With the Syrian government, backed by Russian airstrikes, set to crack down on Islamist rebels in the province of Idlib, Nahles said on Monday that she would not support German intervention, even if Bashar Assad’s government uses chemical weapons.
“The SPD will agree neither in the government nor in parliament, a participation of Germany in the war in Syria,” read a statement from Nahles. Her statement comes after Merkel’s government revealed on Monday that it has been in talks with its allies regarding possible military intervention in Syria.
The US had earlier asked Merkel to join the coalition, reported German newspaper Bild. The German Defense Ministry and the US had reportedly discussed various options for German involvement, ranging from simple reconnaissance flights and damage analysis, to a possible engagement in combat missions.
Intervening now would set Germany up for possible confrontation with Russia, an ally of the Syrian government. Russian jets have been pounding terrorist positions in Idlib in an effort to wipe out the country’s remaining jihadists.
Is Donald Trump Going Full Neocon in Syria?
Flashback: GOP hawks declare war on Trump
Commenting on US President National Security Advisor John Bolton’s threats to the International Criminal Court and statements which stressed that the US Constitution is superior to all the international organizations, Hezbollah issued a statement in which it maintained that Bolton’s remarks revealed the American arrogant attitude towards the world countries and organizations.
"Bolton confirmed that the United States of America is above all the considerations. This means that all the “international law and community” slogans are just used by the US to achieve colonial goals."
Hezbollah also pointed out that Bolton’s remarks stressed that the US policies are based on confiscating the world constitutions and rejection to abiding by the international laws, and that the American mentality follows the law of jungle which glorifies power and crushes the oppressed.
What Bolton has said and Trump has done shows openly that who rules the US is a gang which runs the entire world according to its interests, desires and whims, Hezbollah statement emphasized.
It's not easy to upstage President Donald Trump but a Montana high school student did. He has since been called “Resistance Jim Halpert,” a reference to John Krasinski’s character in NBC's TV serie “The Office”, because he was known for making similar expressions into the camera. (YouTube, 7-9-2018)
Jim Halpert Quote: Jim: See, you're always saying there's something wrong with society, maybe there's something wrong with you?
US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel urged feuding Gulf Arab states on Wednesday to put aside their differences and unite against Iranian efforts to "destabilise" the region.
"Two of our enduring security threats are present in this region -- the destabilising actions of Iran and violent extremist organisations," said Votel, who heads US forces in the Middle East, ahead of a military conference in Kuwait on Wednesday which is to be attended by Saudi Arabia and its allies, and their bitter rival Qatar.
Votel said it was "imperative" to "enhance and integrate our capabilities for our mutual national security interests" and "rise above all the other aspects".
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia and its allies cut all ties with Qatar, demanding that their erstwhile ally cut longstanding ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and take a stronger line with Saudi arch-rival Iran.
The rift has proved a strategic headache for Washington as Qatar provides the main headquarters in the region for CENTCOM while rival Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet.
Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel on Wednesday said Iran is one of the greatest threats to the U.S. today and has increased its "destabilizing role" in the region... He also believes Iran poses "the greatest long-term threat to stability" in the entire region.
"We need to look at opportunities where we can disrupt [Iran] through military means or other means their activities," he said. "We need to look at opportunities where we can expose and hold them accountable for the things that they are doing."
That said, the general conceded, "Iran has a role in the region. I want to be clear that we think differently about the people of Iran than we think about the leadership of Iran — the Revolutionary Council that runs Iran.
Our concern is not with the people of Iran, it is with their revolutionary government."
U.S. Central Command is responsible for U.S. security interests in an area stretching from the Persian Gulf region into Central Asia. It includes more than 80,000 soldiers on land, sea and air.
If Iran chooses to continue pursuing a nuclear program it will face a “military” response, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz warned Wednesday.
Katz was responding to the Iranian nuclear chief’s statement that the Islamic Republic’s program stands ready to build advanced centrifuges and further enrich uranium.
Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranian nuclear chief’s, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Iran wouldn’t be deterred by US President Donald Trump’s sanctions and withdrawal from the global nuclear deal.
But Katz said that if Iran presses forward it will face a “direct threat from the United States and its allies.”
The US withdrawal from the deal in May has already badly shaken Iran’s economy, crashing its currency, the rial. Katz said Iran could either cave to Trump’s demands or watch its economy collapse.
Salehi spoke about Iran’s efforts to build a new facility at Natanz’s uranium enrichment center that will produce more advanced centrifuges. [..] While building the facility doesn’t violate the nuclear deal, mass production of advanced centrifuges would. Salehi, however, said that wasn’t immediately a plan.
"This is just a preparation,” he said. “In case Iran decides to start producing in mass production such centrifuges, (we) would be ready for that.”
Asked what he personally would tell Trump if he had the chance, Salehi chuckled and said: “I certainly would tell him he has made the wrong move on Iran.”
Ali Akbar Salehi said that President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the 2015 accord “puts him on the loser’s side” of history. He added, “the deal could have paved the way for building the trust and the confidence that we had lost.”
“I think (Trump) is on the loser’s side because he is pursuing the logic of power,” Salehi said. “He thinks that he can, you know, continue for some time but certainly I do not think he will benefit from this withdrawal, certainly not.”
The Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) upcoming offensive in the Idlib Governorate will be limited to only certain parts of the province, a military source in Damascus told Al-Masdar News this weekend.
According to the source, the Syrian Army has offensives planned in northern Latakia, northern Hama, southeast Idlib, and southwest Idlib.
