and living standards for people finding employment outside Xinjiang. The footage does not shy away from showing the difficulties and adjustments people in Xinjiang face as they go through changes in their lives. [Uyghur spoken in some scenes]

CGTN. “Dolan Muqam music tradition thrives among local Uygurs.” YouTube video, 4:04. August 16, 2017.

  • This video provides a quick overview of Muqam as well as over a distinct rural tradition within Muqam.

CGTN. Eid al-Fitr Series

CGTN. “Epic of Manas: The history of Kirgiz in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 1:15. May 22, 2018.

  • The Epic of Manas is a Kyrgyz epic poem traditionally passed down orally. The storytelling of Manas was registered by China in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. This video provides a quick overview of the tradition of Manas storytelling in China.

CGTN. “Looking China: Akyns song that brings happiness.” YouTube video, 9:33. January 23, 2017. 

  • This video is a collection of Akyns (song-like recitative improvisation accompanied by dombra) performed by Kazakh musician Jiahnur Ohas, overlaid by scenes of Xinjiang’s Kazakh regions. [songs are sung in Kazakh language]

CGTN. “Looking China: Xibe ethnic group in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 11:59. Jan 22, 2017.

  • This video is a slice-of-life feature of a young Xibe girl living in Xinjiang, entirely narrated in the Xibe language, a relative of the Manchu language.

CGTN. “Modern designs revive traditional craft and industry.” YouTube video, 4:25. October 6, 2016. 

  • This serves both as an introduction to “atlas silk,” a characteristic material in traditional Central Asian clothing, as well as a short look at fashion designer Alim Adil’s hope to introduce atlas more into modern clothing. 

CGTN. “The everlasting spirit of the Kazaks on grasslands.” YouTube video, 5:04. May 22, 2019.

  • This is a look at the life of a nomadic Kazakh family, including worries and concerns for the future, displaying the still wide experiences of modern life in Xinjiang, much less China today.

CGTN. “Travelogue with Tajik people: Modern life in Xinjiang’s rocky mountains.” YouTube video, 29:19. June 27, 2016.

  • This is an older documentary of a Chinese-British diaspora CGTN host spending time in a rural Tajik village. It does a good job of showing the developmental difficulties as well as unique features of high-altitude mountain valley life. 

CHINA LIVE. “帕米尔高原上牦牛叼羊比赛 / Buzkashi with Yaks on the Chinese Pamir.” YouTube video, 2:57. March 20, 2016. 

  • CW: Animal harm. Buzkashi is a traditional Central Asian sport that often involves playing polo with a sheep carcass while on horseback. The Tajiks of Xinjiang are distinguished by their playing of buzkashi while mounted on yaks. 

Guangming Online. “Fascinating China” Series

Looking China Official Channel. “Manas 玛纳斯.” YouTube video, 9:28. August 24, 2016.

  • This video provides a more detailed look at the tradition of Manas in China and the scholarly efforts dedicated to researching the Epic of Manas further and preserving it. In particular, the role of the Manas Research Center in Xinjiang Normal University is explored.

New China TV. “Xinjiang Rediscovered” series.

  • This is a series of more mundane experiences: average residents of Xinjiang who talk about their lives, experiences, and hopes for the future.

xinjiang china.” YouTube channel.

  • This YouTube channel periodically shares videos of Xinjiang, its people and its places. Particularly recommended are:
    • A short film series called 《我的家乡更美好》, or “Better Hometown, Better Life.” It is a series interviewing several students of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine who are minority youth from Xinjiang, who talk about their experiences in Xinjiang and in university as well as go back to their hometowns to see how much they have developed. Some are only in Chinese. [Chinese source here]
    • 7 videos currently available about people who have studied at the vocational centers, as part of a series called 《拥抱新生活》or “Embracing a New Life.” [Chinese source here, although the videos on this site are now unavailable]


第一次的离别》(《تۇنجى ئايرىلىش》, A First Farewell). Film. Directed by Wang Lina. Tencent Pictures, 2020.

Xinzhao Li 李馨曌. “新疆 塔什库尔干塔吉克族 “Through The Unknown Tashkurgan”.” YouTube video, 8:28. January 3, 2020. 

  • This is a short overview of a photographer’s extended stay in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, and her experiences as the locality and its people changed and grew.

Xinjiang’s History

Dickens, Mark. “The Soviets in Xinjiang: 1911-1949.” 1990.

  • An older but excellent overview of the complexities of Soviet involvement in Xinjiang, as well as the Republican history of the region before 1949.

Grousset, René. Walford, Naomi, trans. Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1970.

  • A classic historical text on Central Asia with an emphasis on nomadic empires. It covers broader Central Asia beyond Xinjiang, but also summarizes Xinjiang history up to the Qing Dynasty’s defeat of the Khoja Uprising in 1759.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Historical Matters Concerning Xinjiang. 2019. 

  • An official Chinese document concerning the history of Xinjiang. While it does paint in broad strokes, it provides a quick overview of the history of the region.

Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC)

Bao, Yajun (包雅钧). “The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps: An Insider’s Perspective.” Blavatnik School of Government Working Paper Series (BSG-WP-2018/023)  (2018). 

  • One of the few English-language scholarly reports—more of a summary—on the XPCC. Nonetheless, an interesting perspective from a scholar who studied the XPCC on behalf of the Central Organization Department of the CPC (Central Compilation and Translation Bureau 中央编译局) during a restive period in Xinjiang’s history.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. The History and Development of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. 2014. 

  • A white paper on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) that gives an overview of the XPCC, its history, and its operations. The XPCC as a sort of “government within a government” plays an important if little understood role in Xinjiang.

IRAN CAPTURES RINGLEADER OF U.S.-BASED ‘TERRORIST GROUP’

Source

01.08.2020 

Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence announced on August 1 that it had captured the ringleader of the U.S.-based Tondar [Thunder] group, Jamshid Sharmahd.

In an official statement, the ministry said Sharmahd was captured in complicated operations by security forces, adding that his capture was a “heavy and serious blow” to Tondra.

Iran Captures Ringleader Of U.S.-Based ‘Terrorist Group’
Jamshid Sharmahd, source: farsnews.ir

Sharmahd, 65, introduces himself on the official website of Tondar as an Iranian-American broadcaster and opposition activist based in Los Angeles.

Tondar, or the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, is an group seeking to overthrow the Islamic regime in Iran and restore the monarchy. Iran says the group is armed and responsible for terrorist activities in the country.

The group allegedly claimed responsibility for the 2008 Shiraz explosion at the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada. At least 14 people, including children, were killed and 215 others were injured in the bombing.

Iran claims that its security forces foiled several terrorist plot by Tondar over the last few years. The group supposedly plotted to blow up the Sivand dam in Shiraz, detonate cyanide bombs at the Tehran book exhibition and bomb the general ceremonies at late Imam Khomeini’s shrine.

While the group is based in the U.S, it remains unclear if it is receiving any support from Washington. Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence said that it will provide more details on the capture of Sharmahd soon.

MOREO ON THIS TOPIC:

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the online session “Russia and the post-COVID World”

Source

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the online session “Russia and the post-COVID World”

10 July 2020 15:55

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the online session “Russia and the post-COVID World,” held as part of the Primakov Readings international forum, Moscow, July 10, 2020

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for inviting me to once again speak at the Primakov Readings. This is a young, but also one of the most respected platforms for discussing international matters. Unfortunately, we cannot meet in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, thanks to modern technology we could keep it on schedule. I am glad that my colleagues were able to take part in the preceding sessions of these readings. Judging by their feedback, this was a useful experience.

I will not delve into the question of how the coronavirus has affected every aspect of our lives, and what it will bring in the future. We already feel its effect on the economy and in personal contacts, from official visits and talks, to humanitarian, cultural and education exchanges. There seems to be a consensus that it will take quite some time for things to get back to normal. How long it will take and what the new norm will be is anybody’s guess. That said, all tend to agree that things will change.

By the way, I cannot fail to mention that our foreign service has had to face serious challenges. There were confirmed cases both at the Foreign Ministry head offices and our representative offices in the regions, as well as in our affiliated institutions. Thank goodness, we did not face a massive outbreak or severe cases. There were also people in our missions abroad affected by the pandemic. When borders closed, all our foreign missions without exception were mobilised to assist Russian nationals stranded abroad. Along with other agencies represented in the Emergency Response Centre, primarily the Transport Ministry, the Federal Air Agency, the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare and the Communications Ministry, we complied repatriation lists. This was a lot of work, fraught with many mistakes, mostly unintentional rather than deliberate, that had to be rectified. At the same time we had to make arrangements to pay support allowances to those stranded abroad without funds. We have already done a great deal on this front, although there are still people asking to be repatriated, and some have come forward only recently. It seems that looking at the developments in the countries where they are staying and considering the uncertainty as to when all this will come to an end, they finally opted to return home.

Speaking of other ways in which the pandemic influenced our work and the way we perform our professional duties, the virus has aggravated other pre-existing challenges and threats. They have not gone away, including international terrorism. As you know, some speculate that terrorists are thinking about somehow using the strain of this virus, or maybe even creating new strains to achieve their malicious ends. Drug trafficking, cybercrime, environmental issues, climate and, of course, the many conflicts around the world – all these problems are still with us. And all this overlaps with the specific nature of the Trump administration and its deliberate policy of undermining all legal and contractual frameworks without exception on arms control and international cooperation, for example, regarding UNESCO, the WHO, the UN Human Rights Council, etc.

Of course, we keep a close eye on all these developments and analyse them. We still believe that sustainable solutions to various crises, conflicts and problems in the interests of all countries, and taking into consideration each and everyone’s concerns can only result from collective efforts based on the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, by respecting UN Security Council prerogatives, mobilising consensus-based associations, including the G20, as well as BRICS, the SCO and associations on the post-Soviet space. Unfortunately, not everyone has been ready to work together during the pandemic, to engage in collective efforts and approaches. We are witnessing attempts to push through narrow-minded agendas, and use this crisis to continue strangling unwanted regimes. The call from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to suspend unilateral sanctions, at least during the pandemic, that impede the distribution of medial and other humanitarian goods, and other essential items to the corresponding countries, was completely ignored. The same goes for attempts to assign blame for the infection in the midst of the pandemic, when what we need is to think about how we can help medical workers, doctors and virologists. You know very well what I am referring to.

Like 75 years ago, when Victory over a common enemy was won only by working together and rising above the ideological differences of the time, we now also need to realise that we will resolve these issues only if we cooperate. I’m sure we’ll talk about the future of the WHO later. We are in favour of resolving any issues based on the UN Charter, which is a collective security platform.

Our Western colleagues – I’ve already mentioned this many times – are trying to actively introduce the concept of a “rules-based order” into diplomatic, political and practical usage. This is not international law. This is something else (we can also talk about this in more detail during the discussion). Clearly, this is an attempt to regain the dominance that the historical West has enjoyed for almost 500 years now. This attempt takes the form of convening a “group of interests” and various partnerships, where convenient countries are invited that either share the attempts to adopt unilateral approaches to international affairs, or will yield to pressure and join these initiatives. Not everyone is invited. Those who have their own outlook on things and are ready to defend it are left out. Later, when a concept, say, on chemical weapons, is fabricated, or an attempt is made to create a club of the select few who will decide on who is to blame for violating cybersecurity, they will start selling it as universally applicable norms. We are witnessing this now as it’s happening. These are very serious problems.

I would like to conclude my opening remarks. Our main goal, as before, is to protect our national interests and create the most favourable external conditions for the country’s development. You may have noticed that we come up with ideas that unite. Convening a summit of the UN Security Council permanent members is our top priority. This effort is ongoing. We are now focusing on the substantive part of the event, because, of course, it will play the decisive part.

The current hardships in international relations increase the importance of these discussions and, in general, the contribution of the expert community, and academic and political circles, into the efforts to analyse the situation and make reasonable realistic forecasts. I’d be remiss not to mention the case study concept that Yevgeny Primakov introduced into our foreign policy and political science. We appreciate the fact that the participants and organisers of the Primakov Readings always help us draw from a rich well of ideas, from which we then pick the ones that we submit to the President to determine our policies in specific circumstances.

Question: Five years ago, an IMEMO strategic forecast assumed that a new bipolarity might emerge as one of the four scenarios for the future world order.   At that time, this hypothesis was based on the relative dynamics of the synergetic power of China and the United States.  The COVID-19 pandemic has provided plenty of evidence of this theory. Of course, a different – asymmetrical – bipolarity is emerging, where the strategic parity is between Russia and the US, and the economic parity is between China and the United States, which is distinct from what was the case in the 20th century.

Do you think that the US-PRC conflict has passed the point of no return? It is obvious that any exacerbation of this confrontation is not in Russia’s interests. Will Russia be able to act as a swing power in order to maintain stability of the world system, including based on your unique experience of multilateral diplomacy?

Sergey Lavrov: I remember the forecast you have mentioned. I would like to say that, certainly, a lot has changed over these past five years, primarily in terms of confirming that the confrontation, rivalry, antagonism, and the struggle for leadership between the United States and China have, of course, been mounting. Before I pass directly to an analysis of this bipolar process, I would like to note that the real situation in the world as a whole is much more complicated. After all, the world is growing more polycentric than it was previously. There are numerous players apart from the US and China, without whom it is very difficult to promote one’s interests, if some or other capital suddenly decides to do this single-handedly.  I think we will yet discuss some other possible options in this sense. Let me mention the fact that Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics   Sergey Karaganov has commented on this subject in an article for Russia in Global Affairs, a journal published by Fyodor Lukyanov.

It is quite clear that we should take into consideration, in our practical work, the entire diversity and totality of political, economic, military, historical, and ideological factors that are manifesting themselves in the multipolar world, a world that Yevgeny Primakov predicted. We are assessing the US-Chinese controversy against this backdrop and through this prism.  That it is not existing in a vacuum is, as a minimum, confirmed by the fact that each of the sides is seeking to recruit as many supporters of their approaches as possible to the WHO or any other subject that in some way or other is associated with Washington and Beijing as defining contradictions in their approaches.

The Americans are certainly perceiving the growth of the PRC’s total state power as a threat to their claims to retaining the world leadership against all odds. Back in 2017, the US National Security Strategy listed China, along with Russia, among the main threats. It was for the first time that China was put before Russia as a threat to the United States.

Russia and China were directly accused of seeking to challenge the American influence, values and prosperity.  It is quite clear that the US is waging a struggle by absolutely unsavoury methods, as is obvious and clear to everyone. They are putting forward unilateral demands that take into account solely the US interests. If demands are turned down, they say the refusal is unacceptable and introduce sanctions.

If a discussion is suggested, the discussion rapidly degenerates into delivering an ultimatum and ends up in selfsame sanctions – trade wars, tariffs, and lots more.

A highly indicative fact is how the Americans and the Chinese managed to come to terms on phase one of the trade talks in January and what the fate of this agreement is now. The US authorities are accusing Beijing of drawing off jobs and glutting the market, while showing reluctance to buy US products. According to the Americans, China is implementing the Belt and Road project intended to steamroll all world economy mechanisms, production chains, and so on.  China allegedly was concealing information on COVID-19 and is engaging in cyber espionage. Notice how zealously the Americans are forcing their allies and others to give up any collaboration with Huawei and other Chinese digital giants and companies. China’s hi-tech companies are being squeezed out of the world markets.  China is being charged with expansionism in the South China Sea, problems on the actual control line with India, human rights violations, and [misbehaviour with regard to] Tibet, the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. All of this is taking place simultaneously. A powerful wave of fault-finding, a perfect storm is being raised. I hope, of course, that common sense will prevail and the situation will not pass the point of no return mentioned by Mr Dynkin.

We hope that there are people in the United States, who are figuring out how to reassure the world of the dollar system’s reliability in the post-election period. The US Secretary of the Treasury is speaking about this all but openly. He is warning that they should be wary of overstepping the red line, after which people will just start fleeing from America, saying that the dollar is no good anymore because it is being brazenly abused.

There is, of course, hope that the Chinese possess a political, diplomatic and foreign policy culture that always seeks to avoid various imbroglios.  But there are also some very alarming signs that, despite these rays of hope, which must be nurtured and cherished, US and Chinese officials start getting personal, occasionally in a very harsh form. This bespeaks a high degree of tension on both sides. And, of course, this is really alarming.

I do hope that our Chinese and US partners have some diplomatic methods, ways of classical diplomacy tucked up their sleeve. People should not insult each other in public or accuse each other of all sins, as the Americans are doing on every street corner. A better option is to sit down [to the negotiating table] and recognise that your opposite number is a great power and that every state, be it a great power or otherwise, has interests that must be respected.  The world certainly should seek to function based on a search for a balance of these interests.

Now let me pass to the second question – that this aggravation is not in Russia’s interests. I think that it is totally at variance with our interests, the interests of the European Union, and those of other countries as well. If you take the EU, China-EU trade is absolutely comparable with trade between China and the US. I think it is also necessary to pay attention to the EU’s increasingly publicised aspirations as regards a strategic autonomy not only in the military-political and security sphere but also in trade and the economy. Incidentally, the EU also wants to start repatriating its industries and localise as many trade and distributive chains as possible on its territory. In this regard, it is entering direct competition with the Americans.

The EU is unlikely to support the United States on every count in its desire to bleed the Chinese economy white by “pumping over” all development-friendly processes to its territory. There will be a lot of wrinkles, tension and clashes of interests.

Today, unlike in 2014, when the EU, under atrocious US pressure, introduced sanctions against Russia, it is showing signs of sound pragmatism towards our country. Specifically, they have publicly announced that they will revise the notorious “five principles” that Federica Mogherini formulated several years ago to guide relations with Russia.  They also say that it is necessary to overhaul their entire approach so that it should be more consistent with EU interests.

Incidentally, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell gave a talk recently on EU and China and on EU and Russia. Asked, why not impose sanctions on China for Hong Kong and human rights, he said that sanctions were not a method to be used in relations with China. We inquired whether sanctions were, in his opinion, a method that could be used in relations with Russia?  Our European friends will be thinking about this. It is a tough question.

I think that the European Union and Russia have a stake in cooperating, but not to the detriment of anyone else.  Basically, we do not ally with others to organise some actions against a third party.  We prefer pragmatism and shared benefit. I think Brussels will be doing something to overcome the myopia of the recent period.  The survey of EU policy vis-à-vis Russia will give more heed to an analysis of the real benefits inherent in promoting relations with Russia and the EAEU.

I do not see any benefits that Russia could derive from a trade war between Washington and Beijing. We will not benefit from relations with the EU and India either. Relations with India are traditionally friendly and other than time-serving. I do not envisage any changes in this area. We have proclaimed a “specially privileged strategic partnership” with India. I do not see any reasons why our Indian friends should sacrifice the gains that exist in the context of our partnership and prospects that it opens.

Question: You have mentioned Russian-US relations. Of course, international security and strategic stability depend on them. The situation is rather alarming now because of a deep crisis in the arms control regime. It is possible that the last key treaty in this sphere will expire in six months. There are many reasons for this, both geopolitical and technological. I believe we have to admit that public opinion is not pressuring the political elites to maintain arms control as much as during the Cold War, when large-scale demonstrations were held, as we well remember. The highest priority threats for the public now are the pandemic, climate change and terrorism. The fear of a nuclear war has receded into the background. What can be done to change this, or will it take a new Cuban crisis for the public to become aware of the nuclear conflict threat and to start expressing its opinion?

Jointly with our academic community we are now holding many videoconferences with American experts. You have said that there are rational people in the United States. It can be said that these conferences offer an opportunity to coordinate a number of new proposals, which could be used to formulate our initiatives. Of course, we update the Foreign Ministry and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov about our activities. But it seems that today we need to think about some radical action, possibly in connection with the proposed summit of the five nuclear states, in order to create conditions that will help prevent the dismantling of the arms control regime and launch the creation of a new system of international security and strategic stability suited to the conditions of the 21st century.

