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)
An especially dangerous threat to liberty occurs when members of the press collude with government agencies instead of monitoring and exposing the abuses of those agencies. Unfortunately, collusion is an all-too-common pattern in press coverage of the national security state’s activities. The American people then receive official propaganda disguised as honest reporting and analysis.
"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
Joe Biden & Truth - 2009
US Vice President Joe Biden said that the new administration would seek the
unvarnished truth from its spies, whether or not their information supported
the goals of the government.
The Vice President's address was greeted with loud cheers by the several hundred CIA employees who gathered for the swearing in ceremony in the foyer of the Agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Standing before the wall of 89 stars representing the CIA staff who have died in the line of duty, Mr Biden said:
"We expect you to provide independent analysis, not to engage in group think. We
expect you to tell us the facts as you know them wherever they may lead, not
what you think we want to hear." (Tim Shipman. 20-2-2009)
"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign
ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid
to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation
that is afraid of its people …
The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men. …
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind." John F.Kennedy
“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.”
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)
"The post-September 11 era in the US has heralded in a new age of ideology whose discourse and world views have served not only to accommodate such extremist views as those held by Sharon, but also to provide him with a platform and an influence that were unthinkable only a year ago.
Thus while the American President is busy devising a new Manichean universe of absolute good and absolute evil, pronouncing policy on the basis of a simplistic polarization of the world, and unilaterally defining the terms while categorizing state and non-state actors accordingly, Sharon’s Israel has maneuvered itself into a position of even greater power on the world stage provided explicitly by the US."
"The globalists wants to make the world unipolar in order to move towards a globalist non-polarity, where the elites will become fully international and their residence will be dispersed throughout the entire space of the planet.
Accordingly, for the salvation of people, peoples, and societies, the Great Awakening must begin with multipolarity.
This is not just the salvation of the West itself, and not even the salvation of everyone else from the West, but the salvation of humanity, both Western and non-Western, from the totalitarian dictatorship of the liberal capitalist elites.
And this cannot be done by the people of the West or the people of the East alone. Here it is necessary to act together. The Great Awakening necessitates an internationalization of the peoples’ struggle against the internationalization of the elites. Multipolarity becomes the most important reference point and the key to the strategy of the Great Awakening.
"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)
The Chinese authorities plan to use the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) for boosting trade and economic cooperation with Russia’s Far East, China’s Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui said at the Eastern Economic Forum on Thursday.
"China places great value on the forum’s role as this is a bridge for cooperation in the whole region," he said. "We are ready to work with the Russian Federation for expansion of cooperation on the whole territory of the Far East, contribute to the recovery of the region’s economy, its sustainable development, and recovery after the pandemic," the diplomat noted.
Under the guidance of the leaders of the two countries Beijing and Moscow have formed a reliable, comprehensive strategic partnership, due to which bilateral trade and economic cooperation keeps growing, he added.
"Since 2015 when the first EEF was held, the format has become an important platform for the development of international economic cooperation in the Far East," Ambassador concluded.
The Eastern Economic Forum was established by decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in 2015 to support the economic development of Russia’s Far East and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
The New Economy
Great Challenges and Opportunities for the Far East and Arctic
The scale of continental trade and integration with Eurasia is increasing and digitalization is experiencing a real boom, while on the other hand new non-tariff barriers are being introduced and international mobility has decreased by an order of magnitude.
The key advantages of the Far East and Arctic at present are the high levels of integration into established global transport and logistics systems, an openness to the development of new green technologies and the unique investment climate fostered by the Russian government in recent years. The Far East and Arctic are open to prospective partners, and these regions are far from areas of international instability.
The aim of the session is to identify the most important new external factors that need to be considered during the current stage of development of the Far East and Arctic region.
With the development of multi-polar integration processes in the world economy, one can clearly notice the increasing challenges of the dollar-centric financial system that emerged in the second half of the twentieth century.
In addition to the fundamental economic disadvantage of the existing financial system for developing countries, there are other problems: the dependence of national monetary systems on external factors, the greater vulnerability to a potential crisis in the US economy, the inability to ensure confidentiality of international payments, the use of the reserve currency and its infrastructure (SWIFT) as a leverage in political issues, as well as unjustified transaction costs. A number of government officials, economists and experts in world trade suggest reconsidering the principles of regulation and ownership of the universal exchange equivalent and exploring the transition from the US national currency as the basis of world trade to fundamentally new supranational money, which would be managed by the widest range of states on the basis of partnership.
The US-led "war on terror" has killed nearly one million people globally and cost more than $8 trillion since it began nearly two decades ago, according to a report from Brown University's Costs of War Project.
The landmark report, which was published on Wednesday, examines the tolls of wars waged by the US in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other regions where the US military is engaged in conflicts referred to as "forever wars".
"It's critical we properly account for the vast and varied consequences of the many US wars and counter-terror operations since 9/11, as we pause and reflect on all of the lives lost," said the project's co-director, Neta Crawford, in a statement accompanying the report.
"Our accounting goes beyond the Pentagon's numbers because the costs of the reaction to 9/11 have rippled through the entire budget."
The report estimates that the war on terror, which will mark its 20th anniversary on 11 September, had directly killed 897,000 to 929,000 people - including at least 387,072 civilians.
Crawford said this was "likely a vast undercount of the true toll these wars have taken on human life."
The US invaded Afghanistan and drove the Taliban from power in retaliation for the 11 September 2001 attacks, which had been planned while al-Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, was living in the country under Taliban protection.
The number of deaths caused by post-9/11 conflicts has been a source of intense controversy, as politics and inexact science have intersected in a heated debate of conflicting interests. In 2015, the Nobel Prize-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility estimated that more than one million people had been killed both directly and indirectly in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan alone.
The economic costs tallied by the Costs of War report include $2.3 trillion spent by the US on military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, $2.1 trillion in Iraq and Syria, and $355 billion in Somalia and other regions of Africa. In a report released last year, Costs of War estimated the war on terror had displaced at least 37 million people on top of the hundreds of thousands of people killed in direct violence...
Mullah Baradar to lead new Afghan government
MOSCOW, September 3, 2021. TASS
Head of the political office of the Taliban movement Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will lead Afghanistan’s new government, Reuters reported on Friday, citing Taliban sources.
According to them, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of the Taliban’s first leader Mullah Omar, and Taliban representative in Doha Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai will take senior positions in the government. Haibatullah Akhunzada, the Taliban's surpreme religious leader, will focus on religious matters and governance within the framework of Islam, another Taliban source said...
On August 15, Taliban fighters swept into Kabul without encountering any resistance and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stepped down and fled the country. US troops completed the withdrawal process in the early hours of Tuesday, ending their 20-year-long presence in Afghanistan.
As Taliban fighters entered the Afghan capital of Kabul on August 15, a video of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was posted on social media. Looking uneasy in front of the camera, the head of the Taliban's political bureau delivered a short speech before the white flag of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan.
“We have reached a victory that wasn’t expected. We should show humility in front of Allah," he said, expressing surprise by the lightning speed of Kabul's fall.
"Now it is time to test and prove, now we have to show that we can serve our nation and ensure security and comfort of life," added Baradar, as he urged his fighters to remain disciplined after taking control of the city.
Behind the Taliban's sleek diplomat is a battle-hardened military commander with strict religious convictions about how the world should be.
Born in 1968 in Weetmak village, Abdul Ghani Baradar grew up in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement. He fought during the 1979-1989 war to expel Soviet forces from Afghanistan, which attracted thousands of Islamist fighters from the world over and cemented relations between Afghan and foreign jihadists.
It was at this time that he met Mullah Omar, the cleric who lost one eye during the Soviet conflict and went on to become the Taliban's supreme leader. Both were founding members of the hardline Islamist Taliban movement that emerged in the early 1990s from religious schools in southern Afghanistan and Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan.
Baradar has long served as the moderate face of the hardline Islamist group.
His focus on garnering the support of the Afghan people harks back to his days as an insurgent military commander after US troops toppled the Taliban regime in 2001.
In 2009 Baradar ordered Taliban foot soldiers to carry a small handbook on how to win the hearts and minds of villagers, according to a New York Times report. This "code of conduct", which included advice on how to avoid civilian casualties and to use suicide attacks sparsely to avoid a backlash, reflected the mullah's political instincts that the Taliban had to increase popular support after their ruthless rule between 1996 and 2001. In 2010, Mullah Baradar was arrested in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi by agents belonging to the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's powerful spy agency.
