Archive | December, 2015

IMF Tricks Did Not Save Ukraine From Economic Collapse


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Ukraine may face complete economic failure as inflation progresses and foreign loans are unable to save the country’s economy. Kiev should admit that its plans to join the EU were unsuccessful, German newspaper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) reported.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has done a lot to contribute to the rehabilitation of Ukraine, but the threat of hyperinflation is still urgent, while the country itself is close to bankruptcy, the newspaper wrote.

According to the National Bank of Ukraine, inflation in the country reached 44 percent this year compared to 24.9 percent last year. Chaotic economic policies, corruption and civil war in the eastern regions of the country have put Ukraine on the brink of national bankruptcy, the article said.

The IMF tried to stop the destruction of the Ukrainian economy using various legal tricks. In order to help Ukraine which still has not repaid its debt to Russia, the IMF hastily changed its rules and can now provide loans to insolvent countries.

Just this year alone, Ukraine has received about ten billion dollars in loans from the IMF and other international donors. The financial aid, however, failed to improve the state of the country’s economy.

If the devaluation continues at the current pace, Kiev will not only run out of money, but also lose the trust of its Western partners. At the moment, Ukraine is actually living on the money of European and American taxpayers. Sooner or later, European countries may stop “pumping” their finances into the economically desperate state, the article said.

With regard to the catastrophic economic situation, the prospect of membership in the European Union, which the Ukrainian government dreams of, is a complete fiasco. Neither Ukraine nor the EU can afford such a serious challenge under the current conditions, DWN concluded.

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Turkey rejects Iraq’s warning against Ankara troop deployment

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Press TV 

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has dismissed Baghdad’s warning of military action to defend Iraqi sovereignty if Ankara does not pull its troops out of northern Iraq.

“If Baghdad wants to use force, they should use it against Daesh, get rid of Daesh from Mousul. If they do so… why we would risk our army, we would withdraw to our country,” Davutoglu said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster NTV.

He made the remarks in response to Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who called on Turkey Wednesday to withdraw its troops or risk the use of military action.

Baghdad and Ankara are locked in a war of words over the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq.

On December 4, Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by 20 to 25 tanks, to the outskirts of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh Province.

Ankara claimed the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Daesh.

Baghdad has strongly condemned the presence of the Turkish battalion on the Iraqi territory, branding the uncoordinated act as a violation of Iraq’s national sovereignty.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Davutoglu claimed that Turkish troops were in northern Iraq in a bid to prevent terrorist infiltration into Turkey.

“I wish Iraq can control this area (northern parts) so that we don’t need to launch air operations there to prevent the leak of terrorists into Turkey.”

On Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi held a phone conversation with Davutoglu, calling on Ankara to respect the territorial integrity of Iraq and withdraw its troops from the Arab country.

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Middle East still rocking from first world war pacts made 100 years ago



The agreements that shaped the region may be forgotten in the west, but in the Middle East their significance still looms large

Allied forces and members of the Sharifan Army mingle on the streets of Damascus after the capture of the city in October 1918.
Allied forces and members of the Sharifan Army mingle on the streets of Damascus after the capture of the city in October 1918. Photograph: George Westmoreland/IWM via Getty Images

… by ,  Middle East editor

In an idle moment between cocktail parties in the Arab capital where they served, a British and French diplomat were chatting recently about their respective countries’ legacies in the Middle East: why not commemorate them with a new rock band? And they could call it Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Declaration.

It was just a joke. These first world war agreements cooked up in London and Paris in the dying days of the Ottoman empire paved the way for new Arab nation states, the creation of Israel and the continuing plight of the Palestinians. And if their memory has faded in the west as their centenaries approach, they are still widely blamed for the problems of the region at an unusually violent and troubled time.

“This is history that the Arab peoples will never forget because they see it as directly relevant to problems they face today,” argues Oxford University’s Eugene Rogan, author of several influential works on modern Middle Eastern history.

In 2014, when Islamic State fighters broke through the desert border between Iraq and Syria – flying black flags on their captured US-made Humvees – and announced the creation of a transnational caliphate, they triumphantly pronounced the death of Sykes-Picot. That gave a half-forgotten and much-misrepresented colonial-era deal a starring role in their propaganda war – and a new lease of life on Twitter.

It also famously contradicted earlier promises made by the British to Sharif Hussein of Mecca before he launched what TE Lawrence called the “revolt in the desert” against the Turks. It did not draw the borders of Arab states – that came later – but it has become a kind of convenient shorthand for western double-dealing and perfidy.

And it was undermined too by the Balfour Declaration in November 1917 – mourned for decades by Palestinians remembering how “his Majesty’s government viewed with favour the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people” when Zionism was a novel response to European antisemitism and Jews a small minority in the Holy Land.


