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

September 14, 16:57 UTC+3

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

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

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

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

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

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

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

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http://tass.com/politics/1021676

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

Tragedy with Il-20 over Latakia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOMS:

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

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

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

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

___________________________________________

LATAKIA:

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

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

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

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

(Photo:  French Navy)

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

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

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

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

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

Syrian-Russian victory Only way to avenge Israeli-French strikes – By Tony Cartalucci Near Eastern Outlook – SOTT

Russian II-20 reconnaissance aircraft

Western and Russian media sources have reported an alleged joint Israeli-French strike on Syria on September 17. The attack included Israeli warplanes and French missile frigates operating in the Mediterranean off Syria’s coast. Amid the attack, a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft with 14 service members aboard disappeared.

The attack immediately prompted commentators, analysts, and pundits to call for an immediate retaliation to the unprovoked military aggression, warning that a failure to react would leave Russia looking weak. Some commentators even called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to step down.

Not the First Provocation

Yet the attack is reminiscent of the 2015 Turkish downing of a Russian warplane – after which similar calls for retaliation were made, coupled with similar condemnations of Russia as “weak.” And since 2015, Russia’s patient and methodical approach to aiding Syria in its proxy war with the US-NATO-GCC and Israel has nonetheless paid off huge dividends.

Russia would later aid Syria in retaking the northern city of Aleppo. Palmyra would be retaken from the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) – Homs, Hama, Eastern Ghouta, and the southern city of Daraa would also be retaken – leaving virtually everything west of the Euphrates River under the control of Damascus.

In fact, the near precipice of total victory was achieved by Russia and its allies ignoring serial provocations carried out by the US-NATO-GCC and Israel, and simply focusing on the task of systematically restoring security and stability to the conflict-ridden nation.

Russian-backed Syrian forces are now staged at the edge of Idlib. So far tilted has the balance of power tipped in Damascus’ favor that even Turkey has found itself seeking negotiations with Russia over the last remaining territory still held by the West’s proxy forces.

The Reality of Western Provocations

Syria and its allies were winning the proxy war for the nation’s future before Israel and France attacked, and they are still winning the proxy war in the aftermath of the joint strike. Syria has weathered hundreds of such attacks – big and small – throughout the past 7 years.

Israeli warplanes have been operating at a distance, using standoff weapons. French missiles launched from frigates also constitute a standoff strategy, avoiding the risk of overflying Syrian territory and being targeted or shot down by Syrian air defenses.

Modern warfare doctrine admits that no war can be won with air power alone. This means that a nation flying sorties over a targeted nation cannot achieve victory without ground forces coordinating with air power from below. If air power alone over a nation makes it impossible to achieve victory, standoff air power makes victory even more futile.

But there is another possible motive behind the West’s serial attacks. Modern electronic warfare includes the detection and countering of air defense systems. Each time an air defense system is activated, its position and characteristics can be ascertained. Even if air defense systems are mobile, the information they provide during a provocation while attempting to detect and fire at targets is invaluable to military planning.

Should Russia engage its most sophisticated air defense systems during provocations, affording the West a complete picture of both its technology in general and the disposition of its defenses in Syria specifically, should the West decide to launch a knock-out blow through a full-scale air assault, it could do so much more effectively.

This is precisely what the US did in 1990 during Operation Desert Storm when taking on Iraq’s formidable air defenses. The initial air campaign was preceded by the use of some 40 BQM-74C target drones used to trick Iraqi air defenses into turning on their equipment which was being monitored by US electronic warfare aircraft flying along the Iraqi-Saudi border. It was the disclosure of the disposition and characteristics of Iraq’s anti-aircraft systems more than any sort of “stealth” technology that allowed the US to then overwhelm Iraqi air defenses.

Considering that hundreds of provocations have been launched against Syria, we can assume that somewhere among them, serious attempts at electronic surveillance and reconnaissance have taken place. We can also assume that competent Russian military leadership has been aware of this and has taken measures to safeguard the disposition and capabilities of its premier air defense systems until it is absolutely essential to reveal them.

The Best Revenge Will Be Victory Over NATO

Downed Syrian and Russian aircraft, or casualties inflicted upon Syrian forces and their allies on the battlefield are difficult as human beings to watch without stirring desires for immediate revenge. Yet it must be kept in mind that immediate revenge rarely serves well long-term strategies toward victory.
Ancient Chinese warlord and strategist Sun Tzu in his timeless treatise, “The Art of War,” would warn contemporary and future generals about the dangers of caving to emotions at the expense of sound strategy. He would state (emphasis added):

Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.

