Archive | October 15th, 2016

US Media Finds “Hidden Hand” In War On Yemen. U.S. Acted in “Self-Defense” against Yemen

yemen_map_drone

Yesterday the U.S. openly attacked Yemen by firing” cruise missiles against old Yemeni radar stations. This, allegedly, in response to four missiles fired on two days against a U.S. destroyer at the Yemeni coast. The U.S. Navy said the missiles fell short. They were unable to reach the ship. No one but the navy, especially no one in Yemen, has seen or reported any such missile launches – short or long.

The U.S. is in alliance with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries in bombing Yemen for 18 month now. They totally blockade the coast of the country that depends on imports of food and medicines. The actively fighting countries are heavily supported by the U.S. military. This has been widely admitted by U.S. officials and in military reports. The U.S. government even feared of being help legally responsible for the carnage it causes.

But since the launch of the cruise missile U.S. media have totally forgotten all of this. Now the U.S. “has been attacked”, without any recognizable reason, and is only “defending” itself. No legal consequences are to fear now. Anyone who believes that the U.S. is somehow responsible for the at least 10,000 dead and the many starving people in Yemen must somehow believe in a mysterious conspiracy.

Just consider this New York Times headline, from today, after the U.S. attack on Yemen.

Yemen Sees U.S. Strikes as Evidence of Hidden Hand Behind Saudi Air War.

The NYT tweeted the piece with this text:

New York Times World @nytimesworld
For the U.S., it was retaliation; for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, it confirmed a long-held beliefnyti.ms/2e9mKyb
6:30 PM – 13 Oct 2016

Wow. The Houthi rebels “believe” in a “hidden hand”. Must be crazy people. They unreasonably attacked. And they deserve such strikes.

The NYT piece reads:

WASHINGTON — For the United States, it was simple retaliation: Rebels in Yemen had fired missiles at an American warship twice in four days, and so the United States hit back, destroying rebel radar facilities with missiles.But for the rebels and many others in Yemen, the predawn strikes on Thursday were just the first public evidence of what they have long believed: that the United States has been waging an extended campaign in the country, the hidden hand behind Saudi Arabia’s punishing air war.

How could the Houthis come to “believe” of such a “hidden hand”? Was it really because the strike was the “first public evidence”? Or was it because the NYT and all other media reported many times over that the U.S. actively supports the Saudi attacks? Did the Houthi probably read yesterday’s NYT piece on Yemen written by the very same main authors?

Up to now, the Obama administration put limits on its support for the Saudi-led coalition, providing intelligence and Air Force tankers to refuel the coalition’s jets and bombers. The American military has refueled more than 5,700 aircraft involved in the bombing campaign since it began, according to statistics provided by United States Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East.

So the “first evidence” of the “hidden hand” were, unlike the NYT today claims, not yesterdays strikes but official reports on the public CentCom website? Maybe frequent discussions of the war on Yemen the U.S. Congress held since a year ago also count as evidence? Various public reports over the last 18 month detailing the enormous amount of ammunition the U.S. openly sells to the Saudis were also just sightings of “hidden” hands?

Such reporting as in today’s NYT is just laughable. It flies in face of all reports of the last 18 month as well as extensive evidence given by the U.S. and other governments. The strikes on the radar sites were just “retaliation”. They have no larger context. This is a typical reflection of the U.S. myth of “immaculate conception” of U.S. foreign policy. According to that believe the U.S. always only reacts to being “attacked” or “threatened” for completely incomprehensible reasons when it bombs this or that country and kills thousands or even millions of foreign people.

That is even more evident in the reports by CNN and others. These reports only mention the 18 month of extensive U.S. support for the Saudi campaign down in the middle to end of their pieces. For any but a thorough reader the alleged “missile attacks” and all Yemeni enmity against the U.s. has no history at all. It comes from unreasonable and hostile people who willfully misunderstand U.S. well-meaning.

Thus no U.S. attack is ever unjustified or just a cruel continuation of decades of U.S. insidiousness, hostility and greed. It is always the other side that initiates the fight.

It is easy for the U.S. government propaganda to make such false claims. And U.S. media don’t report such but perpetrate anticipatory stenography. They write what the U.S. government wants and U.S. imperialism demands even when not directly ordered to. That is no longer astonishing.

Astonishing is how easy the U.S. public swallows this without any self awareness and protest.

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Will Turkey Leave NATO If Clinton Becomes President?

nato-turkey 2

Turkey’s two top leaders have both indicated that, if the U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton becomes elected as the U.S. President on November 8th, then Turkey, which is NATO’s only Muslim-majority member-nation, will have little alternative but to leave NATO and ally itself with Russia, in America’s movement towards war against Russia (which then would mean also war against Turkey).

 Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency headlined on October 12th, “Clinton remarks on arming PYD/PKK unfortunate: Erdogan”, and reported that “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday criticized U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s remarks on arming Syrian Kurds as ‘unfortunate.’ Clinton said, ‘We will continue to support the PYD and YPG.’ [Those are Kurdish political organizations, and the YPG is openly fighting to produce a Kurdish nation, which would remove valuable land and resources not only from Turkey, but from Syria, and also from Iraq, and maybe also from Iran.] ‘This is a very unfortunate statement,’ Erdogan said.” This assertion by Erdogan followed an even stronger statement by Turkey’s Prime Minister the day before, as follows:

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday October 11th, that “Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday criticized U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for comments suggesting that she would consider providing arms to support Kurdish fighters in Syria.” CBS News headlined this AP news-report as “Turkey blasts Clinton’s Syria proposal: ‘Isn’t America our ally?’”  Military Times headlined it “Turkey slams Clinton for hinting support to Syrian Kurds”. The AP described there the severe concerns that Turkey’s government would have in the event Clinton becomes America’s President.

To state the matter simply here: Turkey’s leaders are viscerally opposed to Clinton’s repeated support for allowing Kurds to break away and to form their own independent nation, which breakaway would constitute a grave threat to Turkey. A previous pan-Kurdish statement by her was at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she urged (as she often has) that a “no-fly zone” be imposed in Syria, and that “we’ve got to work with the Kurds on both sides of the border, we have got to figure out how to, if possible, have a second Arab Awakening” — and she was saying this on 19 November 2015, after Russia had already begun its bombing campaign in Syria on 30 September 2015 and thus most of the warplanes that were bombing in Syria were Russian ones and America’s imposing a “no-fly zone” would thus mean that the U.S. would be shooting down Russian bombers, which would mean World War III. Furthermore, though she was fond of the “Arab Spring” because it had started the jihadists coming into Syria and the war in Syria, which she hoped to win as the U.S. President, most of the people who live in that region aren’t fond of the ‘Arab Spring’ at all.

Apparently, Turkey’s government has already had more than enough of Hillary Clinton.

Ever since the Turkish government defeated the military coup-attempt on 15 July 2016 that was aimed at replacing Turkey’s democratically elected leaders with leaders who would adhere to the U.S.-CIA-supported exiled-in-America Fethullah Gulen, the governments in Washington and Ankara have been having extremely strained relations, but Hillary Clinton would be an even worse U.S. President, from Turkey’s standpoint, than Barack Obama is. Obama and Clinton and the Saudi royals want to break up Turkey (and Syria, and Iraq, etc.), but Erdogan and Yildirim don’t.

As another Anadolu news-report noted on October 12th, “During his speech, the prime minister said the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) ‘is falling for’ the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETO)’s claims of being unjustly treated.”

The existing leadership of Turkey has made clear that they view the recent coup-attempt as a CIA-initiated operation, and don’t like it. As I had reported earlier, on 18 August 2016, headlining “What Was Behind the Turkish Coup-Attempt?” Erdogan and Yildirim not only know the answer to this question — that the U.S. government was behind it — but they almost certainly would be dead by now if Russia’s President Vladimir Putin hadn’t informed Erdogan just ahead of the coup, that it was about to happen. (Russian intelligence is very good even if American intelligence — or else the selective use of it by a traitorous President — produces results such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq.)

So, ever since July 15th, Turkey has greatly increased its defenses against the United States; and Turkey’s leaders understand why creation of a Kurdistan would be terrible for Turkey, as well as for Iraq and Syria; and, that the CIA has wanted it ever since at least 1949. Thus, on July 16th (the day after the Turkish coup), there were “agreements reached, and recent U.S. commitments to provide direct military aid and financing of $415 million” which “is further evidence of the importance of the Kurds”; and, on July 18th, “US to Set Up 5 Military Bases in Iraqi Kurdistan Region”. It’s not because the U.S. aristocracy love Kurds, or love the Turkish public, or love the Iraqis, that America’s aristocracy want the existing Turkish government (not just Syria’s) overthrown; it’s all for oil-and-gas operations that America’s billionaires can then take a chunk of, such as by building the pipelines and marketing the oil and gas into Europe.

