Archive | December 21st, 2019

Ukrainian Military After 5 Years Of Warfare

Prior to the Maidan coup of 2014, Ukraine’s military existed in a political vacuum, suffering from benign neglect as well as corruption and other problems plaguing the Ukrainian state. Apart from downsizing, which meant the replacement of divisions by brigades, no modernization was conducted in the years of independence. While Ukraine did contribute to a variety of international missions, even sending a small contingent to Afghanistan and Iraq, these units came from various elite components of the armed forces. The rank-and-file mechanized and armored brigades simply languished under successive Ukrainian governments.

By South Front –

…from SouthFront

Prior to the Maidan coup of 2014, Ukraine’s military existed in a political vacuum, suffering from benign neglect as well as corruption and other problems plaguing the Ukrainian state. Apart from downsizing, which meant the replacement of divisions by brigades, no modernization was conducted in the years of independence. While Ukraine did contribute to a variety of international missions, even sending a small contingent to Afghanistan and Iraq, these units came from various elite components of the armed forces. The rank-and-file mechanized and armored brigades simply languished under successive Ukrainian governments.

Kiev’s bid to mobilize its military resources after 2014 has enjoyed mixed fortunes. On the one hand, Ukraine did benefit from massive stockpiles of relatively modern weapons left over from the Soviet era. They gave a seemingly inexhaustible supply of weapons and spare parts to flesh out existing units and assemble new ones. In practice, however, neglect of the stored equipment and the limited capacities of Ukraine’s manufacturing and repair infrastructure meant that the losses incurred during the battles of 2014 and 2015 could only partly be replaced, and even then only with inferior equipment.  While Ukraine does have the ability to manufacture heavy and light armored vehicles, it cannot do so in large quantities or without continued supply of certain subsystems from Russia. Indigenously developed vehicles like the Oplot MBT or BTR-3 and -4 APCs seem mainly intended for export to earn badly needed hard currency. Domestic modifications of existing vehicles like the T-64BU Bulat MBT have been discontinued due to the combination of high costs and enduring problems. So as a result of five years of intermittent warfare Ukraine’s tank and APC fleets are smaller, older, more heterogeneous, and more worn out than they were at the beginning of conflict. The shortage of heavy equipment has forced Kiev to resort to organizing motorized brigades with hardly any armored vehicles at all.

NATO’s contribution has not reversed this trend.  There is no evidence any MBTs have been supplied to Ukraine, even from former Warsaw Pact members of NATO who, like Poland and the Czech Republic, have limited themselves to deliveries of small numbers of 2S1 howitzers and BMP-1 troop carriers. Western NATO members likewise have not been showering Ukraine with modern equipment. The most notable deliveries of Western gear were the AT-105 Saxon 4×4 APCs from Great Britain, and the Javelin ATGMs from the United States, the latter of which have not seen combat and appear to be held in reserve. There have been spotty deliveries of small arms, including US copies of RPG-7s, large caliber sniper rifles, Humvees, and even US-made counter-battery radars. The most important aspect of foreign aid has been in the realm of provision of munitions, both for small arms and artillery. The provision of large quantities of artillery shells enabled Ukraine to subject the Donbass to continued bombardment for the last five years. Here the culprits are, again, the former Warsaw Pact members of NATO, with the deliveries being paid for by US military assistance to Ukraine funds.

The fact that the Ukrainian state has de-facto lost its monopoly on violence after the events of 2014 also left a mark on Ukraine’s forces. The military has a powerful competitor in the form of the National Guard which comprises some of the most ideological neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine, and which amounts to a state within a state under the command of Arsen Avakov. The fact that Avakov is one of the few high-level luminaries from the Poroshenko era to survive into the Zelensky era proves something that has long been suspected, namely that he is an independent player in Ukrainian politics whose subordination to the President is only nominal. Little is known of Avakov’s ties to the West, though here the fact that Western powers have turned a blind eye to Avakov’s arming of neo-Nazis suggests they view him as an insurance policy against Zelensky or any future Ukrainian leader who might “go soft” on Russia. Avakov and his proxies have made it clear on more than one occasion that he would oppose “revanchism” in the form of improved relations with Russia, which makes his political preferences consistent with those of Western hardliners. Zelensky’s humiliating confrontation with Azov Regiment militants, who plainly refused to accept orders from their supposed commander-in-chief, only underscores the weakness of his position. It also means that should Ukraine’s military suffer disproportionately heavy combat losses, it would create a vacuum of power that Avakov’s National Guard would be eager to fill.

For that reason, the seven brigades of the Airmobile Forces, the elite of the Ukrainian military have seen relatively little fighting in the Donbass.  These brigades were built on the basis of Ukraine’s Airborne Forces units, with adaptations to modern warfare including provision of heavy equipment such as T-80BV tanks, BTR-3 and -4 wheeled infantry fighting vehicles replacing the Soviet-era BMDs, and of course self-propelled artillery battalions. They also contain a considerably higher proportion of contract as opposed to conscript soldiers, are without any doubt the most effective units that Kiev commands. They are also quite visible during parades and exercises attended by Western observers. But instead of being on the front lines, two of the seven brigades are stationed close to Kiev, while the rest are spread relatively evenly across Ukraine’s regions, even Western ones where there is little danger of fighting, suggesting their role is mainly internal security. While their ostensible military purpose is to serve in a “fire brigade” role in the event of an LPR/DPR breakout and possibly even a direct Russian intervention, the fact that only one of the seven brigades is anywhere near the Donbass at any one time suggests that their main task is to guard against the potential seizure of power by the National Guard or other militants.

The political divisions, corruption, and progressive impoverishment of Ukraine have also left an impact on the armed forces. In order to send Ukrainian brigades to the Donbass to suppress what at that point were peaceful demonstrations, Maidan leaders had to resort to a major purge of the command staff, elevating relatively junior officers with proven nationalist credentials in order to ensure the military would follow orders. The early cases of units refusing to act against the Donbass activists showed that the pre-Maidan military was not mentally ready to shoot at Ukraine’s own citizens.

The problem of motivation has persisted ever since.  Far from every Ukrainian citizen shares Kiev’s political preferences or is interested in shedding blood on behalf of the oligarchs. Those Ukrainians who do serve often do it because military salaries actually compare favorably to what is available in the depressed Ukrainian economy, not to mention the prospect of plunder and/or smuggling in the frontline areas, with the latter being responsible for several clashes among various Ukrainian formations seeking to control this or that smuggling route.  But since the soldiers’ motives tend in the direction of monetary gains, the morale among those frontline Ukrainian units actually on the “line of separation” remains low, with a high rate of non-combat casualties caused by alcohol abuse or careless handling of weapons.  To offset this, Ukrainian commanders appear to have resorted to forming specialized assault units that can be relied upon to undertake difficult missions. The clashes along the line of separation during which Ukrainian forces attempted to seize positions in the “no-man’s land” separating the warring parties were carried out by such assault units usually of company strength. These clashes also showed the strengths and weaknesses of these formations. While capable of launching bold attacks, they are also highly vulnerable to attrition which ultimately forced them to abandon positions they had seized.