No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.

If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.

Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.

But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.

It is not to Russia’s advantage to sink French frigates or expose the full capabilities of its air defense systems to shoot down a handful of Israeli warplanes to satisfy public desires for immediate revenge or to protect nonexistent notions of Russian invincibility.

Instead, it is to Russia’s advantage to simply win the proxy war in Syria. Just as in 2015 when calls for immediate revenge were made regarding a Turkish-downed Russian warplane, Syria, Russia, and Iran will continue moving forward – slowly and methodically – to secure Syrian territory from foreign proxies seeking to divide and destroy the country, springboard into Iran, and eventually work their way into southern Russia.

Avenging serial provocations is infinitesimally less important than overall victory in Syria. The fate of Syria as a nation, Iran’s security and stability as a result, and even Russia’s own self-preservation is on the line. The awesome responsibility of those who have planned and executed Syria’s incremental victory over proxy forces backed by the largest, most powerful economies and military forces on Earth could greatly benefit from a public able to understand the difference between short-term gratification and long-term success and how the former almost certainly and recklessly endangers the latter.

The greatest possible “revenge” to exact upon those who inflicted this war upon the Syrian people, is their absolute and total defeat.

Comment: See also:

Target Syria Will a new war be the October Surprise? – By Philip Giraldi – THE UNZ REPORT

BlogviewPhilip Giraldi Archive

Syrian Army

It’s official. The Syrian Army assisted by Russian air support is closing in on the last major pocket of terrorists remaining in the country in the province of Idlib near Aleppo. The United States, which has trained and armed some of the trapped gunmen and even as recently as a year ago described the province as “al-Qaeda’s largest safe haven since 9/11,” has perhaps predictably warned Syria off. The White House initially threatened a harsh reaction if the Bashar al-Assad government were to employ any chemical weapons in its final attack, setting the stage for the terrorists themselves to carry out a false flag operation blamed on Damascus that would bring with it a brutal response against the regime and its armed forces by the U.S., Britain and France.

In support of the claims relating to chemical weapons use, the Trump Administration, which is itself illegally occupying part of Syria, is as usual creating a bogus casus belli. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a news conference that “This is a tragic situation, and if they [Russia and Iran] want to continue to go the route of taking over Syria, they can do that. But they cannot do it with chemical weapons. They can’t do it assaulting their people and we’re not going to fall for it. If there are chemical weapons that are used, we know exactly who’s going to use them.” As with all Haley commentary, the appropriate response should be expressing wonderment at her ability to predict who will do something before it occurs followed by “Not quite Nikki.” She should familiarize herself with her own State Department’s travel warning on Syria which states explicitly that “tactics of ISIS, [al-Qaeda affiliate in Idlib] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and other violent extremist groups include the use of…chemical weapons.”

Setting the stage for a false flag provoked attack on a country that does not threaten the United States was bad enough, but now Washington has apparently hardened its line, indicating that any use of the Syrian Army to clear the province of rebels will “…not be tolerated. Period.” Haley again spoke out at the United Nations, saying “…an offensive against Idlib would be a reckless escalation. The regime and its backers must stop their military campaign in all its forms.” In support of its inflexible stance, the White House has been citing the presence of a large civilian population also trapped in the pocket even though there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone in Washington actually cares about Syrian civilian casualties.

And there is always Iran just waiting to get kicked around, when all else fails. Haley, always blissfully ignorant but never quiet, commented while preparing to take over the presidency of the U.N. Security Council last Friday, that Russia and Syria “want to bomb schools, hospitals, and homes” before launching into a tirade about Iran, saying that “President Trump is very adamant that we have to start making sure that Iran is falling in line with international order. If you continue to look at the spread Iran has had in supporting terrorism, if you continue to look at the ballistic missile testing that they are doing, if you continue to look at the sales of weapons we see with the Huthis in Yemen — these are all violations of security council resolution. These are all threats to the region, and these are all things that the international community needs to talk about.”

