[...]John Kerry himself [...] admitted, in a meeting with Syrian opposition, the Obama administration saw the ISIS advance as a positive development: “[W]e know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that DAESH [ ISIS] was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. [We] thought, however, we could probably manage that. Assad might then negotiate.”(By “negotiate,” Kerry meant “capitulate”—negotiate the terms of his abdication.) For the Serious People in Washington, this—the impending takeover of Syria by ISIS and Al-Qaeda jihadis—meant things were going swimmingly. (Al-Nusra was at the time—and still is, less officially—the affiliate of Al-Qaeda in Syria.) As Daniel Lazare pointed out: “After years of hemming and hawing, the Obama administration has finally come clean about its goals in Syria. In the battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, it is siding with Al Qaeda…[R]ather than protesting what is in fact a joint U.S.-Al Qaeda assault, the Beltway crowd is either maintaining a discreet silence or boldy hailing Al Nusra’s impending victory as ‘the best thing that could happen in a Middle East in crisis.’”
The recapture of Aleppo by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies marks a turning point not only in the conflict in Syria, but also in the dynamic of international conflict. For the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the rolling imperial engine of regime change via American-led military intervention has been stopped in its tracks. To be sure, it’s certainly not out of service, even in Syria, and it will seek and find new paths for devastating disobedient countries, but its assumed endgame for subjugating Syria has been rudely interrupted. And in our historical context, Syria interrupted is imperialism interrupted.
President Bashar al-Assad : “[The ]West is telling Russia that Syrian Army went too far in defeating terrorists … Daesh could only attack Palmyra the way it did with supervision of U.S. alliance”. President Obama’s announcement of a waiver for arming unspecified rebel groups in Syria came shortly before the terrorist group Islamic State launched a massive attack on Palmyra. Syrian President Bashar Assad believes it was no coincidence, he told RussiaToday. In the interview, the Syrian leader explained how his approach to fighting terrorism differs from that of the US, why he believes the military success of his forces in Aleppo was taken so negatively in the West, and what he expects from US President-elect Donald Trump. [Full Video and Transcript]
“The announcement of the lifting of that embargo is related directly to the attack on Palmyra and to the support of other terrorists outside Aleppo, because when they are defeated in Aleppo, the United States and the West, they need to support their proxies somewhere else,” Bashar al-Assad said.
“The crux of that announcement is to create more chaos, because the United States creates chaos in order to manage this chaos,” Assad added.
He added that Islamic State (Daesh, IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) forces “came with different and huge manpower and firepower that ISIS never had before during this attack, and they attacked on a huge front, tens of kilometers that could be a front of armies. ISIS could only have done that with the support of states. Not state; states.”
Russia Today (Maria Finoshina): Mr. President, thank you very much for agreeing to speak with us.
President Bashar al-Assad: You’re most welcome in Damascus.
RT: We start with Aleppo, of course. Aleppo is now seeing what is perhaps the most fierce fighting since the war started almost six years ago here in Syria, but the Western politicians and Western media have been largely negative about your army’s advance. Why you think this is happening? Do they take it as their own defeat?
B.A.: Actually, after they failed in Damascus, because the whole narrative was about “liberating Damascus from the state” during the first three years. When they failed, they moved to Homs, when they failed in Homs, they moved to Aleppo, they focused on Aleppo during the last three years, and for them this is the last most important card they could have played on the Syrian battlefield. Of course, they still have terrorists in different areas in Syria, but it’s not like talking about Aleppo as the second largest city which has the political, military, economic, and even moral sense when their terrorists are defeated. So, for them the defeat of the terrorists is the defeating of their proxies, to talk bluntly. These are their proxies, and for them the defeat of these terrorists is the defeat of the countries that supervised them, whether regional countries or Western countries like United States, first of all United States, and France, and UK.
RT: So, you think they take it as their own defeat, right?
B.A.: Exactly, that’s what I mean. The defeat of the terrorists, this is their own defeat because these are their real army on the ground. They didn’t interfere in Syria, or intervened, directly; they have intervened through these proxies. So, that’s how we have to look at it if we want to be realistic, regardless of their statements, of course.
RT: Palmyra is another troubled region now, and it’s now taken by ISIS or ISIL, but we don’t hear a lot of condemnation about it. Is that because of the same reason?
B.A.: Exactly, because if it was captured by the government, they will be worried about the heritage. If we liberate Aleppo from the terrorists, they would be – I mean, the Western officials and the mainstream media – they’re going to be worried about the civilians. They’re not worried when the opposite happens, when the terrorists are killing those civilians or attacking Palmyra and started destroying the human heritage, not only the Syrian heritage. Exactly, you are right, because ISIS, if you look at the timing of the attack, it’s related to what’s happening in Aleppo. This is the response to what’s happening in Aleppo, the advancement of the Syrian Arab Army, and they wanted to make this… or let’s say, to undermine the victory in Aleppo, and at the same time to distract the Syrian Army from Aleppo, to make it move toward Palmyra and stop the advancement, but of course it didn’t work.
#0000ff;">‘ISIS could only attack Palmyra the way it did with supervision of US alliance’
RT: We also hear reports that Palmyra siege was not only related to Aleppo battle, but also to what was happening in Iraq, and there are reports that the US-led coalition – which is almost 70 countries – allowed ISIL fighters in Mosul in Iraq to leave, and that strengthened ISIL here in Syria. Do you think it could be the case?
B.A.: It could be, but this is only to wash the hand of the American politicians from their responsibility on the attack, when they say “just because of Mosul, of course, the Iraqi army attacked Mosul, and ISIS left Mosul to Syria.” That’s not the case. Why? Because they came with different and huge manpower and firepower that ISIS never had before during this attack, and they attacked on a huge front, tens of kilometers that could be a front of armies. ISIS could only have done that with the support of states. Not state; states. They came with different machineguns, cannons, artillery, everything is different. So, it could only happen when they come in this desert with the supervision of the American alliance that’s supposed to attack them in al-Raqqa and Mosul and Deir Ezzor, but it didn’t happen; they either turned a blind eye on what ISIS is going to do, and, or – and that’s what I believe – they pushed toward Palmyra. So, it’s not about Mosul. We don’t have to fall in that trap. It’s about al-Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. They are very close, only a few hundred kilometers, they could come under the supervision of the American satellites and the American drones and the American support.
RT: How strong ISIS is today?
B.A.: As strong as the support that they get from the West and regional powers. Actually, they’re not strong for… if you talk isolated case, ISIS as isolated case, they’re not strong, because they don’t have the natural social incubator. Without it, terrorists cannot be strong enough. But the real support they have, the money, the oil field investment, the support of the American allies’ aircrafts, that’s why they are strong. So, they are as strong as their supporters, or as their supervisors.
RT: In Aleppo, we heard that you allowed some of these terrorists to leave freely the battleground. Why would you do that? It’s clear that they can go back to, let’s say, Idleb, and get arms and get ready for further attacks, then maybe attack those liberating Aleppo.