Consequently the Ukrainian military can roughly be broken down into three tiers. At the top there are the well-equipped and trained airmobile brigades intended for use as a last resort should a crisis erupt either on the front lines or on the home front. At the bottom there is the grey, unremarkable mass of poorly motivated Ukrainian conscripts serving in poorly equipped and trained mechanized and motorized brigades who perhaps can be relied upon to hold positions on quiet sectors but likely not much else. And in between there are the select assault units among these brigades, as well as volunteer battalions of the National Guard, which can carry out spectacular localized raids but which are unsuitable for sustained warfare.

There is little chance that the situation will change in the foreseeable future. Ukraine cannot afford a professional, all-volunteer force large enough to meet its requirements.  It also cannot afford modern weapons in large quantities. The “praetorian” factor gave Kiev an incentive to concentrate its contract soldiers and best weapons in the elite rapid reaction airmobile brigades, instead of using them in leadership positions among the ordinary mechanized and motorized brigades. While this means a rather dysfunctional military of radically differing capabilities, it is adequate to Kiev’s perception of threat. The “fire brigades” could probably handle a breakout threat by LPR/DPR forces. The Russian military is unlikely to involve itself in force except in cases of dire danger to LPR/DPR posed by a major Ukrainian offensive which Kiev so far has been unwilling to launch for fear of a new round of heavy personnel and material losses. Last but not least, Kiev appears to be aware that the outcome of the Donbass crisis has more to do with Moscow and Washington than with Kiev’s military modernization efforts.

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ISIS May Lose its Air Force: Turkey Threatens to Close Incirlik Air Base to US over Sanctions

By Sputnik News – Russia

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara will not abandon the Russian S-400 air defence systems in order to buy American Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a statement that Ankara may insist that the US leave Incirlik air base if Washington goes ahead with the sanctions it has threatened in response to Turkey’s purchase of S-400 missiles.

“WE WILL ASSESS THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO AND MAKE A DECISION. IF THE US IMPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST TURKEY, THEN THE ISSUE OF THE INCIRLIK AND KURECIK BASES MAY BE ON THE AGENDA,” CAVUSOGLU SAID.

The missile attack early warning radar, which is part of the NATO missile defence system in Europe, deployed in the Kurecik region of Malatya province in southeastern Turkey, was put into operation in early 2012. Its functioning is provided for by the US military.

Mevlut Cavusoglu added that Ankara will not support NATO’s plan to protect the Baltic states until the alliance adopts a plan to protect Turkey from “terrorist” threat.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in November after the meeting with his US counterpart Donald Trump in Washington that Ankara might buy US Patriot systems, but it considers the US requests to get rid of Russia’s air defence systems S-400 an infringement upon its sovereignty.

Deliveries of the latest Russian-made S-400 air defence systems, which caused a significant rift in relations between Turkey and the United States, began in July. According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the S-400 will be fully operational in April 2020.

Washington demanded that Turkey cancel any deliveries of the Russian-made systems over fears that they are incompatible with NATO security standards and might compromise the operation of US F-35 fighter jets. Turkey has insisted that it will continue to accept delivery of the S-400 systems.

Posted in USA, TurkeyComments Off on ISIS May Lose its Air Force: Turkey Threatens to Close Incirlik Air Base to US over Sanctions

Biosphere Collapse?

by ROBERT HUNZIKER

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Five years ago: Nations of the world met in Paris to draft a climate agreement that was subsequently accepted by nearly every country in the world, stating that global temperatures must not exceed +2C pre-industrial. Global emissions must be cut! Fossil fuel usage must be cut!

Today: Following Paris ’15, global banks have invested $1.9 trillion in fossil fuel projects.

Not only that, global governments plan to increase fossil fuels by 120% by 2030, including the US, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, Canada, and Australia.

Additionally, over that past 18 months China has added enough new coal-based power generation (43GW) to power 31 million new homes. China plans on adding another 148GW of coal-based power, which will equal the total current coal generating capacity of the EU.

India increased coal-fired power capacity by 74% over the past 7 years. The country expects to further increase coal-generated capacity by another 22% over the next 3 years.

China is financing 25% of all new worldwide coal plant construction outside of its borders, e.g., South Africa, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Meantime, China, kissing goodbye to its commitment to cut emissions, cuts renewable power subsidies by 30%.

Likewise in the United States, Trump proposes slashing renewable budget items, as his administration rebrands fossil fuels “Molecules of U.S. Freedom.” (Forbes, May 30, 2019) (Obviously, somebody in the WH scoffs at the general pubic as horribly gullible, simple-minded, ignorant, and just plain stupid to fall for that one!)

Meanwhile in America’s most northerly town, Barrow, Alaska is experiencing an unprecedented “massive spike in methane emissions” ongoing for the past 4 months, as monitored by Dr. Peter Carter (see more below).

And, in Madrid, COP25 (Conference of the Parties25) was underway Dec. 2nd-13th with 25,000 participants from countries of the world gathered to hammer out the latest details on global warming/climate change. The question arises whether the conference had “legs.” By all appearances, it did not. Rather, it was another repeat climate sideshow.

Making matters even more surreal, because of the above-mentioned death-defying global plans to accelerate fossil fuels by 120% to 2030, the Stockholm Environment Institute claims the world is on a pathway to 3C pre-industrial, probably “locked-in” because of fossil fuel expansion across the globe.

But caution-caution-caution, the IPCC has already informed the world that 2C brings the house down, not only that, scientists agree 1.5C is unbearably unlivable throughout many regions of the planet.

In short, the world is on a colossal fossil fuel growth phase in the face of stark warnings from scientists that emissions must decline to net zero. Otherwise, the planet is destined to turn into a hot house. As things stand today, it appears “Hot House” is baking into the cake. And, Hot House implies too much heat disrupting, and destroying, too many ecosystems for the planet to support 7.8 billion people.

For an insider’s view of the goings-on at COP25, Dr. Peter Carter, an IPCC expert reviewer, was interviewed on December 10th:

The following is a synopsis of that interview: He first mentioned the fact that 11,000 scientists have signed a paper stating: “We are definitely in a climate emergency.”

“At COP a couple of years ago, there was a lot of media given to the terrible fact that four of the countries had gotten together to block the most important IPCC report ever. Which was the 2018 IPCC 1.5C report, showing that 2C, the old target since 1996, is total catastrophe, and 1.5C is still disastrous, but that is still where we must aim.” (Carter)

Scientists today agree 1.5C is possible only if we reduce emissions by 7% every year from next year so that we can reduce global emissions 50% by 2030. (Comment: “That’s laughable” – Check out global fossil fuel growth plans, bursting at the seams!)

COP has always been set up to fail. However, the first COPs were hopeful. Ever since then, things have gone down, down, down. The reason why they are set up to fail is because when the Convention was signed in 1992, it was stated that major decisions would be by “consensus,” but “we still don’t have a definition of consensus under the Convention.” That is absurd.

