Archive | December 20th, 2016

Bitter in Aleppo Defeat, US and EU Seek to Further Demonize Russia

NOVANEWS
By Finian CUNNINGHAM 

As Russian forces help liberate the Syrian city of Aleppo this week from a four-year terrorist siege, Washington and Europe step up threats of cyber war and economic aggression with sanctions. That’s no coincidence. It is the response of accomplices bitter in defeat.

Perverse isn’t it? Instead of celebrating with the people of Syria over the liberation of Aleppo from terrorists; instead of sending massive humanitarian aid to the tens of thousands of civilians freed after being held under siege for four years by terrorist gangs; instead of commending Russia for its decisive role in restoring peace to Syria’s second biggest city, the US and European Union turn reality on its head and further demonize Moscow.

The perverse behavior by Washington and its European satraps is simply a case of sour grapes. Very sour grapes.

They have been proven spectacularly wrong about Syria. The liberation of Aleppo this week exposes the Western governments and media in their unrelenting falsehoods and systematic complicity in the Syrian war. This was never a pro-democracy uprising. It was a Western-backed criminal regime-change operation that was unleashed in March 2011, and which is now staring at ignominious defeat.

The blood of up to half a million people and many more maimed is on the hands of American and European governments.

It is no coincidence that Barack Obama this week invoked his putative presidential authority to double down on US intelligence claims that Russia hacked into the American elections to get Donald Trump into the White House. The stakes were raised to new unwieldy heights with White House claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally sanctioned the alleged hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails. And Obama is now recklessly warning that his country will respond with cyber-warfare «at a place and time of our choosing».

Meanwhile, European Union leaders this week decreed that economic and diplomatic sanctions on Russia would be extended for another six months. The official reason for the measures was the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, but it is obvious that the dramatic developments in Syria were the real motivating factor behind the EU’s decision to further penalize Russia.

Addressing the EU summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel deplored atrocities allegedly committed in the northern city of Aleppo by Syrian state forces and their Russian and Iranian allies. European Council President Donald Tusk lamented that the EU was not «indifferent to the suffering of civilians in Aleppo».

But where is the evidence either from Obama on alleged Russian cyberattacks to subvert the American presidential election or from the EU on alleged Russian (and Syrian) atrocities in Aleppo. There is, glaringly, no evidence. Yet on the back of breathless assertions, Washington is threatening to «retaliate», and European leaders are slapping more damaging sanctions on Russia. This is an insane policy of unjustified aggression.

It is especially insane considering that present and former members of US intelligence agencies do not support the White House’s assertions about Russian cyberattacks. Indeed respected former US intelligence experts have cogently argued that Washington’s claims of Russian hacking are completely spurious. Moreover, two polls reported by the Washington Times and Washington Post this week also show that the majority of American people do not believe that Russia interfered in the US election.

As for the American and European claims about «massacres» in Aleppo, amplified by the dutiful mainstream media all week, there is neither evidence nor testimonies from the tens of thousands of civilians pouring out of the former terror enclaves. The reckless claims are merely propaganda rumors put out by terrorist apologists and recycled by Western media. Perversely unreported in the Western media are the real stories of civilians having lived under horror imposed by the Western-backed so-called «rebels». Largely unreported by the Western media is the dominant mood of celebration and relief among civilians for having been liberated by the combined efforts of the Syrian army and its Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies.

Where are the «moderate rebels» now that the veil of secrecy has finally been lifted from eastern Aleppo? Where are the so-called neutral rescuers belonging to the White Helmets, who only a few weeks ago Western media were championing for a Nobel peace prize? They are all piling on to the same buses with the jihadi terrorists to be evacuated to nearby Idlib city as part of a surrender deal. In other words, the West has been all along backing terrorists, and now their terrorist proxies are seen by the whole world as being routed from Aleppo after four years of holding the eastern side of the city hostage.

Liberated civilians tell of a reign of terror, how their family members were threatened by the Western-backed jihadis with execution if any of them dared to escape from the captive terror enclaves. Buildings recovered by the Syrian army have shown humanitarian aid, medicines and food stockpiled by the terrorists which they used to extort the civilian population. None of this is broadcast by the Western news media of course. Instead, they indulged in gory fantasies about the Syrian army committing summary executions and other atrocities against women and children. Stories, it should be noted, which have since petered out because there is no evidence to back them up.