B.A.: Exactly, exactly, that’s correct, and that’s been happening for the last few years, but you always have things to lose and things to gain, and when the gain is more than what you lose, you go for that gain. In that case, our priority is to protect the area from being destroyed because of the war, to protect the civilians who live there, to give the chance for those civilians to leave through the open gates, to leave that area to the areas under the control of the government, and to give the chance to those terrorists to change their minds, to join the government, to go back to their normal life, and to get amnesty. When they don’t, they can leave with their armaments, with the disadvantage that you mentioned, but this is not our priority, because if you fight them in any other area outside the city, you’re going to have less destruction and less civilian casualties, that’s why.
#0000ff;">‘Fighting terrorists US-style cannot solve the problem’
RT: I feel that you call them terrorists, but at the same time you treat them as human beings, you tell them “you have a chance to go back to your normal life.”
B.A.: Exactly. They are terrorists because they are holding machineguns, they kill, they destroy, they commit vandalism, and so on, and that’s natural, everywhere in the world that’s called as terrorism. But at the same time, they are humans who committed terrorism. They could be something else. They joined the terrorists for different reasons, either out of fear, for the money, sometimes for the ideology. So, if you can bring them back to their normal life, to be natural citizens, that’s your job as a government. It’s not enough to say “we’re going to fight terrorists.” Fighting terrorists is like a videogame; you can destroy your enemy in the videogame, but the videogame will generate and regenerate thousands of enemies, so you cannot deal with it on the American way: just killing, just killing! This is not our goal; this is the last option you have. If you can change, this is a good option, and it succeeded. It succeeded because many of those terrorists, when you change their position, some of them living normal lives, and some of them joined the Syrian Army, they fought with the Syrian Army against the other terrorists. This is success, from our point of view.
RT: Mr. President, you just said that you gain and you lose. Do you feel you’ve done enough to minimize civilian casualties during this conflict?
B.A.: We do our utmost. What’s enough, this is subjective; each one could look at it in his own way. At the end, what’s enough is what you can do; my ability as a person, the ability of the government, the ability of Syria as a small country to face a war that’s been supported by tens of countries, mainstream media’s hundreds of channels, and other machines working against you. So, it depends on the definition of “enough,” so this is, as I said, very subjective, but I’m sure that we are doing our best. Nothing is enough at the end, and the human practice is always full of correct and flows, or mistakes, let’s say, and that’s the natural thing.
#0000ff;">‘West’s cries for ceasefire meant to save terrorists’
RT: We hear Western powers asking Russia and Iran repeatedly to put pressure on you to, as they put it, “stop the violence,” and just recently, six Western nations, in an unprecedented message, they asked Russia and Iran again to put pressure on you, asking for a ceasefire in Aleppo.
RT: Will you go for it? At the time when your army was progressing, they were asking for a ceasefire.
B.A.: Exactly. It’s always important in politics to read between the lines, not to be literal. It doesn’t matter what they ask; the translation of their statement is for Russia: “please stop the advancement of the Syrian Army against the terrorists.” That’s the meaning of that statement, forget about the rest. “You went too far in defeating the terrorists, that shouldn’t happen. You should tell the Syrians to stop this, we have to keep the terrorists and to save them.” This is in brief.
Second, Russia never – these days, I mean, during this war, before that war, during the Soviet Union – never tried to interfere in our decision. Whenever they had opinion or advice, doesn’t matter how we can look at it, they say at the end “this is your country, you know what the best decision you want to take; this is how we see it, but if you see it in a different way, you know, you are the Syrian.” They are realistic, and they respect our sovereignty, and they always defend the sovereignty that’s based on the international law and the Charter of the United Nations. So, it never happened that they made any pressure, and they will never do it. This is not their methodology.
RT: How strong is the Syrian Army today?
B.A.: It’s about the comparison, to two things: first of all, the war itself; second, to the size of Syria. Syria is not a great country, so it cannot have a great army in the numerical sense. The support of our allies was very important; mainly Russia, and Iran. After six years, or nearly six years of the war, which is longer than the first World War and the second World War, it’s definitely and self-evident that the Syrian Army is not to be as strong as it was before that. But what we have is determination to defend our country. This is the most important thing. We lost so many lives in our army, we have so many martyrs, so many disabled soldiers. Numerically, we lost a lot, but we still have this determination, and I can tell you this determination is much stronger than before the war. But of course, we cannot ignore the support from Russia, we cannot ignore the support from Iran, that make this determination more effective and efficient.
#0000ff;">‘Stronger Russia, China make world a safer place’
RT: President Obama has lifted a ban on arming some Syrian rebels just recently. What impact you think could it have on the situation on the ground, and could it directly or indirectly provide a boost to terrorists?
B.A.: We’re not sure that he lifted that embargo when he announced it. Maybe he lifted it before, but announced it later just to give it the political legitimacy, let’s say. This is first. The second point, which is very important: the timing of the announcement and the timing of attacking Palmyra. There’s a direct link between these two, so the question is to whom those armaments are going to? In the hands of who? In the hands of ISIS and al-Nusra, and there’s coordination between ISIS and al-Nusra. So, the announcement of this lifting of that embargo is related directly to the attack on Palmyra and to the support of other terrorists outside Aleppo, because when they are defeated in Aleppo, the United States and the West, they need to support their proxies somewhere else, because they don’t have any interest in solving the conflict in Syria. So, the crux of that announcement is to create more chaos, because the United States creates chaos in order to manage this chaos, and when they manage it, they want to use the different factors in that chaos in order to exploit the different parties of the conflict, whether they are internal parties or external parties.
RT: Mr. President, how do you feel about being a small country in the middle of this tornado of countries not interested in ending the war here?
B.A.: Exactly. It’s something we’ve always felt before this war, but we felt it more of course today, because small countries feel safer when there’s international balance, and we felt the same, what you just mentioned, after the collapse of the Soviet Union when there was only American hegemony, and they wanted to implement whatever they want and to dictate all their policies on everyone. Small countries suffer the most. So, we feel it today, but at the same time, today there’s more balance with the Russian role. That’s why I think we always believe the more Russia is stronger – I’m not only talking about Syria, I’m talking about every small country in the world – whenever the stronger Russia, more rising China, we feel more secure. It’s painful, I would say it’s very painful, this situation that we’ve been living, on every level; humanitarian level, the feeling, the loss, everything. But at the end, it’s not about losing and winning; it’s about either winning or losing your country. It’s existential threat for Syria. It’s not about government losing against other government or army against army; either the country will win, or the country will disappear. That’s how we look at it. That’s why you don’t have time to feel that pain; you only have time to fight and defend and do something on the ground.
#0000ff;">‘Mainstream media lost credibility along with moral compass’
RT: Let’s talk about media’s role in this conflict.
RT: All sides during this war have been accused of civilian casualties, but the Western media has been almost completely silent about the atrocities committed by the rebels… what role is the media playing here?
B.A.: First of all, the mainstream media with their fellow politicians, they are suffering during the last few decades from moral decay. So, they have no morals. Whatever they talk about, whatever they mention or they use as mask, human rights, civilians, children; they use all these just for their own political agenda in order to provoke the feelings of their public opinion to support them in their intervention in this region, whether militarily or politically. So, they don’t have any credibility regarding this. If you want to look at what’s happening in the United States is rebellion against the mainstream media, because they’ve been lying and they kept lying on their audiences. We can tell that, those, let’s say, the public opinion or the people in the West doesn’t know the real story in our region, but at least they know that the mainstream media and their politicians were laying to them for their own vested interests agenda and vested interests politicians. That’s why I don’t think the mainstream media could sell their stories anymore and that’s why they are fighting for their existence in the West, although they have huge experience and huge support and money and resources, but they don’t have something very important for them to survive, which is the credibility. They don’t have it, they lost it. They don’t have the transparency, that’s why they don’t have credibility. That’s why they are very coward today, they are afraid of your channel, of any statement that could tell the truth because it’s going to debunk their talks. That’s why.