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SouthFront: Syria battlespace


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By South Front

…from SouthFront

In the Dara’a province, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) with the Russian Air Forces’ support are advancing in the town of Sheikh Miskeen clashing with the Free Syrian Army’s “Southern Front Brigades”. The pro-government sources report that the SAA took control of the Battalion 82 base and the hilltop of Tal Al-Hish overlooking the northern flank of the town. The clashes are continuing.

Sheikh Miskeen is located along the Quneitra-Sweida Highway and overlooks a way on the Al-Quneitra Governorate and the city of Nawa.

According to the field reports, the SAA liberated the town of Maheen, 25 kilometers from the vital M5 highway, and the town of Huwwarin after the heavy clashes with ISIS. The towns were taken by the terrorist group in late November. It is expected that the SAA will continue their offensive onto the town of Quryatayn.

The Syrian government has essentially avoided clashing with the Syrian Kurds which are a major part of the SDF. However, as the Kurdish forces and the Russian-backed government forces meet up, the question of developing joint strategy arises.

Moreover, Ankara already concerned by the growing Kurdish clout on the border and definitely is preparing actions to stop the Kurds in their offensive actions. Such an action would also push the Syrian government and the SDF to coordinate their actions in fight against foreign-backed terrorists.

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Islamic State field commanders killed in Russian airstrike


Defense ministry reports Islamic State field commanders killed in Russian airstrike


1119581… from  TASS, MoscowRussia’s Sukhoi Su-34 warplane has launched an airstrike in the area of the Syrian city of Raqqa destroying a building where militants’ ringleaders gathered for a meeting, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov reported on Wednesday.

According to him, the Russian side received information that field commanders of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group planned a meeting on the outskirts of the city of Raqqa from representatives of a Syrian opposition group acting in the country’s northeast.

After that the Russian side organised round-the-clock aerial monitoring of that area. The official said that representatives of the patriotic opposition forces provided information about the site of the IS militant leaders’ gathering.

“The Sukhoi Su-34 plane launched an airstrike at the building in which the militants’ ringleaders gathered for a meeting after the relevant information was confirmed. The building with all the contents was destroyed as a result of a direct hit of a guided bomb,” the defense spokesman said.

Russian planes attack over 420 terrorist targets in 2 days According to the spokesman, Russian planes made over 120 sorties in two days and attacked more than 420 terrorist targets in Syria. Konashenkov said “424 facilities in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Lattakia, Hamaa, Homs, Damascus, Daraa and Deir al-Zour had been attacked from December 28.”

The official also noted a Russian Su-34 bomber has destroyed a hangar with military hardware and weapons depots at a large base of the Islamic State terrorist group in the Syrian province of Homs.

“The Su-34 bomber has delivered a strike against a large base of the IS militants on the outskirts of the town of Mheen in the Homs province. The direct strike destroyed a hangar with military hardware, as well as depots with terrorists’ arms, ammunition and supplies,” Konashenkov said.

The airstrike also destroyed five off-road vehicles with large-caliber machine-guns, an infantry fighting vehicle and four trucks loaded with ammunition, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said. Also, a Russian Su-25 attack aircraft destroyed a terrorists’ stronghold in the Aleppo province, Konashenkov said. “The direct strikes destroyed a tank and three cross-country vehicles with heavy armaments mounted on them,” he said.

Moreover, the air group in Syria has wiped out a large munitions warehouse of the Jabhat al-Nusra group. “Several days ago one of the patriotically-minded Syrian opposition groups operating in Idlib province shared information with us about the location of a large munitions warehouse of the Jabhat al-Nusra group near Zerba.

After examining aerial images and conducting additional reconnaissance with the use of drones a Sukhoi-24M bomber was directed to the target. Impartial monitoring means has confirmed the target was destroyed,” Konashenkov said.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said more than once that “patriotically minded opposition” members were sharing with the Russian military the locations of terrorists in Syria. The policy of involving opposition forces in fighting against the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (both organizations are outlawed in Russia) was “bearing fruit,” the Defense Ministry said to promise to provide further support for the offensive by government troops and opposition forces.

According to the Russian General Staff’s estimates more than 150 opposition groups are participating in operations against terrorists in Syria. Russian military operation in Syria Russia’s Aerospace Forces launched a military operation in Syria on September 30 after the Federation Council unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request for the use of the armed forces against terrorists outside the territory of Russia.

On the same day, Russia’s aviation group started to deliver the first pinpointed airstrikes against the militants’ positions. The Russian aviation grouping comprises more than 50 aircraft and helicopters, including the Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M bombers, Su-25 attack aircraft, Su-30SM fighters and Mil Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters. Also, overnight to October 7, the Caspian Flotilla ships delivered a massive strike on the IS objectives in Syria, using Kalibr NK shipborne cruise missiles.

From November 17, the Russian aviation group in Syria switched to delivering massive strikes against militants, including with the involvement of strategic bombers. As the Russian Defense Ministry reported, Russia’s air grouping has focused on destroying terrorist-controlled oil extraction, storage, transportation and refining facilities.

