Kevork Almassian does not agree with laws forcing women to cover their heads, in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else. He thinks Iran should not have these laws, but he thinks that western media publicity for these protests is done because they don't like Iranian foreign policy, not because they care about women's rights. And we should think of why that is.
Two years ago on 3 January 2020, US President Donald Trump ordered a drone strike to kill General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces. The drone struck just after they had disembarked from an airplane at Baghdad Airport as both were due to meet Iraq's caretaker Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi.
US President Joe Biden ordered military airstrikes against facilities belonging to anti-terror resistance groups on the Iraqi-Syrian border. The military action, the first of its kind under US President Joe Biden, has been met with negative reactions, with many observers likening Biden's approach to that of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
The military action was said to be in retaliation for recent attacks against American bases and missions in Iraq, which Washington has blamed on so-called "Iran-backed" Iraqi resistance groups. Australian mass-media has uncritically repeated these pretexts. Iran has, however, repeatedly rejected any role in the attacks targeting American bases in Iraq. Iraqi resistance forces have been fighting remnants of the Takfiri Daesh terror group across border regions of Iraq and Syria in coordination with the governments in both Arab countries. Damascus has censured the US air raid describing it as "cowardly" and a "bad sign" from the new US administration.
In the introduction, Mohammed Ali, in Damascus, Syria, gives that state's response to the attacks.
Discussing the issues with compere, Bardia Honardar, are Sara Flounders, National Co-Director, International Action Center, an activist group founded in 1992 by former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark. It supports anti-imperialist movements around the world, and opposes U.S. military intervention in all circumstances; and Daniel Kovalic, lawyer and adjunct Professor of labour law, University of Pittsburg, campaigner in International Human Rights, particularly in Columbia, where he has exposed murder and destabilisation programs by the United States and corporations.
Note that it is not possible to embed this debate.  If you click on the link, you will go to the press tv iran site, but you will have to click the back arrow to return to this site.
Transcript of debate
BARDIA HONARDAR (COMPERE): Daniel Kovalic, what does this attack say about US President Joe Biden's approach to foreign policy?
KOVALIC: Well it says what many of us fear and that is that he is going to be a very aggressive president when it comes to military action. You mentioned at the outset of the broadcast when you compared him to his hawkish predecessor, Trump. I'm not sure that Trump was any more hawkish than Obama and I'm not sure Biden will be less hawkish than Trump. My guess is he will actually be more so, and this is a signal of that. This is an unlawful attack he engaged in. It's illegal. Under international law, there was no security authorisation for it and it wasn't done as an act of self-defense and it was a war-crime. So, I think he's signalling - you know, he keeps saying, "America's back!" and what he means by that is the 82nd Airborne is back to start bombing people. And that's a shame.
BARDIA HONARDAR (COMPERE): Sara Flounders, what do you think is behind the decision to carry out this attack?
FLOUNDERS: Well, I think - as was just said - President Biden is really sending a message not to expect anything different than previous US presidents in terms of criminal, illegal activity. It's an absolute war-crime. I mean, the US has no business being in Syria, has no business being in the region, at all. They use the flimsiest excuses even imaginable, that an Iraqi resistance group backed by Iran - all of this supposed - and for that reason they're bombing Syria? I mean, even here in the US, how on earth is that understandable, to anyone? But it's saying that the US needs no excuse to continue its intervention. The US has been bombing Syria since 2014, and from the very beginning, was part of this effort to bring down Syria, to destroy Syria, to pull it apart. From the very - from 2011, a 'regime-change operation' is what they called it. And this is Biden signalling that there is no real change in policy. It shows enormous hostility. Also, it's openly said, 'This is to be a message to Iran'; it's to be 'a message to Iraq'. A message also to the people here, in the US, who had expectations about Biden; that maybe he would speak for Amazon workers, who are desperately trying to organise a union that a million low-wage workers at stake want warehouse organising. Biden won't say a word. Won't say a word! They're still waiting for a stimulus bill here - millions and millions of people who are desperate - but they could carry out, at enormous expense, a bombing run in Syria. And that is criminal toward the people of Syria, but it's also criminal toward the people here in the US, who needed and expected that there would be some change. And, of course, there's not.
BARDIA HONARDAR (COMPERE): Daniel, Damascus has censured the US air raid, describing it as, "a bad sign from the Administration of the US president." What do you think would be the fall-out from this attack?
KOVALIC: Well, I think that any chance of the nuclear deal with Iran being put back in place between the US and Iran, I think that's - there was slim hope of that anyway, given Biden's position on that, but I think now, that's probably finished. And I think that he, by this bombing, wanted to send the message that there's no rapprochement with Iran coming from him. He sent that message loud and clear, and I'm sure Iran got the message that they're - you know - it's going to be business as usual between the US and Iran, which means sanctions are going to stay in place, which means ordinary Iranians are going to continue to suffer. So, that's going to be one fall-out. I think a lot of the world, even in Europe, is going to be more wary of the Biden administration. I think there were some amongst world leaders who hoped he would be more diplomatic than Trump, that he would use peaceful means to try to deal with conflicts with other countries. And, in fact, Biden - you know - said so. That he would use peaceful means first to deal with other countries and, what he's shown by his actions is he has no intention of doing that. He is going to shoot first and ask questions later.
BARDIA HONARDAR (COMPERE): Sara Flounders. Hours after the US attack, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, with his Syrian counterpart, they both emphasised the need for western countries to abide by UN Security Council resolutions regarding Syria. The question is the law. It hasn't really been a concern for Washington, especially when it comes to Syria, has it?
FLOUNDERS: This is so absolutely lawless. There's no concern for even a fig leaf of cover on this. Not at all. And we should all keep in mind that the US, with no justification, has absolutely made every effort to stop Syria from rebuilding, after these ten years of hugely destructive war. Syria, at a heroic effort, defeated US attempts to overthrow the government, but the sanctions, [without] which would enable absolutely normal trade and rebuilding, are attempting to strangle Syria, as they are attempting to strangle Iran, and the whole region, because it shuts down any relations between each of the countries of the region and that's what it's also meant to do: to push back development, to push back solidarity - and I don't think it's going to have that impact. I think it will, if anything, toughen resolve in Syria, and in Iran and Iraq too. So, the US has shown that their aims - they can be pushed back by people's mobilisation - they have been pushed back. US was literally pushed out of Iraq, in a very - by millions of people, by real effort, pushed out of Syria - but, they keep trying. They really - it's relentless and it's criminal, and, as I say, it has to be the countries of Europe and here in the US which demand a stop in this criminal activity. It shouldn't be only the people of Syria and Iran speaking on this. Really, the people of the whole world need to denounce this.
BARDIA HONARDAR (COMPERE): Danny Kovalic, the Russian foreign minister said that the US military is present on Syrian soil illegally in violation of all norms of international law. China has warned against any action that would further complicate the situation in Syria, and analysts that we spoke to, here on Press TV, said that Washington might be intending to relaunch the war on Damascus, the one that Biden's old partner, Obama, started. Do you agree with that?
KOVALIC: Well, I think that's a great danger! And again, the Democrats and, frankly, the more 'liberal' media, for lack of a better word, have signaled that that's what they want for years! I mean, you know, the Democrats and outlets like New York Times, and NPR, were constantly attacking Trump for every position he took - which is fine - and I mean, I have no problem with that - but the one thing they would applaud him for is when he bombed Syria! They were clear that that's what they want: More bombing. They made it clear they didn't want Trump to get out of Afghanistan, like he was actually seeming to try to do. So, yeah, I think this is the plan, I think that the goal is to destroy Syria. The US government has on a few occasions acknowledged they cannot overthrow Assad, and so, clearly, the goal is simply to destroy the country. And now, the last figure I saw, is it had 12 million Syrians who are starving through the sanctions, the Caesar sanctions. So, I think they are going to continue to sow chaos and destruction in the Middle East, and I say that very sadly, but that's what I see happen.
BARDIA HONARDAR (COMPERE): Sara Flounders, the foreign minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, he recently said that Moscow had received unconfirmed information that the United States is planning to stay in Syria indefinitely. How inconsistent has the US been in its policy in Syria? Many would believe it's impossible to predict whether the US will stay or leave.
FLOUNDERS: Well, the US policy has been consistent in terms of war on the world and, in that, they are signalling that they plan to continue that relentless war. And it is also a war that is absolutely destroying the US. We have the highest - the highest by every count - of deaths from Covid, because there is no health infrastructure. There's a huge military infrastructure. They know what's on every one of 800 military bases around the world. They know they can - with their satellites - monitor everything, yet they can't get out vaccines in the US. They can't give emergency supplies in the midst of a horrendous cold-snap that's hit Texas and parts of the US south, and people are freezing without electricity, without heat. They can't provide those things. They can't provide the most basic things here for the population. And they can't provide vaccines for the global south, for the people of the world - or for the US. But they can provide bombs. They can provide destruction, because that is profitable. And that's how they calculate it. They don't calculate it at all with people need peace and they need health care and they need good food. Those are absolute human needs and, instead, this policy is set by those who profit from war. And it's enormously profitable. Billionaires. So, I - it's destructive and really, those links need to be made more and more, so that people here in the US understand who's responsible, when they don't have heat or jobs or a vaccine. Who's responsible? This government that cares more about war.
Q.BARDIA HONARDAR (COMPERE):targets, which have often had little impact, they've escalated over the past year, especially since the Iraqi parliament passed a law that mandated a full withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country but many are saying that the rise in such activities are apparently creating a sense of insecurity in Iraq and providing a pretext for the US to keep its troops and forces in the country. Do you see it in that light as well?
KOVALIC: Well, yes, although it's a strange argument - right? It's a circular argument. To be in a country illegally, like the US is, and then to say, when national forces that attack them, 'cause they want them out - as we would in the US, if someone invaded us, and stayed for years - and then to say, 'Well, we have to stay, because our presence is causing this reaction, but we have to stay to counter that reaction' - it makes no sense! But that is US military policy. We create the crisis, then we stay to stomp out the crisis - or to claim to. It's just completely irrational to any honest thinking person.
BARDIA HONARDAR (COMPERE): Sara Flounders, I see you nodding there. Would you like to add anything to that?
FLOUNDERS: Well, it's true. Any thinking person would say this is a criminally insane policy. And we're paying with lives in Syria, with lives around the world, and with lives here. And all that is not being done, in order to continue a war on the world. I just can't say how even disheartening - not that I had any expectation about Biden, or the Democratic Party - but there was a certain expectation that there would be maybe even some breathing room, or that there would be some attention to the needs here, but it's really clear that they intend to keep military presence every single place they can and to expand it, to threaten other countries. So, when Biden sends a message like this, we've got to take it seriously, and up the demands here, because that is the only way, the only way I can see, and to absolutely state how com - there's no excuse! We have to make this completely unacceptable. And to demand they end the sanctions and the bases and the bombings and the war on the world.
BARDIA HONARDAR (COMPERE): I'm going to stay with you, Miss Flounders. Over the years there have been numerous reports about the infiltration of Daesh elements from Syria into Iraq, under the protection and logistical assistance of US troops. The popular mobilisation forces and its affiliates, which have been integrated into Iraq's regular forces, [are] deployed on the Syrian border and they're helping the army to stem the movement of the terrorists between the two countries. Do you think maybe that's why they're being targeted by the US?
FLOUNDERS: Well, certainly the US wants to continue to use Daesh forces. They want to use everywhere they can the most reactionary forces, who only seek to destroy. And, in the same way that their alliances are with completely criminal monarchies, who don't represent the population, such as Saudi Arabia. So it's not surprising that they would use Daesh-ISIS forces in Iraq, in Syria, and use as a threatening force in other countries of the world. And then it gives them an excuse to say they're going in to fight these forces. Well, maybe folks bought that back in 2014 and 2015, but I don't think anybody accepts that any longer. They know who pays and who transports these forces, who protects them in supposed prisons, and then moves them out in order to carry out destruction again.
BARDIA HONARDAR (COMPERE): Sure. One last question for Daniel Kovalic in Pittsburg. Syria's new permanent representative to the UN, Bassam Sabbagh, he stressed that the politicisation of the Syrian refugee crisis has increased the suffering of people in the war-ravaged country and western sanctions in his country have prevented Syrians from acquiring basic commodities. Why are Syrians being collectively punished by western countries, namely the US?
KOVALIC: Well, this is standard operating procedure. Many countries are being punished. Many populations are being punished by the west and in particular by the US, because they are standing firm against US aggression, against US intervention, against US imperialism. And, when you do that, you're punished. That is how it goes. That's how the US has operated since its inception. That is the nature of the beast, unfortunately.
 Technical explanation: My unsuccessful attempt to embed the video in this article, was as follows: I copied from the link, labelled "< />" beneath the left hand side of the embedded video at https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2021/02/26/646143/US-SYRIA-STRIKE, by right clicking the mouse and selecting 'copy' from the drop-down menu. I then attempted to link the video from the image the following HTML code:
This caused an image, which was linked to the 'embedded' PressTV video URL, https://preview.presstv.com/ptv///program/20210226/The-Debate-26022021.mp4, to be displayed. Unfortutely, pressing on that image resulted in a video being displayed that was too large. The 'start', 'pause' and 'volume control' buttons could only be found after the video was made smaller with considerable effort. If you want to see what happened when that image was clicked, click on this link.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the mechanisms it uses to monitor the performance of various countries in relation to their handling of the coronavirus epidemic do not show any cover-up by the Iranian government with regard to Iran’s virus crisis.
Speaking in a televised interview with the CNBC news channel on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the organization, said the WHO’s fact-checking mechanisms have not found any concrete proof that Iran had been covering up the severity of the epidemic.
Asked about the media hype revolving around Iran and accusing the country of covering up the severity of the new coronavirus epidemic, the WHO chief said, “I wouldn’t frame any country without any reason or without having any fact.”
“There are reports that come from the media… but this is the WHO, you know, this is a technical organization and should check the facts. We cannot say what journalists say,” he added.
“I say if we followed journalists’ reports, whether it’s well done or not, then where we end.”
He concluded by saying, “That’s why we have our own mechanism and from our own mechanism we haven’t seen that, but if we see, then of course we should address it.”
The virus that emerged in the central city of Wuhan in China's Hubei Province late last year has so far claimed more than 3,000 lives worldwide.
In Iran, it has claimed 66 lives and infected 1,501 others, 291 of whom have recovered.
Iranian medical officials have assured that the country will contain the outbreak, noting that the condition of most of the patients diagnosed with the virus has improved.
The country has mobilized all its resources to confront the disease, with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Iran’s Army being the latest to join the campaign Sunday.
Iran has, meanwhile, announced the closure of schools and universities throughout the upcoming days, and health centers have been tasked with distributing protective items, such as facemasks, among the public.
The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is an illness characterized by fever and coughing and in serious cases causes shortness of breath or pneumonia.
US corporate media is either pro-Republican or pro-Democrat and they are nearly always in violent disagreement, except on the subject of war. Both sides love war. Here is a rabid example, dated 19 September 2019, from Sean Hannity, of Fox news. (The video is only embedded here for the record. Most visitors probably won't choose to put themselves through all of Hannity's war-mongering tirade.) Surprisingly, the only mainstream US journalist who seems to be against war is also on Fox - Tucker Carlson.
In contrast to Hannity, Tucker Carlson, another Fox News presenter, is outspoken in his opposition to any new United States' war as well as to its current, ongoing wars. Unfortunately, Tucker Carlson still accepts, by omission and commission, some, if not all, of the narrative, used to justify those wars. One example is his unjust claim that socialism, and not the savage and illegal U.S. sanctions, is the cause of all the hardships faced by Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. In spite of these and other shortcomings, Tucker Carlson's weekday new service, which lasts about 45 minutes, in contrast to Sean Hannity's, is well worth a look.
The rest of humanity can breathe a sigh of relief, given that Trump has not yet fully taken up Sean Hannity's advice. In large part this is probably due to the fact that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and their allies in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, seem to have have shown themselves capable of standing up to the United States' bullying. Examples include when the IRGC on 19 June shot down the US drone which had violated Iran's air space and the more recent devastating military defeats inflicted on Suadi Arabian invaders by Yemen's Armed forces.
Shout Out for Peace and Climate Action - UN International Day of Peace
No Australian Support for U.S. wars
For an Independent and Peaceful Foreign Policy
Speakers on War and Climate; Iran; US bases and Independent foreign policy; West Papuan Independence; Human Rights in the Philippines; military spending, and more.
Australia shows contempt for an international rules-based order, agreeing to join the US and UK with a naval, air and ADF personel presence in the Persian Gulf without any national debate or UN resolution.
PM Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would join an international mission to protect trade through the Strait of Horumz.
The international force consists of the UK, US, Australia and Bahrain.
Spokesperson for the Independent and Peaceful Australia network, Ms Brownlie said: “This is being presented as protection of the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf and in Australia’s national interest, but it is clear the US is chafing at the bit for an opportunity to attack Iran having spent many years imposing harsh sanctions on the people and most recently pulling out of the JCPOA effectively destroying prospects for peace with Iran.”
“It is also worth noting the irresponsibility of our government in allowing our oil stocks to be so low making us more vulnerable to supply issues creating a dependence on the US to provide back-up reserves”
“The last illegal action taken by the US ,UK and Australia was to form the so-called coalition of the willing to mount an attack and invasion of Iraq opening a pandora’s box of instability in the whole region.”
“Australia has no interest in a conflict in the Persian Gulf, and no enmity towards Iran. Such a conflict without a UN Security Council resolution would be illegal, and would expose Australian leaders and the ADF to accusations of the war crime of aggression,” said Ms Brownlie.
Former secretary of the defence department, Paul Barratt, told The Guardian. Australian involvement in potential military action in the Gulf could be illegal, and argued it was “very foolish for us to get involved in this provocative behaviour”.
“This is an application of military force. There ought to be a debate in the parliament, and we ought not to engage in any activity that would foreseeably involve the use of military force without that debate,” he said.
“Australian leaders need to heed the lessons of the past. Its time we decoupled from US foreign policy and act independently in the interests of peace and stability,” said Ms Brownlie.
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network
https://ipan.org.au | fb. Facebook
This program from Press tv Iran is interesting and useful in bringing us up to date. Iranians know a thing or two about oil production and the oil market. The issues of peak demand and peak production are very hard to estimate and no-one here pretends to have the answers, but a number of factors are canvassed, including US President Trump. As usual, however, in such programs, population growth and economic growth are skirted around. Similarly, increasing efficiency among OECD countries is taken as a given, and increasing consumption among 'developing' countries is also taken as a given. The elephant in the room is, of course, when does peak demand meet peak production.
The global demand for oil is predicted to be rising at least for the few coming decades.
