Iran and Syria Celebrate as Israeli Arrogance Forces Putin’s Hand – By Elijah J. Magnier – RUSSIA INSIDER

It didn’t have to be this way as far as the Kremlin is concerned, but between Israel and his generals Putin chose the latter

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Russia has decided to send to Syria its S-300 VM system and has started delivering the Krasukha 4 radar systems jammer and other related military equipment. These installations indicate the low level of relations between Moscow and Tel Aviv. Israel’s capacity to destroy the new Russian system in Syria is not at issue. Israel may find a way to do so. Nevertheless, any such move will be a direct challenge to Russia’s superpower status.

Russia has repeatedly shown strategic patience: when two of its planes were shot down (first by Turkey in 2015), when the US launched 59 cruise missiles above its head, and when the US bombed Syrian positions and Russian contractors in Deirezzour. The latest of many Israeli provocations risks making Russia look weaker than it is. In this way, Israel has forced Russia to make an aggressive response.

The Russian decision to deliver these advanced missiles system, capable of neutralising any enemy target with a range of 200 km, doesn’t mean Syria will start operating them tomorrow and will thus be able to hit any jet violating its airspace and that of Lebanon. Russia is known for its slow delivery and will have to be in control of the trigger due to the presence of its Air Force in the air together with that of the US coalition.

Israeli arrogance pushed president Vladimir Putin to come out of his comfort zone in taking this decision. The Russian command expressed its anger bluntly when describing Israel as “highly ungrateful”. It seems Russia has helped Israel extensively during the years of its presence in Syria (since 2015) at the expense of the “axis of the resistance”, including Syria. Russia’s goal has been to keep a balance between this axis and its relationship with Israel.

Russia’s quandary is the difficulty of maintaining such a balance in this complicated conflict. The US has taken a clear stand behind Israel. Russia was also trying to align itself with Israel, despite the fact that Tel Aviv – a military state with a government – is not interested in balance. Israel’s most recent behaviour amounts to downgrading and mocking Russia’s position as a superpower.

Israel’s politico-military leadership was not embarrassed to inform Russia only one minute before its attack on the Latakia warehouse manufacturing spare parts of the Syrian M-600, the equivalent of the solid fuel precision missile Fateh-110. Moreover, Tel Aviv misinformed Russia’s Hmaymeem coordination centre, claiming that the Israeli attack would come from the east. The Russian command instructed the IL-20 to move west and land at the airport to avoid being caught in a crossfire. But the Israeli F-16 jets arrived from the west and not the east, leading to the downing of the IL-20 and the death of the 15 Russian servicemen.

Russia’s efforts at a balanced position have met with Israeli abuse. President Assad told his Russian homologue – during their last conversation – that Israel, under the pretext of hitting Hezbollah arms convoys, is destroying the Syrian army’s infrastructure, preventing it from recovering. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been undermining Putin in punishment for the neutral stand the Russian president has been trying to adopt.

Israel’s aggressive posture led it into a tactical mistake. It is now faced with a strategic crisis as its condescension pushes Putin to arm Syria further. But the most serious decision is not the long-delayed delivery of the S-300 VM but the decision to close Syrian airspace and prevent any hostile jet from violating it. In this regard, Russia may not be able to avoid direct confrontation with the US, whose forces (including the UK and France) are occupying the al-Tanf crossing between Syria and Iraq as well as the province of al-Hasaka and part of Deir-ezzour.

The S-300 VM can protect the Syrian coast, including Aleppo, Homs and Damascus. This would be enough to protect the Syrian government and the Iranian presence in the Levant. This would in turn definitely push Israel to escalate, and even to use its F-35 stealth fighters to avoid being intercepted by the Syrian air defence system. But this would be yet another direct challenge to Russia.

The “Axis of the resistance” is watching from afar and has decided not to intervene in order to avoid any involvement with Putin’s decision. They see his move as positive and a first step away from the Russian president’s neutral stand. The move is accordingly unwelcome to “ungrateful” Israel.

The Russian decision wasn’t born from the void but from cumulative Israeli actions to cripple the Syrian army’s capability when Russia has been trying to rebuild it. Putin’s decision goes beyond the relations of Israel and Moscow. There is a regional-international war going on in the Levant. All weapons are being used in the Syrian-Lebanese-Iranian theatre with the exception of outright nuclear bombs.

The “Axis of the resistance” is watching carefully and reaping benefits from US and Israeli mistakes. However, the last chapter in this war has not been written. Syria will ultimately be left with al-Hasaka and al-Tanf to liberate, both occupied by US forces. The Syrian war remains full of surprises, and dangers may multiply at any moment.

NEW LEGISLATION WILL ALLOW ISRAELI SETTLERS TO ‘OWN’ ILLEGALLY OCCUPIED WEST BANK LAND – By Ariyana Love – Middle East Rising

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Notice the timing of this latest land grab move by right-wing extremists in Israel – just ahead of the much anticipated Kushner-Netayahu “Ultimate Peace Deal” soon to be unveiled to great fanfare in Washington DC and Tel Aviv (but little much elsewhere).

Netanyahu and Kushner working behind closed doors to carve-up what remains of Palestine for Israeli settlers.
The new Israeli law entitled, The “Law for the Regularization of Settlement in Judea and Samaria”, allows the state to expropriate Palestinian land on which illegal Israeli settlements were built, has already been deemed as “unconstitutional” by Israeli left-wing groups sympathetic to the native Palestinian Arab population
Palinfo reports…Clearly, this new Likud ‘land heist’ is designed to ensure that Palestinians will remain tangled in legalese and excessive jargon in order to create a permanent stalemate regardless of which way the supposed “peace deal” goes. The law will enable Jewish occupiers to maintain illegal possession of stolen land through a fraudulent ‘legal’ framework that allows the state of Israel expropriate Palestinian land on which illegal settlements were built supposedly “in good faith or at the state’s instruction,” and thereby denying the rightful Palestinian landowners of the right to use their own land “until there is a diplomatic resolution of the status of the territories.” To make it seem ‘fair and balanced’ the law claims to provide a mechanism for paying-off of “compensating” Palestinians whose privately owned land was stolen from them by the state of Israel.
An Israeli newspaper said that the ministerial committee for legislation at the Knesset would study a bill on Sunday that would allow Jewish settlers to acquire land rights in the occupied West Bank.
Members of the Knesset cannot discuss bills and vote them into laws before this ministerial committee, whose members are ministers, approve them for discussion on the floor of the Knesset.
According to Haaretz newspaper, the explanatory notes affixed to the bill, which is sponsored by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), say that the current situation is based on a 1953 Jordanian law, which prevented anyone from buying land in the West Bank unless they were Jordanian citizens or citizens of another Arab country. That law remained in force after Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 six-day war.
In the early 1970s, an Israeli way was found to circumvent the law and allow settlers to buy land there through a special order stating that anybody could buy land through a company registered in the West Bank, regardless of who owned the company.
That enabled Jews to set up companies registered in the West Bank and use them to buy land, the newspaper affirmed.
Smotrich’s bill aims to eliminate this disparity and simply state that anyone can buy land in the occupied West Bank. “The fact that an Israeli currently can’t buy land there just because he is an Israeli is unacceptable,” the bill’s explanatory notes said.
Source / The Palestinian Information Center
Via TLB
Ariyana Love is a researcher/writer with The Liberty Beacon Project. She is Directing Middle East Rising & Occupy Palestine TV news channels. Ariyana is a human rights defender and Goodwill Ambassador to Palestine. She is also Chairman of an international foundation promoting humanitarian projects in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The Path to World War III Risky Israeli behavior threatens everyone By Philip Giraldi – THE UNZ REPORT

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The minimal U.S. press coverage accorded to last Monday’s shooting down of a Russian intelligence plane off the coast of Syria is, of course, a reflection both of lack of interest and of Israel’s involvement in the incident. If one had read the New York Times or the Washington Post on the morning after the shoot-down or watched the morning network news it would have been easy to miss the story altogether. The corporate media’s desire to sustain established foreign policy narratives while also protecting Israel at all costs is as much a feature of American television news as are the once every five minutes commercials from big pharma urging the public to take medications for diseases that no one has ever heard of.

Israel is, of course, claiming innocence, that it was the Syrians who shot down the Russian aircraft while the Israeli jets were legitimately targeting a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” Seeking to undo some of the damage caused, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express his condolences. He also sent his air force chief to Russia on Thursday to provide a detailed report on what had occurred from the Israeli perspective.

But that story, however it will be spun, is inevitably only part of the tale. The narrative of what occurred is by now well established. The Russian aircraft was returning to base after a mission over the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast monitoring the activities of a French warship and at least one British RAF plane. As a large and relatively slow propeller driven aircraft on a routine intelligence gathering mission, the Ilyushin 20 had no reason to conceal its presence. It was apparently preparing to land at its airbase at Khmeimim in Syria when the incident took place. It may or may not have had its transponder on, which would signal to the Syrian air defenses that it was a “friendly.”

Syrian air defenses were on high alert because Israel had attacked targets near Damascus on the previous day. On that occasion a Boeing 747 on the ground that Israel claimed was transporting weapons was the target. One should note in passing that Israeli claims about what it is targeting in Syria are never independently verifiable.

The Israelis for their part were using four F-16 fighter bombers to stage a surprise night attack on several sites near Latakia, close to the airbase being used by the Russians. They came in from the Mediterranean Sea and clearly were using the Russian plane to mask their approach as the Ilyushin 20 would have presented a much larger radar profile for the air defenses. The radar systems on the F-16s would also have clearly seen the Russian plane.

The Israelis might have been expecting that the Syrians would not fire at all at the incoming planes knowing that one of them at least was being flown by their Russian allies. If that was the expectation, it proved wrong and it was indeed a Syrian S-200 ground to air missile directed by its guidance system to the larger target that brought down the plane and killed its fourteen crew members. The Israelis completed their bombing run and flew back home. There were also reports that the French frigate offshore fired several missiles during the exchange, but they have not been confirmed while the British plane was also reportedly circling out of range though within the general area.

