As Syrian Army liberates territory, West scrambling to save their White Helmets assets – By PRESS TV (SOTT)

White Helmets

© Hosam Katan / Reuters

Western countries have reportedly been scrambling to evacuate “volunteer” White Helmets from Syria, who have been accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging false flag gas attacks.

CBS News broadcasting service reported on Saturday that White Helmets members are in danger of assassination and in need of rescue as the Syrian army intensifies its counter-terrorism operation in the country’s southern part.

The report said the issue of the White helmets’ withdrawal from Syria had been raised with US President Donald Trump in multiple conversations with allied countries on the sidelines of the July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels.

The Netherlands, Britain, France, Canada and Germany have been trying to find a way to get an estimated 1,000 White Helmets volunteers and their family members out of Syria, the report added.

Comment: Just what these countries need: more jihadi ‘refugees’.

British Prime Minister Theresa May brought up the issue during her meeting with Trump in the UK, and that the topic may also be discussed at Trump’s upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White Helmets was founded in Turkey in 2013 by former British MI5 officer James Le Mesurier.

Since its establishment, the group has received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office, $23 million or more from the US Office of Transition Initiatives and untold millions from Qatar.

US officials and Western diplomats say the evacuation has not been formalized on the agenda of the July 16 Trump-Putin meeting due to uncertainty about the Russians’ help in the process, The CBS News said.

“We are not there yet at all in terms of firming up the necessity to have a discussion with Putin,” a Western diplomat said. “If we run out of options, and the only option left is the Russians, then it is worth pursuing.”

A US government official stressed that efforts to evacuate the White Helmets from Syria are in line with the Trump administration’s plans for a withdrawal from the Arab country.

“This effort says we are in the evacuation phase. It is an admission that the regime is going to regain control of the country and the White Helmets can’t remain,” he said. “Or else the regime will take repercussions on them.”

Back in March, Trump ordered the State Department to suspend $200 million in recovery funds for Syria, including aid to the White Helmets, amid a review of the future of the US role in the war-torn country.

Three months later, however, Trump authorized the release of $6.6 million in previously frozen funding for a volunteer organization, without referring to the $193.4 million that remains frozen.

Both Damascus and Moscow have accused the volunteer group of having staged the suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta region on April 7.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described the White Helmets as “a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra” militant groups and a “PR stunt” by the US, the UK and France.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the group claims to be a humanitarian NGO, but actually supports terrorists and covers up their crimes.

“The White Helmets not only feel at home on Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh-controlled territories but openly sympathize with them and provide them with information and even financial support. How is that for double standards? There is documentary evidence of the White Helmets’ involvement in some of al-Nusra’s operations and cover-up over civilian deaths,” she said.

Comment: We can’t wait for Trudeau to dress up like a jihadist White Helmet and take some selfies with them once they get evacuated to Canada.

Chaos at the NATO Summit Benefits Eurasian Integration – By Federico PIERACCINI – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Chaos at the NATO Summit Benefits Eurasian Integration

The chaos that has engulfed the NATO summit is yet further confirmation of the world’s transition from a unipolar to a multipolar order, with the return of great-power competition and different states jockeying for hegemony. Trump is adapting to this environment by seeking to survive politically in a hostile environment.

The meeting of the NATO countries in Brussels highlighted the apparent intentions of the US president towards his allies and the Atlantic organization. Trump’s strategy is to oblige the European countries to halt energy imports from Moscow and replace them with liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US at a price that is obviously not cheap. The gas would come from the US by ship, entailing huge logistical costs that are not the case with regard to physical pipelines between Europe and Russia. This issue directly affects Germany and the Nord Stream II project, a deal worth billions of euros.

The reasons behind Trump’s behavior are twofold. On the one hand, we have the politics of “America First”, with the intention of increasing exports of LNG while boasting of “successes” to the base. The other purpose of Trump’s words is to highlight, sotto voce, the inconsistency of EU countries, who despite considering Russia an existential danger, nevertheless strongly depend on Russia’s energy exports.

To be fair to Trump, these same EU countries — fearful of Moscow but ready to do business with it — do not even spend 2% of their GDP on defense, while the US commits closer to 4%. For Trump this is surreal and intolerable. The NATO Summit began more or less with this anomaly, conveyed by Trump in front of the cameras to Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, with Pompeo and the US ambassador to NATO on either side of him doing their best to remain impassive.

The photo-op with Merkel did not go any better. Needless to say, the American media is being driven into a tizzy. The headlines blare: “Trump betrays the allies”; “End of NATO”. CNN is in a state of mourning. Brzezinski’s daughter (yes, that Brzezinski ) almost vomited from the tension on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

In truth, Trump is engaging in a lot of public relations. When he makes these performances in front of the cameras, he is speaking directly to his electoral base, showing that he is keeping his promises by putting “America First”. To be honest, it would be more appropriate to declare, “America, b****h!”

To back his words up with actions, he slaps his allies with tariffs and sanctions against Russia, and now Iran, incurring huge losses for Europe. He mocks leaders like Merkel and Trudeau in public, and has humiliated Macron in front of the world.

