Saddam's Death, 113 (febr 2018-part-2)
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 112: jan-febr 2018 and Page 114: march 2018
Israel & The Temple Revolution & Unesco & the Temple

Regime Change in Iraq - Overview 2002/2003
Trump & the Pisces Messiah - Kennedy Speech 1961 - Eisenhower's Social Gospel
"I Have, I Rule and I will Destroy" - Iran & the dialogue of civilizations
Netanyahu & Infantilization of Israel
Jesus & Pophet Muhammed: "Be a stranger in the world" - Ideological Warfare Center
Jewish fundamentalism in the State of Palestine - Palestinian Martyrs and Jewish Heroes
The Balfour Declaration - Trump's move on Jerusalem (2017)
Abbas & Trump's "slap of the century"
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)

"The national security of America and the security of the world could be attained if the American leaders [..] become rational, if America disengages itself from its evil alliance with Zionism, which has been scheming to exploit the world and plunge it in blood and darkness, by using America and some Western countries.
What the American peoples need mostly is someone who tells them the truth, courageously and honestly as it is.
They don’t need fanfares and cheerleaders, if they want to take a lesson from the (sept. 11) event so as to reach a real awakening, in spite of the enormity of the event that hit America.
But the world, including the rulers of America, should say all this to the American peoples, so as to have the courage to tell the truth and act according to what is right and not what to is wrong and unjust, to undertake their responsibilities in fairness and justice, and by recourse to reason..."

Saddam Hussein, INA 15-9-2002

"The despot thinks he is just as God... What a nadir and mean fate!
The despot, as represented in this age, in our day, imagines he can enslave the people..
But they were born free. They were freed by God’s will through prophets and messengers, to be slaves only to Him and not to anyone of the people." Saddam Hussein, Iraq Daily 4-3-2003

A person with a God Complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks.
The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they are unquestionably correct.
Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.

"That is the issue that will continue in this country... It is the eternal struggle between these two principles -- right and wrong -- throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle.
The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings." Abraham Lincoln (October 15, 1858 Debate at Alton, Illinois)

"Happy day, when, all appetites controlled, all poisons subdued, all matter subjected, mind, all conquering mind, shall live and move the monarch of the world. Glorious consummation! Hail fall of Fury! Reign of Reason, all hail!" Abraham Lincoln (February 22, 1842 Temperance Address)

"...To be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter - this is what life is, herein lies its task." Fyodor Dostoevsky (to his brother Mikhail, Dec. 22, 1849)

All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.
Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
“Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone." Prophet Muhammad, Last Sermon

According to the Qur’an, arrogance is a sin

"You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah ; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, "We are Christians." That is because [..] they are not arrogant." Quran Al-Maidah, 5-82

“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”

Saadi Shirazi
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)

Page Index


"Holism is the most fundamental discovery of 20th century science. It is a discovery of every science from astrophysics to quantum physics to environmental science to psychology to anthropology.
It is the discovery that the entire universe is an integral whole, and that the basic organizational principle of the universe is the field principle: the universe consists of fields within fields, levels of wholeness and integration that mirror in fundamental ways, and integrate with, the ultimate, cosmic whole...."
"For many thinkers and religious teachers throughout this history, holism was the dominant thought, and the harmony that it implies has most often been understood to encompass cosmic, civilizational, and personal dimensions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lao Tzu, and Confucius all give us visions of transformative harmony, a transformative harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos."

About political holism

Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent.
Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare.
In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.

Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy.
Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance.
At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)

Desmond Tutu & Ubuntu

"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
"We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World.
When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity." (Ubuntu info)

Defeat of ISIS in Iraq Caused $45.7 Billion in Damage to Infrastructure
By Michael R. Gordon and Isabel Coles, Wall Street Journal, 11-2-2018

The military campaign that defeated Islamic State militants in Iraq has resulted in $45.7 billion in damage to the country’s houses, power plants, schools and other civilian infrastructure, according to a new assessment by experts at the World Bank and the Iraqi government.
The assessment is expected to frame deliberations at a three-day conference this week in Kuwait on how to rebuild Iraq that will be attended that by international investors, aid experts and ranking diplomats..
“Iraq is emerging from a devastating period of conflict and violence,” the study said. “The immediate concern is to restore the productive means of livelihood for millions of people in agriculture, services, and industry.”

Most of the fighting was concentrated in seven predominantly Sunni provinces in northern and western Iraq.
Failure by the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad to reconstruct those areas so that Iraqis displaced by the conflict can return and rebuild their lives could leave them vulnerable to extremist influences and aggravate sectarian tensions.
Last month, the number of Iraqis who have returned home surpassed the number of those who are still displaced. More than two million remain uprooted, however, and many of those who have gone back are living in ruined buildings with limited services.
The damage to the housing sector is $16 billion, while damage to electrical power plants and the power sector is $7 billion, according to the assessment. Damage to the educational sector is assessed at $2.4 billion.
Repairing schools is a priority for a country in which the median age is 20 years old. Most of the schools in Mosul, Ramadi and Fallujah have been damaged or destroyed...
While repairing the war damage is costly, the ultimate cost of getting the seven provinces back on their feet is almost twice the damage figure.
When the costs of improving governance, upgrading oil and gas infrastructure and other “recovery” expenses are factored in, the needs of the largely Sunni areas rise to $88.2 billion, the assessment said.

Is US Being Sucked Into Syria’s War?
by Patrick J. Buchanan, February 13, 2018

“Jim Mattis to Donald Trump: ‘Unfortunately, sir, you have no choice.
You will be a wartime president.’” (Washington Post, 7-2-2018)

Candidate Donald Trump may have promised to extricate us from Middle East wars, once ISIS and al-Qaida were routed, yet events and people seem to be conspiring to keep us endlessly enmeshed...

Monday’s headline on The Wall Street Journal op-ed page blared: "The Iran-Israel War Flares Up: The fight is over a Qods Force presence on the Syria-Israeli border. How will the U.S. respond?"
Op-ed writers Tony Badran and Jonathan Schanzer, both from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, closed thus:
"The Pentagon and State Department have already condemned Iran and thrown their support behind Israel. The question now is whether the Trump administration will go further. …
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (has) affirmed that the U.S. seeks not only to ensure its allies’ security but to deny Iran its ‘dreams of a northern arch’ from Tehran to Beirut. A good way to achieve both objectives would be back Israel’s response to Iran’s aggression – now and in the future."
The FDD is an annex of the Israeli lobby and a charter member of the War Party.

Bibi [Netanyahu] and the FDD want to see U.S. power deployed alongside that of Israel, against Iran, Assad and Hezbollah. But while Israel’s interests are clear, what would be the U.S. vital interest?
What outcome would justify another U.S. war in a region where all the previous wars in this century have left us bleeding, bankrupt, divided and disillusioned?
When he was running, Donald Trump seemed to understand this.

Neoconservatives Declare War On Neutrality
Zaid Jilani, The Intercept, Feb. 29, 2016

Donald Trump’s runaway success in the GOP primaries so far is setting off alarm bells among neoconservatives who are worried he will not pursue the same bellicose foreign policy that has dominated Republican thinking for decades.
Neoconservative historian Robert Kagan — one of the prime intellectual backers of the Iraq War and an advocate for Syrian intervention — announced in the Washington Post last week that if Trump secures the nomination, “the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton.”
Max Boot, an unrepentant supporter of the Iraq War, wrote in the Weekly Standard that a “Trump presidency would represent the death knell of America as a great power...”

Trump has done much to trigger the scorn of neocon pundits.
He denounced the Iraq War as a mistake based on Bush administration lies, just prior to scoring a sizable victory in the South Carolina GOP primary.
In last week’s contentious GOP presidential debate, he defended the concept of neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is utterly taboo on the neocon right.
“It serves no purpose to say you have a good guy and a bad guy,” he said, pledging to take a neutral position in negotiating peace.
This set off his rival Marco Rubio, who replied, “The position you’ve taken is an anti-Israel position. …

In his quest to take up George W. Bush’s mantle, Rubio has arrayed a fleet of neoconservative funders...
The Emergency Committee for Israel — a group that assails candidates it perceives as insufficiently pro-Israel - started airing an ad this weekend against Trump, portraying him as an ally to despots like Bashar Assad, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Qaddafi — mostly because he argued that military invasions of Libya and Iraq left those countries worse off...

Boycotting Israel Is the Right Thing to Do
Israel's war on free speech continues
Philip Giraldi, UNZ Review, February 13, 2018

Tracking the consequences of Israel’s apparent conviction that it should never be bound by the rules and conventions that constrain the behavior of other countries sometimes leads one into dark places.
The daily torments inflicted on the Palestinians is increasingly a horrific tale that has no apparent end, while Benjamin Netanyahu struts and boasts of his power to do more and even worse, openly calling for war with Lebanon, Syria and Iran on a world stage where no one seems willing to confront him.
I have chronicled how Israel does terrible damage to the United States, through inciting war, its financial demands, and its unparalleled ability to make Washington complicit in its war crimes and general inhumanity.
But, as bad as it is, in some areas the worst is yet to come, as Israel and its hubristic leaders know no limits and fear no consequences, thanks to the uncritical support from the American Establishment [..] that is unwilling to take a strong stand against Netanyahu and all his works.

