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BREAKING: Russia vetoes US resolution on investigating “Syrian chemical weapons” at UN Security Council

Russia is officially fed up with US shenanigans over Syria.




Russia has used its veto power to block a US resolution in the United Nations Security Council, which would have extended a UN mandate for further investigations into the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria.

On the 2nd of November, a joint report was issued by the Russian Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Industry and Trade which represents the most exhaustive debunking of the White Helmkets/al-Qaeda authored “Syrian Chemical Weapons” narrative to-date.

Russia exposes flawed OPCW report into staged chemical weapons attack in Syria

Russia had proposed its own resolution on the matter, but withdrew it prior to the vote on the US draft, which like previous US statements and resolutions at the UN, disregards evidence pointing to the total absence of chemical weapons in the possession of the Syrian Arab Army, a fact which has been documented since 2013 when Syria agreed to give up its final stockpiles of chemical weapons. In any case, Syria, even when it had chemical weapons, never used them. Syria began developing chemical weapons in the late 1960s as a cheaper alternative to nuclear weapons. The intention was to deter Israel from attacking Syria, in the aftermath of Syria learning of Israel’s elicit nuclear weapons stockpiles.

The move at the UN comes after a week which has been filled with Russia taking a stronger line against US actions in Syria than at any previous time.

Key statements and actions from Russia this week include: 

1. Russia debunking rumours of US origin that Russia intends to force Iran to forego its legal presence in Syria as an ally of Damascus. 

2. Russia debunking a statement from US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis who said that the UN authorised US military action in Syria, a statement which is categorically untrue. Russia affirmed that the US presence in Syria was and remains illegal according to international law. 

3. Russia produced evidence showing that the US helps evacuate ISIS terrorists from the lines of fire in Syria. 

4. Russia affirmed Syria’s stance that the US does not fire upon ISIS targets when it has a clear chance to do so. 

5. Russia stated that the US presence in Syria is an obstacle to peace and to the territorial unity of the Syrian Arab Republic. Adding to this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov effectively told the US that even according to their own previous statements regarding vacating Syria once ISIS is destroyed, that the US should leave Syria in an orderly fashion. 

6. Russia stated that the US is an obstacle to Syrian and allied air traffic in the country. 

7. Finally, Russia vetoed the US resolution to extend the UN’s mandate on investigating chemical weapons. 

The piece linked below, details the Russian statements and actions from earlier this week,

Russian FM Lavrov slams “most dangerous” illegal US presence in Syria – seeks US withdrawal

Today’s Russian veto at the UN Security Council is a further sign that in both the military, geo-strategic and now diplomatic arena, Russia is increasingly fed up with US stalling techniques in Syria. Because the long-term stability of the Syrian government is now all but a certainty, further moves designed to undermine the full liberation of Syria are being exposed for what they are: US attempts to sow discord over Syria on the international stage, just as Syria is on the verge of attaining a supreme victory.

Furthermore, with Russia drawing closer to Turkey, re-starting its historically good relations with Iraq, while retaining its good relations with both Iran and Syria, the US is now increasingly isolated when it comes to geo-political opinion on Syria, both in respect of its geo-political manoeuvres and diplomatically. Turkey has recently joined Iran and Syria as a regional state which now believes the US presence in Syria is detrimental to a peaceful settlement to the conflict. All the while, Saudi Arabia and for different reasons, Qatar, have largely written off their Syrian experiment as a costly and ultimately failed project. This is one of the reasons why Riyadh has shifted its attention to Lebanon. It is a clear admission of Saudi’s failure to gain influence and geo-strategic control over both Iraq and Syria. Through all of this, China has backed the Russian and Syrian position.

Turkish MP from Erdogan’s party praises Russian, Iranian and Turkish unity on Syria – calls US the major problem

While Donald Trump heaved a Tweet in the direction of the UN over the issue of chemical weapons, Russia felt that it had no need to even partly placate a US administration which is unable to engage in any meaningful discussions with Russia.

This yet again confirms that when it comes to working on pragmatic yet meaningful terms with a country that had previously been fighting for illegal regime change in Syria, that country is Turkey rather than the United States. Donald Trump promised a pivot on US policy in Syria, but in reality, the more unlikely figure of Turkey’s President Erdogan has in fact been the leader of a NATO member that has ultimately pivoted his nation’s position on this critical issue. This is especially the case now that Russia has stepped  further away from a position of sympathy for Kurdish agitations in the region. Turkey’s sincerity on the issue can be ascertained by the fact that Russia is able to use its economic leverage and its regional influence against Turkey if need be. For the moment, President Erdogan seems to be more than happy to cooperate with Russia and Iran, in spite of lingering differences which in reality, won’t amount to anything that could change the trajectory of the conflict which is firmly in the favour of Damascus and its traditional partners.