In practical terms, Trump does not care whether Germany buys LNG from the United States. If this is to ever occur, then it will take 20 years, given the cost and time needed to build dozens of LNG facilities on the European and American coasts.

The summit between Trump and Putin in Helsinki could even lead to more drama if Trump wants to drive the media, liberals, neocons and his European allies into further conniptions.

It depends on the issues on his checklist that he has to deal with before the November midterm elections. I do not rule out seeing Kim Jong-un in Washington before then, or a summit between the US, Israel and Palestine — anything that will play to the desired optics. The issue is just that: all image, no substance.

Trump is focussing principally on triumphing in the November midterms, and to do so he needs to look like a winner. He will be keen to ensure the moneybags of the Israel lobby and Saudi Arabia keep flowing. In doing so, he will probably even win the 2010 presidential election. There is always the possibility that the Fed and other financial conglomerates will decide to commit harakiri and blow up the economy with a new financial crisis in order to get rid of Trump. It would be the deserved end of the US empire.

European politicians also await the midterms with great anticipation, hoping that this will be the end of the Trump nightmare. They still live in the same dreamworld of Hillary Clinton, believing that Democratic victory is possible and that Trump’s election was simply an anomaly.

They will not have woken from their nightmare when they come to realize that Trump has increased the number of Republicans in the House and Senate. Perhaps at that point, with sanctions in place against Russia and Iran and with huge economic losses and the prospect of another six years with Trump, a coin will drop for someone in Europe, and Trump will be seen as the catalyst for breaking ties with Washington and looking east towards a new set of alliances with China and Russia.

In conclusion, we are experiencing the full effects of the Trump presidency, which is destructive of and devastating for the neoliberal world order. As I said at least a year before he was elected, Trump is accelerating the decline of the United States as a lodestar for the West, representing Washington’s swan song as the only superpower.

It is not “America First”, it is Trump First. There is no strategy or logic behind it. There are only friendships, his personal ego, and the need to remain in the saddle for another six years. Meanwhile, get your popcorn ready in anticipation of the Helsinki summit.

Russian defense minister: Uncertainty, tension in world affairs push Moscow & Beijing together – By RT

Chinese and Russian flag

© Vitaly Ankov / Sputnik

Russia and China are rigorously improving strategic ties to be better prepared for the challenges of today’s world, as the US resorts to deception, hybrid wars, and controlled chaos, the Russian defense minister said.

In a frank interview with Italian magazine Il Giornale, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu explained Russia’s strategy of keeping friends and deterring foes, and explained why Moscow has every reason to remain vigilant towards the US and its allies.

Russia & China: Strength through friendship

“There’s no doubt, tensions in world affairs gave boost to strengthening Russia-China ties built upon mutual respect and trust,”Shoigu told the Italian magazine. Both powers enjoy lasting strategic relations, and their militaries jointly hone their combat skills in naval and air defense drills.

Meanwhile, military ties between Moscow and Beijing are not limited to joint war games and political dialogue. In April, China sent its top-tier delegation to the 7th Moscow Conference on International Security to demonstrate the unity of the Russian and Chinese militaries.

Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, who led the delegation, said they went there “to let the Americans know about close ties between the Russian and Chinese armed forces.”

Prior to Wei’s visit, state-run Chinese newspaper the Global Times published an editorial titled “Western pressure brings China and Russia closer.” The report quoted analysts who believe that the current international environment – including the anti-Russia hysteria in the West and the US-China trade war – will only strengthen the Moscow-Beijing alliance.

Shoigu, who has served as defense minister for over six years, emphasized that Sino-Russian military activities are “purely defensive in nature” and have nothing in common with those of NATO and the EU. “Our military-to-military ties aren’t targeting other countries or alliances, only contributing to global and regional security.”

US prone to hybrid wars, backs ‘wildest ideologies’ & spreads ‘controlled chaos’

Further into the interview, Shoigu accused Washington of pushing a “neocolonialism strategy” which the Americans tested in Iraq and Libya. To spread “controlled chaos,” the US backs “even the wildest ideologies to weaken legitimate governments.”

Dismissing Western allegations of “hybrid wars” being waged by Moscow, he said such warfare is known since time immemorial. It was the hybrid warfare that helped Britain defeat the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Shoigu recalled, asking, “who doesn’t know the adventures of Lawrence of Arabia?”

To succeed in a hybrid war, one needs to have “global and all-embracing media,” dominate in IT and telecoms, control the world financial system, and employ Special Forces in other countries. “Who else, except for the US and Great Britain, has such a potential?” the Defense Minister said.

Washington has widely utilized hybrid warfare in Yugoslavia, Libya, Chechnya, and, most recently, Syria, Shoigu maintained. According to him, the sequence continued when a Western-backed coup struck Ukraine in February 2014, where “nationalist fighters trained on American and European money” removed the legitimate president from power.

Allegations that Russia is instigating a “hybrid war” began emerging in US and British media after similar subversive actions failed in Crimea, Shoigu underlined.

