Christians suffered from the overthrow of secular leaders
"I know my shortcomings"
Religious dogma is all about “unchallengeable truth"
Politics mainly deals with reality, but reality is constantly changing. It seems that change is the only thing we can be sure about.
Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “The only constant thing is change.” Nevertheless, religious dogma is all about “unchallengeable truth”.
Heywood believes: “the pursuit of religious fundamentalists is to apply religious ideas in all aspects of life; even science has to be related to what God says.” They use technology to a great extent, but they do not believe in science. They use religious text to explain scientific information...
Fundamentalists vehemently try to change reality completely. They are seeking to build a new society.. They see the established society as infidel and vicious. In their attempts to change the status quo, they have to encounter the existing power.
Economic factors and education that support critical thinking may help eradicate the radical fundamental mindset that the western world suffered from once.
Will the current Egyptian government and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi realise that security issues have to be resolved alongside real development?
Development needs to encompass all areas supportive of creating a real Egyptian mindset that can stand tall and confident against the barbaric attacks of radical groups.
Jesus called a little child to stand among them.
“Truly I tell you, He said, “unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest
in the kingdom of heaven... (Matthew 18:3)
the right to be young
Any fair-minded examination of all these events, and any deep reading of the intellectual and political discourses of these groups, must lead to the conclusion that there is an intellectual source to it, connected one way or another to regressive Salafist Islamic schools that look upon contemporary world issues through a seventh-century lens, and which do not give any consideration to the enormous developments in human life in all its respects, nor respect the principle that Islam is valid for all times and places.
A validity, that is, that assumes a continuous development in the system of jurisprudence, and that one should not stop at some threshold established by the pious Salaf [‘Ancestors’] who, in their own era, exercised independent legal reasoning and forged the required and necessary harmony between the requirements of the religion and the interests of people at the time.
make them mean and old: "all they achieved was to furnish traditional salafism"
Not long ago, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said the following: "Daesh is not only a terrorist organization, but a malicious idea. It is an ideology which Daesh themselves espouse, and which al-Qaeda also espouses... We must confront this evil ideology with an enlightened, open-minded thought, one that can accept and co-exist with the other, an enlightened conception of our Islamic, Abrahamic religion... We have to convince them that God created us for the purpose of building the earth, not for destroying it."
The question of the moment is how to apply and implement these inspiring visions on the ground.
What is clearly demanded is an answer to the following questions: Which institutions of state and society are to be entrusted with the renewal of religious discourse... Is this to be done through the same institutions that spawned this thinking in the first place and fostered its luminaries? Or do we need to look for new institutions and new tools?
Should we leave the citizens’ media and culture to the domination of terrorists, even tacitly? Or to sheikhs and some intellectuals who seem to admire the daily diet of slaughter, so as to spite America and the West...
Or should we initiate new institutions with new people who can undertake religious renewal and present this to people in a convincing, positive way?
we must confront this evil ideology with an enlightened, open-minded thought
The predominance of conservatives in the official religious institutions continues to constitute a font of intellectual terrorism. This requires state intervention at the very heart of the equation..
There is a gap between the aspirations of the people and the current level of human development and, on the other hand, the conservative, traditional heritage. It is a gap that needs more daring and capable personalities to be brought to prominence:
People who can reform the inherited jurisprudential methodologies that have, with the passage of time, acquired an infallibility, despite the fact that Islam rejects at the very outset granting a human being any religious authority, and has denounced such a thing in other religions, as stated in the verse: They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks [Qur’ān IX, 31]
There is a significant role for a responsible media to play in supporting the desired change...
And it is not only the media that needs to keep up and disseminate a modern conception of the faith, one based on the enrooting of the values of love and the refutation of takfiri arguments within this same religion.
Indeed, there is a pressing need to expand specialist capacities for dealing with jihadist takfiri thought in research centres and publishing houses, and for convening ongoing conferences for those concerned with this.
And to guarantee the greatest possible success a coordination and cooperation should be secured with their counterpart agencies in Arab and non-Arab countries alike.
Syrian girl (MBC The VoiceKids 2016)
You Will always Be in Our Hearts
As Christmas and the New Year approach, 150 children from the Schools of Sons and Daughters of Martyrs sang joy and love songs within an activity held Monday under the title "You will always be in our hearts".
Director-General of the Martyr's Sons and Daughters Schools Shahira Falloh highly appreciated the activity for bringing joy to children.... She thanked civil community and every Syrian expatriate that stands by the homeland.
Kerry meets Assad, 21-2-2009
Assad called for dialogue and told Kerry that America should refrain from dictating its views to others, as such policy "has been proven ineffective." (YNetNews 2009)
Roosevelt, 'a Holocaust-denier'?
The US government (Roosevelt) and the UK-government (Churchill-Eden) never bombed 'death-camps', because all intelligence-reports told them there were NO deathcamps & NO gas-chambers. All they saw were concentrationcamps, inhabited by 'innocent people' who suffered a lot, but.. they were not systematically killed.
"Roosevelt forcefully rejected bombing Auschwitz on the grounds that it 'wouldn't do any good' to kill innocent people. 'I won't have anything to do with it...' (Washington Post 2002)
In the summer of 1944 the Allied Forces bombed railway transportlines to Auschwitz to stop the deportation of Hungary Jews, at the request of Hungarian Jews organisations. They didn't bomb the camps.
I'm not surprised that Keith Ellison has a strong chance of heading the Democratic Party, because he really represents its policies:
“The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people
A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million,” said Ellison, D-Minn. “Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right?"
Ellison is now trying to clean up his image, but it doesn't change the essence of Ellison...
For those who fear the Republicans because of the old KKK connections, get real. The BDS and pro-Palestinian groups are much, much larger and a greater danger to democracy, world peace and Israel.
Ku Klux Klan movements called for the "purification" of American society, and are considered right wing extremist organizations. They advocated white (protestant) supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration, and, especially in later iterations anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism. (Wikipedia)
Ever since he announced his candidacy to lead the Democratic National Committee, Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, has been the target of a defamation campaign that is deceitful, repugnant, and yet quite predictable.
At first expressed in whispers, but now being yelled from the rooftops by some of the party’s most influential figures, Ellison is being smeared as both an anti-Semite and enemy of Israel — the same smears virtually any critic of the Israeli government reflexively encounters, rendered far worse if the critic is a prominent American Muslim...
He said in a 2010 speech that while he “wanted the U.S. to be friends with Israel,” the U.S. “can’t allow another country to treat us like we’re their ATM.”
As the full speech makes clear, he was referring to the indisputable fact that while Israel continues to take billions of dollars every year from the U.S. it continually disregards and violates U.S. requests to stop ongoing expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, often in ways seemingly designed to impose the greatest humiliation on its benefactor:
"Why are we sending $2.8 billion dollars a year over there when they won’t even honor our request to stop building in East Jerusalem? Where is the future Palestinian state going to be if it’s colonized before it even gets up off the ground?