Turkey replaces the US as Russia’s key Middle Eastern partner from the “other side”

The Russian veto at the UN represents a symbolically important statement from Russia that can be summed up as “We’ve had enough”. The US is playing a low-brow game of ‘keep away’ designed to delay a final settlement in Syria. Russia by contrast is trying to expedite the process and is working with all the key regional players, including and most important Syria herself, in order to achieve this.

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran



Via RT

Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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Five Saudis Face Death Penalty Over Khashoggi Killing; Crown Prince Cleared

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime.”



Via Zerohedge

Saudi Arabia public prosecutor Sheikh Shaalan al-Shaalan said on Thursday that the kingdom will seek the death penalty for five suspects among the 11 charged in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, confirming suspicions that members of the murder squad purportedly sent to “interrogate” Khashoggi will now themselves face beheadings as the Saudi Royal Family closes ranks around the Crown Prince, per the FT.

As for Mohammed bin Salman who runs the day to day affairs of the world’s top oil exporter and is the de facto head of OPEC, the prosecutor said had “no knowledge” of the mission, effectively absolving him of any domestic suspicion, if not international.

The charges were handed down after the kingdom dismissed five senior intelligence officers and arrested 18 Saudi nationals in connection with Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Saudi insider-turned-dissident journalist disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents that would have allowed him to marry his fiance. Khashoggi was a legal resident of Virginia.

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime,” according to CNN.

The prosecutor said that the former Saudi deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri, ordered a mission to force Khashoggi to go back to Saudi Arabia and formed a team of 15 people.

They were divided into three groups, the Saudi Public Prosecutor said: a negotiation team, an intelligence team and a logistical team.

It was the head of the negotiating team who ordered the killing of Khashoggi, the prosecutor said.

The Saudis stuck by latest (ever changing) narrative that the Washington Post columnist was killed after a mission to abduct him went awry. The deputy chief of intelligence ordered that Khashoggi be brought back to the kingdom, Shaalan said. The team killed him after the talks failed and his body was handed to a “collaborator” in Turkey, he said.

Asked whether Saud al-Qahtanti, an aide to Prince Mohammed, had any role in the case, Shaalan said that a royal adviser had a coordinating role and had provided information. The former adviser was now under investigation, the prosecutor said, declining to reveal the names of any of those facing charges.

Al-Shaalan did reveal that a total of 21 suspects are now being held in connection with the case. Notably, the decision to charge the 5 comes after National Security Advisor John Bolton repudiated reports that a recording of Khashoggi’s murder made by Turkish authorities suggested that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was behind the murder plot.

But as long as OPEC+ is planning to do “whatever it takes” to boost oil prices, the US’s willingness to give the Saudis a pass could always be tested if crude prices again turn sharply higher.

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U.S. May Impose Sanctions Against Turkey Over S-400 “Threat” To F-35

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

The Duran



Authored by Al Masdar News:

Turkish officials have repeatedly insisted that Ankara’s purchase of the advanced Russian air defense system poses no threat whatsoever to the NATO alliance. Last month, the Turkish defense ministry announced that delivery of S-400s to Turkey would begin in October 2019.

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform, and may impose sanctions against Ankara, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency has reported, citing a high-ranking source in Washington.

“I can’t say for certain whether sanctions will be imposed on Ankara over the S-400 contract, but the possibility is there. The US administration is not optimistic about this issue,” the source said.

While admitting that Turkey was a sovereign state and therefore had the right to make decisions on whom it buys its weapons from, the source stressed that from the perspective of these weapons’ integration with NATO systems, the S-400 was “problematic.”

The source also characterized the deployment of S-400s in areas where US F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters are set to fly as “a threat,” without elaborating.

Emphasizing that negotiations between Washington and Ankara on the issue were “continuing,” the source said that there were also “positive tendencies” in negotiations between the two countries on the procurement of the Patriot system, Washington’s closest analogue to the S-400 in terms of capabilities.

Designed to stop enemy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 400 km and altitudes of up to 30 km, the S-400 is currently the most advanced mobile air defense system in Russia’s arsenal. Russia and India signed a ruble-denominated contract on the delivery of five regiments of S-400s worth $5 billion late last month.

Last week, the Saudi Ambassador to Russia said that talks on the sale of the system to his country were ongoing. In addition to Russia, S-400s are presently operated by Belarus and China, with Beijing expecting another delivery of S-400s by 2020.

Washington has already slapped China with sanctions over its purchase of S-400s and Su-35 combat aircraft in September. India, however, has voiced confidence that it would not be hit with similar restrictions, which the US Treasury has pursued under the 2017 Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

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