The projection stems from several factors. One of the major reasons is the expectation of a drastic rise in the number of vehicles on the roads.
Economic Divide caught up with Dr. Ali Shams Ardekani to discuss the future demand of oil. He should know a thing or two about the oil industry. He serves as the President of the Iran Business For Future.
He is the current head of the energy commission for the Ministry of Oil, Planning and Development and the Ministry of Industry and Mining in Iran. People across the world are getting more and more mobile. They are expected to use more cars for transportation and also trucks for transiting consumer goods as fast as possible.
The embedded video is from Occupational hazards? Daniel Ayalon, former deputy foreign minister of Israel, the 21 June Episode of RT's World's Apart In that program presenter Oksana Boyko (pictured left) interviews Daniel Ayalon (pictured right) about Israel's recent aerial bombardments of pro-Syrian-government forces inside Syria.
Oksana Boyko successfully challenged most, but not all, of Ayalon's lies and distortions.
Ayalon's supposed justification for Israel's violation of international law is that they were only attacking Iranians and Lebanese Hezbollah who were supposedly there, not to help defend Syria against tens of thousands of terrorist invaders, but to attack Israel.
Oksana Boyko, however, pointed out that Iran and Hezbollah only intervened in Syria after many years of war against Syria by terrorist proxies of the United States and its allies.
Given that, by one estimate, 400,000 Syrians including 80,000 soldiers have died in that conflict since March 2011, the actual and potential consequences of that conflict for Israel are trivial in comparison. It's unfortunate that Oksano Boyko did not provide those figures.
Ayalon pushed the Big Lie, long ago refuted, that the war in Syria was a sectarian conflict between Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam.
Ayalon also claimed that Israel is the only democracy in the region, ignoring the fact that all elections held in recent years in Syria, particularly the Presidential election of 7 June 2014 in which 88.7% the 73.42% of eligible Syrian voters who voted, voted for President Bashar al-Assad, were verified by International observers. In Syria, unlike in Israel, where Palestinians are excluded, all residents - Sunni, Shiite and Alawite Muslims, Christians, Jews, Kurds, Armenians and others, are entited to vote.
No viewer aware of the facts about Israel can be left in any doubt that the criminality of Ayalon and the country he represents has not diminished since Israeli warplanes sank the USS Liberty in 1967 killing 34 crew members in an attempt to provide the United states with a pretext to join Israel in its war against Egypt, Syria and Jordan.
U.S. imperialism’s deteriorating position in the Middle East was confirmed on Jan. 17, by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s bold assertion for U.S. plans in Syria. The arrogant statement was followed, within hours, by almost immediate backpedaling.
Tillerson’s talk at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University confirmed that the only hope of maintaining U.S. domination is another desperate attempt to close all borders and dismember the entire region. But the latest plan has also created a rupture in NATO, the oldest and largest U.S.-commanded military alliance. [Article first published on Global Research at https://www.globalresearch.ca/war-in-syria-the-us-a-wounded-predator-spreads-chaos-in-middle-east/5627212]
Meanwhile, Turkish planes bombed 100 positions in Syria of U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG forces (the Kurdish acronym for People’s Protection Units) on Jan. 21.
As the war in Syria stretches into the seventh year, Tillerson grandly announced the U.S. military will remain in Syria indefinitely. The newest U.S. plan is to create and train a military border force of 30,000 soldiers. The Secretary of State also arrogantly restated the U.S. demand that has met with failure for seven years: the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the overthrow of the Syrian Arab Republic government.
This was not the first mention of new U.S. plans there. General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said on Dec. 24 that a training program was being established for Kurdish and Arab fighters to become a permanent U.S. occupying force in Syria. Votel declared, “What we don’t want to do is leave a mess.” (us.pressfrom.com, Dec. 24)
In fact, U.S. long-term plans are to permanently divide Syria and Iraq and expand their imperialist “mess” into Iran.
Since Jan. 14, news reports around the world reported U.S. plans to create a new “border force” in Syria on the borders of Turkey and Iraq. This U.S. plan would separate the oil-rich northern region from the rest of Syria, create a mini-state and close the borders.
Washington said it would help Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria led by Kurdish YPG militias, to set up a new 30,000-strong border force.
A flurry of other U.S. statements drew out this plan more explicitly.
The coalition’s Public Affairs Office said: “The base of the new force is essentially a realignment of approximately 15,000 members of the SDF to a new mission in the Border Security Force as their actions against ISIS [the Islamic State group, IS] draw to a close.” (Reuters, Jan. 14)
Before the announcement of a new U.S. plan to occupy and divide the region, numerous commentators described an unprecedented development with the defeat of IS – open borders among Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. The whole region has been divided since the 1991 U.S. war to recolonize and divide Iraq.
Turkey immediately slammed this new plan of a permanent U.S. occupation through an alliance with YPG Kurdish forces in Syria. Turkey warned of military action against the U.S.-armed and -protected YPG forces.
In the face of Turkey’s fierce opposition, Tillerson claimed, “That entire situation has been misportrayed, misdescribed, some people misspoke. We are not creating a border security force at all.” (aljazeera, Jan. 18)
The Kurdish Nation
Turkey’s great fear is that a “border force” of U.S.-armed Kurdish militias will siphon off advanced U.S.-supplied weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, to Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) forces in Turkey.
Although there are 1.5 to 2 million Kurds in Syria, there are almost 20 million nationally oppressed Kurds in Turkey. Making up 20 percent of population, they are the majority population in southern Turkey, bordering northern Syria, Iraq and Iran.
For decades the Pentagon has armed Turkey and aided in the brutal repression of the Kurds, who resisted under the leadership of the PKK.
But imperialism sees an opportunity to use the smaller Kurdish population in Syria, where they are 5 percent to 8 percent of the Syrian population, as a way to divide Syria. The Kurds in Syria are under the leadership of the Democratic Union Party (PYD); their armed units are the YPG. These are the main units of the U.S.-armed Syrian Democratic Forces.
U.S. imperialism used a similar scenario to impose a division on Iraq. This is imperialism’s divide-and-rule strategy for the entire region. Using the Kurds’ national aspirations for a temporary U.S. military or political advantage, and then cynically dropping them, dates back to Henry Kissinger.
The Kurds are a historically oppressed nation with a distinct language and culture, numbering over 30 million people. They are the largest nation without a state. They live in the underdeveloped, mountainous region spanning four countries: southern Turkey and northern Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Some 72 Turkish jets bombed U.S.-backed Kurdish militias in Syria on Jan. 21. The Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that jets bombed more than 100 targets, including an air base, in the first day of air operations against YPG militias. The operation targeted YPG barracks, shelters, positions, weapons, vehicles and equipment.
Each U.S. maneuver has created greater destruction, but the U.S. has been unable to consolidate its position in the region or gain stable allies.
U.S. divide-and-destroy tactics
Since 2011 the U.S. has covertly armed a whole series of conflicting militias and mercenaries.
With a wink and a nod from U.S. forces in the region, which were arming numerous extremist militias, Saudi Arabia and Turkey armed the fanatical IS army. This became an excuse for open U.S. bombing of Syrian infrastructure.
The U.S. military command pulled 19 other NATO and Gulf countries into the war in Syria. This military onslaught was totally uninvited by the Syrian government.
The Syrian government appealed to Iran, Russia and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon to aid them in defeating IS and the Pentagon-funded militias and mercenaries. This forced Washington to change tactics, but not its objective -- the recolonization of the region.
U.S.-imposed sanctions against Iraq and then Syria were an effort to destroy all forms of normal economic exchange and to shut down all commercial and social life. The U.S. occupation of Iraq divided the country into walled-off mini-states with checkpoints and inspections. All borders were closed. U.S. intervention in Syria was designed to do the same thing.
U.S. wars in the region have displaced more than 10 million people and decimated the region. They have created animosity and suspicion on every side, divided the corrupt and a brutal feudal Gulf state regime aligned with imperialism, and are now dividing the oldest U.S. military alliance -- NATO.
But after seven years of war and 15 years of sanctions, U.S. imperialism has still not succeeded in destroying the sovereign government of the Syrian Arab Republic.
About Sara Flounders: Sara Flounders is an American political writer who has been active in anti-war organizing since the 1960s. Flounders sits on the board of directors for the International Anti-imperialist Coordinating Committee, is founder and an organizer with United National Antiwar Coalition, and is Secretary of the National Board of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms.
President Assad and President Putin met on 21st of November to celebrate the defeat of Daesh in Syria, but we hear little of this in the western media, which is distracting people with Hollywood scandals. In this brilliantly documented episode of The Debate, Iranian Press TV has conducted an interview with Janice Kortkamp, a journalist from Washington, and Jonathan Fryer, a London-based writer and lecturer, to discuss "the end of Daesh" terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.
The antagonism towards Russia by U.S. media and foreign policy elites goes far beyond allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Paul Jay of The Real News interviews
Larry Wilkerson, retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson was the 2009 recipient of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. This hour-long interview goes much further and wider than most on this issue. You won't agree with every idea expressed here, but you will be stimulated by many of them, because Wilkerson is intelligent, learned, and unfettered. I have not previously seen a debate cover so much history and geography. They look at the Middle East, Syria, of course, and at petro-politics and climate change. Russia's motives, attitudes. Bill Clinton's incursion into Georgia. Nazis in Ukraine and US encouragement of them. They look at the rise of China and the one belt road. At the reasons for conflict within Saudi Arabia. And they worry about the United States and MSN beating the war drums for Iran. At the end Wilkerson says what strategic advice he would give Trump, if he had the opportunity. Part of that advice is that America has too many enemies and how Trump might reduce the amount. And, finally, how the US, which is trillions of dollrs in debt, with about 20% of the productivity it had in its heyday, might go about partly sharing with and partly relinquising power to China.
[UPDATE 7 Nov 2017: Added excerpts from President Rouhani's speech.] I was riveted by this video in its presentation of the antithesis of United States policy in new agreements between Russia and Iran. The video begins with a remarkable political message in the ceremonial exchange of documents of agreement on very important material matters, which should make a big difference to politics in the region - and won't please the United States. These included agreements on nuclear energy transport cooperation, oil and gas exploration, technology and information technology, railway electrification, urban construction and development, trade in the energy industry, visa-free travel for groups between Russia and Iran, and agreement on extradition of convicted persons between the two countries and cooperation on legal affairs. In addition they agreed on mutual cooperation in fighting Islamic extremism, the encouragement of cultural exchange and sports, and working on the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. This news conference was part of a trilateral meeting of Vladimir Putin, President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. Putin and Rouhani appear in the video. You have to be aware of the momentous nature of the agreements in order to appreciate this otherwise somewhat stilted piece of diplomatic theatre. America has been trying to isolate and weaken Iran, which has both considerable oil reserves and a catbird seat on the shores of the oil-rich (if logistically highly problematic) Caspian Sea. America has backed wars in the region, invaded neighbours, and tried to undermine support for Russia in the Middle East because it wants permanent influence there. Obama, in his negotiations about Iran's use of nuclear power, may have been trying to keep some communications open, but Mr Trump has breached all democracy by openly threatening Iran. Iran (now that Syria has been crippled) is the leading technological and socially progressive power in the region, bitterly resented by Saudi Arabia and Israel. Now, apparently ironically, but actually quite naturally, Russia has resealed and expanded its friendship with Iran. In so doing, it has made Iran much more secure. How will the United States, NATO and the EU respond to this?
Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I would like to thank the President of Azerbaijan for the idea of holding such summits and thank my Iranian colleague for organising the second summit of the leaders of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia.
I believe such regular meetings in this format are very much in demand. They make it possible to coordinate positions on the most acute issues on the regional and international agenda, conduct a constructive search for solutions to shared problems in the sphere of security and the fight against terrorism, and promote trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation.
The main areas of trilateral cooperation are reflected in the Joint Statement that we will sign following today’s summit. I would like to point out several things I consider important.
No doubt, ensuring regional stability and security is one of our principal tasks. It is necessary to improve coordination of the activity of [our] intelligence and law enforcement agencies, establish an intensive data exchange on the activity of international terrorist and extremist organisations, fight drug trafficking and transnational crime, and stop the attempts to transit militants via our countries.
It is important to continue dialogue on Caspian problems – our colleagues just talked about that – and finish the work on the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea as soon as possible.
Needless to say, special priority should be given to promoting mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation. Last year, Russian-Iranian trade was up 70 percent; in the [first] eight months of this year, Russia’s trade with Azerbaijan increased by 62 percent; Azerbaijani-Iranian trade is also marked by stable positive trends.
In order to further stimulate trilateral exports and imports, it is necessary to streamline customs procedures and eliminate the existing barriers to the free movement of goods and services.
We could also consider increasing the share of national currencies in mutual financial settlements, fostering closer ties between financial and banking institutions and getting business communities in the three countries more actively involved [in these processes].
Transport infrastructure offers good opportunities for developing cooperation. I am referring primarily to the initiative of building the western section of the North-South international corridor – our colleagues just talked about that – which is indeed one of the shortest and potentially the most commercially competitive transit routes from South Asia to Europe.
We support Iran’s plans to begin the construction of the last section of the western Caspian route – the Rasht-Astara railway line. The implementation of this project will make it possible to organise transit more effective and reduce delivery costs.
We see good prospects for deepening energy cooperation. Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan are firmly entrenched in leading positions in the world in terms of hydrocarbons production. I believe that joint prospecting and development of oil and gas deposits and the launching of joint projects in energy production and transit are in our common interests.
Building the Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran energy bridge, integrating our countries’ electric energy systems, remains a priority. Putting this initiative into practice would help enhance energy security of the entire region and ensure reliable energy supplies.
Among other much-needed areas I will single out cooperation in such areas as industry, agriculture, high technology, medicine and drug production. Positive examples of such cooperation have already been mentioned.
Considerable attention should be given to cultural cooperation, the implementation of joint cultural programmes, expanding tourism and youth exchanges and sport contacts and promoting the expansion of direct regional ties between the three countries.
Colleagues, I would like to express my confidence that cooperation between Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran will continue to develop steadily, acquiring a systemic and regular nature.
In closing, I would like to invite you to attend the next trilateral summit in Russia.
Excerpts of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech:
[Candobetter.net editor: On 7 November 2017, I located excerpts from President Rouhani's speech at https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/putin-and-rouhani/, where it had republished portions of the article you are reading here. See below:]
President Rouhani said in a press conference after the tripartite summit of the presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan:
“The three countries aim to build closer ties and take advantage of the capacities of the three countries on the path to economic development and the interests of the nations of Iran, Russia and the Republic of Azerbaijan”.
Thanking the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan for their presence in Tehran, Dr Hassan Rouhani said:
“The summit of the Presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan is based on the friendship and neighbourhood of the three countries, and this friendship, closeness and geographical and cultural affinity, has made us more determined to make better use of the capacities of the three countries”.
Referring to the decisions made at the Baku-Tehran summits, including in the area of transit between the three countries and the Eurasian region, Dr Rouhani said:
“Within the framework of this transit route, we will connect north to south, and our decision is to connect Bandar Abbas to Helsinki, connecting Asia to Europe and our route is through Azerbaijan, Russia and Eastern and Northern Europe”.
“We also want to deepen relations in the field of road and maritime connections,”
the president added, saying that the three countries on the Caspian Sea coast should use this sea as a sea of peace for the countries of the region and also the sea of development to use the capacities of coastal development.
Dr Rouhani described energy as another potential for deepening ties between the three countries and said:
“Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan, with huge reserves of oil and gas and the good position in the region and the world, should have their own technological cooperation for the production and extraction of oil and gas in this region as well as joint investments in energy and other fields”.
The president also announced a joint program to connect three countries’ electricity networks, saying:
“Our electricity needs to be connected so that we can use electricity of the three countries at different times”.
The third meeting of the presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan will be hosted by Moscow next year, the president added.
Dr Rouhani also highlighted regional issues as another focal point of the presidents of the three countries and said:
“Closer relations and the role of the three countries in the stability and security of the region, in particular the fight against terrorism, were discussed at the meeting”.
“It is important for Iran and Russia to cooperate in the establishment of stability and security, and in the fight against terrorism, especially in Syria, and the tripartite cooperation of Iran, Turkey and Russia, which is being pursued in Astana,” he continued.
The president added:
“At the summit, all three countries emphasised regional cooperation for regional peace and stability and the fight against terrorism, drugs and organized crime”.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev also said at the press conference that trilateral negotiations between Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan were successful, saying:
“Relations between the three countries are being successfully pursued and we expect a good future for this cooperation”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, also expressed satisfaction with the talks between Iranian, Russian and Azerbaijani presidents, and said:
“I am confident that these cordial and transparent meetings will bring important results and benefits for our nations”.
Referring to the meeting with Dr Rouhani on regional security, he also said that the two presidents discussed Iran’s nuclear issue and the Syrian issue, saying:
“Our cooperation with Iran, especially in the Syrian issue, is very fruitful, and through our cooperation with Iran and Turkey, the fight against terrorism in Syria is going well”.
What are we to make of Hillary Clinton's emails, recently revealed by Wikileaks? Here we examine the first two that were released. "In my view Clinton is as mad as a cut snake. You will see through these documents that the emphasis is entirely on Israel's interests, not America's, and whatever she thinks they are not the same. Of course she is completely in the hands of the Zionist lobby, as was Australia's recent Prime Minister Gillard, who lent her services to the Clinton campaign. But then Clinton is in the hands of anyone with money and the power to swing votes. She talks of Israel's security dilemma. Well, that's a good one: a state with an estimated 200-400 nuclear weapons (yes, a couple would be enough) facing states without even one has a security dilemma? ..." (Earth to Earth, Turkey.)
Mad as a cut snake?
Earth to Earth, writes about Hillary's emails:
"In my view Clinton is as mad as a cut snake. You will see through these documents that the emphasis is entirely on Israel's interests, not America's, and whatever she thinks they are not the same. Of course she is completely in the hands of the Zionist lobby, as was Australia's recent Prime Minister Gillard, who lent her services to the Clinton campaign. But then Clinton is in the hands of anyone with money and the power to swing votes. She talks of Israel's security dilemma. Well, that's a good one: a state with an estimated 200-400 nuclear weapons (yes, a couple would be enough) facing states without even one has a security dilemma?
She talks of trading off Syria for Iran, i.e. if the United States removes Bashar al-Assad then Israel might not attack Iran. We know this is what both Israel and Saudi Arabia were encouraging in the time of the Bush administration. They wanted the U.S. to do it. Can anyone imagine what the consequences would be of military strikes on live nuclear reactors?