The source said that the offensives in Idlib will be limited to the Al-Ghaab Plain (SW Idlib), Jisr Al-Shughour (SW Idlib), and Abu Dhuhour area (SE Idlib).
He would add that the Syrian Army may push towards the outskirts of Saraqib and Ma’arat Nu’man, but this is still being discussed among the commanders of the Syrian Army and Russian military.
There has been much speculation recently that the Syrian Army would attempt to capture the entire Idlib Governorate; however, the military source said the army has not made these plans.
It appears that the main objective of these offensives is to seal the entire Idlib Governorare border with the Hama and Latakia governorates.
For Russia, retaking Jisr Al-Shughour is their primary objective, as it is the main launching point for the jihadist missiles and drones on the Hmeymim Airbase in southwest Latakia.
According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, there will be no reconciliation offered to the terrorist forces in the Idlib province; this includes groups like Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and the Turkestan Islamic Party.
Following a seven-year hiatus caused by the economic embargo imposed on Syria and the unstable security situation, an Iraqi civilian airplane landed Aug. 20 for the first time at Damascus International Airport
Syria used this step politically and deemed it a victory for the Syrian army's fight against terrorism, as was announced by the Syrian Minister of Transport Aug. 20.
In conjunction with growing air traffic, the director of Damascus International Airport, Nidhal Mohammed, revealed Sept. 12 that the number of arrivals to the airport increased by 20% over the same period last year, and the proportion of air freight also increased 15% from last year.
Laith Abdel Karim al-Rabii, director of media relations for Iraqi Airways, told Al-Monitor, “With the first Iraqi flight to Damascus after years of suspension, the Iraqi Airways office in Syria is getting ready to expand its operations and receive passengers wishing to visit Iraq.”
Rabii added, "Iraqi Airways, which made more than $1 million in profit from air cargo in June and July, will have its revenues increase with the resumption of flights to Syria — a country that has extensive commercial and economic relations with Iraq.
He stated, "Enhancing air transport between the two countries coincides with the security stability that is rolling out between the two countries. This step will have a positive economic impact on both countries, especially since many Iraqi markets still need Syrian goods. Moreover, religious tourism in Syria mainly depends on Iraqi visitors. Should Iraqi flights resume to Syria, then this will spare Iraqis a lot of time and money.”
While this development is of interest to Iraqis and provides them with a quick and safe means of transport to Syria, Syrian officials consider this a political victory...
Syrian Transportation Minister Ali Hammoud told Al-Monitor, “Syria [is fully ready] to receive Iraqi planes on its territory. This will definitely boost economic and tourism relations."
He added, “Syrian airlines schedule three flights a week to the airports of Baghdad, Basra and Najaf [to fly] a large number of Iraqis who like to visit religious shrines and tourism attraction centers [back to] Syria.”
The Iraqi Ministry of Transport is seemingly pressing ahead with its plans announced in 2015 to increase flights between the two countries to 40 flights per week.
This is in addition to the ministry’s plan to establish a railway linking the Syrian territory to Iran through Iraq.
Such a railway would be of great importance to the two countries, which are seeking to overcome war and the security chaos while compensating for their deteriorating economic and trade relations.
The leaders of Russia and Turkey have agreed to establish a de-militarised zone in Syria's Idlib province, in a move that ostensibly puts on hold a threatened all-out assault by government forces on Syria's last rebel bastion.
The announcement was made on Monday during a press conference in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Speaking alongside Erdogan, Putin said the 15-20km-wide zone would be established by October 15.
This would entail a "withdrawal of all radical fighters" from Idlib, including the al-Nusra Front, Putin said, referring to Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is dominated by a rebel faction previously known as al-Nusra Front before renouncing its ties to al-Qaeda.
Putin added that heavy weapons would be withdrawn from all opposition forces by October 10 - an approach supported by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
By the end of 2018, transportation routes linking Syria's key port of Latakia with major cities Aleppo and Hama must also be restored, added the Russian president, a major Assad ally.
Describing the agreement as a "serious result", Putin said that "Russia and Turkey have confirmed their determination to counter terrorism in Syria in all its forms".
For his part, Erdogan said both his country and Russia would carry out coordinated patrols in the de-militarised zone..."
"We decided on the establishment of a region that is cleaned of weapons between the areas which are under the control of the opposition and the regime," said Erdogan, whose administration backs certain rebel groups in Idlib. "In return, we will ensure that radical groups, which we will designate together with Russia, won't be active in the relevant area," he added.
"We will prevent a humanitarian tragedy which could happen as a result of military action."
Before the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana, the Hebrews are commanded to make an audit – an overview of their standing in the world.
Haaretz, the paper of the so called ‘thinking Israelis,’ followed that Mitzvah, polling Israeli Jews on their attitudes toward Jewishness, Judaism, God and ‘the Jew.’
According to Haaretz’ poll, “54 percent of Jewish Israelis believe in God, and another 21 percent accept the existence of an undefined superior power other than God.”
Haaretz’ poll reveals the intimate relationship between right wing politics and Judaism.
78% of the Israeli right believe in God. Only 15% of the left are believers. This means that as Israel becomes more religious, the fate of the Israeli left is sealed.
This is hardly surprising. Left is a universal attitude. Judaism is a tribal precept. Left Judaism is a contradiction in terms, the tribal and the universal are like oil and water, they do not mix. The Israeli left is destined to die out (assuming that it isn’t dead already).