While the US seems reluctant to mend ties with Russia, Moscow is keen to keep the door for the dialogue open. “Though I work as Defense Minister, I am convinced every issue can be and should be solved without resorting to military power,”Shoigu stressed.

Comment: See also: Outcome of Western pressure brings Russia and China closer

 
 
See Also:

Legitimizing The Occupation: An Occupied Palestine is a Land Without Hope – By Miko Peled (MINT PRESS)

Israeli border police drag an activist by the next to Israel's apartheid wall during a protest in the occupied West Bank village of Bil'in, west of Ramallah, March 2, 2018. Palestinian protesters and foreign activists marched to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the ongoing weekly protests against the Israeli apartheid wall and Jewish-only settlements in Bil'in. (AP/Nasser Nasser)Israeli border police drag an activist by the next to Israel's apartheid wall during a protest in the occupied West Bank village of Bil'in, west of Ramallah, March 2, 2018. Palestinian protesters and foreign activists marched to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the ongoing weekly protests against the Israeli apartheid wall and Jewish-only settlements in Bil'in. (AP/Nasser Nasser)

Many in the community of Palestinian citizens would like to see themselves as an integral part of Israeli society that has its own Arab and Muslim culture and roots. The problem is that Israel has never seen them as such.

JERUSALEM, PALESTINE — (Analysis) Khaled and I sat and chatted one evening at his family’s home in Qalansawe. “They look at us as though we are completely Israeli,” he said, speaking of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, “and we call them ‘Dafawi’ if they are from the West Bank and ‘Ghazzawi’ if they are from Gaza.” Khaled is a successful man, one of the few Palestinian citizens of Israel who became an executive in an important Israeli company.

When he talks about himself and the community of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, he uses the Israeli terms “Arviyey Israel,” which means the Arabs of Israel, or “The Arab Sector.” Qalansawe is a Palestinian town of 23,000 in the “Muthalath” or Triangle area, an area just west of the West Bank town of Tul-Karem. There is a relatively large concentration of Palestinian towns in that area, which became a part of Israel when the borders were drawn after 1948. It is called the Triangle because of the three main cities of Taybe, Tire and Qalansawe.

Municipal elections are due to take place in Qalansawe in October 2018. Ma’aruf is considered one of the leading candidates for the post of mayor. He is a retired high school principal with a reputation of a guy that gets things done.

If he is elected, he faces problems that characterize all Palestinian towns that became a part of Israel: water and electricity shortages; no urban planning; no infrastructure; never-ending land confiscations by the state, which are then diverted to build primarily for Jews; no enforcement of city ordinances or the law in general; high crime rates and poverty rates; and, even though there is no shortage of college graduates, high unemployment.

An Israeli Arab woman walks in the Arab town of Taybeh, central Israel wants to move large chunks of Israeli Arabs into Palestine, reminding Arabs of their second-class status in the Jewish state. Ariel Schalit | AP

“In the office by six in the morning and the last one to leave,” Khaled said about Ma’aruf in admiration, “which is why I will support his candidacy.” Ma’aruf and I drove together one day across Highway 6 south towards Tel-Aviv. He laughed when I told him that I understand why people want him to run, “but what’s in it for you?”

Unlike in the U.S., where each city has its own police force, Israeli police are a national police force and reluctant to intervene in crime in Palestinian towns. This means that the mayor has no means of enforcement, and because of a complex bureaucratic reality, which he explained to me and I was unable to comprehend, in Qalansawe the mayor cannot even hire inspectors to enforce city ordinances. So it’s chaos and, since weapons are easily accessible, the strongest prevail.

Water and electricity are cut off for several hours each day — most likely by Mekorot, Israel’s water authority, and by the Israeli electricity authority. So the homes in Palestinian towns must have a reserve tank on the roof in which to store water. Khaled has one too on the roof of his beautiful home. He told me that he needed to buy a floating device like the ones used in a toilet tank to indicate when the water reaches a certain level. He went to a hardware store in an Israeli Jewish town and asked for one. “What kind of place do you live in that you need that sort of thing?” the man at the store asked. “The difference between Jews and Arabs,” Khaled concluded: Jews have no need for this sort of thing because in their homes the water never stops running.

Khaled and I talked about the upcoming municipal elections and about the Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. He said what many people in this community say: “they should stick to domestic issues like housing and crime and stay away from foreign affairs — particularly the Palestinian-Israeli issue.” Many in the community of Palestinian citizens would like to see themselves as an integral part of Israeli society that has its own Arab and Muslim culture and roots. The problem is that Israel has never seen them as such. Their existence is a testament to the failure of the campaign of ethnic cleansing that began in 1948.

“The Palestinian issue is a domestic issue to Palestinians,” I said to Khaled; “it is at the heart of their existence. The root cause of the problems that exist in Gaza and the problems that exist in Qalansawe is the same. You are no less occupied than the Dafawi and the Ghazzawi Palestinians.” He gave me a disappointed look and I could sense that deep down he knows this is true but wished I would prove him wrong.