Yet here Clinton talks of such a war as if it's something on the supermarket shelf she can't decide whether to pick up. In the second email, she talks of U.S. reluctance to launch an air war on Syria. In fact that is exactly what it wanted, but was blocked by Russia. (Thank heavens!) Never mind, says Clinton, we can do it without the U.N. and Russia won't object.
This is total crap. From the word go, it was clear that Russia had far too much invested in Syria, in the preservation of a government chosen by the Syrian people and in the preservation of its own regional and global strategic concerns, to let Syria go. Clinton thinks the U.S. could just walk in and bomb the Syrian air force into submission. This was never going to happen and clearly someone with more sense than Clinton prevailed. She says that Syria is not like Libya, where the 'opposition' was unified (I think this is the word she uses.) Again, crap. There was never any Libyan opposition strong enough to fight any further than the municipal limits of Benghazi. The 'rebels' were the window dressing for the full scale air assault by the U.S., Britain and France. At no stage were they unified. These emails at least help us to understand why Clinton could be the/one of the most dangerous U.S. presidents ever elected. Don't forget her threat to obliterate Iran if it attacks Israel (never likely - it would be the other way around but geared to look like an Iranian attack or a preemptive Israeli attack) and don't forget her threat of a few days ago, to renew the war on Syria and destroy Assad. Where we started we finish: this is exactly what Israel wants and there is absolutely nothing in it for the U.S. How shocking is it that the mainstream media has closed ranks behind this lying, corrupt and very dangerous person and has launched the most vicious campaign I have ever seen against a presidential candidate, Donald Trump." (Earth to Earth, Turkey)
WMDs all over again
Iran has been inspected and reinspected for nuclear weapons, revealing none, like the weapons of mass destructionn (WMDs) that did not exist in Iraq, but these two emails from Hillary Clinton (recently available by Wikileaks) reveal a focus on the idea that Iran may develop nuclear weapons capability. Israel is not officially supposed to have nuclear weapons, but Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli nuclear technician and peace activist revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. In Hillary Clinton's emails below, which were written in 2012, she operates on the premise that Israel has nuclear weapons and that the United States approves of this and wants Israel to maintain nuclear hegemony in the region. She sees solidarity between Iran and Syria as inimical to this state of affairs, reflecting the US claim that Iran aims to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent to Israel bossing the region around. She says, "The result would be a precarious nuclear balance in which Israel could not respond to provocations with conventional military strikes on Syria and Lebanon, as it can today." Of course its Arab enemies accuse Israel itself of provocation and Israel has a history of acts of terrorism. Hillary Clinton also suggests that, if Iran got nuclear weapons then Saudi Arabia might expect nuclear weapons. But that hasn't stopped the United States supplying Saudi Arabia with every other kind of weapon, as its top world customer.
Casual promotion of mayhem
In order to prevent the mooted scenario of an independent Arab state catching up with Israel, Clinton recommends destroying the relationship between Syria and Iran by destroying the Syrian government by promoting a civil war. Well we now know the result of Hillary's preferred policy has been mayhem in Syria and Iraq, spreading all the way to Europe in the largest wave of refugees since the second world war. Clinton gives her opinion that if Iran were to get nuclear weapons it could use them as a deterrent to Israel's military threats in the region, yet she also reveals that she believes that Israel is on the point of "launching an attack on Iran that could provoke a major Mideast war". [Ed. This email was written some time in May 2012 and Israel has not engaged in nuclear attacks on the region yet.]
Poor predictability of her policies and failure to see their consequences
She also claims that Russia would not "stand in the way" if the [United States] were to intervene in Syria (meaning stoke war there). But she is writing some time in May 2012 and Putin only became Russian president in May 2012. (Relatedly, Clinton also reveals that she knew the US had stirred the pot in Kosovo.) These emails are now about four years and a few months old. Since Hillary wrote them, we have seen that Russia finally did intervene in Syria, although it stayed out of that fight for as long as possible. It unwisely failed to veto US interference in Libya, but the consequences of US/NATO intervention in Libya were so horrible that it became unlikely that Putin would go along with such a thing again. US interference in Ukraine put Russia in a position where it had to draw a line as it became clear that the US was surrounding Russia with military bases and attempting, through NATO, to alienate Russia's allies and trade partners.
It seems that Hillary's United States wants to use Israel to promote its own interests in the Middle East but this would go against Russia's and Arab interests, with the exception of Arab states, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which have aligned with Israel and the United States/NATO. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are financing religious terrorism (ISIS and others) against Syria, Iraq and Libya. Turkey, led by a pro-Muslim Brotherhood president, was seen as a US/NATO ally and was benefiting by buying cheap oil through ISIS but it relies a lot on trade with Russia and recently has apologised to Russia for shooting down a Russian plane.
Hillary advocates for the most brutal regimes, not against them
Hillary's reductionist descriptions of the presidents of the only two secular states in the Middle East - Libya (now destroyed by US/NATO) and Syria - as brutal dictators - are being used to justify her recommendation of US intervention to create civil wars all over the Middle East and to destroy Syria and isolate Iran. Going into the future, towards this scenario, Saudi Arabia has been allowed to maintain among the most brutal regimes on the planet, with total subjugation of women as slaves; it has been allowed to engage in genocidal war in Yemen, not only with impunity, but Mr Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was elected as chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014. Meanwhile Ms Clinton is part of a U.S./NATO wolf-pack that pretends to be 'intervening' in the Middle East to rid it of 'brutal dictators'.
Where Trump seeks dialogue, Clinton wants war
What can we make of these emails, of the woman who wrote them, of the country that she represented as Secretary of State, of her candidacy for its president? For what reason should the world allow Israel to defend its position and call the shots in the region, on behalf of non-regional players who are interested in controlling the region's oil and challenging Russia and China's interests in the region? It seems obvious that Israel must share some of its territory with a new Arab state called Palestine, sooner or later, and disarm its nuclear stores. It seems obvious that the United States should establish good relations with Russia, which could help balance out expansionary ideas in China or for a caliphate in a damaged Middle East, instead of ramping up its military displays in Europe and pushing at Russia's borders.
And here are Hillary Clinton's emails:
Email from Hillary Clinton: UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05794498 Date: 11/30/2015 RELEASE IN FULL
The best way to help Israel deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.
Negotiations to limit Iran's nuclear program will not solve Israel's security dilemma. Nor will they stop Iran from improving the crucial part of any nuclear weapons program — the capability to enrich uranium. At best, the talks between the world's major powers and Iran that began in Istanbul this April and will continue in Baghdad in May will enable Israel to postpone by a few months a decision whether to launch an attack on Iran that could provoke a major Mideast war.
Iran's nuclear program and Syria's civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about -- but cannot talk about -- is losing their nuclear monopoly. An Iranian nuclear weapons capability would not only end that nuclear monopoly but could also prompt other adversaries, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to go nuclear as well. The result would be a precarious nuclear balance in which Israel could not respond to provocations with conventional military strikes on Syria and Lebanon, as it can today.
If Iran were to reach the threshold of a nuclear weapons state, Tehran would find it much easier to call on its allies in Syria and Hezbollah to strike Israel, knowing that its nuclear weapons would serve as a deterrent to Israel responding against Iran itself.
Back to Syria. It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel's security — not through a direct attack, which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel's leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests. Speaking on CNN's Amanpour show last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak argued that "the toppling down of Assad will be a major blow to the radical axis, major blow to Iran.... It's the only kind of outpost of the Iranian influence in the Arab world...and it will weaken dramatically both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza."
Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel's security, it would also ease Israel's understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly. Then, Israel and the United States might be able to develop a common view of when the Iranian program is so dangerous that military action could be warranted. Right now, it is the combination of Iran's strategic alliance with Syria and the steady progress in Iran's nuclear enrichment program that has led Israeli leaders to contemplate a surprise attack — if necessary over the objections of Washington. With Assad gone, and Iran no longer able to threaten Israel through its, proxies, it is possible that the United States and Israel can agree on red lines for when Iran's program has crossed an unacceptable threshold. In short, the White House can ease the tension that has developed with Israel over Iran by doing the right thing in Syria.
The rebellion in Syria has now lasted more than a year. The opposition is not going away, nor is the regime going to accept a diplomatic solution from the outside. With his life and his family at risk, only the threat or use of force will change the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's mind.
Email from Hillary Clinton: UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05794498 Date: 11/30/2015
The Obama administration has been understandably wary of engaging in an air operation in Syria like the one conducted in Libya for three main reasons. Unlike the Libyan opposition forces, the Syrian rebels are not unified and do not hold territory. The Arab League has not called for outside military intervention as it did in Libya. And the Russians are opposed.
Libya was an easier case. But other than the laudable purpose of saving Libyan civilians from likely attacks by Qaddafi's regime, the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for the region. Syria is harder. But success in Syria would be a transformative event for the Middle East. Not only would another ruthless dictator succumb to mass opposition on the streets, but the region would be changed for the better as Iran would no longer have a foothold in the Middle East from which to threaten Israel and undermine stability in the region.
Unlike in Libya, a successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and military leadership from the United States. Washington should start by expressing its willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train and arm Syrian rebel forces. The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey and possibly Jordan, U.S. diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition. It will take time. But the rebellion is going to go on for a long time, with or without U.S. involvement.
The second step is to develop international support for a coalition air operation. Russia will never support such a mission, so there is no point operating through the UN Security Council. Some argue that U.S. involvement risks a wider war with Russia. But the Kosovo example shows otherwise. In that case, Russia had genuine ethnic and political ties to the Serbs, which don't exist between Russia and Syria, and even then Russia did little more than complain.
Russian officials have already acknowledged they won't stand in the way if intervention comes.
Arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach. As long as Washington's political leaders stay firm that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed, as they did in both Kosovo and Libya, the costs to the United States will be limited. Victory may not come quickly or easily, but it will come. And the payoff will be substantial. Iran would be strategically isolated, unable to exert its influence in the Middle East. The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab world, not the corrupt regimes. For Israel, the rationale for a bolt from the blue attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would be eased. And a new Syrian regime might well be open to early action on the frozen peace talks with Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon would be cut off from its Iranian sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and missiles. All these strategic benefits and the prospect of saving thousands of civilians from
murder at the hands of the Assad regime (10,000 have already been killed in this first year of civil war).
With the veil of fear lifted from the Syrian people, they seem determine to fight for their freedom. America can and should help them — and by doing so help Israel and help reduce the risk of a wider war.
Wikileaks has launched a searchable archive for 30,322 emails & email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton's private email server while she was Secretary of State.
 Mordechai Vanunu (Hebrew: מרדכי ואנונו; born 14 October 1954), also known as John Crossman,#cite_note-2">#cite_note-3"> is an Israeli former nuclear technician and peace activist#cite_note-4"> who, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction, revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986.#cite_note-nyt2004-5">#cite_note-6"> He was subsequently lured to Italy by a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and abducted by Israeli intelligence agents.#cite_note-nyt2004-5"> He was transported to Israel and ultimately convicted in a trial that was held behind closed doors.#cite_note-nyt2004-5">
Vanunu spent 18 years in prison, including more than 11 in solitary confinement. Released from prison in 2004, he became subject to a broad array of restrictions on his speech and movement. Since then he has been arrested several times for violations of those restrictions, including giving various interviews to foreign journalists and attempting to leave Israel. He says he suffered "cruel and barbaric treatment" at the hands of Israeli authorities while imprisoned, and suggests that his treatment would have been different if he had not converted to Christianity from Judaism.#cite_note-7">
In 2007, Vanunu was sentenced to six months in prison for violating terms of his parole. The sentence was considered unusual even by the prosecution who expected a suspended sentence. In response, Amnesty International issued a press release on 2 July 2007, stating that "The organisation considers Mordechai Vanunu to be a prisoner of conscience and calls for his immediate and unconditional release."#cite_note-8"> In May 2010, Vanunu was arrested and sentenced to three months in jail on a charge that he met foreigners in violation of conditions of his 2004 release from jail.
Vanunu has been characterized internationally as a whistleblower#cite_note-9">#cite_note-10"> and by Israel as a traitor.#cite_note-11">#cite_note-12">#cite_note-13"> Daniel Ellsberg has referred to him as "the preeminent hero of the nuclear era".#cite_note-14"> Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordechai_Vanunu
See also: Kennedy, the Lobby and the bomb, previously published (2/5/2013) on VoltaireNet. (As of 6/8/2016, images are missing from the candobetter.net republication, so, at least, until this fixed, we recommend that you read the original Voltaire Net version.)
 http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/terrorism.html See also re the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRZSzdQuOqM. http://www.globalresearch.ca/israels-history-of-chemical-weapons-use/5352003
 In 2015 Saudi Arabia was the world's biggest importer of weapons and the top recipient of American-made arms from 2011-2015, followed closely by the United Arab Emirates, according to research compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which has been analyzing international arms transfers since 1968. See http://edition.cnn.com/2016/05/24/politics/us-arms-sales-worldwide/
 The Syrian President, as Gaddafi did until recently, presides over a secular state. He does not want a caliphate. But the United States and Israel are promoting all the extreme groups and leaders in the Middle East who do want a caliphate to restore something akin to the Ottoman Empire, which relied on slavery for its administration and succession. Iran, although a Muslim state, presents a bulwark against Wahabism (Saudi Arabia's religion, which condones mass slavery). Iran did not have the same tradition of mass slavery as the rest of the Ottoman Empire. Farazmand, Ali (1998) “Persian/Iranian Administrative Tradition”, in Jay M. Shafritz (Editor), International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp 1640–1645 – Excerpt: "Persians never practiced mass slavery, and in many cases the situations and lives of semi-slaves (prisoners of war) were in fact better than the common citizens of Persia." (pg 1642). Cited in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_Iran#cite_note-1 This article describes the aims of a caliphate. http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/261264/its-not-isis-we-need-beat-its-caliphate-daniel-greenfield
In this riveting Press TV video-debate, Gearóid Ó Colmáin, a political analyst and journalist from Paris, and Sean O'Grady, a finance editor with The Independent from London, discuss France's nationwide demonstrations against the government's controversial changes to labor laws. These 'reforms' are really an attempt by the EU to disorganise democracy in France and impose the savage capitalism of the Anglophone countries, Britain, the United States, and Australia. Gearóid Ó Colmáin is amazingly on the ball and candid on the disorganising purpose of mass immigration. O'Grady typifies the globaliser rhetoric. One thing not mentioned by Gearóid here is that the very high land and housing prices in the Anglophone system (a) drive wages up because people have to pay rent (b) drive up the cost of everything else (c) increase base-costs for business (d) erode profit margin. It isn't the workers who use up the profits; it is the property speculators who rely on continuous increase in demand through mass immigration. Listening to O'Grady's 'case' one has to wonder whether he actually believes what he is saying, in which case, does he go round with his eyes shut? This Video first published on PressTV, Iran, http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/05/20/466608/Massive-antireform-labor-protests-France
"France’s labour regulations have famously been symbolised by the labour code, a weighty 4 thousand page treatise. But the government now wants to loosen a number of rules. By proposing controversial reforms, the French government aims to curb the country's unemployment rate. But at what cost? These reforms will give employers more scope to lay off workers and cut costs and make it easier to fire workers on economic grounds when companies run into difficulties. Protests against the controversial labor reforms have exploded all over France. With just over a year to go until France’s 2017 presidential election, President Hollande is making a final attempt to cement his place in French history, be it of notoriety with these controversial reforms." (Press TV, Iran). This Video first published on PressTV, Iran, http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/05/20/466608/Massive-antireform-labor-protests-France
See inside for other stories about Iranian vessel with relief supplies.
Iran has sent an aid vessel to carry emergency supplies to the people of Yemen who have been illegally invaded and attacked by Saudi Arabia - an ally of the US, of Israel, and of Australia. The situation is explosive - locally and globally. The people are starving. Therefore people on the aid ship are trying to make sure that the world knows that this is a ship bringing help, and should be given safe passage. One such person is Caleb Maupin, who emailed several people on Mon, 18 May 2015 16:55:48 +0430 with the following message:
"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is mercilessly slaughtering people in Yemen, has absolutely no right to inspect this vessel. Neither does the United States of America or Israel. The Iranian government has made that absolutely clear, and all of us in the delegation of peace activists from Germany, France, and the United States absolutely agree with this decision. An inspection from the United Nations or the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Society would absolutely be permitted and welcomed. These are international bodies delegated for such tasks. However, allowing an inspection of this ship from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would recognize that somehow the people of Yemen are the property of the Saudis, which they are not. Yemenis are fighting and dying to assert this fact each day.
The Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in agreement with Yemen, is shipping 2,500 tons of medical supplies on this cargo vessel. Both Iran and Yemen are sovereign countries. They have the right to interact peacefully with each other, without interference.
Saudi Arabia has no say in the matter.
The only purpose a Saudi inspection could serve would be to humiliate the Islamic Republic of Iran, or worse, to create some kind of provocation or incident. The Saudis could use the inspection of this vessel to start a scuffle with those onboard, or to plant weapons, or to issue false reports in the media about what they found onboard.
The Saudi regime, which beheads and tortures people routinely, and is currently burning the skin of Yemeni children with the chemical weapon called White Phosphorous, has no business entering this ship.
A Purely Humanitarian Mission There is no question in my mind about the absolutely humanitarian nature of this mission. I have personally looked inside the cargo areas of this ship and seen nothing but humanitarian items like band-aids, disinfectant, food, and bottled water.
All Iranian cargo ships that pass through the Gulf of Aden have two machine guns mounted on the bridge, as a mechanism for self-defense from pirates or terrorists which frequent this dangerous area.
However, because this is a special humanitarian mission these machine guns, which are on every Iranian cargo ship, were removed.
The emblem of the Red Crescent Society is prominently displayed throughout the ship, as are the Iranian and Yemeni flags.
I have spoken at length with the Red Crescent volunteers (we have plenty of time to socialize). They have told me about their previous international operations with the Red Crescent Society, traveling across the world to help those in need.
The Iranian Red Crescent Society, like all organizations which are affiliated to the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Society in Geneva, follows seven guiding principles of work. Among them are non-involvement in military operations, non-partisan delivery of aid, and volunteerism.
The Iranians would welcome the United Nations or the International Red Cross/Red Cresent to inspect this ship. But the criminal Saudi regime, and its US and Israeli allies are simply not welcome aboard.
If we have no interference, we will reach Hodiedah on Thursday, and deliver our 2,500 tons of supplies to the Yemeni people. We have recently been informed that the Saudis have already bombed the port of Hodiedah in anticipation of our arrival.
Let The Hungry Children of Yemen Live!
This Illegal, Immoral Blockade Must End!
Don’t Block The Rescue Boat!"
Candobetter.net Editor: Caleb asks that people please forward and post this message as widely as possible. Send it to the press, put it on social media, repost it anywhere you want. His internet access onboard is very limited, so PLEASE help spread the word about this humanitarian mission.