Baradar was released in 2018 when the US intensified its effort to leave Afghanistan. The cleric was flown to Qatar and became part of the Taliban's negotiating team. He became one of the most well-known faces of the Taliban, focused on increasing the group's diplomatic clout. Baradar subsequently helped lead the talks with the Trump administration that led to a February 29, 2020, agreement on a US troop withdrawal by May 1 the following year. Under the deal, the Taliban committed to preventing terrorist groups from setting up bases of operations in Afghanistan.
The agreement, signed by both US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Baradar, also called for an "intra-Afghan" dialogue to continue seeking a "permanent and comprehensive ceasefire".
In September 2020, he held talks with then secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who was still hoping for a dignified US exit.
In the early hours of Tuesday (august 31), the Taliban celebrated the departure of the last US plane of soldiers and their ambassador from Afghanistan, after a 20-year US-led occupation of the country.
"We are overjoyed that the people of Kabul and other capitals welcomed us with open arms without allowing warmongering circles the opportunity to prolong the destructive cycle of conflict," says Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a leading member of the Taliban's Cultural Commission.
Since the day after the Taliban returned to power and positioned themselves in the presidential palace in Kabul, seizing control over Afghanistan, the mainstream media has been giving the new government critical and even hostile coverage.
Media reports of house-to-house interrogations and violence allegedly committed by the Taliban continue to pour in, including in Kabul.
Moreover, we've watched desperate people, including children, leaping onto the sides of planes charging down the Kabul runway, clinging to a dangerous and ultimately futile attempt to flee the country.
"It's unfortunate," says Abdul Qahar. The hysteria, he explains, is the result of years of persistent demonisation of the Taliban...
Abdul Qahar blames the US for the chaotic scenes at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport. Harrowing videos have emerged of babies and children being passed to soldiers over razor-wire fences and men clinging to the outside of departing planes.
"The root cause behind the hysteria is the encouragement of the US and rumours about visa on arrival for all," says the Taliban leader.
"The US continues to push the 'Hollywood' image of America and false promises of prosperity or greener pastures on the other side. And as most people of Afghanistan live below the poverty line due to the four decades of foreign occupation and imposed war, many naturally want to move outside in pursuit of improved livelihoods."
Abdul Qahar also notes the media's role in fueling fear of the Taliban. "The media has regretfully not played a positive role in distributing our message of peace."
"Of course when the media is funded by a particular group, they will push and promote certain agendas," he adds, accusing it of portraying the Taliban as an "evil force imposing their values and ideals on foreign countries and as a fragmented tribal society unaware of world politics that is destabilising regional and world security, as well as harming economic growth."
"The truth could not be any farther than that," says Abdul Qahar. The group, he explains, will use this period to seek opportunities to cooperate with world leaders and the international community to improve security and economic development, while reestablishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
While the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has not changed in terms of remaining committed to the principles of Islam and establishment of Islamic law, the Taliban leader says it plans to implement changes gradually through preaching and engaging in dialogue about the merits of Islamic conduct instead of rigorously applying force.
On behalf of Afghanistan's new government, Abdul Qahar concluded with a promise:
"We are optimistic that all have learnt lessons from the long years of war and ruin. We are encouraging all to leave the past where it belongs and look forward towards the future so that our country, the region and the world can finally find peace and security so all our people may prosper and contribute to the great human civilisation – each with its own distinct beauty, character and heritage, and none imposing their way of life on the other."
The Taliban's elite special forces units were crucial to the group's takeover of Afghanistan, experts have told The National, and they are now seen patrolling the streets of towns and cities around the country as the group tightens its grip on power.
Images shared widely on social media during the fall of Kabul showed soldiers belonging to the Badri 313 and Red Units — the main elite forces of the Taliban — providing security for press conferences and patrolling the streets and newly-vacated US military facilities.
Some carried American-made weapons such as the M4 carbine — a highly-prized status weapon among Taliban fighters — complete with advanced optical sights. Some even wore night vision goggles.
With their modern body armour and matching camouflage fatigues, the soldiers look more like Western special forces than the rank and file Taliban fighters carrying battered Kalashnikovs and wearing mismatched combat gear.
“The Taliban released slick propaganda footage during the takeover of Afghanistan centred on the Badri 313 and so it is likely that this group is to be favoured within the Taliban leadership and chain of command,” said Ed Arnold, a research fellow at the Royal United Service Institute (RUSI) think tank in London.
The Badri 313 unit is named after the battle of Badr 1,400 years ago, in which the Prophet Mohammed was victorious. The unit has reportedly received training from the Haqqani network, Afghanistan's most ruthless and feared militant group, which has carried out multiple suicide attacks on civilians.
Like Badri 313, the Red Unit is an important propaganda tool of the Taliban, which has to assert its legitimacy over rival groups like ISIS-K.
With most of Afghanistan now under Taliban control, it is not clear what role the special forces units will play in the future as the militant group transforms into a governing power.
Mr Arnold said that aside from a couple of organised units there is no overall structure or chain of command for the Taliban's special forces.
Women attending private Afghan universities must wear an abaya robe and niqab covering most of the face, the Taliban have ordered, and classes must be segregated by sex -- or at least divided by a curtain.
In a lengthy document issued by the Taliban's education authority, they also ordered that female students should only be taught by other women, but if that was not possible then "old men" of good character could fill in.
The decree applies to private colleges and universities, which have mushroomed since the Taliban's first rule ended in 2001.
There was no order for women to wear the all-enveloping burqa in the new regulations issued late Saturday, but the niqab effectively covers most of the face anyway... In recent years burqas and niqabs have largely vanished from the streets of Kabul, but are seen more frequently in smaller cities and towns.
The decree comes as private universities prepare to open on Monday.
"Universities are required to recruit female teachers for female students based on their facilities," the decree said, adding that men and women should use separate entrances and exits.
While women now have to study separately, they must also end their lesson five minutes earlier than men to stop them from mingling outside.
They must then stay in waiting rooms until their male counterparts have left the building, according to the decree issued by the Taliban higher education ministry.
"Practically, it is a difficult plan -- we don't have enough female instructors or classes to segregate the girls," said a university professor, who asked not to be named.
"But the fact that they are allowing girls to go to schools and universities is a big positive step," he told AFP. Before the Taliban returned in a lightning military campaign, entering the capital Kabul last month, women studied alongside men and attended seminars with male professors.
Prophet Mohammed worked
for his merchant wife, Khadeja
"I am not saying let’s be modern and give women what they are getting elsewhere. Instead, I ask we go back 1400 years, to the time of the Prophet, when women could ride and drive, trade and fight, judge and rule in legislation and government.
Men, then, didn’t feel bad about it. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) worked for his merchant wife, Khadeja, and told his companions to consult his other wife, Aesha, in their religious affairs. Women argued with him and his Caliphs in public.
When women were right, great men like the second Caliph, Omar, admitted their mistakes and revised laws accordingly. As for fight, we owe a great woman warrior the life of our Prophet. She was the one who defended him in the battle of Ohud when most men ran away.
How come after fourteen centuries of progress we still don’t have women ministers, ulemas, or even Shoura members?" Khaled Batarfi, in: ARAB VIEW
Khadija bint Khuwaylid was
a very successful merchant.
It is said that when the Quraysh's trade caravan travelers gathered to embark upon their summer journey to Syria or winter journey to Yemen, Khadija's caravan equalled the caravans of all other traders of the Quraysh put together.
It is said that she fed and clothed the poor, assisted her relatives financially and provided marriage portions for poor relations.
Khadija did not travel with her trade caravans; she employed others to trade on her behalf for a commission. In 595 Khadija needed a co-worker for a transaction in Syria. She chose Muhammad ibn Abdullah ( founder of the world religion of Islam) for the trade in Syria.
With the permission of Abu Talib ibn Muttalib, his uncle, he was sent to Syria with one of Khadija's servants.
Khadija hired Muhammad, who was then 25 years old, sending word that she would pay double her usual commission.
She sent one of her servants, Maysarah, to assist him. Upon returning, Maysarah gave accounts of the honorable way that Muhammad had conducted his business, with the result that he brought back twice as much profit as Khadija had expected. (Wikipedia)
Three weeks since taking control of Kabul, the Taliban have announced a new government in Afghanistan. The declaration was made by Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid during a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday.
Head of the Taliban's leadership council, also known as the Rehbari Shura, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund will act as the head of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
It is also important to note that the head of the new Taliban government - Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund - is still listed as a terrorist by the United Nations (UN) over his suspected role in the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in March 2001.