 

A string of commemorated catastrophes

In Palestine there is no shortage of days and events to commemorate. Begin with the Nakba — the catastrophe that befell Palestine in 1948 — with the massacre at Deir Yassin that was a part of that campaign, and the massacre at Kafr Qassem that was an extension of that campaign intended to bring about a mass exodus of Palestinians from Palestine from the “Triangle” area into Jordan. Then the war of 1967, or the Naksa, which is often referred to as the war that changed the face of the Middle East but in fact solidified and legitimized Israel’s 1948 conquests. These are merely for starters. There are many, many more days and events filled with horror for Palestinians to commemorate and it seems like new ones come up every day. So much so that it is almost impossible to dwell on one event, to thoroughly discuss and understand it because there is a new one, a more current one taking place.

In Israel and in much of the world, the war of 1967 is still seen as a justified response by Israel to an existential threat, even though all the evidence shows that it was a well-planned attack on three Arab countries in order to conquer land and impose Israel’s will on the region. The war of 1967 achieved a goal that was declared very early on, which was that the eastern border of the state of Israel must be the Jordan River, in other words, complete the conquest that was left incomplete in 1948. Though Israel had never officially defined the borders of the state, in his memoirs, Israel’s first foreign minister, Moshe Sharet, mentions a speech given by my father Matti Peled on October 26, 1953 in front of Jewish leaders, who included then-Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and Sharet himself. My father, then a young Lt. Colonel, said that “the existing border with Jordan is unacceptable […] and the army is prepared for war in order to capture the remaining parts of the land of Israel.”

Palestinian refugees carry their belongings as they prepare to cross the wrecked Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River from the Israeli-occupied section of Jordan, June 22, 1967. Many of the refugees said they were forced to leave by the Israelis. (AP Photo/Bernard Frye)

It has also been recorded that the Israeli army had made plans to occupy the West Bank as early as 1958 and then again in 1964 and to extend the Israeli military rule that was in place already in other parts of Palestine to the West Bank, (Ilan Pappe, The Forgotten Palestinians). The conquest of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip were not the “spoils of war” but the result of a premeditated campaign. Then, once these areas were taken by the army, the Israeli government went in very rapidly and began to push out the Palestinian population, and make life unlivable for those who remained. And they built massively for Jews only, making these territories an inseparable part of Israel.

After the war, my father, Matti Peled — who was a general by then and a member of the Israeli army high command during the war, retiring a year later — Uri Avneri, and several other staunch Zionists began talking about a revised version of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which called for the creation of two states in Palestine. Their version, however, was far more favorable to Israel and would legitimize the otherwise illegitimate conquests of 1947- 48. It was the idea of the Two States where the Palestinians would recognize the state of Israel in the post-1948 boundaries and accept a small, weak state for themselves in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli establishment, both military and political, viewed this idea with disdain. The people who were behind this idea, who were all staunch Zionists with impeccable records, were pushed aside and marginalized for suggesting that any recognition should be granted to the rights of Palestinians to the land.

One of the most important achievements of the war of 1967 was making the conquests of 1948 legitimate, and now it was about post-1948 Israel “giving back” or not “giving back” the territories it occupied in 1967. One clear example of that is the well known and totally ignored UN resolution 242, which was passed in November of 1967. It mentions “withdrawal of Israel Armed Forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;” in other words, the territories captured in 1948, in violation of prior UN resolutions regarding Palestine and regarding the status of Jerusalem, became irrelevant as a result of the 1967 conquests.

 

Israel’s long-term strategy: Forced transfer, slow genocide  

“They say we are a strategic threat, a fifth column,” Khaled admitted with regret; “some people even call for the transfer of the entire community out of the country.” According to a poll conducted in Israel in 2008 and published in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, 75 percent of Israelis believe that Palestinian citizens of Israel should be forcefully transferred out of the country.

Israeli riot police officers scuffle with Arab men in Arab village of Ara, northern Israel, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. About 50 right wing activists protested in Ara outside the home of Nashhat Milhem, who killed three people in a shooting rampage in Tel Aviv in January 2016 before police killed him in a shootout. The demonstrators demanded Israel deport Milhem's family and shouted "There is no Palestine." They arrived under heavy police escort to the village, where locals held a counterdemonstration.

In a statement he made in the spring of 2017, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that “the only way to reach a sustainable solution is land swaps and population transfers as part of a general regional agreement,” thus giving the government’s seal of approval to the already prevalent idea that the community of close to two million Palestinian citizens of Israel can be placed on trucks and removed.

No matter how hard Palestinians try, as long as Palestine is occupied things will not change for the better. The finest people can run for mayor and the cities will continue to be in disarray; the most talented youth can get degrees in education and they will not be given teaching jobs in Israeli Jewish schools.

People in Gaza can protest or remain at home but, as the last seven decades have shown, they will be killed either way. They may be shot or they may just die from thirst or other causes that are easily preventable. Whatever differences exist among Palestinians, it is crucial that the line that connects all of Palestine is not broken and must be strengthened. In order for Palestine and its people to be free, we must all stand united against the seven-decade-long occupation.