There was also a back story. The Israelis and Russian military had established a hotline, similar to the one that is used with the U.S. command in Syria, precisely intended to avoid incidents like the Ilyushin shoot-down that might escalate into a more major conflict. Israel reportedly used the line but only one minute before the incident took place, leaving no time for the Russian plane to take evasive action.

The Russian Ministry of Defense was irate. It saw the exploitation of the intelligence plane by the Israelis as a deliberate high-risk initiative. It warned “We consider these provocative actions by Israel as hostile. Fifteen Russian military service members have died because of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military. This is absolutely contrary to the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership. We reserve the right for an adequate response.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin was more conciliatory, saying the incident was a “chain of tragic circumstances.” He contrasted it with the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian warplane in 2015, which was planned and deliberate, noting that Israel had not actually attacked the Ilyushin. Though the Putin comments clearly recognize that his country’s relationship with Israel is delicate to say the least, that does not mean that he will do nothing.

Many Israelis are emigres from Russia and there are close ties between the two countries, but their views on Syria diverge considerably. As much as Putin might like to strike back at Israel in a hard, substantive way, he will likely only upgrade and strengthen the air defenses around Russian troop concentrations and warn that another “surprise” attack will be resisted. Unfortunately, he knows that he is substantially outgunned locally by the U.S., France, Britain and Israel, not to mention Turkey, and a violent response that would escalate the conflict is not in his interest. He has similarly, in cooperation with his Syrian allies, delayed a major attempt to retake terrorist controlled Idlib province, as he works out a formula with Ankara to prevent heavy handed Turkish intervention.

But there is another dimension to the story that the international media has largely chosen to ignore. And that is that Israel is now carrying out almost daily air attacks on Syria, over 200 in the past 18 months, a country with which it is not at war and which has not attacked it or threatened it in any way. It justifies the attacks by claiming that they are directed against Iran or Hezbollah, not at Syria itself. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that any peace settlement in Syria include the complete removal of Iranians, a demand that has also been repeated by the United States, which is also calling for the end to the Bashar al-Assad government and its replacement by something more “democratic.”

Aggressive war directed at a non-threatening country is the ultimate war crime as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunals that followed after the Second World War, yet the United States and its poodles Britain and France have not so much as squeaked when Israel kills civilians and soldiers in its surprise attacks against targets that it alone frequently claims to be linked to the Iranians. Washington would not be in much of a position to cast the first stone anyway, as it is in Syria illegally, bombs targets regularly, to include two major cruise missile strikes, and, on at least one occasion, set a trap that reportedly succeeded in killing a large number of Russian mercenaries fighting on the Syrian government side.

And then there is the other dimension of Israeli interference with its neighbors, the secret wars in which it supports the terrorist groups operating in Syria as well as in Iran. The Netanyahu government has armed the terrorists operating in Syria and even treated them in Israeli hospitals when they get wounded. On one occasion when ISIS accidentally fired into Israeli-held territory on the Golan Heights it subsequently apologized. So, if you ask who is supporting terrorism the answer first and foremost should be Israel, but Israel pays no price for doing so because of the protection afforded by Washington, which, by the way, is also protecting terrorists.

There is, of course, an alternative explanation for the Israeli action. Netanyahu might have considered it all a win-win either way, with the Russian plane masking and enabling the Israeli attack without consequence for Israel or, perversely, producing an incident inviting retaliation from Moscow, which would likely lead to a shooting war with the United States after it inevitably steps in to support Israel’s government. In either case, the chaos in Syria that Israel desires would continue and even worsen but there would also be the potential danger of a possible expansion of the war as a consequence, making it regional or even broader.

It’s the same old story. Israel does risky things like attacking its neighbors because it knows it will pay no price due to Washington’s support. The downing of the Russian plane through Israeli contrivance created a situation that could easily have escalated into a war involving Moscow and Washington. What Israel is really thinking when it seeks to create anarchy all around its borders is anyone’s guess, but it is, to be sure, in no one’s interest to allow the process to continue. It is past time for Donald Trump to fulfill his campaign promise to pull the plug on American engagement in Syria and terminate the seemingly endless cycle of wars in the Middle East.

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

 

Turkey Now Controls Syria’s Jihadists – By Eric ZUESSE – /strategic Culture Foundation

Turkey Now Controls Syria’s Jihadists

Because of the US Government’s repeated threats to start World War III against Russia on Syrian territory if Russia will assist Syria’s Government to eliminate the jihadists who control Syria’s Idlib province, Russia’s Government agreed, on September 17th, with Turkey’s Government, that Turkey’s Government will control Idlib, which is Syria’s most jihadist-friendly province

Consequently, the threatened US-and-allied bombing campaign to overthrow Syria’s Government and replace it with one that would be controlled by the royal family of Saudi Arabia (the Sauds) has been placed on hold, because such a bombing campaign would now mean the US going to war against not only Syria’s Government and Russia’s Government and Iran’s Government, but also against Turkey’s Government, which is a NATO member and (because of its location) has been an essential part of the American Empire.

Turkey is thus now balanced on a knife’s edge, between the US and its allies (representing the Saud family) on the one side, versus Russia and its allies (representing the anti-Saud alliance) on the other.

Historically, the Sauds have competed against the Turkish Government for leadership of the world’s Muslims. Gradually, the Sauds came to ally themselves first with the British Empire, and then with the rising American Empire, which two Empires merged into one right after World War II.

Turkey was the head of the Ottoman Empire — that was actually the Turkish empire — and Turkey became defeated in World War I by the British side, including the leader of the Saud family. As a result of the epoch-making September 17th agreement about Idlib, Turkey, which for nearly a hundred years was an important ally of America, no longer is a US ally, but is vacillating between alliance with Russia, versus alliance with the US

The Historical Background

Some historical background is helpful for understanding where we’re coming from, and where we are heading to, here: 

In 1811, the fundamentalist-Sunni Wahhabis of Arabia, led by the Saud family, revolted against the non-fundamentalist Sunni Ottoman Turks, and were crushed by the Ottomans

In 1830, “The Great Game” started, in which the British Empire unsuccessfully tried to colonize Afghanistan next door to the world’s most natural-resources-rich land, Russia, but Britain gave up in defeat in 1895, and therefore Afghanistan remained neutral.

As British historian Martin Ewans wrote in his 2002 Afghanistan: A Short History (p. 12), “Although never colonized, Afghanistan is part of the colonial history of Tzarist Russia and British India, with a strategic importance that in 1884 brought the two empires to the brink of war.” Ewens indicated (p. 66) that Russia’s opposition to Britain’s colonizing Afghanistan was based upon Russians’ fear that Britain would use the fundamentalist-Sunni Afghans as proxy boots-on-the-ground to spread into and take over parts of Russia.

John David Blom’s March 2009 “The Decline of Anglo-Saudi Relations” noted (p. 7) that, “The major areas of British imperialism in the Middle East during the nineteenth century were the Ottoman and Persian Empires, the Trucial states along the Persian Gulf, Aden, Oman, and Egypt. The Ottoman and Persian Empire provided a buffer against Russian expansion south.” Furthermore, Blom observed (p. 11) that after the Saud family came to recognize that in order for them to dominate against the Ottoman Turks for control over the Islamic world, “The Anglo-Saudi Treaty of 1915 recognized Ibn Saud’s position as ruler of Najd, El Hassa, Qatif and Jubail. It guaranteed British protection of these regions in exchange for control of Ibn Saud’s foreign policy.” Of course, the defeat of Turkey was the real focus of that, otherwise called Treaty of Darin. But the decline of Anglo-Saudi relations was merely the opposite end of the rise of US-Saudi relations. After WW I, this British alliance with the Sauds was effectively taken over on 23 May 1933 by Standard Oil of California (a Rockefeller oil company, now called Chevron) when the existing oil-discoveries in Saudi Arabia failed to excite British and European investors sufficiently. Three years later, Texaco joined SoCal. Then, in 1938, these American drillers made the first big oil-strike in Saudi Arabia. In 1943, the company became renamed Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO), and the previous British Empire now effectively became the American Empire. The alliance between the Saud family and the US aristocracy has remained solid ever since.

Further contributing to the Sauds’ increasing reliance upon the US aristocracy instead of upon the British aristocracy, has been this: In The West at the end of the 1800s, the British Empire adopted the British mining-magnate Cecil Rhodes’s plan for their Empire to become joined with the soaring new American Empire, which combination during World War I won against the then-soaring German Empire (and against its allied Japanese and Italian Empires) and then won against Germany yet again in WW II, this time because Russia and its Soviet allies basically conquered the Germans in the east. The US, emerging then essentially unscarred from WW II which had devastated all of America’s allies in that war, became, more clearly than ever, the Saud family’s winning horse, to carry them closer to final victory. 

In the 1915 Treaty of Darin, between the United Kingdom and Abdul-Aziz al-Saud (sometimes called Ibn Saud, who then led only part of what subsequently became the larger Saudi Arabia) both parties agreed that Saud would join UK’s war to conquer (Ottoman-led) Turkey; and that, in return, the British Empire (UK) would protect and defend the Saud family’s imposed rule, anywhere that it might become challenged.

Turkey’s Government was thus conquered, and then it ended its moderate-Islamist Ottoman Empire, after Turkey’s participation on Germany’s side in WW I produced General Ataturk’s creation of the secular Turkish state in 1923, and the end of the Turkish Caliphate the following year. Ataturk created a Turkey whose laws were almost completely independent of the Quran.

However, after the success of the US-Saudi war against Russia in 1979 by means of spreading Wahhabist and other fundamentalist-Sunni mosques and especially funding and creating mujahideen, Taliban, Al Qaeda, and ultimately ISIS fighters, all against Russia and against Russia’s ally Iran — that is, against the two countries which the Sauds and America’s aristocracy are the most determined to conquer — the Islamist Tayyip Erdogan in 2003 rose finally to power in Turkey, so as to support that US-Saudi cause, against Russia, and against Iran. 

