Turkey Now Controls Syria’s Jihadists – By Eric ZUESSE – /strategic Culture Foundation

Turkey Now Controls Syria’s Jihadists

Because of the US Government’s repeated threats to start World War III against Russia on Syrian territory if Russia will assist Syria’s Government to eliminate the jihadists who control Syria’s Idlib province, Russia’s Government agreed, on September 17th, with Turkey’s Government, that Turkey’s Government will control Idlib, which is Syria’s most jihadist-friendly province

Consequently, the threatened US-and-allied bombing campaign to overthrow Syria’s Government and replace it with one that would be controlled by the royal family of Saudi Arabia (the Sauds) has been placed on hold, because such a bombing campaign would now mean the US going to war against not only Syria’s Government and Russia’s Government and Iran’s Government, but also against Turkey’s Government, which is a NATO member and (because of its location) has been an essential part of the American Empire.

Turkey is thus now balanced on a knife’s edge, between the US and its allies (representing the Saud family) on the one side, versus Russia and its allies (representing the anti-Saud alliance) on the other.

Historically, the Sauds have competed against the Turkish Government for leadership of the world’s Muslims. Gradually, the Sauds came to ally themselves first with the British Empire, and then with the rising American Empire, which two Empires merged into one right after World War II.

Turkey was the head of the Ottoman Empire — that was actually the Turkish empire — and Turkey became defeated in World War I by the British side, including the leader of the Saud family. As a result of the epoch-making September 17th agreement about Idlib, Turkey, which for nearly a hundred years was an important ally of America, no longer is a US ally, but is vacillating between alliance with Russia, versus alliance with the US

The Historical Background

Some historical background is helpful for understanding where we’re coming from, and where we are heading to, here: 

In 1811, the fundamentalist-Sunni Wahhabis of Arabia, led by the Saud family, revolted against the non-fundamentalist Sunni Ottoman Turks, and were crushed by the Ottomans

In 1830, “The Great Game” started, in which the British Empire unsuccessfully tried to colonize Afghanistan next door to the world’s most natural-resources-rich land, Russia, but Britain gave up in defeat in 1895, and therefore Afghanistan remained neutral.

As British historian Martin Ewans wrote in his 2002 Afghanistan: A Short History (p. 12), “Although never colonized, Afghanistan is part of the colonial history of Tzarist Russia and British India, with a strategic importance that in 1884 brought the two empires to the brink of war.” Ewens indicated (p. 66) that Russia’s opposition to Britain’s colonizing Afghanistan was based upon Russians’ fear that Britain would use the fundamentalist-Sunni Afghans as proxy boots-on-the-ground to spread into and take over parts of Russia.

John David Blom’s March 2009 “The Decline of Anglo-Saudi Relations” noted (p. 7) that, “The major areas of British imperialism in the Middle East during the nineteenth century were the Ottoman and Persian Empires, the Trucial states along the Persian Gulf, Aden, Oman, and Egypt. The Ottoman and Persian Empire provided a buffer against Russian expansion south.” Furthermore, Blom observed (p. 11) that after the Saud family came to recognize that in order for them to dominate against the Ottoman Turks for control over the Islamic world, “The Anglo-Saudi Treaty of 1915 recognized Ibn Saud’s position as ruler of Najd, El Hassa, Qatif and Jubail. It guaranteed British protection of these regions in exchange for control of Ibn Saud’s foreign policy.” Of course, the defeat of Turkey was the real focus of that, otherwise called Treaty of Darin. But the decline of Anglo-Saudi relations was merely the opposite end of the rise of US-Saudi relations. After WW I, this British alliance with the Sauds was effectively taken over on 23 May 1933 by Standard Oil of California (a Rockefeller oil company, now called Chevron) when the existing oil-discoveries in Saudi Arabia failed to excite British and European investors sufficiently. Three years later, Texaco joined SoCal. Then, in 1938, these American drillers made the first big oil-strike in Saudi Arabia. In 1943, the company became renamed Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO), and the previous British Empire now effectively became the American Empire. The alliance between the Saud family and the US aristocracy has remained solid ever since.

Further contributing to the Sauds’ increasing reliance upon the US aristocracy instead of upon the British aristocracy, has been this: In The West at the end of the 1800s, the British Empire adopted the British mining-magnate Cecil Rhodes’s plan for their Empire to become joined with the soaring new American Empire, which combination during World War I won against the then-soaring German Empire (and against its allied Japanese and Italian Empires) and then won against Germany yet again in WW II, this time because Russia and its Soviet allies basically conquered the Germans in the east. The US, emerging then essentially unscarred from WW II which had devastated all of America’s allies in that war, became, more clearly than ever, the Saud family’s winning horse, to carry them closer to final victory. 

In the 1915 Treaty of Darin, between the United Kingdom and Abdul-Aziz al-Saud (sometimes called Ibn Saud, who then led only part of what subsequently became the larger Saudi Arabia) both parties agreed that Saud would join UK’s war to conquer (Ottoman-led) Turkey; and that, in return, the British Empire (UK) would protect and defend the Saud family’s imposed rule, anywhere that it might become challenged.

Turkey’s Government was thus conquered, and then it ended its moderate-Islamist Ottoman Empire, after Turkey’s participation on Germany’s side in WW I produced General Ataturk’s creation of the secular Turkish state in 1923, and the end of the Turkish Caliphate the following year. Ataturk created a Turkey whose laws were almost completely independent of the Quran.

However, after the success of the US-Saudi war against Russia in 1979 by means of spreading Wahhabist and other fundamentalist-Sunni mosques and especially funding and creating mujahideen, Taliban, Al Qaeda, and ultimately ISIS fighters, all against Russia and against Russia’s ally Iran — that is, against the two countries which the Sauds and America’s aristocracy are the most determined to conquer — the Islamist Tayyip Erdogan in 2003 rose finally to power in Turkey, so as to support that US-Saudi cause, against Russia, and against Iran. 

Turkey, of course, is on Syria’s northern border. The accession to power of an Islamist leader of Turkey constituted a disastrous turn against the adjoining Syria, which country now was almost completely surrounded by hostile governments (controlled by fundamentalist Sunnis, except Israel, which is controlled by fundamentalist Jews). Erdogan was very much America’s leader of Turkey. 

However, the US aristocracy wanted Fethullah Gülen, who was even more dependent upon the US, to take over Turkey. So, on 15 July 2016, a US-NATO-backed coup-attempt to replace Erdogan by Gulen occurred and failed. It failed because Russia’s Putin informed Erdogan in time to save Erdogan’s life. This did not, however, turn Turkey immediately and 100% against America’s aristocracy, but it certainly did start that. This is the reason why Russia’s Astana Peace Process to settle and end the war in Syria includes Russia, Iran, and Turkey — and not US, Saudi Arabia, or any other outright enemies of Russia and of Iran.

America’s CIA has actually been trying ever since 1949 to place the Middle East’s only committedly anti-sectarian, pro-secular, nation, Syria, under the control of the fundamentalist-Sunni Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia and cooperate with US oil companies.

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CIA admits orchestrating Syrian Coup of March 1949.

8,782 views Osman Sáffah Published on Jan 26, 2014

CIA agent Miles Copeland Jr in an interview with the BBC in 1967 admits that the CIA orchestrated and staged the 1949 Syrian Coup against President Shukri al-Kuwatli. 

[Copeland says that nations’ leaders who don’t do what US corporations want them to do are “corrupt”]

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The Recent Background of the September 17th Agreement on Idlib

That brings us to the U.S-Saudi-Israeli war against Syria, which is called by the aggressors ‘the Syrian civil war’ in order to blame it against Assad instead of against themselves. 

Early in this invasion of Syria, Turkey was a leading participant, and provided pathways both for international jihadists — all of them fundamentalist Sunnis — and for the weaponry for them, to enter into Syria. 

Qatar, which is owned by its fundamentalist-Sunni royal family the Thanis, likewise was essential to the invasion and occupation of Syria, and funded the Muslim Brotherhood in order to assist the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad (as the Thanis did more successfully in Egypt with their installation of Mohammed Morsi). But then, on 5 June 2017, the Sauds decided that the Thanis aren’t sufficiently anti-Shia and anti Iranian; so, the Sauds tried to blockade Qatar and to crush the Thanis. Whereas America’s aristocracy turned against Erdogan, Saudi Arabia’s royal family turned against the Thanis. So: both Turkey and Qatar are now on the fence and no longer committed to the US-Saudi side against Syria.