CNN’s self-important journalist Christiane Amanpour this week gave a platform to an alleged doctor, Hamza al-Khatib, who made unsubstantiated claims that children were being massacred in a basement by Syrian forces. Amanpour expressed horror as if the allegation was fact. The same «fact» was then reiterated by US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. Turns out that Hamza al-Khatib is not even a doctor, according the Aleppo University records, where he once studied.

CNN’s alleged doctor Hamza Al Khatib with head-chopping jihadi friends

In the past, he has been photographed in the company of the jihadi terrorists who were were responsible for the beheading of a 12-year-old Palestinian refugee boy Abdullah Issa near Aleppo. Reliable sources dispute that Hamza al-Khatib is even residing in east Aleppo where he claims to be. It is believed he is hiding out in neighboring Turkey, from where he gives interviews to gullible hacks like Amanpour. (Notice his smirk in the linked interview video when Amanpour naively asks how he remains safe in Aleppo.)

Western lies and fake narratives about Syria were torn asunder this week. Sanctimonious Washington and European lackeys are exposed in their responsibility for fueling the war in Syria by giving cover to terrorist gangs as supposed «moderate rebels».

Western governments, UN diplomats and media organizations are shown to be complicit in a state-sponsored terrorist conspiracy against the Syrian nation.

Russia has played a vital and truly heroic role in saving Syria from a Western-imposed charnel house.

And so, with the bitter taste of defeat over the historic battle for Aleppo, Washington and Europe are lashing out irrationally to further demonize Russia. Cyber war threats and economic aggression through sanctions are the Western response to bitter defeat.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Bitter in Aleppo Defeat, US and EU Seek to Further Demonize Russia

At Least 14 US Coalition Military Officers Captured by in East Aleppo Bunker

NOVANEWS
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Syrian Army soldier holds up Al Nusra Front (al Qaeda in Syria) flag in the Umayyed Mosque, Old City, after government troop liberated terrorist-occupied East Aleppo this week (Image: Vanessa Beeley for 21st Century Wire)
21st Century Wire 

DAMASCUS – According to two reports coming out of Aleppo today, at least 14 US Coalition military officers were captured this morning in an East Aleppo bunker by Syrian Special Forces.

This story was quietly leaked by Voltaire.net, who announced, “The Security Council is sitting in private on Friday, December 16, 2016, at 17:00 GMT, while NATO officers were arrested this morning by the Syrian Special Forces in a bunker in East Aleppo.”

Fares Shehabi MP, a prominent Syrian Parliamentarian and head of Aleppo’s Chamber of Commerce published the names of the Coalition officers on his Facebook page on the 15th December (emphasis added):

Mutaz Kanoğlu – Turkey
David Scott Winer – USA
David Shlomo Aram – Israel
Muhamad Tamimi – Qatar
Muhamad Ahmad Assabian – Saudi
Abd-el-Menham Fahd al Harij – Saudi
Islam Salam Ezzahran Al Hajlan – Saudi
Ahmed Ben Naoufel Al Darij – Saudi
Muhamad Hassan Al Sabihi – Saudi
Hamad Fahad Al Dousri – Saudi
Amjad Qassem Al Tiraoui – Jordan
Qassem Saad Al Shamry – Saudi
Ayman Qassem Al Thahalbi – Saudi
Mohamed Ech-Chafihi El Idrissi – Moroccan

Listen to Fares Shehabi’s interview on the Sunday Wire radio show: Liberation Aleppo

In addition to Voltaire.net, the other original report was provided by Damascus-based Syrian journalist Said Hilal Alcharifi.

According to Alcharifi, captured “NATO” officers were from a number of member states including the US, France, Germany and Turkey, as well as Israel. Here is his statement (translated from French):

“Thanks to information received, Syrian authorities discovered the headquarters of high ranking western/NATO officers in the basement of an area in East Aleppo and have captured them alive. Some names have already been given to Syrian journalists, myself included. The nationalities are US, French, British, German, Israeli, Turkish, Saudi, Moroccan, Qatari etc. In light of their nationalities and their rank, I assure you that the Syrian government have a very important catch, which should enable them to direct negotiations with the countries that have tried to destroy them.”

