New Silk Road Strengthens China’s Position in Southeast Asia by Author: Dmitry Bokarev

 

4521222In the process of strengthening its influence, China is developing cooperation with its neighbors, seeking to bind all the small states in the surrounding region to itself economically. Chief among these smaller states are the ASEAN member countries. To achieve economic integration with these countries and ensure its continued presence in them, China is setting up plans employing the well-proven and effective method of constructing railway networks within their territories. Within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, China aims to cover the region of South-East Asia (SEA) with a dense railway network and connect it to its own transport system.

A state occupying a special place among the regional partners of China is the Kingdom of Thailand. Of all the states of China’s strategically important Indochina Peninsula, Thailand is the most developed. Thailand is also an influential member of ASEAN. At the same time, the geographical position of Thailand can allow China to implement effective solutions to a number of its most important tasks related to energy security and the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative project. It is public knowledge that this ambitious Chinese project was originally designed for covering the whole world with a network of trade routes. Within the provisions of the project, China is building railway networks throughout Eurasia and Africa, not forgetting South America. The ‘Sea Silk Road’ subproject is primarily based on the successful development of navigation along the southern coast of Eurasia and around the globe.

Most of the sea shipping in the world is carried out through several channels that act as gateways connecting the main parts of the world’s oceans and seas. Some of these include the Suez Canal, the Strait of Malacca, and the Panama Canal. The alternative way of going around these “gateways to the sea” is too long and expensive. However, China is not in direct control of these channels. To ensure uninterrupted navigation under any circumstances, China is planning to construct new channels that will run parallel and near to the traditional ones, but will be controlled by China or its allies. Under this project, China is setting up plans to build a channel in Nicaragua that will become an alternative to the Panama Canal. An alternative to the Strait of Malacca could be a channel running through the Thai Kra Isthmus, although the dragging of the process of adopting a final decision by the Thai government means that its construction is still in question. However, in case of the continuation and further development of the Sino-Thai relations, the channel might be rendered obsolete, and could be replaced by railways.

It is well known that the main inconvenience for China associated with the Strait of Malacca is that through this narrow stretch of sea sandwiched between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Middle East are delivered to China by tankers. Thus, the closure of the canal (for example, in the event of further tension in the South China Sea) will threaten China’s energy security. However, Middle Eastern oil and LNG can also be delivered to China by land. Ships coming from Arab countries can be unloaded at the ports of Myanmar, another major state of the Indochina Peninsula, which borders China and with which China actively cooperates in various fields. A pipeline has already been constructed to deliver energy through Myanmar to China. If, for some reason, transit through Myanmar is impossible, arrangements could also be made to deliver hydrocarbons through Thailand and Laos. Although this route is more complicated than through Myanmar, it is still quite feasible.

China views the creation of its own energy security and the unimpeded implementation of shipping as its most important goal for which it needs to increase its influence on the Indochina Peninsula, especially in Myanmar and Thailand. To permanently gain a foothold in Indochina and become the main partner of all countries in the region, China has decided to create a network of railways in the region, and connect it with the Chinese railway system. The same railways would also deliver cargo coming in from the sea.

In December 2014, a Sino-Thai memorandum was signed, under which China and Thailand pledged to cooperate in implementing the 2015-2022 plan for the development of Thai infrastructure. In December 2015, the media reported the construction of a high-speed railroad ‘China-Thailand’ more than 800 km long, stretching from the Thai capital Bangkok to the city of Nong Khai on the border with Laos, where it will connect with the ‘China-Laos’ road. The project was to be implemented based on Chinese standards and technologies. China also took part in financing the project. In March 2017, Thai leadership announced a ten-year plan for a major upgrade of the entire Thai rail infrastructure. Under this plan, the Thai railways are expected to be extended to become 2.5 times longer, reaching 10 thousand kilometers. The main task of modernization is to strengthen networking with other Southeast Asian countries, increase freight traffic within the country and begin transiting freight traffic through the territory of Thailand. China’s participation in this project is not reported, but it fully corresponds to the Chinese plans to create a unified transport system.

The creation of a railway network in Southeast Asia and the accession to the Belt and Road Initiative project are measures that will soon begin bearing fruit for the ASEAN countries. Given this, the transportation of goods from Southeast Asia to Europe through China and Kazakhstan will soon begin in earnest. In March 2017, representatives of Vietnamese state corporation Vietnam Railway attended a meeting of the ‘Organization for Cooperation of Railways’ in the capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty. During the visit, the Vietnamese delegation visited the Kazakhstani free economic zone ‘Khorgos’ on the Sino-Kazakh border. The Sino-Kazakhstan railway passes through this important logistics center. Already in 2017, transit trains from Vietnam shall begin passing through it, giving rise to a new form of transportation between Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Europe.

Over the years of existence of the Belt and Road Initiative project and its subprojects ‘New Silk Road’ and the ‘21st Century Silk Road’, the appearance of such long transport routes has already ceased to amaze. It seems that China is closer to its goal of creating a worldwide transport system. The task of strengthening positions in Southeast Asia will also be accomplished successfully. It should be noted that the railway connecting Southeast Asia with China and other countries will undoubtedly play an important role in the economic development of this region.

Dmitry Bokarev, expert politologist, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.
http://journal-neo.org/2017/05/31/new-silk-road-strengthens-china-s-position-in-southeast-asia/

Stop inventing fictional threats from Russia – Putin to Le Figaro – By RT

Stop inventing fictional threats from Russia – Putin to Le Figaro
With bombings in Paris and elsewhere across Europe and war in the Middle East, it’s strange to hear speculation about a fictional Russian threat, Vladimir Putin said in an exclusive interview with Le Figaro.

The Russian president, who visited Paris to meet with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on Monday, expressed the belief that Moscow and Western capitals “all want security, peace, safety and cooperation.”

“Therefore, we should not build up tensions or invent fictional threats from Russia, some hybrid warfare etc.,” the Russian leader said.

“What is the major security problem today? Terrorism. There are bombings in Europe, in Paris, in Russia, in Belgium. There is a war in the Middle East. This is the main concern. But no, let us keep speculating on the threat from Russia.”

“You made these things up yourselves and now scare yourselves with them and even use them to plan your prospective policies. These policies have no prospects. The only possible future is in cooperation in all areas, including security issues,” he added.

Fighting international terrorism is among the issues on which Russia and the West must work together, Putin said.

The President said that he agreed with French counterpart Macron that the use of chemical weapons in Syria was a red line for France.

“Moreover, I believe that this issue should be addressed on a broader scale. President Macron shares this view. No matter who uses chemical weapons against people and organizations, the international community must formulate a common policy and find a solution that would make the use of such weapons impossible for anyone,” the Russian leader said.

‘No proof Assad used chemical weapons’

When asked about the Western claims that the Syrian government of Bashar Asssad used chemical weapons against its own people, the Russian leader reiterated that the accusations were groundless and politically motivated.