Top Photo | Israeli border police drag an activist by the hair next to Israel’s apartheid wall during a protest in the occupied West Bank village of Bil’in, March 2, 2018. Palestinian protesters and foreign activists marched to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the ongoing weekly protests against the Israeli apartheid wall and Jewish-only settlements in Bil’in. Nasser Nasser | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

US, Iran Clash in Hormuz Strait: Not an Improbable Scenario – By Peter KORZUN – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

US, Iran Clash in Hormuz Strait: Not an Improbable Scenario

The US remains adamant in its desire to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero, even if it hurts importing countries. America’s secondary sanctions on firms dealing with Iran would “snap back” on August 6 for trade in cars and metals and on November 4 for oil and banking transactions. The “wind down” period varied between 90 and 180 days is intended to allow entities to end businesses in Iran. There will be no waivers. India, China and Turkey are the oil importers expected not to succumb to US pressure.

Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy and planning, said “Our goal is to increase pressure on the Iranian regime by reducing to zero its revenue from crude oil sales.” The US has already approached Saudi Arabia on the subject of increasing exports to compensate for the reduction of Iranian oil on the world market.

The goal is to hit Iran’s economy against the background of ongoing protests inside the country. Last July, John Bolton openly called for regime change in Tehran. He was not national security adviser at the time but nothing makes believe he has changed his views since then.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani warned the United States about consequences. He said shipments from other countries would be disrupted if Iranian oil exports were suspended. Qassem Solaimani, the commander of the Al Quds Force in the Revolutionary Guards, joined him to confirm that his country will block oil shipments through the Hormuz Strait if the US administration stops Iranian oil exports. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that “either all can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one.”

If Iran does what it threatens to do, oil prices will rise up to $100 a barrel, maybe much more, saying farewell to President Trump’s dream of cheap oil to spur US economic growth. Venezuela can also come under sanctions to facilitate the price hike. But expensive oil will boost America’s shale production. The US appears to pursue two mutually exclusive goals at once. On July 4, President Trump was angry chastising OPEC in a tweet for not doing anything about gas prices going up in the United States. He did not make precise why and how exactly OPEC should bring US gas prices down. From the point of view of US economic interests, the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal does not look like a very wise step. But Mr. Trump has already shot himself in the foot and it’s too late to stop now as countering Iran has become a pillar of his foreign policy.

The US military has already responded to confirm its readiness to protect the freedom of navigation. But Iran appears to be adamant. It has too little to lose if the economy collapses as the US wants it to. Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and the largest parts of Saudi Arabian and Iraqi oil exports go through the Hormuz Strait, which accounts for 20 percent of the world oil trade (about 35% of the petroleum traded by sea) or 17-18 million barrels a day plus about 3 million barrels of oil products. Add to it liquefied natural gas shipped from Qatar. The oil goes to different parts of the world and there is no alternative route. Only Saudi Arabia (two pipelines exporting totally 5.1 million barrels a day), the UAE (a pipeline with a capacity of 1.5 million barrels a day) and, to a lesser extent, Iraq (a pipeline to Turkey with an output of 1.5 million barrels) have land transit routes used at 40%, 20% and 40% of their capacities respectively.

The Iranian Navy poses a serious threat but its missiles capable of attacking US warships will be spotted by the American Qatar-based X-band radar station in as little as four minutes. They will be countered by Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) interceptors located in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates augmented by US Navy cruisers and destroyers equipped with Aegis missile defense systems. The Persian Gulf monarchies will probably join the battle.

Mines laid in Hormuz Strait waters will require a long and difficult effort to clear them. US frigate Samuel B. Roberts was nearly sunk after hitting a mine in 1988 during the Tanker War. International law allows for peacetime mining of high-seas areas under certain strict conditions. Laying mines in national waters is hardly an act of war. The Hormuz Strait is completely enclosed by the 12-mile territorial seas of the littoral states. They have special protection under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) not ratified by the United States.

According to different estimates, Iran has a stockpile of 3,000 to 6,000 mines, including bottom-moored buoyant contact and multiple-influence rocket-propelled straight-rising ones. Mine laying activities conducted on a large scale by surface ships aviation can hardly be undetected but submarines can lay enough mines clandestinely to make ship captains think twice before risking a movement through the Strait without a mine clearing ship leading the way. The US Navy has a few Avenger type mine countermeasures ships based in Bahrain.

As a result of the United States’ unilateral decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and impose sanctions, a potential confrontation is brewing in the Strait of Hormuz. A war is not an impossible scenario. Without oil revenues, Iran will be pushed to the last resort.

Syrian War Report – July 6, 2018: Syrian Army Retakes Multiple Points On Border With Jordan – By South Front (VT)

0
439

…from SouthFront

The military operation of government forces in southern Syria was once again resumed after the Damascus government and local militants groups had failed to reach any kind of fully-fledged reconciliation agreement that would allow to settle the situation in the area via a peaceful way.

