The Great Degeneration of the West: Where Do Wrong Decisions Lead? – By Sofia Pale

 

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The processes taking place in the US and the European countries over the past 30 years have led to the economic, cultural and ideological decline of the West. It is now being pushed back by the central powers of the East, more precisely, China, which possesses great influence in Southeast Asia, and Russia, which unifies the Eurasian areas.

And while today, new political, social and economic structures are being created in Russia and China to improve public administration and living standards, Western powers proudly believe that they have long since formed an ideal system of government that can ensure the well-being of society within the framework of the notorious Western democracy.

Then how does one explain the evident economic downturn and the decline in the efficiency of state institutions, the financial speculation and excessive regulation, the reduction of private initiative in all spheres and the deterioration of the Western education system? That said, for many leading Western countries, enormous national debt remains a foremost concern as it cannot be paid off even by several decades of hard work of entire country populations.

All these processes were described in detail by one of the most influential Western historians of the XXI century, Niall Ferguson, in his book “The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die”, published in 2014. According to him, a great economic collapse awaits the yet unborn future generations, who will have to pay the loans of their fathers and grandfathers. In the words of the author, “The Great Recession is merely a symptom of a more profound Great Degeneration.”

The world’s leading media have recently been reporting the decline of economic, social and political efficiency in the US and Europe. For instance, famous economist and publicist Paul Krugman analyses the failures of President Donald Trump’s domestic and foreign policy. And there are many. The US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Agreement on Climate evoked a negative international response. Trump’s battle with immigrants left almost 1 million people unemployed (more precisely, drove them into the underground economy, depriving the country of tax revenues). The $100 billion-plus arms deals have brought a certain amount of profit to the US, yet did it no honor. The deals were struck with Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea, the latter ready to take up arms due to tense relations with the DPRK, which Trump himself had exacerbated.

With Trump’s efforts, the US economy grew by 3% during the course of 2017, but the country’s annual expenditures still exceed revenues. This isn’t surprising, considering what the profits are spent on. For example, in September 2017, the US Senate approved an unprecedented military budget of $ 700 billion, which is $100 higher than last year’s. This figure is worth about 40% of world military expenditures and is equal to the sum of the defense budgets of almost 14 leading world powers, making America the number one military power. Yet while the US government increases its military budget, at the same time, it reduces social welfare payments for its citizens (this speaks of Trump’s desire to cancel Obamacare’s health insurance, Medicaid and a number of other benefits for the poor).

On the one hand, Trump tries to create jobs in America, but does so through a policy of protectionism which negatively affects world trade in general. On the other hand, in September 2017, the US president signed a bill raising the federal borrowing limit, which is already $ 20 trillion and is the highest in the history of mankind.

Then again, the second largest public debt in the world was accumulated by the countries of the EU and is at $ 18 trillion. This stems from the so-called fifth enlargement of the EU in 2004 through the accession of the following economically weak countries: The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Malta. Then, in 2008, the Great Recession originated in the US and spread worldwide. As a result, “The weakest economies—Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland—faced staggering public debt, anemic growth, and high unemployment, but they did not have the monetary policy tools at their disposal that come from controlling your own currency,” Hillary Clinton wrote in her book, Hard Choices, published in 2014.(p. 1378-9) She was also “worried that too much austerity in Europe would slow growth even further, making it harder for [these countries] and the rest of the world to climb out of the hole.” Nevertheless, she did not criticize the policy of President Barack Obama who “responded to the recession by pushing an aggressive investment program through Congress to get growth going again, while working to reduce the national debt over the long term.”

However, it is quite obvious that the austerity policy of the EU and the US policy of raising national debt to stimulate the economy both fail to yield positive results.

The errors of the West can easily be examined with the help of the analysis of the relations between the EU and Great Britain in 2004-2007. Back then, Britain’s public debt was about 40% of GDP, and reached almost 90% of GDP in 2017. An attempt to save the sinking economy led London to a difficult decision to follow through with Brexit in 2016-2017. This situation arose due to the fact that, after the fifth enlargement of the EU, Brussels decided to redistribute resources between the rich and the poor countries. As a result, since 2011, the UK’s national industry has all but collapsed. As a commenter on the article in the magazine The Sun pointed out in June 2016, the UK had transferred almost all of its production to Poland (Cadbury), Slovakia (Jaguar Land Rover), Spain (Ajax), Malaysia (Dyson), Turkey (Ford Transit) and other countries. Following this, the UK economy became largely dependent on the growth of property prices due to mass purchases of housing by immigrants; over the past eight years, prices have risen by 50%. In the sphere of education, prices have also increased due to the heightened demand from foreign students. Thus, many British citizens can no longer afford to buy housing or pay for their children’s higher education. In addition to everything, in 2017, the national debt of Great Britain hit a record $ 7 trillion.

Then again, London, having made such mistakes, expects to work more closely with the United States after Brexit. However, considering that the US dollar will lose its position to the Chinese yuan in the world market by at least 30% in the near future, this cooperation is unlikely to fulfil the hopes of the UK to improve its economy.

Therefore, we can conclude that the economic, political and ideological systems of the West are currently in crisis. The growth of national debts along with the increase of the Gini coefficient (the gap between the rich and poor segments of society) indicates the need for fundamental reforms in the above-mentioned spheres. Otherwise, the great achievements of the West, so highly valued in the past, will soon lose their relevance and give way to new structural transformations coming from the East.

Sofia Pale, PhD, Research Fellow of the Center for South-East Asia, Australia and Oceania of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine – “New Eastern Outlook.
https://journal-neo.org/2017/11/04/the-great-degeneration-of-the-west-where-do-wrong-decisions-lead/

Syria Is Rising From the Ashes and All Haters Can Do Is Deny This Is Thanks to a Syrian (and Russian)-Fought Victory – By David Macilwain

The determination and persistence of Syria and her most trustworthy allies against NATO’s barbarians has finally paid off, and Syria may now be “reborn”.

The rebels have been repulsed and ISIS beaten into the ground and all Empire’s errand boys can do is deny that defeat was brought about by Syria and Russia

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The day after Vladimir Putin’s announcement that the fight against the Islamic State was won, but before his “surprise appearance” at Russia’s Syrian airbase, Australia’s State Broadcaster the ABC chose to interview Matthew Levitt, from the Washington Institute’s Stein program on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence. Levitt was visiting Melbourne for a reason we only found out later, as one of 500 delegates to “the first meeting of the International Counter-Terrorism Forum to be held outside the US”.

The interview by the ABC’s Nick Grimm, provided a platform for Levitt to air his pathologically pro-Israel and anti-Resistance views, as well as to Levitt doesn’t just suggest that volleys of cruise missiles and hundreds of bombing runs “did very little”, but that the Russian and Syrian governments are therefore claiming IS “has been wiped out” by someone else! Levitt’s figure for the “missing” IS fighters is close to the estimate from the Russian MFA, of 33,000 killed by Russian and Syrian allied forces in the last two years. Whether the US and its active coalition partners – the UK, France and Australia – have killed the other few thousand, or just relocated them – is a moot point, but it is actually they who have been doing very little to combat their “Islamic State”. Counter any suggestions that Russia deserved credit for “wiping out IS in Syria”:

NG: “Russia and Bashar al Assad have declared that IS has been completely wiped out in Syria, now how accurate is that assessment in your opinion?”

ML: “In the first instance it’s pretty rich for Russia to be making those statements as Russia has been very active militarily in Syria but mostly in defence of the Assad regime, doing very little actually to combat the Islamic state. A more credible source is the International coalition of which the US and Australia are key partners, and they say that whereas at its height the Islamic State had somewhere around 40,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, now it’s down to 3000 – that’s a very significant victory.”

 

Levitt’s claims to know more about Russia’s chosen targets in Syria than the pilots who dropped bombs on them, have to be assessed in the light of his record and writings. Focusing on Hamas and Hezbollah they reveal that his ideas of the terrorist threat allegedly facing the world are the mirror image of reality – or at least of the “Syrian reality” – which now includes the “Russian reality”, the “Lebanese reality” and the “Iranian reality” along with more than a few others.For this man – who speaks for so many of his colleagues in the think-tanks of the “Anglo-Zionist Empire” – a Palestinian boy with a rock or a Hezbollah member of Lebanon’s government are greater terrorist threats than a violent Salafist mercenary with a US-supplied TOW missile launcher. Such an incredibly partisan and self-serving – or Israel-serving – point of view would be ridiculed if it were subject to any impartial commentary, such as Levitt might receive from our friends at RT, Press TV or Al Mayadeen.