The entire COP set up provides for one or two countries to veto any major decision, and that’s what we’ve seen happen. The US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait “block the science from the negotiations.”

“In COP25 the science has been blocked completely.” (Carter)

“Right now all three major greenhouse gas concentrations, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are accelerating. It means we are on a trend for total planetary catastrophe. We are on a trend for biosphere collapse. Carbon dioxide is on a rate exceeding anything over the past millions of years. We are at 412 ppm. To put that into context, we have an ice core that goes back 2.2 million years. The highest CO2 over that period is 300 ppm.” (Carter)

The latest IPCC assessment requires holding temps to 1.5C, meaning emissions must be cut by 50% by 2030, which means emissions have to decrease rapidly from 2020 (Comment: That’s an impossibility because of global fossil fuel plans of +120% growth by 2030).

We’ve had four separate reports this year on the status of countries meeting, or not meeting, their mitigation targets to avoid catastrophe. Result: “It’s basically the end for humanity. We’re looking at biosphere collapse. The richness of life is being destroyed by deforestation and by catastrophic climate change. Africa is in severe drought. Chile is in a mega drought. Australia is in a drought expected to become a mega drought within the next two years.” (Carter)

Absolutely nothing is happening to mitigate global warming. Furthermore, nothing will come out of COP25 to mitigate the issue. On the very first day of meetings Carter was told nations would not be looking at improving their national mitigation targets, which are a joke anyways.

“It is unbelievable what these high emitting fossil fuel producing countries are doing. Countries that are blocking any progress on emissions are acting in the most evil way imaginable. We’re looking at the destruction of Earth, oceans and land.” (Carter)

Furthermore, and chillingly, according to Dr. Carter: Currently, there has been a massive ongoing eruption of methane in the Arctic. It’s gone practically unreported. The only report of it was by the Engineering and Technology Journal.

Barrow, Alaska registered the aforementioned massive bursts of methane into the atmosphere, starting in August of this year. “We’ve never seen anything like it! And, it has stayed at elevated levels to the present week. Looking at the 2.2 million year ice core, the maximum methane concentration ever was 800 ppb. In Barrow, Alaska it is 2,050 ppb and staying there. It’s been up there for 4 months.” (Carter)

Which is an ominous warning that has the potential to be a precursor to runaway global warming, burning-off mid-latitude agriculture and categorizing the Tropics as “way too hot for life.”

We (Carter and the scientific community) know that really bad things are happening in the Arctic. We also know that the land permafrost is emitting a lot of methane, CO2, and nitrous oxide (12xs more than scientists estimated).

Conclusion: COP25 is a farce as major countries ignore the threat of global warming by upping the ante on fossil fuels, adding nearly $2 trillion worth of new fossil fuel infrastructure since Paris’15 warned of dangers associated with too much carbon in the atmosphere, a surefire recipe for Hot House Earth.

Lest we forget, Venus, our sister planet, has 96.5% CO2 by volume in the atmosphere. On average, temperatures run 864°F.

Carbon matters!

Postscript: “Accelerating heating of the Arctic Ocean could make global temperatures skyrocket in a matter of years” (Source: Arctic Ocean Overheating, Arctic News, September 8, 2019) Since the start of the industrial revolution more than 200 years ago, that’s the worst possible news ever.

Posted in EnvironmentComments Off on Biosphere Collapse?

Will Donnie’s Zionist Ass Kissing Ever Subside as Promised? See how Trump pisses on the constitution again…

Executive order could redefine Judaism as a race or nationality, which critics argue is itself antisemitic

By Gordon Duff, Senior Editor 

Introduction

For those of us with Jewish or mixed families, which probably includes 90% of the fake Jew hating right wing, Trump’s moves are pushing the most despicable of Americans, and we mean Trump supporters, back to their Jew hating selves, a movement begun in the 19th century and alive and well today…in the back woods and among the ignorant.

The Likudist mobsters running Israel and Trump’s “handlers” hate the idea that the majority, the vast majority of American Jews don’t want to support Israel’s death camps, and if Gaza isn’t a death camp we don’t know what is.

Israel’s homegrown “SS” overlook massive concentration camp

At the same time, the MEGA gangster billionaires are funding America’s illegal support for the military dictatorship that runs apartheid Israel.

To the ADL, who works to silence anyone, particularly Jews who speak truth, a big “fuck you” from VT.

“For instance, it describes as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” under some circumstances and offers as an example of such behavior “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said Mr. Trump’s order is part of a sustained campaign “to silence Palestinian rights activism” by equating opposition to Israeli treatment of Palestinians with anti-Semitism.” (NY Times)

“Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Wednesday targeting antisemitism on college campuses.

First reported by the New York Times, the policy would broaden the federal definition of antisemitism, according to administration officials who spoke to various news outlets on condition of anonymity. By expanding protections granted by title VI of the Civil Rights Act to people subjected to antisemitism, the order could also redefine Judaism as a race or nationality.

Title VI bars discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin at colleges and universities that receive federal funding. One official said Trump’s order would make it clear that title VI will apply to antisemitism as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. That definition says antisemitism may include “targeting of the state of Israel’.

Guardian: “The move has drawn criticism from those who worry that such a characterization of Judaism as a race or nation is itself antisemitic. Free-speech advocates also have concerns that a broader definition of antisemitism might be used to limit criticism of Israeli government actions.

A second official insisted the order was not intended to limit freedom of expression and was not aimed at suppressing the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement known as BDS, which aims to support Palestinian aspirations for statehood by refusing to purchase Israeli products or invest in Israeli companies. The movement is on the rise, sparking tension on many college campuses.

The Israeli government has urged allies to rein in the boycott movement, while its backers deny antisemitism charges and describe themselves as critical of Israeli decision-making, not Jewish people.”

Guardian, and from the NY Times:

The president’s order would allow the government to withhold money from campuses deemed to be biased, but critics see it as an attack on free speech.

 President Trump plans to sign an executive order on Wednesday targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination, three administration officials said on Tuesday.

The order will effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion, to prompt a federal law penalizing colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students. In recent years, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — or B.D.S. — movement against Israel has roiled some campuses, leaving some Jewish students feeling unwelcome or attacked.

In signing the order, Mr. Trump will use his executive power to take action where Congress has not, essentially replicating bipartisan legislation that has stalled on Capitol Hill for several years. Prominent Democrats have joined Republicans in promoting such a policy change to combat anti-Semitism as well as the boycott-Israel movement.

But critics complained that such a policy could be used to stifle free speech and legitimate opposition to Israel’s policies toward Palestinians in the name of fighting anti-Semitism. The definition of anti-Semitism to be used in the order matches the one used by the State Department and by other nations, but it has been criticized as too open-ended and sweeping.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Will Donnie’s Zionist Ass Kissing Ever Subside as Promised? See how Trump pisses on the constitution again…

Syrian president slams Europe as main player in creating chaos in his country

By Kevin Barrett 

Press TV

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has blasted Europe’s key role in creating chaos in Syria, saying the current refugee crisis in European countries is a consequence of their support for terrorism in the Arab country.

