Archive | Middle East

ISIS Terrorists on the Run in East Aleppo   ‘Video’ 

NOVANEWS
 

ISIS terrorists are on the run in the eastern part of the Syrian province of Aleppo as government forces are rapidly advancing in the Maskanah countryside.

On May 24th, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces liberated 5 more villages taking control of Battushiyah, Salihiyah, Jabab Musaid Kebir, Jabab Musaid Segirr, and Shummari. Tiger Forces also advanced on Mushayrifat Bani Jamil and Kherbet Ghudraf.

[On] the same day, the Syrian Defense Ministry released a statement describing the current achievements of the operation against ISIS in Aleppo. According to the ministry, the army liberated 30 villages, the Jirah Military Airbase, killed some 3,000 ISIS terrorists, destroyed 19 battle tanks, 5 BMP vehicles, and 11 VBIEDs. Concurrently, the Syrian Air Force destroyed 9 ammunition depots. To say the least, ISIS losses in man-power provided in the report seem overestimated.

Syrian troops also neutralized a number of ISIS top members during the operation, including ISIS Minister of War, Abu Mosaab al-Masri. If confirmed, this constitutes a major blow to ISIS ahead of the expected government push in the direction of Deir Ezzor and the US-backed advance on Raqqah.

The SAA 5th Assault Corps has taken control of the Arak gas field east of Palmyra as well as the Abtar mountain, the missile battalion, the Hillabat Palace area, and Tal Al-Fari south of the ancient city.

According to local sources, ISIS intends to withdraw from the entire area south of Palmyra and eastern Qalamoun. This comes amid the SAA push against ISIS in the eastern Homs countryside and the US-backed Free Syrian Army advance in the direction of Al-Bukamal.

According to local sources, the US-led coalition carried out an air landing operation in the area of Hamidiya near the city earlier this week. During the operation, US Special Forces reportedly killed 8 ISIS fighters.

Meanwhile, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have captured the villages of Hamra Balasim, Nasira, and Al-Furqun in the Raqqah countryside.

The SDF is aiming to capture the Baath dam west of Raqqah in order to cut the last ISIS logistical line in the area.

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Certain states boosting Takfiri firepower

NOVANEWS
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A senior Iranian official says a number of countries, either directly or indirectly, side with the Takfiri terrorists in Iraq and Syria, helping arm the outfits with devastating effects.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani made the remarks at a high-level international security summit underway in Russia’s northwestern city of Tver.

He further said that those countries would either directly transfer weapons to the Takfiri terrorists or hand them over to the so-called “moderate” militants, whom they have propped up themselves before the arms are taken away by the terrorists.

This, he said, is the reason why the weapons, which are in the hands of the Takfiri terror groups of Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front), are more advanced than the ones possessed by the Syrian and Iraqi armies.

Shamkhani reiterated that Iran’s ongoing provision of military advisory support to the Iraqi and Syrian armies was taking place at their respective governments’ request.

Acting on Damascus’ plea, Iran has been cooperating with Russia to push back terrorists in Syria. This, he said, has helped inflict serious losses on terrorist camps, separated them from the ranks of the armed Syrian opposition, and eventually contributed to the conclusion of last year’s ceasefire with the opposition.

Had the United Nations acted more decisively in the face of the invasion by the US and some of its Middle Eastern and North African allies, the region would not be witnessing such conflagration today, the official asserted.

“Isn’t the time ripe for putting an end to these defeated and pernicious policies?” he asked, stressing that a failure to resolve the regional crises through political means would result in further warfare.

The official concluded his remarks by urging action against the terrorists’ attempts to establish their reign over cyberspace.

The summit started on Tuesday and would last until Thursday, with issues of global information security and fight against international organized crime high on the agenda.

“Representatives of over 90 states arrived at the meeting… Within the conference, over 10 meetings between the representatives of the delegations have been held,” said Evgeny Anoshin, the spokesman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (SCRF).

Presidential aides, ministers and intelligence officials are among the summit attendees.

It is the eighth such event in Russia. The first security summit was held in the Russian resort of Sochi in 2010 with participants from 44 countries while the 2016 conference gathered representatives from 75 states in the city of Grozny.