Israel has been particularly successful at promoting its preferred narrative, together with sanctions for those who do not concur, in the English language speaking world and also in France, which has the largest Jewish population in Europe. The sanctions generally consist of legal penalties for those criticizing Israel or questioning the accuracy of the accepted holocaust narrative, i.e. disputing that “6 million died.”
Those attacking Israeli government policies can be found guilty of antisemitism, which is now considered a hate crime in Britain.
The British government’s subservience to Jewish and Israeli interests is nearly as enthusiastic as in the United States, though it is driven by the same sorts of things – Jewish money and Jewish power, particularly in the media.
A majority of Conservative Party members of parliament have joined Conservative Friends of Israel and the Labour counterpart is also a force to be reckoned with on the political left...
Here in the United States, the friends of Israel appear to believe that anyone who is unwilling to do business with Israel or even with the territories that it has illegally occupied should not be allowed to do business in any capacity with federal, state or even local governments.
Constitutional guarantees of freedom of association for every American are apparently not valid if one particular highly favored foreign country is involved. Twenty-four states now have legislation sanctioning those who criticize or boycott Israel..
It is important for Americans to realize that Israel not only spies on the U.S., digs its paws deep into our Treasury, and perverts Washington’s Middle East policy, it [Israel] is also attempting to dictate what we the people can and cannot say.
And Congress and much of the media are fully on board....

Philip Giraldi (born 1946) was employed by the CIA for eighteen years, including three years in Turkey. He was problably one of the most qualified no-nonse, 'down to earth' intelligence officials America ever had. He was a regular contributor to The American Conservative for 14 years, a position from which he was fired for publishing an article titled 'America's Jews Are Driving America's Wars' at the The Unz Review.

Ayelet Shaked : 'The world must know: We will apply sovereignty'
Yoni Kempinski, Arutz Sheva, 13/02/18

"It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defence of justice or human rights for Palestinians.." Jimmy Carter, 2-12-2006
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish home) referred Tuesday at the Jerusalem Conference hosted by Besheva to the US administration’s denial that Israel had discussed with it a proposed legislation for the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
According to Shaked, Israel must act in accordance with its own interests. "Begin did not hold talks with the White House about imposing sovereignty over the Golan. He simply did it. It’s clear that all the countries of the world, as well as the United States, will not accept the application of sovereignty easily."
Shaked added that it is important to conduct the discourse on sovereignty in public.
"Even if it is impossible to pass it in the coming weeks, it is important that it be on the table, and we see that if in the past it was only discussed in the Jewish Home, today we are talking about it in the Likud as well. We are [warming people to the idea of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria], and today the press also relates to the issue differently.”
Shaked noted that "This [US] administration is an open-minded one. This is a very courageous president who thinks outside the box, but ultimately the State of Israel must do what is right and good for the State of Israel."
In her opinion, the world must internalize that sovereignty is on the way.
"We need to see how the various interests of the state are promoted. I repeat that the international community needs to know that we are going to apply sovereignty, even if it takes time."

Flashback: Israeli rightist Smotrich
lays out the vision for apartheid
Jonathan Ofir, Monoweiss, September 14, 2017

On Tuesday, Bezalel Smotrich, a member of the Israeli Knesset from the Jewish Home party, delivered his ‘baby’ at a right wing conference. The baby has an official name: The ‘Decision Plan’. But its real name is Apartheid. It lays out a way for Israel to annex Palestinian territory, officially so, and to coerce the population to either live under Apartheid, explicitly relinquishing “national aspirations”, or be expelled.
Here are the officially stated two options:
--- “1. Anyone who is willing and able to relinquish the fulfillment of his national aspirations will be able to stay here and live as an 'individual' [resident without the right to vote for the Knesset] in the Jewish state.
--- 2. Anyone who is unwilling or unable to relinquish his national aspirations will receive assistance from us to emigrate to one of the Arab countries.

This is a kind of “surrender-or-transfer ultimatum” to the Palestinians, as Haaretz correspondent Yotam Berger phrased it yesterday.
The plan, which Smotrich presented to a political faction called the National Union, which includes Members of Knesset from his party, also contains a “third option” concerning those Palestinians who resist its provisions:
“Anyone who insists on choosing the third ‘option’ – to continue to resort to violence against the Israel Defense Forces, the State of Israel and the Jewish population will be determinedly handled by the security forces with greater force than at present and under more comfortable conditions for us.”

Smotrich is not advocating a new racism... This vein of unapologetic racism has gained popularity amongst the Israeli right, and appears to be the hallmark of the younger cadre of right-wing Israeli lawmakers. Prominent examples besides Smotrich include:
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), who said in her inaugurating speech in May 2015: “This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologize for that”.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), who stated less than two weeks ago “Zionism should not continue, and I say here, it will not continue to bow down to the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way.”
Minister of Education Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), who beyond his comparisons of Palestinians to “shrapnel in the butt” and his boastings of having killed “many Arabs”, declared upon Donald Trump’s election in November “the era of the Palestinian state is over.” He has recently also coined the term “auto-anti-Semitism”, referring to Jewish leftists.
MK Oren Hazan (Likud member). While Hazan is more loosely populist with no ministerial power, the other three are far more powerful politicians.

Justice Minister: Israel must safeguard Jewish majority
even at the expense of human rights...
Al-Jazeera, 13-2-2018

Israel must safeguard a Jewish majority even at the expense of human rights, the country's justice minister has said in a speech defending a bill that would legally define Israel as the "national home of the Jewish people" for the first time.
Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that Israel must maintain a Jewish majority...
"There is place to maintain a Jewish majority even at the price of violation of rights," Shaked told a conference in Tel Aviv on Monday, Israeli media reported.
In her speech, Shaked, a member of the far-right Jewish Home party, defended the so-called Jewish Nation-State Bill, which would constitutionally define Israel as the national home of the Jewish people for the first time.
"There are places where the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state must be maintained, and this sometimes comes at the expense of equality," Shaked said, as reported by Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

The contentious Nation-State Bill, which still needs to be approved by Israel's parliament, the Knesset, passed a preliminary reading last May. It is expected to be brought to a first reading later this year. The bill states that "the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people".
It also demotes Arabic from an official language to a language with "special status", even though it is the mother tongue of approximately 1.7 million Palestinian citizens of the state.
Adalah, a legal centre for Palestinian citizens of Israel, said that, because the bill would become a Basic Law in Israel, i.e. constitutionally binding, "its enactment could be used to justify through law widespread discrimination" against Israel's non-Jewish citizens.
"The legislation "clearly denigrates the non-Jewish, Palestinian Arab minority to the status of second-class citizens..."

Adalah (“Justice” in Arabic) is an independent human rights organization and legal center.
It was founded in November 1996 as a joint project of two leading Arab NGOs - The Galilee Society and the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), and it became an independent NGO in 1997.

Adalah’s mission is to promote human rights in Israel in general and the rights of the Palestinian minority, citizens of Israel, in particular (around 1.5 million people, or 20% of the population).
This work also includes promoting and defending the human rights of all individuals subject to the jurisdiction of the State of Israel (e.g. Palestinian residents of the OPT). Adalah is the first Palestinian Arab-run legal center in Israel, and the sole Palestinian organization that works before Israeli courts to protect the human rights of Palestinians in Israel and in the OPT.

The Widening Saudi–Iran Divide
By Seyed Hossein Mousavian, The Cairo Review, 13-2-2018

The Persian Gulf is consequently among the most significant geopolitical theaters in the world and will decide the fate of the global order.
The chief rivalry in the region —between Saudi Arabia and Iran— is in fact a proxy for the competition between states seeking multipolarity (Iran) and those seeking to bandwagon off continued U.S. regional and global hegemony (Saudi Arabia).
The regional powers of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and Israel and two global powers of Russia and the United States are the two consequential regional and international set of actors deciding the region’s fate.
More specifically, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is among the most significant factors affecting the future of the Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf.

Given Iran’s expanding regional influence, the foremost concern of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and some other regional Arab states is that as the United States disengages from the Middle East and Persian Gulf, the subsequent vacuum is filled by Iran and Iran’s allied powers. This worry is amplified by the fact that the Arab World as a whole is in decline and traditional Arab powers have either collapsed or are stricken with domestic crises.
In light of these circumstances, Riyadh’s foreign policy in the region can be summarized in three points.
(1) The first point is to keep U.S. military, security, political, and economic dominance over the region, especially in the Persian Gulf. (2) The second is to ally with Israel to gain the support of the powerful international Zionist movement. (3) The third is to confront Iran and its regional allies such as Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah and popular forces such as Al-Hashd Al- Shabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) on all fronts.

The option of Saudi–Iran confrontation will have one main loser, the Muslim world.... It will result in increased instability throughout the region and the expansion of sectarianism.
Additionally, any prospect of diminishing takfiri terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda will be eliminated and their actions will continue in perpetuity—wreaking havoc on the world and threatening the security of the great powers such as Russia, the United States, China, and Europe.
Furthermore, if an unfair “peace” is imposed on the Palestinians—that is, not predicated on a Palestinian or on a popular referendum—it will not be sustainable and the resistance against the Israeli occupation will only grow.
Ultimately, this option is a lose-lose for everyone. Indeed, the continuation of a zero-sum relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia will at the end portend negative implications for the national interests of both countries.
Any Iranian “victories” that result in the weakening of its regional neighbor Saudi Arabia will be a loss for Iran and vice versa.

In order to decrease tensions and enter into a process of cooperation, Riyadh and Tehran must gain a correct understanding of each other’s national security threats.
The cooperation option should entail Riyadh and Tehran to openly and without preconditions enter into bilateral dialogue and put all of their security concerns and aims on the negotiations table.
Forums for Iranian–Arab dialogue should be convened by figures with technocratic backgrounds ranging from scientists to diplomats.
To decrease sectarianism in the Muslim world, Sunni–Shia dialogue forums should take place to include Sunni scholars from Al-Azhar in Cairo and religious leaders from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries, as well as Shia clerics from the Qom and Najaf seminaries. Dialogue between the six GCC states, Iraq, and Iran should take place without preconditions and at the foreign minister level, with the aim of creating an institutionalized security cooperation system in the Persian Gulf.
A potential model can be the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union...

