The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian warplanes shelled positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, on November 6 in Idlib province. Some of the terrorists killed were: Abdul Minam Muhati, Radwan Hussain Muhayer, Abu Dawoud al-Filistini, Mohammad Ali al-Kadour, Abu Hussein al-Raddad, Abu Hajat al-Chad, Amro abu Layth al-Askandarani, and Mohammed Suliaman al-Ali.
Russian President Vladmir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan held a four-hour meeting on August 5 in Sochi which may change the course of the Middle East, and end the US occupation of Syria.
What was the importance of Putin's attendance at the Caspian Summit, beginning on June 29, 2022 and the progress of associated alliances? This was a subject of some interesting speculation in a July 2 edition of The Duran, which I have embedded and transcribed below this introduction. For some time now the US and Russia have had increasing proxy confrontations in Russia's backyard, in the areas around and below the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.
Hot-head President Erdogan seems to be threatening a full-scale invasion of Syria, which would risk major conflict between Russia and the United States. Erdogan is obsessed with the idea of heading up a new Ottoman Empire. These ambitions and Turkey's geographical location make him susceptible to manipulation by restless world powers with a variety of geopolitical interests in the region. We republish this article from https://www.rt.com/news/481179-erdogan-idlib-operation-imminent/ where it first appeared on 19 Feb, 2020 09:14.
A new Turkish military incursion into Syria’s Idlib governorate has been planned and may start at any moment, President Recep Erdogan has warned, ramping up a tense standoff with Damascus.
Ankara will not “leave Idlib to the Assad regime and its backers,” Erdogan vowed, referring to the Syrian government and, apparently, to Russia and Iran. Speaking to lawmakers on Wednesday, he said his words were “a final warning.”
The Turkish president also said negotiations with Russia over Idlib have so far failed to meet Ankara’s demands. He said he wanted the province to be safe for Turkey, “no matter the cost.”
The northwestern Syrian province bordering Turkey is the last major stronghold of anti-government forces in the protracted civil war. Ankara backs some of the armed groups in the area, but there is also a strong presence of jihadists, who have no interest in a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Under an agreement with Russia, Turkey is supposed to use its leverage in Idlib to curb violence and prevent attacks on other parts of Syria.
The arrangement never fully worked, with Damascus regularly complaining about cross-border militant attacks. Its response was to gradually take control over some parts of the province, forcing jihadists to retreat. Since last month the advancements put Syrian troops in direct opposition to Turkish forces, which have been deployed in Idlib to monitor the situation. At least two clashes between them have resulted in casualties among the Turks, angering Ankara.
Moscow is mediating in the situation to prevent it from boiling over into a major confrontation. Erdogan has demanded that Damascus pull back its forces from Idlib and threatened to use the Turkish army to force a retreat if necessary.
Western propaganda against Syria has been stepped up, despite recent revelations of how the 'chemical weapons attacks' investigations were rigged by the OPCW, where multiple investigators have come out and blown the whistle. The US-NATO warmongers must be getting quite desperate and have decided that the only way they can keep the ISIS and other terrorist presence in northern Syria is to get Turkey to invade. See "Turkish military op in Idlib only 'matter of time’, Erdogan warns Damascus." We hope this will not come about. Meanwhile, in this video-episode of Going Underground, Afshin Rattansi speaks to Syrian President Bashar Assad's media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban. She discusses the Syrian Arab Army/pro-government forces victory in Aleppo, which has secured the entire Aleppo region for the first time since 2012, the Idlib offensive and why it has taken so long for the Syrian government to conduct the operation, allegations of Russian and Syrian targeting of civilians in the offensive, her message to President Erdogan in the context of the Turkish occupation of Northern Syria, and more!
You probably didn't fall for the latest western-corporate press nonsense about Russia and Syria 'brutally attacking Idlib Province in Syria', but you may wonder what is really happening. This is how it appears to us: Turkey and the US want to retain a foothold in Idlib, Northern Syria, along with their terrorist proxies, so that they can sell arms, loot the place, and cause chaos in the region. Turkey is playing Russia and the US for whatever it can get out of them. President Erdogan wants to reestablish the Ottoman Empire in his own name and that is part of his plan for trying to acquire territory in Syria. The US has put some sanctions on Turkey because it purchased weapons from the Russians recently, instead of from the US. Turkey is kind of like a major political prostitute for NATO and anyone else with a mutual short-term aim, including ISIS. The Syrian Arab Army (the Syrian government forces) and the Russians are trying to free the terrorists' human shields in Idlib and restore it to order. Against all odds, the Syrian government has managed to take back nearly all of Syria from the terrorists. (Syrian Arab Army Cleans 16 Towns in 24 Hours from NATO Terrorists in Idlib and Aleppo (8/2/20) by Arabi Souli | SyriaNews) This is probably because it is the only force that has massive support from Syrians. The syndicated western press, which trots out guff about Syria attacking its own people, is a mouthpiece for weapons manufacturers, war, US expansionism and neocolonialism, all major investment stocks. By the way, Iran has opened a criminal case against the US for using terrorists to destabilise the region and for multiple murders and war crimes. Meanwhile the US pretends that it is combatting aggression from Iran. See
Iranian lawyers file lawsuit against US over fighters killed in Syria, Sunday, 09 February 2020
SAA Cleans 16 Towns in 24 Hours from NATO Terrorists in Idlib and Aleppo
[Article below originally published here: https://www.syrianews.cc/saa-cleans-16-towns-in-24-hours-from-nato-terrorists-in-idlib-and-aleppo/]
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) responded to the threats of the Turkish pariah Erdogan to withdraw from the Syrian territories and restore al-Qaeda terrorists in the towns and villages recently cleaned from them, by cleaning 16 more towns and villages in the past day alone and continuing.
The Syrian army in a direct challenge to NATO’s Turkish Army and its neo-Ottoman leaders yesterday liberated eight towns in the eastern countryside of Idlib amid a collapse among the ranks of armed terrorists and managed to liberate part of the Aleppo highway, north of Saraqib, which is of great strategic importance because it is a meeting point between the two international roads Aleppo – Damascus, and Aleppo – Latakia.
SAA’s military operations continue on two axes in the north of the country to liberate the rest of the International Damascus-Aleppo M5 Artery, of which more than 85 percent have been liberated. The first axis starts from the southern Aleppo countryside and seeks to reach the strategic Hill of Al-Issa, and the second axis in the eastern countryside of Idlib, specifically from the city of Saraqib.
The Syrian Army advances in Idlib and Aleppo countryside and liberates more than 85% of Aleppo International Highway – Damascus, known as M5.
On the axis of the southern Aleppo countryside, the Syrian army managed to liberate the villages of Khalma, Hamera, Khan Touman, Zethan, and Berna, to arrive at the outskirts of the strategic Hill of Al-Issa, which is considered the point of ‘control by fire’ for the southern Aleppo countryside, and when it manages to liberate al-Ais Hill, its forces will be on the outskirts of the international road Aleppo- Damascus as a prelude to entering the town of Zarba located on this highway.
On the eastern axis of Idlib countryside, the Syrian Army forces deployed in the strategic city of Saraqib after its liberation, the most important city in that area after Maarat al-Numan, which the Syrian Army also liberated.
The SAA’s advance and liberation of large areas in the Idlib countryside has led to a rise in the number of besieged Turkish military posts to five in the rural Idlib and Aleppo.
The SAA’s entry into Saraqib came after the liberation of 17 villages, the most important of which were Al-Mardaikh, Dadikh, and Neirab, stretching to the town of Afis, north of Saraqib.
The discussion in this video opens up new topics on the confusing situation with US 'withdrawal' and Turkey incursion in Northern Syria. Particularly interesting is Marwa Osman's framing of why Turkey would want to move Syrian refugees into Northern Syria. She thinks that Erdogan (Turkey's President) has a problem with all the Syrian refugees living in his country because his people resent the presence of this large number of non-Turkish people. If Erdogan can move these refugees into an area he is trying to clear of Kurds in northern Syria, then he can put the Syrian refugees there. Many of those refugees now have Turkish papers. This would have the further benefit for Erdogan's purposes in that, once Erdogan will have moved so many people there, he will more or less control the area with their presence, since he will be organising their settlement and deployment. Video discussion with Ammar Qaqqaf, Marwa Osman, Mike Raddie and Peter Lavelle.
Most Kurds have Syrian citizenship, but some do not. Syrian citizenship is modeled on French law, generally requiring a demonstration of cultural affinity - such as speaking the language. Children born in Syria must demonstrate Syrian paternity; it is not enough to have a Syrian mother. After 1945 there was a diaspora of Kurds from Turkey to Syria. The Syrian government in power during the transitional period between the fall of the UAR and the coming into power of the Baath government, was worried by this inflow from Turkey, which has long had designs on Syrian territory. In 1962 this government held a Syrian census of Kurds in the North requiring proof of residence in Syria from 1945. According to my source on this, there were many illiterate Kurds in the area, without much engagement with the government, so they might not have understood the requirements, if they knew they were being made. 120 stateless Kurds resulted.
During the war in Syria that began in 2011, the United States and other NATO countries cultivated politically ambitious Kurds for their own purposes. Now they have dumped them and many Kurds are fleeing towards the parts of Syria held by the Syrian Government.
Many terrorists remain in the area, including ISIS. It is feared that Turkey will use such fighters to achieve its own ends. Erdogan, who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is thought to want to establish a caliphate along the lines of the old Ottoman Empire. Part of such a caliphate would involve redrawing the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement borders to bring Northern Syria into Turkey.
Any incursion by Turkey into Syria risks being used by the United States and NATO to their own ends, which are destabilisation and power over oil reserves in the region.
"The Stateless Syrians," Tilburg University, Switzerland, May2013. https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/52a983124.pdf Note that this work was funded by Open Society Foundations, which is a multi-million dollar political engineering program that funds mass migration.
The Syrian Kurds have asked Syria to help them because Turkey is threatening them. President Erdogan treats them as an extension of the Kurds in Turkey who want independence from Turkey. During the main part of the war in Syria (which seems to be tailing off now) the Kurds fought the Takfiri rebels. The United States, which supplied a lot of the so-called rebels including ISIS (indirectly at least) at times appeared to support Kurdish independence, using them as a lever against the Syrian Government. The Kurds had been offered control of their own department by the Syrian Government, but not actual independent state status. The US rewarded a Kurdish independence movement against Syria, although it is not clear that all Kurds in Syria really wanted this. The region also contains substantial minorities of Arabs and others whom a separate Kurdish state might not have suited. Until Russia intervened in the war (at the invitation of the Syrian Government) it looked like the United States backed terrorists were going to tear the country apart. The UN and NATO and its allies, including Australia, all supported this with a policy of removing President Assad and splitting Syria into many little states. The western public and corporate media provided propaganda to support this. Western readers were given no critical comparison with the prior destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, states destroyed by the same kind of tactics. YouTube gave great comfort to these lies when it suddenly removed all of the Syrian Presidency's interviews, claiming some breach of advertising. [Suddenly some of them are back, as the wind is changing.] Since the insurgency began in 2011, Turkey provided a covert base for terrorists to attack Syria from. After Russia intervened with the invitation of Syria, the US, which was an illegal and unwelcome presence in Syria, tried to get Turkey to support it. As it was also promoting the idea of the Kurds having an independent state, Turkey's support could never be relied on. Turkey could always align itself with the Russians, although, in the end, it seemed to prefer to be independent and it has its own ambitions to dominate the region. By outing the murder of the journalist, Kashoggi, in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey, Turkey has made itself look a bit respectable, but it is not inconceivable that Erdogan is supporting the ruling elite in Saudi Arabia against the Crown Prince, for strategic purposes. No-one really knows. Whilst Turkey is not a Wahabist state, Erdogan is a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to establish a new Muslim caliphate in the Middle East and much of Europe. Syria is a multi-religion state which includes many Christians and it does not support a Muslim caliphate. This editorial is by Sheila Newman and James Sinnamon, candobetter editors. We have republished the following report on the state of the war in Syria from RT.
Syrian Army ‘raises flag’ in country’s Kurdish province for 1st time since start of civil war
Republishing from RT at https://www.rt.com/news/447572-syrian-forces-enter-manbij/.
Damascus says it has deployed troops to the city of Manbij, the focal point of a tense standoff between Kurds and Turkey, as the government continues attempts to reassert control over the strategic border area in Syria’s north.
The Kurdish YPG militia on Friday called on Damascus to secure Manbij, located close to the border with Turkey. Ankara earlier said it plans to conduct an “anti-terrorist operation” around the city, with the YPG being the target.
In response, Damascus said its troops were already in the north and raised the flag in the “area of Manbij.” In a statement from the general staff broadcast by the Syrian media, the top brass said their army was determined to “crush terrorism and defeat all invaders and occupiers” as well as to provide security for all Syrian citizens.
Just how far-reaching the Syrian deployment is and if it’s taking place at all is yet to be confirmed by other sources, as is the Syrian Army troops’ arrival in the city proper.
Skeptical over the statement from Damascus, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the “flag-raising” a “psychological action.” He, however, acknowledged that there would be no need for the Turkish Army op in Manbij if the Kurds pull out of the city.
Meanwhile, Turkey-backed militants opposed to both the government and the Kurds said they were moving fighters towards Manbij and were prepared to start an operation there, if necessary.
Damascus is trying to assert full control over Syrian territory, a goal that remains elusive despite significant progress over the year. Among the contested zones are the province of Idlib, some Kurdish-controlled areas and a region on the border with Jordan, where a US military outpost is located.
The Kurds and the central government have remained mostly neutral towards each other over the years of the conflict and occasionally allied against jihadist groups. The Manbij maneuver does not make them immediate allies, but with Kurds de facto asking protection from the Syrian government, Damascus now seems in a stronger position to negotiate the degree of autonomy the Kurds would have after the political transition in the country. They currently control large swaths of territory east of Euphrates River, which is rich in oil, and crude revenues would be crucial for Syria’s post-war reconstruction.
Manbij became the focus of tense war of words earlier this month, after Erdogan said he was prepared to order a new “anti-terrorist operation” targeting the Kurds. He said the move was necessary because the US failed to make the YPG remove their fighters from the area, despite promises to do so.
The US, a key ally of the Kurds for the past several years, has meanwhile decided to withdraw its troops from Kurd-controlled areas in Syria, including Manbij. The withdrawal promises to be a game-changer for Kurds, who relied on American backing for protection against Turkey, but it is also yet to happen.
Ankara has amassed a fighting force near its southern border over the past few weeks but stopped short of launching the promised offensive. Turkey sees all Kurdish militias as an extension of its domestic Kurdish insurgency and attacked them repeatedly in both Syria and Iraq.
The situation is to be discussed on Saturday by top Turkish and Russian officials at a meeting in Moscow. Russia, a backer of Damascus in its fight against jihadist groups, said the deployment in Manbij may be a good sign that stabilization of Syria is progressing. But a spokesman for the Kremlin indicated that the outcome would depend on how the talks in Moscow unfold.