The poll reveals that “Slightly more than half of Jewish Israelis believe that their rights to the Land of Israel derive from God’s divine covenant in the Bible.” I guess this doesn’t leave much hope for peace.
“56 percent believe that the Jewish people are chosen people.” This leaves even less hope for peace.
And to remove any possible doubt of a peaceful resolution anytime soon, Haaretz reveals that “Seventy-nine percent of right-wingers believe that God singled out the Jews… Seventy-four percent of right-wingers believe that Israel holds a divine deed for its land.”
The poll suggests that Israel is separating geographically and culturally: “eighty-five percent of Jerusalemites believe in God, compared with only 44 percent in Tel Aviv and the central region.
Only a quarter of Israeli Jews fully keep Shabbat, but 66 percent keep it in Jerusalem as compared with just 15 percent in Tel Aviv or Haifa.
Thirty-seven percent don’t believe that humans and apes share a common ancestor, but in Jerusalem the anti-Darwinians enjoy an absolute majority of 81 percent while in Tel Aviv they're in a distinct minority ‘of only’ 27 percent.”
Haaretz notes that “the most startling gaps are generational. In Israel in 2018, the younger the Jew, the more likely he or she is to be more religious, observant, conservative and willing to impose his or her beliefs on others.
Sixty-five percent of the population would let supermarkets and groceries operate on Shabbat, but that position is supported by only 51 percent of people between 18 and 24, compared with 84 percent of those 65 and older.”
These results indicate that Israel is drifting away from enlightenment. Zionism promised to modernise and civilise the Jews by means of ‘homecoming,’ but the Jewish state has achieved the opposite result.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has taken a series of drastic punitive actions against the Palestinian people. Here’s what the administration has done:
It cut US assistance to UNWRA, congressionally authorized humanitarian, development projects and programs for the West Bank and Gaza, and ended the annual grant Congress has authorized for Palestinian hospitals operating in East Jerusalem.
In addition to these cruel cuts in much needed assistance, the administration closed the Palestinian Mission in Washington and announced plans to redefine who is, in their view, a Palestinian refugee.
At the same time, the White House acquiesced to the passage of Israel’s “Jewish Nation-State Bill” and said nothing in opposition to Israel’s recent announcement of thousands of new settlement units, some in highly sensitive areas—either in Arab East Jerusalem or deep in the heart of the West Bank.
They also let pass, without protest, Israel’s planned demolition of an entire Arab village and a number of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem.
In a recent interview with a Sheldon Adelson-owned Israeli newspaper, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, after gloating over his success in moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, made it clear that there is a “new day” in the US-Israel relationship.
He said, “We don’t tell Israel what to do,” signaling that Israel can operate with impunity toward the Palestinians and the occupied territories because in the new US view “It’s always Israel’s decision.”
In a separate and equally revealing interview, Jared Kushner termed the Trump administration’s moves as necessary to “strip away ‘false realities’”— meaning “taking Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees right of return off the table.”
All of these actions, taken together, tell me that the Trump administration has fully embraced the hardline world view of Israel’s Likud. They reject not only the Palestinian right to self-determination, they also do not accept the very idea of Palestinian “peoplehood.”
The plans they have announced would sever the West Bank from Gaza and leave East Jerusalem and the 28 Palestinian villages trapped within the Israeli-annexed “Greater Jerusalem.”
Meanwhile, as a result of the Trump administration’s declared intention to economically strangle UNWRA and end this program, the Palestinians in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan would not only be forced to give up their property rights and their “right of return,” they would be turned over the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees to be resettled in other countries.
If this Trumpian approach were to succeed, the Palestinian nation would be dismembered and dispersed. In their mind, it would cease to exist.
The Israelis, for their part, have been given carte blanche. They get: Jerusalem; an end to the “refugee problem;” the right to declare that only they are entitled to self-determination; freedom to demolish and build, as they wish, in the occupied lands; and an increasingly economically deprived Palestinian population that they hope will either submit to Israel’s will or be forced to leave.
All of this calls to mind an earlier era, when Zionists referred to Palestine as “a land without a people for a people without a land;” or Golda Meir’s “It was not as if there was a Palestinian people in Palestine… They did not exist;” or the religious Zionist claim that God gave this land to them and they should deal harshly with the “strangers” whom they find there.
This hardline Israeli rejection of Palestinians as a nation and a people with rights was to have ended with the Oslo Accords, signed 25 years ago.
In the introduction to that Accords, Israel and the Palestinians recognized each other’s right to self-determination. What was left, was to find the way to implement that mutual recognition. Succeeding US administrations failed miserably in pressing the parties to implement the Accords...
Now, with the Trump administration, the mask is off and the fiction has ended. As it takes shape, as revealed through this administration’s recent actions, Trump’s “ultimate deal” appears to be not a formula for a just peace, but a forced Palestinian acquiescence to the Zionist vision for Palestine.
James J. Zogby is the president of the Arab American Institute.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation's ambassador in Washington said on Sunday that his family had left the US after being informed that their diplomatic visas would expire next month when the PLO's office in the country is shut down.
Ambassador Husam Zomlot said US State Department officials had told PLO office staff that his wife and children, aged five and seven, should leave immediately despite holding visas that are valid until 2020.
Office staff had also been told to close down their bank accounts and vacate the office's premises by 13 October, Zomlot said in a statement.
Zomlot left the US in May after being recalled to the West Bank by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in protest at US President Donald Trump's recognition of the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
“The State Department informed our colleagues, as part of the discussion on the closure, that the visas of my wife and children are dependent on the PLO delegation and as such will not be valid after the closure of the office and that if they wanted to stay they would have to change their immigration status,” Zomlot said.
