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4 reasons the Syrian conflict has grabbed world attention more than Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been at war for nearly 16 years, but the Syrian conflict which has raged since 2011 has captured global attention to a more substantiate degree.

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There is no such thing as a good war, but there are occasionally such things as just wars. The Syrian conflict is a variation on the second theme. Syria prior to 2011 was a country at peace, it was a country that was stable, it was a country that was placid. Of course, the Syria of 2011 was imperfect and one only needed to listen to the speeches within the People’s Council of Syria to realise that. One would also realise that if one listened to the authentic voices of patriotic Syrians, but sadly few people in the wider world cared to listen to Syrians while their country was at peace and free of terrorism.

Now though, the world is watching and listening to Syria and they are doing so far more intently than in respect of Afghanistan, in most cases.

Here is a qualitative list of why that is.

1. The Moral Clarity of the Syrian Conflict 

In order for people in the wider world to emotionally define a war as just, one needs to understand the conflict in terms of abstract morality in addition to having knowledge about the nature of the conflict.

In this respect, Syria was a watershed moment for much of the world. While much of the day to day fighting in Syria is complicated, the nature of the conflict itself is incredibly simple both politically and morally.

In Syria one witnesses a Ba’athist government representing a society where all religious confessions are treated equally, where men and women share the same rights, lifestyles and attitudes, where culture is allowed to flourish, where education is widespread and encouraged and where secularism combined with religious traditions exists harmoniously.

Standing in opposition to this Ba’athist government are the largely foreign forces of extremist Salafist/Wahhabist, Sunni supremacy, armed gangs whose use of barbaric violence is promulgated in the name of establishing a society in which Shi’a Muslims and Christians would suffer abuse, torture and death, one in which women would be treated as third class chattel and one in which modernity, secularism and worldly education would be eliminated.

By contrast, in Afghanistan there are no angels, insofar as viable political factions are concerned. The government in Kabul is fractured, ineffectual, corrupt and compromised. It’s primary opponents, various Taliban factions are at times only slightly more anti-modern than many government officials. Against these two main forces are those loyal to the so-called ISIS forces whose barbarity is well known.

Into this fray, many including China, Russia, Pakistan and increasingly Iran are advocating for dialogue between the more moderate elements of the Taliban and the more far-sighted supporters of the Kabul government. It is not a plan which assures a specific identity to the country after a would-be settlement, but it is the only reasonable hope for any lasting peace and stability.

This pragmatic solution to Afghanistan lacks the moral clarity of the solution in Syria which Russia, Iran and other allies of Damascus have implemented. In Syria, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and other volunteers chose the side of Ba’athism over the side of extremist Sunni terrorism and bigotry.

For me personally, the conflict in Syria is the most clear cut battle between moral good and moral evil since the Great Patriotic War in which the Soviet Union crushed the fascist aggression of Hitler’s German Reich. By contrast, in Afghanistan there is no one occupying the moral high ground.

2. Different Histories 

Syria has always been a civilisation cradle of great cultures and empires. Mesopotamia and the Levant are along with ancient Indus Valley civilisations and ancient Chinese civilisations, the oldest civilised cultures the world has been able to document.

In the Hellenic period, during the Roman Empire and during the Muslim caliphates, Syria and Damascus in particular became a centre of both worldly and spiritual scholarship. From St. Paul’s conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus to Syria’s vital role as part of Islam’s Golden Age, Syria holds a special history for the world’s major monotheistic religions.

Afghanistan’s history while rich, is often remembered as ‘The Graveyard of Empires’ a place of mighty warriors rather than one of scholarship and religious institutions. While such a paradox betrays the more complex history of Afghanistan, when it comes to historical memory, such paradoxes play a large part in shaping people’s perceptions of a country or culture.

Put another way, one is less horrified when war comes to a place famed for warriors than when it comes to a place famed for ancient monuments, holy sites and scholarship.

3. Different Topography 

The landlocked and mountainous Afghanistan is picturesque but hardly a place known as a tourist resort. By contrast, cities like Aleppo, Latakia and Tartus in Syria have long been places where people from around the world travel in order to admire the historic architecture and breathtaking natural beauty.

Syria’s coasts are among the most inviting on the Mediterranean. When war comes to such a place, it is clear that many people will instantly have a more immediate emotional connection and therefore be more interested in the outcome of a conflict.