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- United States Secretary of State John Kerry delivered harsh criticism of the Israeli government's settlement expansion policies at the Saban Forum in Washington D.C. on Sunday.
Kerry harshly criticized Israel's controversial “formalization" bill -- that would see dozens of illegal Israeli outposts in the occupied West Bank retroactively legalized and thousands of dunams of privately-owned Palestinian land seized. The bill was scheduled to be voted on by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, later on Monday.
Kerry continued in his talk to say that Israel "is ignoring all our warnings regarding settlements,” adding that “things were moving in the wrong direction.”
He said Israel’s right-wing government and ministers did not want and were not working towards a two-state solution, which the United States and other foreign peace brokers have been regarding for decades as the ideal solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Kerry called statement’s like that of Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, who said the “era of the Palestinian state is over” following the election of US President-Elect Donald Trump, “profoundly disturbing.”
“More than 50 percent of the ministers in the current (Israeli) government have publicly stated they are opposed to a Palestinian state and there will be no Palestinian state. So this is the predicament. This is where we find ourselves,” Kerry said.
Kerry highlighted that every sitting American president, both Democrat and Republican, has been opposed to settlement building.
“We issue a warning today when we see a new settlement announced. Nothing happens. It’s ignored (by the Israeli government), a new settlement goes up. New units, new sales.”
The continued expansion of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law, has caused an “erosion” in the peace process in the past, and continues to “narrow and narrow the capacity for peace,” according to Kerry.
John Kerry just couldn't resist. Even though his pubic career is about to end -- even though the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" is long dead -- Kerry just could not resist unleashing one final blast at Israel.
Kerry's disingenuous and mean-spirited attack on Israel at the Saban Forum on Sunday served as a powerful reminder of how good it is that he is about to leave office -- and how dangerous for Israel it would have been if he had remained as secretary of state.
"There will be no advance and no separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and Palestinian peace," Kerry absurdly declared.
Apparently he has forgotten that Israel already has separate peace treaties with two of the four neighboring Arab states, Egypt and Jordan.
Israel does not need a peace treaty with Lebanon, and Israel has nothing to gain from a peace treaty with Syria, since Syria is no longer a functioning state. So what "peace with the Arab world" is Kerry blabbering about? Does Israel really need the recognition of Morocco or Qatar?
Kerry also rambled off into a long denunciation of "the settlements" for supposedly "blocking peace."
He said how bothered he was that Israel has ignored his "warnings" about settlements. Maybe one of the reasons Israel has ignored those "warnings" is that Israelis are sick and tired of Kerry's hypocritical lecturing... He acts as if it's a given that a Jew residing in Judea-Samaria or many parts of Jerusalem is illegal...
Great Israel is a 'democracy' because the Palestinian majority
will never get civil rights. They are not and never will be Israeli citizens.
At the Saban Forum, Kerry also launched into another tired recitation of the claim that Israel's "can't be both democratic and Jewish" unless it permits creation of a Palestinian state.
"There are more Arabs than Jews living between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River," Kerry pompously asserted, as if Israelis are unaware of that questionable fact, which demographic changes are altering.
Yes, there are a lot of Arabs living in those territories. But they're not Israeli citizens...
There is no threat to Israel's democratic majority, because non-citizens don't vote in Israel--just as they don't vote in the United States or any other country. The "demographic threat" is a myth.
Read also: Palestine-USA-relations (Wikipedia info)
|Eretz Israel, Spiritual Center of Judaism|
The Religious Zionists of America (RZA) is an ideological and educational organization that aims to instill in the American Jewish community a commitment to Religious Zionism.|
Religious Zionism is an ideology based on the synthesis of a Jewish religious and national outlook and is dedicated to the preservation of Jewish political freedom, the enhancement of Jewish religious life in the land of Israel, and the promotion of Aliyah.
The movement is inspired by the slogans of Mizrachi, “The Land of Israel, for the People of Israel, According to the Torah of Israel,” and Hapoel Hamizrachi, “Torah Va’Avodah” (Torah and Labor).
Mizrachi (a Hebrew abbreviation of merkaz ruchani – “spiritual center”) was founded by Rabbi Isaac Jacob Reines in 1902 to serve as an umbrella organization for the Religious Zionist movement.
The Mizrachi party envisioned itself as the spiritual center of the Zionist organization and desired to make Eretz Israel the spiritual center of Judaism.
In light of the climate for Jewish students on the campuses of secular American colleges, the RZA works to strengthen and support Yavneh Olami, the religious Zionist campus organization in the battle against anti-Zionist and assimilationist forces on these campuses. (RZA Website)
"The commandment of settling Eretz Yisrael, which is one of the commandments of God which cannot be measured in value, has been the subject of hundreds of statements made by our sages in regard to the elevated holiness of the Land... "
What Is Spirituality?
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump returned Tuesday to his vision of a non-interventionist foreign policy for the United States, saying as he did during his campaign, that he does not want to have American forces fighting "in areas that we shouldn't be fighting in."
Speaking during a "thank you" rally for his supporters in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Trump said instead his focus will be on defeating terrorists, including the Islamic State group.
"We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn't be involved with," Trump said. He said the U.S. must end what he called a "destructive cycle of intervention and chaos."
Trump pledged to build up the military, but said the purpose would be to project strength, not aggression.
At the same rally, Trump formally announced he has chosen retired Marine General James Mattis as his nominee for secretary of defense:
"Under his leadership, such an important position, we will rebuild our military and alliances, destroy terrorists, face our enemies head on and make America safe again," Trump said.
Michael O'Hanlon, a senior defense expert at the Brookings Institution, called Mattis "one of the best read, best informed and most experienced generals of his generation."
James Mattis & The Wisdom Book Ecclesiastes
- Question: You often quote Ecclesiastes 1:9: “There is nothing new under the sun.” What does it mean to you?
- James Mattis: Read about history, and you become aware that nothing starts with us. It started long ago.
If you read enough biography and history, you learn how people have dealt successfully or unsuccessfully with similar situations or patterns in the past. It doesn’t give you a template of answers, but it does help you refine the questions you have to ask yourself. Further, you recognize there is nothing so unique that you’ve got to go to extraordinary lengths to deal with it.
- Q: How would you answer critics who accuse you of espousing “old school” values?
- A: It takes a military with what could be considered old-fashioned values or quaint values to protect the country. There’s always going to be a bit of a tension, a dynamic that has to be understood by those responsible for leading a progressive America that does not want to be militarized yet needs certain military attributes for protection. (History Net)
TEHRAN (FNA) - Syrian Army troops and popular forces are now in control of at least 85 percent of Eastern Aleppo districts, hitting hard the positions of Jeish al-Fatah coalition of terrorist groups in the few remaining districts still under their control, field sources disclosed minutes ago.
The sources said that the army men and popular forces are on the verge of driving terrorist out of the entire neighborhoods of Aleppo city after their victories against militants in the Northeastern districts and recapture of a major part of the districts in the Southeast.