Turkey, of course, is on Syria’s northern border. The accession to power of an Islamist leader of Turkey constituted a disastrous turn against the adjoining Syria, which country now was almost completely surrounded by hostile governments (controlled by fundamentalist Sunnis, except Israel, which is controlled by fundamentalist Jews). Erdogan was very much America’s leader of Turkey. 

However, the US aristocracy wanted Fethullah Gülen, who was even more dependent upon the US, to take over Turkey. So, on 15 July 2016, a US-NATO-backed coup-attempt to replace Erdogan by Gulen occurred and failed. It failed because Russia’s Putin informed Erdogan in time to save Erdogan’s life. This did not, however, turn Turkey immediately and 100% against America’s aristocracy, but it certainly did start that. This is the reason why Russia’s Astana Peace Process to settle and end the war in Syria includes Russia, Iran, and Turkey — and not US, Saudi Arabia, or any other outright enemies of Russia and of Iran.

America’s CIA has actually been trying ever since 1949 to place the Middle East’s only committedly anti-sectarian, pro-secular, nation, Syria, under the control of the fundamentalist-Sunni Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia and cooperate with US oil companies.

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CIA admits orchestrating Syrian Coup of March 1949.

8,782 views Osman Sáffah Published on Jan 26, 2014

CIA agent Miles Copeland Jr in an interview with the BBC in 1967 admits that the CIA orchestrated and staged the 1949 Syrian Coup against President Shukri al-Kuwatli. 

[Copeland says that nations’ leaders who don’t do what US corporations want them to do are “corrupt”]

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The Recent Background of the September 17th Agreement on Idlib

That brings us to the U.S-Saudi-Israeli war against Syria, which is called by the aggressors ‘the Syrian civil war’ in order to blame it against Assad instead of against themselves. 

Early in this invasion of Syria, Turkey was a leading participant, and provided pathways both for international jihadists — all of them fundamentalist Sunnis — and for the weaponry for them, to enter into Syria. 

Qatar, which is owned by its fundamentalist-Sunni royal family the Thanis, likewise was essential to the invasion and occupation of Syria, and funded the Muslim Brotherhood in order to assist the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad (as the Thanis did more successfully in Egypt with their installation of Mohammed Morsi). But then, on 5 June 2017, the Sauds decided that the Thanis aren’t sufficiently anti-Shia and anti Iranian; so, the Sauds tried to blockade Qatar and to crush the Thanis. Whereas America’s aristocracy turned against Erdogan, Saudi Arabia’s royal family turned against the Thanis. So: both Turkey and Qatar are now on the fence and no longer committed to the US-Saudi side against Syria.

Throughout the recent phase of the 7-year-long jihadists’ war to overthrow Syria’s Government, almost all of the surviving jihadists who did not surrender to Syria’s Government have been killed on the spot where they were, and all of the jihadists who did surrender were bussed by Syria’s Government into Idlib, which consequently is now even more jihadist-friendly than it was at the war’s start. Here is how this happened:

When Barack Obama came into the White House in January 2009 he was hoping to overthrow Syria’s Government. Also in 2009, UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron’s Government was actively planning to do it.

The pro-jihadist Thani family, as the main funders of the Muslim Brotherhood and owners of Qatar, have been almost as important cooperators with US oil and gas companies as are Saudi Arabia’s royal family. The Thanis’ Al Jazeera network reported, on 13 March 2012, that already Idlib was “opposition-held” and that “The Free Syrian Army is based in Turkey and its border is the most likely location for getting arms into Syria.” That’s how The West was transporting weapons to the jihadists. Al Jazeera’s correspondent said that the Syrian Government’s campaign to defeat its opponents there “was ‘Shooting fish in a barrel’ — these people can’t escape, they can’t help themselves, they have very little weaponry, what can they do but sit there and take it?” The West was thoroughly sympathetic, and supplied weapons to the supposedly helpless jihadists.

On 29 July 2012, when the US Government still had not yet made clear that it was planning to hand Syria over to the Saud family, the New York Times headlined “As Syrian War Drags On, Jihadists Take Bigger Role” and already noted that, “Idlib Province, the northern Syrian region where resistance fighters control the most territory, is the prime example.” Their report observed, without any indication of the significance of the fact, that, “A central reason cited by the Obama administration for limiting support to the resistance to things like communications equipment is that it did not want arms flowing to Islamic radicals. But the flip side is that Salafist groups, or Muslim puritans, now receive most foreign financing.” The significance was that Washington was taking its lead from the Sauds and the other fundamentalist-Sunni Arab oil monarchs. The article did, however, note that, “Significantly, most of the money flowing to the Syrian opposition is coming from religious donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region whose generosity hinges on Salafi teaching.” “Salafi teaching” is fundamentalist-Sunni teaching. It originated with Mohammed ibn al-Wahhab, the man who in 1744 authorized the Saud family to conquer the world for Allah. As the NYT reported there, Saudi fundamentalist-Sunni teaching was now taking over in the most-Sunni parts of Syria, because that’s what was being funded by the war’s financial backers: 

The attitude prompts grumbling from fighters used to the gentler Islam long prevalent in Syria. Adel, a media activist from Idlib interviewed in Antakya, Turkey, in June, complained that “the Islamic current has broken into the heart of this revolution.” When a Muslim Brotherhood member joined his group in Idlib, he said, inside of a week the man demanded that the slogans that they shouted all included, “There is no god but God.” “Now there are more religious chants than secular ones,” Adel groused. …

Ahrar al-Sham in particular enjoys the support of Sheik Adnan al-Arour, a Sunni Muslim media star in exile, who blasts Shiites and Alawites on his television show and on what appears to be his authentic Twitter account. “We buy weapons from the donations and savings of the Wahhabi children,” said one recent Twitter posting, referring to the Islamic sect prominent in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. …

Abu Zein, a spokesman for Sukur al-Sham, said the organization included Syrians plus other Arabs, French and Belgians. “The Qaeda ideology existed previously, but it was suppressed by the regime,” he said in a Skype interview. “But after the uprising they found very fertile ground, plus the funders to support their existence,” he added. “The ideology was present, but the personnel were absent. Now we have both.”

Bill Roggio, of Long War Journal, reported on 4 August 2012 that “Al Nusrah Front conducts joint operation with Free Syrian Army”. Nusrah was the name for Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, and the FSA were controlled by Turkey’s Government. These were America’s key allies on this matter. 

On 15 November 2012, Roggio concluded that, “The al Qaeda-linked Al Nusrah Front has been the most active jihadist group in Syria.” He also clarified, which the July NYT report had not, that, “The Ahrar al Sham Brigades is a Salafist-jihadist group that operates in Idlib and the surrounding areas, and has numerous foreign fighters in its ranks. Sheik Adnan al Arour, a prominent Syrian cleric who has often appeared in the media, backs the Ahrar al Sham Brigades.”

Roggio reported on 19 December 2012 that, “The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group that is fighting Bashir al Assad’s regime in Syria, and allied jihadist groups took control of the last major Syrian Army base in western Aleppo after a two-month-long siege. The base is believed to be involved in Syria’s chemical weapons program.” So, that might have been one of the incidents when jihadists obtained chemical weapons to blame subsequently against Syria’s Government.

On 25 February 2013, the New York Times bannered, “Saudis Step Up Help for Rebels in Syria With Croatian Arms” and reported, regarding those ‘rebels’ (who were actually being led by Al Qaeda — but the NYT kept this fact a secret) that, “Washington’s role in the shipments, if any, is not clear. Officials in Europe and the United States, including those at the Central Intelligence Agency, cited the sensitivity of the shipments and declined to comment publicly.” (Already, any honest newspaper would have abandoned using Obama’s ‘rebels’ label for them and would honestly have instead said “jihadists” in order to refer to them, but the US major media clearly aren’t honest.)

On 8 March 2013, Britain’s Telegraph bannered “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’: The United States has coordinated a massive airlift of arms to Syrian rebels from Croatia with the help of Britain and other European states, despite the continuing European Union arms embargo, it was claimed yesterday.” This newspaper reported that, “Western officials told the New York Times that the weapons had been bought from Croatia by Saudi Arabia, and that they had been funnelled to rebel groups seen by the west as more secular and nationalist.” Since virtually all “rebel groups” in Syria actually worked under Al Qaeda’s leadership and training, calling them “more secular and nationalist” was simply to lie — someone had lied there, too.

Dr. Christof Lehman on 8 August 2013 presented considerable support for the view that “Ultimately, the designated function of the Muslim Brotherhood (AKP) administration of Tayyip Erdogan is the dismantlement of the Turkish Republic and the subsequent establishment of smaller US/NATO client states along ethnic and sectarian lines.”

On 22 June 2014, Dr. Lehmann reported that, “The green light for the use of ISIS brigades to carve up Iraq, widen the Syria conflict into a greater Middle East war and to throw Iran off-balance was given behind closed doors at the Atlantic Council meeting in Turkey, in November 2013, told a source close to Saudi – Lebanese billionaire Saad Hariri, adding that the US Embassy in Ankara is the operation’s headquarter. … The summit was, among others, attended by Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül, US Energy Secretary Ernst Monitz, Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former US National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.”

On 12 June 2015 (less than four months before Russia, at Syria’s request, was to enter the war on 30 September 2015, to prevent a Saud takeover of Syria), the Washington Post reported that, “because of regime losses in Idlib and elsewhere, … many people are starting to openly talk about an endgame for Assad and Syria.” Victory for the US-Saud-Turkey-Qatar-al-Qaeda side seemed now to be almost assured.

Then, Dr. Christina Lin wrote on 19 September 2015, that “Turkey-backed Chinese Uyghur terrorists are gaining a stronghold in Syria from which to launch attacks on China” and “3,500 Uyghurs are settling in a village near Jisr-al Shagour that was just taken from Assad, close to the stronghold of Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) that is in the Turkey-backed Army of Conquest. They are allegedly under the supervision of Turkish intelligence that has been accused of supplying fake passports to recruit Chinese Uyghurs to wage jihad in Syria.” Turkey was recruiting Al Qaeda’s Uyghur Chinese Turkmen into Syria. America and its allies seemed confident that Assad would soon be overthrown.