Aappendix: #OtherStories" id="OtherStories">Other stories about Iranian vessel with relief supplies for Yemen
Iranian ship carries aid and activists into waters off Yemen (17/5/15) | Reuters, Iranian Aid Ship Nears Yemen, Raising Risk of Saudi Showdown (17/5/15) | Bloomberg, Iran aid ship to dock in Yemen Thursday, captain says (17/5/15) | The Times of Israel, Iran Challenges U.S. and Saudi Arabia by Sending Aid Ship to Rebels in Yemen (18/5/15) | Time, Saudi warplanes target UNICEF aid ships: Yemeni media (17/5/15) | PressTV, Iran's Yemen-bound aid ship enters Gulf of Aden (17/5/15) | PressTV, US-Saudi Blockade: Iran’s Yemen-Bound Aid Ship Enters Gulf of Aden (17/5/15) | PressTV/Global Research , Iran is challenging Saudi Arabia in the waters off Yemen (16/5/15) | Business Insider, Iran will protect ‘oppressed’ in Yemen, Palestine and Bahrain – Khamenei (16/5/15) | PressTV.
The Pentagon has issued an official statement saying Iran has conducted air strikes against the Islamic State, but Iran denies this. The minister says this is "psychological warfare intended to antagonize Muslims in the region. We support the people of Iraq and Syria in their fight against the Islamic State by offering organizational and advisory assistance. And we do this openly. Why? Because these are extremist and criminal groups operating against the people of Iraq and Syria. We oppose them and consider them to be a threat to the entire region. But air strikes can’t be effective, and we don’t conduct them. He also denies any problems with Iran's sunnis. [...] We don’t trust the Americans. We think it’s the US that helps breed these extremist groups in the region. They arm, finance and train them. That’s why we feel that this US-led coalition is a puppet show that won’t yield any results. The Islamic State fights a guerrilla war on a vast territory in desert terrain, that’s why air strikes are a non-starter. We think that the only way is to mobilize the people, and we’ve seen some good progress when the militants were forced to retreat and leave the cities they previously captured." (Article's original source is "Iran interior minister: US bred ISIS, now tries to fight them with useless airstrikes" on SophieCo, RT.
Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli: You are welcome.
SS: Iranian government news agency IRNA reported last fall that there were clashes between Islamists and locals in the southeast of the country. Does it mean that the Islamic State now operates in Iran as well?
AF: We don’t confirm this report. We haven’t had any clashes in any part of the country – in the southeast, or in the east, or in the west. All these regions are safe. Of course, there are drug traffickers who take advantage of the poor security situation and the weakness of law enforcement in neighboring states, and we take this threat very seriously, but we don’t have Islamic State militants in our country.
SS: Still, this region has a substantial Sunni population. Don’t you think the Islamic State may have quite a few supporters among those Sunnis?
AF: Actually, we don’t have any serious issues with our Sunnis. They perceive the Islamic Republic of Iran as a democracy created by the people, and its leaders and other high-ranking officials are elected by the people. Sunnis take part in elections; they vote, so we don’t have any separatist sentiment.
SS: Just to clarify, Mr Minister. Does it mean that the Islamic State poses no threat to Iran?
AF: This group doesn’t pose any threat to Iran. In fact, it is our Sunnis who guard our southeastern and western borders. Young Sunnis join the Basij, our volunteer militia, and help guard our borders together with the Revolutionary Guards.
SS: But still Iran has launched air strikes against the Islamic State. Does it mean that you have joined the war against them?
AF: There were no air strikes. In fact, we don’t believe you can defeat insurgency with air strikes. Otherwise, the US-led coalition would win. We believe that the local population has to mobilize and learn to fight. Only the people themselves can defeat those sectarian factions.
SS: But the Pentagon issued an official statement saying Iran has conducted air strikes against the Islamic State.
AF: We don’t confirm this report by the Pentagon. This is psychological warfare intended to antagonize Muslims in the region. We support the people of Iraq and Syria in their fight against the Islamic State by offering organizational and advisory assistance. And we do this openly. Why? Because these are extremist and criminal groups operating against the people of Iraq and Syria. We oppose them and consider them to be a threat to the entire region. But air strikes can’t be effective, and we don’t conduct them.
SS: Why does Iran refuse to cooperate with the US-led campaign against the Islamic State? Apparently, you are facing a common threat here? And why do you think the US is reluctant to work with Iran on this issue?
AF: We don’t trust the Americans. We think it’s the US that helps breed these extremist groups in the region. They arm, finance and train them. That’s why we feel that this US-led coalition is a puppet show that won’t yield any results. The Islamic State fights a guerrilla war on a vast territory in desert terrain, that’s why air strikes are a non-starter. We think that the only way is to mobilize the people, and we’ve seen some good progress when the militants were forced to retreat and leave the cities they previously captured.
SS: The Iranian government has sent military advisers to Iraqi Kurdistan to help them fight against the Islamic State. Will Iran offer the same kind of support to Baghdad?
AF: We provide this kind of support to Iraq based on a request from the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Kurdistan authorities. They make no secret of this, and they are very grateful to us for responding to their request and providing this advisory, moral and technical support.
SS: Okay, let’s look at the bigger picture. You have Talibs in Afghanistan, Pakistan is unstable, too; in the West, you have trouble in Iraq. Aren’t you worried that extremism might spill over to Iran? Does your ministry provide support to security forces in neighboring states?
AF: Like I just said, we support all these countries in their fight against terrorists and extremists, especially if we receive a request from a legitimate government elected by the people. Extremism breeds where there is poverty and ignorance, when the people are not represented in the government, and when there are outside forces at play, like the US or reactionary governments in the region. In Iran, the people are represented in the government. That’s why we don’t have extremism in our country. We are an independent nation, and we are constantly beefing up our defense capabilities.
SS: Extremists operating in the countries neighboring Iran are financed through drug trafficking, among other things. Your border with Afghanistan spans thousands of kilometers in mountainous terrain. Does Iran have the capability to seal the border?
AF: You see, we are dealing with a state which is the world’s biggest narcotics producer. We are neighbors, and this has been under the influence of the US for decades. The growth of drug production has been astonishing since the time of the Taliban. One of the export routes lies through Iran. We had to deploy checkpoints along the entire border, which is two thousand kilometers long. This helped minimize the flow of drugs through our territory. Over the past two years, we equipped our guards with the latest communication technology, so we hope this will help us further reduce the amount of drugs coming in. Anyway, this is a rough mountainous region and traffickers use those routes, but we take this threat very seriously and fight them. We are very much concerned with the use of money from selling drugs to sponsor extremism. We have intelligence from our sources confirming the connection between drug traffickers and extremist groups. That’s why all the countries in the region must do their part to prevent extremists from receiving financial support from the illegal drug trade.
SS: Does the international community help you in your fight with drug traffickers? Or is it limited to moral support?
AF: The international community doesn’t support our efforts sufficiently. We spearhead the war against drugs and criminals, spending a lot of human and financial resources. More than 3,800 Iranians gave their lives fighting this curse. The international community encourages us and praises our efforts but doesn’t provide any practical help. For example, because of Western sanctions we can’t get special X-ray equipment we need to fight drug trafficking. If the international community is really serious about the issue, they should provide us with equipment, share their intelligence and conduct joint operations to block transit routes. We must be serious about fighting this smuggling network.
SS: Did the NATO operation in Afghanistan have any impact Iran’s woes related to drug trafficking? What do you expect after the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan?
AF: After the US took control of the country, poppy cultivation spiked, and today Afghanistan produces 6,500 tons of opium a year. If Americans really pull with their troops from Afghanistan and allow the people of Afghanistan to have control of their country and elect a government they want, then countries like Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Turkmenistan and other Central Asian nations can engage in some serious cooperation with Afghanistan on fighting poppy cultivation and drug trafficking groups. Our countries have a common vision on this issue and can work together closely to resolve this issue.
SS: The number of drug addicts in Iran is quite high despite tough measures like the death penalty for drug-related crimes. Most of the people executed in Iran today are drug traffickers. But the problem is still there.
AF: Actually, the level of drug abuse in Iran is lower than the world’s average, it’s 1.5 percent at the maximum who have used drugs or tried them. It’s an extremely low figure compared with Russia and other countries. Our government has placed this issue on top of the agenda. We have a lot of preventive and treatment programs. We are very tough on drug traffickers. Last year, we identified many more criminals, and achieved quite high levels in treatment and prevention. These trends are very effective in helping that 1.5 percent of the population.
SS: Yes but even though this percentage is low, these people are addicted mainly to heroin, opium and meth. Why are these drugs most wide-spread in Iran?
AF: Yes, opium, the traditional drug, is number one. Then heroin, which is made from opium, and hashish and synthetic drugs in the third place. Production and consumption of synthetic drugs did not further increase in Iran, and our police take this issue very seriously. We had a lot of labs inside the country that produced these drugs, but last year and in the first six months of this year we destroyed them. We count on our people helping us with this. We hope to see a low level of drug abuse in Iran because our people suffer from this terrible global problem too.
SS: Let’s change the subject now and talk about the latest round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program, which failed to produce results. I know this is a foreign policy issue, but it’s closely connected to Iran’s domestic problems. I would like your opinion on the subject. Are Iranians disappointed that the talks failed?
AF: You see, we’re defending our legitimate rights. In the 36 years since the Iranian Revolution our people showed unwavering fortitude under all sort of pressure. It is our legitimate right to have nuclear energy. We are a full member of the IAEA, we have signed all the documents. The IAEA monitors our activities. IAEA inspections have confirmed that Iran complies with all the requirements. So we will do whatever is necessary to exercise our legitimate right, including talks. I think we’ve been negotiating with the West for over ten years now, going through different stages in our talks, through ups and downs. Our stance is that we need to show the world that we comply with all the legitimate requirements. It’s the US that’s not willing to respect the rights of other nations. The recent round of negotiations showed a positive trend but at the very last moment the US delegation turned down the proposed agreement and the talks failed because of the Americans. At any rate, we are willing to engage in talks in order to exercise our right. Iran’s economy depends very little on the global economic situation, so it doesn’t experience all the turbulence the global economy goes through. Our economy has been performing very well in the past ten years in spite of all the sanctions imposed on us.
SS: I want to clarify something. You said that the negotiations have been going on for ten years, with ups and downs. But I was asking about the way people responded to the latest round of talks. It seemed like the atmosphere at the talks was more friendly this time, but they still brought no results. How did the Iranian people react to that?
AF: Our government conducts talks on behalf of our people, and when Iran insists on pursuing its legitimate right, the people of Iran totally support this demand. There were dozens of rallies across Iran where people demanded an opportunity for Iran to pursue its legitimate rights. The negotiators have the full support of our Supreme Leader and our people. People are determined to exercise their right even if it means facing more difficulties along the way.
SS: Americans say they won’t lift the sanctions anyway. You mentioned earlier that because of sanctions you are unable to get certain technology that would help you secure the border. So, apart from the effect sanctions have on the economy, even your work is affected. Can the fact that the US is not willing to lift sanctions jeopardize the potential agreement?
AF: I didn’t say we lack the technology. I said they imposed sanctions on this equipment. We manufacture this equipment ourselves now. For example, we produce our own scanners and train sniffer dogs. In this respect, we even benefitted from sanctions. When they impose sanctions on certain types of equipment, we start manufacturing it ourselves. So I’d say the pressure that the US has been putting on us for 36 years proved to be ineffective. We fought a war for 8 years, a real war, and not only against Iraq, but against all countries who supported Iraq. We’ve been living under sanctions for years. We faced psychological warfare, propaganda and political pressure from the international community, but the Iranian people pulled through.
I’m not saying sanctions have no effect on our country. Of course, sanctions take their toll on Iran. But we’re not giving up our rights because of that. We will put up with these little hardships in order to achieve bigger goals and advance our interests.
SS: Are these hardships really little? According to a Gallup poll, 85% of Iranians say these sanctions do affect their living standards in a significant way.
AF: I have no idea where this statistics come from. We have our own polls, and over 80% of Iranians want the government to pursue nuclear energy. Iranian people are wise, and they are willing to accept lower living standards. But we are now taking action to develop our regional potential, build new economic ties, increase productivity and reduce production costs.
Americans understand that Iran is strong not only as a nation but also as a regional player. That’s why they seek regional cooperation with us. But they should be aware that Iran will firmly maintain its position.
Right now many nations and governments in the region are highly suspicious of the US. The people and the governments of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen don’t trust the US and oppose its policies.
Yes, indeed, the US probably has a lot of information, political and media clout. But there is not much Americans can do in our region. We’ve seen this during the 33-day war in Lebanon, the 22-day war in Gaza, in Iraq, and in Syria. These nations determine their future on their own. Of course the US has to retreat and withdraw; it simply has no other options.
SS: Still, last year US-Iranian relations saw substantial improvement for the first time in many years. How do Iranians feel about America now? Is the anti-American sentiment on the ebb?
AF: You see, Iranians are pragmatic and realistic, so they can tell the difference between their enemies and those who seek cooperation. Our relations with the US had their ups and downs from 1954 to 1979, and since 1979 up until now. The US has always wanted to meddle into our affairs and control Iran. The people will certainly not accept this. If the US respects the Iranian people’s rights, officially recognizes its interests, refrains from interfering into Iran’s domestic affairs and putting pressure on Iran, we will have a trouble-free relationship. Our spiritual leader has made this very clear on numerous occasions. We don’t hold any deep-rooted grievances against the American people. The only country in the region that we’ve had long-standing issues with is Israel.
SS: Very often you hear this sentence, “There is a number of unanswered questions regarding Iran’s nuclear program”. It seems like there is much secrecy around the program. What is really going on at the nuclear facility in Arak? Iran claims it is intended to produce isotopes for cancer patients, but some find it hard to believe that. Why is that?
AF: There are no more unanswered questions. IAEA inspections have confirmed that Arak and Fordow plants are entirely peaceful. The inspections have been conducted in full compliance with all the rules and regulations. Iran does not engage in any undeclared activities in Arak, Fordow or elsewhere.
SS: I have a question that is directly related to your ministry. Is Iran concerned about the security of its nuclear facilities? Do they have special protection? Because we all remember the Stuxnet virus attacks, for instance.
AF: We are fully in control of the situation at our nuclear plants and other sensitive facilities. And yes, we have been able to ensure their complete security. Our country has been in a political confrontation with the US for 36 years now and is constantly under threat from Israel, so Iran is well-prepared for all kinds of attacks. So of course cybersecurity is also on our agenda.
SS: One more question. Under President Rouhani, Massoumeh Parandvar became the first woman ever in Iranian history to be appointed governor. This came as a surprise for the international public opinion, which did not expect to see a female governor. Has the situation been changing? How do Iranians feel about working with a female governor?
AF: Have you ever been to Iran?
SS: No, I haven’t.
AF: Then I invite you to come to my country and see for yourself. Women have lots of opportunities in our country. There are more women than men among university students. We also have female members of parliament now, as well as ministers, vice-presidents, and presidential advisors. The percentage of women is also very high in municipal and rural councils. Women are also governors and heads of local governments in Iran. There is no ideological or legal discrimination of women – except, of course, the jobs that are physically too difficult for women to do. On the contrary, women play a big role in political parties, NGOs and other affairs. Once again, you are very welcome to come to Iran and see it with your own eyes.
SS: And yet we’ve recently heard about the incident involving Ghoncheh Ghavami, who was arrested for attending a volleyball match. Apparently, women are not allowed to attend certain sports events in Iran. So how do you explain this? On the one hand, you have a woman appointed governor, but on the other hand another woman is arrested for attending a volleyball match.
AF: First, women are not banned from attending sports events. This is not true. But some of the sports events are really overcrowded, and there is a lot of excitement, so female spectators can only add to the dangerous atmosphere. For instance, this holds true for football matches. Ms. Ghavami was not arrested for attending a volleyball match. There were many female spectators present at that game. If we followed this logic, we would have to arrest all of them. Ms. Ghavami’s case is being dealt with in court. They’ve repeatedly said that at press conferences. It’s not like she was arrested for attending a sports event.
SS: Thank you very much for this interview. I wish you the best of success.
AF: If you have any more questions, Sophie, please don’t hesitate to ask them. I will answer any question you like.
SS: That’s it for today. Thank you very much, Mr. Fazli. Good luck.
"In Paris this week [week of September 20], the great and the gruesome came together to discuss the existential threat of ISIS, but the two countries actually doing something meaningful about that threat - Syria and Iran - were of course not invited. Confused? You won't be after you have heard our first guest, Hasib Risby, a commentator on the region and part of digital resistance." A very clear analysis of what is happening with ISIS, Syria, Iran, and the US in the Middle East, by George Galloway and Gayatri Pertiwi with Haseeb Rizvi. The original program (with no transcript) is at http://rt.com/shows/sputnik/189028-isis-summit-paris-uk/
GALLOWAY: A state of total confusion reigns in the western capitals about what to do about the catastrophe unfolding in Syria and in Iraq. The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, rules out Britain going back to war in Iraq and is instantly repudiated by David Cameron. Still, at time of recording (September 20, 2014), who insists that 'all options remain open'.
GAYATRI: In the US, things are no more clear. There, the commander in chief of the US military, President Obama, is impudently contradicted by the top military brass. The president says that there will be absolutely no American boots on the ground. And yet, the generals, including the Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, tells the Senate Armed Services Committee that there will be, in fact, boots on the ground, if necessary.
GALLOWAY: Cameron claims he can bomb ISIS in Syria from over Syrian airspace, without the permission of the Syrian government. The said Syrian government is armed and dangerous and entirely within its legal rights to shoot down any and all military aircraft over their territory, and has the military hardware to do so.
GAYATRI: Neither the US nor the UK governments who, some argue, caused the disaster in the first place, have any intention of helping the actual government of Iraq - a government only in power because of them. And they won't even deliver to Bagdad the weapons and planes they have already paid for, even though ISIS is at the gates.
GALLOWAY: In Paris this week [week of September 20], the great and the gruesome came together to discuss the existential threat of ISIS, but the two countries actually doing something meaningful about that threat - Syria and Iran - were of course not invited. Confused? You won't be after you have heard our first guest, Hasib Risby, a commentator on the region and part of digital resistance.
Haseeb, welcome to the show. Tell the viewers, first of all, how things are on the ground now, in Iraq. What territory does ISIS hold? Who's fighting them? Are there any indications of a change in the military situation on the ground?