This leads to the final reason why the Syrian conflict has attained more international attention vis-a-vis the war in Afghanistan.

4. America Exposed as the Emperor Without Clothes. 

While many anti-war advocates including myself opposed US involvement in Afghanistan from day one, this was certainly not out of any admiration for the Taliban which by almost any objective definition was an extreme and distasteful regime. The fact that the Taliban did in fact shelter and rely on Salafist terrorists as a source of funds and protection was also a further distasteful element of Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Thus, while America’s involvement in Afghanistan was deeply misguided from both the perspective of military logistics and pragmatism, it was not all together the equivalent of taking a blowtorch to a work of fine art.

By contrast, America’s involvement in Syria was indeed taking a blowtorch to the fine art that was and is once again a country which has persevered through the millennia and whose enlightened government is able to combine the heritage of the past with the needs of modernity.

When it became clear that only Syria and her Russian partners had the will and ability to held preserve the ancient Hellenic old city of Palmyra while Barack Obama’s United States waxed lyrical about extremist Salafist terrorists whose ideology was the same as that of ISIS which brutalised Palmyra, it became clear that any claim America had to fighting for morality, civilisation or collective international values was more mythical than the deities the ancient statues were built to worship.

CONCLUSION: 

When people look at Syria, they often think ‘that could be my country, those people living in fear could be my family, those streets being rebuild could be those I once walked on as a visitor and would want to walk upon again’.

Syria as a Mediterranean culture will be deeply familiar to almost anyone who grew up in the northern hemisphere throughout which Mediterranean culture has always held a special place both for its impressive history and its inviting landscapes and cultures which are famous for being hospitable to foreigners.

Afghanistan by contrast remains a mysterious and foreboding place to many, including many of its immediate neighbours who view the peace process more as a burden to do with security than an opportunity to do with future cultural and commercial partnerships.

This is not to say that a Syrian life is more valuable than an Afghan life. All lives are equally valuable and the horrors of any war of aggression is a blemish not only on the place where such a war is fought and among those fighting it but to the entire world.

The contrasts between the two countries and cultures does however help explain why the world remains more solidly fixated on Syria.

However, the conflicts do share something else in common: the sooner the US and her allies quietly exit both places, the sooner some semblance of peace will return in each case, but particularly in Syria which unlike Afghanistan in 2001, was at peace with itself prior to 2011.

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Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

Flashback 2016 – Praying for Palmyra: Valery Gergiev, the renowned Russian maestro, leads an orchestra in the ruins of ancient city, after its liberation from ISIS terrorists:
https://youtu.be/9b0hFIf4Zaw

Isabella Jones
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Isabella Jones

Something I had not known about this concert also, until President Putin told us, was that the heat was so great that their instruments were affected and the players had great difficulty tuning them and getting them to play well. It’s an additional tribute to their dedicated playing.

Wayne Blow
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Wayne Blow

Because of civilised factions working hard to save a great civilisation, from the destructive capitalist forces of the Western so-called civilisations!!!!

Isabella Jones
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Isabella Jones

What can any person who even pretends to hold principles and values of high moral standing do but agree with all their heart with this article and it’s expressed desire that America pick up it’s bat and ball and go home. I would like to add though to please remember that, unless you define “civilised” as “pertaining to modern Western” the writer is wrong to say these cultures are the oldest known. The Aboriginal people of Australia are the oldest living culture, although the invading British have left them little of what they had. But these people have a documented… Read more »

John R. Nolan
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John R. Nolan

Beautifully put comment on the Aboriginal people of Australia, who, even to this day, are third class citizens, being killed with booze, the tinkling trinkets of the white fellas toys, as we now strive to breed them into a forgotten history. Yes, we could have learnt much from them, their relationship with the land, which none can own, their ability to harmonize with the land, to respect all nature, but, as with every other place the white fella has gone, all we have done is destroy, slaughter, and, as karma goes, soon we will pay for our greed, our ugliness,… Read more »

Isabella Jones
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Isabella Jones

Thank you John – and for your own lovely way of expressing what has been done. It’s such a mark of a barbaric savage mind I always think, that it is unable to recognise anything outside it’s own knowledge and culture as having value. It’s the same as the invading Spanish Catholics, destroying all the writings going back thousands of years of the native peoples of the Incas and Andean countries. Now we have so little left of all the knowledge contained in them.. The fascinating rongorongo script of the Easter Island people, only now being recognised as depicting what… Read more »

