Featured

An Open Letter to Australia’s Politicians in Opposition to the Proposed Metadata Retention Laws March 17, 2015 – Written by: Rob Marsh

An Open Letter to Australia’s Politicians in Opposition to the Proposed Metadata Retention Laws

I recently wrote a rather long article on the potential dangers of new metadata retention laws to the fabric of our society and the functioning of our democracy. There is no issue I feel more passionate about in our society today, as it affects literally every one of us. We are witnessing the creation of the greatest weapon of oppression in the history of man, to quote Edward Snowden, and as individuals, citizens of a democracy, and human beings, we owe it to ourselves and each other to do what little we can to stall and hopefully stop this legislation from passing into law.

To that end, I’ve prepared an open letter to the politicians of this country outlining the failings of the legislation and other relevant information around metadata collection and the relation thereof to human rights.

Please send this to as many members of parliament as you can, and please share this template on your social media walls and any political groups you may be a part of. The more people that know that this is happening and that recognise that they are personally implicated in it, the more chance we have of stopping this draconian imposition on the freedoms of all Australians, rich and poor, powerless and powerful, male and female, old and young.

With your help, I sincerely believe we can make a positive difference.



An Open Letter to the Politicians of Australia on the Potential Adverse Effects of Proposed Metadata Retention Legislation on Human Rights and the Functioning of Our Democracy

This letter contains many references to the Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation, where there is a number or text enclosed in brackets like so: (5.17), refer to the appropriate section of the report.

[Politician’s name],

I am writing to you to express my deep and sincere concern with regards to the proposed Metadata Retention legislation that the government wishes to pass by the 27th of March 2015.

This legislation represents, contrary to the claims of those with vested interests in seeing the legislation pass, a grave threat to the right to privacy, freedom of speech and association that is fundamental to a well-functioning democracy.

You may not be aware of what the legislation addresses, or what the “telecommunications data” it refers to actually entails.

Nicola Roxon, in a statement to the Attorney General, describes telecommunications data as: “Telecommunications data is information about the process of communication, as distinct from its content. It includes information about the identity of the sending and receiving parties and related subscriber details, account identifying information collected by the telecommunications carrier or ISP to establish the account, and information such as the time and date of the communication, its duration, location and type of communication. (5.7)

The proposed legislation, based on the definitions above, would give the Australian government unprecedented access to nearly every aspect of the online activity of it’s citizens, and the ability to infer a disturbingly accurate “pattern of life” from the collected data.

For example, you may have your cellphone’s GPS services enabled to use Google Maps. That data, in conjunction with your phone records and timestamps on the above data could clue in a security agency as to your most likely whereabouts on any given day. This poses an enormous risk to freedom of the press, as governments could use these capabilities to track journalists and their sources to frequented meeting places, limiting concerned parties’ abilities to bring sensitive information to the public for democratic review.

“The database will contain every page they accessed – every article they’ve read on a newspaper site, any online political activity, any purchases on ebay, books bought from amazon, Facebook pages visited etc.” – Ian Quick

In the words of former NSA/CIA Director Michael Hayden:

“We kill people based on metadata.”

Fears about the above stated powers and the implications thereof have been echoed by several EU countries.

The Romanian Court, with regards to local metadata retention, held that a “continuous legal obligation” to retain all traffic data for six months was incompatible with the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. (5.26)

In Germany, the Constitutional Court described metadata retention as a “serious restriction of the right to privacy” and stated that a “retention period of six months [was] at the upper limit of what should be considered proportionate”. (5.27)

The Czech Constitutional Court, in analogous statements, described misgivings about the potential abuses of these powers: “Individual citizens had insufficient guarantees against possible abuses of power by public authorities.” (5.28)

The EU Court of Justice found that the 2006 European Data Retention Directive violated citizens “fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data”.

With such strident international condemnation, it seems to go without saying that any committee responsible for review of similar legislation would be given express access to details of the proposed changes and sufficient resources to complete a sincere and detailed examination of the material. Oddly enough, these criteria were not met: “Having commenced the inquiry at the beginning of July 2012, the Committee was asked to report if at all possible by the end of the calendar year. This afforded the Committee a highly compressed and unachievable time frame of less than six months to examine what is an extensive list of potential reforms, some of which are far reaching.” (Introduction, Page 3)

It seems that the government also failed to provide the committee with the relevant draft legislation, leaving those involved to rely on speculation and inference rather than an appraisal of the raw data: “The Government sought the Committee’s views on a mandatory data retention regime. The Committee did not have access to draft legislation. Furthermore, the inadequate description of data retention in the terms of reference and discussion paper also impaired both the public discussion and the Committee’s consideration of the data retention issue.” (1.29)

The question of how efficacious metadata retention is in solving and preventing crime is a raging debate.

Electronic Freedom Australia noted that it was “highly questionable” whether data retention would aid in the investigation of terrorism, organised crime or other serious illegal activities:

“It is worth noting that determined criminals will have little difficulty disguising or anonymising their communications. There are many relatively simple and effective tools available that allow for the protection of communications from surveillance.” (5.167)

This is an excellent point. The proposed legislation is no secret. Those in the criminal world will have no doubt heard of the potential for their activities to be monitored and have likely already taken steps to anonymise their online behaviour. Even in the event that the scope of the metadata retention reforms is so broad that it includes tools for opening encrypted chats and messaging services, it is not unlikely that tech savvy individuals on the wrong side of the law will be developing tools to combat this unwanted intrusion, rendering the legislation effectively useless in dealing with its raison d’être: combating terrorism and serious crime.

An unintended consequence of the introduction of metadata retention could be the opposite of what it is designed to achieve: a progressive opacification of the internet, with more and more users turning to encrypted browsing and communication, thereby shrinking the usable pool of data.

“Why do we imagine that the criminals of the greatest concern to our security agencies will not be able to use any of numerous available means to anonymise their communications or indeed choose new services that are not captured by legislated data retention rules?”

This quote from Communications Minister Macolm Turnbull, in addition to his recently revealed use of the messaging app Wickr, which provides a platform for anyone to send and receive self-deleting encrypted messages, seems to indicate that the reforms are likely to bring about little change in the positive ability of law enforcement agencies to stop criminal activity.

Add to this comments made by Blueprints for Free Speech, indicating that “there is no evidence to suggest data retention would assist with the prevention of crime or terrorism. A 2011 study of Germany’s Data Retention Directive found it had no impact on either the effectiveness of criminal investigation or the crime rate. Further, the study specifically found that countries without data retention laws are not more vulnerable to crime.”

Make no bones about it, metadata retention is mass surveillance. It can be used to form a dataset, a pattern of life indicating your movements, interests, affiliations and beliefs. You will be paying for this intrusion of privacy through rises in service bills, a kind of “tele screen tax” if you will. You will be at a higher risk of identity theft through the creation of ‘honeypots’ of data, irresistible to organised criminals and foreign actors. Your basic rights to privacy, to freedom of speech, to live as a dignified human person, are being infringed upon in ways that do not preclude a broadening of the scope of these abuses.