"Terrorists are now trapped in a small area after pulling back forces from the districts in on the Eastern sides of the Citadel of Aleppo and the entire Old Aleppo quarter," they added. "They are retreating towards the neighborhoods of al-Kalasa, Bostan al-Qasr (Bustan al-Kaser), al-Ansari, al-Mash'had, al-Sukri, al-Salehin, Karam al-Da'ada, al-Nezha and a small part of Sheikh Saeed that have remained thus far under their control," the sources went on to say.
A 100-member group of militants from the Jeish al-Fatah coalition gave up fight and surrendered themselves to the army on Wednesday in areas South of the Old Aleppo quarter in Southeastern Aleppo.
The number of militants trying to apply for government amnesty is on the rise, while only a rapidly shrinking 10 sq/km area has remained under their control in the Eastern neighborhoods.
Rifts are widening among Syrian and non-Syrian militants as Damascus has vowed to grant amnesty to Syrian fighters.
Non-Syrian terrorists want to continue battle against government forces, while others want to negotiate with the army for their final evacuation from the city.
Nusra Front militants, who are currently calling themselves 'Jabhat Fateh al-Sham', are being surrounded by government troops and have agreed to leave the city of Aleppo through the northern corridor, towards the Castello road, the Hezbollah-owned TV Channel Al-Manar reported on Thursday.
The TV Channel reported this information with reference to mediators who were getting in touch with Syrian commanders on militants’ behalf.
According to the TV Channel, the Syrian government troops are now preparing for an assault on the grouping’s last stronghold near Bustan Al-Qasr and have delivered a series of powerful strikes against the terrorists’ fire emplacements and command posts.
According to a TV Channel, the Syrian government troops are now preparing for an assault on the grouping’s last stronghold near Bustan Al-Qasr....
Meantine, a field commander announced that many terrorist groups in Syria now believe in negotiations or contact with the government, but their only problem is the lack of a single leader to make the final decision.
Still the same - Nothing Has Changed
Yusuf Qaradawi (enemy of Arab Nationalism). Gaza 2013
- Question: On northern Syria, you said in a previous interview that federalism is an issue that will be decided by the people, but on the ground, there are certain manifestations of federalism in the north...
- President Assad: The scene is very diverse and complicated... They take advantage of the absence of the state in a number of areas in the north in order to create specific social structures, which take a political form, in order to manage people’s affairs, and they talk about federalism. These are temporary structures.
As far as we are concerned as a state, we accept whatever the Syrian people accepts, and I don’t think that the Syrian people accept federalism anywhere in Syria.
- Question: On delegations visiting Syria, there were security delegations visiting Syria, including French, German, and Belgian delegations. What is the truth? Why do they come to Syria while they are in a state of hostility towards it?
- President Assad: What happened in the West is that the political forces which stood against Syria, I mean the forces in power, went too far in their lies.
When it was proven that what we used to say was true and that they started to pay the price for the Syrian earthquake and the Arab earthquake in general, they couldn’t stand up and tell their people that we were wrong and that we need to build relations with Syria and change our positions.
They started with the bottom line, which is sending their security officials to Syria in order to have security cooperation in order to protect their people... We told them that this doesn’t make sense. We cannot help you in the security field while you are acting against us in the same area. At the same time, we cannot cooperate with you on security issues while you are acting against us on the political level to say the least...
They want to move steps forward, but American pressure pushes them back to square one every time. They need to be independent of America, and this is not possible now. America is putting pressure on them and preventing many things from happening.
- Question: Mr. President, there is a reconciliation process carried out by the Russians inside Syria, and the latest figure given by Hmeimim might exceed a thousand villages and towns which signed reconciliations with the Syrian state. All these reconciliations might be a better alternative to the Geneva dialogue, or is it a completely different process?
- President Assad: True, it is a different process, and a real and practical solution, with negative and positive aspects, but the only available solution in parallel with striking the terrorists. It has proved its efficacy during the past two or three years, and started to accelerate. It is a solution that protected the civilians, protected the infrastructure as far as possible, or let’s say prevented more destruction of the infrastructure and offered the militants an opportunity to change course and embrace the state... If these reconciliations have improved reality for the population, it means they are good.
Question: There are many Syrians who criticize these reconciliations because not everyone approves of letting terrorists or killers leave certain areas and walk away as if nothing has happened.
President Assad: That’s true. When there is blood, there is intense polarization in communities. Moderation almost disappears. But I can say that the majority support these reconciliations.
- Question: There is talk about holding a national forum and dialogue in Damascus and creating the Damascus platform in which members of the opposition from inside and outside Syria take part. Do you support creating this platform in Damascus?
- President Assad: Of course, we support dialogue as a principle. We support dialogue between the Syrians when it is a Syrian-Syrian dialogue between Syrians who do not belong to foreign agendas and do not support terrorism. We support any dialogue of that nature.
- Question: Mr. President, the economic file might be the most difficult. Are we in a state of war economy?
- President Assad: Of course, we live in a state of war, and our economy is in a state of war in every sense of the word, starting with the sanctions. We cannot export, but we are exporting despite the will of some countries, in different ways. We are prevented from importing the necessary raw materials essential for our economy and for the different aspects of life in Syria. Nevertheless, we are able to bring them.
- Question: what can restore the health of the Syrian economy and bring back qualified Syrians in order to work and build Syria again?
- President Assad: The most important element of the economy in any state in the world after war is reconstruction, and this is a huge economy where hundreds of professions find opportunity. This reflects indirectly on all other professions. In other words, the country’s economy is launched initially on reconstruction, with Syrians’ money, starting with every person who wants to repair his house, factory, workshop, etc., this is not theoretical, it is happening now...
Then, particularly when security and safety are restored, a lot of Syrian money will come back to the country, and many of the Syrians who immigrated will return. And these people have different economic capabilities. The return of such people, with their qualifications, whether economically or professionally, will contribute to the restoration of the Syrian economy.
At the same time, we as a state, are not starting from square one. We have the capacities, and the Syrian economy has never been based on foreigners. The Syrian economy is Syrian in every sense of the word. These capacities will return, and we will start the process.
- Question: Mr. President, on the question of Baath Party, at the beginning of the crisis or the war, there was an idea of developing party discourse in order to make it more coherent or closer to party members...Has it started or is it at the planning stage?
- President Assad: What was meant by party discourse at that time, is what is called the theoretical principles which used to form the party doctrine. The theoretical principles which emerged decades earlier were not in line with the pre-war period, let alone now. We had prepared a comprehensive study and we were about to propose it to the party grassroots in order to be discussed before being approved. Then came the war.
Now, this is no longer a priority. The priority now is party practice through selecting good officials, fighting corruption, communicating with different social sections inside and outside the party, in the cities, villages, and neighborhoods... Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should not change the party discourse soon.
- Question: Mr. President, since the beginning of the war, and from day one, all those who visited you were inspired by a feeling of victory, even if it happened after a while. Even in the hardest of times, you were always optimistic. Where do you get this feeling and this confidence from while you are facing an aggression waged by the strongest states of the world?