RT: Reuters news agency have been quoting Amaq, ISIL’s mouthpiece, regarding the siege of Palmyra. Do you think they give legitimacy to extremists in such a way? They’re quoting their media.
B.A.: Even if they don’t mention their news agencies, they adopt their narrative anyway. But if you look at the technical side of the way ISIS presented itself from the very beginning through the videos and the news and the media in general and the PR, they use Western technique. Look at it, it’s very sophisticated. How could somebody who’s under siege, who’s despised all over the world, who’s under attack from the airplanes, who the whole world wants to liberate every city from him, could be that sophisticated unless he is not relaxed and has all the support? So, I don’t think it is about Amaq; it’s about the West adopting their stories, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.
RT: Donald Trump takes over as US President in a few weeks. You mentioned America many times today. What do you expect from America’s new administration?
B.A.: His rhetoric during the campaign was positive regarding the terrorism, which is our priority today. Anything else is not priority, so, I wouldn’t focus on anything else, the rest is American, let’s say, internal matters, I wouldn’t worry about. But the question whether Trump has the will or the ability to implement what he just mentioned. You know that most of the mainstream media and big corporate, the lobbies, the Congress, even some in his party were against him; they want to have more hegemony, more conflict with Russia, more interference in different countries, toppling governments, and so on. He said something in the other direction. Could he sustain against all those after he started next month? That’s the question. If he could, I think the world will be in a different place, because the most important thing is the relation between Russia and the Unites States. If he goes towards that relation, most of the tension around the world will be pacified. That’s very important for us in Syria, but I don’t think anyone has the answer to that. He wasn’t a politician, so, we don’t have any reference to judge him, first. Second, nobody can tell what kind of pattern is it going to be next month and after.
#0000ff;">‘Western countries only sent aid to terrorists’
RT: The humanitarian situation in Syria is a disaster, and we hear from EU foreign policy chief, Madam Mogherini, that EU is the only entity to deliver humanitarian aid to Syria. Is that true?
B.A.: Actually, all the aid that any Western country sent was to the terrorists, to be very clear, blunt and very transparent. They never cared about a single Syrian human life. We have so many cities in Syria till today surrounded by and besieged by the terrorists; they prevented anything to reach them, food, water, anything, all the basic needs of life. Of course, they attack them on daily basis by mortars and try to kill them. What did the EU send to those? If they are worried about the human life, if they talk about the humanitarian aspect, because when you talk about the humanitarian aspect or issue, you don’t discriminate. All the Syrians are humans, all the people are humans. They don’t do that. So, this is the double standard, this is the lie that they keep telling, and it’s becoming a disgusting lie, no-one is selling their stories anymore. That’s not true, what she mentioned, not true.
RT: Some suggestions say that for Syria, the best solution would to split into separate countries governed by Sunni, Shi’a, Kurds. Is it any way possible?
B.A.: This is the Western – with some regional countries’ – hope or dream, and this is not new, not related to this war; that was before the war, and you have maps for this division and disintegration. But actually, if you look at the society today, the Syrian society is more unified than before the war. This is reality. I’m not saying anything to raise the morale of anyone, I’m not talking to Syrian audience anyway now, I’m talking about the reality. Because of the lessons of the war, the society became more realistic and pragmatic and many Syrians knew that being fanatic doesn’t help, being extreme in any idea, I’m not only talking about extremism in the religious meaning; politically, socially, culturally, doesn’t help Syria. Only when we accept each other, when we respect each other, we can live with each other and we can have one country. So, regarding the disintegration of Syria, if you don’t have this real disintegration among the society and different shades and spectrum of the Syrian society, Syrian fabric, you cannot have division. It’s not a map you draw, I mean, even if you have one country while the people are divided, you have disintegration. Look at Iraq, it’s one country, but it is disintegrated in reality. So, no, I’m not worried about this. There’s no way that Syrians will accept that. I’m talking now about the vast majority of the Syrians, because this is not new, this is not the subject of the last few weeks or the last few months. This is the subject of this war. So, after nearly six years, I can tell you the majority of the Syrians wouldn’t accept anything related to disintegration, they are going to live as one Syria.
RT: As a mother, I feel the pain of all Syrian mothers. I’m speaking about children in Syria, what does the future hold for them?
B.A.: This is the most dangerous aspect of our problem, not only in Syria; wherever you talk about this dark Wahhabi ideology, because many of those children who became young during the last decade, or more than one decade, who joined the terrorists on ideological basis, not for the like of money or anything else, or hope, let’s say, they came from open-minded families, educated families, intellectual families. So, you can imagine how strong the terrorism is.
#0000ff;">‘Being secular doesn’t protect a nation from terrorist ideology’
RT: So, that happened because of their propaganda?
B.A.: Exactly, because the ideology is very dangerous; it knows no borders, no political borders, and the network, the worldwide web has helped those terrorists using fast and inexpensive tools in order to promote their ideology, and they could infiltrate any family anywhere in the world, whether in Europe, in your country, in my country, anywhere. You have secular society, I have secular society, but it didn’t protect the society from being infiltrated.
RT: Do you have any counter ideology for this?
B.A.: Exactly, because they built their ideology on the Islam, you have to use the same ideology, using the real Islam, the real moderate Islam, in order to counter their ideology. This is the fast way. If we want to talk about the mid-term and long-term, it’s about how much can you upgrade the society, the way the people analyze and think, because this ideology can only work when you cannot analyze, when you don’t think properly. So, it’s about the algorithm of the mind, if you have natural or healthy operating system, if you want to draw an analogy to the IT, if you have good operating systems in our mind, they cannot infiltrate it like a virus. So, it’s about the education, media and policy because sometimes when you have a cause, a national cause, and people lose hope, you can push those people towards being extremists, and this is one of the influences in our region since the seventies, after the war between the Arabs and the Israelis, and the peace failed in every aspect to recapture the land, to give the land and the rights to its people, you have more desperation, and that played into the hand of the extremists, and this is where the Wahhabi find fertile soil to promote its ideology.
RT: Mr. President, thank you very much for your time, and I wish your country peace and prosperity, and as soon as possible.
B.A.: Thank you very much for coming.
RT: This time has been very tough for you, so I wish it’s going to end soon.
B.A.: Thank you very much for coming to Syria. I’m very glad to receive you.
Francis A. Boyle, Gadaffi's international lawyer and author of Destroying Libya and World Order, today (11 November 2016) said, on Pravda TV, that Obama can be existentially dangerous between now and inauguration day. He reminded people that Bush Sr invaded Somalia right after he lost to Bill Clinton. And the US/NATO announced on Monday that they were putting 300,000 troops on high alert. Boyle urges people to move forward with an impeachment campaign against Obama during the lame duck session of Congress because we do not want a war with Russia over Ukraine or Syria."