On July 5, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Tiger Forces and their allies liberated the town of Saida and the nearby abandoned air defense base in the province of Daraa. Additionally, the SAA advanced along the border with Jordan liberating over 10 villages between the border points of 71 and 79.

https://southfront.org/wp-content/plugins/fwduvp/content/video.php?path=https%3A%2F%2Fsouthfront.org%2Fsyrian-war-report-july-6-2018-syrian-army-retakes-multiple-points-on-border-with-jordan%2F&pid=1337

According to pro-government sources, the SAA faced a little resistance during their operation along the border. Russian troops were spotted there.

The operation is also supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces. Nonetheless, the number of airstrikes is limited. Currently, government forces are developing their operation in the direction of the Nassib border crossing.

Clashes between Turkish-backed militants, reportedly members of Ahrar al-Sharqiyah, and government troops have taken place in the village of Tadef in the province of Aleppo. Turkish-backed forces captured some positions, but were forced to withdraw from them later. According to pro-government sources, the withdrawal was ordered by the Turkish military to de-escalated the situation.

Such incidents show the real sentiments among the so-called moderate opposition groups backed by Turkey and limitations of Ankara’s control of these groups.

The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed that on July 4 ISIS fighters had ambushed a convoy of the US-led coalition in the village of Namliyah in the eastern part of Deir Ezzor province. According to Amaq, ISIS employed 18 IEDs against the convoy killing four US troops. Other sources say that only two US servicemen were killed. The US-led coalition has not commented on these reports so far.

Meanwhile, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have captured the villages of Madinah and Qabr Taha from ISIS in the southern part of Hasakah province. The SDF is continuing it operation in the direction of the Tuwaymin area.

NASEEB CROSSING LIBERATED; THE WESTERN TUNE IS CHANGING;

SYRIANCITIES

DER’AH:

http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=32.536177&lon=36.210423&z=14&m=b

The Naseeb Crossing between Jordan and Syria has been liberated although the Syrian government has not officially announced this yet.  As we related to our readers two days ago, the refusal of the terrorists to accept all Russian conditions for surrender resulted in a devastating air and ground campaign aimed at breaking the morale of the Zionist-supported cockroaches.  With no party prepared to assist these cowering slugs, the SAA and its allies are moving straight into the town of Naseeb and its extremely important border crossing; an event which will have very salubrious effects on both Jordan’s and Syria’s economies.

In the meantime, the SAA is moving against Nusra on the Golan Heights supported by HZB and other allies whom the Zionists prefer not to mention.  I will have more on all that when I receive more reports from sources.

_______________________________________________

NEWS AND COMMENT:

Patrick Lawrence shows us how the Western Press is changing its tune on Syria.  This is a must-read article with a spectacularly lucid analysis of what is happening:

https://www.salon.com/2018/07/06/is-the-u-s-about-to-give-up-on-its-lawless-and-catastrophic-adventure-in-syria_partner/

Read this superb article by Brandon chronicling the American plot to unseat the government of Syria.  This time, the author has both documents and articles to buttress his position.  Another must-read:

https://www.activistpost.com/2018/07/secret-us-2006-govt-document-reveals-plan-to-destabilize-syria-by-using-extremists-muslim-brotherhood-elections.html

Some of you might find this study of how Chemical Weapons (CW) work fascinating.  Since the West has made a big fuss about it, it’s worth publishing here:

https://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/Nerve-agents-wreak-havoc-on-your-brain-and-body-12738767.php

‘Losing Military Supremacy’ book review: How the US lost its edge to Russia – By The Saker The Unz Review (SOTT)

maryanov military supremacy

The fact that the USA is facing a profound crisis, possibly the worst one in its history, is accepted by most observers, except maybe the most delusional ones. Most Americans definitely know that. In fact, if there is one thing upon which both those who supported Trump and those who hate him with a passion can agree on, it would be that his election is a clear proof of a profound crisis (I would argue that the election of Obama before also had, as one of its main causes, the very same systemic crisis). When speaking of this crisis, most people will mention the deindustrialization, the drop in real income, the lack of well-paid jobs, healthcare, crime, immigration, pollution, education, and a myriad of other contributing factors. But of all the aspects of the “American dream”, the single most resilient one has been the myth of the US military as “the finest fighting force in history”. In this new book, Andrei Martianov not only comprehensively debunks this myth, he explains step by step how this myth was created and why it is collapsing now. This is no small feat, especially in a relatively short book (225 pages) which is very well written and accessible to everyone, not just military specialists.

Martyanov takes a systematic and step-by-step approach: first, he defines military power, then he explains where the myth of US military superiority came from and how the US rewriting of the history of WWII resulted in a complete misunderstanding, especially at the top political levels, of the nature of modern warfare. He then discusses the role ideology and the Cold War played in further exacerbating the detachment of US leaders from reality. Finally, he demonstrates how a combination of delusional narcissism and outright corruption resulted in a US military capable of wasting truly phenomenal sums of money on “defense” while at the same time resulting in an actual force unable to win a war against anything but a weak and defenseless enemy.