- President Assad: First of all, I am in touch with the Syrian society with all its sections. I have always done this for a long time, and before I became President and before and after the war. This communication hasn’t stopped. I got used to communicating with the people. This gives you an amazing idea about resilience, holding on to the homeland, the desire to live. It gives you a state of prevention so that you are not influenced by any state of frustration.
That’s why I haven’t really reached, at any stage of the crisis, any single moment of frustration. I have the Syrian people, with all its sections, to thank for this.
- Question: Has the war changed Bashar al-Assad?
- President Assad: In the personal sense, I haven’t changed. On the contrary, I believe that the more circumstances push you away from your normal life, the more you should try as much as you can to stay closer to the life you live on the personal level and on the level of dealing with people. On the personal level, I may believe that I’m closer to people and closer to their understanding more so because of the conditions of the war.
On the official level, as a President or an official, there is a slight change, and not radical despite the radical nature of the war, because the base of this war is a conspiracy against Syria and subjugating it...
The conditions which we have lived since the Palestinian Intifada are still the same and developing. We started with the Intifada, then came 9/11, then the attack on Afghanistan, the occupation of Iraq, the assassination of Hariri and its repercussions, until what they call the honeymoon between 2008 and 2011 which were full of hypocrisy and pressure.
Nothing has changed except the volume of the attack and the fact that the instruments became different. I haven’t changed on the personal and official levels except at a minimum.
Syrian residents fleeing the violence gather at a checkpoint, manned by pro-government forces,
in the village of Aziza on the southwestern outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo (8-12-2016)
The Syrian army suspended combat operations in Aleppo on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. About 8,500 people, including 2,900 children, were able to leave militant-controlled areas in the Syrian city of Aleppo in the past 24 hours.
“Combat operations by the Syrian army in east Aleppo have been suspended because the largest operation of evacuation of civilians from east Aleppo is being carried out. A column of about 8 thousand people, it’s a tremendous operation,” Lavrov said.
According to Russian center for Syrian reconciliation's statement, over a dozen militants who had been operating in Aleppo received amnesty after laying down arms. "Fourteen militants, laying down arms, walked out to the western part of the city towards Syrian troops, Sputnik reports. In accordance with the decision of the Syrian president all of them were granted amnesty.
Russian servicemen have demined about 6 hectares (almost 15 acres) of residential blocks in eastern Aleppo.
"The clearance of explosives has been fully completed in residential areas over a total area of six hectares. The central water pumping station has been demined and rebuilt, two power substations have been demined, as well as schools and two mosques," the center said in a Friday statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Over recent months, Aleppo has become a major battleground in Syria, which has been in the state of civil war since 2011.
Syrian government forces have been fighting against multiple opposition and terrorist groups, including the Islamic State (IS, ISIS and Daesh) and Jabhat Fatah al Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, or Nusra Front.
Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa al-Barghouti, on Tuesday, said the legitimization of settlement outposts, by the Israeli Knesset, is “a war on the Palestinian people.”
In a press statement, the leader of the Palestinian National Initiative said that the misappropriation of private Palestinian land in favor of illegal settlements amounts to “a death sentence against the longed-for Palestinian State.”
According to the PNN, he slammed the Israeli government as a “fascist body” that enforces policies of apartheid, racial oppression, and land grab across the occupied Palestinian territories.
Al-Barghouthi called for a unified national strategy to face up to the Israeli occupation, and for ceasing all forms of normalization and coordination with such a colonizing entity.
According to al-Barghouti, Palestinians should no longer lay a bet on “stalled peace talks” with the Israeli occupation and the so-called two-state solution, dubbing them as signs of “hypocrisy” and an involvement in Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. “The Palestinians are determined to retrieve their freedom and dignity no matter the price,” he vowed.
An Israeli bill legitimizing illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank passed its first reading in the Knesset on Monday, with 60 MKs voting in favor of the bid, while 49 vetoed it.
The bid will culminate in the legalization of 4,000 settlement units, along with dozens of other isolated houses and will also bring about a legalization of 3,125 illegal settlement units established on Palestinian lands, covering an overall area of 5,014 dunams.
Saudi Arabia plans to remove the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from terrorist lists. The group was banned in the kingdom in March 2014.
Senior-level sources stated that there has recently been discussions and meetings held in London, Riyadh, and Istanbul between Muslim Brotherhood officials and representatives of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz’s government resulting in the possibility of removing the group’s name from the terrorist lists in exchange for understandings between Saudi Arabia and the Brotherhood’s international organisation.
The sources noted that the decision expected to be made soon will be followed by a group of measures including lifting the restrictions imposed on individuals affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood inside Saudi Arabia, unfreezing millions of dollars belonging to the individuals in Saudi banks, and removing any obstacles preventing individuals affiliated with the group from entering Saudi territories.
They added that Egyptian-Saudi relations have been tense since Egypt voted in favour of a Russian project regarding the situation in Syria in the UN Security Council. Saudi Arabia responded to the vote by stopping oil shipments to Egypt. This may have contributed to facilitating the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission to normalise relations with Riyadh.
According to the sources, the normalisation of relations between Saudi Arabia and the Brotherhood will not be limited to removing the group’s name from the terrorist lists, but will be followed by political support for the group and the intervention of international parties to impose a reconciliation with the Egyptian government...
Muslim Brotherhood Statement: 'No reconciliation'
Recently, dubious media outlets, as well as certain individuals on social networks, have been endeavoring to tarnish the image of the Muslim Brotherhood and its leaders...
Bashar al-Assad 2013:
Colonialism has been successful in creating separatist groups that consider their ideologies and values as solely and legitimately representing the country and hence rejecting all other groups. This success has not happened overnight, but rather during several stages...
Flashback 2011: Arab League undermines last fortress of pan-Arabism
Professor Daoud Khairallah of Georgetown University, Washington, said in an interview with Press TV on Saturday that the Arab League (Saudi-Arabia & Qatar) is seeking to “create more discord within Syria, encouraging certain parts against others.”
On Saturday, the Arab League announced the suspension of Syria and called for sanctions to be imposed on the country.
Professor Jamal al-Rifai from the Cairo-based Ein Shams University stressed that the conspiracy hatched against Syria is very tightened and aims at undermining the last fortress of pan-Arabism in the region. (ChamPress 13-11-2011)
The head of the British intelligence agency MI6, Alex Younger, has said cyber-attacks, propaganda and subversion from hostile states pose a “fundamental threat” to European democracies, including the UK.
In a rare speech by an MI6 chief while in office, Younger did not specifically name Russia but left no doubt that this was the target of his remarks.
He did mention Russia in relation to Syria, portraying Russian military support for the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, in the takeover of Aleppo and elsewhere as potentially creating a long-term problem that could increase radicalisation.
“In Aleppo, Russia and the Syrian regime seek to make a desert and call it peace. The human tragedy is heartbreaking,” Younger said.