And there is the usual hypocrisy over long term objectives. President Donald Trump said in April that “it’s time” to bring American troops home from Syria -once the jihadists of Islamic State have been definitively defeated. But now that that objective is in sight, there has to be some question about who is actually determining the policies that come out of the White House, which is reported to be in more than usual disarray due to the appearance last week of the New York Times anonymous op-ed describing a “resistance” movement within the West Wing that has been deliberately undermining and sometimes ignoring the president to further Establishment/Deep State friendly policies. The op-ed, perhaps by no coincidence whatsoever, appeared one week before the release of the new book by Bob Woodward Fear: Trump in the White House, which has a similar tale to tell and came out on Amazon today.

The book and op-ed mesh nicely in describing how Donald Trump is a walking disaster who is deliberately circumvented by his staff. One section of the op-ed is particularly telling and suggestive of neocon foreign policy, describing how the White House staff has succeeded in “[calling out] countries like Russia…for meddling and [having them] punished accordingly” in spite of the president’s desire for détente. It then goes on to elaborate on Russia and Trump, describing how “…the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But the national security team knew better – such actions had to be taken to hold Moscow accountable.”

If the op-ed and Woodward book are in any way accurate, one has to ask “Whose policy? An elected president or a cabal of disgruntled staffers who might well identify as neoconservatives?” Be that as it may, the White House is desperately pushing back while at the same time searching for the traitor, which suggests to many in Washington that it will right the sinking ship prior to November elections by the time honored and approved method used by politicians worldwide, which means starting a war to rally the nation behind the government.

As North Korea is nuclear armed, the obvious targets for a new or upgraded war would be Iran and Syria. As Iran might actually fight back effectively and the Pentagon always prefers an enemy that is easy to defeat, one suspects that some kind of expansion of the current effort in Syria would be preferable. It would be desirable, one presumes, to avoid an open conflict with Russia, which would be unpredictable, but an attack on Syrian government forces that would produce a quick result which could plausibly be described as a victory would certainly be worth considering.

By all appearances, the preparation of the public for an attack on Syria is already well underway. The mainstream media has been deluged with descriptions of tyrant Bashar al-Assad, who allegedly has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people. The rhetoric coming out of the usual government sources is remarkable for its truculence, particularly when one considers that Damascus is trying to regain control over what is indisputably its own sovereign territory from groups that everyone agrees are at least in large part terrorists.

Last week, the Trump White House approved the new U.S. plan for Syria, which, unlike the old plan of withdrawal, envisions something like a permanent presence in the country. It includes a continued occupation of the country’s northeast, which is the Kurdish region; forcing Iran plus its proxies including Hezbollah to leave the country completely; and continued pressure on Damascus to bring about regime change.

Washington has also shifted its perception of who is trapped in Idlib, with newly appointed U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey arguing that “. . . they’re not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator.” Jeffrey, it should be noted, was pulled out of retirement where he was a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spin off. On his recent trip to the Middle East he stopped off in Israel nine days ago to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The change in policy, which is totally in line with Israeli demands, would suggest that Jeffrey received his instructions during the visit.

Israel is indeed upping its involvement in Syria. It has bombed the country 200 times in the past 18 months and is now threatening to extend the war by attacking Iranians in neighboring Iraq. It has also been providing arms to the terrorist groups operating inside Syria.

And Netanyahu also appears to be preparing his followers for a bit of bloodshed. In a recent ceremony, he boasted that “the weak are slaughtered” while “the strong” survive — “for good or ill.” Commentators in Israel noted that the words were very close to those used by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf in a chapter describing the historical inevitability of domination by the Aryan race. They also observed that Netanyahu, like Trump, also needs a war to free himself from his legal problems.

Taking the president, the U.N. Ambassador, the Israeli Prime Minister and the U.S. Special Representative for Syria at their words, it would appear that the Washington Establishment and its Israeli manipulators have narrowed the options for dealing with Syria and its regional supporter Iran to either war or war. Add to that the closing time window for doing something to ameliorate the Trump Administration’s panic over the impending midterm election, and it would seem that there is a certain inevitability regarding the process whereby the United States military will again be on the march in the Middle East.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

 

US Biological Warfare Program in the Spotlight Again – By PETER KORZUN – Strategic Culture Foundation

US Biological Warfare Program in the Spotlight Again
Peter KORZUN | 13.09.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

This is a scoop to bring the US biological warfare effort back into the spotlight. On Sept. 11, Russian media reported that the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research laboratory, a research facility for high-level biohazard agents located near Tbilisi, Georgia, has used human beings for conducting biological experiments.