But it’s far from a joke that this pathetic and frankly imbecilic propaganda is treated with respect and admiration by our media. This exchange between Matthew Levitt and ABC TV news presenter Beverley O’Connor, aired the evening before the radio interview above, well illustrates the problem that we now face in winning the “misinformation war” over Syria:

ML: “My biggest concern though is that Assad is still there, and he’s the biggest recruiter for Sunni extremism that you could possibly imagine, and there are many people around the world, some in the US, some that I’ve already met here in Australia who say “you know what, we really need a solution to this, maybe Assad should stay, and I think that this is very dangerous..”

Beverley O’Connor: …”very dangerous, and you’re not hearing very much from the States on Syria either at the moment, it’s gone very quiet..”

ML: “let me be very blunt – the United States has a counter ISIL policy, it doesn’t have a Syria policy, and that’s a problem.”

BC: –“a big problem…”

The main subject of this interview was the US move that same day to “recognise” Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, and Levitt’s agenda was clearly to present that as “merely an acceptance of reality”, and no impediment to the peace process. While the Australian government hasn’t dared to express support for Trump’s incendiary proposal, its past record of unconditional support for the Apartheid state suggests it would be happy to follow suit when it is expedient. Mouthing platitudes about the “two-state solution” has also now become untenable, so “Israel’s greatest friend” Australia will actually have little choice.

It is tempting to see Levitt as an emissary of the US state, who has been working on Australia for a while. Back in 2013, as a guest of AIJAC – the Australia Israel Jewish Affairs Council, he pushed for the Australian government to classify ALL of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, in line with US policy. While this push was apparently unsuccessful, the Australian government doesn’t seem to recognise Hassan Nasrallah as a legitimate and popular leader in Lebanon any more than it recognises Bashar al Assad as President of Syria.

And thanks to the failure, or efforts, of media and think tanks and right-wing commentators, and the exclusion of alternative media like RT or Al Manar from Australian TV services, it would be hard to find any Australians who recognised Sayyad Hassan Nasrallah at all, outside Australia’s Lebanese community. That community is quite influential, but reflects the divided nature of its home country; it has also been the source of some of the Australians who have gone off to “join the Caliphate”.

So where is this leading us?Following Putin’s statement, and the rather direct comments from the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani that the US needed to leave Syria NOW, one might have expected some reaction from the Australian government; perhaps even some begrudged thanks to Russia for “helping” to destroy the Islamic State, enabling “our men and women” to come home in time for Christmas. One might even have expected such a disingenuous statement as part of the continuing charade Australia has been playing over Syria for the last six years, given one issued only days earlier following the Iraqi announcement of victory over IS.

But there was nothing! Instead it seemed as though Australia and her allies in the GWOT were too pre-occupied with keeping the decapitated body of their Trojan Horse alive. So as Presidents Assad and Putin celebrated and thanked the weary troops for their hard-fought victory, Australians were being warned that terrorist attacks were more likely in the coming holiday period because the jihadis would be heading home.

With uncanny timing, and warning of the possible “re-direction” to come, a man detonated a bomb in a New York subway, claiming both to be inspired by Islamic State and to be protesting against Israeli actions in Gaza. His knowledge of bomb-making was no better than his knowledge of IS, as he failed to kill anyone, even himself.

That he didn’t know IS has never said a word against Israel or in defence of Palestinians and their holy city of Al Quds is however unsurprising – it is the West’s best kept secret about the “Global Terrorist Threat”.

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Manufacturing Dissent – The New Culture War – By Chris Kanthan (Sott.net)

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Noam Chomsky famously talked about manufacturing consent, a propaganda tool of the elites to control people. However, another equally potent way to control people is by manufacturing dissent. This is otherwise known as ‘divide and rule’, a strategy usually restricted to foreign policy, but now being directed at the American people by the American elites. Neo-Nazis, Alt Right, Antifa, destruction of statues, and Americans assaulting one another are all signs of a divided nation that’s in the throes of a manufactured ‘culture war’. While the ruling class is laughing it up, the middle and working classes are ensnared in what I would call a Societal Autoimmune Disorder (S.A.D.). Between 2008 and now, we have been cleverly steered away from ‘Occupy Wall Street’ to ‘Occupy One Another’.

In a united America, people would be focusing on the economy of reverse Robin Hood that has left 78% of Americans living from paycheck to paycheck; the unsustainable debt that shackles college students and the whole nation; the theft by Wall Street, banksters and the Federal Reserve Bank; the endless, maniacal wars that the military-industrial complex demands; the erosion of civil liberty and privacy; the unhealthy, fake food made from GMO and toxic chemicals; the rise in numerous chronic diseases; and the inexorable rise in healthcare costs, to name a few.

However, many Americans are oblivious to all of that and are busy fighting each other, if not physically then in their own heads and on social media. Whites against blacks, men against women, straight against gay, citizens against immigrants, Christians against Muslims, right against left and so on. There is no logical, mature discussion. Two groups meet to see who can yell louder and nastier. When the police are successful in separating the groups, the mobs content themselves with a cacophony of nonsense. When the police step away, caveman instincts arise and people beat each other up. Whatever happened to “Love Trumps Hate”?

In Syria, after a city was liberated from jihadists, a person observed, “Syria was the most secular, the most comfortable country in the Arab world. It was embarrassing if someone asked whether you were a Muslim or a Christian.” This was the case before March 2011. Within a year, Sunni extremists were killing Shiite Muslims and Christians. Muslim neighbors who had been wonderful friends for generations turned against Yazidi Christians when the madness of ISIS infected their souls; churches that had been around for centuries were destroyed; and thousands of Christians were killed and 1 million were expelled from their homes.

Igniting sectarianism and turning one group against another is all too easy for the elites it seems, whether it’s 500 BC or 2000 AD; whether it’s a third-world country or a developed nation.

Multiculturalism is hard, but it’s made infinitely more difficult when people are taught to focus on their differences, dig up old wounds, demonize entire groups of people, and embrace victimhood. Many Americans are now programmed to be acutely aware of race, gender, ‘identity’ etc. In addition, people are being actively encouraged to get ‘triggered’ by other people’s opinions, words, expressions, and even emotions.

In spirituality and psychology, from Buddha to the most successful people of the 21st century, collective wisdom teaches us that if you want to be happy, you should learn to ignore other people’s opinions and judgments, the things you can’t change and, in general, the trivial events that occur all around you every day.

Instead, we have a new generation of social engineers who tell people to be hyper-vigilant, constantly on the lookout for every conceivable way they could possibly take offense, the wrong words, wrong phrases and wrong opinions expressed in the wrong tones.

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The elites are also manufacturing dissent by highlighting selective statistics and assigning evil intentions to them. For example, if only 20% of computer scientists are women, we’re told it must be because of sexism. We can’t engineer a society that has perfect representation in all careers for all groups in the demographic. 98% of auto-mechanics are men and 94% of nurses are women. Are we going to ‘fix’ those too? If the radical leftists have their way, we’ll be forced to. What they fail to recognize, or do recognize but studiously ignore, is that broad scale social and cultural changes, if they are even appropriate, have to occur naturally. A society is not an inanimate mathematical model on a computer that can be tweaked at will and ‘rebooted’.

Similarly, every country and ethnicity has a dark history where the powerful took advantage of the relatively weaker groups. But you know what? It’s still going on. Only that the elite ‘social engineers’ use far more sophisticated tactics today. They devalue the currency and tell you that you got a raise. They feed you poison and then bankrupt you with expensive treatments that only cure the symptoms. They destroy Syria and Libya and tell you that they are “humanitarian wars”; they pulverize the homes of 20 million people, accept 1 million as refugees, and tell you how compassionate the system is and that you must respect it. They enslave people with debt and mass media, and tell you that slavery was eradicated long time ago.

To distract us from the misery of the totalitarian system run by oligarchs – the 1% that own half the global wealth – are busy conjuring up ways to create a civil war so that we fight each other and not them.

Autoimmune disorders happen when the human immune system becomes extremely sensitive and resorts to attacking harmless things – say, pollen. In some cases, the immune system is so ‘paranoid’ that it starts destroying other organs in the body. The end result is that the entire body becomes ‘inflamed’. And so it is with society.

The elites are inducing Societal Autoimmune Disorder (S.A.D.) in America.

