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Arabism for the 21st century: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most important speech

President Bashar al-Assad has powerfully articulated the importance of renewed Arabism for a new era.

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has given one of the most important speeches of his political career before the  Arab Forum for Confronting the Zionist-US Reactionary Alliance and Supporting the Resistance of the Palestinian People, in Damascus.

President al-Assad’s speech emphasised the importance of Arabism for the 21st century as the only proven school of thought and method of government that is capable of uniting peoples across the Arab world in a spirit that cherishes ancient traditions and allows for all varieties of modern progress.

In many ways, it helps to think of al-Assad’s wide ranging speech as the pan-Arab version of President Xi Jinping’s thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

KEY POINTS

President al-Assad made the follow major points in this speech

–Arabism is a movement to unite the peoples of a common Arabic speaking region against imperialism, American financial globalism/hegemony and Zionism, a movement which represents the final stage settler colonial ideology in the Arab world.

–Arabism is under attack from many sides, yet it is the unifying thought of Arabism in the Syrian Arab Republic which has helped to unite the populace behind the Syrian Arab Army in a show of a people’s will that has achieved victory against imperialism and the terrorist proxies of imperialism and Zionism.

–There is no intellectual or spiritual conflict between Arabism and Islam, nor between Arabism and Christianity. Both complement each other by allowing a civilised atmosphere wherein people can celebrate their individual and family traditions while still playing a constructive role in a unifying modern state which elevates the material condition of the people.

–Arabism rejects ethno-nationalism while the enemies of Arabism use both religious extremism and ethno-nationalism to undermine unity through sectarianism. Aarbism by contrast emphasises unity based on a shared Arabic language and a shared geography.

–The more Arabism is conspired against, the more it is important for Arabists to remind the wider world that Arabism has been the only successful unifying and peaceful force in the Arab world, where other sectarian ideologies have served only to weaken Arab resistance to imperialism, Zionism and terrorism, while downgrading the condition of the people.

The background: 

Arab Nationalism emerged as a distinct liberation movement in the Arab world in the first half of the 20th century. The Ba’athist movement was among the first and most successful schools of thought in defining Arab Nationalism or Arabism during the decades when Arabs were fighting for their independence against the European colonialism which flowed from the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916.

Ba’athism emphasised the importance of Islam and Christianity living in harmony with the socialist principles of anti-colonialism, economic development through a more equitable distribution of national resources and wealth, a modernisation of Arab armies for self-sufficient defence, an emphasis on the common language of Arabic amongst all peoples in the region, a tolerance for all religious and ethnic minorities, the social emancipation of women, a rejection of all sectarianism movements and retrograde extremist movements.

The three most important founders of Ba’athism were first and foremost for Syria, the Lattakia born Zaki al-Arsuzi as well as Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar.

Zaki al-Arsuzi’s book, the The Genius of Arabic in its Tongue, helped explain why Ba’athism is based not only on the unique characteristics of the Arab peoples, but how the Arabic language has helped shape a unique society with social outlooks that are less dogmatic than those from European cultures.

Zaki al-Arsuzi

The liberation of Syria 

After experimenting in a union with Nasser’s Arabist Egypt, the United Arab Republic between 1958 and 1961, Syria’s penultimate embrace of modern Arabism came during the 8 March Revolution of 1963. Here, the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party came to power in Damascus and worked on building a revolutionary programme of emancipation from colonial lethargy as well as a foreign policy which defended Arab interests against interlopers, colonists and outside threats.

Ba’athist leaders celebrate the 8 March Revolution

After a turbulent 1960s, things grew stable and peaceful in 1970 when the new President Hafez al-Assad become the leader of the country. President Hafez al-Assad ushered in The Corrective  Movement which successfully stabilised Syria’s internal politics, eliminated terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and ushered in the highest living standards in modern Syrian history by the global standards of the era.

President Hafez al-Assad (1970-2000)

Islam, Christianity and Arabism going forward 

President Bashar al-Assad injected a calming and assuring wisdom into a debate that is often hijacked by egotists and those purposefully spreading disinformation. The Syrian President stated that there has never been any schism, conflict nor contradiction between the values of Islam and Christianity and those of Arabism. Arabism stresses the unity, shared historic and present cultural bonds between Arabic speaking peoples. As the Noble Quran is written in Arabic, this demonstrates the harmonious nature of secular Arabism with the religion of Islam. Both are strengthened when seen as unifying forces and both literally speak a common language.