The American public might not know these things, but Turkey’s leaders do, and America’s leaders do, and Russia’s leaders do. And so does Hillary Clinton — President Obama’s chosen heir. After all: she is the person that America’s current President wants to be his successor. If she doesn’t become his successor, then his entire historical legacy (his service to America’s oligarchs) will be flushed away, and this is especially true with regard to his foreign policy, including isolating Russia and China, including his TPP and TTIP ‘trade’ treaties for that purpose and for giving control to the international corporations. She is just as determined to conquer Russia and to aid her financial backers as he is.

The loss of Turkey in that conquest-effort is a major setback for the U.S. aristocracy.

America’s Associated Press headlined on October 10th, “Turkey, Russia Sign Gas Pipeline Deal as Ties Improve”, and opened by saying that those two nations were engaging in “efforts to normalize ties,” and, so:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan watched as their countries’ energy ministers sealed an intergovernmental agreement for the ‘Turkish Stream’ project that would bring gas from Russia to Turkey. It would then be distributed to European Union nations.”

Nothing was said there about the U.S. coup-attempt nor about any of the other relevant background for understanding this, such as its being the beginning of the end of the Obama-phase in the CIA’s effort, ever since 1949, to overthrow the secular Syrian government, in order to install a fundamentalist-Sunni, pro-Saudi (Sharia-law), government in Syria, to enable the Sauds’ oil and the Thanis’ (Qatar’s) gas to be pipelined through Syria into Europe, to replace Russian oil and gas there.

If Turkey were to quit NATO, then the entire post-WW-II international order would be reorganized so that the U.S. government would no longer have a stranglehold against other nations. This wouldn’t directly affect the United Nations (FDR’s creation), but it would directly affect practically everything else (it would end Winston Churchill’s creation — which George Herbert Walker Bush and all subsequent U.S. Presidents kept going until now — the Cold War). As to why this is happening at the present moment: the only way that the U.S. aristocracy can continue any further to conquer Russia is by turning America’s Cold War into World War III, and some allied aristocracies are refusing to go that far. Turkey is just one example of this refusal, but, until Putin saved Erdogan’s life on July 15th, Turkey was part of Washington’s plan, not another enemy against it.

The current U.S. Presidential contest is, more than anything else, about whether to continue the Cold War (which, after 1990, has been a one-sided U.S. war against Russia, no longer a two-sided ideological war), into nuclear war. That’s what it’s really all about, though the American public haven’t yet been informed, except about the small issues and the non-‘issues’, which occupy most of the ‘debates’ in America’s ‘election’.

Almost no reporting is published on the real issues, but the real issues will be the important ones in retrospect, if there will be a retrospect. This isn’t to say that the other issues aren’t also significant, but only that they’re far less important than is the question: WW III — yes or no. And, furthermore, the published discussions of the lesser issues are highly deceptive, so that the public is voting largely on the basis of falsehoods anyway.

On 22 November 2015, the pro-Republican “Daily Caller” website headlined “Followers Of A Mysterious Turkish Islamic Cleric Have Donated Heavily To Hillary’s Campaign And Family Charity”and reported that, “A former president of the Gulen-linked Turkish Cultural Center, Ozkan gave between $500,001 and $1,000,000 to the Clinton Foundation in recent months, the charity’s website shows. He also served as a national finance co-chair last year for a pro-Clinton political action committee called Ready PAC.”

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Still Do Not See Any Nazi? Ukrainian Neo-Nazi “Nationalists” Stage Massive March In Kiev

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Kiev

On Friday, several thousand Ukrainian ultranationalists descended onto the streets of Kiev to mark Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) day, dedicated to the 74th anniversary of the founding of the WWII-era Nazi collaborationist organization.

Ukrainian media reported that up to 5,000 radicals from organizations including the Azov Regiment, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), Right Sector and the Svoboda Party gathered to celebrate the holiday, which coincides with the Day of Ukrainian Cossacks and Defender of Ukraine Day, the latter holiday invented in 2014 to replace the ‘Defender of the Fatherland Day’, celebrated in most post-Soviet countries on February 23.

The nationalists walked through the streets, holding torches and flares, throwing smoke bombs, chanting nationalist slogans, beating drums and holding the flags of ultranationalist and neo-fascist organizations.

The Nazi-collaborationist Ukrainian Insurgent Army was formed in the autumn of 1942, and fought against the Red Army during and after its offensive to liberate Soviet Ukraine from Nazi occupation. During the war, the UPA, the OUN and other nationalist groups attempted to form an ethnically ‘pure’ Ukrainian state, ethnically cleansing tens of thousands of Poles, and helping Nazi forces to murder Jews, Gypsies, Soviet POWs, and Ukrainian anti-fascists.

In 2015, in spite of the fact that over six million Ukrainians fought in the ranks of the Red Army, compared to the estimated 100,000 who fought for the UPA, the government granted the guerrilla movement the status of ‘fighters for Ukrainian independence’, and named its founder Stepan Bandera a ‘hero of Ukraine’.

The Azov Regiment, a volunteer fighting force formed after the February 2014 Maidan coup that has since been incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard, has been repeatedly accused of neo-Nazi sympathies. It and other ultranationalist volunteer battalions have been accused of committing war crimes against the civilian population in eastern Ukraine. Since 2014, Russia has repeatedly accused post-Maidan Kiev of collaborating with, coopting and using radical nationalists for political and military purposes, including in the civil war in east Ukraine.

Unfortunately, many Western governments supporting Ukraine have attempted to downplay these forces’ role, or to ignore them altogether.

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Russia’s First Year Of Operations In Syria

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U.S.-Russia-Syria

GR Editor’s Note. This report presents a pro-Russian perspective, which contrasts with Western media reports.

To put Russia’s one year of peacemaking operations in Syria in perspective, one should think back to what the situation was like on the eve of the arrival of the first Russian aircraft, support personnel, military advisors, and military equipment, to Syria. By all accounts, Syrian government forces were in retreat on all fronts, being pushed back in Raqqa, Aleppo, Hama, Idlib, and Latakia provinces.

The Islamic State, the Jabhat al-Nusra, the so-called “Free Syrian Army”, and many other smaller rebel formations were conquering towns and military bases, with their advance triggering a flood of refugees into Turkey, Jordan, and other countries. Syria stood practically alone, with some Iranian assistance for sure, against a seemingly motley group of rebel formations which, however, enjoyed generous financial, military, and even operational support by several outside powers, including the United States, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, with Jordan and Israel maintaining a state of benevolent neutrality toward the rebels. In September of 2015, the days of the Assad government seemed numbered.

In September of 2016, virtually nobody expects the Assad government to fall. Even the US Secretary of State John Kerry, in conversations with Syrian opposition which were made available to US media, acknowledged that the anti-Syrian coalition has been outmaneuvered to the point that the long-standing US/NATO/EU mantra of “Assad must go” has become obsolete. To the extent that nearly everyone recognizes that the world is now multipolar, Russia’s effective use of military power in Syria is the single most important factor behind that shift. How did Russia manage to effect such a dramatic change in spite of seemingly overwhelming odds against it, in what is becoming a classic exercise in the use of military force?

The first secret of its success was the strict adherence to international law.To put it bluntly, US military operations on or over Syria’s territory have no legal justification at all. Similarly, the support of the rebel groups listed above, most of whom allegedly pursue a radical agenda, employ large numbers of mercenaries, and don’t hesitate from committing atrocities to impose alien political dogmas, violates all manner of fundamental international norms, not the least of which are the concept of national sovereignty and self-determination. In contrast, Russian operations are being conducted at the invitation of the sole internationally recognized government of Syria. If the comprehensive campaign of disinformation and propaganda that is intended to shield Western audiences from the reality of the war in Syria is any indication, Western governments are keenly aware of the immorality and illegality of their actions. And so is the rest of the world.

Secondly, and also in stark contrast with the US and NATO uses of military power, Russia’s leadership appears to be aware of both the limits of the country’s power and of what can be accomplished using solely military force. There is no trace of hubris, of “Russian exceptionalist” rhetoric in either the political aims being pursued, or the military means which are used to accomplish them. In military sense, the goal of the operation is a modest one–the denial of victory to the West-backed jihadist coalition. Once that objective is achieved, once every major anti-Syrian actor acknowledges that Syria’s legitimate government or Russia’s military presence in Syria cannot be dislodged by any combination of political and military measures, they will be forced to negotiate a peace settlement that will preserve both the territorial and political integrity of the Syrian state.

To be sure, that modest military objective did require a wide range of measures to accomplish. The most urgent was the refashioning of the crumbling Syrian Arab Army into a military force capable of recovering the lost territories. While in the immediate term that task could be addressed by an aggressive bombing campaign that took the jihadists, unaccustomed to being opposed by a modern air force, by surprise. But the air campaign was not intended to defeat the jihadists by itself, but rather gain time for the re-equipment and re-training efforts to bear fruit, which they began to by the first months of 2016. Moreover, in the event the jihadists were expecting to outlast Syrian and Russian forces, the campaign of aerial interdiction of rebel supply routes and the Islamic State’s oil infrastructure was aimed at undermining the opposition’s long-term ability to sustain the war effort.