Younger delivered the speech at the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service, the official name for MI6, at Vauxhall Cross in central London. He ran through various threats posed to the UK other than cyber-security, noting that counter-terrorism, his speciality, had been a niche concern when he began his career but had now become central.
“As I speak, the highly organised external attack-planning structures within Daesh [the preferred government name for Islamic State], even as they face military threat, are plotting ways to project violence against the UK and our allies without ever having to leave Syria.”
aleppo 2014, 'moderate rebels', defending a 'legitimate case'
American lawmakers have introduced a so-called Stop Arming Terrorists Act that aims to protect US taxpayers’ dollars from being spent on supporting and arming international terrorist groups through covert operations and third states.
Introduced to the House on by Democrat Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, the legislature aims to put an end to the widely-reported US practice of indirectly sponsoring terrorism.
Furthermore, the act, which is being supported by the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and the US Peace Council, wants to make it illegal for Washington to provide assistance to any third nation that sponsors terrorists.
Tulsi Gabbard said that it is illegal for America to provide terror groups with money or assistance:
“If you or I gave money, weapons or support to Al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the US government has been violating the law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of Al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government,” Gabbard said.
The 35-year-old went on to accuse the CIA of providing weapons and money to terrorist groups all over the world through covert operations with the help of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, amongst others. She referred to recent articles by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to back up her claims.
“The CIA has long been supporting a group called Fursan al Haqq.. This group is cooperating with and fighting alongside an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group... The Levant Front is another so-called moderate umbrella group... This group has joined forces with Al-Qaeda’s offshoot group in Syria,” she said.
“This madness must end. We must stop arming terrorists. The government must end this hypocrisy and abide by the same laws that apply to its citizens,” she concluded.
President Al-Sisi should propose parliament annuls the blasphemy law,
or else his call for religious reform will come to naught.
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
A new generation of thinkers such Islam Al-Beheiri, poet Fatima Naoot and young novelist Ahmed Nagi are among the latest victims of the blasphemy law that keeps Egyptian writers and reformers on a tight leash. These thinkers are at the mercy of any fame-chasing lawyer who can sue them for blasphemy and heresy.
The flamboyant reformer Islam Al-Beheiri defied all taboos and attempted to cleanse Islamic faith literature being taught in Al-Azhar University that carries similar ideologies to those of Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State group, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, Al-Azhar waged a propaganda and legal war against him. Al-Beheiri was sent to trial for blasphemy and libel in a trial which ended with Al-Beheiri sentenced to one year in prison. He was jailed for the crime of actually enlightening Muslims about their true faith.
Meanwhile, poet Fatima Naoot and novelist Ahmed Nagi are being tried, and imprisoned in the case of Nagi, according to the same law for simply expressing individual opinions about religious issues.
Only a late presidential pardon saved Al-Beheiri from continuing his prison sentence. Nevertheless, Naoot was sentenced for six months in prison in November 2016 and Nagi is serving his prison sentence until today.
Thus far, Al-Azhar’s efforts towards religious reform are simply cosmetic and do not delve deep inside the problem at all.
Al-Azhar is not as stern against the real enemies of Islam who are represented in the Muslim Brotherhood and other international jihadist groups that adopt Wahhabi doctrine.
Reformers, philosophers and creative minds have become valid targets for questionable lawyers, media anchors, and even judges.
These same are adopting a holier-than-thou attitude by bashing all Islamic reformers and thinkers who attempt to question the infiltration of Wahhabis and the ideologies of fundamentalist scholar Ibn Taymiya within the ranks of Egyptian clerics in general and especially Al-Azhar clerics.
President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s brave call for religious reform in Egypt earned him great respect worldwide.
However, If the president is unable to protect the nation’s thinkers from modern day “Holy Inquisitors”, then his call represents a form of entrapment to all reformers, modernists, writers and even common citizens who practice their lawful and constitutional rights of freethinking, creativity and voicing their own opinions.
The blasphemy law in Egypt remains a hanging Sword of Damocles that hinders imperative and extremely essential religious reform, along with modernisation of the Egyptian state.
The writer is a political analyst, writer and author of Egypt’s Arab Spring and Winding Road for Democracy.
Christmas Message in the Quran
Almost 18,000 residents have left the rebel-held parts of eastern Aleppo in the past 24 hours, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria says.
“The Russian Center for Reconciliation of the warring parties continues to assist local people leaving the areas that remain under militant control in eastern part of Aleppo. In the past 24 hours, some 17,971 residents, including 7,542 children, left the militant-controlled area with the assistance of the Russian Center for Reconciliation,” it said in a statement.
A total of 28 militants laid down their weapons and crossed into the western part of the city to surrender to Syrian government troops. In accordance with the Syrian president’s decision, they were amnestied.
Russian Army bomb disposal specialists continue to demine areas of the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo that have been liberated from rebel forces: “In the past 24 hours, they demined a total area of 8 hectares. In addition, 24 buildings have been cleared from explosive objects, including one bakery, two schools, two mosques, one power substation, and some 4.5km of roads,” the Center for Reconciliation said.
The Syrian Army is continuing their large-scale offensive in eastern Aleppo, targeting Al-Nusra Front and other radical militants still controlling the area.
“Fifty-two neighborhoods in east Aleppo have been recaptured from militants. In the past four days alone, the area held by militants has decreased by one-third. The Syrian Army now controls 93 percent of the city's territory,” the head of operations for Russia’s General Staff, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy, said on Friday.
President Bashar al-Assad received on Saturday participants in the permanent office of the Arab Lawyers Union (ALU) meeting currently held in Damascus under the title ”The Rights of States in Confronting Terrorism”.
The President said the ALU has a significant role, as it comprises educated and politically-enlightened elites who can have a role in returning the Arab street to the concept of national belonging...
The President added that the battle fought by the Syrian people is a “national battle par excellence”, because, he explained, one of the war’s goals was to strike the robust social fabric of the Syrian society.
The delegation members, for their part, said the current stage in the region is one of “intellectual struggle”, adding that the Arab nationalist thought must be disseminated to counteract an obscurantist ideology which seeks to invade Arab societies. This, they said, is needed for incapacitating the project which aims at fragmenting the Arab region along sectarian and ethnic schisms.
ALU, Pan-Arab Lawyers Union, founded in 1944, is comprised of 27 member bar associations and law societies in the Arab countries.
ALU uses all legal, intellectual and democratic means to: promote and protect the legal profession in the Arab world and to safeguard its independence; protect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the sovereignty of law; participate in the decolonization of the Arab Countries, fight against underdevelopment and dislocation in Arab countries in order to attain Arab unity.
Syrian Arab Army Song
I belong to the Republic of Syria
US President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp, as the country's top diplomat, a source familiar with the situation said on Saturday, an appointment that would put in place an official with close ties to the Russian government. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tillerson was the expected pick but cautioned no formal offer had yet been made.
The choice of Tillerson further stocks Trump's Cabinet and inner circle with people who favor a soft line toward Moscow.