President al-Assad said that Christianity’s relationship with Arabism is equally strong, but that ever since the 1920s, when the British Empire funded and helped to found the regressive Muslim Brotherhood, the enemies of the Arab peoples have attempted to use Islam as a means of destroying Arab societies where its correct interpretation is one of unity, peace and wisdom.

Arabism versus imperialist/globalist aggression against peace loving peoples

Today, American financial globalism has taken the place of British Imperialism as the foremost existential threat to Arabism. President al-Assad explained that the enemies of Arabism seek to destroy any thought that helps to unify the Arabs in order to mould them into machines rather than free thinking men and women, in the system of US led financial globalism. A strong, unifying movement like Arabism is a demonstrative alternative to US neo-liberal/anti-cultural globalism, which is the reason that those in Washington and its de-facto satellite states are so keen on destroying Arabism and provoking sectarianism war against it.

Many commentators remark that some of the causes of the foreign led and instigated conflict in Syria include the Qatari regime’s desire to build pipeline through Syrian territory, the Zionist Yinon Plan  to conquer and destroy large parts of the Arab world and the Wahhabi Saudi plan to effective divide and rule the rest of Syria as a regressive Takfiri fiefdom, all with assistance from the US and European aggressors.

While these are all the specific causes of the present conflict, the overarching reason is that which historically and indeed presently, has prevented these illegal moves against the sovereignty, dignity and unity of the Syrian Arab Republic. The imperialist and Zionist powers do not need to wage war against weak, sectarian and extremist Arab states because such states have already been effectively weakened into a position where national wealth and dignity is surrendered without a fight. Instead, it is states with strong Arabist identities and a sense of independence that in the eyes of the imperialist and Zionists, must be broken in order to be exploited.

President al-Assad pointed out that this is what the imperial powers did in Libya, but that the same method did not work against Syria because of the political conditions established in the Syrian Arab Republic.

It is impossible to reject imperialism if one rejects Arabism. There is no logical, practical or workable peaceful alternative to preserving freedom in the Arab world apart from Arabism. Syria’s success in vanquishing her enemies has been primarily due to the strength of Arabism in creating popular unity against a multi-front onslaught.

The Syrian Arab Army as an expression of popular will 

President Bashar al-Assad remarked that some provocateurs want to take away the title “Arab” from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). He remarked that such moves are foolish. In calling itself an Arab Army, the SAA has manged to unite all Syrians in spite of any ethnic or religious affiliation behind a common principle of sovereignty for all the peoples of Syria.

If this unifying concept was removed, the Army would merely be a mercenary force–a kind of corporate body that could not mobilise the people will of the people. If the people were not behind the Army, it would not have been able to preserve Syria as it has done, even before its non-Arab allies such as Iran and Russia helped to finish the job.

The importance of Palestine 

The occupier entity represents the last breath of colonial tyranny in the Arab world and one which relies on the promotion of anti-Arabist propaganda in order to cultivate power. President al-Assad stated that Arab unity necessitates support for Palestinian liberation as anything else would be a rejection of the unity of Arabic speaking peoples throughout the region.

This explains why it is in the Zionist interest to promote sectarian groups whose goals is to weaken pen-Arab unity and exploit local differences, rather than allowing Arabs to focus on creating a peacefully unified realm.

In this sense, Palestine will also be an implicit factor in Arabism, so long as it remains occupied.

Official report and reproduction of President al-Assad’s speech: 

Below is the entire official report and transcribed quotations from President al-Assad’s speech,

DAMASCUS, (ST)- President Bashar Al-Assad has stressed that “hitting national belongingness weakens our first defense line, as a society,  against cultural and intellectual invasion attempts that seek turning us into helpless machines that act according to foreign-prepared plans.”

President Al-Assad made the remarks during his meeting  on Tuesday with participants in the Arab Forum on Confronting the US-Zionist reactionary Alliance and Supporting the Palestinian People’s Resistance currently held in Damascus with the participation of Arab national forces and figures.

“Arabism is a cultural concept that involves all ethnic groups, religions and communities. It is a civilized status to which all who once existed in the region, without exceptions, contributed, said President Al-Assad, adding that “the Arab language and Arab nationalism unite all these ethnic groups, communities and religions and at the same time preserve the privacy of each of them”.