That is not to say that the US military has not fought in many wars and won. It did, but in the words of Martyanov:

Surely when America fought against a third-rate adversary it was possible to rain death from the skies, and then roll over its forces, if any remained by that time, with very little difficulty and casualties. That will work in the future too against that type of adversary – similar in size and flimsiness of Iraqi Forces circa 2003. But Ledeen’s Doctrine had one major flaw – one adult cannot continue to go around the sandbox constantly fighting children and pretend to be good at fighting adults.

The main problem for the USA today is that there are very few of those third-rate adversaries left out there and that those who the USA is trying to bring to submission now are either near-peer or even peer adversaries. Martyanov specifically lists the factors which make that kind of adversary so different from those the USA fought in the past:

  1. Modern adversaries have command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities equal to or better than the US ones.
  2. Modern adversaries have electronic warfare capabilities equal to or better than the US ones
  3. Modern adversaries have weapon systems equal to or better than the US ones.
  4. Modern adversaries have air defenses which greatly limit the effectiveness of US airpower.
  5. Modern adversaries have long-range subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles which present a huge threat to the USN, bases, staging areas and even the entire US mainland.

In the book, all these points are substantiated with numerous and specific examples which I am not repeating here for the sake of brevity.

One could be forgiven for not being aware of any of these facts, at least if one considers the kind of nonsense written by the US corporate media or, for that matter, by the so-called “experts” (another interesting topic Martyanov discusses in some detail). Still, one can live in an imaginary world only as long as reality does not come crashing in, be it in the form of criminally overpriced and useless weapon systems or in the form of painful military defeats. The current hysteria about Russia as the Evil Mordor which is the culprit for everything and anything bad (real or imaginary) happening to the USA is mostly due to the fact that Russia, in total contradiction to all the “expert” opinions, not only did not crash or turn into a “gas station masquerading as a country” with her economy “in tatters”, but succeeded in developing a military which, for a small fraction of the US military budget, successfully developed armed forces which are in reality far more capable than the US forces. I realize that this last statement is quite literally “unthinkable” for many Americans and I submit that the very fact that this is so literally unthinkable greatly contributed to making this possible in the first place: when you are so damn sure that by some kind of miracle of history, or God’s will, or Manifest Destiny or any other supernatural reason, you are inherently and by definition superior and generally “better” than everybody else you are putting yourself in great danger of being defeated. This is as true for Israel as it is for the USA. I would also add that in the course of the West’s history this “crashing in of reality” in the comfy world of narcissistic delusion often came in the form of a Russian soldier defeating the putatively much superior master race of the day (from the Crusaders to the Nazis). Hence the loathing which western ruling elites always had for everything Russian.

In this book, Martyanov explains why, in spite of the absolutely catastrophic 1990s, the Russians succeeded in developing a modern and highly capable combat force in a record time. There are two main reasons for this: first, unlike their US counterparts, Russian weapons are designed to kill, not to make money and, second, Russians understand warfare because they understand what war really is. This latest argument might look circular, but it is not: Russians are all acutely aware of what war really means and, crucially, they are actually willing to make personal sacrifices to either avoid or, at least, win wars. In contrast, US Americans have no experience of real warfare (that is warfare in defense of their own land, family and friends) at all. For US Americans warfare is killing the other guy in his own country, preferably from afar or above, while making a ton of money in the process. For Russians, warfare is simply about surviving at any and all cost. The difference couldn’t be greater.

The difference in weapons systems acquisition is also simple: since US wars never really put the people of the USA at risk, the consequences of developing under-performing weapons systems were never catastrophic. The profits made, however, were immense. Hence the kind of criminally overpriced and useless weapons system like the F-35, the Littoral Combat Ship or, of course, the fantastically expensive and no less fantastically vulnerable aircraft carriers. The Russian force planners had very different priorities: not only did they fully realize that the failure to produce an excellently performing weapons system could result in their country being devastated and occupied (not to mention their families and themselves either enslaved or killed), they also realized that they could never match the Pentagon in terms of spending. So what they did was to design comparatively much cheaper weapons systems which could destroy or render useless the output of the multi-trillion dollar US military-industrial complex. This is how Russian missiles made the entire US ABM program and the US carrier-centric Navy pretty much obsolete as well as how Russian air defenses turned putatively “invisible” US aircraft into targets or how Russian diesel-electric submarines are threatening US nuclear attack subs. All that at a tiny fraction of what the US taxpayer spends on “defense”. Here again, Martyanov gives plenty of detailed examples.

Martyanov’s book will deeply irritate and even outrage those for whom the US narcissistic culture of axiomatic superiority has become an integral part of their identity. But for everybody else this book is an absolute must-have because the future of our entire planet is at stake here: the question is not whether the US Empire is collapsing, but what the consequences of this collapse will be for our planet. Right now, the US military has turned into a “hollow force” which simply cannot perform its mission, especially since that mission is, as defined by US politicians, the control of the entire planet. There is a huge discrepancy between the perceived and the actual capabilities of the US military and the only way to bridge this gap are, of course, nuclear weapons. This is why the last chapter in the book is entitled “The Threat of a Massive American Military Miscalculation”. In this chapter, Martyanov names the real enemy of both the Russian and the American people – the US political elites and, especially, the Neocons: they are destroying the USA as a country and they are putting all of mankind at risk of nuclear annihilation.

