The Syrian military has been combing through a vast network of tunnels built by jihadists in Douma, not far from Damascus. RT Arabic filmed vehicles easily fitting in the passages and asked locals how the militants treated them.
Located 15 meters deep under the surface, the massive tunnels are supported by metal pillars and are paneled with some sort of liner plates, creating a subway look. They stretch for kilometers under the town, located in the area of eastern Ghouta, forming an entire city beneath the city.
To complete the set, the tunnels are equipped with electricity, parking lots and workshops. They are so big that a minivan could easily move through them, as seen in the footage. The military discovered that the tunnels were specifically used to stockpile machinery and vehicles.
The militants forced the locals to build the tunnels for them by starving the people, who refused to work, Douma residents told RT. “They starved us, they harassed us,” one man said, adding that the extremists also made captives and civilians work on the tunnels. “They [the militants] would not feed those, who refused to work,” he said.
The Russian military said they found a chemical laboratory operated by militants in central Douma soon after the city’s liberation. The facility, located in the basement of a residential building, had some sophisticated equipment, including an industrial chemical reactor, which the military said was used by the jihadists to create toxic agents. Vast stockpiles of various chemicals were also found in the laboratory.
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Paraguay decided to leave the South American bloc last week, and this is a huge step back for the whole region, political analyst Sonia Wiener believes.
The decision of six Latin American countries to temporarily leave the Union of South American nations (UNASUR) jeopardizes regional integration, encourages interstate conflicts and puts at risk the protection of natural resources, Sonia Wiener, a political scientist from the University of Buenos Aires, told Sputnik.
“It is no coincidence that the decision is made during Bolivia’s presidency in the Union,” the researcher noted.
“This disintegration will not only hamper the development of the regional identity and the unity of the countries of the region, but also weaken territorial sovereignty, cooperation and protection of strategic natural resources […],” she added.
According to Wiener, the withdrawal of the six countries from the bloc “creates the ground for foreign interventions, in particular, by the United States and Great Britain, what is exactly happening now in the region.”
“I’m afraid that the US can provoke interstate conflicts in Latin America and then try to resolve them by military means, because war is business,” the analyst warned.
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Paraguay decided to suspend their membership in the South American bloc on April 20.
The move was prompted by the fact that the bloc, according to the governments of these countries, has been inefficient due to grate differences in positions of its members and subsequent inability to find a consensus.
The US government is violating international law with its decision to break into Russia’s locked consulate in Seattle, the Russian embassy in Washington said in a statement.
“What we see now is a gross violation of the Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Convention on Consular Relations,” commented Nikolay Pukalov, the head of the embassy’s consular department. “The Russian side did not agree on stripping diplomatic status from our property in Seattle and did not give permission to American officials to enter our territory.”
The spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, called the development “a hostile takeover” of the compound by the US.
The diplomatic building was evacuated earlier this week due to an order from Washington, which expelled 60 Russian diplomats and told the embassy to shut down the Seattle consulate in retaliation for the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain.
After the diplomats left on Tuesday, they locked the building. US officials on Wednesday broke into the compound.
The closure of Russia’s Seattle consulate was the latest in a string of diplomatic mission reductions taken by both sides over the past years. The pretext for this particular expulsion was the British accusation that the Russian government ordered an assassination of a former double agent. London failed to provide any public proof of the allegation and instead launched an international campaign to punish Moscow, finding a most eager participant in Washington.
The US claimed that the 60 diplomats it expelled were Russian spies and that the consulate in Seattle was heavily used for espionage purposes. Similar justifications were used when Washington ordered the shutdown of Russian missions in San Francisco and New York in September 2017.
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French President Emmanuel Macron has a ruthless streak of ambition that should make democracy-seeking people shudder.
On an official state visit this week to the United States, Macron was posing as the “polar opposite” to President Trump, and the “standard-bearer of liberal centrism in the West”, according to the Washington Post.
Ironically, too, he presented himself last week – yet again – as the “savior of Europe” with a major address Tuesday to the European Union parliament in Strasbourg.
The Strasbourg address was only four days after the French leader unleashed a joint bombing blitzkrieg on Syria along with the US and Britain.
As if to add further mockery to his virtuous pretensions, while Macron was regaling the EU parliamentarians with grandiose visions of democracy, his own country is crippled by nationwide industrial strikes fighting against his plans to demolish workers’ rights.