Sergey Lavrov: I fully agree with you. Nuclear risks have increased dramatically, and the situation in the sphere of international security and strategic stability is visibly deteriorating. The reasons for this are obvious to everyone.  The United States wants to regain global domination and attain victory in what it describes as great-power rivalry. It has replaced the term “strategic stability” with “strategic rivalry.” It wants to win, whatever the price, as the saying goes. It is dismantling the arms control architecture so as to have the freedom to choose any instrument, including military force, to put pressure on its geopolitical opponents, and it wants to be able to use these instruments anywhere around the world. This is especially alarming in light of the changes in the doctrines of the US military-political authorities. These changes have allowed the limited use of nuclear weapons. It is notable that, like in the case of other strategic stability topics, the Americans have once again alleged that it is the Russian doctrine that permits the limited use of nuclear weapons and escalation for the sake of de-escalation and victory. They have recently issued comments on our doctrines, claiming that there are some secret parts where all of this is stipulated. This is not true. Meanwhile, we can see that the United States has adopted a number of practical programmes to support their doctrines with military and technical capabilities. This concerns the creation of low-yield nuclear warheads. American experts and officials are openly discussing this.

In this context, we are especially alarmed by the Americans’ failure to reaffirm – for two years now – the fundamental principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that therefore it must never be unleashed. Early in the autumn of 2018, we submitted to the American side our written proposal that has been formulated as the confirmation of what People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov and US President Franklin Roosevelt had coordinated and the notes they exchanged. We have reminded them about this proposal several times. They have replied that they are analysing it. Of course, we will raise the issue of the inadmissibility of fighting a nuclear war and winning it at the upcoming summit meeting of the five nuclear powers. It is important for our arguments to be no weaker than the arguments in the relevant Soviet-US documents. The slackening of these formulations has shown that the Americans would like to dilute the fact that there is no alternative to this principle and it cannot be repealed.

You have said that civil society is not paying sufficient attention to these threats, and I fully agree with you on this count. It is vital to attract public attention to this problem, to tell the people about the risks in understandable terms, because technicalities are often difficult to understand, and the form in which the analysis of this situation is presented to people is very important. Of course, we should count not only on official establishments but also on civil society and its politically active part – the NGOs and the academic and expert community.

I have said that I agree with you on this count, but I would also like to caution against going too far with raising public awareness of nuclear risks, so as not to play into the hands of those who want to prohibit all nuclear weapons and not to raise other concerns. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons openly contradicts the Non-Proliferation Treaty, creating confusion and problems. The necessary balance can be found with the help of top quality professionals, and I believe that we have more of them than any other country.

As for public sentiments, they do not always determine the reality. During the election campaign of US President Donald Trump, public sentiments were largely in tune with his declared plans and his calls for normalising Russian-US relations. Since then, the public has calmed down, and nobody is staging any riots over this matter.

Of course, it is vital to continue to interact directly with the nuclear powers and their authorities. We would like reasonable approaches to take priority.

You have mentioned that political consultations are underway between you, your colleagues and American experts. We appreciate this. Your contribution and assessments, as well as the information we receive following such consultations are taken into account and have a significant influence on the essence of our approaches, including in situations when we submit several alternatives to the leadership; this helps us analyse the possible scenarios and all their pros and cons.

The United States, as well as Britain and France, which are playing along with it, would like to limit the summit’s agenda to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. China sees this as an attempt to press through the idea of expanding the number of negotiating parties at the talks on nuclear weapons by one means or another. China has put forth its position on the idea of multilateral talks clearly and more than once. We respect this position. By the way, the Americans are clever at twisting things. They use only the parts of our statements and those of the Chinese that suit their position. The Chinese have said recently that they will join the arms control talks as soon as the Americans reduce their capability to the level of China’s arsenal. A day later, Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea announced that the United States welcomed China’s readiness to join the multilateral talks and invited Beijing to Vienna. The next round of Russian-US consultations at the level of experts will be held in late July, following on from the late June meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea, when the Americans made a show with Chinese flags. The Americans have once again stated publicly that they would like to invite the Chinese to Vienna but it would be better if Russia met with China before that so as to tell Beijing what Washington expects from it. I think everyone can see that this is impolite and undiplomatic. When we say that we proceed from the assumption that China is free to take whatever stand it deems necessary, it shows our respect for China’s position. I would like to add that the Americans have not put on paper anything of what they said about the need for transitioning to a multilateral format. Let them at least document what they have in mind. But they seem to be categorically averse to this.

We are ready to take part in multilateral talks, but it should be a voluntary and independent decision of everyone. Only voluntary participation can be effective.

None of the reservations are being taken into account. They say that Russia supports their call for multilateral talks. What do we hear when we add that multilateral talks must also include Britain and France? Special Envoy Billingslea didn’t blink when he said the other day in reply to a question about the possible involvement of Britain and France that they are sovereign states who are free to decide whether to join the talks or not, and that the United States will not make the decision for them. Why has it actually made the decision for China then?

Knowing the US negotiating party, I am not optimistic about the New START, for example, but it’s good that we have started talking. Sergey Ryabkov and Marshall Billingslea have agreed to set up three working groups within the framework of the process they are supervising. They will hold a meeting of the working group on space, nuclear and weapons transparency plus nuclear doctrines in Vienna between July 27 and 30. We’ll see what comes of it. We never refuse to talk, and we will try to make negotiations result-oriented.

Question: Extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is one of the critical items on the agenda of Russia-US relations, primarily in the sphere of arms control. If Russia fails to reach an agreement with Washington to renew this treaty before February 2021, what will it do next? If there’s a pause in the dialogue with Washington in the sphere of arms control, and if the treaty is not renewed, what will the arms control system become and will the multilateral formats that we are talking about now be possible in the future?

Sergey Lavrov: It appears that the United States has already decided not to renew this treaty. The fact that it insists that there’s no alternative to taking the deal to the trilateral format suggests that everything has been already decided. In addition to this, they want the latest Russian weapons to be part of the deal which, by and large, is nothing short of trying to force an open door. We told the Americans earlier on that when Avangard and Sarmat become fully deployed, they will be subject to the restrictions established by the treaty for as long as it remains valid. The other systems are new. They do not fit into the three categories covered by START-3, but we are ready to start talking about including the weapons that are not classical from the START-3 perspective in the discussion, of course, within the context of a principled discussion of all, without exceptions, variables that affect strategic stability that way or another. This includes missile defence, where we are now able to see that the once existing allegations that it was designed solely to stop the missile threat coming from Iran and North Korea, were lies. No one is even trying to bring this up anymore. Everything is being done solely in terms of containing Russia and China. Other factors include high-precision non-nuclear weapons known as a programme of instant global strike, openly promoted plans by the Americans and the French to launch weapons into space, the developments related to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a number of other factors too. We are ready to discuss new weapons, but to do so not in order to humour someone or to respond to someone’s initiatives, but to really reduce the threat to global stability and security.

To this end, we need to look at all the things that create these threats, pushing us to create antidotes, as was the case with our hypersonic weapons, which were developed in response to the global deployment of the US missile defence system.

Speaking specifically about the START-3 Treaty, we need an extension as much as the Americans do. They see some kind of a game in our calls to extend it for five more years without any preconditions. Russia, they say, has modernised its entire nuclear arsenal, but we are just beginning the modernisation, so they want to “tie our hands.” This is absolutely not so. We need to extend the START-3 Treaty as much as the Americans. If they refuse to do so, we will not insist. We know and we firmly believe that we will be able to ensure our security in the long run, even in the absence of this treaty. I think it is premature to discuss our actions if this treaty expires without any further action, but we are indeed ready for any turn of events. If the renewal is turned down, our options may be different, but I can assure you that overall we will continue the dialogue with the United States on strategic issues and new weapons control tools based on the facts that underlie strategic stability, as I just mentioned.

With regard to the multilateral talks, we already said back in 2010, when we were signing START-3, that the signing of this treaty puts an end to the possibility for further bilateral reductions and that, talking about future reductions, I emphasise this term, we will need to take into account the arsenals of other nuclear powers and start looking for other forms of discussions, if we’re talking about reductions. If we are talking about control, I think the bilateral Russian-American track has far more to offer. Losing all forms of control and transparency would probably be an unreasonable and irresponsible thing to do in the face of our nations and other nations as well. I believe the fact that there’s a transparency group (this is a broad term that includes measures of trust and verification) among the Russian-American working groups which will be meeting in Vienna soon, is a good sign.

Question: The Eurasian countries regard Russia as a mainstay that can connect the EU and Asian countries. How do you see Russia’s role in this space?

Sergey Lavrov: The situation on the Eurasian continent is fully affected by almost all global factors. This is where a number of the most important world centres are located, including China, Russia, India and the European Union if we are talking about the continent as a whole. For various reasons, each of these actors is motivated to pursue a foreign policy independent from the United States. This includes the EU.

Calls for strategic autonomy extend to the development area as such. We in Eurasia feel the influence of forces that would like to put together interest-based blocs and try to introduce elements of confrontation into various processes. We increasingly see centripetal tendencies. I am referring to ASEAN in the east and the EU in the west of our continent.

Located in the centre is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Union. We would like to promote unifying, not divisive approaches in this space  and intensify trans-regional collaboration based on equality, mutual benefit, and most importantly, we would like to realise the obvious comparative advantages of cooperation on the continent via integration entities created in the West, East, and Centre, with respect for each of these unions and the search for natural forms of collaboration. This is the goal of what we call the Greater Eurasian Partnership that President Vladimir Putin suggested establishing at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi a few years ago. We think this is an absolutely realistic action plan.

Let me note parenthetically that there are opposing approaches. They are mostly promoted by the United States through so-called Indo-Pacific concepts aimed at undermining the central systematic role of ASEAN in the Asia-Pacific region. I am referring to an attempt to put together a group of countries that would openly – this is not even hidden – contain China’s development.

I would favour identifying points of contact among all integration processes. Of course, there is China’s Belt and Road concept. The EAEU has an agreement with China that includes identifying points of contact and the harmonisation of any project that will be implemented as part of Eurasian integration and China’s project. Of course, there is a clash of economic interests in a number of cases, but the sides’ willingness to be guided by international legal principles, respect for each other, and mutual benefit makes it possible to agree on these economic interests based on the search for balance. It is in this way that our relations with our EAEU partners, China within the SCO, and ASEAN, are built. We invite the European Union, as has been repeatedly stated, to consider how it can become part of the development of our common geopolitical and primarily geo-economic space with benefits for itself and for others.

Question: The Middle East and North Africa remain a troubled region. New divides continue to crop up there; the potential for conflict remains and the old conflicts that everyone knows about persist. The humanitarian situation is aggravated due to the West’s unfair sanctions against a certain part of the region. Various asymmetries are growing deeper. What are Russia’s strategic interests in the region today? What do we want to achieve there, given the post-COVID nature of the era we are now entering?

Sergey Lavrov: We have very good relations in this region, possibly the best in the history of relations between this country, in its various capacities, and the region. I mean relations with all sides: the Arab countries, regardless of the conflict potential within the Arab world, and Israel. We will proceed from the need to promote positive contact with all these countries and seek to understand their problems and needs, and take this into account in our relations not only with a specific country but also with the countries that this particular partner has problems with.

In the beginning, I was asked whether Russia was ready to perform as a balancing influence in relations between the United States and China. If they ask us to, if they are interested, we would not decline this. We have established contacts with both sides and our historical development record enables us to see that we have potential.

If there is interest in mediation services that we can offer in this region or elsewhere, we are always ready to try to help, but of course, we will not push ourselves on anyone. Our own interest is primarily in precluding new military crises and in settling old crises so that the Middle East and North Africa become a zone of peace and stability. Unlike certain major countries outside the region, we have no strategic interest in maintaining controlled chaos. We have no such interest whatsoever.

We are not interested in engineering head-on clashes between countries in the region so as to create a pretext and a motive for continuing, and sometimes expanding, our military presence there. We are interested in promoting mutually beneficial trade, economic, investment and other ties with these states. In this respect, we would not like any other country in the region to have the same fate as Libya, which was robbed of its statehood and now no one knows how to “sew it together.” This is why we will be actively involved in efforts to reestablish an international legal approach to avoid any further toothpowder-filled test tubes passed off as VX and lies about weapons of mass destruction in other countries in the region as is now happening in Syria. Some have already started talking about “undiscovered” chemical weapons in Libya. All of these are inventions. How they are concocted is no secret.

We would like to derive economic benefits from our relations with the countries in the region. For this, we primarily have much in common in our approaches to problems in the contemporary world: international law, the UN Charter, and inter-civilisational dialogue, something that is also important, considering the Muslim population in the Russian Federation. Russia’s Muslim republics maintain good ties with the Gulf countries and other countries in the Arab world. We would like to support and develop all this. We will not gain anything from the chaos that continues in the region. As soon as the situation stabilises, the Russian Federation’s reliability as a partner in economic cooperation, military-technical cooperation, and the political area will always ensure us important advantages.

Question: My question is related to the recent changes in Russia. The new wording of the Constitution, which has come into effect, includes a provision according to which any actions (with the exception of delimitation, demarcation and re-demarcation of the state border of the Russian Federation with adjacent states) aimed at alienating part of the Russian territory, as well as calls for such actions, shall be prohibited. This provision is understandable. This brings me to my question: Does this mean that our years-long talks with Japan on the so-called territorial dispute have become anti-constitutional because they contradict our Fundamental Law? As far as I recall, the terms “delimitation” and “demarcation” have never been applied to the Kuril Islands, or have they?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, you are spot on. Our relations with Japan are based on a number of agreements. The Russian Federation as the successor state of the Soviet Union has reaffirmed its commitment to all of the agreements signed by the Soviet Union. President Vladimir Putin has confirmed this more than once. This includes the 1956 Declaration under which we are ready to discuss and are discussing with our Japanese colleagues the necessity of signing a peace treaty, but not a treaty that would have been signed the next day after the last shot, that is, immediately after the termination of the war, as some of our Japanese colleagues would like. The state of war between the Soviet Union and Japan was terminated by the 1956 Declaration, which provides for the end of the state of war and for the restoration of diplomatic relations. What else do we need? In other words, a peace treaty we are negotiating should be modern and comprehensive, and it should not reflect the situation of 60-70 years ago but the current state of affairs, when we believe that we should develop full-scale ties with Japan. This document must be essential and inclusive, that is, it should include issues of peace, friendship, neighbourliness, partnership and cooperation, and it should cover all spheres of our relations, including economic ties, which are improving but not in all economic sectors. It should be remembered that our Japanese neighbours have imposed sanctions on Russia, although they are not as all-embracing as the US restrictions, but anyway.

A peace treaty should also cover security topics, because Japan has a close military alliance with the United States, which has essentially declared Russia to be an enemy. Of course, a comprehensive peace treaty should also include our views on foreign policy interaction, where, to put it simply, we disagree on all disputable matters, as well as humanitarian and cultural ties and many other factors. We have offered a concept of such a treaty. Our Japanese colleagues have not responded to this concept so far.

It is clear that the outcome of WWII is the fundamental issue that should determine our relations. Japanese officials have stated more than once that they recognise the results of WWII excluding the decision concerning the South Kuril Islands, or the “Northern Territories,” as they say. This position contradicts the law. Japan’s position must be based on the fact that the country ratified the UN Charter, which essentially means that the actions taken by the winner countries with regard to the enemy countries are beyond discussion.

Of course, our Japanese neighbours keep saying that they would sign a peace treaty as soon as the territorial dispute is settled. This is not what we have agreed to do. We have agreed to focus on signing a peace treaty as stipulated in the 1956 Declaration.

Question: Russia often criticises the US for promoting non-inclusive associations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans to isolate “uncomfortable” states. I am primarily referring to the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad. Obviously, the very existence of such formats turns the region from a zone of cooperation into a zone of confrontation. We are certainly not interested in that. However, for all its minuses, the Quad concept is obviously finding understanding from Russia’s strategic partners, for instance, India. The Quad Plus project, where the US plans to invite Vietnam, our strategic partner as well, is also under discussion. Apparently, there is a need to enhance security in the region. Can Russia offer an alternative to such formats to prevent our two strategic partners from being in a position where they have to deter a third one?

Sergey Lavrov: I talked about the appearance of concepts and strategies on forming what US diplomats call “a free and open Indo-Pacific” several years ago. When some initiative calls itself free and open, I always have the impression that this includes a tinge of PR because how can it be called open if every state the region without exception is not invited to join?

When the term “Indo-Pacific strategies” appeared we inquired if they did not deal with the Asia-Pacific Region the contours of which are clear: the APEC, and the mechanisms that were established around ASEAN (the ASEAN regional security forum, the meeting of the ASEAN defence ministers and the partner countries, which is very important and, of course, the East Asia Summit (EAS), a forum that will be a decade old this year). We asked why the established term, Asia-Pacific Region, was replaced with this “Indo-Pacific strategies.” Does this mean that these strategies will embrace more countries, including all Indian Ocean coastal states? We received a negative answer. But what does “Indo” mean then? Will the Persian Gulf, which is part of the Indian Ocean, take part in the new format? We got a negative answer again. The Gulf has too many problems to be involved in these initiatives.

As for the ideas pursued by this Quad, as I have said, they are not really hiding them. These ideas come down to attempts to deter China. Our specially privileged partner India is fully aware of this. Pursuing its multi-vector policy, India is certainly interested in developing relations with the US (and who isn’t?), Japan and Australia. We are also interested in this. But India does not want to benefit from this cooperation at the price of further aggravating its relations with China. They had sad incidents on the Line of Actual Control but we welcome their immediate contacts between militaries, which are ongoing. They reached agreements on de-escalating tensions. Their politicians and diplomats also met. We can see that neither India nor China want their relations to get worse. Therefore, before talking seriously about Indo-Pacific strategies as a future for our large region, it is necessary to explain the choice of wording. If this was done to please India because of the Indian Ocean, just say so.

There are things that have already been established. I mentioned a diverse network of institutions and mechanisms around ASEAN. ASEAN brings together a group of countries that promote unifying approaches in the context of their civilisations and cultures. Everything is aimed at searching for consensus based on a balance of interests. For decades, the members have been absolutely content with developing relations in this venue with its regional security forum, defence minister meetings and East Asia Summits. There is even an expression: “ASEAN-way.” They always emphasise that they want to handle matters in “the ASEAN-way.” This means never to seek confrontation or launch projects that will create problems for other members. Regrettably, Indo-Pacific strategies may pursue different goals, at least under their initial concept.

In the beginning of our conversation, I mentioned the tough claims made by the US against China. They sound like an ultimatum. This is a mechanism for exerting and intensifying pressure. We do not see anything positive in this. Any problems must be resolved peacefully, through talks. Let me repeat that ASEAN is an ideal venue where every participant can discuss its problems with another member without polemics or tension. We are actively forming bridges with ASEAN (I mentioned the EAEU and the SCO). Their secretariats have already signed related memorandums. We will continue promoting ASEAN’s core role in the South Pacific Region.

We will only welcome Indo-Pacific strategies if they become more understandable, if we are convinced that they lean towards joining the ASEAN-led processes rather than try to undermine its role and redirect the dialogue against China or someone else. However, we are not seeing this so far.