However, the jihadists and wild geeze aren’t the most dangerous foes faced by Syria. The Russian military had to minimize the prospect of a direct NATO military operation against the Syrian military and government that, as in the case of Libya, would have been spearheaded by US airpower. The goal of conventional deterrence against both air and land NATO incursions was achieved, though only after the loss of one Su-24 bomber, treacherously shot down over Syria by Turkish fighters, by the deployment of advanced S-400 air defense systems, Su-35 fighters, and Iskander-M tactical ballistic missiles, and the demonstration of the power of Russia’s air- and sea-launched cruise missiles which would have struck US air bases throughout the Middle East in the event of any escalation.

This effort has not been without a cost. 20 Russian servicemembers have lost their lives in Syria in the space of last year. The Russian military has also lost, in addition to the Su-24 bomber, several attack and transport helicopters

The effect, however, has been nothing short of spectacular. Rebel forces are in retreat on nearly every important sector of the front, and even the crucial struggle for Aleppo, which has reached the scale of a general battle that will decide the future of Syria, has decisively swung in Syria’s favor. Outside Syria, both friend and foe have taken note. Russia’s engagement has served as a veritable “seed capital” that drew larger contingents of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Iraq’s Shia militias, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, into the fray. Turkey has opted for what amounts to a negotiated “separate peace” with Russia and Syria in exchange for a free hand to focus on the Kurdish threat to its own sovereignty. Even the US, whose leaders are perennially invoking “Plan Bs” in an effort to intimidate Russia, is finding itself without viable policy options.

While the war is still far from over, after one year of intervention all the political and military trends in Syria are now in a positive direction.

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NATO — Private Club Of War Criminals

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NATO

What has happened is that NATO provides cover for these transgressions of the United States government’s policy. In other words, it absolutely legitimizes what effectively is NATO aggression. Moreover, what one needs to bear in mind and what one needs to be mindful about is the fact that in Western Europe you no longer have rulers with the independence of Charles de Gaulle.

It seems that Washington, and we can use Washington, America and NATO interchangeably because NATO is dominated by the United States. It is a command structure, which ultimately is based on American military power and American military precedence.  Everybody else is effectively a vassal. Or, if the word vassal is too hard, they are certainly juniors in rank to what the Americans do.


America has used NATO and it has used the European Union as the means, in which it can have these designs implemented. By designs, I mean the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya, the attempt to overthrow Assad in Syria. These are actually illegal. Russia and China were duped when they came to the UN position on Libya. Effectively, now we can see what it was.

It was right from the beginning a deceptive arrangement, based on overthrowing Gaddafi. On these occasions, they have been wholeheartedly supported by European leaders. During that campaign, Italian bases were used to bomb Libya and British Special Forces participated in training these Islamist rebels, who were eventually successful in overthrowing Gaddafi. French planes also were very instrumental in the bombing of Libya, the actual tracking down of Muammar Gaddafi and his lynching.

These are effectively war crimes. There are no two ways about it. Waging an aggressive war and assassinating foreign leaders. Therefore, this lack of spine in the European leadership is particularly regretful in the sense that the Americans are forcing them to do things against their interests.

We saw this after the coup in Kiev, which was sponsored by American intelligence, with the illegal overthrow of the legitimate government of Viktor Yanukovych. That was a situation in which the EU was complicit. In doing that, they have been forced by the United States to impose sanctions against Russia, which are against their economic interests.

So, absolutely, I would agree with that interpretation that NATO and the European Union don’t want Britain to break away from the EU. They have used that sufficient cover to give the validation of legality to what are illegal actions on the part of the United States and NATO.

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I Support A No-Fly Zone In Syria – A Real One That Applies To NATO Too

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"No Fly Zone" War for Syria: Replicating The "Libya Scenario"

When the neo-cons in the UK parliament and the serial warmonger Hillary Clinton call for a “no-fly zone” they actually mean the opposite. They mean that NATO should be given untrammelled access to the airspace to carry out mass bombings – but that nobody else should.

We saw it in Libya. The argument goes like this. NATO aircraft need to enforce the no-fly zone. To do this in safety, they need to attack and destroy any ground to air weapons capabilities on the ground. That does not just include surface to air missiles, both carriage mounted and hand held, but anything that can be pointed upwards and fired. They need to take out by more bombing any stores that may house such weapons. They need to take out any radar installations, including civilian ones, that may pinpoint NATO aircraft. They need to destroy any runways and hangars, including civilian ones. They need to destroy by bombing all military command and control centres, including those in built up areas. They need to destroy the infrastructure on which air defence relies, including electricity generation and water supply, including civilian assets.

Sirte-destroyed-1

This is the result of NATO bombing of Sirte to “enforce the no-fly zone” in Libya.

I am not exaggerating. That really is the doctrine of NATO for enforcing a “no fly zone”, as previously witnessed in Iraq and Libya. It really was NATO aircraft which did to the beautiful Mediterranean town of Sirte the destruction which you see in that picture – in order to enforce a no-fly zone. Enforcement of the no-fly zone was the only authorisation NATO had for the massive bombing campaign on Libya which enabled regime change, which enabled rival jihadist militias to take over the country. They showed their gratitude by murdering the US Ambassador. The failure of central government led to Libya becoming the operating site from which a number now in the hundreds of thousands of boat refugees have crossed to Europe.

Now they wish to do precisely the same again. Make no mistake. Those calling for a “No-fly zone” do indeed want to stop the bombs falling on jihadist-held areas of Aleppo. But they want to replace this with NATO dropping a vastly greater weight of vastly more powerful weaponry on areas held by the Assad regime. They are relentless warmongering bastards, pretending to be motivated by humanitarian concern.

There are no easy answers in Syria. Without Russian and Syrian government air power, Syria might well already have fallen to disparate groups of murdering religious fanatics, who would then have redoubled their existing tendency to also kill each other. The pretence that there is any significant number of pro-western democratic rebels is ludicrous nonsense. But so equally is the pretence that the Assad regime is a decent regime. It is not and never has been. There is always this pathetic reductionism in the western media to conflict as between “good guys” and “bad guys”. They are all killing civilians. They are all bad guys.

If all bombing were to stop, the danger is that jihadists would again gain the upper hand. But in a situation where there are no good options, I think that is still better than the continued bombing of civilian areas held by jihadists. The fact that the West has repeatedly done this massively in Mosul or Fallujah does not make it right for the Russians or Assad to do it now. The moral balance now must be for a halt to all bombing and all military air operations – including by NATO.

A security council resolution could be tabled calling for the end of all military flights, by anybody, over Syrian airspace. The UK and US would oppose that, and so would all those Tories ad Blairites pretending to advocate a no-fly zone in the House of Commons. That would show up the bastards for the evil hypocrites they are.

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Britain’s Seven Covert Wars: RAF Drones, Embedded SAS Forces, Training of Jihadists,

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England

Britain is fighting at least seven covert wars in the Middle East and North Africa, outside of any democratic oversight or control. Whitehall has in effect gone underground, with neither parliament nor the public being allowed to debate, scrutinise or even know about these wars.

To cover themselves, Ministers are now often resorting to lying about what they are authorising. While Britain has identified Islamic State (among others) as the enemy abroad, it is clear that it sees the British public and parliament as the enemy at home.

Syria

Britain began training Syrian rebel forces from bases in Jordan in 2012. This was also when the SAS was reported to be ‘slipping into Syria on missions’ against Islamic State. Now, British special forces are ‘mounting hit and run raids against IS deep inside eastern Syria dressed as insurgent fighters’ and ‘frequently cross into Syria to assist the New Syrian Army’ from their base in Jordan. British special forces also provide training, weapons and other equipment to the New Syrian Army.

British aircraft began covert strikes against IS targets in Syria in 2015, months before Parliament voted in favour of overt action in December 2015. These strikes were conducted by British pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces.

Britain has also been operating a secret drone warfare programme in Syria. Last year Reaper drones killed British IS fighters in Syria, again before parliament approved military action. As I have previouslyargued, British covert action and support of the Syrian rebels is, along with horrific Syrian government/Russian violence, helping to prolong a terrible conflict.

Iraq

Hundreds of British troops are officially in Iraq to train local security forces. But they are also engaged in covert combat operationsagainst IS. One recent report suggests that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in the country, operating out of a fortified base within a Kurdish Peshmerga camp south of Mosul.

British Reaper drones were first deployed over Iraq in 2014 and are now flown remotely by satellite from an RAF base in Lincolnshire. Britain has conducted over 200 drones strikes in Iraq since November 2014.

Libya

SAS forces have been secretly deployed to Libya since the beginning of this year, working with Jordanian special forcesembedded in the British contingent. This follows a mission by MI6 and the RAF in January to gather intelligence on IS and draw up potential targets for air strikes. British commandos are now reportedlyfighting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in the western city of Misrata.

But a team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi, eastern Libya, supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar. In July 2016, Middle East Eye reported that this British involvement was helping to coordinate air strikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government that Britain is supposed to be supporting.