The airstrikes are conducted at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Russian authorities have said on many occasions that Russia’s armed forces would not take part in any ground operation in Syria. The time limit of the operation will depend on the results of the fight against the Islamic State group, which is banned as a terrorist organisation in Russia.

The General Staff reports that over 150 units of the opposition are fighting IS in Syria – besides the government forces. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed it may support the “patriotic” opposition. Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov said previously the Russian Air Force delivers daily 30-40 airstrikes in support of the opposition.

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Iraq urges Turkish troops pullout, threatens military action


By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor

raqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari speaks during a news conference in the capital city of BaghdadIraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari speaks during a news conference in the capital city of Baghdad

… from Press TV, Tehran

Turkey is playing tough with Iraq, who has now threatened military action

Turkey is playing tough with Iraq, who has now threatened military action

[ Editor’s Note: Turkey keeps pushing its “unsaid hand” that it has permission to be in Kurdistan to train their troops with Kurdish permission, and hence it is none of Baghdad’s business.

The Iraqi government has handled the issue with kid gloves so far, but this is the first time it has mentioned the military option if Turkey continues to stiff arm the Iraqis, who are on 100% solid legal ground.

The Kurdish region is not a separate country, but a region of Iraq, which does not entail running its own separate foreign policy. And while Kurdish oil smuggling has always gone on through Turkey, having Turkish troops coming and going at their own pleasure is not going to go down well in Baghdad or the UN.

Obama has already been on the phone to Erdogan strongly suggesting a troop pull out. But we see Turkey countering that Obama pressure with the highly-publicized new relationship (war council) between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, both Sunni Muslims along with the Kurds, a united front against the Shia Muslims in Iraq and yes, in Iran, also.

It seems that the new council is taking the position that if Turkey can use the ruse of sending troops into Iraq for “anti-terrorism” operations — when we all know it has been supporting ISIL– then the the Saudis may do so from the south if they choose, giving Baghdad two fronts to consider, and their success against ISIL being replace with both Turkish and Saudi “anti-terrorism” forces in western Irag to keep that Syrian border under their physical control during the political negotiations.

The Saudis have lost their mind with this strategy of following Turkey into any conflict, because they have admitted to having a $5 billion expenditure in the Yemen war, and having to switch over to mercenaries to fight, due to their own troop losses. They are dangerous people, clearly out of the realm of their own competency. They could end up destabilizing themselves, and paying for it… Jim W. Dean ]


– First published …  December 30,  2015 –

The Iraqi foreign minister has once again called on Turkey to withdraw its troops from northern Iraq, warning that Baghdad may otherwise take military action against Ankara.

Iraq seeks a peaceful resolution of the issue, but if there is no other solution and if “fighting is imposed on us, we will consider it to protect our sovereignty,” Ibrahim al-Jaafari told a press conference in Baghdad on Wednesday.

The remarks came more than three weeks after Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by 20 to 25 tanks, to the outskirts of the city of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh.

Ankara claimed the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Takfiri Daesh terrorists, but Baghdad denounced the uncoordinated act as a violation of Iraq’s national sovereignty.

Later, Turkey announced that it had begun withdrawing troops following an appeal by US President Barack Obama. At that time, however, al-Jaafari cast doubt on Ankara’s claims, saying the Turkish forces would be relocated from one area to another on the Iraqi soil.

The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by gruesome violence ever since Daesh mounted an offensive in the country in June 2014.

The Iraqi army together with volunteer fighters has been engaged in operations to liberate militant-controlled regions. Over the past few days, the Iraqi army advances against terrorists have gained momentum.

On December 28, Iraqi forces fully liberated the city of Ramadi, the capital of the western province of Anbar, from the grips of Daesh elements. They are also planning to recapture Mosul, which fell into the hands of Daesh terrorists in June last year in the first stage of terrorists’ advance through Iraq.

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Will Biden Take Along These Videos When He Meets With Erdogan?


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US Vice President Joe Biden

US Vice President Joe Biden will pay a visit to Turkey in January following his participation in the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Office of the Vice President announced on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Biden will hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during his time in Ankara, The Hill newspaper reported on Wednesday.Turkey, a NATO member for 60 years, is claimed by the Obama administration as a key partner in the fight against Daesh, which is outlawed in Russia.

The US government has systematically denied or tried to discredit reports that the Erdogan government permits Daesh to earn most of its annual oil revenue through illegal exports transported through Turkish territory in defiance of international sanctions.

Turkey also provoked tensions between NATO and Russia when its air force shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber conducting strikes against Islamic State targets on November 24.

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Putin Blues – Israel Shamir


By Israel Shamir

The war in Syria began when Mr Obama and Mr Hollande said “Assad must go”.