The Debka File was the only honest English-language reporter on the top news-story of 30 September 2015 (if not of that entire year), the historic day when, as they headlined it with unique honesty, “Russia enters Syrian war with air strikes, jolts the Mid East into new era” — and the Washington Post headlined as the journalistic bad joke that that neoconservative-neoliberal propaganda-sheet is, “Did the Russians really strike the Islamic State?”. And CNN bannered with the ambiguous, but less dishonest and far less ludicrous “Russia launches first airstrikes in Syria”. However, CNN’s heavily propaganda-laden ‘news’ report even contained some lies, such as the sub-headed one, “Russia: Coalition strikes on ISIS illegal,” which falsely suggested that Russia was against bombing ISIS in Syria, when the reality was instead that the US was against bombing ISIS and had not done it until Russia did first, which was on that very day. The US regime was simply bewildered at what had just occurred, which is that the war in Syria was now a superpower war on both of its sides, and no longer only on one side, as it had been until that moment. Putin decided, at that time, that he had had enough of Western aggression, and that he wouldn’t take it anymore: he would come to the defense of that ally. France24, being in line with the US regime, bannered “Russia hitting all of Assad’s opponents: analysts” and opened with the likewise falsifying “Syrian rebels who oppose both the regime and the Islamic State group have been hit hardest by Russian air strikes, showing Moscow’s determination to defend President Bashar al-Assad against all enemies,” as if the French Government, too, were not up to its neck in that war on the jihadists’ side, and as if Russia’s Government had not been consistently ferocious against the spread of jihadism.

The West was already deep in blood on this matter, on the devil’s side of it.

America’s “PBS” Public Broadcasting System TV headlined on 1 October 2015, “Mike Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, talks about why Russia deployed airstrikes in Syria” and Morell told interviewer Charlie Rose about Vladimir Putin: 

This guy is a thug. This guy is a bully. The second point I’d make is that he only understands relative power — who’s got more power, who’s got less power. That’s how he thinks about relationships. Third, I will tell you that he tries to create the image that he is this great strategic thinker. He’s not at all. He is a very good tactician, very good reacting to situations taking advantage of situations but he’s not particularly good at thinking them through. You know, I think that he is actually the biggest loser over the long term in the Ukraine crisis and I think he’s miscalculated what he’s doing in Syria now.

What a perfect description he gave there of himself, and of his bosses.

On 25 October 2015, Dr. Christina Lin headlined “Qatar’s jihad and mideast failing states” and reported: “This week Qatar’s foreign minister Khadlid Al-Attiyah said Doha is mulling military intervention in Syria alongside Turkey and Saudi Arabia to fight Assad, rather than ISIS.” The real story always had been that the US is on the side of jihadists, as cheap boots-on-the-ground to do the US aristocracy’s dirty-work abroad.

On 16 November 2015, Dr. Lin reported that, “Chinese Turkistan Islamic Party, Uzbek Imam Bukhari Jamaat and Katibat Tawhid wal Jihad have planted themselves in Idlib. In Aleppo, a May 2015 USAID report on Central Asian fighters in Syria, referred to three Uzbek militant groups allied with Al Nusra as “Aleppo Uzbeks”: Imam al-Bukhoriy Brigade, Uzbek Brigade of Jabhat al Nusra, and Seyfullah Shishani Jamaat. Now, various intelligence sources estimate there are around 5,000 Uzbek, 2,000 Chechens and more than 1,000 Chinese militants in Syria.”

On 24 November 2015, she bannered “NATO, Turkey, annexation of north Syria like north Cyprus?” and ripped into Erdogan as the snake that he is. And she noted: “While Russian jetfighters are flying over Syrian territory at the invitation of the sovereign government of Syria, Turkish jetfighters are flying over Iraqi territory to bomb Kurdish rebels without the consent of the Iraqi government, prompting the Arab League to issue a statement on 4 August condemning Turkey’s violation of Iraqi sovereignty.” He’s like America’s current and recent Presidents. She pointed out that, “as NATO member Turkey is transforming from a secular, democratic system to one of an increasingly Islamist and autocratic presidential system under Erdogan, it appears the alliance is also transforming from a value-based alliance of human right, democracy, and rule of law to one that is increasingly interest-based.” Was she talking about Trump, Obama, and Bush? She closed: “as Erdogan continues to goad NATO to stand in solidarity with Turkey and its territorial expansions in the Levant, it appears the world is now entering a dangerous new phase of an increasingly post-western and illiberal world order.”

But now that Putin had saved Erdogan from being killed by Obama, Erdogan is no longer an American stooge. What he is, is whatever secret deals he has secretly committed himself to. 

So: Trump threatened WW III in order to protect the people in the only province in Syria that even at the war’s start were about 90% preferring Al Qaeda and/or ISIS over Assad’s secular Government (and which is even far more jihadist today). As a result, on 17 September 2018, Putin and Rouhani — at least for the time being — offered to hand control of Idlib over to Erdogan, because doing this would postpone if not end that US-and-allied threat, of destroying the world in order to conquer the US aristocracy’s main targets.

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

September 14, 16:57 UTC+3

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

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

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

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

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

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

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

More:
http://tass.com/politics/1021676

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noor i Alaa na prosvjedima protiv antiterorističke kampanje u Idlibu

© Twitter

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

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

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

military map northern Syria Idlib

© Suriye Gundemi
Military situation in northern Syria: September 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syrian rebel threatens Erdogan against ‘selling Idlib’

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

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

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

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

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Andrés Perezalonso

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

The Deal that Lurks Behind the Calm: US, Israel Seek to Exploit Palestinian Divisions and Create More of Them – By Hisham H. Ahmed, Ph.D – MINT PRESS

Trump Kushner Netanyahu
“Deal of the Century”

Trump’s “deal of the century,” which lurks behind the calm, is a deal with and for everybody except the Palestinian people themselves, who are most directly affected and concerned.

OCCUPIED PALESTINE — (Analysis) This article is not written to support one Palestinian group and/or to criticize another. The writer does not condone Palestinian partisanship and factionalism. The writer strongly believes that this is the time for true open-mindedness and objectivity. The problem at hand is bigger and greater than all Palestinian groups when dealt with separately: the new calm agreement under discussion impacts the Palestinian problem and threatens the Palestinian people in their entirety.

It is no exaggeration to say that concepts such as calm, reconciliation and division have become very burdensome for the Palestinian psyche and that they have started to cause tremendous anxiety and fear. This is because these words carry so much significance for Palestinian life and destiny.

It is also no exaggeration to say that the Palestinian people have become fed up with the repeated back-and-forth discussions about reconciliation and division between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. For the Palestinian people, it seems that priorities other than the Palestinian national interest and the public good have risen to the surface in the past few years, despite the fact that ending the seemingly chronic state of division has been the main demand by the Palestinian people of their leaders all along.

 

With time, this demand has become a dream. However, now it seems to have been turned into a fantasy, as the credibility of Palestinian factions to end the state of division and arrive at reconciliation has been crushed.

Most Palestinias feel that even in the most difficult times for them, there was always hope for liberation and independence. With the split among Palestinians at the present stage, this goal seems almost impossible, as no real fundamental transformation can be brought about.

Division — be it caused by internal, external, or a mix of reasons — cannot but bring about more Israeli control of, and hegemony over, the Palestinian people. Although it is difficult to speak of rigid fixed rules for how the world of politics operates, one of the absolute basics is that a house united is always stronger, more immune, and a lot more resistant in the face of the many challenges and storms. At the same time, a leaky house does not protect even those who hide in one corner or another.

As every Palestinian continued to be hopeful that the state of division would end and that reconciliation would be achieved, even in the midst of the darkest moments and the most difficult circumstances, the Palestinian problem faces today something more detrimental than even division and the absence of reconciliation: this lies in the legitimization of the state of division and the burial of the idea of reconciliation, once and for all. This may be caused by the looming, deadly, supposed calm on the horizon between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

 

Renewed Oslo

There is near consensus that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is quite catastrophic. All bases for human survival — water, food, fresh air and electricity — have reached record low levels. The United Nations and a number of non-governmental organizations have reported that the current humanitarian situation may cause untold consequences, as it is neither livable nor sustainable.

The whole Gaza Strip has been turned into the largest human prison on earth. This has made the process of teaching and learning, work, acquiring health care, and travel unattainable. It is no exaggeration to say that all human rights in the Gaza Strip have been violated. Friends and foes alike of the Palestinian people recognize that the current state of affairs cannot endure under any circumstances. There is a widespread perception in the world that the Gaza Strip stands at a critical threshold: either all bases for human life collapse completely; or alternatively, the world pretends that it is doing something to ameliorate the humanitarian situation, albeit by using deceptive, twisted political and economic tools that could in fact lead to a worse humanitarian situation in the Strip than the one that exists today.

Enemies of the Palestinian people calculate that the cost of maintaining the current situation seems to exceed, by far, the benefits they might reap by pretending to end the misery. The proposed humanitarian solutions to rescue the Strip from its dilemma are meant to lead the Palestinian people, particularly those who might participate in crafting an agreement in this regard, into a vicious circle.

Palestinian Gaza power cut

Sure, those on the frontline need, and certainly deserve, some rest. However, the timing, place for, and the circumstances surrounding any desired rest are of prime importance. Under the current conditions and circumstances — and in light of regional and international pressures, as work on implementing Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” intensifies, even without any formal declaration — a Palestinian-Israeli Agreement for “calm” does not amount to providing the necessary rest, but rather, to falling in the trap of an attempt at marginalizing all forms of resistance to the occupation.

Using the worsening humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip as grounds to justify the arrival at a new calm cannot be separated from the overall context of diabolically trying to put the “deal of the century” into effect. This is no different from using the awful humanitarian situation in the occupied territories as a justification for signing the Oslo Agreement in 1993.