“Why do you have refugees in Europe?  It’s a simple question: because of terrorism that’s being supported by Europe,” the Syrian president said.

“Europe was the main player in creating chaos in Syria.  So, what goes around comes around,” he noted in an interview with Italian TV channel Rai News 24.

The interview was originally given to the Italian TV channel on November 26, 2019, and was expected to go on air on December 2; however, the channel refused to broadcast it, according to Syria’s official news agency SANA, which published the full text of the interview on December 9.

“They sent armaments; they created this chaos. That’s why a lot of people find it difficult to stay in Syria; millions of people couldn’t live here so they had to get out of Syria,” he added.

The Syrian president also warned about other repercussions of external support for terrorism in the Arab state.

“Definitely, whenever you have chaos, it’s going to be bad for everyone, it’s going to have side-effects and repercussions, especially when there is external interference,” he explained.

Read more:

Many refugees take perilous sea journeys to reach European shores, from where they attempt to make their way into wealthier European Union states, particularly Germany, in search of better living conditions.

At least 15,000 people have lost their lives in Mediterranean crossings since 2014, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration.

Posted in Europe, SyriaComments Off on Syrian president slams Europe as main player in creating chaos in his country

Boris Johnson removes child refugee legal protections

Boris Johnson removes child refugee legal protections from Brexit bill as Parliament set to approve Withdrawal Agreement

The new Withdrawal Agreement Bill has several key differences from the previous one

By Hugo Gye

Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill, which comes to Parliament on Friday, will remove legal protections for child refugees.

The Prime Minister has also taken workers’ rights, environmental protection and the right of MPs to oversee trade deals out of the legislation in a sign of how he intends to govern with his freshly won majority.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) will be voted on by MPs at 2.30pm after a five-hour Commons debate. Assuming the law is approved, as is almost certain, it will return to Parliament in early January in order to go through its final stages.

The i politics newsletter cut through the noise

Mr Johnson said: “Today we will deliver on the promise we made to the people and get the Brexit vote wrapped up for Christmas.”

Bill tweaks

The legislation, which is required to write the new Brexit deal into UK law, is similar to the version which was published two months ago but abandoned when the general election was called. But there are several key differences.

One new clause would revoke the so-called “Dubs amendment”, passed last year, which mandates ministers to negotiate a deal with the EU to allow unaccompanied child refugees who already have relatives in this country to come to Britain and settle.

The bill removes an amendment pioneered by Lord Dubs (Photo: Peter Summers/Getty)

The bill removes an amendment pioneered by Lord Dubs (Photo: Peter Summers/Getty)

The Government has insisted that it still intends to strike an agreement that protects underage asylum seekers. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring that children claiming asylum can be reunited with specified family members in the EU and vice versa. The Government’s policy on child refugees has not changed.”

But opposition MPs hit out at the change and accused ministers of a “shameful” reversal on the issue. Labour leadership contender Lisa Nandy said: “Boris has U-turned on the promises made to child refugees and EU citizens.” Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner added: “The power of a large majority reveals the true values of this Government. Why else legislate to stop refugee children being reunited with their families?”

No 10 officials insisted that removing the amendment from law would make it easier to reach a deal on the issue with the EU by giving the Government a more flexible negotiating position. A source said: “The legislation required one side to agree to this, but an agreement needs two sides.” They have also attempted to strike out as many legally binding provisions from the WAB as possible to reduce the chance of a successful court challenge.

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Withdrawal Agreement Bill — Has anything changed?

The bulk of the 102-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) is identical to the previous version which was brought to Parliament in October.

But a number of clauses have been added or removed to reflect Boris Johnson’s new-found majority which means he does not need concessions to MPs.

Measures to protect workers’ rights have been removed, although ministers say there will be a separate bill with the same protections in it. Parliament has also lost its right to have a say on whether or not to extend the 11-month transition period.

A new clause makes it illegal for ministers to agree to a longer transition, even though the Withdrawal Agreement itself allows for that possibility.

The WAB will also formally repeal a number of laws such as the Benn Act and Cooper Act which were passed by rebel MPs to force the Government to delay Brexit twice this year.

Posted in UKComments Off on Boris Johnson removes child refugee legal protections

Bolivia: A coup for Zionist too

The right wing seeks to reconquer Bolivia, dismantling solidarity with Palestine and bringing in Israeli advisors to help crush protests

People demonstrate in support of Bolivia’s overthrown president, Evo Morales, in Buenos Aires on 22 November (AFP)361Shares

Shortly after left-wing Bolivian President Evo Morales was ousted in a US-supported coup in November – disguised as a noble reaction to alleged electoral fraud – the self-appointed, fanatically right-wing Bolivian “interim” government announced the renewal of diplomatic relations with Israel. 

These had been severed by Morales in 2009 during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, which killed some 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 300 children. Though Israel naturally cast itself as the singular victim of the affair, the ratio of Palestinian civilian to Israeli civilian deaths was 400:1.

During a subsequent Israeli-inflicted bloodbath in Gaza in 2014, this one by the name of Operation Protective Edge and entailing the slaughter of 2,251 Palestinians (including 299 women and 551 children), Morales denounced Israel as a “terrorist state” – a perfectly accurate assessment, given the circumstances and Israel’s track record.

Resuming relations

So it’s no surprise that Israel was quick to embrace rapprochement with the newly cleansed government of Bolivia after the November coup, with Israel’s Ynet news site reporting that “the resumption of relations between Bolivia and Israel was made possible by the end of the reign of former hostile President Abu Morales”. (It is not clear whether the Evo-to-Abu modification was a bizarre mistake or a deliberate attempt by some sneaky Ynet person to Arabise the “hostile” leader’s name.)

As for Israel’s alleged experience in ‘dealing with terrorists’, who better than a terrorist state to offer counter-terror training?

Additional bonding opportunities rapidly materialised, as Bolivia went about requesting assistance from Israel in training police units for counterterrorism operations. On 6 December, Bolivian interim interior minister, Arturo Murillo, told Reuters: “We’ve invited them to help us. They’re used to dealing with terrorists. They know how to handle them. The only thing we want is to bring peace.”

The “terrorists” supposedly wreaking havoc in Bolivia are, according to the Reuters report, “radical leftists allegedly linked to [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro and drug-traffickers whom the [Bolivian interim] government say had instigated deadly unrest in the country”. In other words, the usual mishmash of hemispheric bogeymen trotted out to justify whatever right-wing undertaking is in need of justification – and never mind that the Bolivian military and police have been the ones perpetrating massacres.

Marketing repression

As for Israel’s alleged experience in “dealing with terrorists”, who better than a terrorist state to offer counter-terror training? To be sure, Israel’s seven-plus decades of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and thwarting peace at every turn make it a strong candidate for assistant Bolivian peace-bringer.