This morning, hardly taking breath over the US election, again there is much talk in the MSM about the situation in Aleppo, while the situation in Mosul has been quite ignored, although the fight by various forces including US-NATO against ISIS there and refugee diaspora all continue.
Aspects of the false narrative were also presented by the Australian ABC’s M/E correspondent Matt Brown, who seems to be a single-minded supporter of the opposition forces and a purveyor of misinformation on their behalf. In this report his source was ‘Abu Laith’ – ‘Aleppo resident and member of the White Helmets’. Brown discussed the presence of the Russian aircraft carrier with Abu Laith, who threw off the threat and vowed to continue to support the people. See http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2016/s4572965.htm
Egeland, who is also completely partial, claimed in his report that ‘some families had not received food rations for three weeks, and prices had risen sharply', and that ‘neither side wants to see a quarter of a million people starve’. Brown said the UN had done a survey of people in East Aleppo and found that 40% of them wanted to leave, but in portraying the recent efforts of the Syrian and Russian governments to get civilians out of the terrorist-occupied East, said that these had been unsuccessful because the ‘rebels oppose people leaving the city’. However he fails to say that the 'rebels' shoot people who try to leave.
The fact is that the UN should have cooperated with the Russian and Syrian government when there was the ceasefire to get people out. They should have put pressure on the rebel leaders, and the US-NATO by telling the media the real situation, which is that East Aleppo is being held under seige, not by the Syrian Gov, but by the 'rebels' who are using the East Aleppan citizens as human shields.
In another short news bulletin this morning, with different extracts from Egeland, it was suggested that the people could starve or bleed to death, [if we don’t act].
Emphasising the pervasive misinformation and disinformation coming from our corrupted media, the ABC also interviewed Australia’s defence minister, Maurice Payne, this morning. This might seem unsurprising if one didn’t know that neither the ABC nor the Australian government has shown the slightest interest in discussing Australia’s involvement, either in Iraq or Syria, for the last few months since the ‘Aleppo crisis’ has been dominating the narrative.
Even when Australian forces were allegedly involved in the US coalition attack on the SAA in Deir al Zour that ended the ‘ceasefire’, there was minimal discussion following the shockingly cursory apology.
That Australia was ‘involved’ in that strike, that supported IS terrorists directly, (though it has been suggested the fighter jets were only US ones, and that we were asked to share the responsibility), indicates that Australia’s strategic role as a primary partner in the US’ war on Syria is highly significant, as it is also highly significant in our region in the defence, not of Australian interests, but of US imperial interests against China.
This is what Australia’s defence minister, Marise Payne had to say this morning about our role in the ‘fight against ISIS’:
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: "In the Middle East in particular, Trump's been positive about Russia's role in Syria. We certainly haven't been positive in that way. He's talked also about a more robust military response to ISIS. Do you expect a change?"
MARISE PAYNE: "Well, we will always deal with those discussions as they're presented to us. Overwhelmingly, our response in Iraq and in Syria is dictated by conditions on the ground: by the operational environment in which we find ourselves.
As you know, we've trained almost 14,000 soldiers who are engaging in the fight against Daesh in the Iraqi defence force. We have a special operations task group which is working side-by-side, not just with the Iraqis but members of the international coalition, which is led by the United States. We have changed, even in the last year, our contribution to both of those activities. We have worked as the operational environment has changed as well..."
Most significant here is that the ‘Iraqis’ – meaning Baghdad – are not on the same side as the US coalition if it includes Turkey. That is something that needs clarifying right now. Whether the ABC has any idea about the importance of this issue remains unknown. They don’t ask, and they aren’t told.
And that might explain why the US decided to bomb Aleppo’s main power plant last week plunging the entire city into darkness; because Obama wants to “rubbleize” everything on his way out. Keep in mind, that the local water treatment plants require electrical power, so by blowing up the plant, Obama has condemned tens of thousands of civilians to cholera and other water-born diseases.
We have limited goods to consume, with limited resources of fuel and water. Prices are jumping higher for almost everything. I hope that situation to end soon.
It's getting worse day after day since roughly the 23rd or 24th of Oct. Prices of everything are getting higher and higher day after day. The generators that used to supply houses with power for 10 hours a day, are now supplying us with 6.5 hours for the same price of 10 hours. Blackmailing in markets for all goods is taking place. We are under siege since then. 'Crisis Merchants' are squeezing the pockets of the people to the last penny.
I'm optimistic that it shouldn't take longer time, but people are pretty passive, and some are saying that it could get worse or last for months. Many are stuck over here now and cannot go elsewhere even if they have some other place to flee. I think the city went through tougher times in the last years, and hopefully we will come out of that hard situation soon. Jets are bombarding terrorist areas more often, and the terrorists are shelling residential areas as well.
Syria could be America’s key ally against ISIL and other terror groups. Instead, the U.S. has chosen to align with Saudi Arabia, a country where churches are banned and women are not permitted to drive, and a country that has funded and directed much of the insurgency, both ‘moderate’ and extreme, in Syria. President Obama's latest military action decision ignores the work of journalists Sotloft and Foley, who exposed brutality of so-called moderate rebels that Obama wants to arm. Australians for reconciliation in Syria call on the Australian and US governments to heed the wishes of the people of Syria; to support the Syrian army’s fight against terror groups; and to respect its right to work for peaceful political changes without foreign interference. We can honour our own freedoms, equalities and responsibilities in Australia by respecting those of Syrians.
Obama's decision to arm 'rebels' in Syria is illegal, dangerous and ill-researched
“Australians for Mussalaha (Reconciliation) in Syria” (AMRIS) deplores the decision by U.S. President Obama to take military action against ISIL in Syria without the consent of the Syrian Government. Such military action will be illegal.
Furthermore, AMRIS condemns U.S. military support to what President Obama terms the ‘Syrian opposition’. The vast majority of Syrian people do not support any militarized opposition groups, but rather support the institutions of the state. (NB: There is an internal opposition - parties and groups which eschew violence.)
The Syrian regular army has lost tens of thousands of soldiers in its battle against militias, including ISIL. With very little support from the local population, these sectarian militias depend on foreign fighters who include Sunni Muslims misled by a myth, namely that a minority Shi’a sect is oppressing the Sunni majority in Syria.
US sows sectarianism against secular Syrian society and denies democratic vote of Syria for its Government
Syria is a secular society and its government and army reflect the diverse mix of ethnic groups and faiths in Syria. The ministries are dominated by Sunni politicians and the conscript army is predominantly a Sunni army. The Defence Minister is Sunni. The president’s wife is Sunni. Members of the business elite are mostly Sunni Muslims.
There must be recognition of
- the inclusive Sunni Islam practised in Syria, which is rooted in Sufi Islam not Wahhabism, the school of Islam aligned with the Saudi royal family
- the right and responsibility of Syrian people to defend themselves and their country against militias funded by both foreign governments and individuals who condone the killing of civilians who support the secular Syrian state
- the wide-ranging rights and freedoms that women have in Syria
- the rights and freedoms people of different faiths have in Syria to practice their religion (Christmas and Easter are public holidays in Syria, just as Muslim holy days are.)
- the fact that more than 73% of Syrians eligible to vote participated in the June 2014 presidential election
- the fact that investigative journalists, members of the U.S. intelligence community, and M.I.T. academics maintain rebels, NOT the Syrian Government, were most likely responsible for the chemical attack in Damascus in August 2013.