Let’s not succumb to this perilous disease that is ultimately self-inflicted. Let’s not get manipulated into fighting one another. Take some time out, tune out mainstream media for a while, get out of your bubble, and reach out to your neighbor, colleague, family and friends. America as a nation is at a crossroads, and the next decade might very well bring unprecedented changes and challenges. The only way forward is for Americans to come together, set aside ideologies, discuss and debate issues in a logical and constructive manner, and synthesize the foundation for a prosperous future. If we don’t make these efforts, the best case scenario is that Americans in 2100 may find themselves demanding the destruction of statues built in 2017. The worst case scenario… well, you probably don’t want to contemplate that, although it might be very useful for you to do so.

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Chris Kanthan (Profile)

Chris Kanthan is the author of a new book, Syria – War of Deception. It’s available in a condensed as well as a longer version. Chris lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has traveled to 35 countries, and writes about world affairs, politics, economy and health. His other book is Deconstructing Monsanto. Folow him on Twitter: @GMOChannel

Hamas Announces Beginning of Third ‘Intifada’ Against US Decision on Jerusalem – By © REUTERS/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa Middle East

© REUTERS/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
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The previous intifadas in 1987-1991 and 2000-2005 left hundreds of Israelis and thousands of Palestinians dead.

Hamas has announced the beginning of the third “intifada” six days after US President Donald Trump announced the controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to the Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, which governs the Gaza Strip, it expects the “day of rage” protests against the US move, which claimed two lives and left over 1,000 injured on Friday, to continue.

“Protests will continue in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. Because we protest against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as we consider it the capital of Palestine. We hope that the protests will develop further and further,” the movement’s press secretary told RIA Novosti.

READ MORE: Israel Strikes Targets in Gaza as Hamas Calls for ‘Intifada’

A day after Trump’s announcement, which has been condemned by Muslim states and countries backing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, the leader of the political bureau of Hamas called for a third “intifada” uprising “against the US and Zionist plans to Judaize Jerusalem.” Amid tense clashes between Palestinians and police over the US decision on Jerusalem, the Israeli army has intensified its operations against Hamas, particularly, targeting its tunnels in the Gaza Strip.

Most recently, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Wasel Abu Yousef, told Sputnik that the Palestinian movements of Hamas and Fatah, formerly rivals, are united over Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. Following a new round of reconciliation talks under the mediation of Egyptian authorities held in October, Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement with both sides promising it would usher in a new era of Palestinian unity.The previous intifada uprisings in 1987-1991 and 2000-2005 left hundreds of Israelis and thousands of Palestinians dead. The first Palestinian intifada was a Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation of the territories conquered during the 1967 Six-Day War, while the second uprising was provoked by visits of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and a group of his supporters of the Temple Mount. While the second intifada had declined, the situation still has remained tense.

The First Intifada

Strictly 50 years ago, the wider world was stunned as Israel occupied the remaining Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and even the Golan Heights in Syria in merely six days.

READ MORE: Israel’s Army Reports About Rocket Fired From Syria at Golan Heights

In the following 20 years the Palestinians did not put up with Israeli dominance, which is when the uprising, otherwise dubbed the first intifada, started.

Amidst numerous Israeli settlements increasingly rising up on the historically Palestinian land, November 1987 saw the first revolt. The Palestinians were struggling, basically unarmed, throwing rocks at the Israeli troops.

The State of Palestine was proclaimed on November 15, 1988, in a session of the Palestinian National Council, the supreme PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] governing body, which also recognized both the Arab and Jewish parts of Palestine providing Israel gave up claims over all territories it had occupied since 1967 and freed the land from its settlements. Back then, the PLO condemned terrorism in all its forms, thus paving the way for negotiating peace with Israel.

One of the landmark political events during the first intifada was the Madrid Conference (October 30-November 1, 1991), which involved peace talks hosted by Spain and mediated by the US and the Soviet Union.Early 1993 saw another round of talks held in secret in Oslo. The parties arrived at an agreement that was expected to end the PLO-Israel conflict. The 1993 agreement also stipulated the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and proclaimed a limited Palestinian National Authority. This time, the Palestinians withdrew their demand that the State of Israel should cease to exist.

The agreement was signed the same year in Washington, by Yasser Arafat, the then head of the PLO Executive Committee, and Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister at the time. Israel and the PLO also signed an additional agreement, which recognized both entitiesas full-fledged negotiators.

The Second Intifada

No sooner had the Oslo agreement come into effect and Israeli withdrawals started, a number of hardline Israelis and Palestinians spoke out against it, pegging it a “sellout.”

This is where Hamas and the notion of the suicide bomber came in, leaving an estimated 1,000 Israelis dead in public places due to terrorist attacks and gunfire. Israel retaliated with airstrikes, causing approximately 3,000 deaths among the Palestinian civilians.

In July 2000, Bill Clinton summoned Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, but the contested status of Jerusalem and Palestine refugees brought the talks to a standstill.

Brought about by Sharon’s controversial visit to the historic Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem on September 28, 2000, illegally occupied by the Israelis by then, the second intifada quickly grew into an open, deadly war. Its other name, Al-Aqsa Intifada, virtually refers to the original name of the Temple Mount, where the “shaking off,” or the intifada, started – Al-Aqsa Mosque.

READ MORE: Erdogan: Israel Seeks to Take Over Al-Aqsa Mosque Under Security Pretext

Yasser Arafat, an all-time Palestinian leader, died in a Paris hospital in November 2004. Earlier the Israeli Air Force eliminated Hamas leaders, including sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his successor Rantisi. Having lost its most high-profile figures, Hamas became demoralized to some extent and started operating locally.

The Sharm el-Sheikh Summit on February 8, 2005, is traditionally associated with the end of the second intifada, as Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon concluded bilaterally that both parties would agree to a cease-fire. The upcoming Roadmap for Peace, initiated by the so-called Quartet on the Middle East – comprising the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations – reiterated the aforementioned commitment, but with little effect, as violence still persisted.

In the wake of the second intifada, Israel, Canada, the United States and Japan condemned Hamas as a terrorist organization, while Australia and Britain slammed solely the military wing of Hamas. The movement is banned outright in Jordan. On December 17, 2014, the European General Court, a branch of the European Union’s Court of Justice, ticked the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya) off its list of terrorist organizations.

The end times may be here for ISIS, but the Deep State still has plans for Syria and Iran – By Mike Whitney (Counterpunch)

ISIS destroyed

“There can be no doubt about it, the ISIS of just two years ago was the most powerful, well-led, generously-armed and resource-efficient paramilitary force in modern history, having carved out for itself an empire between two sovereign states and devastating their armies in the process. However, this is no longer so. The days of the Islamic State consuming Syria like a cancer are over.” The Defeat of ISIS, Andrew Illingworth, Almasdar News

Russia and its allies have expelled ISIS from its last urban stronghold in Syria. Now the Syrian coalition will turn its attention to the numerous hotspots around the country where al Qaida-linked groups have dug in waiting for the Syrian Army to make its final push.

On Monday, Lebanese media reported that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), joined by combat troops from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah, recaptured the city of Abu Kamal in Deir Ezzor province. The city was the last bastion for the terrorist group, ISIS, which, at one time, controlled a vast swathe of land stretching from northern Iraq to central Syria. Now the group has been chased from its last urban hideaway and scattered across the arid wastelands like a nomadic tribe wandering the dessert. Abu Kamal was ISIS’s “last stand”, the final chance to fend off the advancing loyalist forces and reverse the course of the war. But the three-pronged attack proved to be too much for the demoralized jihadists who fled the city northward or surrendered to Syrian troops on the perimeter. Thus, ISIS no longer occupies any of the major towns or cities that once comprised the emerging Wahhabi proto-state. The group has been soundly defeated, its leadership is in tatters and the star-crossed Caliphate has met its end.

What happens next in Syria is of critical importance. Although large parts of the country remain under the control of al-Qaida-linked groups and the other Sunni militias, Russian President Vladimir Putin believes the combat part of the war is nearing its end and wants to begin preparations for a political settlement. This view is shared by the entire Putin administration including Deputy Defense Minister Valery Gerasimov. On Monday, Gerasimov said:

“The active phase of the military operation in Syria is nearly over. Thanks to our joint efforts, terrorists are being wiped out in the Al-Bukamal area in eastern Syria and along the Syrian-Iraqi border. It will only be a matter of time before the other militant groups are completely eradicated which will allow us to move on to a post-conflict settlement.”

It’s worth noting, that the western media has entirely ignored the defeat of ISIS at Abu Kamal mainly because it was the Russian-led coalition that delivered the final blow. In the current climate in the US, any facts that fail to support the anti-Russia hysteria that has swept the country, are scrubbed from publication. So while the headlines at the New York Times should have read: “Russia Crushes ISIS in Syria”, they instead focused on the trivial details of the latest sex scandal.