The above summary does not do justice to Martyanov’s truly seminal book. I can only say that I consider this book as an absolutely indispensable “must read” for every person in the USA who loves his/her country and for every person who believes that wars, especially nuclear ones, must be avoided at all costs. Just like many others (I think of Paul Craig Roberts), Martyanov is warning us that “the day of reckoning is upon us” and that the risks of war are very real, even if for most of us such an event is also unthinkable. Those in the USA who consider themselves patriots should read this book with special attention, not only because it correctly identifies the main threat to the USA, but also because it explains in detail what circumstances have resulted in the current crisis. Waving (mostly Chinese made) US flags is simply not an option anymore, neither is looking away and pretending that none of this is real. Martynov’s book will also be especially interesting to those in the US armed forces who are observing the tremendous decline of US military power from inside. Who better than a former Soviet officer could not only explain, but also understand the mechanisms which have made such a decline possible?

You can also get both versions of the book (paper & electronic) here.

The book is also available on Amazon as a pre-order here.

It is scheduled to become available on September 1st.

Get at least one copy and give more to your friends!

The Saker

Andrés Obrador Becomes President of Mexico: Good Prospects for Russian-Mexican Relations – By Alex GORKA (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Andrés Obrador Becomes President of Mexico: Good Prospects for Russian-Mexican Relations
Alex GORKA | 04.07.2018 | WORLD / Americas

Until now, it has been generally believed that the era of left rulers in Latin America was over. In December 2017, Sebastián Piñera of the National Renewal party, won in Chile after right-wing forces came to power in Argentina (2015) and Brazil (2016). Three leading economies of the continent had right-wing governments. It all changed on July 1 with the sweeping victory held by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the candidate representing the country’s Left. His party Morena, the National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento Regeneración Nacional), was formed only in 2014 to lead Obrador to victory over other candidates from political parties that have ruled the country for the entire century. Now he has enough power for implementing drastic changes. The Mexican revolution took place 101 years ago. This is the first time the Left have come to power.

One of the president-elect’s promises was standing up to Donald Trump if need be. His election is a blow to the United States influence in Latin America. The US and newly elected Mexican presidents don’t see eye-to-eye on NAFTA, bilateral trade and border security.

During the race, Obrador had to deny the rumors that originated from the United States, not Mexico, that he had received money from Moscow. As in the course of the 2016 US election, the invented stories were spread around. Then US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said he had seen “signs” of Russia’s meddling into Mexican election campaign. The affirmation was left unconfirmed as the official offered no details but US Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) lost no time to chime in. So did Enrique Ochoa Reza, the chairman of the Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party that lost the election. Rumors remained rumors but media did its part to make people believe the concoctions were true. Andres Obrador used the strongest weapon against lies – humor. He jibed the stories to win even more popular support.

During the 128 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations there were few downturns to cloud Russia’s relations with Mexico, the second most populous nation in Latin America with as estimated population of over 120 million, which boasts the fifteenth largest nominal GDP in the world and the eleventh largest by purchasing power parity. Its economy is strongly linked to NAFTA – the economic union US President Trump wants to end so much, replacing it with separate deals. Perhaps, this is the time for Mexico to diversify its economic partners. Russia, China and other BRICS nations can offer a good alternative to the rocky relationship with the northern partner having become so unpredictable recently. Obrador’s victory may provide an impetus to the development of Russian-Mexican ties, including energy, security and political interaction on the global stage.

The sanctions imposed by the US and the EU have prompted Moscow to expand contacts with other world economies. Russia has a strong diplomatic presence in such countries as Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and Cuba. Promoting ties with the nations of the region through cooperation with CELAC is one of directions of Moscow’s foreign policy. Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept states that “Russia remains committed to the comprehensive strengthening of relations with the Latin American and Caribbean States taking into account the growing role of this region in global affairs.”

Russia’s strongest trade relationships are Brazil and Mexico, which together account for about half of all of Russian trade in the continent. The Russian twin-engine MC-21 short-to-mid-range airliner with a capacity for between 150-211 passengers offers a potential lucrative deal Mexico has paid interest in. In January, the Mexican Association of Importers and Exporters (ANIERM) opened its trade office in Moscow. Mexico is eager to explore a partnership with Russia to purchase and assemble helicopters. Mi-35M and the Mi-28NE combat helicopters as well as Mi-17 military transport rotary wing aircraft are under consideration. Russia’s Lukoil energy giant has won two tenders to expand its drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Grupo Maseca and Nemak are operating in Russia.

Experts believe that Obrador’s election is a good chance to spur the Russian-Mexican cooperation in all spheres. President Putin also expressed hope that with Andrés Obrador at the helm, the bilateral relationship will get a new impetus. The two leaders will meet at the upcoming G20 summit, scheduled for November 30–December 1 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Israel bows to Russia’s will: Battle of South Syria coming to an end – By Elijah J. Magnier (ejmagnier.com)(SOTT)

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