Throughout the recent phase of the 7-year-long jihadists’ war to overthrow Syria’s Government, almost all of the surviving jihadists who did not surrender to Syria’s Government have been killed on the spot where they were, and all of the jihadists who did surrender were bussed by Syria’s Government into Idlib, which consequently is now even more jihadist-friendly than it was at the war’s start. Here is how this happened:

When Barack Obama came into the White House in January 2009 he was hoping to overthrow Syria’s Government. Also in 2009, UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron’s Government was actively planning to do it.

The pro-jihadist Thani family, as the main funders of the Muslim Brotherhood and owners of Qatar, have been almost as important cooperators with US oil and gas companies as are Saudi Arabia’s royal family. The Thanis’ Al Jazeera network reported, on 13 March 2012, that already Idlib was “opposition-held” and that “The Free Syrian Army is based in Turkey and its border is the most likely location for getting arms into Syria.” That’s how The West was transporting weapons to the jihadists. Al Jazeera’s correspondent said that the Syrian Government’s campaign to defeat its opponents there “was ‘Shooting fish in a barrel’ — these people can’t escape, they can’t help themselves, they have very little weaponry, what can they do but sit there and take it?” The West was thoroughly sympathetic, and supplied weapons to the supposedly helpless jihadists.

On 29 July 2012, when the US Government still had not yet made clear that it was planning to hand Syria over to the Saud family, the New York Times headlined “As Syrian War Drags On, Jihadists Take Bigger Role” and already noted that, “Idlib Province, the northern Syrian region where resistance fighters control the most territory, is the prime example.” Their report observed, without any indication of the significance of the fact, that, “A central reason cited by the Obama administration for limiting support to the resistance to things like communications equipment is that it did not want arms flowing to Islamic radicals. But the flip side is that Salafist groups, or Muslim puritans, now receive most foreign financing.” The significance was that Washington was taking its lead from the Sauds and the other fundamentalist-Sunni Arab oil monarchs. The article did, however, note that, “Significantly, most of the money flowing to the Syrian opposition is coming from religious donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region whose generosity hinges on Salafi teaching.” “Salafi teaching” is fundamentalist-Sunni teaching. It originated with Mohammed ibn al-Wahhab, the man who in 1744 authorized the Saud family to conquer the world for Allah. As the NYT reported there, Saudi fundamentalist-Sunni teaching was now taking over in the most-Sunni parts of Syria, because that’s what was being funded by the war’s financial backers: 

The attitude prompts grumbling from fighters used to the gentler Islam long prevalent in Syria. Adel, a media activist from Idlib interviewed in Antakya, Turkey, in June, complained that “the Islamic current has broken into the heart of this revolution.” When a Muslim Brotherhood member joined his group in Idlib, he said, inside of a week the man demanded that the slogans that they shouted all included, “There is no god but God.” “Now there are more religious chants than secular ones,” Adel groused. …

Ahrar al-Sham in particular enjoys the support of Sheik Adnan al-Arour, a Sunni Muslim media star in exile, who blasts Shiites and Alawites on his television show and on what appears to be his authentic Twitter account. “We buy weapons from the donations and savings of the Wahhabi children,” said one recent Twitter posting, referring to the Islamic sect prominent in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. …

Abu Zein, a spokesman for Sukur al-Sham, said the organization included Syrians plus other Arabs, French and Belgians. “The Qaeda ideology existed previously, but it was suppressed by the regime,” he said in a Skype interview. “But after the uprising they found very fertile ground, plus the funders to support their existence,” he added. “The ideology was present, but the personnel were absent. Now we have both.”

Bill Roggio, of Long War Journal, reported on 4 August 2012 that “Al Nusrah Front conducts joint operation with Free Syrian Army”. Nusrah was the name for Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, and the FSA were controlled by Turkey’s Government. These were America’s key allies on this matter. 

On 15 November 2012, Roggio concluded that, “The al Qaeda-linked Al Nusrah Front has been the most active jihadist group in Syria.” He also clarified, which the July NYT report had not, that, “The Ahrar al Sham Brigades is a Salafist-jihadist group that operates in Idlib and the surrounding areas, and has numerous foreign fighters in its ranks. Sheik Adnan al Arour, a prominent Syrian cleric who has often appeared in the media, backs the Ahrar al Sham Brigades.”

Roggio reported on 19 December 2012 that, “The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group that is fighting Bashir al Assad’s regime in Syria, and allied jihadist groups took control of the last major Syrian Army base in western Aleppo after a two-month-long siege. The base is believed to be involved in Syria’s chemical weapons program.” So, that might have been one of the incidents when jihadists obtained chemical weapons to blame subsequently against Syria’s Government.

On 25 February 2013, the New York Times bannered, “Saudis Step Up Help for Rebels in Syria With Croatian Arms” and reported, regarding those ‘rebels’ (who were actually being led by Al Qaeda — but the NYT kept this fact a secret) that, “Washington’s role in the shipments, if any, is not clear. Officials in Europe and the United States, including those at the Central Intelligence Agency, cited the sensitivity of the shipments and declined to comment publicly.” (Already, any honest newspaper would have abandoned using Obama’s ‘rebels’ label for them and would honestly have instead said “jihadists” in order to refer to them, but the US major media clearly aren’t honest.)

On 8 March 2013, Britain’s Telegraph bannered “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’: The United States has coordinated a massive airlift of arms to Syrian rebels from Croatia with the help of Britain and other European states, despite the continuing European Union arms embargo, it was claimed yesterday.” This newspaper reported that, “Western officials told the New York Times that the weapons had been bought from Croatia by Saudi Arabia, and that they had been funnelled to rebel groups seen by the west as more secular and nationalist.” Since virtually all “rebel groups” in Syria actually worked under Al Qaeda’s leadership and training, calling them “more secular and nationalist” was simply to lie — someone had lied there, too.

Dr. Christof Lehman on 8 August 2013 presented considerable support for the view that “Ultimately, the designated function of the Muslim Brotherhood (AKP) administration of Tayyip Erdogan is the dismantlement of the Turkish Republic and the subsequent establishment of smaller US/NATO client states along ethnic and sectarian lines.”

On 22 June 2014, Dr. Lehmann reported that, “The green light for the use of ISIS brigades to carve up Iraq, widen the Syria conflict into a greater Middle East war and to throw Iran off-balance was given behind closed doors at the Atlantic Council meeting in Turkey, in November 2013, told a source close to Saudi – Lebanese billionaire Saad Hariri, adding that the US Embassy in Ankara is the operation’s headquarter. … The summit was, among others, attended by Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül, US Energy Secretary Ernst Monitz, Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former US National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.”

On 12 June 2015 (less than four months before Russia, at Syria’s request, was to enter the war on 30 September 2015, to prevent a Saud takeover of Syria), the Washington Post reported that, “because of regime losses in Idlib and elsewhere, … many people are starting to openly talk about an endgame for Assad and Syria.” Victory for the US-Saud-Turkey-Qatar-al-Qaeda side seemed now to be almost assured.

Then, Dr. Christina Lin wrote on 19 September 2015, that “Turkey-backed Chinese Uyghur terrorists are gaining a stronghold in Syria from which to launch attacks on China” and “3,500 Uyghurs are settling in a village near Jisr-al Shagour that was just taken from Assad, close to the stronghold of Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) that is in the Turkey-backed Army of Conquest. They are allegedly under the supervision of Turkish intelligence that has been accused of supplying fake passports to recruit Chinese Uyghurs to wage jihad in Syria.” Turkey was recruiting Al Qaeda’s Uyghur Chinese Turkmen into Syria. America and its allies seemed confident that Assad would soon be overthrown.

The Debka File was the only honest English-language reporter on the top news-story of 30 September 2015 (if not of that entire year), the historic day when, as they headlined it with unique honesty, “Russia enters Syrian war with air strikes, jolts the Mid East into new era” — and the Washington Post headlined as the journalistic bad joke that that neoconservative-neoliberal propaganda-sheet is, “Did the Russians really strike the Islamic State?”. And CNN bannered with the ambiguous, but less dishonest and far less ludicrous “Russia launches first airstrikes in Syria”. However, CNN’s heavily propaganda-laden ‘news’ report even contained some lies, such as the sub-headed one, “Russia: Coalition strikes on ISIS illegal,” which falsely suggested that Russia was against bombing ISIS in Syria, when the reality was instead that the US was against bombing ISIS and had not done it until Russia did first, which was on that very day. The US regime was simply bewildered at what had just occurred, which is that the war in Syria was now a superpower war on both of its sides, and no longer only on one side, as it had been until that moment. Putin decided, at that time, that he had had enough of Western aggression, and that he wouldn’t take it anymore: he would come to the defense of that ally. France24, being in line with the US regime, bannered “Russia hitting all of Assad’s opponents: analysts” and opened with the likewise falsifying “Syrian rebels who oppose both the regime and the Islamic State group have been hit hardest by Russian air strikes, showing Moscow’s determination to defend President Bashar al-Assad against all enemies,” as if the French Government, too, were not up to its neck in that war on the jihadists’ side, and as if Russia’s Government had not been consistently ferocious against the spread of jihadism.