Putin Blues 1

by Israel Shamir

Heavy darkness befalls the North; the sun rarely emerges from between the clouds. This year, Russia has noticeably less street illumination, and the spirits are anything but festive. Only the whiteness of the snow and Christmas trees break the gloom and remind us of the forthcoming low point of the cosmic wheel, Yuletide, when days starts to wax and nights to wane. As this stellar event foretells the Nativity of our Savior, this is a period of hope after a very difficult year, all over the world.

Putin supporters are unhappy

The Russians keep guessing what President Putin will tell them in his traditional televised address to the nation at the break of the New Year. He should say, this year is over, and we shall all cheer, people propose. Even the most optimistic ones are disappointed by lacklustre economic performance, and they blame the government of Prime Minister Medvedev and his liberal monetarist team. Meanwhile Putin rises above the blame game, but the government is less and less popular.

  • As the Rouble drops, even the rather pro-Kremlin mass-circulation newspaper KP (full disclosure: I write an occasional column for the KP) published a call for the economy and finance ministers to resign or to be fired. There is a very little chance that Mr Putin will take this advice and clean his government stables.
  • He could beef up his credit by dumping some (or all) of his ministers, but Putin is stubborn and unusually loyal to his colleagues. No accusation has ever convinced him to dismiss a man of his team. His former defence minister Mr Serdyukov has allegedly been involved in some shady dealing, while Serdyukov’s paramour and assistant amassed millions by selling prime MOD assets to her cronies. Still, Putin did not dump him, and saved him from jail. (He had to resign to become a CEO, while she served a few weeks in prison, at most).
  • Last week, the opposition leader Mr Navalny aired some heavy charges against Attorney General Chayka. For his defence, Chayka said that the man behind the campaign is the notorious Mr Browder. Browder is an American crook who managed to appropriate many high-quality Russian assets for pennies during Yeltsin’s privatisation. Eventually he was forced to part with his loot and he has been sentenced to many years of jail in absentia. Browder is slime, no doubt, but it is a weak defence for Chayka. Still, Putin refused to drop Chayka or even to initiate an independent investigation of his alleged crimes.
  • Putin stands by the most hated politician of Yeltsin’s era, Mr Anatoly Chubays. The Financial Times called him Father to the Oligarchs. After leaving the government, Chubays has been appointed to lead the RUSNANO, a state-owned corporation notorious for its embezzlement and waste. Putin saved him many times over from prosecution.
  • Putin went, hat in hand, to Yekaterinburg for the grand opening of Boris Yeltsin’s Memorial Centre (price tag – nine billion roubles) and referred kindly to the loathed late President who appointed him his successor. People were furious seeing their president enjoying himself among the carpetbaggers of Yeltsin’s regime.
  • Can you imagine Fox TV transmitting Russian propaganda? In Russia, a major chunk of Russian media, state-owned or subsidised by the taxpayer, transmits pro-Western and anti-Russian agenda, alleged the eminent film director Nikita Michalkov, a staunch supporter of Putin, in his video seen by over two million viewers in a few days. He called upon Putin to assert his line and banish the enemies within, but state TV refused to broadcast the video.
  • Putin’s recent press-conference provided a chance for more criticism. Beside the points mentioned above, the journalists asked why state enterprise CEOs are paid millions of dollars a year, while everybody else is called upon to tighten the belt. They asked why the Russian Central Bank keeps buying US bonds and supports the US Dollar at the expense of the Rouble. They asked why import substitution does not work etc.

These are protests from the pro-Putin crowd, from people who supported his takeover of Crimea and his entry into Syrian war. They could bear some deprivation, but they are upset by Putin’s condoning thieves, by his apparent cronyism, by his oligarch friends. Until now, the critics avoided attacking Putin, but these are the early swallows. Dr Stepan Sulakshin, the head of a Moscow think tank, publicly accused Putin of knowingly leading Russia into further degradation.

This bubbling dissatisfaction of Putin’s supporters may yet turn more dangerous for the president than the 2011 Fronde of his hipster enemies. Meanwhile, head-strong Mr Putin does not wish to yield ground, sacrifice some of more hated ministers and CEOs, or attune internal policies to public expectations. Perhaps he is right, and things are not what they appear, but justice must be seen, not only done.

Talking Turkey with Israel

The Turkish friction caused by Erdogan’s decision to shoot down the Russian bomber is another source of Putin’s blues. He had spent a lot of effort nurturing relations with Turkey. All this effort went down the drain. There are multimillion projects, from a gas pipeline to tourism. All that was cut down at once. Putin’s plans to deliver gas to Europe bypassing the hostile Ukraine collapsed. This is a huge setback for the Russian president.

A Turkish protester in Istanbul burns a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin that reads: 'Murder Putin' [Tolga Bozoglu/ EPA]
A Turkish protester in Istanbul burns a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin that reads: ‘Murder Putin’ [Tolga Bozoglu/ EPA]

The rhetoric between the leaders became acrimonious. Hotheads in Russia speak of seizing the Bosporus and Dardanelles, of turning Istanbul into Constantinople and planting the cross on the ancient St Sophia church. The Turkish president threatened to occupy Russia within one week – with help of NATO.