SCRF Secretary Nikolai Patrushev hailed the increase in the number of participants over the past years, adding that 16 European states were present in the 2017 conference “despite EU officials not recommending participating, they (intelligence agency representatives) personally took the decision [to come].”

On the sidelines of the summit on Tuesday, Shamkhani, who is heading the Iranian delegation to the Tver summit, held a four-way meeting with Patrushev, Iraq’s National Security Advisor Falih Fayaz and head of Syria’s National Security Bureau Ali Mamlouk.

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Five Civilians Killed in Yemen Raid

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Reprieve 

Reprieve has learned that five civilians were killed in the raid by US Navy SEALs overnight. It is thought that at least two al-Qaeda fighters were also killed.

This contradicts the version of events put forward by the US military, which claimed seven militants were killed.

Reprieve has spoken to sources from the village of Al-Jubah in Marib province, Yemen who witnessed the raid. They confirmed the names of the five dead as:

  • Nasser Ali Mahdi Al-Adhal
  • Al-Ghader Saleh Salem Al-Adhal
  • Saleh Al-Taffaf
  • Yasser Al-Taffaf Al-Adhel
  • Shebreen Saeed Salem Al-Adhal

None of them were fighting for al-Qaeda. One of those killed, Nasser al-Adhal, was around 70 years of age and partially blind. According to witnesses, he was shot when he tried to greet the Navy Seals, mistaking them for guests arriving in the village.

The four other villagers were killed when they started to argue with the Navy Seals after the shooting of Nasser al-Adhal. Six villagers were seriously injured, including another elderly man who was around 69-years-old.

Al-Qaeda fighters gathering nearby, who are thought to have been the original target of the raid, were alerted by the gunshots in the village and firefight ensued in which at least two of them were killed. The Navy SEALs then left with the help of air support from a helicopter.

Commenting, Kate Higham, Head of the Assassinations Programme at Reprieve said:

“This new flawed raid by President Trump shows the US is not capable of distinguishing a terrorist from an innocent civilian. When even a 70-year-old is shot dead, it is clear these attacks are not targeted or precise. President Trump must order an immediate investigation into what went wrong and halt all raids and drone strikes before more innocent Yeminis are killed.”

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Only Iran, Syria helped Lebanon when it was occupied by ‘Israel’

NOVANEWS

Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, says when southern Lebanon was occupied by Israel, no country in the world except Iran and Syria helped the country to end occupation.

Nasrallah made the remarks while delivering a speech in commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the liberation of the southern Lebanon from the Israeli occupation.

Addressing the nation from the southern city of Hermel, Nasrallah said resistance has gotten strong enough not to wait for support from the rest of the world or from inside the country or outside.

Lambasting the world’s indifference toward the occupation of Lebanon by Israel, he said when Lebanon was occupied no country in the world, neither the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, nor the Arab League, nor the United Nations or America helped Lebanon.

“Only the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria helped Lebanon against Israeli occupation,” the Hezbollah chief added.

He noted that the only time that resistance was helped against Israel was under former president, Émile Lahoud, parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, and former prime minister, Selim al-Hoss.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah described the close cooperation between Lebanese army troops and Hezbollah fighters as the main reason behind the 2000 victory over the Israeli regime’s aggression and winning back the occupied lands of southern Lebanon.

He stressed that during the occupation, Western countries stood by Tel Aviv throughout the 15 years in which the Lebanese territories were occupied by Israel’s military forces.

He also praised the steadfastness of the Lebanese nation in the face of Israel and foreign-sponsored Takfiri militant groups.

Riyadh meeting aimed to threaten Iran, resistance

Referring to a recent meeting among leaders of several Muslim countries in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, which was also attended by US President Donald Trump, the Hezbollah chief said anything that was said and decided during the Riyadh meeting would have no effect on the situation in Lebanon, because since the new president has come to office, good consensus has been reached inside the country over a host of issues.

Pointing to participation of an official Lebanese delegation in the Riyadh meeting and that the al-Mustaqbal party had hailed the final statement of the Riyadh summit, he said, “We have reached an understanding in Lebanon to differ over political matters, but follow the same line on economic and security matters.”