The West was already deep in blood on this matter, on the devil’s side of it.

America’s “PBS” Public Broadcasting System TV headlined on 1 October 2015, “Mike Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, talks about why Russia deployed airstrikes in Syria” and Morell told interviewer Charlie Rose about Vladimir Putin: 

This guy is a thug. This guy is a bully. The second point I’d make is that he only understands relative power — who’s got more power, who’s got less power. That’s how he thinks about relationships. Third, I will tell you that he tries to create the image that he is this great strategic thinker. He’s not at all. He is a very good tactician, very good reacting to situations taking advantage of situations but he’s not particularly good at thinking them through. You know, I think that he is actually the biggest loser over the long term in the Ukraine crisis and I think he’s miscalculated what he’s doing in Syria now.

What a perfect description he gave there of himself, and of his bosses.

On 25 October 2015, Dr. Christina Lin headlined “Qatar’s jihad and mideast failing states” and reported: “This week Qatar’s foreign minister Khadlid Al-Attiyah said Doha is mulling military intervention in Syria alongside Turkey and Saudi Arabia to fight Assad, rather than ISIS.” The real story always had been that the US is on the side of jihadists, as cheap boots-on-the-ground to do the US aristocracy’s dirty-work abroad.

On 16 November 2015, Dr. Lin reported that, “Chinese Turkistan Islamic Party, Uzbek Imam Bukhari Jamaat and Katibat Tawhid wal Jihad have planted themselves in Idlib. In Aleppo, a May 2015 USAID report on Central Asian fighters in Syria, referred to three Uzbek militant groups allied with Al Nusra as “Aleppo Uzbeks”: Imam al-Bukhoriy Brigade, Uzbek Brigade of Jabhat al Nusra, and Seyfullah Shishani Jamaat. Now, various intelligence sources estimate there are around 5,000 Uzbek, 2,000 Chechens and more than 1,000 Chinese militants in Syria.”

On 24 November 2015, she bannered “NATO, Turkey, annexation of north Syria like north Cyprus?” and ripped into Erdogan as the snake that he is. And she noted: “While Russian jetfighters are flying over Syrian territory at the invitation of the sovereign government of Syria, Turkish jetfighters are flying over Iraqi territory to bomb Kurdish rebels without the consent of the Iraqi government, prompting the Arab League to issue a statement on 4 August condemning Turkey’s violation of Iraqi sovereignty.” He’s like America’s current and recent Presidents. She pointed out that, “as NATO member Turkey is transforming from a secular, democratic system to one of an increasingly Islamist and autocratic presidential system under Erdogan, it appears the alliance is also transforming from a value-based alliance of human right, democracy, and rule of law to one that is increasingly interest-based.” Was she talking about Trump, Obama, and Bush? She closed: “as Erdogan continues to goad NATO to stand in solidarity with Turkey and its territorial expansions in the Levant, it appears the world is now entering a dangerous new phase of an increasingly post-western and illiberal world order.”

But now that Putin had saved Erdogan from being killed by Obama, Erdogan is no longer an American stooge. What he is, is whatever secret deals he has secretly committed himself to. 

So: Trump threatened WW III in order to protect the people in the only province in Syria that even at the war’s start were about 90% preferring Al Qaeda and/or ISIS over Assad’s secular Government (and which is even far more jihadist today). As a result, on 17 September 2018, Putin and Rouhani — at least for the time being — offered to hand control of Idlib over to Erdogan, because doing this would postpone if not end that US-and-allied threat, of destroying the world in order to conquer the US aristocracy’s main targets.

With Russia’s S-300 in Syria, Israel Will Have to Think Twice About the Next Strike – By Ian Greenhalgh – VT

The new missile system provided by Russia is not a total barrier to airstrikes, but Israeli jets’ freedom of action will be significantly curbed

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Haaretz
With Russia’s S-300 in Syria, Israel Will Have to Think Twice About the Next Strike

The two latest developments in Moscow – the Defense Ministry’s report that placed full responsibility for last week’s downing of a Russian plane over Syria on Israel, and the announcement of the transfer of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to the Assad regime – shouldn’t surprise anyone in Israel except maybe a few foolish supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. No matter how good his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be, Netanyahu can’t make the problem disappear.

Russia suffered an embarrassing blow when Assad’s anti-aircraft fire shot down the plane, and it still has widespread interests to promote in Syria. It was quite clear that the affair would lead to a Russian condemnation of Israel and to demands of Israel. The bottom line still depends on Putin, who initially sufficed with a cautiously worded statement the day after the incident. For the time being it seems the result of the Russian steps will be a significant restriction of Israel’s freedom of action over Syria.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Monday that his country would supply Syria with S-300 ground-to-air missiles. Russia, he said, would also activate electronics preventing the activation of satellite tracking systems along Syria’s coast, making it harder for Israel to conduct airstrikes. And Russia will equip Syrian anti-aircraft units with Russian tracking and guidance systems to prevent mishaps in which Syria downs Russian aircraft.

The transfer of S-300 missiles to the Syrians, along with even more advanced systems (like the S-400) that the Russians are deploying near their bases in Syria’s northwest, don’t constitute a total barrier to Israeli attacks. According to foreign media, the Israel Air Force has trained for missions in which Israeli jets must contend with S-300 batteries – which the Russians sold to Cyprus and are now in Greece’s hands. It’s reasonable to assume that the air force can figure out how to reduce the risk when facing these systems.

In April, after an American attack and a number of Israeli attacks, Moscow announced that it would sell the S-300 systems to Syria, but it didn’t follow through. This time the Russians seem more determined to follow through, though it’s doubtful the weapons will be delivered in two weeks as promised by Shoigu, and it could take the Syrians a while to learn to operate the technology.

The test for Israeli-Russian relations is sure to come soon when a new intelligence warning pops up about an Iranian attempt to smuggle arms into Lebanon on a route near the Russian bases in northwestern Syria. Because Iran is determined to continue with its arms shipments to Hezbollah, and Israel has insisted on its right to attack such shipments, Jerusalem is bound to face a dilemma: Should it attack once again near the Russians and risk further exacerbating the crisis and even the downing of an Israeli plane?

Russia’s announcement of the decision to supply the S-300s and its report Sunday on the circumstances of the downing of the Ilyushin plane underscore one point. Moscow can’t accuse the main culprit responsible for the incident – its ally, the Assad regime. (It’s amazing to see that blame for the Syrian anti-aircraft forces doesn’t even appear in the Defense Ministry’s official statement.)

File photo: A Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft taxis across the tarmac at Central military airport in Rostov-on-Don, Russia December 14, 2010.

It was therefore clear from the beginning that the responsibility would be placed on Israel. It’s also interesting that all the blame is directed at the Israeli military, which the Russians accuse of being unprofessional or “criminally negligent, at the very least.” The Israeli political leadership isn’t mentioned except for one general claim about Israel’s alleged dangerous offensive policy in Syria.

The Russian inquiry seems dubious; some of its claims are odd. For instance, the Russians say Israel gave them a warning of only one minute (it’s surprising that Israel hasn’t stated the real time lag, which was much longer). According to experienced Israeli pilots, the claim that the Israeli jets hid behind the Russian intelligence-gathering plane is unreasonable and not in keeping with accepted operational practices.

The accusation that Israel deceived the Russians about the location of the planned attack also seems illogical. According to Russia, the IAF informed it about an attack in northern Syria, while the attack occurred in western Syria. Latakia is in northwest Syria, as a quick glance at a map reveals. And because the military coordination has been working successfully for three years now, during which hundreds of Israeli attacks have taken place, it’s hard to believe that the two sides haven’t yet cleared up some basic terminology.

The Russian announcement accuses Israel of ungratefulness in light of Moscow’s steps on behalf of Israeli interests such as keeping Iranian forces from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. (The Russians say they’ve kept them 140 kilometers [87 miles] away, while actually it’s 85 to 100 kilometers, a buffer zone that doesn’t include Damascus, where Iranian soldiers remain.)