He reminded that that when the alleged attack happened in the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib province on April 4, Moscow called on Washington and other interested parties to send inspectors to the Syrian airfield from where the alleged chemical originated as well as to the site of the bombing.

However, both Russian proposals were refused by the Western partners, Putin said, adding, “If chemical weapons were used by President al-Assad’s official agencies, modern verification equipment would certainly find traces of this.”

“In my opinion, the accusations have been made for the sole purpose of justifying the use of additional measures, including military ones, against Assad. That is all. There is no proof that Assad has used chemical weapons. We firmly believe that that this is a provocation. President Assad did not use chemical weapons,” he said.

Putin said that he agreed with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the use of chemical weapons in Syria was “a red line.”

“Moreover, I believe that this issue should be addressed on a broader scale. President Macron shares this view. No matter who uses chemical weapons against people and organizations, the international community must formulate a common policy and find a solution that would make the use of such weapons impossible for anyone,” the Russian leader said.

Homegrown Terror, The Rising Threat Of Right-Wing Extremism – By Arie Perliger

Murders and other violent attacks perpetrated by U.S. far-right extremists compose the visible tip of an iceberg. The rest of this iceberg is underwater and out of sight.

Mourners embrace at a vigil for Richard Collins III, who was stabbed to death in College Park, Maryland. (AP/Brian Witte)

The murder in College Park, Maryland of Richard Collins III, an African-American student who had recently been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was days away from his graduation from Bowie State University, underscores the violence of America’s far-right wing. Sean Urbanski, the University of Maryland student who allegedly stabbed Collins to death, belongs to a racist Facebook group called Alt-Reich: Nation.

It makes sense that the FBI is helping the police investigate this incident as a suspected hate crime. But my 15 years experience of studying violent extremism in Western societies has taught me that dealing effectively with far-right violence requires something more: treating its manifestations as domestic terrorism.

While attacks such as the recent suicide bombing in Manchester that left 22 people dead and several dozen injured will probably continue to garner more headlines, this growing domestic menace deserves more attention than it’s getting.



Christian appeared at a “March for Free Speech” rally in Portland on April 29. In a post before the event, he wrote: "Looking for a couple guys or gals down to unmask anyone wear a mask at the upcoming Free Speech March On Saturday 415 80th Ave Portland. This goes for Antifa and Free Speeches. Let's keep them honest and check their Yard Card Homies...."

Terrorism is a form of psychological warfare. Most terrorist groups lack the resources, expertise and manpower to defeat state actors. Instead, they promote their agenda through violence that shapes perceptions of political and social issues.

Collins’ murder, if it was motivated by racist sentiments, should be treated as an act of domestic terrorism, which I define here as the use of violence in a political and social context that aims to send a message to a broader target audience. Like lynching, cross-burning and vandalizing religious sites, incidents of this kind deliberately aim to terrorize people of color and non-Christians.

I consider domestic terrorism a more significant threat than the foreign-masterminded variety in part because it is more common in terms of the number of attacks on U.S. soil. For example, my report published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point identified hundreds of domestic terror incidents per year between 2008 and 2012.

Another report initially published in 2014 by New America Foundation on domestic incidents of extremist violence shows that excluding the Orlando nightclub massacre, between 2002-2016, far-right affiliated perpetrators conducted 18 attacks that killed 48 people in the United States, while terrorists motivated by al-Qaida’s or the Islamic State’s ideology killed 45 people in nine attacks.

The Orlando mass shooting, given its mix of apparent motives, is hard to categorize.

 

A spontaneous appearance

In briefings with law enforcement and policymakers, I have sometimes encountered a tendency to see U.S. right-wing extremists as a monolith. But traditional Ku Klux Klan chapters operate differently than skinhead groups, as do anti-government “patriot” and militia groups and anti-abortion extremists. Christian Identity groups, which believe Anglo-Saxons and other people of Northern European descent are a chosen people, are distinct too.

Certainly, there is some overlap. But these groups also differ significantly in terms of their methods of violence, recruitment styles and ideologies. Across the board, undermining the threat they pose requires a more sophisticated approach than investigating their criminal acts as suspected hate crimes.

In an ongoing study I’m conducting at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with several students, we have determined that, as apparently occurred with Collins’ recent murder in Maryland, many attacks inspired by racist or xenophobic sentiments may appear spontaneous. That is, no one plans them in advance or targets the victim ahead of time. Instead, chance encounters that enrage the perpetrators trigger these incidents.

Sporadic attacks with high numbers of casualties that are plotted in advance, such as Dylann Roof’s murder of nine African-Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina church, are always big news. More typical incidents of far-right violence tend to draw less attention.

The widow of Clementa Pinckney, a pastor and South Carolina lawmaker slain in the mass murder at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, hugs her daughter during a 2015 memorial service for victims of that attack. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

The fatal stabbing of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Ricky John Best aboard a train in Portland, Oregon on May 26 seems to be emerging as an exception. The alleged killer of these two white men, Jeremy Joseph Christian, attacked them with a knife after they stood up to him for haranguing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, police said. A third injured passenger is expected to survive. Much of the media coverage is focused on Christian’s violent and racist background.

Given the spontaneous nature of so much far-right violence, U.S. counterterrorism policies should, in my view, target the dissemination of white supremacist ideology, rather than just identifying planned attacks and monitoring established white supremacy groups.

 

An iceberg theory

The number of violent attacks on U.S. soil inspired by far-right ideology has spiked since the beginning of this century, rising from a yearly average of 70 attacks in the 1990s to a yearly average of more than 300 since 2001. These incidents have grown even more common since President Donald Trump’s election.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that researches U.S. extremism, reported 900 bias-related incidents against minorities in the first 10 days after Trump’s election – compared to several dozen in a normal week – and the group found that many of the harassers invoked the then president-elect’s name. Similarly, the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit that tracks anti-Semitism, recorded an 86 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the first three months of 2017.

Beyond the terror that victimized communities are experiencing, I would argue that this trend reflects a deeper social change in American society.

The iceberg model of political extremism, initially developed by Ehud Shprinzak, an Israeli political scientist, can illuminate these dynamics.

Murders and other violent attacks perpetrated by U.S. far-right extremists compose the visible tip of an iceberg. The rest of this iceberg is underwater and out of sight. It includes hundreds of attacks every year that damage property and intimidates communities, such as the recently attempted burning of an African-American family’s garage in Schodack, New York. The garage was also defaced with racist graffiti.

The parents of University of North Carolina dental student Deah Shaddy Barakat, who was murdered alongside his wife and her sister by a man who had expressed xenophobic sentiments, grieve at a vigil for the three Muslim Americans in 2015.

Data my team collected at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point show that the significant growth in far-right violence in recent years is happening at the base of the iceberg. While the main reasons for that are still not clear, it is important to remember that changes in societal norms are usually reflected in behavioral changes. Hence, it is more than reasonable to suspect that extremist individuals engage in such activities because they sense that their views are enjoying growing social legitimacy and acceptance, which is emboldening them to act on their bigotry.