HASEEB: So the situation varies from parts to parts, but primarily, we're talking about north east Syria and north west Iraq being under heavy ISIS influence. Not necessarily blanket control, but heavy segments of those areas. And, within those areas that they have control [over] there's various battles taking place along the borders of those regions that they control. So, for example, they're fighting with Kurds, they're fighting against other Syrian rebel groups, such as Al-Nusra and the Islamic Front, as well as, I think, the Free Syrian army as well. And, towards Iraq, they're fighting, obviously, the Iraqi armed forces as well as Shia militias that are defending their territory against further ISIS expansion. So, at the moment, ISIS are involved in a lot of battles. They're fighting quite a few people at the same time, to be honest. And the recent kind of resurgence of the Iraqi armed forces as well as from the US airstrikes and stuff has prevented futher expansion, but they are showing no sign of stopping. And that's kind of worrying. They seem to be still going about their day to day exectuions in a very kind of sophisticated, well-planned manner.
GALLOWAY: And they're still controlling major Iraqi cities.
HASEEB: Absolutely. And, you know, in Syria, for example, in the city of Ah-Raqqah , they more or less run the show there completely.
GALLOWAY: Which is thought to be the place where they're carrying out these hidious executions of foreigners.
HASEEB: Yeah, yeah. That part and various border towns between Iraq and Syria, where there is, you know, very loose control of anything, is where they'are operating, and they have pretty good control over those areas.
GALLOWAY: Now you mentoned the US airstrikes. I've seen US air strikes. I've seen them in Vietnam, I've seen them in Cambodia, I've seen them in the Iraq war, I've seen them in Afghanistan. These are not meaningful US airstrikes. Which leads me to wonder why? If the United States was really as concerned about ISIS as they say they are and that we should be, they would be bombing them a lot more seriously than they are. These are very desultory, very occasional, and very small airstrikes. Why?
HASEEB: Absolutely. And, you know, adding on to what you're saying, they should have reacted much sooner, one would imagine. It's taken this long for them to react to it, whilst previous prime minister Nuri Al-Maliki, was constantly pleading to America for support against the growing threat of militancy in his country, but it fell on deaf ears, basically. What you see is as soon as for example, ISIS started threatening the Kurdish region, is when America suddenly started taking things more seriously -
GALLOWAY: Only there, in the Kurdish region, where their oil interests are -
HASEEB: Where their oil interests are -
GALLOWAY: And where they want to break Iraq up!
HASEEB: Well, there you go. It's a strategic place for them, Kurdistan, because, you know, they've got ties with Israel, and you've heard storied about Kurdistan selling oil to Israel, just a matter of weeks after ISIS took over and stuff like that, completely illegally. But you see that America and the west in general, only reacted then. Not when 2000 or so Shia army cadets were massacred
GALLOWAY: Why can't the regional players sort this matter out themselves?
HASEEB: What you have at the moment is these very confused blurred lines that exist where, whilst Saudi Arabia and all these countries, essentially, went to Paris for a deal, were the ones that essentially that kind of allowed ISIS to exist in the first place, through turning a blind eye to money and weapons being trafficked to them. And now they realise that it's going to come back to bite them. So now they're trying to react, but it's a bit too late, because the people inside these countries, already, inside Saudi Arabia, inside Qatar, they've been fed the sectarian rhetoric already. So they buy the ISIS line very easily, You see already, in places like Jourdan and Saudi Arabia, many ISIS flags have been raised, and there are a lot of people
GAYATRI: So the opposite of feeling threatened?
HASEEB: Exactly, so, to be honest with you, Saudi Arabia, any of these Gulf states, to try and intervene militarily against ISIS will just be counter-productive as well, just as much as it would be for the US to do so. Which then makes it another sticky situation. If Iran and Syria were the only ones to kind of attack ISIS, then it becomes, 'Oh, the Shias are attacking Sunnis!'
GALLOWAY: Hasib, there's a state of confusion. There's no Islamic State, but there's a state of confusion reigning over all this. I mean, even in ontological terms. What exactly are ISIS? Who are they? What do they want?
HASEEB: ISIS... if you try and simplify what they are, essentially is a collection of ruthless, angry and violent individuals that have come together under a false notion of, you know, a 'califphate', under some sort of illusion that they're trying to do a good thing for the world. And their ethos essentially is something that has been fed by something that has been prevalent in Saudi Arabia for so long, under the teachings of Wahhabism and Salafism. And I understand, obviously that not all Wahhabis and not all Salafis are as extreme as ISIS,
GALLOWAY: - Of course not -
HASEEB: However, the fundamentals behind these sects have really spurred on the kind of ideological principles for why ISIS go about doing the things that they do. And further more, it's like, it seem that they've kind of tried to go one above Al Qaeda, with their ruthlessness. They've decided, you know, 'We're going to stand out!' - you know - 'This is going to be our brand!' - almost. And the way they celebrate and glorify their violence, and dehumanise those that they're killing, it's actually pretty chilling. And I don't we've seen a group like it.
GALLOWAY: Or the end of it.
GAYATRI: I mean, from the Free Syrian Army we've already witnessed the most horrible things -
HASEEB: And they're the moderate ones, by the way!
GAYATRI: - And now -
GALLOWAY: They were the moderates - the moderate heart-eaters, you mean! We haven't actually seen ISIS eating hearts yet. That's probably something still to come. They behave like a kidn of death cult.
GALLOWAY: There seems nothing Islamic about them.
GALLOWAY: I hate it when people call them the Islamic State because they're neither Islamic nor are they a state. How do they find any theological justification for the mass excecution of helpless, handcuffed prisoners in the wartime? How do they justify theologically slicing off the heads of Aid workers and journalists that fall into their hands, and videoing it for the entertainment, presumably, of their own site?
HASEEB: Their justification, presumably, is that anyone that disagrees with their very specific set of thoughts is not worthy of life, essentially. Especially when you're on their land.
GALLOWAY: But it's not their land, is it?
HASEEB: Well -
GALLOWAY: The person slicing the heads off of these American and British journalists is thought to be English.
GAYATRI: Well, they're from London. That's the part I don't compute. Young men from London! You know, growing up in this modern global city and then going back -
HASEEB: For them, their land is essentially this Islamic caliphate land. You've seen the view of - I'm sure you've seen the picture of where they want to go eventually. So they've carved this section out for themselves and whatever they say goes in this area. I've seen videos of scholars - sorry - their clerics, rather, where they tell you that when you're cutting someone's head off, you should enjoy it. It shouldn't be like when you kill an animal - you should do that very mercifully - but when you kill a human being, because it's a enemy of God, you should enjoy it. Take your time. So it's very, very disturbing. There's this very kind of strong lust towards violence within this group that is - I don't think we've seen it before. I don't think we've seen, you know, a group like this before.
Gayatri: They're hell on earth, isn't it.
HASEEB: Yeah. I mean, to be fair, it was in one of the newspapers, the Guardian, I think, that introduced ISIS in the British media as, 'Here's a group that is worse than Al Quaida.' And that stood out to me as well. I'm thinking, as a good way to put it -
GALLOWAY: They make Al Quaida look like boy scouts. Now, how do we follow Digital Resistance and what do you do?
HASEEB: So, what we do; we collate news from various media outlets to try and put together a story line that actually makes sense that's actually true as to what's happening. As well as that we provide analysis and opinions on various newstories. You can follow us on twitter @dgtlresistance or facebook.
Main article: Battle of Ar-Raqqah
In March 2013, during the Syrian civil war, Islamist jihadist militants from Al-Nusra Front and other groups overran the government loyalists in the city and declared it under their control after seizing the central square and pulling down the statue of the former president of Syria Hafez al-Assad.
The Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front set up a sharia court at the sports centre[ and in early June 2013 the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said they were open to receive complaints at their Raqqa headquarters.
Since May 2013 the ISIS has been increasing its control over the city, at the expense of the Free Syrian Army and the Al-Nusra Front. The ISIS has executed Alawites and suspected supporters of Bashar al-Assad in the city and attacked the city's Shia mosques and Christian churches such as the Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs, which has since been converted into an ISIS headquarters. The Christian population of Ar-Raqqah, which was estimated to be as many as 10% of the total population before the civil war began, has largely fled the city.
In January 2014 it was reported that ISIS militants in the city gained control of the western part of a Syrian army base, while the group closed all educational institutions in the city, where it has withstood rebel assaults.
On 25 July, the Islamic State captured the Syrian Army base in Raqqah which garrisoned the 17th Division, and beheaded many soldiers.
 Nouri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki, previous primeminister of Syria, current Vice President.
 A Caliphate is an islamic state, led by a political and religious leader, known as a caliph, seen as a successor to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad.
The article below has been adapted from the PressTV article US to regret military action in Syria: IRGC chief (16/9/14). The Appendix, also from PressTV, is Obama threatens to oust Assad if US planes downed in Syrian airspace (16/9/14). To view the embedded videos, please visit those pages.
Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:7AM GMT
The chief of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says the US and its allies will regret any military operation in Syria.
'The Islamic Republic of Iran's policy is to support Syria and this US action is from a bullying position and is condemned and if it does so it will regret it," Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Tuesday.
The general was reacting to the US government's (claimed)1 decision to form an international coalition to fight the Takfiri ISIL terrorists fighting in Syria and Iraq.
'The US is disappointed with any influential role to be played by the ISIL and similar groups and it is calling for this so-called coalition. We doubt if their serious objective is to annihilate the ISIL," Jafari said.
He noted that the US is declaring war on the ISIL while it continues to support other militant groups fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Jafari said the enemies are determined to topple the 'current ruling government in Syria."
The general said the US and the Israeli regime created this group in order to trigger war among Muslims in the Middle East regime and serve as an obstacle to resistance against the Zionist regime.
On Monday, France hosted a conference, dubbed the International Conference on Peace and Security in Iraq, to discuss ways of tackling the ISIL terrorists in Iraq and Syria amid US efforts to form a so-called international coalition to battle the Takfiri group.
Despite the international community's emphasis on the importance of Iran's role in the regional developments, Tehran was not invited to the meeting in Paris mainly due to the US opposition.
The US has also announced that Iran will not be a part of its so-called coalition against the ISIL.
Iran has cast doubt over the sincerity of the coalition and reiterated that it had no interest in attending the Paris meeting.
Tehran has on several occasions voiced support for the Iraqi government since it began fighting against the ISIL in June. The ISIL terrorists are in control of some areas in Syria and have captured large swathes of land in neighboring Iraq.
The Takfiri terrorist groups have committed heinous crimes and threatened all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and Izadi Kurds, during their advances.
#USbullying" id="USbullying">Obama threatens to oust Assad if US planes downed in Syrian airspace
Mon Sep 15, 2014 6:53AM GMT
PressTV interviewer and Jim W. Dean of Veterens Today
US President Barack Obama has threatened to wipe out Syria's air defense system and topple the Syrian government if President Bashar al-Assad ordered his forces to shoot American planes entering Syrian airspace.
He made the remarks during a meeting in the White House before his speech about Washington's strategy about the ISIL terrorist group, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
Obama ordered the US military on Wednesday to expand its bombing campaign against ISIL terrorists and launch airstrikes in Syria.
'If he [Assad] dared to do that, Mr. Obama said he would order American forces to wipe out Syria's air defense system, which he noted would be easier than striking ISIS (or ISIL) because its locations are better known," the newspaper said.
'He went on to say that such an action by Mr. Assad would lead to his overthrow, according to one account," the Times said.
The US president also noted that ISIL made a major strategic error by killing American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff 'because the anger it generated resulted in the American public's quickly backing military action."
During his televised speech on Wednesday, Obama said, "I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq."
"America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat," he said.
The Pentagon announced that the United States already has conducted more than 150 airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem has warned the US and its allies against attacking ISIL targets on Syrian soil.
"Syria is ready to cooperate and coordinate with regional and international efforts to combat terror in accordance with UN resolutions and respect of Syrian sovereignty," he said in Damascus last month.
"Everyone is welcome, including Britain and the United States, to take action against ISIS and Nusra with a prior full coordination with the Syrian government," Moallem added.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington will not coordinate its airstrikes on ISIL terrorists inside Syria.
'We're not going to coordinate it with Syria... It's not a cooperative effort. We are going to do what they haven't done, what they had plenty of opportunity to do, which is to take on ISIL and to degrade it and eliminate as a threat," Kerry said.
#fnUsBully1" id="fnUsBully1">1. #txtUsBully1">↑ The parenthesised "(claimed)" was added. A shortcoming with some PressTV articles, or with their English translations, is that where a claim, that conforms to the Western imperialist narrative of a conflict has been repeated often enough by the msm, it is often reported by PressTV as fact, even where credible dissident journalists have challenged that claim. An example is the claim that the United States and its allies are waging war in Iraq and threatening to do so in Syria to destroy ISIS. See Washington Menaces America with its ISIS Creation (11/9/14) by Tony Cartalucci and ISIL operating with help of foreign military power (17/9/14) by Gordon Duff, senior editor of Veterans Today.
Contrary to popular belief, the conduct of nations on the international stage is almost never driven by moral considerations, but rather by a shadowy cocktail of money and geopolitics. As such, when you see the mouthpieces of the ruling class begin to demonize a foreign country, the first question in your mind should always be "what is actually at stake here?"
For some time now Russia, China, Iran, and Syria have been in the cross hairs. Once you understand why, the events unfolding in the world right now will make much more sense. Article republished from SCG News http://scgnews.com/the-geopolitics-of-world-war-iii
The U.S. dollar is a unique currency. In fact its current design and its relationship to geopolitics is unlike any other in history. Though it has been the world reserve currency since 194 this is not what makes it unique. Many currencies have held the reserve status off and on over the centuries, but what makes the dollar unique is the fact that since the early 1970s it has been, with a few notable exceptions, the only currency used to buy and sell oil on the global market.
Prior to 1971 the U.S. dollar was bound to the gold standard, at least officially. According to the IMF, by 1966, foreign central banks held $14 billion U.S. dollars, however the United States had only $3.2 billion in gold allocated to cover foreign holdings.
Translation: the Federal Reserve was printing more money than it could actually back.
The result was rampant inflation and a general flight from the dollar.
In 1971 in what later came to be called the "Nixon Shock" President Nixon removed the dollar from the gold standard completely.
At this point the dollar became a pure debt based currency. With debt based currencies money is literally loaned into existence.
Approximately 70% of the money in circulation is created by ordinary banks which are allowed to loan out more than they actually have in their accounts.
The rest is created by the Federal Reserve which loans money that they don't have, mostly to government.
Kind of like writing hot checks, except it's legal, for banks. This practice which is referred to as fractional reserve banking is supposedly regulated by the Federal Reserve, an institution which just happens to be owned and controlled by a conglomerate of banks, and no agency or branch of government regulates the Federal Reserve.
Now to make things even more interesting these fractional reserve loans have interest attached, but the money to pay that interest doesn't exist in the system. As a result there is always more total debt than there is money in circulation, and in order to stay afloat the economy must grow perpetually.
This is obviously not sustainable.
Now you might be wondering how the dollar has maintained such a dominant position on the world stage for over forty years if it's really little more than an elaborate ponzi scheme.
Well this is where the dollar meets geopolitics.
In 1973 under the shadow of the artificial OPEC oil crisis, the Nixon administration began secret negotiations with the government of Saudi Arabia to establish what came to be referred to as the petrodollar recycling system. Under the arrangement the Saudis would only sell their oil in U.S. dollars, and would invest the majority of their excess oil profits into U.S. banks and Capital markets. The IMF would then use this money to facilitate loans to oil importers who were having difficulties covering the increase in oil prices. The payments and interest on these loans would of course be denominated in U.S. dollars.
This agreement was formalized in the "The U.S.-Saudi Arabian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation" put together by Nixon's Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1974.
Another document released by the Congressional Research Service reveals that these negotiations had an edge to them, as U.S. officials were openly discussing the feasibility of seizing oil fields in Saudi Arabia militarily.
In the United States, the oil shocks produced inflation, new concern about foreign investment from oil producing countries, and open speculation about the advisability and feasibility of militarily seizing oil fields in Saudi Arabia or other countries. In the wake of the embargo, both Saudi and U.S. officials worked to re-anchor the bilateral relationship on the basis of shared opposition to Communism, renewed military cooperation, and through economic initiatives that promoted the recycling of Saudi petrodollars to the United States via Saudi investment in infrastructure, industrial expansion, and U.S. securities.
The system was expanded to include the rest of OPEC by 1975.
Though presented as buffer to the recessionary effects of rising oil prices, this arrangement had a hidden side effect. It removed the traditional restraints on U.S. monetary policy.
The Federal Reserve was now free to increase the money supply at will. The ever increasing demand for oil would would prevent a flight from the dollar, while distributing the inflationary consequences across the entire planet.
The dollar went from being a gold back currency to a oil backed currency. It also became America's primary export.
Did you ever wonder how the U.S. economy has been able to stay afloat while running multibillion dollar trade deficits for decades?
Did you ever wonder how it is that the U.S. holds such a disproportionate amount of the worlds wealth when 70% of the U.S. economy is consumer based?
In the modern era, fossil fuels make the world go round. They have become integrated into every aspect of civilization: agriculture, transportation, plastics, heating, defense and medicine, and demand just keeps growing and growing.
As long as the world needs oil, and as long as oil is only sold in U.S. dollars, there will be a demand for dollars, and that demand is what gives the dollar its value.
For the United States this is a great deal. Dollars go out, either as paper or digits in a computer system, and real tangible products and services come in. However for the rest of the world, it's a very sneaky form of exploitation.
Having global trade predominately in dollars also provides the Washington with a powerful financial weapon through sanctions. This is due to the fact that most large scale dollar transactions are forced to pass through the U.S.
This petrodollar system stood unchallenged until September of 2000 when Saddam Hussein announced his decision to switch Iraq's oil sales off of the dollar to Euros. This was a direct attack on the dollar, and easily the most important geopolitical event of the year, but only one article in the western media even mentioned it.
In the same month that Saddam announced he was moving away from the dollar, an organization called the “The Project for a New American Century”, of which Dick Cheney just happened to be a member, released a document entitled “REBUILDING AMERICA’S DEFENSES Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century”. This document called for massive increases in U.S. military spending and a much more aggressive foreign policy in order to expand U.S. dominance world wide. However the document lamented that achieving these goals would take many years “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor”.
One year later they got it.
Riding the emotional reaction to 9/11, the Bush administration was able to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and pass the patriot act all without any significant resistance.
There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and this wasn't a question of bad intelligence. This was a cold calculated lie, and the decision to invade was made in full knowledge of the disaster which would follow.
They knew exactly what was going to happen but in 2003, they did it anyway. Once Iraqi oil fields were under U.S. control, oil sales were immediately switched back to the dollar. Mission accomplished.