Post-ISIS Meetings Begin

On Monday, Putin met with Bashar al Assad in the Russian resort city of Sochi to discuss the winding down of military operations and the next phase of the 7 year-long war. The Syrian President expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the man who, by any measure, saved Syria from a fate similar to that of Libya or Iraq.

“I have conveyed to Mr. Putin and to the Russian people, our gratitude for their efforts to save our country. In the name of the Syrian people, I greet you and thank you all, every Russian officer, fighter and pilot that took part in this war.”

Putin thinks the defeat of ISIS at Abu Kamal creates an opportunity for the warring parties to hash out their differences and reach an agreement that will put an end to the fighting. There’s no doubt that Assad will be asked to make concessions he wouldn’t otherwise make to satisfy the objectives of his Russian allies. But Putin does not want Syria to become his Vietnam, he has no intention of using the Russian airforce to recapture every square inch of sovereign Syrian territory. As he’s said from the very beginning, his plans involve the annihilation of the terrorist forces operating in the country; nothing more and nothing less. This is why the outcome at Abu Kamal is so important in shaping the agenda. ISIS has been vanquished and the enclaves where the other insurgent groups are currently located, will be part of a wide-ranging mop-up operation that will end the terrorist threat in Syria for good. Security will eventually be reestablished and the government will move on to the arduous task of rebuilding its decimated cities and infrastructure. But first a settlement must be reached.

Later in the week, Putin will meet with leaders from Iran, Turkey and (maybe) Saudi Arabia. The geopolitical interests of all the parties are vastly different but not necessarily irreconcilable. Turkey, for example, might agree to withdraw its troops from Northern Syria if they are given assurances by Putin that the Kurds will not be allowed to set up an independent state on Turkey’s southern border. The Kurds might also be willing to settle for something less than “full statehood” if they are allowed sufficient autonomy to operate as a culturally independent entity. The main problem is the United States and its Israeli-Saudi allies who still want to topple Assad, partition the country, and transform Syria into another US garrison state at the heart of the world’s largest energy reserves. The defeat of ISIS has not changed Washington’s strategic ambitions or its determination to occupy Syria even after the hostilities have ended.

Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis has already stated that the US will not leave Syria after ISIS is crushed. Here’s what Mattis said at a recent press briefing on November 13:

“We’re not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has cracked…We’re going to make sure we set the conditions for a diplomatic solution…We have to get the UN-brokered effort in Geneva to take this thing forward.”

When Mattis was asked to provide the legal justification for the ongoing US occupation of east Syria, he said: “You know, the UN said that ISIS – basically we can go after ISIS. And we’re there to take them out.”

The United Nations never approved US intervention in Syria, but that’s probably a moot point given Washington’s abysmal record of shrugging off international law. From the look of things, the US is planning to stay in Syria for a long time, and that’s going to dampen the prospects for peace. Check this out from NPR:

“A rising number of Syrians who fled are returning to their homes, with more than 600,000 going back in the first seven months of this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

The U.N. migration agency says that number is comparable to the number of returns spanning the entire year in 2016.

The Syrian government has been stressing that people are coming home, NPR’s Ruth Sherlock reports, and state media have been posting photos and accounts of such returns…

Most of those going home – 84 percent – were displaced within Syria. “The next highest number of people … returned from Turkey, followed by Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq,” the IOM adds.” (U.N.: More Than 600,000 Syrians Have Returned Home In 2017″, NPR)

The fact that Syrian refugees are returning home in droves further underscores the positive impact Russia’s intervention has had on restoring security across the country. The Russian president and his generals have prevented another country in the Middle East from being senselessly ravaged and plunged into fratricidal warfare. But while Putin has achieved much of what he set out to do when he launched his campaign in September 2015, US proxies in the mostly-Kurdish SDF have seized nearly all the territory east of the Euphrates creating the de facto partition that Putin hoped to avoid. How can this situation be resolved without a clash between Washington and Moscow?

It can’t be. There can be no political settlement unless the US relinquishes control over Syrian territory and abandons its misguided project to redraw the map of the Middle East. But is that really going to happen?

It all depends on Donald Trump. If Trump really wants to end the conflict, then the Saudis and Israelis will probably comply. But if Trump is convinced that Syria is merely a skirmish in a much broader war with Iran, then he might opt to double-down by establishing bases east of the Euphrates while escalating tensions in other parts of the region. Is this what the recent flare-up in Saudi Arabia was all about? Did the Crown Prince collude with Trump’s people in detaining Saad Hariri? Is the administration trying to throw more gas on the ME fire hoping to shift the attention to Tehran?

It’s possible. Trump has never tried to conceal his hatred for Iran, but how far is he willing to take it? Is he willing to take the country to war? Here’s a clip from an article by Josh Rogin at the Washington Post which helps to illustrate how members of the media (and their think tank colleagues?) are using events in Syria to make their case against Iran. He says:

“…the Assad regime and Iran are preparing for the next phase of the long-running war, in which they will attempt to conquer the rest of the country. Whether Iran succeeds depends largely on whether the United States acknowledges and then counters that strategy.

Tehran is pouring thousands of fighters into newly acquired territories and building military bases. Although U.S.-supported forces hold territories east of the Euphrates River in Syria’s southeast, as well as along the borders of Israel and Jordan in the southwest, Iran has stated its intention to help Bashar al-Assad retake all of Syria….” (“The U.S. must prepare for Iran’s next move in Syria”, Washington Post)

Does Trump believe this nonsense? Iran has not “conquered Syria”. It was invited to help support the sovereign government in its fight against jihadist outsiders who destroyed the country and killed tens of thousands of its people. Rogin’s analysis is completely divorced from reality.

Here’s more from the same article:

“[A] task force of senior former U.S. diplomatic and military officials has come up with suggestions for how Trump could prevent Iran from taking over what’s left of liberated Syria and fulfill his own promise to contain Iranian influence in the region.”

By “liberated Syria”, Rogin is presumably referring to the territory in east Syria that is currently occupied by US Special Forces and their Kurdish proxies. Here’s more:

“Most urgently . . . the United States must impose real obstacles to Tehran’s pursuit of total victory by the Assad regime in Syria,”…. the Trump administration must increase its assistance to Sunni communities lucky enough to live outside Assad’s rule and help U.S.-supported local groups hold valuable territory in Syria’s southeast…” (WA Post)

Escalate the conflict? Is that what Rogin wants: More war? And, on what grounds?

On the basis that the enemies of the Syrian government must be given carte blanche in their battle for regime change. Isn’t that the gist of what he’s saying?

Rogin again;

“… the United States should work with regional allies to stop Iran from moving weapons and troops into Syria. That would require interdicting shipments by sea and ensuring that U.S.-supported forces control key border towns in Syria and Iraq. Such moves could check Iranian aggression without triggering armed conflict with Tehran.” (“The U.S. must prepare for Iran’s next move in Syria”, Washington Post)

Rogin’s analysis reads like a science fiction novel. He wants the United States to engage in clearly illegal acts of piracy to prevent a sovereign government from assisting a neighbor in its fight against foreign terrorists. He also wants Trump to block critical land-routes that connect Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran, effectively imposing a military cordon around the country. Rogin thinks the US has the right to arbitrarily decide these matters without United Nations approval.

This is lunacy, and yet, this is the neocon rationale for expanding the war beyond Syria’s borders. More than anything, the neocons want to drag the United States into a war with Iran. That is their Number 1 priority.

But what about Trump? What does Trump want? Does he want to be the “exalted” leader who plunges the country into another bloody world war or does he want to implement the non-interventionist policies he supported during his campaign?

Which is it?

Comment: Or another question may be: How committed to mass death and destruction is the U.S. Deep State? Because, make no mistake, for all of Trump’s bluff and bluster, it’s not him calling the ultimate shots.

The end of the US petro-dollar is nigh: China offers a much better deal – Nick Giambruno (The International Man)

As Doug Casey has correctly noted, the prime directive of any organism-whether it’s an amoeba or a person or a corporation or a government-is to survive.

That’s why the US government protects the petrodollar so zealously. It needs the system to survive.

World leaders who have challenged the petrodollar recently have ended up dead…

Why Everyone Uses the US Dollar… for Now

In the 1970s, the US government struck a series of deals with Saudi Arabia, creating the petrodollar system. The US promised to coddle and protect the Saudi kingdom. And, in exchange, Saudi Arabia would use its dominant position in OPEC to ensure that all oil transactions happened in US dollars.