 

Budget cuts

Despite an uptick in far-right violence and the Trump administration’s plan to increase the Department of Homeland Security budget by 6.7 percent to US$44.1 billion in 2018, the White House wants to cut spending for programs that fight non-Muslim domestic terrorism.

The federal government has also frozen $10 million in grants aimed at countering domestic violent extremism. This approach is bound to weaken the authorities’ power to monitor far-right groups, undercutting public safety.

How many more innocent people like Richard Collins III – and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Ricky John Best – have to die before the U.S. government starts taking the threat posed by violent white supremacists more seriously?

UNITED STATES NOW OPENLY PRO-TERRORIST REBRANDS ALQAEDA; BRITISH/U.S. SUPPORTED TERRORISTS CRUSHED IN ALEPPO AND HOMS- By Ziad Fadel

 2000 ISIS RATS KILLED IN ALEPPO; WESTERN MEDIA SILENT ABOUT THEIR DEFEAT IN SYRIA AFTER YEARS OF SUPPORTING TERRORISTS

My readers should read Vanessa’s article below, in the “News and Comment” section,  about how the U.S. engineered the rebranding of Alqaeda and then, managed to remove the terrorist jihadist cannibals from the list of groups which practice terrorism.  It is unbelievable that a country could be so obsessed with a goal such that the means to get there could violate all the core principles which made that same country great.  Whew!

image: https://i0.wp.com/www.sana.sy/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/5-81-660×330-1.jpg?resize=660%2C330

HOMS:  Canthama wrote a lot about this in yesterday’s post.  It is true, the Syrian Army has swiped away large concentrations of ISIS and U.S.-controlled sociopaths from vast areas of the Eastern Syrian Desert, freeing critically important natural resources and denying ISIS any further involvement in producing fuel for trade with Turkey.

At Khunayfis, all phosphate mines have been cleared of terrorists.  The net result is the liberation of close to 5,000 square kilometers of land.  At Al-‘Ilyaaniyya, which was liberated from the Fake Syrian Army (FSA), south of Khunayfis, the SAA has begun radiating out toward Al-Sukhna which remains under ISIS control.  Al-Sukhna is a key jumping-off point for the Syrian Army if it chooses to encircle Al-Raqqa City.

Also liberated was the Abtar Mountains and the Al-Sawwaana mines.  Throw on to that Al-Baarida, Al-Busayri and Zaqaaqiyyaat Khaleel Mountain.   

But, even more impressive, was the Russian Air Force’s stunning annihilation of a huge convoy of ISIS rats leaving Al-Raqqa in order to further a plan drawn up by the United States to open highway access from Al-Raqqa to Palmyra.  The plan was not to destroy more Roman ruins at the ancient city.  No, all of this was a part of the project to install a vassal state that would be controlled by Kurd allies of the U.S. in order to prevent the extension of the natural gas pipeline from Iran to Syria.

The ISIS force departed Al-Raqqa on May 25, 2017 at approximately 3:00 a.m. local time.  Russia had received a heads-up from SAA-MI about both human intelligence reports and intercepted communications between American, British and Jordanian terrorist enablers in the MOK HQ near Al-Naseeb.  According to my sources, the U.S. promised to keep the SAAF at bay as the large ISIS force moved south toward Palmyra.  An agreement was drawn up between the RuAF and the Syrian High Command to permit only Russian aircraft to fly since Syrian aircraft could be shot down by the Americans if they were interfering in some farfetched and typically idiotic plan hatched in Jordan.  With the aircraft carrying Russian insignia, there was no conceivable way the U.S. could interdict Moscow’s airpower.

That left ISIS, on May 27, 2017, as an open target on the highway south just before Qal’at Jabal Jaabir.  Russian Sukhoi bombers unloaded thousands of tons of ordnance on a densely packed convoy carrying not only rodents, but large quantities of resupplies for besieged cannibals in areas, like Khunayfis, soon to be liberated by the SAA.  Aerial assessments and intercepted calls by ISIS rodent officers told a story of utter devastation and complete American/British failure.  It is estimated that over 120 ISIS rats were killed in the air raids.  Over 500 are reported wounded or missing.  Of the 39 pickups traveling in the convoy, 32 were confirmed destroyed.  All pickups were armed with 23mm cannons.

It is highly unlikely that ISIS will cooperate again with such imbeciles such as those degenerates in Jordan.  It has also become quite obvious that James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a pathological liar when he states that his war against ISIS is one of “annihilation”.           

________________________________________

ALEPPO:

image: https://i2.wp.com/jpnews-sy.com/ar/images/news/big/120820.jpg?w=700

أبرز التطورات الميدانية على الساحة السوريةWhile all this is going on in Eastern Homs, the Syrian Army has racked up startlingly formidable victories in Aleppo.  As of this morning the following towns, villages and sites have been liberated:  Al-Saalihiyya, Al-Shuhadaa`, Al-Battooshiyya, Jibaab Al-Mas’oodiyyda, Khazraaf, Al-Far’iyya, Musareeha, Al-Mazza, First Tishreen Farms, Al-Waasit, East Al-Sukkariyya, Bandooqa, Maskana Train Station, Al-Hameediyya, Dawr Ahmad Yaaseen, Al-Qaahira, Al-Boo-Maani’, Khaan Al-Shi’r, Khirbat Al-Sawda, Al-Himraawi, Maskana Cattle Market. 

This operation has stalled a few times, but, continued with forward momentum as of 4 days ago with ISIS fortifications pulverized by the SAA.  At the end of the day, the SAA has killed over 2000 ISIS rodents, and destroyed the following:

115 Toyota pickup trucks with 23mm cannons

7 tanks

6 automobiles used to transport terrorist leaders

4 heavy cannons

1 main command-control center

14 separate communications sites

5 booby-trapped vehicles

 

The Syrian Army has confirmed the deaths of these terrorist leaders:

Abu Ayyoob Al-Sheeshaani (Chechen pederast)

Abu Ismaa’eel Al-Juwaymi (Saudi rodent pimple and legal “scholar” for the “Hatteen” group.  Hatteen is where Saladdin crushed the Crusaders on the Golan Heights after his sister was raped and killed.)

Abu Ya’qoob Al-Turkestaani (Turkman catamite)

Abu Ya’qoob Al-Uzbeki (Uzbeki bottom feeding carp and leader of Dibs ‘Afnaan area.)

Mahmoud Ismaa’eel Kawchak (Turk hemorrhoid and leader of Al-Mushrifa area.)

Ahmad Al-‘Uthmaan (Mufti for ISIS in Maskana)

‘Abdul-Rahmaan Miqnaass (a/k/a Abi Sa’eed Al-Sa’oodi.  He is said to be related to the House of Sa’ood.  Not anymore)

Safwaan Al-Dhayb (Iraqi toilet brush)

‘Abdul-Ra`oof Abu-Hinna (Moroccan Schmoroccan fecal week bud)

Abu-Rihaab Al-Sheeshaani (Chechen hog wart)

Abu-Yusuf Al-Ustraali (Some slime from Down Under.)  