Read also: The Sunni-Shia Divide
A CFR InfoGuide Presentation

An ancient religious divide is helping fuel a resurgence of conflicts in the Middle East and Muslim countries.
Struggles between Sunni and Shia forces have fed a Syrian civil war that threatens to transform the map of the Middle East, spurred violence that is fracturing Iraq, and widened fissures in a number of tense Gulf countries. Growing sectarian clashes have also sparked a revival of transnational jihadi networks that poses a threat beyond the region.
Islam’s schism, simmering for fourteen centuries, doesn’t explain all the political, economic, and geostrategic factors involved in these conflicts, but it has become one prism through which to understand the underlying tensions.
Two countries that compete for the leadership of Islam, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, have used the sectarian divide to further their ambitions.
How their rivalry is settled will likely shape the political balance between Sunnis and Shias and the future of the region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen.

Israel Defense Minister: Iran declared war on us long ago
By Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, February 14, 2018

“Iran declared war on us. The highest echelons in Tehran want to erase the Zionist entity; they do not hide the fact that they want to wipe the State of Israel off the face of the earth,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said at the annual conference organized by the Federation of Local Authorities and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, held at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
“Iran is also fighting us through its proxies – Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and now Hamas, and of course the Syrian regime. Therefore, it is a daily war not only in the military aspect but also in the realm of international terrorism, and we do everything in order to preserve Israel’s security,” Liberman said, adding that Israel maintains absolute freedom of action...

“The Iranian activity should, of course, bother us,” Liberman said. “It is not only theoretical threats. They are investing billions of dollars in weapons of mass destruction and are trying to establish themselves in Syria.”
According to Liberman, Israel not only is determined to prevent Iran’s entrenchment in war-torn Syria but is also working to prevent Tehran from establishing weapons factories in Lebanon for Hezbollah.
While Israel is not currently planning any military action on the northern front, “there are things that are disturbing, and there are things that are an existential threat to our very existence here in the Middle East,” Liberman said...
According to Liberman, while Israel wants to live quietly, the turbulent reality of the Middle East makes the word “‘peace’ irrelevant”; the only way to live here quietly is to prepare for war.

Flashback: How Israel Empowers Islamist Movements
by URI AVNERY, 30-12-2011

If Islamist movements come to power all over the region, they should express their debt of gratitude to their bete noire, Israel. Without the active or passive help of successive Israeli governments, they may not have been able to realize their dreams. That is true in Gaza, in Beirut, in Cairo and even in Tehran.

In 1951, in the first democratic elections in an Islamic country in the region, Muhammad Mossadeq was elected Prime Minister. The Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had been installed by the British during World War II, was thrown out, and Mossadeq nationalized the country’s vital oil industry. Until then, the British had robbed the Iranian people, paying a pittance for the Black Gold.
Two years later, in a coup organized by the British MI6 and the American CIA, the Shah was brought back to Iran and returned the oil to the hated British and their partners.
Israel had probably no part in the coup, but under the restored regime of the Shah, Israel prospered. Israelis made fortunes selling weapons to the Iranian army. Israeli Shabak agents trained the Shah’s dreaded secret police, Savak. ..
The Shah helped to build and pay for a pipeline for Iranian oil from Eilat to Ashkelon. Israeli generals traveled through Iran to Iraqi Kurdistan, where they helped the rebellion against Baghdad.
At the time, the Israeli leadership was cooperating with the South African apartheid regime in developing nuclear arms. The two offered the Shah partnership in the effort, so that Iran, too, would become a nuclear power.
Before that partnership became effective, the detested ruler was overthrown by the Islamic revolution of February 1979.
Since then, the hatred of the Great Satan (the US) and the Little Satan (us) has played a major role in the propaganda of the Islamic regime...
Iran’s religious leaders made 20 March, the oil nationalisation day, an annual public holiday.

Hoping for $100 Billion to Rebuild, Iraq Got Less Than a Third
By Margaret Coker, New York Times, 14-2-2018

KUWAIT — At the close of a donor conference on Wednesday, Iraq secured only a fraction of the funds urgently needed to rebuild towns and cities demolished during battles against the Islamic State.
The conference was hosted by the Kuwaiti government and attended by dozens of foreign ministers and the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres.
Turkey, one of Iraq’s largest trading partners, stepped up with a promise of $5 billion in investment loans in expectation that some of its large-scale construction, transportation and infrastructure companies would jump back into northern Iraq, where they had long dominated the economy.
Another surprise came from Kuwait, which has had frosty relations with Iraq, its larger neighbor, since 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded. The Kuwaiti ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, announced $1 billion in investment and $1 billion in loans. Other Arab Gulf countries followed, with the Saudi, Emirati and Qatari foreign ministers announcing investment and loan deals.
All told, the conference participants pledged a total of $30 billion in loans and investments, Kuwait officials said, a figure Mr. Guterres described as an “enormous success.”
Iraq is facing around $22 billion in urgent reconstruction needs after three years of bloody and destructive battles to oust Islamic State fighters from the northern third of its territory. That includes Mosul, once a thriving commercial center of 2 million residents where now more than 20,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed.

No business deals were signed at the three-day conference in Kuwait. While hundreds of businessmen and women attended receptions on the sidelines of the event, many expressed misgivings about the political and security risks of doing business in Iraq, considered one of the most corrupt countries.
In comparison, the Turks’ surprise pledge of $5 billion in investment loans and guarantees, announced by Foreign Minister Mevlut Mevlut Cavusoglu, promises a more certain outcome. Unlike the Sunni Arab nations, which have largely shunned the Shiite-led governments that have run Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Turkey saw an opening.
“As a neighbor, friend and reliable partner, we will always stand by our Iraqi brothers,” Mr. Cavusoglu said on his Twitter account
after his pledge in Kuwait.

Egypt arrests former Brotherhood member for ties to banned group
Jacob Wirtschafter, The national (UAE), February 15, 2018

Egyptian security forces have arrested former Islamist presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh on a warrant charging the 66-year-old doctor and politician with maintaining contacts with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organisation.
Mr Aboul Fotouh was arrested in Cairo on Wednesday (feb 14) just hours after returning from London, where he appeared as a guest on the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel and criticised the policies of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who is seeking a second term in a March 26-28 election with only one nominal opponent...
“The arrest is completely warranted given Aboul Fotouh’s connection to the Brotherhood, which remained unbroken despite his ostensible resignation from the group so he could run in the 2012 presidential election,” said Tharwat El Kharbawy, a Cairo lawyer who was ejected from the Brotherhood for dissent over its tactics and policies.
The Brotherhood implements one strategy for stages when they are weak and another for when they are strong,” he said. “In the weak phases, like now, they try to form alliances with non-Islamist forces to gain sympathy using the discourse of victimisation.”

With the imprisonment of three presidential aspirants, the withdrawal of four others and now the arrest of Mr Aboul Fotouh, who finished fourth in the 2012 vote to replace Hosni Mubarak, observers are questioning Mr El Sisi’s confidence in his ability to rouse public support for a second term in office.
“This is not the behaviour of a confident and assured leader,” said Khaled Diab, a Tunis-based Egyptian writer and author of Islam for the Politically Incorrect. “Democracy cannot be: you have the freedom to choose, as long as you choose me.”

Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh Abdel Hady (born 15 October 1951) is an Egyptian physician, former student activist and Islamist politician.
In 2011–2012, he ran for President of Egypt as an independent. His ideology is Islamist and he was formerly a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
He is known for his staunch opposition to the Sadat and Mubarak regimes as well as his openness towards people of different political ideologies, a subject of controversy among some supporters of Egyptian Islamist movements.
Affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood since the early 1970s, Abou al-Fotouh had been a member of the Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau from 1987 until 2009.
In 2011, he formally quit all political work with the Muslim Brotherhood, following his decision to run for president in the presidential election in 2012.

The Chronikler, 22-5-2012: " Even though Aboul Fotouh, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, is a believer in democracy and was expelled from the Islamist movement when he announced his intention to run for president, he still praises Hassan el-Banna’s regressive political project and compares his vision with that of the Brotherhood’s founding father.
Hassan el-Banna’s ideology was centred around his belief in a one-party Islamic system, because he believed that a multi-party political system would promote division and strife and that no nation could develop under such system.

Aboul Fotouh: Egyptians will start revolution if dictatorship persists
Enas Hamed, Al-Monitor, March 9, 2015

-- Al-Monitor: Do you think President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi does not believe in democracy and freedom, or does he think the current situation in Egypt does not allow their adoption?
-- Aboul Fotouh: The tyrannical regime considers democracy and freedom of expression as a luxury. It believes that there are more important priorities, such as security and the economic situation. In fact, the achievement of security and stability are the excuses for repressive regimes to practice greater control over the people.
I actually believe the current regime in Egypt is helping spread terrorism.
Here we are in Egypt, living in a state that has been eliminating its opponents from all movements since July 3, 2013...
I was not allowed to appear in both government and private media because I do not agree with the president. Despite all the restrictions, security did not prevail and the economic conditions of the country and citizens did not improve. The regime does not understand that democracy is the only way to achieve stability.

