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Interview: Syrian political commentator Afraa Dagher on ‘de-escalation zones’

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The Duran’s Adam Garrie recently asked Syrian political commentator Afraa Dagher about her views on the recent Astana Memorandum authorising the creation of so-called de-escalation zones/safe zones.

AG: The Astana Group released a memorandum calling for the creation of so-called Safe Zones in Syria. Many says these zones will allow the Syrian led anti-terrorist coalition to disarm or terminate terrorists though others fear they could evolve into US style no-fly zones that could allow terrorists to colonise parts of Syria.

 What is your reaction to this?
 
AD: For Syrians, we know and trust the intention and strong desire of our government which is keen to wind down the  conflict and to be more accurate,  the war. The main goal of the Syrian government is to stop the bloodshed in the country. However at the same time, we believe also that the alleged presence of so called “Moderate Rebels” in Syria is a phantom.  In reality we have the superpower that is the US which has been backing armed forces under the guise of  being”moderate”. The new US President Donald Trump’s first military aggression was against Syria, specifically the airbase, under the pretext of the alleged chemical attacks on Idlib, which is a well known terrorist stronghold, not a government stronghold.

You can see that America wants escalation of the war on Syria and Syrians.  In respect of the de-escalation zones agreements in Syria,  under its guarantors Russia and Iran, who are Syria’s allies, Syria proves yet again that it is willing to stop more war on Syrians.

Ironically, the idea of safe-zones was an old dream of the US and Turkey. They wanted their version of such zones to be established in Syria under a UN mandate. There is no doubt that such zones would be more akin to ‘colonial zones’ than ‘safety zones’.

On Monday May 8th, 2017, Mr Wallid Al-Moallem the Syrian minister of foreign and expatriate affairs, spoke at a conference held about Astana,

“On whether there’s concern about turning de-escalation zones into ‘safe zones’  gradually, Al-Moallem said the two concepts are different, as the latter is about safe zones set up and maintained by the UN which for Syria is unacceptable”.

So in this case, I hope we are going to thwart colonial agendas.

He added that,our army is ready to respond in a decisive manner in case of any violation from the terrorists side.

 AG: Do you think this plan will help Russia to bring Turkey into line or will Turkey still act unilaterally in funding and fighting with terrorists?
 
AD: Turkey has only one agenda, which is to get its hands on some Syrian territories.  You can google videos revealing  how Turkish soldiers are participating in ‘land grabbing’ in Syria, with the help of  so-called “ISIS”.   They are about to finish their border wall in  Idlib province, which is encroaching into legal Syrian territory, with the help of “ISIS”  militants.
 
This has been met with anger from the Syrian inhabitants of Idlib. Women and men are being thrown  out of their land and their houses are going to be annexed to Turkey! Turkey’s pretext  for wall building is defined by Ankara as ”to prevent terrorists smuggling into its land”.The Turks themselves are the terrorists. In this sense, Turkey will never fight itself, it is the real source of terrorism.

AG: Has this move weakened or isolated the United States?
 
AD: The Russian initiative  for this memo seems to be a clever way to stop the blood-soaked  American policy towards Syria, especially now under Trump, who faces internal problems and tries to promote his power and his presidency by opening war on more fronts whether against  Syria or even North Korea!However, the US is not fighting any “ISIS” and the  same goes for  Turkey. They are the real enemies of Syria. The USA along with  Jordan and Israel, worked hard to control the southern border of Syria and  created mutual military rooms in order to restrain Syria’s anti-terrorist efforts. The US goal is to advance towards Deir AlZour which is rich in oil, and which is important for Qatar to supply its oil to Europe across the Syrian Land , which will impact the importance Russian oil for Europe.

This entire war is about influence, you remember the American air strikes on the Syrian military base in Al Therdeh mountain in Deir Al Zour in 2016? Helping  “ISIS”  is the real US agenda and then to occupy this province!

So it is all a dirty game, we all need  to be calm and know how to play it, but never trust the USA.

AG: What do you think of the fact that the terrorists at Astana stormed out of the session when the Memorandum was signed?
 
AD: They are, as you rightly called them, terrorists. So it is normal  that they don’t have any respect for any serious event.  We will witness more internal fighting between these so-called opposition groups, especially between those who are pro-Al Nusra front and the  others who would like to get out of such terrorist  groups. According to the memo, the latter will be classified as  ”moderate”, although they still are what they are–terrorists.
 
AG: Do you think Israel will continue to violate Syrian air space?
 
AD: Israel is the real airbase for “ISIS”. The radical Islamist terrorists  serve the Israeli agenda, they are the guardians of the occupied Golan Heights, which is also rich in oil resources and water. All of that is stolen by Zionist Israel. So why not?
 
AG: Have recent events changed your view of Russia?
 
AD: This war on Syria, brings back the balance of global power to Russia as a reborn superpower. Russia in turn helped Syria to avoid the Libyan scenario,  the Yemeni, the Iraqi ..etc . Russia also needs a quick end to this war.So no, I didn’t change my views on Russia, I understand the big picture.

AG: Could this move isolate Saudi Arabia and Qatar and force their influence out of Syria?
 
AD: Saudi  Arabia and Qatar are war criminals. They destroyed any chance at a united Arab Nation. Their crimes against Syria and Yemen shouldn’t go without punishment in an international court
They are tools and financiers for the western wars against us, so they don’t make their own decisions .

 AG: What do you make of Kurdish reactions to this memorandum?
 
AD: Kurds ..the people who were the  bridge for US to invade the northeast of Syria and to help America build their own airbase in Syria in order to replace the Turkish Incirlik airbase. They are also tools and they seek the partition and division of Syria. Hopefully this memo will thwart their federalisation goal.

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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

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Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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