President Al-Assad went on to say that solving the problems facing the Arab nation and restoring brightness to national thinking necessitates hard work as to explain some concepts through which our nation was targeted, including attempts to hit the relation between Arabism and Islam and to put Arab nationalism in a situation of confrontation with other nationalities.

He affirmed the need to clarify the idea that there is no contradiction between belongingness to Arabism and belongingness to Islam as they enhance one another, noting the importance of refuting the ethnic orientation which opposes the national one, particularly in the light of the incessant attempts to divide the region’s countries on ethnic basis. This can be done, the president said, through stressing the idea that Arabism includes all ethnic groups, religions and communities, thus Arab heritage and culture is the accumulation of the heritage and cultures of all the peoples who lived in this region throughout ancient and modern history.

President Al-Assad pointed out that national action was also influenced by another factor, which is the policies of some Arab governments which acted against the interests of the Arab peoples by serving foreign schemes and facilitating aggression on other Arab countries, thereby creating a negative reaction by many people towards nationalism and Arabism.

“Here we must differentiate between belongingness to identity and belongingness to a certain political system which we reject its Policies,” the president said.

“Arabism and national thinking have continuously been accused by their enemies of backwardness and of being old-fashioned in an age overwhelmed by globalization in order to turn us into tools to serve the interests of huge financial institutions led by the United States,” President Al-Assad asserted, noting the need to adhere to identity and to support openness and development ideas as to confront this challenge.

President Al-Assad clarified that the main goal of the war to which Syria has been exposed for seven years is to return the country and the entire region centuries back through targeting the national feeling and belongingness to this region and through putting the Arabs in front of two options: either to give up their identity and subjugate to foreign powers or adopt the extremist thinking and turn Arab societies into conflicting entities.

The president affirmed that the ongoing war, despite the huge destruction it caused to Syria, couldn’t weaken the faith of the Syrian people in the inevitability of victory over terrorism and its internal and external tools through the sacrifices of the hero Syrian army and the popular support for  this army. It also couldn’t break the Syrians’ will to keep adherent to their identity, doctrine and national belongingness.

President al-Assad began his speech by welcoming the participants in the Forum which discusses important pan-Arab issues, as pan-Arabism constitutes identity and affiliation as well as being the past and present of peoples and the basis of their existence.

He said that the participants are now in Syria during the war imposed on it, and that there was a general view that the storm that affected several Arab states including Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq to some degree and the ensuing destruction seek to set the region back by centuries, but the main goal wasn’t destruction as what was destroyed can be rebuilt; rather the goal was undermining the Arab people’s sense of affiliation and belonging to their environment, geography, history, principles, and pan-Arabism.

His Excellency said that undermining pan-Arab affiliation means undermining the first line of defense against any attempts at a cultural or intellectual invasion that seeks to turn people into mere machines with no will that move according to plans made abroad.

“But at the same time, as this Arab spring as it was called by the enemies, aimed at undermining affiliation, without the weakness of pan-Arab affiliation and the weakness of pan-Arab sentiment, this ‘spring’ wouldn’t have been able to start in our Arab region, because segments of our societies have regrettably, through the course of time, after losing this affiliation were ready to move in other directions,” President al-Assad said, adding that these segments went in two directions when the events began: either throwing themselves into the hands of foreigners, regardless of which foreign country, or embracing Islamist extremism as a replacement for the Arab identity, despite it being an abnormal and deviant identity that has nothing to do with Islam or any religion.

“In summation, the enemies succeeded during past decades in making the situation reach its current state and succeeded in undermining society partially, dividing this society into groups, some of them distant and some of them discordant, and others are contentious and conflicting,” he said.

“On the other hand, these meetings and pan-Arab work has persisted throughout these decades, with tens and maybe hundreds of meetings being held, but the result today is that the situation for the pan-Arab condition on the Arab arena is much weaker than it was decades ago. So, do we meet again to add another meeting to a group of meetings? Do we meet to reminisce about the good days or lament bad luck or to glorify something that isn’t living its best days which is the pan-Arab condition? Are we meeting just to issue political statements, despite these being important? It’s necessary to talk politics and issue statements and take positions regarding what is happening constantly, but political statements alone cannot restore the luster of this condition we are talking about now.”