Yemen

The government says it has no military personnel based in Yemen. Yet a report by Vice News in April, based on numerous interviews with officials, revealed that British special forces in Yemen, who were seconded to MI6, were training Yemeni troops fighting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also had forces infiltrated in AQAP. The same report also found that British military personnel were helping with drone strikes against AQAP. Britain was playing ‘a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program’. In addition, the UK spybase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen.

Britain has been widely reported (outside the mainstream media) as supporting the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, which has caused thousands of civilian deaths, most of them due to Saudi air strikes. Indeed, Britain is party to the war. The government says there are around 100 UK military personnel based in Saudi Arabia including a ‘small number’ at ‘Saudi MOD and Operational Centres’. One such Centre, in Riyadh, coordinates the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen and includes British military personnel who are in the command room as air strikes are carried out and who have access to the bombing targets.

The UK is of course arming the Saudi campaign: The British government disclosed on 13 October that the Saudis have used five types of British bombs and missiles in Yemen. On the same day, it lied to Parliament that Britain was ‘not a party’ to the war in Yemen.

A secret ‘memorandum of understanding’ that Britain signed with Saudi Arabia in 2014 has not been made public since it ‘would damage the UK’s bilateral relationship’ with the Kingdom, the government states. It is likely that this pact includes reference to the secret British training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, which has taken place since mid-2015. Operating from a desert base in the north of the country, British forces have been teaching Syrian forces infantry skills as part of a US-led training programme.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the public was told that British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. However, British forces stayed behind to help create and train an Afghan special forces unit. Despite officially only having ‘advisors’ in Afghanistan, in August 2015 it was reported that British covert forces were fighting IS and Taliban fighters. The SAS and SBS, along with US special forces, were ‘taking part in military operations almost every night’ as the insurgents closed in on the capital Kabul.

In 2014, the government stated that it had ended its drone air strikes programme in Afghanistan, which had begun in 2008 and covered much of the country. Yet last year it was reported that British special forces were calling in air strikes using US drones.

Pakistan and Somalia

Pakistan and Somalia are two other countries where Britain is conducting covert wars. Menwith Hillfacilitates US drone strikes against jihadists in both countries, with Britain’s GCHQ providing ‘locational intelligence’ to US forces for use in these attacks.

The government has said that it has 27 military personnel in Somalia who are developing the national army and supporting the African Union Mission. Yet in 2012 it was reported that the SAS was covertlyfighting against al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in Somalia, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders. This involved up to 60 SAS soldiers, close to a full squadron, including Forward Air Controllers who called in air strikes against al-Shabab targets by the Kenyan air force. In early 2016, it was further reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, was saying that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go ‘over the border’ to attack al-Shabaab.

Drones

The RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of 10 Reaper drones, has been in permanent operation in Afghanistan since October 2007, but covertly beganoperating outside Afghanistan in 2014. The NGO Reprieve notes that Britain provides communications networks to the CIA ‘without which the US would not be able to operate this programme’. It says that this is a particular matter of concern as the US covert drone programme is illegal.

The Gulf

Even this may not be the sum total of British covert operations in the region. The government stated in 2015 that it had 177 military personnel embedded in other countries’ forces, with 30 personnel working with the US military. It is possible that these forces are also engaged in combat in the region. For example, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, has said that in the Gulf, British pilots fly US F18s from the decks of US aircraft carriers. This means that ‘US’ air strikes might well be carried out by British pilots.

Britain has many other military and intelligence assets in the region. Files leaked by Edward Snowdenshow that Britain has a network of three GCHQ spy bases in Oman – codenamed ‘Timpani’, ‘Guitar’ and ‘Clarinet’ – which tap in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf. These bases intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, which information is then shared with the National Security Agency in the US.

The state of Qatar houses the anti-IS coalition’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Al Udeid airbase. The government says it has seven military personnel ‘permanently assigned to Qatar’ and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ working at the airbase. These are likely to be covert forces; the government says that ‘we do not discuss specific numbers for reasons of safeguarding operational security’.

Similarly, the government says it has six military personnel ‘permanently assigned’ to the United Arab Emirates and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ at the UAE’s Al Minhad airbase. Britain also has military assets at Manama harbour, Bahrain, whose repressive armed forces are also being secretly trained by British commandos.

Kenya and Turkey

Kenya hosts Britain’s Kahawa Garrishon barracks and Laikipia Air Base, from where thousands of troops who carry out military exercises in Kenya’s harsh terrain can be deployed on active operations in the Middle East. Turkey has also offered a base for British military training. In 2015, for example, Britain deployed several military trainers to Turkey as part of the US-led training programme in Syria, providing small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to rebel forces.

The web of deceit

When questioned about these covert activities, Ministers have two responses. One is to not to comment on special forces’ operations. The other is to lie, which has become so routine as to be official government policy. The reasoning is simple – the government believes the public simply has no right to know of these operations, let alone to influence them.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told parliament in July that the government is ‘committed to the convention that before troops are committed to combat the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter’. This is plainly not true, as the extent of British covert operations show.

Similarly, it was first reported in May that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya. This news came two days after Fallon told MPs that Britain was not planning ‘any kind of combat role’ to fight IS in Libya.

There are many other examples of this straightforward web of deceit. In July 2016, the government issued six separate corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Yemen. However, little noticed was that these corrections also claimed that ‘the UK is not a party’ to the conflict in Yemen. This claim is defied by various news reports in the public domain.

British foreign policy is in extreme mode, whereby Ministers do not believe they should be accountable to the public. This is the very definition of dictatorship. Although in some of these wars, Britain is combatting terrorist forces that are little short of evil, it is no minor matter that several UK interventions have encouraged these very same forces and prolonged wars, all the while being regularly disastrous for the people of the region. Britain’s absence of democracy needs serious and urgent challenging.

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Canada Goes To War, Pretending To Keep The Peace

NOVANEWS
 
Canada's Role in the Middle East War: The United States Of ... Canada

I heard the news today…. I caught the CBC news this morning (Thursday, October 13, 2016) as the French Prime Minister and Canada’s PM were talking to the media.  From the little bit I caught – a bit that makes for a good sound bite – it appears that Canada, under the guise of ’peacekeeping’  will be sending some 600 military personnel abroad.

I use the word ‘guise’ carefully, as the so called “right to protect” doctrine has been seriously discredited by mostly U.S. actions in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Honduras among the ones that I recall at this moment.   But ‘peacekeeping’ is also a guise, as there is no peace to keep in today’s world, only “terror wars” of various disguises (same root) used to promote U.S./western interests in regions of the world not under their control (yet) nor obligingly sycophantic enough to remain untouched by covert or overt military action.

These announcements this morning  reflect earlier statements from the government wherein “Sajjan himself has said Africa hasn’t gotten “the right amount of attention” in recent years.”  Canada’s representative to the UN, Marc Andre Blanchard, indicated at that time, “while the road ahead might be dangerous for Canadian troops, the country has an obligation to intervene to prevent the violence from reaching our shores.”

But, Blanchard (and thus the Trudeau liberals) have not given up on the discredited “right to protect” (R2P) saying, “The mandates are multifaceted [but] there are things Canada has been a strong proponent of … the right to allow UN forces to protect citizens rather than just maintain peace and the status quo.” [1]

Wonderful, now Canada is taking a stab at the discredited, dishonoured R2P slogan.   Blanchard’s rationale for peacekeeping/R2P is “Peacekeeping is very different than it was 25 years ago. It’s all about mitigating the consequences of conflict.”  It has also adopted the idiotic U.SA. meme that we must stop violence from reaching our shores…as if sending our own troops overseas is not exporting more violence to other countries.  So rather than just maintain the status quo, we are now taking the role of wanting to change things for our own pursuits and interests, much the same as with the U.S. interests, but also with interests with our own corporations mostly involved with mineral exploitation of African resources. [2]

Mitigating consequences

It is correct, peacekeeping is different, as their is no peace to keep, no treaties signed, no truces, nothing like the Treaty of Guarantee in Cyprus for which Canada did play a significant peacekeeping role; or nothing like the armistice in Korea that has been in place until a “final peaceful settlement” can be achieved where Canada has not played a role in the meantime.

 Rather, we have the record of unsuccessful interventions that have not only not prevented “mitigating circumstance” but have always aggravated circumstances, leaving behind hundreds of thousand of dead and injured citizens of the “mitigated” countries as well as wasting a small portion of our own citizens lives.

In Afghanistan, now one third under the control of the Taliban,  with other portions now dealing with ISIS, and the government only able to control Kabul and only parts of that city, Canada essentially wasted 158 military lives for nothing.  For Libya, our  glorious military was honoured by the militant Stephen Harper  in the Senate Chambers (appropriate, given the depraved nature of Senatorial behaviour) for leaving behind a destroyed country, with many civilian deaths, ongoing fighting between different factions, and a hotbed of training and equipping for terrorists.

USA!  USA!!