But it’s precisely Israel’s extensive experience in brutal – and frequently lethal – repression that make its tactics so marketable to right-wing regimes worldwide. In Latin America in particular, Israel has been complicit in everything from arming and training death squads in Guatemala and El Salvador, to fuelling the murderous behaviour of notorious former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, to fuelling the murderous behaviour of the contemporary Chilean regime

Is it pure coincidence, one wonders, that both Israeli and Chilean security forces have recently exhibited a penchant for aiming for the eyes? 

Bolivian riot police fire tear gas to disperse supporters of Morales, and locals discontented with the political situation, in La Paz on 13 November (AFP)
Bolivian riot police fire tear gas to disperse supporters of Evo Morales in La Paz on 13 November (AFP)

Meanwhile, right-wing forces in Bolivia appear to see eye to eye with Israel on the preeminent importance of suppressing indigenous rights and erasing indigenous identity. As Israel continues its efforts to eliminate the concept of Palestinian-ness – often physically eliminating Palestinians in the process – the Bolivian right now salivates at the prospect of reversing the indigenous empowerment that took place under Morales, the nation’s first and only indigenous president.

By late November, some 33 coup opponents had been killed – the vast majority of them indigenous – and hundreds of others wounded in encounters with Bolivian security forces, as underscored by Bolivia-based journalist Jacquelyn Kovarik in an interview with The Real News Network.

Genocidal alliance

After Morales’ overthrow, Kovarik said, “people – especially in the military – started burning the Wiphala, the rainbow-coloured flag that represents all indigenous people and Afro-Bolivians as well, and again is a flag that represents the Native Pueblos not only in Bolivia, but in all of the Andes”.

But, you know, the upheaval was all the fault of those Venezuelan-backed radical leftist drug trafficker-terrorists.

Latin America and Palestine have shared interests, so let’s build on themRead More »

Predictably, the Bolivian interim government’s announcement of the impending renewal of diplomatic ties with Israel was met with high praise from the Trump administration, while the infamous right-wing news site Breitbart applauded interim president Jeanine Anez’s use of “her time in office to rehabilitate much of the country’s government in the aftermath of nearly a decade and a half of socialist rule; re-establishing diplomatic relations with Israel was an item close to the top of the list of reforms she sought.”

After all, what could be more helpful to the average Bolivian struggling to survive than a diplomatic alliance with a genocidal entity on the other side of the planet?

For his part, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz was quoted in the Times of Israel lauding the rapprochement as “contribut[ing] to Israel’s foreign relations and to its international status”.

And as the right wing seeks to reconquer Bolivia – dismantling solidarity with Palestine and whitewashing Israeli brutality in the process – there’s no doubt that the coup against Morales has been a coup for Israel, too.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, BoliviaComments Off on Bolivia: A coup for Zionist too

Nazi defense minister ‘asks army to stop Palestinians spreading in Area C’

Israeli defence minister ‘asks army to stop Palestinians spreading in Area C’

Naftali Bennett seeks to end construction in West Bank region as rhetoric on annexation is ramped up

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Defence Minister Naftali Bennett (centre) visit an army base in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, 24 November (AFP)By MEE staff Published date: 20 December 2019

Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett has asked the military to stop Palestinians from “taking over” Area C in the occupied West Bank and crack down on construction there, as the government eyes annexation of the region, Yisrael Hayom has reported.

The move, Bennett reportedly said, would stop what he called the “Palestinian-European control” of Area C.

ICC to launch full investigation into Israeli war crimesRead More »

According to the 1993 Oslo Accords, the West Bank is divided into three areas: Area A under Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civil control; Area B where the PA has civilian rule but security remains controlled by Israel; and Area C, which constitutes 60 percent of the territory and is under full Israeli civil and security control.

Around 25 Palestinian towns and villages and approximately 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C, excluding East Jerusalem, which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war. Around325,500 settlers in 125 settlements and outsposts also live in Area C.

However, over the past year, rightwing Israeli politicians, including many within the government, have called for the area’s annexation.

Building permits are near-impossible for Palestinians to secure from Israeli authorities in Area C, leading to residents being forced to construct “illegally”.

Yisrael Hayom reported that Bennett asked the army to put an end “to illegal Palestinian construction within two years” in Area C.

According to the newspaper, Bennett said at a meeting with senior security officials that the Palestinians and European counries are trying to establish “facts on the ground”, and that there were 1,000 houses funded by European money planned to be built “illegally” in Area C.

No further information on the alleged contruction projects was provided by Yisrael Hayom.

‘Fayyad Plan’

The European Union is a major donor to the Palestinian Authority. In 2018, total EU aid to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian refugees was €370m ($409m). In April, the EU mobilised €22m to support paying salaries and health services in East Jerusalem after a dispute with Israel over cutting the PA’s tax revenues.

Yisrael Hayom reported that the meeting concluded that it is “a well-organised tactic by the Palestinian Authority to illegally take over large areas of Area C that are under Israeli control, as part of a broader strategic move”.

Bennett and the security officials reportedly referred to the building of houses in Area C as the “Fayyad Plan,” a reference to Salam Fayyad, the former Palestinian prime minister.

Fayyadaformer senior World Bank official, encouraged construction to help establish Palestinian statehood in the face of Israel’s policies and restrictions.

How Israel controls Palestinian bodies, both living and deadRead More »

Bennett reportedly instructed the army to prioritise demolishing Palestinian houses close to major roads and Israeli settlements. He said that Palestinians, funded by the Europeans, wanted to restrict Israel from chunks of Area C by building in strategic locations.

Only appointed in November, Bennett officially serves only as interim defence minister. 

However, since assuming the role he has made several drastic and confrontational moves.

On 12 November, the date of his appointment, Bennett approved the assassination of Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Atta in an air strike on his Gaza home, leading to two days of clashes during which 34 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including women and children, before a ceasefire was agreed.

He subsequently announced that the army would no longer release the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, regardless of their political affiliations, and set up a database of Palestinian and Arab activists to target their financial activities in Israel and abroad.

The hawkish minister has also concocted a war plan against Iran’s presence in Syria.

An editorial in Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz said Bennett was “exploiting his five minutes” as defence minister to shatter a long-standing status quo in Hebron with his decision to build a new settlement. The paper said that even the Israeli army objects to the planned settlement.

It added that Bennett had turned the defence ministry into “a headquarters for the next election campaign”, and that he intended to advance the “dreams” of settlers and rightwing Israelis.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Nazi defense minister ‘asks army to stop Palestinians spreading in Area C’

Pravda: Can Russia Destroy Terrorists Abroad (like America does?)

By VT Editors 

The assassination in Berlin of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili took place on August 23, but the political consequences of this case seem to becoming only now. It is worth recalling briefly what it is about.In Berlin, at the end of August this year, a Georgian citizen, a Chechen by nationality, and a refugee in Germany, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was shot dead. In the early 2000s, during the second Chechen campaign, he fought against the federal forces on the side of the terrorists.

According to some reports, it was Khangoshvili who was behind the development of attacks on Russian convoys in the Sunzhensky district of Ingushetia and also participated in the attack on the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Nazran in 2004. The weapons seized during that raid were then used by the Islamists during the terrorist attack in Beslan.