-- Al-Monitor: What scenarios do you expect to unfold in Egypt in the upcoming phase?
-- Aboul Fotouh: We are only facing two options. First, the current regime must get back to its senses, reconsider its policies and treat Egyptians like human beings, entitled to live in freedom and dignity. This will be achieved through pressure placed by the people, movements, political parties and the nation’s honorable men.
However, in the event that the authority continues to practice dictatorship, the second option will be a great revolution carried out by the Egyptians to recover their violated rights.

Read also: Pan-Islamism versus Pan-Arabism
Christian Porth, Al-Jazeera, 4-2-2008

Banna stated: Islam does not recognize geographical boundaries, not does if acknowledge racial and blood differences, considering all Muslims as one Umma. The Muslim Brethren consider this unity as holy and believe in this union, striving for the joint action of all Muslims and the strengthening of the brotherhood of Islam, declaring that every inch of land inhabited by Muslims is their fatherland…
They believe that the caliphate is a symbol of Islamic Union and an indication of the bonds between the nations of Islam.
They see the caliphate and its re-establishment as a top priority, subsequently; an association of Muslims people should be set up, which would elect the imam". [Ikhwan Web - Muslim Brothergood website, 13-5-2008]

Hasan al-Banna: Your first arena of struggle is your own selves

"Your first arena of struggle is your own selves, if you triumph over them, you will have power over others, and if you fail at struggling against them, you will be weaker against others.
Therefore try fighting your own souls first, and remember that the whole world is waiting for a generation of young people characterized by perfect purity, impeccable morals and high manners, so be these youth and do not despair.
Keep in mind the words of the gracious messenger, Allah's peace and blessings upon him: "Guarantee for me six things in yourselves and I can guarantee Paradise for you:
Speak the truth, keep your promises, protect what's entrusted to you, protect your chastity, lower your gaze (from the opposite sex), and keep your hands away from other people's rights and properties...".

Then look, are you these...?

Time to strike 'the Syrian regime and its sponsors'
Reuters | Arab News, Saturday 17 February 2018

MUNICH: US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Saturday that, despite denials, public reports showed that Syrian President Bashar Assad was using chemical weapons, and added that it was time for the international community to hold the Syrian regime to account.
“Public accounts and photos clearly show that Assad’s chemical weapons use is continuing,” McMaster said at a major international security conference taking place in Munich.
It is time for all nations to hold the Syrian regime and its sponsors accountable for their actions and support the efforts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” he said. McMaster did not specify which public accounts or pictures he was referring to.
Earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the Syrian regime had repeatedly used chlorine gas, but stressed that the US did not have evidence of sarin gas use.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that “France will strike” if chemical weapons are used against civilians in the Syrian conflict in violation of international treaties, but that he had not yet seen proof this is the case.
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons and said it targets only armed rebels and militants.

McMaster told the conference that Iran is building and arming an increasingly powerful network of proxies in countries like Syria, Yemen and Iraq that can turn against the governments of those states.
“What’s particularly concerning is that this network of proxies is becoming more and more capable, as Iran seeds more and more ... destructive weapons into these networks,” McMaster said.
“So the time is now, we think, to act against Iran,” he said

Israel's Netanyahu says will act against Iran if needed
Reuters, Sunday 18 Feb 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would act against Iran, not just its allies in the Middle East, if needed, reiterating that Tehran was the world's greatest threat.
Holding a piece of what he said was an Iranian drone after its incursion into Israeli airspace earlier this month, Netanyahu told the Munich Security Conference: "Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck."
"We will act if necessary not just against Iran's proxies but against Iran itself," he said.
Addressing the Munich event for the first time, Netanyahu urged gathered U.S. and European officials and diplomats to counter Iran immediately, displaying a map showing what he said was Iran’s growing presence in the Middle East.

Flashback 2014: "More racist, more anti-democratic, more anti-peace..."
Uri Avnery, 06/12/14

ISRAELIS ARE fed up with Binyamin Netanyahu...
Curiously enough, this has happened to Netanyahu once before.
In 2000, In the evening after the election, when it was announced that Netanyahu had been defeated, there was an explosion of enthusiasm. Tens of thousands of delirious citizens streamed spontaneously to Tel Aviv's central Rabin Square and cheered the savior, Ehud Barak, the leader of the Labor Party. He announced the Dawn of Another Day.
Unfortunately, Barak turned out to be a sociopath and an egomaniac, if not a megalomaniac. He missed the chance of peace at the Camp David conference and in the process almost completely destroyed the Israeli peace movement.
The Right, this time under Ariel Sharon, came back. Then under Ehud Olmert. Then under Netanyahu again. And Again.
And now again? God forbid!

We have new elections. At this moment it looks as if we are doomed to have a fourth Netanyahu government, even worse than the third, more racist, more anti-democratic, more anti-peace. Unless...
We need to create a united election bloc of all centrist and leftist parties, leaving nobody out, if possible including the Arab parties...
The declared purpose of the bloc should be to put an end to the catastrophic drift of the country towards the abyss and to oust not just Netanyahu, but the whole bunch of settlers, nationalist and racist demagogues, war-mongers and religious zealots.

Israel, the psychopathic nation
by Laurent Guyenot, Veterans Today, 3-2-2015

The Jewish nation, as a state, but also as an organized world community, acts collectively towards other nations and other human communities in the way a psychopath acts towards his fellow men...
It goes without saying that I do not intend to imply that “the Jews” are psychopaths, but instead that the Jews are the first victims of a mental straitjacket imposed by their elites, who through veritable intellectual terrorism, make of them, to the extent that they comply, the instruments of the collective psychopathy of Israel.

The most striking traits of the psychopath are lack of empathy and conscience.
Other traits are common to narcissism: psychopaths have a grand vision of their own importance. In their minds, everything is owed to them because they are exceptional. They are never wrong, and failures are always the fault of others...incapable of feeling guilt.
Basically, the psychopath perceives others as objects. He has a mechanical view of people and human relationships (and, in some way, of himself as well)..

Israel, Psychopath State

The State of Israel is now in the international scene what the psychopath is in a human community.
As noted by the Deputy Director of Military Intelligence Yehoshafat Harkabi:
Dazzled by its self-righteousness, Israel cannot see the case of the other side.
Self-righteousness encourages nations no less than individuals to absolve themselves of every failing and shake off the guilt of every mishap.
When everyone is guilty except them, the very possibility of self-criticism and self-improvement vanishes…
The Israeli journalist Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz in 2010 that “Only psychiatrists can explain Israel’s behavior.”
However, the diagnosis he offers, including “paranoia, schizophrenia and megalomania,” is in my opinion insufficient. It must take into account Israel’s extraordinary manipulative capacity on the world stage via corruption and propaganda, that is to say, the Bank and the Press.

Laurent Guyénot is an Engineer (National School of Advanced Technology, 1982) and medievalist (PhD in Medieval Studies at Paris IV-Sorbonne, 2009). He has authored numerous books; the latest is JFK-9/11: 50 Years of Deep State.

How long will the United States stay in Syria?
By Paul Iddon, Rudaw Net, 18-2-2018

The US military are building a military base in the Hasaka region of Northern Syria without prior permission (Syria 2015).

The US military presence in Syria is facing increased opposition, as its initial justification for being there — destroying the Islamic State (ISIS) — is gradually evaporating.
US officials say they are retaining troops in Syria's northeastern Kurdish regions (Rojava) for post-ISIS stabilization efforts, or even until the conflict in all of Syria is brought to an end through negotiations.
Either of these things could well mean that the US will remain in Rojava for the long run, and with approximately 2,000 troops [only the 400 US Marines manning artillery on the front-lines during the Raqqa offensive have returned home to date] and a series of bases remaining, it has a highly formidable military presence in Syria.
The United States is allied with the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of which the YPG is an integral part.
These forces control the vast majority of Syria's northeast, its de-facto frontier with the rest of the country roughly conforming alongside the east bank of Euphrates River.
These areas are also where Syria's oil reserves are situated, all of which were recently seized by the SDF from ISIS.

Damascus has come into more open conflict with the Kurds in recent months. In December Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called them "traitors" for working with the Americans.
On February 7 an attempt by approximately 500 paramilitaries – both pro-regime Iranian-trained militias and Russian mercenaries – backed up by tanks and artillery to attack an SDF headquarters in Deir ez-Zor province was promptly foiled by an array of US military aircraft (reportedly including everything from Apache attack helicopters to F-15E strike aircraft and AC-130 gunships) which heavily bombarded these forces, killing an unspecified number of them. A single T-72 tank was also destroyed by US air power on February 13 after reportedly firing on SDF positions.
The United States previously shot down a Syrian Su-22 warplane near Tabqa last summer when it attempted to attack the SDF, the first time a US fighter jet shot down another aircraft in an air-to-air engagement since the Kosovo War in 1999.

As its presence in Syria is facing greater opposition from the regime and its Russian and Iranian backers, Washington will have to decide how far it's willing to go to defend its foothold in Rojava and its SDF/YPG allies.
The US already clearly has de-facto no-fly and no-drive zones across Rojava, with the salient exception of Afrin Canton, to deter Damascus from attempting to re-subjugate the region.
However as the ISIS threat recedes, and the Assad regime becomes more emboldened having reconquered most of the country, Washington's main objective in Syria may well shift gradually from solely destroying ISIS to combating Damascus itself.