Canada essentially has no independent foreign policy.  Generally we have followed U.S. interests and actions around the world, understandable as our economy has been seconded to that of the U.S.  The Liberal government, while speaking in gentler terms than the Harper militants, is following the same course.  We are supporting the neonazi/oligarch government in Ukraine, established through a not so covert U.S. series of actions.  Along with that goes all the hubris and rhetoric demonizing Putin as every empire requires an evil ‘other’ to rally the masses against.

We are ostensibly fighting against ISIS in Iraq, but that war represents a summation of U.S. errors and aggravating circumstances, from the mujahideen “freedom fighters” of the Reagan era, through the Taliban sprouting from that, on to the more violent al-Qaeda, which later morphed into the Bush era al-Qaeda in Iraq and the declared Islamic State of Iraq, which with al-Nusra, developed into the Obama era ISIS caliphate that now exists (tentatively) in the Middle East.

World War next anyone?

The U.S. has intervened in 50 countries since WWII to establish their own puppet governments and sycophantic supporters. The results are what we see today:  a world that is increasingly close to a third world war – not because of Russian aggression, but because of the U.S.’ failing empire, its unpayable economic debt policy, its military violence spread over much of the world, and its desire to guard the US$ as the hegemonic global reserve fiat currency.

Our good ally Saudi Arabia, implicated in 9/11, known to support jihadis throughout the world, known to support ISIS in the Middle East, committing war crimes and crimes against civilians in Yemen, with an archaic fundamentalist tribal government, complements our association with the U.S.   The only reason they survive is that they are ‘useful idiots’ for U.S. foreign policy and geostrategic/economic policies and thus our foreign policy.

With all this interplay of forces in the Middle East, with a declining debt ridden violent empire as our neighbour that pits a war-mongering lying chicken hawk against a xenophobic misogynist racist bigot, the future does not look too bright.  For Canada to now step into this increasing maelstrom of violence perpetrated mainly by the U.S./NATO alliance is sheer wilful ignorance and hubris.

Canada has pretensions that do not fit the proposed actions. Instead of peacemaking or peacekeeping, instead of “mitigating consequences”, Canada is simply adding to the violence of the U.S. empire.

Notes

[1] “Canada’s mission in Africa will be focused on ‘peacemaking,’ UN ambassador says”.  Paul Tasker, CBC News/Politics, August 27, 2016.

[2]  Yves Engler: Canada in Africa, and The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, both Fernwood Publishing, 2015 and 2009 respectively.

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US Bringing World To The Brink Of Nuclear War

NOVANEWS
 
U.S.-Russia-Syria 2

What’s Happening In Syria Has Been Going On For Over Five Years And It’s Not A Civil War.

U.S. imperialism has been exporting disaster around the world for over a century now, but not since the “Cuban” missile crisis in 1962, has the U.S. put the world on the brink of such a disaster as we are witnessing today.

What’s happening in Syria has been going on for over five years and it’s not a civil war. The conflict began as a U.S.-funded effort to depose President Bashar Assad and install a puppet government in Damascus friendly to U.S. interests. I am sure there are some legitimate forces in Syria who oppose the government of Assad, but the U.S. does not care about democracy—afterall Assad was elected by his people.

Also in Syria, approximately one dozen militias are not only trying to overthrow the Assad government but they are also fighting amongst themselves . The ranking Democrat on the U.S. Congressional House Intelligence Committee, uber-Zionist Adam Schiff of California, said of the phenomena of CIA-funded militias fighting in places like Aleppo, “It’s part of the three-dimensional chess game.” This chess game, played by empires for millennia, profit the wealthy and as always, the people pay the heavy price.

 Today we learned that China is contemplating joining Russia and Syria in their alliance to protect the sovereignty of Syria and for stabilization in the Middle East.

The U.S. has long invaded and provoked weaker countries like Afghanistan and Iraq which have little hope of retaliating but nonetheless use what resources they have to fight off U.S. imperialism. However, provoking Russia in places like Syria and Ukraine seems to be the height of arrogance and stupidity on the part of the U.S.

For many years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been the rational actor in this insane U.S. provocation, but Russia is getting ready to fight back—reportedly holding civil defense drills, warning Russians abroad, and even testing nuclear missiles.

Some of us see no hope for the mis-leaders here in the U.S. to provide some sanity in its foreign policy. In the last U.S. presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the war criminal Clinton reaffirmed her hardcore stance to go to war with Russia, through Syria, if necessary. Clinton also declared her support for a “no fly zone” over Syria, which the chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said would require 70,000 U.S. troops to maintain and would definitely mean war with Russia.

Even though Russia has been invited into Syria by the government—as rational people who are filled with apprehension over the reality of this danger—we should be calling on all world leaders to pause in their rush to war.

But the only thing that can really stop imperialist carnage is an international working-class force, refusing to be used as cannon-fodder for capitalism, and instead fighting for socialism.

Our very survival as a species depends on international solidarity.

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Interview with President Bashar Al Assad

NOVANEWS

Interview with President Bashar Al Assad: “The West Doesn’t Accept Syria as an Independent Country… They are Supporting Terrorism”, It’s an Illegal Invasion

Assad carte

On October 12, the President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to reporter of “Komsomolskaya Pravda” Daria Aslamova.

Below is the complete transcript of the interview

Question 1: Thank you very much, Mr. President. It’s a big happiness for me, and I’m very proud. Okay, I will start from my questions. The situation in Syria become more dangerous and more unpredictable. Why? Because this conflict draws inside more participants and more players. For example, who do we have now in Syria in the war? Iran, Lebanon – I mean Hezbollah – Russia, Turkey, USA’s huge coalition, China shows interest. I mean, do you have any concerns that this conflict results in a third world war, or maybe it’s already beginning of third world war.

President Assad: If we want to talk about the problem, we have to talk about the crux of the problem, the source of the problem; it’s the terrorism. And no matter who’s interfering in Syria now, the most important thing is who is supporting the terrorists on daily basis, every hour, every day. That is the main problem. If we solve that problem, all this complicated image that you described is not a matter… I mean, it’s not a big problem, we can solve the problem. So, it’s not about how many countries interfering now, it’s about how many countries supporting the terrorists, because Russians, Iran, and Hezbollah are out allies, and they came here legally. They support us against the terrorists, while the other countries that you describe who are interfering, they are supporting the terrorists. So, it’s not about the number, it’s about the main issue that is terrorism.

Second, it’s about world war three. This term has been used recently a lot, especially after the recent escalation regarding the situation in Syria. I would say what we have now, what we’ve been seeing recently during the last few weeks and maybe few months is something like more than cold war, less than war, a full-blown war. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s not something that has existed recently, because I don’t think that the West and especially the United States has stopped their cold war, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Journalist: Yes, it’s going on.

President Assad: You have many stages in that regard, and Syria is one of these important stages. You see more escalation than before, but the whole issue is about keeping the hegemony of the Americans around the world, not allowing anyone to be partner on the political or international arena, whether Russia or even their allies in the West. So, this is the essence of this war that you described as third world war that exists, it is a world war, but it’s not military war. Part of it is military, part of it is terrorism and security, and the other part is political. So, you’re correct, but in a different way, not only about Syria; Syria is part of this war.

Question 2: But you said… Syria became stage of this war. Why Syria? I mean, okay, you are big country, I mean, you have oil but not like Saudi Arabia. Why exactly Syria?

President Assad: It has many aspects. The first one, if you want to talk about the regional conflict, Syria has a good relation with Iran, and Saudi Arabia wanted to, let’s say, destroy Iran completely, maybe in the political sense and maybe in the material sense or factual sense, for different reasons. So they wanted Syria to go against Iran, that’s why destroying Syria could affect Iran negatively. That’s how I look at it. The West, for them, Syria and Russia are allies for decades now, and again, if we undermine the position of Syria, we can influence the Russians negatively. But there’s something else; it’s about the historical role of Syria. Syria has played that role in the region for centuries, it was always the hub of the geopolitical dynamic in the Middle East. So, controlling Syria – since the Pharaohs, before the Christ, they used to fight for Syria, the Pharaohs and the Hittites, this is historical basis. So, it has a role, geopolitics, the position on the Mediterranean, the society, because Syria is the fault line between the different cultures in this region; whatever happens in Syria will influence the region, negatively and positively, so controlling Syria is very important. Although Syria is small, it’s very important to control the rest of the region.

Second, Syria is an independent country, and the West doesn’t accept any independent country, whether Syria as a small country, or Russia as a great power. What’s their problem with Russia? Because you say “yes” and “no. You have to keep saying “yes.” That’s the problem with the West. So, that’s why Syria.

Question 3: Some Western media found that the war in Syria now became a straight conflict between Russia and USA. You agree with this?

President Assad: Yes, for a simple reason: when I said at the very beginning that the issue about the terrorism; Russia wanted to fight terrorism for different reasons, not only for Syria, not only for Russia, for the rest of the region, for Europe, for the rest of the world. They understand what the meaning of terrorism prevailing, in a certain way, while the United States have always, since Afghanistan in the early eighties, till this day, they think “terrorism is a card we can play. We can put on the table.”