Although these initial reports describe the individuals in question as “NATO” officers, it’s unlikely they would have been carrying NATO colors on a covert operation – and might be more accurately labeled as US Coalition officers. Note that early reports suggest that these are not standard ‘street rebel’ or jihadi terrorists but actual Coalition military personnel and field commanders.

21WIRE have also received unconfirmed reports yesterday that militants had fired a missile into the Ramousa area and then tried, unsuccessfully, to get cars out of East Aleppo. It’s possible this incident could be related to today reports of captured western operatives.

This report from the Syrian Arab News Agency (emphasis added):

“The agreement on evacuating militants and weapons from the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo city has been suspended after terrorist groups breached it, special sources told SANA correspondent in Aleppo.

The sources said that the suspension of the agreement will remain in place until obtaining guarantees that oblige the terrorist groups to abide by all the agreement’s provisions, stressing on the Syrian side’s full adherence to the agreement and its keenness to end the bloodshed and restore security and stability to the entire city of Aleppo.”

Earlier, the SANA reporter said that the terrorist groups have breached the agreement as they smuggled heavy weapons, including TOW missiles, heavy machineguns and kidnapped people via the buses and cars transporting terrorists and their families towards the southwestern countryside of Aleppo city.

The reporter added that the terrorist groups fired shells and sniper bullets on the buses and ambulances at al-Ramousseh crossing, noting that the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which are supervising the evacuation process had to withdraw all buses and cars from the crossing.

Over the past 24 hours, some 8079 terrorists and members of their families were evacuated on ten batches via busses and ambulances from the neighborhoods of Salah-Eddin, al-Ansari, al-Mashhad and al-Zibdiyeh to the southwest countryside of Aleppo city”

If true, then this latest news would also mean that both the Syrian and Russian governments would have additional leverage going forward in any bilateral negotiations with the US-led Coalition.

If, however, this story is kept under wraps by NATO member governments and summarily blacked out by the US and European media outlets, then it might indicate that a deal has been struck, albeit behind the scenes, for the return of captured NATO operatives in exchange for other concessions.

If today’s report from East Aleppo is accurate, this might also help explain the hysterical behavior by the US State Department and western UN officials who have been demanding “an immediate ceasefire” – despite the fact that 99% of East Aleppo has already been liberated by Syrian government forces.

The western establishment’s hysterical reactions to Al Nusra’s defeat in Aleppo have included wild claims that the Syrian Army had ‘unleashed death squads,’ on its own residents in East Aleppo and were openly ‘executing women and children in the street,’ and ‘burning children in the street,’ as well what appear to be more fictional reports circulated in the US media mainly by Michael Weis of The Daily Beast via CNN, claiming that Syrian Army was committing “mass rape” against residents of East Aleppo. His article entitled, Women in Aleppo Choose Suicide Over Rape, Rebels Report, made a number of outlandish claims including:

“Activists and rebels in the besieged city say mass executions have begun and children are burned alive as Assad’s Iranian- and Russian-backed forces move in.”

Not surprisingly, aside from unnamed “UN sources”, Weiss claims to have got his information from none other than the discredited US and UK-financed pseudo ‘NGO’ known as the White Helmets.

Back in September, numerous reports suggested that a western command center located behind terrorist-held lines had been targeted and destroyed by a Russian missile strike. Prof Michel Chossudovsky wrote:

“The US and its allies  had  established a Field Operations Room in the Aleppo region integrated by intelligence personnel. Until it was targeted by a Russian missile attack on September 20,  this “semi-secret” facility was operated by US, British, Israeli, Turkish, Saudi and Qatari intelligence personnel.”

This report was neither admitted, nor was it denied by US Coalition sources at the time. However, one mainstream Israeli source, The Times of Israel, did report the incident.

For anyone who has been paying close attention to the Syrian Conflict, seeing NATO special forces or “contractors” working with ‘rebel’ or terrorist fighters inside of Syria is nothing unusual. Numerous reports have been filed of British soldiers assigned to fighting groups to help with training, strategy and logistics. In June 2016, The Telegraph admitted that British special forces were helping one rebel group, “… with logistics, like building defences to make the bunkers safe,” said one ‘rebel’ fighter. Other reports, including the LA Times which detailed CIA operations used to arm militants, including Al Nusra Front (al Qaeda in Syria) who were the terrorist force in charge in East Aleppo. Other revelations of US covert involvement include The New York Times, and also information on US (NATO by another name only) covert operations provided to the Wall Street Journal.