He added: “This goes against diplomatic norms. Children, spouses and family have nothing to do with political rows.”
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO's executive committee, accused the Trump administration of being "vindictive."
"As if the announcement that the US would close our office in Washington, DC was not enough, this vindictive action by the Trump administration is spiteful," Ashrawi said in a statement. "The US has taken its attempts to pressure and blackmail the Palestinians to a new level."
The US last week announced the closure of the PLO's office in Washington in a move which John Bolton, the US national security adviser, described as “punishment” for the organisation's call for Israel to be investigated by the International Criminal Court.
The State Department said the move was taken because the PLO had “not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".
A Russian military aircraft with 14 people on board disappeared from radar screens over Syria at the same time that Israeli and French forces were mounting aerial attacks on targets in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry has stated.
Russia’s military plane Ilyushin-20 was shot down by the Syrian air defense over the Mediterranean Sea because Israel’s F-16 fighters used it as a cover, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told the media on Tuesday.
"By using the Russian plane as a cover the Israeli air pilots made it vulnerable to Syrian air defense fire. As a result, the Ilyushin-20, its reflective surface being far greater than that of F-16, was downed by a missile launched with the S-200 system," Konashenkov said.
Konashenkov said four F-16s of the Israeli Air Force carried out a strike with guided air bombs against Syrian facilities in the area of Latakia at about 22:00 on September 17. The fighters approached the target from the Mediterranean at a low altitude.
The Israeli planes deliberately created a dangerous situation for surface ships and aircraft in that area, he stated.
"The bombing raid was near the French frigate The Auvergne and in close proximity to the Ilyushin-20 plane of Russia’s Aerospace Force that was about to land," Konashenkov said.
He pointed out that Israeli command centers and F-16s’ pilots "could not but see the Russian plane, which was approaching the runway from an altitude of five kilometers." "Nevertheless they deliberately staged this provocation," he said.
According to Konashenkov, Israel had issued no warning to the command of the Russian military group in Syria of the forthcoming operation.
"A hot-line warning was received less than one minute before the strike, which left no chance for taking the Russian plane to safety," he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Israeli military’s aerial operations in the Syrian airspace are in flagrant violation of the incumbent Damascus government’s sovereignty as tensions are simmering between Moscow and Tel Aviv over the downing of the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft in the western Syrian province of Latakia.
Putin pointed to the fact that the Israeli air force has been conducting operations in breach of Syria’s sovereignty. In this case, Russian-Israeli agreements on the prevention of dangerous incidents were not observed. As a result, a Russian airplane came under fire from Syria’s anti-aircraft systems.
The President of Russia called for the Israeli side to avoid such situations from now on,” the Kremlin press service quoted Putin as telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Tuesday.
The Israeli prime minister, in return, offered his condolences over the death of 15 Russian servicemen, who were onboard the downed military plane.
“Netanyahu promised to provide detailed information on the activities of the Israeli air force over the Syrian territory on that day for the purpose of a meticulous investigation of the tragedy. The Israeli Air Force Commander (Aluf Amikam Norkin) will bring it to Moscow shortly,” the Kremlin statement noted.
The attack, dubbed ‘Operation Odyssey Dawn,’ was aimed at aiding the armed anti-government rebels in ousting longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi and eventually led to his brutal murder.
After Gaddafi’s assassination, Libya quickly descended into civil war and became a hotbed for terrorism. The country is still divided between warring factions.
Norway had provided six F-16 fighter jets during the air campaign. According to the report, these jets flew 596 strike missions between March and July 2011, dropping 588 bombs on Libyan targets. This amounts to about 10 percent of all coalition strikes against Libya that year.
The new information “is quite painful” for the political class, Morten Boas, researcher at the Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute, told RT. “The authors of the report are expressing regret. They say that they didn’t really understand the [possible] outcome.”
In 2011, many in Norway thought that the country was getting into the fight against Gaddafi “mainly for humanitarian reasons,” Boas said.
“The other key players saw beyond the humanitarian reasoning and were basically interested in regime change, getting rid of Gaddafi. I don’t think that necessarily all Norwegian politicians really understood this.”
Explaining America’s economic might
The hegemonic position of the US dollar structures the world economy in such a fashion that the United States determines the international transmission mechanism for global economic activity. (What is dollar-hegemony?)
“More and more of our partners in Asia, in Latin America, start to draw the same conclusions [about the US dollar]. I think that this trend will only continue," Lavrov said.
In August, speaking on the same issue, Lavrov said that US sanctions are “illegal, they undermine all principles of global trade and principles approved by UN decisions.”
Russia’s leading banks have said that slashing the dependence from the US dollar is inevitable, but would be a tough challenge.
“You cannot immediately abandon the dollar. But if we do not start, we will never come to this, so we need to start now and we are already doing such work,” said Russia’s second largest bank CEO Andrey Kostin last week.
The political Islam of Iran and Saudi Arabia could never move beyond sectarianism. When those countries were trying to advocate their ideologies abroad they acted within their religious sects.
Probably the only exception to the rule was Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in its early years after coming to power in 2002.
Its administrations aspired to combine democratic traditions and institutions with its version of political Islam.
The early AKP approach to other Abrahamic religions and Islamic sects both domestically and externally contrasted the other two influential countries of the region, Iran and Saudi Arabia...
Internationally, following the launch of Turkey’s official EU accession negotiations in October 2005, the AKP took centre stage claiming to be democratic reformers rather than Islamic zealots.