Iran must pay for regional meddling, Saudi minister says
Damien McElroy, The National (UAE), February 18, 2018

The world must “extract a price” from Iran for its state-sponsored efforts to export the 1979 revolution, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister told a high-profile conference on Sunday. This encompasses the spread of ballistic missiles, support for terrorists and a destructive impact on regional states through proxy forces.
The Khomeini revolution unleashed sectarianism in our region,” Mr Al Jubeir said. “Is Iran prepared to amend its constitution and not to export the revolution. We cannot afford to put up with the Khomeini revolution any longer.”
“We must have firmer positions with regards to ballistic missiles and with regards to Iran’s support for terrorism,” he said. “If Iran wants people to stop criticising it has to change its behaviour. It should stop sending weapons to the Houthis, sending terrorists to Syria.
“The world has to extract a price from Iran for its aggressive behaviour,” he said. “There has to be a fundamental change in the Iranian regime for Iran to be treated as a normal country.”
Mr Al Jubeir also accused Iran of sheltering Osama bin Laden’s son and the “entire board of directors” of Al Qaeda.

The Saudi diplomat responded to a series of statements from his Iranian counterpart as both men made appearances at the Munich Security Conference. Mohammad Javad Zarif had said that the Middle East needed a new security framework to avoid "unnecessary rivalry".
For his part Mr Javad Zarif said a call from the US National Security Adviser Herbert McMaster on Saturday to stop investment and commercial deals with Iran because of the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the economy amounted to a violation of the agreement...
John Kerry, the former US secretary of state, hosted a dinner for the architects of the agreement on Saturday night. He has strongly rejected criticism of its time-limited restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities. “We know what the world looks like without the Iran nuclear agreement and it’s not a better place,” he said.

Saddam Hussein: "The people did not want the Shah."
Inteview conducted by George L. Piro, February 8, 2004

Saddam Hussain was interviewed on February 8, 2004, at a military detention facility at Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), Baghdad, Iraq. Saddam was asked whether the decision to go to war against Iran in September, 1980, was based on threats from Iran or whether the war was a means of reclaiming Arab/Iraqi territory, specifically the Shatt Al Arab Waterway.
Iran, in Saddam's opinion, was in violation of the 1975 Algiers Agreement concerning the waterway. Further, Iran was also deemed to have interfered in Iraqi politics, also a violation of the treaty. In Saddam's opinion, this left Iraq no choice but to fight.

Saddam provided some thoughts about the mindset of the Iranian leadership, specifically Ayatollah Khomeini, and the Iranian decision to fight the war:
When Khomeini came to power in 1979, he had two things which "interfered" with his mind. One, he was a religious fanatic who thought all leaders were like the Shah of Iran, a person easily toppled. Khomeini thought since he removed the Shah easily he could do the same elsewhere, including in Iraq.
Second, Khomeini had a 'complex' about leaving/being kicked out of Iraq. Previously in the late 1970s. Khomeini, exiled from Iran, had been a 'guest' of Iraq who was "given shelter" in Najaf. While there, he began speaking out against the Shah and the Iranian government.
Khomeini, in Saddam's opinion, was not respecting the written agreement (Algiers Agreement 1975) between Iraq and Iran and was interfering in internal Iranian affairs.
The Iraqi government informed Khomeini of its position. Khomeini refused to cease his activities against the Shah and the Iranian government. Khomeini stated that if his practices were against Iraqi policy, he would leave.
The Shah tried to get Saddam to turn over Khomeini to Iran, but he refused.
In Arab culture, one cannot "give up" a guest, Saddam stated. "And It would not have changed the situation. The people did not want the Shah."

Algiers 1975: The end of the US|Israeli-'Let them bleed'-policy

Under the March, 1975 Algiers accord, Iraq granted Iran half of the long disputed estuary, which leads 120 miles from the Persian Gulf to the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
The two signatories also agreed to define other common borders and stop supporting subversion within the other state.
That undertaking ended American, Iranian and Israeli aid to the late Mullah Mustafa Barzani's rebellion in Iraqi Kurdistan, which soon thereafter collapsed...
For three years the Kurds fought the Iraqi forces, sustaining thousands of casualties.
Through the CIA, the U.S. government discouraged the Kurds from negotiating a measure of autonomy with the Iraqi central government but also restrained them from undertaking an all-out offensive, which had been proposed by Israel (that provided the Kurds with Soviet weapons).
The policy was (the Pike report says) "that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally's neighboring country." (Washington Post info)

Lavrov: "The Kurds are being used in a game,
which has no relation to their own interests."
Sputnik News, 19-2-2018

Steve Bannon 2014: "People are looked at as commodities"

In the summer of 2014, Steve Bannon described in length and detail how he views the biggest issues of the day:
He wants to tear down “crony capitalism”.
He is against Ayn Rand’s version of libertarianism:
He believes the capitalism of the “Judeo Christian West” is in crisis. People are looked at as commodities. (Read more here)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has voiced concern that US actions in Syria are aimed at partitioning Syria and accused Washington of using the Kurds to undermine the Arab Republic's territorial integrity.
"Such fears arise when we get acquainted with the plans that the US is beginning to implement on the ground, primarily to the east of the Euphrates, on vast territories between this river and the border with Syria with Iraq and Turkey."
The Russian top diplomat urged Washington not to "play with fire" in Syria and carefully consider its steps based "not on immediate needs of today's political situation, but rather from the long-term interests of the Syrian people and all the peoples of this region, including the Kurds," adding, "It seems to me that the statements of our American colleagues that the only purpose is to fight ISIL [Daesh] and preserve territorial integrity need to be confirmed by actions."
"Unfortunately, with all the statements about the need to unite efforts in the fight against this common evil [terrorism], there is still a desire to use this situation for geopolitical narrow-minded purposes and attempts continue to move away from truly collective work," Lavrov said, when speaking on session of the International Discussion Club "Valdai".
He has emphasized that the Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity must be preserved, in accordance with international law and UN resolutions.
The Kurds are being used in a game, which has no relation to their own interests, the foreign policy chief said, urging to refrain from exploiting the so-called "Kurdish factor."

According to Lavrov, the United States is creating governing bodies that are "deliberately" formed in such a way as to "have no connection with Damascus" in the territories located to the east of the Euphrates and up to Syria's border.
"This can be a very serious problem in terms of meeting the requirements of the UN Security Council to ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria…"
Previously, the Russian foreign minister blamed the US for aiming to separate part of Syria to create a Kurdish-dominated autonomy.

America & its Useful Idiots

In political jargon, useful idiot is a term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.

It has become clear that the US’s main objectives in Syria is not their expressed goal of ‘fighting ISIS’, but regime change, isolating Russian influence, the Balkanization and the creation of failed states.
The US sees the Syrian state as one of the last spheres of Russian influence beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union, and a threat to its Israeli ally in the region. The presence of ISIS and other terrorists groups serves these interests...
The US has a history of using terrorism to topple governments friendly to Russia.
Al Qaeda itself was borne of the US objective to topple the Soviet friendly government of Afghanistan.
The dismemberment of Russian-friendly Serbia and the creation of Kosovo was done via the same means... (Syrian Girl, Global Research, Feb 23, 2016)

Forces loyal to the Assad government are amassing near Afrin
Rudaw Net, 19-2-2018

Popular forces will arrive in Afrin (North-East Syria) to support the steadfastness of its people in confronting Turkisch aggression,” state news agency SANA reported, citing its correspondent in Aleppo.
The agency uses "popular" to refer to pro-Syrian regime fighters.
"The agreement is to protect borders," explained Sheikho Bilo, an official from the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Unity Party (PYDKS), adding that “the agreement is only militarily."
Afrin has been controlled by the mostly-Kurdish YPG forces, who have withstood a month-long assault at the hands of the Turkish military and their 'Free Syrian Army' proxies, who are opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Kurdish and pro-regime forces have largely avoided direct and large-scale confrontations in the seven-year conflict.

kurds & syrian arab army 2014 - fighting isis in northern syria

TEV-DEM Spokesperson Abdulrahman Salman told Rudaw on Sunday that "we had initially requested Syrian Army to enter Afrin."
Afrin is westernmost of three Kurdish cantons in what they call Rojava. The Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) is the ruling coalition of the Northern Syrian Federation.

Turkey OK with Damascus sending forces into Afrin: "If the regime enters Afrin to clear the YPG, then Turkey will not have a problem with it," said Turkish FM Mevlut Cavasoglu on Monday. Cavasoglu was speaking from Amman in a press conference with his Jordanian counterpart. "If it supports YPG, then no force can stop Turkey in clearing the terrorists," he added.

Footage shows the erection of what appears to be a military camp in Afrin. (FARS 19-2-2018)

Afrin region will shortly be encircled to cut support,
end YPG's negotiations, Erdoğan says
Daily Sabah (Turkey), 20-2-2018

In upcoming days, Afrin town center will swiftly be encircled, support to the city and region from the outside will be halted and the terrorist PKK group-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) will no longer have the opportunity to negotiate with anyone, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday.
Erdoğan's remarks at the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party)'s parliamentary group meeting in Ankara came a day after the Assad regime's official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) and pro-regime news outlets reported that regime forces struck a deal with PKK's Syrian affiliate YPG to be stationed in Afrin, which they handed to the group in 2012.
Later in the day, Turkish officials clearly warned the regime not to collaborate with YPG, which denied such reports. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani regarding the allegations and Turkey's ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Afrin.
Meanwhile, Government Spokesperson and Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ stated after the cabinet meeting late Monday that these reports are unrealistic, and Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın stated the next day that such reports are mere propaganda.
However, the Assad government previously allowed a so-called civilian convoy to cross from Manbij to Afrin in early February. Photos from the convoy showed that in addition to civilians, numerous U.S.-backed factions of the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have crossed into Afrin.