John R. Nolan
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John R. Nolan

The English invaders of Australia, beside introducing incomprehensible levels barbarity, roman catholic destruction of the local culture, their spiritual history, reached a tragic triumph, when, in Tasmania, we actually wiped out an entire race of Australian aboriginals. The white fella, wherever we have gone, introduced war, perversity, drugs, social destruction, slavery, environmental chaos. We, the white fellas, are the curse of this planet, and will shortly pay the price of our arrogance, our greed, our lack of respect for our environment. Historically, whilst introducing invading each nation, we also introduced animals, cats, dogs, rabbits, plants, etc., which have all but… Read more »

Isabella Jones
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Isabella Jones

There was something bitterly ironic in your last line John . 🙂 But yes – you are right. Agree with you completely. Not a lot to be proud of. As John Anthony West, the independent, non-Academic Egyptologist says, “we think we’re so smart, with our stripped toothpaste and atom bombs”. The AngloFrancoGermanic derived White Man -he who compromises the so called “West” to day – has in truth never really risen above the level of barbaric savages, because those are the ones the system put in place as rulers, deciders and leaders. There are good ones, decent ones – but… Read more »

John R. Nolan
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John R. Nolan

Is it an intrinsic characteristic of the human race, especially the white fellas, that most of our recorded history is of wars, religious, economic and race, where as the Aboriginal people here do not keep too much record of the past, but live for the moment, intent on preserving the land they were given, by God, to protect? What is it, what genetic imbalance filters through our blood, our mental functioning, which cause us to worship violence, suffering? Is this the mark of the beast? Cain was of his father, the devil; is this where we get our beastly characteristics,… Read more »

rouillardjos
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rouillardjos

Since the US drop its support for its terrorist army and they are losing interest, we rarely ear anything anymore in the news about Syria (Canada). Nothing is mention about the progress of the Syrian army and his helpers. If it is not about an US campaign like Mosul, nothing is said in the news.

Guillermo Calvo Mahe
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Excellent and important article, I’ve shared it with students of political science, government and international relations.

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The mainstream media does not want you to think [Video]

It is difficult to tell if recent reports like this really represent a realization for the media, but this interview rings true nonetheless.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Several recent stories on Fox, Breitbart, and here on The Duran all address the increasingly obvious bias of the mainstream media with regard to news reporting. We discussed on The Duran how Chris Wallace of Fox News refused to hear details from White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller about why the recently declared National Emergency is in fact legitimate.

This piece revealed that the media is very actively trying to control and direct what information they want the public to hear, rather than truly reporting the news, or interviewing people to get their takes on things, and to perhaps fully interview all sides in a controversy and then let the American public decide for themselves what to think.

This used to exist in more gentlemanly debate programs in some fashion, such as with the TV debate program Point Counterpoint, but now, the bias of the reporter or of the network is the primary operator in determining the outcome of the interview, rather than the information that is available about the story.

This has helped create a news and information culture in the United States that is truly insane. As examples, consider these paraphrased headlines, all occurring within the last few years:

All of these are probably familiar to most readers. Many of them are still repeated and acted on as if they were real. But the articles we linked to behind most of these ledes are examples of the disproof, usually 100% disproof, of these. They are hoaxes, or reports built on circumstantial evidence without any proof, or in the worst cases, pure slander and propaganda.

One reporter for CBS news, 60 Minutes anchor Lara Logan, discussed this in an interview with retired Navy SEAL Mike Ritland, for his own podcast program, which was picked up by the MediaIte website. The video of her interview is quite lengthy but starting at about 02:14:00 there is a particular segment that the MediaIte writers called to attention. We include this segment in the video.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: The video is unrestricted in regards to language and there is some profanity. Parents, please listen first before letting your children watch this video.

A major point Mrs Logan makes here is that 85% of the employ of the mainstream media in the USA consist of registered Democrats. She also speaks forcefully against the use of stereotypes, and suggests the best place to start is actual facts. This means that most journalists are coming into this work with a bias, which is not set aside for the sake of the facts of the story.