Former Minister of State Security of Georgia Igor Giorgadze said about it during a news conference in Moscow, urging US President Donald Trump to launch an investigation. He has lists of Georgians who died of hepatitis after undergoing treatment in the facility in 2015 and 2016. Many passed away on the same day. The declassified documents contain neither the indication of the causes of deaths nor real names of the deceased. According to him, the secret lab run by the US military was established during the tenure of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. The viruses could spread to neighboring countries, including Russia, Igor Giorgadze warned.

The laboratory’s work is tightly under wraps. Only US personnel with security clearance have access to it. These people are accorded diplomatic immunity under the 2002 US-Georgia Agreement on defense cooperation.

Eurasia Review reported that in 2014 the Lugar Center was equipped with a special plant for breeding insects to enable launching the Sand Fly project in Georgia and the Caucasus. In 2014-2015 years, the bites of sand flies such as Phlebotomins caused a fever. According to the source, “today the Pentagon has a great interest to the study of Tularemia, also known as the fever of rabbits, which is also equated with biological weapons. Distributors of such a disease can be mites and rodents”.

It makes remember the statement made by Nikolai Patrushev, Head of Russia’s Security Council, in 2015. He warned about the threat stemming from biological weapons laboratories that operate on the territories of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). He specifically mentioned the Richard G. Lugar Center in Georgia.

The US has bio laboratories in 25 countries across the world, including the post-Soviet space. They are funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Foreign inspectors are denied access to them. It should be noted that independent journalist investigations have been made public to confirm the fact that the US military conducts secret research to pose a threat to environment and population. Jeffrey Silverman, an American journalist who has lived in Georgia for many years, is sure the Richard Lugar Center, as well as other labs, is involved in secret activities to create biological weapons. Georgia and Ukraine have been recently hit by mysterious disease outbreaks, with livestock killed and human lives endangered. The US military operates the Central Reference Laboratory in Kazakhstan since 2016. There have public protests against the facility.

In 2013 a Chinese Air Force Colonel Dai Xu accused the US government of creating a new strain of bird flu now afflicting parts of China as a biological warfare attack. According to him, the American military released the H7N9 bird flu virus into China in an act of biological warfare. It has been reported that the source of Ebola virus in West Africa were US bio-warfare labs.

Russian experts do not exclude the possibility of using a stink-bug by the US military as a biological weapon. A couple of years ago, mosquitoes with Zika virus have been spotted in Russia and South Ossetia to cause outbreaks of human and animal flu.

The US activities violate the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), a legally binding treaty that outlaws biological arms. It effectively prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, retention, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons and is a key element in the international community’s efforts to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In force since 1975, the convention has 181 states-parties today. The BWC reaffirms the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the biological weapons use. In 1969, US President Richard Nixon formally ended all offensive aspects of the US biological warfare program. In 1975, the US ratified both the 1925 Geneva Protocol and the BWC.

Negotiations on an internationally binding verification protocol, which would include on-site inspections by an independent authority to the BWC, took place between 1995 and 2001. The US did not sign up. Its refusal to become a party to the verification mechanisms makes any attempt to enhance the effectiveness of the BWC doomed. A Review Conference is held every five years to discuss the convention’s operation and implementation. The last one, which convened in November 2016, was a frustration with minimal agreement on the final document and no substantive program of work to do before the next event takes place in 2021. There is little hope the BWC will ever be strengthened to have teeth. With no verification mechanism, the US military bio-warfare labs will always be a matter of concern. The issue is serious enough to be included into global security architecture. The UN General Assembly is the right place to raise it. Its 73rd session will open on September 18. 

The Real Problem For Syria’s Idlib Offensive is Turkey -By Andrés Perezalonso- Sott.net -SOTT

Noor i Alaa na prosvjedima protiv antiterorističke kampanje u Idlibu

© Twitter

After liberating the region of Daraa and the border with the Golan Heights in the south-west of the country, the Syrian Army has turned its attention to the northern province of Idlib, the last stronghold of ‘rebels’ – these ones backed by Turkey – and Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups. The ‘Battle for Idlib’ has been expected for weeks – yet against all talk of a build-up of troops, and the alarmist declarations of Western powers, the offensive may take some time to begin. When it does, it may more resemble a careful, patient and strategic hunt rather than ‘shock-and-awe’.