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.
All the news today is about Turkey attacking Afrin, a Kurdish governed city in northern Syria and threatening another Kurdish run city named Manbj. This is a very dangerous situation and another devastating assault on the Syrian people who have already suffered so much from a war that that was started by foreign manipulation and fed by foreign fighters, foreign weapons and foreign cash. The war should have ended by now and be winding down, but Syria’s enemies are persistent and cunning. We should not forget, however, that the foremost enemy of Syria, the strongest, most powerful country, the managing force in this war to destroy Syria is the United States […A Brief Analysis] Article first published 20 January 2018 at https://unac.papillonweb.net/2018/01/20/increasing-us-aggression-in-syria-leads-to-chaos/
Syrian Internal Security Forces are sworn in during their graduation ceremony, at Ain Issa desert base, in Raqqa province, northeast Syria, Thursday, July 20, 2017. Some 250 residents of Syria’s Raqqa province are the latest batch to graduate from a brief U.S-training course that is preparing an internal security force to hold and secure areas as they are captured from Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla) MintPress, 10/17
US Occupation Forces
The United States has announced that the US is preparing a ‘border force’ of 30,000 fighters to “keep the peace in Syria”. The plan is for these forces to have the US backed, Kurdish led forces of the SDF (Syrian Defense Forces) at their core, and will occupy nearly a third of sovereign Syrian territory. This region is not the traditional Kurdish homeland in Syria, but rather the area east of the Euphrates that the SDF was able to occupy with US assistance while the Syrian Arab Army and their allies were busy liberating the rest of Syrian including the more densely populated regions in the west, reintegrating neighborhoods, towns and villages one by one, demining and removing dangerous remnants of the war while providing whatever services and resources they could to local civilians.
According to a report in Bloomberg, US Secretary of State Tillerson said that the US is not into ‘nation building’ but they will assist with rebuilding Syria AFTER Assad is gone. In any case, Syrians will wait a long time for any constructive US aid. So far, the US has done little or nothing to assist with recovering Mosul or Raqqa, not even demining, and certainly nothing that would encourage the return of the civilian population.
The Kurdish forces, originally allied with the Syrian Government, were independent enough to operate on their own with government provision of arms and other resources when they were adopted and offered an independent state by the United States. The YPG fighting forces emerged from a small sliver of land on the Turkish border inhabited by several ancient Christian sects, Arabs and Turkomen, indigenous Kurds and Kurdish immigrants who have been arriving in waves throughout the 20th century, escaping pogroms targeting Kurds in Turkey. The recent immigrants from the 1980s, affiliated with the PKK, a Kurdish resistance organization in Turkey, form the nucleus of the YPG. Since the Syrian war began they have been increasingly dominating the other residents of their region, and they now they have spread well beyond it to occupy Raqqa and other cities in a largely Arab region.
US Proxies on the Move
Today the US backed SDF centers around the Kurdish YPG, but also includes local tribal leaders who want to keep control of their own territories and ISIS members rescued from previous war zones by the US for future use. According to an article on the World Socialist Organization website, the US has about 2,000 forces in Syria though I have heard estimates as high as 5,000. They currently claim to have 230 men in training. US actions in Syria are spreading chaos and risking a wider regional war – or worse. According to the WSW:
[Turkish President] Erdogan condemned US support for the YPG, declaring on the weekend: “The US sent 4,900 trucks of weapons in Syria. We know this. This is not what allies do.” At a rally yesterday he reiterated his determination to “vanquish” the Kurdish militia. “We have finished our preparations,” he said. “The operation can start any time.” Erdogan accused the US of “creating a terror army on our border,” adding: “What we have to do is nip this terror army in the bud.”
The Syrian government denounced the planned pro-US border force as a “blatant assault” on the country’s sovereignty. The state-run news agency, SANA, cited a foreign ministry spokesperson as insisting that the army was determined to thwart the US “conspiracy, end the presence of the US, its agents and tools in Syria, establish full control over the entire Syria territory and preserve the country’s sovereignty.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday accused the US of seeking to split up Syria, saying it “does not want to keep Syria as a state in its current borders.” Washington was helping “the Syrian Democratic Forces to set up some border security zones.”
An investigation by a couple of Russian journalists has been published on Sputnik reports that the US has a training camp for jihadists near al Tanf, a primary border crossing between Syria and Iraq. They claim that there are as many as 1,500 fighters there including SDF, New Syrian Army (perhaps represented by the Free Syria Army leaders in Washington last week) and over 200 ISIS fighters. These men are on the payroll. Another 5,000 potential fighters reside in nearby Rukban refugee camp which is cut off from all outside access including the United Nations and other NGOS. Syrian and Russian forces are bombed if they approach the area. Civilians in Rukban and the US controlled territories are in a desperate situation. They are lacking the basic necessities while members of criminal gangs control the wells and sell water at inflated prices. Restless fighters rob local homes and attack trucks passing on the highway.
It must be noted that the United States has invested not a penny in rebuilding any part of Syria. Secretary of State Tillerson has said that we will assist rebuilding AFTER Assad has left. Since this is unlikely to occur, this responsibility will not fall on them in the foreseeable future. The Arab population of Raqqa has been driven from the city to local refugee camps, and some into the government controlled areas of Syria. Meanwhile, Syrians living in territories under the control of US forces and US proxies remain in the rubble of the war just as Palestinians in Gaza live in the rubble of the communities that Israel has destroyed.
Fox News has reported that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) members have been in Washington this week meeting with US officials. These are the same ‘moderates’ who have consistently fought side by side with ISIS and al Qaeda from the beginning of the war, and who could not be separated from those organizations to create functioning deconfliction zones. The article says these FSA leaders claim to have 60,000 fighters. This is absurd given that they didn’t have that many fighters before they lost the war, and according the investigative report below, they had only a couple of checkpoints in the remaining center of Syrian Opposition, which is controlled by al Qaeda (under various names) and an extremist group called Ahrar al Sham.
One of these FSA leaders in Washington is quoted as saying “Iran and Assad contributed to the creation of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups,” another absurdity since we know that the United States created Al Qaeda in the 80s to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, while Turkey, Qatar, Saudia Arabia and their US backers are responsible for transporting these foreign fighters into Syria as well as training the FSA forces. Today, Syria is terrorized by fighters from Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, and Iraq, Uighers from China, Chechens from Russia, rebellious youth from France, Germany, UK, USA and other western countries, and around the globe. In fact, it’s big news when somebody takes out one of our own.
Syria for Syrians
The Syrian Government, after recovering Deir Ezzor, long under siege by ISIS, and clearing the Baghdad Damascus road across the border with Iraq, has turned it’s attention to Idlib province. A strategy of restoring control to urban areas, towns and villages through reconciliation programs has been effective in freeing up the army to move from one area to another, and it has saved many lives. Although the western media has focused on the use of siege to induce surrender in reconciliation areas, the program is more robust than that.
Areas under the control of Al Qaeda or criminal gangs affiliated with one militant organization or another are not well provisioned even in the best cases because the fighters keep the majority of supplies for themselves and govern through force. The reconciliation programs attempt to create back channels to deliver resources to the civilian population. By empowering the civilian population they can convince them to stand against the occupying forces. The final resolution is negotiated for an end where as many civilians as possible will be protected; where Syrian citizens fighting against the government are given an opportunity to restore their citizenship. Concessions are made. In some areas, sharia courts continue under the governance of local fundamentalists. Those who might otherwise fight to the death are given an opportunity to leave.
Those who chose to leave are allowed a personal firearm and bused with the families to Idlib province on the Turkish border. Today, as the Syrian state moves to liberate Idlib, the situation there is dire. The province is completely under the control of al Qaeda forces (under various names) and flooded with foreign fighters. The following is a video produced about a year ago by Jenan Mousa, a roving reporter for Al Aan TV, a pan Arab TV station in out of Dubai.
The reconciliation program will work in Idlib, and has been ongoing for some time. It is clear the civilians there have many unmet needs. The recent change of face implemented by al Nusra/Hayit Tahir al Sham seems superficial and clearly an initiative to influence western backers and not for the benefit of the locals. The one difference from other reconciliation plans is that there will be no buses to an Al Qaeda haven. Instead, extremists and mercenaries with families and those who do not want to die in Syria will be driven back across the Turkish border to their training camps and refuges where President Erdogan and the Turkish people will have to deal with the consequences of his folly just as the people of Pakistan continue to deal with the consequences of Zia al Haq’s collaboration with US plans to build an army of fanatics to fight the soviets in Afghanistan.
At the moment, Turkish President Erdogan is far more concerned about the Kurdish forces being trained by the US to occupy land in Syria that he once coveted for Turkish occupation. He is quite beside himself over the US empowerment of Kurdish militias affiliated with the Turkish PKK in Syria. The Turkish army has begun an attack on the largely Kurdish city of Afrin in northern Syria, and Erdogan has stated that once he has ‘liberated’ Afrin (from the US backed Kurdish forces) he will move on to occupy Manbj, another city in the original Kurdish region of Syria. The YPG Kurds of the US backed SDF are followers of a Abdullah Ocalan, a Turkish dissident currently residing in a high security Turkish prison. The Turkish state has been persecuting the Kurdish people and fighting Kurdish rebellions within its borders since it’s inception. At that time, an angry and disappointed Kurdish population found themselves denied a promised state in an area (Turkey) where they represented nearly a third of the population, unlike Syria, where Kurds, including recent immigrants, represent less that a tenth of the population.
Increasingly at odds with the US government, and engaged through Russian diplomacy in a tenuous detente with his erstwhile victims in Syria, Turkish President Erdogan is an easy target. Turkey is the largest military power in the region, with a history of western alliances, and as the war has wound down he has been increasingly isolated and under threat. They lost and he is holding the bag. This is not to say that his own bad choices didn’t bring him to this place, but it certainly makes him a dangerous force in the Syrian conflict. Denied the fruits of his support for the international attack on Syria, he is also faced with the reinforcement of an archetypal enemy of the Turkish state. His reaction to the latter problem may well give him at least some of the rewards that providing services for the anti-Syrian forces did not.
US officials should have seen this coming. Well, of course, they did see it coming. What we are seeing here is politically a Turkish civil war being played out on Syrian territory at the expense of the Syrian people. Two Turkish forces are fighting for control of northern Syria, one enabled by US backing. If you look at US objectives, this situation is surely advantageous. Even as the Syrian forces and their allies move in to clear out the last holdout of Al Qaeda and the other Turkish proxies, Turkey is moving in to occupy Syrian towns and villages along the border in areas where the US can’t hold them.
How convenient is that for US objectives, which include the breakup and destruction of the Syrian state. In his rage and frustration, Erdogan continues or support the needs of US military strategists who do not really have the forces to hold the large swathe of Syria they have announced their intention to occupy. Yesterday, Tillerson again softened his line. But he well knows that at this point, it doesn’t matter what he says. He is blowing wind, talking to the press and the people of the United States. There has been no significant diplomatic engagement with Turkey since Trump came in to office. Meanwhile, the diplomatic initiative of the Russians has been disrupted and a loose cannon is pivoting out of control on the northern border of Syria.
US Policy in Syria
The US policy of destruction and devastation is clear in Syria as in Libya and Iraq, Afghanistan and even Yugoslavia. They really only need enough land to put their regional military bases. Destruction jand chaos are the goal. Destruction by ISIS, by Al Qaeda/Al Nusra/…/Hayat Tahir, by Turkey, by the Kurds, by the French and British, by our own forces, it really doesn’t matter. It’s all the same to US strategists. Blaming Russia, blaming Muslims, blaming the Turks blaming Iran, blaming Assad – its a ll a pretext for the destruction of an ancient land and culture, of a society that is at the root of our own culture. This policy has not changed one iota since the beginning of the war fueled by Libyan fighters with US weapons in the south and Turkish trained proxies armed and funded by the Saudi Arabia and Qatar in in the north.
We need to stand up and set aside our confusion NOW. The US role and that of the Kurdish militias in Syria has no upside. It is a bold initiative to create chaos and destruction in Syria and to continue the war that was started by the United States and its allies to crush the independent sovereign Republic of Syria.
Hands Off Syria! Hands off the Middle East!
Stand up today against the vicious policy of destruction adopted by the US government!
Although the US presence in Syria is illegal, the US is talking about putting more troops there, presumably to fire up a war that the Russians and the Syrians have almost succeeded in extinguishing. Erdoğan has accused the US of planning to form 'terror army' in Syria: 'Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born’, said the Turkish president of 30,000-strong force aimed at dividing and conquering Syria by promoting a Kurdish separist movement. In this edition of The Debate, Press TV has conducted an interview with Hafsa Kara-Mustapha, a journalist and political commentator from London, and Wafik Moustafa, the chairman of Conservative Arab Network, from London, to discuss the United States' plans to station 30,000 militants on the Syrian borders with Turkey and Iraq. This videoed debate was first published on Iranian Press tv on Tue Jan 16, 2018 at http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/01/16/549062/Washingtons-deployment-plan-in-Syria
If the embedding function below does not show, click here to watch the program on press tv directly.
The regional and international standoff headed by Saudi Arabia against Qatar is not going to be resolved anytime soon. What does the simmering crisis mean? And why has Donald Trump taken the Saudi side? CrossTalking with Sharmine Narwani, Mohammed Cherkaoui, and Foad Izadi.
Disappointing to see that Trump's troops are in Syria without permission. Today, 11 March 2017, in a Chinese publication interview (conducted in English), Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad described the US incursion into Northern Syria from Raqqa as 'raids' which he did not think would succeed against ISIS because they are not coordinated with the Syrian government and army. He said that Russia's military manoeuvres against ISIS have been successful because Russia coordinated with the Syrian government and troops, and was invited. Assad said that he had been more hopeful about the Trump administration vis a vis Syria but that he has yet to have any direct (as opposed to indirect and unreliable) contact with Trump. Asked whether he had opened the door to these American troops, Assad said, "No, no, we didn’t. Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one."
Full transcript below:
11 March 2016
SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency)
(Damascus, SANA) President Bashar al-Assad said that the solution to the crisis in Syria should be through two parallel ways: the first one is to fight the terrorists, and this is our duty as government, to defend the Syrians and use any means in order to destroy the terrorists who’ve been killing and destroying in Syria, and the second one is to make dialogue.
The president added in an interview given to Chinese PHOENIX TV that any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Question 1: Thank you Mr. President for having us here in Dimashq, the capital of Syria. I think this is the first interview you have had with Chinese media after the national ceasefire and after so many fresh rounds of talks, both in Astana and in Geneva, and of course after US President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
And these days, as we have seen, your troops are making steady progress in battlefields, but peace talks do not seem just as productive. So, as far as the Geneva talks are concerned, your chief negotiator, Mr. Jaafari, was trying hard to find out who should be sitting on the other side of the negotiation table. So, according to your idea, who should be sitting there?
President Assad: This is a very crucial question. If you want those negotiations to be fruitful, we have to ask “who is going to be sitting there?” I mean, there could be a lot of good people with good intentions, but the question is: who do they represent? That’s the question.