Soon after the invasion of Iraq the Bush administration attempted to extend these wars to Iran. Supposedly the Iranian government was working to build a nuclear weapon. After the Iraq fiasco Washington's credibility was severely damaged as a result they were unable to muster international or domestic support for an intervention. Their efforts were further sabotaged by elements within the CIA and Mossad who came forward to state that Iran had not even made the decision to develop nuclear weapons much less begin an attempt. However the demonization campaign against Iran continued even into the Obama administration.
Well, might it have something to do with the fact that since 2004 Iran has been in the process of organizing an independent oil bourse? They were building their own oil market, and it wasn't going to be tied to the dollar. The first shipments of oil were sold through this market in July of 2011.
Unable to get the war that they wanted, the U.S. used the U.N to impose sanctions against Iran. The goal of the sanctions was to topple the Iranian regime. While this did inflict damage on the Iranian economy, the measures failed to destabilize the country. This was due in large part to Russia's assistance in bypassing U.S. banking restrictions.
In February of 2009 Muammar Gaddafi, was named chairman of the African Union. He immediately proposed the formation of a unified state with a single currency. It was the nature of that proposed currency that got him killed.
In March of 2009 the African Union released a document entitled "Towards a Single African Currency". Pages 106 and 107 of that document specifically discuss the benefits and technicalities of running the African Central bank under a gold standard. On page 94 it explicitly states that the key to the success of the African Monetary Union would be the "eventual linking of a single African currency to the most monetary of all commodities - gold." (Note that the page number is different on other versions of the document that they released.)
In 2011 the CIA moved into Libya and began backing militant groups in their campaign to topple Gaddafi and the U.S. and NATO pushed through and stretched a U.N. nofly-zone resolution to tip the balance with airstrikes. The presence of Al-Qaeda extremists among these rebel fighters was swept under the rug.
Libya, like Iran and Iraq had committed the unforgivable crime of challenging the U.S. dollar.
The NATO intervention in Libya segued into a covert war on Syrian. The armories of the Libyan government were looted and the weapons were shipped via Turkey to Syrian rebels groups working to topple Assad. It was already clear at this point that many of these fighters had ties to terrorist organizations. However the U.S. national security apparatus viewed this as a necessary evil. In fact the Council on Foreign relations published an article in 2012 stating that "The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now."
(Hat tip to theantimedia.org for catching this.)
Let's be clear here, the U.S. put ISIS in power.
In 2013 these same Al-Qaeda linked Syrian rebels launched two sarin gas attacks. This was attempt to frame Assad and muster international support for military intervention. Fortunately they were exposed by U.N. and Russian investigators and the push for airstrikes completely fell apart when Russia stepped in to broker a diplomatic solution.
The campaign for regime change in Syria, as in Libya has been presented in terms of human rights. Obviously this isn't the real motive.
In 2009, Qatar put forth a proposal to run a natural gas pipeline through Syria and Turkey to Europe. Assad however rejected this, and in 2011 he forged a pact with Iraq and Iran to run a pipeline eastward cutting Qatar and Saudi Arabia out of the loop completely. Not surprisingly Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been the most aggressive regional players in the push to topple the Syrian government.
But why would this pipeline dispute put Syria in Washington's cross hairs? Three reasons:
1. This pipeline arrangement would significantly strengthen Iran's position, allowing them to export to European markets without having to pass through any of Washington's allies. This obviously reduces the U.S. government's leverage.
2. Syria is Iran's closest ally. It's collapse would inherently weaken Iran.
3. Syria and Iran have a mutual defense agreement, and a U.S. intervention in Syria could open the door to open conflict with Iran.
In February of 2014 this global chess game heated up in a new venue: Ukraine. The real target however was Russia.
You see Russia just happens to be the worlds second largest oil exporter, and not only have they been a thorn in Washington's side diplomatically, but they also opened an energy bourse in 2008, with sales denominated in Rubles and gold. This project had been in the works since 2006. They have also been working with China to pull off of the dollar in all of their bilateral trade.
Leading up to the crisis in Ukraine had been presented with a choice: either join the E.U. under an association agreement or join the Eurasian Union. The E.U. insisted that this was an either or proposition. Ukraine couldn't join both. Russia on the other hand, asserted that joining both posed no issue. President Yanukovich decided to go with Russia.
In response the U.S. national security apparatus did what it does best: they toppled Yanukovich and installed a puppet government. To see the full evidence of Washington's involvement in the coup watch "The ukraine crisis what you're not being told"
This article from the Guardian is also worth reading.
Though this all seemed to be going well at first, the U.S. quickly lost control of the situation. Crimea held a referendum and the people voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and reunify with Russia. The transition was orderly and peaceful. No one was killed, yet the West immediately framed the entire event as an act of Russian aggression, and this became the go to mantra from that point on.
Crimea is important geostrategically because of its position in the Black Sea which allows for the projection of naval power into the Mediterranean. It has also been Russian territory for most of recent history.
The U.S. has been pushing for Ukraine's inclusion into NATO for years now. Such a move would place U.S. forces right on Russia's border and could have potentially resulted in Russia losing their naval base in Crimea. This is why Russia immediately accepted the results of the Crimean referendum and quickly consolidated the territory.
Meanwhile in Eastern Ukraine, two regions declared independence from Kiev and held referendums of their own. The results of which overwhelmingly favored self rule.
Kiev responded to this with what they referred to as anti-terrorist operations. In practice this was a massive and indiscriminate shelling campaign which killed thousands of civilians. Apparently killing civilians didn't qualify as aggression to the West. In fact the IMF explicitly warned the provisional government that their 17 billion dollar loan package could be in danger if they were not able to put down the uprising in eastern Ukraine.
While the war against eastern Ukraine was raging elections were held and Petro Poroshenko was elected president. It turns out that Poroshenko, was exposed by a leaked diplomatic cable released by wikileaks in 2008 as having worked as a mole for the U.S. State Department since 2006. They referred to him as "Our Ukraine insider" and much of the cable referred to information that he was providing. (A separate cable showed that the U.S. knew Poroshenko was corrupt even at that point.)
Having a puppet in place however hasn't turned out to be enough to give Washington the upper hand in this crisis. What does Washington do when they have no other leverage? They impose sanctions, they demonize and they saber rattle (or pull a false flag).
This isn't a very good strategy when dealing with Russia. In fact it has already backfired. The sanctions have merely pushed Russia and China into closer cooperation and accelerated Russia's de-dollarization agenda. And in spite of the rhetoric, this has not led to Russia being isolated. The U.S. and NATO have put a wedge between themselves and Russia, but not between Russia and the rest of the world (look up BRICS if you are unclear about this).
This new anti-dollar axis goes deeper than economics. These countries understand what's at stake here. This is why in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis China has proposed a new Eurasian security pact which would include Russia and Iran.
Consider the implications here as the Obama administration begins bombing in Syria which also has a mutual defense agreement with Iran.
This is not the cold war 2.0. This is World War 3.0. The masses may not have figured it out yet, but history will remember it that way.
Alliances are already solidifying and and a hot war is underway on multiple fronts. If the provocations and proxy wars continue, it's only a matter of time before the big players confront each other directly, and that is a recipe for disaster.
Does all of this sound insane to you? Well you're right. The people running the world right now are insane, and the public is sleep walking into a tragedy. If you want to alter the course that we are on, there's only one way to do it. We have to wake up that public. Even the most powerful weapons of war are neutralized if you reach the mind of the man behind the trigger.
How do we wake the masses you ask? Don't wait for someone else to answer that for you. Get creative. Act like you children's and grandchildren's futures depend on it, because they do.
Given that the supporters of the armed insurgency against the Syrian Government of President Bashar al-Assad, namely the governments of United States, Australia, their NATO allies and the Arab dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, are the same who waged the illegal wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003, from which 3.3 million Iraqis died, according to one estimate shouldn't we expect Australia's newsmedia, this time to subject the claims made by these same governments to more scrutiny? Shouldn't the Syrian government, which is being accused by the Western newsmedia of making foreign intervention necessary, at least, be allowed to put its case? Evidently not, judging by the Australian newsmedia's failure to report on the included interview of Bashar Al-Assad conducted by The Sunday Times on 3 March.
Sunday Times: Mr. President your recent offer of political dialogue was qualified with a firm rejection of the very groups you would have to pacify to stop the violence: the armed rebels and the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition alliance.
So in effect you are only extending an olive branch to the loyal opposition, mostly internal, that renounces the armed struggle, and who effectively recognizes the legitimacy of your leadership, who are you willing to talk to, really?
President Assad: First of all, let me correct some of the misconceptions that have been circulating and that are found in your question in order to make my answer accurate.
Sunday Times: Okay.
President Assad: Firstly, when I announced the plan, I said that it was for those who are interested in dialogue, because you cannot make a plan that is based on dialogue with somebody who does not believe in dialogue. So, I was very clear regarding this.
Secondly, this open dialogue should not be between exclusive groups but between all Syrians of every level. The dialogue is about the future of Syria. We are twenty three million Syrians and all of us have the right to participate in shaping the country’s future. Some may look at it as a dialogue between the government and certain groups in the opposition - whether inside or outside, external or internal -actually this is a very shallow way of looking at the dialogue. It is much more comprehensive. It is about every Syrian and about every aspect of Syrian life. Syria’s future cannot be determined simply by who leads it but by the ambitions and aspirations of all its people.
The other aspect of the dialogue is that it opens the door for militants to surrender their weapons and we have granted many amnesties to facilitate this. This is the only way to make a dialogue with those groups. This has already started, even before the plan, and some have surrendered their weapons and they live now their normal life. But this plan makes the whole process more methodical, announced and clear.
If you want to talk about the opposition, there is another misconception in the West. They put all the entities even if they are not homogeneous in one basket – as if everything against the government is opposition. We have to be clear about this. We have opposition that are political entities and we have armed terrorists. We can engage in dialogue with the opposition but we cannot engage in dialogue with terrorists; we fight terrorism. Another phrase that is often mentioned is the ‘internal opposition inside Syria’ or ‘internal opposition as loyal to the government.’ Opposition groups should be loyal and patriotic to Syria – internal and external opposition is not about the geographic position; it is about their roots, resources and representation. Have these roots been planted in Syria and represent Syrian people and Syrian interests or the interests of foreign government? So, this is how we look at the dialogue, this is how we started and how we are going to continue.
Sunday Times: Most have rejected it, at least if we talk about the opposition externally who are now the body that is being hailed as the opposition and where the entire world is basically behind them. So, most of them have rejected it with the opposition describing your offer as a “waste of time,” and some have said that it is “empty rhetoric” based on lack of trust and which British Secretary William Hague described it as “beyond hypocritical” and the Americans said you were “detached from reality.”
President Assad: I will not comment on what so-called Syrian bodies outside Syria have said. These bodies are not independent. As Syrians, we are independent and we need to respond to independent bodies and this is not the case. So let’s look at the other claims.
Firstly, detached from reality: Syria has been fighting adversaries and foes for two years; you cannot do that if you do not have public support. People will not support you if you are detached from their reality. A recent survey in the UK shows that a good proportion British people want “to keep out of Syria” and they do not believe that the British government should send military supplies to the rebels in Syria.
In spite of this, the British government continues to push the EU to lift its arms embargo on Syria to start arming militants with heavy weapons. That is what I call detached from reality–when you are detached from your own public opinion! And they go further in saying that they want to send “military aid” that they describe as “non-lethal.” The intelligence, communication and financial assistance being provided is very lethal. The events of 11th of September were not committed by lethal aids. It was the application of non-lethal technology and training which caused the atrocities.
The British government wants to send military aid to moderate groups in Syria, knowing all too well that such moderate groups do not exist in Syria; we all know that we are now fighting Al-Qaeda or Jabhat al-Nusra which is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, and other groups of people indoctrinated with extreme ideologies. This is beyond hypocritical! What is beyond hypocrisy is when you talk about freedom of expression and ban Syrian TV channels from the European broadcasting satellites; when you shed tears for somebody killed in Syria by terrorist acts while preventing the Security Council from issuing a statement denouncing the suicide bombing that happened last week in Damascus, and you were here, where three hundred Syrians were either killed or injured, including women and children - all of them were civilians. Beyond hypocrisy when you preach about human rights and you go into Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and kill hundreds of thousands in illegal wars. Beyond hypocrisy is when you talk about democracy and your closest allies are the worst autocratic regimes in the world that belong to the medieval centuries. This is hypocrisy!
Sunday Times: But you always refer to the people fighting here as terrorists, do you accept that while some are from the Jabhat al-Nusra and those affiliated to Al-Qaeda but there are others such as the FSA or under the umbrella of the FSA? That some of them are the defectors and some of them are just ordinary people who started some of the uprising. These are not terrorists; these are people fighting for what they believe to be the right way at the moment.
President Assad: When we say that we are fighting Al-Qaeda, we mean that the main terrorist group and the most dangerous is Al-Qaeda. I have stated in many interviews and speeches that this is not the only group in Syria. The spectrum ranges from petty criminals, drugs dealers, groups that are killing and kidnapping just for money to mercenaries and militants; these clearly do not have any political agenda or any ideological motivations. The so-called “Free Army” is not an entity as the West would like your readers to believe. It is hundreds of small groups – as defined by international bodies working with Annan and Al-Ibrahimi - there is no entity, there is no leadership, there is no hierarchy; it is a group of different gangs working for different reasons. The Free Syrian Army is just the headline, the umbrella that is used to legitimize these groups.
This does not mean that at the beginning of the conflict there was no spontaneous movement; there were people who wanted to make change in Syria and I have acknowledged that publically many times. That’s why I have said the dialogue is not for the conflict itself; the dialogue is for the future of Syria because many of the groups still wanting change are now against the terrorists. They still oppose the government but they do not carry weapons. Having legitimate needs does not make your weapons legitimate.
Sunday Times: Your 3-staged plan: the first one you speak of is the cessation of violence. Obviously there is the army and the fighters on the other side. Now, within the army you have a hierarchy, so if you want to say cease-fire, there is a commander that can control that, but when you offer cessation of violence or fire how can you assume the same for the rebels when you talk about them being so many groups, fragmented and not under one leadership. So, that’s one of the points of your plan. So, this suggests that this basically an impossible request. You speak of referendum but with so many displaced externally and internally, many of whom are the backbone of the opposition; those displaced at least. So, a referendum without them would not be fair, and the third part is that parliamentary elections and all this hopefully before 2014; it is a very tall list to be achieved before 2014. So, what are really the conditions that you are attaching to the dialogue and to make it happen, and aren’t some of the conditions that you are really suggesting or offering impossible to achieve?
President Assad: That depends on how we look at the situation. First of all, let’s say that the main article in the whole plan is the dialogue; this dialogue will put a timetable for everything and the procedures or details of this plan. The first article in my plan was the cessation of violence. If we cannot stop this violence, how can we achieve the other articles like the referendum and elections and so on? But saying that you cannot stop the violence is not a reason to do nothing. Yes there are many groups as I have said with no leadership, but we know that their real leadership are those countries that are funding and supplying their weapons and armaments - mainly Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
If outside parties genuinely want to help the process they should be pressuring those countries to stop supplying the terrorists. As with any other sovereign state, we will not negotiate with terrorists.
Sunday Times: Critics say real and genuine negotiations may be the cause of your downfall and that of your government or regime, and that you know this, hence you offer practically impossible scenarios for dialogue and negotiations?
President Assad: Actually, I don’t know this, I know the opposite. To be logical and realistic, if this is the case, then these foes, adversaries or opponents should push for the dialogue because in their view it will bring my downfall. But actually they are doing the opposite. They are preventing the so-called ‘opposition bodies outside Syria’ to participate in the dialogue because I think they believe in the opposite; they know that this dialogue will not bring my downfall, but will actually make Syria stronger. This is the first aspect.
The second aspect is that the whole dialogue is about Syria, about terrorism, and about the future of Syria. This is not about positions and personalities. So, they shouldn’t distract people by talking about the dialogue and what it will or will not bring to the President. I did not do it for myself. At the end, this is contradictory; what they say is contradicting what they do.
Sunday Times: You said that if they push for dialogue, it could bring your downfall?
President Assad: No, I said according to what they say if it brings my downfall, why don’t they come to the dialogue? They say that the dialogue will bring the downfall of the President and I am inviting them to the dialogue. Why don’t they then come to the dialogue to bring my downfall? This is self-evident. That’s why I said they are contradicting themselves.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, John Kerry, a man you know well, has started a tour that will take him this week end to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, where he will be talking to them about ways to ‘ease you out.’ In London and Berlin earlier this week, he said that President Assad must go and he also said that one of his first moves is to draft diplomatic proposals to persuade you to give up power. Would you invite him to Damascus for talks? What would you say to him? What is your message to him now given what he said this week and what he plans to say to his allies when he visits them over the weekend? And if possible from your knowledge of him how would you describe Kerry from your knowledge of him in the past?
President Assad: I would rather describe policies rather than describing people. So, it is still early to judge him. It is only a few weeks since he became Secretary of State. First of all, the point that you have mentioned is related to internal Syrian matters or Syrian issue. Any Syrian subject would not be raised with any foreigners. We only discuss it with Syrians within Syria. So, I am not going to discuss it with anyone who is coming from abroad. We have friends and we discuss our issues with friends, we listen to their advice but at the end it is our decision as Syrians to think or to make what’s good for our country.
If anyone wants to ‘genuinely’ – I stress the word genuinely – help Syria and help the cessation of violence in our country, he can do only one thing; he can go to Turkey and sit with Erdogan and tell to him stop smuggling terrorists into Syria, stop sending armaments, stop providing logistical support to those terrorists. He can go to Saudi Arabia and Qatar and tell them stop financing the terrorists in Syria. This is the only thing anyone can do dealing with the external part of our problem, but no one from outside Syria can deal with the internal part of this problem
Sunday Times: So, what is your message to Kerry?
President Assad: It is very clear: to understand what I said now. I mean, not a message to Kerry but to anyone who is talking about the Syrian issue: only Syrian people can tell the President: stay or leave, come or go. I am just saying this clearly in order not to waste the time of others to know where to focus.
Sunday Times: What role if any do you see for Britain in any peace process for Syria? Have there been any informal contacts with the British? What is your reaction to Cameron’s support for the opposition? What would you say if you were sitting with him now, especially that Britain is calling for the arming of the rebels?
President Assad: There is no contact between Syria and Britain for a long time. If we want to talk about the role, you cannot separate the role from the credibility. And we cannot separate the credibility from the history of that country. To be frank, now I am talking to a British journalist and a British audience, to be frank, Britain has played a famously (in our region) an unconstructive role in different issues for decades, some say for centuries. I am telling you now the perception in our region.