The Independent‘s Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk is, as far as we know, the first and only Western journalist to have assessed the situation from the front-line of Idlib. Rather than witnessing the 100,000 Syrian soldiers said to be amassing for the assault, he came across a contingent of some 200 Syrian soldiers with no armored vehicles or heavy weaponry. Not much else out of the ordinary was to be seen that would indicate that the storming of Idlib was imminent. Only preparatory Russian and Syrian airstrikes targeting jihadi positions between Hama and Idlib have been reported.

It was to be expected that the attack would not begin before presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey met in Teheran on the 7th of September to discuss a common strategy for Syria. Before and after the meeting, the government of Turkey echoed the West’s opposition to the offensive in the name of avoiding civilian casualties. This is of course a hypocritical narrative, as the US showed no such concern when leveling Raqqa last year with the help of Kurdish militias; and Turkey is illegally occupying the northern area of Syria around Afrin, and has a vested interest in protecting Jabhat al-Wataniya al-Tahrir (aka the National Front for Liberation), a ‘rebel’ coalition it created and which controls about half of the territory of Idlib (the other half is in the hands of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the latest incarnation of Al-Qaeda-in-Syria).

military map northern Syria Idlib

© Suriye Gundemi
Military situation in northern Syria: September 2018

For a high resolution image of the map above, see here.

Turkey’s original reason for stepping into Syria was to drive Kurdish militias away from its borders. While this has worked so far, it has also had interesting consequences. One is that Turkey has placed the US forces in the northeast of Syria in a difficult position by being unable to defend their Kurdish proxies against a fellow NATO member. Another is that the Kurds and the central Syrian government have found common cause, besides defeating ISIS, in ridding the north of Turkish forces. What both of these effects have in common is that they obstruct America’s infamous ‘Plan B‘ of slicing a Kurdistan out of Syria in order to turn it into a US/Israel client state.

Turkey, Russia and Iran are joining forces in regards to certain key issues apart from Syria – for example, in ditching the dollar for their commercial transactions. While Syria is determined to recover the entirety of its territory, it naturally does not need a direct confrontation with Turkey. Therefore, if there is no hurry to start the ‘Battle of Idlib’, it is probably because Russia, Syria and Iran are attempting to reach a compromise with Turkey.

As they buy time, the liberators of Syria will be especially interested in avoiding any inconvenient escalations that disturb the process of reconciliation. This would explain in part why Russia has been insisting so much that the threats of US and European officials – John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley among others – to retaliate against Syria if it uses chemical weapons, will be met with a false-flag provocation organized by terrorist groups and the White Helmets in Idlib, as they did earlier this year in Douma. As I write this, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria has announced that the White Helmets have shot nine videos of a staged chemical attack in the town of Jisr al-Shughur. Russia has warned against such tricks in the past, but the amount of detail about the nature and timing provided on this occasion seems to be intended to discourage or postpone their publication by preemptively destroying their credibility, therefore disrupting a US/UK/French aggression on Syrian forces.

If and when ‘F.UK.US’ perform airstrikes against Syria, we will most likely see a repeat of the limp display we saw back in April, although the possibility of escalation is ever-present. Still, at this point in time what Turkey does next is more critical to the end of the Syrian war than anything American and European forces could do.

Unfortunately, Turkey is not making things easy for itself or its neighbors. The following video, dated September 11th, shows Turkish military convoys purportedly building up their forces inside Idlib and Aleppo.

By supporting terrorist groups in Syria, Erdogan has made a deal with the devil and will now have to pay the price. Sooner or later, either by force or diplomacy, Turkish forces will have to leave Syria. But when that happens, what will become of the remnants of the soon-to-be destroyed Jabhat al-Wataniya al-Tahrir and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham? What of the refugees? Will they cross the border into Turkey, even if it is without its consent? And once there, what will they do? It’s entirely possible that Turkey is being blackmailed by the USA and its Gulf allies: if it refuses to side with their agenda, it may find itself overrun by jihadis, just like Syria. Perhaps by now Erdogan has understood that helping to set your neighbor’s house on fire carries the risk of burning down your own.

Syrian rebel threatens Erdogan against ‘selling Idlib’

A militant from an unspecified group stationed in Idlib has issued a threat to Turkish President Recep Tayyip, warning that militants in northwestern Syria have dug a tunnel stretching into Turkey’s Hatay province.

He went on to explain that in the event of Erdogan “selling Idlib”, militants will use the tunnel to cross into Turkey, to potentially carry out attacks against civilians and security forces.