Throughout fighting in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine, during the period of May 2014 to the present, numerous incidents have been reported where NATO military soldiers and operatives have been both spotted, and captured by rebel forces, and in most cases these reports have been muted, more than likely because of ‘horse trading’ taking place as an extension of wider diplomacy.

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Egypt Police Bust Staged Photo Shoot of ‘Wounded Aleppo Children’

NOVANEWS
Al-Manar 

1048773270Egypt’s police detained a man for making staged “wounded children” photos, which he was planning to use to misrepresent on social media as photos of destruction and injured people in Syria’s Aleppo, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said on Monday.

“The shooting team, which included photographer’s assistants and parents of the children, was detained in the Egypt’s province of Port Said,” the Ministry said on Facebook.

According to the Ministry, the police witnessed the shooting process, which was taking place near the vestiges of a building destroyed as illegal under the decision of the local authorities.

A girl standing in a white dress covered in “blood” that later proved to be paint drew attention of a police officer driving by. The girl held a teddy bear covered in the same “blood” and had her arm “bandaged”.

The photographer reportedly admitted that he was going to publish these photos on social media as pictures of Aleppo.

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Nazi Gestapo renews travel ban against Jerusalemite Palestinian woman

NOVANEWS

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Nazi Gestapo renewed a travel ban against a Palestinian woman from occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, after she has already been banned from the Old City’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as well as from the occupied West Bank.

Khadija Khweis told a Ma’an that Nazi intelligence summoned her to Jerusalem’s Russian Compound police station, where she was handed a renewable one-month travel prohibition order signed by the Nazi Minister of Interior.

A previous one-month travel ban against Khweis had expired on Wednesday.

According to Khweis, the new order read that she was prevented from traveling for “security reasons.”

“They say I have connections with the Murabitat group and think I could travel on missions to promote them,” she said.

In addition to being banned from international travel, Khweis has been prohibited from traveling to the West Bank for six months, an order that she said was still effective.

Furthermore, Khweis is on Nazi so-called “blacklist” created by Nazi police in August 2015 to deny dozens of Palestinians access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Nazi Gestapo have also revoked Khweis and her family’s national insurance allowance.

In December last year, Khweis was banned from the entirety of the Old City as well as West Jerusalem.

She was also among a number of Palestinian women who were assaulted by Nazi Gestapo when they were denied entry to Al-Aqsa for their affiliation with the Murabitat, a group of women who gather at the compound to demonstrate against what they see as increasing Nazi control over the holy site and provocative visits by Nazi rightists under armed guard.

In September last year, former Nazi Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon outlawed the Murabitat and their male counterpart, the Murabitun.

The third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Nazi-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Nazi threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem through detention campaigns targeting Palestinians, Nazi Jewish settlement construction, and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Nazi Gestapo renews travel ban against Jerusalemite Palestinian woman

Brexit: UK can’t deport millions of EU nationals, report warns

NOVANEWS

Joint parliamentary committee says human rights should be safeguarded and calls on government to take firm position on residence rights.

The human rights of EU nationals living in the UK should not be used as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations, the committee has warned.
The human rights of EU nationals living in the UK should not be used as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations, the committee has warned. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA

Mass deportations of the estimated 2.9 million EU nationals living in the UK would be impractical and they should not be used as a “bargaining chip” in Brexit negotiations, the government is being warned.

In a strongly-worded report published on Monday, parliament’s influential joint committee on human rights (JCHR) highlights the political uncertainty over the residential status of both EU citizens in the UK and the 1.2 million Britons believed to be living elsewhere within the European Union.

“The government must not use human rights as a bargaining chip,” Harriet Harman MP, the former deputy Labour leader and chair of JCHR, said: “The UK government could not deport the large numbers of EU nationals currently in the UK.

“In the unlikely and unwelcome event that the government sought to deport EU nationals there could be the potential for significant, expensive and lengthy litigation leading to considerable legal uncertainty for a prolonged period of time. These cases would have the potential to clog up and overwhelm the court system.”

The government, Harman points out, will continue to have obligations under Article 8 of the European convention on human rights which guarantees the right to privacy, home and family life. “Any dilution of human rights standards would be extremely undesirable,” Harman added.