Question: A week ago, experts were polled on US allegations that Russian military intelligence, the GRU, had offered rewards to the Taliban for killing US troops in Afghanistan. All of the analysts agree that the allegation could be rooted in domestic, primarily political reasons. Your subordinate, Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, has pointed out that one of the factions in the United States is against the planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan because US security services have become deeply involved in the drug trade over the past few years. We have not asked you about this situation yet. What do you think about this uproar?

Sergey Lavrov: We have already responded to the hype in the United States over Russia’s alleged connection with the Taliban, who were allegedly financed to fight US troops and even offer bounties for the murder of American military personnel. I can only tell you once again that all this is a dirty speculation. No facts have been provided to prove anything. Moreover, responsible officials in the US administration, including the Secretary of Defence, have said that they know nothing about this.

These allegations fit in very well with the political fighting during an election year in the United States, as if they were invented – and it appears that this is so – for this purpose. The objective is to disgrace the US administration and to discredit everything it has been doing, especially with regard to Russia. I would like to repeat that there are no facts to prove these allegations. But there were facts in the late 1970s and 80s, when the US administration did not make a secret of helping the Mujahedeen, of supplying them with Stingers and other weapons, which they used against Soviet soldiers.

As I have said, we would like both Russia and the United States to draw lessons from the experience they have accumulated in that long-suffering country and to help launch an intra-Afghan dialogue together with the other countries that could help allay tensions there, primarily China, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan’s other neighbours. We have been working actively towards this end.

As for the United States, we have been acting within the framework of this political process under the agreements being advocated by the United States in its dialogue with the Taliban and the Afghan Government. We are using our channels to make these agreements possible. There is a mechanism for consultations between Russia, the United States and China, which Pakistan sometimes joins and to which Iran has been invited. However, Iran has not acted on the invitation because of its problems with the United States and the actions Washington has been taking against Iran around the world. These consultations are a mechanism for cooperation that is being used to define the spheres where signals could be sent to the sides. This is being done within the framework of the logic of the so-called Moscow format, which brings together all of Afghanistan’s neighbours without exception, as well as the United States, Russia and China. This is more than adequate.

Now, regarding Afghanistan’s drugs and the possible involvement of the US military in the drug business. We have received numerous reports, including through the media, according to which NATO aircraft are being used to smuggle Afghan opiates to other countries, including to Europe. The governors of the concerned Afghan provinces have stated more than once that unmarked helicopters are flying in the area. It should be noted that the sky over Afghanistan is controlled by the NATO coalition. Other reports have mentioned other forms of smuggling opiates.

Of course, we cannot verify such information to the dot, but it has been reported so regularly that we cannot ignore it. If combat aircraft were used in Afghanistan (as I mentioned, it could only be NATO aircraft), the flights could only be made by military or intelligence personnel. These circumstances should be investigated, first of all in the United States. The Americans have agencies that are in charge of monitoring compliance with American laws. Second, investigations should also be held in the country where military personnel are deployed, that is, Afghanistan. This is exactly what Zamir Kabulov said. By the way, established facts show that over the 20 years of the deployment of the US and other coalition members in Afghanistan the volume of drugs smuggled into other countries, including in Europe and our neighbours, as well as into Russia, has increased several times over. Neither the United States nor the other members of the NATO coalition are seriously fighting this drug business. By the way, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko noted in a recent report that there are opium poppy plantations right next to NATO bases. This is an established fact. And this is possibly not right from the viewpoint of the US stand on the drug business.

We have regularly tried to attract the UN Security Council’s attention to this issue when we listened to reports on NATO coalition operations in Afghanistan, and we also did this via bilateral channels when we urged our partners to combat the drug industry. They replied that the mandate of the NATO mission in Afghanistan did not include drugs, that it only stipulated counterterrorist activities. But it is a well-known fact that the drug business is used to finance terrorism and is the largest source of funds for terrorist organisations. You can reach your own conclusions. As I have pointed out, we take this problem very seriously.

QuestionA few hours after this meeting of the Primakov Readings is over, an extraordinary UN General Assembly session on combating the pandemic will begin at 10 am New York time. This session was convened by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). How important is this session? Who will represent Russia? Do you think the UN is late in responding to the pandemic? What do you think about the Non-Aligned Movement’s principles in these conditions?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, we are aware that a special session of the UN General Assembly on the subject of COVID-19 will be convened upon the initiative of the Non-Aligned Movement chaired by Azerbaijan this year. It will take place a little later. Today, on July 10, the procedural registration of the rules to be used for convening the session begins, since amid the coronavirus infection, all remotely held events are subject to coordination in terms of their organisational and procedural aspects. Only this matter will be discussed today. The date for convening the special session itself has not yet been determined.

I don’t think we have any reason to believe that the UN is slow or late in responding to the coronavirus infection challenges. The UN General Assembly met twice some time ago at an early stage of this situation. Two resolutions were adopted which were dedicated to the international community’s goals in fighting the coronavirus infection. Most recently, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on COVID-19. We were unable to do this for a long time because the Americans strongly opposed mentioning the role of the World Health Organisation in the document. Eventually, we found words that allowed us to mention this role and to ensure consensus approval.

Let us remember that the World Health Assembly, by the way, with the participation of the Americans, held a special session in May. The WHA adopted a resolution supported by the US in which the WHO’s role was objectively reflected. It was agreed at that session that as soon as the pandemic and all major programmes are completed, an international assessment of the lessons we learned from the WHO’s work in this area would be made, but without pointing a finger at anyone. It is an objective scientific evaluation of independent professionals.

Of course, the Non-Aligned Movement is our close partner. We are a guest country that is regularly invited to NAM summits and ministerial meetings in this capacity. This body was created in a wholly different historical context at the height of the Cold War, when the developing countries that formed this movement wanted to emphasise the principle of neutrality with respect for the two military blocs. Nevertheless, the Non-Aligned Movement remains a significant factor in international politics even after the Cold War. I think this is good, since the attempts to cobble up certain blocks again (we have already discussed this today) continue. It is important that this neutrality, non-commitment and focus on advancing the principles of international law be preserved at the core of NAM activities.

By the way, another NAM summit was held in Baku in October 2019. We attended it as a guest. Important joint statements were agreed upon. We confirmed our support for strengthening multipolarity in the international arena and respect for the UN Charter principles. NAM statements in support of Palestine and Bolivia were adopted as well. Back then, these were important topics. We are interested in seeing our status in NAM help us actively work on issues of common interest.

Question: Did Dmitry Kozak give an ultimatum at the talks on the Minsk agreements, telling Kiev to draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine on the special status of Donbass as soon as possible? If so, why has this demand become so tough only now that these agreements are already five years old?

Sergey Lavrov: There were no demands or ultimatums. Working as Normandy format advisors, the assistants of the four leaders that are part of our Contact Group, we are trying to ensure, in cooperation with the OSCE, the direct dialogue that Kiev is required to conduct with Donetsk and Lugansk. Conceptually, we are striving for only one goal – we are asking our Ukrainian partners to reaffirm their full commitment to the Minsk agreements as they were drafted, signed and approved by the UN Security Council. When we are told that Kiev is committed to the Minsk agreements but that it is necessary to first establish control of the Ukrainian Army and border guards over the entire border, this has nothing to do with the Minsk agreements. This is a deliberate attempt to mislead the public. When we are told, at the top level, that the Minsk agreements must be preserved to continue the sanctions against Russia, we would like to know if Ukraine is primarily interested in these agreements because of the sanctions, why it signed them and whether it is still committed to what is written in them rather than this absolutely artificial and inadequate link with sanctions. The majority of EU members consider this link incoherent. This is an approach of principle. I talked with the foreign ministers of France and Germany. Mr Kozak spoke with his counterparts as well. We would like our French and German partners to continue to express their views about this as participants in the Normandy format. Every day, we hear Kiev’s official statements that simply discard the agreements that were reaffirmed by the UN Security Council after the talks in Minsk.

For all this, we continue to hold pragmatic conversation with a view to coordinating specific steps on promoting all aspects of the Minsk agreements: security, socio-economic, humanitarian and political issues. At the recent, fairly productive meeting of the leaders’ assistants of the Normandy format states, the participants reached a number of agreements on yet another detainee exchange, and the Contact Group’s security arrangements, including reconciliation of the texts of the orders that must be adopted by the parties to the conflict (Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk) and describe in detail the actions to be banned by these orders. These issues were agreed upon. The third negotiated item on the political agenda is the presentation by Ukraine of its vision of the document that will contain amendments to the Constitution to reflect the special status of Donbass fully in line with the Minsk agreements.

Understandings were reached in these three areas and were supposed to be formalised in the decisions of the Contact Group that ended its session the other day. In Minsk, the Ukrainian delegation disavowed everything that was agreed upon in Berlin. We noted this, and Deputy Chief of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak sent a related message to his colleagues. So, this is no surprise at all. We have always insisted that the Minsk agreements must be carried out in full and with the due succession of actions. It’s not that we are losing patience, but patience helps when there is a clear understanding of what comes next. President Vladimir Zelensky came to power under a slogan of quick peace in Donbass. However, at this point, we have no idea what the attitude of his administration is to the actions that must be taken under the Minsk agreements.

Question: Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton writes in his memoirs that US President Donald Trump was unhappy about the sanctions over Salisbury and Syria. Did you hear about this? Is the agreement with the US on the exchange of top level visits still valid? Is Russia’s participation in the extended G7 format being considered?

Sergey Lavrov: I haven’t read John Bolton’s memoirs but I’m familiar with some parts of his book. Clearly, Mr Bolton has his own view of Russia-US relations, the US mission in the world, and America’s vision of the world order and what it should be. Apparently, every author wants his or her book to sell well (and in America practically every person writes a book after serving in the government for one or two years). To achieve this, it is necessary to make it interesting, and “hot issues” are helpful in this respect. I’ll leave all this on the conscience of Mr Bolton: both his presentation of this material and the spicy and sensitive details. I’ll also leave on his conscience his obvious embellishment of US actions in different situations.

Nobody has signed any agreements on exchanging top level visits because such an agreement implies a certain date for a visit, and the name of the city and geographical location. But nobody is discounting the possibility of such meetings, either. We are willing to work with the Americans at all levels and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has good relations with US President Donald Trump. From time to time, I talk with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. Our deputies also maintain a dialogue. So, if the Americans are interested, we do not see any obstacles. We don’t want our relations to be seen as some appendage to the election campaign and the tough actions taken by the sides as regards each other on the eve of the US election.

As for the G7, I think we have already said everything we wanted to say on this issue. Russia was a full member of the G8. The G8 did not meet in 2014 and not due to any action on our part. Our partners — Europe, North America and Japan — decided not to hold this event in full. This is their choice. President Vladimir Putin said in one of his comments that as before we will be happy to host the entire G8 in the Russian Federation. If our colleagues do not want this, love cannot be forced.

As for the G7, the list of countries invited to attend, as mentioned by US President Donald Trump, shows that the G7 can no longer accomplish much on its own. But even the countries that were mentioned will not make any radical change because the list is incomplete. We are convinced that the serious issues of the world and global finances can hardly be resolved effectively. Apparently, these reasons — the need to involve the main players in world financial, economic and commodity markets — have prompted the resumption and upgrade of activities in the G20. This is an inclusive mechanism that relies on consensus and the principles of equality. We believe the G20 format must obviously be preserved, encouraged and actively used if we want to talk about the underlying causes of current economic problems rather than their use in foreign policy disputes or any other sort of rhetoric.

Question: In Russia, they always say that they are ready to work with any president that is elected by the American people. Can you predict potential development of bilateral relations if former US Vice President Joe Biden wins? Do you think some analysts are correct in believing that he could revise some of President Donald Trump’s decisions, which do not benefit Russia, such as withdrawal from the INF Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty?

Sergey Lavrov: We do not comment on election campaigns. This is done by the media in all countries. The election campaign in the US is creating much interest in the entire world. This is understandable, but officially we proceed from the correct assumption that the choice of the head of state is up to the American people. This is a domestic US affair.

As for how this or that outcome might affect Russia-US relations, if we reason in a perfectly abstract way, we can quote some analysts that have commented on how this will influence disarmament talks. There is an opinion that is probably buttressed by some facts, that the Democrats are less prone than the Republicans to destroy the agreements on strategic stability and disarmament that had been reached over the past few decades. But we have not forgotten that a major anti-Russia campaign was launched during the Democratic administration of Barrack Obama. Many elements of this campaign, including sanctions, are now an element of bipartisan consensus. I don’t want to guess. This situation is unpredictable. Let me repeat, let the American people make their decision.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights that is in charge, among other things, of monitoring elections, has conducted such monitoring remotely and distributed a report that was recently presented at the OSCE Permanent Council. The report contains many critical remarks about the correlation of election processes to American laws. I will not go into details. You can read this report yourself. But the report mentions, in particular, that for a variety of reasons at least 2 million US citizens are deprived of the right of the vote to which they are entitled by law. Interestingly, the report notes such a congenital defect in US election legislation, notably, a two-stage election process.

At first, people elect the Electoral College that later on chooses the president. The report also noted that the creation of the electoral districts is unfair to different ethnic groups. This is an indicative observation on behalf of the OSCE. We have spoken about this for a long time. I also recall that when Condoleezza Rice was US Secretary of State, she complained about our elections. I replied that if she had specific grievances, we had international and domestic observers and many other mechanisms and the entire process would be analysed. I reminded her that in the US a nominee can win a popular vote but a different candidate can be elected president because of different shares of votes in the electoral districts and the Electoral College. This is what happened in 2000 when the Florida votes were recounted for such a long time. Eventually, this process was stopped by the Supreme Court. George Bush Jr became US President and Alexander Gore accepted his defeat. Ms Rice told me then that they know this is a problem but this is their problem and they will settle it themselves. They probably will respond to the OSCE report in the same way.

As for the prospects and the projection of this or other decision on treaties, including the Open Skies Treaty, in line with the current schedule and its own announced decision on withdrawal, the US is supposed to end its participation in the treaty on November 22 or two and a half weeks after the election. No matter who becomes president, the new administration will assume its duties on January 20. Therefore, this decision will not likely be revised if the treaty expires. If the new administration, Democratic or Republican, decides to return to the treaty, the talks will have to be started from scratch. Therefore, at the extraordinary conference of the signatories of the Open Skies Treaty that was held online on July 6 of this year, we urged all remaining parties to the treaty to try and preserve it. We are prepared to continue with it but will take our final decision on whether we should remain part of it after analysing all consequences of the US decision on withdrawing from it, that is unlikely to be revised. It is final and irreversible as we are seeing, in my opinion. This is also confirmed by what happened with the INF Treaty. The decision was announced. This was followed by attempts at persuading them to keep it but to no avail.

But let me return to what I said in replying to one of the questions. We are ready for a situation where nothing will be left of arms control due to the US’s persistent line to throw all of these agreements out. But we are also prepared not to start from scratch but continue our contacts with the Americans on all strategic stability issues. I am confident that all members of the international community will support this approach. That said, we will keep the door open for multilateral talks as well. Let me repeat that these talks must rely on common understanding, voluntary participation and a balanced lineup of participants.

دروس التاريخ التي يجب أن نستخلصها من أجل المستقبل العادل

ألكسندر زاسبكين

في 22 حزيران 1941 بدأت الحرب الوطنية العظمى للاتحاد السوفياتي ضدّ ألمانيا الفاشية وحلفائها. واليوم نتذكر هذا التاريخ لنحيي بطولة الشعب السوفياتي الذي وقف صفاً واحداً ضدّ العدوان، مؤمناً بحتمية هزيمة المعتدي الذي كان يسعى إلى إبادة شعوب الاتحاد السوفياتي على اختلاف قومياتها والاستيلاء على أراضيها. كما نتمسك بالحفاظ على صدق الرواية والوقائع التاريخية لتطورات الأوضاع ما قبل الحرب وأثناءها وبعدها ولا نسمح بتزوير الحقيقة الذي يجري خلال الفترة الأخيرة في أميركا ودول أوروبية.

يحاول هؤلاء وضع ألمانيا الهتلرية والاتحاد السوفياتي في كفة واحدة لجهة تحميلهما معاً وعلى حدّ سواء المسؤولية عن الحرب. وفي الواقع إذ يشوّهون صورة الاتحاد السوفياتي التاريخية فهم يقصدون استهداف روسيا حالياً. والعودة إلى التاريخ تفيدنا أنه في عام 1932 وافقت الولايات المتحدة وإنكلترا وفرنسا على إعادة تسليح ألمانيا وفي عام 1938 تمّ «توحيد» ألمانيا والنمسا ووقعت بريطانيا وفرنسا معاهدة ميونخ مع ألمانيا التي أدّت إلى تقسيم تشيكوسلوفاكيا بمشاركة بولندا وتعزيز القطاع الصناعي العسكري الألماني، وكانت الفكرة الأساسية لكلّ هذه المناورات تشجيع ألمانيا الهتلرية للهجوم على الاتحاد السوفياتي. وتؤكد ذلك حالة «الحرب الزائفة» أيّ عدم تحرك قوات فرنسا وبريطانيا في بداية الحرب العالمية الثانية حتى شنّت ألمانيا هجوماً واسعاً على بلجيكا وهولندا وفرنسا في أيار 1940. أما الاتحاد السوفياتي فخلال سنوات بقي يطرح مبادرات خاصة بالأمن المشترك في أوروبا وتشكيل التحالف ضدّ هتلر، حتى وقع مضطراً في آب 1939 معاهدة عدم الاعتداء مع ألمانيا بعدما فشلت كلّ المبادرات لتحصين المواجهة بموقف موحد. وفرضت عقد هذه المعاهدة ظروف اندلاع الأعمال العسكرية بين الاتحاد السوفياتي واليابان وكانت بذلك خطوة ذكية حمت المصالح الوطنية للاتحاد السوفياتي بتأجيل الحرب مع ألمانيا.

لذلك كله كان من المهمّ جداً نشر الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين لمقال بعنوان «75 عاماً من النصر العظيم: مسؤولية مشتركة تجاه التاريخ والمستقبل» الذي يكشف معلومات عن مرحلة قبل الحرب ودروس يجب أن نستخلصها منها. وورد في المقال: «لم تحدث الحرب العالمية الثانية بين عشية وضحاها، ولم تبدأ بشكل غير متوقع أو فجأة. ولم يكن العدوان الألماني على بولندا من العدم. كانت نتيجة عدد من الميول والعوامل للسياسة العالمية في ذلك الوقت. وقعت جميع أحداث ما قبل الحرب في مكانها لتشكل سلسلة قاتلة واحدة. لكن، بلا شك، كانت العوامل الرئيسية التي حدّدت مسبقاً أكبر مأساة في تاريخ البشرية هي أنانية الدول والجبن واسترضاء المعتدي الذي كان يكتسب القوة وعدم استعداد النخب السياسية للبحث عن حلّ وسط».

نعتبر توضيح وقائع الأجواء السياسية وتصرفات الدول التي أدّت إلى اشتعال الحرب العالمية الثانية حاجة ملحّة لأننا نرى سلوكاً متشابهاً في الظروف الدولية الراهنة عندما تحاول الأوساط الغربية الحاكمة أن تفرض إرادتها على شعوب العالم وتحاول إسقاط الأنظمة الشرعية بذريعة «حماية حقوق الإنسان» أو «تأييد الثوار». وتستخدم هذه الأوساط استفزازات ودعاية كاذبة يشارك فيها السياسيون والخبراء والصحافيون الذين يخلقون عالماً افتراضياً موازياً لتضليل الرأي العام العالمي وذلك للحفاظ على الهيمنة بكلّ الطرق الممكنة بما في ذلك عدوان مباشر وتأييد مجموعات إرهابية ومراهنة على فتن طائفية وفوضى وتفكيك الدول وفرض العقوبات الاقتصادية التي تسفر عن تجويع الناس المدنيين.