Syria could be America’s key ally against ISIL and other terror groups. Instead, the U.S. has chosen to align with Saudi Arabia, a country where churches are banned and women are not permitted to drive, and a country that has funded and directed much of the insurgency, both ‘moderate’ and extreme, in Syria.
Journalists Sotloft and Foley exposed brutality of so-called moderate rebels that Obama wants to arm
By supporting militia groups which are labelled ‘moderate’ but which target soldiers, public servants and secular Syrians just as ISIL does, the U.S. and its allies will entrench the chaos, destruction and death in Syria and the region. The pretext for U.S. military action in Syria is the beheading of two American journalists, Steven Sotloff and James Foley. However, in articles published before they were abducted, Sotloff and Foley exposed the brutality of the so-called moderate rebels. The truths they revealed and their courage in exposing them do not demand an alliance with ‘moderate’ rebels complicit in their killings; they demand support for peace and reconciliation in Syria.
NATO promotion of geopolitical wars builds hatred, despair and disorganisation
The hatred being incited between Muslims to promote geopolitical wars in the Middle East will impact on communities across the globe. People everywhere risk losing their moral compass and compromising basic human values and belief systems which are needed to unite us and ensure peace and security for us all.
Need for more rigorous research before new actions
AMRIS calls for rigorous research of events in Syria in order to challenge partisan narratives.
AMRIS calls on the government to heed the wishes of the people of Syria; to support their army’s fight against terror groups; and to respect their right to work for peaceful political changes without foreign interference. We can honour our own freedoms, equalities and responsibilities in Australia by respecting those of Syrians.
Spokesperson is Ms Susan Dirgham, National Coordinator of “Australians for Mussalaha (Reconciliation) in Syria”
Alex Jones covers how Obama's plan for war in the Middle East is a decades-long war in the making. Geopolitical analyst Mimi Al-Laham, AKA Syrian Girl, also joins the show to reveal what you're not being told about the recent Middle East "beheading" videos and how ISIS is too strong to not have a powerful state backer. (Editorial comment: This video is not yet on Alex Jones' InfoWars.com. An earlie interview with the Syrian Girl is Syrian Girl: ISIS’ True Purpose Revealed (22 July 2014).
#F5F6CE;line-height:120%;">"The geology of the region itself as well as its position as a geographical gateway to the Middle East, explains wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, confusing dialogues with Iran and, now, moves on Ukraine. I really wonder if Australian politicians actually realise what they are backing in the region." Sheila Newman (Evolutionary sociologist specialised in oil geopolitics.)1 This article summarises the initial Western misrepresentations and informs or reminds the historically educated reader of the history of this ancient petroleum-bearing region.
Anglophone press maintains depressingly low standard of reporting
The bias in Australian news reporting on Russia and the Ukraine is profoundly depressing. There is no responsible analysis of the role of the then 'opposition', with members now in parliament, and the use of snipers to fire at police and protesters alike in provoking President Yannukovych to temporarily leave the Ukraine. [Note I have removed the term 'resignation' because he has not resigned. I apologise for the confusion - Sheila Newman] #fnSubj2" id="txtSubj2">2 There is no acknowledgement of how elected President Yannukovych formally requested Russia's help - or it is mentioned as if it were specious. Although there was an election due within a year, Yannukovych was forced to flee in peril of his life by the forces that put the current illegal government in place. There is no acknowledgement of the validity of a 97% Yes referendum in Crimea to join Russia.#fnSubj3" id="txtSubj3">3 There is no acknowledgement that Crimea already had separate administration within the Ukraine and that the great majority of its population identifies as Russian. There has been an over-emphasis on how a minority group of muslims said they had avoided voting and now complain that their needs were not met by the referendum and an underemphasis on how many voted and what they voted for. Little or no convincing evidence has been given for slurs implying that the referendum was either not legal or not well-managed. There is no acknowledgement of the reasonableness and democracy in calling a referendum, which is an example the increasingly undemocratic Anglophone West would do well to follow. There is hardly any mention in the Australian and other Anglophone press that the parliament of Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, whom Obama greeted in the Whitehouse almost instantly #fnSubj4" id="txtSubj4">4 and whose government Australia supports in East Ukraine, contains six members with severe fascist and Nazi affiliations, which kind of explains how the use of snipers was part of the campaign to get rid of the elected government. The increasing evidence of US and NATO aligned Western powers provoking the Kiev coup is not being covered in the Australian and other Western press. There is also no mention that President Yannukovych had offered to bring on early elections to give the opposition a chance to win government legally. There is a constant use of the adjective 'aggressive' to describe Russia's actions in going, on invitation, into a largely ethnic Russian Crimea which had voted to rejoin Russia, in a region where European power-grabs threaten hard-won agreements between the many diverse countries involved in recovering and transporting oil and gas out of the Caspian Sea area.
Oil and Gas in the Caspian region near Ukraine and Crimea
Most of all, there has been a glaring failure of Australian and US and other Anglophone news sources and governments to report that getting power over this region means getting power over major oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea and pipelines leading from its shared shores through several different countries with destinations as far as Britain #fnSubj5" id="txtSubj5">5 and China. That is why dividing the Ukraine up between Western Europe and Russia is such a big deal.
The Caspian Sea: History, political borders, rights to mine etc.
The Caspian Sea is the largest inland sea. "Geographically, it is a salt-water inland sea or lake covering about 375,000 square kilometres, bordered by the Elburz Mountains of Iran to the south and the Caucasus to the northwest. The Volga River flows into it from the north, forming a large delta near Astrakhan, but evaporation is sufficient to counter the influx, leaving it some 30 meters below world sea level. It is flanked to the north by Russia itself, followed clockwise by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Azerbaijan. The three "-stans” gained independence following the fall of the Soviets in 1991. Dagestan and Chechnya, which are still Moslem provinces of Russia on the shores of the Caspian, are still seeking their independence, in a vicious campaign attended by many acts of terror. Under international law, ownership of the offshore mineral rights depends on whether it is deemed a lake or a sea. In the case of the lake, they belong jointly to the contiguous countries, whereas in the case of a sea they are divided up by median lines. The matter, which is no small issue, has yet to be fully resolved, but it seems in practice to be moving in the direction of the latter formula. It is worth noting here that Tehran, the capital of Iran, lies only 100km from the Caspian shore, so its role in the future of the region cannot be ignored." (Colin Campbell, "The Caspian Chimera," Chapter 5 in Sheila Newman, (Ed)., The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, 2008."
Don't the Australian public deserve to know of the many geological reasons why this area is so politically fraught, instead of being subjected to incredibly superficial theories of ego and ethnicity, when any explanation is offered at all for territorial sensitivity in the region?
There is a fabulous and apocryphal geopolitical context to this vast oil and gas-bearing region that is the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Russia started the first pipeline there in the 1880s in Baku on the edge of the Caspian Sea, with a pipeline which carried kerosene a total of 835km to the Batumi, Georgia, a port on the Black Sea. It was the longest pipeline in the world at that time. Joseph Stalin actually led workers in the oil industry there.