At age 40, Macron is the youngest elected French president and currently one of the youngest EU leaders, along with Austria’s Sebastian Kurz (31).
Kurz is among the European zeitgeist of populist politicians whom Macron would deprecate as “regressive” owing to the Austrian Chancellor’s independent nationalist policies.
The French leader’s youthful appearance and apparent zest for “democracy”, however, belie a very old and darker tendency towards authoritarianism and contempt for democracy.
Macron had the brass neck last week to lecture some 750 EU parliamentarians about “defending democracy”. His speech in the Strasbourg parliament was littered with empty platitudes, like challenging “authoritarianism with the authority of democracy”.
Admittedly, the French president did not get a free ride while in Strasbourg. As he spoke from the podium, several lawmakers held up placards reading “Hands of Syria”.
What Macron has lots of is appealing image and liberal-sounding soundbites. He is also deft at posing as some kind of progressive. But not far from the surface is a ruthless, anti-democratic authoritarian elitist.
Paradoxically, in his Strasbourg address, he theatrically conjured up a drama of existential crisis in Europe, claiming that the 28-nation bloc was facing a “civil war” between liberal democracy – of which he presumes to be a standard-bearer – and the rise of “populist authoritarianism”. The latter refers to nationalist political leaders like Austria’s Sebastian Kurz and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban who recently won his third re-election.
Macron would like to present people like Kurz and Orban and their anti-immigration policies as the bête noire of Europe who are destroying the social fabric and unity of the bloc.
As the New York Times reported: “Macron said the EU is in a battle between the liberal democracy that shaped the postwar vision and a new populist authoritarianism that stifles dissent and cares little about the rule of law.”
Hold on a minute. “Cares little about the rule of law”? This spiel was uttered by someone who had just bombed a sovereign country, Syria, on the back of baseless claims about a chemical-weapons incident that in all probability did not even take place.
Macron was also a minister in the government of his predecessor Francois Hollande, which began bombing of Syria in 2014 without a mandate from the UN Security Council.
Whatever about Austria’s Kurz or Hungary’s Orban and their brand of nationalist politics one thing to be said in their immense favor vis-à-vis Macron is that neither of those two leaders is bombing sovereign nations.
Later last week, the French president visited German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Again, he puffed up his peacock feathers as the “savior of Europe” by calling for the embrace of “liberal values” of “sovereignty, rule of law, democracy and peace”.
One suspects that Frau Merkel is growing weary of the wheedling French leader, whose ambitions of being the top European politician have seen him sidling alongside US President Trump in an attempt to sideline Germany as the strongest EU nation.
Macron is a charlatan. He is shameless in his mendacity.
His image-making of a reformist, progressive European visionary is a mirror of vanity and pretentious ideals. Macron deprecates populist politicians like Orban, Kurz and others by setting himself up as some kind of noble opposite in the same way as he uses Trump as a foil for his supposed “centrist liberalism” – whatever that means.
The truth is that Macron, in reality, is a much more dangerous authoritarian than Orban and his ilk could ever be.
As well as his shocking disregard for international law in the April 14 missile barrage of Syria, Macron has the temerity to lecture about authoritarians who “stifle dissent”.
Days after this utterance, hundreds of baton-wielding French police launched a dawn raid last Friday on a university in Paris to break up a peaceful student sit-in protest.
The students have joined millions of French workers and unemployed who have taken to the streets and college campuses to stop Macron ripping up employment rights.
Macron euphemistically calls his plans “reforms”. But the way millions of French citizens see it, the overhaul of the labour code is a full-frontal attack on democratic rights. Those rights have been won by workers over decades to help make capitalist economics relatively civilized. Now Macron, in the service of big business and international capital, wants to shred French workers’ rights.
How Macron got elected last year is a curious question. Prior to his election, the former Rothschild investment banker had never held an elected position in his life. He was drafted into the former Hollande government (2012-2017) as economics minister by way of political appointment, not through the ballot box.
Macron’s presidential mandate is dubious. Many French voters abstained from the election last April-May because they didn’t want to vote for Marine Le Pen of the Front National owing to her party’s fascistic history. Arguably, Macron got elected by default.
But it seems clear that within a year of having been in office, he has managed to unite French citizens in militant opposition to his anti-democratic “reforms”.