But then it was not possible to eliminate him, and suddenly he ended up in Georgia. There he began to actively cooperate with the regime of President Mikheil Saakashvili. And somehow this cooperation went so that they began to make assassinations of Khangoshvili in Georgia, and then they put him on the wanted list. But at that time he was already in Germany. Where at first he was identified under close supervision, as a person who might be of national security interest. Then the surveillance was removed, however, at the same time, they did not provide political asylum. And he had to challenge this decision in court.

And then his murder happened in one of the Berlin parks. And after some time, the expulsion from Germany of two Russian diplomats, allegedly “involved in the case.” Which, in turn, translated this crime into a political format.

As for the direct performer, he was caught. This is a citizen of the Russian Federation with a fake passport. And, which is characteristic, either under him or in his home they found a huge amount of money. Which, in fact, does not fit very well with the image of the “eliminating agent” of the Russian special services. But sanctions need to be continued, so the case is being promoted precisely with the version of the “Russian trace”.

Naturally, during the press conference of the Norman Four, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked about all these events. To which Putin replied rather succinctly: “not Georgians were killed in Berlin, but a militant, a tough and bloody man, he was one of the organizers of the bombings in the Moscow metro.” And many perceived this phrase as a “recognition” that Russia really has to do with eliminating the terrorist.

However, in reality, there was no such recognition. There was a statement of fact. That, someone, killed not a certain Georgian, but a terrorist. A cruel person, on whose hands the blood of several tens, or even hundreds of lives.

Nevertheless, many experts began to speculate about whether Russia (if that is it) had the right to eliminate the militant in the territory of another state, without informing the state.

Here, Putin already remembered other words about Russian politics regarding terror and terrorists: “We will not wipe away the tears from our hearts and souls. It will stay with us forever. But this does not prevent us from finding and punishing criminals. We must do this without a statute of limitations, to know them all by name. We will search for them wherever they hide. We will find them anywhere in the world and punish them. ”

And here they remembered Article 51 of the UN Charter, which, in principle, allows such actions. The article, if anything, reads as follows: “This Charter does not in any way affect the inalienable right to individual or collective self-defense if there is an armed attack on a Member of the Organization until the Security Council takes the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. The measures taken by the Members of the Organization in the exercise of this right to self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and in no way shall affect the powers and responsibilities of the Security Council, in accordance with this Charter, with regard to the taking at any time of such actions as it considers necessary maintaining or restoring international peace and security. ”

To make it clear, the maximum practical application and wide interpretation of this article was implemented by the United States after the events of September 11, 2001. And if the States want to eliminate some kind of terrorist in the territory of any state, they inform this state only if it is convenient and beneficial for the States.

Usually, everything becomes known after the fact. But this is not even because the United States is “very evil and bad”, but because it is a rational approach and there is a great risk of information leakage. And then the terrorist, whom they discovered and want to eliminate, will simply run away. Or get ready.

Therefore, in general, if the Russian special services were behind the elimination of Khangoshvili, then they would act in their own right. According to the UN Charter, within the framework of international law, using its right to self-defense.

But, we repeat, there is great doubt that this is Russia. Considering the money found in the terrorist’s killer, the general level of execution, and the fact that the terrorist, apparently, managed to spoof very many influential, and even simply “authoritative” people in Georgia. Yes, in general, and in a terrorist environment, he did not have an unambiguous reputation.

There is a version that Khangoshvili participated in the elimination of actually recruited terrorists, who were supposed to be transferred as a sabotage group from Lopota to Dagestan. But, thank God, something went wrong, a group of militants rebelled and were destroyed. In this liquidation, Khangoshvili was also directly involved. So there were a lot of people interested in his physical elimination, at least based on revenge. Such was the late “versatile” person.

But it is clear that Russia and our special services, and even our diplomats will be blamed for the current political situation. By the way, the murder occurred in late August. But so far, the investigation has not shared any specific information. At a minimum, on the basis of what evidence did German law enforcers decide that there was a “Russian trace” in this case?

And there is an opinion that, as in the British story with the Skripals, we will not hear any clear evidence.

Source:  Pravda

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Pravda: Can Russia Destroy Terrorists Abroad (like America does?)

Must Read: Assad to Europe, “What goes around comes around”

Veterans Today has few positions that are inexorable, support for President Assad is one of them.

By: VT Editors

President al-Assad: Europe was the main player in creating chaos in Syria

The interview that Italian Rai News 24 refused to broadcast

By President al-Assad

Damascus, SANA-President Bashar al-Assad said that Syria is going to come out of the war stronger and the future of Syria is promising and the situation is much better, pointing out to the achievements of the Syrian Arab army in the war against terrorism.

The President, in an interview given to Italian Rai News 24 TV on November 26,2019 and was expected to be broadcast on December 2nd and the Italian TV refrained from broadcasting it for non-understandable reasons, added that Europe was the main player in creating chaos in Syria and the problem of refugees in it was because of its direct support to terrorism along with the US, Turkey and many other countries.

President al-Assad stressed that since the beginning of the narrative regarding the chemical weapons, Syria has affirmed it didn’t use them.

The President affirmed that what the OPCW organization did was to fake and falsify the report about using chemical weapons, just because the Americans wanted them to do so.  So, fortunately, this report proved that everything we said during the last few years, since 2013, is correct.

Following is the full text of the interview;

Question 1: Mr. President, thanks for having us here.  Let us know please, what’s the situation in Syria now, what’s the situation on the ground, what is happening in the country?

President Assad:  If we want to talk about Syrian society: the situation is much, much better, as we learned so many lessons from this war and I think the future of Syria is promising; we are going to come out of this war stronger.

Talking about the situation on the ground: The Syrian Army has been advancing for the last few years and has liberated many areas from the terrorists, there still remains Idleb where you have al-Nusra that’s being supported by the Turks, and you have the northern part of Syria where the Turks have invaded our territory last month.

So, regarding the political situation, you can say it’s becoming much more complicated, because you have many more players that are involved in the Syrian conflict in order to make it drag on and to turn it into a war of attrition.

 Question 2:  When you speak about liberating, we know that there is a military vision on that, but the point is: how is the situation now for the people that decided to be back in society?  The process of reconciliation, now at what point?  Is it working or not?

President Assad: Actually, the methodology that we adopted when we wanted to create let’s say, a good atmosphere – we called it reconciliation, for the people to live together, and for those people who lived outside the control of government areas to go back to the order of law and institutions.  It was to give amnesty to anyone, who gives up his armament and obey the law.  The situation is not complicated regarding this issue, if you have the chance to visit any area, you’ll see that life is getting back to normal.

The problem wasn’t people fighting with each other; it wasn’t like the Western narrative may have tried to show – as Syrians fighting with each other, or as they call it a “civil war,” which is misleading.  The situation was terrorists taking control of areas, and implementing their rules.  When you don’t have those terrorists, people will go back to their normal life and live with each other.  There was no sectarian war, there was no ethnical war, there was no political war; it was terrorists supported by outside powers, they have money and armaments, and they occupy those areas.

