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Federalisation would be a DISASTER for Syria

Syrian Kurds will use their platform at the current round of the Astana peace talks to argue for federalisation of the entire country. Syria is doomed if these agitations are taken seriously.

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The current round of the Astana peace talks for Syria, will see Kurdish delegates making strong arguments for the federalisation of Syria. Many have remarked that Syrian Kurds have actually engaged in a climb-down since the secessionist movement of Iraqi Kurds ended up being a spectacular failure which saw Iraq re-establish control over Kirkuk and other areas illegally occupied by Kurdish militants in recent years. With longtime Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani effectively falling on his sword in the aftermath of an independence referendum which saw Kurds almost lose their autonomy, Syria Kurds have decided to abandon calls for secession and instead call for the federalisation of Syria. 

But while this might seem like a climb-down, this is ultimately only a half-truth. In reality, the federalisation of Syria would end up weakening a state whose greatest asset during the years of multi-front war and crippling sanctions, has been its unity.

Above all other considerations, Syria’s unity as an Arab Republic has helped Damascus win a war against regional bullies, imperialist powers and their Takrifi terrorist proxies. The conflict in Syria was always one where some of the richest and most militarily powerful countries on earth sought to rip Syria apart by pumping money, arms and foreign fighters into a largely unified and peaceful country. In this process, some Sunnis were exploited by these foreign forces and told that if they joined the jihad, they would receive more money and more power as a result. The failure of this promise to materialise, has led many of these Syrian Sunnis to rejoin the fight to unify Syria under its legitimate flag.

Throughout the conflict, Syria’s unity was truly secular and multi-ethnic. The majority Sunni Arab population, who unsurprisingly comprise most of the Syrian Arab Army, fought alongside Shi’as, Christians, and non-Arabs including Druze, Assyrians and Armenians.

It was this unity which allowed Syria to remain strong, even at the nadir of the conflict in 2015, just prior to Russia’s legal intervention at the request of the Syrian government.

The might of Syria’s allies including Russia and Iran, as well as regional volunteers from Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have scored a military victory, but politically, it is Syria’s inter-faith and inter-ethnic unity which has allowed these military victories to be meaningful.

In federalising Syria, ostensibly by placing further power in the hands of regional governors, this unity would become increasingly weakened by what can only be described as regional identity politics on a dangerous scale. If every Syrian governorate was to develop a distinct identity, this would ultimately come to encompass a unique religious and even ethnic identity, one that is ripe for exploitation by the same external forces which caused the current crisis, starting in 2011.

The last thing Syria needs is for an Alawite region to go against a Turkomen province which will then have to contend with Sunni provinces and Kurdish zones. What is the use of a Syrian victory against sectarianism, if the result is a new internal map of the country which only enforces sectarian divides that have been historically minimised by the unity based policies of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party?

When it comes to the Kurds in particular, arguing for federalisation is a clever way of escaping scrutiny for their own designs on northern Syria. Already, Kurds have been exposed as ethnically and culturally cleansing northern Syria of Arab villages where homes of Arab refugees have been stolen by Kurds and Arab place names have been illegally changed to Kurdish names.

In calling for federalisation of the entire Syrian Arab Republic, Kurdish agitators are attempting to avoid sticking out like Syria’s proverbially sore thumb. The reality is that Syria has offered to engage in dialogue with Kurds in a post-war environment, about the issue of legal Kurdish autonomy. As Syrian Kurds have historically been better off than their ethnic brethren in other states, there is a precedent for such a dialogue being successful. It is entirely possible that this dialogue could also be mediated by Russia, a state which has good relations with both Damascus and Syrian Kurds.

Syria prepared to discuss post-war autonomy with Kurds in geo-strategic blow to the US and Israel

In calling for the full federalisation of Syria, Kurds are simply hiding their own agenda and obfuscating responsibility for their own grievances. Syria already stated that it will work with Kurds under the appropriate post-war conditions. In trying to turn Syria into an essentially balkanised federal republic, Syria Kurds  want the weight of other sectarian considerations to mask their own sectarian history and intentions.

This too could backfire. If a federal subject inside a would-be federalised Syria were to develop unilaterally close ties with Turkey, something which in the case of Idlib could very much be the case, Turkey could gain a permanent foothold in Syria, over and above that which it currently has and Ankara would almost certainly use that to make life as difficult for Kurdish regions as possible.

In a unitary Syria, this would be far less likely to develop. Slick talking duplicitous Kurdish politicians may be able to make rhetorically strong arguments in Astana, but in reality, all Syrians would be far worse off in a federated nation.

One doesn’t destroy a country’s strongest asset, especially not after this asset helped fight off a regime change war from the west, something which prior to now, many thought was impossible to achieve. Syria’s unity is above all, what has kept her strong, against immeasurable odds. If it isn’t broken–do not fix it. Syria was broken, but her united culture has self-corrected a foreign problem. This is how things must remain if peace is to be fully reestablished.

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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

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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.”

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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

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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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