Macron’s florid rhetoric about European “renewal” is pretentious piffle.
The cardinal problem with Europe is the void in democratic representation of citizens. Governments and politicians are looked upon with contempt because democratic needs are chronically neglected. Public investment and services are waning, workers’ rights are being trampled on, pensioners are being neglected, wars are pursued by a few without any justice, because politicians are too often serving the agenda of big business, capital and militarism overseas.
There seems to be no democratic accountability to the majority of the 500 million citizens living across the EU. This dysfunction is due to self-serving elitist politicians like Emmanuel Macron. He is the personification of bankrupt bourgeois Western politics. That is, pandering to capitalist and imperialist tendencies of the ruling class, while also having the brass neck to paint himself as a “savior”.
Macron is a saboteur of European democracy. The rise of populism across Europe is not some extraneous phenomenon, which people like Macron condescendingly disparage. It is a backlash to charlatans like Macron who have a far more dangerous streak of authoritarianism than the people whom he affects to deplore.
European democracy is endangered precisely because of politicians like Macron who cloaks himself with the rhetoric of being a savior.
MOSCOW, April 23. /TASS/. Russia is technically capable of providing its air defense systems S-300 to Syria within one month, a military-diplomatic source has told TASS, adding that for this the launchers already at the Defense Ministry’s disposal might be used after the required reconfiguration, a military-diplomatic source has told TASS.
According to the official, there are two options of delivering the S-300 to Syria. One is Russia may provide to Syria the export configuration of the air defense launchers. In that case Syria will get them in 18 to 24 months from now. The other possibility is the available systems may be retrieved from the Defense Ministry’s reserves. Those replaced by S-400 in the Russian army might be use, too.
“Naturally, the used S-300 systems that may be taken to Syria will have to be reconfigured to suit the standards of the Syrian air defense. This work may take about a month,” the source said.
TASS has no official confirmation of this.
Earlier, the daily Kommersant quoted its own sources as saying that Russia in the near future might start the delivery of S-300 Favorit air defense systems to Syria.
S-300 for Syria
Russia’s General Staff declared it might be possible to raise the question once again of providing S-300 systems to Damascus shortly after the United States, Britain and France on April attacked Syria with cruise missiles. The agreement with Syria on providing S-300 was signed back in 2010 only to be frozen due to objections from the West and Israel.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on April 16 said Russia might be prepared to consider all the necessary steps for enhancing Syria’s defense capabilities, including the supplies of S-300 systems. On April 23 Lavrov said the question of providing S-300 to Syria had not been settled yet, but Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed that possibility with the Defense Ministry “from the standpoint of preventing a situation where Syria might turn out insufficiently prepared for aggressive attacks, like the one that took place on April 14.”
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov refrained from comment when asked if S-300 might be delivered to Syria in the near future.
Kinzhal (‘dagger’) hypersonic missile being test-fired by the Russian military
For the past 500 years European nations-Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Britain, France and, briefly, Germany-were able to plunder much of the planet by projecting their naval power overseas. Since much of the world’s population lives along the coasts, and much of it trades over water, armed ships that arrived suddenly out of nowhere were able to put local populations at their mercy.
The armadas could plunder, impose tribute, punish the disobedient, and then use that plunder and tribute to build more ships, enlarging the scope of their naval empires. This allowed a small region with few natural resources and few native advantages beyond extreme orneriness and a wealth of communicable diseases to dominate the globe for half a millennium.
The ultimate inheritor of this naval imperial project is the United States, which, with the new addition of air power, and with its large aircraft carrier fleet and huge network of military bases throughout the planet, is supposedly able to impose Pax Americana on the entire world. Or, rather, was able to do so-during the brief period between the collapse of the USSR and the emergence of Russia and China as new global powers and their development of new anti-ship and antiaircraft technologies. But now this imperial project is at an end.
Prior to the Soviet collapse, the US military generally did not dare to directly threaten those countries to which the USSR had extended its protection. Nevertheless, by using its naval power to dominate the sea lanes that carried crude oil, and by insisting that oil be traded in US dollars, it was able to live beyond its means by issuing dollar-denominated debt instruments and forcing countries around the world to invest in them. It imported whatever it wanted using borrowed money while exporting inflation, expropriating the savings of people across the world. In the process, the US has accumulated absolutely stunning levels of national debt-beyond anything seen before in either absolute or relative terms. When this debt bomb finally explodes, it will spread economic devastation far beyond US borders. And it will explode, once the petrodollar wealth pump, imposed on the world through American naval and air superiority, stops working.