In this situation, you have different groups, you have people who are, let’s say, patriotic, but they don’t represent anyone, they represent themselves. You have others who represent the terrorists, and you have terrorists on the table, and you have others who represent the agenda of foreign countries like Saudi Arabia, like Turkey, like France, UK and maybe the United States.
So, it’s not a homogeneous meeting. If you want it to be fruitful, going back to the first point that I mentioned, it should be a real Syrian-Syrian negotiations. In spite of that, we went to that meeting because we think any kind of dialogue could be a good step toward the solution, because even those people who are terrorists or belonging to the terrorists or to other countries, they may change their mind and go back to their normality by going back to being real Syrians, detach themselves from being terrorists or agents to other groups. That’s why I say we didn’t expect Geneva to produce anything, but it’s a step, and it’s going to be a long way, and you may have other rounds, whether in Geneva or in Astana.
Question 2: But anyway, it is intra-Syrian talks, right? But the matter of fact is, it is proxy dialogue. I mean, main parties do not meet and have dialogue directly.
President Assad: Exactly.
Journalist: Are you personally satisfied with the current negotiation format or mechanism?
President Assad: We didn’t forge this mechanism; it was forged by de Mistura and the UN with the influence of the countries that wanted to use those negotiations in order to make pressure on Syria, not to reach any resolution.
As you just said, each one represents a different agenda, even the opposition delegations, it wasn’t one delegation; different delegations of the opposition. So, if I’m going to – as a government – if I’m going to negotiate with someone, who’s it going to be? Which one? Who represents who? That’s our question.
So, you are right, this time there was no negotiations in Geneva, but this is one of the reasons, that’s why it didn’t reach anything. The only thing we discussed in Geneva was the agenda, the headlines, what are we going to discuss later, that’s it.
Question 3: But as we see, lot of time, money, energy have been put into this effort, and the clashes are still going on, people are still dying, and the refugees are still increasing.
President Assad: Exactly.
Journalist: What is the possible way of having a negotiation?
President Assad: Again, you are correct. The more delay you have, the more harm and destruction and killing and blood you’ll have within Syria, that’s why we are very eager to achieve a solution, but how and in which way? You need to have two parallel ways: the first one is to fight the terrorists, and this is our duty as government, to defend the Syrians and use any means in order to destroy the terrorists who’ve been killing and destroying in Syria.
The second one is to make dialogue. This dialogue has many different aspects; you have the political one, which is related to the future of Syria; what political system do you need, what kind? It doesn’t matter which one, it depends on the Syrians, and they’re going to have a referendum about what they want. The second part is to try to bring many of those people who were affiliated to the terrorists or who committed any terrorist acts to go back to their normality and lay down their armaments and to live a normal life in return for amnesty that has been offered by the government, and we’ve been going in that direction for three years, and it worked very well. It worked very well.
So, actually, if you want to talk about the real political solution since the beginning of the crisis, of the war on Syria, till this moment, the only solution was those reconciliations between the government and the different militants in Syria, many of them joined the government now, and they are fighting with the government. Some of them laid down their [weapons].
Question 4: But talking about the Syria war, you can never exclude the foreign factors. The Saudi-backed high negotiating committee, HNC, are saying that they are counting on the Trump administration to play a positive role instead of the mistaken policies under his predecessor Barack Obama. So, from your side, what do you expect from Trump’s Middle East policy, particularly policy on Syria?
President Assad: The first part that you mentioned about their hopes, when you pin your hopes on a foreign country, doesn’t matter which foreign country, it means you’re not patriotic, and this is proved, because they should depend on the support of the Syrian people, not any other government or administration.
Now, regarding the Trump administration, during his campaign and after the campaign, the main rhetoric of the Trump administration and the president himself was about the priority of defeating ISIS. I said since the beginning that this is a promising approach to what’s happening in Syria and in Iraq, because we live in the same area and we face the same enemy. We haven’t seen anything concrete yet regarding this rhetoric, because we’ve been seeing now certain [of the fighting] is a local kind of raids.
You cannot deal with terrorism on a local basis; it should be comprehensive, it cannot be partial or temporary. It cannot be from the air, it should be in cooperation with the troops on the ground, that’s why the Russians succeeded, since they supported the Syrian Army in pushing ISIS to shrink, not to expand as it used to be before that.
So, we have hopes that this taking into consideration that talking about ISIS doesn’t mean talking about the whole terrorism; ISIS is one of the products, al-Nusra is another product, you have so many groups in Syria, they are not ISIS, but they are Al Qaeda, they have the same background of the Wahabi extremist ideology.
Question 5: So, Mr. President, you and Mr. Donald Trump actually share the same priority which is counter-terrorism, and both of you hate fake news. Do you see any room for cooperation?
President Assad: Yeah, in theory, yes, but practically, not yet, because there’s no link between Syria and the United States on the formal level. Even their raids against ISIS that I just mentioned, which are only a few raids, happened without the cooperation or the consultation with the Syrian Army or the Syrian government which is illegal as we always say. So, theoretically we share those goals, but particularly, not yet.
Question 6: Do you have personal contact with the President of the United States?
President Assad: Not at all.
Journalist: Direct or indirect?
President Assad: Indirect, you have so many channels, but you cannot bet on private channels. It should be formal, this is where you can talk about a real relation with another government.
Question 7: As we speak, top generals from Turkey, Russia, and the United States are meeting somewhere in Turkey to discuss tensions in northern Syria, where mutually- suspicious forces are allied with these countries. So, do you have a plan for a final attack on Daesh when the main players actually do need an effective coordination in order to clear Syria of all terror groups?
President Assad: Yeah, if you want to link that meeting with ISIS in particular, it won’t be objective, because at least one party, which is Turkey, has been supporting ISIS till this moment, because Erdogan, the Turkish President, is Muslim Brotherhood. He’s ideologically linked and sympathetic with ISIS and with al-Nusra, and everybody knows about this in our region, and he helped them either through armaments or logistically, through exporting oil.
For the other party, which is the United States, at least during Obama’s administration, they dealt with ISIS by overlooking their smuggling the Syrian oil to Turkey, and this is how [ISIS]can get money in order to recruit terrorists from around the world, and [the United States] didn’t try to do anything more than cosmetic against ISIS.
The only serious party in that regard is Russia, which is effectively attacking ISIS in cooperation with us. So, the question is: how can they cooperate, and I think the Russians have hope that the two parties join the Russians and the Syrians in their fight against terrorism. So, we have more hopes now regarding the American party because of the new administration, while in Turkey nothing has changed in that regard. ISIS in the north have only one route of supply, it’s through Turkey, and they’re still alive and they’re still active and they’re still resisting different kinds of waves of attacks, because of the Turkish support.
Question 8: Now, US troops are in Manbej. Is the green light from your side? Did you open the door for these American troops?
President Assad: No, no, we didn’t. Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one. And we don’t think this is going to help. What are they going to do? To fight ISIS? The Americans lost nearly every war. They lost in Iraq, they had to withdraw at the end. Even in Somalia, let alone Vietnam in the past and Afghanistan, your neighboring country. They didn’t succeed anywhere they sent troops, they only create a mess; they are very good in creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions.
Question 9: Talking about Russia and China, they just vetoed a new UN sanction on Syria last week. What do these Chinese vetoes mean exactly for your country?
President Assad: Let’s be very clear about their position, which is not to support the Syrian government or the Syrian president, because in the West they try to portray it as a personal problem, and as Russia and China and other countries and Iran support that person as president. It’s not the case. China is a member of the Security Council, and it’s committed to the Charter of the United Nations.
In that veto, China has defended first of all the Charter, because the United Nations was created in order to restore stability around the world. Actually, the Western countries, especially the permanent members of the Council as a tool or means in order to change regimes or governments and to implement their agenda, not to restore stability, and actually to create more instability around the world.
So the second part is that China restored stability in the world by creating some kind of political balance within the United Nations, of course in cooperation with Russia, which is very important for the whole world. Of course, Syria was the headline, the main headline, this is good for Syria, but again it’s good for the rest of the world.
Third, the same countries that wanted to use the UN Charter for their own vested interested are the same countries who interfered or tried to intervene in your country in the late 90s, and they used different headlines, human rights, and so on, and you know that, and if they had the chance, they would change every government in the world, whether big country or small country, just when this government tries to be a little bit independent. So, China protected the Chinese interests, Syrian interests, and the world interests, especially the small countries or the weak countries.
Question 10: If I’m not mistaken, you said China is going to play a role in the reconstruction of Syria. So, in which areas you think China can contribute to bring Syrian people back to their normal life after so many years of hardships?
President Assad: Actually, if you talk about what the terrorists have been doing the last six years, it’s destroying everything regarding the infrastructure. In spite of that, the Syrian government is still effective, at least by providing the minimum needs for the Syrian people. But they’ve been destroying everything in every sector with no exception.
Adding to that, the Western embargo in Syria has prevented Syria from having even the basic needs for the livelihood of any citizen in Syria. So, in which sector? In every sector. I mean, China can be in every sector with no exception, because we have damage in every sector. But if we talk about now, before this comprehensive reconstruction starts, China now is being involved directly in building many projects, mainly industrial projects, in Syria, and we have many Chinese experts now working in Syria in different projects in order to set up those projects.
But of course, when you have more stability, the most important thing is building the destroyed suburbs. This is the most important part of the reconstruction. The second one is the infrastructure; the sanitation system, the electricity, the oil fields, everything, with no exception.
The third one: the industrial projects, which could belong to the private sector or the public sector in Syria.
Question 11: Alright. And it seems no secret that there are some Chinese extremists are here, fighting alongside Daesh. I think it is a threat to both Syria and China. What concrete or effective measures do you have to control border and prevent these extremists from free movement in the region?
President Assad: When you talk about extremists or terrorists, it doesn’t matter what their nationality is, because they don’t recognize borders, and they don’t belong to a country. The only difference between nationality and nationality, is that those for example who came from your country, they know your country more than the others, so they can do more harm in your country that others, and the same for Syrians, the same for Russian terrorist, and so on. So now, the measures, every terrorist should be defeated and demolished, unless he changed his position to the normal life.
Second, because you’re talking about different nationalities --more than 80 nationalities -- you should have cooperation with the other governments, especially in the intelligence field, and that’s what’s happening for example with the Chinese intelligence regarding the Uyghur terrorists who are coming from China through Turkey. Unfortunately, the only means that we don’t have now and we don’t control is our borders with Turkey, because of the Uyghur in particular; they came from Turkey, the others coming maybe from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, form the sea, maybe, and the majority from Turkey, but the Uyghur terrorists coming mainly from Turkey.
Why? I don’t know why, but they have the support of the Turkish government, and they were gathered and collected in one group, and they were sent to the northern part of Syria. So, the mission now is to attack them, wherever they existed. Of course, sometimes you cannot tell which one… who is who, they mix with each other, but sometimes they work as separate groups from different nationalities. And this is very crucial kind of cooperation between the Syrian and the Chinese intelligence, and we did many good steps in that regard.
Question 12: Mr. President, as you may be fully aware that the “White Helmets” took an Oscar this year for the best documentary short, but folks are saying that the truth about this “White Helmets” is not like what Netflix has presented, so what is your take on this?
President Assad: First of all, we have to congratulate al-Nusra for having the first Oscar! This is an unprecedented event for the West to give Al Qaeda an Oscar; this is unbelievable, and this is another proof that the Oscars, Nobel, all these things are politicized certificates, that’s how I can look at it.
The White Helmets story is very simple; it is a facelift of al-Nusra Front in Syria, just to change their ugly face into a more humanitarian face, that’s it. And you have many videos on the net and of course images broadcasted by the White Helmets that condemn the White Helmets as a terrorists group, where you can see the same person wearing the white helmet and celebrating over the dead bodies of Syrian soldiers.
So, that’s what the Oscar went to, to those terrorists. So, it’s a story just to try to prevent the Syrian Army during the liberation of Aleppo from making more pressure on the attacking and liberating the districts within the city that have been occupied by those terrorists, to say that the Syrian Army and the Russians are attacking the civilians and the innocents and the humanitarian people.
Question 13: Right. Now Palmyra. I took a one-day trip to Palmyra this time. Now, the city is under your control, so as its strategic position is concerned, because Homs is the heart of Syria, it’s right in the middle. Now, when you have Palmyra, what is your next target? Are you going to expand a military operation into Raqqa and Dier Ezzor?
President Assad: We are very close to Raqqa now. Yesterday, our troops reached the Euphrates River which is very close to Raqqa city, and Raqqa is the stronghold of ISIS today, so it’s going to be a priority for us, but that doesn’t mean the other cities are not priority, in time that could be in parallel, because Palmyra is on the way to Dier Ezzor city in the eastern part of Syria which is close to the Iraqi borders, and those areas that have been used by ISIS as route for logistic support between ISIS in Iraq and ISIS in
Syria. So, whether you attack the stronghold or you attack the route that ISIS uses, it has the same result.
Question 14: How many days do you think this war is going to last?
President Assad: if we presume that you don’t have foreign intervention, it will take a few months. It’s not very complicated internally. The complexity of this war is the foreign intervention. This is the problem. So, in the face of that intervention, the good thing that we gained during the war is the unity of the society. At the very beginning, the vision for many Syrians wasn’t very clear about what’s happening. Many believed the propaganda of the West about the reality, about the real story, that this is against the oppression. If it’s against the oppression, why the people in Saudi Arabia didn’t revolt, for example? So, now what we gained is this, this is our strongest foundation to end that war. We always have hope that this year is going to be the last year. But at the end, this is war and you can’t expect what is going to happen precisely.
Question 15: Mr. President, you are President of the Syrian Republic, at the same time, you are a loving husband and a father of three. How can you balance the role of being a President, a father, and a husband?
President Assad: If you cannot succeed in your small duty which is your family, you cannot succeed in your bigger duty or more comprehensive duty at the level of a country. So, there is no excuse that if you have a lot of work to abandon your duties; it’s a duty. You have to be very clear about that, you have to fulfill those duties in a very good way. Of course, sometimes those circumstances do not allow you to do whatever you have to do, your duties, fully, let’s say.
Journalist: During a day, how much time you spend on work, and how much time you spend with your family members?
President Assad: Actually, it’s not about the time, because even if you are at your home, you have to work.
President Assad: Let’s say, in the morning and the evening, you have the chance, but in between and after those times, you have the whole day to work.
Question 16: Have you ever thought of leaving this country for the sake of your family?
President Assad: Never, after six years, I mean the most difficult times passed; it was in 2012 and 2013, those times; we never thought about it, how can I think about it now?
So, no, no, this is not an option. Whenever you have any kind of reluctance, you will lose. You will lose not with your enemies; you lose with your supporters. Those supporters, I mean the people you work with, the fighters, the army, they will feel if you’re not determined to defend your country. We never had any feeling neither me nor any member of my family.
Question 17: And how is Kareem’s Chinese getting along?