Many Palestinians feel that the regurgitation of a bad experience is worse than trying it again from the start. Failure to learn the lessons of the wasteful and aimless Palestinian-Israeli negotiations that have hurt the Palestinian cause is not just a mistake: rather, it is sinful. The Palestinian problem, in its entirety, is targeted now by some of the most senseless minds. Therefore, caution and precision, in dealing with any political bait in the form of proposed solutions, are in order and required. Caution and precision are national necessities for Palestinians that, if eschewed, can only result in catastrophic consequences exceeding in their magnitude the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip today.

Critics of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement for calm that might be arrived unilaterally by Hamas remind everyone of the seriously impending dangers surrounding the Palestinian problem on the eve of signing the Oslo agreement. Various different details notwithstanding, the situation then for all Palestinians was not better than the one that exists in Gaza today. The nights and days of Israeli imposed curfews in the occupied Palestinian territories in 1967 still live in Palestinian memory. No Palestinian can forget the impact of the continued clashes with the Israeli occupation army during the Intifada (uprising) of the Stones, as it is called, in 1987.

The suffering of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the diaspora due to siege, bombardment and isolation cannot be overlooked. Many Palestinian refugees, especially in Lebanon, were reduced to eating dogs, cats and rats in order to stay alive. Scenes of the waves of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian employees working in the Gulf being expelled with their families following the Gulf Crisis of 1990-91 cannot be erased. This is on top of all the massacres Palestinians have been subjected to since the conflict with the Israeli occupation started.

Critics further argue that if the Oslo agreement had brought the Palestinian people calamity, the new looming agreement for calm on the horizon can be even more dangerous, causing more harm to the steadfast Palestinian people.

Palestinian refugee Lebanon

The new proposed calm seems to be no more than a renewed Oslo. With renewal, it is expected that the producer will pay more attention to earlier flaws in order to perfect control and oppression of the Palestinian people. The Gaza Strip, which was to come first in the Oslo accords, had witnessed a relative relaxation of tensions in the first couple of years of Oslo: it had a small airport and work was to begin for establishing a port for people to travel in and out of the Strip.

This means that it is not entirely strange for the Israeli occupation to make a promise of lifting the siege off the Strip, allow reconstruction, establish a sea pathway between Gaza and Cyprus, and even to turn Gaza into Singapore of the Arabs today, and then break its promises tomorrow, depending on how Israeli institutions interpret their national interest at a given point in time. There is no deterrent power to prevent the Israeli occupation from breaking its promises. The occupation aims at getting rid of the Palestinians who live in Gaza: the former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once said unequivocally that his wish was to wake up one morning and find Gaza sunk in the sea.

Those who embrace the new calm may say that they will retaliate by withdrawing from any new agreement if the Israelis break their promises or violate the agreement. However, this is not convincing for most Palestinians, as they consider such a retaliation, if it were to take place, a reactive rather than a proactive measure. The effectiveness of any given action is often measured by its timing. Israelis might find it beneficial to make promises at this stage and to break them at another. It all depends on what their plans are at any given time.

For example, Oslo was an Israeli need at one point, while its abrogation seems to be a necessity now. Israelis needed Oslo to buy more time to help them confiscate more Palestinian land and build more Israeli settlements under the cover of the erroneous peace. In other words, what might seem to be useful today might be harmful tomorrow. Critics warn that no Palestinians should deceive themselves that they can withdraw from the calm whenever they like and when the Israelis decide to sidetrack it. Palestinians have been engulfed in the Oslo swamp for many years and unable to get out of its grip until now.

 

Why is Israel gasping behind the calm now?

Those who follow the Israeli media closely have no doubt noticed that a number of outlets have tirelessly tried to release some information that made it look like an agreement for calm has been practically reached with Hamas. About two weeks ago some outlets even confirmed that the agreement had become effective. Although there had been no confirmation from the other side, it seems that the Israeli media was interested in preparing Israeli public opinion for what might be coming, in fulfillment of the desires of Israeli leaders, especially in the mini-security cabinet. Never mind all the talk about tense discussions within the mini-security cabinet regarding the viability, utility and content of the calm agreement.

Over the past few months, especially since the start of the weekly Great Marches of Return in the Gaza Strip, one cannot help but detect serious anxiety within Israeli institutions, as they have been trying to repeatedly demonstrate Israeli strength through some airstrikes on Gaza, on the one hand, and to enter into a number of ceasefire understandings, on the other. The bombing in Gaza and entry into ceasefire agreements have been pursued almost in parallel. One could go to sleep with the news of airstrikes on Gaza, and wake up with an announcement for a ceasefire.

This signifies that the Israelis seem to be more interested in arriving at an agreement for calm with Gaza at this stage, rather than in a military confrontation. Assuming this hypothesis is valid, why then would Israel pant for an agreement for calm in the Gaza Strip, specifically at this stage? Ten reasons seem to stand behind Israeli thinking:

 

1 | Using the suggested agreement for calm as a natural prelude for Trump’s “deal of the century.”

Here, the objective is to use humanitarian and economic considerations to achieve political and legal ends. More specifically, the plan is to promise Palestinians in Gaza some humanitarian relief in exchange for some political concessions. As the saying goes, there is no free lunch.

The Trump administration has blessed the ongoing talks in Cairo between Hamas and Egyptian officials, as well as other Palestinian factions, to broker some deal. The Trump administration is convinced that an agreement for calm is consistent with, and supports its scheme to deal with the Palestinian problem in fragments. It further believes — as has been expressed in statements by Jared Kushner, Trump’s advisor to the president on the Middle East — that some humanitarian cover will have to be used, ostensibly to end the conversation around the future of Palestine by removing all viable options for a future Palestinian state through the deal of the century.

Observers can easily detect the profound paradox in recent U.S. moves: on the one hand, the Trump administration has cut its annual financial contributions to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, a clearly humanitarian organization; and on the other, the administration has declared that it supports efforts that could lead to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

Cutting support to UNRWA has been most detrimental, as it led this UN organization to freeze a good number of its projects, and in the process terminate the employment of hundreds very needy Palestinian workers and staff in the Gaza Strip. As such, imagining a separation between an agreement for calm and the deal of the century is an exercise in daydreaming. All aspects are suspicious: he parallel timing, the content, and the dynamics.

UNRWA school in Beirut

 

2 | To serve Benjamin Netanyahu personally.

Some might wonder why Netanyahu has succeeded in becoming the longest-serving Israeli prime minister. It is attributable neither to the fact that Netanyahu is a pathological liar nor to any advantage in intelligence compared to others who were in his position before. Certainly, his hostility towards the peace process from the start has boosted his position among radical Israeli rightists. However, it is doubtful that this would be the determining factor that enabled Netanyahu to last so long in office and manage to stand in the way of a viable contender against him, despite the fact that he has been bombarded with allegations of financial and political corruption.

The secret behind Netanyahu’s success, compared to his political foes, can be primarily found in his ability to provide Israelis with more security relative to that provided by other prime ministers, especially since the signing of the Oslo Agreement. In a society where security is paramount, the Israeli voter does not seem to be able to find a more effective leader than Netanyahu, in spite of all his shortcomings.

Accordingly, an agreement for calm in the Gaza Strip very directly serves Netanyahu’s secret of success. It sends a strong message to Israeli society, especially to radical rightist groups. At a time when Netanyahu is quite self-centered on his political and personal ambitions, elevating them over other considerations, and is quite concerned that a military confrontation with the Gaza Strip might have some negative ramifications for his political future, he tries to sound and act tough, while deep inside he wishes for calm. No one would believe that Netanyahu might embark on an agreement for calm out of a good heart towards Palestinians. Certainly, an improved humanitarian life for Palestinians in Gaza is not high on his agenda. Nevertheless, pursuing an agreement for calm with Hamas seems to be his choice at this stage.

 

3 | Improving Israel’s image in the world.

It is worth remembering here that one of Israel’s main goals for entangling the PLO, and subsequently the Palestinian Authority, in the dark alleys of Oslo was exactly to brighten Israel’s worsening image in the world — especially in the West, where it has many friends — an image deteriorating particularly as a result of Israel’s gruesome crimes against unarmed Palestinian children, men and women during the 1987 Intifada of the Stones.

Scenes of heavily armed Israeli soldiers brutally beating unarmed Palestinians, and breaking their bones had immensely affected the image of the Israeli army as the most disciplined in the world. Mounting official criticism and increasing public protests against Israeli brutality and oppression of the Palestinian people around the world had compelled Israeli occupation institutions to search for an effective, extensive and organized public-relations campaign to show that Israel was peace-loving, and not aggressive or hostile.

In this context, Israel continued to market itself as a power searching for peace and negotiations through Oslo, while at the same time, it continued unabated confiscation of more Palestinian land; building more settlements; and, in every way possible, strengthening the occupation regime throughout all the occupied Palestinian territories.

What mattered to Israel was that it appeared as a power involved in negotiations and peace talks with the Palestinians, so as to alter world public opinion. Of course, most experts know that this marketed picture of Israel was quite deceptive because the negotiations were used only to further solidify the occupation regime. However, Israel succeeded in ending a great deal of the isolation it was experiencing as a result of its practices: once it entered into the Oslo talks, a number of countries in the region and in the world renewed their relations with Tel Aviv.

The timing could not be better now for another, more intensified public-relations campaign to revitalize Israel’s tarnished world image, and most specifically after BDS — boycott, divestment and sanctions — efforts have taken their toll on Israeli products and reputation. Even in countries where Israel has strong friends, BDS has been quite effective. There have been increasing expressions and moves of solidarity with the besieged Gaza Strip over the past few years. Israel has found itself with a dire need to undo its negative image, especially in Western societies.

Some of Tel Aviv’s diplomatic relations have been affected. Israel has also suffered serious economic losses from Palestinian use of fiery paper kites and incendiary balloons against settlements around the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu wants to revive Israeli settler confidence in him as an effective provider of security, especially around the Gaza Strip. Israel’s improving relations with some Arab countries have not compensated for its worsening image in and relations with friendly Western countries.