Probably the most key point comes at 2:18:20 in the video is how Lara Logan is taught the way to discern whether or not someone in journalism is lying to you:

“Someone very smart told me a long time ago, that, ‘how do you know you are being lied to?’, ‘how do you know you are being manipulated?’, ‘how do you know there is something not right with the coverage?’, when they simplify it all, and there is no gray. There is no gray. It’s all one way.

“Well, life isn’t like that. If it doesn’t match real life, it is probably not. Something is wrong.”

Lara Logan then pointed out the comparison of the mainstream media’s constant negative coverage of President Trump against the reality of his work, that, regardless of one’s own personal bias, it does not match that everything the President does is bad. She also highlighted the point that one’s personal views should not come into how to report a news story.

Yet in our days, it not only comes into the story, it drives the narrative for which the story just becomes an example of “proof” that the narrative is “true.” 

Tucker Carlson talked vividly about the same characteristic on his program Monday night on Fox News.

He points out that the 3,000 yearly shooting in Chicago get very little news coverage, but that is because these are not as “useful” as the Jussie Smollett story is.

This is an example of using an event or a person’s actions to satisfy a politically biased propaganda narrative, rather than report the news.

This is not occasional, as the list of news headlines given above show. This is a constant practice across most of the mainstream media. Probably no one who gives interviews on the major networks is exempt, for even Mr. Carlson often resorts to cornering tactics when interviewing liberals in an apparent attempt to make the liberal look ridiculous and the point of view he espouses to look vindicated through that ridiculousness.

While this is emotionally invigorating for the Carlson fan who wants to see him “eviscerate” the liberal, it is very bad journalism. In fact, it is not journalism at all; it is sensationalism in a nasty sense.

It also insults the viewer, perhaps without them knowing it, because such reporting is the same as telling the viewer “WE ARE IN CONTROL!” and that the viewer must simply go along with the narrative given.

It is very bad when what should be information reporting, policy discussion, or debate becomes infected with this. Ideas, the product of (hopefully) rational and discursive reasoning, are pushed aside by pure emotion and mass sensationalism. Put metaphorically, it is the new look of bread and circuses, keeping the masses entertained while anything else might be happening.

Sometimes the motive for this is not so sinister. After all, we have a 24 hour news cycle now. In the 1970’s we didn’t. And in those times, the calibre of news reported was much higher. Reporting was far more careful. The Pulitzer Prize winners  Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did their incredible exposé on the doings of President Richard Nixon under the directorship of the Washington Post editor, which demanded triple-checking of everything, making sure that all information was factual, accurate and genuine. While the story was indeed sensational, more importantly, it was true.

Now we have a lot of sensation, but very little to zero truth. As an example, every one of the ledes linked above is not proven to be true, in fact the truth in many of these stories is the opposite of what the headline says.

This would not be much of a problem if the media lies were not absorbed and reacted on by their readers, listeners and viewers. But the fact is that there are a significant number of consumers of mainstream media news that do react to it. The Covington High School incident showed this in perhaps the most frightening way, with open calls for violence against teenagers and high school students, requested by professionals, people that are supposed to be adults, such as Kathy Griffin, Reza Aslan, and GQ writer Nathaniel Friedman, who called for these kids to be “doxxed”, which as we reported, is an action that can be deadly.

We are in the times where the love of many has gone cold, and all is about expediency and selfishness. While there are a few outlets and a few journalists that still retain interest in recording and disseminating the truth, the reality is that most of what is out there is tainted by the drive for attention and sensationalism.

The media that engages in such behavior is actually hurting people, rather than informing and helping them.

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Russia and China Are Containing the US to Reshape the World Order

China and Russia are leading this historic transition while being careful to avoid direct war with the United States.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Fortunately the world today is very different from that of 2003, Washington’s decrees are less effective in determining the world order. But in spite of this new, more balanced division of power amongst several powers, Washington appears ever more aggressive towards allies and enemies alike, regardless of which US president is in office.

China and Russia are leading this historic transition while being careful to avoid direct war with the United States. To succeed in this endeavor, they use a hybrid strategy involving diplomacy, military support to allies, and economic guarantees to countries under Washington’s attack.