Even the supporters of the legislation don’t buy into their own rhetoric, with members of the Liberal party using Wickr on a daily basis, showing the world that privacy is of the utmost importance even to those who adamantly maintain that it isn’t.

With unanimous condemnation from leading human rights groups around the world, with a public backlash on a scale almost never witnessed, with the potential for so much to go horribly wrong, we simply must put a stop to this.

Tony Abbott has made statements that he wants a parliamentary inquiry into the legislation to be scrapped. I think it’s our responsibility as members of our democracy to ask why anyone would want a piece of legislation with so many potential avenues for abuse to pass without appropriate scrutiny.

I implore you, with the utmost sincerity and urgency, to do whatever is within your power to oppose this legislation at the very least until it is put before an independent NGO and reviewed in depth, with all the aspects of the legislation made available for public review and scrutiny.

Thank you for your time and your consideration, I hope that we, together, can make history and bring our society forward into an age of social egalitarianism, where the ideals of freedom of speech and thought, freedom of association and transparency of government are enshrined as they once were, as the foundations of a working democracy.

Sincerely,

______

For more information on the legislation you can refer to the Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation, which you can find here: http://www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/house_of_representatives_committees?url=pjcis/nsl2012/report.htm

An independent summary/opinion piece on the legislation can be found here: https://wideeyedandhopefullywild.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/metadata-and-you/

——

For the sender of this email: you can find the contact addresses of your parliamentarians at these links:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members

http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/03%20Senators%20and%20Members/32%20Members/Lists/MemList.pdf

Regular DonationEnjoy what you read on the AIM Network? Consider making a regular contribution to help keep the site alive.

German election’s message to Greece: looks like Grexit is coming – By Alexander Mercouris

Election result calls into question prospect of future Greek bailouts paving way for Grexit

 

One little debated consequence of Sunday’s German election is that it significantly increases the prospect of Grexit, i.e. of Greece leaving the eurozone.

The last bailout of Greece in 2015 was not uncontroversial.  The IMF bureaucracy has never made any secret of its doubts about it.  Some of the other creditor states of the EU – for example Slovakia and Finland – are known to have been unhappy, whilst economists in the US and Britain were outspoken in their opposition.

However the bailout agreement was in the end railroaded through because it had the backing of Germany, by far the strongest state in the EU.

The bailout agreement was however also controversial in Germany itself.  The Finance Ministry and the Bundesbank are known to have had their doubts, as did many members of Chancellor Merkel’s CDU party.

The best known skeptic was however Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who proposed at the height of the bailout crisis that Greece leave the eurozone “temporarily” in return for a haircut of its debt.  Unofficially it is reported that he also proposed that Greece be given a 50 billion euro parting gift to tide it over the inevitable turbulence that would follow in the aftermath of its leaving the eurozone.

Chancellor Merkel is known to have given serious thought to Schäuble’s proposal, and he at least seems to have thought for a short time that it had her backing.

However in the end the proposal was ditched in favour of another bailout of Greece following strong objections to Schäuble’s proposal from France and Italy (who were worried for the future of the eurozone if one of its member states left) and above all from the US, which saw Greece’s continued membership of the eurozone and of the EU as vitally necessary for NATO’s continued presence in the eastern Mediterranean  It was in fact apparently a telephone call from US President Obama that finally persuaded Chancellor Merkel to drop Schäuble’s proposal and give instead the proposed bailout of Greece her backing.

Though there was some unhappiness in Germany that the country had again been pushed into bailing out Greece, in the absence of any parties in the Bundestag opposed to the bailout Merkel had no difficulty getting it through.

That position has however now changed.

The AfD was originally set up to oppose bailouts by Germany of the eurozone’s weakest states, and it is a certainty that if any further bailouts are ever proposed whether of Greece or of any other of the eurozone’s weaker states it will vehemently oppose them.  That means that unlike in 2015 if any further bailout of Greece is proposed in future, unlike in 2015 there will be a party in the Bundestag which is guaranteed to oppose it.

However of even greater importance than the opposition of the AfD is that the FDP – Merkel’s all but certain future coalition partner – has also clearly signalled its strong opposition to any future bailouts, whether of Greece or of anyone else.  In the words of the FDP’s leader Christian Lindner during the election campaign

If there was a debt cut for Greece, as the International Monetary Fund suggests, then we should be open-minded to finally solving the problem.  Greece gets a debt cut, the money is gone, but for that Greece has to leave the euro zone, gets a new currency of its own which it can devalue and increase its competitiveness in tourism

In other comments Lindner is also reported to have said that Greece should be given a payoff to help it through the expected turbulence it will suffer once it leaves the eurozone.

What Lindner is proposing is of course the same as what Wolfgang Schäuble proposed in 2015.  Moreover it appears that Lindner is angling to replace Schäuble as Finance Minister.

Here it is necessary to make a number of points.

Firstly, it is a certainty that sooner or later Greece will need a further bailout if it is to remain in the eurozone.

At the present time the official view in Greece is that the worst of the crisis has passed, and that the country is recovering.

I do not know anyone in Greece who shares that view.

What is for the moment sustaining Greece’s economy is a temporary revival of the eurozone economy caused by the European Central Bank’s bond buying and quantitative easing programme.

However it is debatable whether the European Central Bank will be able to continue with this programme for much longer.  Not only is opposition to the programme in Germany since the election certain to grow, but the general global tightening of monetary conditions as a result of the US Federal Reserve Board’s unwinding of its quantitative easing programme appears to make the European Central Bank’s own bond buying and quantitative easing programme unsustainable.

All it will take is a dip in the economy of the eurozone for Greece to fall back into crisis, and with the European Central Bank’s bond buying and quantitative easing programme certain to end before long I know scarcely anyone in Greece who is properly informed about the situation who doubts that sooner or later this is what will happen.

When it does Greece will need another bailout if it is to stay in the eurozone.

Secondly, though Lindner’s statements and those of the FDP could not be more emphatic, it is likely that if a further Greek bailout situation arises he and the FDP will come under strong pressure to reverse their stance.  The same economic and geopolitical factors that lay behind the 2015 Greek bailout will still be there, making it a certainty that Lindner and the FDP will face demands from the EU bureaucracy, from the European Central Bank, from the Atlanticist wing of the German establishment and from the US to soften their stance.

However it is doubtful they will do so.  The FDP lost its position in the Bundestag following the previous parliamentary elections of 2013 in part because as Chancellor Merkel’s junior coalition partner it went along with all her orthodoxies.  The FDP will not want to be put in the same position again.

Given the strong position against further a bailout that Lindner and the FDP have taken, and the likely popularity within Germany of that stance, there will be strong opposition within the FDP if Lindner shows any inclination to reverse it, and it must be unlikely he will do so.

The odds must therefore be that when the next demand from Greece for another bailout comes the FDP will oppose it, in which case Merkel will risk the future of her coalition if she insists on it.  Moreover she will do so in support of a policy which is unpopular, and which will be opposed in the Bundestag and in the country by the AfD, leading to a high probability that opposition to a further bailout within the CDU will also crystallise.