Turkey shoots down Russian Bomber.
Turkey shoots down Russian Bomber.

Turkey’s choice is a result of its over-involvement in Syria. With so much investment, Erdogan was loath to see Syria gone. While his decision to down the Russian jet was rather extreme, the relations already were tense.

Putin’s trip to Erevan and his condemnation of “Turkish genocide of the Armenians in 1915” was an unnecessary provocation. No other world leader did it, but Francois Hollande of France who flew in for two hours and proceeded to Baku, the capital of Azeri Turks thus levelling the playing field. I actually called upon Putin to avoid this step, but the strong Armenian lobby insisted on this trip.

Afterwards, there was a supposed leak (in reality: a fake) of a harsh and insulting conversation between Putin and the Turkish ambassador. I checked with the Ambassador and other sides. It was a fake, but this fake has been spread in millions of sites and posts.

However, the $64,000 question is about Syria: will it become a vassal state to the reconstituted Ottomans or will it remain a sovereign state with strong ties to Russia. Russia thought it has a stronger hand as an invitee of the Syrian legitimate government; Turkey denied Bashar’s legitimacy.

The rift between Turkey and Russia became a fact. Its main beneficiaries were the US – and Israel. For the last five years, the relations between Israel and Turkey were hostile, since Israeli commandos massacred nine peace activists on board the Turkish vessel Navi Marmara. In face of the Russian threat, the Turks agreed to make peace with Israel.

Mavi Marmara -- Turkey's Gaza Flotilla
Mavi Marmara — Turkey’s Gaza Flotilla

Israel is involved in the conflict more than it admits. The Russians has published their evidence of Daesh oil being smuggled to Turkey by Turkish companies. This caused a lot of indignation in Russia and elsewhere. How do they dare to buy stolen oil and finance the terrorists!

The Russians forgot to mention that the smuggled oil goes to Israel. Israel is the main buyer of oil produced by the Kurds and by Daesh. This was reported and corroborated by the FT and by Al Araby al Jadeed. The Russian media avoided the topic, as Putin cherishes his good relations with Netanyahu.

Last week, Israelis attacked suburbs of Damascus and killed some Russian allies, Hezbollah fighters. Again, Russians took it quietly. None of indignation caused by downing of the bomber seeped into the Russian media.

Israel supports al-Nusra, declared a terrorist organisation by the UN. This is not a secret: recently the Daily Mail published a report glorifying Israeli soldiers saving lives of the Islamist fighters. Thousands of wounded guerrillas received medical assistance in Israeli hospitals and went back to fight Bashar.

Al-Nusra Front
Al-Nusra Front

Israel has a good working relations with Daesh, too. I was told that Daesh troops entered the Palestinian camp al Yarmuk being equipped with long lists of Palestinian activists. They were assembled and publicly executed. The Palestinians think that Daesh received the names from Israeli secret service and acted upon their request. Moreover, Daesh never ever attacked a Zionist target.

Putin – and Russian media did not say a word on that. Perhaps Putin is right; Russia does not need such a strong enemy as Israel, since Israeli leaders can say “Jump, Uncle Sam,” and Uncle Sam will ask “How high?” However, they could tone down their indignation regarding Turkish oil smuggling, Turkish help to the guerrillas and other Turkish misdeeds.

Israel is objectively an enemy: it is an enemy of Russia’s allies Hezbollah and Iran; it wants dismemberment of Syria in order to keep Golan Heights for good; it prefers a Somalised Syria to a healthy and strong one. But Netanyahu plays his hand cautiously despite his feeling of invulnerability.

The Israeli attack on the Damascus suburbs took place despite the Russian C-400 operating in Syria. Experts say the C-400 has been placed in Latakia and it can’t effectively protect the skies above the Syrian capital, while the C-300 purchased by the Syrians and located in Damascus has been hit by Israelis. Meanwhile, the Israeli Air Force is training at avoiding and coping with a C-300 in Cyprus, as that country has a C-300 of its own, recently bought from the Russians.

Putin has nothing to gain from confrontation with Israel; Israel prefers to have its way without fighting the Russians. Perhaps, sooner or later, the Israeli and Russian Air Forces will joust; but meanwhile both sides prefer to postpone that moment.

Putin hopes Erdogan will give up on Syria. This is not an easy task, but not an impossible one, either. For that, Putin must work with President Obama – or with the next American President.

Putin vs Western Leaders

Obama weak leader

It is often said that President Obama is a weak leader. I do not think so. He is a wily and sophisticated player. He voids every agreement his country made with Russia. There were, and are agreements galore: from Minsk to the recent UN SC resolutions. At first (and second) sight, the agreements follow the Russian line. Otherwise, the Russians would not sign them. However, after a while Obama offers a different interpretation. I would not like to argue against him in a court of law. He is as tricky as any lawyer.