President Assad: He learned the basics of Chinese language, I think two years ago. Unfortunately, the lady and the man who taught him had to leave, because they were members of the Chinese Embassy. They went back to China. Now, he stopped improving his Chinese language.
Question 18: Do you think it is a good choice to learn Chinese for him?
President Assad: Of course, of course, because China is a rising power.
Journalist: You didn’t force him to learn Chinese? It’s his own option, right?
President Assad: No, no, we never thought about it, actually. I didn’t think that he has to learn Chinese, and I didn’t expect him, if I thought about it, that he would say yes, because for many in the world the Chinese language is a difficult language to learn. He took the initiative and he said I want to learn Chinese, and actually till this moment, I didn’t ask him why. I want him to feel free, but when he’s getting older, I’m going to ask him how? How did it come through your mind to learn this language, this difficult language, but of course important language.
Journalist: You didn’t ask him before?
President Assad: No, not yet.
Journalist: So, you think it’s a good choice?
President Assad: Of course, of course. As I said, it’s a rising power, it’s important. I mean, most of the world has different kinds of relations with China whether in science, in politics, in economy, in business, I mean, in every field you need it now. And our relations for the future are going to be on the rise. It was good, but it’s going to be on the rise because when a country like China proves that it’s a real friend, a friend that you can rely on, it’s very natural to have better relations on the popular level, not only on the formal level.
Journalist: Thank you Mr. President, thank you for your time.
President Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria, you’re most welcome.
Is Trump just falling in line with the evil establishment and going for more 'regime change' in Syria like Obama who preceded him? Is this another illegal invasion of Syria by the United States and NATO? Probably not, because the Syrian President would have complained, but has said nothing. Neither has Russia. Nor has Turkey. Something new is going on in Syria and it may actually be good. Could the end of this terrible war inflicted by US-NATO upon Syria finally be in sight?
Despite Trump's formal disapproval of Iran, Iranian television has once again risen above the situation in delivering a superbly objective inquiry or debate about what Trump's 400 new troops might be doing in Syria. You can watch it here http://presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/09/513707/US-military-Marines-Syria and it will probably soon appear on Press TV's you-tube channel. This episode of Press TV's 'The Debate', canvasses the opinion of Jim W. Dean, the managing editor of Veterans Today, from Atlanta, and James Jatras, a former US diplomat, from Washington, on the deployment of hundreds of US Marines to Syria. As usual interviewer Kaveh Taghvai's questions are right on the nose.
On RT a day or two ago, probably 8 March Russian time, Catherine Shakdam (Middle East commentator) also argued that during the recent talks in Geneva, which the US attended, the US probably obtained Russia and Syria's permission to enter Syria and cooperate with the Syrian Army and Russian troops. There is no public confirmation of this and Trump has repeatedly said that he isn't going to give details of his military plans - and I don't think Russia or Syria would either.
We cannot help noticing that Putin has both Erdogan & Netanyahu in Moscow at the same time, ostensibly for individual talks with Putin... but it is interesting they're both there together, if we take into account their mutuality of interests.
In the meantime,Catherine Shakdam/s interview has been removed from the RT news record as far as I can see from searching, with a talking [male] head from UK being much more dour on Trump. Not that Shakdam is pro-Trump; she was also keen to portray him as trying to seize victory from the jaws of Syria and Russia for his own glory. For all the Soros/Clinton/Obama administration's conspiracy confabulation regarding RT, that online broadcasting channel, with its American channel based in Washington, D.C., was almost entirely anti-Trump before the US election and remains anti-Trump, with Watching the Hawks, The Big Picture and Redacted Tonight playing to the New York and Washington Left. In this it probably fails to reflect Putin's own preferences. Before the running up to the election The Big Picture was generally quite stimulating because of the wide-ranging politics of its invited panelists. As the election actually loomed, host Tom Hartman seemed to panic and dropped all his republican-sympathetic guests, delivering a kind of CNN program. Crosstalk and Going Underground seem to be the only relatively objective programs on the subject. Excellent and original female interviewers Oksana Boyko and Sophie Shevardnadze, who have their own programs, Worlds Apart and SophieCo respectively, are pretty even-handed, but Boyko has indicated a distrust for Trump's administration. Perhaps Boyko's opinion is a reflection of the new-class influence of post-graduate education in the United States. This does not stop her programs having breadth, however. Sophie Shevardnadze is an exceptional polyglot with a wide international education.
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
Well, Erdogan is still in situ. No-one is sure whether this was a real attempted coup or a false flag. Erdogan is already infamous for imprisoning journalists who do not toe his line and now it is feared that Erdogan is now going to use this incident to ramp up his power in new terrorism laws which will be used to further repress the Turkish people. There are also fears that attempts to bring in a new non-secular constitution might gain somehow from the shoring up of Erdogan's power post-coup attempt. Erdogan is known as a covert supporter of the extreme aims of the Muslim Brotherhood. Inside we have republished a statement from the Turkish Communist Party, which insists that neither the government nor the parties to the coup were operating for the good of Turkey. Indeed, most citizens of Turkey, looking at their neighbours - Syria, Libya, Irak, Afghanistan - would probably prefer any kind of stability to violent change of government. And, by the way, the United States has a nuclear-armed airbase in Turkey.
Turkish Communist Party of Turkey Statement on attempted coup
We do not have all the details of what happened during the coup attempt that took place in Turkey in the hours between July 15 and July 16. However, we know very well that plans that are supported by foreign forces, that do not take its power from the working class cannot defeat AKP [Edrogan's Party]  darkness and solve Turkey's problems. The events of today reminded us the following reality once again: Either the people of Turkey will organize and get rid of AKP or AKP's reactionary policies will intensify, repression will increase, massacres, the plunder and theft will continue.
The only power that can overthrow AKP is the people's power, there is no alternative to it.
AKP is responsible for all that took place tonight. All the factors that led to the current situation and the conditions are the product of AKP's rule and the domestic and foreign bosses that support AKP.
However, the fact that the main responsible party is AKP does not mean that the coup attempt was one that was orchestrated by Erdogan himself in order to achieve his objectives such as paving the path to an executive presidency or clearing the obstacles facing the new constitution.
The tension and the rivalries between different groups within the state and the armed forces that have been known to exist for a while have turned into armed conflict. While the tension between these forces is real, it is a lie that any of the sides in this conflict represent the interests of the people. Following this, searching for the solution against AKP's rule in a military coup is as wrong as lending any support to AKP under the guise of taking a position against military coups for whatever reason. The last thing that should be done in the name of supporting freedom and human rights in Turkey is to lend support to AKP which has proven over and over that it is an enemy of humanity.
While they have not orchestrated this coup, Erdoğan and the AKP will make an effort to use the resulting conditions and the support they received as means to increase their legitimacy. Our people should be on the alert against steps that AKP will be certain to take in the days to come. Raising the struggle against AKP and its darkness is the only way to stop this failed coup attempt resulting in AKP's solidifying its rule and turning into a tool for transforming AKP's unstable Turkey into stability. The fact that all mosques in Turkey have broadcasted continuous Erdoğan propaganda the whole night is a concrete indication of the urgency of our task at hand.
The Communist Party is calling on our people to organize in the Party's ranks to wage the struggle against the people and humanity.
The liberation is in our own hands.
Communist Party, Turkey
 AKP: The Justice and Development Party (Turkish: Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi), abbreviated JDP or AKP in English and AKP or AK Parti in Turkish, is a social conservative political party in Turkey. This is President Erdogan's party.
07.58am from a source in Turkey: "We heard the news about two hours ago. I am just outside the city centre in Ankara. First
the airforce and then the jandarma and when we heard the Army had joined, it was clear it was all over. Erdogan is reported to be out of the country or on his way back Ankara.
AKP has called on supporters to take to the streets.
I think it is all over for the AKP.
Chief of staff arrested.
A very big explosion at Army HQ.
Army taking over police HQ - police are iwth the AKP.
Shooting in the diplomatic/parliamentary district of Ankara.
Helicopters overhead ... martial law imposed.
I think it is all over for Erdogan.
I don't think AKP can resist. No-one is on the street... AKP call not being answered... My guess is that the Turkish people will defer to power and authority and Erdogan has lost it.
Mayor of Ankara also calling for people to come to the streets but he is AKP and up to his neck in dirt.
No, it is clear the coup has worked and was well-planned."
8.20 am from Ex- Aleppo resident: "I just heard from relatives in Aleppo and Tartous that everyone is celebrating like crazy because of the coup in Turkey!"
The latter remark is of course a reflection on how Erdogan, who is said to be strongly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, has secretly supported the rise of ISIS in Syria and has benefited from cheap oil which they have stolen.
Yesterday July 14th from Turkey:
Yesterday I heard that the news from Halab (the Arab name for Aleppo, Syria) is positive. And that on July 14, the Turkish Prime Minister had again said that Turkey has to develop good relations with Syria. It was hoped by the person making the communication that this spelled the end of Turkish intervention in Syria and that and it probably signaed some kind of revolt against Erdogan, who is very unpopular.
Apparently, the other day Erdogan - personally, as if he had the right - offered citizenship to well educated Syrian refugees, but not to all of them.
This pragmatic triage of refugees itself was uncharitable but there was already a backlash against the intake of refugees from Syria anyway from opposition political parties.
In a southwest province the other day a young Syrian who killed a young Turk was himself killed in a fight over a dog - the Syrian had kicked it. The whole town is now demanding that all Syrians go. Erdogan's whole policy was collapsing around him. He himself had not mentioned Syria or Assad negatively for ages.
Tanya Plibersek's article is Australia deserves a seat at the table in Syria negotiations, (15/12/15) | the Guardian
Dear Ms Plibersek,
This is a follow up email to a brief conversation I had with a staffer in your office, and is a response to the article you had published in the Guardian yesterday.
I have previously made representations to you on the question of Australia’s policy on Syria and that of the Federal Labor Party, in particular through a media release on behalf of Australians for Reconciliation in Syria (AMRIS), for which I am a spokesman.
I have also presented ‘my case’ – which is Syria’s case – to the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, in correspondence over the last two years. My main concerns expressed in that correspondence have been regarding the false allegations over the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons, the improper recognition of external Opposition groups known as the ‘Syrian National Council’ as the ‘legitimate representatives of the Syrian people’, and Australia’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy and sovereign rights of the current Syrian government and its President Bashar al Assad, freely elected by a majority of the whole Syrian population in June 2014.
These concerns remain unchanged, as the position of the government and the Australian Labor Party remains the same, and lie at the heart of the current crisis.
There is however a reason why this problematic position must be challenged again, resulting from recent developments, and in particular Turkey’s provocation of shooting down the Russian bomber on November 24th, which Russia rightly regards as an act of war.
I would draw your attention here to a very detailed analysis by an aviation expert which proves to any sensible person that Turkey’s act was preplanned.(*1)
Following this strike, Russia responded in several ways, all of which must now be considered in relation to Australian involvement in the campaign ‘against Da’esh/IS’.
Firstly it deployed S400 missile systems in Syria, which enables Russia to shoot down any foreign aircraft which operate in Syrian airspace without authorisation from the Syrian government. Secondly Russia took immediate action over trade and relations with Turkey, including over the vital issue of gas supply contracts. And thirdly, President Putin very publicly revealed to an international audience in Paris the extent of the Turkish government’s involvement with the Islamic State, both in the export and marketing of Syrian and Iraqi oil with a tanker pipeline through Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, and with the purchasing and supply of shipments of arms over the border into Syria.
These startling revelations from Moscow, which were backed up with multiple sources of evidence of the illegal Oil trade, were vigorously denied by President Erdogan, who also refused to apologise for the downing of the Russian plane and killing of Russian servicemen by Turkish insurgents in Syria. While this was unsurprising given that Russia’s allegations were directly against Erdogan’s son Bilal, as well as against the Turkish intelligence service MIT, which has been exposed assisting with arms shipments as well as chemical weapons into Syria, the failure of Western leaders or Western media to react and respond appropriately to Turkey’s blatant support for IS and other terrorist armies in Syria was shocking.
It is however also bemusing, to find that the position of Western governments, particularly those of the US, UK and Australia, has become so contradictory, and still essentially unchanged. While we call for a global campaign against Islamic State, and prepare to send more military resources into Syria and Iraq to destroy it, we are effectively allied with Turkey, who has been supporting Da’esh and other terrorist groups – Jabhat al Nusra and Ahrar al Sham, for the last four years in Turkey’s campaign against the Syrian state. Meanwhile Russia, which operates legitimately in Syria at the invitation of the government, and in coordination with the Syrian army, has made huge gains in pushing back both the Turkish/Saudi backed ‘Army of Conquest’, and in destroying the Oil refineries and tanker pipelines of Da’esh.
The effectiveness of Russia’s bombing and cruise missile strikes on the Islamic State’s dirty trade not only raised the ire of its benefactor – Erdogan’s family business – but raises questions about the US ‘campaign against IS’ of which we are nominally a part.
There has however been another significant development, which raises particular questions about Australia’s current military deployment in Iraq. Apparently in cooperation with the Iraqi Kurdistan ‘regional government’, and its leader Barzani, Turkey moved 1200 troops and tanks and other assets into Mosul. This drew an immediate demand from the Baghdad government’s Haidar al Abadi that Turkey withdraw its forces, or face military action. Shiite militias who are operating in coordination with the Iraqi Army out of Baghdad, were particularly vocal in their protests against Turkey, as well as against the US. The Iraqi government was vigorously supported with mass public protests in the south of the country, and calls for direct action against Turkey’s invasion. Erdogan however not only refuses to withdraw his troops, which he claims are there to ‘train peshmerga forces to fight IS’, but has threatened to cut Iraq’s water supply through the Euphrates and Tigris rivers unless Iraq changes its position on support for Syria and Russia.
The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has repeatedly made clear that our commitment in Iraq and in Syria is strictly ‘in defence of Iraq’ but is also operating with the consent and at the behest of the Baghdad government. As the development outlined above now effectively puts Australia at odds with the ‘US coalition against Da’esh’ there is an urgent need for a clarification of Australia’s position, both on Turkey and on the Russian campaign supporting the Syrian army against ALL the terrorist groups fighting the Syrian government.
We must ask whether the Turnbull government acknowledges Turkey’s support for the Islamic State, and what action it intends to take against the Erdogan regime’s aggressive and destabilising behaviour. We must also ask whether the Australian airforce will continue to conduct bombing runs in coordination with the US coalition. Not only have Turkish actions put us in conflict with that coalition, operating out of Incirlik, but there is another danger. Russia has stated that there no further threats to Russian servicemen and assets will be tolerated, from unauthorised foreign parties.
Even if Australia limits its activities to strikes on Islamic State targets in Eastern Syria, this may bring us into the line of legitimate Russian fire. Other unidentified coalition partners last week struck a Syrian army base near Deir al Zour, in an act which enabled IS forces to overrun a long-protected village. As with Turkey’s illegal incursions, this attack on the SAA , which killed three men and injured a dozen, drew an immediate protest to the UN, but no action has been taken to identify the country or countries responsible. Neither has there been any explanation of why a member of the US coalition launched a strike on the SAA base which facilitated the operations of the IS terrorist group in the area where its Oil assets are located.