Indeed it is likely that as the crisis within Greece resumes – as sooner or later it will – the knowledge of the opposition to a further bailout in Germany will have a chilling effect, and will harden opposition to the bailout in other countries in the eurozone which would have to agree to it, like Slovakia and Finland.

In that case it becomes extremely difficult to see how a further bailout could take place, in which case despite the opposition of France, Italy, the EU bureaucracy, the US and the Greek elite, a Grexit (ie. Greece’s exit from the eurozone) will finally have to take place.

Whilst it is too soon at the moment to say that the German election has definitely paved the way for a Grexit, realistically that looks like the most likely outcome.

There is a commonly expressed view that if a Grexit takes place and Greece finally leaves the eurozone, the eurozone itself will unravel as it is exposed as nothing more than a currency union rather than a true single currency

I have never shared this view.  On the contrary I believe that the eurozone will continue better without Greece, which will remain in all other respects a member state of the EU.

Following the German election it now looks as if before long this opinion will be put to the test.

 
 

What do you think?

Damascus to Take Control of Energy Fields by Late October – Ambassador to China- By YOUSSEF KARWASHAN

PRESIDENTALASSADSYRIA

© AFP 2017/ YOUSSEF KARWASHAN
Middle East

Get short URL
11067110

Syrian Ambassador to China Imad Moustapha has stated that the Syrian government will be able to regain full control of country’s oil and gas fields by late October.

BEIJING (Sputnik) — The Syrian government will be able to gain full control of the country’s oil and gas fields by late October, Syrian Ambassador to China Imad Moustapha said. Moreover, according to the ambassador, the government is developing projects for the post-war reconstruction of the country. Electricity, the energy sector and housing are all on the list of top priority projects.

“In the last two months, we’ve recaptured most of the major oil fields. We believe that by the end of next month, 100 percent of the oil and gas fields will be under Syrian government control,” Moustapha told Global Times in an interview published on Sunday.

The Syrian civil war between the government forces of President Bashar Assad and various opposition and terrorist groups has been raging since 2011. The international community has taken a number of actions aimed at resolving the ongoing conflict, through talks on various platforms including meetings between key players in Geneva and Astana.

.facebook_1505879020607.jpg

Russia is back to the Middle East, seriously and forever – By PRAVDA

World » Asia

15.09.2017

Russia is back to the Middle East, seriously and forever. 61278.jpeg

In one of our articles from last year, Pravda.Ru suggested that Syria was only the beginning, the first and not the last step on the way to build an extensive system of Russia’s presence in the Middle East. The next step in this direction should be the establishment of strong ties with Lebanon – a country that used to be an integral part of the Greater Syria. Today, there are reasons to assert that Russia is going in the right direction.

Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri has recently visited Russia. He held talks at the government level, met with the head of the Russian Cabinet of Ministers Dmitry Medvedev and then headed to Sochi for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Saad Hariri named the topics of his talks in Moscow and Sochi prior to his trip to Russia. The topics of the talks clearly indicate that Lebanon treats Russia seriously and understands that Russia is an ally and a partner. First and foremost, Hariri came to Russia to discuss supplies of Russian arms and military equipment for the Lebanese army.

Without Lebanon, there is no Syria for Russia

Just a few days before Hariri’s visit to Russia, the Lebanese military carried out a successful operation against Islamist militants on the Lebanese-Syrian border. The operation demonstrated the effectiveness of Lebanon’s actions on the antiterrorist front. It may well serve as a basis for obtaining substantial military assistance.

In Sochi, the Lebanese prime minister and the Russian president talked about military assistance for Lebanon, as well as prospects for the development of such relations between Russia and Lebanon.

However, the potential of the Russian-Lebanese cooperation goes far beyond the framework of the defence industry. Lebanon, which, like Syria, is situated in the Eastern Mediterranean, can give Russian companies access to rich hydrocarbon reserves on the shelf.

 

Saad Hariri brought relevant proposals to Moscow to get Russian oil and gas companies involved in the exploration and development of deposits in the Lebanese sector of the Mediterranean Sea. “There are companies engaged in the gas sector. There are real opportunities to succeed in this project, and we call on Russian companies to come to Lebanon,” Hariri said at the final press conference.

Knowing perfectly well that the work on oil and gas projects will require the creation of appropriate infrastructure, the Lebanese Premier invited investors from Russia to Lebanon. They may be interested in the modernisation and reconstruction of the transport network, port facilities, the energy industry of Lebanon and housing construction.

One should not refuse from the possibility to create an industrial and logistic base in Lebanon for the post-war reconstruction of Syria. “When the political settlement ends in Syria, Lebanon may become a platform for the restoration of Syria,” Hariri suggested.

Lebanon if a jewel of the Middle East

In short, Lebanon has all chances to be Russia’s most advantageous partner in the region in military-strategic, economic, energy, transport terms.

Lebanon is the largest international financial and banking centre, through which it is possible to establish fruitful cooperation with financial and business communities of the Arab world. For Russia, this may be of particular interest: against the backdrop of Western sanctions, expanding access to financial and investment resources of the Arab world is an urgent need for Russia, and it is with the help of Lebanese bankers that Russia can find the best solution to this problem.

Along with the above-mentioned factors of cooperation in the military-technical and economic spheres, the symbiotic relationship between Lebanon and Syria is of great importance. The two countries used to be one, but the West made it collapse. The internal conflict in Syria is deeply rooted in the history of Lebanese-Syrian relations. It was the Assad regime – Hafez Assad back then, the father of the current president of Syria, – whom the West accused of interfering in the affairs of Lebanon, which marked the beginning of a broad anti-Syrian campaign that continues to this day.

Therefore, responsible attitude to the process of stabilisation in Syria requires a lot of attention to the development of the situation in Lebanon. Russia has been demonstrating this responsibility by developing broad cooperation with Lebanon and expanding the peacekeeping mission in Syria.

It is quite obvious that Russia has been building up its positions in the Middle East with great knowledge of regional realities. Russia is back to the Middle East, seriously and forever.

Dmitry Nersesov

Pravda.Ru

Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru


Lebanon becomes battlefield of holy war

 

 

 

 

Popular In the Community

 

 

 

The US grand imperialist strategy in one map – Mikhail Leontyev – translation Deimantas Steponavicius (Voltaire Network)

© Thomas Barnett

Mikhail Leontiev devoted his column on the first Russian television channel to Thomas Barnett’s theory. What appeared to be an intellectual lucubration in 2001 is currently being realized. Everyone must now rethink their vision of the wars of the past sixteen years.

Transcript:

However, hello!

Trump delivered a speech at the UN General Assembly. As Saltykov-Shchedrin [1] pointed out once: “Kind folk awaited bloodshed and massacres from him, instead, he ate a doughnut.”

“Strong sovereign nations allow citizens to flourish in the fullness of life provided for by God. We in America do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone. And we want ours to be so brilliant as to serve to the rest as an example, “said US President Donald Trump.