Tillerson, 64, has driven Exxon's expansion in Russia for decades and opposed US sanctions imposed on Russia for its seizure of Crimea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Tillerson Russia's Order of Friendship, one of the country's highest civilian honors.
In 2011, Exxon signed a deal with Rosneft, Russia's largest state-owned oil company, for joint oil exploration and production. Since then, the companies have formed 10 joint ventures for projects in Russia.
In July, Tillerson was one of the highest-profile US representatives at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, one of Putin's main investment forums, even as Washington had been taking a harder line than Europe on maintaining sanctions.
Personal Integrity: Rex Tillerson issues a challenge
Speaking to CBS's 60 Minutes, Netanyahu sayd that he knows the US president-elect and is certain that he supports [right-wing] Israel and the [right-wing] Jews.
Libyan forces are trying to secure the city of Sirte after ousting Islamic State from its former North African stronghold in a battle that lasted nearly seven months. Here are some facts about Islamic State in Libya:
Islamic State drew on existing pockets of militancy in Libya, establishing its first major presence in Derna, an eastern city with a strong Islamist tradition.
It also profited from a security vacuum caused by the turmoil that followed Libya's 2011 revolution, and from 2014 a conflict between loose alliances of armed groups loyal to factions based in Tripoli and the east.
In October 2014 militants from al Qaeda-linked group Ansar al-Sharia who largely controlled Derna announced they were transferring their loyalty to Islamic State. Ansar al-Sharia members in several other parts of eastern and central Libya also switched allegiance.
Jihadists who returned from fighting in Syria with the Libyan al-Battar battalion also made up part of the jihadist group's initial presence in Libya.
Senior emissaries were sent to the country by Islamic State's leadership in Iraq, including former leader Abu Nabil al-Anbari, Bahraini preacher Turki Bin Ali, and Saudi national Abu Habib al-Jazrawi.
Islamic State affiliates appeared in several places in eastern Libya including Benghazi, the country's second-largest city, and Ajdabiya, close to some of Libya's main oil export terminals.
In Sirte, hometown of Muammar Gaddafi, Islamic State took full control in early 2015. The group eventually extended its presence along a coastal strip of about 250 km (155 miles) either side of the city.
Islamic State also established a presence in parts of Libya's vast southern desert, and built up sleeper cells in urban centers in northwestern regions including the capital, Tripoli.
Sabratha, a coastal city in the far west, became an important hub for Tunisian members of the jihadist group plotting attacks in their home country.
Among the first major attacks claimed by Islamic State in Libya was a January 2015 armed assault on the luxury Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli in which nine people were killed, including foreigners.
In the weeks that followed, Islamic State released videos of dozens of Christian hostages from Egypt and Eritrea being beheaded and shot in mass executions, two of which were carried out on beaches.
From February 2015, the militants also targeted Libya's oil facilities, causing extensive damage and further reducing the oil production on which the Libyan economy is highly dependant. In January 2016, attacks against major oil terminals at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf caused significant damage to storage tanks.
The same month, a bombing targeting police recruits in the north-western town of Zliten killed about 60 recruits, the highest death toll from a single attack since the 2011 uprising.
In early May the jihadists pushed north-west from Sirte towards Misrata, briefly capturing the small town of Abu Grain and several villages in the area. That advance triggered the counter-attack that developed into the campaign to recapture Sirte.
Opposition's Chief Negotiator Riad Hijab (who defected from Assad's regime in 2012), said on Monday 'the Assad regime's gains in Aleppo' will not force them to make concessions over their stance during a meeting with French President François Hollande in Paris.
Hijab, head of the Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee, also noted that they will continue striving for a true political transition in Syria.
In reference to the recent recapture of Palmyra from the Assad regime by Daesh, Hijab said: ''Assad forces act like lions against civilians in Aleppo, whereas they flee like rats in front Daesh in Palmyra.''
Hijab stressed that the current sectarian-based conflicts across the region are fed by the policies of Iran.
''Assad believes that he will force us to make compromise on our stance by making some military progress in the neighborhoods of Aleppo, that is not going to work that way,'' added Hijab.
Expressing great concern over the situation in Aleppo, Hollande noted: ''France will continue to back Syria's opposition in its fight against the Daesh terror group and other extremist groups, and at the same time against the Assad regime...''
Flashback 2012: "A suitcase full of cash"
Daraa 2011: Syria’s Islamist Insurrection in Disguise
Global Research, 5-7-2015: "In the case of Daraa, and the attacks that moved to Homs and surrounding areas in April 2011, the clearly stated aim was once again to topple the secular or ‘infidel-Alawi’ regime.
The front-line US collaborators were Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. The head of the Syrian Brotherhood, Muhammad Riyad Al-Shaqfa, issued a statement on 28 March which left no doubt that the group’s aim was sectarian.
The enemy was ‘the secular regime’ and Brotherhood members ‘have to make sure that the revolution will be pure Islamic, and with that no other sect would have a share of the credit after its success’ (Al-Shaqfa 2011). "
Read also: The start of the Syrian mess
"How can the parliamentarians convince the French public that their country is secular, yet at the same time it supports extremism and sectarianism in other parts of the world?
How can France advocate for democracy but yet one of its closest allies – Saudi Arabia – is still living in medieval times?"
"My message to the French Parliamentarians is: go back to the principles of the French Revolution that the whole world is proud of: Liberty, Justice, Equality."
Interview with Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun
The United States has worked to topple regimes and promote democracy in six countries in the greater Middle East: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Each attempt has been an abject failure...
This campaign has also made America’s terrorism problem worse: Al Qaeda has morphed and multiplied, and we are now at war with ISIS, which is largely a consequence of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq...
Spreading democracy, especially by force, almost always fails. It inevitably involves large-scale social engineering in societies that most Americans poorly understand...
The Trump administration should adopt a realist foreign policy. Realism is chiefly concerned with America’s position in the global balance of power, and it shuns doing social engineering inside other countries.
Instead, Washington would respect the sovereignty of other states even when it disagrees with their internal policies.
Americans prize their own sovereignty, which is why they recoiled at the idea that Russia might be interfering in the recent presidential election. The United States should treat other countries according to the same standard and respect their sovereignty as well.
Regarding Syria, Washington should let Moscow take the lead in shutting down that conflict, which means helping the Assad government reestablish control over most of the country.
A Syria run by Assad poses no threat to the United States; indeed, both Democratic and Republican presidents have long experience dealing with the Assad regime...
When word leaked that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, a holder of the Order of Friendship award in Putin’s Russia, was Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, John McCain had this thoughtful response: “Vladimir Putin is a thug, a bully, and a murderer and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.”
McCain was echoed by the senior Democrat on foreign relations, Bob Menendez, who said naming Tillerson secretary of state would be “alarming and absurd … guaranteeing Russia has a willing accomplice in the (Trump) Cabinet guiding our nation’s foreign policy.”
Sen Marco Rubio chimed in: “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a Secretary of State.”