He added that the final statement of the Riyadh summit was not acceptable for the resistance movement and it would have no effect on the situation in Lebanon.

Nasrallah also noted that Muslim leaders attending the Riyadh summit had no information whatsoever about the meeting’s final statement, and had emphasized that they will not take heed of the statement.

The Riyadh summit was simply organized in order to glorify US President Donald Trump, the Hezbollah chief said, adding that the meeting sought to threaten the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as the resistance in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

‘Saudi Arabia is the center of world terrorism’

Taking Saudi rulers to task for inviting Trump to the Riyadh summit, Nasrallah described Trump as the US president, who has disrespected Islam as well as Arab nations the most during his presidential campaigning.

He added that Saudi Arabia simply invited Trump to get his support in the face of rising global criticism of Riyadh’s role in fostering terrorism.

“The entire world knows that Saudi Arabia is behind the spread of terrorist Takfiri ideology,” he said adding that the Saudi-backed terrorists were wreaking havoc across the world and that their damage was not limited to a single country or the Islamic world, but had spread to the Western countries as well.

“Saudi Arabia is the center of world terrorism. It is responsible for the creation and supplying arms and munitions to al-Qaeda, Taliban and Daesh terrorist groups. The kingdom’s Wahhabi ideology is fanning the flames of sectarianism and sedition in the Muslim world,” he said.

Nasrallah slams Bahrain’s “heinous assault” on peaceful protesters

Elsewhere in his remarks, the secretary general of Hezbollah censured Bahrain’s Al Khalifah regime for the brutal crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

He termed the assaults against supporters of the country’s prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim in the northwestern village of Diraz as “heinous,” calling for the immediate release of the 77-year-old cleric, who is the spiritual leader of the country’s dissolved opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.

Riyadh trying to isolate Tehran due to is support for resistance

Turning to Saudi Arabia’s military onslaught against Yemen, Nasrallah hailed the Yemeni nation’s steadfastness, emphasizing that the Riyadh regime is perpetrating crimes against humanity in the impoverished country through starving and slaughtering ordinary people.

The Hezbollah leader underlined that Saudi Arabia was haplessly seeking to isolate Iran, because of its support for anti-Israel resistance movement, including in Yemen.

He added that Saudi officials had paid billions of dollars to US statesmen in this regard forgetting all about the plight of poor Muslims.

Noting that Saudi Arabia’s aggression of Yemen was a clear political and military failure, Nasrallah advised Saudi authorities to put hostility towards Iran aside and engage in negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

He also leveled strident criticism against Arab leaders for their disregard of the important role that Iran is playing against terrorism in the Middle East region.

Nasrallah also dismissed allegations against the Hezbollah resistance movement as “repetitive,” stressing that members of the group were unfazed by ongoing threats and were fully prepared to defend their land, nation and the future of their children.

The Hezbollah chief stressed that the resistance movement in the region was stronger than ever, adding that Daesh terrorists will soon be defeated in both Iraq and Syria.

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The Riyadh Declaration of Escalated Regional War

NOVANEWS
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By Stephen Lendman 

On the phony pretext of combating ISIS, the scourge America and its rogue regional allies support, a so-called Riyadh Declaration was agreed to by 55 Muslim countries in the Saudi capital on Sunday.

Claiming it’s “to combat terrorism in all its forms, address its intellectual roots, dry up its sources of funding, and take all necessary measures to prevent and combat terrorist crimes in close cooperation among their states” is a statement of mass deception.

Saudi Arabia, Israel and America’s regional presence constitute the epicenter of regional and global state terrorism – supporting its scourge, not combating it.

The Saudi Press Agency, saying “a global center for countering extremist thought… combating intellectual, media and digital extremism, and promoting coexistence and tolerance among peoples” based in Riyadh would be laughable if the threat posed by Washington, the Saudis and other regional rogue states wasn’t so grave.

Riyadh Declaration signatory countries committed to provide “a reserve force of 34,000 troops” – not “to support operations against terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria when needed,” as claimed.

They’ll partner with Washington’s destructive imperial agenda, a plot to eliminate Syrian and Iranian sovereignty, assuring endless Middle East wars.