The JCHR, which is made up of both peers and MPs, stressed the urgency of resolving the question of residence rights. It is concerned about comments made by Liam Fox, the secretary of state for international trade, who described EU nationals in the UK as one of the “main cards” in Brexit negotiations.

Sir Oliver Heald, the justice minister responsible for human rights, told the committee last month that the prime minister was seeking an “early agreement” on the status of UK nationals in Europe and EU nationals in the UK. He confirmed the government’s view that to take a unilateral position on the issue would not be helpful.

The report recommends ministers safeguard the residence rights of UK nationals in other EU states at the outset of Brexit negotiations through a separate preliminary agreement.

UK citizens forced to return from overseas might have problems over entitlement to benefits, including job seeker’s allowance, universal credit and pensions because of the habitual residence test.

Even if not formally deported, their existence are likely to become more precarious. “UK citizens currently benefit from a right to healthcare under EU law,” the report says. “If such benefits were withdrawn, post-Brexit, it is possible that great numbers of UK nationals, many of them pensioners, would need to return to the UK.”

Individuals’ rights will depend on length of residence and other factors. EU nationals who have been in the UK for over five years may nonetheless not satisfy the criteria for permanent residence if they have not been exercising treaty rights – such as working – in the UK, the report suggests.

Family connections and residence rights of any children will be relevant; each case would have to be considered separately. “It would not be possible for the government to establish a rule that would allow the deportation of EU nationals merely on the grounds that they had only been resident for a fixed period of time,” the report says.

The committee says it was contacted by those anxious about residence rights. It was also asked to consider the impact on the hundreds of thousands of couples where one partner is British and the other from another EU country.

The committee criticises the justice secretary, Liz Truss, for declining to appear and answer questions. “We are firmly of the view that the secretary of state should have appeared,” the JCHR report states. “The fact that she chose not to is unacceptable.” Heald gave evidence instead.

It is regrettable, the report adds, that the government has not been able “to set out any clear vision as to how it expects Brexit will impact the UK’s human rights framework”.

A government spokesperson said: “The UK has a long-standing tradition of ensuring our rights and traditional liberties are protected domestically and of fulfilling our international human rights obligations. The decision to leave the European Union does not change that.

“The Prime Minister has been clear that she wants to protect the status of EU nationals already living here, and the only circumstances in which that wouldn’t be possible is if British citizens’ rights in European member states were not protected in return.”

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A Meditation on Aleppo, Syria, Libya & the Importance of Bashar Assad’s Survival

NOVANEWS

assad-gaddafi

It is difficult to look at the situation in Aleppo and not see it in a broader context. Not only of Syria, but of Libya, the past several years, and of the entire region. And of international affairs in general.

We probably shouldn’t; we should probably view different situations entirely in their own light. But I can’t help but look at Aleppo – both the fall of Aleppo to rebel militias and foreign-backed mercenaries and now the liberation or reclamation of Aleppo by Syrian government forces – and see it as a point on a timeline that goes all the way back to Benghazi, Tripoli, Sirte and elsewhere.

In some ways, that connection is obvious: as I’ve said before, I always saw the Libyan and Syrian nightmares as one event, albeit occurring in two different countries. And, for example, we know about how Libyan arms were smuggled from the fallen Gaddafi-era state into Syria under the watch of Turkey and the CIA for use by Syrian rebel militias, and how all of the same players involved in orchestrating, initiating and propagandising for the anti-Gaddafi movement in Libya were also involved in the anti-Assad uprising in Syria.

It occurs to me that the Syrian government victory in Aleppo isn’t just a strategic and territorial victory; it is a moral victory, not just of Syria over the various foreign-backed forces that were sent to terrorise and subdue its communities, but also a moral and symbolic victory in the context of a society struggling to survive amid a multi-faceted, multi-lateral conspiracy conducted by an international mafia that considers itself all-powerful.

If Assad and Syria do survive, it will drastically change the perception concerning the odds of potential survival against such a concerted geopolitical onslaught involving so many institutions, agencies and actors.

Gaddafi showed everyone how to fight: but Assad and the Syrian government have shown that you can win – albeit with massive help from foreign allies, and at massive, massive cost.
Bashar-Assad-Moammar-Gadh-007

It also occurs to me that Bashar Assad has outlasted virtually everyone who was insisting ‘Assad Must Go’ for years.