Tillerson wants to end sanctions and partner with Putin’s Russia, as does Trump. But among many in the mainstream media, think tanks, websites, and on the Hill, this is craven appeasement. For such as these, the Cold War is never over.
Behind the effort to smear Tillerson and delegitimize Trump lies a larger motive. Trump has antagonists in both parties who alarmed at his triumph because it imperils the foreign policy agenda that is their raison d’etre, their reason for being.
These people do not want to lift sanctions on Moscow. They do not want an end to the confrontation with Russia. They have in mind the permanent U.S. encirclement of Russia.. Their goal is to bring down Putin and bring about “regime change” in Moscow.
In the campaign, Trump said he wanted to get along with Russia, to support all the forces inside Syria and Iraq fighting to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaida, and to stay out of any new Middle East wars — like the disaster in Iraq — that have cost us “six trillion dollars.”
This is what America voted for when it voted for Trump — to put America First and “make America great again.” But War Party agitators are already beating the drums for confrontation with Iran.
Early in his presidency, if not before, Trump is going to have to impose his foreign policy upon his own party and, indeed, upon his own government. Or his presidency will be broken, as was Lyndon Johnson’s.
Donald Trump has formally nominated Rex Tillerson, CEO of oil and gas multinational ExxonMobil, as his Secretary of State.
Mr Tillerson, 64, emerged as Mr Trump's top pick for the position despite significant criticism among Republicans for his apparent ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Mr Trump said the businessman's "tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State".
Tillerson, 64, will “help reverse years of misguided foreign policies and actions that have weakened America's security and standing in the world.” "He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States,” Trump said, according to his transition team.
“Rex Tillerson’s career is the embodiment of the American dream. Through hard work, dedication and smart deal making, Rex rose through the ranks to become CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest and most respected companies,” Trump said in the statement announcing the news.
The US Senate needs to approve Mr Tillerson's nomination before he can assume the position.
Rebel fighters and the Syrian government have reached an agreement to allow the evacuation of civilians and opposition fighters from eastern Aleppo, as Russia says the Assad regime has ended its offensive against the city.
A spokesman for the Nour el-Din el-Zinki rebel group, Yasser al-Youssef, said Tuesday that the deal, which was mediated by Russia and Turkey, would take effect “within hours.”
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin confirmed the agreement to reporters prior to an emergency Security Council meeting on Aleppo called by France and Britain.
"My latest information is that there is indeed an arrangement achieved on the ground that the fighters are going to leave the city," Churkin said. “Over the last hour, we have received information that military activities in east Aleppo have stopped,” he added later in the meeting. He said the government had re-established control over that part of the city and there could now be large-scale humanitarian initiatives.
“This very difficult chapter related to the situation in eastern Aleppo has ended,” Churkin said. "Let’s hope this indeed will be a precondition for establishing political efforts, relaunching political negotiations."
Churkin said most of the fighters who are leaving eastern Aleppo are going to the town of Idlib.
Obama's Women Advisers Pushed War Against Libya |
Robert Dreyfuss March 19, 2011
We’d like to think that women in power would somehow be less pro-war, but in the Obama administration at least it appears that the bellicosity is worst among Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power. All three are liberal interventionists, and all three seem to believe that when the United States exercises military force it has some profound, moral, life-saving character to it.
The troika pushed Obama into accepting the demands of neoconservatives, such as Joe Lieberman, John McCain and The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, along with various other liberal interventionists outside the administration, such as John Kerry. (Read more: Page 10, Libya 2011)
At the council session, Western members fiercely criticized Moscow for its ongoing support to the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the atrocities being committed in Aleppo.
“Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you?” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power asked. “Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit? Is there nothing you will not lie about or justify?”
Britain’s envoy, Matthew Rycroft, echoed the words of Ban, saying the Security Council had failed.
But Russian envoy Churkin dismissed Western criticism of Moscow’s support for the Assad regime and reports of horrific atrocities from Aleppo as part of a “propaganda, disinformation and psychological” war.
The recapture of the last rebel-held areas would have major symbolic significance and leave the regime and its foreign backers, Russia and Iran, free to focus their military might on remaining rebel strongholds in the rest of western Syria.
Rebel commanders and opposition politicians insist the loss of Aleppo will not mark the end of the uprising. However, few doubt battlefield fortunes have swung heavily against them and with the regime possibly hours away from seizing what is left of insurgent-controlled eastern Aleppo, the dynamic of resistance will have to change to guerrilla warfare to the keep the revolution alive.
aleppo december 2016
There were no "humanitarian organizations" or "human rights watchdogs" in Eastern Aleppo, instead there was a total terror at the side of militants, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday."
In Eastern Aleppo, there were no 'humanitarian' NGOs with 'western values' such as the 'White Helmets', 'medical' associations or 'human rights defenders'," he said.
Konashenkov noted that, according to locals, there were only hunger and total terror exerted by militants as punishment for any attempts to express discontent or leave the enclave.
Russian combat engineers "have not found a single operational hospital or school that had been used in militant-held areas for their designated purposes," he added. Instead, those facilities were used as staffs, Sharia courts, ammo depots, production facilities for making improvised rockets, he said.
Syria's rebels once dreamed of overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad's government and taking control of the country, but with the imminent loss of Aleppo they now face the prospect of total defeat. Though rebels retain territory elsewhere in Syria, including almost all of neighbouring Idlib province, a crushing defeat in the country's second city would be highly symbolic.
It "means the end of Syria's opposition as a force that can plausibly challenge the Assad regime or control a country", said Sam Heller, a fellow at The Century Foundation think tank.
When rebels stormed Aleppo in 2012, a year after the uprising against Assad began with anti-government protests, the opposition believed it was on the verge of overthrowing his regime. With the support of backers including Western nations, Gulf countries and Turkey, opposition fighters appeared to have momentum on their side.
But in recent months, and particularly after Russia's September 2015 intervention in support of Damascus, they have suffered a string of defeats capped off by their likely loss of Aleppo.
"We're now past the point where the opposition has any hope of pulling back," said Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Centre. "They just no longer have the numbers and the geographic spread to be able to mount major offensives."
syria - idlib: rebels burning books of 'the infidels' and honoring bin-laden
With Aleppo out of rebel hands, the largest remaining rebel bastion is Idlib province, which is controlled by an alliance dominated by former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front.
Rebels also hold territory in southern Daraa province and the Ghouta region around Damascus, although the army has been advancing there. In Idlib, with access to the Turkish border and a deep well of fighters -- including new arrivals from surrendering areas elsewhere -- rebels are likely to be able to hang on for longer. "You have an armed opposition there that remains vital and motivated," said Heller.
2012, terror in syria, ignored by the west
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says Western governments are concerned about saving the foreign-backed terrorists in Syria and not the lives of civilians in his country.
“They (Western governments) do not worry when… the terrorists are killing those civilians or attacking Palmyra and destroying the human heritage — not only the Syrian heritage,” Assad said in a Wednesday interview with RT, referring to the city of Palmyra, which recently fell to Daesh terrorists for a second time.