في عصر أسلحة الدمار الشامل يحتاج العالم إلى تعزيز الاستقرار الاستراتيجي على أساس مبدأ عدم تجزئة الأمن ومشاركة الجميع على قدم المساواة. لكن الولايات المتحدة تنسحب من المعاهدات الرئيسيّة التي تشكل إطاراً قانونياً دولياً في هذا المجال. علاوة على ذلك يجري العمل التخريبي في المنظمات الدولية لوضع «نظام القواعد» التي يخترعها الغرب لمصلحته بديلاً للشرعية الدولية.

اليوم يكرّر الغرب أخطاء الماضي التي أدّت إلى الكارثة العالمية وما أشبه اليوم بالأمس، وقد شهدنا كيف كرّر الغرب خطأ الرهان على النازية مع ألمانيا الهتلرية بالرهان على الإرهاب، خصوصاً في ما شهدناه خلال الأزمة والحرب في سورية، معتقداً أنه سيبقى بمنأى عن الخطر، عندما يترك النيران تشتعل بثوب مَن يصنفهم خصوماً، وفي المرتين النتيجة ذاتها. فالنوم مع الشيطان في السرير ذاته لا يمكن أن يجلب الأمن ولا أن يحقق السلام .

اليوم وقد تزايدت مشاكل العالم وزاد تعقيدها، لا يمكن تجاهل مخاطر انزلاق إلى نهاية تاريخ البشرية نتيجة للنزاع العالمي بسبب تصرّفات غير مسؤولة للمغامرين والمهووسين بأوهام العظمة والتفوق والجشع وأشكال الفوبيا القديمة.

من المطلوب تكثيف الجهود لمواجهة هذا النهج الذي يهدّد مستقبل البشرية. وبهذا الصدد نشير إلى ضرورة توسيع دائرة الدول والقوى السياسية التي تسعى إلى نضج النظام العالمي المتعدّد والمتوازن الذي يؤمن الحقوق المتساوية لأعضاء المجتمع الدولي والالتزام بميثاق الأمم المتحدة. وإذ نتذكر تحالفاً معادياً لهتلر فتطرح روسيا مبادرات بناءة بخصوص جميع مواضيع الأجندة العالمية ابتداء من الاستقرار الاستراتيجي والتعاون في الفضاء والفضاء السيبراني وصولاً إلى تسوية النزاعات الإقليمية ومكافحة الإرهاب. من المعروف أنّ الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين وجه الدعوة لعقد لقاء لرؤساء الدول الخمس الدائمة العضوية في مجلس الأمن الدولي لمناقشة أهم القضايا الراهنة. ونأمل أن تمثل هذه الخطوة نقطة انطلاق لعملية تنقية الأجواء وانتقالاً إلى مرحلة الحوار والتعاون لأن ذلك حاجة ماسة للبشرية كلها التي تعاني من تراكم المشاكل.

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*سفير روسيا الاتحاديّة لدى الجمهورية اللبنانيّة.

Education sector in Syria withstood the foreign-backed terrorist war and now confronting coronavirus

ST

Thursday, 02 April 2020 15:49 

After nine years of fighting against takfiri terrorism and western sanctions that affected all walks of life in Syria, the Syrians are now facing yet a different kind of war. It is the battle against coronavirus, the ambiguous pandemic threatening the entire world.

The Syrian government has taken precautionary measures including the closure of schools, colleges and all public facilities, to prevent coronavirus, which is also known as covid 19, from spreading in the country. Later measures included closing all markets, stopping public transportation, keeping work at the minimum level at institutions and imposing partial curfew to avoid crowds and limit contacts among individuals. Wide-scale sterilization campaigns have also been launched everywhere to combat the virus.

Like other state’s sectors, education has its share of these precautionary measures. In one of the schools in al-Tadamun neighborhood in Damascus, a voluntary cleanup and sterilization campaign was launched by the school’s staff including the principal and the teachers to disinfect all parts of the school in preparation for the safe return of the students after the threat of the killer disease is completely eliminated.

“Before the government’s closure decision, we used to explain to the students, through the health and psychological educators at the school, the nature of this virus, how it spreads and what they must do to avoid infection,” Mrs. Rawda al-Shini, the principal of Martyr “Hayel Abdalla” school for basic education in Damascus told Syriatimes e-newspaper.

 The school is affiliated to the Education Directorate of Quneitra province.

 The Syrians should cooperate to defeat coronavirus as they defeated terrorism

“Some members of the school’s teaching and administrative staff and I took the initiative and started cleaning and sterilizing the school with the support of the Quneitra Education Directorate which provided us with necessary detergents, sterilizers and masks,” she added.

“The students are like our children and it is our responsibility and duty to protect them against illnesses or any kind of danger,” said the principal, an energetic Syrian woman with a high sense of responsibility and patriotism, calling on the Syrians to keep steadfast and to cooperate in order to defeat coronavirus as they defeated terrorism.

The Syrians believe in knowledge and education as a weapon against ignorance 

Talking about the foreign-backed takfiri terrorist war on Syria and how the education sector managed to withstand the difficult circumstances and continued the education process, Mrs. Rawda said “the Syrians are vivid people who believe in knowledge and education as a weapon against ignorance  and who don’t surrender to despair. Education was a major target of terrorism in Syria. Many schools were destroyed or damaged because of terrorism, keeping tens of thousands of children out of school which was actually a real challenge that faced the education sector in our country. However, the successive victories that have been achieved by the Syrian Arab army in the fight against terrorism in different part of the country plus the government’s continuous support and urgent solutions have helped the education process continue”.

“Among other challenges that faced the education process was the terrorists’ random mortar attacks and sniper fire on residential neighborhoods, yet these attacks couldn’t stop the education process or prevent the teachers and students from coming to school to provide education to as many students as possible without discrimination,” Mrs. Rawda added, pointing out that the psychological support for both teachers and students was very necessary in that stage to overcome obstacles and achieve the noble message of teaching.

Overcrowded classrooms

“Many families, who were displaced from their areas because of terrorism, resided in al-Tadamun neighborhood and some of them enrolled their children in our school causing overcrowding  in the classrooms- nearly 60 students in each- but we had to respond positively to this issue in order to compensate those children for the lessons they missed,” Mrs. Rawda went on to say, pointing out that “some of the students we accepted in the school were children of gunmen, whose wives fled the areas held by those gunmen to government-controlled areas.

Students’ psychological condition

 On the psychological condition of students during events, she said “every child has had a sad story to tell during the war. Some children saw their fathers being killed by terrorists. Some others were displaced or they lost their fathers or mothers in the war and some others have their parents kidnapped or missing, not to mention the divorce cases that have been very harmful to the psychological condition of children. Our duty in the school has been to work as a family to provide tenderness and psychological support for the students in order to make them feel safe and loved,” she said, hailing the key role played by the school’s psychological educator in this regard.

“We were keen on promoting amity, solidarity and cooperation among the students regardless of their being children of martyrs, of displaced families or of gunmen. We were also keen to enhance the children’s love to their homeland and army through explaining to them what was happening in their beloved Syria and highlighting the sacrifices offered by the Syrian Arab army to protect the homeland and citizens and to restore security and normal life countrywide,” the principal made it clear. She pointed out that special focus was put on explaining the reality of Islam as a religion of peace amity and tolerance, not the a religion of killing and radical thinking like that of Daesh and Moslem Brotherhood terrorist organizations.

On the situation of martyrs’ children at the school, Mrs. Rawda said “we have some 40 students who are children of martyrs from the Syrian army, backup forces and civilian families. The school has held several activities to honor those children so that they feel proud of their fathers and know the value of martyrdom in defense of the homeland.”

Interviewed by: Hamda Mustafa

More Articles…

متفقون أم منحرفون؟

ديسمبر 7, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

يروّج آلاف من المحللين السياسيين ومنتحلي صفة مثقفين على شاشات التلفزة الإقليمية لمقولة تزعم ان التدخل الأميركي في الشرق الأوسط، يوفر للعرب حماية من التدخلات الخارجية وينقذهم من خطر الاحتلال.

ويقذفون بثلاثة انواع من المخاطر التي يجابها الأميركيون في العالم العربي كما يقولون وهي المطامع الإيرانية، والإرهاب، وروسيا.

لجهة الخطر الإيراني، يمكن الجزم بالاستدلال العلمي التاريخي ان إيران لم تعتدِ على بلد عربي منذ الفتوحات الاسلامية قبل الف عام تقريباً، وفي حين ان اتهام تحالفاتها في العالم العربي بأنها من الحرس الثوري الإيراني، فأمرٌ مثير للسخرية، لأن انصار الله في اليمن هم جزء من “الزيود” الذين يحكمون اليمن منذ تسعة قرون على الأقل.

لقد مر عشرات المستعمرين على اليمن في مراحل تاريخية مختلفة، وتلقوا جميعاً هزائم شديدة، أسألوا الأتراك والانجليز والسعوديين، وحتى المصريين في مرحلة عبد الناصر، أما قبل الإسلام فألحقوا هزائم بالرومان والفرس والصليبيين والإغريق فقط.

لجهة الحشد الشعبي العراقي فهو عراقي تاريخي ينتمي لكتلة بشرية تنتمي الى ارض السواد منذ آلاف السنين أي قبل دخول الإسلام اليه، وتحالفه مع إيران أدى الى دحر إرهاب كبير مدعوم من الأتراك والأميركيين والخليج.

هذا يؤكد أن تحالف إيران مع الحشد الشعبي كان عاملاً أساسياً في تحرير العراق من الإرهاب ومنع تقسيمه حسب مشروع أميركي – خليجي علني وليس إيرانياً.

كذلك فإن الدور الإيراني في سورية انما جاء بعد تدخل إرهابي كوني من حدود تركيا وبرعاية من مخابراتها وتمويل سعودي – إماراتي قطري تلبية لمطالب أميركية.

هذا الدور دعم الجيش السوري ببضع مئات من المستشارين وأسلحة كثيرة ومساعدات أخرى مادية، حتى تمكن من تحرير 65 في المئة من سورية بإسناد روسي وآخر من حزب الله.

حتى الآن لا أحد يعرف كيف أسهم التدخل الأميركي في إنقاذ المنطقة، بل على العكس لانه كشف التواطؤ الأميركي بدعم الإرهاب لتفتيت المنطقة.

ماذا عن لبنان؟ هناك حزب الله المتهم بإيرانيته على مستوى السياسة، باعتبار انه لبناني أصلي من جبل عامل.

تكفي هنا الاشارة الى ان الدعم الإيراني لحزب الله أدى الى تحرير جنوب لبنان من “إسرائيل” في العام 2000 ونجاحه في منع اجتياحها له في العام 2006، ومشاركته في القضاء على الإرهاب الدولي في سورية وجرود بلدة عرسال اللبنانية.

لذلك فالسؤال هنا، هو ما هي التدخلات الأجنبية التي أنقذ الأميركيون العرب منها، ففلسطين المحتلة هي بإيدي أصدقائهم اليهود المدعومين منهم، ومدينة القدس المقدسة باعها الأميركيون للإسرائيليين مصدرين قراراً بإلغاء وكالة الاونروا ومانحين شرعية للمستوطنات الاسرائيلية في الضفة الغربية ومقدمين لـ”إسرائيل” الجولان السوري المحتل ومزارع شبعا اللبنانية المحتلة.

لذلك يسأل البعض عن هوية الذي يسطو على النفط في شرقي الفرات؟ ألم يعترف الرئيس الأميركي ترامب انه وضع يده عليه عازماً على استثماره لمصلحة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية.

أما فمن يحتل العراق مقيماً فيه عشرات القواعد العسكرية فهي أميركية ايضاً.

فكيف يمكن اذاً اعتبار إيران خطراً يهدّد العالم العربي، وهي التي لا تحتل متراً واحداً من أراضيه، فيما يسيطر الأميركيون بالاحتلال على أراض سورية وعراقية وليبية ولديهم قواعد في البحرين والإمارات وعمان والكويت والسعودية والإمارات مع حق التزوّد بالوقود والسلع في المغرب ومصر والاردن.

وهل ننسى تركيا التي تحتل بدورها عشرات آلاف الكيلومترات في شرقي الفرات والشمال الغربي السوري حتى ادلب واراضي في العراق ولديها قواعد عسكرية في قطر وليبيا.

بالمقابل لا تحتل إيران متراً واحداً من المناطق العربية المجاورة.

يكشف هذا العرض عن مدى الانحطاط في ثقافة الدفاع عند قسم من المحللين العرب ومنتحلي صفة مثقفين.

على مستوى الإرهاب فالدور التركي – الخليجي الأميركي في دعمه عند انطلاقته غير مخفي تماماً كمستوى الوضوح في ان الذين هزموه في ميادين سورية والعراق هم الجيشان السوري والعراقي وحزب الله والحشد الشعبي، وروسيا التي شنت عليه مئة وعشرين الف غارة وإيران التي شاركت في القضاء عليه.

الا تبين هذه المعطيات ان الأميركيين يشكلون وبالاً على العالم العربي وقوة احتلال لأراضيه؟ وتظهر في آن معاً ان إيران ليست قوة احتلال، بل أمنت دعماً لقوى عربية متحالفة معها يجمعها بها العداء لنفوذ أميركي يلتهم ثروات المنطقة منذ 1945 ويحتل أراضيها ويسيطر على سلطاتها السياسية.

لذلك يمكن الاعتراف بأن الأميركيين يدعمون الأنظمة العربية لتقويتها في قمع شعوبها وتسهيل مسألة السطو الغربي على ثرواتها.

ماذا عن روسيا؟ هل تشكل خطراً على العرب ويعمل الأميركيون على مجابهته؟

المعروف أن روسيا لم يسبق لها ان احتلت ارضاً عربية في التاريخ ولم تكن قوة استعمارية كحالة الغرب.

اما وجودها العسكري في سورية، فهو يحوز على الشرعية القانونية من الأمم المتحدة التي تعترف بحق اي دولة الاستعانة بقوات من دولة أخرى، وهذا ما فعلته سورية بطلبها التدخل الروسي في مكافحة الإرهاب على أراضيها.

إن هؤلاء المثقفين والإعلاميين المستعربين يتوجون إيران عدواً للعرب، فيما يحتل الأتراك والأميركيون والاسرائيليون أراضي عربية بحجم دول كبيرة ويزعمون محاربة الإرهاب وهو المتحدّر من “القاعدة” الوهابية السعودية او الإخوانية التركية، ويرحلون نحو اتهام الروس في وقت تتمتع دول الخليج ومصر ومعظم الدول العربية بعلاقات جيدة مع موسكو.بذلك ينكشف تواطؤ مثقفين وإعلاميين عرب مع الأميركيين والأتراك لإبقاء العالم العربي في خدمة المستعمرين بشعارات كاذبة وزائفة.

العميل الفاخوري و«أمريكانه»: إلى استجواب جديد

الأخبار

الأربعاء 18 أيلول 2019

العميل الفاخوري و«أمريكانه»: إلى استجواب جديد

(هيثم الموسوي)

مشهد تلك السيّدة الرافعة بيدها حبل المشنقة، أمام المحكمة العسكرية أمس، كان يلخص مطلب الذين اعتصموا هناك بالتزامن مع جلسة استجواب العميل عامر الفاخوري. هو اعتصام باسم الأسرى المحررين من السجون والمعتقلات الإسرائيلية. منهم مَن كان ينفرد بصحافي ليخبره عن تجربته مع التعذيب في المعتقل، ومنهم من كان يتكلم أمام الجميع، أمام وسائل النقل المباشر، فيما هناك من تعمّد رفع صوته بقوة ليصل إلى داخل أروقة المحكمة. يُريدون لصوتهم أن يصل.

ارتفع الصوت أكثر عندما عرفوا بمجيء وفد أميركي، يضمّ محامية أميركية، بغية الترافع عن العميل. قاضية التحقيق نجاة أبو شقرا لم تسمح بذلك. لا بدّ مِن موافقة نقابة المحامين في لبنان أولاً. مجرّد فكرة أن يأتي أحدهم إلى المحكمة، بنيّة الدفاع عن العميل، أمر استفزّ المعتصمين، فكيف إذا كان أميركيّاً؟ كل من احتشد أمام المحكمة كان متشائماً، إذ سرت شائعة عن نية بعدم توقيف العميل، خاصّة في ظلّ ما صرّح به وكيل الأسرى المحررين المحامي معن الأسعد من هناك:

«الإخبارات لم تصل من قبل النيابة العامة التمييزية إلى قاضية التحقيق، لكن أرى أن الطوق ضاق على رقبة العميل… التحقيق سيستمر وسيكون هناك جلسات أخرى».

وبعد نحو ساعتين، قررت القاضية إصدار مذكرة توقيف بحق الفاخوري، عارضة ما طلبه على النيابة العامة العسكرية لإبداء الرأي، على أن يحدَّد موعد جديد لاستجوابه. كان طلب العميل محدداً: حضور المحامية الأميركية. لا يصدر عنه أي شيء آخر. انتهى الاعتصام على خير، تنفس الحاضرون الصعداء، على أن يتابع الحراك بحسب موعد الاستجواب الذي سيُحدد لاحقاً.

إلى ذلك، صرّح رئيس كتلة الوفاء للمقاومة النائب محمد رعد، أمس، قائلاً:

«إن الخيانة ليست وجهة نظر كما يرى البعض، ونحن نملك من القانون والأحكام والإجراءات ما يمكننا من التصدي لهؤلاء».

بدوره، صرّح النائب الجديد في الكتلة نفسها، حسن عز الدين، معرباً عن أسفه «لوجود من يريد أن يشرّع أمن البلد الوطني للمخاطر مجدداً». من جهته، نوّه المؤتمر الشعبي اللبناني بتوقيف الفاخوري، مطالباً بـ

«كشف كل المتدخلين والمتورطين بتسهيل عودة العملاء الفارين ومعاقبتهم كشركاء لهؤلاء في خياناتهم الوطنية».

Image result for ‫عضو تكتل «لبنان القوي»، زياد أسود‬‎

زياد أسود: توقيف الفاخوري سياسيّ لأن «سجلّه نظيف» بمرور الزمن

وخارج «الاجماع» السياسي على ضرورة أن ينال الفاخوري جزاءه، غرّد عضو تكتل «لبنان القوي»، زياد أسود، قائلاً إن توقيف الفاخوري سياسيّ، لأن «سجلّه نظيف» بمرور الزمن.

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The Rise and Fall of ISIS صعود وسقوط داعش

August 10, 2019

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

A year or two ago, I would have never imagined that I would be writing an article with this title, at least not this soon; but things change.

If anything, my previous articles about ISIS which I wrote back between 2014 and 2017 were very alarming and predicted the worst, but again, things change, and back then there were many reasons to feel alarmed.

I have reiterated in that era of the past that the ISIS ideology had deep roots in fundamentalist Islam, and I still have this view. I have professed many times that this fundamentalist doctrine had been in place long before Christopher Columbus set a foot on American soil and that we cannot blame the CIA, Israel, the UK, or the West in general for the creation of this ideology, and I am not retracting. I have also said that those fundamentalist views do not represent real Islam, and there is no change in heart on this aspect either. So what has changed?

In this context, we are talking about the ideological rise and fall of ISIS. We are not talking about the political aspects and the horde of players who helped create, manipulate and employ ISIS for different reasons and agendas. With all of those players however, ISIS needed the support base, and that support base was the Muslim youth who are disenchanted by world events and the manner the world views Islam. Furthermore, they are disgruntled by the governments of the Muslims World and their links to the West: links they consider as treasonous and shameful. It was this mindset that was the recruitment base for ISIS; not the Pentagon.