Until recently, virtually anyone who wanted to import oil from any country needed US dollars to pay for it.

The dollar is just a middleman here. But countries and businesses use it in countless transactions amounting to trillions of dollars that have nothing to do with US products or services.

Plus, if foreign countries are already using dollars for oil, it’s just easier to use the dollar for other international trade. That’s why, in addition to oil sales, the US dollar is used for about 80% of all international transactions

Take Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, for example. Each led a large oil-producing country-Iraq and Libya, respectively. And both tried to sell their oil for something other than US dollars, before US military interventions led to their deaths.

In October 2000, Saddam had started to sell Iraqi oil for euros only. Iraq said it would no longer accept dollars for oil because it did not want to deal “in the currency of the enemy.”

A little over two years later, the US invaded. Immediately after Baghdad fell to US forces, all Iraqi oil sales were switched back to dollars.

Thanks to WikiLeaks’ release of Hillary Clinton’s emails, we know that protecting the petrodollar-not humanitarian concerns-was a primary reason for overthrowing Libya’s Gaddafi.

According to her leaked emails, the US (and France) feared that Gaddafi would use Libya’s vast gold reserves to back a pan-African currency. This gold-backed currency would have been used to buy and sell oil in global markets. Also, it would have likely displaced a version of the French franc that’s used in Central and Western Africa.

The US and France backed a rebellion, both militarily and financially, that overthrew Gaddafi in 2011.

After Gaddafi’s death, plans for the gold-backed currency-along with Libya’s 4.6 million ounces of gold-vanished.

Of course there were other reasons the US toppled Saddam and Gaddafi. But protecting the petrodollar was a serious consideration, at the very least.

Putin Is a Tougher Adversary

The dollar’s special status gives Uncle Sam tremendous leverage. So it’s no surprise that Russia wants to undermine the petrodollar system.

Russian President Vladimir Putin summed it up this way:

Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.

Essentially, Putin is saying they all want to ditch the dollar.

That’s largely because the US uses the dollar as a political weapon. For example, the US tried to sanction Russia for its actions in Crimea and Ukraine. These sanctions made it harder for Russia to access the US dollar-based financial system. So of course Russia is going to push for an alternative.

Shortly after the sanctions, Russia struck a massive deal to sell oil and gas to China for yuan. The deal totally bypassed the US financial system… and any sanctions.

China’s Permanent Bypass Around the US Dollar

Russia is the world’s largest energy producer. China is the world’s largest energy importer. Normally, they would trade with each other exclusively in US dollars.

But, as I’ve told you in recent weeks, China is now introducing a more permanent way around that.

I call it China’s “Golden Alternative” to the petrodollar. It’s a streamlined way for Russia and everyone else to sell oil to China for yuan-or effectively gold.

China’s “Golden Alternative” to the Petrodollar

China is launching a practical and attractive alternative to the petrodollar system. It will allow anyone in the world to trade oil for gold. It will also totally bypass the US dollar.

Here’s how it will work…

The Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE) is introducing a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan. It will allow oil producers to sell their oil for yuan.

Of course, China knows most oil producers don’t want a large reserve of yuan. So producers will be able to efficiently convert it into physical gold through gold exchanges in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Bottom line, two of the biggest players in the global energy market are totally bypassing the petrodollar system.

Informed observers say Russia is already converting a large portion of its yuan earnings to gold.

Of course, other countries are interested in sidestepping the US financial system and US sanctions, too. China’s Golden Alternative will give anyone the option to do just that.

This will make the US dollar a much less effective political weapon.

Other countries on Washington’s naughty list are enthusiastically signing up. Iran, another major oil producer, is accepting yuan as payment. So is Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves.

I think others will soon follow. From the perspective of an oil producer, it’s a no-brainer.

With China’s Golden Alternative, an oil producer can participate in the world’s largest market and try to capture more market share. It can also easily convert and repatriate its proceeds into gold, an international form of money with no political risk.

But this doesn’t apply to one critical holdout… Saudi Arabia.

Twisting the Saudis’ Arm

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter. A lot of that oil goes to China, the world’s largest importer.

Beijing still reluctantly pays for Saudi crude in US dollars. The Saudis won’t have it any other way, at least for now.

This bothers China. It can only import Saudi crude by obtaining and then using US dollars. And that, of course, means it has to stay in Washington’s good graces.

Trump’s Treasury secretary really drove this point home recently. He threatened to kick China out of the US dollar system if it didn’t crack down on North Korea.

China would rather not depend on an adversary like this. This is one of the main reasons it’s launching the Golden Alternative.

Saudi Arabia, however, refuses to participate. It won’t sell its oil in anything but US dollars because that would break its longstanding petrodollar agreement with the US.

When China, Russia, and others trade oil for yuan, it’s a significant blow to the petrodollar. But if Saudi Arabia switched to yuan, it would take out the petrodollar… and cause an immediate financial panic in the US.

The truth is selling oil for yuan would cost Saudi Arabia a whole lot.

It would immediately lose American diplomatic and military protection. Then the media and think tanks would quickly start pounding the table for the US military to force democracy on Riyadh.

Last year Trump said, “If Saudi Arabia was without the cloak of American protection, I don’t think it would be around.”

He’s absolutely correct.

Of course, the Saudis know all of this. So they’ve been on a short leash… until recently.

In a surprise move, Saudi King Salman recently became the first sitting Saudi monarch to ever visit Russia.

Until recently, the visit would have been unthinkable. Saudi Arabia has been one of the US’ closest allies since the petrodollar system started in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, Russia and Saudi Arabia have been enemies for decades. Most recently, the Saudis and Russians have been on opposite sides of the Syrian Civil War.

That’s why King Salman’s historic visit to Moscow is so remarkable. The Saudis are clearly hedging their bets against the US and the petrodollar system.

Saudi Arabia is now drifting closer to Russia.

The Saudis have committed to invest up to $10 billion in various Russian sectors. But, even more significantly, they’ve agreed to buy the S-400 missile system, Russia’s top line air defense system, as part of a $3 billion weapons purchase.

This deal signals a geopolitical earthquake. The Saudis have never bought Russian military equipment before.

Ever since the birth of the petrodollar, the Saudis have depended on American military protection. After all, it’s what they get in return for pricing their oil in dollars.

The S-400 system deal suggests the Saudis are hedging their bets. First, they’re not buying an American system. Second, they’re buying a Russian system that’s capable of deterring an American attack.

Saudi Arabia is making significant moves to give itself alternatives to American protection.

At the same time, China is cutting back on Saudi crude.

A few years ago, Saudi oil made up over 25% of Chinese oil imports. They were Beijing’s No. 1 supplier. Today, the Saudis’ market share has dropped below 15%.

In other words, the Saudis are losing massive market share and getting pushed out of the biggest oil market in the world. This is mainly because they refuse to sell oil to China in yuan.

China has made itself clear. It’s willing to expand business with anyone who will accept yuan as payment.

Today, Russia has overtaken Saudi Arabia as China’s top supplier. Its share of the lucrative Chinese market has grown from 5% to over 15%.

Russia’s enthusiastic acceptance of yuan as payment is the main reason for this shift.

In the meantime, Angola, an African oil producer, has also come on board. The country now accepts yuan as payment for its oil exports to China. It even made the Chinese yuan its second legal currency in 2015.

Chinese imports from Angola have shot up since. It’s now China’s No. 2 supplier, after Russia.

None of this bodes well for the petrodollar system.

The Saudis have two choices… rip up the petrodollar or get shut out of the world’s most lucrative oil market.

One way or another-and probably soon-the Chinese will find a way to compel the Saudis to accept yuan. The sheer size of the Chinese market makes it impossible for Saudi Arabia to ignore China’s demands indefinitely.

What to Watch For

China might not convince the Saudis to ditch the petrodollar system tomorrow. But it’s making significant progress.

A few months ago, Saudi Arabia announced it was willing to issue Panda bonds to finance its government spending deficit. (Panda bonds are yuan-denominated bonds from non-Chinese issuers that are sold in China.)

This is remarkable. The Saudis’ currency is pegged to the US dollar. Up until this point, they’ve exclusively used US dollars for all of their major financial initiatives.

Issuing debt in yuan-instead of US dollars-is a significant move. It means Saudi Arabia is drifting closer to China.

Also, the Saudis recently inaugurated the massive Yasref refinery in the Saudi city of Yanbu. The refinery is an $8.5 billion joint venture between Saudi Aramco and China’s Sinopec.

These are noticeable steps. But the Saudis still haven’t given China what it really wants-oil for yuan.