He made the remarks in response to the question of why Western media outlets were silent on Palmyra’s fall but creating hype about the defeat of militants in Aleppo, another Syrian city, by Syrian forces.
“If we liberate Aleppo from the terrorists, the Western officials and the mainstream media, they are going to be worrying about the civilians,” Assad said, adding that if the opposite happens and the terrorists engage in attacking and killing civilians, the West expresses little concern.
syria, al-qaeda rebels 2012
Flashback 2012: "Why are they establishing
Assad: "They have to establish parties based on secular principles"|
Sergei Balmasov, Pravda 13-12-2011
Q: "Spokesmen for the Syrian opposition, including those who stay in Moscow, claim that the official authorities supposedly contribute to the conflict because they refuse to legalize the Muslim Brotherhood.
Assad: "In accordance with our Constitution, Syria is a secular state. Therefore, no movement that acts under religious slogans and aims to split the Syrian society can hope for it.
"We offer them to establish their own political party which would be based on secular principles so that the party could struggle for the seats in the parliament." (13-12-2011)
"The EU will provide support for Syria's reconstruction only once a credible political transition is firmly under way," the EU leaders will say on Thursday, according to a draft statement prepared for their meeting in Brussels and seen by Reuters.
The EU is the world's largest aid donor and both the World Bank and the United Nations have said reconstruction of Syria will cost billions - something that would be extremely difficult for Russia to handle alone.
"It is out of the question to finance a Syria under the control of Assad ... The EU and France will not pay for the Russians ... We will not pay for a false peace," said a senior French diplomat.
The EU has already signaled it will press for more sanctions on Damascus. But it is not ready to impose any on Russia over the war in Syria. "The EU would normally have a key role in reconstruction. But if they create this monster there, we just won't pay for it. It'll be their responsibility," one EU official said, referring to Damascus, Moscow and their allies in the war.
Read also: United States involvement in regime change (Wikipedia info)
The International Red Cross will be involved in the Russian Reconciliation Center’s operation to evacuate wounded rebels from eastern Aleppo.
“ICRC personnel will escort ambulances transporting wounded militants all the way from Aleppo under guidance of officers from the Russian Reconciliation Center,” the Center said. The wounded militants will be taken on 20 buses and 10 ambulances through a humanitarian corridor leading to the Syrian city of Idlib. The Syrian government will ensure the security of all members of militant groups who are willing to leave eastern Aleppo, the statement noted.
The evacuation operation will be monitored by web cameras that the Russian Defense Ministry has installed along the corridors, as well as surveillance drones. Livestream footage will be available at the ministry’s website.
The Syrian Army has liberated most of the neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city held by Al-Nusra terrorists and other militant groups over the past weeks. At present, the militants control just 2.5 square kilometers of Aleppo, according to the Reconciliation Center.
A large-scale humanitarian operation is going on in the area. On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that up to 100,000 people, including 40,000 children, have been evacuated from eastern Aleppo.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said in his telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ankara is ready to take any measures to help refugees from Aleppo, TRT TV channel reported on Thursday citing sources in the Turkish Presidential Administration.|
According to the channel, the two leaders confirmed readiness to make joint efforts to start evacuating civilians from Aleppo. Erdogan said that Turkey is ready to provide shelter and humanitarian aid to residents leaving Aleppo.
The Kremlin press service said earlier that Putin and Erdogan held a telephone conversation.
They "continued exchanging opinion on the Syrian issue" and discussed the recent developments in Aleppo.
The two leaders made an emphasis on the importance of "expanding joint efforts with the aim of improving the humanitarian situation, facilitating the launch of a real political process in Syria."
They also confirmed readiness "for further active cooperation on neutralizing the terrorist threat" in the Middle East, the press service noted.
Turkey, Russia and Iran will hold a meeting in Moscow on December 27 to try to find a solution to the five-year conflict in Syria, Ankara said on Wednesday.
“We are striving to secure a ceasefire throughout the country and for negotiations for a political solution to start,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told TGRT Haber broadcaster, vowing Ankara would continue its efforts in the near future.
“For this reason, at the end of the month, on December 27 in Moscow, we will hold a tripartite meeting with Turkey, Russia and Iran.” (AFP|Al-Arabiya, 15 December 2016)
Syria Aleppo Evacuation Rebels, 15-12-2016
- 12:22 pm: 4,000 rebel fighters to be evacuated from eastern Aleppo
All preparation have been done to evacuate 4,000 rebel fighters from eastern Aleppo along with their families, Syria's state TV reported.
- 12:36 pm: Rebel fighters set fire to their bases before leaving their areas.
Plumes of smoke rise above the war-torn eastern Aleppo as the Syrian rebel fighters, said to number about 4,000, and some activists set fire to their bases and belongings before leaving their areas, , the UK-based Syrian Observatory fro Human Rights reported, and also confirmed by Syria's state TV.
- 12:50 pm: Turkey welcomes its "brothers and sisters" from eastern Aleppo
The spokesperson for the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country have made all the preparation in Idlib, northwestern Syria, and in Turkey to receive "our brothers and sisters" from eastern Aleppo.
(Ibrahim Kalin is assistant to the Turkish President and the current Press Secretary in the Turkish Presidential Complex. He tweets @ikalin1.)
- 2:55 pm: Simultaneous evacuation in Idlib province underway
Twenty-nine buses and ambulances are heading towards the Shiite villages of Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province to evacuate injured people and a umber of families, Hama Governor told the Syrian regime media.
The Wednesday evacuation collapsed because Iran insisted that these two villages, controlled by the Syrian regime forces and its allies, should simultaneously be evacuated.
Meanwhile, the evacuation of 200 injured people from East Aleppo has begun by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Syria’s Red Crescent. The Regional Director for ICRC Robert Mardini said their teams are doing all they can, and reported that they are safe.
- 3:47 pm: Rebel fighters and their families transported out of eastern Aleppo.
Syria's State TV shows a number of buses and ambulances transporting rebel fighters and their families out of eastern Aleppo from the Ramouseh crossing. It said the evacuation is underway with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Syrian Parliament lawmaker from Aleppo Mohammed Jalal Darvish told Sputnik Arabic that now with the city freed of terrorists a lot of work needs to be done to restore Aleppo.
"The liberation of Aleppo did not take much time, but now we have problems of another kind. The main problem now is to restore building and infrastructure and to establish supplies of necessary materials. Our resources are limited and we’ll need public support," the lawmaker said.
Darvish said that since the beginning of the Syrian Army’s operation in Aleppo, the local authorities have recruited maximum efforts to keep the situation under control, especially concerning the issue of refugees.
"Aleppo now needs all kinds of help. We’re entering the difficult period of rebuilding the city. We hope that the government, people, businessmen and Syrians living abroad will come to help.
We also expect to receive assistance from our allies, first of all Russia and Iran," he said. Commenting on the security situation in Aleppo, Darvish said that the eastern part of the city is now safe, except for a small area where the army is fighting the rest of the militants. (Sputnik News, 15-12-2016)