"In the late 19th century Baku on the Caspian Sea was the site of a pipeline to the Black Sea, financed by Rothschild and Shell Oil. Joseph Stalin was a workers' leader there in an atrocious working environment. By the end of the Second World War, established easily accessible wells in the Caspian were less productive and, although the Soviet Union continued some new development there, including the building of off-shore platforms, it focused more on inland resources which did not require investment in offshore drilling equipment." (Colin Campbell, "The Caspian Chimera," Chapter 5 in Sheila Newman, (Ed)., The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, 2008.)
Since the late 19th century this area has been the object of colonial exploitation and wars over its mineral wealth, with British and US exploration teams competing against each other and against Russia. President Trueman's duplicitous policies towards Russia and Ukraine are the subject of Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States series (book and films). (See interview of Peter Kuznik, Oliver Stone's co-writer on this material here.) The political behaviour towards the region by the US between the First and Second World Wars was eerily similar to its behaviour today.
These geopolitical features have bred extremely tough political survival behaviour in associated royal and elected governments. The toughness is expressed in authoritarian government and sophisticated international relations with commercial organisations, international finance and international governments. Since the first oil shock in the early 1970s, the oil-exporting countries in this region have attempted to shrug off colonial rulers and assert independence. The political countershock from the West has been to fight those attempts. Gaddafi led the formation of OPEC which coordinated the policies of the oil-producing countries, with the aim of getting a steady income for its member states in return for secure supply of oil to oil importers. His efforts assisted independence amongst member oil-producing countries and a world price for oil. There was a brief period when it seemed that the West might respectfully integrate the leaders of those Eastern independence movements and the oil producing countries, but draw-down on world oil resources, through increased demand and finite supply, ever more expensively accessed, has coincided with escalating aggression on the part of the west. Russia and China, for their parts, are acting defensively to secure their geopolitical links with their neighbours.
Pipeline-linked countries vulnerable targets
Most important in the new problems with Syria and Ukraine and Crimea, is access to pipelines conveying oil and gas resources from the Caspian Sea region through surrounding countries, which have strategic power and risks. The absence of reporting on this crucial aspect of East-West hostilities in the Western media makes the Western powers and their media promoters and corporate supporters look guilty and the populations of Western countries look uneducated and incurious. Coverage from the Teheran Times and Russia Today is far more reality based.
"The recent U.S.-backed coup that toppled the former government in Ukraine has been couched in the noble rhetoric of democracy, humanitarian intervention and self-determination, but a closer examination reveals an ugly underside of realpolitik whose motive is energy dominance. Like Syria, Ukraine has one of the key gas pipeline corridors coveted by the U.S. and its NATO allies that is still under the influence of a so-called R&D (resistant and defiant) country such as Russia.
To understand what is happening in Ukraine and Syria, and how Qatar and Azerbaijan are involved, we must briefly look at regional energy developments following the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. While the Persian Gulf is well known for its abundant energy resources, the Caspian Sea Basin also has seen oil exploration and production since the early 1900s however the U.S. and the West had scant involvement there before the end of the Cold War. Since the breakup of the former Soviet Union, the United States and Russia have engaged in fierce competition to control the energy resources of the newly created Caspian Sea littoral states." Source: "The last Argument of Kings," Tehran Times, March 18, 2014 by stratagem, http://www.phantomreport.com/pipeline-predicament-the-ukraine-syria-russia-u-s-gas-nexus"
Importance of who supplies China with gas
Russia's impending new contract to supply its neighbour China with gas for the next 30 years could be one of the things that caused Western powers to make desperate efforts at this time to get control of the Ukraine in order to influence oil supply contracts in the region. (Gazprom negotiations).
Supplying China has been an important goal of competing powers in the region because whoever supplies China has a very powerful friend. Even though contemporary oil-exploration is done by commercial corporations, states vie to develop and maintain relations with these companies. This need to dominate oil-exploration companies is likewise a major reason for US interference in South American and African politics and for South American states to make friends with Russian, Chinese and African states and their geo-exploration companies. Western powers are trying to destroy these alliances by using their own alliances which include supporting Israeli annexation of territories, amassing of arms, and Saudi Arabian attempts to religiously colonise free Arab states, like Syria.
We should all be trying to get along and to plan to downsize world economy in line with dwindling fuel resources, but half the world is doing the opposite.
State Politics and Fossil Fuel Depletion
There is no doubt that the world's industrial powers are encountering increasing trouble accessing affordable fossil fuel resources. All the signs are there: war, loss of democracy, environmental suicide.
A few years ago, the United States began using huge quantities of explosive material in order to crudely reopen old mines and start new ones in situations which it had not pursued before because of their inherent danger, pollution and landscape costs.
It is naive to accept the spin that the US puts on fracking for shale-oil and gas, by which it implies that it now has abundant fuels to supply growth indefinitely. The reality is that the U.S. has to spend more barrels of oil to get shale oil and gas than were ever required to get oil from wells. The reason the US is going after shale-oil and gas is because most remaining crude oil reserves are now very hard to get to, due to their inaccessible geological position and due to international political competition for these scarce resources. And getting shale oil and gas costs more than energy; it costs democracy and it has the capacity to ruin any resilience in the economy. See "Fracking Democracy". People are protesting across the US at how the government is permitting shale-oil and gas mines to take over their farms. They are afraid of pollution (notably of water), subsidence, and the truly awful scale of mining which is transforming landscape and politics, as well as air, soil and water, with massive emissions of carbon gases. Fracking has been banned in France, although the US-influenced EU is trying to overturn this, as it has overturned French law on use of hormone-based pesticides like Roundup and genetically modified crops. The Western powers have also tried to interest the Ukraine in giving them fracking rights in the Ukraine.
Profligate petroleum users have no place in the 21st century
Unfortunately Australia is unwisely following the United States style on fossil fuel recovery. The EU, which tended to have more conservative, longer-view plans, is at risk of being dragged into the same profligate style due to the growing influence of a US-influenced banking system on the EU and the debts which this has already caused in European countries.
Australia, the United States, and Britain, have all exhausted their petroleum reserves by pursuing policies of economic and population growth in the face of common sense. They have also used an expensive and inefficient commercial approach to exploring for and mining petroleum at home and abroad. As oil geologist, Colin Campbell, put it, western oil-explorers "had to pretend that every borehole had a good chance of finding oil" [in order to attract investors], whereas their Soviet counterparts, "were very efficient explorers, as they were able to approach their task in a scientific manner, being able to drill holes to gather critical information" - which meant that, due to being state-financed, they didn't have to sink lots of unproductive and costly wells.
Colin Campbell describes the difficulties of oil and gas mining in the Caspian Sea, explaining how the countries of the region exploited oil resources that could be more conventionally mined. Much of the oil and gas reserves there are, not only under the sea, but deep under the sea-floor:
"In the years following World War II, they brought in the major producing provinces of the [Soviet] Union, finding most of the giant fields within them. Baku [on the Caspian Sea] was by now a mature province of secondary importance, although work continued to develop secondary prospects and begin to chase extensions offshore from platforms. The Soviet Union had ample onshore supplies, which meant that it had no particular incentive to invest in offshore drilling equipment. The Caspian itself was therefore largely left fallow, although the borderlands were thoroughly investigated. Of particular importance was the discovery of the Tengiz Field in 1979 in the prolific pre-Caspian basin of Kazakhstan, only some 70km from the shore. Silurian source-rocks had charged a carboniferous reef reservoir at a depth of about 4,500 meters beneath an effective seal of Permian salt. Initial estimates suggested a potential of about 6Gb, but the problem was that the oil has a sulphur content of as much as 16 per cent, calling for high-quality steel pipe and equipment, not then available to the Soviets. Development was accordingly postponed. The fall of the Soviet regime in 1991 opened the region to Western investment. " (Colin Campbell, "The Caspian Chimera," Chapter 5 in Sheila Newman, (Ed)., The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, 2008.