In recent years, Russia has been caught lying or spreading disinformation about its role in a number of incidents, the most recent being its involvement in the U.S. presidential elections, the poisoning of the former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain, and the invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. So it’s hard to believe that anyone but Syria and Iran will adopt the Russian version of last week’s events.

But it’s unlikely that this will matter. Moscow has the last word on the plane affair. It seems Putin waited for an Israeli blunder to put Jerusalem in its place.

This isn’t the end of an era for Israel’s military operations in Syria, where it has conducted hundreds of attacks in the north over the past six years. But for now, it appears the situation on the northern front won’t return fully to the conditions before the Russian plane was shot down.

Israel has operated freely in northern Syria for years thanks to the combination of offensive actions and good diplomatic relations with the Russians. Mostly, Israel acted shrewdly, achieving many of its goals.

In this handout video grab released by the Russian Defense Ministry speaks to the media next to the screen showing the scheme of the incident during a briefing in Moscow, Russia, September 22, 2018.

But in recent months Israel has displayed excessive confidence in Syria. It’s unlikely that the Russians were happy with the Israeli military’s announcement this month that it had conducted more than 200 attacks in Syria since the beginning of last year. It seems Jerusalem hasn’t fully grasped the implications now that the Assad regime, with the help of the Russians, has regained control of most of the country, including the region bordering Israel.

Israel isn’t a superpower and isn’t invincible. It will have to take into account Russian considerations and maybe even adapt its offensive model. Senior defense officials say they ascribe great importance to the latest incident. Those who still claim that this is just a mild shudder on the wing must be so busy defending Netanyahu’s image that they’re no longer capable of analyzing reality objectively.

Russia vows to wipe out terrorist-run drone assembly workshops in Idlib – By TASS

September 14, 16:57 UTC+3

The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said on September 5 that two Russian frontline bombers Sukhoi-34 wiped out a Jabhat al-Nusra workshop in Idlib

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

BERLIN, September 14. /TASS/. Russia has information where the terrorists assemble drones in Idlib and it will be eliminating these underground workshops, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a meeting of the German-Russian forum on Friday.

“We have intelligence information where drones are assembled in Idlib from components smuggled there,” he said. “As soon as we get such information, we will be eliminating such underground workshops that make lethal weapons.”

“What some describe as the beginning of a Russia-supported offensive by the Syrian army is malicious distortion of facts. Both the Syrian forces and we merely react to hit-and-run raids from Idlib,” Lavrov said. “It is very hard to detect drones with ordinary air defense weapons. Many of them are made of wood and cannot be seen on radar screens.”

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on September 5 that two Russian frontline bombers Sukhoi-34 wiped out a Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) workshop in Idlib, where militants assembled attack drones and kept in store ammunition for them.

In the early hours of September 4, air defense systems of the Hmeimim air base shot down two drones the militants hand launched. Both drones were eliminated far away from the base. Over the past month 47 drones have been shot down or neutralized in the area of the Russian base.

More:
http://tass.com/politics/1021676

Rogue Bodyguard Scandal Fouls Macron’s Squeaky-Clean Image – bY Finian CUNNINGHAM – Strategic Culture Foundation

Rogue Bodyguard Scandal Fouls Macron’s Squeaky-Clean Image
Finian CUNNINGHAM | 22.09.2018 | WORLD / Europe

French President Emmanuel Macron’s plummeting popularity received another blow this week with the continuing scandal of an ex-bodyguard who was given elite access to Élysée Palace – even though he had no professional background in the state security services.

What’s more, Macron’s personal security minder, Alexandre Benalla, is accused of impersonating a police officer while beating up two protesters during a May Day rally in Paris earlier this year.

The thuggish behavior of a top Macron aide raises questions about this president’s ethics and politics. It conveys a disturbing image of fascist street brawling entering the very seat of French government.

Benalla has since been dumped from his post as Macron’s bodyguard over the scandal which has become dubbed “Benalla-gate”.

But the affair reinforces growing public anger over what they see as Macron’s self-inflated presidential style. He is increasingly seen as arrogant, aloof, and unaccountable, with delusions of grandeur.

Ironically, the former Rothschild investment banker, with his youthful “fresh face”, was elected in May 2017 on the back of his much-hyped self-proclaimed mission to renew French politics. Macron (40) even started a brand new political party, En Marche, which was billed as transcending “old” Left-Right rigidities and renovating French democracy.

The president’s honeymoon period with the French public has long worn off. His much-touted social policy reforms are seen as draconian cuts in workers’ rights and public services for the benefit of the wealthy. He has even gained the moniker, “president of the rich”.

On several occasions, Macron has shown a galling elitist conceit, such as when he publicly berated a protesting teenager to “show respect”, or when he floated the idea of bestowing a new formal title of “first lady” to his 25-years-senior wife, Brigitte (65), thus attempting to turn the French parliamentary republic into an American-style executive power.

Recently, when he was challenged by an unemployed gardener about lack of jobs in that profession, Macron haughtily told the young man to try his hand at laboring in building construction. His lack of empathy provoked a public outcry over what appeared to be a “let them eat cake” attitude.

This week, the president’s former bodyguard was summoned by the French Senate to answer questions on his exact relationship with Macron. The enquiry could go on for weeks.

But what the Senate hearings point to is a growing frustration with Macron’s self-styled majesty as a leader who sees himself above reproach. He has often talked about how his presidency is aimed at “restoring France’s greatness”, and seems to have a penchant for addressing parliamentarians beckoned to the Versailles Palace, as if they are his subjects.

His former appointment of Benalla (27) as personal bodyguard raised eyebrows. It smacked of political favoritism towards a personal friend. Benalla has no professional background in the French police or military which is the normal career path for someone appointed to be the president’s top security official. It is said that the former bodyguard’s only experience in security work was being previously employed as a bouncer in a nightclub. How he came to know Macron is an intriguing question, and it is this relationship that lawmakers want to find out about in their ongoing questioning.

Their relationship became a scandal when Benalla was videoed by May Day protesters beating up a man and woman on the streets of Paris earlier this year, while demonstrating against Macron’s social reforms. In the video, Benalla is seen wearing a police helmet and an armband purporting to identify him as a member of the police force. He is also seen viciously punching the man on the head and stomping on his stomach as he fell to the ground. It appears to be a shocking display of gratuitous, sadistic violence.

One can only imagine how Western news media would explode with sensational front page headlines if, somehow, a similar event took place in Moscow, in which an aide to President Putin was filmed being involved in assaulting protesters. You would never hear the end of that in Western media.

Why President Macron’s personal security guard would take time off to go to a rally and beat up protesters is a troubling question. Did Benalla get some perverse pleasure from his violent conduct? It is also a serious offense under French law to impersonate a law enforcement officer, which could result in a prison conviction.

When French media finally identified Benalla from the amateur video footage in mid-July, the accusation was then leveled at Macron of engaging in a cover-up. Hence the term “Benalla-gate” was coined.

Macron at first ignored the furore in typical supercilious mode. Under mounting public pressure, he then eventually broke his silence. Though he reacted in a petulant manner as if the media were picking on him, which only served to underline the perception that this president views himself as some kind of regal figure above the fray of “commoners”.

Bizarrely, Macron riposted to the media questions about Benalla’s seeming privileged employment with a sarcastic quip: “He’s not my lover!”

Was it a Freudian slip? It’s not the first time that Macron’s sex life has been rumored to be secretly gay.

During the presidential campaign, Russian news media carried a report quoting French political opposition sources claiming that Macron’s private life was more nuanced than his marriage to a much older woman suggests. Macron then hit back defensively, accusing Russia of interfering in the French election, based on one throwaway gossip story.

Whatever the precise relationship is between Macron and his rogue bodyguard, one thing does seem clear however. This president has a Napoleon complex, or perhaps a Bourbon Sun King complex. He seems to think exceedingly highly of himself, as being a ruler who is above the rule of law and public accountability.

Just over a year in office, the supposed squeaky-clean Emmanuel Macron is showing himself to have the whiff of the same old corruption that has marred so many of his predecessors in Élysée Palace.

Gaza children killed by Israeli snipers, air attack – By Maureen Clare Murphy – Rights and Accountability – ELECTRONIC INTIFADA

Men and boys stand or run in front of the Gaza boundary fence with an Israeli military installation on a sand hill behind it
Palestinian protesters gather during confrontations with Israeli occupation forces east of Gaza City on 21 September.

Dawoud Abo Alkas APA images

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man during protests along the eastern boundary of the occupied Gaza Strip on Friday.