Did he give up on the “Assad must go” mantra? It is not clear. He, and his Secretary of State John Kerry sometimes say that he may stay, but quickly contradict themselves and insist on his departure. They introduce new and peculiar ideas daily. For example, they say “Only Sunnis may deal with the Syrian crisis”. This strange idea inspired the Saudis and they even claimed they organised a huge coalition of Sunni states to fight Daesh. Needless to say, within a few days this “coalition” vanished like dew under sunrays.

However, at the bottom line, Obama plays by a Cold War script against Russia. Like a drunkard accuses others of heavy drinking, he accused Mitt Romney of “Cold War thinking”, and warned Putin of his “Cold War thinking”, but as a disciple of Zbigniew Brzezinski he hardly can think of anything else. Even Pentagon generals complained about this matrix of his mind, says Seymour Hersh.

There is nothing Putin wants less than a new round of the Cold War. He is not a new Soviet leader. People who dream of a new Stalin are barking up a wrong tree. One may regret it, and many Russians do regret it, but Putin has no great plans of social rearrangement. His ambition is more modest: he wants Russia to be independent, prosperous, great, and equal to other great nations like it was in 19th century.

Last week I was at the St Petersburg Cultural Forum, a gathering of artists, curators, and art ministers from 40 countries, and it was clear that Putin’s Russia is much more interested in its pre-revolutionary past and in the 19th century in general, than in 20thor 21st century art. They performed a lost play by Puccini, they reconstructed Petipa ballets, they read Tolstoy. They rebuilt palaces, they fixed old theatres, even the pre-revolutionary circus had been returned to its old glory inclusive of its old well-forgotten name and the royal circle. So many restaurants bear names reminding everyone of the Tsar times.

There is a wind of nostalgia in Russia, and it is for Russia of Leo Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky. Putin has ordered that the remains of the White generals, philosophers, artists be brought back for burial on the Russian soil. Soviet and Communist memories are suppressed. Recently, Prime Minister Medvedev called for another bout of commemorations for Stalin’s victims. I am not sure that this is a wise policy; perhaps it would be better to let past to take care of itself. But here we are: Putin and his crowd are old-style liberals, not social reformers. They do not want to raise the banner of revolt. They want to fit into the world as it is, but as equals.

Neoconed b&w 3

The problem is, there are people who are hell-bent on hegemony and full-spectrum dominance, and they are not likely to allow Russia to go its own way. They want to impose their rules, and set in place their docile rulers. That’s why the very modest intentions of Putin meet so much resistance in NATO and the Pentagon, in the White House and in Westminster. What’s worse, these people already control the mainstream politics of many countries, from the US to Japan, to France and Sweden. It does not matter which of the mainstream politicians win elections, the result is the same.

Putin’s (and Russia’s) hope lays in politicians outside the controlled mainstream. Donald Trump is a good example. Putin is not particularly interested in US internal politics and in Mr Trump’s unusual proposals. This is an internal matter of the US, and Putin steers clear of it, like he wants the US to steer clear of Russia’s internal matters. For him, what is important, is that Trump’s America would not try to dominate the world and impose its agenda. The moral question whether Trump’s ideas about Muslims or Latinos are lofty or base is a question for the American people to decide. Putin and many other foreign leaders want America’s non-interference in their internal affairs.

Nice Mrs. Clinton ?

The rude Mr. Trump seems to be the candidate least likely to push the button for nuclear suicide of mankind. Much less likely than nice Mrs Clinton who could nuke Russia because Russians do not celebrate gay marriages.

Remember, her nice husband bombed Belgrade because the nasty Serbs did not allow for the secession of Croats (or was it Albanians?)

Decent Trump ?
Decent politician ?

Trump – or any straightforward decent politician who does not take orders from the Masters of Discourse – would be able to play ball with Mr Putin, by classical rules of international law. Trump and Putin could return the concept of sovereignty to its privileged position. This would end many wars.

The war in Syria began when Mr Obama and Mr Hollande said “Assad must go”. By the classical rules, no state may interfere in the affairs of another sovereign state. From the Russian point of view, the war in Syria is first of all a war for sovereignty and against global Imperial vassaldom.

The Russians want to light their Christmas trees and wish Merry Christmas and go with their women and children to a Christian church without being scolded by the Obamas and Clintons of this world for insufficient political correctness and failure to mention Kwanzaa.

That’s why it is important for all of us if we may hope to reach peace, this Christmas or the next one.

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UN supports sovereignty for Palestine and slams I$raHell


By Stuart Littlewood

Resolution severely criticises the ‘Occupying Power’

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by Stuart Littlewood

Can this be true?

Something important and, freedom lovers may think, rather wonderful seems to have happened at the United Nations, and it went largely unreported in mainstream media. The UN General Assembly approved a draft resolution ‘Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources’ (document A/70/480).