A more cautious Soviet approach and the difficulty of access due to cold climate has meant that Russia has not used up all its oil and gas supplies. It has a good record of efficiency in the surrounding region. Due to the depletion of traditional oil reserves, the time has come when oil-exploration in these dangerous and icy regions nearby Russia will find finance.
Population policies and entitlement to fuel resources
We could go further and say that, as long as the Anglophone countries insist on growing their populations and their economies - which really means growing their need for energy resources and their output of pollution - and starting wars to fulfill these unwise policies of continued growth - they don't deserve what they are going after. We maybe should include India which, like Australia, as an ex-British colony, has all the problems of the Anglophone system where focused beneficiaries of population growth promote it in flagrant opposition to public opinion. The only obvious solution to the problem of finite resources can be to share remaining scarce resources equitably among polities which agree to stop engineering growth and demand upwards. That is a way to avoid continuing wars. In contrast to the rapid population growth in Anglophone countries and India, Russia's population is not growing fast and China has a responsible population policy.
Fracking and western sabre-rattling in this region
The reason for the civil war in Syria almost certainly lies in the growing desperation by the United States and Europe about maintaining large supplies of cheap oil, in competition with China and Russia, with Russia relatively well-situated geopolitically. The United States trumpets its successful recovery through fracking as a cover but, as explained above, anyone who knows anything about oil knows that fracking oil and gas costs far more oil and gas than earlier methods of retrieving oil and gas, but the industries and governments just aren't revealing how much.
The two inland seas, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea are the sites of major oil and gas exploration, although concerted exploration of the Black Sea is only just beginning, and expectations are modest.#fnSubj6" id="txtSubj6">6 The reserves in the Caspian, however, are enormous, but the question is how much can ever be accessed and mined. These reserves are deep, dirty, dangerous and nearly inaccessible deposits laced with highly poisonous hydrogen sulphide, however they are sufficiently important for commercial and government exploration to have persevered, leading to the construction of extremely long pipe-lines to transport gas across multiple countries, from Baku, Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey; from Baku via Russia to Novorossiysk on the Black Sea, thence to Western Europe. Accompanying the longest of these pipelines, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, which runs from Azerbaijan through Armenia and Turkey, to the South is Syria, Iraq and Iran, and, above them: Georgia, Russia and Ukraine, with Crimea just above Novorossiysk on the Black Sea. On the other side of the Black Sea is Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. On the other side of the Caspian Sea from the Russian side are Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.
The recent coup against the legitimate Ukraine Government has meant that Russia now has to consider building a very expensive new pipeline around the top of the Ukraine to avoid new incursions into its territory bordering on the Caspian Sea.
You can see from the map, "Proposed and actual gas pipelines," (Source: Wikipedia commons circa 2007 but still useful) how difficult it would be for Europeans to impose economic sanctions on Russia, for Russia is an important supplier of gas to the rest of Europe. This is likely to cause a split between America, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Australia, which do not have this relationship with Russia. The United States has, however, recently begun exporting shale gas to Europe, creating an impression that it has huge supplies and hoping to reduce Russia's income from and power derived from supplying Europe in the short term.#fnSubj7" id="txtSubj7">7 In the mean time, it seems the US is actually having problems supplying its own needs:
"U.S. Natural Gas Inventories
Natural gas working inventories fell by 74 Bcf to 822 Bcf during the week ending March 28, 2014. Colder-than-normal temperatures and a few late-season winter storms during the month resulted in increased heating demand, prompting larger-than-normal withdrawals. Stocks are now 878 Bcf less than last year at this time and 992 Bcf less than the five-year (2009-13) average for this time of year. Total stocks, as well as stocks in all three regions, are currently less than their five-year (2009-13) minimums." Source: Energy Information Agency, (EIA), http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/report/natgas.cfm?src=Natural-b1
#fnSubj1" id="fnSubj1">1. #txtSubj1">⇑ Sheila Newman's research thesis for environmental sociology, "The Growth lobby in Australia and its Absence in France" (pdf - 100,000 words plus) , was about differences in the way that Australia and France adapted their population, housing and environmental policies after the first oil shock. It contains an historical comparison of pre-oil shock oil-economics in both countries. Later she was co-editor for the first edition of Andrew McKillop and Sheila Newman, The Final Energy Crisis, Pluto Press, UK, 2006; and sole editor for Sheila Newman (Ed. and Author), The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, UK, 2008, which is a collection of her work plus scientific articles by nine scientists in disciplines ranging from particle physics through agriculture to environmental science and one economist. In 2013 she published, Demography, Territory, Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, 2013. [Paperback and Kindle.] The second in the Demography Territory Law series: Demography Territory Law 2: Land-tenure and the origins of Capitalism in Britain, is due for publication by June or July 2014 and asks whether the confluence of coal and iron in Britain caused its massive population growth, assisted it, or followed on from it, whether capitalism was inevitable and why it happened in Britain rather than elsewhere in Europe.
According to The Guardian, the 11-minute conversation between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet details new allegations that the snipers who killed protestors in the Ukrainian capital were not agents of former president Viktor Yanukovych, but rather agents of the opposition forces.
"There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet said during the conversation. [...] "Following the declaration, Paet went on to mention that the new Ukrainian government has heard the evidence, yet has shown no interest in investigating the claims.[...]"
#fnSubj5" id="fnSubj5">5. #txtSubj5">⇑ The Nord Stream gas pipeline takes gas to Germany, from where it is transported to Britain and other countries. I am not clear as to whether there are still plans to continue the pipeline underwater to Britain.
#fnSubj6" id="fnSubj6">6. #txtSubj6">⇑ The Black Sea has nothing comparable to the proven reserves in the Caspian Sea, but the need to find oil and gas is becoming so pressing that companies have taken out exploration licences for gas reserves they would previously not have bothered with. The Skifska natural gas field located on the continental shelf of the Black Sea was discovered in 2012 and there are other promising deposits offshore from Ukraine. "At the helm of the new energy diplomacy effort is Carlos Pascual, a former American ambassador to Ukraine, who leads the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources. The 85-person bureau was created in late 2011 by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state at the time, for the purpose of channeling the domestic energy boom into a geopolitical tool to advance American interests around the world."
In response to cases of swine influenza A(H1N1), reported in Mexico and the United States of America, the Director-General convened a meeting of the Emergency Committee to assess the situation and advise her on appropriate responses.
The establishment of the Committee, which is composed of international experts in a variety of disciplines, is in compliance with the International Health Regulations (2005).
The first meeting of the Emergency Committee was held on Saturday 25 April 2009.
After reviewing available data on the current situation, Committee members identified a number of gaps in knowledge about the clinical features, epidemiology, and virology of reported cases and the appropriate responses.
The Committee advised that answers to several specific questions were needed to facilitate its work.