Hooray! He is giving a slack. In the past he would have aspired to impose a resplendent image to follow! But now he has given up all the aspiring. At the same time, note, to erase from the face of the Earth and to overthrow is still in fashion. Trump threatens to destroy North Korea, Iran, overthrow the regime in Venezuela … But to try to impose an image nowadays is a big no-no.

“The war should not be conducted against individual states with a mobile political situation, but against regions of the world, because those states are coded in this program of destruction. Of course, they will start from one country or another, then the infection will spread until everything collapses, as we can see today in the example of the Middle East. Of course, this is a policy, the implementation of which began after September 11, 2001, and we failed to grasp the significance of the events of September 11. None of the wars that have been fought since then has been concluded”, said French political scientist, journalist (Syria, Damascus) Thierry Meyssan.

And it is true. For 15 years, none of the wars came to an end! Thierry Meyssan, a well-known conspiracy theories specialist, scholar and Orientalist, claims that we did not notice a radical change in the American strategy since the September the 11th.

“Neo-imperialism of the United States does not intend to offer anything for those states that are among the stable, nor for those that are a source of natural resources. Stable states will have access to resources, and the sources of natural resources will be completely destroyed, plunged into chaos”, continues Thierry Meyssan.

Here ((above) is this map from Hell, to which Meyssan refers, from the book of geostrategist and publicist Professor Barnett, who served as an assistant to Admiral Cerbowski, who directed the Department of Transformation of the Armed Forces at the Pentagon. Virtually all of Africa, Central and Latin America, except Brazil and Argentina, fall into the zone of “non-integrable states” doomed to chaos.Then, naturally, the entire Middle East with Turkey, the Persian Gulf, Iran and Pakistan, all Middle and South-east Asia and all The Balkans, except Greece. At the same time, Russia, India and China are prudently surgically removed out of the “nightmare zone”.

“The power of Leviathan must be released only occasionally. But here’s what you can promise the American people, our citizens, and the whole world. If we release this Leviathan, then we promise, we guarantee that immediately, immediately afterwards we will install the functional governance. You should not plan a war if you do not expect to find peace, “states US political analyst Thomas Barnett.

And they will inherit the Kingdom! … For the slow-witted: the functional governance is just an administration of occupational forces. American ones. For those in the know: what kind of American administration can be offered for “non-integrable territories”? The key is in the name-Non-integrable. You have been told! And why on Earth anyone would want to create a “perfect image”for them? Let them wallow in squalor.

Let me quote Meyssan once again : none of the wars that started after September 11 is over.

However, goodbye!

Via 1tv (Russia)

See Also:

Syrian Army crosses the Euphrates, milestone on road to sovereignty – By Charles Shoebridge

Charles Shoebridge
Charles Shoebridge is an international politics graduate, lawyer, broadcaster and writer. He has formerly served as an army officer, Scotland Yard detective and counter terrorism intelligence officer.
 
Syrian Army crosses the Euphrates, milestone on road to sovereignty
Those relying on Western media could be forgiven for not having noticed that in the past two weeks a significant blow was struck against so-called Islamic State (IS). The Syrian army, supported by Russia and others, has ended the Islamist group’s brutal three-year siege of the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor.

This relative lack of attention is consistent with coverage of the siege itself – barely mentioned by a US/UK media keen, in line with US/UK foreign policy, to portray the governments of Syria, Russia and Iran as the ‘bad guys’ in Syria and as enemies of the West, even when it is those same states that for years have been in the front line of fighting the very terrorist group now orchestrating and inspiring mass murder in the West.

In stark contrast lies the same media’s far more sympathetic coverage of the suffering of those in areas formerly besieged by the Syrian army -notwithstanding that, as indeed with so much of its reporting on the Syria war, the West’s media has relied almost entirely for its information, not on its own journalists or independent organizations on the ground, but instead on the uncritically parroted claims of primarily US/UK funded anti-Assad activists and ‘rescuers.’

Regardless, the lifting of the siege is highly significant on a number of levels.

From a humanitarian perspective, more than 100,000 people have been rescued from three years of living without functioning infrastructure, under constant fear of IS attack, and struggling to survive on basic supplies that came mainly from UN, Russian and Syrian government air drops.

As well as further harming IS morale, the ending of the siege also offers the Syria army tangible tactical advantages, for example in terms of troop deployments and logistics, and as a support base for the consolidation of gains elsewhere. Already, follow-up operations are reportedly clearing IS from nearby towns and villages, securing ground to help ensure IS cannot return.

Meanwhile, and again with Russian help, the Syrian army has now succeeded in crossing the Euphrates, a strategically important move which should allow the Syrian government to regain control of the al Omar oilfield – not only denying its significant oil revenues to IS, but also outmaneuvering the US, whose Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) proxy has been racing against the Syrian government to seize territory east of the Euphrates currently occupied by IS.

This development is vital to Syria’s sovereignty and future prosperity but poses a danger of US forces supporting the SDF clashing with Russian troops backing Syria’s government. The Russian government this week reported that Syrian forces had come under heavy fire from areas where American troops are based, while Russia has denied claims it recently attacked the SDF. Largely unmentioned by US/UK media, the US coalition is also accused of killing civilians, just as in Raqqa and elsewhere.

Fears of a US/Russia clash are understandable, but shouldn’t be overstated. While some US-based (and often US arms industry-funded) politicians, think tanks and media appear to relish the prospect, neither the US or Russia want direct conflict in Syria, and both sides are renewing their deconfliction efforts to avoid it.

The Kurds also probably understand their current US backing will likely prove a temporary marriage of convenience; the US has no desire to further alienate its NATO ally Turkey. There also appears to be a growing understanding within the US that its almost certainly unlawful physical presence in Syria is becoming increasingly pointless. Hence perhaps the recent closing of the US base at Zakaf, and reports of a similar planned withdrawal from its significant presence at al Tanf.

The breaking of the siege, just as the liberation of Palmyra, is a powerful symbol of the determination and success of Russia in confronting Islamist terrorist groups such as IS, depriving them of physical safe space and killing large numbers in the process. Of course, in doing so, Russia has had robust and reliable partners on the ground – Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian armed forces who, along with the Kurds, and again largely unreported by much of the West’s media, have borne the brunt of the ground fighting against Islamist groups.

In contrast, the US/UK ‘war on IS’ has until recently been ambivalent at best: a seemingly half-hearted effort in Obama’s words to ‘degrade’ it – terminology which some have taken to mean giving the public appearance of punishing its harming of US/UK individuals and interests, but allowing the organization and similar others such as its former Al-Qaeda linked parent group Al-Nusra to at least temporarily survive, because these have been the most effective groups in fighting the government of President Assad. As Clinton herself was reportedly aware, in Syria the US and Al-Qaeda ‘are on the same side.’