He has outlasted a Saudi King, a British Prime Minister in David Cameron, a French President in Sarkosy, another French President in Hollande, several other leaders or officials, and is now certainly going to outlast Barack Obama. He also, crucially, outlasted Hillary Clinton, who – even right up until a couple of months ago was still saying Assad would be removed as one of her “first priorities” when becoming president.

Hillary fell before Assad did – just think about that. Hell, Assad has even outlasted Turkish democracy.

He hasn’t outlasted Angela Merkel (yet); but, for the record, Merkel is actually one of the few leading Western officials who *hasn’t* sung from the ‘Assad Must Go’ hymn-sheet and has in fact generally said that Assad should be included in any plan for Syria’s future.

And Obama, in truth, has actually been softer on Assad and Syria – if it can be put that way – than Hillary or the Bush regime would’ve been. For all the talk of Obama himself having been behind the chaos in Syria, this simply isn’t true; he was simply inheriting a foreign-policy agenda that pre-dated him and was actually an extension of the Iraq War agenda (as was Libya: Libya and Syria both being on the Rumsfeld/Pentagon ‘hit-list’ immediately after 9/11 and leaked by Retired General Wesley Clarke).

And the Cheney/Rumsfeld regime still been in power at the time, Syria would’ve been outright invaded by the US military and Assad removed long ago.

We also have to remember how close we came to direct military invasion into Syria in 2013; and how Russian diplomatic intervention and – and I cite this so that people don’t forget – a British parliamentary no-vote against David Cameron’s wish to go into Syria and led principally by the much-maligned Labour Party leader Ed Miliband. Seriously, Ed Miliband – who lost the election – helped save Syria from Western military invasion and directly helped derail what was, at the time, an inexorable Washington-led push towards forced regime-change. People should remember that the next time they mock him for being ‘a Jew’ or a ‘Liberal Elite’ “Lib-Tard” or whatever other dumb labels get thrown around these days by dumb people.
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But Assad’s survival has been frankly Herculean.

Many of Assad’s critics place the blame on him for refusing to step aside. This is nonsense, of course: the President of the country could not go into exile when there was no feasible successor or alternative to take his place and when it would’ve meant leaving the country at the mercy of armed militias, mercenaries and foreign-backed jihadists. Assad – who, remember, had never really sought the Syrian presidency, but had wanted to be an eye doctor – had no choice but to fight: and he had no choice but to call upon Russia and Iran to assist him – without that help, he would’ve lost, he would be dead, and Syria would’ve gone the way of Libya and Iraq.

None of this is about lioinisng Assad himself; and I wholly accept that the Syrian state handled the early 2011 protests very badly and that – prior to the escalation of the fighting – there were civilian protesters and dissenters being cruelly and violently suppressed by state actors or agencies. I know this, having had it told to me by people who were there. And I also wholly accept that there were probably some very ugly figures in the regime who may also have been behind some horrible acts in early 2011; though there’s no real evidence that Bashar Assad himself was one of them.

Whatever the nature of the Syrian state going forward, the Syrian regime in the past was a very harsh one that didn’t tolerate dissent or anti-government opinion – but in this it was no different to any other state in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and including Bahrain (where the British PM has just been in recent days, selling weapons) and now, sadly, even Turkey.

I noted above how ironic it is that Assad has outlasted most of those leaders who were calling for him to go: in the case of Turkey, the irony is of a different kind. Here, we see a Turkish government – led by Erdogan – that has been acting criminally against Assad and the Syrian state for several years: a Turkish government that, when it started propagandising against Assad, was itself a democracy, but is now more or less a dictatorship and might end the war as more of an oppressive dictatorship than even what will be seen in Syria.

How ridiculous is that? To highlight the point, below is a picture of Assad laughing – and to further highlight how absurd all of this has become, I found a picture of him with Sting.
bashar-assad-sting

And the thing is, if there hadn’t been a covert, dirty war fought against Assad and Syria, had foreign mercenaries and fighters not been flooded into Syria to terrorise the population, if international agencies and officials hadn’t been willing to sacrifice countless Syrian lives, communities and towns for the sake of dirty geopolitical schemes, and if Western media and governments hadn’t engaged in outright lies and propaganda campaigns to pervert reality and perception, then I wouldn’t care about Assad or the Syrian government: and in fact, I would probably be the kind of person who might’ve been criticising the Syrian state for its treatment of opposition and protest.