Boycott Israel France

Therefore, Israel believes that pretending that it is trying hard for calm with the Gaza Strip might lessen the extent of sharp criticism it is facing from the world community, although it is widely known that Israeli leaders do not usually give much weight to protests against them in the world. They do consider themselves to be above international law. For them — whether the calm is arrived at or not, whether it succeeds or not, and regardless of how long it may last — what matters is that Israel appears as its initiator, supporter and keeper, even though it might in reality assault every semblance of human life in the Gaza Strip, as it has always done since the start of the conflict. Israel adheres to agreements only when violating them become more costly — politically, militarily, diplomatically, economically, and, above all, in terms of security.

While Palestinians in the Gaza Strip might be facing a dire humanitarian situation today due to the prolonged siege and continued bombardment, Israelis, especially in settlements around the Gaza Strip, are not reaping the fruit of security, particularly after the start of the Great Marches for return and the launching of kites and balloons.

 

4 | Subjecting Palestinians to more divisions and splits.

Colonial powers have not stopped using the traditional tactic for control, which is based on the idea of “divide and conquer.” One of the most detrimental aspects of the Oslo Agreement has been its fragmentation of Palestinians in a number of ways, politically, demographically and geographically: between returnees and insiders; West Bankers, Gazans, Jerusalemites; 1948 Palestinians and those in the diaspora; those in areas A, B and C; and those focused on varying issues subject respectively to transitional phase negotiations and permanent resolution. All these layers of division seem to have helped the Israeli occupation tighten its noose around the neck of the Palestinian people and plant more seeds of fragmentation.

Segregated Palestine Map

The calm under discussion is not the culmination of a full-fledged military confrontation: its timing and place of execution is consistent with the terms of the deal of the century that have come to the surface thus far. It is doubtful that it will bring about any real meaningful change in Palestinian life that goes beyond the symbolic and short-lived; and — because it does not have the support of most Palestinian political forces, factions and partie — it becomes then a dense recipe for more Palestinian divisions. Such a state of affairs will inevitably help the Israeli occupation regime boost its power and control, and contribute to saving its institutions at a most critical moment.

At a time when the Palestinian Authority has rejected the deal of the century, as have all other Palestinian factions, going along with one of the deals most dubious components — giving it a humanitarian face and claiming that it will bring about development, reconstruction and modernization for the Gaza Strip — is quite risky and dangerous. Among other things, this will further fragment the already divided Palestinian society. Equally true, paying lip service to the recently resurfacing confederacy option between the West and East Bank of the Jordan River is meant to disguise the assault on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their historic homeland, Palestine, and thus threatens the Palestinian national interest.

The Trump administration, which seems to live in the past when proposing this option, hastens to unmask the true objective of its policy by attempting to liquidate the Palestinian refugee question, once and for all, by completely cutting off the U.S.’ annual financial contributions to UNRWA.

 

5 | Legitimizing and boosting the split and, as a result, declaring the death and burial of reconciliation.

Division among Palestinians has already happened. Political, geographic and social division has become a part of Palestinian life. It is no secret that all attempts at ending it have failed thus far. The last thing Palestinians need is another cause to make that existing division deeper.

Each time an attempt at reconciliation fails, trust and credibility between the parties in dispute are further shattered. To be sure, no Palestinian side has come out to publicly announce that it is not concerned with ending the division and achieving reconciliation. All sides compete with each other to assert their adherence to reconciliation efforts and terms, and each works diligently to blame the other for the impending failures. Despite the fact that most statements and expressions of progress towards reconciliation have not been able to put an end to the state of division, still hope has not completely dissipated. Palestinians remain hopeful that the clouds of split overshadowing the Palestinian people will eventually pass and that the sun of reconciliation will rise again.

However, for one party to embrace the calm alone, in the midst of the most complicated regional and international circumstances surrounding the Palestinian problem, becomes a situation that legitimizes Palestinian division in all of its aspects, even if the embracing party does not accept and/or recognize this fact.

It is certainly true that the Gaza Strip has been suffering immensely under one of the most unfair sieges human history has ever recorded. It is also true that the Strip has been subjected to enormous, unprecedented bombardment in the course of three wars between 2008 and 2014. It is even more valid to suggest that the Strip has been left practically alone since the start of the siege. But it is also sound to maintain that wisdom is most needed not during times of comfort and relaxation but rather during times of crises and hardships.

Reacting to the worsening situation in Gaza because of the siege, without consensus among Palestinians and in the midst of deepening divisions, does sustain the split and makes it chronic. In effect, this could totally destroy any semblance for reconciliation thereafter, at least for an extended period of time. In addition to the already-existing reasons for the split, a single Palestinian faction unilaterally entering into an agreement for calm will add insult to injury, and thus make the potential for a true solution almost nonexistent. One major danger lies in the possibility of managing the split by Palestinians themselves, rather than in ending it. Regional and international financial tools can be used to further pull Palestinians away from each other. After all, there are a number of powerful forces of disintegration that have not wished the Palestinians well over the years.

 

6 | Provoking the Palestinian Authority, which has hitherto rejected the deal of the century, to search for a role for itself to play in dealing with new developments.

It is no secret that enemies of the Palestinian people always try to set one side against another. They always attempt to trigger unhealthy, rather destructive competition over limited opportunities and narrow benefits. Promise of the so-called peace dividends to various competing parties is a way to achieve this goal. The prevalence of relative deprivation in a society like that of the Palestinians enhances the likelihood of embracing and furthering individual and small group interests and benefits at the expense of the public good and/or the national interest. It is no surprise that Palestinian society already suffers from the widespread focus on the “I” more than the ”we.” Acceptance of the other becomes rare, especially as the primacy of the faction, family, and/or the small locality takes over.

Israeli and American planners apparently believe that by making Hamas think that some positive change will take place in Palestinian life if they enter in an agreement for calm with Israel that the Palestinian Authority might be sufficiently provoked, and hence led to follow suit. The belief even goes further to assume that the Authority might want to intensely compete with Hamas, so as to become the power In charge of any possible deal. Such planners calculate that only by further dividing Palestinian society they can get Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to become more competitive. This is the most timely moment to instill more division, so as to pave the way for the implementation of the deal of the century.

Indeed, there are some striking implications and ironies in some relevant political moves. If one reviews the record of political statements by Netanyahu and other Israeli officials before talk about the deal of the century started, one would certainly see that one of the recurring conditions for Israel to resume the political process was for the Palestinian Authority to terminate its ties with Hamas. In almost every talk or statement he gave, Netanyahu would demand of the President of the Authority, Mahmud Abbas, to choose between peace and Hamas. However, all of a sudden after the Authority declared its rejection of the deal of the century, Netanyahu finds it appropriate to work on striking a deal for calm with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, even in the absence of the Authority.

It is also interesting to note in this regard that the UN special envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, stated that he would be content with dealing with Hamas alone regarding life in Gaza, in the event the Authority does not catch up with the move towards the calm. We can surmise that Mladenov would not have made his statements without prior coordination with the United States, which has given its approval for efforts to arrive at an agreement. Such statements can only serve one purpose: to pressure and provoke the Authority to accept its role before it is too late to do so.

Even more important was what one of Israel’s foremost strategists — former head of the Israeli National Security Council, Reserve General Giora Eiland — said. In an article he wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth on August 19, Eiland was direct and quite unequivocal, as he called upon Netanyahu to drop the Palestinian Authority and its president, and to continue working on striking a long-term agreement for calm with Hamas. Again, in a dramatic shift of direction, Eiland reconstructs the discourse in a manner that serves his perspective, as he justifies his call by saying that Hamas was democratically elected in 2006. So Israel brands Hamas as a terrorist organization when such charges serve its interests, then embraces the same group as democratic and opens avenues of negotiations with it when this path seems to promise more benefits.

In any case, no one would believe that Mladenov’s statements and Eiland’s perspective aim to brighten Hamas’s picture and/or to lend legitimacy to Hamas in the world. Rather, they are meant to foment more factional discord in Palestinian society, and to exert pressure on the Palestinian Authority to eventually accept the deal of the century. In so doing, Israel wants to keep Palestinian factions preoccupied with each other, so as to divert attention from the ongoing and intensifying oppressive measures by the occupation against Palestinians, particularly in Jerusalem, and more specifically in the Aqsa Mosque. Apparently this is, in part, what John Bolton, Director of the National Security Council in the U.S., wanted to achieve during his latest visit to Israel in late August.

 

7 | Extracting a Palestinian approval to abrogate the ceasefire understanding between Israel and Hamas that followed the 2014 agression on the Gaza Strip.

This understanding was not the first that Israel signed, nor will it be the last. As usual, it should have come as no surprise that Israel has repeatedly violated the terms of that understanding. However, Israeli planners often resort to legitimizing their violations of a given agreement by arriving at a new agreement. By definition, a new agreement supersedes any prior agreements on related issues. By signing a new agreement for calm, Israeli planners believe that the world will no longer view Israel as the violator of the 2014 ceasefire understanding.

 

8 | Instilling divisions within the axis of resistance — made up of some Palestinian resistance groups, like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria and Iran — by neutralizing Hamas in preparation for a new upcoming great war.

The possibility for a U.S.-supported and/or -led big war in the Middle East is greater than any time in the recent past. Notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. and Israel have failed in a number of wars they waged in the region, lessons of earlier experiences do not seem to be heeded. The fact that such a war has not been waged yet does not mean doing away with the idea, but rather, engaging in more preparations while buying more time.

Especially at a time when the U.S. lives one of its most difficult moments domestically because of the ongoing investigations surrounding Trump’s violations and possible collusion with Russia during the last presidential elections, the possibility of resorting to exporting the crisis externally by creating the conditions for war is not to be underestimated. Certainly, Netanyahu would not object to this kind of development: for a long time, he has been trying to drag the U.S. into a calamitous war against Iran and its allies in the region. Measured by the extraordinarily close relation between the two of them, Trump will certainly be ready to act at the right moment.

Therefore, splitting the axis of resistance from within is high on the agenda of the Israelis and the United States. Israel continues to worry about the formation of a united front by all members in the axis of resistance against it in the event of a war. Hence, fragmentation of the axis of resistance is not a matter of luxury, but rather a matter of strategic necessity.