Finding the middle path is a general principle of behavior in Islam. The Qur’an and Sunnah contain specific guidelines steering people away from extremes in particular cognitive, social, and behavioral areas. Furthermore, Islam endorses sociopolitical and socioeconomic systems that represent a balanced, middle ground. (islam.ru info)
Addressing reporters at the Government Information Media Centre (GIMC) in Kabul, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said this is an "acting (caretaker) government" and not a "permanent government". He added that each minister in the Taliban government would be assisted by two deputies.
Mujahid also announced that chairman of the Taliban's political office in Doha, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, will serve as a deputy to Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, along with Mawlavi Hanafi. Interestingly, not even a single non-Taliban leader featured in the list of new ministers, despite repeated demands for the same by the international community.
The Taliban have continued their determined path to further restrict women's rights by setting up a new ministry to ensure "virtue and the prevention of vice" where the Ministry of Women's Affairs was once housed in Afghanistan's capital Kabul.
A new sign was up outside the ministry, announcing it was now the "Ministry for Preaching and Guidance and the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.”
women's march 2017
Mabouba Suraj, who heads the Afghan Women's Network, said she was astounded by the flurry of orders released by the Taliban-run government restricting women and girls.
Russian military police began patrolling the last rebel bastion in Syria's southwest on Wednesday, as part of a deal that halted an offensive by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to retake the birthplace of the 2011 popular uprising, military and civilian sources said. Russian generals brokered the deal late on Tuesday to avert bloody urban warfare after the heaviest bombardment by Fourth Division government forces of the rebel-held core of the city of Daraa. The city has been under siege by government forces for over two months.
Russian troops hoisted the Russian and Syrian government flags inside the Daraa al-Balad district, where the first protests broke out in 2011...
Local rebels began to hand over light weapons based on assurances that Russian military police would maintain patrols and checkpoints to bar Iranian-backed militias from entering to pursue feared reprisals, negotiators said.
Under the terms of the deal, the Syrian government would erect three checkpoints inside Daraa al-Balad, having left the area for years under the control of former rebel fighters...
Daraa was returned to government control in 2018 under a previous Moscow-backed truce that had allowed rebels to stay in some areas of Daraa province.
However, a low-level insurgency has been waged against government forces and rebels who signed reconciliation agreements with Damascus, with dozens of assassinations since 2020...
Opposition activist Omar al-Hariri told AFP the new truce suggested a government push to end rebel influence over several parts of the province where the state has yet to fully deploy.
"The Syrian regime is now expected to aim at opposition hubs in Daraa's western countryside with the goal of securing the same results," Hariri added. Assad turned the tables on those arrayed against him in the war after Russia intervened on his side in 2015, and has since recaptured about 70 percent of the country.
The operations of handing over weapons and settling legal status of scores of militants from Daraa al-Balad resumed on Monday at the settlement center in al-Arbaeen neighborhood...
SANA reporter said that the weapons, which have been handed over, included individual light weapons, machine guns, RPGs, and a number of various shells, adding that other centers will be opened all over the city to complete the operation of settling the status of the militants and handing over their weapons to the Syrian Arab Army, in preparation of the army’s deployment in Daraa and the return of the state institutions to it...
The Syrian state has been working for several weeks to establish security and stability
in Daraa province and to give priority to peaceful solutions in order to save the civilians’ lives and preserve the infrastructure.
Units of the Syrian Army have entered Dara’a al-Balad, the last stronghold of militants in the war-torn country’s south, and they raised Syria’s national flags there, as a bid to get rid of terrorist remnants proceeds successfully.
They entered Dara’a al-Balad neighborhood on Wednesday morning and began to set up army points in preparation for purge of terrorist remnants, weapons, ammunition, explosive devices, tunnels, fortifications and dens, which have been by terrorists against civilians and army points, official news agency SANA reported.
The Syrian Army units also raised the national flag in the al-Arbaeen neighborhood, within the framework of a truce agreement proposed by the Syrian government last month.
The establishment of full government control over Dara’a is highly important because it borders the occupied Golan Heights which Israel has used to treat wounded terrorists fighting against the Syrian government since 2011.
The territory’s return to Syria's government control could sever collaboration between Israel and the militants...
Turkish media outlets revealed the imminent meeting between Head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan and Syria’s National Security Chief Ali Mamlouk.
Turkish-based “Türkiye Gazetesi” Daily in a report wrote that historic meeting between senior Turkish and Syrian intelligence officials will take place in Baghdad, capital of Iraq.
A wide range of topics will be discussed between the two parties, the daily quoted Turkish officials as saying.
Former Head of Turkey’s General Staff Intelligence Agency Ismail Hakki Pekin said that this historic meeting will be held in Iraqi capital Baghdad and is a beginning of a new process in relations between the two countries. The collapse of relations between Turkey and Syria in mid-2011, when a civil war started in Syria, caused huge financial and spiritual damages to both sides, he reiterated.
erdogan-assad-relations before the 'arab spring'
Pekin went on to say that Syrian and Turkish intelligence officials would address two important issues of Iraq’s Kurdistan Workers’ Organization (PKK) and asylum seekers.
In addition, the two sides will confer on the situation and the latest developments in parts of Syrian-linked areas of Turkey such as Idlib and Daraa as well as outlining a new roadmap between the two countries.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - A delegation from Turkey’s main opposition party made an unprecedented visit to the Kurdistan Region to improve relations between Ankara and Erbil.
Led by Oguz Kaan Salici, Republican People’s Party (CHP) vice president for foreign affairs, the delegation met with Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Region’s ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
The CHP representatives said the purpose of the visit was to “bolster Kurdistan Region-Turkey relations and express the position of the Republican People’s Party’s on some topics and issues that are of mutual importance,” according to a statement from PM Barzani's office.
We will rebuild peace with rational policies
The Republican People's Party (CHP) is a political party founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and is the oldest political party in Turkey. The CHP describes itself as "a modern social democratic party, which is faithful to the founding principles and values of the Republic of Turkey". Its logo consists of the Six Arrows, which represent the foundational principles of Kemalism: republicanism, nationalism, statism, populism, laicism, and reformism. (Wikipedia)
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said in February 2020 that his party wants Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria to improve relations for the sake of peace and stability in the region.
“We do not want the dominant powers in our own region to have a proxy war. We will solve our problems together. We will not be the pawns of the ruling powers. We will rebuild peace in the Middle East with rational policies," he said.
He said that if his party comes to power, it would establish Middle East Peace and Cooperation (OBIT).
CHP, in a statement on Sunday, said the delegation visiting Erbil will discuss the importance of OBIT during meetings with Kurdish authorities.
The Turkish main opposition party has criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy, especially regarding Turkey’s involvement in regional conflicts and proxy wars.
Salici, the head of the delegation, told media that he was warmly welcomed by Kurdish leaders. “This is the first visit by a delegation from the Republican People’s Party but it will definitely not be the last one. We have friendly, brotherly and social links. We want this to be a factor to develop our relations,” he said.
The CHP has good relations with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which supported the CHP in 2019 local elections in areas out of the Kurdish-majority southeast.
Libyan authorities announced the release of Saadi Gaddafi from prison.
Saadi is the third son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed during a 2011 NATO-led uprising. According to sources in the Justice Ministry, Gaddafi’s son promptly boarded a flight to Istanbul upon his release, which was the outcome of negotiations between top tribal figures and the PM.
Saadi first appeared before the Tripoli appeals court in May 2015 on charges of involvement in the murder of the late Libyan football player, Bashir Al-Rayani in 2005.
Prime Minister of Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU) Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba said the decision to release Saadi Gaddafi, the son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, came as part of national reconciliation efforts.
The Premier said in a statement that Saadi’s release was also part of the orders given by the Public Prosecution.
“We cannot move forward without achieving reconciliation or establish a state without achieving justice, enforcing the law, respecting the principle of separation of powers, and following judicial procedures and rulings,” the GNU’s statement noted.
“On this basis, the citizen Saadi Gaddafi was released, in implementation of the release issued against him by the Public Prosecution.
The Government of National Unity affirms its commitment to working on releasing all prisoners without exception. We hope that such efforts will contribute to the path of comprehensive national reconciliation,” the statement concluded.
What we need is "a worldwide cultural revolution to emancipate man's mind from curricula of fanaticism and from the process of deliberate adaptation of man's taste, his ability to form concepts and his mentality".
The remains of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will be handed over to members of his tribe in Sirte for reburial, Saudi Arabia-based news channel AlHadath reports.
According to the channel’s Libyan sources, the transfer of Gaddafi’s remains was agreed by senior officials in the city of Misrata, and elders of the al-Gaddaf and al-Mujabar tribes.