“Reyhanli [a town in Hatay province] is behind me. As you know, us [militants] from Ghouta are good at digging and since you’ve built a 960-kilometer border barrier… We want to tell you: if you sell Idlib or other opposition-held areas, we’re going to buy Reyhanli from you. I won’t give you more details, but this is your warning,” the militant said in video footage circulating on social media.

The video was published just days after a trilateral summit in Tehran, attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian and Turkish counterparts, to discuss the situation in Idlib, ahead of the Syrian Army’s impending offensive.

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Andrés Perezalonso

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

Idlib offensive – Why is Turkey freaking out? – By Salman Rafi Sheikh – New Eastern Outlook – SOTT

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Turkish soldiers

It seems like yesterday that Turkey, a participant in both the Astana and Sochi peace processes, carried out its own operation in Idlib to shore up the internationally brokered ‘deescalation zone.’ This operation, apart from paving the way for creating a supposed deescalation zone, also allowed Turkey to entrench its military in Syria, becoming a major regional player that would enjoy the ability to shape the Syrian end-game, and retain both a military presence and influence in Syria in any post-war scenario. While Russia and Iran agreed to Turkey’s presence in Syria in exchange for having Turkey’s support for a Russian-Iranian plan for Syria that didn’t involve Assad’s removal from power as a precondition, Turkey’s current opposition to a full-scale offensive by Syrian forces in Idlib signals that the understanding reached by the three nations might begin unraveling.

While Turkey claims that the operation in Idlib will result in a massive loss of human life, a fact that no one can deny, this reasoning alone does not explain Turkey’s rigid opposition to this step.

The actual underlying reason for Turkey’s change of heart is the fear of losing its own grip on Syria. A Syrian offensive, supported as it will be by Russian and Iranian forces, will mean a more international military presence in Syria, leaving Turkey in a precarious position vis-à-vis its ability to have the final say in matters, while enabling Ankara to keep a watchful eye on the Kurdish militia. Also, if a joint Syrian, Russian and Iranian offensive comes, it may also involve a potential withdrawal of Turkish troops from Idlib; otherwise there will be a real chance of Turkish troops being caught in the crossfire. This withdrawal as Turkey’s leadership seems to believe, may result in the elimination of Ankara from being a deciding factor as the conflict nears its conclusion, and prevent Turkey from influencing events on the ground.

A Syrian offensive in Idlib would also open up the possibility for further Syrian military infiltration into Turkey-controlled regions of Syria, such as Afrin and al-Bab.

On top of this fear is the fact that Kurdish militias are beginning to join with Syrian forces in what seems to be the last bloody battle in Idlib. Therefore, Kurdish ambitions in Syria’s north and northwest means that Turkey’s interests will be at serious risk, and, as Turkey believes, may result in their desire to establish their sovereign state. Let’s not forget that part of the reason for why Turkey had initiated its own military operation in Afrin was to prevent the US from creating a permanent Kurdish-led border force in northeast Syria.

Therefore, while a Turkish offensive in Afrin had led to a Kurdish exit, a Syrian offensive in Idlib has again made it possible for the Kurds to regain their lost territory. Turkey, of course, can’t see allowing this to happen; hence, its opposition to any Syrian offensive in Idlib, especially one involving Kurds as potential allies and possibly leading to the expulsion of Turkish forces from Syria.

Even if an exit doesn’t take place, the fact that a Syrian offensive will bring the Idlib Governorate under direct control by Damascus means Turkey would lose all grounds made in establishing its military presence and its build up of “rebel” forces there.

The Syrian government, for its part, has already shown enough flexibility to maintain Kurds as partners. “The solution to the problem now is for the Kurdish groups dealing with America to turn their backs on this and turn to the Syrian state,” said Syria’s Reconciliation Minister, Ali Haidar.

And, as of very recently, Kurdish militias have been in talks with the Syrian government regarding the future political set up of Syria and the nature of the state system. Elham Ahmad, co-chairman of the Syria Democratic Council, the Kurdish militias’ political wing, recently confirmed talks with the Syrian government and also highlighted what they were seeking to achieve. “What we care about is the reality of things, not the terminology. Whether the regime wants to name it decentralization, federalism, or a confederation, we do not care as long as it is the self-administrative power that we want and deserve”, she said.