So for the benefit of clarification, I must herein emphasize that there has always been a perverted version of Islam that founded itself on violence; in total contradiction to the Quranic teachings that clearly forbid coercion and oppression. This version was finally committed to a written doctrine, written by Ibn Taymiyyah; the founding doctrine of the Wahhabi Saudi sect.

When the West “discovered” this doctrine, it tried to employ it to its advantage, and this was how Al-Qaeda and ISIS were created, with Al-Qaeda’s role to hurt the USSR in Afghanistan, and ISIS to topple the legitimate and secular Syrian Government.

The not so funny thing about ISIS was that when the proclamation of creating the Islamist state back in mid-2014, the Caliphate passion became something easy to grow and self-nurture in the hearts and minds of many Sunni Muslims across the globe; including moderate ones.

Harking back at what happened back then; one honestly cannot blame them much. After all, many of the then Iraqi ISIS commanders and fighters were former Saddam-era Iraqi Army personnel. Many of them have even actually walked away from the “dictator” in the hope that the “regime change” was going to be for the better, only to soon realize the state of mess and mayhem that the American invasion created.

Before ISIS “had the chance” to show its ugly face, may moderate Muslims thought that this new force emerging out of Mesopotamia, one that does not recognize the border lines that Western colonialists have drawn between Sham (Syria) and Iraq, one that wants to unite Muslims, is perhaps “the one” to go for and support.

Ironically, most of those Muslims today look back at those days and either forget or wish to forget that at one stage, at some level, deep down in their hearts they supported ISIS, albeit not fully knowing what it stood for.

It was this subtle and covert support for ISIS by some elements of the global Sunni rank-and-file that gave ISIS a fertile ground for luring in recruits and that was the major cause for concern.

If anyone looks for evidence that supports this statement, then he/she need not go further than looking at the recent history of terror attacks in the EU (especially France) and the UK.

After the horrendous Bastille Day attack in Nice in the summer of 2016, a new direction for terror was established, and the perpetrator proved that one does not need a weapon to kill. His weapon was a truck, and he didn’t even need to buy it. He rented it.

After this infamous attack and what followed it, I among many others, predicted more of such events, and they continued for a while, and then suddenly they stopped. Why? This is the question.

For ISIS to be have been able to keep its momentum and growing support base, it needed to gain the hearts and minds of Muslims. But to do so, it needed to score victories and be able to revive Muslim nostalgia. Both are equally important.

In the beginning, it boasted its victories and the biggest of which was the takeover of Mosul; Iraq’s second largest city. This was how the ears of many Muslims worldwide pricked up and poised themselves to hear more. Some jumped on the band wagon straight away, but the majority braced and waited for more evidence that ISIS in general, and Baghdadi in specific, are the right ones to trust and follow.

Image result for isis crimes

What followed the capture of Mosul by ISIS however was nothing short of disgrace for ISIS; one that exposed its true inner ugliness. And instead of being able to capitalize on its initial momentum and promising to achieve more of it by adopting at least some of the virtues of Islam, ISIS turned its inability to achieve further military victories into a blood bath, looting and a sex slave market.

Image result for isis crimes

Before too long, even some of the most ardent Muslim supporters of ISIS turned away from it, and then against it, to the degree that they now even forget or deny that they once supported its baby steps.

What is interesting to note is that the move from secularism to Islam has not changed in the Muslim world. An increasing number of Muslim girls are wearing the Hijab with or without ISIS, but ISIS itself has lost its sway with the general Sunni Muslim populace.

What is interesting to see is that the definition of what is a “real Muslim” is changing, and changing quickly. And whilst the move towards Hijab and all what comes with it is still going full steam ahead, there seems to be a growing trend in the Muslim World towards moderation.

The ISIS fundamentals of black and white doctrine seem to be becoming increasingly tolerant of certain shades of grey. Even some personal Facebook friends and friends of friends who have brandished their photos performing Pilgrimage at Mecca don’t seem to be at dis-ease posting other photos brandishing a Heineken. To someone outside the Muslim Faith this may not sound like a big deal, but in reality, it is.

This all sounds good, but what has happened here really?

ISIS has definitely lost the plot. Fortunately for the world, irrespective of who are/were the people “behind” ISIS, its recruitment base had to come from Muslims; especially the youth. Having lost the ability to draw more recruits and enthusiasts who pledge their actions and lives to Baghdadi without even having to be formal ISIS members, ISIS as an organization and a name is now a spent force, and dare I say a figment of the past.

This however does not mean that the Muslim community has “immunized” itself against potential new ISIS-like organizations and agendas.

The initial rise of ISIS could have well been the result of a nostalgic remnant of a certain belief system that many Muslims did not even want to investigate and study properly to see if it really and truly conforms with the Teachings of Islam and all other religions. The fall of ISIS however heralds a new unprecedented era in the Muslim mind, and this calls for great optimism.

Perhaps for the first time in the history of Islam ever since its inception, Muslims are now beginning to examine some teachings they inherited. Even Saudi Arabia and its infamous Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) seem to be sick and tired of the old rules and dogmas that allow this and prohibit that; based on no foundation at all. I have never been a fan of MBS, but having lived in Saudi Arabia for a while, I had always thought that this country would never allow women to drive, never ever. The fact that he changed this is a great step in the right direction. This does not take away from MBS’s genocidal activities in Yemen of course, but on the dogmatic side of things, this is a huge step towards reform. In Saudi Arabia there is also a call to have a second take on the Hadith (the spoken word of Prophet Mohamed) in an attempt to identify certain teachings that promote violence and that are incompatible with Islam. The rationale behind this is that they were never the words of the Prophet to begin with and that they might have been injected into the huge discourse by others with political agendas. Such an initiative was totally unfathomable only up till a few years ago.

Does this mean that we are seeing the end of Muslim fundamentalist-based violence? Hopefully we are, but the real answer to this question is for the whole Muslim community to answer.

The truth is that ISIS may be done and dusted, but the ideology behind lives on.

It is hoped for that the actions of ISIS will be remembered for eternity. It is hoped that Muslims realize that if they truly want to pursue the fundamentalist dreams of conquest and world dominion, then they cannot distance themselves from the legacy of ISIS. It is hoped that they look forward to a new world that is open to all religions and doctrines.

I am a firm believer that God created man in His own image, and part of this image is goodness and love of goodness; and Muslims are part of this creation. After all, Muslims, all Muslims believe in the Hadith that says: “The best people are those who most benefit to other people”. Russia and Syria might have won the military war on ISIS, but it is Muslims who have won the spiritual fight. Muslims: 1, ISIS: 0.

ِArabic Translation 

By UP

صعود وسقوط داعش

غسان كادي

 ، لم أكن أتخيل منذ عام أو عامين أبداً أنني سأكتب مقالًا بهذا العنوان؛

في ذلك الوقت كانت هناك أسباب كثيرة للشعور بالقلق، لكن الأمور تتغير.

في مقالاتي السابقة حول داعش التي كتبت في الفترة ما بين 2014 و 2017 كانت مقلقة للغاية وتوقعت الأسوأ ،  لكن الأمور تغيرت .

في تلك الحقبة الماضية كررت أن أيديولوجية داعش لها جذور عميقة في الإسلام الأصولي ،وقلت أيضًا أن تلك الآراء الأصولية لا تمثل الإسلام الحقيقي ولا يزال لدي هذا الرأي. فالعقيدة الأصولية كانت موجودة قبل فترة طويلة من اكتشاف الأرض الأمريكية وعليه لا يمكننا اتهام وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية أو إسرائيل أو المملكة المتحدة أو الغرب عمومًا بإنشاء هذه الأيديولوجية، وأنا هنا لا أتراجع. إذن ما الذي تغير؟

 في هذا السياق، نتحدث عن الصعود ولسقوط الأيديولوجي لداعش، ولا نتحدث عن الجوانب السياسية واللاعبين الذين ساعدوا في إنشاء وتوظيفها لأسباب وجداول أعمال مختلفة. لأنه مع توفر كل هؤلاء اللاعبين، كانت داعش بحاجه إلى بيئة حاضنة وقاعدة الدعم، وكانت البيئة الحاضنة وقاعدة الدعم هي الشباب المسلم المحبط بالأحداث العالمية والطريقة التي ينظر بها العالم إلى الإسلام والاستياء من حكومات العالم الإسلامي وروابطهم الخائنة والمخزية بالغرب. هذا الاحباط والاستياء مكن البنتاغون من التوظيف السياسي لداعش.

لذلك لا بد أن أشدد هنا على الوجود الدائمً لنسخة منحرفة من الإسلام تأسست على العنف ؛ في تناقض تام مع التعاليم القرآنية التي تمنع بوضوح الإكراه والقمع. نسخة كتبها ابن تيمية ؛ العقيدة المؤسسة للطائفة الوهابية السعودية.

عندما “اكتشف” الغرب هذه العقيدة المنحرفة، حاول أن يوظفها لصالحه ، وهكذا تم إنشاء القاعدة وداعش، القاعدة لإلحاق الأذى بالاتحاد السوفيتي في أفغانستان، وداعش لإسقاط الشرعية والعلمانية الحكومة السورية.

 لا شك ان إعلان داعش عن إنشاء الدولة الإسلامية في منتصف عام 2014 ، أيقظ الحنين والأمل بعودة الخلافة في  قلوب وعقول العديد من المسلمين السنة في جميع أنحاء العالم ؛ بما في ذلك المعتدلين. وبصراحة لا يمكن إلقاء اللوم عليهم كثيرا. بعد كل شيء ، فإن العديد من قادة ومقاتلي داعش العراقيين كانوا في السابق من أفراد الجيش العراقي في عهد صدام. لقد ابتعد كثير منهم عن “الديكتاتور” على أمل أن يتم “تغيير النظام” للأفضل ، لكنهم انضموا لداعش يسبب حالة الفوضى التي أحدثها الغزو الأمريكي.

قبل أن تظهر داعش وجهها القبيح ، ربما اعتقد المسلمون المعتدلون أن هذه القوة الجديدة الخارجة من بلاد ما بين النهرين ، والتي لا تعترف بالحدود التي رسمها المستعمرون الغربيون بين الشام (سوريا) والعراق ، هي القوة التي تستطيع توحيد المسلمين، والتي يجب دعمها .

ومن المفارقات، أن معظم هؤلاء المسلمين عندما ينظرون اليوم إلى الوراء، إما ينسون أو يودون أن ينسوا أنهم في مرحلة ما، في أعماق قلوبهم، أيدوا داعش ، وإن كانوا لا يعرفون تمامًا معنى ذلك.

هذا الدعم الخفي والسري لداعش من قبل بعض التيار السني العالمي هو الذي أعطى داعش أرضية خصبة لجذب المجندين وكان ذلك هو السبب الرئيسي للقلق.

إذا كان أي شخص يبحث عن أدلة تدعم هذه المقولة، فلن يحتاج الا إلى أبعد النظر في الهجمات الإرهابية في الاتحاد الأوروبي (وخاصة فرنسا) والمملكة المتحدة.

في الهجوم المروع الذي وقع يوم الباستيل في نيس في صيف عام 2016 ، أثبت مرتكب الجريمة أنه لا يحتاج إلى سلاح ليقتل. كان سلاحه شاحنة ، ولم يكن بحاجة لشرائها. فقد استأجرها.

وبعد هذا الهجوم المشين وما تلاه ، توقعت من بين أشياء كثيرة أخرى حدوث المزيد من هذه الأحداث ، التي استمرت لفترة، ثم توقفت فجأة.

لماذا ا؟ هذا هو السؤال.

لتتمكن داعش من الحفاظ على دعم بيئتها الحاضنة المتنامية ، كانت تحتاج إلى كسب قلوب وعقول المسلمين. وللقيام بذلك ، كان من الضروري تسجيل الانتصارات لإحياء حنين المسلمين للخلافة.

في البداية ، تفاخرت داعش بانتصاراتها وكان أكبرها الاستيلاء على الموصل. ثاني أكبر مدن العراق. وهكذا أصبحت آذان العديد من المسلمين في جميع أنحاء العالم تستعد وتهيئ نفسها لسماع المزيد. قفز البعض على عربة داعش مباشرة ، لكن الغالبية استعدت وانتظرت للحصول على مزيد من الأدلة على أن داعش بشكل عام ، والبغدادي على وجه الخصوص ، هما الشخصان المناسبان للثقة والمتابعة.

لكن ما أعقب استيلاء داعش على الموصل لم يكن أقل من وصمة عار كشفت عن قبحها الداخلي الحقيقي. وبدلاً من أن تتمكن داعش من الاستفادة من زخم انتصارها الأول ووعدها بتحقيق المزيد من ذلك من خلال ابراز من فضائل الإسلام على الأقل ، حوّلت داعش عجزها عن تحقيق المزيد من الانتصارات العسكرية إلى حمام دم ونهب وسوق للاسعباد الجنسي.

قبل مضي وقت طويل ، حتى ابتعد بعض أكثر المؤيدين الإسلاميين المتحمسين لداعش عنها ، ثم تحولوا  ضدها ، لدرجة أنهم الآن نسوا أو أنكروا أنهم أيدوا ذات مرة خطواتها الاولى .

 ما يثير الاهتمام هو ان فقدان داعش سيطرتها على عامة المسلمين السنة لم ينعكس على عملية الانتقال من  العلمانية إلى الإسلام لم يتغير في العالم الإسلامي. فعدد يرتدي عدد الفتيات المسلمات المحجبات يزداد

وما يثير الاهتمام هو أن تعريف “المسلم الحقيقي” يتغير ويتغير بسرعة. وبينما لا يزال ارتداء الحجاب وكل ما يأتي معه في تزايد ، يبدو أن هناك اتجاهًا متزايدًا في العالم الإسلامي نحو الاعتدال.

يبدو أن أساسيات مذهب داعش الأسود والأبيض أصبحت أكثر تسامحًا مع بعض ظلال الرمادي. حتى بعض الأصدقاء الشخصيين على وأصدقاء الأصدقاء قاموا بتلوين صورهم وهم يؤدون رحلة الحج في مكة المكرمة ،و لا يبدو أنهم لا يرغبون في نشر صور أخرى تحمل علامة هاينكن. بالنسبة لشخص من خارج الديانة الإسلامية ، قد لا يبدو هذا أمرًا كبيرًا ، لكنه في الواقع كذلك.

كل هذا يبدو جيدا ، ولكن ما حدث هنا حقا؟

بالتأكيد فقد فشلت مؤامرة داعش لحسن الحظ بالنسبة للعالم ، وبغض النظر عمن يكون / كان “وراء” تنظيم “داعش” ، كان المسلمين خاصة الشباب قاعدة التجنيد؛ فقدت داعش القدرة على جذب المزيد من المجندين والمتحمسين الذين نذروا أفعالهم وحياتهم للبغدادي دون الحاجة حتى إلى أن يكونوا أعضاء رسميين ، وأصبحت  داعش كمنظمة واسم الآن قوة مستهلكة ، وأتجرأ على القول، صورة من الماضي

لكن هذا لا يعني أن المجتمع المسلم “قام بتحصين” نفسه ضد المنظمات وجداول الأعمال المحتملة الجديدة المشابهة لداعش.

كان من الممكن أن يكون الصعود الأول لداعش هو  بقايا حنين لنظام معتقد معين لم يرغب الكثير من المسلمين حتى في دراسته بشكل صحيح لمعرفة ما إذا كان يتوافق حقًا مع تعاليم الإسلام وجميع الأديان الأخرى. لكن سقوط داعش يبشر بعهد جديد لم يسبق له مثيل في العقل الإسلامي ، وهذا يستدعي تفاؤلًا كبيرًا.

ربما لأول مرة في تاريخ الإسلام منذ نشأته ، بدأ المسلمون الآن في دراسة بعض التعاليم التي ورثوها. حتى في المملكة العربية السعودية وولي العهد السعودي الأمير محمد بن سلمان  يبدو أنهما سئموا من القواعد والعقائد القديمة التي تسمح بهذا وتحظر ذلك ؛ بدون أي أساس على الإطلاق.

لم أكن من عشاق محمد بن سلمان، ولكني كنت أعيش في المملكة العربية السعودية لفترة من الوقت ، وكنت أظن دائمًا أن هذا البلد لن يسمح أبدًا للنساء بقيادة السيارات، لكن هذا حدث وهو خطوة كبيرة في الاتجاه الصحيح و خطوة كبيرة نحو الإصلاح يجب ان لا تنسينا الإبادة الجماعية التي تقوم بها السعودية في اليمن بالطبع.

في المملكة العربية السعودية ، هناك أيضًا دعوة لإعادة النظر في الحديث (الكلمة المنطوقة للنبي محمد) في محاولة لتحديد التعاليم المنسوبة للنبي التي تروج للعنف والتي تتعارض مع االقرآن واعتبارها احاديث منحولة تم حقنها من قبل الآخرين لتبرير اجندات سياسية. مثل هذه المبادرة لم تكن ممكنة على الإطلاق قبل بضع سنوات.

هل هذا يعني أننا نشهد نهاية للعنف الإسلامي القائم على الأصولية؟ نأمل أن نكون ، لكن الإجابة الحقيقية على هذا السؤال هي برسم المجتمع المسلم بأسره.

والحقيقة هي أن داعش يقد هزمت ولكن الأيديولوجية الكامنة ورائها ما زالت مستمرة.

من المأمول أن يتذكر  المسلمون أفعال داعش إلى الأبد وأن يلفظوا إرث تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية وأحلامها الأصولية المتمثلة في الفتح والسيطرة على العالم ، من المأمول أن يتطلعوا إلى عالم جديد مفتوح لجميع الأديان والمذاهب.

أنا من أشد المؤمنين أن الله خلق الإنسان على صورته ، وجزء من هذه الصورة هو الخير ومحبة الخير ؛ والمسلمون جزء من هذا الخلق. بعد كل شيء ، المسلمون ، جميع المسلمين يؤمنون بالحديث الذي يقول:  “خير ا النَّاس انفعهم ” للنَّاس

ربما تكون روسيا وسوريا قد ربحت الحرب العسكرية على داعش ، ولكن المسلمين هم الذين فازوا في المعركة الروحية. المسلمون: 1 ، داعش: 0.

Sri Lanka Blasts: At Least 137 Killed, Hundreds Injured in Coordinated Churches’ Bombings

By Staff- Agencies

At least 137 people were killed and hundreds more were injured in near-simultaneous attacks on several churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials said.

The blasts hit three high-end hotels and one church in the capital, Colombo, while two additional churches were targeted elsewhere in the country during Easter services, Sri Lankan police said.

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called the blasts “cowardly” and said the government was working to “contain the situation.”

“I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong,” he wrote in a tweet.

Local security officials said at least two of the attacks appeared to have been carried out by suicide bombers.

The sites were all heavily frequented by tourists, and at least nine foreign nationals were killed in the explosions.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the apparent coordinated attack.

Sri Lanka’s police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday’s bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to target “prominent churches”.

“A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ [National Thowheeth Jama’ath] is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,” said the alert, which was sent by police chief Pujuth Jayasundara to top officers.

According to hospital officials, at least 40 people were killed in the Colombo attacks; at least 62 were killed in Negombo, north of the capital; and at least 27 were killed in Batticalao, on the country’s eastern coast.

The first blast ripped through St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo.

The island nation of Sri Lanka, just off the coast from India, endured a brutal and bloody civil war from 1983 to 2009, when the government declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam insurgent group, also known as the Tamil Tigers.

Terrorism Is What We Say It Is

By Jeremy Salt
Source

Ahwaz terror attack 54fc1

There is no consensus when it comes to defining terrorism. The most acceptable is ‘the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in pursuit of political aims.’ Some definitions insert the word ‘systematic’ so the act is defined as the regular, standard behavior of an individual or a group and not just one aberrant or anomalous action.