“We are facing a real problem with many aspects, and dealing with just one aspect and disregarding other aspects means that we won’t reach any results and these meetings will remain vocal platforms that have no effect,” President al-Assad said.

His Excellency said that we should start with the problem, discussing it and its solution or cure and the possible methods to reach this cure, and this requires focusing primarily on weaknesses and the methods used by the enemies of pan-Arabism, which will help find a way to deal with each aspect, because what is currently happening isn’t sudden; it is the result of long-term accumulation over decades, and its effects today on societies are deep and wide-scale.

He stressed that this issue isn’t superficial or transient, as the West was skilled in its performance and in setting traps, but the Arabs were good at falling into these traps, noting that the West built its plans on realities and facts and was active, while Arabs always based their visions on sentiments and were emotional.

“Therefore, as I am addressing a pan-Arab conference, I have to discuss some points I consider a priority, and perhaps your conference can form a more comprehensive and in-depth vision through its discussions. So, I will discuss some headlines before talking about anything related to the crisis or policy,” President al-Assad said.

He pointed out that the first major problem facing pan-Arab work is undermining the relationship between Islam and Arabism, as some have accused Arabism of being secular or atheist, tying these three concepts together and telling the simple citizens that they have to choose between faith and atheism, and naturally they chose faith, and therefore they would stand against any affiliation other than faith and Islam, so Arabism is part of the affiliation they moved away from due to this way of thinking or this incorrect marketing of the relation between Arabism and Islam.

His Excellency noted that the first to spearhead this method were the so-called Muslim Brotherhood, who were planted by the English during the first half of the 20th century in Egypt and later moved to other areas, and throughout time they spearheaded everything that opposes the interests of the Arab people and pan-Arab affiliation.

President al-Assad said that there’s an organic connection between Arabism and Islam, and there is certainly no contradiction between them, stressing that it is wrong to believe that one can either be an Arab or a Muslim.

“So, undermining this relation through Islamic extremism undermines Arabism. They diverted Islam and pushed it towards extremism. It separated itself from Arabism, and Islam and Arabism became weaker. Someone might ask why I’m talking about Arabism and Islam and not Arabism and Christianity. I would say that of course this is the same relationship; the relationship between nationalism and religion, but colonialism and enemies of pan-Arabism didn’t work in this direction, rather they focused on Arabism and Islam,” he explained.

President al-Assad moved on to the second point, saying that pan-Arabism was put against other “nationalities,” and discussing the nature of these nationalities requires separate discussions, but some of these nationalities existed in a diverse region throughout history and they never fought among themselves, so why is this conflict emerging now? This is happening because as Arab states won their independence, colonialism sowed the seeds of sedition among those nationalities and these seeds were nurtured by enemies of pan-Arabism and even some proponents of pan-Arabism through their superficial thinking and ignorant performance.

His Excellency said that this seed has grown and gained root and dealing with it now requires double efforts, adding that this enemies of pan-Arabism achieved this by giving pan-Arabism an ethnic nature, saying that it is exclusive to the Arab ethnicity, and if one doesn’t belong to it then they need to find an identity elsewhere, thereby creating a rift between groups that have coexisted throughout history, and creating a hidden sentiment that we are living together due to political borders and conditions, and when these changes everyone goes their separate ways.

“They focused on the ethnic issue and took away from pan-Arabism the most important civilized aspects in it which are related to the cultural aspect, language, geography, history, and other things,” he added.

President al-Assad said that another cumulative factor linked to political conditions in the Arab world has affected pan-Arab world, and this factor is the result of the bad political work by some Arab states which existed prior to the war but appeared more prominently as the events began, particularly when Arab states and the Arab League provided cover for the intervention and destruction of Libya, then tried to do the same in Syria, but the political conditions had shifted by then so these attempts weren’t exactly successful.

“However, this role pushed many citizens in several places and here in Syria in particular, to say that if this is pan-Arabism and Arabism, then we don’t want them. If these are the Arabs, then we don’t want to be Arabs, we want to be anything else. Well, what is alternative? There is no alternative. These people are reacting to the conspiring by some Arab states on other Arab states or peoples of causes, and didn’t differentiate between affiliation to a specific identity and affiliation to a political system,” he said, adding that there were reactions towards Arab causes like the Palestinian cause due to the betrayal by some Palestinians of Arab states and peoples that hosted them and defended them, eliciting a reaction, and there were many who said “the whole Palestinian cause can go to Hell,” which indicates the immaturity of the sense of affiliation among these people.