______________________________________________

DAMASCUS:  BARZA NOW FREE OF THE STENCH OF JIHADIST RODENTS:

image: https://i2.wp.com/albaathmedia.sy/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/barzaaaaaaaa.jpg?resize=660%2C330

The last group of Zionist-supported freaks of nature has departed Barza leaving that suburb now rodent-free.  They are on their way to oblivion in Idlib.

_________________________________________

NEWS AND COMMENT:

Vanessa Beeley sends us this eye-opening study on hypocrisy in America which also shows how deeply Zionism has infiltrated the U.S.:

https://thewallwillfall.org/2017/05/23/us-rebrands-al-qaeda-in-syria-and-removes-them-from-terror-watchlists/

Vanessa now brings John Pilger into the war on Syria, only this time in an expose of the White Helmets:

http://21stcenturywire.com/2017/05/26/john-pilger-exposes-white-helmets-as-uk-propaganda-construct-in-syria/

Read more at https://syrianperspective.com/2017/05/united-states-now-openly-pro-terrorist-rebrands-alqaeda-britishu-s-supported-terrorists-crushed-in-aleppo-and-homs-2000-isis-rats-killed-in-aleppo-western-media-silent-about-their-defeat-in-syria.html#jiidgxRW3HviI8T5.99

Getting Assange: The Untold Story – By John Pilger

Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and “rendition”.

Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.

This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden.

“It’s a laughing stock,” said James Catlin, one of Assange’s Australian lawyers. “It is as if they make it up as they go along”.

It may have seemed that way, but there was always serious purpose. In 2008, a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch” foretold a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally.

The “mission” was to destroy the “trust” that was WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalizing such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim.

Perhaps this was understandable. WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians and the contempt for sovereignty and international law.

These disclosures are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistle blowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal“.

In 2012, the Obama campaign boasted on its website that Obama had prosecuted more whistle blowers in his first term than all other US presidents combined. Before Chelsea Manning had even received a trial, Obama had publicly pronounced her guilty.

Few serious observers doubt that should the US get their hands on Assange, a similar fate awaits him. According to documents released by Edward Snowden, he is on a “Manhunt target list”. Threats of his kidnapping and assassination became almost political and media currency in the US following then Vice-President Joe Biden’s preposterous slur that the WikiLeaks founder was a “cyber-terrorist”.

Hillary Clinton, the destroyer of Libya and, as WikiLeaks revealed last year, the secret supporter and personal beneficiary of forces underwriting ISIS, proposed her own expedient solution: “Can’t we just drone this guy?”

According to Australian diplomatic cables, Washington’s bid to get Assange is “unprecedented in scale and nature“. In Alexandria, Virginia, a secret grand jury has sought for almost seven years to contrive a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted. This is not easy.

The First Amendment protects publishers, journalists and whistle blowers, whether it is the editor of the New York Times or the editor of WikiLeaks. The very notion of free speech is described as America’s “founding virtue” or, as Thomas Jefferson called it, “our currency”.

Faced with this hurdle, the US Justice Department has contrived charges of “espionage”, “conspiracy to commit espionage”, “conversion” (theft of government property), “computer fraud and abuse” (computer hacking) and general “conspiracy”. The favoured Espionage Act, which was meant to deter pacifists and conscientious objectors during World War One, has provisions for life imprisonment and the death penalty.

Assange’s ability to defend himself in such a Kafkaesque world has been severely limited by the US declaring his case a state secret. In 2015, a federal court in Washington blocked the release of all information about the “national security” investigation against WikiLeaks, because it was “active and ongoing” and would harm the “pending prosecution” of Assange. The judge, Barbara J. Rothstein, said it was necessary to show “appropriate deference to the executive in matters of national security”. This is a kangaroo court.

For Assange, his trial has been trial by media. On August 20, 2010, when the Swedish police opened a “rape investigation”, they coordinated it, unlawfully, with the Stockholm tabloids. The front pages said Assange had been accused of the “rape of two women”. The word “rape” can have a very different legal meaning in Sweden than in Britain; a pernicious false reality became the news that went round the world.

Less than 24 hours later, the Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, took over the investigation. She wasted no time in cancelling the arrest warrant, saying,

I don’t believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” Four days later, she dismissed the rape investigation altogether, saying, “There is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever.”

Enter Claes Borgstrom, a highly contentious figure in the Social Democratic Party then standing as a candidate in Sweden’s imminent general election. Within days of the chief prosecutor’s dismissal of the case, Borgstrom, a lawyer, announced to the media that he was representing the two women and had sought a different prosecutor in Gothenberg. This was Marianne Ny, whom Borgstrom knew well, personally and politically.

On 30 August, Assange attended a police station in Stockholm voluntarily and answered the questions put to him. He understood that was the end of the matter. Two days later, Ny announced she was re-opening the case.

At a press conference, Borgstrom was asked by a Swedish reporter why the case was proceeding when it had already been dismissed. The reporter cited one of the women as saying she had not been raped. He replied, “Ah, but she is not a lawyer.”

On the day that Marianne Ny reactivated the case, the head of Sweden’s military intelligence service – which has the acronym MUST — publicly denounced WikiLeaks in an article entitled “WikiLeaks [is] a threat to our soldiers [under US command in Afghanistan]”.

Both the Swedish prime minister and foreign minister attacked Assange, who had been charged with no crime. Assange was warned that the Swedish intelligence service, SAPO, had been told by its US counterparts that US-Sweden intelligence-sharing arrangements would be “cut off” if Sweden sheltered him.

For five weeks, Assange waited in Sweden for the renewed “rape investigation” to take its course. The Guardian was then on the brink of publishing the Iraq “War Logs”, based on WikiLeaks’ disclosures, which Assange was to oversee in London.

Finally, he was allowed him to leave. As soon as he had left, Marianne Ny issued a European Arrest Warrant and an Interpol “red alert” normally used for terrorists and dangerous criminals.

Assange attended a police station in London, was duly arrested and spent ten days in Wandsworth Prison, in solitary confinement. Released on £340,000 bail, he was electronically tagged, required to report to police daily and placed under virtual house arrest while his case began its long journey to the Supreme Court.

He still had not been charged with any offence. His lawyers repeated his offer to be questioned in London, by video or personally, pointing out that Marianne Ny had given him permission to leave Sweden. They suggested a special facility at Scotland Yard commonly used by the Swedish and other European authorities for that purpose. She refused.

For almost seven years, while Sweden has questioned forty-four people in the UK in connection with police investigations, Ny refused to question Assange and so advance her case.

Writing in the Swedish press, a former Swedish prosecutor, Rolf Hillegren, accused Ny of losing all impartiality. He described her personal investment in the case as “abnormal” and demanded she be replaced.