Along with Gaddafi senior, the remains of his 36-year-old son, Moatassem-Billah Gaddafi, and Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, one of the late Libyan leader’s most trusted advisers, are also expected to be transferred. The two men were killed along with Gaddafi on 20 October 2011 after the battle of Sirte, with evidence circulating that rebels tortured them and mutilated their bodies as well.
After Gaddafi was killed, his body was taken to Misrata "for a medical examination", and then put on public display at a local shopping centre. He was buried at an unknown location in the desert, despite promises by militants to return his remains to his family.
Last week, Libyan militia leader Salah Badi announced that he was prepared to disclose the location of Gaddafi’s burial site as supporters of the late Libyan leader called to have his remains handed over to tribesmen for the sake of intra-Libyan reconciliation.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has reiterated Egypt’s commitment to stand by all Arab countries to endure the current exceptional circumstances, voicing Cairo's welcome of the recent reconciliations between Arabs.
"The Arab region continues to face political challenges and insurmountable issues that obstruct achieving our development goals and legitimate aspirations," Shoukry told the 156th ordinary ministerial session of the Arab League Council that was held in Cairo on Thursday.
"The foreign interventions and foreign ambitions are still working relentlessly to seize our resources, distract us from our priorities, and plunge us into conflicts that only serve their interests," he appended.
The "flagrant" interventions, Shoukry added, resulted in depletion and exhaustion of Arab resources as well as led to polarisations and rivalries between Arabs, a matter that he said should come to an end.
Minister Shoukry said Cairo welcomes the recent Arab reconciliations, hoping these are completed based on mutual respect for national sovereignty.
The minister stressed the importance of supporting efforts to restore security and stability to Libya and help in holding Libyan elections on time on 24 December.. He urged for an end to the humanitarian suffering in Syria and Yemen by pushing for a settlement to their internal conflicts that protects their territorial integrity and sovereignty.
He renewed rejection of repeated Houthi attempts to attack Saudi territories.. He also condemned any attempts to threaten the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea...
The practice of exchanging information on the situation in Syria between Russia and Israel has proven its usefulness and will be continued, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters at a news conference on Thursday following talks with Israel’s FM Yair Lapid.
"Those practical issues that arise in this connection [on the situation in Syria] are discussed extensively by our [Russian and Israeli] militaries on a daily basis. I believe that this practice has proven its usefulness. Today we agreed that it would be continued," he said. According to Lavrov, the situation in Syria remains challenging in many respects due to the fact that many countries’ interests are intertwined in that process.
"There are legitimate interests, for example, such as security interests. <…> There are interests that are not quite legitimate, putting it mildly. I mean, first and foremost, the illegal occupation of a considerable part of Syria’s territory by the United States, the exploitation of natural resources and hydrocarbons, grain and water resources belonging to the Syrian people and, of course, the United States’ activities to connive with Kurdish separatism," he noted.
Lavrov added that Moscow was opposed to turning Syria into an arena of confrontation between third countries. Taking into account all the realities, it is essential to move towards the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"That integrity must be restored, which means foiling any attempts of separatism and moving towards the organization of an inclusive Syrian nationwide dialogue," he stressed.
Most of Syria’s Al-Hasakah, Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa provinces located in the east and northeast of the country are currently controlled by the US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces. The US command has created nine military bases in the area since 2015. Four of them are located near the oil fields in Deir ez-Zor and five others - in the neighboring Al-Hasakah province, which is considered to be Syria’s bread-basket.
In late 2019, then US President Donald Trump approved a plan for several hundred US troops to remain in Syria, and one of their chief tasks will be to ensure control over oil fields in the northeast and east of the country.
Syrian Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Bassam Tou'ma has affirmed that the Arab gas pipeline inside Syria is ready for transmitting the Egyptian gas to Lebanon, pointing out that Syria will get a quantity of this gas for allowing it to pass through its territories pursuant to the signed agreements.
In a statement to SANA, Tou'ma said that the Arab gas pipeline has undergone maintenance, being part of the internal gas network, after it was exposed to dozens of terrorist attacks and looting acts by the terrorists and now it has become ready for working.
He made it clear that according to the memo, which was signed between Syria and Egypt in 2000, and was joined by Jordan in 2001, each one of these countries has to set up part of the Arab gas pipeline that goes through its territory and should do the necessary maintenance works.
He pointed out that only 600 meters long part of the pipeline within the border area between Syria and Lebanon needs to be inspected in coordination between the two countries. Syria will benefit from reactivating the gas pipeline through getting quantities of Egyptian gas for generating electric power, the minister clarified, noting that the Lebanese side asked for 600 million cubic meters of gas annually.
According to Tou'ma, this cooperation between Arab countries is a step towards restoring ties in a way that serves the Syrian economy and eases the repercussions of the unfair American blockade imposed on the Syrian people
The first 250km of the pipeline in Egypt starts at Arish
Arab Gas Pipeline (AGP) is a trans-regional gas export pipeline built to carry natural gas from Egypt to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The 1,200km-long pipeline was built at a cost of approximately $1.2bn and represents a unique model for future strategic Arab co-operation projects.
The major stakeholders of the AGP include the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), Engineering for the Petroleum and Process Industries (ENPPI), The Petroleum Projects and Technical Consultations Company (PETROJET), the Egyptian Natural Gas Company (GASCO) and the Syrian Petroleum Company (SPC). The pipeline project was initiated within the framework of bilateral dialogues between Egypt and Jordan in 2001.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) later included Syria and Lebanon. Israel, Turkey and Iraq also signed deals to co-operate in this trans-regional pipeline project.
The Arab Gas Pipeline has four sections. The first section extends from Arish in Egypt to Aqaba in Jordan. Its total length is 265km, including a 15km long offshore segment running under the Gulf of Aqaba.
The second section runs 390km from Aqaba to El Rehab, which is situated 30km from the Jordanian-Syrian borders. The third section is 30km in length extending from Jordan (El Rehab) to Syria (Jabber). The fourth section constitutes of a gas network in Syria. It runs from Jabber (Syrian side of Jordanian-Syrian borders) to the Syrian-Turkish borders, ending in Lebanon.
This section has four segments. Segment one runs from Jabber to Homs in Syria, while the second segment connects cities of Homs and Aleppo, Syria. The third segment extends from Aleppo to the Syrian-Turkish borders. The fourth segment connects Homs in Syria with Tripoli in Lebanon.
A Syrian-Russian summit was held in Moscow between Presidents Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin...
At the beginning of the bilateral summit, President al-Assad said, “I am happy to meet today in Moscow. The joint operation to combat terrorism has now been going on for about six years, during which the Syrian and Russian armies have made great achievements....”
President al-Assad added, “of course, in addition to the important results of the liberation of lands and the retreat of terrorists, the political process was launched, whether in Sochi, Astana, or recently in Geneva. This process has been going on for nearly two years now, but as you know, there are obstacles because there are countries that support terrorists and have no interest in the continuation of this process in the direction that would achieve stability in Syria, and some countries have imposed a siege on the Syrian people, a siege that we describe as inhumane, immoral and illegal.”
President al-Assad added, “I want to take advantage of this meeting in order to thank the Russian state and the Russian people for the humanitarian aid provided to the Syrian people..."
“I would like also to thank you and the Russian political institution, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the efforts they have made at the international forums to defend international law.."
For his part, President Putin said, “I am very happy to welcome you to Moscow again and congratulate you on the very good result of the presidential election...”
Putin added, “I know that you are doing a lot for this, including holding a dialogue with the opposition, and I hope this process will continue...”
Putin stressed that the main issue is that foreign armed forces are deployed to Syrian territory without the approval of the United Nations and without your permission, and this clearly contradicts the international law and does not allow you to make maximum efforts to go on the path of reconstruction of the country at the pace that would have been possible in the event that the legitimate government took control of all lands.
The current Taliban forces who are stationed in Kabul will soon be replaced with police forces of the former government and Taliban forces and all will have uniforms, the Taliban said on Sunday. Anaamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, told TOLOnews that the current Taliban forces, who do not have uniforms, will be transferred from Kabul to military posts in the provinces.
“Police and uniformed forces who have received training and gained skills in their specific fields should soon take charge of maintaining Kabul security and start their jobs.
After that, the Mujahideen who are stationed in different police departments and who do not have uniforms will be stationed in police headquarters and army corps (in the provinces),” Samangani said.
Taliban forces currently stationed in Kabul do not have uniforms and some residents in the past weeks called on the Taliban to provide uniforms for their forces so the people will trust their authority.
According to the residents, people are accustomed to uniformed police and will feel more comfortable with them in the city.
“They should have a specific uniform and be well-organized in the city and maintain security so that the people will not worry,” said Sheikh Zaman, a Kabul resident.