The problem with this government is that their shallow and immature rhetoric only highlight this tradition of bullying and hegemony. I am being frank. How can we expect to ask Britain to play a role while it is determined to militarize the problem? How can you ask them to play a role in making the situation better and more stable, how can we expect them to make the violence less while they want to send military supplies to the terrorists and don’t try to ease the dialogue between the Syrians. This is not logical. I think that they are working against us and working against the interest of the UK itself. This government is acting in a naïve, confused and unrealistic manner. If they want to play a role, they have to change this; they have to act in a more reasonable and responsible way, till then we do not expect from an arsonist to be a firefighter!
Sunday Times: In 2011 you said you wouldn’t waste your time talking about the body leading opposition, now we are talking about the external body, in fact you hardly recognized there was such a thing, what changed your mind or views recently? What talks, if any are already going on with the rebels who are a major component and factor in this crisis? Especially given that your Foreign Minister Muallem said earlier this week when he was in Russia that the government is open to talks with the armed opposition can you clarify?
President Assad: Actually, I did not change my mind. Again, this plan is not for them; it is for every Syrian who accepts the dialogue. So, making this initiative is not a change of mind. Secondly, since day one in this crisis nearly two years ago, we have said we are ready for dialogue; nothing has changed. We have a very consistent position towards the dialogue. Some may understand that I changed my mind because I did not recognize the first entity, but then I recognized the second. I recognized neither, more importantly the Syrian people do not recognize them or take them seriously. When you have a product that fails in the market, they withdraw the product, change the name, change the packing and they rerelease it again – but it is still faulty. The first and second bodies are the same products with different packaging. Regarding what our minister said, it is very clear.
Part of the initiative is that we are ready to negotiate with anyone including militants who surrender their arms. We are not going to deal with terrorists who are determined to carry weapons, to terrorize people, to kill civilians, to attack public places or private enterprises and destroy the country.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, the world looks at Syria and sees a country being destroyed, with at least 70,000 killed, more than 3 million displaced and sectarian divisions being deepened. Many people around the world blame you. What do you say to them? Are you to blame for what’s happened in the country you are leading?
President Assad: You have noted those figures as though they were numbers from a spreadsheet. To some players they are being used to push forward their political agenda; unfortunately that is a reality. Regardless of their accuracy, for us Syrians, each one of those numbers represents a Syrian man, woman or child. When you talk about thousands of victims, we see thousands of families who have lost loved ones and who unfortunately will grieve for many years to come. Nobody can feel this pain more than us.
Looking at the issue of political agendas, we have to ask better questions. How were these numbers verified? How many represent foreign fighters? How many were combatants aged between 20 and 30? How many were civilians – innocent women and children? The situation on the ground makes it almost impossible to get accurate answers to these important questions. We all know how death tolls and human casualties have been manipulated in the past to pave the way for humanitarian intervention. The Libyan government recently announced that the death toll before the invasion of Libya was exaggerated; they said five thousand victims from each side while the number was talking at that time of tens of thousands.
The British and the Americans who were physically inside Iraq during the war were unable to provide precise numbers about the victims that have been killed from their invasion. Suddenly, the same sources have very precise numbers about what is happening in Syria! This is ironic; I will tell you very simply that these numbers do not exist in reality; it is part of their virtual reality that they want to create to push forward their agenda for military intervention under the title of humanitarian intervention
Sunday Times: If I may just on this note a little bit. Even if the number is exaggerated and not definitely precise, these are numbers corroborated by Syrian groups, however they are still thousands that were killed. Some are militants but some are civilians. Some are being killed through the military offensive, for example artillery or plane attacks in certain areas. So even if we do not argue the actual number, the same applies, they still blame yourself for those civilians, if you want, that are being killed through the military offensive, do you accept that?
President Assad:Firstly, we cannot talk about the numbers without their names. People who are killed have names. Secondly, why did they die? Where and how were they killed? Who killed them? Armed gangs, terrorist groups, criminals, kidnappers, the army, who?
Sunday Times: It is a mix.
President Assad: It is a mix, but it seems that you are implying that one person is responsible for the current situation and all the human casualties. From day one the situation in Syria has been influenced by military and political dynamics, which are both very fast moving. In such situations you have catalysts and barriers. To assume any one party is responsible for all barriers and another party responsible for all the catalysts is absurd. Too many innocent civilians have died, too many Syrians are suffering. As I have already said nobody is more pained by this than us Syrians, which is why we are pushing for a national dialogue. I’m not in the blame business, but if you are talking of responsibility, then clearly I have a constitutional responsibility to keep Syria and her people safe from terrorists and radical groups.
Sunday Times: What is the role of Al-Qaeda and other jihadists and what threats do they pose to the region and Europe? Are you worried Syria turning into something similar to Chechnya in the past? Are you concerned about the fate of minorities if you were loose this war or of a sectarian war akin to that of Iraq?
President Assad:The role of Al-Qaeda in Syria is like the role of Al-Qaeda anywhere else in this world; killing, beheading, torturing and preventing children from going to school because as you know Al-Qaeda’s ideologies flourish where there is ignorance. Ideologically, they try to infiltrate the society with their dark, extremist ideologies and they are succeeding. If you want to worry about anything in Syria, it is not the ‘minorities.’ This is a very shallow description because Syria is a melting pot of religions, sects, ethnicities and ideologies that collectively make up a homogeneous mixture, irrelevant of the portions or percentages. We should be worrying about the majority of moderate Syrians who, if we do not fight this extremism, could become the minority – at which point Syria will cease to exist.
If you worry about Syria in that sense, you have to worry about the Middle East because we are the last bastion of secularism in the region. If you worry about the Middle East, the whole world should be worried about its stability. This is the reality as we see it.
Sunday Times: How threatening is Al-Qaeda now?
President Assad: Threatening by ideology more than the killing. The killing is dangerous, of course, but what is irreversible is the ideology; that is dangerous and we have been warning of this for many years even before the conflict; we have been dealing with these ideologies since the late seventies. We were the first in the region to deal with such terrorists who have been assuming the mantle of Islam. We have consistently been warning of this, especially in the last decade during the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. The West is only reacting to the situation, not acting. We need to act by dealing with the ideology first. A war on terror without dealing with the ideology will lead you nowhere and will only make things worse. So, it is threatening and it is dangerous, not just to Syria but to the whole region.
Sunday Times: US officials recently, in particular yesterday, are quoted as saying that US decision not to arm rebels could be revised. If this was to happen what in your view will the consequences in Syria and in the region? What is your warning against this? Now, they are talking about directly equipping the rebels with armament vehicles, training and body armaments.
President Assad: You know the crime is not only about the victim and the criminal, but also the accomplice providing support, whether it is moral or logistical support. I have said many times that Syria lies at the fault line geographically, politically, socially and ideologically. So, playing with this fault line will have serious repercussions all over the Middle East. Is the situation better in Libya today? In Mali? In Tunisia? In Egypt? Any intervention will not make things better; it will only make them worse. Europe and the United States and others are going to pay the price sooner or later with the instability in this region; they do not foresee it.
Sunday Times: What is your message to Israel following its air strikes on Syria? Will you retaliate? How will you respond to any future attacks by Israel especially that Israel has said that we will do it again if it has to?
President Assad: Every time Syria did retaliate, but in its own way, not tit for tat. We retaliated in our own way and only the Israelis know what we mean.
Sunday Times: Can you expand?
President Assad: Yes. Retaliation does not mean missile for missile or bullet for bullet. Our own way does not have to be announced; only the Israelis will know what I mean.
Sunday Times: Can you tell us how?
President Assad: We do not announce that.
Sunday Times: I met a seven year old boy in Jordan.
President Assad: A Syrian boy?
Sunday Times: A Syrian boy who had lost an arm and a leg to a missile strike in Herak. Five children in his family had been killed in that explosion. As a father, what can you say to that little boy? Why have so many innocent civilians died in air strikes, army shelling and sometimes, I quote, ‘Shabiha shootings?’
President Assad: What is his name?
Sunday Times: I have his name ... will bring it to you later.
President Assad: As I said every victim in this crisis has a name, every casualty has a family. Like 5 year-old Saber who whilst having breakfast with his family at home lost his leg, his mother and other members of his family. Like 4 year-old Rayan who watched his two brothers slaughtered for taking him to a rally. None of these families have any political affiliations. Children are the most fragile link in any society and unfortunately they often pay the heaviest price in any conflict. As a father of young children, I know the meaning of having a child harmed by something very simple; so what if they are harmed badly or if we lose a child, it is the worst thing any family can face. Whenever you have conflicts, you have these painful stories that affect any society. This is the most important and the strongest incentive for us to fight terrorism. Genuine humanitarians who feel the pain that we feel about our children and our losses should encourage their governments to prevent smuggling armaments and terrorists and to prevent the terrorists from acquiring any military supplies from any country.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, when you lie in bed at night, do you hear the explosions in Damascus? Do you, in common with many other Syrians, worry about the safety of your family? Do you worry that there may come a point where your own safety is in jeopardy?
President Assad: I see it completely differently. Can anybody be safe, or their family be safe, if the country is in danger? In reality NO! If your country is not safe, you cannot be safe. So instead of worrying about yourself and your family, you should be worried about every citizen and every family in your country. So it’s a mutual relationship.
Sunday Times: You’ll know of the international concerns about Syria’s chemical weapons. Would your army ever use them as a last resort against your opponents? Reports suggest they have been moved several times, if so why? Do you share the international concern that they may fall into the hands of Islamist rebels? What is the worst that could happen?
President Assad: Everything that has been referred to in the media or by official rhetoric regarding Syrian chemical weapons is speculation. We have never, and will never, discuss our armaments with anyone. What the world should worry about is chemical materials reaching the hands of terrorists. Video material has already been broadcast showing toxic material being tried on animals with threats to the Syrian people that they will die in the same way. We have shared this material with other countries. This is what the world should be focusing on rather than wasting efforts to create elusive headlines on Syrian chemical weapons to justify any intervention in Syria.
Sunday Times: I know you are not saying whether they are safe or not. There is concern if they are safe or no one can get to them.
President Assad: This is constructive ambiguity. No country will talk about their capabilities.
Sunday Times: A lot has been talked about this as well: what are the roles of Hezbollah, Iran and Russia in the war on the ground? Are you aware of Hezbollah fighters in Syria and what are they doing? What weapons are your allies Iran and Russia supplying? What other support are they providing?
President Assad: The Russian position is very clear regarding armaments - they supply Syria with defensive armaments in line with international law. Hezbollah, Iran and Russia support Syria in her fight against terrorism. Russia has been very constructive, Iran has been very supportive and Hezbollah’s role is to defend Lebanon not Syria. We are a country of 23 million people with a strong National Army and Police Force. We are in no need of foreign fighters to defend our country. What we should be asking is, what about the role of other countries, - Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, the US, - that support terrorism in Syria directly or indirectly, militarily or politically.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, may I ask you about your own position? Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov recently said that Lakhdar Ibrahimi complained of wanting to see more flexibility from your regime and that while you never seem to say ‘no’ you never seem to say ‘yes’. Do you think that there can be a negotiated settlement while you remain President, which is a lot of people are asking?
President Assad: Do not expect a politician to only say yes or no in the absolute meaning; it is not multiple choice questions to check the correct answer. You can expect from any politician a vision and our vision is very clear. We have a plan and whoever wants to deal with us, can deal with us through our plan. This is very clear in order not to waste time. This question reflects what has been circulating in the Western media about personalizing the problem in Syria and suggesting that the entire conflict is about the president and his future. If this argument is correct, then my departure will stop the fighting. Clearly this is absurd and recent precedents in Libya, Yemen and Egypt bear witness to this. Their motive is to try to evade the crux of the issue, which is dialogue, reform and combating terrorism. The legacy of their interventions in our region have been chaos, destruction and disaster. So, how can they justify any future intervention? They cannot. So, they focus on blaming the president and pushing for his departure; questioning his credibility; is he living in a bubble or not? is he detached from reality or not? So, the focus of the conflict becomes about the president
Sunday Times: Some foreign officials have called for you to stand for war crimes at the International Criminal Court as the person ultimately responsible for the army’s actions? Do you fear prosecution by the ICC? Or the possibility of future prosecution and trial in Syria?
President Assad: Whenever an issue that is related to the UN is raised, you are raising the question of credibility. We all know especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union – for the last twenty years - that the UN and all its organizations are the victims of hegemony instead of being the bastions of justice. They became politicized tools in order to create instability and to attack sovereign countries, which is against the UN’s charter. So, the question that we have to raise now is: are they going to take the American and the British leaders who attacked Iraq in 2003 and claimed more than half a million lives in Iraq, let alone orphans, handicapped and deformed people? Are they going to take the American, British French and others who went to Libya without a UN resolution last year and claimed again hundreds of lives? They are not going to do it. The answer is very clear. You know that sending mercenaries to any country is a war crime according Nuremberg principles and according to the London Charter of 1945. Are they going to put Erdogan in front of this court because he sent mercenaries? Are they going to do the same with the Saudis and the Qataris? If we have answers to these questions, then we can talk about peace organizations and about credibility.
My answer is very brief: when people defend their country, they do not take into consideration anything else.
Sunday Times: Hindsight is a wonderful thing Mr. President. If you could wind the clock back two years would you have handled anything differently? Do you believe that there are things that could or should have been done in another way? What mistakes do you believe have been made by your followers that you would change?
President Assad: You can ask this question to a President if he is the only one responsible for all the context of the event. In our case in Syria, we know there are many external players. So you have to apply hindsight to every player. You have to ask Erdogan, with hindsight would you send terrorists to kill Syrians, would you afford logistical support to them? You should ask the Qatari and Saudis whether in hindsight, would you send money to terrorists and to Al-Qaeda offshoots or any other terrorist organization to kill Syrians? We should ask the same question to the European and American officials, in hindsight would you offer a political umbrella to those terrorists killing innocent civilians in Syria?
In Syria, we took two decisions. The first is to make dialogue; the second is to fight terrorism. If you ask any Syrian, in hindsight would you say no to dialogue and yes to terrorism? I do not think any sane person will agree with you. So I think in hindsight, we started with dialogue and we are going to continue with dialogue. In hindsight, we said we are going to fight terrorism and we are going to continue to fight terrorism.
Sunday Times: Do you ever think about living in exile if it came to that? And would you go abroad if it increases the chances of peace in Syria?
President Assad: Again, it is not about the president. I don’t think any patriotic person or citizen would think of living outside his country.
Sunday Times: You will never leave
President Assad: No patriotic person will think about living outside his country. I am like any other patriotic Syrian.
Sunday Times: How shaken you were you by the bomb that killed some of your most senior generals last summer, including your brother-in-law?
President Assad: You mentioned my brother-in-law but it is not a family affair. When high-ranking officials are being assassinated it is a national affair. Such a crime will make you more determined to fight terrorism. It is not about how you feel, but more about what you do. We are more determined in fighting terrorism.
Sunday Times: Finally, Mr. President, may I ask about my colleague, Marie Colvin, who was killed in the shelling of an opposition media center at Baba Amr on February 22 last year. Was she targeted, as some have suggested, because she condemned the destruction on American and British televisions? Or was she just unlucky? Did you hear about her death at the time and if so what was your reaction?
President Assad: Of course, I heard about the story through the media. When a journalist goes into conflict zones, as you are doing now, to cover a story and convey it to the world, I think this is very courageous work. Every decent person, official or government should support journalists in these efforts because that will help shed light on events on the ground and expose propaganda where it exists. Unfortunately in most conflicts a journalist has paid the ultimate price. It is always sad when a journalist is killed because they are not with either side or even part of the problem, they only want to cover the story. There is a media war on Syria preventing the truth from being told to the outside world.
14 Syrian journalists who have also been killed since the beginning of the crisis and not all of them on the ground. Some have been targeted at home after hours, kidnapped, tortured and then murdered. Others are still missing. More than one Syrian television station has been attacked by terrorists and their bombs. There is currently a ban on the broadcast of Syrian TV channels on European satellite systems. It is also well known how rebels have used journalists for their own interests. There was the case of the British journalist who managed to escape.
Sunday Times: Alex Thompson?
President Assad: Yes. He was lead into a death trap by the terrorists in order to accuse the Syrian Army of his death. That’s why it is important to enter countries legally, to have a visa. This was not the case for Marie Colvin. We don’t know why and it’s not clear. If you enter illegally, you cannot expect the state to be responsible. Contrary to popular belief, since the beginning of the crisis, hundreds of journalists from all over the world, including you, have gained visas to enter Syria and have been reporting freely from inside Syria with no interferences in their work and no barriers to fulfill their missions.
Sunday Times: Thank you.
President Assad: Thank you.
Source : “Bashar Al-Assad’s Interview with The Sunday Times”, by Bashar al-Assad, Voltaire Network, 3 March 2013, www.voltairenet.org/article177726.html
Speech by Bashar al-Assad on Syrian crisis
Russia Today interview with Bashar al-Assad
Bashar el-Assad interview by Ad-Dounia TV
Speech Delivered by H.E. President Bashar al-Assad At the People’s Assembly
ABC’s Barbara Walters’ Interview With Bashar al-Assad
This author's articles
If anyone needs additional proof of the tremendous censorial control wielded over corporate and alleged "independent" media regarding Western powers' imperialist projects they need look no further than the thorough news blackout of the August 9 Tehran Consultative Conference on Syria. As this censorship ensued, "progressive" news outlets continued their barrage of dubious and misleading information on the continuing turmoil within Syria. by Professor James F. Tracy. Originally published on Global Research, 16 August 2012.
If anyone needs additional proof of the tremendous censorial control wielded over corporate and alleged "independent" media regarding Western powers' imperialist projects they need look no further than the thorough news blackout of the August 9 Tehran Consultative Conference on Syria. As this censorship ensued, "progressive" news outlets continued their barrage of dubious and misleading information on the continuing turmoil within Syria.
by Professor James F. Tracy. Originally published on Global Research, 16 August 2012.
The August 9 Tehran conference was sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran, attended by representatives from close to 30 nations, including Russia, China, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Venezuela, Cuba, and the UN envoy to Tehran. Its express intent was to "strengthen all-out regional and international efforts to help Syrian people to find a way out of ongoing crisis and prepare a suitable ground for national dialogue in a peaceful atmosphere."
Given the meeting's suggestion of dialogue over force the conveners excluded the United States, Britain, France, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar--countries behind the program to destabilize Syria's al-Assad's regime.
The discussion is anticipated to continue as a corollary to the Non-Aligned Movement meeting taking place in Iran in late August. Iran hopes the August 9 conference will be a genuine first step in a peace process between the Syrian regime and internal opposition groups.
Conference delegates emphasized a recognition of Syrians' grievances while also expressing concern over how "the entry of known terrorist groups and sects into the Syrian conflict" threatens regional peace and security.