Assange asked the Swedish authorities for a guarantee that he would not be “rendered” to the US if he was extradited to Sweden. This was refused. In December 2010, The Independent revealed that the two governments had discussed his onward extradition to the US.

Contrary to its reputation as a bastion of liberal enlightenment, Sweden has drawn so close to Washington that it has allowed secret CIA “renditions” – including the illegal deportation of refugees. The rendition and subsequent torture of two Egyptian political refugees in 2001 was condemned by the UN Committee against Torture, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch; the complicity and duplicity of the Swedish state are documented in successful civil litigation and in WikiLeaks cables.

Documents released by WikiLeaks since Assange moved to England,” wrote Al Burke, editor of the online Nordic News Network, an authority on the multiple twists and dangers that faced Assange, “clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights. There is every reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights.”

The war on Assange now intensified. Marianne Ny refused to allow his Swedish lawyers, and the Swedish courts, access to hundreds of SMS messages that the police had extracted from the phone of one of the two women involved in the “rape” allegations.

Ny said she was not legally required to reveal this critical evidence until a formal charge was laid and she had questioned him. Then, why wouldn’t she question him? Catch-22.

When she announced last week that she was dropping the Assange case, she made no mention of the evidence that would destroy it. One of the SMS messages makes clear that one of the women did not want any charges brought against Assange, “but the police were keen on getting a hold on him“. She was “shocked” when they arrested him because she only “wanted him to take [an HIV] test“. She “did not want to accuse JA of anything” and it was the police who made up the charges. In a witness statement, she is quoted as saying that she had been “railroaded by police and others around her“.

Neither woman claimed she had been raped. Indeed, both denied they were raped and one of them has since tweeted, “I have not been raped.” The women were manipulated by police – whatever their lawyers might say now. Certainly, they, too, are the victims of this sinister saga.

Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote:

“The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction… The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will. [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. Why are they refusing this essential step in their investigation? What are they afraid of?”

Assange’s choice was stark: extradition to a country that had refused to say whether or not it would send him on to the US, or to seek what seemed his last opportunity for refuge and safety.

Supported by most of Latin America, the government of tiny Ecuador granted him refugee status on the basis of documented evidence that he faced the prospect of cruel and unusual punishment in the US; that this threat violated his basic human rights; and that his own government in Australia had abandoned him and colluded with Washington.

The Labor government of the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, had even threatened to take away his Australian passport – until it was pointed out to her that this would be unlawful.

The renowned human rights lawyer, Gareth Peirce, who represents Assange in London, wrote to the then Australian foreign minister, Kevin Rudd:

“Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions… it is very hard to attempt to preserve for him any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.”

It was not until she contacted the Australian High Commission in London that Peirce received a response, which answered none of the pressing points she raised. In a meeting I attended with her, the Australian Consul-General, Ken Pascoe, made the astonishing claim that he knew “only what I read in the newspapers” about the details of the case.

In 2011, in Sydney, I spent several hours with a conservative Member of Australia’s Federal Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull. We discussed the threats to Assange and their wider implications for freedom of speech and justice, and why Australia was obliged to stand by him. Turnbull then had a reputation as a free speech advocate. He is now the Prime Minister of Australia.

I gave him Gareth Peirce’s letter about the threat to Assange’s rights and life. He said the situation was clearly appalling and promised to take it up with the Gillard government. Only his silence followed.

For almost seven years, this epic miscarriage of justice has been drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. There are few precedents. Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife. That the US threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, and to the principle of free speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious. I would call it anti-journalism.

Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.

The previous editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years“. Yet no attempt was made to protect the Guardian’s provider and source. Instead, the “scoop” became part of a marketing plan to raise the newspaper’s cover price.

With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a “damaged personality” and “callous”. They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh“.

Comment: Luke Harding is very probably an agent of the British security services. He is particularly bent on lying about Putin, but no target assigned to him escapes his vile tradecraft.

Luke Harding: British Oxford anti-journalist

Journalism students might well study this period to understand the most ubiquitous source of “fake news” — as from within a media self-ordained with a false respectability and as an extension of the authority and power it courts and protects.

The presumption of innocence was not a consideration in Kirsty Wark’s memorable live-on-air interrogation in 2010.

Why don’t you just apologise to the women?” she demanded of Assange, followed by: “Do we have your word of honour that you won’t abscond?

On the BBC’s Today programme, John Humphrys bellowed:

“Are you a sexual predator?”

Assange replied that the suggestion was ridiculous, to which Humphrys demanded to know how many women he had slept with.

Would even Fox News have descended to that level?” wondered the American historian William Blum. “I wish Assange had been raised in the streets of Brooklyn, as I was. He then would have known precisely how to reply to such a question: ‘You mean including your mother?‘”

Last week, on BBC World News, on the day Sweden announced it was dropping the case, I was interviewed by Greta Guru-Murthy, who seemed to have little knowledge of the Assange case. She persisted in referring to the “charges” against him. She accused him of putting Trump in the White House; and she drew my attention to the “fact” that “leaders around the world” had condemned him. Among these “leaders” she included Trump’s CIA director. I asked her, “Are you a journalist?

The injustice meted out to Assange is one of the reasons Parliament reformed the Extradition Act in 2014.

His case has been won lock, stock and barrel,” Gareth Peirce told me, “these changes in the law mean that the UK now recognises as correct everything that was argued in his case. Yet he does not benefit.”

In other words, he would have won his case in the British courts and would not have been forced to take refuge.

Ecuador’s decision to protect Assange in 2012 was immensely brave. Even though the granting of asylum is a humanitarian act, and the power to do so is enjoyed by all states under international law, both Sweden and the United Kingdom refused to recognise the legitimacy of Ecuador’s decision.

Ecuador’s embassy in London was placed under police siege and its government abused. When William Hague’s Foreign Office threatened to violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, warning that it would remove the diplomatic inviolability of the embassy and send the police in to get Assange, outrage across the world forced the government to back down.

During one night, police appeared at the windows of the embassy in an obvious attempt to intimidate Assange and his protectors.

Since then, Assange has been confined to a small room without sunlight. He has been ill from time to time and refused safe passage to the diagnostic facilities of hospital. Yet, his resilience and dark humour remain quite remarkable in the circumstances. When asked how he put up with the confinement, he replied, “Sure beats a supermax.”

It is not over, but it is unravelling. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – the tribunal that adjudicates and decides whether governments comply with their human rights obligations – last year ruled that Assange had been detained unlawfully by Britain and Sweden. This is international law at its apex.

Both Britain and Sweden participated in the 16-month long UN investigation and submitted evidence and defended their position before the tribunal. In previous cases ruled upon by the Working Group – Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma, imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian in Iran – both Britain and Sweden gave full support to the tribunal. The difference now is that Assange’s persecution endures in the heart of London.

Comment: In other words: “It’s only international law when we bloody well say it is.”