Iran was especially singled out, the document saying signatories “confirmed their absolute rejection of the practices of the Iranian regime designed to destabilize the security and stability of the region and the world at large and for its continuing support for terrorism and extremism” – polar opposite Tehran’s agenda.

It’s targeted for its sovereign independence, a nation America doesn’t control, a Saudi rival. Imperial plans call for regime change.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted “Iran – fresh from real elections – attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation (Saudi Arabia). Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480 billion?”

Separately in a London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed news network op-ed, Zarif said Trump “must enter into dialogue with (the Saudis) about ways to prevent terrorists and Takfiris from continuing to fuel the fire in the region and repeating the likes of the September 11 incident by their sponsors in Western countries.”

“(T)he Iranophobia project (was) initiated and promoted by the Zionist regime for years… Iran (seeks) stability in the entire region because it knows that achieving security at home at the expense of insecurity among neighbors is basically impossible.”

Sadly as Zarif knows, US and Saudi policies foster terrorism, using ISIS and likeminded groups to further their imperial agendas.

Trump’s Sunday Muslim world address was an exercise in deception – exposed by longstanding US policies, its endless wars of aggression, and announced deal to sell Riyadh hundreds of billions of dollars worth of powerful weapons over the next decade, entirely for offense, not defense.

Washington’s goal isn’t “stamping out (terrorist) extremism,” as Trump claimed, it’s supporting and encouraging it to further US aims for unchallenged global dominance.

The Riyadh Declaration is part of the scheme to pursue this objective, polar opposite what its signatories claim.

Stephen Lendman can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

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Trump’s Saudi visit wasn’t about Islam or Iran. It’s about America First.

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By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline 

The Saudi Arabian government didn’t do well to schedule US President Donald Trump’s speech at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit at Riyadh for May 21. Just a day earlier, the headlines in the world media were all about a unique event in the Muslim Middle East – free and fair elections in Iran which enabled the moderate-reformist President Hassan Rouhani to secure a second term by beating an opponent who was widely seen as representing the religious establishment.

Trump would have understood the awkwardness of his position. He was obliged to show gratitude to his Saudi hosts who propose to spend $350 billion in the US economy that would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for the American people. On the other hand, he was expected to condemn and pillory what is, arguably, the one and only democratic country in the Persian Gulf – Iran.

Trump ended up saying the irreducible minimum regarding Iran:

  • But no discussion of stamping out this (terrorism) threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three-safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran. From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.
  • It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room. Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes…The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.
  • Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve. (Transcript)

At the end of the day, Trump settled for a policy to “isolate” Iran and to “pray for the day” when Iran will be an agreeable partner. There was no itch to confront Iran or attack Iran. If a benchmark is needed, go back to George W. Bush’s famous ‘axis of evil’ speech regarding Iran in January 2002. (Watch the YouTube here.)

Indeed, the so-called Riyadh Declaration issued after the Arab-Islamic-American summit of 50 countries on Sunday contained much harsher language regarding Iran, but then, it is essentially a Saudi document, which the regime drafted exercising its prerogative as the host country. By no means is it a statement reflecting the Iran policy of the US or of the other 48 statesmen who gathered in Riyadh, including from Egypt, Pakistan, Oman and so on.

Equally, it was also apparent from the noticeably restrained moderate remarks regarding Iran by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the two joint press conferences with Saudi FM Adel Al Jubeir that the Trump administration took care not to exacerbate tensions with Iran. Jubeir spewed venom, but Tillerson simply listened. In his prepared statements regarding terrorism, interestingly, Tillerson did not even mention Iran. The ‘operative’ part of Tillerson’s remarks during the Q&A can be reproduced as follows:

  • We are closely coordinating our efforts in terms of how to counter Iran’s extremism… in particular its support for foreign fighters… its support of militia not just in Yemen but in Iraq and in Syria.
  • We are coordinating carefully around how we view the nuclear agreement.
  • What I would hope – is that Rouhani now has a new term, and that he use that term to begin a process of dismantling Iran’s network of terrorism, dismantling its financing of that terrorist network, dismantling the manning and the logistics and everything that they provide to these destabilizing forces that exist in this region. That’s what we hope he does. We also hope that he puts an end to [Iran’s] ballistic missile testing. We also hope that he restores the rights of Iranians to freedom… That’s what we hope this election will bring. I’m not going to comment on my expectation. But we hope that if Rouhani wanted to change Iran’s relationship with the rest of the world, those are the things he could do.
  • So it is our hope that – and we have a new leadership or a renewed leadership beginning another term in Iran – that they will begin to examine what this behavior is gaining for them, and rather, they will find their way back to a place that Iran historically enjoyed: good relations with its neighbors. And that’s what we hope they find their way back to as well. In the meantime, we will continue to take action to make it clear to Iran when their behavior is unacceptable… we will continue to take action through sanctions and we will continue to encourage others in the global community to take action as well so that Iran understands this is not acceptable. So we will be dealing with Iran in the economic sanction front and we will be dealing with Iran in these countries where they have decided to put their presence militarily.

In sum, Tillerson recapitulated the Obama administration’s policies toward Iran. No threat of war – ‘all-options-are-on-the-table’, etc. – no threat of regime change, no containment strategy.  On the contrary, the subtle emphasis has been on the terms of engagement with Iran someday in a conceivable future.

Thereupon, Tillerson dropped a bombshell. The following was his answer when he was asked by a journalist, “Will you ever pick up the phone and call Iran’s foreign minister? Have you ruled out diplomacy with Iran?” :

  • Well, in terms of whether I’d ever pick the phone up, I’ve never shut off the phone to anyone that wants to talk or have a productive conversation. At this point, I have no plans to call my counterpart in Iran, although, in all likelihood, we will talk at the right time.

Tillerson said effectively that the US hopes to engage with Iran “in all likelihood”. It is no small matter that he said this from Riyadh, while summing up what has been an extraordinarily successful visit by Trump in pursuit of his ‘America First’ doctrine.

Of course, the US-Iranian relations will remain highly problematic. But then four years is a long time in politics – and both Trump and Rouhani have that much time in hand. One can anticipate that Tehran will be savvy enough to sense the vibes from Riyadh and accordingly plot the road map ahead in its dealings with the Trump administration.

Do not forget that Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ speech in 2002 notwithstanding, Washington and Tehran had already got into a waltz in Iraq circa 2005 in a coordinated enterprise to advance Shi’ite empowerment in that country. Both the US and Iran knew the ground rules and the ‘red lines’ in Iraq, and they largely respected them in a co-habitation in mutual interests that was truly exceptional in contemporary world politics.

The bottom line today is that without Iran’s cooperation, the US cannot get very far in the war against the ISIS, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in Iraq and Syria. To be sure, there will be a lot of jostling for space and influence but a US-Iran confrontation is not on cards. Neither side is seeking it.

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US attack kills 7 in central Yemen

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Press TV 

At least seven people have lost their lives in a US ground and aerial operation in Yemen’s central province of Ma’rib, the Pentagon says.

Centcom, the US military command in the Middle East, said in a statement that the Tuesday raid had been carried out with the support of the former Yemeni government and had targeted a compound belonging to the al-Qaeda militant group.

“During this operation, US forces killed seven AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) militants through a combination of small arms fire and precision airstrikes,” the statement read.

It said that such assaults “provide insight into AQAP’s disposition, capabilities and intentions,” apparently referring to intelligence that may be obtained as a result of the raids.

On January 29, a similar US attack was conducted in Yakla Village in Bayda Province, the first authorized by President Donald Trump. A $75-million US aircraft was destroyed while dozens of Yemeni civilians and a US Navy SEAL were killed in the ill-prepared commando raid.

The Pentagon claimed that the attack had produced intelligence about al-Qaeda. However, senior US officials rejected the claim, saying that they were not aware of any actionable intelligence.

Yemen has been under regular US drone strikes, with Washington claiming to be targeting al-Qaeda elements while local sources say civilians have been the main victims.

Yemen has also been under military strikes in a prolonged war by Saudi Arabia and a number of its client states since late March 2015. The US has been providing assistance to that war, too.