I trust that you will consider the case that I have made, and in the light of it perhaps reconsider the apparent support of the Labor party for the US led campaign, which quite evidently aims to replace Syria’s legitimately elected government with some group of Sunni officials approved by the very countries supporting the terrorist groups in Syria – Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.
I also urge you to give this matter urgent attention, despite the imminent Christmas break.
I have copied Julie Bishop into this letter, and would welcome a further response from her.
Sandy Creek, Victoria
I also recommend this article from Mike Whitney on today’s meeting between Kerry and Putin in Moscow, stating it as it is:
video inside:In a huge stunning announcement yesterday by the Russian Foreign Minister, Russia presented direct evidence of Turkey buying illegal oil from the black market supporting terrorists. In this video change.org goes over the important revelations by the Russians, their consequences and the shift of the geopolitical field. The western mainstream media is simply not reporting this because it runs totally counter to their spin. If the western media were to properly bring this news to their readers, they would have to explain the torrent of lies they have issued forth so far in order to justify war. The western media is historically pro-war and Australians, Americans, British and Europeans who rely on the mainstream media alone never hear both sides.
This important article, republished from Counterpunch documents new evidence indicating that Turkey, (Australia's ally), was probably responsible for the war-crime of using sarin gas against Syrians, an act which the western press has repeatedly accused the Syrian Government and used to justify the west's support for war against it. In Turkey, two deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have claimed that the Turkish government is against investigating Turkey’s role in sending toxic sarin gas which was used in an attack on civilians in Syria in 2013 and in which over 1,300 Syrians were killed. CHP deputy Seker spoke after Erdem, pointing out that the government misled the public on the issue by asserting that sarin was provided by Russia. The purpose was to create the perception that, according to ?eker, “Assad killed his people with sarin and that requires a US military intervention in Syria.” He also underlined that all of the files and evidence from the investigation show a war crime was committed within the borders of the Turkish Republic. “The investigation clearly indicates that those people who smuggled the chemicals required to procure sarin faced no difficulties, proving that Turkish intelligence was aware of their activities. While these people had to be in prison for their illegal acts, not a single person is in jail. Former prime ministers and the interior minister should be held accountable for their negligence in the incident,” Seker further commented. Full article inside. - This introduction by candobetter.net editor.
This is quite the bombshell delivered by two CHP deputies in the Turkish parliament and reported by Today’s Zaman, one of the top dailies in Turkey.
It supports Seymour Hersh’s reporting that the notorious sarin gas attack at Ghouta was a false flag orchestrated by Turkish intelligence in order to cross President Obama’s chemical weapons “red line” and draw the United States into the Syria war to topple Assad.
If so, President Obama deserves credit for “holding the line” against the attack despite the grumbling and incitement of the Syria hawks at home and abroad.
And it also presents the unsavory picture of an al-Qaeda operatives colluding with ISIL in a war crime that killed 1300 civilians.
I find the report credible, taking into full account the fact that the CHP (Erdogan’s center-left Kemalist rivals) and Today’s Zaman (whose editor-in-chief, Bulent Kenes was recently detained on live TV for insulting Erdogan in a tweet) are on the outs with Erdogan.
Considering the furious reaction it can be expected to elicit from Erdogan and the Turkish government, the temerity of CHP and Today’s Zaman in running with this story is a sign of how desperate their struggle against Erdogan has become. Note that the author is shown only as “Columnist: Today’s Zaman”.
I expect the anti-Erodgan forces hope this will be a game changer in terms of U.S.and European support for Erdogan.
It will be very interesting to see if and how the media in the U.S. covers this story. In case it doesn’t acquire enough “legs” to make into US media, I attach the full Zaman piece below:
CHP deputies: Gov’t rejects probe into Turkey’s role in Syrian chemical attack
Two deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have claimed that the government is against investigating Turkey’s role in sending toxic sarin gas which was used in an attack on civilians in Syria in 2013 and in which over 1,300 Syrians were killed.
CHP deputies Eren Erdem and Ali ?eker held a press conference in ?stanbul on Wednesday in which they claimed the investigation into allegations regarding Turkey’s involvement in the procurement of sarin gas which was used in the chemical attack on a civil population and delivered to the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to enable the attack was derailed.
Taking the floor first, Erdem stated that the Adana Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into allegations that sarin was sent to Syria from Turkey via several businessmen. An indictment followed regarding the accusations targeting the government.
“The MKE [Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation] is also an actor that is mentioned in the investigation file. Here is the indictment. All the details about how sarin was procured in Turkey and delivered to the terrorists, along with audio recordings, are inside the file,” Erdem said while waving the file.
Erdem also noted that the prosecutor’s office conducted detailed technical surveillance and found that an al-Qaeda militant, Hayyam Kasap, acquired sarin, adding: “Wiretapped phone conversations reveal the process of procuring the gas at specific addresses as well as the process of procuring the rockets that would fire the capsules containing the toxic gas. However, despite such solid evidence there has been no arrest in the case. Thirteen individuals were arrested during the first stage of the investigation but were later released, refuting government claims that it is fighting terrorism,” Erdem noted.
Over 1,300 people were killed in the sarin gas attack in Ghouta and several other neighborhoods near the Syrian capital of Damascus, with the West quickly blaming the regime of Bashar al-Assad and Russia claiming it was a “false flag” operation aimed at making US military intervention in Syria possible.
Suburbs near Damascus were struck by rockets containing the toxic sarin gas in August 2013.
The purpose of the attack was allegedly to provoke a US military operation in Syria which would topple the Assad regime in line with the political agenda of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and his government.
CHP deputy Seker spoke after Erdem, pointing out that the government misled the public on the issue by asserting that sarin was provided by Russia. The purpose was to create the perception that, according to ?eker, “Assad killed his people with sarin and that requires a US military intervention in Syria.”
He also underlined that all of the files and evidence from the investigation show a war crime was committed within the borders of the Turkish Republic.
“The investigation clearly indicates that those people who smuggled the chemicals required to procure sarin faced no difficulties, proving that Turkish intelligence was aware of their activities. While these people had to be in prison for their illegal acts, not a single person is in jail. Former prime ministers and the interior minister should be held accountable for their negligence in the incident,” ?eker further commented.
Erdem also added that he will launch a criminal complaint against those responsible, including those who issued a verdict of non-prosecution in the case, those who did not prevent the transfer of chemicals and those who first ordered the arrest of the suspects who were later released.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced in late August that an inquiry had been launched into the gas attacks allegedly perpetuated by both Assad’s Syrian regime and rebel groups fighting in Syria since the civil war erupted in 2011.
However, Erdem is not the only figure who has accused Turkey of possible involvement in the gas attack. Pulitzer Prize winner and journalist, Seymour M. Hersh, argued in an article published in 2014 that M?T was involved with extremist Syrian groups fighting against the Assad regime.
In his article, Hersh said Assad was not behind the attack, as claimed by the US and Europe, but that Turkish-Syrian opposition collaboration was trying to provoke a US intervention in Syria in order to bring down the Assad regime.
Candobetter.net Editor: This article is about the US contribution to the radicalisation of the Middle East. In reality there is no dividing wall between the 'extremists' and 'America's supposedly moderate opposition allies'. Recently both Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which operate out of US-led command centers in Turkey and Jordan, signed a pact to coordinate support to al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in order to further attack the Syrian government.
Recent Rebel Gains a Result of US Support to Extremists
The rebel opposition in Syria has in recent months made a series of gains against the Syrian army, most notably in Idlib, Palmyra, and Ramadi in Iraq. However, given that from the very beginning the opposition had taken “a clear sectarian direction” and has been dominated by “ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra… in addition to other extreme jihadi groups”, itself consisting of “no moderate middle”, and the fact that “in reality there is no dividing wall between them [extremists] and America’s supposedly moderate opposition allies”, it is no wonder why all of the recent gains have been made by hard-line Islamists.(1) The radicalization of the opposition was the result of a covert US/CIA-led program in collusion with regional allies to expand the dissent base in Syria and strengthen Islamist rebels against the Syrian government.(2)
These recent Islamist advances are the result of an increase in support from the US-led coalition to their proxies inside Syria. Recently both Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who operate out of US-led command centers in Turkey and Jordan, signed a pact in early March to coordinate support to al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in order to further attack the Syrian government. Huffington Post quotes Usama Abu Zeid, a legal advisor to the Free Syrian Army, as confirming that this new coordination had facilitated recent rebel advances.(3) The pact subsequently lead to the al-Qaeda takeover of Idlib in late March, where the two countries have since set up a joint command center to further coordinate and command their extremist proxies from the captured province. Syrian government sources thus accurately blame Turkish intervention as the key factor in the fall of Idlib. The city’s fall however is only the 2nd provincial capital that has been captured by the opposition during the entire 4-year war, the other being Raqqa, which is now the de facto capital of the fake Islamic State “Caliphate.”(4)
In addition to Turkish and Saudi support to al-Qaeda extremists, so too has the US increased its support to Islamists.
In early May Charles Lister of the Brookings Institute Doha Center confirmed that “US-led operations rooms in southern Turkey and Jordan” have specifically “encouraged a closer cooperation with Islamists commanding frontline operations”, and while doing so have “dramatically increased [their] level of assistance and provisions of intelligence” to this Islamist-led opposition, all of which has led to the al-Qaeda victory in Idlib.(5) So not only has the entire support to the opposition from the beginning been coordinated and commanded by the US, so too has the US spearheaded recent support to al-Qaeda along with its Turkish, Saudi, and Qatari allies.
These Western-backed advances were facilitated by the delivery of “gamechanging” new advanced weaponry to the extremists, including TOW anti-tank missiles. The Guardian reports that the results of this “were shocking. The regional capital of Idlib fell within days. Several weeks later, the nearby town of Jisr al-Shughour also fell to an amalgam of jihadist.”(6) All of this being “the outcome of the first heavy weapons to reach the hands of the Syrian opposition in years of civil war from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Turkey,” which was “blessed by Washington after long hesitation.”(7)
The US recently encourages support to Islamists while it’s Saudi and Turkish allies openly support al-Qaeda linked militants, all of whom have been provided with new shipments of advanced weaponry and support which has been instrumental in their recent advances.
Qatar has made recent efforts to convince al-Nusra’s leader to detach itself from al-Qaeda and portray Nusra as though it is not planning to attack the West in an attempt to justify this increased aid. However it is important to note that “if Nusra is dissolved and it abandons al Qaeda, the ideology of the new entity is not expected to change,” while it’s leaders would remain “close to al Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahri [sic].” In a recent interview with the Qatari channel Al Jazeera, al-Nusra’s leader al-Golani was given a platform to say that Nusra does not plan to attack the West, yet he still reaffirmed full allegiance to al-Qaeda’s leader al-Zawahiri against the wishes of Qatar.(8) Despite the failure of re-branding al-Qaeda’s Syria faction the group still received a substantial increase in aid and support from its backers in the Gulf, Turkey, and the United States.
Given this, both the US and Turkey have in addition recently agreed “in principle” to establish a no-fly zone to further aid the forces on the ground they are supporting.(9) This is illegal, against international law, and would be de-facto support to terrorist organizations in the form of US aerial attacks against the Syrian state. It would be devastating to the region as well, only benefiting supporters of reactionary Islamic rule and Western imperial hegemony.
However, the al-Qaeda linked factions unfortunately are not the only groups that owe their recent battlefield successes to their Western patrons, so too does the Islamic State.
When the Islamic State recently took Ramadi in Iraq, they travelled a full 553km across open desert to the city from their de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria.
Despite the fact that destroying the militants along this route would have been like shooting fish in a barrel, the US “anti-ISIS” coalition did not expend a single airstrike against them, even though the US “had significant intelligence about the pending Islamic State offensive in Ramadi. For the US military, it was an open secret at the time.” The US intelligence community “had good warning that the Islamic State intended a new and bolder offensive in Ramadi because it was able to identify the convoys of heavy artillery, vehicle bombs and reinforcements,” which were coming from Raqqa, “through overhead imagery and eavesdropping on chatter from local Islamic State commanders.” Furthermore, “It surprised no one,” US intelligence officials said. (10)
Speaking on these developments, former British MI6 agent Alastair Crooke comments that “the speculation about a coming fractured Iraq has gained big momentum from ISIS's virtually unopposed walk-in to Ramadi. The images of long columns of ISIS Toyota Land Cruisers, black pennants waving in the wind, making their way from Syria all the way -- along empty desert main roads -- to Ramadi with not an American aircraft in evidence, certainly needs some explaining. There cannot be an easier target imagined than an identified column of vehicles, driving an arterial road, in the middle of a desert.”(11)
As ISIS arrived in Ramadi, the US-coalition launched a paltry 7 airstrikes against them, a number so low as to be entirely insignificant. To alleviate concerns that the US openly allowed ISIS to take Ramadi, the US military blamed a great and powerful “sandstorm” for their lack of airstrikes. However, just days later they retracted these false statements. ABC reports that “Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters today that last weekend's sandstorm had not affected the coalition’s ability to launch airstrikes in Ramadi, though “weather was a factor on the ground early on.””(12) Further dispelling these excuses, the day after Ramadi’s fall rows of Islamic State militants were pictured celebrated openly in the streets below crystal clear skies.
(Source of picture: MailOnline, May 19, 2015)
If the US-coalition had been serious about stopping ISIS they could have easily destroyed whole factions of the group at this time. Instead, desperate for another excuse to explain their inaction, they changed their reasons and blamed concern for civilian deaths for the lack of strikes. However this excuse is so patently absurd as to be laughable, and therefore can be completely disregarded; one need only look at the grave human death tolls inflicted during the invasion of Iraq, the US support for Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza last summer, the US-facilitated devastation of eastern Ukraine, the global drone campaign, the US’ own “anti-ISIS” airstrikes, and the current crazed US-backed Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen to see that Western officials lose exactly zero sleep over the civilian blood that is on their hands.(13)
deliver aid to ISIS.(15)
predecessor’s rejection of political Islamists”, and shifted policy towards “increasing support for rebels in Syria.”(16) What the Times did say is that it is primarily Saudi Arabia and other major US Arab allies who “fund ISIS,” in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey’s own words, so it is no wonder which ‘Islamists’ Saudi
Arabia has increased support for.(17)
imprisoning its own daughters, but surely it’s perfectly plausible that this anachronistic monarchy which controls its population through the bludgeon and fear is simply baffled with inability at locating the guilty perpetrators.
In recent ISIS offensives in Syria the US as well took no aerial action despite the fact that doing so would have been easy and effective. A spokesman for the rebel group the Shamiah front recently criticized the US-coalition for not bombing IS convoys as they moved outward from Raqqa, saying that “There were convoys of 15 to 20 vehicles each. Only two coalition raids in the past three days would have been enough to stop the attack.” Similarly, Salim Idriss, once the US’ leading rebel commander, said that the US-led coalition repeatedly had allowed Islamic
State convoys to pass unhindered, pointing most recently to May 31st when he said a 60-vehicle convoy moved from Raqqa to Aleppo unperturbed.(19)
and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters.”