A potential political agreement between the Syrian government and Kurds, therefore, means after all the efforts Ankara has made to corner the Kurds, the tide may once again be turned against it.

But can Turkey really change the equation by just opposing the operation? As it stands, despite certain disagreements voiced in Tehran over the Idlib offensive, air strikes have already begun. Also, Turkey is crippled by the fact that its relations with the US are at an all-time low, meaning that Turkey will have potentially no means of influencing the situation by pulling its former allies closer.

And, while its opposition to any offensive in Syria will only aggravate its relations with Syria, Russia and Iran, a negotiated agreement might still help it protect its interests in a much better way. On the contrary, mere opposition to Syria’s bid to re-establish its legitimate control over its own territory will only alienate Ankara from its new allies in the face of Syria, Russia and Iran, who are obviously planning a quick retake of all Syrian territories so that the Assad government can launch a transition to peace and stability in Syria, followed by major reconstruction.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“.

Comment: With the Syrian Army continuing to amass troops and military hardware in southern Idlib, militants occupying the province are seemingly beginning to panic, warning Ankara against giving Damascus the greenlight to launch its long-awaited offensive in northwestern Syria.

A militant from an unspecified group stationed in Idlib has issued a threat to Turkish President Recep Tayyip, warning that militants in northwestern Syria have dug a tunnel stretching into Turkey’s Hatay province.

He went on to explain that in the event of Erdogan “selling Idlib”, militants will use the tunnel to cross into Turkey, to potentially carry out attacks against civilians and security forces.

“Reyhanli [a town in Hatay province] is behind me. As you know, us [militants] from Ghouta are good are digging and since you’ve built a 960-kilometer border barrier… We want to tell you: if you sell Idlib or other opposition-held areas, we’re going to buy Reyhanli from you. I won’t give you more details, but this is your warning,” the militant said in video footage circulating on social media.

The video was published just days after a trilateral summit in Tehran, attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian and Turkish counterparts, to discuss the situation in Idlib, ahead of the Syrian Army’s impending offensive.

See also:

How BRICS Plus clashes with the US economic war on Iran = By Pepe ESCOBAR (THE SAKER)

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by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

Rhetorical war has far-reaching consequences, including a potential economic slump via the disruption of global oil supplies

The key take away from the BRICS summit in Johannesburg is that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – important Global South players – strongly condemn unilateralism and protectionism.

The Johannesburg Declaration is unmistakable: “We recognize that the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges. We underscore the importance of an open world economy.”

Closer examination of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech unlocks some poignant details.

Xi, crucially, emphasizes delving further into “our strategic partnership.” That implies increased BRICS and Beyond BRICS multilateral trade, investment and economic and financial connectivity.

And that also implies reaching to the next level; “It is important that we continue to pursue innovation-driven development and build the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) to strengthen coordination on macroeconomic policies, find more complementarities in our development strategies, and reinforce the competitiveness of the BRICS countries, emerging market economies and developing countries.”

If PartNIR sounds like the basis for an overall Global South platform, that’s because it is.

In a not too veiled allusion to the Trump administration’s unilateral pullout from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), Xi called all parties to “abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations and to settle disputes through dialogue and differences through consultation,” adding that the BRICS are inevitably working for “a new type of international relations.”

Relations such as these certainly do not include a superpower unilaterally imposing an energy export blockade – an act of economic war – on an emerging market and key actor of the Global South.

Xi is keen to extol a “network of closer partnerships.” That’s where the concept of BRICS Plus fits in. China coined BRICS Plus last year at the Xiamen summit, it refers to closer integration between the five BRICS members and other emerging markets/developing nations.

Argentina, Turkey and Jamaica are guests of honor in Johannesburg. Xi sees BRICS Plus interacting with the UN, the G20 “and other frameworks” to amplify the margin of maneuver not only of emerging markets but the whole Global South. 

So how does Iran fit into this framework?

An absurd game of chicken

Immediately after President Trump’s Tweet of Mass Destruction the rhetorical war between Washington and Tehran has skyrocketed to extremely dangerous levels.

Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force – and a true rock star in Iran – issued a blistering response to Trump: “You may begin the war, but it is us who will end it.”

The IRGC yields massive economic power in Iran and is in total symbiosis with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. It’s no secret the IRGC never trusted President Rouhani’s strategy of relying on the JCPOA as the path to improve Iran’s economy. After the unilateral Trump administration pullout, the IRGC feels totally vindicated.