But that whole list of things did happen – and is still happening – and the entire narrative stopped being about whatever flaws or unpleasant things there used to be about the Syrian state and Syrian politics and became about the ceaseless array of unpleasant things that were being inflicted upon Syria and Syrians from the outside.

Every one of those things – every foreign terrorist, every false-flag event used to frame Assad as the ‘brutal tyrant’, every massacre and every deception employed to create a false narrative of events – has actually given Bashar Assad far more ‘legitimacy’ than he had *before* the war. Along with every scripted call of ‘Assad Must Go’ from Hillary Clinton, Sarkosy or anyone else, it has all actually had the precise opposite effect: it has made Assad the most ‘legitimate’ President of Syria that could be imagined at this point in time.
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And this was already arguably the case long before the retaking of Aleppo.

When it comes to dispelling the myth about ‘Assad the Tyrant’, who ‘countless Syrians’ want gone from their country, I could quote Eva Bartlett here or Vanessa Beeley or some other independent journalist who’s been in Syria and moved among Syrian people and communities. Instead, however, I’ll point us to a different source – just to reinforce the point.

Assad’s legitimacy, at least at this point in time, seems to be affirmed by an opinion poll from not that long ago commissioned by the BBC and conducted by the market research firm ORB (conducted across all 14 governates of Syria). The same poll found that a staggering 82 percent of those Syrians surveyed believe that Daesh or the so-called ‘Islamic State’ is the creation of Washington (85 percent of Iraqis were found to believe the same thing).

More importantly, the poll found that there is very little support for dividing the country and creating a federal system. In Syria, 70% oppose dividing the country up. What’s important about citing this particular source is that it isn’t a naturally pro-Assad or pro Syrian government source, so it’s findings are all the more significant. By the same token, an internal NATO study (dated June 2013, during some of the worst days of the fighting), which took stock of Syrian public opinion, found that some 70% of Syrians supported President Assad (with 20% expressing a neutral position and 10% supporting the “rebels”). Had a similar study been (honestly) undertaken in the past year, the percentage would be even higher.

 

I said earlier that Libya and Syria were/are the same war.

And neither is actually over yet. Where Gaddafi’s government lost in 2011, Assad’s government also lost: the former lost Tripoli and Benghazi and Sirte and other towns or cities, while the latter lost much of Aleppo, and Raqqa and elsewhere. And in both cases they were lost to the same schools of people on the ground, using the same methods, driven by the same ideologies, backed by the same foreign countries and supported by the same international media and government institutions.

The main difference was that Gaddafi was killed early, signalling the perceived collapse of the Libyan state against the marauding forces of chaos; whereas Assad managed to survive month after month, year after year, protected by his government forces and the Syrian Arab Army and aided by allies in Iran and Russia. And because he survived, he lived to fight another day.

And because he lived to fight another day, almost six years on from the initial crisis in Syria, he is now taking back territory from the rebels and jihadists, overturning the longstanding plans and operations of foreign powers and agencies, and winning not just the war on the ground but also the propaganda war and the high ground.

Had Gaddafi lasted long enough for the real nature of the Libyan rebellion to be widely exposed, for Western and Gulf-State deceptions to be unraveled and for the beginnings of the Migrant Crisis to start to appear, things may have started going back in his favor too.

As previously pointed out, the situation in Libya may have more recently been – albeit quietly – gravitating back towards a yearning for something resembling the Green Libya that the Western governments helped destroy in 2011. This has been most symbolised by the reported release from detention of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (pictured below in Tripoli in 2011), who had previously been sentenced to death.

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I wrote several months ago; ‘Imagine if Assad continues to preside over a re-unified and sovereign Syria and a Gaddafi begins to gather mass support to move towards not only unification, but restoration of the former Libyan republic. Then the brutal covert, regime-change wars that were inflicted on both nations in 2011 will have ultimately failed – albeit, only after several years of vast bloodshed and destruction…’

That might still, over time, prove to be what happens: and one wonders if the survival of the Syrian government might also hold symbolic value for Libyans, the Green Resistance and the possibility of rising back up from what had once seemed like total ruin and collapse.