“We have seen cases where some people identifying themselves as Taliban forces have committed illegal actions in the city,” said Abdurrahman, a Kabul resident.
“We will not allow the government of Israel to recognize a Palestinian state in any situation.” “We will not allow Israel to give one centimeter of ground to the Arabs.” Bennett 29-1-2020
It would be a terrible mistake to create a Palestinian state, [Israeli] Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, in a series of media interviews he gave on Tuesday night...
"I oppose a Palestinian state. I think it would be a terrible mistake that would take the terrible situation in Gaza and recreate it in Judea and Samaria," Bennett told KAN news.
Bennett said that he understood that in any event, Palestinian statehood at this time was not feasible and thus the question of whether to support it was not relevant.
It was, however, important to provide economic opportunities for the Palestinian that would improve their lives, Bennett said.
"My outlook is a very business-like one," he said. "If we create more business, strengthen the economy and improve living conditions for everyone in Judea and Samaria, that would be better," he added. Bennett clarified that he has no intention to speak with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"I do not see the logic in meeting or talking to a person [Abbas] who is suing IDF soldiers and their commanders at the International Criminal Court at The Hague," Bennett said...
US President Donald Trump’s Senior Adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said on Tuesday that Palestinians should accept the “full package” of the so-called peace plan and give up fairy tales.
In a media interview with Al Jazeera network, following the announcement of the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ by Trump in Washington, Kushner said that the detailed plan offers practicality to Palestinians and Israelis. Kushner called the decades-long Palestinian efforts for statehood “old claims, myths, lies” and said the plan gives Palestinians an “ability to have a pathway” for a state of their own.
He praised Trump for his “achievement” to convince Israelis to put a four-year settlement freeze and went on to say that this is the “last chance” for Palestinians to have a state and to find peace and economic prosperity.
Referring to the Palestinian Authority’s rejection of the plan, Kushner commented: “They are not ready to have a State. If you are ready to have a state, you don’t call for a day of rage. You go to the table, … you make compromises to allow your people to have a better life.”
“The Palestinian people are on a terrible trajectory thanks to a lot of bad decisions by their leadership,” Kushner continued. “They have to stop holding out for myths that will never come, and fairytales that will never come.”
25 years before Israel was established on the ruins of historic Palestine, a Russian Jewish Zionist leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, argued that a Jewish state in Palestine could only survive if it exists “behind an iron wall” of defense.
Jabotinsky was speaking figuratively. However, future Zionist leaders, who embraced Jabotinsky’s teachings, eventually turned the principle of the iron wall into a tangible reality. Consequently, Israel and Palestine are now disfigured with endless barricades of walls, made of concrete and iron, which zigzag in and around a land that was meant to represent inclusion, spiritual harmony and co-existence: a ‘villa in the jungle’ – a metaphor used repeatedly by former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, which falsely depicts Israel as an oasis of harmony and democracy amid Middle Eastern chaos...
Israel’s problem is that its military fortress was built with major design flaws that were never corrected or even addressed. No nation on earth can enjoy long-term security, peace and prosperity at the expense of another nation, as long as the latter never ceases its fight for freedom.
Israelis want to subdue and militarily occupy Palestinians without the least degree of resistance, armed or otherwise; they want to imprison thousands of Palestinians without the slightest protest or even the mere questioning of Israel’s military judicial system.
These fantasies, which satisfied and guided the thinking of successive Zionist and Israeli leaders since the times of Jabotinsky, work only in theory.
Time after time, resisting Palestinians have made a mockery of Israel’s security myths.
Even from the inside the Israeli ‘harmonystate’ was compromised, as the popular Palestinian uprising of May 2021 has demonstrated that Israel’s native Palestinian Arab population remains an organic part of the Palestinian whole.
Possibly, early Zionists did not factor in that Palestinian resistance could last for so long, and that the baton of freedom fighting can pass on from one generation to the next.
Until Israel abandons its foolish ‘security’ fantasies, there can never be true peace in Palestine...
In 1864, the Jewish poet Ludwig August Frankl named blue and white "the colours of Judah" in a poem not so surprisingly called "Judah's Colours."
An excerpt: "When sublime feelings his heart fill, he is mantled in the colors of his country ... Blue and white are the colours of Judah; white is the radiance of the priesthood, and blue, the splendors of the firmament."
Blue and white come with universal associations, too. White suggests purity, peace, and light. Blue is associated with the sky, faith, wisdom, and truth.
From ancient times, blue has been considered a lucky color among the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. Not unlike their Arab neighbors, Jews of this region have painted their doorposts, heads, and other parts of their bodies with blue dyes; have ornamented their children with blue ribbons and markings; and have used this color in protective amulets.. (Amanda Green, 2018)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a meeting with his Belarus counterpart Alexander Lukashenko said that his government will prioritize economic relations with the neighboring countries.
"I seek to develop economic relations in the region and I have instructed the economic and technical ministers to pursue the implementation of joint agreements," he added.
President Raisi pointed out that Tehran and Minsk have very good grounds and capacities to deepen relations, and good and constructive bilateral political relations can help to make these capacities operational more and more quickly.
He, meantime, pointed to the US government's acknowledgment of the failure of the policy of maximum pressure against the Iranian people, and said, "Development of regional relations is one of the ways to counter sanctions, and countries like Iran and Belarus have found ways to overcome sanctions."
President Lukashenko said that no country has succeeded in imposing sanctions on other countries, and sanctions are essentially a failed policy in the world...
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “If sanctions did harm Belarus, Iran, other countries, it happened only because we were to blame for it. We couldn't always make deals, we didn't always find the way we should have followed in conditions of the pressure of sanctions. This is why everything is in our hands.”
A group of 16 countries, including Iran, Russia and China, are reportedly pushing to create a coalition at the United Nations to counter the use or threat of force and unilateral sanctions by the West.
The coalition, known as “Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations,” also includes Syria, Palestine, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba as member states.
Other founding members of the group are Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bolivia, Cambodia, Eritrea, Laos, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Viewed by Reuters, a concept note for the group said the imposition of coercive measures and withdrawal from global agreements were signs of growing unilateralism.
“The world is seeing a growing resort to unilateralism, marked by isolationist and arbitrary actions, including the imposition of unilateral coercive measures or the withdrawal from landmark agreements and multilateral institutions, as well as by attempts to undermine critical efforts to tackle common and global challenges,” it added.
Russia supports the start of Iran's Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) membership process, President Vladimir Putin said, addressing an SCO summit via video link on Friday.
"All of us attach much importance to the SCO's cooperation with the countries that seek to build open and equal dialogue with our organization and are considering the possibility of joining its activities," the Russian head of state pointed out.
"In this regard, Russia supports the decision to start Iran's SCO membership process, which has been submitted for approval to the SCO Council of Heads of State," Putin added.
"We have always been in favor of Iran's full-fledged participation in the organization's work because the country plays an important role in Eurasia and has long been fruitfully cooperating with the SCO," the Russian leader emphasized. According to Putin, "Iran's SCO accession will undoubtedly contribute to enhancing the organization's international authority."
After losing three soldiers in a bomb attack in Idlib, the last bastion of Islamist rebels in Syria, Turkey pounded Syrian Kurdish targets last week, sending a misleading message of revenge to its public.
The episode underscores Ankara’s growing predicament in Idlib, where jihadi forces target Turkish troops even as Turkey’s military presence shields them against the Syrian army.
"HTS’s precursor organization, was formed in Syria in 2011 as al-Qaeda’s affiliate within the opposition to the Assad regime. Nusra’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, quickly established a capable organization.." CSIS info
In Idlib, Turkey has sought to use the dominant Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group to suppress smaller jihadi groups, eager to create the impression that terrorist groups are being eliminated in the region, as its deals with Russia require.
Meanwhile, it has kept reorganizing its allies from the Syrian National Army, an umbrella group for various opposition forces...
Factions in the Syrian National Army have continued to act autonomously, clash with each other, and commit crimes against local civilians.
In a bid to keep those factions under control, a new grouping, called the Syrian Liberation Front, was created last week under the umbrella of the Syrian National Army.
The five groups involved — the Sultan Suleyman Shah Division, the Hamza Division, the Mutasim Division, the 20th Division and Sukur al-Shimal — had formed a joint operation room in July, but it was soon marred by disagreements.
But no matter how the factions are reorganized, they stand no chance of evolving into a regular army.
Many of them have turned into war profiteers, and their rivalries and internal divisions have persisted, as in the case of Ahrar al-Sham, one of the groups on which Turkey had counted the most.