The United States considers the whole planet its playground. Its military and political doctrine is based on the concept of liberal hegemony, as explained by political scientist John Mearsheimer. This imperialistic attitude has, over time, created a coordinated and semi-official front of countries resisting this liberal hegemony. The recent events in Venezuela indicate why cooperation between these counter-hegemonic countries is essential to accelerating the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar reality, where the damage US imperialism is able to bring about is diminished.

Moscow and Beijing lead the world by hindering Washington

Moscow and Beijing, following a complex relationship from the period of the Cold War, have managed to achieve a confluence of interests in their grand objectives over the coming years. The understanding they have come to mainly revolves around stemming the chaos Washington has unleashed on the world.

The guiding principle of the US military-intelligence apparatus is that if a country cannot be controlled (such as Iraq following the 2003 invasion), then it has to be destroyed in order to save it from falling into Sino-Russian camp. This is what the United States has attempted to do with Syria, and what it intends to do with Venezuela.

The Middle East is an area that has drawn global attention for some time, with Washington clearly interested in supporting its Israeli and Saudi allies in the region. Israel pursues a foreign policy aimed at dismantling the Iranian and Syrian states. Saudi Arabia also pursues a similar strategy against Iran and Syria, in addition to fueling a rift within the Arab world stemming from its differences with Qatar.

The foreign-policy decisions of Israel and Saudi Arabia have been supported by Washington for decades, for two very specific reasons: the influence of the Israel lobby in the US, and the need to ensure that Saudi Arabia and the OPEC countries sell oil in US dollars, thereby preserving the role of the US dollar as the global reserve currency.

The US dollar remaining the global reserve currency is essential to Washington being able to maintain her role as superpower and is crucial to her hybrid strategy against her geopolitical rivals. Sanctions are a good example of how Washington uses the global financial and economic system, based on the US dollar, as a weapon against her enemies. In the case of the Middle East, Iran is the main target, with sanctions aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from trading on foreign banking systems. Washington has vetoed Syria’s ability to procure contracts to reconstruct the country, with European companies being threatened that they risk no longer being able to work in the US if they accept to work in Syria.

Beijing and Moscow have a clear diplomatic strategy, jointly rejecting countless motions advanced by the US, the UK and France at the United Nations Security Council condemning Iran and Syria. On the military front, Russia continues her presence in Syria. China’s economic efforts, although not yet fully visible in Syria and Iran, will be the essential part of reviving these countries destroyed by years of war inflicted by Washington and her allies.

China and Russia’s containment strategy in the Middle East aims to defend Syria and Iran diplomatically using international law, something that is continuously ridden roughshod over by the US and her regional allies. Russia’s military action has been crucial to curbing and defeating the inhuman aggression launched against Syria, and has also drawn a red line that Israel cannot cross in its efforts to attack Iran. The defeat of the United States in Syria has created an encouraging precedent for the rest of the world. Washington has been forced to abandon the original plans to getting rid of Assad.

Syria will be remembered in the future as the beginning of the multipolar revolution, whereby the United States was contained in military-conventional terms as a result of the coordinated actions of China and Russia.

China’s economic contribution provides for such urgent needs as the supply of food, government loans, and medicines to countries under Washington’s economic siege. So long as the global financial system remains anchored to the US dollar, Washington remains able to cause a lot of pain to countries refusing to obey her diktats.

The effectiveness of economic sanctions varies from country to country. The Russian Federation used sanctions imposed by the West as an impetus to obtain a complete, or almost autonomous, refinancing of its main foreign debt, as well as to producing at home what had previously been imported from abroad. Russia’s long-term strategy is to open up to China and other Asian countries as the main market for imports and exports, reducing contacts with the Europeans if countries like France and Germany continue in their hostility towards the Russian Federation.

Thanks to Chinese investments, together with planned projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the hegemony of the US dollar is under threat in the medium to long term. The Chinese initiatives in the fields of infrastructure, energy, rail, road and technology connections among dozens of countries, added to the continuing need for oil, will drive ever-increasing consumption of oil in Asia that is currently paid for in US dollars.

Moscow is in a privileged position, enjoying good relations with all the major producers of oil and LNG, from Qatar to Saudi Arabia, and including Iran, Venezuela and Nigeria. Moscow’s good relations with Riyadh are ultimately aimed at the creation of an OPEC+ arrangement that includes Russia.