Groups such as IS and Al-Nusra, unwittingly or otherwise, have long acted as proxies for US/UK policy. In Iraq, IS was considered by the US to be useful to place pressure on the Iran-friendly Maliki government. In Syria, mainly Islamist rebels were utilized to destabilize and destroy a state regarded by the US, UK and France, and crucially their Saudi, Turkish, Qatari and Israeli allies, as an enemy. Much the same happened with the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya – and indeed elsewhere, such as Bosnia, Chechnya, and of course the US/UK arming of the mujahideen against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

It’s in this context that seemingly contradictory elements of US policy perhaps make more sense. For example, for over a year after its strikes on IS purportedly began, the US failed to make any determined attempt to cut off one of its main sources of funding by attacking its oil smuggling routes. It was also at Deir ez-Zor in 2016 that around 100 Syrian soldiers were killed in a US-led airstrike that seemed timed to coincide with an attack by IS – an airstrike claimed by the US to have been an accident, but which a body of evidence suggests may have been otherwise.

Close to al Tanf, the US has on several occasions attacked forces allied to the Syrian government, suggesting again that the US presence in Syria has less to do with fighting IS than with furthering broader US and Israeli geostrategic interests by attempting to contain the influence of Iran.

Similarly, many were mystified as to how US saturation air and satellite surveillance coverage of Syria somehow failed to spot or warn Russia of the columns of IS fighters heading across open desert to attack and re-take the city of Palmyra, just at the same time that US-backed rebels were under intense pressure from government forces in Aleppo.

Meanwhile, throughout the Syrian war the CIA has been active in funding and arming so-called ‘moderate’ Syria rebels, despite surely from the outset knowing, given the nature of the Syrian conflict, that these weapons and funds would almost inevitably end up in the ‘wrong hands’ of the very same extremists that the US and UK, publicly at least, were claiming to oppose.

Indeed, it’s an irony largely ignored in the West that the much vaunted US-led ‘anti-IS alliance’ includes key states that have done so much to support groups like IS and Al-Qaeda such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, yet excludes states such as Russia, Syria, and Iran that have for years been the main force fighting them.

Some may argue that US policies in effect helping such groups have been a success – after all, Syria, like Iraq and Libya, is now a devastated state that no longer poses a threat to a key priority of US regional policy: the security and interests of Israel.

But ultimately, US policy in Syria has failed. For although challenges for Syria such as Idlib remain, the US and its allies have not toppled Assad’s government, nor achieved Syria’s permanent destruction or dismemberment.

On the contrary, as a direct result of the armed rebellion that has cost some 400,000 lives, created millions of refugees and fostered a wave of international terrorism, and which the US and its allies backed and so helped prolong, the credibility and regional influence of Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah have grown.

Within Syria, and also within the international process to de-escalate the conflict, the US is increasingly an observer rather than an important participant.

Meanwhile, Syria’s government is now steadily re-establishing its authority and sovereignty, including over its energy resources. Peace and stability are returning to many areas, as are the civilians who fled from them, and Syria will certainly rebuild. Indeed, the defeat of one US proxy by Syria and its allies at Deir ez-Zor, and the outmaneuvering of another may well prove a major milestone on that still difficult road.

@ShoebridgeC

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Trump’s UN speech a descent into barbarism that makes virtue out of war and genocide – By Finian Cunningham (RT)

© Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

It can’t get more outrageous. US President Donald Trump stood in front of the United Nations and openly threatened unilateral war and genocide. It’s a sign of the times that such criminal rhetoric is so casually spouted by the world’s biggest military state.

When American leaders address the UN General Assembly, people are generally used to hearing a litany of falsehoods about world events and narcissistic deceptions over America’s global role.

But when Trump made his debut speech on Tuesday, it marked, in addition to the usual American delusions, an unprecedented embrace of criminal militarism.

The nadir in his 40-minute rant came when Trump said the US would “totally destroy” North Korea – if it threatened America or its allies. The qualifier is a threadbare legal justification. It’s also just a cynical excuse for American aggression.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” said Trump. Mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, he added: “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Trump also called for forceful confrontation – regime change – against Iran, which he vilified as a “corrupt, murderous dictatorship.” He made similar veiled threats against Venezuela and its “socialist dictator” President Nicolas Maduro.

International war crimes lawyer Christopher Black said Trump’s speech amounted to a stunning self-indictment. The Canadian-based attorney said the American president’s words were a shockingly explicit repudiation of UN principles and international law on several counts.

With regard to North Korea, Black said: “The US president is threatening aggression under the false guise of ‘defense.’ By openly stating the US will act alone to use military force is a violation of the United Nations’ Charter. Such unilateral use of military force is also a violation of the Nuremberg principles which condemned Nazi Germany for promulgating similar baseless justifications for its aggression.”

The lawyer also added that Trump’s warning to “totally destroy North Korea is advocating the genocide of an entire people.” Says Black: “Any military response to any attack has to be proportional – just enough to stop the attack. Trump’s stated objective to wipe the North Korean state and its people from the face of the earth is the crime of genocide under international law.”

It should be deeply troubling that the supposed leader of the world’s most powerful country so openly and disgustingly makes a virtue of barbarism. As American writer Tom Feeley succinctly described Trump’s diatribe at the UN: “An ignorant savage who spewed hatred all over the nations of the world.”

No wonder Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping opted to skip Trump’s landmark speech. So too did German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It’s amazing how anyone could sit through such torturous distortions. In a sane world, someone should have slapped handcuffs on Trump and hauled him off to a criminal court.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was also absent, while the North Korean ambassador walked out of the General Assembly chamber as Trump was taking the podium for his address.

When Trump declared his criminal intent toward North Korea there were audible gasps of disquiet among the hundreds of delegates. Several times during Trump’s tirade, the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was seen covering his face with his hand or shifting uncomfortably in his seat. The body language spoke of shameful “embarrassment” – a word that Trump, ironically, used twice during his address referring disparagingly to others.

Anyone with a normal cognition of recent world events had to have cringed at almost every sentence uttered by Trump. It says something that the few delegates who appeared happy with Trump’s harping included Israel’s premier Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia – two actual rogue states that were unsurprisingly left out of Trump’s harangue.

Even the US media seemed embarrassed by the president’s boorish and bloodcurdling tone.

Pundits on CNN were staggered by Trump’s threats of annihilation toward North Korea. The New York Times called it “a bellicose debut” while the Washington Post said Trump’s “bellicosity and swagger” was “an incoherent mess.” Admittedly, those news outlets have been opposed to Trump’s presidency all the way since his election. But there was a different quality to their reaction to his UN speech – one of aghast disbelief that an American president could be so uncouth and unabashedly criminal in what he was advocating.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted Trump for “ignorant hate speech” which, he said, was unworthy of a considered response.

Zarif is right. The torrent of falsehoods and delusions that Trump verbalized are hardly worth rebutting in detail, so crass were they in their upside-down view of the world. It’s so unhinged, it’s beyond argumentation and reason.

But let’s do a few illustrative choice quotes where irony is dead as a rock.

Trump said: “Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.”

That’s cloying, considering the recent reports of the American CIA allegedly funneling $2.2 billion worth of weapons to terrorist groups in Syria to overthrow the elected government of President Bashar Assad. And considering that Trump in front of 193 nations was threatening North Korea with “total destruction.”