However, it could happen soon…

The Largest IPO in History

In the coming months, the Saudis plan to float a 5% stake in Saudi Aramco, the state oil company.

Saudi Aramco is the most valuable company in the world. It will likely be the biggest equity offering ever. It could triple, or even quadruple, Alibaba’s current record initial public offering (IPO) of $25 billion.

The IPO’s success will depend on Saudi Arabia recruiting big cornerstone investors. But so far, Western investors haven’t shown a lot of enthusiasm.

For China, however, it could be the perfect opportunity to buy political influence in Saudi Arabia.

If China bought a large stake in the Aramco IPO, it would help cement its relationship with Saudi Arabia. It would also put more distance between the Saudis and the Americans.

And critically, it would give the Chinese more leverage to compel the Saudis to accept yuan for oil.

China is in the process of negotiating not just a 5% stake, but potentially a larger one.

Bottom line…the Saudis haven’t made a clean break with the US yet. However, they are drifting toward China financially and Russia militarily.

The Saudis are clearly setting up the option to dump the petrodollar.

If the Saudis sell oil to China in yuan, it would kill the petrodollar overnight. However, short of that, things still look very dire for the petrodollar.

The petrodollar system is facing serious erosion, thanks in large part to China’s Golden Alternative. That’s already baked into the cake.

And with that, severe inflation in the US is a certainty.

This will likely be the tipping point…

After the collapse of the petrodollar, the US government will be desperate enough to implement capital controls, people controls, nationalization of retirement savings, and other forms of wealth confiscation.

I urge you to prepare for the economic and sociopolitical fallout while you still can. Expect bigger government, less freedom, shrinking prosperity… and possibly worse.

It’s probably not going to happen tomorrow. But we know where this trend is headed.

It’s possible that one day soon, Americans will wake up to a new reality. Once the petrodollar kicks the bucket and the dollar loses its status as the world’s premier reserve currency, you will have few, if any, options.

The sad truth is, most people have no idea how bad things could get, let alone how to prepare…

Yet there are straightforward steps you can start taking today to protect your savings and yourself from the financial and sociopolitical effects of the collapse of the petrodollar.

We recently released a special Guide to Surviving and Thriving During an Economic Collapse. Click here to download the PDF now.

Comment: A well put together analysis which pretty much agrees with our own. The US empire won’t go down without a fight, and that fight is likely to include attempts to ‘flip the chessboard’ and ruin the game for everyone else, most especially their own citizens.

Assad visits Putin in Sochi, expresses heartfelt thanks to Russia for saving Syria – By Alexander Mercouris

© Sputnik/ Mikhail Klimentyev

President Assad of Syria has come unexpected to the Russian resort city of Sochi, where he is having high level talks with Russia’s President Putin and with Russia’s senior military leadership.

This is the second trip President Assad is known to have made to Russia since Russia intervened militarily in Syria in September 2015. The first trip came in late October 2015, shortly after the Russian military intervention began. Of course there may have been – and probably have been – other secret Assad trips to Russia, which have not been announced.

At the time of Assad’s first trip to Moscow the situation in Syria remained very fraught. The Jihadi rebels still held eastern Aleppo and had effectively surrounded the rest of the city and were pressing on the remaining territories the Syrian government still controlled along the coast. Further east the whole of central and eastern Syria had fallen under the control of ISIS, which had recently captured Palmyra. The Syrian military was over-stretched and exhausted, and in urgent need of time and help to sort itself out.

In summary, President Assad came to Moscow in October 2015 a drowning man to whom the Russians had just thrown a lifeline.

The situation is totally transformed today.

Not only has eastern Aleppo been liberated and the whole of Aleppo secured, but the authority of the Syrian government has been restored along the whole of Syria’s western coast with only the province of Idlib and a few pockets of territory still under Jihadi control.

In central and eastern Syria ISIS has been broken. Palmyra is now conclusively liberated, the siege of Deir Ezzor has been broken and the city cleared of ISIS, and following the liberation of Albukamal ISIS no longer controls any large or important towns in Syria, and has been reduced to a rural insurgency.

In the meantime the Syrian army has been expanded, retrained and re-equipped into a far more formidable force than it was before.

Though there are different estimates of the precise extent of the territory controlled by the Syrian government, when Assad came to Moscow in October 2015 the territories under the Syrian government’s control consisted of a small belt of territory along Syria’s western coastline, whereas now the greater part of Syria is once more indisputably under the Syrian government’s control.

In summary, Putin was fully justified in saying to Assad at the start of the summit today that

……the Syrian people, despite a very difficult ordeal, are gradually moving towards the final and inevitable defeat of the terrorists.

Why then is President Assad in Russia today?

The obviously very carefully prepared and pre-scripted comments Putin and Assad made to each other at the start of their meeting shows that with the war winding down the Russians want to consult with Assad about the political negotiations to achieve a Syrian settlement which are about to restart. Putin in fact said as much

Mr President, as you know, I will meet with my colleagues – the presidents of Turkey and Iran – here in Sochi the day after tomorrow. We have agreed to hold additional consultations with you during our meeting. Of course, the main subject on the agenda is a peaceful and lasting political settlement in Syria after the routing of the terrorists.

As you know, in addition to the partners I have mentioned we are also working closely together with other countries, such as Iraq, the United States, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. We maintain constant contact with these partners.

I would like to talk with you about the basic principles of the political process and the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, the idea of which you have supported. I would like to hear your opinions on the current situation and development prospects and your views on the political process, which should ultimately be implemented under the UN auspices. We also hope that the UN will join the [political] process at its final stage. (bold italics added)

Here it is necessary to make some comments about the speech President Assad made recently, which was discussed at length by my colleague Adam Garrie.

In the speech President Assad spoke of an ideology of Arabism, which as my colleague Adam Garrie correctly says is consistent with the Baathist ideology of Syria’s ruling party.

As Adam Garrie correctly says, what President Assad was doing in his speech was charting a future course for Syria and potentially for the whole Arab world which whilst in no sense opposed to Islam nonetheless looks to transcend sectarian and confessional differences on behalf of a united Arab nation.

It was in other words an emphatic restatement of the ideology of Arabism which has been around in the Arab world since the 1950s and which remains the prevailing ideology in Syria to this day.

President Assad is not however an ideologist but a practical politician, and the primary audience for his speech was not in my opinion Arab public opinion – which is already very familiar with all these arguments – but the Russians, with whom he currently must deal.

Briefly, what President Assad was saying in his speech was that Syria should retain its Arab identity, and should not make excessive concessions to the Kurds and to Syria’s various confessional groups.

He specifically ruled out changes to the official names of the country and the army, and said they should continue to be called the ‘Syrian Arab Republic’ and the ‘Syrian Arab Army’ and not become the ‘Syrian Republic’ and the ‘Syrian Army’.

The Russians – or at least some of them – have by contrast tentatively floated ideas of Syria doing precisely those things – of creating some sort of federal structure that would grant some form of political or cultural autonomy to the Kurds and to the country’s confessional groups, with the names of the country and the army being changed to the “Syrian Republic” and the “Syrian Army” – which President Assad said in his speech would be wrong and appeared to rule out.

The meeting between Assad and Putin appears to be intended to argue out these points, in preparation for the negotiations for the final settlement of the Syrian conflict which are about to start.

The meeting in Sochi also however has a military dimension. Putin often uses his Sochi residence as a venue for the large-scale conferences of top experts to discuss national policies which form an essential part of his governing style.

On 17th November 2017 – shortly before Assad arrived in Sochi – a major conference began there bringing together Russia’s senior military and the leaders of its defence industries to discuss the State Armaments Programme, which will shape the development of Russia’s armed forces up to 2025. The Kremlin’s website has published Putin’s introductory comments to the conference, which is apparently still continuing.

The Kremlin website shows that Putin arranged for Assad to participate in this conference

Meeting with senior officials of the Defence Ministry and the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces

Vladimir Putin: I have asked the President of Syria to attend our meeting.

I want him to see those who have played the key role in saving Syria.

Of course, Mr Assad knows some of you personally. He told me at our talks today that the Russian Army has saved Syria as a state. Much has been done to stabilise the situation in Syria. I hope that we will close the chapter on the fight against terrorism in Syria, although some seats of tension will remain or will flare up again…… (bold highlighting in the original)

At one level this is an extraordinary honour to the Syrian President. However there are obviously practical dimensions as well.

Firstly, there is the obvious wish to have President Assad give his personal thanks to the Russian military which saved him and Syria from destruction. However it is a certainty that future military cooperation was also discussed.