Question 3: Aren’t you afraid that this kind of ideology that took place and, you know, was the basis of everyday life for people for so many years, in some ways can stay in the society and sooner or later will be back?

President Assad: This is one of the main challenges that we’ve been facing.  What you’re asking about is very correct.  You have two problems.  Those areas that were out of the control of government were ruled by two things: chaos, because there is no law, so people – especially the younger generation – know nothing about the state and law and institutions.

The second thing, which is deeply rooted in the minds, is the ideology, the dark ideology, the Wahabi ideology – ISIS or al-Nusra or Ahrar al-Cham, or whatever kind of these Islamist terrorist extremist ideologies.

Now we have started dealing with this reality, because when you liberate an area you have to solve this problem otherwise what’s the meaning of liberating?  The first part of the solution is religious, because this ideology is a religious ideology, and the Syrian religious clerics, or let’s say the religious institution in Syria, is making a very strong effort in this regard, and they have succeeded; they succeeded at helping those people understanding the real religion, not the religion that they’ve been taught by al-Nusra or ISIS or other factions.

Question 4: So basically, clerics and mosques are part of this reconciliation process?

President Assad:  This is the most important part.  The second part is the schools.  In schools, you have teachers, you have education, and you have the national curriculum, and this curriculum is very important to change the minds of those young generations.  Third, you have the culture, you have the role of arts, intellectuals, and so on.  In some areas, it’s still difficult to play that role, so it was much easier for us to start with the religion, second with the schools.

Question 5: Mr. President, let me just go back to politics for an instant. You mentioned Turkey, okay? Russia has been your best ally these years, it’s not a secret, but now Russia is compromising with Turkey on some areas that are part of Syrian area, so how do you assess this?

President Assad: To understand the Russian role, we have to understand the Russian principles.  For Russia, they believe that international law – and international order based on that law – is in the interest of Russia and in the interest of everybody in the world.  So, for them, by supporting Syria they are supporting international law; this is one point.  Secondly, being against the terrorists is in the interest of the Russian people and the rest of the world.

So, being with Turkey and making this compromise doesn’t mean they support the Turkish invasion; rather they wanted to play a role in order to convince the Turks that you have to leave Syria.  They are not supporting the Turks, they don’t say “this is a good reality, we accept it and Syria must accept it.”  No, they don’t.  But because of the American negative role and the Western negative role regarding Turkey and the Kurds, the Russians stepped in, in order to balance that role, to make the situation… I wouldn’t say better, but less bad if you want to be more precise.  So, in the meantime, that’s their role.  In the future, their position is very clear: Syrian integrity and Syrian sovereignty.  Syrian integrity and sovereignty are in contradiction with the Turkish invasion, that is very obvious and clear.

Question 6: So, you’re telling me that the Russians could compromise, but Syria is not going to compromise with Turkey. I mean, the relation is still quite tense.

President Assad:  No, even the Russians didn’t make a compromise regarding the sovereignty.  No, they deal with reality.  Now, you have a bad reality, you have to be involved to make some… I wouldn’t say compromise because it’s not a final solution.  It could be a compromise regarding the short-term situation, but in the long-term or the mid-term, Turkey should leave. There is no question about it.

Question 7: And in the long-term, any plan of discussions between you and Mr. Erdogan?

President Assad:  I wouldn’t feel proud if I have to someday.  I would feel disgusted to deal with those kinds of opportunistic Islamists, not Muslims, Islamists – it’s another term, it’s a political term.  But again, I always say: my job is not to be happy with what I’m doing or not happy or whatever.  It’s not about my feelings, it’s about the interests of Syria, so wherever our interests go, I will go.

Question 8: In this moment, when Europe looks at Syria, apart from the considerations about the country, there are two major issues: one is refugees, and the other one is the Jihadists or foreign fighters coming back to Europe. How do you see these European worries?

President Assad:  We have to start with a simple question: who created this problem?  Why do you have refugees in Europe?  It’s a simple question: because of terrorism that’s being supported by Europe – and of course the United States and Turkey and others – but Europe was the main player in creating chaos in Syria.  So, what goes around comes around.

 Question 9: Why do you say it was the main player?

President Assad:  Because they publicly supported, the EU supported the terrorists in Syria from day one, week one or from the very beginning.  They blamed the Syrian government, and some regimes like the French regime sent armaments, they said – one of their officials – I think their Minister of Foreign Affairs, maybe Fabius said “we send.”  They sent armaments; they created this chaos.  That’s why a lot of people find it difficult to stay in Syria; millions of people couldn’t live here so they had to get out of Syria.

 Question 10: In this moment, in the region, there are turmoil, and there is a certain chaos.  One of the other allies of Syria is Iran, and the situation there is getting complicated.  Does it have any reflection on the situation in Syria?

President Assad:  Definitely, whenever you have chaos, it’s going to be bad for everyone, it’s going to have side-effects and repercussions, especially when there is external interference.  If it’s spontaneous, if you talk about demonstrations and people asking for reform or for a better situation economically or any other rights, that’s positive.  But when it’s for vandalism and destroying and killing and interfering from outside powers, then no – it’s definitely nothing but negative, nothing but bad, and a danger on everyone in this region.

 Question 11: Are you worried about what’s happening in Lebanon, which is really the real neighbor?

President Assad:  Yes, in the same way.  Of course, Lebanon would affect Syria more than any other country because it is our direct neighbor.  But again, if it’s spontaneous and it’s about reform and getting rid of the sectarian political system, that would be good for Lebanon.  Again, that depends on the awareness of the Lebanese people in order not to allow anyone from the outside to try to manipulate the spontaneous movement or demonstrations in Lebanon.

Question 12:  Let’s go back to what is happening in Syria.  In June, Pope Francis wrote you a letter asking you to pay attention and to respect the population, especially in Idleb where the situation is still very tense, because there is fighting there, and when it comes even to the way prisoners are treated in jails.  Did you answer him, and what did you answer?

President Assad: The letter of the Pope was about his worry for civilians in Syria and I had the impression that maybe the picture in the Vatican is not complete.  That’s to be expected, since the mainstream narrative in the West is about this “bad government” killing the “good people;” as you see and hear in the same media – every bullet of the Syrian Army and every bomb only kills civilians and only hospitals! they don’t kill terrorists as they target those civilians! which is not correct.

So, I responded with a letter explaining to the Pope the reality in Syria – as we are the most, or the first to be concerned about civilian lives, because you cannot liberate an area while the people are against you.  You cannot talk about liberation while the civilians are against you or the society.  The most crucial part in liberating any area militarily is to have the support of the public in that area or in the region in general.  That has been clear for the last nine years and that’s against our interests.

Question 13: But that kind of call, in some ways, made you also think again about the importance of protecting civilians and people of your country.

President Assad:  No, this is something we think about every day, not only as morals, principles and values but as interests.  As I just mentioned, without this support – without public support, you cannot achieve anything… you cannot advance politically, militarily, economically and in every aspect.  We couldn’t withstand this war for nine years without the public support and you cannot have public support while you’re killing civilians.  This is an equation, this is a self-evident equation, nobody can refute it.  So, that’s why I said, regardless of this letter, this is our concern.