New missile technology has made a naval empire cheap to defeat. Previously, to fight a naval battle, one had to have ships that outmatched those of the enemy in their speed and artillery power. The Spanish Armada was sunk by the British armada. More recently, this meant that only those countries whose industrial might matched that of the United States could ever dream of opposing it militarily. But this has now changed: Russia’s new missiles can be launched from thousands of kilometers away, are unstoppable, and it takes just one to sink a destroyer and just two to sink an aircraft carrier. The American armada can now be sunk without having an armada of one’s own. The relative sizes of American and Russian economies or defense budgets are irrelevant: the Russians can build more hypersonic missiles much more quickly and cheaply than the Americans would be able to build more aircraft carriers.
Equally significant is the development of new Russian air defense capabilities: the S-300 and S-400 systems, which can essentially seal off a country’s airspace. Wherever these systems are deployed, such as in Syria, US forces are now forced to stay out of their range. With its naval and air superiority rapidly evaporating, all that the US can fall back on militarily is the use of large expeditionary forces – an option that is politically unpalatable and has proven to be ineffective in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is also the nuclear option, and while its nuclear arsenal is not likely to be neutralized any time soon, nuclear weapons are only useful as deterrents. Their special value is in preventing wars from escalating beyond a certain point, but that point lies beyond the elimination of their global naval and air dominance. Nuclear weapons are much worse than useless in augmenting one’s aggressive behavior against a nuclear-armed opponent; invariably, it would be a suicidal move. What the US now faces is essentially a financial problem of unrepayable debt and a failing wealth pump, and it should be a stunningly obvious point that setting off nuclear explosions anywhere in the world would not fix the problems of an empire that is going broke.
Events that signal vast, epochal changes in the world often appear minor when viewed in isolation. Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon was just one river crossing; Soviet and American troops meeting and fraternizing at the Elbe was, relatively speaking, a minor event-nowhere near the scale of the siege of Leningrad, the battle of Stalingrad or the fall of Berlin. Yet they signaled a tectonic shift in the historical landscape. And perhaps we have just witnessed something similar with the recent pathetically tiny Battle of East Gouta in Syria, where the US used a make-believe chemical weapons incident as a pretense to launch an equally make-believe attack on some airfields and buildings in Syria. The US foreign policy establishment wanted to show that it still matters and has a role to play, but what really happened was that US naval and air power were demonstrated to be almost entirely beside the point.
Of course, all of this is terrible news to the US military and foreign policy establishments, as well as to the many US Congressmen in whose districts military contractors operate or military bases are situated. Obviously, this is also bad news for the defense contractors, for personnel at the military bases, and for many others as well. It is also simply awful news economically, since defense spending is about the only effective means of economic stimulus of which the US government is politically capable. Obama’s “shovel-ready jobs,” if you recall, did nothing to forestall the dramatic slide in the labor participation rate, which is a euphemism for the inverse of the real unemployment rate. There is also the wonderful plan to throw lots of money at Elon Musk’s SpaceX (while continuing to buy vitally important rocket engines from the Russians-who are currently discussing blocking their export to the US in retaliation for more US sanctions). In short, take away the defense stimulus, and the US economy will make a loud popping sound followed by a gradually diminishing hissing noise.
Needless to say, all those involved will do their best to deny or hide for as long as possible the fact that the US foreign policy and defense establishments have now been neutralized. My prediction is that America’s naval and air empire will not fail because it will be defeated militarily, nor will it be dismantled once the news sinks in that it is useless; instead, it will be forced to curtail its operations due to lack of funds. There may still be a few loud bangs before it gives up, but mostly what we will hear is a whole lot of whimpering. That’s how the USSR went; that’s how the USA will go too.
Guardian columnist Owen Jones has fired an opinion-rocket right into the midst of his own kind – journalists. His claim that the mainstream media is an invite-only club run by public school pals has not gone down well.