The Metropolitan Police say they still intend to arrest Assange for bail infringement should he leave the embassy. What then? A few months in prison while the US delivers its extradition request to the British courts?

If the British Government allows this to happen it will, in the eyes of the world, be shamed comprehensively and historically as an accessory to the crime of a war waged by rampant power against justice and freedom, and all of us.

About the author

John Pilger is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles and documentaries have been published worldwide. For more information on John Pilger, visit his website at johnpilger.com

Damascus urges UN to immediately halt US coalition strikes, which ‘spread chaos & benefit terrorists’ – By RT

© Erin R. Babis / U.S. Air Force

Syria has demanded an immediate halt to US-led airstrikes after another 35 civilians were killed by a coalition airstrike this week. In a letter to the UN, Damascus says these strikes create chaos and help terrorist launch attacks against government troops.

“Syria condemns the attacks of the alliance which target civilians and cause massive material damage to the infrastructure, facilities, and properties in Syria,” the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said in a letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General and the President of Security Council.

At least 35 civilians, including women and children, were killed on Thursday night when US-led coalition warplanes targeted the city of Al Mayadeen in the southeastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor province.

Damascus denounced the strike as an attack on “Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity under the pretext of combating terrorism.”

While the coalition admitted it had conducted strikes near Al-Mayadin on May 25 and 26, in a statement to Reuters, its spokesman said they were still “assessing the results.”

The action of the US and its coalition partners only contribute to spreading “chaos and destruction” which benefit terrorists, “particularly ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra,” Damascus said.

The letter also accused the coalition of often targeting the “Syrian Army which is fighting terrorism,” noting, that such strikes conveniently coincide with offensives launched by ISIS and al-Nusra on the ground.

The ministry reminded the UN that since the US has never received Damascus’ consent to operate in their airspace, the coalition’s actions “blatantly” contradict UN Security Council’s resolutions, international law and international humanitarian law.

“Syria reiterates the importance of halting the illegal US-led coalition’s actions and implementing Security Council resolutions related to counter-terrorism, including resolution no. 2253,” the letter said, according to the state news agency, Sana.

See Also:

Who’s Going to Enjoy Close Ties with India? – By Grete Mautner

 

wealthAccording to various researches, China will inevitably become world’s largest economy by 2050, followed by India, while the United States will only be able to rank third. As of now, India’s population is already surpassing 1.2 billion people, and the numbers keep growing. It’s curious that the total population of the European Union barely reaches 510 million people, and among its states birth rates have been on a sliding slope for a long while.

That is precisely why there’s a growing number of international players that have been carefully monitoring every step that New Delhi makes in hopes of establishing close bilateral ties with the rapidly developing Asian giant that can lead to a possible economic cooperation. For instance, the latest visit of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Russia followed by his trip to Kazakhstan made to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit has drawn a massive amount of attention from all sorts of analysts. It is expected that those steps will not simply give a new momentum to the development of Indian-Russian relations, but could also revive the project of the North-South International Transport Corridor that is being negotiated for years to no apparent result. India views large infrastructure projects as a means of expanding its influence in those regions of the world where China has already established a firm footing by advertising its One Belt, One Road initiative, getting European states involved in an unprecedented level of cooperation with Asian states.

Some voices have recently been saying that India is playing its own game, pitting the US against Russia in a bid to gain certain advantages at a negotiation table. Indeed, relations between the United States and India over the last decade have been evolving into a close strategic partnership, with the US Department of Defense naming India a major defence partner, once a Defense Technology Trade Initiative that was designed specifically for New Delhi has been established.

But India famously values its non-alignment in foreign policy, therefore it enjoys its long-standing relationship with Russia without any limitations. Even today, Russia remains India’s primary arms supplier as the US has always been picky about introducing all sorts of restrictions as far as future use of its arms is concerned, while Russian arms come with very few strings attached.

In spite of the difficult geopolitical situation, the ties between Russia and India are only getting stronger and there is a pretty simple explanation one can give for this phenomenon. Washington’s crumbling positions in the world have given the Eurasian region a new impulse for development. Both China and India are simply unafraid to enjoy close ties with Russia, they are able also capable of defending their position along with their own interests.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the most populated country in the world – India and the largest democratic on the world map – Russia. While India has been signing cooperation deals with well over twenty countries of the world, back in 2010 both Moscow and New Delhi agreed that their relations could be defined as “special and privileged.”

Both Moscow and Delhi have been particularly interested in developing various aspects of the bilateral relations. It won’t be much of a surprise for those who follow the topic that about 50% of all the military equipment Indian armed forces are using was produced in Russia. But at the same time most analysts are ignorant of the fact that Moscow and New Delhi have agreed to carry out a joint fight against cybercrime. The total trade turnover between the two countries amounts to tens of billions of dollars.

At the National New Delhi Research Center has recently stated in one of its papers, Russia has become India’s most important strategic partner, followed by the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Japan. This study showed that for more than a decade Russia has been providing strong political and diplomatic support to India, and has played a pivotal role in the strengthening of its defense potential. However, the report also notes that the economic aspect of the Indo-Russian relations is relatively weak, therefore urgent and decisive steps are to be proposed to improve economic ties so that the partnership between the two countries remains stable and predictable.

As it’s been noted by the Foreign Policy recently:

Modi’s government may have preferred a successful rapprochement between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, just as American resistance to Chinese aggression would be most welcome in New Delhi. But it can live with a chilly US-Russian relationship and a seemingly chummy start to Trump’s relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping — as long as Washington never demands that India stop working so closely with Russia.

So it’s safe to say that India is capable of making its own decisions about the friends it wants to make.

Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” 
http://journal-neo.org/2017/05/27/who-is-going-to-enjoy-close-ties-with-india/

ISIS reeling before Syrian army advances in Aleppo and Palmyra regions – By Alexander Mercouris

Lightning advances by Syrian troops in recent weeks send ISIS reeling and put Syrian army in stronger position as it races US backed forces to regain control of more and more areas of Syria.

With the situation in western Syria relatively stabilized following the ceasefire and the declaration of the ‘de-escalation areas’ there, the Syrian army has been able to commit more of its forces to the war against ISIS in eastern Syria.

The latest reports speak of the Syrian army, following rapid advances, closing on the town of Maskanah, ISIS’s last stronghold in Aleppo province. Apparently Syrians have now captured Maskanah’s railway station, leaving the ISIS fighters in Maskanah with the choice of either retreating from the town or being surrounded.

Further south, the Syrian army is continuing to clear territory around recently recaptured Palmyra, apparently in preparation for a major advance along the main road towards ISIS besieged Deir Ezzor.

The Syrian war in its present stage seems to be evolving into a race between US and Russian backed forces to decide which of them can capture more of Syria from ISIS before ISIS’s phoney Caliphate finally collapses. The most rapid advances at the moment are being made by the Russian backed Syrian army, with the US backed Kurdish militia which is concentrating around Raqqa apparently still not strong enough to capture the town. By contrast the Syrian army backed by the Russian air force has successfully carried out rapid advances against ISIS in the north in Aleppo – from which ISIS has been almost entirely cleared – and in central Syria on the line from Palmyra to Deir Ezzor.