This will obviously include discussions on the ongoing military operations to bring the Syrian war to a final end. However it is a certainty that Syrian-Russian military cooperation beyond the war’s end will be discussed as well.

With Syria set to host a very large complex of Russian military bases, and with the Syrian military needing to be reconfigured and re-equipped to face the challenges of ‘peace’ (which in the Middle East is never truly peace) there will be much to talk about.

Comment: President Assad’s words to the participants of the military conference:

President of Russia Vladimir Putin and I have just held talks. I have conveyed to him, and on his behalf to the Russian people, our gratitude for Russia’s efforts to save our country.

I would like to highlight the contribution of the Russian Armed Forces and the sacrifices they have made to achieve this goal. I was very glad to learn that you, those of you who were directly involved in the operation [in Syria] and who commanded the activities of the Russian Armed Forces in Syria will be present here today.

The operation barely started when I met with President Putin in Moscow two years ago. In the two years since then we can see the success that has been achieved thanks to cooperation between the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Army. Nobody can deny this success in the fight against terrorism now. Thanks to your actions, as well as the actions of the Syrian Army and our allies, many Syrians have returned home.

Speaking on behalf of the Syrian people, I would like to express our gratitude for what you have accomplished. We will never forget this. Also, I would like to thank personally President Vladimir Putin, [Defence Minister] Sergei Shoigu and [Chief of the General Staff] Valery Gerasimov for their direct involvement in this operation.

Thank you very much.

What Putin and Russia did for Syria is by no exaggeration an act of true heroism. While the U.S. and NATO have brought nothing but chaos and destruction to the region, Russia has saved Syria from that fate. It’s amazing that this fact is not widely recognized. Instead, Russia is demonized in the west. But that is okay. Heroes don’t need praise. They just get the job done, and fight the monster of chaos.

ACTUAL international collusion: Nigel Farage exposes massive Soros network of MEPs spreading ‘gender theory’, open borders and russophobia (VIDEO) – By Robert Bridge (RT)

© Philippe Desmazes / AFP
George Soros

Picking up the anti-Soros torch from Hungarian leader Viktor Orban, UK politician Nigel Farage is seeking to investigate fellow EU MEPs who support the controversial vision of the wealthy financier. But are Orban and Farage’s fears valid?

UK politician Nigel Farage, the prominent face of Brexit, is now concerned about Europe’s destiny. Addressing the EU Parliament this week, Farage provided some thoughtful ideas as to the source of the claims that Russia had somehow manipulated the Brexit vote, as well as the Trump election.

“Just last week, the electoral commission, in the UK, launched an investigation to find out whether the ‘Leave’ campaign took offshore money or Russian money,” Farage said.

“This came about as a result of questions asked in the House of Commons by one Ben Bradshaw, somebody linked to an organization called Open Society.”

But Farage, who seems to take great delight in agitating his fellow MPs, was just warming up. He went on to provide yet another example of an EU parliamentarian working on behalf of George Soros, this time against Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, who has accused the financier of seeking to create “a Europe of mixed population.”

We even had last week Mr. [Guy] Verhofstadt lobbying on behalf of Mr. Soros at the Conference of Presidents in a battle that is going on with Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary,” Farage said, pointing directly at Verhofstadt as he spoke.

I wonder,” Farage continued, “when we are talking about ‘political collusion,’ I wonder if we are looking in the wrong place.”

Farage described Soros’s influence in Strasbourg and Brussels as “truly extraordinary.” And that influence looks set to increase dramatically now that Soros has donated the bulk of his wealth – $18 billion – into his Open Society pet project, which campaigns for open borders and supranational structures such as the European Union.

Comment: Small detail: it’s unlikely that so much of it is from Soros’ own money, but he’d be happy for people to believe so because it gives the project an aura of ‘philanthropy’.

Farage concluded his short, fiery monologue with a weighty statement: “I fear we could be looking at the biggest level of international, political collusion in history.”

On the surface, there seems to be some legitimacy to Farage’s claim. According to public sources, Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI), the EU policy arm of Open Society Foundations, met with members of the European Commission on 44 separate occasions in 2016. And now that the organization has just been energized with $18 billion, it would seem apparent that that influence is set to increase.

Moreover, the Soros organizations published a pamphlet providing details on a list of 226 reliable “friends” who serve in the European Parliament. Farage said he would call on the parliament to set up a special committee to investigate the issue.

Who are Soros’ 226 EU ‘friends’?

In a 177-page pamphlet published by Open Society, entitled “Reliable Allies in the European Parliament (2014-2019),” 226 EU MEPs are listed and labeled according to their political orientation and views.

According to the pamphlet, “The presence of an MEP in this mapping indicates that they are likely to support Open Society’s work. Considering there are 751 members of the European Parliament, “reliable allies” of George Soros hold at least one-third of seats.”

So what sort of qualifications does an MEP need to be included among Open Society’s “reliable allies?” A quick preview of the candidate’s description field provides some good indication as to what Soros expects from his allies, including a political philosophy that includes support of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or intersex) movement, open borders and an anti-Russia stance.

Among the 226 chosen, there is one Yana Toom, an MEP from Estonia, who comes in for a bit of criticism despite her inclusion. “Refused supporting the European Parliament’s first resolution on the Ukraine-Russia conflict in July 2014, and may be pro-Russia to an unknown extent (and, in that case, not necessarily an Open Society).”

For anyone who questions whether Open Society works directly against Russian interests, that single line should dispel all doubts. Moreover, it provides some background as to why Russia in 2015 banned Open Society from operating on its territory due to the threat it posed to the country’s “constitutional order.”

Another MEP on the list, Monica Macovei of Romania, serves as something like the golden mean for star-studded Soros status.

Resolutely progressive; unquestionable ally of Open Society values; does not hesitate to go against her group’s instructions; however, can sometimes be described as a loose cannon with her own, uncompromising set of priorities.”

When reading such an assessment, one might get the mistaken impression that the European Parliament is designed to serve the will of George Soros and his highly controversial agenda, as opposed to the will of the European peoples.

What does Soros want?

To say that George Soros, who was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, has an influence on the global scene, would be the understatement of the century. His excessive wealth allows him to finance a veritable army of organizations, many serving at cross purposes.

Indeed, Soros, 87, has been connected to movements and civil disturbances as diverse as distanced as Black Lives Matter movement in the US, to the Maidan uprising in Ukraine.

And nowhere has Soros’s influence been more felt than in the ongoing European debate over migrants.

It looks like the European refugee crisis, which has been blamed on the Syrian civil war, would not occur in its current intensity without the direct assistance of the Open Society Foundation.

Thanks to the advocacy work of the Migration Policy Institute and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), both Soros-sponsored organizations, the mass resettlement of Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe became the norm.

In fact, it appeared that the so-called “Merkel Plan” – the deal struck by the EU and Turkey – was the brainchild of the European Stability Initiative, “in addition to the largesse of George Soros’ foundations,” F. William Engdahl wrote in the New Eastern Outlook.

Considering that the massive influx of Muslim migrants threatens to change the face of “Christian Europe” forever, and without any vote on the matter by the people of Europe, perhaps it is time to see exactly what kind of direct influence George Soros and his Open Society Foundation are having on European parliamentarians. After all, these are not the play toys of any one individual, but the representatives of an entire state.

Comment: That’s right there is the real collusion that is “undermining the fabric of Western civilization,” not Putin’s Russia.

See also:

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Rogue state: Declassified Israeli docs spell out 60-year-long strategy to ethnically cleanse Arabs – By RT

Israel has released declassified documents from after the Six Day War which reveal the government’s plans to starve Gaza and its controversial plans to deal with the Palestinians.

The declassified documents were released on the Israel State Archives on Thursday and include hundreds of pages of minutes from cabinet meetings between August and December 1967, soon after the Six Day War ended the previous June.

The Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors ended with Israel capturing East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

The documents provide insight into the Israeli government’s strategy for dealing with the Palestinian people and show it was unprepared for the aftermath of its victory. Some of the revelations are jarring in light of the current standoff in Israeli-Palestinian relations, from the continued stalling on a two-state solution to ongoing settlement expansion and the almost “unlivable” situation in Gaza, the documents provide numerous premonitions for what was to come.

How to deal with the Arabs?

There are 600,000 Arabs in these territories now. What will be the status of these 600,000 Arabs?” Prime Minister Levi Eshkol said in December 1967, Haaretz reports. “I suggest that we don’t come to a vote or a decision today; there’s time to deal with this joy, or better put, there’s time to deal with this trouble.”

There’s no reason for the government to determine its position on the future of the West Bank right now. We’ve been through three wars in 20 years; we can go another 20 years without a decision,” he said.

If we sit 20 years, the world will get used to our being in those territories, in any case no less than they got used to [Jordan’s King] Hussein being there,” Transportation Minister Moshe Carmel suggested. “We have more rights; we are more identified with these territories than he is.”

Gaza’s “suffocation and imprisonment”

A UN envoy and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron are among those who have compared Gaza to an open-air prison, but it appears that the Israeli government has long intended for that to be the case. “Precisely because of the suffocation and imprisonment there, maybe the Arabs will move from the Gaza Strip,” Eshkol said, Mondoweiss reports.

Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither,” he added, in a suggestion that appears to fit the UN definition of genocide, which includes “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

The UN has warned that by 2020 Gaza will be “unlivable,” suggesting the strategy introduced by the Israeli government during the 1960s may soon come to fruition.

We are interested in emptying out Gaza first,” Eshkol said when his defense minister suggested giving Arabs foreign work permits to entice them to stay away.

Jews only?

A Jewish state in which there are 40 percent Arabs is not a Jewish state. It is a fifth column that will destroy the Jewish state,” Education Minister Zalman Aranne said in cabinet minutes. “It will be the kiss of death after a generation or a generation and a half.”

Israel was like “a giraffe’s neck” Eshkol said, because it was so narrow. “The country is like a miserable, threatening neck for us, literally stretched out for slaughter,” he said of Israel’s perceived vulnerability.

I cannot imagine it – how we will organize life in this country when we have 1.4 million Arabs and we are 2.4 million, with 400,000 Arabs already in the country?” Eshkol said.

We must increase [the number of] Jews and take all possible measures to reduce the number of Arabs,” Religious Affairs Minister Zerah Warhaftig said.

Labor Minister Yigal Allon suggested “thinning the Galilee of Arabs,” referring to Arab Israelis living in the northern region Israel won in 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Hebron – A settlement experiment

The dean of the Hebron Yeshiva, an institution dedicated to the study of religious texts, requested its students and teachers return to and set up a branch in Hebron in November 1967, Eshkol told his cabinet. The school had moved to Jerusalem in 1929, after the Hebron Massacre that saw more than 60 Jews killed.

There is a benefit in finding the first nucleus of people willing to settle there,” Allon said. “The desire of these yeshiva students is a great thing. There aren’t always candidates willing to go to such a difficult place.”

Comment: “Yes, we can use these ideological diehards to our advantage, mwahahaha. We are cunning, yes?”

Today, more than 1,000 Israeli settlers live in the Palestinian city of Hebron. In October 2017, Israel approved the first new settlements to be built there in 15 years.

The luxury of war

Justice Minister Yaakov Shimshon Shapira, Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir and Education Minister Zalman Aranne voiced their concerns as to how the outside world would view their actions, even calling for Israel to withdraw from the territories.

I do not for one minute accept the idea that the world outside will look at the fact that we’re taking everything for ourselves and will say, ‘Bon Appetit,’ ” Aranne said. “After all in another year or half a year the world will wake up; there’s a world out there and it will ask questions.”

Comment: “Not to worry,” said the others, “we will deal with the Goy nations.”

Another “solution” touted by the Israeli PM was to hope for war. “Perhaps we can expect another war and then this problem will be solved,” he said. “But that’s a type of ‘luxury,’ an unexpected solution.”

Comment: A fascinating insight into the barren, bleak landscape of the Israeli mind.

SYRIA AND RUSSIA DEMAND U.S. LEAVE COUNTRY NOW; SYRIAN ARMY BLUNTS TERRORIST ATTACK AT BASE IN EAST GHOUTAA – By Ziad Fadel

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With ISIS on the ropes, their leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdaadi, probably dead from a Syrian Air Force strike last June in AlMayaadeen, and the plans to slice up Syria in shreds themselves, the Damascus government and the Kremlin have sent clear messages to the U.S. to get out of Syria, or else.  There are approximately 4,000+ American troops in combat missions supporting the all-Kurd (and some Syriacs/Assyrians) militias claiming to fight ISIS.  It is the American plan to remain in Syria indefinitely in order to coordinate the fight against Iranian-backed guerilla forces buttressing the Syrian Arab Army. This is being done to keep the Zionists in both Occupied Palestine and New York City/D.C. happy.  There is no other conceivable reason for this violation of another country’s sovereignty.

The U.S. is expected to argue that its presence in Syria is for its own self-defense.  Expect WOG OF THE YEAR, Nikki “Rhandawa” Haley,  to deploy that same argument when confronted with the ugly truth of the U.S.’s  neo-colonialist presence in Syria.  And what will the British say?  Oh, I suspect they will side with the rule of law seeing that all member states, excepting the Zionist Apartheid Entity, will take that same position.  After all, the Brits have run out of patience and fig leaves for their unlawful assault on the government of a member state of the U.N.

If the U.S. chooses to remain despite Syrian demands, the only option left for Damascus after Dr. Al-Ja’afari wags his finger at Ms. Haley, is to attack American forces with Iranian-trained militia-men, including Hizbollah.  Besides self-creating another cesspool for U.S. troops, it might even bring on Zionist intervention to help the Yankee ally at his time of need – after all, the Zionist Prime Minister, Mileikowski (a/k/a Netanyahu), has vowed to continue his attacks on Syria in order to prevent Iran from establishing a foothold near the Golan Heights.

Mileikowski, who is facing a multiplicity of indictments related to corruption and defalcation, needs something to divert attention;  and what better way than to bring on the Apocalypse?  No, my readers, we are heading into a Trumpian disaster of the first magnitude.  And if, as Trump trumpets, he is intent on turning North Korea into a parking lot for Hyundai cars, it will be that much worse for the American people.  And (yawn), if Trump decides to decertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, then, we are in for an even bigger catastrophe.  And all this for the Zionist cockroaches.

Russia and China are rubbing their palms with excitement because this is going to herald their inexorable rise to the pinnacles of global power. They know the U.S. cannot fight a 3-front war.  Such a scenario will bring on a coup d’etat in Washington (forget impeachment) and will result in the final dumbing down of the United States of America.  It’s going to be “Seven Days in May” redux.  Unless the American public starts getting involved, American soldiers are going to start coming back in plastics bags in numbers which would humble the war in Vietnam.

Of particular interest is Turkey’s new attitude toward the U.S.  It requires no genius to figure out that the Turk army is preparing to move in on the so-called SDF as soon as they have themselves figured out how to do it without killing American soldiers.  But, they must tread carefully in this diplomatic minefield.  An invasion of Syria is exactly that and the repercussions internationally could be quite shrill.  Unless he receives some assurances from Russia and China at the U.N., he will be most circumspect.  This is one chapter we have to read with genuine interest.

DAMASCUS:  The terrorists in the East Ghoutaa are reading events differently.  They believe the U.S. has to pull out of both Syria and Jordan.  The debacle at Al-Tanf is proof positive that the U.S. doesn’t have the belly for staying the course.  What the rodents don’t understand is that the U.S. was never interested in transferring power to them.  The U.S. was only interested in ousting Dr. Assad so as to prevent the gas pipeline from reaching the Syrian littoral which would bring on a precipitous decline in American influence throughout Europe.  If the Americans stay in northeast Syria, it’s only because it wants to block the extension of the pipeline, not to embolden the terrorist rodents or the gentrified opposition whom Washington has given up on.

And so, reading the writing on the wall, the rodents in the East Ghoutaa mounted a ferocious attack on the Syrian Army’s Military Vehicles Administration Base in government-controlled Harastaa.  On Tuesday, the group calling itself Ahraar Al-Shaam, mounted the attack using cleverly dug tunnels to surprise the defenders. What happened instead was the Syrian Army’s own reaction which was sudden and even more ferocious blunting the attack and killing close to 36 rodents.  The Russian Air Force took to the skies immediately and dropped a barrage of munitions on the quivering terrorist vultures

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HAMA:  The main “tank” sniper in the terrorist group calling itself the “Jaysh Al-‘Izza” was liquidated the day before yesterday in northern Hama.  He was said to be the reigning master of the TOW missile system designed to take out armored cars and tanks.  Well, the Syrian-developed Saraab 1 put an end to his “glorious” career when the tank’s captain deployed the Saraab and “toppled” the advancing projectile.  Since the terrorist was seated in a trench and was watching the events unfold, he was an easy target for the T-72’s gunner who laid waste to the offending vermin.  The terrorist’s name?  Hamdu Ahmad Al-Hammood.

 

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