Hamas Palestine Gaza

Israel and the U.S. did not succeed in achieving this goal through the steadfast Hezbollah: the Lebanese group was given a number of offers by the United States to attract it to drop Iran — as the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, confirmed in one of his speeches — but to no avail. Hamas is believed to be a more amenable target to fall for this ploy: through promises of reconstruction and prosperity projects for the Gaza Strip, it is believed that Hamas will go along with an extended agreement for calm, and hence with staying away from the axis of resistance. Israeli planners believe they can capitalize on a precedent in this regard: the stand Hamas took at the beginning of the Syrian Crisis in opposition to the Syrian government and in support of some armed opposition groups, in a manner that stood in total contradiction to and conflict with that taken by Hezbollah and Iran.

Therefore, the least that can be achieved, Israel calculates, is to neutralize Hamas and free a whole front with the Gaza Strip in the event of a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, or even with Iran. The Israeli thinking is that Hamas itself becomes interested in holding onto the state of calm once it sees the money pouring in for reconstructing the Gaza Strip.

 

9 | Planting seeds of conflict within the Gaza Strip between supporters and opponents of the calm.

It is an established fact now that there is no Palestinian consensus over an agreement for calm with Israel at this critical stage because of the tricky surrounding international and regional circumstances. Therefore, it is expected that the Gaza Strip will witness intense interaction between supporters and opponents. It is also no secret that those who count on Hamas’s failure cannot be overlooked. There are some who do not wish Hamas well, and as such, will do everything they can to topple any attempt towards calm. At the same time, Israel is not just sitting idly by watching what’s happening: as it has done numerous times in the past, Israel will do everything at its disposal, through its intelligence services, to heighten the level of tensions in the Gaza Strip. This would be one of the most effective ways to keep Hamas occupied with internal matters.

As Oslo created a fertile ground for lasting internal fueds and frictions among Palestinians, the calm under discussion is bound to trigger unavoidable confrontations within the Gaza Strip. At best, Hamas will inevitably find itself compelled to take harsh and necessary security measures against any disrupters of the calm. This may position Hamas to fight against other resistance groups in the Gaza Strip. Israel will surely not shed any tear over such possible developments.

 

10 | Tainting the image of Hamas as a movement for resistance in Palestinian society.

Many observers and analysts suggest that Hamas did not acquire its popularity and legitimacy in Palestinian society due to its political and ideological positions, as much as by virtue of its resistance against the Israeli occupation. In Palestinian society, the effectiveness of any movement, faction or party is usually measured by the extent to which it is involved in the national struggle and in resistance against the occupation. The popularity of political forces goes up or down depending on the size, magnitude and effect of their role in resistance efforts.

In this regard, aside from political positions, friends and foes of Hamas recognize that Hamas has played a pivotal role in resistance activities, not the least of which being its ability to withstand and remain steadfast in the face of three subsequent Israeli agressions in the last decade.

However, in spite of this recognition, many consider the timing and the context of the calm suspicious at this stage, and such considerations may alter this image of Hamas among many Palestinians. Palestinian critics argue that Gazans have been sacrificing, not so as to get a loaf of bread, so to speak, as important as it may be for human survival, but rather to achieve political and national objectives — i.e., freedom and independence. Critics also suggest that such a path has been tested before and failed: Israel does not abide by agreements it signs.

They say that the alternative is not for Hamas to go to war against Israel, but rather to cooperate with other Palestinian parties to capitalize on international solidarity with the Gaza Strip so as to end the state of siege, once and for all, without having to make detrimental political concessions.

In addition, there does not seem to be uniformity of opinion within Hamas itself regarding the calm. Some Hamas leaders, cadres, members and supporters oppose the calm under the current conditions and circumstances. Some have expressed profound disenchantment with the regurgitation of failing experiences. Arguments by the defenders of the calm from within Hamas have not been all that convincing for many rank and file members. Therefore, it is widely expected that pursuing the calm in the midst of internal disagreements can also lead to splits within Hamas itself.

 

The calm would bring anything but calm

Accordingly, the imminent dangers of the would-be calm for Palestinians are enormous, and may exceed by far the detrimental effects of the Oslo Agreement. Regional and international circumstances are less conducive for Palestinians, particularly with the burning desire of the Trump administration to put its deal of the century into effect. Even those Palestinians who have been heavily and staunchly involved in negotiations with the Israelis have come out sharply criticizing the timing and the context of the calm now.

Even in the event there is a symbolic temporary lifting of the siege off the Gaza Strip, the main beneficiary remains the Israeli occupation itself, as it controls the flow and prices of entering goods and commodities, and as it exercises total control over all entry points, from land, air and sea.

Palestinian police officers sit in a small boat as they pass near an Israeli naval vessel

It doesn’t seem to be the case that the calm under discussion will bring about much calm. Any unilateral agreement by one Palestinian party is bound to fail and take Palestinians into a more difficult situation than the one lived in the Gaza Strip today. The timing and overall context of an agreement for calm now are quite questionable, especially in light of the ongoing efforts by the Trump administration to liquidate the question of Palestine through its so-called deal of the century: it is a deal with and for everybody except the Palestinian people themselves, who are most directly affected and concerned.

The key to the way out does not lie in more partisanship and factional bickering: it is this deterioration in Palestinian cohesion that made it possible for Trump to gin up a solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without the Palestinian people.

The solution lies in real unity among Palestinians, dictated by interest, necessity and circumstance. This can prove to be beneficial not only for Palestinians but, as surprising as this may sound, for all other players involved in this conflict, including the Israelis themselves.

While Israel and the United States may plan to instill more division and fragmentation among Palestinians to achieve short-term objectives, the state of chaos, and perhaps anarchy that may ensue can have far-reaching destabilizing effects for Israel. Geography is not on their side. Their schemes have not always succeeded in the past. Indeed they have been wrestling with one strategic failure after another. They should not be captivated by a sense of instantaneous gratification. The Palestinian people have persevered all along and, in spite of the impending heavy cost, they are expected to survive again, and emerge much stronger. No one can argue that the current state of affairs, or one that is worse, is sustainable.

The Palestinian people are the party that needs a genuine calm the most. The occupation has turned their life into total misery, day-in and day-out. All aspects of their life have been severely affected because the occupation is after them 24/7. At the same time, Palestinians have become quite wary of deceptive, misleading agreements for calm, which give the occupation more time to become more entrenched under the cover of peace.

The would-be agreement for calm does not promise to be any different. Actually, it more directly threatens Palestinian well-being and existence, as it is linked to the deal of the century, which aims to dissolve the question of Palestine.

What is needed is an agreement that ends the Israeli occupation of Palestine once and for all, and grants the Palestinian people their rights to real, full statehood, freedom, independence and self-determination, as dictated by international law. Any other way is bound to deepen and intensify the conflict. No one should be misled by fake cosmetic political moves here or there. Genuine calm requires genuine intentions, not a recycling of the occupation.

Top Photo | Left to right, US President Donald Trump , Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs | Flickr

Hisham H. Ahmed, Ph.D. was Chair of the Academic Senate and Chair of the Politics Department at Saint Mary’s College of California, he was a Fulbright scholar in Palestine, where he wrote his book: From Religious Salvation to political transformation: the rise of Hamas in Palestinian Society. Ahmed is the author of numerous studies dealing with the Middle East. Ahmed is frequently called upon by the local and international media for analyses of various political issues pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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

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Turkish soldiers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also:

The alter ego wars – by Denis A. Conroy for The Saker Blog

usabombingsinsyria

by Denis A. Conroy for The Saker Blog

The British Press is big on righteous indignation. Its wallows in selective grief whenever Russia is accused of dirty dancing. It uses single issues reportage selectively, to obfuscate its modus operandi. The subject of the unpleasant Salisbury Skripal poisoning attack on two people was written up as though it was the evil to end all evils…far outweighing the attention poor suffering Yemen might deserve, for instance.

It comes as no surprise that the Anglo Zionist media, ablaze with recriminations of the most self-righteous sort, spit out venom with unabashed hypocrisy whenever the Russian Bear is accused of a crime. The entire Skripal episode rests only on assertions. Britain, as a node in the Washington Consensus playbook, likes to issue statements that seem to come directly from the mouth of a prim elocution-teacher articulating words to justify the prioritization of perspectives that afford the Anglo-Zionist sphere a green card. But strangely, their selective grief becomes ever more retrograde.

And it might be that they are unaware that they have been downgraded to the rank of cheerleaders, whose function it is to run into the arena waving plumes. In the ‘great game’ presently underway on the global pitch, where the dollar and the yuan are the symbols that adorn the goal post of either contestant, at either end of the playing field there are basically two combatants.

The neo-conservative class, cosseted in Anglo-Zionist priorities were quick to publish the following statement in the Independent Newspaper; US, France, Canada and Germany… pledge to join Theresa May’s Campaign Against Russian GRU Spy Agency…alleging that the whole operation was approved by Vladmir Putin’s government.

But something didn’t gel, this was a rerun to something we had seen before. It all came across as a reboot of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ …the same alliance who marched onto the world stage as liberators wishing to save Iraq from itself, but ended up destroying it, were back. Somebody had dusted off the old George Bush, Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger lies. The Brits, readying for another sortie, rushed out onto the ‘all the world is a stage’ hoping to kick another goal for Empire.

Stranger than strange is the fact that the liberal classes in the West fail to perceive contiguities that connect them to the horrendous slaughter of thousands of Yemen’s children, or to their acceptance of Israel’s inhuman occupation of Palestine, which alternates between subjecting the occupied people to siege warfare, or to a regatta like event, where the power of the smug occupying force is celebrated in ways the beggar belief. Shooting fish in a barrel comes to mind. Does this happen because “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”?

If the ‘good folk’ of Western enlightenment are undisturbed by the events that recently occurred in Gaza, then they are obviously at one with the majority of Israelis who relish turkey-shoots that slaughter hundreds of caged and unarmed civilians for the sport of it, simply because Israelis are in possession of an ideology that induces identity euphoria in them. Is it because they believe that God or Doctor Strangelove made them the chosen people?