His Excellency went on to address another important point which is that pan-Arabism had been accused of being synonymous with backwardness, which is a hypothesis posed in the 19th century and early 20th century, particularly with the coming of the age of globalization, satellite channels and the internet, which, according to that hypothesis, means that we live in a single world with single principles, interests, and economy, so any form of nationalism is a backwards idea.

“Of course, this is the idea posed by globalization which ultimately aims at having us all belong to the financial institutions that lead the world which are practically centered in the United States, through which they lead politics, economy, and everything else,” President al-Assad said, adding that they tried to claim that Arabism is a passing fad, which is similar to what happened with the fall of the Soviet Union when they wanted to portray socialism and communism as backwards concept.

“Now, after around two and a half decades, things have started to change and inferiority complexes went away. For us in Syria, we never suffered from this inferiority complex at any time, and we used to tell them that even if this language is the language of the 20th or 19th centuries, even if it’s the language of the 1st or 10th century, we will speak it today, tomorrow, and the day after, and we won’t have an inferiority complex. On the contrary, events have proven that the lack of this identity was one of the biggest problems, and adhering to it today is necessary,” he asserted.

His Excellency moved on to address pan-Arab work and the existing political movements, figures, parties, and conferences that have been working for decades under difficult circumstances, as while Syria has been supporting pan-Arabism for many decades, there has been a growing animosity towards pan-Arab work in other states, because this work often made political positions on various Arab causes that embarrassed certain states.

President al-Assad said that there are many people in society who belong to pan-Arabism but disagree with us politically, or have other political visions, or don’t like being involved in the work of political parties, and for them their pan-Arab affiliation is a social and civilized affiliation, adding “This begs the question: where are the non-political aspects of our pan-Arab work? This is a very important aspect.”

His Excellency said that Arabism is a civilized condition, and the most important thing in the civilized condition is the culture it bears, and culture is expressed by language. Without language, the culture turns into a large generator which generates a lot of electricity, but there will be no wires in order to transport this electricity towards the city, factories, or any other place.

“Here in Syria, there is no big problem that we suffer from. After all, education in Syria, including all university stages and others, is in the Arabic language. We support foreign languages, but the Arabic language remains the basis because we understand the meaning of the language,” the President added, stressing that cultural alienation and the dissolution of cultures begins with languages then spreads to other aspects.

President al-Assad said that Syria has suffered from war for seven years, and war weakens any country no matter how strong or large it may be, and this war has exhausted Syria, but it didn’t cause it to collapse. More importantly, it didn’t affect the Syrians’ confidence in the inevitability of victory over terrorism.

“The essence of that war is two groups: first is the persons who lost their affiliation, mainly, the pan-Arab affiliation and the national affiliation. They have lost their identity, the ethics, and with them they lost the homeland. This is the basis that the foreign side depended on. We can talk about conspiracies for days, but these conspiracies would have never found a place in Syria without the existence of these groups.”

“On the other hand, the other group is mainly the Syrian Arab Army, which has fought and made great sacrifices in order to keep this homeland safe,” His Excellency said, adding that the Syrian Arab Army, before being a national army, is an army that was based on a clear creed which was established throughout decades, stressing that no army would have withstood such a war no matter how much external support it got without having popular support.

“This point, which is the strength of the army through its creed, was understood by our enemies. All political work in conferences and talk of transitional governments and federalism, and all the terms you hear can be summed up with a single thing that was required, which is undermining this concept, the army as a symbol” he said, adding that they target the institutions and society as well, because we are talking about one creed, and all the war was working towards abandoning the notion of pan-Arabism starting with the constitution, to name Syria as just “the Syrian state” and to make its army “Syrian.”

“What was the headline they have put? A professional army, which means that the army which carried out all those battles is an army of armatures, a group of amateurs who liked the game of war and went to fight just because they want to fight anyone, just as a hobby! This is what they are trying to market. For them, the professional army is the army which stays inside the country and waits for a signal from outside in order to move with coups against national governments. According to them, the professional army is that which covers the proxy governments when they relinquish sovereignty and work against the people,” President al-Assad said.

“Today, I affirm after 7 years of sacrifices, that we wouldn’t think for even a second to make concessions about creed and Syria’s pan-Arab affiliation just to appease the rejects of the 21st century of the Muslim Brotherhood and Daesh or al-Nusra, or any other groups, whether outlaws or the groups which work in the interests of the Americans and the West in our region,” His Excellency said.

The President said that if we want to improve the pan-Arab work and see results, this requires coming together and discuss various issues through dialogue, noting that in the past, proponents of pan-Arabism have not held dialogue with others; only with each other, adding “I believe that the starting point begins with dialoguewith other groups that went astray, those others that put themselves or who were put by conditions in a place that contradicts their natural belonging and in a place that contradicts their interests and the interest of their homeland without their knowledge, in most cases. Recovering those is the start of the correct work in order to reinforce the pan-Arab work.”

President al-Assad said that such people are like cancerous cells that were originally normal cells that were changed due to various circumstances to become enemies of normal cells in the body, and they are fuel for a poisonous concoction made by the West, but we have to counteract this poison through dialogue.

“First, we have to address the group which is convinced about the contradiction between Islam and Arabism, we have to tell them that there is no contradiction between these two concepts, both flow into the other, both reinforce the other,” he said, stressing they cannot separate the Arabism of Prophet Mohammad from his religion, nor can they separate the religious context of the Quran from the Arabic language, so how can they separate Arabism from Islam?

“It is necessary now to refute the ethnic concept. There are people who talk about federalism, nationalism, and federalism on national basis. We have to assert that the concept of Arabism is an inclusive civilized concept that includes everyone, which means that Arabism is greater than being ethnic, the cultural concept includes everyone, includes all ethnicities, religions, and sects,” President al-Assad said, asserting that Arabism is a civilized condition to which everyone in the region contributed, making it the sum of heritage and cultures of all the peoples who lived in the area throughout old and modern history.

“The most important thing is the language that brings us all together. We all speak Arabic in this region, not other languages, even if there are other languages. .Therefore the Arabic language and pan-Arabism is what brings all religions, sects and ethnics together, and at the same time preserves the characteristics of each one,” he added, noting that after terrorism failed in the region, the enemies started focusing on ethnicities and nationalities.

As for those who renounced Arabism as a reaction to the performance of some Arab states, President al-Assad stressed that the conspiring by these states against Arab causes and the Arab people doesn’t mean that these states belong to Arabism, and affiliation to an identity doesn’t mean affiliation with a political system.

“If they conspire against us, this doesn’t mean that we should run away from the concept and true affiliation and turn things over to those who have nothing to do with Arabism or religion or the societies of this region in everything they did,” he said, stressing that the lack of affiliation doesn’t serve anyone, because the current problems such as sectarian and ethnic division are mainly caused by the lack of pan-Arab sentiment, because people instinctively seek affiliation, and when an encompassing one is absent, they will seek other, smaller ones that lead to the division of minds, geography, and homelands.

“As for linking Arabism to backwardness, we must be the leaders in supporting development ideas, and to have a program that suits this age and suits the interests of the peoples,” the President concluded.

Concluding thoughts:

Arabism stands at a crossroads that many find worrying. On the one hand, Arabism is the force of popular will which helped to mobilise the Syrian resistance during the 7 year conflict. On the other hand, the propaganda of terrorists with the backing of foreign powers, have helped to sow discord across the Arab world.

President al-Assad emphasised that now is the time not to retreat from the only successful model for the Arab world, but to redouble support for it and to peacefully explain to all those who have “gone astray” that Arabism is not for one group or another but for all. Through going out and fighting the propaganda of those who seek division, sectarianism, racism and violence, supporters of the Arabist idea, can help demonstrate that for all those who seek peace, prosperity and dignity above conflict, depression and imperial submission, there is no alternative as there never has been.

It is also important that those outside of the Arab world understand that Syria’s battle, while one which benefits global civilisation, is one being fought in the specific context of a long history of Arab nationalism. Syria does not exist for the benefit of foreigners, but for the benefit of her people and the wider Arab community. Syria is of course, a partner to all sincerely friendly nations ranging from Russia and China, to Iran and the DPRK. However, a great deal of non-Arabic analysis on Syria tends to view the conflict in selfish terms which represent an unconscious colonial mentality. A lot of this is a sad reflection on the background of those authoring such narrow minded “analysis”.  One cannot wish Syria well, without understanding the nature of her political system and consequently, why any external alteration to this system will have made Syria’s military victories, ultimately useless.

The future of the Syrian Arab Republic will not depend on the support of groups and individuals merely cheering on the Syrian Arab Army for selfish reasons, without care for the future of the Arab Republic. Syria’s future depends on those who see Arabism as an inseparable element vis-a-vis Syria’s society, laws and national character.

I have little doubt that yesterday’s address will go down as the most important speech of President Bashar al-Assad’s political career, to-date.

In this speech, al-Assad not only clarified the future trajectory of the Syrian Arab Republic as a force for peace and stability in the region, but one which draws upon its revolutionary history to create an ever more progressive environment in the future.

Bashar al-Assad understands the goals and methods of the enemies of Arabism and has clearly articulated how to best preserve the achievements of the Syrian Arab Republic in a new era.

This transformative speech means that al-Assad is not only a defender of Syrian freedom and security but a defender of the Arabist ideals whose cause of peace, unity and civilisation are ideals the world can aspire to learn from, even beyond the borders of the Arab world.

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America the Punitive

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common?

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America’s wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country’s debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules. Given Washington’s diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

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NATO Repeats the Great Mistake of the Warsaw Pact

NATO expansion continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war.

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Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Through the 1990s, during the terms of US President Bill Clinton, NATO relentlessly and inexorably expanded through Central Europe. Today, the expansion of that alliance eastward – encircling Russia with fiercely Russo-phobic regimes in one tiny country after another and in Ukraine, which is not tiny at all – continues.

This NATO expansion – which the legendary George Kennan presciently warned against in vain – continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war. Far from bringing the United States and the Western NATO allies increased security, it strips them of the certainty of the peace and security they would enjoy if they instead sought a sincere, constructive and above all stable relationship with Russia.

It is argued that the addition of the old Warsaw Pact member states of Central Europe to NATO has dramatically strengthened NATO and gravely weakened Russia. This has been a universally-accepted assumption in the United States and throughout the West for the past quarter century. Yet it simply is not true.

In reality, the United States and its Western European allies are now discovering the hard way the same lesson that drained and exhausted the Soviet Union from the creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 to its dissolution 36 years later. The tier of Central European nations has always lacked the coherence, the industrial base and the combined economic infrastructure to generate significant industrial, financial or most of all strategic and military power.

In fact the current frustrating experience of NATO, and the long, exhausting tribulations that faced Soviet diplomats and generals for so many decades was entirely consistent with the previous historical record going back at least until 1718.

From 1718 until 1867 – a period of a century and a half – most of Central Europe, including even regions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, were consolidated within the Austro –Hungarian Empire, However even then, the Habsburg multi-national empire was always militarily weak and punched beneath its weight. After Emperor Franz Josef recklessly proclaimed his famous Compromise of 1867, the effectiveness of the imperial army was reduced to almost zero. The autonomous and feckless conduct of the Hungarian aristocracy ensured a level of confusion, division, incompetence and ineptitude that was revealed in the army’s total collapse against both Russia and Serbia in the great battles of 1914 at the start of World War I.

Germany moved in to occupy and consolidate the region in both world wars. But far from making Germany a global giant and enabling it to maintain its domination of Europe, the Central European regions – whether as part of Austro-Hungary during World War I or as independent nation-states allied to the Nazis in World War II – proved miniscule and worthless against the alliances of Russia, the United States, Britain and France that the Germans fought against in both global conflicts.

After the Soviet Union militarily destroyed the genocidal military power of Nazi Germany in World War II, Russia’s Great Patriotic War, the political consolidation of East Germany and Poland were strategically necessary for Russia’s security. But occupying and organizing the rest of the region was not. Far from strengthening the Soviet Union, those nations weakened and distracted it. Today, NATO is repeating the Soviet Mistake and that fatal move is inexorably draining the alliance of all its strength and credibility.

NATO is also repeating the disastrous mistake that France made in 1920-21 when it created a “Little Entente” of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania to supposedly counterbalance the revival of Germany. The plan failed completely.

Today those very same nations – enthusiastically joined by Hungary, Poland and the three little Baltic states – are relentlessly distorting both NATO and the EU. They generate weakness and chaos in the alliances they are in – not unity and strength.

As I have noted before in these columns, the great British historian Lord Correlli Barnett drew the important distinction between militarily powerful nations that are generators and exporters of security and those, either tiny or disorganized, pacifist and weak nations that have to import their security from more powerful states.

One might call such small countries “feeder” or “parasite” states. They siphon off energy and strength from their protector partners. They weaken their alliance partners rather than strengthening them.

The consistent lessons of more than 300 years of Central European history are therefore clear: Leading and organizing the tier of Central European nations in the Warsaw Pact did not strengthen the Soviet Union: Instead, those activities relentlessly weakened it.

Incorporating most of the small nations in Central Europe into any empire or alliance has never been a cause or generator of military or national strength, regardless of the ideology or religious faith involved. At best, it is a barometer of national strength.

When nations such as France, Germany, the Soviet Union or the United States are seen as rising powers in the world, the small countries of Central Europe always hasten to ally themselves accordingly. They therefore adopt and discard Ottoman Islamic imperialism. Austrian Christian imperialism, democracy, Nazism, Communism and again democracy as easily as putting on or off different costumes at a fancy dress ball in Vienna or Budapest.

As Russia rises once again in global standing and national power, supported by its genuinely powerful allies China, India and Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the nations of Central Europe can be anticipated to reorient their own loyalties accordingly once again.

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Why Russia will NOT fall victim to emerging markets financial crisis (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 81.

Alex Christoforou

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As the Turkish Lira collapses, sending emerging market economies into turmoil, Russia is being slapped with additional US sanctions dubbed the US Congress ‘bill from hell’.

The full text the newest sanctions bill has been released. The sanctions are deliberately designed to punish Russia’s economy for a Skripal poisoning hoax for which no evidence of Russian state involvement has been presented. The new bill even goes so far as to suggest designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The “sanctions bill from hell” officially entitled ‘Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018’ was introduced by a group of Republican and Democratic senators on the 2nd of August.

According to RT, the bill would place restrictions on US cooperation with Russia’s oil industry, target Russian sovereign debt transactions as well as Russian uranium imports. In addition, the legislation calls for sanctions against “political figures, oligarchs, and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris explain why, unlike the financial meltdown in Turkey, Russia is well equipped and properly prepared to weather the US sanctions storm… and may, in the end, come out of the latest emerging markets turmoil stronger and more independent from western petrodollar control than ever before.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via RT

The bill, which was recently published in full on Congress’ official website, also pledges full support for NATO and would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate if the United States ever wishes to exit the transatlantic alliance.

The legislation also declares that “the United States will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” and that Washington, in conjunction with NATO, should “prioritize efforts to prevent the further consolidation of illegal occupying powers in Crimea.”

The pending ‘Kremlin Aggression Act’ decrees that Congress should also determine whether Russia “meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

The bill also accused Russia of “enabling the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria to commit war crimes,” adding that Moscow has shown itself to be “incapable or unwilling” to compel Assad to “stop using chemical weapons against the civilian population in Syria.”

The Act calls for a congressional committee to investigate “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity attributable to [Russia]” and resolves to “punish the Government of the Russian Federation for, and deter that Government from, any chemical weapons production and use through the imposition of sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and the use of the mechanisms specified in the Chemical Weapons Convention for violations of the Convention.”

The legislation is just the latest addition to a laundry list of sanctions and laws passed in the months following the 2016 presidential election.

Republican hawk Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who both sponsored the bill, said in a joint statement that the legislation is designed to show that the US will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future.” The Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was one of the five co-sponsors of the bill.

Moscow has brushed off the new wave of accusations as a projection of internal US struggle. Some elements in the US government are trying to “keep afloat” the conspiracy that Russia meddled in the US elections, in hopes of derailing constructive relations with Moscow and using the issue “purely for internal American purposes,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Upper House Committee for International Relations, has said in response to the latest sanctions.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the adoption of any US legislation that targets Russian banking operations and currency trade would be considered a declaration of economic war.

“If they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we’ll have to respond to it accordingly – economically, politically, or in any other way, if required,” Medvedev said last week. “Our American friends should make no mistake about it.”

Moscow has vowed to respond to any new sanctions. Russia’s Finance Ministry said it would continue to sell off its holdings of US Treasury securities, while some lawmakers have called for Russia and its allies to stop using the US dollar for mutual payments.

 

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