Trump made a dig at Russia and China when he said: “We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.”

Eh, this sanctimonious advice from the leader of a country that has subverted the sovereignty and borders of more nations than any other in history, including that of Ukraine where Washington violently installed a neo-Nazi regime in February 2014. American aerial bombing of numerous countries simultaneously, including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, is a curious “respect for borders, sovereignty, and law.”

Trump talks about the “scourge of rogue regimes” without a hint of self-awareness about his own country’s depredations or of its Israeli and Saudi allies. He said: “The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.”

Finally, perhaps the crowning absurdity was this: “The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.”

Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama and other US presidents were also remarkable for their skill at spouting similar distortions and delusions. In that regard, Trump’s bravura nonsense was more of the same ridiculous “American exceptionalism.”

But setting Trump’s speech apart was his flagrant embrace of criminal militarism as a matter of US foreign policy, and his nauseating invocation of genocide in a war on North Korea.

The momentous Syrian victory in Deir Ezzor – By Hugo Turner (Global Research)

© Agence France-Presse
Syrian soldiers raise their weapons while holding a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Deir Ezzor in 2011.

The Syrian Arab Army have achieved yet another dramatic victory this time lifting the ISIS siege of the heroic city of Deir Ezzor. For years Deir Ezzor has been surrounded by enemies and under siege first by the FSA and Al Nusra and then by ISIS. They have withstood repeated attacks by the US-NATO air force most infamously last fall when the Americans bombed Deir Ezzor right after agreeing to a ceasefire, a treacherous move that paved the way for a nearly successful ISIS offensive to capture the city. The brave defenders of Deir Ezzor withstood these endless attacks becoming a symbol of the heroic resistance of all of Syria. For years Syrians and their friends around the world have dreamed that one day this siege would be lifted. Our dreams have finally come true and faster then anyone could have imagined.

The liberation of Deir Ezzor from ISIS siege is the culmination of months of dramatic SAA victories against ISIS. Now we dream that a final victory may be near in Syria. Once again the SAA and their allies Hezbollah, Russia, and Iran have stunned the world. The empire of Chaos is in a panic. Netanyahu of Israel is hysterical with rage attempting to spoil the victory in Deir Ezzor with yet another of it’s illegal and cowardly air strikes on Syria. The whole strategic balance of the world is changing before our eyes. And it is all due to the enormous courage of the Syrian people who have withstood this dirty war launched by seemingly half the world on their country. Syria has resisted the US, Israel, the British, the Saudis, Qatar, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait, France, Germany, and the rest of the GCC/NATO lackeys that make up the the Axis of Chaos. They have resisted armies of fanatical, brutal, killers recruited across the middle east, Africa, Europe, and Central Asia. They have defeated a CIA trained horde of torturers, rapists, slavers, cannibals, and of course killers. Has any country in history battled against the odds Syria has faced? Is the victory in Deir Ezzor the most glorious in human history?

Brigadier General Issam Zahreddine of the Syrian Arab Army

Only a few short months ago it was unclear whether Deir Ezzor would survive long enough for the SAA to lift the siege. ISIS launched offensive after offensive and with the help of the earlier US air strikes ISIS even managed to cut the city in half last January. Then even more desperate offensives followed and ISIS made some dangerous strategic gains. ISIS always began every offensive with their trademark suicide truck bomb attacks. However the SAA managed to crush these ISIS offensives turning the town into the graveyard of ISIS. The SAA were under the command of the legendary Major General Issam Zahreddine who has lead the defense of the city since July of 2014. Every day for over 1000 days the SAA, Hezbollah and the local national defense forces were on the front lines defending the cities’ 100,000 residents from ISIS. The civilians were equally heroic in withstanding years of siege especially the defiant women of Deir Ezzor who braved kidnappers, snipers and rocket attacks to find food for their families. Their husbands were often dead or fighting on the front lines and it was the stubborn bravery of the women of Deir Ezzor that allowed the city to survive the siege. The people of Deir Ezzor withstood untold suffering their electricity was cut off, food was scarce, medicine hard to find. Thanks to the treacherous attack of the US air force ISIS was able to seize the towns clean water supply and the town was forced to drink polluted river water to survive. Rockets, artillery, mortars and sniper fire terrorized them like so many Syrians who have survived these terrorist sieges. They lived in constant fear that ISIS might capture the city. Despite all this they remained defiant determined to resist to the end. I’ll never forget the sight of hundreds of Syrian mothers, and grandmothers armed with Ak-47s and warning ISIS they would fight to the death to defend their families. Thankfully due to bravery of the SAA and their allies it never came to that and against all the odds the city resisted every attempt to capture it. In the end they were defending the city with only 2 tanks and artillery that were long past their life expectancy after being fired so many times without replacement.

The victory at Deir Ezzor is the culmination of months of SAA offensives that have liberated thousands of square kilometers in the past few months. To the North expanding on the victory in Aleppo the SAA steadily advanced east towards and then past Raqqa. To the south of them was a huge swath of Syrian territory occupied by ISIS separating them from the SAA territory extending into Palmyra. In a stunning series of victories the SAA managed to cut this ISIS pocket off from it’s supply lines divide it in two and completely encircle them liberating a huge amount of territory and opening the way for the final push towards Deir Ezzor. Those who followed the amazing victories of the NAF during the war in Ukraine could not help but recognize the brilliant behind the scenes role Russian Spetsnaz advisers played in the recent SAA victories. ISIS is still desperately resisting it’s inevitable defeat but it is clear that the SAA, Hezbollah and Russia have dealt it a decisive defeat in Syria. These victories owed much to Syria’s elite Tiger Forces who also played a decisive role in both the victory in Aleppo and the end of the siege of Deir Ezzor. In a war where battles have raged for weeks over a tiny village or even a single building the SAA have managed to liberate thousands of miles in recent weeks. Once again the SAA have accomplished the impossible.

© SouthFront
This map provides a general look at the military situation in central Syria as government forces are rapidly advancing against ISIS in the province of Deir Ezzor. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have crossed the Euphrates River and are now developing momentum on its eastern bank as of September 19, 2017.