The symbolic link between Libya and Syria isn’t just related to the ‘Arab Spring-turned-nightmare’ or 2011.

The Federation of Arab Republics had in fact been Muammar Gaddafi’s own initiative to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria in order to create a United Arab state based on secular Arab nationalism. The idea had, among other things, had broadly been to create strong Arab states that would, through mutual defense and cooperation, be able to withstand existential threats from the outside. Although approved by a referendum in each country on 1st September 1971, the idea never properly developed and was dead by 1977.

By 2011, it might’ve proven useful – because what has happened, via Neo-Con/PNAC policy in the Middle East since the Iraq War in 2003, has essentially been the deliberate, callous collapsing of three strong, independent, secular Arab states (Iraq, Libya, Syria) and the sought-after creation of huge pockets of lawless, terrorist-occupied territories and sectarian strife.

We know that, during the events of 2011 as the crisis was unfolding in both countries, Gaddafi had been in regular contact with Assad: and, to some extent, seeing what unfolded in Libya may have helped Assad and his government make key decisions in Syria. There were also suggestions from some sources that it had been Assad who had sold out Gaddafi’s location and movements to NATO bombers in Sirte, leading to the Libyan leader’s murder – allegedly, this had been in order to strike a deal with the French to buy Assad some more time. I don’t know if that version of events is true or not.

Either way, little over a year ago, it genuinely looked like Assad was finished and Syria was days away from Libya 2.0: a year later and, albeit with massive help from Russia, the situation is completely different.

Of course, victory in Aleppo doesn’t necessarily guarantee a quick end to the war or even Syria’s survival.Almost at the same time as the reports were breaking from Aleppo in recent days, the report was also breaking that ISIS fighters had gone back into Palmyra. Weapons are already being delivered again to rebel groups by Washington in the wake of the Syrian government victories in Aleppo. Turkey and Erdogan are still there and still an unknown factor in terms of long-term intention.
afp_aleppo-celebrations

And the Israeli government will not easily tolerate the Syrian President staying in place with the help of Iran and Hezbollah: indeed, if a Netanyahu/Trump alliance seeks to destroy Obama’s Iran Deal and resort to open hostile action against Iran, then the entire thing will blow up even more and Syria won’t even get the chance to rebuild or to establish peace. As much as Hillary was fixated on the regime-change in Syria, the incoming Trump administration is more than likely to be a stronger ally to Israel and fixated on Iran, which would mean Syria still wouldn’t necessarily be out of the woods – especially now that Iran is so heavily involved in Syria.

Trump was right about one thing recently – American foreign policy has essentially placed both Iraq and Syria under Iranian control. Which presumably wasn’t the plan, but is simply an indication of how catastrophically bad all of US policy in the Middle East has been from Iraq onward. Indeed, that perceived level of Iranian control is one of the main reasons ‘ISIS’ was able to flourish both in Iraq and in terms of the rebellion in Syria: because it was able to appeal to some Sunni Arab insecurities and fears about Iranian/Shia domination of the region.

There is also a question of whether Syria’s survival – if it does survive – will mark a decisive turning point in the geopolitical dynamics and signal the end of the programme; or whether conspirators will simply move onto a very vulnerable Lebanon instead, which was also part of the post-9/11 Rumsfeld/Neo-Con hit-list.

Of course, even if the Syrian government survives and the nation survives as a sovereign state, it has come at an extraordinarily high price in destruction and human life: they’ve had to fight for every inch of the country, and not only against the armed militant forces on the ground, and against endless false- flags and propaganda exercises, but with the entire weight of international government institutions and media against them for the entire five-to-six years.

But Bashar Assad, albeit with a lot of external help, has politically outlasted virtually everyone who has spent the passed several years trying to get rid of him. And the symbolic and propaganda – or counter-propaganda, as may be more accurate – weight and significance of that, both for Assad politically and for Syria as a sovereign nation and society, could be regarded as enormous.

If we were talking, just days ago, about the symbolic power of Fidel Castro and his defiance and resistance, then there’s really no way we can not talk about Assad and Syria – who have been under assault for almost six years from multiple armed militias and several nations and institutions, including some of the most powerful in the world – in that same light.

Posted in Libya, SyriaComments Off on A Meditation on Aleppo, Syria, Libya & the Importance of Bashar Assad’s Survival


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