A new Muslim country model that combined Islam and democracy was emerging, and it was very different to the previous Iranian or the Saudi Arabian models.
Unfortunately, the endeavour didn't last very long.
The AKP was unable to embrace any religious groups other than Sunni Muslims and its attempt to tame and legitimise the transnational Sunni Islamist organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, ended up with the radicalisation of the AKP itself.
The Muslim Brotherhood failed to deliver any political change in the Middle East, perhaps with the exception of the affiliated Ennahdha Party’s success in Tunisian elections.
But the Muslim Brotherhood construct that Turkey's AKP agreed to re-engineer has wholly collapsed today. Not only has it collapsed, but it has been crushed in most of the Middle East and Turkey that was caught up in its vortex as well.
The total failure of the AKP's Syria and Iraq policies is exemplified in the imminent attack on Idlib, the last major rebel holdout in Syria. It signals not only the collapse of the AKP’s political Islam hypothesis, but also the downfall of Sunni political Islam in the Middle East.
Just as Russia, Iran and their veiled coalition partner China, have planned for months, the jihadist extremist groups, except for those under Ankara's control in northern Syria, are concentrated in Idlib.
The jihadist extremists who flourished under the shield of Ankara and the West’s anti-Assad rhetoric have no one to protect them anymore. Only those who stand to profit are backing them, like the Turkish government. The AKP’s only goal in playing the jihadist and refugee card, or voicing its worries about the possibility of a humanitarian disaster in Idlib is to grab a seat at future Syrian peace talks so it can be a part of re-building Syria.
The West, as it publicly sheds crocodile tears, is cheering the demise of the jihadists in Idlib. The countries these jihadists come from, including Turkey, are just as pleased with this ending as China and Russia.
According to experts, 5,000 Uighurs from China, 3,000 Muslim Russians and quite a few Western Europeans are in Idlib. None of these countries is looking forward to these extremists returning.
But the fact on the ground is that these groups’ days in Syria are numbered. Their only way out is to move towards Afrin and other Turkish controlled areas and eventually to Turkey.
It was not difficult to predict this end in Idlib. The Turkish government, blinded by its arrogance, could not foresee the significance and gravity of the situation in Syria. Now the president of Turkey is complaining about his 'friend' Putin to his 'enemy' Trump in a Wall Street Journal article...
He does not realise the battle in Idlib is not just the end of the Syrian civil war; it is the annihilation of the jihadists. It is the eradication of the latest version of political Islam in the Middle East.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote for
Governments around the world need a coherent, global strategy to uproot the ideology of violent extremism, former British prime minister Tony Blair says.
In Saudi Arabia and the UAE, they already knew that — and have been acting on it for years.
flashback: wahhabism in idlib, syria
Gaddafi's message to Tony Blair
Criticism of the Blair approach came from Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences. “It puts the blame on Arab Muslim countries for extremist ideologies in our region,” he said.
“What it neglects is the important historical facts that Al-Qaeda was born from the reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Daesh is a result of a US invasion of Iraq.”
Terrorism was rooted in foreign invasions of Muslim countries, he said. “The reasons are political, not ideological or religious. The argument from the West is apologetic on one hand, but also shifting the blame where it shouldn’t be.”
“Since 9/11, scholars and policy wonks have been thinking along the lines of prevention before cure,” said Dr Albadr Al-Shateri, politics professor at the National Defence College in Abu Dhabi.
Encouraging civic society movements that are intent on promoting co-existence would be key, and a new strategy could lend support to such organizations and reinvigorate them to prevent counter-extremism fatigue, he said.
“How to generate financial and political resources in hard economic times will remain a challenge.
The lack of political progress on the Palestinian problem will be another challenge, especially since Western powers are inept at restraining Israeli excesses.”
The annual State Department report on terrorism says that terrorist attacks were down by 23% world wide in 2017. The report attributed this decline in some large part to the defeat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
The problem with the State Department report is that it is highly partisan and ideological, which somewhat undermines its credibility.
One of the biggest flaws is unwillingness to give Iran and Lebanon’s Hizbullah any credit at all for their role in defeating Salafi extremists.
Iran and Shiite militias it backed were crucial to the defeat of ISIL in Iraq, and it seems clear that despite denials, the US military de facto cooperated with them on occasion.
Let us just consider the muddle that is this paragraph: “In the Levant [..] Jordanian security forces thwarted several plots and apprehended numerous terrorists in 2017; the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) expelled ISIS militants along the Lebanese-Syrian border near Aarsal.
Still, several terrorist groups continued to operate in Lebanon throughout the year, most notably Hizballah. The terrorist group remained the most capable terrorist organization in Lebanon, controlling areas across the country.”
For anyone who knows anything about Lebanon, this passage reads as Orwellian. The Lebanese Armed Forces are good guys who expelled ISIl from the Lebanese-Syrian border near Arsal. But Hizbullah is a terrorist group spread all around Lebanon.
Let’s back up a little. First of all, it is true that the Lebanese Army played a role in defeating ISIL in eastern Lebanon. But, despite official denials, it is absolutely certain that they had help in this campaign.
So how come the defeat of ISIL around Arsal is credited wholly to the Lebanese army, and Hizbullah’s significant role is written out of history? This is a US government document, but it ought to be reporting the facts, not Mike Pompeo’s flights of fancy.
There is a further problem. Hizbullah is a party with a paramilitary. That party and its allies made major gains in last May’s parliamentary elections, winning 68 seats in the 120-member national legislature.