It is no wonder Syria’s enemies are acting even crazier then usual. The US has sent it’s SDF Kurdish mercenaries to try to block further SAA advances. The Kurds would be wise to break out of their servitude to the empire soon before the Americans provoke some terrifying disaster. At the same time the US is trying to embroil the Kurds with a war with the SAA. Rumor has it the US has already made plans to abandon them to their fate. In the week before the siege on Deir Ezzor was broken, the US sent it’s helicopters in to evacuate certain key ISIS commanders, exposing yet again that ISIS is merely a tool of the CIA and it’s allied intelligence agencies. In revenge Russia bombed ISIS with a thermobaric bomb and has been showing off it’s cruise missiles in devastating attacks on ISIS which are also a warning to the US and it’s SDF pawns. The US responded to the liberation of Deir Ezzor by bombing a nearby refugee camp killing Syrian children in a criminal and cowardly attack. The US is also in an ever intensifying panic over Russia although it seemed impossible for the anti-Russian Hysteria to grow even crazier. They are locked in a diplomatic war with Russia expelling each others diplomats and installing more harsh sanctions on Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela. They are targeting RT and Sputnik. It has gotten so out of control that USA Today foolishly attacked my blog for exposing the fascist coup in Ukraine. It was part of the latest Russian propaganda Hysteria backed by the CIA/BND Front the German Marshall Fund and it’s Alliance for Securing Democracy’s Hamilton 68 Project which spies on 600 pro-Russian twitter accounts or as they call them “Kremlin controlled bots and trolls.” Basically anyone who opposes fascist Ukraine or the schemes to have Al Qaeda and ISIS destroy Syria is now being labeled a Russian propagandist regardless of whether they are Americans, Canadians or western Europeans and are accused of destroying democracy by informing the public. This arrogant NATO think tank believes the only way “to secure democracy” is to destroy free speech. Luckily they are far too late to prevent the world from realizing the criminal nature of American Foreign Policy which brings destruction, misery, poverty, and war to the entire planet.

Syria’s other enemies are also in a panic. Netanyahu of Israel made himself into a global laughingstock when he traveled to Russia to beg Putin to stop the SAA advances which he insanely believed was Iranian expansionism. Putin told him Iran was a Russian ally and they say Netanyahu flew into a rage and threatened to bomb Assad’s presidential palace. He had to content himself with yet another illegal Israeli bombing. Still Israel remains dangerous and unpredictable and is in a panic over the fact that Hezbollah has only grown stronger during the war on Syria. Hezbollah achieved a major victory in the Qalamoun mountains, finally cleaning out a nest of ISIS terrorists who were forced to evacuate in busses to their ever shrinking territory in Eastern Syria. The Saudis are feuding with the Qataris while they continue their US-UK-NATO backed genocidal war on Yemen. Meanwhile the whole world is wondering whether mad emperor Trump will embroil the world in a nuclear war over North Korea. I predict that the whole thing is just an embarrassing bluff, another humiliation for the Empire of Chaos. Still the US is on the attack everywhere in the world. It’s latest coup plot in Venezuela has met a humiliating defeat the fascist opposition discredited themselves with their reign of terror and Venezuela has voted to further advance the Bolivarian Socialist Revolution.

Meanwhile in Syria they are celebrating and rebuilding, Syrian’s forced to flee as refugees are now returning home now that the NATO death squads have been driven out of so much of the country. Where two years ago there was a gloomy determination now Syrians are again dreaming of the bright future ahead when they have rebuilt their country. The liberation of Deir Ezzor was celebrated across Syria especially in Deir Ezzor itself. Now that the SAA have broken the siege food and medical supplies can finally enter the town and children can now go to school without fear of being shot by snipers. Everywhere in Syria people are dreaming of a final victory and the return of peace. Unfortunately the war is far from over but Syria has become an inspiration to the world a symbol of heroism and resistance. In the face of all the Axis of Chaos could throw at them the armies of terrorists, NATO bombers, the US marines, the CIA plots, the billions in weapons, the sanctions and the propaganda war Syria refused to surrender. A lesson to everyone resisting the empire of chaos: remember Syria and never stop fighting.

Sources

ANNA news Documentary on life in Deir Ezzor under ISIS Siege

ANNA News Documentary on Lifting the ISIS Siege of Deir Ezzor

The latest from Deir Ezzor as SAA continue their offensive

Sharmine Narwani on Israel’s Panic over SAA victory

Dr. Shaaban: On the Syrian Victory

Flashback to the my article on the treacherous US bombing of Deir Ezzor

Russia and Syria create joint air defense system – By TASS

August 25, 17:15 UTC+3

Russia’s air defense group in Syria includes a radio engineering battalion, a battery of Pantsir-S units and the S-400 air defense missile systems

Share
© Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

KUBINKA /Moscow region/, August 25. /TASS/. A unified air defense system has been set up in Syria thanks to efforts of Russian and Syrian military experts, Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces Major-General Sergey Meshcheryakov told a round table dedicated to the Syrian experience at the Army-2017 International Military-Technical Forum.

“Today, a unified integrated air defense system has been set up in Syria. We have ensured the information and technical interlinkage of the Russian and Syrian air reconnaissance systems. All information on the situation in the air comes from Syrian radar stations to the control points of the Russian force grouping,” he said.

The Russian air defense group in the Hmeymim airfield area includes a radio engineering battalion, a battery of the Pantsir-S air defense missile and gun systems and the S-400 air defense missile systems.

“These air defense missile systems are capable of destroying targets within a range of up to 400 kilometers at an altitude of up to 35 kilometers,” Meshcheryakov said.

 

He added that the Russian Aerospace Forces had inflicted substantial damage on the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) terrorist infrastructure by destroying their ammunition and fuel depots, weapons and military equipment repair plants and significantly worsening militants’ logistics support and their ability to quickly redeploy reinforcements.

“Thanks to regular airstrikes against the oil infrastructure and the destruction of oil convoys, substantial economic damage has been inflicted on the enemy as well,” Mescheryakov concluded.

More:
http://tass.com/defense/962057

Russia Emerges As Victor in Syrian War – By martyrashrakat

Russia Emerges As Victor in Syrian War

 
EDITORIAL | 18.09.2017 | EDITORIAL

Russia Emerges As Victor in Syrian War

No matter what was the US initial goal in Syria, the plans have ended up in failure. Two investigative documents have emerged stating that the United States have been supplying arms and ammunitions purchased from several Eastern European countries to terrorist groups in Syria under the guise to fight the Islamic State (IS). The weapons included AK-47 rifles, rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, mortars, and other weapons and ammunition purchased in the Czech Republic, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. The supplies did not result in victories.

President Trump gave the American field commanders in Syria the authority to launch strikes, raids and campaigns as in an active war zone, loosening restrictions protecting civilians. The measure did not help drastically change the situation in US favor. The Pentagon initiated the ill-fated ‘train and equip” program to have pro-US forces on the ground. It failed and was cancelled. The America-backed rebels tried to launch offensives along the Jordanian border but to no avail.

The United States had to pull out from al-Tanf, one of three official border crossings between Syria and Iraq, to leave the border area to pro-Syrian government forces. The US-led coalition had decided not to enter the eastern city of Deir ez Zor, where Syrian troops recently broke the IS siege that had lasted for three years. No gains were made. Nothing worked. By and large, all the hard efforts have gone down the drain. The American influence on the events in Syria is limited.

The Kurd-dominated Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) led by the United States got stuck in Raqqa. The Kurds have little desire to fight anybody outside the territory they control. Furthermore, reliance on the SDF has greatly deteriorated the US relations with Turkey and that’s a big problem with no solution in sight.