UN envoy seeks to prevent any attack on crucial port city

On Monday, the United Nations’ Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed traveled to Yemen, where he said he wanted to prevent any attack on the western port city of Hudaydah, which is a major lifeline for imports into Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has threatened to attack the port city and retake it from the Houthi Ansarullah movement, a popular movement that has teamed up with the Yemeni army to defend the country against the Saudi-led war.

Cheikh Ahmed also stressed that Yemen’s central bank “must remain independent and must belong to all the Yemeni people.”

He further voiced concern about the dire humanitarian situation, saying, “You all know that the cholera epidemic has increased, reaching more than 25,000 cases and there have been many deaths in less than two weeks.”

The UN envoy’s visit to Yemen was met with protests as some 200 people marched from the UN headquarters in Sana’a to the city’s airport.

The demonstrators pelted Ahmed’s motorcade with rocks, shoes, and eggs as the Mauritanian diplomat was leaving the Sana’a Airport. His bodyguards fired into the air to disperse the crowd.

The Yemeni protesters carried banners, reading “Lift the blockade of Sana’a Airport.” The airport has been closed to commercial flights since August 2016, after the Riyadh regime imposed an air embargo on it.

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Iran asks US to stop arming ‘main terror sponsors’

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Iran has urged the US to stop supplying arms to “main sponsors of terrorism” after President Donald Trump clinched a massive military deal with Saudi Arabia on his first visit to the Middle East.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi called on Washington on Monday to abandon its “policy of warmongering, meddling, Iranophobia and sales of dangerous and useless weapons to the main sponsors of terrorism.”

“Unfortunately, under the hostile and aggressive policies of the American statesmen, we are witnessing a renewed strengthening of terrorist groups in the region and miscalculation of the dictatorships which support these groups,” he said.

Qassemi hit out at Trump’s accusations that Iran was funding, arming and training “terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region.”

“Once again, by his meddling, repetitive and baseless claims about Iran, the American president tried to encourage the countries of the region to purchase more arms by spreading Iranophobia,” the spokesman said.

“It is surprising that Iran is being accused of destabilizing the region by a country which has been an accomplice to the Zionist regime’s crackdown on the oppressed Palestinian nation through all-out arms, financial and intelligence support for decades,” Qassemi said.

In recent years, the US “has been complicit in the massacre of the defenseless Yemeni people through arming certain Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf,” he added.

The official touched on US role in “creating and cultivating Takfiri-terrorist currents, including Daesh” and strongly criticized “deceitful stances, meddlesome statements, and destructive measures” of the new US administration.

Such measures, he said, are aimed at “confronting people’s rule on their destiny in the regional countries and consolidating the position and superiority of the Zionist regime.”

“US support and that of its regional allies for terrorists is so obvious that their escape forward and accusations of terrorism support against others have no buyers,” Qassemi said.

“If financial, arms and intelligence resources of Daesh, Nusra Front and other terrorist groups are cut, they will be finished easily. They resist because these countries’ support for the terrorists continues,” he added.

His remarks came a day after Trump ended his visit to Saudi Arabia where arms deals worth $110 billion were signed.

Qassemi said, “Regional countries, instead of spending billions of dollars from their people’s assets on an illusory American support, had better think about the real stability, welfare, tranquility and peace of their people and spend these exorbitant sums on development and constructive regional cooperation.”

Qassemi deplored that “certain regional countries, instead of depending on the power of their people and regional cooperation capacities, have set heart on the support of big powers.”

Those countries, he said, “are paving the way for vital infrastructures of the regional countries to weaken and collapse, a case in point being the deplorable situation of Yemen and destruction of Syrian infrastructures by Takfiri terrorists.”

Trump’s accusations against Tehran came shortly after Hassan Rouhani was re-elected president.

Qassemi said the US and its allies “should know that Iran, as a democratic, stable and powerful country enjoying popular support, is a harbinger of peace, tranquility and good neighborliness in the region and a front-runner in the global fight against violence and extremism,” and that Tehran would not go off this course with the hostile rhetoric of those countries.