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad: You can put in your pocket, and put it on the table anytime. So, you’re talking about two different entities, two different ideologies, two different behaviors, two different approaches. That’s natural to have this conflict; even if there is dialogue, they’re not on the same page.

Question 4: Now, we have a new player in this region. Okay, I mean, it was Turkish intervention, and nobody speaks about this now, like nothing happened. What’s your opinion about the role of Turkey in this war, and about this intervention?

President Assad: If we start from today, it’s invasion.
Journalist: Invasion!

President Assad: This incursion is invasion, whether a small part, or large part of the Syrian territory; it’s invasion, against international law, against the morals, against the sovereignty of Syria. But what do the Turks want from this invasion regardless of the mask that they wear to cover their intention, real intentions. They wanted to whitewash their real intention that they used to support ISIS and al-Nusra-

Journalist: You think they don’t support now?

President Assad: No, they still support, but they came, they say “we are fighting ISIS, we’re going to have-”

Journalist: It’s ridiculous. What they tell, it’s ridiculous, when they tell “we are fighting with ISIS.” They made ISIS.

President Assad: Of course, exactly, they made ISIS, they supported ISIS, they give them all the logistical support and they allow them to sell our oil through their borders, through their territory, with the participation of Erdogan’s son and his coterie; they all, all of them, were involved in the relation with ISIS. All the world knows this. But with this invasion, they wanted to change the package of ISIS, to talk about new moderate forces, which have the same grassroots of ISIS. They move it from ISIS. They say ISIS were defeated in some areas because the Turkish bombardment and troops and their proxies in Syria expelled ISIS from certain areas. Just a play, it’s just a play for the rest of the world. The second one, because he wanted to support al-Nusra in Syria.

Journalist: He wanted to support al-Nusra.

President Assad: And he wanted to have – I mean, Erdogan in particular – wanted to have a role in the solution in Syria, doesn’t matter what kind of role. He felt that he’s isolated for the last year because of ISIS.

Journalist: But he still feels like Syria is Ottoman Empire. For him it’s just his territory.

President Assad: Exactly. His ideology is a mixture between the Brotherhood ideology which is violent and extremist, and the Ottoman Empire, or Sultanate.

Journalist: Ambitions, yes.

President Assad: And so he thinks with these two ideologies, he can make a mixture to control this region. That’s why he supported the Muslim Brotherhood in every country, including Syria. You are right.

Question 5: After the Russian plane was shot down by the Turks, Russia stopped relationships with Turkey. Now, after, okay, his excuses, we again… it looks like again friendship, tourism, diplomatic relations everything. Putin called this a “knife in the back” when this plane was beaten by the Turks. Do you think maybe we Russians make a mistake to trust Erdogan again after his betrayal?

President Assad: No, actually, I look positively to this relation.

Journalist: You look positively?

President Assad: Yeah, positively. Why?

Journalist: Why?

President Assad: We are talking about two parties, we’re taking into consideration that these two parties, again, they don’t see eye-to-eye, they are in different positions; Russia bases its policy on the international law, respecting the sovereignty of other states, and understanding the repercussions of the terrorism prevailing anywhere in the world, while the other party, the Turkish party, bases his policy on the ideology of Muslim Brotherhood; they don’t respect the sovereignty of Syria, and they supported the terrorists. So, you can see there’s polarization, each one is in the exactly or completely the opposite side. So, through this rapprochement, let’s say, between Russia and Turkey, the only hope that we have as Syria is that Russia can make some changes in the Turkish policy. This is our hope, and I’m sure that this is the first goal of the Russian diplomacy toward Turkey these days; in order to decrease the damage of the messing-up with the Syrian territory by the Turkish government. I hope they can convince them that they have to stop supporting terrorists, stop allowing the flow of terrorists and money for those terrorists through their borders.

Journalist: But for Erdogan, these terrorists are instrument of influence. He will never refuse from this instrument, it’s his people, and if he will try to fight with them, they will start to fight with him. I mean, he… it’s a big risk for him to refuse from sponsorship of terrorism, it’s a big risk for his power.

President Assad: Yeah, that’s why I didn’t say the Russians will change his policy; I said they will decrease the damage, because he – I mean, somebody who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood’s violent and extremist and fanatic ideology cannot be a straight person, to be frank, and to be realistic. So, what you’re talking about is very realistic. I agree with you a hundred percent. But at the end, you have to try, you try; if he changed one percent, that’s good, if he changed ten percent, then that’s good. You don’t have to have the full change, and we don’t have this hope, we don’t raise our expectations a lot, especially with somebody like Erdogan and his clique, but any change in this moment, that will be good, and this hope, that we have I think the same that the Russians officials have this time, through this relation. And I think this is the wisdom of the movement of the Russian government toward the Turkish government, not because they trust this government, but they need good relations with the people, and that’s completely correct.

Question 6: For me, it’s a very strange thing. Daesh, ISIS, with their ideology, never threaten Israel, and Israel never threaten Daesh, ISIS. It’s like some kind of agreement about – maybe not on friendship – but neutrality. Why, you think, it’s like this? And what’s the role of Israel in this war?

President Assad: Not only ISIS, of course, or Daesh, not only al-Nusra; anyone, any terrorist who holds a machinegun and started killing and destroying in Syria was supported by Israel, either indirectly through the logistical support on the frontier, or sometimes by direct intervention by Israel against Syria in different areas in Syria. Why? Because Israel is our enemy, because they occupy our lands, and they look at Syria as enemy of course, and for them they think if they undermine the position of Syria and make it weaker as a whole, as society, as army, as state, that will prevent Israel from moving toward the peace, and the price of the peace is to give back the Golan Heights to Syria. So, for them, Syria will be busy with another issue now, it would be busy to talk about the Golan or the peace process, or even to do anything to get back its land. That’s why Israel is supporting every terrorist, and there’s no contradiction between Israel and any organization like al-Nusra or ISIS or any Al Qaeda-linked organization.

Question 7: Your army lost a lot of blood, it’s obviously, but on the other side, when I sit in Damascus and see in cafes a lot of young people who drink coffee from morning, and ask “who are these young men, why are they not on the front?” It’s students, it’s students. After this I see fitness centers full of young people, is very good muscles. What are they doing here? Send them all on the front! I mean, I don’t understand why didn’t you make this general mobilization of army? Like, we made this in Patriotic War, in general, when we had big war, we sent all men to front!

President Assad: What we have now is partial, let’s say, mobilization. Why partial? What is the meaning of partial? It’s not the highest level. The highest level of mobilization means for everyone to go to fight, to different, let’s say, military fronts. It means you won’t have anyone at the universities, you won’t have teachers at schools, you won’t have employees to do anything, even the trucks, the cars, will be managed by the government, and anything else that would be part of this war. That would be okay if this war will last for a few weeks, or a few months maybe, but for a war that’s been there for now nearly six years, it means the paralysis of the society, and the paralysis of the state, and you won’t win the war if you have a paralyzed society. So, you need to have balance between the war and between the basic needs of the society, the university, and the services that you should offer to the people. That’s why it’s crucial to make that balance. So, that’s our point of view.

Question 8: But, even your TV programs, I don’t understand Arabic, but when I watch this, it’s like it’s peace in country, little bit from being in about war, and after this about sport, about children, about schools. I watch this and think “oh my God!” In country I hear how mines explosions in city, like nothing happened. Maybe it’s too much, maybe people… if you want to push patriotism in people, you must explain to them every day, “guys, we’re in big war!” And that’s exactly what every country is doing, but I don’t like this picture of peaceful life. It don’t exist here!

President Assad: Our, let’s say, media are not disconnected from what’s going on, but you need again to have the balance between how much you need to have close-to-natural life, not completely normal life…So you need this balance. Of course you have many different points of view regarding the media, because media is about the perception ..If you don’t try to live this life, the terrorists will defeat you, because that’s their aim.

Journalist: We was living like this, when it was Great Patriotic War, all cities was empty, it was just women. Okay, doctors of course, some kind of teachers, but everybody was in the front. I will give you example from my family: four brothers was going to front with my father, and my father left school, in thirteen years, he was going to factory to make bombs. And, it was not normal. We would never win this war if we will not put all our men on front.

President Assad: Yeah, but when you talk about war, war is not only military; war is everything. The most important part of our war, not only terrorists, which is in parallel, or as important as the terrorist issue, is the economy. We are under embargo, so we have to do our best to keep this wheel moving forward.

Journalist: I understood.

President Assad: That’s why you need to put all your effort on this life, because without this natural life, you cannot have economy, if everyone wants to stay at home and just to live the life of the war, you don’t produce.

Question 9: Why you ask help of Russia almost in the most critical moment? Almost when everything was crashed, and even your life was in danger?

President Assad: First of all, there’s a traditional relation between Syria and Russia, and during the worst times of this relation, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the relation was good, it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t warm-

Journalist: That’s why you could ask help much more earlier.