It began when the author and columnist tweeted some of the lessons he’s learned working in the British media. Labeling the profession a “cult” in the UK, Jones goes on to say the mainstream media (MSM) is “afflicted by a suffocating groupthink, intolerant of critics, hounds internal dissenters, full of people who made it because of connections and/or personal background rather than merit.”
Hurling such accusations against the British media did not solicit a positive reaction from the club’s members. Jones himself described the onslaught that followed against him as an “inferno” of fury… which in turn, sparked an article detailing exactly what is wrong with the UK press.
Journalists from publications across London (where most mainstream outlets are based) were outraged by the comments. There were anecdotes given to disprove Jones – with one reporter even quipping that “no one tells me what to think.”
Jones goes on to describe what’s known as the ‘huddle’ – to put it simply, that’s when reporters get together after Prime Minister’s Questions (or other media events frequented by lobby journalists) to decide what to say or write about. “[L]obby journalists will often stand together and/or walk back to the press lobby together and agree on ‘what just happened,’ if you like,” Jones writes.
Other ways the huddle – or “groupthink,” as he calls it – manifests in the media is through peer pressure. Jones included a comment from right-wing blogger Paul Staines in explanation: “there is for example peer pressure on new hacks to not rock the boat,” even if that pressure is applied by an “exasperated collective groan [from other reporters] if someone asks a dissonant question.”
Staines’ comments end by adding that it is “not a conspiracy, just peer pressure.” Times columnist David Aaronovitch, ex-BuzzFeed writer James Ball, Financial Times editorial director Robert Shrimsley, and freelance journalist Robin Whitlock were some of many to swipe back at Jones. ITV news royal editor Chris Ship simply tweeted back his educational history, as the virtue signaling and defensiveness told their own story.
PoliticsHome editor Kevin Schofield followed suit. “I grew up in a working class household, went to state schools, worked my arse off on local papers for years and finally made it to Fleet St,” he tweeted, nose thoroughly out of joint.
It turns out Jones was referring to the media elite of the national titles and broadcasters; and not the “army of poorly paid and insecure freelancers or local reporters who are deeply undervalued,” as he describes them.
To go with the truth bomb he lobbed into the center of the media scrum, Jones dug up one or two supporting statistics – and it turns out that many in the media had a very privileged start to life.
“Just 7% of the British population are privately educated. But according to the Sutton Trust in 2016, 51% of Britain’s top journalists are privately educated,” Jones writes. Poverty Commission in 2014, 43% of newspaper columnists are privately educated; just 23% went to comprehensives. Two thirds of new entrants to journalism came from managerial and professional backgrounds: more than twice the level of the rest of the population.
“According to another government study, journalists are second only to doctors when it comes to the dominance of those from professional or managerial parental backgrounds. In other words: journalism is one of the most socially exclusive professions in Britain.”
That hasn’t stopped journalists and writers from coming out of the woodwork to slam Jones – or, at least, to enjoy others doing so.
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More than 1,600 other Palestinians have been shot with live ammunition that has caused what doctors are calling “horrific injuries” likely to leave many of them with permanent disabilities.
As eyewitnesses and video confirmed, the child Muhammad Ayyoub posed no conceivable danger to heavily armed Israeli occupation forces stationed dozens of meters away behind fences and earthen fortifications on the other side of the Gaza boundary when he was killed.
Even the usually timid United Nations peace process envoy Nickolay Mladenov publicly declared that the slaying was “outrageous.”
On Saturday, Brigadier-General Fogel was interviewed by Ron Nesiel on the Israeli public radio network Kan.
Fogel is the former chief of staff of the Israeli army’s “southern command,” which includes the occupied Gaza Strip.
Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian lawmaker in Israel’s parliament, drew attention to the interview in a tweet.
The host Ron Nesiel asks Fogel if the Israeli army should “rethink its use of snipers,” and suggests that someone giving orders “lowered the bar for using live fire.”
Fogel adamantly defends the policy, stating: “At the tactical level, any person who gets close to the fence, anyone who could be a future threat to the border of the State of Israel and its residents, should bear a price for that violation.”
He adds: “If this child or anyone else gets close to the fence in order to hide an explosive device or check if there are any dead zones there or to cut the fence so someone could infiltrate the territory of the State of Israel to kill us …”
“Then his punishment is death?” Nesiel interjects.
“His punishment is death,” the general responds. “As far as I’m concerned then yes, if you can only shoot him to stop him, in the leg or arm – great. But if it’s more than that then, yes, you want to check with me whose blood is thicker, ours or theirs.”
Fogel then describes the careful process by which targets – including children – are identified and shot:
“I know how these orders are given. I know how a sniper does the shooting. I know how many authorizations he needs before he receives an authorization to open fire. It is not the whim of one or the other sniper who identifies the small body of a child now and decides he’ll shoot. Someone marks the target for him very well and tells him exactly why one has to shoot and what the threat is from that individual. And to my great sorrow, sometimes when you shoot at a small body and you intended to hit his arm or shoulder, it goes even higher.”
For “it goes even higher,” Fogel uses a Hebrew idiom also meaning “it costs even more.”
In this chilling statement, in which a general talks about snipers targeting the “small body of a child,” Fogel makes crystal clear that this policy is premeditated and deliberate.
While presenting unarmed Palestinian children as dangerous terrorists worthy of death, Fogel describes the snipers killing them in cold blood as the innocent, vulnerable parties who deserve protection.
“We have soldiers there, our children, who were sent out and receive very accurate instructions about whom to shoot to protect us. Let’s back them up,” he says.
Fogel’s statements are no aberration but represent Israeli policy.
“Israeli officials made it clear that the open-fire regulations would permit lethal fire at anyone attempting to damage the fence, and even at any person coming within 300 meters of it,” the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem stated in a recent analysis of Israel’s illegal targeting of unarmed civilians who pose no threat.
“Nevertheless, all state and military officials have steadfastly refused to cancel the unlawful orders and continue to issue – and justify – them,” B’Tselem added.
Following its investigation of the “calculated” killings of unarmed demonstrators on 30 March, the first day of the Great March of Return rallies in Gaza, Human Rights Watch concluded that the lethal crackdown was “planned at [the] highest levels of the Israeli government.”
Two weeks ago, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court issued an unprecedented warning that Israeli leaders may face trial for the killings of unarmed Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.
Potential defendants would be giving any prosecutor a gift with such open admissions that killing unarmed people in an occupied territory who pose no objective threat is their policy and intent.
The question remains whether anything will finally pierce the shield of impunity that Israel has enjoyed for 70 years.
Ron Nesiel: Greetings Brigadier General (Res.) Zvika Fogel. Should the IDF [Israeli army] rethink its use of snipers? There’s the impression that maybe someone lowered the bar for using live fire, and this may be the result?
Zvika Fogel: Ron, let’s maybe look at this matter on three levels. At the tactical level that we all love dealing with, the local one, also at the level of values, and with your permission, we will also rise up to the strategic level. At the tactical level, any person who gets close to the fence, anyone who could be a future threat to the border of the State of Israel and its residents, should bear a price for that violation. If this child or anyone else gets close to the fence in order to hide an explosive device or check if there are any dead zones there or to cut the fence so someone could infiltrate the territory of the State of Israel to kill us …
Nesiel: Then, then his punishment is death?
Fogel: His punishment is death. As far as I’m concerned then yes, if you can only shoot him to stop him, in the leg or arm – great. But if it’s more than that then, yes, you want to check with me whose blood is thicker, ours or theirs. It is clear to you that if one such person will manage to cross the fence or hide an explosive device there …
Nesiel: But we were taught that live fire is only used when the soldiers face immediate danger.
Fogel: Come, let’s move over to the level of values. Assuming that we understood the tactical level, as we cannot tolerate a crossing of our border or a violation of our border, let’s proceed to the level of values. I am not Ahmad Tibi, I am Zvika Fogel. I know how these orders are given. I know how a sniper does the shooting. I know how many authorizations he needs before he receives an authorization to open fire. It is not the whim of one or the other sniper who identifies the small body of a child now and decides he’ll shoot. Someone marks the target for him very well and tells him exactly why one has to shoot and what the threat is from that individual. And to my great sorrow, sometimes when you shoot at a small body and you intended to hit his arm or shoulder it goes even higher. The picture is not a pretty picture. But if that’s the price that we have to pay to preserve the safety and quality of life of the residents of the State of Israel, then that’s the price. But now, with your permission, let us go up one level and look at the overview. It is clear to you that Hamas is fighting for consciousness at the moment. It is clear to you and to me …
Nesiel: Is it hard for them to do? Aren’t we providing them with sufficient ammunition in this battle?
Fogel: We’re providing them but …
Nesiel: Because it does not do all that well for us, those pictures that are distributed around the world.
Fogel: Look, Ron, we’re even terrible at it. There’s nothing to be done, David always looks better against Goliath. And in this case, we are the Goliath. Not the David. That is entirely clear to me. But let’s look at it at the strategic level: you and I and a large part of the listeners are clear that this will not end up in demonstrations. It is clear to us that Hamas can’t continue to tolerate the fact that its rockets are not managing to hurt us, its tunnels are eroding …
Fogel: And it doesn’t have too many suicide bombers who continue to believe the fairytale about the virgins waiting up there. It will drag us into a war. I do not want to be on the side that gets dragged. I want to be on the side that initiates things. I do not want to wait for the moment where it finds a weak spot and attacks me there. If tomorrow morning it gets into a military base or a kibbutz and kills people there and takes prisoners of war or hostages, call it as you like, we’re in a whole new script. I want the leaders of Hamas to wake up tomorrow morning and for the last time in their life see the smiling faces of the IDF. That’s what I want to have happen. But we are dragged along. So we’re putting snipers up because we want to preserve the values we were educated by. We can’t always take a single picture and put it before the whole world. We have soldiers there, our children, who were sent out and receive very accurate instructions about whom to shoot to protect us. Let’s back them up.
Nesiel: Brigadier-General (Res.) Zvika Fogel, formerly Head of the Southern Command Staff, thank you for your words.
Trump boasted on Twitter that the US-led strikes on Syria last weekend were a “mission accomplished”, which drew criticism from many who likened it to Bush’s infamously premature statement about Iraq.
There were differing reports about how many missiles were shot down by Syria’s Soviet-era air defense systems and the scale of damage that was wrought by the ones that did get through the country’s anti-missile shield, but the general consensus is that Trump’s mission didn’t accomplish much and may have even been more militarily ineffective than last year’s strike in reaction to the Khan Sheikhoun false flag chemical weapons attack from that time. Furthermore, a bold statement such as “mission accomplished” implies a victory much broader than just launching some missiles, most of which are regarded as having never even made it to their targets.
Trump’s known for his grandiose and hyperbolic statements to stir up support among his base and generate widespread attention, but he may have inadvertently walked into a narrative trap entirely of his own making with this latest tweet. Just a few weeks ago he was talking about withdrawing from Syria, but then all of a sudden the Douma chemical weapons false flag attack was used as his pretext for launching the failed missile strike against the country. Not only that, but his UN Representative Nikki Haley later declared that American troops will remain in the Arab Republic until the US’ goals were accomplished, which she described as responding to reports of chemical weapons attacks, ensuring Daesh’s defeat, and keeping an eye on Iran. These open-ended objectives suggest that Trump’s Syrian mission is far from accomplished.
Building off of the US’ new publicly declared goals in Syria, Washington will likely rely on its supposed anti-Daesh mission to justify expanding its military commitment to its allied Kurdish proxies in the northeast of the country, which could potentially see the US pushing for Damascus to recognize their unilaterally declared “federalization” from March 2016 in order to de-facto legitimize a new American client state in the region. This would complement the US’ real objective of “containing” Iranian influence in the Arab Republic, which it’s becoming more comfortable publicly admitting, especially in light of Israel’s threats to continue bombing suspected IRGC and Hezbollah targets in Syria. As the anti-terrorist phase of the conflict more openly returns to its original multidimensional proxy one, Trump might regret having prematurely declared that anything of significance was accomplished there.
Niall Bradley, editor and analyst for the independent news site SOTT.net, and John Mesler, retired local government employee and musician who’s now a peace activist, commented on the issue.
Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Sunday a speech in which he addressed a huge electoral rally held in the Southern Lebanese city, Tyre.
At the beginning of his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah addressed the the father of the three martyrs, Hajj Sami Muslimani, who saluted the Resistance Leader, by saying: “You, the martyrs’ families, are the crown of heads.”
Starting from the place of the rally, His Eminence highlighted that “the city of Tyre, remained unobstructed by sedition, as it embraced and opened its homes to Palestinians displaced in 1948.”
“”Israeli aggressions on Lebanon started in 1949, not with the advent of the Palestinian resistance factions,” he said.
He further stated: “The city of Tyre city resisted the occupation in 1982 and on its land the first self-scarifying operations was carried to break the Zionist enemy’s arrogance and prepare for the “Israeli” humiliating defeat.”
In parallel, he underscored that “we meet here on the anniversary of April 1996 “Grapes of Wrath” aggression, which began on April 11, by striking Hezbollah’s military headquarters in Haret Hreik.”
“The “Israeli” air strike at that time failed to hit Hezbollah military Leader martyr Mustafa Badreddine as the missile hit the other room,” Sayyed Nasrallah clarified.
Moreover, he recalled that the “Israeli” chief of staff in 1996 said that Hezbollah have turned ‘April understanding’ into a boxing bag,” noting that “the sons of Imam al-Sadr from Amal movement and Hezbollah have developed the concept of resistance, that led to victory.”
Furthermore, His Eminence stressed that “the South and its people have waited the state since 1948 until Imam al-Sadr came and adopted the alternative by establishing the resistance.”
He also unveiled that “before 2006, it was the Resistance that asked the state and the Lebanese Army to be present in the South and along the border.”
“The Lebanese state has delayed its move and turned its back to the South,” Sayyed Nasrallah mentioned, noting that “it is not the poor, who bought arms from his own money to defend the land.”
Meanwhile, he added that “our crime is that we took up arms to defend our land and sovereignty.”
“The resistance that was the dream of Sayyed Sharaf al-Din and Imam al-Sadr has now turned to a real force that the enemy greatly fears,” His Eminence emphasized.
In addition, he went on to say that “Thanks to the resistance capabilities and achievements, South Lebanon is currently safe from the Zionist barbarism.”
To Sayyed Abdl Hussein Sharf Din and Imam Moussa Sadr, Sayyed Nasrallah sent a message of assurance: “There is no humiliation today that is able to hit the land of Jabal Amel [South Lebanon]
To Imam al-Sadr, His Eminence vowed: “The resistance that you have founded owes the capability, power, technology and missiles that can strike any target in the “Israeli” enemy’s entity.”
“The resistance came with great sacrifices and we aren’t to abandon it, as it means our dignity and pride,” he added.
Addressing the people of the Resistance, Sayyed Nasrallah told the crowd: “May 6 is your day of voting. It is a message to the world that we in the South have not left the resistance and won’t give up or turn our back. I hope that on May 6 … you will choose the Hope and Loyalty [electoral lists], the hope for the future.”
“Here in Zahrani-Tyre, you are not just voting for MPs, you’re voting for the next Lebanese House Speaker. There is no question that House Speaker Brother Nabih Berri should be reelected as House Speaker and he is the party’s strongest representation,” he said.
He further hailed the fact that “since the 1920s, there has been no internal peace in the history of the South as the one it’s enjoying from pride and dignity for the past 12 years.”
On the internal front, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that “Lebanon has witnessed a kind of understanding: one party will defend the country and protect it while the other side will take care of the economy.”
This comes as His Eminence confirmed that “we can say, ‘these are our successes.’ We protected our country. Stability and security have been available since 2006.”
In this context, he asked the Future Movement: “What are your achievements in administering Lebanon’s economics? Those in charge failed. Everyone agrees that we have an economic problem. We’re suffering from a huge debt that reached $ 80 billion. The agriculture and the productive sectors are at an all-time low.”
Commenting on the National Defense Strategy, Hezbollah Secretary General reiterated that Hezbollah is ready to discuss it after the election ends.
However, he asked the Future Movement, “Who is escaping from forming a national economic strategy?”
On this level, Sayyed Nasrallah cautioned that corruption has extended to all state institutions. “When we talk about a strong country, corruption has no place. There is no discussion, no need for debate, the steps are clear. However, if the country keeps moving like this, it will crumble.”
In addition, he slammed the fact that Lebanon is suffering from sectarianism on all levels. Even Lebanese water and rivers have turned to a sectarian topic.”
“Even our gas and oil blocks are going to be distributed based on sects,” he feared, wondering: “what kind of country operates like that?”
He also said “This isn’t a US, Arab countries or “Israeli” fault. We have to take responsibility. When you have a minister working for his sect, his town and his kids, can we still call him a minister for Lebanon?”