But again, the Vatican is a state, and we think that the role of any state – if they worry about those civilians, is to go to the main reason.  The main reason is the Western role in supporting the terrorists, and it is the sanctions on the Syrian people that have made the situation much worse – and this is another reason for the refugees that you have in Europe now.  You don’t want refugees but at the same time you create the situation or the atmosphere that will tell them “go outside Syria, somewhere else,” and of course they will go to Europe.  So, this state, or any state, should deal with the reasons and we hope the Vatican can play that role within Europe and around the world; to convince many states that you should stop meddling in the Syrian issue, stop breaching international law.  That’s enough, we only need people to follow international law.  The civilians will be safe, the order will be back, everything will be fine.  Nothing else.

 Question 14: Mr. President, you’ve been accused several times of using chemical weapons, and this has been the instrument of many decisions and a key point, the red line, for many decisions. One year ago, more than one year ago, there has been the Douma event that has been considered another red line.  After that, there has been bombings, and it could it have been even worse, but something stopped.  These days, through WikiLeaks, it’s coming out that something wrong in the report could have taken place.  So, nobody yet is be able to say what has happened, but something wrong in reporting what has happened could have taken place.

President Assad:  We have always – since the beginning of this narrative regarding the chemical weapons – we have said that we didn’t use it; we cannot use it, it’s impossible to be used in our situation for many reasons, let’s say – logistical reasons.

Intervention: Give me one.

President Assad: One reason, a very simple one: when you’re advancing, why would you use chemical weapons?!  We are advancing, why do we need to use it?!  We are in a very good situation so why use it, especially in 2018?  This is one reason.

Second, very concrete evidence that refutes this narrative: when you use chemical weapons – this is a weapon of mass destruction, you talk about thousands of dead or at least hundreds.  That never happened, never – you only have these videos of staged chemical weapons attacks.  In the recent report that you’ve mentioned, there’s a mismatch between what we saw in the video and what they saw as technicians or as experts.  The amount of chlorine that they’ve been talking about: first of all, chlorine is not a mass destruction material, second, the amount that they found is the same amount that you can have in your house, it exists in many households and used maybe for cleaning and whatever.  The same amount exactly.  That’s what the OPCW organisation did – they faked and falsified the report, just because the Americans wanted them to do so.  So, fortunately, this report proved that everything we said during the last few years, since 2013, is correct.  We were right, they were wrong. This is proof, this is concrete proof regarding this issue.  So, again, the OPCW is biased, is being politicized and is being immoral, and those organisations that should work in parallel with the United Nations to create more stability around the world – they’ve been used as American arms and Western arms to create more chaos.

Question 15: Mr. President, after nine years of war, you are speaking about the mistakes of the others.  I would like you to speak about your own mistakes, if any.  Is there something you would have done in a different way, and which is the lesson learned that can help your country?

President Assad:  Definitely, for when you talk about doing anything, you always find mistakes; this is human nature. But when you talk about political practice, you have two things: you have strategies or big decisions, and you have tactics – or in this context, the implementation. So, our strategic decisions or main decisions were to stand against terrorism, to make reconciliation and to stand against the external meddling in our affairs.  Today, after nine years, we still adopt the same policy; we are more adherent to this policy.  If we thought it was wrong, we would have changed it; actually no, we don’t think there is anything wrong in this policy.  We did our mission; we implemented the constitution by protecting the people.

Now, if you talk about mistakes in implementation, of course you have so many mistakes.  I think if you want to talk about the mistakes regarding this war, we shouldn’t talk about the decisions taken during the war because the war – or part of it, is a result of something before.

Two things we faced during this war: the first one was extremism.  The extremism started in this region in the late 60s and accelerated in the 80s, especially the Wahabi ideology.  If you want to talk about mistakes in dealing with this issue: then yes, I will say we were very tolerant of something very dangerous.  This is a big mistake we committed over decades; I’m talking about different governments, including myself before this war.

The second one, when you have people who are ready to revolt against the order, to destroy public properties, to commit vandalism and so on, they work against their country, they are ready to go and work for foreign powers – foreign intelligence, they ask for external military interference against their country.  So, this is another question: how did we have those?  If you ask me how, I would tell you that before the war we had more than 50,000 outlaws that weren’t captured by the police for example; for those outlaws, their natural enemy is the government because they don’t want to go to prison.

Question 16: And how about also the economic situation? Because part of it – I don’t know if it was a big or small part of it – but part of it has also been the discontent and the problems of population in certain areas in which economy was not working.  Is it a lesson learned somewhere?

President Assad:  It could be a factor, but definitely not a main factor.  Some people talk about the four years of drought that pushed the people to leave their land in the rural areas to go to the city… it could be a problem, but this is not the main problem.  They talked about the liberal policy… we didn’t have a liberal policy, we’re still socialist, we still have a public sector – a very big public sector in government.  You cannot talk about liberal policy while you have a big public sector.  We had growth, good growth.

Of course, in the implementation of our policy, again, you have mistakes.  How can you create equal opportunities between people?  Between rural areas and between the cities?  When you open up the economy, the cities will benefit more, that will create more immigration from rural areas to the cities… these are factors, that could play some role, but this is not the issue.  In the rural areas where you have more poverty, the money of the Qataris played a more actual role than in the cities, that’s natural.  You pay them in half an hour what they get in one week; that’s very good for them.

Question 17: We are almost there, but there are two more questions that I want to ask you.  One is about reconstruction, and reconstruction is going to be very costly.  How can you imagine to afford this reconstruction, who could be your allies in reconstruction?

President Assad:  We don’t have a big problem with that.  Talking that Syria has no money… no, actually Syrians have a lot of money; the Syrian people around the world have a lot of money, and they want to come and build their country.  Because when you talk about building the country, it is not giving money to the people, it’s about getting benefit – it’s a business.  So, many people, not only Syrians, want to do business in Syria.  So, talking about where you can have funds for this reconstruction, we already have, but the problem is that these sanctions prevent those businessmen or companies from coming and working in Syria.  In spite of that, we started and in spite of that, some foreign companies have started finding ways to evade these sanctions and we have started planning.  It’s going to be slow, without the sanctions we wouldn’t have a problem with funding.

Question 18:  Ending on a very personal note, Mr. President; do you feel like a survivor?

President Assad:  If you want to talk about a national war like this, where nearly every city has been harmed by terrorism or external bombardment and other things, then you can talk about all the Syrians as survivors.  I think this is human nature: to be a survivor.

Intervention:  And you yourself?

President Assad:  I’m a part of those Syrians.  I cannot be disconnected from them; I have the same feeling.  Again, it’s not about being a strong person who is a survivor.  If you don’t have this atmosphere, this society, or this incubator to survive, you cannot survive.  It’s collective; it’s not a single person, it’s not a one-man show.

Journalist:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.

President Assad:  Thank you.

Posted in Middle East, Europe, SyriaComments Off on Must Read: Assad to Europe, “What goes around comes around”

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