Syrian Government Forces Enter Afrin - YPG Representative to Sputnik
Sputnik News, 20-2-2018

YPG representative in Afrin Brusk Haseke told Sputnik that the Syrian government forces have entered Afrin besieged by the Turkish military.
"Yes, this is true. Today the Syrian government army entered Afrin in order to defend the city from the Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syrian Army jointly with the Kurdish forces of the YPG.
The government forces have come to help the people of Afrin. We cannot report on the number of soldiers that entered Afrin. This is military information."
At the same time, the Syrian state TV has shown a convoy, what it says are pro-government forces, entering Afrin.
The troops, wearing camouflage fatigues and waving weapons and Syrian flags from their vehicles are seen on the screen, Reuters said.

Lavrov: al-Nusra terrorists take civilians as human shields in Eastern Ghouta
Syrian Arab News Agency, 20-2-2018

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the Syrian Arab Army and Russian forces will continue eliminating Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization and its affiliated groups and that all the calls for “calm” are means to spare the organization’s terrorists.
In a press conference with his Algerian counterpart AbedelKader Messahel, Lavrov stated that “humanitarian problems in Eastern Ghouta and Idleb are being stoked” at the United Nations, adding that “Various initiatives, including at the UN Security Council, call on the Syrian army to stop its operations there. One initiative even provides for at least a month’s pause to calm down the situation and deliver humanitarian aid.”
“The problem is that in Idleb and in Eastern Ghouta, Jabhat al-Nusra, declared a terrorist organization by the UN Security Council, runs the show. Subsequent efforts to organize large-scale evacuation of civilians from that area encountered Jabhat al-Nusra’s refusal as it seek to keep these people as human shields,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov continue on to say that an agreement was reached to evacuate some civilians and people needing emergency medical assistance from Eastern Ghouta but all the exerted efforts was encountered by al-Nusra’s refusal that continue to target civilians and residential neighborhoods in Damascus.
The Russian Top Diplomat added that Russia asks its Western colleagues, who have influence of Jabhat al-Nusra, to take effort to discipline this organization; otherwise it is to be exterminated.

Flashback - The Long East Ghouta War
Tim Anderson in Damascus, 21st Century Wire, 14-10-2017

When I first visited Damascus four years ago an experienced soldier surprised me by saying that there were close to 40,000 fighters in the East Ghouta. That is a very large army. Today there are many thousands, but less than 10,000. And they have many thousands of hostages.
Two main groups of sectarian jihadists operate in the East Ghouta: Jaysh al Islam (the Army of Islam), a Syrian-led group which controls Douma; and Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria, and still referred to by that name, despite two attempts at name change), the international al Qaeda group set up to support the Syrian salafists.
They carry out most of the attacks on the military and on Damascus city.
Unlike in northern Syria, where al Nusra has been led by NATO-trained and equipped Chechens, Libyans, Afghans and Turkomens, in the East Ghouta the main foreigners of Jabhat al Nusra (this group also recruits Syrian children and unemployed men) are less well trained Saudis.
Most of the time Jaysh al Islam and al Nusra cooperate. Only occasionally do they squabble over money and territory. Saudi Arabia has been the principal sponsor of both.
The hostages provide several key benefits for the gangs. First they are an important slave labour force in tunnel digging, second they are used as human shields, to deter air attacks; and finally they have been sacrificed at times as victims of ‘regime’ attacks, in ‘false flag’ incidents.
No-one has any real idea of the numbers of hostages; but many civilians and soldiers are still missing.

A large Syrian Army convoys in Damascus containing all sorts of tanks, armored vehicles, and heavy artillery arrives in Eastern Damascus in preparation for an extensive military operation against militants in Eastern Ghouta. (FARS News Agency, 20-2-2018)

Syrian FM Accuses Western Officials of Complicity in Terrorists' War Crimes
FARS News Agency, 20-2-2018

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Foreign Ministry sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General and the head of the Security Council over the terrorist groups' attacks on Damascus and its countryside, affirming that the terrorists and their western backers are involved in the crimes.
In the letter, the Ministry said that the terrorist groups located in the Eastern Ghouta targeted Damascus city and its countryside on Tuesday February 20th, killing and injuring dozens of civilians as the shells targeted streets, residential neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, public establishments, and even the headquarters of diplomatic missions, SANA reported.
The Ministry said that the terrorists fired more than 45 shells at Damascus in a few hours that claimed the lives of six civilians and injured 29 more, adding that the attack is a continuation of the crimes committed on daily basis.
The Ministry noted that the attacks come at a time when some Western officials and others are carrying out campaigns that can only be described as direct support for these terrorists, that encourage them to kill and carry out terrorist attacks without fear of being held accountable.

Bashar al-Assad: What is happening in Syria
is the complete opposite to the concept of jihad
The Syrian Observer, 5-7-2013

-- President Assad: The rifts we have witnessed in modern history have come with the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the negative role they have played after the independence of many Arab countries like Syria. They created the first split between Pan-Arabism and Islam, working hard to form a country for Islamists and another for nationalists.
These attempts continued when colonist powers in Lebanon attempted to create a country for Muslims and another for Christians. The implications of the Muslim Brotherhood have transpired, the most dangerous of which is the presence of Al Qaeda which was generously supported by the West on the back of the Islamic revolution in Iran. ....
The more schism in a country, the less it is able to accommodate its entire people.

-- Interviewer: Mr President. You first stated that what is happening in Syria is not a revolution... What made you say that it was not a revolution from the inception?
-- President Assad: From a historical perspective, any genuine revolution is purely internal and cannot be linked externally by any means, as manifested by the Russian, French and even the Iranian revolutions.
Real revolutions are intrinsic, spontaneous, and are led by intellectual and ideological elites. What occurred in Syria since the outset of the crisis was flagrant external interference. There were attempts to hide this, but it has become absolutely clear.
Revolutions are about building countries and societies, not about destroying them; so how can we call what is happening in Syria a revolution? Attempts to package the events on the ground as a part of a revolution have been futile from the beginning. ....

-- Interviewer: Despite this, Mr President, some outside Syria and even inside Syria have called it – and still do – a revolution. This is a real controversy that needs clarification.
-- President Assad: To correct your question, even the western media and statements by western officials hostile to Syria could not ignore that it was not a revolution. The term “revolution’s is no longer used.
They have now shifted towards discussing terrorism, adopting the American notion of differentiating between ‘good terrorists’ and ‘bad terrorists.’ ...
There are of course those who refuse to see the reality because it serves their own agendas....

-- Interviewer: Mr President, why has Syria turned into a land for Jihad, and how has that transpired in such a short period of time?
-- President Assad: Syria has not turned into a land for Jihad. Jihad usually denotes benevolence; it is about construction, development, defending the country and the messages advocated in religion relating to virtuousness, justice and equality...
The solution is to seek guidance from the Quran where the clear words of God resonate. Islam is a religion of mercy and forgiveness; the word “mercy” is cited tens of times in the Quran...
If we go back to the Quran, the Hadith and the life and conduct of the Prophet, we will see the complete opposite of what these terrorists are practicing. ...

Russia: Talks to end conflict in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta break down
Rebels ignored calls to cease resistance and lay down their arms
Middle East Monitor, February 22, 2018

The Russian military said on Wednesday that talks to try to peacefully resolve the situation in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta had broken down and that rebels there had ignored calls to cease resistance and lay down their arms.
Russia spelled out its view of the situation after residents in eastern Ghouta said they were waiting their “turn to die”, amid one of the most intense bombardments of the war by pro-government forces on the besieged, rebel-held enclave near Damascus.
Moscow, which has rejected suggestions its air force bears responsibility for civilian deaths in the district, earlier on Wednesday called for the UN Security Council to meet publicly on Thursday to discuss the situation in Ghouta.
Russia’s ceasefire monitoring centre in Syria, which is run by the Russian military, said in a statement later on Wednesday that talks with the rebels aimed at ending the violence in the area had broken down.
In a statement, it also accused the rebels of preventing civilians from leaving the conflict zone.
“A critical humanitarian and socio-economic situation is developing in eastern Ghouta,” the statement said.
“Calls by the Russian ceasefire monitoring centre for illegal armed rebel groups in eastern Ghouta to cease resistance, lay down their weapons, and regularise their status have produced no result.”

A rebel official, Mohammad Alloush, the political chief of Jaish al-Islam, earlier told Reuters there had been attempts to mediate a ceasefire, but he ruled out the possibility of any deal to evacuate the residents of eastern Ghouta.

Jaysh al-Islam (formerly known as Liwa al-Islam) is a coalition of Islamist and Salafist units involved in the Syrian Civil War.
Its primary base of operations has been the Damascus area, particularly the city of Douma and region of Eastern Ghouta. The organization has rejected membership of the Free Syrian Army.
The group along with Ahrar ash-Sham are among the main rebel groups supported by Saudi Arabia. The group aims to create an Islamic state under Sharia law.

Liwa al-Islam was established by Zahran Alloush, the son of Saudi-based religious scholar Abdullah Mohammed Alloush.
Zahran Alloush was involved with the neo-salafi/Wahhabi underground in Syria since the 1990s. He was imprisoned on three different occasions for Islamic activities. His most recent arrest was in 2009. He was released on June/22/2011 under pressure from protesters.
Zahran Alloush immediately received funds and weapons from Saudi intelligence, which enabled him to establish and run Liwaa al-Islam as a major jihadist force.
The group claimed responsibility for carrying out the July 2012 Damascus bombing that killed Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, Deputy Defense Minister Asef Shawkat, and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani.
Liwa al-Islam was a driving force behind actions in the Damascus region. It cooperated and conducted joint operations with the al-Nusra Front.