US Department of Defense intelligence knew that the opposition was “sectarian”, dominated by extremist groups, and that continued support to such an opposition would lead to the fall of Mosul and Ramadi, and the fact that with this
knowledge the US actually increased their aid to the rebels rather than curtailing it, means that the US must have intended, either directly or indirectly, these predictable outcomes of their actions.(21)
plausible deniability and to obscure the actual role the US has played in the facilitation of ISIS, evidenced further by ISIS’ continual growth.
While this US-led coalition expresses optimistically spurious notions of a “winning strategy”, the truth is that ISIS hasn’t been deterred since this strategy has come into effect. It should be said as well that “the ‘moderate’ rebels the US and UK support themselves openly welcomed the arrival of such extremists. Indeed, the Free Syria Army backed by the West was allied with ISIS, until ISIS attacked them at the end of 2013,” former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter terrorism intelligence officer Charles Shoebridge notes.(22)
Syria-Hezbollah-Iran-Russia in the form of a torrent of Western media publications, interviews, articles, and research papers all professing that Assad is losing the war. The tone of these Western protestations is nothing short of euphoric, yet those on
the ground suffering from the brutality of al-Nusra and ISIS’ gains are not as jubilant, nor are they under the illusion that successes by foreign-backed extremist Wahhabis constitutes the makings of a “revolution.” Yet despite the Wests wishful thinking and adherence to the narrative of “moderate rebels” fighting against extremists, which itself is an impressive display of willful ignorance that disciplined intellectuals must work hard to cultivate, their insistence on attacking Syrian society with terrorist proxies has not been as successful as they had hoped, and has sparked a substantial backlash from Iran.
make major changes to the landscape of control in Syria.” Control over Qalamoun threatens to cut off important rebel supply lines that runs from the Damascus suburbs to the mountain region, and to hinder the smuggling of arms and resources from Lebanon into Syria and vice versa, given the areas proximity to the Lebanese border.
first line of defence against a threat facing the entire country.” According to one resident from the Bekaa
village bordering the eastern mountain range, “If Hezbollah wasn't in Qalamoun right now, we would cease to exist,” adding further that “Maybe the people of Beirut aren't aware of this, but we certainly are.”(23)
Institute for the Study of War “These incidents will likely drive Iran to increase its direct economic and indirect military support to the Assad regime in order to bolster its ability to sustain the fight. In a speech delivered on May 23, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah stated that Hezbollah will fight “wherever necessary” throughout Syria; other Hezbollah senior officials released their own statements confirming that Hezbollah will continue to back the Syrian regime for “however long it takes” despite recent setbacks. These messages of defiance suggest that Hezbollah will likely increase its support to the regime.”
retake Jisr al-Shughur because it is key to the Mediterranean coast and the Hama region,” the source said. The Daily Star quotes a Lebanese political source as stating that “Iran has sent 15,000 fighters to Syria to reverse recent battlefield setbacks for Syrian government troops and wants to achieve results by the end of the month.” According to retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel W. Patrick Lang’s
estimate “this is just the beginning of a large scale Iranian intervention in the Syrian civil war. The entry into the
Syria war of a large number of Iranian Quds force led troops would be a game changer. Whether the fighters are Iranian, Iraqi or from the dark side of the moon their presence might well make a decisive change in the balance of combat power in Syria.”(25)
Islamic State in Hasaka city.
Patrick Cockburn, “Preface” & “The Rise of ISIS”, The Rise of Islamic
State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution (Brooklyn, NY, 2015). Pg. xx, 3.
engaged in a clandestine operation to arm Syrian rebels, specifically choosing
which rebels receive the lethal aid. Eric Schmitt, New York Times, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian
Opposition.” June 21, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/cia-said-to-aid-in-steering-arms-to-syrian-rebels.html?_r=0;
The Times subsequently reports that the US-coordinated shipments are “largely
going to hard-line Islamists”, Davide E. Sanger, New York Times, “Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in
Syria.” October 14, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/world/middleeast/jihadists-receiving-most-arms-sent-to-syrian-rebels.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&;
A 2012 DIA report notes that “The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI
(al-Qaeda in Iraq) are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” and
that “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition.” Given this
information, the US increased aid in the following years. Judicial Watch. http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf;
A leading Syrian opposition leader, Dr. Haytham Manna, writing in The Guardian
states “the pumping of arms to Syria, supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the
phenomenon of the Free Syrian Army, and the entry of more than 200 jihadi
foreigners into Syria in the past six months have all led to a decline in the
mobilisation of large segments of the population… and in the activists'
peaceful civil movement. The political discourse has become sectarian; there
has been a Salafisation of religiously conservative sectors”, Haytham Manna, The Guardian, “Syria’s opposition has
been led astray by violence.” June 22, 2012. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/22/syria-opposition-led-astray-by-violence.
to Help Rebels Fighting Syria’s Assad.” May 7, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/07/turkey-saudi-arabia-syria-rebels-pact_n_7232750.html.
“Turkey helped Islamists take over Idlib, Syrian source accuses.” March 30,
finally facing the end?” May 23, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/24/syria-iran-isis-battle-arab-world?CMP=share_btn_tw.
DEBKA Weekly Vol. 14, Issue 663, May 15, 2015.
cutting their links with al Qaeda… sources said. Sources within and close to Nusra said that
Qatar, which enjoys good relations with the group, is encouraging the group to
go ahead with the move, which would give Nusra a boost in funding… Intelligence officials from Gulf states
including Qatar have met the leader of Nusra, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, several
times in the past few months to encourage him to abandon al Qaeda and to
discuss what support they could provide, the sources said. They promised funding once it happens… The Nusra Front is listed as a terrorist
group by the United States and has been sanctioned by the United Nations
Security Council. But for Qatar at least, rebranding Nusra would remove legal
obstacles to supporting it.” Mariam Karouny, Reuters, “Syria’s Nusra Front may leave Qaeda to form new entity.”
March 4, 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/us-mideast-crisis-nusra-insight-idUSKBN0M00GE20150304.
principle’ to provide air support for Syrian rebels.” May 25, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/25/turkey-us-air-support-syria-rebels-agree-in-principle.
“U.S. Saw Islamic State Coming, Let It Take Ramadi.” May 28, 2015. http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-05-28/u-s-saw-islamic-state-coming-let-it-take-ramadi.
Crooke, Huffington Post, “If Syria
and Iraq Become Fractured, So Too Will Tripoli and North Lebanon.” June 1,
airstrikes on a sandstorm. Erich Shmitt, Helene Cooper, The New York Times, “ISIS Fighters Seized Advantage in Iraq Attack
by Striking During Sandstorm.” May 18, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/19/world/middleeast/isis-fighters-seized-advantage-in-iraq-attack-by-striking-during-sandstorm.html?_r=0;
US retracts statement about sandstorm after evidence emerges disproving these
claims. Luis Martinez, ABC News,
“Misunderstanding May Have Led Iraqi Troops to Leave Ramadi.” May 21, 2015. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/misunderstanding-led-iraqi-troops-leave-ramadi/story?id=31219607.
drone campaign, the Guardian notes that out of 41 men targeted in Yemen and
Pakistan, a total of 1,147 were killed, at least 149 of them being children,
the reported data being only a fraction of those killed overall, the total
civilian death toll likely being much worse. Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian, “41 men targeted but 1,147
people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground.” November 24, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/24/-sp-us-drone-strikes-kill-1147;
A US-led airstrikes in northern Syria targets a town without any ISIS present,
kills a total of 52 civilians in the process. Maya Gebeily, Agence France Presse, “US-led airstrikes
‘kill 52 civilians in northern Syria.’ May 2, 2015. http://news.yahoo.com/52-civilians-dead-coalition-strikes-syria-monitor-074747525.html;
A series of Saudi airstrikes in May, conducted with the support of the US,
struck a hospital and medical camp in southwestern Yemen killing at least 58
civilians and injuring another 67. The hospital was not being used by rebels
and none of the dead was a rebel fighter.
Despite this and much more, US support for the assault continued. Hakim
Almasmari, Melissa Gray, CNN, “Yemeni
civilians killed in Saudi Airstrikes, officials say.” May 1, 2015. http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/01/middleeast/yemen-crisis/index.html;
US and Saudi naval blockade of Yemen blocks desperately needed aid, relegating
80% of the population under a humanitarian disaster. Julian Borger, The
Guardian, “Saudi-led naval blockade leaves 20m Yemenis facing humanitarian
disaster.” June 5, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/05/saudi-led-naval-blockade-worsens-yemen-humanitarian-disaster.
parliamentary speaker, The Middle East Media
Research Institute, “Wahda Al-Jumaili, Advisor to Iraqi Parliament Speaker:
Int'l Coalition Dropped Weapons, Which Enabled ISIS Takeover of Ramadi.” May
19, 2015. http://www.memri.org/clip_transcript/en/4917.htm.
in Tikrit Offensive Amidst Accusations US is Arming ISIL.” March 12, 2015. http://undergroundreports.blogspot.com/2015/03/iraq-sidelines-us-in-tikrit-offensive.html.
New York Times, “King Salman Upends Status Quo in Region and the Royal
Family.” May 10, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/world/middleeast/king-salman-upends-status-quo-in-region-and-the-royal-family.html?_r=0.
Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey speaking before the Senate Armed Services
Committee, C-SPAN. September 16,
Josh Rogin, The Daily Beast, “America’s Allies Are Funding ISIS.” June 14, 2014. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/14/america-s-allies-are-funding-isis.html.
airstrikes as Islamic State advances near Aleppo.” June 1, 2015. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/06/01/268446/rebels-call-for-us-airstrikes.html.
Nafeez Ahmed, Medium “Ex-intel officials: Pentagon report proves US complicity
in ISIS.” June 2, 2015. https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/ex-intel-officials-pentagon-report-proves-us-complicity-in-isis-fabef96e20da.
It is a tenant of law that the doer of an act must be taken to have intended
its natural and foreseeable consequences. Given that the fall of Mosul and
Ramadi were natural and foreseeable consequences and that the US-led coalition
still continued the policies that were known to lead to these outcomes, the US
and her allies must therefore be taken to have intended these outcomes, either
directly or indirectly. Steven Chovanec, MintPress
News, “New FOIA Doc Reveals How US Supported The Rise Of ISIS.” May 26,
International Court of Justice, Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the
Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (1996), “Dissenting Opinion of Judge
Weeramantry,” Chapter III, “Humanitarian Law,” section 10, “Specific rules of
the humanitarian laws,” (a) “The prohibition against causing unnecessary
strategy” against ISIS, without inviting Russia, Iran, and Syria. BBC, “Iraq coalition winning against IS,
says US.” June 2, 2015. http://m.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32962870;
Patrick Cockburn, The Independent,
“Isis in Kobani: Turkey’s act of abandonment may mark an ‘irrevocable breach’
with Kurds across the region.” October 7, 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-in-kobani-turkeys-act-of-abandonment-may-mark-an-irrevocable-breach-with-kurds-across-the-region-9780941.html;
Nafeez Ahmed, Ceasefire, “Story of a
War Foretold: Why we’re fighting ISIS.” September 25, 2014. https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/fighting-isis/.
Strategic Gains Against Al Qaeda-Led Rebels In Battle Of Qalamoun.” May 11,
The Daily Star, “Hezbollah, Syrian
army seize control of new Qalamoun hill.” May 15, 2015. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2015/May-15/298074-hezbollah-syrian-rebels-clash-for-control-of-west-qalamoun.ashx;
Nour Samaha, Al Jazeera, “Nasrallah
declares victory in Syria’s Qalamoun.” May 16, 2015. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/nasrallah-declares-victory-syria-qalamoun-150516192033488.html;
Leith Fadel, Al-Masdar News, “The
Syrian Army and Hezbollah Triumph Over Al-Qaeda in the Qalamoun Mountains.” May
29, 2015. http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/the-syrian-army-and-hezbollah-triumph-over-al-qaeda-in-the-qalamoun-mountains/;
Nour Samaha, Foreign Policy, “Hezbollah
Is ‘Stronger Than Ever’.” June 1, 2015. http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/01/hezbollah-is-stronger-than-ever-isis-syria/;
Nour Samaha, Al Jazeera, “Why
Qalamoun matters for Hezbollah.” May 11, 2015. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/150511085809867.html.
“Iranian military mastermind Soleimani vows to ‘surprise’ world in Syria.” June
3, 2015. http://europe.newsweek.com/iranian-military-mastermind-soleimani-vows-surprise-world-syria-328161;
DEBKAfile, “Iranian Rev Guards ready
to intervene in Syria to save Assad. Soleimani: Expect major events in Syria.”
June 3, 2015. http://www.debka.com/article/24639/.
France Presse, “Iraq, Iran fighters deployed to defend Damascus: security
source.” June 3, 2015. http://news.yahoo.com/iraq-iran-fighters-deployed-defend-damascus-security-source-143253360.html;
The Daily Star, “Iran sends 15,000
fighters to Syria.” June 4, 2015. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Jun-04/300520-iran-sends-15000-fighters-to-syria.ashx;
Patrick Lang, Sic Semper Tyrannis,
“Is Soleimani’s “Surprise” underway?” June 4, 2015. http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/06/httpwwwdailystarcomlbnewsmiddle-east2015jun-04300520-iran-sends-15000-fighters-to-syriaashx.html.
This article was previously published on SANA as Protests in Turkey in support of Syrians and against Erdogan-backed terrorism (1/5/15).
Update (4/5/15): Israeli occupation forces continue treating terrorists wounded in Syria (4/5/15) | SANA, Al-Jaafari: Syria first line of defense against extremism and terrorism (4/5/15) | SANA, 4 Turkish officers killed in joint raid by Syrian army and Hezbollah on NATO-backed terrorists’ command centre in Idlib (2/5/15) | Syrian Free Press, At least 52 civilians dead in US-led strikes in Syrian village: not even a terrorist among those killed (2/5/15) | Syrian Free Press, Turkey to start training terrorists on May 9 | PressTV (2/5/15): New protest in Turkey demanding a halt to terrorism-supporting policies of Erdogan | SANA.
Ankara, SANA – Unions, civil society organizations, and political parties in Turkey organized a protest in Taksim area in Istanbul on Friday to express solidarity with the Syrian people and to denounce the support provided to terrorists by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party government.
The protestors rallied in front of Galatasaray School in Taksim area, denouncing the terrorist organization Jabhet al-Nusra and the government of the Justice and Development Party.
Speeches delivered during the protest held the Justice and Development Party responsible for the massacres committed against Syrian people, calling for stopping all the military and logistic support provided by the Party to ISIS, Jabhet al-Nusra, and ISIS terrorists.
On a relevant note, similar protests denouncing the support provided by Erdogan and his government to terrorists were also held in Antioch, Iskenderun, Samandag, Ankara, Izmir, Mersin, Tunceli.