The Committee nevertheless agreed that the current situation constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
Based on this advice, the Director-General has determined that the current events constitute a public health emergency of international concern, under the Regulations.
Concerning public health measures, in line with the Regulations the Director-General is recommending, on the advice of the Committee, that all countries intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.
The Committee further agreed that more information is needed before a decision could be made concerning the appropriateness of the current phase 3.
Candobetter Editor's comment: The above quote from the committee about more information being needed means that the Stage 3 alert is current until further information either upgrades or downgrades it.
Experts at WHO and elsewhere believe that the world is now closer to another influenza pandemic than at any time since 1968, when the last of the previous century's three pandemics occurred. WHO uses a series of six phases of pandemic alert as a system for informing the world of the seriousness of the threat and of the need to launch progressively more intense preparedness activities.
The designation of phases, including decisions on when to move from one phase to another, is made by the Director-General of WHO.
Each phase of alert coincides with a series of recommended activities to be undertaken by WHO, the international community, governments, and industry. Changes from one phase to another are triggered by several factors, which include the epidemiological behaviour of the disease and the characteristics of circulating viruses.
The world is presently in phase 3: a new influenza virus subtype is causing disease in humans, but is not yet spreading efficiently and sustainably among humans.
In the aftermath of breaking ground on the new, 1100 square foot White House garden, Michelle Obama named chef Sam Kass to head the White House Food Initiative. And Kass isn't a fan of big agriculture and mass fertilisers.
All of this positive PR for organics feels very threatening to Big Ag. So one group, the Mid America CropLife Association, has sent an email defending chemical ag to Mrs. Obama. See the letter reprinted below.
After sending the letter, MACA forwarded it around to others, with the following message:
"Did you hear the news? The White House is planning to have an "organic" garden on the grounds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Obama's and their guests. While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder. As a result, we sent a letter encouraging them to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy. Read below for the entire letter.
If you want to send your own letter, it can be sent to the White House ..."
Except one person on the forward list didn't shudder at the idea of an organic garden - and that's how the letter reached the person who sent it on. Here it is:
Letter from Big Ag
"March 26, 2009
Mrs. Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mrs. Obama,
We are writing regarding the garden recently added to the White House grounds to ensure a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables to your family, guests and staff. Congratulations on recognizing the importance of agriculture in America! The U.S. has the safest and most abundant food supply in the world thanks to the 3 million people who farm or ranch in the United States.
The CropLife Ambassador Network, a program of the Mid America CropLife Association, consists of over 160 ambassadors who work and many of whom grew up in agriculture. Their mission is to provide scientifically based, accurate information to the public regarding the safety and value of American agricultural food production. Many people, especially children, don't realize the extent to which their daily lives depend on America's agricultural industry. For instance, children are unaware the jeans they put on in the morning, the three meals eaten daily, the baseball with which they play and even the biofuels that power the school bus are available because of America's farmers and ranchers.
Agriculture is the largest industry in America generating 20% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Individuals, family partnerships or family corporations operate almost 99% of U.S. farms. Over 22 million people are employed in farm-related jobs, including production agriculture, farm inputs, processing and marketing and sales. Through research and changes in production practices, today's food producers are providing Americans with the widest variety of foods ever.
Starting in the early 1900's, technology advances have allowed farmers to continually produce more food on less land while using less human labor. Over time, Americans were able to leave the time-consuming demands of farming to pursue new interests and develop new abilities. Today, an average farmer produces enough food to feed 144 Americans who are living longer lives than many of their ancestors. Technology in agriculture has allowed for the development of much of what we know and use in our lives today. If Americans were still required to farm to support their family's basic food and fiber needs, would the U.S. have been leaders in the advancement of science, communication, education, medicine, transportation and the arts?
We live in a very different world than that of our grandparents. Americans are juggling jobs with the needs of children and aging parents. The time needed to tend a garden is not there for the majority of our citizens, certainly not a garden of sufficient productivity to supply much of a family's year-round food needs.
Much of the food considered not wholesome or tasty is the result of how it is stored or prepared rather than how it is grown. Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical. Local and conventional farming is not mutually exclusive. However, a Midwest mother whose child loves strawberries, a good source of Vitamin C, appreciates the ability to offer California strawberries in March a few months before the official Mid-west season.
Farmers and ranchers are the first environmentalists, maintaining and improving the soil and natural resources to pass onto future generations. Technology allows for farmers to meet the increasing demand for food and fiber in a sustainable manner.
Farmers use reduced tillage practices on more than 72 million acres to prevent erosion.
Farmers maintain over 1.3 million acres of grass waterways, allowing water to flow naturally from crops without eroding soil.
Contour farming keeps soil from washing away. About 26 million acres in the U.S. are managed this way.
Agricultural land provides habitat for 75% of the nation's wildlife.
Precision farming boosts crop yields and reduces waste by using satellite maps and computers to match seed, fertilizer and crop protection applications to local soil conditions.
Sophisticated Global Positioning Systems can be specifically designed for spraying pesticides. A weed detector equipped with infrared light identifies specific plants by the different rates of light they reflect and then sends a signal to a pump to spray a preset amount of herbicide onto the weed.
Biogenetics allows a particular trait to be implanted directly into the seed to protect the seed against certain pests.
Farmers are utilizing 4-wheel drive tractors with up to 300 horsepower requiring fewer passes across fields-saving energy and time.
Huge combines are speeding the time it takes to harvest crops.
With modern methods, 1 acre of land in the U.S. can produce 42,000 lbs. of strawberries, 110,000 heads of lettuce, 25,400 lbs. of potatoes, 8,900 lbs. of sweet corn, or 640 lbs of cotton lint.
As you go about planning and planting the White House garden, we respectfully encourage you to recognize the role conventional agriculture plays in the U.S in feeding the ever-increasing population, contributing to the U.S. economy and providing a safe and economical food supply. America's farmers understand crop protection technologies are supported by sound scientific research and innovation.
The CropLife Ambassador Network offers educational programs for elementary school educators at http://ambassador.maca.org covering the science behind crop protection products and their contribution to sustainable agriculture. You may find our programs America's Abundance, Farmers Stewards of the Land and War of the Weeds of particular interest. We thank you for recognizing the importance and value of America's current agricultural technologies in feeding our country and contributing to the U.S economy.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Bonnie McCarvel, Executive Director
Janet Braun, Program Coordinator
Mid America CropLife Association
11327 Gravois Rd., #201
St. Louis, MO 63126"
Real proportion of farmers in the US
Note that Christopher Cook, in Diet for a dead planet gives the number of farmers in the US at around 2 million only now, and he comments that this is fewer than the number of Americans in prison.
As for big ag being environmentally caring ....!
Listen to the interview with him about his research for many more realities of the unsustainable and depraved basis of our industrial economy - currently worst of all in the US but quickly turning Australia into something very similar.
As for the claims made by Big Ag above about the time needed to tend a garden - well, it certainly takes a lot longer to work to buy food and the car to tote it from the supermarket than it takes to produce enough for one person to eat! And it's a lot more enjoyable. What is hard is making a big profit out of agriculture, but that's not what you and I are necessarily seeking when we plant an easy to maintain orchard and a few vegetables. I am so over hearing how hard gardening is. Once everyone did it and had plenty of time to spare.
See also:discussion on the Life After the Oil Crash Forum