That is, you can’t praise the Lebanese Army as an anti-terrorist force and accuse Hizbullah of being nothing but terrorists if Hizbullah is a dominant force in the civilian government that gives orders to the Lebanese Army.
Both Hizbullah as a party and Hizbullah’s small paramilitary of some 25,000 are considered “terrorists” in Washington, D.C., though the designation is purely political, pushed by the Israel lobbies.
Hizbullah doesn’t routinely kill civilian non-combatants to shape civilian politics, which is the definition of terrorism. Almost all its kinetic action since 2013 has been dedicated to fighting Sunni and Salafi rebels in Syria. This endeavor included battling ISIL and the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate.
The report blames Iran for backing Hizbullah (which is apparently what it means by lambasting Iran as the biggest supporter of terrorism, a silly piece of propaganda).
But it does not blame Saudi Arabia for having backed the Army of Islam (Jaysh al-Islam) militants in Syria, who were never designated terrorists for political reasons, since they were fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad, whom the US wanted to overthrow.
Jaysh al-Islam certainly fit the profile of an extremist terrorist group. Saudi Arabia appears to have directed its attacks on Syrian government buildings, e.g. At one point John Kerry let the cat out of the bag and admitted that the Army of Islam is a terrorist organization supported by the Saudis.
Nor is Israel criticized for giving aid to and supporting Syrian rebels, some of whom appear to have included the Nusra Front, a designated terrorist group and al-Qaeda affiliate.
Flashback 2015 - Hassan Firouzabadi: US Republicans
Hezbollah’s leader has warned Israel of a fate it “has never expected” if it chooses to wage a new war, reminding the regime that the Lebanese resistance movement is now in possession of precision rockets to Tel Aviv’s dismay.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made the comments during a Thursday speech in Beirut to a large crowd of mourners marking Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam.
He further said the balance of power in the region has changed in favor of the anti-Israel axis of resistance, and that the Tel Aviv regime has failed in all its attempts to prevent Lebanon’s Hezbollah from achieving precision rockets.
“No matter what you do to cut the route, the matter is over and the resistance possesses precision and non-precision rockets and weapons capabilities,” Nasrallah said. “All your attempts to prevent Hezbollah from possessing accurate missiles are foiled,” he added.
The Hezbollah chief pointed to the growing power of the resistance front, stressing that the Israelis “had pinned their hopes on the course of developments in Syria and Iraq, but they know that the axis of resistance has returned stronger than ever, and new countries have now joined it.”
The Hezbollah chief further expressed the movement's support for the Islamic Republic of Iran in the face of “all kinds of economic and political pressure,” saying that “it is our duty to stand by Iran” as a new wave of anti-Iran American sanctions is returning.
Iran is being punished by the US only because it refused to give into Washington's demands, and because it is keeping up its support for the oppressed nations in the region, including Palestine and Syria.
He further reiterated the movement's support for the Palestinian cause, reiterating Hezbollah’s objection to the so-called “deal of the century” which the US administration is drawing up on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Nasrallah also noted that Hezbollah firmly stands by the Yemeni nation, which has been under attack by the Saudi regime and a coalition of its allies.
‘Do not take civilians with you into this violence’
The International Committee of the Red Cross has called the deteriorating situation in Libya as desperate, citing constant fighting, the collapse of the economy, and the destruction of basic infrastructure.
In a series of tweets, the ICRC said these factors have caused a "severe protracted crisis" that has led to the increased vulnerability of hundreds of thousands of Libyans.
"Collapsed economy and infrastructure has made life impossible in Libya," the ICRC tweeted. "Seven years of war in Libya has driven over 500,000 people to flee their homes," the organisation continued.
Constant fighting across the country. Half a million people forced from their homes. Destruction of basic infrastructure. All these have created a severe protracted crisis in Libya. The result? Hundreds of thousands of Libyans are increasingly vulnerable. ICRC (@ICRC) September 20, 2018
"For Libyans trying to return home, there's not always much to return to. Houses, schools are often destroyed completely."
The group also cited the sabotaging of health facilities, water and electricity supplies, as well as the dangers of unexploded remnants.
As one of the few humanitarian organisations active in Libya, the ICRC has worked on distributing food and aid to internally displaced people across the country, which has been gripped by tribal and factional fighting nearly seven years after the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Thursday issued an appeal on Twitter urging the armed groups to abide by the ceasefire.
On September 13, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard took to the floor of the House to rebuke the administration, accusing President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of protecting “al-Qaeda and other jihadist forces in Syria,” all the while “threatening Russia, Syria, and Iran, with military force if they dare attack these terrorists.”
“This,” continued Gabbard, “is a betrayal of the American people, especially the victims of Al Qaeda’s attack on 9/11 and their families, first responders, and my brothers and sisters in uniform who have been killed or wounded in action and their families.
For the President, who is Commander in Chief, to act as the protective big brother of al-Qaeda and other jihadists must be condemned by every Member of Congress.”
James Carden: While the policy of attacking Syria clearly fails on a moral, legal, and consequentialist grounds, it also will likely backfire on realist grounds. What is your view in terms of who would benefit and who would suffer from a US-led attack on Syria?
Tulsi Gabbard: In the short term, President Trump would benefit the most. The president loves being adored and praised, and despite his rants against them, he especially craves the favor of the media.
Trump remembers very well that the only times he has been praised almost universally by the mainstream media, Republicans, and Democrats, was when he has engaged in aggressive military actions.
CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said, “Donald Trump became president of the United States” the moment the bombs started dropping. The Washington Post’s David Ignatius said that he thought that by taking this action, Trump “restored the credibility of American power.”
JC: One of the problems with the conflict in Syria is in the language that is used to describe it. . So today we hear that Idlib province is “rebel held” that is “holding out” against an imminent attack (possibly with the use of chemical weapons) by Assad..
TG: I believe it would strike most Americans as absolutely insane that the president of the United States, his vice president, UN ambassador, secretary of state, and the mainstream media describe the very terrorist entities that were responsible for the attack on 9/11 as “rebels.”
The Trump administration’s proclamations of humanitarianism are just a pretext to protect Al Qaeda and other terrorist forces we have allied with in our quest to overthrow the Syrian government.
The bottom line is we don’t want them killed because they work for us. Their interests are our interests, and vice versa...
If they were truly concerned about the suffering of the Syrian people, then they would recognize that intervening to protect the terrorists who are trying to overthrow the Syrian government will simply prolong the war and lead to more suffering for the Syrian people.
Israel says it is ‘allowed to ignore international law’ anywhere it wants
Flashback - "Defeating Hitler"
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his “deepest condolences” to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after a terrorist attack on an army parade in southwestern Iran left multiple people killed and wounded, denouncing the “bloody crime” and calling for an “uncompromising” joint combat against terrorism in all of its forms and “manifestations.”
The Russian leader made the comments in a message sent to his Iranian counterpart on Saturday, a few hours after four gunmen, disguised in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basij uniforms, opened fire on people from behind a viewing stand at Quds Boulevard in the city of Ahvaz during the parade held to mark the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran in the 1980s.
Deputy Governor of Khuzestan Province Ali Hossein Hosseinzadeh told Iran's Mehr News Agency that the death toll had risen to 25 from an initial figure of 10. He added that at least 60 other people had sustained injury. A four-year-old boy was also among those who had received fatal wounds.
“Please accept the deepest condolences regarding the tragic consequences of the raid by terrorists in Ahvaz. We are appalled by this bloody crime,” said Putin in his message, a copy of which was posted on the Kremlin website.
“We expect that everyone involved will face a deserved punishment. This event once again reminds us about the necessity of an uncompromising battle against terrorism in all of its manifestations. I would like to confirm our readiness to continue building cooperation with Iranian partners in resisting this evil,” the Russian leader added.
The Saudi-backed al-Ahvaziya terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack, but provided no evidence for the claim.
Arab Iranians, by Ahmed Al-Rawi, Jacob Groshek
Masses of Iranian people and government officials are taking part in a funeral procession for the victims of Saturday's terrorist attack in Iran's southwestern city of Ahvaz. The funeral procession began in Ahvaz on Monday, two days after terrorists opened fire at the crowd of people during a military parade in the southwestern city, killing 25 military personnel and civilians — including women and children — and wounding at least 68 others.
The US will overthrow the Iranian government once socio-economic conditions there, shaped by sanctions, are ripe for a revolution, presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani told a cheering crowd on the day of the deadly attack in Ahvaz.
“I don’t know when we’re going to overthrow them. It could be in a few days, months, a couple of years, but it’s going to happen. They’re going to be overthrown, the people of Iran have obviously had enough,” said Giuliani at a so-called ‘Iran Uprising Summit’ held by the Organization of Iranian-American Communities in New York.
Speaking to members of Iranian expat and dissident communities in the US, who are seeking political change in Iran, the 74-year-old lawyer praised Donald Trump’s bullish approach towards Tehran, boasting that sanctions slapped on Iran [..] are stalling the country’s economy and damaging Iranians’ lives.
“The sanctions are working. The currency is going to nothing … These are the conditions that lead to successful revolution...” he said.
While the US administration has vowed to maintain economic pressure on the Islamic Republic with more sanctions to come into force on November 4 to target Iran’s energy sector, the State Department immediately distanced itself from Giuliani’s comments, stressing that Trump’s personal lawyer does not speak for the administration.
While Trump has never been shy of supporting the opposition in Iran, his National Security Advisor John Bolton recently noted that a straightforward “regime change” in the country is not being considered by the administration:
“Just to be clear, regime change in Iran is not American policy. But what we want is massive change in the regime’s behavior,” Bolton told Reuters in August.
President Hassan Rouhani says Iranians will defeat US President Donald Trump... He made the remarks in a military parade in Tehran on Saturday to mark the beginning of the week that commemorates Iran's eight-year resistance against Iraq’s 1980-88 invasion.
Trump withdrew from a landmark multilateral nuclear deal in May and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic last month.
"Today, 38 years into Saddam's invasion and violation of the 1975 Algiers agreement, the US government is repeating the same story of Saddam", Rouhani pointed out.
He criticized US President Trump for failing to respect international laws and lambasted his decision to reneged on America’s commitments in a multilateral agreement like the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that has been endorsed the Security Council.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian chief executive stressed that the country would not abandon its defensive weapons and would rather boost them.
Saudi Gazette Propaganda: Rohani flees..
Iranian President Hassan Rohani and other senior officials attending an event marking the start of 1980-88 war with Iraq fled the scene, when gunmen fired on a military parade in southwestern Iran on Saturday..
In an article published in the Washington Post on Friday, Rouhani said that Iran would not remain silent toward America’s bullying...|
"Fed by disinformation and fake analysis from terrorist groups and Israel, the US administration is under the illusion that resorting to sanctions will lead to concessions from Iran. Iranians, though, are known to close ranks and put up stiff resistance in the face of external pressures," Rouhani said.