In Idlib, meanwhile, Turkey’s posture has favored HTS, even though the jihadi outfit has been designated as a terrorist group by Ankara and expelled Turkish-backed factions from the region. Turkey hopes that HTS will eliminate other jihadi factions and rebrand itself as a “moderate” group. Yet the jihadi potential in Idlib persists, and HTS remains far from being removed from blacklists.
Moreover, attacks on Turkish forces have continued in the region. The most recent attack, in which three Turkish soldiers were killed, took place near Binnish on Sept. 11. It was claimed by the Ansar Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq Brigade..
Ankara has assumed that HTS’ suppression of other jihadis would fulfill its commitments to Russia to eliminate terrorist groups. Yet HTS has reinforced its de facto emirate in Idlib, and dozens of radical groups such as Ansar al-Islam, Ansar al-Tawhid, Ansar al-Din, Ajnad al-Kavkaz and the Turkistan Islamic Movement have maintained their presence in the province... Rebel groups have continued to attack government-controlled areas, benefitting from Turkish military positions as a shield.
Idlib was certainly high on the agenda when Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in Moscow Sept. 14.
Putin said at the meeting that the main problem in Syria today was the presence of foreign forces without permission or a UN mandate – a reference to Turkey and the United States.
Nevertheless, Brett McGurk, the White House’s Middle East coordinator, has been holding talks with Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Vershinin and special Syria envoy Alexander Lavrentiev, which might weaken Turkey’s hand in Syria...
The grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the highest seat of Sunni Muslim learning, reiterated Thursday that the Palestinian cause is the central cause for Muslims.
"The Palestinian cause is the primary cause for Al-Azhar and Muslims...and the struggle of its Arab people will remain a source of pride and inspiration," said Ahmed al-Tayeb while receiving Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Palestinian Authority’s top Sharia judge and President Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser on religious and Islamic affairs, according to Egypt’s official MENA news agency.
"The Zionist terrorism will remain overwhelming evidence of the deficiency of the international community's values and standards in dealing with the causes of the peoples," al-Tayeb added.
Al-Habbash stressed that Al-Azhar's endless efforts and stance towards the Palestinian cause are honorable and appreciated.
Gantz: Israel Will Not Take down
any Settlements from West Bank
Palestine Chronicle, September 16, 2021
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has said that Israel will not be removing any illegal Jewish settlements from the occupied West Bank and will maintain them in the long term, Foreign Policy reported yesterday.
Gantz met with the Palestinian Authority (PA) President two weeks ago and discussed several issues, including stability in the occupied West Bank and security cooperation. “Abbas is still dreaming of the 1967 lines [as the basis for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and an end to the conflict] – this won’t happen,” Foreign Policy reported Gantz saying.
He stressed: “He [Abbas] has to realize we’re staying there… We’re not taking down settlements.”
Around half a million Jewish settlers live in more than 250 illegal settlements and outposts built on occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. All are in contravention of international law.
Why were the Islamists thrashed in the last parliamentary elections in Morocco? The literal decimation of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) to 12 seats from the 125 they had in the previous parliament was a major blow and surprised everyone including the pro-state, pro-monarchy and pro-establishment parties.
It was unbelievable because the PJD had been ruling non-stop since 2011 at the time of the Arab Spring.
It is as if the tables were turned around, and regardless of allegations of vote-buying and vote rigging, these elections brought the pro-monarchical parties to the forefront of Moroccan politics with the National Rally of Independents (RNI) getting 102 seats, Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) winning 86 seats and Al Istiqlal Party 82 seats.
Through Morocco’s coalition-style government they are set to form the next Cabinet in the country out of a Parliament of 395 seats.
This is seen as a new chapter; a political stage were the Islamists are likely to be in the opposition for the first time in 11 years. Hurrah! The liberals and businessmen are set to rule the government and state...
This time, political Islam, as in the Justice and Development Party, wasn’t so much removed from power by the political elites, like Egypt and Tunisia, but by the people themselves...
Party voters have become disillusioned with the PJD because they failed to deliver on policy. In a nation of 35 million with a labour market of around 10.8 million according to official figures, there are 1.42 million people unemployed with youth unemployment – that is those between 15 and 24 – stood at around 30%. The Islamists have found it difficult to deal with this issue..
Three other policy decisions may have also persuaded voters to move away from the Islamists according to different analysts which include allowing the teaching of scientific subjects in French instead of Arabic, the legalization of medical marijuana and finally the normalization of relations between Israel and Morocco.
Many said the fact that the leader of the PJD Saad Aldin Al Othmani, who was the Prime Minister and signed the Morocco-Israeli agreement in late 2020, drove many of his supporters away and lost him and the Islamists the elections and may never rule again in the near future.
The fact, as they said, they were pressured to sign is not acceptable to the voters who saw such a move as betrayal to Palestine and the Arab cause.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday voiced expectations that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will advance cooperation across various fields with a broader scope, wider range and deeper level, while playing a bigger and more constructive role in regional and international affairs.
"The growth of the SCO family demonstrates the strong appeal of the SCO cooperation concepts," Wang said in an interview on the outcomes of the 21st meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO via video link on Friday. The meeting has launched procedures to admit Iran as a member state of the SCO, as well as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar as new dialogue partners.
It is believed that the SCO will continue to uphold the Shanghai Spirit, develop friendly ties and promote cooperation with other countries and international organizations, while advancing the building of a closer community with a shared future and ushering in a new development chapter for the SCO, he said... Wang called for upholding the Shanghai Spirit to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, pursuing common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, promoting pragmatic cooperation as well as openness and integration, boosting interactions and mutual learning, and upholding equity and justice.
The summit released a statement on enhancing technology and innovation cooperation, which was proposed by China, approved cooperation documents on environmental protection, culture, tourism and youth, and welcomed China's hosting of the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
"This shows the common aspiration of the SCO member states to make the outcomes of the organization's development bring more benefit to the people," Wang said.
European Parliament’s (EP) attempts to lecture the Russian people are being perceived as an insult to its intelligence, Russian Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told journalists, commenting on the recent EP resolution on Russia Sunday.
"This entire resolution’s lead idea is that [Russia] has an evil government, president and parliament. And then there is some good, democracy-seeking Russian people whom the MEPs wish to help find a ‘way to the light’...
Such arrogant attitude, I am sure, will be perceived by many in our country as an insult to their intelligence and ability to think independently," the Russian envoy said.
"President Putin’s foreign policy is clearly aggressive and revisionist, as he wants to be seen as the defender of Russian interests and is trying to gain control over territories he considers were lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union and beyond; whereas the goals of President Putin’s regime also include the following:
to assert its authority as a great power; to consolidate the regime’s interference in post-Soviet countries and beyond; to place the sovereignty of powerful states above the right to sovereignty of other states; to use the concept of protecting ethnic Russians abroad as a justification for hybrid war and disinformation; to use frozen conflicts areas as a strategic element for interfering in the affected countries and preventing them from moving closer to the EU and NATO;
to use energy resources and illicit money laundering practices as tools for manipulation and blackmailing; to undermine the model of liberal democracy and portray Russia as morally superior, and the West as morally inferior; to supress democracy, democratic opposition and the right for the people to express their free will in Russia;
whereas President Putin’s regime in particular rejects multilateralism and the rule-of-law-based international order, disregards international law, including the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and the 1990 OSCE Charter of Paris..."
"Recommends that the Council, the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) review, together with the Member States, the EU policy vis-à-vis Russia, including the five guiding principles, and develop a comprehensive EU strategy towards Russia based on the following principles and actions:
Deterring the Russian threat – pushing back against the security threat Countering the current Russian threat – fighting Russian interference in the EU and Eastern Neighbourhood countries
Engagement and selective dialogue with the Kremlin to prepare Russia’s transition, including sectoral cooperation Engagement to support democracy – pushing back with sanctions, financial controls and international investigations
Engagement to support democracy – supporting a pro-democracy society in Russia..."
Qatari Ambassador: "Granting Qatar
'Dialogue Partner' status in Shanghai Organization
is an achievement for Qatari diplomacy" Gulf Times, September 19 2021
The Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the People's Republic of China Mohammed Abdullah Al Duhaimi underlined that granting the State of Qatar the status of a "Dialogue Partner" in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a new achievement for the Qatari diplomacy.
The Ambassador said in a press article that Sept. 17 witnessed an important historical event for Qatar by granting it the status of a dialogue partner in one of the effective organizations that has geopolitical weight in the Asian continent and the world at large, during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, in the presence of the presidents of China, Russia, Tajikistan, Iran, Mongolia and the prime ministers of the rest of the member states. He noted that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization enjoys a prestigious position and a promising future, adding that this prominent historic achievement proves the effectiveness of the vital and dynamic foreign policy of the State of Qatar.