President Assad: No, we asked for the help from the very beginning, but the escalation wasn’t as last year, because before that, the Syrian Army was moving forward, and our enemies – let’s put it in that term – our enemies, when they saw that we are moving forward on the ground, they started escalating by bringing more terrorists coming from abroad, more foreigners coming from more than one hundred countries. At the end, Syria is a small country, and even the population is not very big. So, we needed the help of our friends. Iran intervened, and Hezbollah, and Russia as a great power was very crucial in changing the balance of power on the ground. That’s why it was natural to ask for the Russian help. They helped us before; maybe not directly through the air forces, they used to send us everything, every logistical support we wanted for that war. But they live with us, we have the military experts living in Syria for four decades. They saw on the ground that during that time in 2014, the balance started changing in favor of the terrorists, with the support of the West and other countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey and Qatar, and the Russians were ready to intervene directly. That’s why we invited them, and because we trust them, of course. We trust their politics, politics based on morals before interests. We trust them because we know that they wanted to support us because they wanted to get rid of the terrorists, not because they want to ask us anything in return, and they never did. Till this moment, they never asked us for anything in return. All these factors encouraged me and the Syrian government and the institutions to ask for the Russian help.

Question 10: Before this so-called revolution, I’m sure you got offers from your present enemies; some kind of offers, some kind of deals. What they wanted from you? I heard, for example, Qatar wanted to make tube through Syria. Is it true or not? You got some kind of offer before?

President Assad: The offers started after the crisis.

Journalist: Ah-ha, okay.

President Assad: Because they wanted to use the crisis; “if you do this, we’re going to help you.”

Journalist: But what they wanted from you?

President Assad: But before the crisis, it wasn’t an offer; they wanted to use Syria indirectly. Not offer, they wanted to convince us to do something. The main issue was, at that time around the world, was the nuclear file of Iran. It was the main issue around the world, and Syria has to convince Iran to go against its interests, that time. France tried, Saudi Arabia wanted us at that time to be away from Iran with no reason, just because they hate Iran.

Journalist: But what about this tube? It’s real that they wanted to make gas tube through Syria?

President Assad: No, they didn’t talk about it, but because Syria was supposed to be a hub in that regard, of power in general, a tube coming from the east; Iran, Iraq, Syria, Mediterranean, and another one from the Gulf toward Europe. I don’t think the West will accept Syria – this Syria, Syria’s that’s not puppet to the West – it’s not allowed to have this privilege or leverage, it’s not allowed. So, we think this is one of the factors that they didn’t talk about it directly. After the war, the offer was directly from the Saudis; that if you-

Journalist: Directly from who?

President Assad: From the Saudis.

Journalist: From Saudis.

President Assad: If you move away from Iran and you announce that you disconnect all kinds of relations with Iran, we’re going to help you. Very simple and very straight to the point.

Question 11: You said in one of your interviews that this war is difficult because it’s simple to kill terrorists, but to kill ideology, much more difficult. And when I was speaking on the front with your officers, they told “look, how to fight with man who is not afraid to die?” For him it’s just pleasure to die because 72 virgins wait for him in Paradise, yes. And our people, of course, normal people, they are afraid to die. And already it’s morale spirit not the same, much more higher… terrorists have much more higher morale spirit. How to kill this ideology?

President Assad: You’re correct. If you talk about those fighters, ideological fighters, or terrorists, let’s say, who are fighting our army, the only way is to fight them and kill them. You don’t have any other way. They are not ready for any dialogue, and you don’t have time to make dialogue, you want to protect your citizens, so you have to kill them. But that’s not enough; it’s like regenerating… like video games; you keep regenerating anything you want. You kill one, you’re going to have another ten, so there’s no end to that issue. The most important thing is in the mid-term and in the long-term is to fight this ideology through similar but moderate ideology. I mean you cannot fight extremism in Islam with any other ideology but the moderate Islam. So, this is the only way, but it takes time, it takes young generations, to work on these young generations, to work on the means and to suffocate the money that’s being paid by the Saudi government and Saudi NGOs and Saudi institutions to promote the Wahabi ideology around the world. You cannot say “I’m going to fight this ideology” and at the same time allowing their sheikhs or imams promoting, at their madrasa, promoting this dark ideology. It’s impossible. And that’s what’s happening in Europe. You’re talking about generations that lived there for generations now, the third or fourth generation living in Europe, but they send us terrorists from Europe now. They never lived in our region, they don’t speak Arabic, maybe they don’t read Quran, but they are extremists, because they allowed the Wahabi ideology to infiltrate Europe. So, we need to deal with many things; you have to deal with the media, how to deal with their strong media that’s being financed by the petrodollar in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to promote this extremism. How to deal with it? You need many aspects and many parallel paths at the same time. This is the only way you can defeat it. But dealing with the terrorists, this is the last part, and this is the compulsory part. You cannot avoid it, but it’s not the solution.

Question 12: Yes, but I always felt something mystic in this fighting for Damascus, and I understood after why there’s so many mercenaries come here. One professor of theology, Islamic theologist, explained to me that they really believe in the city “Dabiq,” it will be Apocalypse, and main battle between evil and good, and that’s why they’re now ready… because I was in Bosnia, for example; many mercenaries going through Bosnia, and they all tell “we are going to Dabiq.” For them it’s mystic meaning. How to kill this, I can’t imagine.

President Assad: Exactly, exactly.

Journalist: Because it’s big propaganda of this “go to Dabiq, go to Syria, because here it’s main place for Apocalypse!”

President Assad: A holy place now, for the fighting.

Journalist: Yes, it’s like a holy place.

President Assad: I mean, if you want to go to Paradise, you have to go through Syria. Maybe if you die somewhere else, you won’t go to paradise. This is part of the ideology. That’s why they-

Journalist: They are sure if they will die in Syria, they will go straight to Paradise?

President Assad: That’s how they think. Some of them, they think if they kill more innocents, they may have Iftar in Ramadan with the Prophet, for example. That’s how they believe. They wash their brains completely, so you cannot blame them, they are ignorant, most of them are teenagers, they’re being used.

Journalist: Yes, yes, sometimes children.

President Assad: Exactly. But it’s about the machine that’s been working for decades now to whitewash these brains and to spread this extremism around the Muslim world and the Muslim communities outside this Muslim world.

Question 13: Do you satisfy with results of Russian intervention for this last year? They really made something serious here?

President Assad: In brief, before that intervention, although there was this American alliance, so called “alliance” which is for me an elusive alliance, they did nothing, ISIS was expanding, ISIS and al-Nusra were expanding, they used to have more recruits, more recruitments. They used to have more oil to export through Turkey, and so on. After the Russian intervention, the same land under the control of the terrorists was shrinking. This is in brief. So, the reality is telling. Any other effect, I mean, is trivial. This is the main effect; they changed the balance on the ground not in favor of the terrorists.

Question 14: About Kurdish question, I was in Qamishli, and they want federation, they want to make federation. They said “our ideal model of state, it’s like Russia. Russia has many nationalities and they make Russian Federation. Why Syria cannot be a federation?” And honestly, nobody from Syrian Kurdish was speaking with me about separation or to make independent state. No, they told “we want to be in Syria, but we want autonomy.” You agree with this or not? Because they are really good fighters against ISIS.

President Assad: Let me clarify the different aspects of this issue. First of all, we cannot talk about a community, a full community in Syria, that it wants something, like talking about the Kurds or the Turks or the Arabs or the Chechens or the Armenians or any other community we have. So, we can talk about part of the Kurds that they need this, part, only part of them. The majority of them, no, they don’t ask for it. They never-

Journalist: I don’t speak about the Kurds in Damascus, of course they live here.

President Assad: Yeah, I mean even in the north, part of them talk about this. This is first. Second, when you talk about federalism or any other similar system, it should be part of the constitution, and the constitution is not owned by the government – the constitution reflects the will of the Syrian people. So, if they need to have a certain political system in Syria, they need to promote it among the Syrians. They cannot discuss it with me, even if I say “yes, that’s a good idea, I don’t mind” as President or as an official or as a government. I cannot give it to them, I don’t own it, I don’t own the political system in Syria. Everything should be-

Journalist: Like a referendum!

President Assad: Exactly, to have referendum by the Syrian people to say yes or no. Second, some people, they talk about Kurdish federalism in the north, regardless of what I talked about, about most of the Kurds that they don’t ask for this. Even if you want it, the majority in that area are Arabs. So how can you have Kurdish federalism while you have majority of Arabs?

Journalist: But you have contacts with them?

President Assad: Yeah, of course. We have dealing, we have negotiation, we always-

Journalist: You have negotiations with them?

President Assad: Of course, always, and we supported them during the war against ISIS. We sent them armaments, and your army knows all these details.

Question 15: But honestly, when I was traveling by your country, I don’t see any kind of opposition without guns, I mean, with whom you can speak? You have real partners for negotiations, or it is mission impossible?

President Assad: This is a very important question, but you have to define the word “opposition.” Now, most of the world used the word “opposition” about people who carry guns and kill people. You don’t call them opposition; “opposition” is a political term; it cannot be a military term.