He also said that Trump’s offer of direct talks with Iran "is not honest or genuine" while his "pretensions of support for the Iranian people are hollow, hypocritical and unconvincing."
"How can we be convinced of his sincerity while his secretary of state has gone so far as to set a long list of openly insulting pre-conditions for talks?
Worse still, how can we trust the US government now that it has officially reneged on its international commitments, most notably UN Security Council resolution 2231?" he asked.
The Israeli Air Force misled Russia by providing wrong information about the area of the planned air strikes in Syria on September 17, thus preventing the Russian Il-20 from moving to a safe zone, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Sunday.
Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov provided more details on the downing of the Russian Il-20 military aircraft near Syria on September 17.
According to Konashenkov, the Israeli Air Force provided Russia with misleading information on the location of its airstrikes on targets in Syria, which prevented the commander of the Il-20 plane from relocating to a safe zone and led to its destruction.
"During the negotiations via the deconfliction channel, the representative of the Israeli Air Force Command reported that the targets assigned to the Israeli aircraft are located in Northern Syria…
As you can see on the map, the Israeli jets delivered strikes in Latakia which is a western province of the country — and not in the north of the Syrian Arab Republic. The city of Latakia is located on the western coast.
The misleading information provided by the Israeli officer about the area of strikes did not allow the Russian Il-20 airplane to move timely to a safe area," Konashenkov said.
Konashenkov told a briefing that the Israeli Air Force had notified Russia of its planned attacks on Syrian targets simultaneously with the beginning of the strikes instead of doing it in advance, thereby violating 2015 bilateral agreements to prevent such incidents in Syrian airspace.
Konashenkov emphasized that the ministry possessed an audio recording proving that the IAF had warned the Russian side in the Russian language about the envisaged airstrike on targets in Syria when Russia's IL-20 was downed.
According to the fresh released information, the Il-20 crew began emergency descending after it was hit by a missile, with pilots of Israeli F-16 fighter jets using the Russian aircraft as a "shield" against Syrian air defenses. Konashenkov elaborated that an Israeli plane maneuvered toward the approaching Il-20 — which was considered another attack by Syrian air defense systems.
He further debunked claims by the IDF that their jets had already been within Israeli airspace when the Syrian Army launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane, saying that F-16s left the area 10 minutes after receiving the information on the downing.
"The presented objective data testifies that the actions of the Israeli fighter pilots, which led to the loss of life of 15 Russian servicemen, either lacked professionalism or were an act of criminal negligence to say the least.
Therefore, we believe that the blame for the tragedy with the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft lies entirely with the Israeli air forces and those who made the decision to carry out such actions," Konashenkov stressed.
Defying Israel’s lobbying efforts, Russia announced it will supply the Syrian army with the more modern, S-300 missile defense systems after last week’s downing of a Russian plane in Syria.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday that Moscow will supply an S-300 anti-missile system to Syria within two weeks.
The announcement comes a week after the ministry accused Israel of indirectly causing the downing of a Russian military plane in Syria that killed 15 servicemen.
Earlier in the war, Russia suspended a supply of S-300, which Israel feared Syria could use against it. Shoigu said Russia is now going to go ahead with the shipment because "the situation has changed, and it's not our fault."
The supply of S-300s to Syria will "calm down some hotheads" whose actions "pose a threat to our troops," he said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Russian news agencies that supplying S-300 to Syria is Russia's "own right" and expressed confidence that this would not hurt Russia's ties with Israel.
The Kremlin said Russia's decision was not targeted against anyone and only serves to protect Russian troops in Syria.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that recent findings by the Russian military showed an Israeli jet "deliberately" pushed the Russian Il-20 into the line of fire, enabling its downing.
Russia’s decision to strengthen combat capacities of Syrian air defense systems are geared primarily to avert the threat to the lives of Russian servicemen, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday during a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia’s decisions to strengthen combat capacities of Syrian air defense meet the current situation and are geared, first of all, to avert any potential threat to the lives of Russian servicemen who are fighting against international terrorism," the Kremlin press service said.
NEW YORK - France said on Monday it wanted the UN Security Council to implement sanctions on militias involved in month-long clashes between rival factions in Libya's capital Tripoli, which has undermined UN efforts to hold elections by year-end.
At least 115 people have been killed and 383 injured in fighting that has pitted the Seventh Brigade, or Kaniyat, from Tarhouna, a town 65 km (45 miles) southeast of Tripoli, against the Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigades (TRB) and the Nawasi, two of the capital’s largest armed groups.
"In the face of the worsening security situation in Tripoli, there is a responsibility to support the Libyans and that means we must be tougher on those that want to keep the status quo for their benefits," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian told reporters ahead of a meeting hosted by France on Libya on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
He said recent sanctions taken at the UN against people traffickers in Libya should be extended in particular to the Tripoli militias.
The UN Security Council Libya sanctions committee blacklisted militia leader Ibrahim Jathran earlier in September, subjecting him to a global asset freeze and travel ban, after he oversaw an attack on oil facilities.
Former colonial power Italy and France have been competing for influence in war-torn Libya, rich in oil and gas and a staging post for people smugglers who have launched tens of thousands of migrants across the Mediterranean sea towards Europe.
Paris has been pushing for an election to be held in Libya by the end of the year. The increasing violence has made the French initiative increasingly untenable.
The country has been riven since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.