White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the meeting. "There is vast evidence that demonstrates that Iran has been engaged in an effort to prop up Assad as he brutally murders his own people," Carney asserted. In an interview on NBC television US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice similarly claimed how Iran was playing a "nefarious" role in the Syria conflict, and acting as leader of an "axis of resistance" that was "bad for the region."
At a stage when the terrorist campaign in Syria appears to be faltering, the conference has likely caught US diplomats off guard. "I think the US State Department is freaked out because this is a huge defeat for Hillary Clinton," political analyst Webster Tarpley stated on Iran's PressTV. "What is Hillary Clinton's diplomacy worth when 30 countries--including about half the world when you get down to it--can come together on a pro-Syrian, pro-independence platform?"
Since the Tehran confab's discourse was characterized with a spirit of national self-determination and clearly sought to contest NATO's deceptive imperialist designs, one might expect the left-progressive news media and blogosphere especially to be abuzz with extensive coverage of the event. Such coverage or commentary has yet to emerge.
In fact, progressive media outlets continued what was arguably a campaign of disinformation that for some time has championed the Western-backed, mercenary-infused Free Syrian Army while ignoring its now thousands of murders and atrocities. For example, on August 12 The Nation ran a story by Democracy Now correspondent Sharif Abdul Kouddous, the Egyptian-American reporter with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood  who received accolades in left media circles for his 2011 coverage of Tahrir Square.
In the first of a three-part series, Kouddous related his recent foray to the Syrian city of Zabadani, "one of the earliest towns to stage demonstrations against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, with residents taking to the streets two weeks after the uprising in Deraa on March 15, 2011."
With vivid accounts of bloodshed perpetrated by the Syrian forces, Kouddous emphasizes to Nation readers how Zabadani's steadfast revolution derives from the grassroots, thus differing from the one being waged by ruthless NATO-backed death squads throughout the rest of the country. "People that were unarmed at first decided to arm themselves," one local activist tells Kouddous. "The regime made this happen."
The readership is told how the village is "controlled by residents and fighters with the Free Syrian Army--which in Zabadani are made up almost entirely of local volunteers and defecting soldiers hailing from the area."
In an August 14 Democracy Now interview highlighting the Nation piece, Amy Goodman asked Kouddous why he chose Zabadani to profile. "Well, I found a way into Syria," Kouddous replied.
As we know, the Syrian government does not really allow journalists in on official visas, or very rarely does. And so, there was a way in through Lebanon to reach this town. I was hoping to reach Damascus, but the number of checkpoints around Damascus prevented that from happening.
In fact, Zabadani is well known as one of the very few "rebel holdouts" in Syria. As the BBC similarly reported in January, "Zabadani is the only town near Damascus seething with rebellion. It's the only town where the president has ceded power."
Thus the city is an especially ideal backdrop for a piece promoting the now-familiar NATO propaganda line of the popular indigenous uprising repressed by the brutal Assad regime, even though the scenario appears to be far from common.
As recently as late July, France 24 reported a less triumphant situation for Zabadani's FSA forces, with the Syrian Army making significant inroads toward retaking the city. "'Those who want to fight must come here!'" an FSA commander boasts. "'They [Syrian forces] are cowards and dogs - they just bark orders into their walky-talkies.' Despite the bravado," a France 24 correspondent observed, "Syrian forces have pushed the rebels back and many rebel-held areas are now under the army's control."
According to this account (and contrary to Kouddous' romanticization of the FSA), "Even the hardiest," of Zabadani's inhabitants "can't stand anymore fighting." One woman told the French journalists "she would rather take her family into the countryside, while the rest of the Free Syrian Army defends the rest of the district."
Kouddous' reportage contributes to the progressive media's larger project of seemingly authenticating the mainstream news outlets' simplistic, NATO-friendly "popular revolution" news frame of the overall Middle East destabilization process.
Yet nothing makes the intent to mislead audiences more apparent than this deceptive amalgam of stifling coverage of a potentially productive and meaningful peace conference, denying a real voice to the victims of Western-backed mercenaries and death squads, and paying calculated homage to the Zabadani rebellion. The familiar formula seeks to prop up a now-transparently doubtful storyline begun in January 2011.
 The news blackout is initially observed by Webster Tarpley. "Tehran Conference Belies US Syria Claims: Webster Tarpley," Press TV, August 10, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giTEnaAW2yY
 Syria: NATO's Next "Humanitarian" War? Online Interactive Book, ed. Michel Chossudovsky, 2012, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29234
 "Participants in Iran Conference on Syria Issue Final Statement," FARS News Agency, August 9, 2012, http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9104253537
, "US Raps Iran on Syria After Tehran Conference," Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha, August 10, 2012, http://www1.bssnews.net/newsDetails.php?cat=3&id=271302&date=2012-08-10
 "Tehran Conference Belies US Syria Claims: Webster Tarpley," Press TV, See also, "Tarpley: 30 Nations Meet in Tehran for Alternative to Hillary Clinton's Attack on Syria," Voltaire Network, August 12, 2012, http://www.voltairenet.org/Tarpley-30-Nations-Meet-in-Tehran
 Sharif Abdel Kouddous, "On the Ground in Zabadani, a Syrian Town in Revolt," The Nation, August 13, 2012, http://www.thenation.com/article/169360/ground-zabadani-syrian-town-revolt
 Reporting from Tahrir Square in early 2011, Kouddous remarked, "One man who is sure Mubarak's time is up is my uncle Mohamed Abd El Qudoos. A leading opposition protester, Mohamed is the head of the Freedom Committee in the Press Syndicate, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood." Why does one of the progressive news program's foremost correspondents have ties to and tout the fiercely reactionary Muslim Brotherhood? "Live From Egypt, The Rebellion Grows Stronger," Democracy Now! January 30, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2011/1/30/live_from_egypt_the_rebellion_grows_stronger_by_sharif_abdel_kouddous
 Jeremy Bowen, "Zabadani: The Town President Assad Does Not Control," BBC, January 20, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16663264
 "Rebels and Assad's Forces Face-Off in Zabadani," France 24, July 28, 2012, http://www.france24.com/en/20120728-syria-zabadani-free-syrian-army-rebels-bashar-al-assad-troops-mortars
James F. Tracy is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University and an associate of Project Censored. More information is available at his blog, memorygap.org
What is not widely known is the role of supposedly Trotskyist left wing parties in propping up the rule of the Mullahs in 1980. Whether this was decisive I cannot say, but in 1980, one of the major Trotskyist Parties, affiliated with the Trotskyist Fourth International, made a surprising turn and, instead of being a left-wing opponent of the government and the mullahs, began to whitewash the mullahs and to smear political opponents of that government, including feminists and left-wing University students at the University of Tehran.
This article started out as a comment in reply to the comment entitled "Stoning of Women in Iran."
This article started out as a comment in reply to the comment entitled "Stoning of Women in Iran."
What is not widely known is the role of supposedly Trotskyist left wing parties in propping up the rule of the Mullahs in 1980. Whether this was decisive I cannot say, but in 1980, one of the major Trotskyist Parties, affiliated with the Trotskyist Fourth International, made a surprising turn and, instead of being a left-wing opponent of the government and the mullahs, began to whitewash the mullahs and to smear political opponents of that government, including feminists and left-wing University students at the University of Tehran.
What is not widely known is the role of supposedly Trotskyist left wing parties in propping up the rule of the Mullahs in 1980. Whether this was decisive I cannot say, but in 1980, one of the major Trotskyist Parties, affiliated with the Trotskyist Fourth International, made a surprising turn and, instead of being a left-wing opponent of the government and the mullahs, began to whitewash the mullahs and to smear political opponents of that government, including feminists and left-wing University students at the University of Tehran.
The Iranian Islamist fundamentalist mullahs, from which the current Iranian government inherited power, won government in 1979, after a prolonged popular struggle against the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran, who was imposed upon the Iranians by a CIA sponsored coup in 1953.
The mullahs were only one of a number of political forces opposed to the rule of the Shah. Others included socialist groups, liberal democratic groups, and groups representing the non-Persian oppressed nations within Iran, including the Kurds, Azeris, Arabs, Baluchis, etc.
The consolidation of the dictatorial power of the mullahs after 1979 was far from inevitable. During the early months after the collapse of the Shah's regime, the dynamic of the Iranian revolution seemed to match that of the dynamic of the Russian revolution, with the transitional bourgeois democratic government of Mehdi Barzagan atop vast rival mass movements vying with each other and with the government for political power.
Eventually the Iranian mullahs overpowered their more left wing rivals as well as the Iranian transitional government with terrible consequences which included the mas-murder of political opponents and the pointless prolongation of the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-1985. Whilst guilt for starting the war can rightly be attributed to the then dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, the prolongation of that war from 1981, when Hussein tried to sue for peace, until 1985, cost the lives of perhaps half a million more on both sides and, indirectly, made possible the even more terrible first and second U.S. wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003.
The University of Tehran was smashed as strongpoint of political opposition to the Mullah government, when the Mullahs invaded the campus and forcibly dispersed left wing students on the pretext that they were to teach literacy to Iranian peasants. No subsequent reports of the impact of the Mullah's claimed literacy drive were heard which would confirm that the supposed literacy drive was no more than a pretext of the Mullahs to break up and smash an opposition political force.
In 1980 or 1981, Fatima Fallahi, a female member of the abovementioned Trotskyist Party, was arrested by the Mullahs and apparently threatened with execution. (I recommend against googling her name because it seems to return a large number of hits not related to the Fatima Fallahi I am discussing.) Despite remembering her name, other details such as dates, places and other names may be less clear to me after all this time.
At any rate, an energetic and sizable international political campaign apparently succeeded in preventing Fatima's execution and she was released. In 1981, she toured Australia as a guest of the then Socialist Workers Party, which was the fore-runner of today's Democratic Socialist Party which publishes Green Left Weekly.
At the time I was a committed member of the SWP and looked forward to hearing a sophisticated analysis of the Iranian Revolution at Fatima's public meetings in Australia. Fatima Fallahi was a member of the revolutionary left. I hoped to learn from her speeches about the prospects of the revolutionary left establishing a socialist government that would set an example to the rest of the region and to the rest of the world and how we could help them from Australia.
Instead, Fatima's speeches turned out to be shameful and embarrassing apologies for the Mullah's rule. She smeared political oponents of the Iranian mullahs as mentioned above.
Just possibly, Fatima could be excused for her deception, because she may have feared for her own life or for the lives of friends and family still in Iran. But there can be no such excuse for the Socialist Workers Party of Australia, nor its then US equivalent (also known as the Socialist Workers Party) for helping her to spread those lies. In the coming months and years, Socialist Workers Party newspapers essentially peddled justifications for the Iranian Mullah regime. On the Iranian regime's prolongation of the Iraq-Iran war they were silent. Privately they excused it. On one occasion a leading member of the SWP told me that a defeat of the supposedly revolutionary Iranian army then attempting to invade Iraq with waves of sacrificial child soldiers, being thrown across minefields and into barbed wire, would be a defeat for revolutionaries everywhere.
A more objective analysis of the situation would surely have concluded that the accession of such a government to power represented a defeat of the revolution. Excusing that regime's crimes against its own people would surely only compound the consequences of that defeat both in Iran and internationally.
How is it that the successors of those who denied and covered up for the crimes of Iranian Islamic fundamentalists over a generation ago, are now silent about the wrongful blaming of Islamic peoples for the crime of 9/11, 7/7, the Bali bombings, the Madrid train bombings or else actively promote those lies?
The enemies of my enemy are not necessarily my friends.
Whilst I believe that the United States has committed more evil than any other single country since the end of the Second World War, this doesn't mean that I will defend the indefensible actions of the Iranian government, who are in opposition to the United States. By the way, the reason that I believe that the United States is evil is based on their record in the Vietnam war, their CIA meddling in other countries, what they have done in Europe, such as helping form Nazi collaborators to reestablish their power and influence in Italy and Germany, by failing to fully prosecute war criminals, despite some spectacular show trials. (A lot go off because they were considered reliable enemies of communism.) The CIA also organised the mass murder of at least a hundred thousand members of the communist party of Indonesia in 1965. The death toll of its war against IndoChinese people from 1954-1975 exceeds 3 million (and may be more according to some sources.)
US Republican Congressman and past Presidential contender, Ron Paul opposes a bill to impose sanctions against Iran. In his speech, he describes how exactly the same bogus justifications were used for the imposition of sanctions against Iraq. Rather than satisfying the demands of the warmongers wielding power in the US at the time, they only paved the way for the subsequent illegal invasion.
An Act Of War
By Congressman Ron Paul
Statement of Congressman Ron Paul - United States House of Representatives
Statement on Motion to Instruct Conferees on HR 2194, Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act - April 22, 2010
April 23, 2010 "United States House of Representatives" -- Mr. Speaker I rise in opposition to this motion to instruct House conferees on HR 2194, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, and I rise in strong opposition again to the underlying bill and to its Senate version as well. I object to this entire push for war on Iran, however it is disguised. Listening to the debate on the Floor on this motion and the underlying bill it feels as if we are back in 2002 all over again: the same falsehoods and distortions used to push the United States into a disastrous and unnecessary one trillion dollar war on Iraq are being trotted out again to lead us to what will likely be an even more disastrous and costly war on Iran. The parallels are astonishing.
We hear war advocates today on the Floor scare-mongering about reports that in one year Iran will have missiles that can hit the United States. Where have we heard this bombast before? Anyone remember the claims that Iraqi drones were going to fly over the United States and attack us? These “drones” ended up being pure propaganda – the UN chief weapons inspector concluded in 2004 that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein had ever developed unpiloted drones for use on enemy targets. Of course by then the propagandists had gotten their war so the truth did not matter much.
We hear war advocates on the floor today arguing that we cannot afford to sit around and wait for Iran to detonate a nuclear weapon. Where have we heard this before? Anyone remember then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s oft-repeated quip about Iraq: that we cannot wait for the smoking gun to appear as a mushroom cloud.
We need to see all this for what it is: Propaganda to speed us to war against Iran for the benefit of special interests.
Let us remember a few important things. Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has never been found in violation of that treaty. Iran is not capable of enriching uranium to the necessary level to manufacture nuclear weapons. According to the entire US Intelligence Community, Iran is not currently working on a nuclear weapons program. These are facts, and to point them out does not make one a supporter or fan of the Iranian regime. Those pushing war on Iran will ignore or distort these facts to serve their agenda, though, so it is important and necessary to point them out.
Some of my well-intentioned colleagues may be tempted to vote for sanctions on Iran because they view this as a way to avoid war on Iran. I will ask them whether the sanctions on Iraq satisfied those pushing for war at that time. Or whether the application of ever-stronger sanctions in fact helped war advocates make their case for war on Iraq: as each round of new sanctions failed to “work” – to change the regime – war became the only remaining regime-change option.
This legislation, whether the House or Senate version, will lead us to war on Iran. The sanctions in this bill, and the blockade of Iran necessary to fully enforce them, are in themselves acts of war according to international law. A vote for sanctions on Iran is a vote for war against Iran. I urge my colleagues in the strongest terms to turn back from this unnecessary and counterproductive march to war.
#AndWhatIf" id="AndWhatIf">And what if, contrary all to the known evidence, Iran was found to be pursuing a nuclear weapons program?
Although the claims that Iran may obtain nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future are every bit as bogus as claims made about Iraq prior to the invasion of 2003, this poses the question: What would be an appropriate response on the part of the US if, instead, evidence of a program to build nuclear weapons had been found?
Arguably, an outright invasion and obliteration of much of Iran costing, perhaps, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iranians, and at the risk of igniting a larger world-wide conflageration, most likely involving NATO, Russia, China, India and Pakistan, would remove from the world the nuclear threat posed by such an Iranian nuclear weapons program, but any reasonable person would consider such a cost and such risks completely unacceptable.
His selfless courage and ultimate sacrifice spared the world
on at least three occasions from the unthinkable horror of
all-out nuclear war.
The fact remains that, as unsettling as the prospect of states such as Iran, or for that matter, India, Pakistan, France, and even Israel obtaining or already possessing nuclear weapons, is, the vastly greater threat of nuclear war posed to the world is by the US itself.
As James Douglass has shown in his monumental JFK and the Unspeakable - Why he died and why it matters, published by Orbis books in 2008 and 2009 on pages 28 to 29 and elsewhere, the US Joint Chiefs of staff were fully resolved, on at least three occasians in the early 1960's, to launch an all out nuclear strike against the USSR. It was only very good luck, combined with the extraordinary and unique courage of President Kennedy, which prevented that from occurring.
Also, according to retired CIA analyst, #McGovern">Ray McGovern in a videoed talk, embedded below, only a handful of principled senior military and intelligence professionals within the US, who refused tell Vice President Dick Cheney and former President George W Bush, the lies that they needed to hear, have prevented an invasion of Iran and possibly World War 3.
Clearly the greatest nuclear threat posed to humankind was and remains the US nuclear arsenal in the hands of the very military-industrial complex against which former President Eisenhower warned in his final address to the nation in 1961.
If President Kennedy had not been murdered by that military industrial complex on 22 November 1963, he would have been able to continue on his quest to rid the world of the scourge of nuclear weapons, the first step of which was his Government's ratification of the atmospheric nuclear test ban treaty with the USSR in 1963.
Today, only the US has within its power to comprehensively remove the threat that nuclear weapons pose to humanknd. To achive that would require another national leader as visionary and courageous as was President Kennedy was.
#democracy" id="democracy">Wouldn't a US invasion bring democracy to Iran?
The other implicit justification for an invasion of Iran is that it is necessary to re-establish democracy. In truth, the election victory that allowed the current Government to retain power is questionable, and it remains the heir of the astonishingly brutal regime of Ayatollah Khomeini which came to power after the overthrow of the dictatorship of the Shah in 1979. (The Shah, himself, was imposed as the result of a CIA-orchestrated coup against the popular elected Government of Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953.)
Nevertheless, to accept that western Governments, who routinely act contrary to the democratically expressed wishes of their consituents, as examples, against the bail-out of the Wall Street financial racketeers in September 2008, and against the fire sale of AU$15 billion of publicly owned assets in Queensland in 2009 and 2010, have any intention of bring democracy to Iran, would require an enormous degree of credulity.
Whatever 'democracy' may emerge from the ruins of a conquered Iran will, at the very best, be no better than the formal supposed democracies that exist in the US and Australia and, far more likely, akin to the dictatorship of Paul Bremer over Iraq of 2003-2005, which oversaw the ransacking of public wealth by crony US capitalists and the consequent impoverishment of Iraqis. (The Shock Doctrine, (2007) Naomi Klein, pp 325-422)