Another protest was organized in Istanbul by supports of Beshiktash FC to denounce the massacre committed by terrorists in the town of Eshtabraq in Syria and condemn the role played by the Justice and Development Party government in this massacre.
These protests follow a protest that was held on Thursday in the town of Samandag in Iskenderun area, in which the participants also condemned Erdogan’s government for its support for terrorism and held it responsible for the massacres committed by terrorists in Syria.
Itai Anghel: No Free Steps to Heaven (Four Corners, No April 27, 2015.) This is an amazing video showing how female Kurdish fighters claim they are causing ISIS fighters to turn and run. Although the female soldiers are obviously well-trained, effective, and brave, they say that ISIS soldiers run away because they believe that if they are killed by a woman, they will go straight to hell. If they are killed in battle by men, they think they will go to heaven. Two prisoners identified as captured ISIS soldiers affirm that this is true.
The video makes clear that the Turkish Government (Australia's ally) is allowing foreigners to join ISIS via Turkey using connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. President Erdogan of Turkey is said to be a great sympathiser with the Muslim Brotherhood, indeed he has been described as a deluded fanatic by the Syrian president. (See CNN interview.) See also, ""Turkey appears to have overlooked the anger bubbling among its own Kurds towards its Syria policy."". Source:
Unfortunately the narration of the video curtly damns Bashar al-Assad as suppressor of Kurds, whereas the truth is complex. Some Kurds in Syria have citizenship, others have work permits, others lack these rights. It depends on when they came to Syria, where from, and other historic circumstances. On the 20th of April, however, Syrian Minister for Information, Omran al-Zoubi, indicated that President Bashar al-Assad's government is willing to accept Kurdish autonomy in Syrian Kurdistan to the north, where much of the fighting against ISIS has taken place. Source: Source: http://ekurd.net/assad-regime-ready-to-accept-kurdish-autonomy-in-syrian-kurdistan-2015-04-20 and http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/130320151 (Some interesting comments under this article.)
There are problems of trust with some Kurds because of Israel's investment in Kurdish territory, notably in Iraq. Israel is suspected of divisive activities against Palestinians in Yarmouk in Damascus and elsewhere. Syria is the only country that gives full rights to Palestinians. This is probably a major reason why it is thought to be a target of Israel/US demonization and military undermining. The film about the Kurdish women fighters was made by an Israeli.
No Free Steps to Heaven by Itai Anghel
Meet the women taking up arms against Islamic State.
"We are ISIS's nightmare." Ahin, female Kurdish guerrilla
"They should fear me... What I have and they don't is a purpose worth fighting for... I'm here to protect my existence." Zozan, female Kurdish guerrilla
These highly effective female fighters are taking on Islamic State forces in northern Iraq and Syria as part of the Kurdish guerrilla army.
One of their senior leaders is Commander Media and she's clear about her purpose:
"For people like that even hell is not enough. My role is to make sure they get a one way ticket."
Commander Media and the story of her soldiers feature in No Free Steps to Heaven, a film that takes you right into the conflict zone as these women take charge during tense fire fights.
Through the camera of Israeli film-maker Itai Anghel, we meet young women giving up any prospect of a normal life to train and fight in tough conditions.
Sitting fireside at night in the mountains, 20-year-old Zozan says: "I am fighting to live, they are fighting to die."
Then there's newly trained Ahin on her way to join two siblings on the frontline. Anghel asks if she is afraid of ISIS. Her reply: "On the contrary they are afraid of us."
These female guerrillas also engage in psychological warfare. As they go into battle they taunt the ISIS fighters, who believe dying in combat will lead them to heaven and 72 virgins, but not if they are killed by a woman.
Anghel also meets ISIS soldiers captured by the Kurds. They chillingly boast about the pleasure they take in killing their enemies. One claims to have beheaded at least 70 people.
As an Israeli, Anghel went undercover to film these close encounters. A friend of murdered American journalist James Foley, Anghel was well aware of the dangers facing journalists in the region. Using trusted contacts within the Kurdish forces, his journey provides a fascinating insight into the fight against ISIS.
NO FREE STEPS TO HEAVEN, reported by Itai Anghel and presented by Kerry O'Brien, goes to air on Monday 27th April at 8.30pm on ABC. It is replayed on Tuesday 28th April at 10.00am and Wednesday 29th April at midnight. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners
23 April? 2015
Delivering Syria's speech, Speaker of the People's Assembly Mohammad Jihad al-Laham said history will not forgive those "who didn't learn the lessons of wars on other peoples."
See also: Hockey abandons plans to speak at Armenian "genocide" centenary ceremony as Tony Abbott prepares to attend ANZAC Day services at Gallipoli | The Australian (24/4/15), Syria recognizes the Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire, Parliament Speaker says | Public Radio of Armenia (24/4/15), Millions worldwide mark 100th anniversary of Armenian genocide (PHOTO, VIDEO) | RT (25/4/15), Armenia, Turkey still at odds a century after 1915 massacre | RT (22/4/15) and other articles about the Armenian Genocide.
The current Turkish government, the successor of the Ottomans, has thrust itself so deeply in the current crisis in Syria, opening its land wide to terrorists coming from all corners of the world to cross border into Syria and commit horrible crimes against its people.
"Any crime against humans must be condemned and rejected whoever the perpetrator, and how if that crime was a genocide in which more than a million and a half of the brotherly Armenian people were killed," al-Laham told the forum.
"We in Syria have always felt the Armenians' sense of belonging is as much to Syria as it is to Armenian and vice versa," he said, affirming that the Armenians in Syria are an integral part of its people.
Al-Laham drew parallels between the Armenian Genocide and the mass crimes targeting the people in Syria and Iraq, saying the crimes systematically committed by the terrorists in both countries target all of the two peoples' components and are aimed at cleansing areas of their inhabitants.
These, and the deliberate damaging of the cultural heritage and the archeological and historical sites in Syria and Iraq, all constitute "a genocide against humanity" and crimes against the history and culture, he added.
While stressing that the history of appalling criminality is repeating itself now through the terrorists of today, al-Laham said this would not have happened was it not for those states and sides that are supplying the terrorists with whatever funds, arms, training and political and media cover they need to commit crimes.
Armenian Premier: We support Syria in confronting terrorism, seek more economic cooperation
Later, Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan said his country supports Syria in its fight against the terrorism exported to it from different countries.
During his meeting with Speaker al-Laham Abrahamyan stressed that the historical relations between Syria and Armenia are firmly established.
He saw that the Syrian participation in the forum, which marks the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, committed by the Ottomans in 1915, reflects how much deep is the friendship relations binding the people of Syria and Armenia.
Out of Armenia's interest in further activating the parliamentary, political and economic relations with Syria, Abrahamyan used the opportunity of his meeting with al-Laham to extend an invitation to the Syrian Prime Minister to visit Armenia with a view of expanding the areas of economic cooperation between the two countries.
Al-Laham renewed Damascus's solidarity with Yerevan on the occasion, calling for joint work on the international level to prevent such crimes from being repeated through eliminating the terrorism ravaging Syria and Iraq.
#appendix" id="appendix">Appendix: Other articles about the Armenian Genocide
Why Israel does not recognize the Armenian 'genocide' | Washington Post (24/4/15), Why Israel still refuses to recognize a century-old genocide | the Times of Israel (24/4/15), Obama again avoids the term 'genocide' with Armenia | USA Today (24/4/15), As Armenia marks 1915 killing, Berlin calls it genocide | Reuters (24/4/15), Armenians mark 100 years since massacre, Recognizing the Armenian Genocide | theStar.com (20/4/15), Armenian genocide survivors' stories: 'My dreams cannot mourn' | The Guardian (24/4/1515), Obama, Armenia, and What Hitler Learned About Genocide Denial | The Daily Beast (23/4/15), Armenian 'genocide': Nine ethnic and religious groups facing extermination today | The Independent (24/4/15), Armenian Genocide March Will Halt West Hollywood Eastside Traffic on Friday | WeHo ville (23/4/15).
Those rightly outraged at the murder of Tori Johnson and the death of Katrina Dawson on 16 December at the end of the Martin Place siege and at the murder of 11 people on 7 January 2015 in Paris by terrorists (see #appendix1">embedded Syrian Girl video) should also contemplate the fact that, since March 2011, the people of Syria have suffered terrorism on a scale which is vastly greater than these two tragedies. Since March 2011, they have faced an invasion by hordes of foreign terrorists coming from almost every corner of the globe and not just the Arab world. These invaders have been paid for and supplied by the United States, its European allies and its allies amongst the Arab dictatorships including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. So far, over 200,000 Syrians have been killed at the hands of these terrorists. As a consequence, the Syrian government has demanded of the United Nations act against the terrorists' sponsors.
The article below was previous published in SANA (12/4/15).
Damascus, SANA – Syria demanded deterrent measures by the United Nations against the terrorist organizations and the states backing and sponsoring them.
The Syrian demand was expressed in two identical letters which the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry addressed to Chairman of the UN Security Council and UN Secretary General on Sunday.
It was prompted by the bloody terrorist rocket attacks which hit Aleppo city yesterday, leaving heavy casualties of at least 19 civilians dead and scores of others wounded and causing massive material damage.
The new crime, the letters said, came as a response from the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan to the "important" outcomes that were reached at the latest Moscow inter-Syrian talks.
In their "clear message" delivered by their agents of the so-called "moderate opposition", those regimes have sought to foil any political solution that could be reached by the Syrians themselves without foreign interference, the letters added.
The Foreign Ministry dismissed the claim of those and other countries of them sending "non-lethal" weapons to the terrorists, stressing that a new type of destructive weapons seemed to have been used in Aleppo attack.
Several four-story buildings were completely demolished, falling on their inhabitants’ heads, according to the letters.
The Ministry blamed the continuation of terrorist acts on those countries which have not ceased providing direct support to the Takfiri terrorist organizations, including the notorious Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, in addition to the so-called "Free Army", "Islam Army", "Islamic Front", "Liwa al-Fateh", "Ahrar al-Sham Movement", "Al-Ansar Front", etc.
Striking out at this continued support, the Ministry said the terrorist organizations would not have been capable of launching such bloody attacks, was it not for those countries shielding these organizations against punishment and continuing to supply them with weapons and explosives.
It named France, Britain, Jordan and the US as accomplices in backing the terrorists.
The Ministry demanded a Security Council non-politicized action towards enforcing counterterrorism resolutions in deeds not only in words.
The Security Council, it said, is also called upon to cooperate and coordinate with the Syrian government, which "has been combating terrorism for years on behalf of the entire world people."
The Syria government, the Ministry said, stresses dodged determination to continue fighting terrorism in Syria and defend its people by virtue of its constitutional responsibilities.
#appendix1" id="appendix1">Appendix 1: "The Charlie Hebdo Attacks Exposed" by the Syrian Girl
#related" id="related">Appendix 2: Other related articles
Land Destroyer | Syria: America's Democratic Terrorists? (10/4/15), VoltaireNet | Western wars have killed four million Muslims since 1990 (11/4/15), Global Research | Syria at the UN: US, Britain, France, Jordan Refuse to Name ISIL as “Separate Terror Group" (11/4/15), Global Research | Syria: "Al-Qaeda Linked Rebels" Are Al-Qaeda (13/4/15), Global Research | Israel moves to Cover-up its alliance with al-Qaeda in Syria (14/4/15), PressTV | Turkey, Saudis to form anti-Syria military alliance: Report (14/4/15).
Syrian Fee Press | Israeli [occupation] army admits aiding al-Qaeda in Syria (12/4/15) – Asa Winstanley. Whilst informative it dismisses some 'conspiracy theories' about the Syrian conflict:
Popular conspiracy theories have it that al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” (also known as DAESH, ISIS or ISIL) are Israeli- and/or US-intelligence creations.
While there’s no evidence for that, it’s certainly true that the US-UK invasion of Iraq in 2003, and its consciously sectarian occupation regime of the country thereafter, created the conditions in which al-Qaeda in Iraq (later known as ISIS) was formed and thrived. Veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn demonstrates this most convincingly in his essential new book The Rise of Islamic State, which I have previously lauded here.
From my recent viewing of some of the articles about the Syria conflict to which Asa seems to be referring, a conspiracy by the United States and its allies to set up ISIS as a bogus extremist 'anti-west' army to undermine popular domestic opposition to war seems to be a highly plausible explanation of the recent course of events. However, having read these words by Asa Winstanley, I will have to re-examine these articles more closely.
Another irritating feature of this article and so much other material which otherwise seems to be strongly opposed to the United States' planned aggression against Syria, is its insistence on labeling of the Syrian government a 'regime' :
Hizballah (my spelling is 'Hezbollah' - Ed) and Iran, allies of the Bashar al-Assad regime, are aiding the government in Syria and fighting on the ground alongside Syrian army troops against al-Qaeda, the “Islamic State” and other Sunni rebel groups.
Could Asa be truly unaware that on 4 June 20914, Syrians overwhelmingly endorsed President Bashar al-Assad in presidential elections, as attested to by four International observers at a United Nations Press conference. See Global Research | Syria's press conference the United Nations doesn't want you to see (20/6/15) with embedded 52:45min video, republished on Candobetter.
Good to see men showing courage on behalf of women in Turkey!
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday mocked men who wear skirts, in an apparent jibe at activists who wore female clothes at the weekend in a protest supporting women's rights.
Erdogan Mocks Male Women's Rights Activists as Model Faces Charges for Sharing Poem
Updated at 7:03 pm (GMT+2):
Meanwhile, a former Miss Turkey beauty queen faces up to 4.5 years in prison on charges of insulting Erdogan, the latest in a growing number of such cases, reports said Wednesday.
"They call themselves 'men'. What kind of men are they? Men wear trousers, why are you wearing skirts?" he said at a televised speech at his presidential palace in Ankara.
A few dozen men had marched through central Istanbul at the weekend, in a highly-publicized protest calling for an end to violence against women following the attempted rape and murder of a 20-year-old female student by a bus driver.
The killing of Ozgecan Aslan, 20, became a rallying cause for activists and unleashed a wave of public anger.
In his comments, Erdogan appeared to link the skirt-wearing activists to violent protesters the government wants to crack down on using a controversial new homeland security bill.
The bill, currently the focus of fierce clashes between lawmakers in parliament, will outlaw disguises in protests, including the use of masks.
"Unfortunately, they are wearing skirts and think that they manage to hide themselves," said Erdogan.
"Be honest, be honest. They are terrorists and using every means possible."
"Why are you wearing masks? If you are not a terrorist don't hide your face."
Erdogan and members of his government have made a number of sexist comments in recent years. In November, Erdogan called gender equality "against human nature," arguing that women's life calling was motherhood. A month later, he said efforts to promote birth control were "treason."
In August, Erdogan drew mass criticism regarding his attitude towards the media and women when in a television debate he said to a woman journalist that she was a "shameless woman" and told her "to know [her] place."