The slain protester, killed east of Gaza City, was identified by Gaza’s health ministry as Karim Muhammad Kullab, 25.

The ministry reported 300 injuries during Friday’s protests, 100 of them requiring hospital treatment. More than 50 people were injured by live fire, four of them seriously and one critically.

One Israeli soldier was reportedly lightly wounded by shrapnel.

Kullab is the sixth Palestinian in Gaza killed by Israeli forces this week.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces shot 15-year-old Muamin Abu Iyada during protests east of Rafah on Wednesday night, killing him.

Two others were shot and killed during protests on Tuesday and two more killed in an airstrike on Monday.

According to Al Mezan, a human rights group based in Gaza, Israeli warplanes launched two missiles at a group of protesters late Monday night when they approached the boundary fence east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

The bodies of Naji Abu Assi, 16, and Alaa Abu Assi, 19, were recovered by Palestinian medics hours later. “Both had shrapnel injuries on various parts of their bodies and one of them was torn to pieces,” Al Mezan stated.

Around 140 Palestinians have been killed during demonstrations along Gaza’s eastern boundary since the launch of the Great March of Return series of protests on 30 March.

Those killed during the protests have included nearly 30 children, as well as two journalists and three paramedics, and three persons with disabilities, according to Al Mezan.

Some 5,500 have been injured by live fire during the protests, including 900 children.

Amnesty International has said it has not found any evidence of protesters posing a threat to the lives of soldiers behind the fence that would justify the use of deadly force.

The protests, which have been held every Friday since their launch, have increased in frequency in recent days. Protests have been held on weekdays “and include naval marches and night sit-ins near the separation fence – activities which do not threaten the life or safety of Israeli soldiers,” Al Mezan stated.

The protests are calling for an end to Israel’s blockade on Gaza, now in its 11th year, and in support of the right of refugees to return to their original lands and property on the other side of the Gaza boundary fence.

Two-thirds of Gaza’s population of two million are refugees.

“We will continue”

“We will continue our peaceful marches to fulfill our demands and liberate our lands,” one protester says in this video:

The young man urges leaders in the Arab world, whom he accuses of complicity with Israel, to stand with the Palestinian people in Gaza resisting the siege.

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the Hamas movement in Gaza, said on Friday the ongoing protests show the world “how the Palestinian people on their land are a model of giving, loyalty, sacrifice and the service of humanity.”

Anticipating a rise in the number of protesters, the Israeli military deployed additional occupation forces along the Gaza boundary ahead of Friday’s demonstrations.

Occupation forces are said to be operating under orders to use live fire against Palestinians launching incendiary kites and balloons, which have landed in southern Israel in recent days.

Collective punishment threat

The head of COGAT, the bureaucratic apparatus of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, said that collective punishment measures would be used against the general population in Gaza.

Apparently referring to naval protests held earlier this week, Kamil Abu Rukun stated that “The Hamas terror organization is using fishermen and forcing them to participate in riots.”

Abu Rukun said that the Israeli military would “use an iron fist” against such “rioters” and would reduce the permitted fishing area from 6 to 3 nautical miles off the Gaza coast.

People stand on the beach with boats with Palestinian flags on the water in the background
Palestinian protesters sail boats during a demonstration against the Israeli blockade on Gaza along the maritime boundary with Israel near Kibbutz Zikim, north of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, on 17 September.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Under the 1993 Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, Gaza’s fishing zone was supposed to extend 20 nautical miles out from shore. But Israel has never allowed this and the furthest Gaza’s fishers have been able to sail has been 12 nautical miles out.

Over the past decade, Israel has reduced the permitted fishing area to 6 nautical miles, and sometimes less, and has frequently fired on fishing boats.

Israel has killed eight fishers since 2000, according to Al Mezan.

Russia Brings Turkey to the Right Side of History – Terrorists and Israel React Badly to Sochi Agreement on Idlib – ByAndrés Perezalonso – Sott.net

Putin erdogan netanyahu

© Fort Russ News

With Turkey’s military presence in northern Syria and its support of militant groups in Idlib, it was to be expected that the Syrian Army offensive in the region would be postponed until a compromise was reached between Erdogan and Assad’s allies, as I explained earlier. Russian president Vladimir Putin held talks with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan, for the third time in less than a month, in Sochi on September 17th. They agreed to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib; later, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed to journalists there would not be a large military operation in the province.

According to Russian diplomatic sources who spoke with Al-Watan newspaper, the Russian-Turkish agreement will be implemented in three stages:

  1. The first stage will go into effect by mid October to create a 15 to 20 km weapons-free zone along the contact line between militant groups and government forces. All radical groups, including ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra/Al Qaeda will have to leave this zone, which will be patrolled jointly by Russian and Turkish military units.
  2. In the second stage the heavy weapons will be collected from the region until November 10 and the militants will leave civilian areas.
  3. In the third stage, lasting to the end of this year, state institutions will resume activities in Idlib.

Notice that for the completion of all three stages, the cooperation of militant groups is necessary. This is the point that may result in the partial or complete collapse of the demilitarization efforts – but that is not necessarily a failure.

South Front reports that pro-militant sources claim that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (the coalition affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al Qaeda in Syria) and some other groups, including the Islamic Turkistan Party (composed of die-hard Uyghur Muslims from China) have rejected the agreement. (It was originally reported that Jaish al-Izza, a Free Syria Army group, had also rejected it, but now that appears to be incorrect). Furthermore, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation warned after the Putin-Erdogan meeting that the White Helmets and members of Al-Nusra were still preparing a false-flag chemical attack to blame the Assad government. This is not surprising; after all, Syria is dealing with jihadi factions – literally terrorists – not with a mix of “moderate rebels” and a few bad apples as the Western narrative insists. By definition, terrorists are uncooperative to say the least, especially when asked to give up their weapons and let the state do its job.

Uyghur jihadis

© Radio Alwan
Uyghur jihadis: some shy, some not

If the information on the reaction of the terrorist groups is correct, the Turkey-sponsored and FSA-affiliated Jabhat al-Wataniya al-Tahrir (aka the National Front for Liberation) and Jaish al-Izza would be the only parties potentially willing to go along with the plan. In fact, Putin and Erdogan never expected or intended to make deals with groups everyone recognizes as radical – particularly with Al-Nusra, which was singled-out by Putin at the Sochi press conference, while Erdogan vowed to “clear these territories of radical elements”. Therefore, in the context of Idlib, when we hear Russia or Turkey discuss ‘moderate rebels’, they mean Turkish proxies.

Before the latest Sochi summit, Erdogan demanded a political solution to the situation in Syria, ostensibly for humanitarian reasons, when in reality he had three objectives:

  1. To salvage the forces in the area loyal to Turkey.
  2. To minimize the amount of refugees and jihadists crossing the border into Turkey.
  3. To retain as much influence on the future of Northern Syria as he could.
putin erdogan

Clearly, Putin understood that Turkey would not simply leave the region of its own accord, and thus the Idlib offensive would have risked a dangerous direct confrontation between states. So he agreed to proceed via the ‘political route’, fully aware that Turkey would then have to commit to join the fight against groups officially recognized as terrorists – even those Turkey directly or indirectly supported in the past – while pulling the reins on its proxies or even turning its guns against those who rebelled. Furthermore, Turkey takes another step towards Russia, Iran and Syria, and away from NATO and its machinations in the Middle East. Ultimately, the crucial point of the agreement is not how many militants will give up their weapons or not, but that Turkey is now on board with the liberators of Syria. One could say that Putin ‘gently coaxed’ Erdogan into doing the right thing.

Lose The Match, Knock Over The Board

Of course, there is another advantage to calling off a major offensive in Idlib: It makes it harder – though not impossible – for Western countries and their allies to protest, threaten, and retaliate against some imaginary war crime, and for terrorists to stage an attack on civilians, inviting such retaliation.

syria map

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

Some geopolitical players bent on war seem to have taken the news hard enough to make significant mistakes. There are a number of observersincluding an advisor to Erdogan – who believe that Israel’s latest insanely criminal stunt, which resulted in the downing of a Russian Il-20 military plane and the death of 15 Russian servicemen, was a response to the Sochi agreement reached a few hours earlier. Indeed, there are barely any coincidences in politics, although we must not forget that on the same day (Monday, September 17th) the Russian Ministry of Defense presented evidence countering the Dutch report on the MH17 flight tragedy over Ukraine – a non-negligible event that may have inspired Machiavellian Israeli minds to distract the public from such data.