Journalist: Yes, this is the problem, but everybody has guns. With who to speak?

President Assad: Exactly. Now, if you want to talk about political opposition, of course we have. We have figures, I don’t have names now, but we have figures. You can search for names. You have political currents or political movements-

Journalist: Which one? What are the names of this…?

President Assad: You have new parties, we can get you names, we have so many, I mean, not all of them have seats in the Parliament, for example, but during the crisis and even before the crisis, you have so many. We can bring you a list for all these, we have them. You have new parties who announce themselves as oppositions recently. Again, we can give you a list of all these, if I don’t want to mention which name, I can give you the list. But we have them now, but the question here if you want to make negotiation, that’s the crucial point of your question, it’s not about who I am going to make negotiations with; the question is about who is influential on the situation, who can change the situation? Now, If I am going to sit with all these oppositions, whether inside Syria or outside Syria, whether they are real patriotic oppositions or opposition related to other countries, not to the Syrian people, let’s presume that we are sitting with them, and we agreed upon anything, we said “this is good for the future of Syria.” The question is: who is going to influence the terrorists on the ground? We all know that the majority of those terrorists belonging to Al Qaeda-affiliated groups, ISIS, al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Cham, and other organizations. They don’t belong to any political movement, they don’t care about any ideology but their own ideology, the Wahhabi Ideology. So, even if we negotiate with the political opposition, we cannot change the situation. So that’s the most important part of the problem. So, you are correct; who I’m going to deal with?

Journalist: Yes, with whom?

President Assad: The most important is who’s going to change the situation with me? As a government, I have my means. We can change. We are fighting terrorists. What those oppositions can do? That’s the question. I cannot answer it. They have to answer it. They have to say “we can do this and we can do that.”

Question 16: All Western media take information about the situation in Syria from this strange organization “Syrian Observatory of Human Rights,” but I understood that it’s just a one-man band?

President Assad: One man living in London.

Journalist: I don’t understand this. I was shocked when I knew, I mean how they can use this like a source of information?

President Assad: Yes, because that’s what the West wants; they don’t need anything real. They need somebody to promote any information that suit their agenda, and they promote it as a real one, as a fact, and as you know now, most of the people in the West are brainwashed regarding what’s going on in Syria, and may be in Ukraine, I mean, the same in Russia; they tried to – and they succeeded – and brainwashed their public opinion, and this is one of the tools. So, it’s not the only one, they have many tools, similar tools like the White Helmets recently.

Journalist: What is… Who are they?

President Assad: Actually, they work with al-Nusra in the area that’s controlled by al-Nusra. How can you work in the same area if you are not under the control of al-Nusra? More importantly, many of their members – there are videos and pictures of them celebrating the death of Syrian Army soldiers, they were celebrating on their bodies-

Journalist: What was… not long time ago, you mean when America was bombing Syrian Army, you mean this case?

President Assad: No, no, in different areas, in Aleppo.

Journalist: In different areas.

President Assad: In Aleppo, you had fights, and they pictured themselves over the bodies of Syrian soldiers, the White Helmets with al-Nusra. So, this is changing of the package of al-Nusra under the word or under the title of White Helmet, that they are the good people who are sacrificing their life to help the others and children, and this emotional picture that would affect the public opinion in the West.

Journalist: And you even don’t know from where these pictures are?

President Assad: Sorry?

Journalist: Nobody knows from where these pictures?

President Assad: No, no, they don’t verify anything, it’s not important. Now, in the internet, you can find anything, you cannot verify anything on the internet. You just watch, you feel emotional because the picture in Syria it should be in black and white; the good people versus the bad army or the bad President or bad government or the bad officials, let’s say. This is the only picture they wanted to have in order to convince their public opinion that we should continue pressuring, that they are supporting the good Syrian people against their bad government, and so on. You know this propaganda.

Question 17: But what will give you liberation of Aleppo, in strategic point?

President Assad: Aleppo, we call it the “twin of Damascus” for many reasons. It is the second big city in Syria, Damascus is the political capital, while actually Aleppo is the industrial capital in Syria.

Journalist: But no industry now, and I was there, everything is crashed.

President Assad: Exactly. Most of the factories in Aleppo, they don’t work; they were stolen, they were taken to Turkey.

Journalist: But if you will take Aleppo, what will it change in the war?

President Assad: Because it is the second-

Journalist: Second city, but you can cut al-Nusra from-

President Assad: First of all, it has political gain, on the strategic level, political gain and national gain. Then, from the strategic point of view, military point of view, no, you don’t cut; it’s going to be the springboard, as a big city, to move to another areas, to liberate another areas from the terrorists. This is the importance of Aleppo now.

Journalist: Okay, it’s liberation, but what’s your next step? How to cut this connection between Turkey and Idlib? Because this is the main source, main stream of money, soldiers, everything.

President Assad: You cannot cut, because Idlib is adjacent to Turkey, it’s right on the Syrian-Turkish borders. So you cannot cut; you have to clean. You have to keep cleaning this area and to push the terrorists to Turkey to go back to where they come from, or to kill them. There’s no other option. But Aleppo is going to be a very important springboard to do this move.

Question 18: How many foreign mercenaries passed through your country for the last five years, approximately?

President Assad: No one can count, because we don’t have regular borders now; they don’t cross the borders regularly, of course, but the estimation through one of the German research centers that was published a few weeks ago, they talk about hundreds of thousands of terrorists.

Journalist: Hundreds of thousands?

President Assad: Hundreds of thousands. They talk about more than 300 thousand, which is, I don’t know if-

Journalist: More than 300 thousands?

President Assad: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s correct or not, or precise or wrong, but if you talk about hundreds of thousands, even if you talk about one hundred, it’s a full army. It’s a full army.

Journalist: It’s an army. It’s a full army.

President Assad: Exactly. That’s why you keep killing, but you still have recruitment coming from abroad. So, you’re talking about hundreds of thousands coming from different areas in the world, and this is very realistic; you have hundreds of thousands of terrorists around the world having the same ideology, the Wahhabi Ideology. That’s very realistic. This is not an exaggeration.

Question 19: I was speaking with your opposition in 2012 in Istanbul, with young people who told me “we want human rights, we want human rights.” It was secular normal people without beard who were, by the way, drinking beer in Ramadan. But just for few years, they became fanatics. This is strange for me, and there was completely secular. And, who is commanders in Daesh, in ISIS? It’s ex… ex-colonels, ex-majors from army of Saddam Hussein. They’re secular people, too. How this become army of fanatics? I don’t understand.

President Assad: Part of it is related to what happened in Iraq after the invasion in 2003, where the American army or the Americans in general control everything in Iraq, including the prisons, and the leader of ISIS and most of his entourage were in the same prison. So, ISIS was created in Iraq under the American supervision.

Journalist: It was maybe not ISIS, this period, but Al Qaeda?

President Assad: No, it was called IS, it wasn’t ISIS. It was “Islamic State of Iraq.”

Journalist: Islamic State?

President Assad: Because it wasn’t in Syria at that time. That’s why it was called IS. That was in 2006.

Journalist: 2006?

President Assad: 2006, of course.

Journalist: Already, it was Islamic State in 2006?

President Assad: Of course. In 2006, of course, before the withdrawal of the Americans. That’s why they played either direct role or indirect role in creating ISIS. Now, when it comes to Syria, when you talk about the very beginning of the problem before anybody was talking about al-Nusra or ISIS, they called it “Free Army” as a secular power fighting the government and the army. Actually, from the very beginning, if you go back to the internet and you have videos, you have pictures, you have everything, the beheading started from the very first few weeks. So, from the very, very beginning, it was an extremist movement, but they called it “Free Army.” But when it becomes bigger and bigger, and the beheading couldn’t be hidden anymore, they had to confess that there is al-Nusra, but actually it’s the same one; al-Nusra is the same one as the “Free Syrian Army,” the same as the ISIS. You have the same grassroots moving from area to area for different reasons. One of them is the ideology, the other one is out of fear, because if they don’t move from place to place, they may kill you. Third one, for the money. ISIS used to give highest salaries for a certain time, one year ago, two years ago, and before, so many of the al-Nusra and “Free Syrian Army” joined ISIS for the money. So, you have many different factors, but the basic-

Journalist: But, fanaticism?

President Assad: But the same basic, the same foundation of extremism, is the common thing between all these different names and organizations.

Question 20: Can I ask you a personal question?

President Assad: Yeah, of course.

Journalist: In 2013, when your life was in so big danger, when America already… almost started to bomb Syria, why you didn’t send your family to a safe place?

President Assad: How can you convince the Syrians to stay in their country while you ask your family to leave your country? You cannot. You have to be the first, in any term used regarding the patriotic, let’s say, headline. You have to be the first as a President; you, your family, anyone around you in the government, your staff. You cannot convince the people in your country that you can defend your country while you don’t trust your army to defend your family. So, that’s-

Journalist: I understood, I understood.

President Assad: That’s why it was natural. We never thought… I never thought about this, actually.

Journalist: Thank you very much for the interview.

President Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria.

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