The Islamic-rooted government of Erdogan has long been accused by critics of seeking to impose strict Islamic values on the private lives of Turks as well as limiting the civil liberties of women.
Former Miss Turkey risks prison term for sharing poem
Meanwhile, Turkish prosecutors said an investigation had been launched against model Merve Buyuksarac after Erdogan's lawyer lodged a complaint in November 2014 against a satirical poem taken from a magazine and posted on her Instagram site, state news agency Anatolia reported.
The prosecutors stated the charges carry a maximum penalty of 4.5 years behind bars.
The 2006 Miss Turkey, who was briefly detained last month, told an Istanbul court that she did not intend to insult the president.
In her testimony, Buyuksarac said she may have quoted a poem called the "Master's Poem" from weekly Turkish satirical magazine Uykusuz.
But the 26-year-old said she later deleted it after one of her friends warned her that such posts could bring criminal charges in Turkey.
The "Master's Poem" — which was shared by the model while Erdogan was serving as prime minister — criticizes the Turkish strongman with verses adapted from the national anthem.
Erdogan, who was elected president in August after steering the country as prime minister since 2003, is often dubbed "Buyuk Usta" (the Big Master).
"I did not make the adaptation. I shared it because I found it funny," she said.
Prosecutors said the posts could not be considered "in the context of freedom of expression" and were guilty of "exceeding the boundaries of criticism" and "overtly humiliating" the president.
The court is due to decide whether to start full legal proceedings and a trial.
Erdogan, then mayor of Istanbul, was himself imprisoned for four months in the late 1990s for reciting an Islamist poem that was deemed an incitement to religious hatred.
But after consolidating his power in Turkish politics, he has repeated the verses again and again.
In a statement posted on her Twitter account, Buyuksarac said "if there will ever be a trial" it would be on charges of "insulting a public official."
She also appeared to defend her conduct.
"If you google the poem I shared (the one that does not include any insult), you will see 960,000 more people shared it... it's interesting, isn't it?"
The case is the latest in a string of recent incidents in European Union hopeful Turkey, where protesters as well as journalists have found themselves facing criminal lawsuits or jail time after being accused of insulting or slandering Erdogan.
In a case that attracted wide attention, teenage schoolboy Mehmet Emin Altunses will go on trial on March 6 on charges of insulting the president in a speech in the conservative Anatolian city of Konya.
Four young people were arrested in four days last week on different charges of insulting the Turkish strongman during street protests this month.
Opponents accuse Erdogan of behaving like a modern-day sultan, his Islamist ideology and intolerance of dissent taking Turkey far from Ataturk's secular ideals.
In the past, he sued a newspaper cartoonist for portraying him as a cat entangled in a ball of wool.
The Kurdish population is defended by PYG (autonomist party supporting the Syrian Arab Republic), but Turkey has closed its border so that civilians cannot escape and the reinforcements of the Turkish PKK (separatist party linked to PYG) cannot arrive.
Kurdish forces are controlled by Mahmoud Barkhodan, assisted by Narine Afrin (real name Mayssa Abdo). The choice of a woman as second in command has caused panic in the Islamic Emirate, the jihadists being convinced that they cannot enter heaven if they are killed by a woman.
Faced with the Kurdish resistance, the Islamic Emirate has transferred most of its forces to Syria to crush Kobané.
According to our analysis, repeatedly stated in these columns and in many radio and television stations in Latin America, Russia and the Muslim world, the Islamic Emirate is a creation of the United States tasked with ethnically cleansing the region in order to remodel it. Everyone can see that the soothing declarations of US leaders are belied by their military action on the ground, not against, but in favor of the Islamic Emirate.
The Coalition has conducted six waves of bombings in Kobané. It never targeted positions of the Islamic Emirate and has caused it no loss. However, it holds at a distance further south and west, the Syrian Arab Army which fails to open a breach to save the people.
The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (pro-Israeli) refuses to help Syrian Kurds, with whom it has been in conflict for a long time. To justify this passivity, it argues that it does not have direct access to Syria.
Turkey, a NATO member, refuses to assist Syrian Kurds threatened with genocide as long as they do not give up their independent status in Syria and as long as they do not join NATO’s fight against Syria and its elected President Bashar al-Assad.
According to PYG fighters, Turkey daily supplies weapons to the Islamic Emirate and welcomes its wounded into its hospitals, while they themselves have the greatest challenges to transport injured Kurds to Turkey for medical treatment.
In Turkey, the Kurdish Islamic splinter group, Hur Dava Partisi (formerly named Hezbollah in order to create confusion with the Lebanese resistance), went to war against the PKK (Kurdish majority party in the country). The Hüda-Par (abbreviation of Hur Dava Partisi) is supported covertly by AKP chairman Recep Tayyip Erdo?an both to fight against Kurdish separatism and to support the Muslim Brotherhood.
On August 30th, a leader of the Islamic Emirate, Hikmet, and two of his bodyguards were killed by the PKK in Istanbul where they were staying at the invitation of Hüda-By and under the protection of the Turkish police.
In a text message sent to all its members, the PKK gave the instruction to physically eliminate all members of Hüda-Par, accused of working for the Turkish government and assisting the Islamic Emirate.
On October 10th, making a comparison with the Srebrenica massacre (Yugoslavia, 1995) the special UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, challenged Turkey to open its border to prevent the fall of Kobané and the genocide of its population. He demanded in vain that Turkey open its borders.
The head of the US Coalition, General John Allen, also publicly called upon Turkey to open its border and prevent the genocide of the Kobané Kurds. However, it does not appear that the Turkish refusal has altered relations between Washington and Ankara, on the contrary.
Turkey’s new foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu, said his country would not intervene as long as the Coalition formed by the United States against the Islamic Emirate (of which Turkey is a part) did not decide to impose a no-fly zone in northern Syria and has not given as its objective the overthrowing of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Moreover, the Turkish parliament authorized the government to fight both the Islamic Emirate and the PKK.
Receiving Mr. Çavu?o?lu in Paris, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, supported the idea of ??creating a "security zone" in northern Syria, without specifying exactly what he meant by that, but emphasizing his agreement with Turkey.
France, also a NATO member, is directly providing weapons to the separatist Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, without authorization from the central Iraqi government. The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq expanded its territory by 40% in coordination with the Islamic Emirate when it seized the Iraqi Sunni Arab area. In previous years, France politically supported the Turkish PKK (pro-Syrian), she now provides militarily support to the (pro-Israeli) Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq.
Currently, the airspace in northern Syria is controlled by the coalition led by the United States. The Islamic Emirate has aircraft (MiGs stolen from Syria and F-15s stolen from Iraq), but has few pilots and technical staff to use them. The creation of a no-fly zone by NATO in Syria, in addition to being a flagrant violation of international law, would therefore have no impact on the ongoing fighting.
The idea of ??creating a no-fly zone in Syria was promoted by Israel, which sees it as a means to dismember this country, along the lines of what was done from 1991 to 2003 in Iraq (in favor the current Kurdistan Regional Government). However, the only valid comparison to be made is with the buffer zone imposed in 1983 during the Lebanese civil war. Felt like an open recolonization of Lebanon, it turned into a fiasco after the elimination of 300 American and French soldiers.
In Turkey, the PKK multiplies demonstrations to force the Erdo?an government to reopen the border. 31 people have already been killed by the police during the suppression of the protests.
The only question is how long will the Syrian Kurds resist alone against jihadi armed and funded by the United States pursuant to a vote of Congress assembled in a secret session in January, 2014. In other words: when will Washington and its allies manage to ethnically cleanse northern Syria by their creature, the Islamic Emirate?
Report of 2 Jun 2013 is republished from PressTV. Like Melbourne's Royal Park, Taksim Square is one of Istanbul's few remaining public spaces. It is also threatened with destruction to suit the selfish needs of developers who wish to erect high-rise residential towers. See also: OccupyGezi! OWS activists stage pro-Turkish rally in New York of 1 June in Russia Today, OWS activists in US rally in solidarity with Turkish protesters of 1 June in PressTV.
Thousands of anti-government protesters have reoccupied Istanbul's iconic Taksim Square despite heavy-handed police crackdown.
Thousands of people returned to Taksim Square on Sunday following two days of violent demonstrations that saw almost 1,000 people arrested.
They chanted anti-government slogans and called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign.
"We will stay until the end. We are not leaving. The only answer now is for this government to fall. We are tired of this oppressive government constantly putting pressure on us," one protester, Akin, told Reuters. There have been no reports of clashes between protesters and security forces. Istanbul has been the scene of anti-government protests since Friday after security forces attacked a peaceful four-day sit-in by environmental activists against the demolition of Gezi Park at Taksim Square. The tough police response to park protesters has sparked mass anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul and nearly 50 other cities, including the capital Ankara, Izmir, Mugla and Antalya. The protesters condemned the Turkish government as a "fascist government" and called Erdogan a new "Sultan." Amnesty International has described the police use of excessive force against the demonstrators as disgraceful. The group noted that at least two people have been killed and more than a thousand others injured in Istanbul alone. It also said some protesters have been left blinded by the massive quantities of tear gas used by the police. Turkish prime minister on Saturday admitted that "there have been some mistakes, extremism in police response." Protesters had occupied Gezi Park since May 28 to prevent bulldozers from uprooting the trees and demolishing the park in order to replace it with a shopping mall. The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and protests as well as a popular tourist destination, is the city's last public green space.
"We will stay until the end. We are not leaving. The only answer now is for this government to fall. We are tired of this oppressive government constantly putting pressure on us," one protester, Akin, told Reuters.
There have been no reports of clashes between protesters and security forces.
Istanbul has been the scene of anti-government protests since Friday after security forces attacked a peaceful four-day sit-in by environmental activists against the demolition of Gezi Park at Taksim Square.
The tough police response to park protesters has sparked mass anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul and nearly 50 other cities, including the capital Ankara, Izmir, Mugla and Antalya. The protesters condemned the Turkish government as a "fascist government" and called Erdogan a new "Sultan."
Amnesty International has described the police use of excessive force against the demonstrators as disgraceful.
The group noted that at least two people have been killed and more than a thousand others injured in Istanbul alone. It also said some protesters have been left blinded by the massive quantities of tear gas used by the police.
Turkish prime minister on Saturday admitted that "there have been some mistakes, extremism in police response."
Protesters had occupied Gezi Park since May 28 to prevent bulldozers from uprooting the trees and demolishing the park in order to replace it with a shopping mall.
The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and protests as well as a popular tourist destination, is the city's last public green space.
First published on PressTV, 12 May 2013 as Protesters tell Erdogan to resign. Other reporting (and misreporting) of Reyhanli terrorist bombing, and issues arising, includes: Information Minister: Turkey Bombings Terrorist Act Condemned by All Standards - SANA, Turkey blames Syria over Reyhanli bombings - Guardian, Turkey says Syrian forces behind border town bombings - Reuters, Dozens dead in Turkey car bombings - Brisbane Times, Turkey claims Assad loyalists bombed Reyhanli - , Blasts kill dozens in Turkish town Reyhanli on Syria border - BBC, Iran slams explosions in Turkish city of Reyhanli - PressTV.
Turkish protesters have called for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to step down following two car bombings in a town near the Syrian border.
Scores of people took to the streets of the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province on Saturday after more than 40 people were killed in two car bombings that jolted the town earlier in the day.
The angry demonstrators said the outbreak of violence was due to the Erdogan administration’s anti-Syria policy.
Security was tight in the center of Reyhanli, near the scene of the blasts, with the security forces setting up checkpoints to control entry into and exit from the town, witnesses said.
A similar demonstration was briefly held in Ankara, in which dozens of people marched in the street and chanted slogans criticizing Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Turkey has been one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's harshest critics and has supported the foreign-backed militants fighting to topple his government.
Turkish opposition parties have censured the Turkish government for its intervention in Syria’s internal affairs.
Last July, the leader of the Republican People’s Party warned the government against dragging the country into the “Middle Eastern quagmire” with its aggressive anti-Syria stance.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
As has been explained on Twitter, "The province which was attacked supports the Syrian government." This is why that town was targeted by terrorists. The Turkish government and the mainstream media have not reported that protests against the Turkish Government have been held in the Turkish town of Reyhanli in which 46 were killed in the terrorist outrage of 11 May. Instead, unfounded claims, originating from the Turkish and U.S. governments, which try to attribute blame to the Syrian Government, have been reported. An example is the report Turkey blames Syria over Reyhanli bombings of 13 may in the Guardian The Syrian Government has condemned the outrage and comprehensively refuted any suggestion that it could have been behind the outrage.
#postscript_17may13">Postscript: More Turkish protests against Erdogan over Reyhanli bombings
Adapted from Turkish protesters blame government for blasts from PressTV of 16 May 2013.
Relatives cry as pallbearers carry the coffin of Fehmi Karaca, 69, a shop owner killed in Saturday’s bombings, for burial in Reyhanli, Turkey, Sunday, May 12, 2013.
Hundreds of Turkish citizens have held demonstrations in the southern Turkish province Hatay and in the country’s largest city Istanbul to protest against Saturday’s twin car bombings, which killed 46 people and injured over a hundred others in the town of Reyhanli.
On Thursday, the protesters condemned the violence, noting that the outbreak of bloodshed was due to the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for armed militants in Syria.
In Istanbul, the police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators who were marching towards the office of Erdogan.
A similar demonstration was held in Ankara on Saturday, in which dozens of people marched in the street and chanted slogans criticizing Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Turkey has accused Damascus of being behind the attack but Syria has dismissed the claim.
Syria Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi told a news conference on Sunday that his country "did not commit and would never commit such an act because our values would not allow that."
He blamed Ankara for the Saturday bombings in Reyhanli as well as the ongoing unrest in Syria by facilitating the flow of arms, explosives, vehicles, militants and money across the border into the Arab country.
"It is Erdogan who should be asked about this act... He and his party bear direct responsibility," Zohbi said.
The Syrian minister also stated that Turkey has planned the attacks to use them as a pretext to justify foreign intervention in Syria.
"Why this timing? Why these attack, just days before the meeting between Erdogan and (US President Barack) Obama? Does he (Erdogan), whose country is a NATO member, want to incite the United States (into intervening in Syria) by telling him his country has been attacked?" Zohbi said.
He added that the Turkish government has turned its border areas with Syria into centers for international terrorism.
Adapted from Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) story Istanbul University Students Foil Efforts to Hold Activity to Support Terrorist groups of 4 April 2013. See also: World must unite to help Syria avoid Iraq's fate
ISTANBUL, (SANA) - Istanbul university students foiled on Thursday efforts of the Turkish Red Crescent and the jurists youth club to establish an activity under the pretext of "collecting humanitarian aids to the Syrian people" which really aims to support the armed terrorist groups in Syria.
Turkish site Sol said that Istanbul university students protested the so- called "charity bazaar" which supports the terrorist groups in Syria who are perpetrating acts of terrorism against Syrian people, especially children, raising placards in both Arabic and Turkish which call for people not to participate in this event, forcing the organizers to cancel it under the students' pressure.