The tragedy of the Russian Il-20 was the product of typical duplicitous, cowardly Israeli military ‘strategy’. While on an illegal and unprovoked bombing operation against government targets in Syria – of which the Russian MOD was notified with less than a minute’s notice – four Israeli F-16 fighter jets flying at low altitude “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region… The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile,” an MOD statement said. The reaction of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was bitter:

“The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies squarely on the Israeli side,” the Russian minister said. “The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.”

Evidently, the Israelis were intentionally looking to cause trouble for the Russian military. However, judging by the amount of time they took to officially respond to an angry Russia, it appears they miscalculated and did not expect that a Russian aircraft would be lost, nor did they expect Russia blame them. This was Israel’s big mistake: Russia is likely to forcefully make difficult or even obstruct any future Israeli operations in or above Syria. Putin’s words about boosting the safety of Russian personnel in Syria and taking “steps that everyone will notice” point in that direction.

A bad situation was made worse when an arrogant Israeli response finally came. No apologies were offered; all Russia got was an expression of “sorrow” and much blaming of third parties:

To add insult to injury, the Israelis disputed the Russian version of the facts. Somebody is lying here, and I doubt it is the aggrieved party:

There is another interesting fact to this story, that seems to be rapidly slipping out of media reports. The French Navy’s frigate “Auvergne” was in the region at the time, and according to the Russian MOD, several missile launches were detected from that ship. At what were those missiles aimed? What role did the French Navy play in Monday night’s bombing of Syria and/or the loss of the Russian Il-20?

With diplomatic skill, Putin again managed to solve the ‘Turkey problem’ in Syria – at least for now. Unfortunately, it will be much harder to fix the ‘Israel/NATO problem’. The discourse and behavior of neocons and zionists shows that they have no interest whatsoever in a stable, prosperous Syria – or in a peaceful Middle East. While commenting on US politics, Putin once observed that is “difficult to have a dialogue with people who confuse Austria and Australia”. We could add that it is even harder to reason with people who confuse war with peace and truth with lies.

Avatar

Andrés Perezalonso

Andrés Perezalonso has been a contributing editor for Signs of the Times in both its English and Spanish versions since 2007. He holds a PhD in Politics, an MA in International Studies, a first degree in Communication, and has a professional background in Media Analysis. He thinks that understanding world events is not unlike detective work – paying attention to often ignored details and connections, and thinking outside of the box. He was born and raised in Mexico and currently resides in Europe.

Zakharova requires explanations from Israel – Lieberman blames ‘unprofessional’ Syrian military for shooting down Russian aircraft – By Joaquin Flores – FRN -SOTT

Tragedy with Il-20 over Latakia

The tragedy with Il-20, shot down over the Mediterranean Sea in Syria, will require additional explanations from Tel Aviv. Israeli pilots in the current situation acted unprofessionally, Russian MFA spokesperson Maria Zakharova believes, saying:

“For my part, I believe that the Israeli pilots, as a result of whose actions a threat was created and the Russian aircraft was killed, – this is evidenced by the data of our military experts – behaved at least unprofessionally. I want to say that it’s embarrassing to hide behind those who provide including your safety, and, fulfilling your duty, can not deviate from the bullet, which is not addressed to you, ”

According to the diplomat, new data on the crash of the Russian military aircraft will be received in the very near future and will be made public. “The tragedy that took place on September 17 will require additional investigations and, of course, clarification from the Israeli side.” I am sure that they will follow in the near future,” Zakharova summed up.

The Russian Il-20 was shot down on September 17 by a missile from the S-200 air defense complex in Syria, in response to a raid by the Israeli Air Force. As a result of the tragedy, 15 Russian servicemen were killed. According to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Israeli pilots, under the cover of a Russian aircraft, put him under fire. The effective reflecting surface of the IL-20 is an order of magnitude larger than the Israeli F-16, so the Syrian missile fell into the Russian aircraft.

FRN has determined that France is also a likely culprit, however given that French foreign policy in the region, especially under Macron, is largely determined by Israel and Gulf Monarchies, the general Russian claim that ‘Israel is ultimately responsible, even if indirectly’ in fact may be more true than skeptics have hitherto believed.

Comment: The Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman stated on Thursday morning that the ‘unprofessional’ Syrian military was to blame for shooting down the Russian aircraft off the coast of Latakia on Monday evening.

“The plane was shot down by irresponsible and unprofessional Syrian air defense personnel who fired when (our) air force jets had already returned to Israeli territory,” Lieberman told Israel’s Army Radio.

See also: Satellite images show Syria strike as Israeli Air Force chief goes to Moscow to explain Il-20 incident

As Twitter Purges Real Iranians, US-Backed MEK Cult Revealed to Run Anti-Iran Troll Farm – By Elliot Gabriel – MINT PRESS

Iran Social Media Bans
#YouAreBots

 

While “actual” Iranians face social media bans, countless bots and anti-government accounts belonging to the US-backed former terror group, MEK, have been permitted to run rampant across Twitter and other platforms.

TIRANA, ALBANIA – Iran is once again being subject to double standards as part of an ongoing effort to deprive it of access to media platforms where it can influence audiences overseas – in this case, on Twitter.

The effort has seen hundreds of Iranian accounts allegedly tied to Iranian pro-government “propaganda” efforts subject to a massive cull across platforms owned by Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc., and Google parent company Alphabet Inc.

Those purged from the platforms include profiles, channels, and accounts belonging to Iranian nationals who have been accused of involvement in alleged “coordinated manipulation” of information related to Middle Eastern events and ”divisive social commentary.”

 

On YouTube, this has included accounts belonging to media entities owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, the state media corporation that operates such channels as the English-language PressTV and Spanish-language HispanTV.

Watch | Al Jazeera on Albania’s Iranian Regime Change Bot Factory

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/g-D5s_yCTQM?rel=0&showinfo=0&start=834

Yet while “actual” Iranians face bans from social media, countless bots and anti-government accounts belonging to U.S.-backed opposition groups posturing as the “Iranian people resistance” have been permitted to run rampant across the web.

 

#YouAreBots

Last month, nearly 800 accounts based in Iran were suspended by Twitter for allegedly violating the network’s policies, per an investigation alongside “industry peers” that allowed the social media giants a better “understanding of these [Iranian] networks.” Twitter hasn’t been forthcoming about the methods it used to investigate the networks tied to such alleged “Iranian interference,” but users including patriotic university student SeyedMousavi7 and Press TV journalist Waqar Rizvi were among those suspended.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Zarif directly addressed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in a tweet aiming to highlight the contradiction:

Hello @Jack. Twitter has shuttered accounts of real Iranians, incl TV presenters & students, for supposedly being part of an ‘influence op’. How about looking at actual bots in Tirana used to prop up ‘regime change’ propaganda spewed out of DC? #YouAreBots”

Another tweet by Iranian legislator Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi addressed to the Twitter chief said:

You suspended my official account as MP of Iran for my violation of not determined twitter rules, but why you have not blocked bots of MEK in Tirana, a group that killed 17000 Iranian people, used to prop up ‘regime change’ propaganda? #YouAreBots”

The tweet followed a report by Al Jazeera English which detailed how monitors and researchers were able to pinpoint a sharp uptick in a trend of actual social media manipulation.

 

The Wizard Behind the “Resistance” Curtain – Maryam Rajavi and the MEK Cult

The report connected the growing phenomenon to the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) or People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), a cultish group of Iranian exiles that was listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. until 2012 and have been based in a camp outside the Albanian capital, Tirana, since the U.S. began openly backing it in 2013.

The group has long enjoyed the backing of the Iranian government’s enemies, ranging from toppled dictator Saddam Hussein to Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Hiding behind various front groups like the France-based “parliament-in-exile,” The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the MEK has sought to depict itself as a representative, democratic coalition that speaks for all of Iran’s religious, ethnic, and political groups proportionately” and is committed to a secular, pro-market, and free Iran.

MEK Maryam Rajavi and Rudy Giuliani

The group has paid a number of top Trump administration officials to speak at its functions and echo its calls to enact a “regime change” in Tehran, including former New York City Mayor and top White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, among a long list of U.S. lawmakers and officials.

Yet the group, which have also been described as “skilled manipulators of public opinion,” are said by ex-members to tolerate little internal dissent and are seen by many as little more than a well-funded, mafia-style cult commanded by self-styled “Iranian President-in-Exile” Maryam Rajavi and backed by her friends across Western and Gulf capitals.