He thanked the member states for their support of the State of Qatar and paving the way for granting it the Dialogue Partner status.
The UK Liberal Democrats have passed a resolution in favor of a boycott on goods from 'Judea and Samaria', the Jewish News reported.
The measure, which passed with overwhelming support, calls for “a ban on UK trade with the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.” It was voted on at the party’s annual convention.
The resolution stated: "Illegal Israeli settlements represent a de facto annexation of Palestinian territory and that such settlements are a major but not sole factor in making the search for a lasting peace ever more difficult to achieve.”
It called for a new peace process to be brokered by the European Union and the Biden White House...
The party’s foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran called the motion a “radical new approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict.”
“At the heart of our new policy is increased cooperation, using trade as a tool for peace, and upholding international law and human rights,” Moran tweeted.
“We want more trade with Israel and with Palestine, more resources dedicated towards peace – via the creation of a peace fund to foster trust between communities
"As Liberal Democrats we believe wholeheartedly in the universal principles of human rights, democracy, international law and the self-determination of peoples.
That is the basis of the new approach which we are calling for towards the conflict in Israel and Palestine." Layla Moran, Sep 20, 2021
Aamer Madhani and Josh Boak at the Associated Press report that President Joe Biden in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly this year will seek to bring the curtain down on 20 years of American war, and will argue that instead the US will wage a multilateral campaign against the climate emergency, poverty and the pandemic. It was George W. Bush who kicked off all those years of war with his 2002 speech to the U.N., which announced his impending war on Iraq.
Precisely because he knew that launching yet another attack on a Muslim country in the wake of the Afghanistan campaign risked turning the whole Muslim world (some 56 countries of 194 at the UN are Muslim-majority) against the United States. Bush therefore sought to give the Muslims and Arabs a sop– the pledge that he would work toward an independent Palestinian state:
“Our common security is challenged by regional conflicts — ethnic and religious strife that is ancient, but not inevitable. In the Middle East, there can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides.
America stands committed to an independent and democratic Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. Like all other people, Palestinians deserve a government that serves their interests and listens to their voices. My nation will continue to encourage all parties to step up to their responsibilities as we seek a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict.”
Bush did not follow through on this pledge, and no subsequent president followed through, until Trump just threw the Palestinians completely under the bus and implied they should get used to living under Apartheid.
A Palestinian state of the sort Bush envisaged only 20 years ago now seems impossible, with the West Bank a Swiss cheese of Israeli squatter-settlements amid a brutalized indigenous population...
JERUSALEM: A new poll has found that nearly 80 percent of Palestinians want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign, reflecting widespread anger over the death of an activist in security forces’ custody and a crackdown on protests over the summer. The survey released Tuesday found support for Abbas’ Hamas rivals remained high, months after the 11-day Gaza war in May, when the Islamic militant group was widely seen by Palestinians as having scored a victory against a far more powerful Israel while the Western-backed Abbas was sidelined.
The latest poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 45 percent of Palestinians believe Hamas should lead and represent them, while only 19 percent said Abbas’ secular Fatah deserved that role, showing only a slight shift in favor of Fatah over the last three months.
“This is the worst polling we’ve ever seen for the president,” said Khalil Shikaki, the head of the center, who has been surveying Palestinian public opinion for more than two decades. “He has never been in as bad a position as today.”
Despite his plummeting popularity and refusal to hold elections, the international community still views the 85-year-old Abbas as the leader of the Palestinian cause and a crucial partner in the peace process with Israel, which ground to a halt more than a decade ago.
His Palestinian Authority administers parts of the occupied West Bank under interim agreements signed with Israel at the height of the peace process in the 1990s. Hamas drove Abbas’ forces out of Gaza when it seized power there in 2007, a year after winning parliamentary elections.
(The PCPSR says it surveyed 1,270 Palestinians face-to-face in the West Bank and Gaza, with a margin of error of three percentage points.)
Iran and Saudi Arabia have had several rounds of “good” talks in Baghdad on bilateral issues in recent months, the Iranian foreign ministry said on Thursday, a day after Saudi Arabia expressed hope that ongoing dialogue would result in tangible results.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told Iranian state media on Thursday that the talks in Baghdad had been moving positively.
“We think that if the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pays serious attention to the message of the Islamic Republic of Iran that the solution to the problems in the region lies within the region itself. We must reach a good comprehensive regional mechanism,” he added.
While relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been strained for decades, they took a notable dive in 2016, when Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi diplomatic missions following the Kingdom’s execution of Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Khatibzadeh’s statement came after Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on Wednesday spoke to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) saying that they hope their talks with Iran would lead to tangible results.
“Iran is a neighboring country, and we hope that our initial talks with it will lead to tangible results to build confidence,” the monarch told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday via a video link.
King Salman caveated his message by adding that he hoped that cooperation would be based on “their cessation of all forms of support for terrorist groups and sectarian militias that has brought nothing but war, destruction and suffering to all the people of the region...”
In late April, Iran said it could enter a “new chapter” with Saudi Arabia, welcoming a “change of tone” from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said he hoped for improved ties with Tehran.
Representatives of Iran and Saudi Arabia have previously held talks in Baghdad, facilitated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. Saudi Arabia has had rocky relations with the Islamic Republic since 1979 when Shia revolutionaries came to power and pledged to export their revolution to the world including to the Gulf counties.
Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels in the Yemeni civil war since late 2014 has caused concerns for the Saudi establishment.
The Saudi government executed 47 longtime prisoners who had be sentenced to death over terrorism and general revolting against the government.
The Saudis are in trouble over their war on Yemen. After nine month of bombing the hell out of the country there is no chance that the aim of their war, reinstalling their proxy government in Sanaa, will be reached anytime soon. Meanwhile Yemeni forces raid one Saudi town after another. The Saudi regime change-projects via Salafi jihadists in Iraq and Syria are also faltering. The low oil price make it necessary for the Saudi government to introduce taxes on its people. New taxes are hardly ever popular.
To divert from these problems the Saudis decided to get rid of a bunch of prisoners. Many of the 47 killed were truly al-Qaida types who had blown up buildings in Saudi Arabia and wanted to violently overthrow the Saudi government.
Four of the killed were of Shia believe and one of those was the prominent rabble rousing Shia preacher Nimr Baqr al-Nimr from the majority Shia eastern Saudi province Qatif.
Al-Nimr had called for the Shia youth in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to raise up against the government. He called for the overthrow of all tyrants not only in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain but also of the Assad government in Syria...
It was quite astonishing that the Saudi government let him preach for so long. A Sunni cleric in Saudi Arabia would likely have been put into jail and killed for much less revolutionary talk.
Nimr al-Nimr was NOT a defender of a secular-democratic state
A U.S. diplomat talked with al-Nimr in 2008. A cable available through Wikileaks summarizes:
Al-Nimr described his and al-Mudarrasi's attitude towards Islamic governance as being something between "wilayet al-faqih," in which a country is led by a single religious leader, and "shura al-fuqaha," in which a council of religious leaders should lead the state. A system led solely by religious judges or clerics is not really democratic.
From that interview it also seems that al-Nimr had no clear picture of what he really wanted. His point was to always "side with Allah and 'the people', never with the government" independent of who or what was right or wrong...
The Saudi government's patience ended when al-Nimr disparaged the death of the dead interior minister and crown prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud in June 2012. He stated that "people must rejoice at [Nayef's] death" and that "he will be eaten by worms and will suffer the torments of Hell in his grave".
That did him in. A-Nimr was imprisoned and sentenced to death.
‘Cold War-style crusade against dissenters’:
Lavrov roasts Biden’s idea of ‘democracy summit’ RT [Russia], 25-9-2021
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has criticized the US' idea to convene a “Leader’s Summit for Democracy”, calling it another example of Cold War-style block mentality that would split the international community into “us and them.”
Speaking during the fifth day of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on Saturday, Lavrov ripped into the current US foreign policy, accusing Washington of trying to split the international community into Cold War-style blocks.
In August, US President Joe Biden floated the idea to convene a “Leader’s Summit for Democracy” – and this, according to Lavrov, is a glaring example of this divisive policy.
“The participants, of course, will be determined by Washington, that claims the right to determine a country’s degree of compliance with democratic standards.
In its essence, this initiative – quite in the spirit of the Cold War and launches a new ideological crusade against all dissent,” Lavrov stated.
Despite the US administration's claims that Washington does not want to split the world into ideology-based blocks, such events only serve to prove it is indeed its goal, Lavrov suggested.