The most dangerous potential flashpoint is southern Syria along the Jordanian border, as shown by the US bombing raid on pro-Syrian government militia forces of a week ago. Constant rumors of a US backed Jihadi advance from Jordan towards Deir Ezzor as part of some US plan to partition Syria have however so far failed to bear fruit. There are in fact reports that the US backed Jihadi groups in Jordan are too weak to carry out such an advance, and that the Jordanian government has made clear its opposition to the whole idea of such an advance.

It is however probably not a coincidence that there are reports of Russian Special Forces being deployed near the Jordanian border in southern Syria.

The good news is that the US and Russian militaries in Syria are apparently now in close – even intense – contact with each other. Moreover it seems that these contacts are going on at the same time as the two militaries also maintain contacts with each other at the highest levels. This contrasts sharply with the situation during the period of the Obama administration when former US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter did everything he could to block cooperation or even communication with the Russian military in Syria.

These contacts between the militaries of the US and Russia are the best reasons for hoping that a dangerous clash between the militaries of the two nuclear superpowers and their proxies in Syria will be avoided.

Comment: More from Southfront:

Yet another video surfaces showing Western backed White Helmets assisting public executions in ‘rebel-held’ Syria – By Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal

© Facebook
The video shows three men from the White Helmets rushing into the center of a crowd, mere seconds after an alleged criminal was shot in the head, and removing the body on a stretcher.

Syria Civil Defense, popularly known as the White Helmets, can be seen in a new video assisting in a public execution in a rebel-held town in Syria. It is at least the second such execution video featuring members of the Nobel Prize-nominated group.

The White Helmets have received at least $23 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a wing of the State Department. The British Foreign Office and other European governments have pitched in as well.

Frequently cited as an invaluable source of information by major Western media outlets, the group was the subject of an Academy Award-winning 2016 Netflix documentary, The White Helmets.

Endorsements from A-list Hollywood celebrities like George Clooney and Justin Timberlake, as well as Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, have followed.

Large corporate media networks have yet to report on the dark side of the White Helmets, however, and films like the widely celebrated Netflix feature function as uncritical commercials for the group, helping to keep the public in a state of ignorance about the domination of the Western-backed Syrian armed opposition by extremist Salafi jihadist groups, and about the civil conflict in general.

While CNN and other outlets rely heavily on footage taken by White Helmets members, not one major Western media outlet has reported on the latest execution video starring the group’s uniformed members.

The video, which Syrian opposition activists uploaded to Facebook, shows three men from the White Helmets rushing into the center of a crowd, mere seconds after an alleged criminal was shot in the head, and removing the body on a stretcher. A member of the White Helmets can be seen celebrating along with the crowd of onlookers.

WARNING: This video features violence that may disturb viewers.


The men in the video were clearly identified by their signature white helmets, along with vests embroidered with the Syria Civil Defense logo.

The public execution took place in the small city of Jasim, in Syria’s southern Daraa province — which is often described as a hub for “moderate” rebels. Activists posted the video on May 16 on the Facebook page Coordination of the City of Al-Harra, Mother of the Martyrs, a site for the opposition in the neighboring city of Al-Harra.

Two days later, Syria Civil Defense released a carefully crafted statement admitting its members were involved in the execution. The statement noted that a tribal council in Jasim had asked the White Helmets “to humanely dispose of the body of a person that had been sentenced to death, by the local court, for murder.” The group said it had “conducted an investigation” into the execution, and in response dismissed a White Helmet leader, while temporarily suspending two other team members.

Executing an Oscar-worthy performance

This is not the first time the White Helmets have appeared as participants in a public execution.

A jarring execution filmed in 2015 in the rebel-held town of Haritan shows two members of Syria Civil Defense waiting just off camera while a member of Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, reads out a death sentence, before shooting a man dressed in street clothes in the head. Seconds later, the White Helmets team tosses the man’s body onto a stretcher and scrambles away.

The 2015 video prompted a carefully worded statement by the organization, condemning the killing and claiming its members were simply fulfilling their task by performing “the emergency burial of the dead.”

A British public relations outfit called the Syria Campaign was hired by an influential British-Syrian billionaire, Ayman Asfari, to market the White Helmets to the Western public. As Max Blumenthal has reported for AlterNet, the Syria Campaign was itself the creation of a slick New York City- and London-based public relations firm called Purpose. Among the PR group’s greatest achievements was fundraising for the widely celebrated Netflix documentary.

This year, the makers of the film were awarded with an Oscar for Best Documentary Short. As he received the honor before millions of viewers around the world, director Orlando Einsiedel read a prepared statement from Read al-Saleh, the director of the White Helmets: “Our organization is guided by a verse in the Quran: ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity.'”

But the execution videos call into question the White Helmets’ claims to act as an impartial, life-saving rescue organization, and raise serious questions about the motives of its funders and promoters within public relations firms and mainstream newsrooms.

‘Hidden soldiers’ of al-Qaeda and ISIS?

The White Helmets operate exclusively within the armed Syrian opposition, working closely with al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and even ISIS. The British journalist and ISIS hostage John Cantlie inadvertently exposed the group’s relationship with ISIS when he referred to a White Helmets team as “the Islamic State’s fire brigade” in a propaganda video he was forced to participate in.

Videos and photos of White Helmets members posing triumphantly on the corpses of Syrian soldiers and joining fighters in accosting an alleged political opponent have circulated throughout social media.

In March 2015, the extremist-sympathizing opposition media outlet Sarmeen posted a video featuring the White Helmets gleefully joining a chant with Salafi jihadist fighters in Idlib, as they fire a fusillade of bullets into the air.

A member of Syria Civil Defense grabs a flag from one of the militants and begins waving it: a black flag with the shahada in white letters, a common Salafi jihadist symbol, emblazoned with the name of Jaish al-Sunna, an extremist Islamist militia that is allied with Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate and that has reportedly recruited child soldiers with the help of the al-Qaeda-linked fundamentalist Saudi warlord Abdullah al-Muhaysini.

Another upload to YouTube, posted the same day by the rebel media outlet, shows White Helmets joining the extremist militants in songs and chants.

Al-Muhaysini, the ideological leader of Syria’s Salafi jihadist rebels, has repeatedly praised the White Helmets. The Saudi warlord, who has been implicated in numerous war crimes in Syria, including mass executions of captured Syrian soldiers, insisted in an interview that there is no difference between the “mujahideen” (Salafi jihadist fighters) and the White Helmets. He even favorably described Syria Civil Defense members as mujahideen.

In May 2015, a White Helmets member named Muawiya Hassan Agha posted a grotesque video to Facebook (since deleted) that showed extremist Syrian rebels torturing two captured soldiers they later executed. Agha had also been filmed celebrating the capture of Idlib by al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate. Rumors circulated that Agha was dismissed from the White Helmets when his involvement in the atrocities came to light.