The mere threat of a US attack on Iran has engineered a rise in oil prices. US reliance on Middle East Oil is going down while fracking – boosted by higher prices – is ramping up. The threat of war increases with Tehran now overtly referring to its power to cripple global energy supplies literally overnight.

In parallel the Houthis, by forcing the Yemen-bombing House of Saud to stop oil shipments via the Bab al-Mandeb port, are configuring the Strait of Hormuz and scores of easily targeted pipelines as even more crucial to the flow of energy that makes the West tick. 

If there ever was a US attack on Iran, Persian Gulf analysts stress only Russia, Nigeria and Venezuela might be able to provide enough oil and gas to make up for lost supplies to the West. That’s not exactly what the Trump administration is looking for.

Iranian “nuclear weapons” was always a bogus issue. Tehran did not have them – and was not pursuing them. Yet now the highly volatile rhetorical war introduces the hair-raising possibility of Tehran perceiving there is a clear danger of a US nuclear attack or an attack whose purpose is to destroy the nation’s infrastructure. If cornered, there’s no question the IRGC would buy nuclear weapons on the black market and use them to defend the nation.

This is the “secret” hidden in Soleimani’s message. Besides, Russia could easily – and secretly – supply Iran with state-of-the-art defensive missiles and the most advanced offensive missiles.

This absurd game of chicken is absolutely unnecessary for Washington from an oil strategy point of view – apart from the intent to break a key node of Eurasia integration. Assuming the Trump administration is playing chess, it’s imperative to think 20 moves ahead if “winning” is on the cards.

If a US oil blockade on Iran is coming, Iran could answer with its own Strait of Hormuz blockade, producing economic turmoil for the West. If this leads to a massive depression, it’s unlikely the industrial-military-security complex will blame itself.

There’s no question that Russia and China – the two key BRICS players – will have Iran’s back. First there’s Russia’s participation in Iran’s nuclear and aerospace industries and then the Russia-Iran collaboration in the Astana process to solve the Syria tragedy. With China, Iran as one of the country’s top energy suppliers and plays a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Russia and China have an outsize presence in the Iranian market and similar ambitions to bypass the US dollar and third-party US sanctions.

Beam me up, Global South

The true importance of the BRICS Johannesburg summit is how it is solidifying a Global South plan of action that would have Iran as one of its key nodes. Iran, although not named in an excellent analysis by Yaroslav Lissovolik at the Valdai Club, is the quintessential BRICS Plus nation.

Once again, BRICS Plus is all about constituting a “unified platform of regional integration arrangements,” going way beyond regional deals to reach other developing nations in a transcontinental scope.

This means a platform integrating the African Union (AU), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as the South Asian Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

Iran is a future member of the SCO and has already struck a deal with the EAEU. It’s also an important node of the BRI and is a key member, along BRICS members India and Russia, of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), essential for deeper Eurasia connectivity.

Lissovolik uses BEAMS as the acronym to designate “the aggregation of regional integration groups, with BRICS Plus being a broader concept that incorporates other forms of BRICS’ interaction with developing economies.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has defined BRICS Plus and BEAMS as the “most extensive platform for South-South cooperation with a global impact.” The Global South now does have an integration road map. If it ever happened, an attack on Iran would be not only an attack on BRICS Plus and BEAMS but on the whole Global South.

The Truth Perspec- tive: Postmodern Trump Derangement Syndrome and Skin in the Game – By SOTT

Activists from the Border Network for Human Rights protest US immigration policies in El Paso

© Mike Blake / Reuters
Activists from the Border Network for Human Rights protest US immigration policies in El Paso, Texas, June 19, 2018

The latest scandal to hit the Trump White House is the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the border, a practice with an unfortunately long history. But the Trump Derangement Syndrome has latched onto the practice as the final proof that Trump is Hitler. But why is it, exactly, that Trump’s critics are taking this as proof that Trump is the most evil person on the planet? Today on the Truth Perspective, we take a look at the motivations behind the tendency to see the worst in President Trump, and the philosophy that seems to underlie it.

Next, we ask why conservative thinkers can be so right about certain things, and so wrong about others, followed by a brief look at Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s latest book, Skin in the Game. What is true courage? Why are Trump and Putin so popular? Are religions actually rational? What makes the figure of Jesus Christ such an effective symbol? Tune in today at 12 pm EDT to find out!

Running Time: 01:28:27

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