The proposed summit is expected to take place on December 9 and 10, with the US-selected leaders of the ‘democracies’ convening for the virtual conference.
The stated goals of the event have been extremely vague, with the White House describing it as “as an opportunity for world leaders to listen to one another and to their citizens, share successes, drive international collaboration, and speak honestly about the challenges facing democracy.”
Delegates in the British Labour Party on Monday passed a resolution condemning Israel for allegedly perpetrating an “ongoing Nakba in Palestine,” drawing outcry from some party officials.
“Conference condemns the ongoing Nakba in Palestine, Israel’s militarised violence attacking the Al Aqsa mosque, the forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah and the deadly assault on Gaza,” the motion passed at the main opposition party’s annual conference read.
“Nakba,” which means “catastrophe” in Arabic, is used by Palestinians to denote Israel’s establishment in 1948. The motion brought by Young Labour passed at Monday’s conference with about twice as many votes for as against, according to the Jewish News website.
It added that “together with the de facto annexation of Palestinian land by accelerated settlement building and statements of Israel’s intention to proceed with annexation, it is ever clearer that Israel is intent on eliminating any prospects of Palestinian self-determination.”
The motion also noted a Trades Union Congress in 2020 that described Israel’s West Bank policies, including settlement building and what it charged was annexation, as “another significant step towards the UN Crime of Apartheid.”
Ahead of the vote, Steve McCabe, the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said that the motion was “too one-sided.”
Palestinian Authority official Husam Zomlot praised the motion in a Facebook post on Monday: "A victory for international values and morals."
KABUL: The Taliban said on Tuesday they will temporarily adopt a 1964 constitution that granted women the right to vote but eliminate any elements they disagree with.
The Taliban's acting justice minister issued a statement saying the Islamists planned to introduce a constitution used during Afghanistan's short-lived golden age of democracy, but only briefly and with amendments.
"The Islamic Emirate will adopt the constitution of the former King Mohammad Zahir Shah's time for a temporary period," Mawlavi Abdul Hakim Sharaee said.
But anything in the text found to conflict with Sharia law and the principles of the Islamic Emirate would be discarded, he added.
Afghanistan's Constitution of 1964
In the Name of God, The Almighty and The Just. To achieve justice and equality;
To establish political, economic and social democracy;
To organize the functions of the State and its branches to ensure liberty and welfare of the individual and the maintenance of the general order;
To achieve a balanced development of all phases of life in Afghanistan; and
To form, ultimately, a prosperous and progressive society based on social
co-operation and preservation of human dignity; We, the people of Afghanistan, conscious of the historical changes which have occurred in our life as a nation and as a part of human society, while considering the above-mentioned values to be the right of all human societies, have framed this Constitution for ourselves and the generations to come
Article 25: General guarantee of equality
The people of Afghanistan, without any discrimination or preference, have equal rights and obligations before the law. Article 26
- Liberty is the natural right of the human being. This right has no limitations except the liberty of others and public interest as defined by the law.
- The Liberty and dignity of the human being are inviolable and inalienable.
- The State has the duty to respect and protect the liberty and dignity of the individual.
- No one may be punished except by the order of a competent court rendered after an open trial held in the presence of the accused.
- Innocence is the original state; the accused is considered to be innocent unless found guilty by a final judgement of a court of law.
- Crime is a personal deed. Pursuit, arrest or detention of the accused and the execution of sentence against him does not affect any other person.
- Torturing a human being is not permissible. No one can torture or issue orders to torture a person even for the sake of discovering facts, even if the person involved is under pursuit, arrest or detention or is condemned to a sentence.
- Imposing punishment incompatible with human dignity is not permissible.
The Charter of Medina, also known as the Constitution of Medina or of Yathrib, was drafted by the Islamic prophet Muhammad shortly after his arrival at Medina (then known as Yathrib) in 622 CE. This was the first written constitution in the history of the world.
The constitution formed the basis of a multi-religious Islamic state in Medina. The Charter provided a federal structure with a centralized authority, with the various tribes in various districts constituting a unit and enjoying autonomy in certain matters of a social, cultural and religious character.
The document ensured freedom of religious beliefs and practices for all citizens who "follow the believers". It assured that representatives of all parties, Muslim or non-Muslim, should be present when consultation occurs or in cases of negotiation with foreign states.
The Charter of Medina also instituted peaceful methods of dispute resolution among diverse groups, living as one people but without assimilating into one religion, language, or culture. (Wikipedia info)
AMMAN — The two-day Jordanian-Syrian ministerial meeting that Amman hosted over to enhance economic cooperation between the countries was concluded on Tuesday. The committee is composed of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Syrian Ministry of Electricity.
Ministers on both sides highlighted the importance of a plan to increase economic cooperation between Amman and Damascus and address any obstacles facing commercial exchange and transport. The ministers called for enhancing partnerships in the energy, water and agricultural fields.
In the trade and industry field, both sides agreed to exchange lists of priority commodities to enhance commercial exchange. The sides also overviewed the necessary procedures to reopen the Jordanian-Syrian Free Zone.
The two sides also overviewed cooperation in the energy and electricity fields and means to reactivate the Jordanian-Syrian electric connection line. They emphasised drawing a map to rehabilitate the damaged power grid in Syria.
Following the meetings, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Bisher Al Khasawneh received the Syrian ministerial delegation and highlighted the importance of enhancing cooperation and coordination between the countries in several fields, in a way that serves joint interests.
The United States has no plans to “normalise or upgrade” diplomatic relations with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and also does not encourage others to do so, a US State Department spokesperson has said.
“Assad has regained no legitimacy in our eyes, and there is no question of the US normalising relations with his government at this time,” the spokesperson said in an email on Wednesday.
The comments came in response to questions from the Reuters news agency on whether Washington was encouraging and supporting a rapprochement between Jordan and Syria after Jordan fully reopened its main border crossing with Syria on Wednesday.
The move was to boost the countries’ struggling economies and reinforce a push by Arab states to reintegrate Syria after it was shunned during the civil war.
Arab states cut ties with Syria during the civil war. US-allied Arab states, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates backed opposition groups fighting al-Assad.
The UAE and Syria restored diplomatic ties in 2018.
The Egyptian and Syrian foreign ministers met on Friday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, in what Egyptian media said was the first meeting at that level for about 10 years. Officials in Jordan, a US ally, and Lebanon have urged Washington to ease sanctions on Syria.
Vladimir Putin had a meeting with President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Bocharov Ruchey residence in Sochi
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
Mr President, I would like to thank you for accepting my invitation to come to Russia. I am delighted that our relations continue to develop and are progressing in a positive manner. Our related agencies are working with each other on a regular basis and in all spheres.
Our talks are sometimes not easy, but their outcome is always positive. Our agencies have learned to find compromises that benefit both parties.
Investments are increasing on both sides. Accumulated Turkish investments in the Russian economy have reached $1.5 billion, while Russian investments in the Turkish economy reached $6.5 billion. Major projects are being implemented, and everything is proceeding to plan. TurkStream, a gas pipeline system to Turkey and transit deliveries to South European countries, has been launched in full and is working well.
In this connection, I would like to thank you once again for your consistent stand on the construction of this gas pipeline system, which meets the interests of the Turkish people and Russia. Now that we can see quite complicated and turbulent processes on the European gas market, Turkey feels absolutely confident and stable in this respect.
Work on the Akkuyu nuclear power station is also proceeding according to the schedule.
We are cooperating quite successfully on the international stage, including on Syria and our contacts held to coordinate our positions on Libya.
The Joint Russian-Turkish centre monitoring the ceasefire on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia is working actively, and this collaboration is a major guarantee of stability and of coordination of the sides’ positions on the further steps towards reconciliation.
However, there are very many unsettled matters. I am glad to see you in Russia, because it is impossible to discuss everything over the phone.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan:
My dear friend, I am happy to be able to meet with you face to face, just as we had planned.
It is notable that Turkish-Russian relations, including political, economic, trade, military and defence, as well as industrial ties, are progressing, which is obvious.
Despite a minor decline in our mutual trade, they are moving forward positively.
You have mentioned this, and I would like to point out that I have visited Akkuyu, where a nuclear power station is being built, and I can say that its construction is proceeding according to plan.
Hard work is ongoing there. I can tell you that 13,000 people are working there: 10,000 Turkish citizens and 3,000 Russian citizens. It should also be said that nearly every one of our personnel have been trained in Russia. This is exactly why our relations continue to grow ever stronger. Our joint moves on the Syrian problem are very important as well. Peace in that region depends on Turkish-Russian relations.
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