Terror is not quite the same as terrorism. Terror is experienced by many people in many ways and at many levels of their lives. There is terror at home in the hands of an abusive husband. There is the terror experienced by sexually abused children. There is terror in the school and the church, from abusive priests and teachers.

There is terror in the streets, from the man holding a knife to your throat as he demands your wallet and there can be terror at the hands of police, there to protect but frequently to abuse and even kill.

A violent father will terrorize his family for years. He will terrorize them regularly, day after day. He will assault his wife and children. He might even kill them. The family will live in a state of fear for years. There will be no end to it any more than there seems to be an end to occupation for the occupied.

This is a digression but it is not unreasonable to compare the fear of an abusive father in the home to the fear of soldiers and settlers amongst a people living under occupation. Violence is always just around the corner in both circumstances.

The home is turned into occupied territory, a place of violence and terror from which there is no escape for the trapped child. The abusive father becomes the soldier, the border police and the settler.

The state and the media tell us who the terrorist is. It is never us. It is always them. The terrorist is the Islamic State in Syria, the terrorist is the gunmen shooting dead 90 young people in the Bataclan theatre in Paris and the terrorist is the man driving a 19-ton truck into a mass of people strolling along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The central problem with this mainstream definition is that it excludes the terrorist actions of a state, except, of course, when the state is part of ‘them’ and not ‘us’ and needs to be set up as a fitting target for attack.

The killers at Bataclan and Nice had their own political motives but so do ‘western’ governments and their regional allies when launching their wars of aggression in the Middle East. Their actions meet their own criteria of terrorism – unlawful violence against civilians with a political aim in mind – and they have killed infinitely more people than the victims of all individual or group terrorist attacks put together.

Their wars would be more accurately described as onslaughts by the most powerful armies in the world on countries scarcely capable of defending themselves. Israel’s war on Lebanon in 1982 was a terrorist war directed against a civilian population, with the political aim in mind of extinguishing the PLO. Its ‘wars’ on Gaza have been terrorist attacks on a civilian population with the aim of destroying support for the Palestinian government elected in 2006.

When the US and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003 the entire Iraqi population south of the Kurdish region was terrorized. Across the country, people did not know whether they or someone close to them would live to see the next day. Hundreds of thousands did not.

They were the sacrifice that had to be made so a dictator could be stripped of the weapons of mass destruction he did not have and the architects of the killing of these civilians knew he did not have.

There were no elegies, no regrets, and no remorse. No flags waving over coffins and no sound of the last post. They were pulp, no more than dross, the scourings in the factory of war, a faceless, nameless pile of bodies with a sign stuck on the top reading ‘collateral damage.’

This did not mean that death did not concern the folk back home. Many were horrified and came out into the streets to demonstrate but most were concerned only with the death of their own, the soldiers sent to kill in this senseless war.

The same governments that led the attack on Iraq then took advantage of the ‘Arab spring’ to turn their attention to Libya. This most developed country in Africa was not destroyed by ‘rebels.’ It was destroyed by the air forces of the US, the UK, and France. The ‘rebels’ moved forward only under cover of aerial attack. Without it they could not have gone beyond the municipal boundaries of Benghazi.

These same governments changed gear when it came to Syria, where they knew they could not get any kind of UN Security Council backing for what they intended to do. They claimed to have been engaged in a ‘war on terror’ since 9/11 but now they and their regional allies used the terrorist gangs they had pledged to destroy to destroy Syria. Their takfiris were no more than the equivalent of the contras Ronald Reagan used against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

The criminality in all of this is enormous. The Nuremberg tribunal defined an aggressive war as the supreme international crime. The invasion of Iraq in 2003, the destruction of Libya in 2011 and the slow-motion destruction of Syria from 2011 onwards were aggressive wars and thus supreme international crimes for which no-one who commissioned them has been held accountable in a court of law.

The 2003 attack on Iraq followed ten years of sanctions described by senior UN humanitarian coordinators as genocidal. This was a decade of terror suffered by the Iraqi people, deprived of food, clean water, and energy supplies. Half a million children who would have lived died. The sanctions sickened so many governments they refused to apply them any longer.

With the sanctions regime collapsing, and with it becoming clear that Saddam would survive and Iraq would again take its place as a front line Arab state against Israel, the US decided to attack again and break Iraq up.

The second war on Iraq was launched and sustained under cover of the most reprehensible lies, not one of them being challenged let alone exposed by the corporate media. Up to one million people were killed within a few years and millions more fled their country. Until the attack on Syria, it was the greatest outpouring of refugees in the Middle East since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.

The refugees scattered in all directions. Some managed to reach Indonesia, where they took rickety boats across the Timor Sea to Australia. Many drowned when their boats sank.  Others were turned back and some actually made it through the naval cordon. Taking no responsibility for its military role in the destruction of their country, the Australian government then locked them up in ‘detention centers’ or in camps behind razor wire in the middle of the desert.

The vicious, inhumane treatment of such vulnerable people will rank for all time as one of the most despicable episodes in Australian history. What it exposed yet again was the racism deeply embedded in Australian society, directed against one vulnerable group of people after another, the indigenous people from the beginning of white settlement, Chinese miners in the 19th century, ‘boat people’ escaping the Vietnam war in the 1970s and most recently the ‘boat people’ escaping the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.

The irony could not be lost on anyone, as it was the white settlers themselves who in 1788 were the first ‘boat people,’ massacring the native people and claiming the entire land under the lie of terra nullius. Neither should the similarities with the Zionist occupation of Palestine be lost on anyone.

War turned Libya into a jumping-off point for Libyans and other Africans escaping war or seeking a better life in Europe. Thousands drowned crossing the Mediterranean. The Aegean was another death zone, for Iraqis driven out of their homeland or Kurds escaping theirs.

Then it was Syria’s turn.  If there is any redeeming feature in this latest attempt to destroy an Arab country it is that Syria has survived and in time foreign forces will eventually have to withdraw from the territory they have occupied.  The governments responsible have again violated international law in the most shocking fashion and again no-one has been punished or even held accountable.

These state crimes are the greatest in modern history, far worse in the scale of destruction and the numbers of people killed than the crimes of the national socialists and fascists in the 1930s. One would have to go back to the war on Vietnam for a parallel measure of death and destruction.

Israel was a central element in the wars on Iraq and Syria. It has long been agitating for war on Iran. Its politicians and lobbyists in the US were pushing for ‘regime change’ in the Middle East two decades ago, with the aim of clearing the region of all possible threats to Israeli military domination.

Psycho-historically, Israel also wanted to destroy what was left of the ‘Arab idea’ and what lay at its heart – Palestine. This project began with its establishment.  Israel would decide what the Arab world would be and Israel would tell the world what Arab and Palestinian history had been. Indeed, there would no longer be an ‘Arab world’ in any integrated sense.  As the Yinon planrevealed in the 1980s, it would be broken up into ethno-religious enclaves that Israel could dominate.

Along with the gross crimes committed in Iraq, Libya and Syria there have been the drone missile attacks ordered against Yemen, Somalia and other countries by that paragon of western liberal democracy, Barack Obama.

Now we have his successor dismissing international law with his claim that Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are part of Israel. Thus encouraged, Netanyahu is pledging that after the forthcoming elections he will annex at least parts of the occupied West Bank. ‘A Palestinian state would endanger our existence’ he says. If he does, Trump is likely to follow through with recognition.

What else are these attacks on the governments and people of the Middle East but terror and terrorism as defined – ‘the unlawful use of violence … especially against civilians … in the pursuit of political aims’?

This terrorism is not random but part of the DNA of certain states, no different in essence from the terror of the gunmen who burst into the Bataclan theatre and began shooting down civilians as innocent as the Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians and Palestinians killed by tank fire and missile strikes or shot by gunmen along the Gaza fence. Only the uniform separates them from the Bataclan killers.

These two governments, the US and Israel, have turned the canons of international law upside down. Their law is no more than the law of the jungle, the law not of the civilization whose virtues they endlessly spout but of brute force. They have demonstrated by their actions that where their perceptions of national interest are concerned there is no law they will obey and every law they will break.

They are the Leviathan without the social contract. They have taken the world back to Thomas Hobbes’ ‘state of nature,’ in which, for millions of people in the Middle East the life of a man or a woman, adult or child, becomes ‘brutish and short.’

In their eyes, the ‘terrorist’ is not just the Bataclan gunmen but anyone who stands in their way, whether an individual, an organization or a state. The latest addition, put on the list of designated terrorist groups by Donald Trump, is Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which has sent forces to support Syrian and Hizbullah resistance to western-led and Israeli aggression against Syria and Lebanon. In response, Iran’s Supreme Security Council has designated the US government as a terrorist government and CENTCOM, the US central military command, as a terrorist group.

The attack on Syria has been yet another terrible violation of international law, at numerous levels, by the US and its ‘western’ and Middle Eastern regional partners. As usual, the UN Secretary-General refuses to speak out, further whittling away the UN’s credibility as the supposed defender of international order. The response by the Syrian government and its allies to the attack on Syria is not terrorism, but resistance to it.

US and Israeli orchestrated terror in the Middle East has to be put in the right semantical order. Israel was founded through terror and by terror it has been maintained. Its terrorism is not random but normalized and necessary to its existence as a state that has chosen to live outside the law, with the full support of the US.

Israel is not ‘defending’ itself when it attacks Gaza or when its soldiers, police, and settlers kill Palestinians in Jerusalem or on the West Bank. What is it is ‘defending’ is its theft of someone else’s property. It is the Palestinians who are defending their rights, under law, not Israel.

Israeli civilians living illegally on occupied land in east Jerusalem or the West Bank put themselves in harm’s way and are to be held primarily responsible for the consequences to themselves and their families.

The terror experienced by Israeli Jews living close to the Gaza fence is the minutest fraction of the terror routinely inflicted on Palestinians on the other side of the fence. They are being targeted not because they are Jews, as Netanyahu and Zionist lobbyists would have the world believe, but because they are living on land stolen from its owners more than seven decades ago after being ethnically cleansed. It would not matter who they are.  They would still be resisted because of what they have done.

Adherence to international law would redress the situation in Palestine yet the joint US and Israeli response to the violence and terror they have initiated across the Middle East is more violence and more terror. This is their answer. You will do as we say or else, signaling that the ‘special relationship’ between these two unruly, lawbreaking countries is one of the most dangerous in history.

Foreign backed terrorism in Iran: Part one -US/Israeli backed Salafists in Iran

April 07, 2019

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

While terrorism is a phenomenon most of us have come in touch with during our lifetime, much of the coverage is shadowed by terrorism in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, where US backed terrorist groups have wreaked havoc in devastating the wars that have plagued these countries.

Nonetheless, terrorism is widespread across the region, even in Iran. Due to Iran’s relatively strong internal stability, terrorist groups have been unable to catch major headlines in the Islamic Republic as terrorist groups often conduct hit and run attacks or the occasional kidnappings of young drafted border guards and soldiers near the Pakistan/Afghanistan border areas as well as across Iran’s western borders towards Iraq. Some groups are motivated by separatist goals, while others are driven by religious extremism. In this first part I will cover terrorism across Iran’s eastern borders, one that is driven by the Salafist ideology.

Iran has been familiar with terrorism for many decades through the Saddam Hussein-backed “People’s Mujahideen”, a strange group of “Marxist-Islamists” who waged war on their own country in an attempt to grab power, shortly after the Islamic Revolution. During Saddam’s 8 year war on Iran they were backed and armed by Iraqi security forces, often resorting to terrorist attacks, killing many innocent people in the process. While this group was effectively defeated, it has nonetheless survived as it was sheltered by the Saddam regime and recently have found refuge in Albania. I will come back to this group later.

Since the 9/11 attacks when Al-Qaeda became a household name, Takfiri groups have become increasingly widespread in the Middle East and central Asia. Many Takfiri groups have found their haven in neighbouring Pakistan which they use as a home base to launch cross border attacks on Afghanistan and Iran. Pakistan’s government and security apparatus are known to support Takfiri groups across the region, at the behest of Washington, a fact that former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf admitted to.

Pakistan is home to multiple Saudi funded so called Madrasas, terrorist recruitment centres focused on brainwashing young men into joining militant groups with similar ideologies such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. For decades, since the days of the Soviet-Afghan war, Islamabad has used terrorism as a tool for its foreign policy towards its neighbours. But it is important to understand that Islamabad and Pakistan’s security services are working for Washington’s interests, because had they had their own interests at heart, they wouldn’t allow the Waziristan province to turn into a terrorist controlled region in the country, endangering the lives of Pakistanis across the country. These Takfiri groups have committed heinous crimes against Pakistanis as well, such as the notorious Peshawar school shootings of 2014 where 132 schoolchildren were murdered.

Since 2003, Iran has been plagued by Takfiri terrorism that has penetrated through Iran’s south-eastern borders into the Sistan and Baluchistan province. One of the more active groups in the region was the Jundallah terrorist group, made up of the predominantly Sunni Muslim Baluchis (a people living in southeastern Iran and southwestern Pakistan). Jundallah claimed to be fighting for Baluchi rights in Iran while also espousing the formation of a Sunni Baluchi state. From their bases in Pakistan, over the course of 8 years, Jundallah conducted multiple terrorist attacks in Iran, such as the 2007 Zahedan bombings where 18 members of the IRGC were killed.

The following investigation pointed towards external backing by the U.S and Israel, as Mossad agents posing as CIA officers met with and recruited members of Jundallah in cities such as London to carry out attacks against Iran. In late 2008, in an interview with the Saudi Al-Arabiyah TV, Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi said that his group had been “given 2000 men as well as military and ideological training”, indicating that external support to his group was indeed an ongoing process. In the following two years more attacks were carried out in the Sistan and Baluchistan province as Jundallah stepped up their operations. Despite Pakistan’s official policy of cooperating with Iran on the matter of cross border terrorism in this region, some Iranian officials have directly accused Pakistan of playing a double game. It has been claimed that Jundallah can not operate with at least some degree of support from within Pakistan and that elements from within Pakistani security establishment, particularly ISI with financial support of Saudi Arabia and its supplementation through the largest opium black market in the world have created a network of drug smugglers and terrorists in the region.

In 2007, ABC News cited US. and Pakistani intelligence sources as saying American officials had been secretly advising and encouraging Jundullah militants to carry out attacks against targets inside Iran. The following year, in 2008, Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker investigation revealed that the Bush administration had been funding covert operations inside Iran designed to destabilize the country’s leadership since 2005. According to Hersh, these covert activities included support for Baluchi groups such as Jundullah. That same year, Pakistan’s former army chief, General Mirza Aslam Baig, claimed to have first-hand knowledge that the US was providing training facilities to Jundallah militants in Pakistan and southeastern Iran, specifically to sow unrest between the two neighbouring countries.

The final piece of evidence was uncovered when Abdolmalek Rigi was captured in 2010. In a televised interview with Iranian officials before his execution, Rigi confessed that the Americans “promised to help us and they said that they would co-operate with us, free our prisoners, and would give us military equipment, bombs, machine guns, and they would give us a base.” Rigi added that “The Americans said Iran was going its own way and they said our problem at the present is Iran… not al-Qaeda and not the Taliban, but the main problem is Iran. We don’t have a military plan against Iran. Attacking Iran is very difficult for us (the US).”

Rigi’s arrest and subsequent execution weakened and ultimately dissolved Jundallah as members broke off to form new terrorist groups such as Harakat Ansar Iran and the more notorious Jaish ul Adl. Like Jundallah, Jaish ul-Adl is operating in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, as well as Pakistan’s Balochistan Province. The group has carried out numerous attacks against Iranian government institutions, including one infamous incident in March 2014 in which five Iranian border guards were kidnapped, with one being executed later. The latest attack was carried out just two months ago, when a suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying IRGC personnel in the city of Zahedan (Sistan and Baluchistan).

Aside from carrying on Jundallah’s previous goals of creating a jihadist Baluchi state in southeastern Iran, Jaish ul-Adl is also opposed to the government’s active support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which they regard as an attack on Sunni Muslims. This is where the Syrian war again is connected to the rise of salafist groups across the region, and shows us how these groups are indeed the same as the US backed terrorist groups in Syria. Takfiri extremist organizations such as Jaish al-Adl see their war against Iran as an extension of the war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, itself part of the broader jihad against Shia Islam.

In the next part of this series, I will cover the much broader and frequent support for Kurdish nationalist and separatist groups in Western Iran, as well as the recent rise of Arab separatism in southwestern Iran.

Lebanon’s General Security Arrests Lebanese-Canadian for Collaboration with Israeli Enemy

March 19, 2019

General Security

The General Security indicated Tuesday that it had apprehended a Lebanese-Canadian individual for collaboration with the Israeli enemy and the collect of information for the enemy’s intelligence services.

“Within the frame of its fight against espionage for the Israeli enemy entity and the dismantlement of its rings inside Lebanon, the General Directorate of the General Security has arrested Lebanese-Canadian F.G., born 1978, upon the notice of the military prosecution,” the GS said in a statement.

“During interrogations, the detainee admitted the following:
– In 2013, he had been recruited by Lebanese fugitive spy N.G., who currently chairs a division in the enemy’s intelligence Unit 504;
– He had been tasked with recruiting Lebanese people to infiltrate into Hezbollah’s support milieu and collect security information for the enemy intelligence, including tips on Israeli air force navigator Ron Arad;
– Preparing to enter the occupied Palestinian lands,” the statement read.

SourceNNA

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European Intellectuals Regret Their Governments’ Support for Terrorism in Syria

Saturday, 02 March 2019

DAMASCUS, (ST)- A number of European intellectuals, currently visiting Syria, have underscored that Syria has become an example to be followed by the world’s freedom-loving peoples in terms of its struggle and steadfastness in the confrontation of terrorism.

During a symposium held in Damascus on Saturday the intellectuals, who are members of the International Movement for Supporting Peoples’ Sovereignty, regretted their governments’ support for terrorism and their participation in the war on Syria, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said.

Emmanuel Leroy, a French political activist, expressed his respect for the Syrian people and highly appreciated the Syrians’ steadfastness in the face of terrorism, saying: “I came to greet you as Syrian nationals…Forget about the governments of the West..they adopted bad and wrong stance that we condemn..think about the peoples which support you”.

Europeans fed up with the Zionist intervention in the European decision

On his part, French historians and researcher Youssef Hindi said that the Zionist lobby in Europe in general, and in France in particular, support wars in the world and that many opinion leaders in Europe have been fed up with the Zionist intervention in the European decision which go against the national interests of the European people.

French Lawyer Arnaud Develay, on his part, said the European governments have lost control because they have embraced Zionism and abandoned the humanitarian values and principles they claimed and promoted and they have participated in a horrible crime by attacking an independent state like Syria.

Syria fought against colonialist schemes

Daria Douguina, a Russian researcher in Philosophy, asserted that Syria has fought against colonialist schemes and that the global war waged on it depended on extremists of different nationalities and who were backed by several European countries.

Iurie Rosca, former deputy parliament speaker of the Moldavian parliament, regretted his country’s government’s policy towards Syria and its subordination to NATO.

European have been brainwashed

French journalist Lucien Cerise affirmed that the Europeans have been brainwashed  in order to falsify the facts about Syria and to form a bloc that supports the decisions of the French government on participating in the war on Syria.

Italian journalist Alessandro Sansoni, on his part, clarified that only a few Italian journalists have been able to talk about the reality of events in Syria given the misleading information reported by western media outlets to the Europeans. He called for more meetings and contacts between the Syrians and the Europeans to join efforts in the fight against evil forces and disinformation policies.