Riyadh, UAE Call on Syria to 'Stop the Violence' in Ghouta
by Naharnet Newsdesk, 22-2-2018

Gulf states Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates called Thursday on Damascus to "stop the violence" in its deadly assault on the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta.
"We stress the need for the Syrian regime to stop the violence, to allow in humanitarian aid, and to take seriously the path of a political solution to the crisis," the Saudi foreign ministry said on Twitter.
"We are concerned over the continuation of Syrian regime attacks on Eastern Ghouta and the impact on civilians there," it added, stopping short of an outright condemnation.
It urged Damascus to adhere to UN Security Council resolution 2254, which calls for a nationwide ceasefire and a political transition.

Gulf states, mainly Saudi Arabia, have been key backers of Syrian opposition groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad and Riyadh has hosted meetings of the opposition.

Russia: Countries Supporting Terrorism Responsible for Situation in Ghouta
US Department of State: "Stop supporting Assad"
Sputnik news, 22-2-2018

"Those responsible for the situation in East Ghouta are those who support the terrorists, those that are still there. As you know, neither Russia, nor Syria, nor Iran belong to the category of such states, for it is they who on the ground are engaged in an irreconcilable struggle against the terrorists in Syria," Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov told reporters, commenting on statements about Russia's and Iran's alleged responsibility for the situation in East Ghouta.
Speaking about joining the UN resolution on the introduction of a ceasefire in Syria, proposed by Sweden, Peskov re-addressed the question to the Foreign Ministry.
"Now I cannot answer this question, they are engaged in the line of our diplomatic department, our mission in New York, it is better to address this issue to the Foreign Ministry," he said, adding that the situation in the region remains wanting.

The Kremlin's comment follows the statement of US Department of States spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who blamed Damascus' air forces for allegedly conducteding airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta...
The US Department of State has also urged Russia to stop supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with regard to the "escalation of violence in Eastern Ghouta."

Power Change Propaganda on Syria Now in Overdrive
John Wight, Sputniks News, 22-2-2018

As the Syrian Arab Army, Russia, and Iran move closer to liberating the last remaining parts of Syria still occupied by Salafi-jihadi groups of various stripe, the regime change propaganda in the Western media has gone into overdrive, painting a picture of an upside-down world with a savage assault on reality.
In the process groups such as Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam, the latter of which is the dominant Salafi-jihadi faction in opposition-held Eastern Ghouta, is being referred to as 'rebels', holding out against a brutal fascistic regime and its evil Russian backers.
Indeed going by the raft of articles that have appeared in particular in the UK Guardian newspaper of late, you would think the Syrian Arab Army, which by way of a reminder is a conscript army that draws its soldiers from every part of the multicultural and multi-religious mosaic that constitutes Syrian society, are not fighting to liberate their country and its people from sectarian fanatics, but instead have invaded it and are occupying as in an Arab Waffen SS.
British journalist and veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk makes the point in a recent article that "footage from Ghouta — like almost all the film from eastern Aleppo — contains not a frame of acknowledgement that these armed men [of Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam] exist."

The human suffering caused by the conflict in Syria is not in dispute. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, the majority of them civilians, with many more injured and millions forced to flee, resulting in a refugee crisis of biblical dimension.
It is a conflict being fought out in urban centers and the scale of the violence reflects the monumental stakes involved in its outcome. Its prolongation, and with it the prolongation of the carnage and suffering, is inextricably linked to the support provided to these so-called rebels by Western governments and their regional allies...

Read also: The Ghouta Rebels, Wisam Franjieh, 1-8-2017

While the Syrian government ramps up its offensive on the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, local residents have to also contend with bitter rivalries between opposition groups, who have carved up the besieged enclave.
Infighting between the Eastern Ghouta’s main opposition factions has figured as one of the most ruinous aspects for the area’s roughly 400,000 residents, who have been living under partial government siege since 2013.
Their stories show that life in rebel-held Syria is very much about maneuvering the complex maze of allegiances and animosities among opposition groups and that civilians often bear the brunt of this race for control and influence.

Ja’afari: "Eight million citizens of Damascus are under
constant threat by a few thousand terrorists
Press TV, Fri Feb 23, 2018

Syria’s UN envoy Bashar al-Ja’afari - speaking at a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria - has denounced the US and Europe for their silence on the carnage of civilians in Damascus by the terror groups operating in Eastern Ghouta, saying it is “unacceptable” to endanger the lives of eight million in the capital in order to protect a few thousand terrorists in its suburbs.
After losing most of the Syrian territories under their control, foreign-backed militant groups, including the notorious al-Nusra Front, are now largely concentrated in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, an area they have been using to launch deadly mortar attacks on the capital.
Syrian government forces have been pounding terrorist positions in the area to liberate it and free a large number of civilians struggling there with malnutrition and lack of basic medical supplies.
The US and its allies accuse Syrian forces of killing civilians in its aerial campaign against militant positions in Eastern Ghouta, a claim sharply rejected by Damascus and Moscow, which backs the anti-terror operation with its air force.

Ja’afari further said the terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta, which have been designated as terror organizations by the Security Council, have been targeting Damascus with rocket and mortar shells on a daily basis.
The eight million citizens of Damascus, Ja’afari said, are under constant threat by a few thousand terrorists in Eastern Ghouta...
In remarks after the session, Syria’s ambassador said accusations by the United States, Britain and France that the Syrian government was indiscriminately bombing civilians were completely false.

Peter Ford: "These are really bad guys"
RT Russia, 23-2-2018

Over the last few days, mainstream media have simultaneously turned their attention to the ongoing anti-terrorist operation in Eastern Ghouta, a militant-controlled suburb of Damascus, which is seeing a new wave of clashes between Syrian government forces and Islamist factions.
While the army aims to clear the area of such terrorist units as Jaysh al-Islam, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front), Ahrar al-Sham and Failaq al-Rahman, Western media, often relying on militant-embedded sources, continue to paint an ominous picture, in which the government troops are deliberately slaughtering civilians.
“A naive viewer might imagine that Assad was just bombing civilians for the hell of it because the jihadi fighters are totally absent from the picture. And the pictures are literally provided by the jihadists themselves,” Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria and Bahrain, told RT..
What the media failed to point out also is that the Islamic State is one of the groups which hold Yarmuk camp, which is one corner of Ghouta, and then you have an affiliate of Al Qaeda which is holding another corner,” former ambassador Ford points out.
“So these are really bad guys. Exactly the guys that were wrinkled out of Mosul and Raqqa, with many civilian casualties in the process.”

UN SC passes resolution demanding 30-day ceasefire
TASS Russian News Agency, February 25, 2018

The United Nations Security Council in a unanimous vote approved the resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire across Syria to allow aid access to the population.
The Security Council’s 15 members, including Russia, voted for the document.
The UN Security Council demanded in the resolution the parties to the conflict stop immediately hostilities and abide by the humanitarian pause at least 30 days across Syria.
The document urges the parties to the conflict to lift the blockade of populates localities, to enable the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in need and to evacuate the sick and wounded.
The ceasefire would exempt attacks against the Islamic State terrorist group and the groups affiliated with it.

failaq al-rahman, islamist brigade, ghouta 2017

The two major rebel factions in Syria's eastern Ghouta welcomed on Saturday a UN resolution demanding a 30-day truce across the country to allow aid access and medical evacuations.
In separate statements, Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman pledged to protect aid convoys that come into the besieged rebel enclave near Damascus. The insurgents said they would commit to a truce, but would respond to any violation by the Syrian government and its allies. (Reuters, 24-2-2018)

Attacks on terrorists in Damascus suburbs to continue
Reuters, February 25, 2018

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Sunday that attacks will continue on Damascus suburbs held by terrorists, but elsewhere Iran and Syria will respect a U.N. resolution demanding a 30-day truce to allow aid access and medical evacuation, Iranian news agencies reported.
“We will adhere to the ceasefire resolution, Syria will also adhere. Parts of the suburbs of Damascus, which are held by the terrorists, are not covered by the ceasefire and clean-up (operations) will continue there,” the semi-official news agency Tasnim quoted Iran’s military chief of staff General Mohammad Baqeri as saying.
“As the text (of the U.N. resolution) says, parts of the suburbs of Damascus, which are specifically controlled by the terrorists of the Nusra Front and other terrorist groups, are not subject to ceasefire,” Baqeri said, according to state news agency IRNA.

Syrian Army breaks through Islamist lines in East Ghouta
Leith Aboufadel, Al-Masdar News, 25/02/2018

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) began their long-awaited East Ghouta offensive this morning, targeting the southeastern countryside of this farming region in Damascus.
Led by the Tiger Forces and 4th Division, the Syrian Arab Army managed to take control of several areas in the East Ghouta after breaking through Jaysh Al-Islam’s front-lines.
According to an official military source in Damascus, the Syrian Arab Army captured the towns Hazrama, Al-Nashabiyah, and Al-Salihiyah, along with the imperative hilltop of Tal Farzat.
According to a military source, the Syrian Arab Army is involved in a fierce battle with the Islamist rebels at the Harasta-Arbeen front – no major advance has been reported.
The Syrian Arab Army has repeatedly attempted to clear the Harasta-Arbeen axis this year; however, each attack has been met with fierce resistance from the Islamist forces in the area.