Some who escaped the MEK and remain stranded in Tirana spoke to Al Jazeera and described the manner in which the cult orchestrated what appeared to be a trending wave of support for the group and its anti-regime message toward the end of last year, when Iranians took to the streets to protest adverse economic conditions largely caused by a mixture of domestic legislation and intense pressure by Washington.

Much of this trend was clearly fueled by bots – accounts that are often fraudulent and behave in an automated fashion, amplifying messages through swarm-like behavior such as retweeting, liking, and republishing videos and articles posted alongside hashtags such as #FreeIran and #IranRegimeChange.

In many cases these trends – which sought to focus, variously, on the plight of Iran’s national or religious minority groups ranging from Kurds to Christians, women’s rights groups, and dissidents –grew as a direct result of work by MEK members toiling away in an Albanian troll farm to boost their group’s online propaganda.

Former MEK militant Hassan Heyrani told the outlet:

Overall I would say that several thousand accounts are managed by about 1,000-1,500 MEK members … It was all very well organized and there were clear instructions about what needed to be done.”

Another former “keyboard warrior,” Hassan Shahbaz, added:

Our orders would tell us the hashtags to use in our tweets in order to make them more active … It was our job to provide coverage of these protests by seeking out, tweeting and re-tweeting videos while adding our own comments.”

 

Useful Tools in the Age of Trump

Journalist, writer and scholar Azadeh Moaveni told Al Jazeera that the 2016 election of former real estate mogul Donald Trump, who surrounded himself during his campaign with a range of zealous anti-Iran and pro-Israel hawks, was a turning point in such anti-IRI media operations.

“Once it became clear that there would be heightened hostility with Iran, there was a profusion of new accounts, anonymous accounts who were single-mindedly and purposefully going after people who wrote about, talked about Iran with nuance,” she noted.

Whether the report, or Iran’s demands, will have any impact on the continued backing of MEK by Iran’s opponents remains yet to be seen. In the last year alone, a bevy of U.S. figures including late Senator John McCain, former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, and various senators have visited the Rajavi cult’s compound in Albania as U.S. rhetoric against Iran’s “regime” has escalated and the U.S. has unilaterally withdrawn from the six-party Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or nuclear accord.

In the meantime, social media networks like Twitter and Facebook have squirmed as the same U.S. lawmakers have sought to crack down on alleged Russian and Iranian “interference” online.

Without a doubt, the troll farms of the MEK will remain an important weapon in the arsenal of those seeking to manufacture the illusion of widespread anti-government fervor in an Iran under the gun of economic sanctions, media terrorism, and the low-intensity warfare of sustained “regime change” efforts.

Top Photo | Iranians surf the Internet at a cafe in Tehran, Iran, Sept, 17, 2013. Ebrahim Noroozi | AP

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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STUNNING DOUBLE AMBUSH BY AF INTEL IN HOMS REVEALS AMERICAN CRIMINAL CONDUCT; ATTACK ON LATAKIA STILL MUDDLED – By Ziad Fadel

HOMS:

If you want proof of American criminal conduct in Syria, look no further than the events of yesterday when a group of ISIS grubs set off from American-occupied Al-Tanf on motorcycles in the direction of the Western Plantations with their goal being to reinforce ISIS positions near Al-Raqqa (via the Abyadh Al-Tuwaynaan Valley) where the other pro-American SDF is located.  Talk about playing two sides against the other!  The ambush was sprung about 30 kms west of Palmyra (Tadmur) by elements of Air Force Intelligence-Special Operations Units.  The terrorist rodents were especially vulnerable on their motorcycles as expertly positioned commandos opened light arms fire at them killing two instantly and forcing another two to wipe out on the road.  The two taken into custody started warbling like nightingales explaining their relationship with American officers at Al-Tanf.

http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=33.437888&lon=38.835554&z=14&m=w&search=al-tanf

The second ambush took place in the area of Al-Furoo’ east of Palmyra by about 70 kms.  There, the terrorists were not so interested in confrontation.  They surrendered to the Security Services commando units and gave up 10 motorcycles, weapons and ammo, 146 rolls of hashish, 14 bags of Captagon which amounted to 10,000+ tablets.  I guess they were going to cater a party. They are now warbling like starlings.

Now that a new prime minister in Iraq is in office, we are hoping the Baghdad government stops affording the U.S. privileged status permitting it to supply and occupy the Al-Tanf base.  The Hashemites in Jordan are a lost cause, but, Iraq is not yet that far gone.  There is still hope that Muqtadaa Al-Sadr and his allies will re-assume their mantles as Iraq’s only truly populist movement.  The U.S. has been truly injured by the fall of Al-‘Abbaadi’s government after so many lobbying efforts – efforts to intervene in Iraqi elections.

___________________________________________

LATAKIA:

The night before yesterday, somebody fired some rockets at a military research-and-development center in Latakia.  Syrian radar picked up the approaching missiles and fired Pantsir anti-missile rockets at them, bringing most down, according to sources in Latakia.  Yet, the atmosphere is still somewhat murky.

That evening, amidst the melee, an Ilyushin aircraft carrying 14 crew members and enlisted men was downed in the Mediterranean near the coast of Syria.  A search and rescue operation is now in progress.

This is what happened.  Nobody was expecting any attack by the Zionist Settler State.  There were no weapons being transferred to HZB from any research center in Latakia City.  The Humaymeem AB was on alert, as usual, but, as I wrote, there were no causes for concern.  A French missile boat was in the international waters outside Syria’s coastline and there was no expectation it would fire at any target, especially where there was a danger of striking Russia’s military.

Russia detects missile launches from French frigate off Syria’s coast in Mediterranean

(Photo:  French Navy)

The French ship was the Auvergne, an Aquitaine Class ship.  If any of you remember your history, it was at Aquitaine (then northwards to Poitier and Tours) where Charles Martel blunted the Umayyad Caliphate’s effort to conquer Europe from Andalusia in 732 AD. Well, anyways, there is a lot of history behind that name.

Zionist military planners noted that the Il-20 aircraft was scheduled to depart Humaymeem at around 5 p.m.  It would be the perfect cover.  The attack on the research center was approved by Prime Minister Mileikowski (a/k/a Netanyhu).  When the Il-20 was in the air, so were 3 F-16s.  The idea was to shadow the transport aircraft and fire at the base.  But, what happened became a nightmare.

Syrian air defense units were not told about the Russian airplane.  When Zionist aircraft appeared on their screens, they perfunctorily fired at the targets.  It is evident from the swift Zionist retreat that there was realization that Syrian air defense missiles could hit the Russian aircraft.  And they did, causing the Ilyushin to crash into the Mediterranean.

Initial Russian reaction was to blame the French who were accused of firing cruise missiles at Latakia even though the “false flag” CW event had not taken place.  This could mean that the CW event was scheduled to take place on Monday, but, that the Turkish-Russian agreement at Socchi aborted that.  It is possible and it is an indication of just how incompetent the French really are.

It is also obvious now that the Kremlin is fuming over this.  Mileikowski constantly crows about how much coordination exists between Russian and Zionist forces in Syria.  This was an example of how treacherous these Zionists really are.

After Peace Talks Fail, Saudi Coalition Reverts to Scorched-Earth Campaign Against Civilians in Yemen – by Ahmed Abdulkareem – MINT PRESS

The Forgotten War

Yemen Hodeida

After UN-brokered peace talks between Yemen and the Saudi coalition in Geneva failed last week, the Saudi-led coalition renewed its offensive to capture Yemen’s strategic port of Hodeida, leaving scores of dead civilians in its wake.

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Not long after UN-brokered peace talks between Yemen and the Saudi coalition in Geneva failed last week, the Saudi-led coalition renewed its offensive to capture Yemen’s strategic port of Hodeida. The attacks targeted internally displaced persons, vital facilities and infrastructure– continuing a scorched earth campaign that has left scores of dead civilians in its wake.

“Please doctor, save my mother, she will die!” begged nine-year-old Mohammed as he and his brother Amran stared at their dead mother, who died from injuries sustained when a Saudi airstrike hit their family car Friday on the highway between Hodeida and Sana’a in the Kilo 16 district on the outskirts of Hodeida. The family was attempting to flee to Sana’a.

Lying in blood-stained clothing on a bed in Hodeida Hospital’s emergency room, Mohammed, who hung on to his mother’s purse despite the shrapnel in his hand, recounted the events which led him there:

 

We were moving furniture from our home in Kilo 16 to the truck. When a bomb suddenly hit us. My mother was killed and I, my brother and sister were wounded.”