Syria is the world’s beacon

Antony Drumel, a French publisher and journalist, hailed the sacrifices and heroic deeds of the Syrian people in the confrontation of terrorism. “Today, your Syria is the world’s  beacon which ended the era of hegemony and created a new era through struggle and resistance.

French intellectual and writer Jean Michel Vernochet said that the steadfastness of the Syrians has defeated the strongest and most developed weapons, stressing that the economic war will be difficult, but easier than the terrorist war the Syrians has been experiencing over the past years.

Member of the Baath Arab Socialist Party Central Leadership, Mahdi Dakhlallah, stressed the importance of contacts with the peoples of Europe as to influence the public opinion there, particularly after some European governments have adopted wrong policies by obeying US dictates and supporting the terrorist war on the Syrian people.

On his part, Adnan Azzam, the founder of the International Movement for Supporting Peoples’ Sovereignty said that the movement was launched on January 20th 2019 and that it is now comprising elite European intellectuals who support the Syrian people’s struggle.

Hamda Mustafa

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EU Adds Saudis To Terror-Funding List

EU Adds Saudis To Terror-Funding List

Source: ZeroHedge

The European Union seems confused…

Reuters reports that, according to two sources, the European Commission has added Saudi Arabia to an EU draft list of countries that pose a threat to the bloc because of lax controls against terrorism financing and money laundering.

The move comes amid heightened international pressure on Saudi Arabia after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2.

The EU’s list currently consists of 16 countries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and North Korea, and is mostly based on criteria used by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body composed by wealthy nations meant to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

Saudi Arabia missed out on gaining full FATF membership in September after it was determined to fall short in combating money laundering and terror financing.

The government has taken steps to beef up its efforts to tackle graft and abuse of power, but FATF said in September that Riyadh was not effectively investigating and prosecuting individuals involved in larger scale money laundering activity or confiscating the proceeds of crime at home or abroad.

The provisional decision to add Saudi Arabia needs to be endorsed by the 28 EU states before being formally adopted next week.

And this is where we get a little confused… because while Europe lists Iran as a state sponsor of terror, it is also, reportedly, at an “advanced stage” of completion of its special purpose vehicle to help European companies bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Citing three European diplomats, Bloomberg reports that the European Commission said it’s seeking to launch “very soon” with the official unveiling could come as early as Monday.

“The SPV preparations have progressed; they are at an advanced stage,” the spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, told reporters in Brussels.

“I hope that we can announce the launch very soon.”

Progress had been slow as the EU, led by France, Germany and the U.K., has struggled to find a government willing to host the vehicle, which risks drawing criticism from the American administration.

The Trump administration has considered such efforts an attempt to evade its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran. The U.S. will fully enforce its sanctions and hold accountable any individuals or entities that undermine them, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Al-Jaafari: The Constitution is an Absolute Syrian Sovereign Affair

20 December، 2018
New York, SANA

Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari said Thursday that Syria is open to any initiatives that help it come out of the crisis, affirming that the constitution is an absolute Syrian sovereign issue.

Al-Jaafari, speaking at a UNSC session on the state in the Middle East, added that Syria is ready to actively participate in any genuine effort to reach a political solution through which the Syrians alone decide their future without any foreign intervention.

He affirmed that the international community has to help Syria end the terrorist war and eliminate the remnants of the terrorist organizations, adding that Syria is writing the last chapter of its fight against terrorism.

Al-Jaafari went on to say that the success of any political track in Syria requires work with the Syrian state and pre-cooperation with it, saying that it also requires an international commitment to overcome the remnants of terrorists and end the illegitimate presence of foreign troops on the Syrian territories.

The Syrian diplomat affirmed that Syria hopes the current committee on discussing the constitution, emerging from the Syrian-Syrian national dialogue congress in Sochi, would be formed as soon as possible.

Al-Jaafari said Syria welcomes the role of the UN special envoy as a facilitator to the works of the Committee, and its assertion-at the same time-that no one can appoint himself as a third side in this process.

He said that western states claim their commitment to Syria sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity while they launch aggression on it and attack parts of its territories, as well as they still support terrorists.

Al-Jaafari affirmed that the constitution and any related issue is a sovereign affair which is decided by the Syrians without any external intervention, adding it is not permissible to impose any preconditions or conclusions regarding the task of the committee on discussing the constitution.

“Syria is determined to achieve the political solution through a Syria-Syrian dialogue, led by Syria, without any foreign intervention.. and combating terrorism should have the priority in all phases and developments of the political process,” al-Jaafari said.

He added that all the honest Syrians are called to take part in the political process, based on national bases in order to go ahead in reconstructing what has been sabotaged by terrorism.

الجعفري: الدستور شأن سيادي.. داعمو الإرهاب لن يحصلوا بالسياسة على ما لم يحصلوا عليه بالإرهاب

نيويورك- سانا

أكد مندوب سورية الدائم لدى الأمم المتحدة الدكتور بشار الجعفري أن الدستور وكل ما يتصل به هو شأن سيادي بحت يقرره السوريون بأنفسهم دون أي تدخل خارجي داعيا الدول التي دعمت الإرهاب إلى الخروج من حالة الانفصال عن الواقع وأن تدرك بأنها لن تحصل بالسياسة على ما لم تحصل عليه بالإرهاب.

وقال الجعفري خلال جلسة لمجلس الأمن الدولي اليوم حول الحالة في الشرق الأوسط: إن سورية منفتحة على أي مبادرات لمساعدتها في الخروج من الأزمة الحالية وهي جاهزة للمشاركة الفعالة في أي جهد صادق يهدف إلى الوصول لحل سياسي يقرر فيه السوريون وحدهم مستقبلهم وخياراتهم عبر الحوار السوري/السوري وبقيادة سورية وعلى أساس أن الشعب السوري هو صاحب الحق الحصري في تقرير مستقبل بلده دون أي تدخل خارجي وبما يضمن سيادة سورية واستقلالها ووحدتها وسلامة أراضيها وهو الأمر الذي أكد عليه القانون الدولي وميثاق الأمم المتحدة وكل قرارات مجلس الأمن الثلاثين ذات الصلة بسورية.
نجاح أي مسار سياسي يتطلب العمل عن كثب مع الدولة السورية والتنسيق المسبق معها حول مختلف الأمور ذات الصلة

وشدد الجعفري على أن نجاح أي مسار سياسي في سورية يتطلب العمل عن كثب مع الدولة السورية والتنسيق المسبق معها حول مختلف الأمور ذات الصلة كما يتطلب التزاماً دولياً وإرادة سياسية حقيقية لدى الجميع للقضاء على ما تبقى من فلول الإرهابيين بشكل كامل وإنهاء وجود القوات الأجنبية غير الشرعية على الأراضي السورية والتوقف عن عرقلة الجهود الصادقة التي تبذلها الحكومة السورية بالتعاون مع حلفائها للوصول إلى الحل السياسي المنشود لافتا إلى أن سورية وانطلاقاً من مسؤولياتها الوطنية وحفاظاً على مصالح شعبها أبدت تعاوناً والتزاماً كبيرين مع جهود الأمم المتحدة بدءاً بمهمة مبعوثها كوفي عنان مروراً بمهمة الأخضر الإبراهيمي وصولاً إلى مهمة ستافان دي ميستورا وهي ترحب اليوم بتعيين غير بيدرسن مبعوثاً خاصاً للأمين العام للأمم المتحدة إلى سورية وتعبر عن استعدادها للعمل والتعاون معه عن كثب.

وأكد الجعفري حرص سورية على أن ترى لجنة مناقشة الدستور الحالي المنبثقة عن مؤتمر الحوار الوطني السوري السوري في سوتشي النور في أقرب وقت ممكن موضحا أن الدولة السورية كانت أول من سلم قائمة الأعضاء المدعومين منها وانخرطت بجدية كاملة مع حلفائها للتغلب على العراقيل التي فرضتها بعض الأطراف لتعطيل تشكيلها وحرفها عن مسارها الصحيح والهدف المنشود منها وبالتالي لا يمكن لأحد أن يشكك في دعم الدولة السورية لهذه العملية أو في التزامها بمخرجات مؤتمر سوتشي.

وأعرب الجعفري عن ترحيب سورية بدور المبعوث الأممي الخاص كميسر لأعمال لجنة مناقشة الدستور الحالي وتأكيدها في الوقت ذاته أنه لا يمكن لأي كان أن ينصب نفسه طرفاً ثالثاً في هذه العملية وذلك انسجاماً مع ميثاق ومبادئ عمل الأمم المتحدة من حيث الحياد والنزاهة وعدم التدخل في الشؤون التي تكون من صميم السلطان الداخلي لأي دولة عضو.

الدستور وكل ما يتصل به شأن سيادي بحت يقرره السوريون بأنفسهم دون أي تدخل خارجي

وجدد الجعفري التأكيد على أن الدستور وكل ما يتصل به هو شأن سيادي بحت يقرره السوريون بأنفسهم دون أي تدخل خارجي ولا يجوز فرض أي شروط أو استنتاجات مسبقة بشأن عمل اللجنة والتوصيات التي يمكن أن تخرج بها فاللجنة سيدة نفسها وهي التي تقرر ما سيصدر عنها وليس أي دولة أو طرف آخر ولا يجوز فرض أي مهل أو جداول زمنية مصطنعة فيما يخص عمل اللجنة لأن ذلك ستكون له نتائج عكسية حيث أن الدستور سيحدد مستقبل سورية لأجيال قادمة.

وأوضح الجعفري أنه بعد مرور نحو ثماني سنوات من الحرب الإرهابية على سورية لا بد من التوقف عند مفارقة عجيبة لدى بعض الدول تتمثل في تعارض واضح بين أقوالها وأفعالها متسائلا كيف تتسق أقوال هذه الدول بضرورة احترام سيادة سورية واستقلالها ووحدة أراضيها وبأن الحل يجب أن يكون سورياً سورياً وبقيادة سورية دون أي تدخل خارجي مع أفعالها ولاسيما لجهة عدوانها العسكري المباشر على سورية وغزوها أجزاء منها ودعمها للمجموعات الإرهابية وإنشائها مجموعات سياسية لا هدف لها سوى عرقلة الحل السوري السوري وفرض الوصفات المسبقة التي ثبت فشلها ومحاولاتها البائسة لرسم مشهد صدامي وتوزيع جديد للأدوار بهدف زعزعة الاستقرار في المنطقة عبر تأليب دولها ضد بعضها البعض خدمة لـ “إسرائيل” وحلفائها وبهدف تصفية القضية الفلسطينية.

وأشار الجعفري إلى أن هذه الدول تحاول إضفاء صفة “المعارضة السورية المعتدلة” على الإرهابيين الأجانب الذين جلبتهم من بقاع الأرض الأربع وقال: اسمحوا لي هنا طالما أننا نتحدث عن المعارضة المعتدلة أن أعرفكم ببعض وجهاء هذه “المعارضة المسلحة السورية المعتدلة” بعد أن تم تعديل هؤلاء الوجهاء وراثياً في مختبرات أجهزة استخبارات دول معروفة ليصبحوا معارضة سورية وهؤلاء الوجهاء هم “أبو المقداد التركي” و”أبو مصعب السعودي” و”أبو صهيب الليبي” و”أبو جون البريطاني” و” أبو محمد التونسي” و”أبو هريرة الأمريكي” و”أبو معاذ التركستاني” و”أبو حفصة المصري” و”أبو عبد الرحمن الكندي” و”أبو عبد الله الأردني” و “أبو طلحة الكويتي” و”أبو مرة الفرنسي” و”أبو عود البلجيكي” و”أبو الوليد الأسترالي” و”عبد الحق جند الله الإيغوري” والمفتي الشرعي لـ “جبهة النصرة” الإرهابي “عبد الله المحيسني وهو سعودي”… هؤلاء هم وجهاء وقادة المعارضة السورية المسلحة المعتدلة.

استمرار النفاق السياسي تحت قبة مجلس الأمن يفضح النوايا الحقيقية لسياسات الدول التي زجت كل إمكانياتها العسكرية والإعلامية والسياسية على مدى ثماني سنوات تم خلالها الإمعان في دعم الإرهاب في سورية

وشدد الجعفري على أن استمرار النفاق السياسي تحت قبة مجلس الأمن يفضح النوايا الحقيقية لسياسات الدول التي زجت كل إمكانياتها العسكرية والإعلامية والسياسية على مدى ثماني سنوات تم خلالها الإمعان في دعم الإرهاب في سورية والاستثمار فيه في تناقض صارخ مع كل القرارات التي اعتمدها هذا المجلس وأدت إلى كوارث لا يمكن تعدادها وحصرها طالت الأبرياء من أبناء الشعب السوري.

وبين الجعفري أن الوقت حان أكثر من أي وقت مضى كي تتم قراءة الوضع في سورية بطريقة موضوعية وصحيحة تهدف إلى مساعدة سورية في التخلص من الحرب الإرهابية التي بدأت بمساعدة حلفائها في كتابة الفصل الأخير منها وفي القضاء على ما تبقى من فلول تنظيمي “داعش” وجبهة النصرة والمجموعات الإرهابية المرتبطة بهما بدلا من الاستمرار باعتماد مواقف متطرفة بهدف ابتزاز الحكومة والشعب السوري وإطالة أمد هذه الحرب الإرهابية وتوسيع آثارها التدميرية على سورية والمنطقة والعالم ومحاولة تكرار الوصفات الفاشلة التي تسببت في تدمير وتخريب أكثر من بلد لافتا إلى أن الوقت حان أيضا لأن تخرج الدول الداعمة للإرهاب من حالة الانفصال عن الواقع وأن تتخلى عن آخر أوهامها وأن تدرك أنها لن تحصل بالسياسة على ما لم تحصل عليه بالإرهاب.

وأشار الجعفري إلى أن سورية كانت ولا تزال ملتزمة بالعمل لتحقيق الحل السياسي عبر حوار سوري/سوري وبقيادة سورية دون تدخل خارجي على أن تتصدر مكافحة الإرهاب الأولوية في كل مراحل وتطورات العملية السياسية موضحا أن جميع السوريين الشرفاء مدعوون إلى المشاركة في هذه العملية السياسية على أسس وطنية للمضي قدماً في إعادة بناء ما دمره الإرهاب والتي بدأت على أرض الواقع عملياً بهمة السوريين المخلصين لوطنهم والسعي لعودة المهجرين السوريين إلى بيوتهم فالسوريون جميعاً سيضعون نصب أعينهم حقيقة أن الحل لا يمكن أن يكون إلا سورياً وعبر عملية سياسية ذات مصداقية تحت سقف الوطن وذلك انطلاقاً من قاعدة أن الدستور وكل ما يتصل به هو شأن سيادي بحت يقرره السوريون بأنفسهم فقط.

لا يجوز إغفال مقدمات الأزمة في سورية والأدوار الخفية التي قامت بها بعض الحكومات وبعضها أعضاء في مجلس الأمن لفبركة هذه الأزمة

وفي رده على مندوبي الدول الأعضاء قال الجعفري: لا يجوز إغفال مقدمات الأزمة في سورية والأدوار الخفية التي قامت بها بعض الحكومات وبعضها أعضاء في مجلس الأمن لفبركة هذه الأزمة وخلق ظروف استمرارها وتصاعدها بما يخدم أجندات تلك الحكومات التدخلية لتغيير المشهد الجيوسياسي في منطقتنا مذكرا أعضاء المجلس بظهور رئيس وزراء قطر السابق على التلفزيون القطري الرسمي واعترافه بأن قطر والسعودية صرفتا 137 مليار دولار لتخريب سورية بتعليمات من الولايات المتحدة.

وأضاف الجعفري: أليس من المشروع ربط كلام هذا المسؤول القطري الذي جاء إلى مجلس الأمن في العام 2011 ليستعدي أعضاءه ضد الدولة السورية بظهور تنظيمي “داعش” وجبهة النصرة والتنظيمات الإرهابية الأخرى فجأة في الساحة السورية والعراقية.. أليس هذا سؤالا مشروعا وهل يمكن لأي عاقل أن يتصور أن هذه التنظيمات الإرهابية التي ظهرت فجأة قد سقطت علينا في سورية والعراق من السماء مع بعض النيازك القادمة من أحد الثقوب السوداء في هذا الفراغ الذي يحيط بنا.. هذا السؤال برهن أعضاء مجلس الأمن.

سورية الموحّدة بيضة قبّان الشرق الجديد

ديسمبر 22, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– لا ينتبه كثيرون أن للجغرافيا السياسية قوانين ومعادلات، كما للفيزياء، تنتج قواها، كرفض الفراغ وقوة الجاذبية وعلاقة الضرورة السببية بين الفعل وردّ الفعل، وبيضة القبان التي تحفظ التوازنات وتتيح قراءتها وكل تغيير طفيف في مكانها يعبر عن تحولات كبرى في أمكنة أخرى، فيقعون بالتسطيح عندما يحصرون قراءتهم ببُعد واحد صحيح، لكنه غير كاف، وهو تناسب درجات امتلاك مصادر القوة الظاهرة بين المتواجهين في ساحات النزال السياسي أو العسكري، فيبدو الأقوى نظرياً ينهزم أمام مَن يفترض أنه الأضعف، فتتشوش العقول وتتوه التحليلات في البحث عن مؤامرة أو قطبة مخفية أو صفقة تحت الطاولة لصعوبة تصديق الأمر السهل وهو أن ثمّة هزيمة وقعت وفرضت معادلاتها.

– في حال الانسحاب الأميركي من سورية الكثير من هذا، فكثيرون توقّعوا سرعة التقدّم التركي لملء الفراغ في العملية العسكرية المرتقبة واعتبروا أن التفاهم التركي الأميركي وراء القرار ليفاجئهم الرئيس التركي بإعلان تأجيل العملية العسكرية و»لشهور»، معلوم أنه سيجري خلالها الكثير مما يغير المشهد وربما، أو الأرجح ما سيتكفل بنسف العملية، وكثيرون اعتبروا الانسحاب إعلان فراغ يدفع اللاعبين للتذابح، ويطلق دينامية فوضى سياسية وأمنية، فبدا العكس أن البحث بالانخراط السياسي مع الدولة السورية يبدأ مع تبليغ فحوى القرار لحلفاء واشنطن قبل إعلانه، ويتواصل بعد الإعلان، من زيارة الرئيس السوداني إلى زيارات مرتقبة للرئيس العراقي وأمير قطر وحديث علني في تونس عن تحضير لدعوة الرئيس السوري إلى القمة العربية الدورية التي ستنعقد قبل المئة اليوم المقررة لإنجاز الانسحاب الأميركي.

– ليست القضية انتصار سورية على أميركا، فالذي تواجه خلال سنوات كان المشروع السوري والمشروع الأميركي. المشروع السوري القائم على ثلاثة أركان تحدّث عنها الرئيس السوري مراراً وفي فترات متفاوتة من الحرب على سورية. الركن الأول هو أن سورية الموحّدة بشرعيتها الدستورية وجيشها القوي ضرورة دولية إقليمية تفوق أهمية القياس التقليدي للمصالح بالقرب والبعد عن السياسات التي تعتمدها الدولة السورية. وكل تصرف نابع من الاستخفاف بهذه الحقيقة ويؤدي للعبث بوحدة سورية وشرعيتها الدستورية وقوة جيشها ستكون نتائجه خسائر أكبر من تلك المترتبة على الخصومة السياسية مع الدولة السورية، بالنسبة لخصومها، وأكبر من الأرباح المتوقعة من أي من حلفائها مقارنة بعائدات وهم الإمساك بأجزاء من سورية على حساب هذه المعادلة لسورية الموحّدة بشرعيتها الدستورية وجيشها القوي.