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Hillary Clinton’s Syria Revenge

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By Glen Ford | Black Agenda Report | May 24, 2017

Four months after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the U.S. military is fighting Hillary Clinton’s war in Syria. Last week’s U.S. airstrike against a mixed column of Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese soldiers marks a major escalation, as the U.S. draws lines in the sand to claim parts of Syria as its own. Although the presence of the Russian air force has prevented the establishment of Clinton’s “no-fly” zones over Syria, the Americans appear to be attempting to establish “no-go” zones on the ground to provide sanctuary for their Islamic jihadist proxies. The larger goal is to seize eastern Syria, under the guise of fighting ISIS, severing the land route between Syrian government-held territories in the west and the Iraqi border, and further east to Iran.

The U.S. claimed it struck the column, killing at least six soldiers and knocking out several tanks, to protect U.S. and British special forces troops training anti-government jihadists on the Syrian side of the Jordanian border, where Washington is amassing a large invasion force. The attack is a blatant violation of international law, an act of war, since the Americans and Brits have no right to be on Syrian soil, while the Iraqis, Iranians, Lebanese and Russians are guests of the sovereign, internationally recognized government in Damascus.

Washington claims it is preparing a big offensive to destroy ISIS outposts in eastern Syria — as if invocation of anti-ISIS intent makes Washington immune from international law. However, it is the Syrian Arab Army that has prevented ISIS from seizing the whole of eastern Syria, while the U.S., acting as the Islamic State’s air force, attacked Syrian government troops defending the city of Deir Ezzor in September of last year. Deir Ezzor has been encircled and besieged by ISIS since 2014. The September bombing by jets from an assortment of NATO countries killed at least 100 Syrian soldiers and allowed ISIS to launch a coordinated assault seven minutes later, overrunning key government positions and parts of the city of 100,000 people. Since then, the Syrian garrison and civilian population have been sustained by helicopter supply missions.

The U.S. later claimed the attack was a “mistake,” but it had all the marks of a military mutiny against the lame duck Obama administration’s agreement to a cease-fire with the Russians. As we wrote at the time:

“The cease-fire agreement arrived at between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart calls for the U.S. and Russian armed forces to collaborate, after a period of seven days, in targeting both ISIS and the al Qaida force formerly known as the al Nusra Front, the military backbone of the West’s proxy war against the Syrian government. If the U.S. superpower, whose military assets in the arena far outweigh Russia’s, honestly adhered to the agreement, the war against the Assad government would collapse. The mutineers see the waning weeks and months of the Obama presidency as a make-or-break moment for their jihadist proxy strategy in the region.”

As intended, the U.S. attack on Deir Ezzor snuffed out the cease-fire pact with Russia. The U.S. doubled down on its not-so-covert support for al Qaida (aka al-Nusra, now calling itself Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, and no longer on the U.S. terror list), with the Clinton-led War Party and its corporate media screaming bloody murder as the jihadists were finally driven from Aleppo in the last weeks of 2016.

The triumph in Aleppo allowed Bashar al Assad’s government to free up Syrian forces for a general offensive, and to accelerate the government’s program of negotiating cease-fires and withdrawals by isolated pockets of (non-ISIS and non-al Qaida) “rebel” fighters. With their jihadist proxies in disarray, the Americans concentrated on supporting a largely Kurdish force that is slowly closing in on Raqqa, the so-called capital of ISIS, and with training yet another batch of “moderate” rebels in Jordan for what the U.S. is marketing as a final knockout blow against ISIS in eastern Syria — at Deir Ezzor. But of course, it is the Syrian government that is actually holding the line at Deir Ezzor against both ISIS and the U.S. “coalition.” The column of Syrian and allied troops that the U.S. attacked last week was part of the force the Syrians are gathering to liberate the eastern part of their country. The U.S. war plan is to deliver eastern Syria to its “rebel” mercenaries and jihadists.

The U.S. drew its line in the sand 18 miles from the U.S.-British special ops base on the Syrian of the Jordanian border. The ritual U.S. flag-planting-by-fire is a sick imperial response to the agreement reached by Syria, Russia, Iran and Turkey, earlier this month in Astana, Kazakhstan, to create de-escalation zones in Syria, where fighting and government air strikes would be put on hold and aid deliveries allowed to proceed around four main zones held by rebels — excluding ISIS and al Qaida. With Donald Trump now dutifully in synch with the War Party, the U.S. has countered the Syrian-Russian-Iranian-Turkish “de-escalation” with a major escalation: “no-go zones.”