Particular attention should be given to the situation in Venezuela, one of the most important countries in OPEC. Riyadh sent to Caracas in recent weeks a tanker carrying two million barrels of oil, and Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has taken a neutral stance regarding Venezuela, maintaining a predictable balance between Washington and Caracas.

These joint initiatives, led by Moscow and Beijing, are aimed at reducing the use of the US dollar by countries that are involved in the BRI and adhere to the OPEC+ format. This diversification away from the US dollar, to cover financial transactions between countries involving investment, oil and LNG, will see the progressive abandonment of the US dollar as a result of agreements that increasingly do away with the dollar.

For the moment, Riyadh does not seem intent on losing US military protection. But recent events to do with Khashoggi, as well as the failure to list Saudi Aramco on the New York or London stock exchanges, have severely undermined the confidence of the Saudi royal family in her American allies. The meeting between Putin and MBS at the G20 in Bueno Aires seemed to signal a clear message to Washington as well as the future of the US dollar.

Moscow and Beijing’s military, economic and diplomatic efforts see their culmination in the Astana process. Turkey is one of the principle countries behind the aggression against Syria; but Moscow and Tehran have incorporated it into the process of containing the regional chaos spawned by the United States. Thanks to timely agreements in Syria known as “deconfliction zones”, Damascus has advanced, city by city, to clear the country of the terrorists financed by Washington, Riyadh and Ankara.

Qatar, an economic guarantor of Turkey, which in return offers military protection to Doha, is also moving away from the Israeli-Saudi camp as a result of Sino-Russian efforts in the energy, diplomatic and military fields. Doha’s move has also been because of the fratricidal diplomatic-economic war launched by Riyadh against Doha, being yet another example of the contagious effect of the chaos created by Washington, especially on US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Washington loses military influence in the region thanks to the presence of Moscow, and this leads traditional US allies like Turkey and Qatar to gravitate towards a field composed essentially of the countries opposed to Washington.

Washington’s military and diplomatic defeat in the region will in the long run make it possible to change the economic structure of the Middle East. A multipolar reality will prevail, where regional powers like Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran will feel compelled to interact economically with the whole Eurasian continent as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The basic principle for Moscow and Beijing is the use of military, economic and diplomatic means to contain the United States in its unceasing drive to kill, steal and destroy.

From the Middle East to Asia

Beijing has focussed in Asia on the diplomatic field, facilitating talks between North and South Korea, accelerating the internal dialogue on the peninsula, thereby excluding external actors like the United States (who only have the intention of sabotaging the talks). Beijing’s military component has also played an important role, although never used directly as the Russian Federation did in Syria. Washington’s options vis-a-vis the Korean peninsular were strongly limited by the fact that bordering the DPRK were huge nuclear and conventional forces, that is to say, the deterrence offered by Russia and China. The combined military power of the DPRK, Russia and China made any hypothetical invasion and bombing of Pyongyang an impractical option for the United States.

As in the past, the economic lifeline extended to Pyongyang by Moscow and Beijing proved to be decisive in limiting the effects of the embargo and the complete financial war that Washington had declared on North Korea. Beijing and Moscow’s skilled diplomatic work with Seoul produced an effect similar to that of Turkey in the Middle East, with South Korea slowly seeming to drift towards the multipolar world offered by Russia and China, with important economic implications and prospects for unification of the peninsula.

Russia and China – through a combination of playing a clever game of diplomacy, military deterrence, and offering to the Korean peninsula the prospect of economic investment through the BRI – have managed to frustrate Washington’s efforts to unleash chaos on their borders via the Korean peninsula.

The United States seems to be losing its imperialistic mojo most significantly in Asia and the Middle East, not only militarily but also diplomatically and economically.

The situation is different in Europe and Venezuela, two geographical areas where Washington still enjoys greater geopolitical weight than in Asia and the Middle East. In both cases, the effectiveness of the two Sino-Russian resistance – in military, economic and diplomatic terms – is more limited, for different reasons. This situation, in line with the principle of America First and the return to the Monroe doctrine, will be the subject of the next article.

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Nearly assassinated by his own fighters, al-Baghdadi and his caliphate on its last legs (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 178.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how the Islamic State has been rapidly losing territory over the last two years in Syria and Iraq, due to efforts by Russian and Syrian forces, as well as the US and their Kurdish allies.

The jihadist caliphate has lost most of its forces and resources, leading it to go into hiding.