– الركن الثاني للمشروع السوري هو النداء الأصلي للرئيس السوري بقيام نظام إقليمي أسماه بمنظومة دول البحار الخمسة، أي إجماع الدول الفاعلة الواقعة ما بين بحار قزوين والخليج والأحمر والمتوسط والأسود على التنسيق الاقتصادي والأمني لضمان الحقوق والمصالح المشروعة للجميع بمن فيهم أميركا، كتدفق الطاقة ومحاربة الإرهاب، لملء الفراغ الاستراتيجي الناجم عن تراجع القوة الأميركية بعد حربي العراق وأفغانستان، وأنّ كل سعي لبديل عن هذا النظام سيُطلق الفوضى والإرهاب ويزعزع الاستقرار، لكنّه لن يحقق مصالح أحد، والثلاثي الإقليمي الذي خاطبه الرئيس السوري كان روسيا وتركيا وإيران من جهة والثلاثي العربي من جهة مقابلة كان السعودية ومصر والعراق، وكل الحروب وفظاعاتها بهدف إنكار هذه الحقيقة وتفاديها لن تفعل سوى أنها تعيد التذكير بهذا النظام الإقليمي كضرورة وحاجة. وماذا عساها تركيا تفعل بعد تورطها في الحرب على سورية سوى تكريس هذه الحقيقة عبر انخراطها في مسار أستانة؟ ومثلها سيفعل الآخرون.

– الركن الثالث للمشروع السوري هو أن الإرهاب غير قابل للاحتواء والتوظيف، ومحاربته قضية وطنية وإنسانية وأخلاقية، لكنها أيضاً مصلحة جامعة، وكل استثمار في الإرهاب بنية إلحاق الأذى بالخصوم سرعان ما يتحوّل انتحاراً جماعياً، يُصيب المتلاعبين بمفهوم الإرهاب والحرب عليه ومعه، ومهما قيل في قرار الانسحاب الأميركي من سورية أو في القلق الأوروبي من تدفق العائدين من الإرهابيين إلى ساحات أمنها، فهي بنهاية المطاف تعبير عن الاكتشاف المتأخر لصحة هذه المعادلة، التي يصفها أحد الأمنيين الفرنسيين الكبار بقوله، لقد توهّمنا أن وجود خمسة آلاف متطرّف في فرنسا يعني حسابياً أن التكفل بإيصالهم إلى سورية سيعني التخلّص منهم، وإدارة بعضهم، لكننا اكتشفنا أن إطلاق التعبئة لإرسالهم وحدها تكفّلت بجعل الرقم خمسين ألفاً ينتشرون في مسام المجتمع الفرنسي، وأنه كلما استعرت نيران الحرب في سورية زاد العدد في فرنسا، لقد لعبنا مع الشيطان وأطلقنا الأفاعي التي تصعب إعادتها إلى صندوق باندورا.

– مقابل المشروع السوري قام المشروع الأميركي على قرار تكسير الدولة السورية وشرعيتها وتحطيم جيشها، لأنها في خندق سياسي مخالف، وفي هذا السبيل فتح الباب للفوضى والتقسيم والحروب الأهلية، واستثمر في تنمية التطرف والإرهاب واستجلب مئات الآلاف من الإرهابيين، وفتح حدود سورية للألعاب الإقليمية، وتوهم معادلات مفبركة لنظام إقليمي بركن واحد اسمه العثمانية الجديدة محوره حكم الأخوان المسلمين ومركزه أنقرة، ثم نظام إقليمي محوره ثنائية إسرائيلية سعودية عنوانه صفقة القرن والعداء لإيران، وكلها مشاريع لا تحاكي حقائق الجغرافيا السياسية للمنطقة. وكانت النتيجة هي التساقط المتلاحق للرهانات الأميركية في كل مناحي هذا المشروع والهرولة نحو دمشق اليوم كما الانسحاب الأميركي، كما الحديث عن رفع الفيتوات على إعادة الإعمار وشروط العملية السياسية بقيادة الدولة السورية، تعبيرات عن انتصار المشروع السوري، حيث سورية الموحدة بشرعيتها الدستورية وجيشها القوي وحربها على الإرهاب بيضة قبان الشرق الجديد، تكفّ الشرور عن خصومها في العالم، وتحقق الأرباح لحلفائها في المنطقة والعالم.

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«Israel’s» Gaza Headache

«Israel’s» Gaza Headache

Abdallah al-Sinawi

“I hope to wake up one morning and not find Gaza on the map,” former “Israeli” Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told the French President Francois Mitterrand during a meeting in the Elysee Palace. These were feelings he could no longer hide and the nightmares haunting him when he thought about the future of the Jewish “state”.

This was in the early 1990s when talk of settling the Palestinian issue dominated the arena of international diplomacy. The “Israeli” statement, conveyed by the surprised French president to his old friend Professor Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, was not a metaphor for fears as much as it was the basis of a complete strategy that governed “Israel’s” negotiations with the Palestinians in Oslo.

“Israel’s” strategic goals in the Oslo negotiations leaned towards getting rid of the Gaza headache as quickly as possible and transferring the responsibility over to a Palestinian Authority that is bound by full security cooperation with the “Israeli” occupation forces.

It was no coincidence that the title of the first phase of the Oslo agreement was “Gaza and Ariha [Jericho] first”. At the time, there was a fundamental criticism regarding the gaps and concessions that took on the title: “Gaza and Ariha, first and foremost”. This has been happening somewhat for more than a quarter of a century.

“Israel” did not abide by what it signed and there was no Palestinian state created on the territories occupied in 1967. The settlements expanded until they almost devoured the greater part of the West Bank. Al-Quds was annexed by the force of arms and not much attention was paid to any legitimate rights or international resolutions. The Palestinian Authority itself became a hostage under the bayonets of the occupation.

Popular uprisings unfolded. Confrontations took place in al-Quds and the West Bank. Gaza progressed to become “Israel’s” headache.

New situations arouse, the worst of which was the bloody Palestinian division between Fatah and Hamas or the West Bank and Gaza. A harsh siege was imposed on the impoverished enclave, making life there almost impossible.

Three devastating wars were carried out against Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014. Sporadic “Israeli” raids and attacks destroyed and killed. But Gaza did not succumb. No one in “Israel” is thinking of reoccupying Gaza. The price is high and intolerable. There are no biblical references advocating the occupation of a populated and armed enclave poor of natural resources.

“Israel’s” exact intentions with respect to its ongoing military operations against Gaza and its people are to reduce the prospects for the growth of the armed resistance and to sever its links to the West Bank in order to break the unity of the people and the cause. This is the closest explanation to the truth regarding the motives of the intelligence operation, the repercussions of which have caused the most severe clashes between the “Israeli” army and the resistance groups since 2014.

The failure of the operations shocked the “Israelis”. The commando force, which infiltrated into Khan Younis, fell into the ambush of the resistance. Its commander was killed and another officer was seriously wounded. It almost fell captive had it not been for the general military and intelligence mobilization directly supervised by the “Israeli” chief of staff to save it from that fate.

That incident with its ramifications and the courage shown by the Palestinians in a battle that lacked military parity was a new Gaza headache for “Israel”. The “Israelis” thought they can do whatever they wanted, launch incursions, kill and arrest, without caring about the truce that is supposed to refrain it from any provocative actions.

Such operations are not new. It cannot be envisioned that “Israel” will stop launching them in any long-term truce. It believes that it has the right to do whatever it wants in the name of its security without taking into account that there are about two million Palestinians who demand reciprocity. Calm in return for calm. Not calm from one side. That was the first message. There was a second message sent by the besieged Strip, which was targeted by “Israeli” missiles and destroyed while its residents were intimidated. The message conveyed is that it can retaliate, hurt and push 250 thousand “Israelis” to bomb shelters, paralyze and frighten the southern part of the Jewish “state” and eventually force the “Israelis” to accept Egyptian mediation for a ceasefire and a return to the course of calm, whose longevity cannot be counted upon.

While accepting the ceasefire, “Israel” declared that it would continue military operations if necessary.

What was the necessity that called for breaking the truce?

There is no single answer that goes beyond the loose phrases about “Israeli” security. As if one side has the right to violate the truce on vague grounds and to remove the other party’s similar rights. As usual, the US administration ensured that the “Israeli” war machine was protected in the UN Security Council. Hamas rockets appeared to be the only culprit, as if Palestinian victims were not terrorized and killed by “Israel’s” excessive violence. As usual, the Arab powerlessness was clearly tragic. As if the Gaza headache struck Arab rulers that wished not to find it on the map or that the entire Palestinian cause would simply disappear.

The Arab scrambling for normalization was the fundamental reason that drove the “Israeli” delegate in the UN Security Council to call other states that were talking about the disproportionate use of force ‘immoral’. That light criticism was not easy for “Israel”. As if identifying with the occupation and condemning the victims are the components of morality according to the latest “Israeli” definitions.

Despite “Israel’s” arrogance in its power, its fragility and lack of confidence in the future cannot be hidden. Suffice it to point the targeting of the Al-Aqsa TV with intensive shelling that leveled the premises and surrounding areas. This is a sign of weakness, not power. The capabilities and level of broadcast of the TV station is limited. This shows that “Israel” cannot tolerate a voice against its policies. It is unleashing policies that do not have a way to get rid of the chronic Gaza headaches other than the excessive use of force. It is a peace imposed by force, according to US President Donald Trump, in other words the “Deal of the Century”. With any objective reading, Gaza is its main focus. There is no room for negotiations over the settlements in the West Bank and al-Quds as well as the refugees. The Arab initiative of a comprehensive normalization in return for a full withdrawal from the Arab territories occupied since 1967 has clinically died. The separation of Gaza from the West Bank is an essential objective of the prepared plan.

What is being planned and what the “Israelis” hope to implement is striping away Gaza’s National liberation nature and transforming it into a purely humanitarian issue that includes improving the standards of living and services such as electricity, fuel and the establishment of a water corridor between Cyprus and Gaza under the full supervision of the “Israeli” security services. In one way or another, the failed intelligence operation and the ensuing military confrontation come in the context of the “Deal of the Century”. In one surreal scene, the violence, siege, starvation and the pressure to halt US shares to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) come side by side with proposed projects, deals and promises to improve the standards of living in exchange for Palestinians surrendering any legitimate rights. This kind of thinking is closer to delirium and is certainly fated to fail.

Source: Al-Akhbar, Translated by website team

صداع غزة في رأس إسرائيل

عبدالله السناوي

  الخميس 15 تشرين الثاني 2018

«أتمنى أن استيقظ من النوم ذات صباح فلا أجد غزة على الخريطة». هكذا كاشف رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي الأسبق إسحاق رابين الرئيس الفرنسي فرانسوا ميتران في اجتماع ضمهما بقصر الإليزيه بمشاعر لم يعد بوسعه أن يخفيها وكوابيس تلاحقه في النظر إلى مستقبل الدولة العبرية. كان ذلك مطلع تسعينيات القرن الماضي وأحاديث تسوية القضية الفلسطينية تتسيّد كواليس الديبلوماسية الدولية. لم تكن العبارة الكاشفة، التي نقلها الرئيس الفرنسي مندهشاً من رسائلها إلى صديقه القديم الأستاذ محمد حسنين هيكل، تعبيراً مجازياً مبالغاً عن هواجس ومخاوف بقدر ما كانت تأسيساً لاستراتيجية كاملة حكمت إدارة إسرائيل للمفاوضات مع الفلسطينيين في «أوسلو».

مال التصميم الاستراتيجي الإسرائيلي في مفاوضات «أوسلو» إلى التخلص بأسرع ما هو ممكن من صداع غزة وإحالة مسؤوليتها إلى سلطة فلسطينية مقيّدة بالتزامات التعاون الأمني الكامل مع قوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي. ولم تكن مصادفة أن يكون عنوان المرحلة الأولى في اتفاقية «أوسلو»: «غزة وأريحا أولاً». شاع وقتها نقد جوهري لما انطوت عليه الاتفاقية من ثغرات وتنازلات أخذ عنواناً مضاداً: «غزة وأريحا أولاً وأخيراً». على مدى أكثر من ربع قرن هذا ما حدث تقريباً.

لا إسرائيل التزمت بما وقعت عليه ولا نشأت دولة فلسطينية على الأراضي التي احتلت عام 1967. توسعت المستوطنات حتى كادت تلتهم الجانب الأكبر من الضفة الغربية وضمت القدس بقوة السلاح من دون التفات كبير لأية حقوق مشروعة أو أية قرارات دولية، والسلطة نفسها تحولت إلى رهينة تحت حراب الاحتلال.

هبّت انتفاضات شعبية وجرت مواجهات في القدس والضفة الغربية وتقدمت غزة لتفاقم صداعها في الرأس الإسرائيلي.

ثم نشأت أوضاع جديدة، أسوأها الانشقاق الفلسطيني الفادح بين «فتح» و«حماس» أو الضفة وغزة، وفرض حصار قاس على القطاع الفقير حتى أصبحت الحياة شبه مستحيلة.

جرت ثلاثة حروب مدمرة عليه أعوام 2008 و2012 و2014 فضلاً عن غارات واعتداءات متكررة تضرب وتدمر وتقتل من حين لآخر من دون أن تخضع غزة. ليس في وارد أي تفكير إسرائيلي إعادة احتلال غزة، فالثمن باهظ وغير محتمل، كما أنه ليست هناك مطامع توراتية، أو إغواءات ما لاحتلال قطاع فقير في موارده الطبيعية ومكتظ بالسكان والسلاح. ما تريده إسرائيل ـ بالضبط ـ من عملياتها العسكرية المتواصلة ضد غزة وأهلها تقليل احتمالات نمو المقاومة المسلحة واتصال أدوارها بالضفة الغربية لفصم وحدة الشعب والقضية. هذا هو التفسير الأقرب إلى الحقيقة لدوافع العملية الاستخباراتية، التي استدعت تداعياتها أوسع اشتباك بين الجيش الإسرائيلي وجماعات المقاومة منذ عام 2014.

كان فشل العملية صدمة إسرائيلية مؤكدة. وقعت قوة الكوماندوس الخاصة التي تسلّلت إلى خانيونس في كمين المقاومة، قتل قائدها وأصيب ضابط آخر بجروح خطيرة، وكادت أن تقع في الأسر لولا التعبئة العامة العسكرية والاستخباراتية لإنقاذها من ذلك المصير تحت الإشراف المباشر لرئيس الأركان الإسرائيلي.

ما حدث تلك الليلة بدلالاته ومستوى الشجاعة التي أبداها الفلسطينيون في معركة تفتقد التكافؤ العسكري، تعبير جديد عن صداع غزة في رأس يتصور أن بوسعه فعل ما يشاء، يخترق ويستكشف ما يريد استكشافه، يقتل ويعتقل، من دون أن يأبه بمسار التهدئة الذي يفترض أن يلزمه بالامتناع عن أية تصرفات استفزازية بالسلاح.

مثل هذه العمليات الإسرائيلية ليست جديدة، ولا يتصور أن تمتنع عنها في ظل أية هدنة طويلة المدى، إذ ترى أن من حقها فعل ما تشاء باسم أمنها من دون أن يخطر ببالها أن هناك نحو مليوني فلسطيني يطلبون المعاملة بالمثل ـ تهدئة مقابل تهدئة وليست تهدئة من طرف واحد. كانت تلك رسالة أولى. كما كانت هناك رسالة ثانية من القطاع المحاصر، الذي استهدفته الصواريخ والطائرات الإسرائيلية تقتيلاً وهدماً وترويعاً لمواطنيه، أن بوسعه أن يرد ويوجع ويدفع نحو 250 ألف إسرائيلي إلى الملاجئ وإصابة جنوب الدولة العبرية بالذعر والشلل ويجبر المعتدي في نهاية المطاف على قبول الوساطة المصرية لوقف تبادل النيران والعودة إلى مسار التهدئة الذي يصعب التعويل على إمكانية ديمومته.

إسرائيل نفسها أعلنت في لحظة قبولها وقف إطلاق النار أنها ستواصل العمليات العسكرية إذا اقتضت الضرورة.

    • ما الضرورة التي تدعو لخرق التهدئة؟

لا إجابة واحدة تتجاوز العبارات الفضفاضة عن الأمن الإسرائيلي، كأنه من حق طرف واحد أن يخرق التهدئة بدواعي غامضة وينزع عن الطرف الآخر أية حقوق مماثلة، أو غير مماثلة. كالعادة تكفّلت الإدارة الأميركية بتوفير الحماية لآلة الحرب الإسرائيلية في مجلس الأمن الدولي، وبدت صواريخ «حماس» متهماً وحيداً، كأنه لم يسقط ويروع ضحايا فلسطينيون بالعنف الإسرائيلي المفرط. وكالعادة تبدى العجز العربي مأسوياً كأن صداع غزة قد أصاب قصور حكمه حتى تمنت بدورها ألا تجدها على الخريطة، أو أن تختفي القضية الفلسطينية كلها من الوجود.

كانت الهرولة العربية للتطبيع داعياً جوهرياً لما أسماه المندوب الإسرائيلي في مجلس الأمن بـ«عدم أخلاقية» الدول التي تتحدث عن عدم تكافؤ العنف بين الإسرائيليين والفلسطينيين. لم يكن ذلك النقد الهيّن مناسباً لإسرائيل، كأن التماهي مع الاحتلال وإدانة الضحايا من مقومات الأخلاق وفق أحدث التعريفات الإسرائيلية.

على رغم عجرفة القوة فإنه لا يخفى مدى هشاشتها وعدم ثقتها في مستقبلها. تكفي الإشارة إلى استهداف «فضائية الأقصى» بقصف مكثف أزال مبناها وما حولها. هذه علامة ضعف لا قوة، فالفضائية محدودة في إمكانياتها ومستويات انتشارها، كأن إسرائيل لا تحتمل صوتاً يناهض سياساتها. إنه انفلات أعصاب وسياسات لا تعرف وسيلة ما للتخلص من صداع غزة المزمن غير الإفراط في استخدام القوة. وإنه سلام القوة ـ بتعبير الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب، أو «صفقة القرن» بتعبير آخر. بأية قراءة موضوعية مما تسرب عنها فإن غزة محورها الرئيسي. لا مجال لأي تفاوض في مستوطنات الضفة الغربية والقدس واللاجئين، والمبادرة العربية التي تقضي بالتطبيع الشامل مقابل الانسحاب الكامل من الأراضي العربية المحتلة منذ عام 1967 ماتت إكلينيكياً. فصل غزة عن الضفة الغربية هدف جوهري للخطة المزمعة.

ما هو قيد التخطيط ومحاولة التنفيذ نزع الطابع التحرري الوطني عن غزة وتحويلها إلى محض قضية إنسانية يخفف من وطأتها تحسين مستويات المعيشة والخدمات كالكهرباء والوقود وإنشاء ممر مائي مع قبرص للانتقال من غزة وإليها تحت الإشراف الكامل للأجهزة الأمنية الإسرائيلية. بصورة أو أخرى تدخل العملية الاستخباراتية الفاشلة وما ترتب عليها من مواجهات عسكرية في سياق «صفقة القرن». في مشهد سريالي واحد يتجاور العنف والحصار والتجويع والضغط بوقف الحصة الأميركية في «الأونروا» وكالة الأمم المتحدة لإغاثة وتشغيل اللاجئين الفلسطينيين مع التلويح بمشروعات وصفقات ووعود تحسن مستوى الحياة مقابل التخلي عن أية حقوق مشروعة. هذا النوع من التفكير أقرب إلى الهذيان ومصيره الفشل المؤكد.

    • * كاتب وصحافي مصري

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