Flashback: Syrian army breaks rebels' siege
on key military base east of Damascus - Xinhua| 2018-01-08

DAMASCUS, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army managed to make the first breach into the siege imposed by ultra-radical rebels on a strategic military base in the eastern countryside of the capital Damascus, pro-government al-Ekhbaria TV reported.
The Syrian army broke the siege imposed on the Vehicle Management base in the northeastern city of Harasta in the Eastern Ghouta region of Damascus, according to the report.
The achievement came following a days-long military campaign to break the siege imposed by the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee (LLC) and like-minded groups on that key base.
Late last month, the LLC militants waged a major offensive in Harasta to capture the strategic base, managing to lay a siege on the facility and capturing surrounding buildings. The attack triggered a counter-offensive by the army and intensifying military showdown and airstrikes in that area.
The base is the largest military facility in the Eastern Ghouta region, stretching from Harasta to Arbeen.

Militants in Eastern Ghouta prepare provocation involving chemical weapons
TASS Russian News Agency, February 25, 2018

Leaders of militant units entrenched in Eastern Ghouta are preparing a provocation that will involve the use of chemical agents.
After it they plan to accuse the Syrian government forces of utilization of chemical weapons against peaceful civilians, the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring sides said on Sunday.
"The data at our disposal indicates the leaders of militant units are preparing a provocation that will involve the utilization of chemical weapons in order to accuse the government forces of deploying chemical weapons against peaceful civilians," the report said.
"The Russian center for reconciliation of the warring sides calls on all the parties to the conflict to stop any combat actions and armed provocations.".

Islamist rebels: 'Gas attack' kills child in Eastern Ghouta
Al-Jazeera, 26-2-2018

Rebels in Eastern Ghouta are accusing Syrian government forces of using chlorine gas in their aerial bombardment campaign in the Damascus suburb. Syria's Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, said on Sunday that at least one child died as a result of suffocation on their official Twitter account.
According to the Syrian opposition's interim government, victims were showing symptoms "consistent with exposure to toxic chlorine gas". The opposition's health ministry said in a statement that several people were admitted to medical facilities in nearby Al-Shifoniyah. At least 18 people were treated with oxygen nebulising sessions, the statement added.
The reports of the gas attack come as President Bashar al-Assad's forces fight against [ultra-radical] opposition groups from multiple fronts, in an attempt to penetrate into the besieged enclave.

Same Old: Notorious White Helmets Report
a Chemical Attack, Blame Damascus Again
Sputnik News, 26-2-1018

An infamous NGO that was repeatedly accused of falsifying information about its operations and essentially working as a propaganda outlet for anti-government militants in Syria, now claims that Damascus deployed chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta.
The notorious White Helmets group claims that the Syrian government deployed chlorine gas against the town of Al-Shifoniya town in Eastern Ghouta, killing one child and causing "widespread suffocation" among the local civilians, Anadolu Agency reports.
The White Helmets, a group that styles itself as an NGO seeking to ease the plight of civilians in Syria suffering from the ongoing conflict in the country, has previously been accused of falsifying information about its work in Syria and staging "rescue" attempts in its propaganda videos.
Earlier the Russian Defense Ministry warned that militant groups in Eastern Ghouta were preparing a false flag attack in an attempt to blame Damascus for using chemical weapons against civilians.

Humanitarian pauses in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta
Buses will carry civilians to the places of temporary stay.
TASS Russian News Agency, February 27, 2018

A humanitarian pause entered into effect in Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, on Tuesday.
On Monday, Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergey Shoigu announced that under President Vladimir Putin’s order a daily humanitarian pause from 09:00 to 14:00 local time would be declared in Eastern Ghouta starting from February 27.
In Vafidin, Syria’s authorities backed by the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties in Syria created conditions for receiving civilians through the only humanitarian corridor linking Damascus with Eastern Ghouta.
Russia’s military police and the Syrian military will ensure security at the exit from the humanitarian corridor.
In Al-Duweir, which is located near the humanitarian corridor, a mobile medical station will operate to provide assistance to those in need. Buses will carry civilians to the places of temporary stay.

Damascus, Yuri Yevtushenko, head of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in the Syrian Arab Republic, said, was struck by 228 shells launched from Eastern Ghouta over the course of the last week, killing four and injuring 50.
Despite Jaysh al-Islam’s statements regarding reconciliation, Damascus is still being shelled from the territory it [Jaysh al-Islam] controls,” Yevtushenko stated.

Abbas Calls for Mideast Peace Conference
Danny Dalon to Abbas: "You are the problem"
Naharnet Newsdesk, 20-2-2018

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday called for an international conference to launch a new, wider Middle East peace process and pave the way to Palestinian statehood.
In a rare address to the U.N. Security Council, Abbas presented what he called a "peace plan" to revive the comatose Israeli-Palestinian talks with a new international mediation -- in which the United States would play less of a predominant role.
President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital infuriated the Palestinians, who declared that Washington could no longer play a role as lead mediator in the Middle East peace process.
"To solve the Palestine question, it is essential to establish a multilateral international mechanism emanating from an international conference," Abbas said.
Abbas put the blame for the failure of peace efforts squarely on Israel, saying it was "acting as a state above the law" and had "shut the door on the two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He said the conference would be attended by Israel and the Palestinians, regional players, the five permanent Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- and the diplomatic Quartet comprised of the European Union, United Nations, Russia and the United States.
The gathering should lead to full U.N. membership for the state of Palestine, mutual recognition of Israel and Palestine, and the creation of a new international mechanism to reach a final settlement, he said.
The Palestinian leader immediately left the council chamber following his address, leaving Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon to complain that he was once again "running away" from dialogue.
"You have made it clear, with your words and with your actions, that you are no longer part of the solution. You are the problem," Danon said.

US official says embassy expected to open in Jerusalem in May
Reuters, Washington Friday, 23 February 2018

The United States is expected to open its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May, a move from Tel Aviv that reverses decades of US policy.
US President Donald Trump announced last year that the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, infuriating even Washington’s Arab allies and dismaying Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as their capital.

We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, noting that it will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.

The embassy in Jerusalem will be gradually expanded in existing consular facilities in the Arnona neighborhood, while the search for a permanent site has already begun for what Nauert called a “longer-term undertaking.”
The interim embassy will have office space for the ambassador and a small staff and, by the end of 2019, a new embassy annex on the Arnona compound will be opened, Nauert said in a statement.

palestine nakba1948

US Embassy Al-Quds Opening ‘Provocation to Arabs’: PLO
Al-Manar News, 23-2-2018

A decision by the United States to open its embassy in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Zionist entity “is a provocation to Arabs”, a senior Palestinian official said Friday.
The May 14 date is marked by Palestinians as the Nakba, or “catastrophe.”
“The American administration’s decisions to recognize Jerusalem as the Zionist entity’s capital and choose the Palestinian people’s Nakba as the date for this step is a blatant violation of international law,” Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) number two Saeb Erekat told AFP.
He said the result would be “the destruction of the ‘two state’ option, as well as a blatant provocation to all Arabs and Muslims.”

Full UN membership for Palestine benefits all
Beril Dedeoğlu, Daily Sabah (Turkey), 27-2-2018

U.S. President Donald Trump had announced last December that Washington recognizes the city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, provoking worldwide condemnation. The logical continuation of that recognition was to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, and it seems that this is also happening. As a matter of fact, the president ordered to move the embassy as early as May 14, i.e. the anniversary of the foundation of the State of Israel, back in 1948.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Trump is acting as if the Palestinians don't exist, and the U.S. doesn't care about their expectations anymore.
One may believe Palestine or the Palestinians don't count, but neither Palestine nor the Palestinians will disappear into thin air when ignored.
Trump's stubbornness is harmful to everyone who hoped to reach a peaceful resolution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Israeli government seems to be enjoying Trump's attitude right now, but in the long run, is all this in favor of the Israeli people?

International public opinion's perception of the U.S. is very negative since Trump was elected, so cooperating with him doesn't help with Israel's image internationally.
The U.S.'s clout, credibility and prestige are eroding with every passing day, especially in the Middle East. Besides, the Jerusalem move brought together the Muslim world, because this is one of the few subjects Muslim countries across the world can agree on easily.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the U.N. to recognize Palestine as a full member, a step forward from its current non-member observer status, in an effort to ease the injustice the Palestinians are suffering from.

The Israeli-Palestinian issue is not limited to Jerusalem's status or the recognition of Palestine, there is no doubt about that. Nonetheless, should Palestine become a full-member of the U.N., the Palestinians will at least get some diplomatic tools to resolve a number of issues at the table.

Israeli Bill Criminalizes Criticism of the Military
Bill paving the way for annexation of the West Bank approved
Palestine Chronicle, February 27, 2018

The Israeli Knesset has approved the first reading of a bill proposed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, that would ban organizations critical of the country’s military.
Bennet’s primary target is the group known as Breaking the Silence. The organization of veteran Israeli combatants who speak out against the brutal nature of the occupation has become a major thorn for the government.
Addressing the bill, Bennett said: “Breaking the Silence has long ago crossed the line of legitimate discourse when it chose a path of slander and lies against IDF soldiers on the international stage.” Another Israeli lawmaker Shuli Mualem accused Breaking the Silence of seeking to “undermine” the regime and its army soldiers.
In their response to the bill, the group accused Bennett of promoting “occupation education” and trying to “crush every democratic value on the altar of the settlement movement.” The anti-occupation group further emphasized that “the only way to stop us is to end the occupation.”

A separate bill paving the way for annexation of the West Bank was also approved. Israeli lawmakers agreed to expand the jurisdiction of Israeli courts over “Area C” of the West Bank.
The Bill was tabled by another right-wing Israeli minister, Ayelet Shake

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