There is nothing left but a slim hope the “green” or “moderate” rebels will unite and do something about it. According to recent reports, they are regrouping to give it another try. Dozens of Syrian rebel factions, including the notorious Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, have backed a proposed plan to unify the fractured opposition movement and create a single “United National Army” (UNA). The formation of the army was mandated by the Turkey-based Syrian Interim Government (SIG) and is set to be headed by SIG Prime Minister Jawad Abu Hatab. The idea was put forward in August by the opposition’s interim government in exile and by the Syrian Islamic Council (SIC). Many of the groups united now under the national army’s banner suffered defeat from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, the former al-Qaeda affiliate, which established control in the province of Idlib in August. Since they were not strong enough to resist the jihadists’ group, one can hardly imagine them winning against the seasoned Syrian pro-government forces supported by Russian aviation.

The formation of the UNA is destined to demonstrate to the world that there were alternatives to the Assad-led Syria’s government and the IS group. Syrian opposition delegates were in Doha on September 7 to meet with the Qatari foreign minister, following the creation of the army. The visit was part of a diplomatic offensive with sympathetic nations ahead of the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting in New York started on September 12. The opposition is expected to form a single delegation that can meet face-to-face with the Damascus government in the next round of negotiations scheduled to take place in Geneva next month.

The effort is taking place as supplies of aid, money and weapons to the Syria’s “moderate” opposition are dwindling along with international support. In late August, the Jordanian government expressed hope for reopening of its border crossing with Syria as it says relations with Damascus are “in the right direction.” This is a very important about-face. Jordan shares a border of more than 370 kilometers with Syria. In August, Saudi Arabia told the Syrian opposition to come to terms with Assad staying in power.

The West appears to have finally dropped its demand for the ouster of President Assad. The US no longer views Assad’s departure as a precondition for peaceful management in Syria. In July, President Trump ordered the CIA to stop aiding anti-Assad rebels. According to the Washington Post, “this decision provided Russia with final confirmation that it owns Syria.”

British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, believes that Assad’s departure is “not a precondition. But part of a transition.” He even believes that Assad could run for election. In June, French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris no longer sees the removal of Assad as a priority in the Syrian conflict.

It has become clear that support for the anti-Assad militias failed to produce significant results. As a result, no major power still backs the Syrian opposition’s demand that Assad’s removal precede any diplomatic process.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is the only big player who openly opposes the initiative of establishing de-escalation zones – the process launched by Russia, Turkey and Iran. But this group is limited to Idlib and its influence beyond the province is insignificant. The Russia-initiated Astana peace process has gained worldwide recognition. And it works. The Russian military police will be responsible for the fourth de-escalation zone in Idlib. The main rebel-held area would be “frozen”. The move will prevent the “United National Army” or anybody else from dividing Syria.

President Assad is in charge of most of the population and most of the important territory. The Syrian government has defeated those who sought to depose it. It controls the country’s main cities and possesses a considerable advantage in terms of firepower. Last month, the Damascus International Fair was organized to symbolize the return to normalcy.

“Bashar Assad’s government has won the war militarily,” said Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Damascus who witnessed the uprising’s earliest days. “And I can’t see any prospect of the Syrian opposition being able to compel him to make dramatic concessions in a peace negotiation.”

“Will the opposition be able to be unified and realistic enough to realize they did not win the war?” asked UN peace talks mediator Staffan de Mistura on September 6. He suggested the war was almost over and a national ceasefire should follow soon after.

A new UN-brokered round of negotiations on Syria will kick off in October. The participants will have to live with new reality – the West has lost in Syria, Russia and its allies have won. The war is almost over; reconstruction and nation-building are coming to the fore.

Eliminating remaining ISIS groups next goal in Eastern Syria – by Moon of Alabama

Eastern Syria oil fields

The last Syria Summary was headlined A New Clash Looms in Syria’s East. It stated:

Critical oil fields are north and east of Mayadin. The Omar oil field in the east is the biggest one in all Syria. The U.S. wants these under its control to finance its Kurdish and Arab proxies in north-east Syria. The Syrian government needs the oil to rebuild the country. Should the U.S. supported forces try to annex the area we will likely see a direct conflict between them and the Syrian government forces. Would the U.S. and Russia join that fight?

Yesterday a first clash of forces occurred. Syrian government and Russian special forces (red) have crossed the Euphrates at Deir Ezzor to reconnaissance the area for their next large operation. A crossing in force towards the north of Euphrates and east of Deir Ezzor is expected during the next few days. The Russian military had informed the U.S. of its area of operation. Despite that, formerly ISIS aligned tribal forces, now paid by the U.S. under the label SDF, tried to extend their areas north of Deir Ezzor (blue). A “warning shot” was delivered to them in form of a small air attack. Several “SDF” were wounded, the U.S. special forces accompanying and commanding them were not harmed.

The Russia military is asking who, really, those forces are:

“Over the past few days, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, Russian control and reconnaissance facilities have not identified a single combat of Islamic State terrorists with armed representatives of any ‘third force.’ Therefore, only representatives of the international coalition can answer the question as to how ‘opposition members’ or ‘military advisers of the international coalition’ managed to get to the IS-held areas in the eastern part of Deir ez-Zor without striking a blow.”

Our last summary noted that these new U.S. proxies Brett McGurk had hired, the ‘third force’ in the Russian statement, allegedly progressed some 30 kilometers into ISIS country without firing a shot. These forces are evidently ISIS fighters now under a new banner and with U.S. special forces directing them.

South of the river the Syrian government forces consolidate their positions around the two-thirds of Deir Ezzor city now under their control. To avoid unnecessary casualties and damage they push the Islamic State fighters out of the up-build areas instead of immediately surrounding and besieging them. They will be easier to eliminate in the more rural areas still left to them. The campaign south of the Euphrates will continue along the river towards ISIS held areas in the west and east.

A second group of Syrian government forces is coming up from the Jordan-Iraq-Syria border triangle and is progressing along the Syrian Iraqi border towards al-Buqamal/Qaim at the Euphrates. An Iraqi force is working in parallel with them on the Iraqi side of the border.

During the next months three Syrian government forces are likely to meet where the Euphrates crosses into Iraq. One group is now moving north along the Syrian-Iraqi border, one coming from Deir Ezzor on the south side of the river and the one that will soon establish itself north of the Euphrates to move towards the oil-fields further east. Iraqi forces are expected to mirror those moves on their side of the border. In the end of the operations no area in Syria and Iraq will be left under control of the ISIS organization. (Isolated ISIS holdouts east of Homs as well as in Iraq are under siege and will soon be cleared.)

There is no more need for any U.S. intervention to achieve the total defeat of the Islamic State. While the U.S. president had declared that his country has no further interest in Syria but the defeat of ISIS, other forces within the U.S. ruling structure have likely different ideas. We can expect some operations, by “independent” U.S. proxy forces or by “accidental” bombing, to hinder the Syrian and Iraqi government plans.

In the north-west of Syria al-Qaeda is still in control of Idleb governate. Syria, Iran, Russia and Turkey agreed last week to pacify the area by force. Each of them will take control of a “deescalation zone” within Idelb. The announcement of the agreement lacked all details. It is yet unknown who’s force will take what part of Idleb and how the coordination of the project will proceed. Leaks of various map outlining designated areas of control are of Turkish origin and unlikely to reflect the real agreed upon lines.

%d bloggers like this: