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

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…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.

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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.

Why Israel’s Expansionist and Ethnic-Cleansing Ambitions Will Fail – ByAndrés Perezalonso – (SOTT)

Israeli soldiers Palestinian boy Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian teen Fawzi Muhammad Al-Juneidi in Jerusalem, Dec. 8, 2017. You need an army to get a stone-throwing boy – yet stone throwers keep coming. What to do?

As the world is distracted with the Football World Cup, some observers of the situation in Palestine have been concerned about the possibility of Israel carrying out a major military operation in Gaza. Four years ago, towards the end of the World Cup in Brazil, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, which according to UN figures resulted in the death of 2,256 Palestinians, of which 1,563 were civilians. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights specifies that this included 293 women and 556 children. The extremely high proportion of civilian deaths was a consequence of Israeli soldiers’ orders to fire at every person in sight, as the whistleblower organization Breaking the Silence revealed. It was also consistent with the old unspoken Israeli objective of ethnically cleansing Palestine.

Israeli media has recently disclosed that the country has plans for a full-scale invasion which would cut Gaza in half and occupy part of it. So confident are they on their ability to “create a considerable change on the situation” that the army “is already considering alternatives to the Hamas government”. Earlier on Thursday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio: “I don’t want to launch an operation, but there is a good chance that we will have no other option but to go in so that we can create durable deterrence.” This was said in reference to the burning kites that Gazan demonstrators fly across the border, pointing out that those responsible should be shot, “age doesn’t matter, they’re terrorists and the danger they create must be prevented.” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also a member of the security cabinet, argued that “there is no difference between a burning kite and a Qassam rocket, and we should not tolerate the kites.” He has a point in that Qassam rockets are about as effective as the kites – both being largely symbolic gestures of defiance than credible weapons of war.

Mindless Genocide in Gaza?

Apart from the World Cup distraction, pro-Palestinian activist Robert Inlakesh thinks the following are also reasons for a possible Israeli offensive on Gaza in the near future:

  • Sara Netanyahu, Bibi’s wife, has been charged with fraud. She used public funds to pay for restaurant meals to the tune of 359,000 shekels ($100,000). This is on top of other more serious corruption charges faced by the Netahyahus. A ‘Wag the Dog‘-style PR operation is in order.
  • In April, the Knesset granted Netanyahu the power to declare war in extreme circumstances, requiring only the approval of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.- Although the Security Cabinet annulled the law within a month, the government plans to “promote anew” the original draft.
  • Israel privatized their weapons manufacturing.- Private company Elbit Systems acquired state-owned Israeli Military Industries for $522 million. Inlakesh speculates that this will eventually have an effect on the price of weapons and that Gaza may be used to ‘test’ them in order to sell them in global markets before the price spike.

Inlakesh also points out that the Israeli population will not tolerate anything less than a decisive blow on Hamas, but since Hamas operates through a network of underground tunnels, the only way to do so would be to blow up the civilian infrastructure above them, implying thousands of civilian casualties, and a massive ground invasion. This is an important point because a limited offensive could end up hurting Netanyahu’s popularity in Israel, while a commitment to the destruction of Hamas would be both extremely difficult to achieve and subject to widespread condemnation across the globe. The world is rightly upset with around 130 deaths in the context of the March of Return demonstrations near the border of Gaza. Would the Israeli government be prepared for the backlash that will come when they kill again, but this time in the thousands or tens of thousands?

The long-term goal of Zionism is to assimilate the whole of Palestine into Israel and expel (or kill) its Arab population. This is made clear when one studies the history of Israel – its foundation was only made possible by ethnic cleansing. A brief look at the change of Palestine into Israel confirms this:

Palestine loss of land

While the West Bank land-grab strategy has been largely based on illegal settlements to create ‘facts on the ground’, Israel has taken a different approach in Gaza. In 2005 it dismantled its settlements in the Strip, but rather than this resulting in genuine peace, Israel turned Gaza into an open-air prison, controlling its borders, including its access to the sea. Furthermore, without Jewish settlers in the area, Israel has been free to use the full force of its military periodically, only limited by international public opinion.

Non-viable Strategy in Syria

Despite the US State Department warning Syria of “firm and appropriate measures” if it moved to reclaim its southern province of Daraa from terrorist groups (which sits right next to the Golan Heights that Israel illegally occupies since 1967) and the repeated Israeli threats against Syria, the war-hardened Syrian Army is already making gains in the region. Around 400 km2 have been liberated in less than a week with Russian air support. Even Free Syrian Army units have switched sides and are fighting with the Syrian Army against Jabhat al-Nusra, aka Al-Qaeda in Syria. It seems that the US and Israel no longer command the respect they used to. In fact, the FSA’s sudden realization that they had been fighting for the wrong side all this time appears to have been motivated by a message from Washington, seen by Reuters, which made clear that “you should not base your decisions on the assumption or expectation of a military intervention by us”.

So far, Israel’s strategy against Syria has consisted of providing support to jihadist groups in the south of the country, and regularly harassing the country with missile strikes and shelling. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has documented Israeli soldiers interacting with terrorists in the Golan Heights, as well as “the transportation of hundreds of injured militants to Israeli hospitals following confrontations between the militants and the Syrian army near the occupied Golan border.” According to local witnesses, the ‘militants’ include members of Al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda.

Israel Syria Golan IDF Nusra

A photo from the Israeli-Syrian border along the Golan Heights shows IDF soldiers conversing with al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra fighters.

As for the bombing harassment, the latest Israeli attack was a double missile strike on Damascus airport. Some reports indicate that the target was an Iranian cargo plane, while others speak of a military installation. It is also not clear if the missiles were intercepted by Syrian air defenses. A few days earlier, Syrian state media outlet SANA informed that US-led coalition aircraft attacked Syrian military positions in Al Bukamal, Deir Ezzor. However, the US denied involvement and an American official went as far as to claim that Israel was behind the bombing. The aggressions intensified briefly in May with an exchange of missiles on the Golan Heights after Israel hit the Damascus suburbs and Baath City, but for the most part Israel has pursued hit-and-run tactics in Syria for years.

None of these actions have managed to stop the Syrian Army’s victory, so one wonders why Israel continues with a strategy that has proven unsuccessful so far. The answer is that there is nothing Israel – nor the US – can realistically do to topple Assad as long as Russia is watching his back, so periodic missile attacks is as much trouble as they can hope to cause. Still, with the Syrian Army closing in on the Golan Heights, we can expect Israel to increase its support for the remaining terrorists in the area, possibly in the form of more shelling and bombing (not to mention military and medical aid). As this happens simultaneously with Israel’s threats of a ground invasion of Gaza, is Israel ready to fight on two fronts simultaneously? Perhaps even three if Hezbollah reacts from Lebanon once things escalate? As always, another look at the map of Israel – a tiny nation – shows why it is not in its best interest to trigger a major war.

Clumsy US Political Defense of Israel

While almost all US administrations have been subservient to Israeli interests – largely due to the influence of the infamous Israel lobby – the Trump administration has been particularly outspoken and active in favour of the Zionist agenda. Trump withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as Nikki Haley’s obscene twisting of reality to protect Israel from criticism in the United Nations, are examples of efforts to keep the likes of Sheldon Adelson in Washington and Israel happy. Adelson is a Zionist billionaire casino tycoon who donated $82 million to Trump’s and other Republican campaigns during the 2016 elections. He is allegedly a member of a “shadow National Security Council” advising the hawkish neocon John Bolton, himself the national security adviser. Adelson also owns the largest newspaper in Israel, which shows unconditional support for Netanyahu, and he is committed to the “Greater Israel” political agenda. When he was once confronted with the idea that Palestinians living in annexed land would not have the same rights as Jewish Israelis, Adelson simply replied: “Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state. So what?”

Sheldon Adelson

© Sebastian Scheiner/AP
Sheldon Adelson attends the opening ceremony of the new US embassy in Jerusalem in May.

One problem with trying to please ideologically possessed people like Adelson is that their agenda is so contrary to what people recognize as fair and normal that vigorous attempts to defend it backfire spectacularly. For example, by quitting the UN Human Rights Council, citing an “anti-Israel bias”, the US, rather than winning hearts and minds for Israel, has simply isolated itself – further eroding American global leadership and not helping Israel’s cause in any way. Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo and Benjamin Netanyahu – who spearheaded and celebrated the US exit – are stuck in the ‘indispensable nation’ mindset that was valid a couple of decades ago, and do not understand that the UN will carry on with its condemnation of Israel with or without US participation.

Israel’s Unlikely Plan

This is ultimately why Israel’s expansionist ambitions will fail. For Israel to be able to continue its slow-motion ethnic-cleansing program in the West Bank and Gaza, and for it to become the indisputable hegemon in the region – and perhaps even steal more territory from its neighbours – it needs the global superpower on its side. The US is still firmly on Israel’s side – the problem is that its political, military and economic influence is rapidly declining – faster than Israel can achieve its objectives.

Consider Gaza. Israel can and does make life a living hell for its population, and every few years it scales up the murder rate to the thousands rather than the dozens. Yet the total population of Gaza in 2018 is almost 2 million. By the year 2032 it 3.1 million people will live there, at current growth rates. How many Israeli offensives will be needed and how long will they take before Israel can ‘cleanse’ the land and claim it as part of the ‘Jewish state’?

Lets think of Syria. Israel helped terrorist groups in the hope that Assad would be replaced by a US and Israeli vassal, or by an extreme Islamic group that Israel could later bomb at will and ‘legitimately’ in order to ‘liberate’ a neighbouring country that was a threat to Israel itself. Instead, the Assad government and its Army have come out of their 7 year long ordeal stronger than ever and are forming an alliance with Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah – the so-called Shiia Crescent that Israel and Saudi Arabia fear the most. In theory, the US and its NATO allies could have finished the job of ‘regime change’ in Syria if the jihadi head-choppers could not. But in practice this was impossible because this would risk a direct confrontation with Russia. The ‘FUKUS’ largely ineffective bombing on Syrian alleged ‘chemical sites’ in April highlighted this fact. Under these circumstances, Syria eventually regaining control of the strategically valuable Golan Heights, whether by political or military means, is not unthinkable.

Israel appears to have passed the point where it could have come to its senses and negotiated a fair peace agreement with the Palestinians. To paraphrase Shakespere’s Macbeth (and much like its America protector), ‘it is in blood so far steeped, that to go back would be as tedious as to go on’. So Israel will double down on its delusional belief that it can find a ‘final solution’ to its Palestinian problem, all the while believing that the world will never turn its back on poor Israel in its existential fight against those who would destroy it and the Jewish people. Given the easily-provoked emotionality of the average human being and the rapidly changing global geostrategic chessboard, that’s a bet that only a fool would make.

Andrés Perezalonso (Profile)

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

In Yemen, Selling, Borrowing, Begging To Save Loved-Ones as Cholera Rages – By Ahmed Abdulkareem (MINT PRESS)

A man is treated for suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

What is taking shape across this Texas-sized nation at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula is an awful, perfect storm, a disastrous collaboration between nature and man that has caused a cataclysm unlike anything the world has ever seen.

SANA’A, YEMEN — When his wife’s vomiting and diarrhea simply wouldn’t stop, 40-year-old Ali Sherwaid, an English teacher, did a quick accounting in his head, calibrating the catastrophe that had befallen him. With cholera ravaging his wife, 28 years-old and nine-months pregnant with the couple’s first child, Sherwaid needed to get her medical treatment. Problem was, the constant Saudi airstrikes had decimated the healthcare infrastructure in Yemen’s northern Sa’ada province, and his village of Fudh was at least 6 hours drive, on bad country roads, to the nearest hospital.

Compounding the crisis was the fact that Sherwaid had no money — Yemen’s civil servants haven’t been paid in months — and he had nothing to pay a doctor to treat his wife, Fatimah.

And so Sherwaid auctioned off his wife’s jewelry, borrowed money from neighbors, bundled his wife’s doubled-over frame into his car, and sped off in the night, headed for al Jomuri Hospital in the city of Sa’ada, some 80 miles away. Days later, as her health continued to break down, his wife was taken to Al Sabeen Hospital in Sana’a, the capital.

In an interview, Sherwaid told MintPress News:

When we finally reached the hospital, my wife was inching towards death.”

What is taking shape across this Texas-sized nation at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula is an awful, perfect storm, a disastrous collaboration between nature and man that has caused a cataclysm, unlike anything the world has ever seen.

Yemen’s is the 21st century’s worst humanitarian crisis and, when measured by the proportion of the population affected, it might well be the worst in a century. Since the armed conflict erupted in March of 2015, more than 10,000 Yemenis have died, and 22.2 million people — out of a total population of just under 28 million — are now in need of food, medicine, water and shelter. Of that number, 11.3 million — mostly women, children, and the elderly — are at risk of dying, according to international relief agencies.

A nurse cares for a malnourished boy at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

In addition to an aggressive bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and supported by the United States and the United Kingdom — targeting Yemen’s civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and clinics — the coalition’s blockade of Yemen’s land, sea and air routes has left more than 12 million people without wheat and other food staples. The combination of the blockade and bombing of Yemen’s electrical grid has left nearly 15 million Yemenis without access to health care, and 10 million are in jeopardy of losing access to potable water.

The shortage of potable water has driven Yemenis to drink from water sources polluted with their neighbors’ feces and urine, resulting in a cholera outbreak that is believed to have infected more people than any cholera epidemic in modern history. Since the spring of 2011,”nearly 1,490,000 cases of a particularly aggressive strain of the waterborne disease have been reported in Yemen,” Abdul Hakeem al-Kuhlani, general manager of the cholera observation unit in Sana’a said to a Journalist for MintPress; “tens of thousands have proven fatal.”

Even before the war, Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East. The war has deepened poverty; millions of public-sector employees have gone months without a paycheck.

“Everything in Sa`ada has been destroyed by Saudi airstrikes,” Sherwaid told MintPress. “My wife, who is pregnant with our first child, contracted cholera; I didn’t have money and was forced to sell everything to save my wife and child.”  

 

The room of horrors

The cholera ward at Al Sabeen Hospital is a room of horrors. A dozen patients lie motionless in their beds; a couple watches their child take his last breath. A man vomits into a pan, his eyes dry and dazed. Patients’ families kneel in prayer to Allah. When Sherwaid arrived at the camp, the families welcomed him and helped his wife find a new bed. Saeed — a father of two children, ages six and nine, who are infected with cholera — whispers to Sherwaid: “I only want to see my two sons recover from cholera, and then we can celebrate.” He tells MintPress, “My youngest son Salem, six, was first infected, and then he transmitted the disease to his brother.”

“We expect to see a surge of cases during the rainy season,” Anton Camacho, lead author of a study on the epidemic published in The Lancet Global Health journal, told Reuters.

MSF`s cholera treatment center in Hajjah’s Abs, destroyed by Saudi airstrikes on June 11, 2018. Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News

The Saudi-led coalition targeted this particular center for the second time, and facilities managed by Doctors Without Borders have been targeted on six different occasions. According to a statement by the Ministry of Public Health and Population in Sana`a: “The U.S.-Saudi-led coalition deliberately undermines the health system,” in Yemen, and the “United States of America bears responsibility for these attacks.”

 

After attack on Hodeida, the humanitarian situation worsens

The Saudi-led coalition escalated its airstrikes on the city of Hodeida in western Yemen, which is the lone remaining supply line for the millions of Yemenis in the north who rely on foreign aid for food, fuel, medicine for cholera, and other necessities. The number of Yemenis in danger of starving to death could rise from 8.4 million currently to 18.4 million by December of this year, according to UN officials.

On May 6, 2018, national health authorities launched an oral cholera vaccination (OCV) campaign in cooperation with the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Almost 275,000 doses of OCV were administered in May across five priority districts in Aden, reaching nearly 70 percent of the target population.

A billboard raising awareness of the environmental campaign against cholera in the Tahrir district of Sanaa, June 11, 2018. Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News

For his part, Sherwaid gets a double-dose of horrible news: His unborn child died and his wife has an incurable kidney disease and will need dialysis for the rest of her life. Realizing it could be worse, Sherwaid says almost jubilantly: “Praise Allah.”

Top Photo | A man is treated for suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

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America’s Genocide in Yemen Starts Tuesday – By Eric ZUESSE (STRATEGIC ORDER FOUNDATION)

America’s Genocide in Yemen Starts Tuesday
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 12.06.2018

Eric ZUESSE

The Houthis in Yemen are expected to start being slaughtered en-masse on June 12th. The U.S.-Saudi-UAE plan is to destroy the Yemenese port city of Al Hudaydah, which is the only entry-way by which food reaches approximately seven million Shiites, members of the Houthi tribe, who occupy the western third of Yemen, and who had recently ruled all of Yemen. The U.S. provides the weapons and the training, and the United Arab Emirates supplies the pilots for this operation, which is financed mainly by the Saudis. The objective is to establish a joint UAE-Saudi-run government of Yemen.

On Monday, June 11th, the New York Times bannered “U.N. Pulls Out of City in Yemen, Fearing Bloody Assault by Arab Coalition”. That report didn’t mention that this is America’s fundamentalist-Sunni coalition of Arab monarchies, using American weapons, in order to bomb and blockade, and now starve to death, approximately seven million Houthis, and that it’s part of a broader war in which the U.S. and Israel are allied with fundamentalist-Sunni monarchies, which are trying to conquer Shiite-run countries, especially Yemen, Syria, and ultimately Iran. The Houthis are Shia, not Sunni. On 24 October 2014, a Houthi leader was interviewed in Yemen Times, which reported: “Al-Bukhaiti does not think that ‘the Iranian system’ [a Shia theocracy] could ever be implemented in the country. Neither do the Houthis have any interest in bringing back the Imamate. Instead, he describes the Zaydi [their Shia] doctrine as ‘republican’ and the Houthi group as ‘liberal’.” None of America’s Islamic allies is even remotely like that description.

America’s alliance of fundamentalist-Sunni Arab monarchies call Iran especially an “existential threat” to themselves, because Iran, and Shiites generally, are opposed to monarchical governments, especially after 1979, when Iranians overthrew the U.S. CIA-installed (in 1953) Shah. And all of America’s allies in the Middle East, other than theocratic-Jewish apartheid Israel, are fundamentalist-Sunni monarchies.

The reason the U.N. is pulling out is to avoid being killed by these American missiles and bombs, which are expected to produce, by means of these UAE and Saudi proxy-fighters, a rare American victory in the Middle East.

The United Arab Emirates are providing the U.S.-trained pilots, who will drop U.S. bombs from U.S. planes, so as to destroy Al Hudaydah, and thereby completely block any food from reaching the seven-to eight million food-stranded Houthi Shiites.

The New York Times report said, “Diplomats involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations say that the United Arab Emirates officially warned the British government on Friday that an attack on Al Hudaydah was imminent. The Emiratis said they would give three days for humanitarian workers and nongovernmental organizations to flee the city. The International Committee for the Red Cross removed its staff from the city over the weekend. … [The U.S. Secretary of State,] Mr. Pompeo said that in his conversation with the Emiratis he had made clear the United States’ ‘desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and lifesaving commercial imports,’ the statement said.”

On June 5th, Agence France Presse reported that, “More than 22 million people are now in serious need of aid, with 8.4 million on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations.”

So, while the U.S. has approved this operation, the U.S. also has a “desire” to be “preserving the free flow of” food, and this suggests that the U.S. Government intends that the blame for the expected genocide will fall only upon America’s fundamentalist-Sunni royal partners, who are expected to be running Yemen afterward. Whatever “concerns” for “preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and lifesaving commercial imports” that the U.S. might have had, will, no doubt, show up during the starvation-operation, which will follow the bombardment of Al Hudaydah.

This mission is clearly important to the Trump Administration. The New York Times report closes: “American military officials do not want Congress to prevent military aid to the two nations [UAE and Saudi Arabia], both of which are crucial allies in counterterrorism, nor do they want a vacuum of power in Yemen to result in a new incubator for extremist groups like the Islamic State [which group is fundamentalist-Sunni, like America’s allies, the monarchs in UAE and Saudi Arabia, are] and Al Qaeda [which also is fundamentalist-Sunni]. Diplomats in the region say they believe that only more pressure from Washington will stop the planned assault.” The U.S. has instead given its allies the go-ahead to proceed.

Trump had said, when he campaigned for the Presidency in 2016, that he had opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. However, no record existed confirming that that had been so. In any case, there has been no indication of anything like such sentiments from him since he became President, and all of the people whom he has appointed to diplomatic and military posts have been consistent supporters of American invasions, including of Iraq. But this time around, the U.S. is not providing any of the actual troops.

Thus far in his Presidency, Trump has sold to the royal family of Saudi Arabia $400 billion in U.S.-made weapons and training. Additional billions have been sold to UAE. So, the war in Yemen is profitable for American firms such as Lockheed Martin. And no American is likely to get the blame. Perhaps Trump has learned something, after all, from the experience of George W. Bush. Trump is aspiring to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, had won. (After winning that, Obama bombed Libya in 2011, but Obama’s Prize was never retracted.) Perhaps Trump has sound reason to be optimistic.

washingtonsblog.com

As the G-7 Implodes, SCO Meeting Confirms the New Century of Multipolarity – ByFederico PIERACCINI (STRATEGIC CULTURAL ORGANISATION)

As the G-7 Implodes, SCO Meeting Confirms the New Century of Multipolarity

The historical changes we are witnessing have never been so evident as in the last few days. The G7 summit highlighted the limits of the Atlantic alliance, while the SCO meeting opens up unprecedented possibilities for Eurasian integration.

At the G7 meeting in Canada in recent days, we witnessed unprecedented clashes between Trump and G7 leaders over the imposition of tariffs on trade. We must now conclude that the event has been relegated to irrelevance, as the G7 has heretofore derived its clout from speaking as one voice. Trump even went further, refusing to sign the final draft of the organization’s joint statement after Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau lashed out at Trump’s trade decisions. Trump showed how little he cares for his allies, leaving the summit a day early to arrive early for the meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore to make preparations for the long-awaited encounter between the two leaders.

In terms of geopolitical contrasts, it is easy to highlight the differences that have been seen between the G7 meeting and the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), held in China and, for the first time, including India and Pakistan as new members. While Putin and Xi met and exchanged praises and medals to celebrate the Sino-Russian strategic relationship as well as their personal friendship, Merkel and the various leaders of the G7 were in animated discussion with Trump over his “America first” policies hurting EU member states economically.

Returning for a moment to Trump’s escape from the G7 (also to avoid further clashes with his “allies”), it should be remembered that in this shifting puzzle of international relations, Assad was poised to meet with Kim Jong-un right on the eve of the US-DPRK summit. Whether or not the meeting between the leaders of Syria and the DPRK will go ahead, it nevertheless confirms the alliance between Pyongyang and Damascus, underlining how adversaries of the US still try to coordinate and manage between themselves their approaches to Washington’s policies of chaos.

Clearly both Putin and Xi have every interest in seeing Trump and Kim Jong-un reach an agreement. But at the same time, they are well aware of the situation in the Middle East and Iran that risks plunging the whole region into unprecedented chaos. Putin and Xi are clearly trying to manage the chaos emerging from Washington, as are Assad and Kim in their own own way. In this sense, the repeated aid of Russia and Iran to Qatar is part of a Sino-Russo-Iranian strategy to contain the chaos created by Washington, which has even extended to the Gulf states with the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. In this regard, even Berlin is beginning to be enticed by the opportunities for the European Union beckoning from the east, this temptation made stronger by the reality that the Atlanticist relationship is hurting Europe through the tariffs and penalties imposed on American geopolitical opponents like Iran.

European companies have suffered major economic losses as a result of Trump’s suspension of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with European companies facing US sanctions should they continue to do business with Iran. This is only the latest example of undue pressure being placed on the energy strategy of sovereign countries that are theoretically allied to the US. In the same way, the sanctions placed on the Nord Stream 2 project are further widening the cracks in the Atlantic alliance.

To understand the level of disorder within Europe, the North Atlantic and the Middle East, it is enough to consider the attack on Mohammed bin Salman almost two months ago, with Israel on the one hand boasting about agreements with Iran for a mutual abstention in the Daraa affaire and Trump finding nothing better to do than to break every alliance in sight through his commencement of a trade war.

It is clear that the old unipolar order no longer exists and that we now find ourselves in a multipolar situation, courtesy of the isolationist direction of the United States. This enables the further smoothening of existing divergence between nations in Asia, the Middle East and part of Europe.

Europe has the opportunity to use Trump’s “America First” policy as a pivot to expand its network of relationships and convergence of interests with more countries outside of the EU or NATO. For once, the EU could use the weapon of its union of many moderately powerful countries to increase its negotiating power with the United States.

But the reality is very different at the moment, with Europe being in the middle of an internal struggle that has been ongoing for some time now. The wave of new “populist” parties, both of the right and left, has served as a repository for an inevitable transfer of votes following the disasters of the unipolar period (1989-2014). This has also upset the previous balance of power within the European elites.

The root causes of this “populist” political change lie in the new multipolar world order that has had a ripple effect on the policies of individual European countries.

The neoliberal ideology, broadly acquiesced to by the “left”, has remained anchored to the diktat of the “old” unipolar world order, which saw Washington as the only hegemonic force.

What remains in the European political landscape seems to be divided into two streams. On the one side, there is a minority clearly eyeing a sort of neoconservatism 2.0, a sort of rehash of Reaganism. On the other side, there is a complete rejection of any of the faces currently participating in the political system.

For Europe it is a question of seeing what this new political phase will produce with regard to international issues like the sanctions against Russia and Iran. The behavior of European governments will give an idea of the extent to which they intend to obtain some sort of independence in conducting multipolar relations that are not necessarily linked to Washington.

In a sense, Berlin, London, Paris and Rome are now at the center of the concept of multipolar relationships. It is interesting to look at how strategists and newspaper editorialists in China and Russia look at what is going on in Europe, particular in Italy. While there is trust, there is also the awareness that there is still a European reluctance to favor development towards the East at the expense of relations with the US.

The take-home message that Trump seems to be giving Europeans is that it is pointless for them to remain as butlers who wait on Washington. We are living in a defining moment that will shape the the near-term future of vast areas of the world. There are many situations that are moving forward, bringing us closer to the moment where the West will either find common ground or splinter. Factors hitherto appearing unrelated are now serving to have different countries coalesce into a common destiny.

The summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un will lay the groundwork that will reveal whether Washington really wants to start talking or is only buying for time. Given the recent behavior and attitude of Trump and the political figures around him, the summit, like the foreign policy of Trump’s administration in general, becomes unpredictable and difficult to decipher. If there is one thing that unites the leaders of the G7, the SCO and Kim Jong-un, it is precisely the difficulty of relating to a declining world power and a leader who has no strategic vision; the common suffering stemming from an internal struggle within the United States to impose upon the world its antiquated and declining strategic vision.

IDF Videos Aimed Squarely at Spurring Arab-on-Arab Hate and Sectarianism – by Whitney Webb (MINT PRESS)

IDF Arabic media spokesman Avichay Adraee. 

The head of the IDF’s Arabic language media division has been making a series of videos hoping to undermine Arab support for Palestine and foment hate against Iran.

GAZA – A new video released by an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spokesman has unnerved many in the global Muslim community for its use of sectarian rhetoric and slurs targeting Shia Muslims that are often used by leaders of extremist Wahhabi terror groups.

The video, released on social media on Thursday and already with more than 20,000 views, shows IDF Major Avichay Adraee asserting that Palestinian resistance group Hamas is “imitating Iran’s mullahs” — thereby making the group “officially Shiites,” even though Hamas is nominally Sunni.

Adraee — fluent in Arabic, given his family’s Syrian roots — then expounded on the “dangers” of Shia Islam, the followers of which he referred to as “rafidha” — a derogatory slur frequently used by Wahhabi terror groups like Al Qaeda and Jaish al-Islam for any Muslim who does not follow their radical interpretation of the religion.

Indeed, Adraee directly quotes Muhammad ibn abd al-Wahhab, the founder of the political movement of Wahhabism, stating that Shiites are “more harmful to Islam than Jews and Christians,” as he seeks to convince his viewers that supporting “these corrupt ones” who “claim” to be Muslim – i.e. the region’s “resistance axis,” composed of secular and Shiite governments – is a rejection of Islam.

Adraee singled out Shiites in the video as a means of targeting Iran, a Shia-majority nation whose government is the archenemy of the Israeli state, largely due to its obstruction of Israeli expansionism and continued support for Palestine. Adraee makes this clear in the video by asserting that “Shia Iran’s” recognition of the Palestinian Nakba, known as “Al-Quds Day,” is a “bid’ah” or heresy invented by Iran’s government. This, again, is an appeal to Wahhabism, as Wahhabist doctrine holds that any attempts to “innovate” within Islam must be rejected completely.

While an IDF soldier quoting extremists like al-Wahhab may seem unusual, Adraee – head of the IDF’s Arabic-language media division – has been making videos of a similar nature for over a decade, many of which similarly accuse Hamas of “profaning” Islam. Though his videos are often the butt of jokes in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine, they seem to be aimed more at the global Sunni Muslim community. Indeed, Adraee boasts over 1.5 million followers on Facebook and Twitter and has found sympathetic ears in some Arab countries — such as Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabi Islam is the official religion.

As Adraee himself has hinted, his videos are aimed at robbing Palestinians of Arab support by seeking to foment sectarian hatred for Shiites. Adraee recently told Bloomberg:

The idea was that if there was a person who you could curse at or request something from, or who you knew, it would be much easier to connect through some kind of feeling, not necessarily love, it could also be hatred.”

By preaching anti-Shia sermons on social media, it is clear which feeling Adraee is seeking to promote through his videos.

 

A long history of colonial and post-colonial dividing and destabilizing

Adraee’s videos and their recent success is part of a long-standing effort, backed by Israel and select Western powers, to chip away at support for a Palestinian state among Sunni Arabs in the region. Such efforts have been more successful of late, with Saudi Arabian leadership recently chiding Palestinians for resisting Israel’s colonial ambitions amid warming ties between the Gulf kingdom and Israel.

Yet this strategy aimed at reducing regional support for Palestinians is based upon much older efforts seeking to divide and thereby weaken the entire Middle East. Indeed, Wahhabism itself was created by al-Wahhab at the behest of the British Empire, which sought to erode the Muslim community as a means of weakening the Ottoman Empire by breeding sectarianism and religious in-fighting.

That same century-old strategy is still used today with great effect. Indeed, the manipulation of sectarianism has been used by the United States to destabilize Iraq and, subsequently, to destabilize Syria. Israel has similarly sought to use sectarianism to its advantage by leveraging such divisions to push for the partition of surrounding Arab countries, in order to allow Israel to emerge as a regional superpower while Sunni and Shiite governments are constantly at each other’s throats.

Adraee’s latest video is not only part of that larger project, however. It also lays bare the roots of both Wahhabism and Zionism – intolerance and hate.

Top Photo | IDF Arabic media spokesman Avichay Adraee. Screenshot | YouTube

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Pompeo: US Will ‘Not Allow Iran to Develop a Nuclear Weapon’ – By SPUTNIK

A Ghadr-H missile, center, a solid-fuel surface-to-surface Sejjil missile and a portrait of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are displayed at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran

© AP Photo / Vahid Salemi

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States is monitoring media reports about Iran’s plans to build up its nuclear capacity, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“We’re watching reports that Iran plans to increase its enrichment capacity,” Pompeo wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “We won’t allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran is aware of our resolve.”

Iranian state media reported earlier in the day that the government has ordered to start operations to boost uranium enrichment in light of the recent US decision to re-impose sanctions on Tehran.

Pompeo called Iran’s actions another representation of Tehran’s “foolishly squandering its resources.” Therefore, protests in the country come as no surprise, the US secretary of state concluded.US President Donald Trump announced in May that the United States would pull out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump also decided to restore wide-ranging sanctions on Iran, including secondary sanctions against financial institutions of third countries doing business with Tehran.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group of countries — China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.The deal stipulated the gradual lifting of the anti-Iranian sanctions in exchange for Tehran maintaining the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

‘Either Russia is a sovereign country, or there is no Russia’ – Putin on relations with the West – By RT

‘Either Russia is a sovereign country, or there is no Russia’ – Putin on relations with the West
Sanctions, however harsh they may be, will not force Russia to abandon its independent stance in the world, President Vladimir Putin said, adding that Russians will never accept trade-offs at the expense of sovereignty.

Speaking to Chinese TV, Putin said that he believes the rounds of sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, its allies and the EU have only one goal – to hamper its economic development. He went on to stress that no amount of sanctions and punitive measures will ever be enough to make Russia cave in and change its policy.

“I believe that either Russia will be sovereign, or there will be no Russia at all. And, of course, the Russian people will always opt for the first. I think the Chinese people will too. We have no other option,” Putin said.

The Russian president argued that all attempts by the West to wreck the Russian economy will eventually backfire on those who followed the US’ lead in ‘punishing’ Russia.

“Those who followed the US lead, they themselves are beginning to suffer from what the United States is implementing with regards to these countries,” Putin said.

While Putin does not refer to anything in particular, it has been reported that the US government is mulling sanctioning European corporations that are engaged in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is expected to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to European consumers per year. 

Germany is one of the key beneficiaries of the project.

Ukraine-linked sanctions, introduced after Russia’s reunification with Crimea and an outbreak of civil conflict in eastern Ukraine, are taking their toll on European economies. Calls to lift the sanctions have been coming from several European capitals, including Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and the new Italian government. 

READ MORE: ‘We must respond to US tariffs, end sanctions on Russia’ – Austrian vice chancellor

Apart from Russia-related sanctions, the EU has been forced to deal with a steep increase in import tariffs on steel and aluminum, which were introduced by US President Donald Trump and took effect last week.

Noting that the countries that sided with Washington on Russia are now themselves starting to feel the burn, Putin said that he points it out not because he likes to rejoice at others’ misfortunes, but because it proves that sanctions are detrimental to all the parties, “including those who initiated them.”

Speaking on the chances that relations between the West and Russia, which are now hitting rock bottom, will improve, Putin said he hopes for “positive,” mutually beneficial ties.

“Eventually, I believe that we will manage to improve the relations one way or another.”

US Challenges Russia to Nuclear War – By Eric ZUESSE (Strategic Cultural Foundation)

US Challenges Russia to Nuclear War

Now that the United States (with the cooperation of its NATO partners) has turned the former Soviet Union’s states other than Russia into NATO allies, and has likewise turned the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact allies into America’s own military allies in NATO, the United States is finally turning the screws directly against Russia itself, by, in effect, challenging Russia to defend its ally Syria. The US is warning Syria’s Government that Syrian land, which is occupied by the US and by the anti-Government forces that the US protects in Syria, is no longer really Syria’s land. The US is saying that there will be direct war between Syria’s armed forces and America’s armed forces if Syria tries to restore its control over that land. Tacitly, America’s message in this to Moscow is: now is the time for you to quit defending Syria’s Government, because, if you don’t — if you come to Syria’s defense as Syria tries to kill those occupying forces (including the US troops and advisors who are occupying Syria) — then you (Russia) will be at war against the United States, even though the US is clearly the invader, and Russia (as Syria’s ally) is clearly the defender.

Peter Korzun, my colleague at the Strategic Culture Foundation, headlined on May 29th“US State Department Tells Syria What It Can and Can’t Do on Its Own Soil” and he opened:

“The US State Department has warned Syria against launching an offensive against terrorist positions in southern Syria. The statement claims that the American military will respond if Syrian forces launch an operation aimed at restoring the legitimate government’s control over the rebel-held areas, including the territory in southwestern Syria between Daraa and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Washington is issuing orders to a nation whose leadership never invited America in the first place! The very idea that another country would tell the internationally recognized Syrian government that it cannot take steps to establish control over parts of its own national territory is odd and preposterous by any measure.”

The pro-Government side calls those “terrorist positions,” but the US-and-allied side, the invaders, call them “freedom fighters” (even though the US side has long been led by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and has increasingly been relying upon anti-Arabic Kurds). But whatever they are, the United States has no legal authority to tell Syria’s Government what to do or not do on Syrian land.

Russia’s basic position, at least ever since Vladimir Putin came into power in 2000, is that every nation’s sovereignty over its own land is the essential foundation-stone upon which democracy has even a possibility to exist — without that, a land cannot even possibly be a democracy. The US Government is now directly challenging that basic principle, and moreover is doing so over parts of the sovereign territory of Syria, an ally of Russia, which largely depends upon Russia to help it defeat the tens of thousands of invading and occupying forces.

If Russia allows the US to take over — either directly or via the US Government’s Al Qaeda-linked or its anti-Arab Kurdish proxy forces — portions of Syrian territory, then Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, will be seen as being today’s version of Britain’s leader Neville Chamberlain, famous, as Wikipedia puts it, for “his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany.”

So: Putin will now be faced with either knuckling under now, or else standing on basic international democratic principles, especially the principle that each nation’s sovereignty is sacrosanct and is the sole foundation upon which democracy is even possible to exist or to evolve into being.

However, this matter is far from being the only way in which the US Government now is challenging Russia to World War III. On May 30th, the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak bannered “US trains armed groups at Tanf base for new terror corridor” and reported that:

New terror organizations are being established by the US at the Tanf military base in southern Syria that is run by Washington, where a number of armed groups are being trained in order to be used as a pretext to justify US presence in the war-torn country. …

Military training is being conducted for “moderate” opposition groups in al-Tanf, where both the US and UK have bases.

These groups are made up of structures that have been established through US financing and have not been accepted under the umbrella of opposition groups approved by Turkey and the FSA.

From Deir Ezzor to Haifa

Claiming to be “training the opposition” in Tanf, the US is training operation militants under perception of being “at an equal distance to all groups.”

Apart from the so-called opposition that is linked to al-Qaeda, Daesh [ISIS] terrorists brought from Raqqa, western Deir Ezzor and the Golan Heights are being trained in the Tanf camp. …

The plan is to transport Iraqi oil to the Haifa [Israel] Port on the Mediterranean through Deir Ezzor and Tanf.

Actually, Deir Ezzor is also the capital of Syria’s own oil-producing region, and so this action by the United States is more than about merely a transit-route for Iraq’s oil to reach Israel; it is also (and very much) about America attempting theft of oil from Syrian land.

Furthermore, on May 23rd, Joe Gould at Defense News headlined “House rejects limit on new nuclear warhead” and he reported that the US House, in fulfillment of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which seeks to lower the threshold for nuclear war so as to expand the types of circumstances in which the US will “go nuclear,” rejected, by a vote of 226 to 188, a Democratic Party supported measure opposing lowering of the nuclear threshold. President Trump wants to be allowed to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons in a conflict. The new, smaller, nuclear warheads, a “W76-2 variant,” have 43% the yield of the bomb that the US dropped on Hiroshima, but it’s called a ‘tactical nuclear weapon’ meaning that it is supposedly intended for use in ‘conventional’ wars, so that it is actually designed to eliminate altogether the previous meta-strategic principle, of “Mutually Assured Destruction” pertaining to nuclear war (that nuclear weapons are justifiable only in order to prevent another World War, never in order to win such a war) that successfully prevented nuclear war till now — that once a side has introduced nuclear weapons into a military conflict, it has started a nuclear war and is challenging any opponent to either go nuclear itself or else surrender — America’s new meta-strategic doctrine (since 2006) is “Nuclear Primacy”: winning a nuclear war. (See this and this.)

US President Trump is now pushing to the limit, presumably in the confident expectation that as the US President, he can safely grab any territory he wishes, and steal any oil or other natural resource that he wishes, anywhere he wants — regardless of what the Russian Government, or anyone else, thinks or wants.

Though his words often contradict that, this is now clearly what he is, in fact, doing (or trying to do), and the current US House of Representatives, at least, is saying yes to this, as constituting American values and policies, now.

Trump — not in words but in facts — is “betting the house” on this.

Moreover, as I headlined on May 26th at Strategic Culture, “Credible Report Alleges US Relocates ISIS from Syria and Iraq into Russia via Afghanistan.” Trump is apparently trying to use these terrorists as — again like the US used them in Afghanistan in order to weaken the Soviet Union — so as to weaken Russia, but this time is even trying to infiltrate them into Russia itself.

Even Adolf Hitler, prior to WWII, didn’t lunge for Britain’s jugular. It’s difficult to think of a nation’s leader who has been this bold. I confess that I can’t.

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Singer-songwriter Roger Waters calls for defence of Assange By WSWS

By our reporters
4 June 2018

The above message was displayed above the stage of musician Roger Waters’ “Us + Them 2018” concert in Berlin, Germany on June 2.

Roger Waters was part of the iconic rock band Pink Floyd from 1965 to 1985. For the past 33 years, he has continued a solo career, which has included staging the largest live concert event in history.

Throughout his long career, singer-songwriter Waters has spoken out publicly against war, oppression and injustice.

He emailed the World Socialist Web Site last month to convey his support for international action to defend Julian Assange.

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