This March, a leader of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the powerful newly rebranded al-Qaeda-led rebel coalition in Syria, hailed the White Helmets in a special video message as the “hidden soldiers of the revolution.”

Comment:

See Also:

THE SYRIAN DESERT WILL BE FULLY LIBERATED SOON, HUGE SAA AND ALLIES PROGRESS. – By Ziad Fadel

ALEPPO PROVINCE ABOUT TO BE ISIS FREE.

 

“Exclusive to Syrper” by Canthama

 

image: https://i2.wp.com/syrianperspective.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Kissing-flag.jpg?resize=363%2C208&ssl=1

 

EASTERN QALAMOUN/CENTRAL HOMS

Complete collapse of of terrorists south of Homs-Palmyra highway. Both ISIS and US/UK/Jordan/GCC/Israel trained terrorists were utterly defeated and expelled from the vital Syrian desert triangle area. The SAA and allies are now securing all key points while clearing them from mines and IEDs. So far the area liberated in the past 3 days accounts to almost 5,000 sq kms, a large and vital area, a fundamental step to free all the Syrian desert from terrorism. Villages, hills and sites that were confirmed liberated so far are listed below:

 

 

  • Al Rus hills
  • Khanazir
  • Mount Sawwanat al-Muhassah
  • Mount Qannas
  • Jabal al-Abdah
  • Jabal Butum
  • Mount Unaybah
  • Mount Nasrani
  • Bīr Khān ‘Unaybah
  • Mount Ghanem
  • Mount Khulah
  • Sudaryet al-Bayda Hills
  • Mount Ghantus
  • Mount Rimah
  • Jabal al Bhadah
  • al Bhadah village
  • Mount Busayri
  • Busairy crossroad
  • Jabal Zuqaq Khalayil
  • Jabal Khunayzir
  • Jabal Ruwaq
  • Jabal an Naqnaqiyah
  • Jabal Umm Jurn
  • Jabal Tabaq
  • Jabal Wa‘riyah
  • Jabal al Qal`
  • Jabal at Tabaqah
  • Khunayfis village, phosphate mines and production facilities
  • Mount Suwanet al-Hamra
  • As Sawwanah Ash Sharqiyah village, phosphate mines and production facilities.
  • Al ‘Ulayyaniya villages, hill and surrounds
  • Tall al Fira’i
  • Jabal Furū‘ Ţārāt al ‘Alb
  • Air defense batallion – northwest of Zaza crossroad

 

It is hard to get a map in such a dynamic environment but this one does a good job in the current situation, red represents safe area under the SAA and allies, lighter pink represents battle zone, green area represents NATO/GCC/Israel/Jordan trained terrorists and dark brownish represents fleeing ISIS.

 

image: https://i0.wp.com/syrianperspective.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/May-25th-Syrian-Desert.jpg?resize=250%2C143&ssl=1

Map credit to Ian grant@Gjoene

 

With the Syrian desert triangle secured, the SAA and allies can now expand their advance deep into the desert area and toward the border with Iraq (Anbar Province) and Jordan (al Tanf). The logistics will be much shorter between Damascus, Palmyra and the Syrian desert due to the liberated roads and hills.

The offensive toward the Iraq-Anbar border and Syria-Jordan was announced and is on going as we speak, and is named “Operation Grand Dawn”. Thousands of soldiers will be liberated from maintaining such a large defensive perimeter, and will be sent to the new front lines in the Syrian desert. Expect a very rapid advance toward T3, T2 and Humaymah, this is a large desert area under ISIS and NATO/GCC/Jordan/Israel backed terrorists. With this large and bold move, the SAA and allies will be in a prime position to control the borders with Iraq and Jordan, as well as toward the liberation of Der ez Zor from the desert area (SW of Der ez Zor city).

Meanwhile, the terrorists inside the Dumayr pocket will have to either reconcile with the Syrian Government (very likely) or slowly squeezed by the SAA and allies.

After few days of regrouping and re suppling, a new push is about to start on Suweida and eastern Damascus frontline against the NATO/GCC/Jordan/Israel backed terrorists. The 25 kms gap between the Scientific Military Research facility and Manqa‘ ar Ruḩbah will be closed in no time, thus trapping few hundreds terrorists inside, opening the opportunity for the SAA and allies to consolidate the recent gains in central Homs and Eastern Qalamoun to secure the border with Jordan, thus bringing the war toward al Tanf border crossing with Iraq. This operation will most likely be coordinated with Iraq PMU.

As soon as the NDF and SAA forces approach Jebel Seis (castle and water reservoir) it is the indication the Suweida pocket is sealed or about to be sealed.

 

 

During the heat of battle on the night of May 24th to May 25th, ISIS terrorists, inside the Eastern Qalamoun pocket, knew they were doomed and main paved roads were under fire control by the SAA and allies, they had to retreat and they did attempt to do it through the dangerous mountains just southeast of Busayri crossroad, which was the only “open” way out of the tight embrace by the allied forces. It was to no avail, the long terrorist convoy was hit hard by SAAF and RuAF, drones captured the scene of the serious devastation. The video and location of the event can be found below (geolocation done by monitoring‏ @warsmonitoring).

 

 

 

SOUTHEASTERN ALEPPO

 

The Tiger Force and allies have broken ISIS’s first defensive line in the outskirt of the town of Maskaneh, with the recent gains the Tiger Force is now in a vantage point to force ISIS retreat from the city or simply encircle it and isolate it, the key is not to lose a single moment in urban warfare. The Tiger Force and allies are currently securing all small villages west of Maskaneh city. The following villages were liberated on May 25th:

  • al-Bouajouz
  • Qasr al-Bouajouz
  • Kharab al-Khadhraf
  • Sakariyah
  • al Ghari
  • Khirbat Madīnat al Fār and train station

 

 

SAA AND ALLIES STAGED OFFENSIVES

 

It seems based on the last month events, that the Syrian and Allies high command divided their broader Eastern Syrian offensive into parts, so far we have seen actions in 5 areas (below). The consolidation of gains in those areas will help build different phases of this broader offensives, but actions are on going in many of them concomitantly, sometimes coordinated or sometimes isolated. We could say it as the Phase 1 and though the progress has been remarkable so far, there are yet a lot of “Phases” to be seen and Syrian ground to be recaptured until it reaches Der ez Zor Province with Iraq.

  1. Maskaneh plains
  2. Eastern Hama/Central Homs
  3. Suweida/Southeast Damascus
  4. Eastern Qalamoun/Central Homs
  5. Eastern Palmyra

 

Read more at https://syrianperspective.com/2017/05/the-syrian-desert-will-be-fully-liberated-soon-huge-saa-and-allies-progress-aleppo-province-about-to-be-isis-free.html#s6WSlQHOWTmujKhS.99

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