It was adopted by 164 to 5 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 10 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga, Vanuatu).

What’s so wonderful? The draft resolution pulls no punches and must have thoroughly annoyed the insatiable state of Israel, which has evil designs on the natural resources – oil, gas and water – belonging to its neighbours. The resolution is long but nicely crafted, and is reproduced here pretty much in its entirety as an aide-memoire of Israel’s long history of contemptuous disregard for its obligations.

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 69/241 of 19 December 2014, and taking note of Economic and Social Council resolution 2015/17 of 20 July 2015,

Recalling also its resolutions 58/292 of 6 May 2004 and 59/251 of 22 December 2004,

Reaffirming the principle of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under foreign occupation over their natural resources,

Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and recalling relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980 and 497 (1981) of 17 December 1981,

Recalling its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970,

Reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Recalling, in this regard, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and affirming that these human rights instruments must be respected in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as in the occupied Syrian Golan,

Recalling also the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and recalling further its resolutions ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004 and ES-10/17 of 15 December 2006,

Recalling further its resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012,

Taking note of the accession by Palestine to several human rights treaties and the core humanitarian law treaties, as well as to other international treaties,

Expressing its concern about the exploitation by Israel, the occupying Power, of the natural resources of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Expressing its grave concern about the extensive destruction by Israel, the occupying Power, of agricultural land and orchards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the uprooting of a vast number of fruit-bearing trees and the destruction of farms and greenhouses, and the grave environmental and economic impact in this regard,

Expressing its grave concern also about the widespread destruction caused by Israel, the occupying Power, to vital infrastructure, including water pipelines, sewage networks and electricity networks, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular in the Gaza Strip during the military operations of July and August 2014, which, inter alia, has polluted the environment and negatively affect the functioning of water and sanitation systems and the water supply and other natural resources of the Palestinian people, and stressing the urgency of the reconstruction and development of water and other vital civilian infrastructure, including the project for the desalination facility for the Gaza Strip,

Expressing its grave concern further about the negative impact on the environment and on reconstruction and development efforts of the thousands of items of unexploded ordnance that remain in the Gaza Strip as a result of the conflict in July and August 2014,

Recalling the 2009 report by the United Nations Environment Programme regarding the grave environmental situation in the Gaza Strip, and the 2012 report, “Gaza in 2020: A liveable place?”, by the United Nations country team in the Occupied alestinian Territory, and stressing the need for follow-up to the recommendations contained therein,

Deploring the detrimental impact of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian and other Arab natural resources, especially as a result of the confiscation of land and the forced diversion of water resources, including the destruction of orchards and crops and the seizure of water well by Israeli settlers, and of the dire socioeconomic consequences in this regard,

Recalling the report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Aware of the detrimental impact on Palestinian natural resources being caused by the unlawful construction of the wall by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and of its grave effect as well on the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people,

Stressing the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement on all tracks, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978 and 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet performance-based road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003 and supported by the Council in its resolution 1850 (2008) of 16 December 2008,

Stressing also, in this regard, the need for respect for the obligation upon Israel under the road map to freeze settlement activity, including so-called “natural growth”, and to dismantle all settlement outposts erected since March 2001,

Stressing further the need for respect and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Recalling the need to end all acts of violence, including acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction,

Taking note of the report prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, as transmitted by the Secretary-General,

  1. Reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and of the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land, water and energy resources;
  2. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, cease the exploitation, damage, cause of loss or depletion and endangerment of the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan;
  3. Recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, damage, loss or depletion or endangerment of their natural resources resulting from illegal measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, and Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and expresses the hope that this issue will be dealt with within the framework of the final status negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides;
  4. Stresses that the wall and settlements being constructed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, are contrary to international law and are seriously depriving the Palestinian people of their natural resources, and calls in this regard for full compliance with the legal obligations affirmed in the 9 July 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and in relevant United Nations resolutions, including General Assembly resolution ES-10/15;
  5. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, and to cease immediately and completely all policies and measures aimed at the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;
  6. Also calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to bring a halt to all actions, including those perpetrated by Israeli settlers, harming the environment, including the dumping of all kinds of waste materials, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, which gravely threaten their natural resources, namely water and land resources, and which pose an environmental, sanitation and health threat to the civilian populations;
  7. Further calls upon Israel to cease its destruction of vital infrastructure, including water pipelines, sewage networks and electricity networks, which, inter alia, has a negative impact on the natural resources of the Palestinian people, stresses the urgent need to advance reconstruction and development projects in this regard, including in the Gaza Strip, and calls for support for the necessary efforts in this regard, in line with the commitments made at, inter alia, the Cairo International Conference on Palestine: Reconstructing Gaza, held on 12 October 2014;
  8. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to remove all obstacles to the implementation of critical environmental projects, including sewage treatment plants in the Gaza Strip and the reconstruction and development of water infrastructure, including the project for the desalination facility for the Gaza Strip;
  9. Calls for the immediate and safe removal of all unexploded ordnance in the Gaza Strip and for support for the efforts of the United Nations Mine Action Service in this regard, and welcomes the efforts exerted by the Service to date;
  10. Encourages all States and international organizations to continue to actively pursue policies to ensure respect for their obligations under international law with regard to all illegal Israeli practices and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly Israeli settlement activities and the exploitation of natural resources;
  11. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its seventy-first session on the implementation of the present resolution, including with regard to the cumulative impact of the exploitation, damage and depletion by Israel of natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, and decides to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-first session the item entitled “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”.

This is strong stuff. But given the UN’s record will the action ever suit the words?

Astonishingly, the Israel-adoring UK government voted for it. Let us make a mental note of those 5 countries – Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States – which claim to be freedom loving but are evidently bent on denying the poor Palestinians theirs. And the birdbrained 10 – Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga, Vanuatu – which are so lackadaisically uncommitted to the principle of universal human rights that they sat on the fence. Maybe international civil society would like to prod them with a sharp BDS stick to concentrate their minds.

At least one country, happily, is taking a tough line – Brazil, which, says the BBC, has yet to approve the appointment four months ago of Israel’s new ambassador. Not only is the new man, Dani Dayan, a former chairman of the Yesha Council which promotes illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian lands, but Israeli prime minister Netanyahu broke the news of the appointment on Twitter before telling Brazil, according to reports.

As even Netanyahu must know, the transfer by an occupier of part of its own population into territory it occupies is considered a war crime, so why should Brazil play host to a foreigner with such a vile record? Israel is threatening to downgrade relations to “secondary level” if Brazil does not give approval to the appointment. And Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely says that Dayan would not be replaced if his appointment isn’t accepted.

Since Brazil is Israel’s largest trading partner in South America you’d think the Israelis would watch their manners. The Brazilians, hopefully, won’t allow themselves to pushed around by Tel Aviv’s insufferable thugs.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on UN supports sovereignty for Palestine and slams I$raHell

CIA-Mossad Party Animal Caught in Iraq



[ Editorial note:  Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, if he is really in custody, is the prize here.  He is an Israeli and CIA trained security officer with the Georgian secret police who has had a colourful career with the acting troup known as ISIS.  Known by the stupid made up Islamic sounding name of Al Sheshanny, Batirashvili is known to be ISIS best “party dude.”… GD ]

ISIL Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baqdadi’s chief of staff has been killed in an airstrike in Northern Iraq, media reports said on Tuesday. Al-Baqdadi’s office director was killed in a bombing raid in Hay al-Maleki region in Mosul city on Tuesday, Arab media outlets reported.

No further detail has been released about the identity of Al-Baqdadi’s slain chief of staff.

Earlier today, the Iraqi forces captured the so-called financial minister of the ISIL in the city of Ramadi in Anbar province.

The senior ISIL leader was hidden among 414 Iraqi refugees in Anbar province, but was identified and apprehended by security forces. The security forces did not reveal the identity of the captured terrorist leader.

Iraq’s joint operations command announced on Monday that the Iraqi forces have managed to liberate the entire city of Ramadi from the control of ISIL terrorists.

The Iraqi armed forces started massive attacks on the ISIL last week to take back Ramadi.

On Monday, the Iraqi forces also captured senior ISIL leader Abu Omar Al-Shishani and two of his top aides in the Northern parts of Iraq.

Al-Shishani and two of his senior aides and commanders were captured in the city of Kirkuk.

Some Arabic-language media reported that Al-Shishani was arrested in a joint military operation with the US special force, but Pentagon rejected that its forces had any role in al-Shishani’s capture.

The report on al-Shishian’s capture comes as the Arab media outlets had reported his death several times before. No Iraqi official has confirmed al-Shishani’s capture yet.

Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili known by his nom de guerre Abu Omar al-Shishani or Omar al-Shishani, is a Georgian terrorist who was an ISIL commander in Syria. He was a former sergeant in the Georgian army.

A veteran of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, Batirashvili became a jihadist after being discharged from the Georgian military and served in various command positions with Islamist militant groups fighting in the Syrian war. Batirashvili was previously the leader of the rebel group Katibat al-Muhajireen (Emigrants Brigade), also known as the Muhajireen Brigade, and its successor, Jeish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (Army of Emigrants and Supporters).

In May 2013, Batirashvili was appointed Northern commander for ISIL, with authority over ISIL’s military operations and ISIL’s forces in northern Syria, specifically Aleppo, al-Raqqah, Lattakia, and northern Idlib Provinces. As of late 2013, he was the ISIL emir (leader) for Northern Syria and was located in and around Aleppo Province. He was also in charge of fighters from Chechnya and elsewhere in the Caucasus.

Posted in IraqComments Off on CIA-Mossad Party Animal Caught in Iraq

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