Al-Masdar News is reporting that Daesh* leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reportedly attacked in a village near Hajin by some of the terrorist organisation’s foreign fighters in an apparent coup attempt, The Guardian reported, citing anonymous intelligence sources. Baghdadi reportedly survived the alleged coup attempt, with his bodyguards taking him into hiding in the nearby desert.

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Meanwhile European leaders are shocked at US President Trump’s ISIS ultimatum. Via Zerohedge

After President Trump’s provocative tweets on Sunday wherein he urged European countries to “take back” and prosecute some 800 ISIS foreign fighters as US forces withdraw from Syria, or else “we will be forced to release them,” the message has been met with shock, confusion and indifference in Europe. Trump had warned the terrorists could subsequently “permeate Europe”.

Possibly the most pathetic and somewhat ironic response came from Denmark, where a spokesperson for Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said Copenhagen won’t take back Danish Islamic State foreign fighters to stand trial in the country, according to the German Press Agency DPA“We are talking about the most dangerous people in the world. We should not take them back,” the spokesperson stressed, and added that the war in Syria is ongoing, making the US president’s statement premature.

Germany’s response was also interesting, given a government official framed ISIS fighters’ ability to return as a “right”.  A spokeswoman for Germany’s interior ministry said, “In principle, all German citizens and those suspected of having fought for so-called Islamic State have the right to return.” She even added that German ISIS fighters have “consular access” — as if the terrorists would walk right up to some embassy window in Turkey or Beirut!

Noting that the Iraqi government has also of late contacted Germany to transport foreign fighters to their home country for trial, she added, “But in Syria, the German government cannot guarantee legal and consular duties for jailed German citizens due to the armed conflict there.”

France, for its part, has already agreed to repatriate over 130 French Islamic State members as part of a deal reached in January with US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are holding them, after which they will go through the French legal system. However, French Secretary of State Laurent Nuñez still insisted that the west’s Kurdish allies would never merely let ISIS terrorists walk out their battlefield prisons free.

“It’s the Kurds who hold them and we have every confidence in their ability to keep them,” Nuñez told French broadcaster BFMTV on Sunday. “Anyway, if these individuals return to the national territory, they all have ongoing judicial proceedings, they will all be put on trial, and incarcerated,” he said, in comments which appeared to leave it up to others to make happen.

And representing the Belgian government, Justice Minister Koen Geens charged Trump with blindsiding his European allies with the demand, which included Trump underscoring that it is “time for others to step up and do the job” before it’s too late. “It would have been nice for friendly nations to have these kinds of questions raised through the usual diplomatic channels rather than a tweet in the middle of the night,” Geens said during a broadcast interview on Sunday, according to the AFP.

Meanwhile in the UK the issue has recently become politically explosive as debate over so-called British jihadist bride Shamima Begum continues. The now 19-year old joined Islamic State in 2015 after fleeing the UK when she was just 15. She’s now given birth in a Syrian refugee camp and is demanding safe return to Britain for fear that she and her child could die in the camp, so near the war zone.

Conservatives in Britain, such as Interior Minister Sajid Javid have argued that “dangerous individuals” coming back to the UK from battlefields in the Middle East should be stripped of their British citizenship. He said this option has already been “so far exercises more than 100 times,” otherwise he also advocates prosecution of apprehended returning suspects “regardless of their age and gender.”

Identified as French nationals fighting within ISIS’ ranks, via Khaama press news agency

The UN has estimated that in total up to 42,000 foreign fighters traveled to Iraq and Syria to join IS — which appears a very conservative estimate — and which includes about 900 from Germany and 850 from Britain.

SDF leaders have previously complained about the “lack the capacity” for mass incarceration of ISIS terrorists and the inability to have proper battlefield trials for them. Recent estimates have put the number of ISIS militants in US-SDF battlefield jails at over 1000, though Trump put the number at 800 in his tweet.

However, even once they do return to Europe it’s unclear the extent to which they’ll be properly prosecuted and locked in prison by European authorities.

For example, another fresh controversy that lately erupted in Britain involved a 29-year old UK woman who traveled to join ISIS, and was convicted for membership in a terrorist group upon her return to Britain. She was jailed on a six year sentence in 2016, but is now already walking free a mere less than three years after her conviction.

 

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