Hillary Clinton may never win the presidency, but she has won the battle over U.S. imperial policy in Syria. The U.S. will soon begin laying political-military trip-wires at strategic “no-go” points around Syria, to create space for Washington’s Islamic jihadist foot soldiers. Hillary’s style of warring diplomacy requires that targeted nations react to U.S. aggressions in prescribed ways: the Russians are supposed to blink in the presence of a real superpower; the Syrians must accept the loss of their territorial integrity and sovereignty; and the Iranians are required to surrender or become the next inferno. Otherwise, “We came, we saw – everybody died.”

Posted in USA, Syria0 Comments

Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance

NOVANEWS
Image result for SAUDI KING CARTOON
By Rannie Amiri | CounterPunch 

As the United States prepared to sign a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, royal forces laid siege to al-Awamiya, a restive town of approximately 30,000 in the Qatif district of the country’s Eastern Province. Bulldozers, backed by armored tanks and helicopter gunships, systemically leveled homes and put entire families on the street in the historic Mosawara neighborhood. This came under the guise of a development and “renovation” project for the long-neglected and impoverished city although the regime saw fit to post doctored images of allegedly captured weapons to imply that it was also a security operation.

Last month, anticipating such a move, United Nations experts on poverty, culture and housing rights, “ … called on the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to immediately halt the planned demolition of a 400-year-old walled neighborhood in the village of Awamia. The UN experts warned the development plan for the Al-Masora quarter threatens the historical and cultural heritage of the town with irreparable harm, and may result in the forced eviction of numerous people from their businesses and residences.

“The area is of importance not only to local people and the entire cultural landscape of Awamia, but also has national significance for the history and cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia,” said the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune. “The planned demolition would erase this unique regional heritage in an irreversible manner.” As the report makes clear, the project did not provide for the construction of residential buildings in place of those destroyed.

Awamiya was home to the late Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the fiery cleric who nonetheless peacefully demanded equal rights for the marginalized, oppressed Saudi Shia community. He was ultimately executed by the government in January 2016 after his capture in July 2012. Awamiya is no stranger to aggression, but this past week’s attack and ongoing siege is a new escalation by those yet to be satiated by the killing of Sheikh al-Nimr.

The city’s planned “development” was marked by blocking ambulance access, cordoning off the entrance to Mosawara with concrete barriers, cutting power and shooting at residents. As one said, “It is really painful to demolish a historic and archaeological city like Almosara whose lifespan extends for hundreds of years. Some people who want to close their eyes to the truth and are not affected by the demolition will believe in the lie of development.”

The action comes on the heels of an interview by deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s interview on state television in which he vowed to take the country’s standoff with Tehran inside of Iran’s borders. The offensive was still against Shia Muslims but instead within Saudi borders and the victims his fellow citizens.

It is erroneous and somewhat simplistic to frame the assault strictly in sectarian terms or as a move to appease the religious establishment’s anti-Shia proclivities. Rather, it was meant to send a message to all in the Kingdom of the fate of those who would oppose the authority and the legitimacy of the monarchy. It was to widen the narrow streets of Mosawara to allow tanks easy passage for future operations. It was a reminder to those in the Qatif who might still be emboldened by Sheikh Nimr’s famous declaration, “A century of oppression … enough, we will not be silent and we will not fear. We will call for separation even from this country and let be what will be. Our dignity is dearer than the unity of this land.”

Most importantly, it was to demonstrate that even when the President of the United States visits Saudi Arabia to speak about combating extremism, the regime itself can be extremist without consequence or reproach.

Qana, Lebanon has been the subject of two vicious Israeli attacks and massacres. Gaza withstood untold suffering from a suffocating blockade followed by attack from land, sea and air. The poor villages outside of Manama, Bahrain, have withered under the pervasive repression of the al-Khalifa dynasty. Now another has joined their ranks.

Al-Awamiya: city under siege, city of resistance.

Posted in Saudi Arabia0 Comments

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