Even more strange is the fact that humans continue to justify lies and subterfuge if their interests are challenged. The US, for example…the Godfather supporting Israel’s gauche actions…remains utterly committed to blocking change everywhere, so that it can keep the world dependent on the American dollar…and the American consumer as well…even at the cost of high trade deficits at home while engaging in trade wars if need be. Collusion between America and Israel is overseen by AIPAC…the new Founding Fathers of The Republic…who live in Washington and Tel Aviv, and whose purpose is to keep the banking system safe from miscegenation. Hence the drip feed prioritisation of single-issue texts and sub-texts that explain Western media and its disappearing values.

The methods used by the unipolar Anglo-Zionist Empire are brutally simple; use military muscle and propaganda to tabulate the rules of the agenda. The most expedient way to do so is to control the flow of information. The space between imputation and tabulation is where colonization is born.

America has become a culture that needs to spend an unbelievable amount of money on security to retain power, both domestically and abroad, so that it can continue to impede systems that might interfere in its quest for global economic hegemony. Its foremost need is to create a system of privately-run forces like Wall Street, The Pentagon, the Intelligence Agencies, the Media, Academia and every other institution that walls-in the ‘the people’s’ voice, so that Corporatism can remain the arbiter in matters of unity.

It is currently referred to as the Deep State. It could also be referred to as the place where fifth-columnists go to pull the leavers that release the crap that spews out from the entails of the chewing-gum single-issue personification of entitlement culture that has overtaken America. It freely proffers single-issues of many stripes to keep existential angst on the boil, while sequestering the sole right to interpret the meaning of unity.

Ever since Corporate American Democracy Inc. emerged as the marketable brand par excellence…by its own reckoning…it has unrelentingly sought to subsume every other form of rule to a nether zone of irrelevance. As its ideological logic continues to spread across the globe, it does so by creating organelles of the Doctor Strangelove kind to kill off competitors vying for a percentage of the global marketplace. The better known ones are, Economic Sanctions, False Flag Operations, Extrajudicial Killings, Government Destabilisation, Siege Warfare, crucifixion of non-white people and many other forms of flesh-shredding instrumentalities that have found their way into the Western toolbox.

But with the passing of time, we have come to understand how adept Corporate American Democracy Inc. has become in creating false-flag single issues of the anodyne kind in its quest to undermine the sovereignty of its neighbours. Examples that springs to mind are Russia Nationalism, State Capitalism and Confucianism in Communist China, plus the Religious component in the Iranian system of governance. In general, Anglo-American-Zionism has little tolerance for cultures in possession of unifying doctrines capable of underpinning the genesis of their unipolar cultures…which is why Corporate Capitalism frequently bombs the shit out of them.

Which brings us back to fifth columnists like George Soros, the archetypal Zionist anti-assimilationist, and what Alex Christoforou had to say about him;

“Leaked Memo Show how George Soros planned to overthrow Vladimir Putin and destabilise Russia”.

“The recent DC Leaks of over 2,500 documents from George Soros NGOs, has shed a bright light on how the billionaire used his vast wealth to create global chaos in a never-ending push to deliver his neo-liberal euphoria to the peasant classes.

While Soros has managed to thoroughly destabilise The European Union by promoting mass immigration and open borders, divided the United States by funding Black Lives Matter and corrupting the very corruptible US political class, and destroyed Ukraine by pushing for an illegal coup of a democratically elected government using neo-Nazi strong men…one country that Soros has not been able to crack has been The Russian Federation”.

One man’s meat is another man’ poison it would seem. Observing the parvenus of fake literacy pushing the Washington-Zionist Consensus across the globe is to witness an Empire in decline. It has acquired all the hallmarks of a society at war with itself. The view from the looking-glass suggests that the vitriolic blowback from within the greed-worn US of A may require the removal of the appellation ‘U’ from the ‘S of A’. At which point, a cross-gender ‘witchcraft craze’ may devour America’s fairest and foulest with a repeat of the Salem Witch Trials (Europe 1300 to 1600), leading to thousands of supposed witches…mostly women…being executed. If blowback is in the offing, expect the casualties to be in the millions this time?

It appears that American media in conjunction with government sanctioned controls relating to ‘kosher’ versus fake news, have successfully manufactured a caulking product that cocoons the native imagination…or lack of…in a narrative that is restrained by the octopus embrace of the billionaire class. The front line being the power to project single issues as the modus operandi of democracy, a multifarious system that leaves the question of helmsman-ship open to ever more privatization.

The joie de vivre that may have existed in the US of A of yore, is no more. It has been replaced by acrimonious duopoly-narcosis infighting concerning which side of the duopoly can run the surveillance state that Corporate America has become. As execrable inequality continues to eat into the American dream, more and more Americans have come to realize that the system is stacked against them. They suspect that there is some awful presence in their midst, but don’t quite know what it is. They suspect that some unnameable force has corrupted the social aspect of the State but remain mystified as to how a socialised state might ward off the predations of Corporate Capitalism.

The idea that the State could be the vector that unified all single-issues is incompatible in a culture that venerated private property and celebratory status as an end to itself. When China’s successes in harnessing capitalism’s potential in ways that worked for the unity of the entire system began to show positive results, alarm bells began ringing in the US of A. It was at this point that the capitalist media swung into action, employing the best bullshit its epistemological dirty dancers could muster to accuse China of bad faith, evil intent, colonial skulduggery, and just about every single issue it could come up with to detract from the obviously very successful New Silk Roads enterprise.

The reason that the New Silk Roads ventures were embraced by so many African nations were that the terms of trade and borrowing were generally more attractive that anything Western banks could match. Besides, Chinese diplomacy and comity were palliatives accompanying the magic of the silky yuan making its way into a greatly underdeveloped dark continent. Silk, gold and the yuan had arrived in time to add a little hope for Africans endeavouring to develop their resourceful habitats.

According to China’s Chamber of International commerce, over 3,000 Chinese companies have invested Africa-wide in telecommunications, transportation, power generation, industrial parks, water supply, rental business for construction machinery, retail, schools, hotels and hospitals.

At the Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, President Xi Jinping announced a significant US $60 billion package to compliment another US $60 billion pledged at the 2015 summit.

That breaks down to $15 billion in grants and interest-free loans; $20 billion in credit lines; a $10 billion fund for development financing; $5 billion to finance imports from Africa; and waiving the debt of the poorest African nations diplomatically linked to China.

We in the Anglo-Zionist marketplace have lost sight of what comity might mean in the context of trade. As colonists and war-mongers we have come to accept violence and deception as the norm. We have also come to accept one set of rules for those on the outside of society, and another set of rules for those on the inside…or for those yet deeper within…the Deep State mandarins who manipulate us.

On any given day, there is $41.1 trillion in a self-invested network of interlocking capital that spans the globe and is managed by the mandarins of global capitalism operating outside our purview, to provide the ideological justifications for their shared interests (promulgated through their corporate media), that entails formulating agendas that have little, if any, concerns about human values or matters pertaining to the health of the planet. They are there as policy elites who seek the continued growth of capital in the world and to serve a unifying function…but for whom?

The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G20, G7, World Trade Organization (WTO), World Economic Forum (WEF), Trilateral commission, Bilderberg Group, Bank of International Settlements, Group of 30 (G30), the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Monetary Conference serve as institutional mechanisms for consensus building within the transnational class, who in turn, exist as states within states, where they enjoy the collective status of fifth columnists, quietly and covertly accumulating assets per means of neo-conservative privatisation.

For evidence of this, we need only look back and observe how deep-state interests skewed interpretations of historic fact to justify their own existential playbook. The phrase “axis of evil” was first used by US President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002 and often repeated through his presidency, to describe foreign governments that, during his administration, sponsored terrorism and sought weapons of mass destruction. The phrase attributed to former speechwriter David Frum, originally as the axis of hatred and then evil. Frum explained the rational for creating the phrase “axis of evil” in his book, “The Right Man. The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush”.

With hindsight, we see how the consolidation of America’s Deep State came into being. The war on the Muslim World was let rip because it had the blessing of AIPAC, The New York Times and a host of fellow travellers who successfully maneuvered their mandarins into positions of power, deep inside the heart of the Republic. In effect, Zionism created a new ‘Vatican’ in the US of A, becoming an eminence grise by slithering its way into the heart of the Republic. In so doing, it adopted the mantle and status of alter ego for the punch-drunk Republic and employed institutions like the New York Times to tabulate a language of deception.

Dipping even deeper into the archives of ‘hindsight’, we are now able to tabulate…thus interpret…the many actions of ‘The Coalition of The Willing’ as being nothing more that an unconscionable jamboree of disinformation designed to intimate the Muslim World, and ultimately, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea…countries that were seen as obstacles that stood in the way of the Anglo-American-Zionist “Project for the New American Century”…compliments of William Kristol and Robert Kagan.

PNAC’s stated goal was “to promote American Global Leadership”. This organization stated that “American leadership is good for both America and for the world” and sought to build support for “a Reaganite” policy of military strength and moral clarity. What we observe in hindsight is totally unacceptable…the re-immergence of a Crusader mentality?

What The Washington Consensus achieved under the leadership of its alter ego (Zionism) was something entirely different; the destruction of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Palestine and other states occurred with absolute impunity. Worst of all, if current holocausts are brought out into the light of day as is the fashion of single-issues politics, they are quickly removed from centre stage scrutiny by the invisible hand that owns the franchise on victimology…and the price for saying that other holocausts are no less inferior to those under franchise, is to be branded an anti-…!!

“All the world’s a stage”, declared the Bard of Avon. But think again; the acrimonious garbage that spews from the mouths of Western governments and their media show us that something quite uniquely different is happening on the world stage that no bard could explain. The evidence is now before us, language and truth are in freefall, and we may just have to wait until some unknown force comes to our rescue, to purge the toxic swamp that obscures our vision of that “All the World’s a Stage” perspective, the one that contains the seeds that are needed to grow a unified unity.

Denis A. Conroy
Freelance Writer
Australia

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