At least 10 civilians, including women and children, were killed and dozens injured by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Hodeida and Sadaa on Friday. Just two days prior, coalition aircraft bombed Hodeida’s Kilo 16 district, killing 15 civilians and injuring dozens more, most of whom were hit when they were forced to flee down the only road that links Sana’a and Hodeida.

The deadly attacks come after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the Saudi coalition following international pressure after the coalition targeted a school bus full of children.

In a written memo, Pompeo ‘certified’  that the Gulf monarchies waging the war in Yemen were taking “sufficient steps to protect civilians.”

The governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments.”


Read | Pompeo’s unclassified memo on US Military aid to the Saudi coalition


Despite Pompeo’s statements, attacks on civilians show little sign of abatement.

In another fresh attack by the U.S.-backed coalition, ten civilians including women and children were killed when Saudi airstrikes targeted their family home in the village of Hwara in the Ganiyah district on Monday. Three journalists and a guard were also killed when Saudi airstrikes targeted the Hodeida Radio building Sunday, and two were people were killed and one severely injured after a fishing boat off the island of Al-Sawaba was targeted on Saturday.

 

The worst may be yet to come

Five hundred meters south of Kilo 16, where Mohammed family was hit, local mercenaries employed by the Saudi coalition shelled a United Nations World Food Program (WFP) food silo inside the Yemen Company for Flour Mills and Silos (YCFMS).

The UN food storage facility held large quantities of wheat for the WFP and was responsible for milling about a quarter of the wheat flour the agency distributes to some of the hungriest people in the country, according to the UN.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva on Friday, WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said:

Humanitarian workers, infrastructure and food supplies have been targeted in recent days, as clashes are still ongoing near the Red Sea Mills silos, a critical facility for WFP operations. A mortar shell launched by an unidentified armed group also hit a WFP warehouse in Hodeida city, holding enough food to assist 19,200 people, wounding a guard at the warehouse. The fighting could impact WFP’s ability to supply up to 3.5 million people in dire need in northern and central Yemen for a month.”

Earlier, the chairman of Ansar Allah`s (Houthi’s) Supreme Revolutionary Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, warned in a Twitter post that Riyadh had plans to attack food storage facilities and silos across Hodeida under the false pretext that they were being used to store weapons.

The Ministry of Public Health and Population, based in Sana’a, also warned in a statement that the Saudi-led coalition wanted to target UNICEF food stores and World Food Program grain silos in Hodeida, to “push Yemenis to starvation by various means.”

This comes amidst a worsening famine in Yemen which has left thousands of families in many provinces, including Hodeida, with nothing to eat, leaving some to resort to eating the leaves off of trees in an attempt to stave off starvation.

 

Fleeing becomes almost impossible

Like hundreds of families, Mohammed lost his mother when they were driving the Kilo 16 thoroughfare linking the port city of Hodeida to the capital, Sana’a. Serving as the only major road to Sana’a, the thoroughfare has left civilians exposed to deadly coalition attacks as they attempt to flee the fighting in Hodeida.

Houthi Yemen Kilo 16

The road has been difficult to traverse since June 13, when forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched a wide-ranging operation to capture Hodeida’s strategic seaport. With airports closed thanks to a coalition blockade, there are no humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee or ambulance crews to transport the wounded to Sana’a. The coalition has also blocked internet access across most of Hodeida, making it almost impossible for residents to contact the outside world.

The coalition claims its attacks on the Kilo 16 thoroughfare are intended to cut off the Houthis’ main supply route but have provided no evidence to back their claim. The Houthis likely do not rely on the asphalt road where they could easily be spotted and targeted by coalition aircraft.

The fighting for Hodeida has effectively shut down the main artery linking the port city to the rest of the country, Save the Children charity said Thursday.

Tamer Kirolos of Save the Children said “it’s quite literally a matter of life and death” for the main road linking Hodeida to the capital Sana’a to remain open adding”

This year alone we expect some 400,000 children under five to suffer from severe acute malnutrition … Unless supply routes remain open this figure could increase dramatically, putting the lives of thousands of children at risk from entirely preventable causes.”

For its part, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has called for the port of Hodeida and the arteries that lead to and from it to remain open. NRC spokesman Jan Engelan said:

Hodeida is not a trophy and its citizens are not toys … A single act of force to disrupt the flow of supplies from Hodeida would be a deadly blow for millions.”

Aid agencies in Yemen have identified close to 500,000 people who had fled their homes in Hodeida between June and August, the NRC said. So far in September, 55,000 people have been displaced across Hodeida, it added, but a large number of civilians are still trapped in their homes.

 

In Hodeida, No guarantee of safety 

UN humanitarian coordinator, Lise Grande, said in a statement on Thursday:

The situation has deteriorated dramatically in the past few days. Families are absolutely terrified by the bombardment, shelling and airstrikes, as the lives of 300,000 inhabitants hang in the balance in the port city.”

“People are struggling to survive,” said Grande. “More than 25 percent of children are malnourished; 900,000 people in the governorate are desperate for food; and 90,000 pregnant women are at enormous risk.”

Indeed, a family who refused to flee Hodeida were targeted by a Saudi coalition airstrike on Friday, leaving one family member dead and many others wounded. The family, who resided in Hodeida’s al-Zurah district, didn’t have the means to escape the fighting and feared airstrikes targeting the roads leaving Hodeida.

International human rights groups say Saudi Arabia has committed war crimes by using unconventional weapons, conducting hundreds of airstrikes on residential areas, and hitting civilian targets across Yemen.

 

Death from above & everywhere else

Back in Hodeida Hospital’s emergency room, doctors struggle to save Mohammed and Amran after their family car was targeted in a coalition airstrike while trying to flee Hodeida via the Kilo 16 thoroughfare. The boys, both in a great deal of pain owing to serious injuries to their heads, hands and back, risk death from the chronic shortage of medical supplies in Yemen owing to a complete Saudi coalition blockade of the countries airports, seaports and roads.  The blockade has been in effect since the coalition campaign began in 2015.

To make matter worse, over 1,250 days of near-constant airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition have reduced Yemen`s hospitals and clinics to rubble and short-circuited its electricity service, while the ruinous blockade has depleted the country’s supply of food and life-saving medicine.

Yemen Famine

Hopes of a UN-brokered agreement to lift the blockade were crushed last week when peace talks between Yemen and the coalition fell through after the UN refused to facilitate the transfer of wounded patients to hospitals outside of Yemen for treatment and to guarantee the safety of a Houthi delegation attending the talks slated to take place in Geneva.

“If the Sana’a negotiating delegation had been allowed to travel to Geneva, I could have saved my father,” said Ahmed Abdul Qadeer. His father, who required a kidney transplant not available in Yemen, was one of several patients scheduled to travel with the Sana’a delegation on September 5.

The United Nations said on Saturday that the situation of children in Yemen is getting worse, not better. Globally, Yemen ranks first in the number of children in need of humanitarian aid. Over 11 million children — 80 percent of the country’s children — are in desperate need of assistance. Social services are barely functioning as the country is on the verge of collapse.

The U.S.-backed military campaign has not only affected children. Civilians across Yemen have suffered immensely from the campaign, which has left thousands of civilians dead, destroyed the country’s infrastructure, and created the conditions for the world’s worst cholera epidemic.

 

Yemen’s resistance shows no sign of surrender

Despite Saudi-led coalition claims of complete control over the Kilo 16 district, including to the main road, Mohammad al-Bukhaiti, a top figure in the Houthi Supreme Political Council, appeared on video Thursday on the Kilo 16 thoroughfare denying that claim.

In June, coalition forces tried to overrun Hodeida but were blocked by fierce resistance put up by Houthi fighters as well as local residents, who took up arms against coalition incursion.

Although the coalition has received substantial intelligence, logistical aid and advanced weaponry from United State, it has continued to plow ahead blindly. More than three years and hundreds of thousands dead and injured later, the coalition is no closer to achieving its goals than it was when it began its bloody campaign.

For their part, the Houthis, who comprise a major component of Yemen’s resistance movement Ansarullah, show no sign of surrender and still control Sana’a and most other major cities, thwarting Saudi Arabia’s efforts to dislodge them in favor of a government more amenable to Saudi policy.

In light of the stalemate and the horrific destruction and loss of life, the Geneva peace talks between should be rekindled. “At least, let Mohammed along with millions of children live in safety as America’s children do, and save what can be saved,” Mohammed and Amran’s father told MintPress.

Top Photo | A girl and her family stand in a school where she and her family were evacuated amid fighting in Hodeida, Yemen. Abdul Jabbar Zeyad | Reuters

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