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

White Helmets

© Hosam Katan / Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chaos at the NATO Summit Benefits Eurasian Integration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel takes its last breath in southern Syria as Hezbollah and Iran join Syrians in confrontation with ISIS on Golan border – By Elijah J. Magnier (ejmagnier.co) (SOTT)

daraa map

The Syrian army and the allies of Hezbollah and Iran are preparing to finish off the last pockets of militants and jihadists in the city of Daraa (the western part of it), as well as the Quneitra governorate, where the “Islamic State-Welayat Houran” (ISIS in Quneitra) militants are in control of 18 km along the 1974-line separating Syria from the occupied Golan. The presence of these terrorist groups has been tolerated and even supported by Israel in the last years of the Syrian war.

The next battle will be decisive in ending all pockets outside the authority of the Damascus government. Despite this fact Israel is still trying to intervene in the Syrian south, resisting any acceptance of the status quo: the years of war are over on its borders, and Syria is regaining the control of its territory. Actually, it is also the Israeli officials who are breathing their last in the Syrian war, which is nearing its end. What will remain to be liberated is the US & Turkish occupied North of Syria.

But the failure of the regime change is not hitting only Israel but the entire assembly of pundits in Arab and western countries. Daraa al Balad (the place where the first the slogan was raised in 2011 “Allawites to the coffin and Christians to Beirut” (Alawi ila al-Tabut wal Masihi ila Beirut)), has capitulated to the Syrian Army, who are in control of 85% of the province of Daraa. The Syrian Army is also advancing in ISIS & Huran controlled territory and is taking control of the high ground in order to pound the terrorist group’s position. The sound of bombardment is heard in the occupied Golan Heights, under the nose of the Israeli Army – which is incapable of changing the course of this next battle.

Sources in the Syrian capital say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow will only weaken Israel’s position, revealing not only President Putin’s intention not to meet the demands of his Israeli guest, but also that Israel’s reference in Syria, as it has not resorted to its traditional ally (the United States), has become Moscow, not Washington.

Netanyahu’s presence in the Russian capital – in parallel with the presence of the envoy and adviser of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati in Moscow – will only bring him back empty handed to Tel Aviv. Instead of presenting himself as a prestigious political leader “trying to score points in his favour”, Netanyahu is looking extremely weak, and also politically impotent. Trying to compensate for his diplomatic failure with Moscow by bombing the three abandoned positions of the Syrian army in Quneitra will achieve nothing. Netanyahu has only managed to appear feebler: he does not dare hit the Syrians and their allied forces (Hezbollah and Iran), in the presence of the hundreds of special units who are in the process of liberating the south.

Several days ago, Netanyahu bombed positions at the T4 military airport, sending his jets deep into the desert of al-Badiyah and towards Homs province. It is clear that he is aided by the American forces occupying northern Syria, who allowed Israel to use its military airports built in al-Hasaka province.

However, the first response Israel got came from the Lebanese “Hezbollah” which sent more special forces to confront ISIS in the Quneitra province. The Syrian Army and its allies are preparing for this forthcoming important battle once the 18km enclave occupied by ISIS is completely besieged. Therefore, before beginning the last battle in the south, the evacuation of all Jabhat al-Nusra (aka Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) and other jihadists and militants is necessary.

The second response came from Iran, sending a drone to penetrate 10 km into Israel. This act constituted a blow to the Israeli defences, showing their slow reaction and intelligence and military defence weaknesses – even if the plane was later shot down by a Patriot missile.

The bottom line: Israel has pushed Iran to violate all the “red lines” that existed (even if these were not announced and agreed by the parties concerned). Instead of the Iranian-Israeli conflict taking place outside the borders of Israel, the military bras-de-fer has moved into Israeli airspace. The Iranian and Hezbollah violation of Israeli airspace – unthinkable to any country or organisation in the Middle East – has become a regular promenade.

Netanyahu is begging the Russian leader – this is the third visit in 6 months – to prevent Iran and Hezbollah’s presence on the Syrian border. It is obvious that he has failed in his attempt, due to Hezbollah and Iran’s manifest presence in the southern battle of Syria. The Israeli Prime Minister will also ask Donald Trump to raise the same topic at the upcoming summit between the Russian and the US leaders in the coming days. But no great achievement in this regard is expected for the following simple reasons:

  1. Syria is determined to regain full control of its southern territories. Actually, the battle was imposed during the Russian-Israeli negotiations and President Assad is determined not to give up any inch of territory. Therefore, he has not succumbed to the Israeli threats.
  2. Israel lowered its ceiling of demands when President Bashar al-Assad helped remove Prime Minister Netanyahu from the tree he climbed by ordering his forces to begin the battle, imposing his own tempo and asking his allies to participate in the battle against Jihadists.
  3. Damascus does not meet all Russian demands, despite their joint military collaboration across Syrian geography. This difference has emerged in more than one battle in recent years, without necessarily causing any fundamental clash of interest between the two parties.
  4. Assad meets his Iranian ally’s goals and objectives: the two agreed on their common hostility to Israel without interfering with the good Russian-Israeli relationship.
  5. Assad will not abandon the “axis of resistance,” which has proved itself by its fulfilment of its obligations, supporting Syria with men and weapons. This “Axis” has always been, and still is, confident in the cause of the Syrian president, even though he almost lost the country in 2013. The advocates in this axis defended the Levant without imposing their faith or making demands on Assad in exchange for their intervention. Moreover, the members of the “Axis” gave complete freedom of decision to Assad to decide what he considered his priorities and objectives. They did not interfere in his internal policies and – unlike Russia on several occasions – did not stake a claim to the day when the Syrian President must step down from office (apparently to appease the West and the Arabs).

Israel is expected to strike again and to bomb in Syria, pretending to be relaxed and comfortable. In fact, Israel looks like a wounded bird hit by a hunter: it is dancing from the pain of leaving Syria.

Israel pulled out from Lebanon in 2000 unconditionally, and today it is abandoning its allies in the Syrian south, leaving these – as it did with the South Lebanon Army – without any support.

Israel contributed to the rise of the resistance in Lebanon in 1982 which gave birth to Hezbollah, the most powerful organisation in the Middle East, which now competes with many regular armies in the Middle East. Israel erred in supporting the jihadists in Syria and assisting the plan to overthrow Assad: it managed only to create a “Hezbollah-Syria”.

Syria has downed more than one Israeli jet; drones flew over Israel and rockets and missiles were fired at its soldiers in the occupied Golan Heights. Today, Israel is reduced to threatening any force violating the 1974 line – which has never been violated for the last 40 years.

Following 2006, Israel has once more been defeated, and in Syria. The aggressive stance it has used when claiming to “defend itself” will no longer be successful with an “axis” which is determined to liberate all Syria’s occupied territories… and in the Lebanon. It is now no longer be possible for Israel to use “the right to defend itself” as an excuse to do just what it wants.

Proof read by: Maurice Brasher

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About Elijah J. Magnier

Veteran War Zone Correspondent and Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 35 years’ experience covering the Middle East and acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Specialised in terrorism and counter-terrorism, intelligence, political assessments, strategic planning and thorough insight in political networks in the region. Covered on the ground the Israeli invasion to Lebanon (1st war 1982), the Iraq-Iran war, the Lebanese civil war, the Gulf war (1991), the war in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1996), the US invasion to Iraq (2003 to date), the second war in Lebanon (2006), the war in Libya and Syria (2011 to date). Lived for many years in Lebanon, Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria. View all posts by Elijah J Magnier

Comment: Yesterday the Syrians completely liberated the city of Daraa. All that remains are the pockets of FSA/al-Qaeda/ISIS along the border with occupied Golan. See: Where it all began: Syrian Army liberates Daraa from western-backed terrorists

Who Is Isolating Whom? – By Martin SIEFF (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Who Is Isolating Whom?

For nearly 30 years since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States and its main Western European allies the United Kingdom, France and Germany have comfortably assumed themselves to be the invincible and unstoppable spearhead and cutting edge of the human race. The assumption that democracy and free trade, Western style will conquer the world is axiomatically held and permeates the educational systems and intelligentsia of all these nations.

Yet this presumption of moral and superiority and ideological inevitability by the leaders of the United States, the European Union, NATO and the Group of Seven (G7) nations has not been confirmed by any verifiable hard evidence.

On the contrary, the US State Department’s own reports have remorselessly documented throughout the 21st century that every nation where the United States intervened either directly, applying kinetic military power, or indirectly destabilizing existing governments and urging other players to rise up to destabilize existing governments – misery, not happiness has inevitably resulted.

Whether one looks at Ukraine, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Somalia or Syria, the pattern is always the same. Per capita rates of human trafficking, including, the enslavement of children for sexual exploitation, organized crime, drug trafficking, per capita hard drug addiction rate, and the likelihood of violent death has soared after every such US and/or allied military intervention. Life expectancy and standards of living as well as recorded GDP have plummeted catastrophically in every case.

Even the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on June 15, 2001 failed to dent Western paradigm blindness, arrogance and complacency about the true, future “Way of the World.” Now we see the same extraordinary complacency presented by the Western elites to the crucial accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO.

The geostrategic, world historical importance of this development cannot be overestimated. For 17 years since the founding of the SCO, the United States and its NATO and European Union allies have pressed ahead in one minor war of destabilization and aggression after another. Yet every one of those misadventures has been a strategic and even tactical failure. The United States and its NATO allies have proven all too adept at starting wars around the world. Through fear and the narrowest calculations of self-aggrandizement, tiny nations from Estonia to Georgia have flocked to their banner.

However now, at a single stroke, the two giant nuclear-armed nations of South Asia – India and Pakistan – have set aside their existential rivalries and suspicions and have both sought security and protection within the framework of the SCO. And more, these two nations are both English speaking democracies!

How can the United States and the United Kingdom in particular now claim to uphold the cause of democracy when the largest, most populous democracy on earth – a nation of almost 1.3 billion people, and another nation with an English-speaking democracy – Pakistan – with a population now in excess of 200 million have now joined the SCO?

How can the United States, NATO, the EU or the Group of Seven now claim to uphold democratic values around the globe when two democracies with a combined population of more almost 1.5 billion – double the population of all the 28 nations combined in the EU and almost five times the population of the United States – have now opted to join the SCO?

Why did Delhi and Islamabad both decide upon such a n epochal move? Clearly, they did so in large part because both nations fear the future potential coercive designs of the Western alliances against either of them.

Therefore despite US efforts at engineering Regime Change from Ukraine to Brazil, the accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO confirms the isolation of NATO in the wider world, shrinking the alliance’s expansion into Eastern Europe to just the western end of Eurasia and the periphery of East Asia.

This therefore is the self-inflicted strategic catastrophe that the fantasy vision of global strategic engineering and a worldwide “crusade for democracy” has inflicted upon its perpetrators. Rather than isolating Russia, or China or both of them – an absurd goal if ever there was one – the half-baked failed neo-conservative and neo-liberal Hegelians of the Sub-Age of Francis Fukuyama have isolated themselves instead.

Just as the capitalist United States, the communist Soviet Union and the paleo-colonialist British Empire all eventually joined forces to crush the mutual threat of Nazism, the neocon and neo-lib fanatics of Permanent Global Revolution (PGR) – democratic – style – have expended trillions of dollars and set off wars costing millions of lives – only to succeed in isolating themselves.

The solution to this global catastrophe for the forces of the West w is actually very simple and practical. It is to end the policy of endless military interventions, to immediately end the remorseless expansion of NATO and indeed to permit any nation within the alliance to quietly and efficiently decide to leave it whenever it so chooses.

All NATO nations, led by the United States must also solemnly undertake to respect the primacy of international law and to implement and respect all decisions taken by the United Nations Security Council where the permanent veto power still welded by the United States and its allies the UK and France provide ample diplomatic and legal protection against their own coercive and expansionist tactics being turned against them.

This is what the leaders of the West should do. But of course they will not. For when did Fools ever willingly embrace Wisdom?

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

Chinese and Russian flag

© Vitaly Ankov / Sputnik

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

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

Russia & China: Strength through friendship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
See Also:

Assad vows to free all of Syria, no matter who controls its territories – By Sputnik

Bashar al-Assad

© SANA / Reuters
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad greets his supporters during Eid al-Adha prayers on September 1, 2017, Syria.

The Syrian president held a meeting at the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday discussing the internal, regional and international political situation and Syria’s foreign and domestic policy objectives.

Damascus will “liberate the territories of all Syrian provinces, no matter whose control they are under,” Assad said, as cited by the Syrian Arab News Agency.

“The process of Syria’s post-war reconstruction is our biggest priority, and we will engage in the restoration of the national economy alongside the ongoing anti-terrorist operations,” Assad added.

“The President #الأسد conducts an open dialogue with diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and expatriates on internal, regional and international political situations, diplomatic work and the political and social future #سورية. “

Assad pointed to the return of refugees who left the country during the war as another urgent problem.

The president emphasized the need for “dialogue between Syrians at all levels,” which he emphasized should lead to a “pact of national accord.” Assad accused the Western powers and the US specifically of “obstructing the activation of the political process” in the war-torn country.

The seven year war in Syria has had a severe impact on the country’s economy. In May, Assad estimated that the country may need up to $400 billion and over a decade to rebuild. In an interview with Russian media last month, Assad emphasized that notwithstanding Syria’s difficulties, Damascus ‘does not need the West’ to rebuild if the latter is unwilling, because they are prone to acting in a predatory manner.

OSCE 45 Years On: Time to Regain Prominence – By Arkady SAVITSKY (Strategic Culture Foundation)

OSCE 45 Years On: Time to Regain Prominence
Arkady SAVITSKY | 09.07.2018 | WORLD / Europe

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is holding its 27th Annual Session on 7-11 July 2018 in Berlin. This month the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe marks its 45-year anniversary. It was established as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) in July 1973 to be renamed Organization in 1995. The Helsinki Act adopted by the Conference remains the cornerstone of European security. The Russian and US lawmakers used the event for meeting each other on the sidelines before the upcoming Trump-Putin Helsinki summit scheduled for July 16. The Organization provides a forum for discussions and the opportunity should not be missed.

In the heat of the Cold War, the CSCE served as an inclusive, consensus-based platform for constructive dialogue no matter how adverse the weather was. It’s hard to overestimate the important role the 1975 Helsinki Act played in making Europe a safer place.

Since the 1990s, the OSCE has been declared obsolete numerous times but it is still unique and its raison d’être can hardly be questioned. Reviving the Helsinki spirit and restoring confidence that existed those days should be a top priority at the time the attempts to build a single security system in the Euro-Atlantic area have evidently led to nowhere. The common goal of creating a value-based security community from Vancouver to Vladivostok, envisioned in OSCE documents after the end of the Cold War, has never materialized. Today Europe is divided and unstable, balancing on the brink of slipping into anarchy and a new Cold War.

It has turned into a continent where double standards prevail, color revolutions are staged and sanctions wars are raging, while the idea of US exceptionalism is used to justify violations of international law. But sanctions and violations do not help build security architecture.

The ramifications of instability in the MENA region, triggered to large extent by US and NATO military interventions, pose a serious threat to Europe. The crisis in Ukraine, the Nagorno-Karabakh stand-off, the situation in Kosovo and the status of Transnistria remain unsolved problems.

The OSCE has to large extent lost its role as a security forum able to effectively handle problems. This has happened for a range of reasons, including the NATO eastward expansion, the erosion of treaty-based stability and inability to find solutions to regional conflicts.

The treaties concluded within the OSCE framework are either dead or about to take the final breath. The Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) has become a thing of the past. The Open Skies Treaty is facing an uncertain future.

The turbulent times dictate the need for the OSCE’s notable comeback to turn the tide and strengthen European security. In 2018, Italy chairs the OSCE and the country’s new government can play a positive role in making the Organization reappear on the radar and regain its relevance.

Practical steps can be taken. The 2011 Vienna Document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures (CSBMs) could be updated. The discussions on “Steinmeier Initiative” in the area of conventional arms control could be a start of OSCE-brokered process. In 2008, Russia submitted for OSCE consideration the draft Treaty on European Security. It was largely ignored by Western nations and swept under the rug as time dragged by. Probably if the attitude had been different then, Europe would have been a much safer place today. Now the German initiative, which is in essence a repetition of what Moscow offered ten years ago, has been waiting to be put on the OSCE agenda since 2016. Is it the right moment for wasting time instead of starting talks?

The ongoing Structured Dialogue (SD) on security challenges is a good step towards the revival of multilateral security dialogue. The Organization can be used as an effective communication channel for more frequent military-to-military contacts to prevent escalation and enhance predictability and transparency. It is especially important in view of fruitless attempts to make the NATO-Russia Council an effective forum for addressing burning security problems. Finally, the OSCE could initiate a new negotiation process with the aim of having a “Helsinki Act II” document signed.

The OSCE needs reforms. Its decision-making process has proven to be ineffective. All decisions are taken by consensus. With so many members, it’s unrealistic. The most complex and important issues are supposed to be discussed at the level of heads of state. There has been no OSCE summit since 2010. The Organization has no Charter. Russia has proposed to prepare one numerous times but the initiative is left hanging in the air.

Not all is doom and gloom. Far from it. The newly formed Italian government led by PM Giuseppe Conte has the reputation of being able to adopt inventive approaches and see things in a new light. It’s full of desire to contribute into making the OSCE an effective multilateral forum able to enhance European security. Swiss diplomat Thomas Greminger, the new OSCE Secretary General, is resolute to get the Organization back to the days of glory. The 25th OSCE Ministerial Council will be held in Milan on 6 and 7 December 2018. There still time to work on new proposals to make the Organization regain its prominence.

Tags: OSCE

Hysterics on repeat: British MP, establishment journalists rush to blame Russia after Amesbury chemical death – By RT

amesbury poisoning sturgess novichok

© Henry Nicholls / Reuters
Forensic investigators wearing protective suits in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018.

The death of Dawn Sturgess from what police say was exposure to Novichok has sparked a new fit of Russia-blaming, as an MP, high-profile commentators and mainstream journalists pointed the finger at Moscow.

As British police launched a murder investigation into the poisoning and death of Dawn Sturgess, 44, in Amesbury, various self-styled chemical weapons experts on Twitter have cried for Russia’s blood, squarely blaming Moscow for the incident yet in the early stages of the investigation.

Mike Gapes, the Labour and Co-operative MP for Ilford South who recently got some limelight by urging British parliamentarians against providing any commentary to RT, immediately named Russia as a party responsible for Sturgess’ death.

“This was a murder of a British citizen as a result of use of a chemical nerve agent produced by the Russian state,” Gapes wrote on Twitter, voicing something even Theresa ‘highly likely’ May has yet been wary of saying.

Gapes’ vitriol was joined by Kremlin watchers from UK establishment media, Russia correspondent for The Telegraph Alec Luhn, and The Guardian’s Luke Harding.

Harding, a well-known critic of the Russian government, implied that Sturgess was “collateral damage” of the Kremlin-orchestrated operation that was the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March in Salisbury.

“Dawn Sturgess dies after exposure to #novichok. The circumstances unclear. An utter indifference to collateral damage one of the hallmarks of the #Putin regime and its extra-territorial operations,” he tweeted.

Harding was a long-time Guardian correspondent in Moscow until 2011, when he was denied entry into Russia after violating accreditation rules. While the issue was promptly resolved and he was allowed back several days later, Harding alleged that he was a victim of a Kremlin crackdown on dissenting opinions.

Alec Luhn, another high-profile Russia critic, has used Sturgess’ death to defy Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, commenting on the Skripals poisoning, said that if the father and daughter were indeed attacked by a military-grade toxic agent they would not have survived.

Putin’s remark, according to Luhn’s logic, somehow gives more credibility to the version that it was Moscow behind the Salisbury poisoning.

“Vladimir Putin previously argued that the Russian state couldn’t have used a military nerve agent in the UK because the victims would have died. Now one of them has,” Luhn wrote.

Some commentators have gone as far as accusing the Russian president of personally killing Sturgess. The upcoming Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki was inevitably dragged into the picture.

“Putin is a murderer. What are the odds Trump doesn’t bring this up next week. Putin is our ENEMY!!!” Brian Krassenstein, an editor at Hill Reporter with nearly 500,000 Twitter followers, wrote.

Since the 16 July meeting was announced, hardliners have ostracized the US President for cozying up to his supposed puppet master, denouncing him as “traitor-in-chief” for his intention to have good relations with Russia and calling the Russian leader “fine.”

Far from everyone was convinced by the allegations of Russian involvement, which is still based entirely on speculation, as it’s unclear at this stage how Sturgess came into contact with the substance. Moreover, neither Sturgess nor her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, who remains in critical condition in the hospital, have nothing in their background to suggest they might be of interest to the Kremlin, police said.

However, when faced with backlash (or, indeed, legitimate questions) over his tweet, Gapes preferred to label anyone asking for evidence or doubting Russia’s guilt “Kremlin bots” and “squawking abusive trolls” from Russia.

Gapes reacted the same way when he was accused of attempting to censor alternative opinions in the wake of his attack on RT. At the time, he called those who ventured to disagree with him “Putin apologists.”

Comment:

 
 

See Also:

SAA REPELS RODENT ATTACK IN GOLAN HEIGHTS; WE MOURN THE UNTIMELY DEATH OF A GREAT AND LOYAL SYRIAN – By Ziad Fadel

 SAA UNCOVERS MORE ARSENALS IN DER’AH

DER’AH:

The Western propaganda media is in full gear describing the surrender of the terrorist forces, once funded and abetted by the United States and its NATO allies, as a “deal” brokered by the Russian National Reconciliation Delegation where, the terrorists “agreed” to remove themselves from towns they once controlled and cede them over to the legitimate Syrian government.  Hooey!  The terrorist groups, including Jaysh Al-Islam, had become so terrified of the citizens they were tormenting that they simply surrendered all their heavy and medium weapons to the SAA.  Simple as that. No agreement. The ones who want to take advantage of the Amnesty Program or want to have their status “adjusted” can do exactly that.  Those who have a sour grape taste in their mouth can go to Idlib in the same way the British say:  “Go to Coventry!”  Or as I say:  “Go to Hell!”.

My source in Damascus tells me he heard that Muhammad ‘Alloosh and several high ranking members of the “Army of Islam” (yawn) or Jaysh Al-Islam have left Syria for parts unknown.  My own suspicion is he stealthily crossed into Jordan and then into Saudi Arabia where he can practice his paedophilia to his heart’s content.

  1. A photo of just one of the armored vehicles commandeered by the SAA at Naseeb.

Here’s a photo from SANA of a field hospital where terrorist quacks treated injured terrorist rodents.  This is from the town of Nu’ayma which was liberated yesterday by the SAA.

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OBITUARY:  JULY 6, 2018 SEES DEATH OF FORMER MINISTER OF INFORMATION: ‘UMRAAN AL-ZU’BI, ESQ. 

We at SyrPer extend our sincerest condolences to the Al-Zu’bi family upon hearing of the untimely passing of Syria’s former Minister of Information, ‘Umraan Al-Zu’bi.  ‘Umraan was born in Damascus in 1959 to a family originally from Der’ah.  He subsequently went to law school at the University of Damascus.  He passed away after having been named Vice President of the National Progressive Front in 2016, a position he retained until his death.  He became Minister of Information in 2012 and was known for his very liberal approach to certain press freedoms.  I personally used to relish his interviews because of his unabashed contempt for the Saudis, Qataris and the rest of that bedounized trash he used to call ‘Irbaan or عربان .

We join the Regional Command of the Ba’ath Party, The National Progressive Front, Lawyers’ Union and the Ministry of Information in expressing our sadness over this fine man’s passing.  He died at the hospital after a very sudden cardiac arrest.  He was only 58 years old.

He will be remembered today at the Badr Al-Maaliki Mosque and interred at the Al-Sagheer Cemetery in Damascus.

In Pace Requiescat.  

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SYRIAN ARMY REPELS ZIO-RODENT ATTACK ON AL-BA’ATH CITY AND KHAAN ARNABA

Al-Ba’ath City:  It’s all out of the bag now.  Jabhat Al-Nusra is part and parcel of the Zionist plan for the Golan Heights.  Oh, these Ashkenazi Hebrew-impersonators probably shudder at the idea of aiding Takfeeri cannibals, but, have to swallow a bitter pill for the sake of their tin-pot settler state.

Yesterday, with Zionist connivance, (Monzer says SAA-MI intercepted a Druze communicating with a JN terrorist over known Zionist lines), a unit of about 14 cockroaches attacked SAA soldiers entrenched in a well-fortified base just south of Al-Ba’ath City.  A pilot-less drone was deployed for surveillance and sent back images of the rodents moving in a row of Toyota flatbeds festooned with 23mm cannons.  The terrorists also unleashed a barrage of mortar fire from rear positions inside Zionist lines.  No problem.

The captain in charge order an immediate frontal assault on the convoy with a Kornet operator accompanying all SAA units.  The convoy of rodents was annihilated to the tune of 12 killed and another two or three crawling back to the hole out of which they emerged.  Monzer says the carcasses of the terrorists were picked up by villagers who did not want to breathe downwind from the stink of the putrescent, decaying rats.

Oh, and by the way….. the drone returned unscathed.

Khaan Arnaba: Zionist aircraft and terrorist artillery bombed innocent villagers at this sleepy little town.  Only one citizen was injured because the SAA had warned the inhabitants of the attack and they all left for outlying areas.  The damage can be seen in the above photo.

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NEWS AND COMMENT:

Tony Gratrex sent me this article which will make Chris feel that much more vindicated.  Chris has been telling me about Genie for months.  Here it is:

http://www.iamawake.co/the-shady-oil-company-behind-syrias-hidden-war-golan-israel-genie/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A string of commemorated catastrophes

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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