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It is to Iran’s benefit to support Arabism in the Syrian Arab Republic

If Iran makes a public commitment to supporting the status-quo of Arabism in a post-conflict Syria, Iran and the Arab world will benefit from a “win-win” situation.

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As Russia, Iran and Turkey prepare to guide Syria towards a political settlement, much has been discussed regarding Russia coming to accept and embrace the fact that Damascus has chosen Arabism rather than federalism or accompanying sectarianism, as a fundamental guide for a future peace settlement. The Turkish position which has become one of gradual pragmatism based  on concessions to the realities on the ground in return for continued healthy and growing relations with Iran and Russia, has also been widely discussed.

However, Iran’s position in terms of a constitutional settlement has been largely ignored by media outlets outside of Iran. Iran is of course a steadfast ally of Damascus and Iranian military advisers were aiding Syria in her war against Takfiri terrorism, even before Russia got directly involved and long before Turkey’s schism with her former western partners.

It is one of the ironies of life that while war helpes to unite allies, the subsequent peace process can often expose disagreements. However, I personally remain confident that Syria, Iran and Russia have the ability to come together for the sake of peace without allowing disagreements over the nature of that peace to become problematic.

While for Russia, the choice is between favouring a revitalised Syrian Arab Republic versus an increasingly discredited federal model, for Iran, the choice is putting its weight behind the historic Arabism of Syria or attempting to provide an alternative model.

Some Iranian scholars have proposed a model for Syria that is something of a hybrid between the existing Arab nationalist status quo and the Islamic democracy model pioneered in Revolutionary Iran.

In reality, a country like Syria must retain the status quo of Arabism as defined by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath party for the following reasons.

1. The best way to fight sectarianism in a country like Syria is through Arabism 

In a recent speech which I believe to be the most important of his career, President Bashar al-Assad spoke of the need to revitalise Arabism for the 21st century. His major points included restating that modern Arabism is not ethno-nationalism, but instead is a unifying principle based on a shared language, shared geographical space and shared history. In a country whose primary enemies have been those fighting with the wretched armaments of sectarianism, Arabist unity is, as the Syrian President said, the key for Syria’s survival.

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

2. Syria is not ready for, nor does it want Iranian style democracy 

Contrary to western and Zionist propaganda, Iran is not only a democracy, but a thriving one. Iran is home to the kind of robust debates and multi-party/diverse candidate democracy that Syria simply cannot afford to experiment with at this time.

With Israel continuing to occupy the Golan Heights, terrorist sleeper cells fomenting in the aftermath of the defeat of militarised Takfiri terrorist groups and the looming threat of a Kurdish insurgency, Syria, even after a peace settlement is established, will continue to be in a state of war, even if it is largely a cold war.

Until terrorism is totally eradicated, even at the level of sleeper cells and more importantly, until the Zionist entity withdraws from the occupied Golan Heights in full, Syria’s future depends on stability and unity far more than on the kind of democracy which flourishes under far more stable circumstances in Iran.

Furthermore, with Syria and Iran facing so many of the same enemies, now is not the time to waste energy on internal debates between partners, that are unnecessary in the first-place.

3. Arabism has not failed in Syria–it has saved Syria 

The old adage “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it”, can readily be applied to Syria. The reason Syria was able to survive politically and not just militarily is because the majority of Syrians thought of themselves as Syrians first and other considerations (confession, ethnicity, regional affiliation) second, if at all. No country’s government could have survived such a devastating war if it did not have popular support. If anything, the conflict has only increased popular support for the Ba’athist government.

If the Syrian government and Arab Socialist Ba’ath party could survive such a devastating war, surely it can survive the forthcoming peace. To deny this would be to acknowledge the blatantly false Saudi/Zionist/western narrative that the conflict in Syria was a civil war rather than a foreign authored, funded and armed proxy conflict.

How does Arabism in Syria benefit Iran?

Iran’s support for the governments in both Baghdad and Damascus have strengthened Iranian prestige in much of the Arab world, to levels not seen in the late-modern period. As the Middle East is now divided between a northern and southern bloc with the north being comprised of Iran, Turkey, Iraq, much of Lebanon and Syria (an ally to all in the bloc except Turkey and certain factions in Lebanon), it has become clear that such a development would be impossible if not for good will towards Iran among large Arab populations.

At the same time, a Saudi led southern bloc of the Middle East which includes most of the Gulf Cooperation Council (apart from Qatar), Egypt, Jordan to some degree and Israel to a large degree, is dead-set on proffering a dangerous anti-Iranian agenda.

The new Middle East: A North/South divide where Israel is losing its narrative and its old game plan

The southern bloc seeks to exploit sectarianism in the northern bloc in order to weaken Iran’s influence and crown Saudi Arabia as the leading state of all Arab countries, something which Syrians, Iraqis and most Lebanese find totally unacceptable. Incidentally, the fact that many Egyptians feel that they are still the de-facto leaders of the southern bloc may ultimately cause friction between a beleaguered Cairo and a surging though manic Riyadh.

That being said, even excluding the anti-Iranian fanatics in Saudi Arabia, latent scepticism about Iran does linger in Arab circles, even in the generally pro-Iranian northern bloc of Middle Eastern states. The best way to combat the lingering residue of thought which sees Iranians as exploiters rather than partners of the Arabs, would be for the Islamic Republic of Iran to fully embrace a post-conflict Syria that not only retains but redoubles its Arab characteristics. In many ways, the value of Arabism in Iraq has been realised in the form of a pan-Iraqi move to quash Kurdish ethno-nationalism. Far more than in the fight against Takfiri terrorism, the short but successful fight against Kurdish ethno-nationalism in Iraq has helped to unite many Arabs, including Sunnis behind the largely Shi’a government in Baghdad.

In supporting the continuation of a Syrian Arab Republic,  Iran would send a message to the entire Arab world that progressive Arabism can and should co-exist with an Iranian alliance. Just as President Assad eloquently explained how Arabism strengthens the indigenous Islam and Christianity of the region, so too does Arabism  strengthen Iran’s position in Arab lands and likewise, Iran’s friendship to Arab countries will help progressive Arabs to fight the extremist, sectarianism form of distorted Islam which Saudi Arabia and her allies attempt to export through the force of terrorism and bribery.

Conclusion:

The concept of Arabism living in a harmonious partnership with the Islamic Republic of Iran represents a clear “win-win” model for the northern bloc of the Middle East. Turkey and Iran, in spite of historical differences and completely different ideological models (both in respect of Kemalism and Erdoganism), have become ever closer without sacrificing their unique characteristics. Likewise, Arabist states like Syria can continue to be closely partnered with Iran in a spirit of respect and friendship. This model helped Syria survive the war and Iran increase her regional prestige. If applied in peacetime, it can only be more successful for all parties involved.

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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Erdogan accepts Syria DMZ off-ramp, in deal with Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 111.

Alex Christoforou

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The deal struck in Sochi averts a large scale Syria’s offensive on Idlib, as Turkey gives it guarantee to monitor what will effectively become a demilitarized zone.

According to the agreement, troops from Russia and Turkey will enforce a new demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Idlib, from which ISIS/Al Qaeda rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month.

Speaking alongside Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the 15 to 20 km-wide zone would be established by October 15th. The DMZ would require a complete “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib, including the rebranded Al-Qaeda affiliated Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Putin also noted that heavy weapons would be withdrawn from the DMZ by all opposition forces by October 10th, which is a move supported by the Syrian government.

The Russian President described the agreement as a “serious result” further saying that “Russia and Turkey have confirmed their determination to counter terrorism in Syria in all its forms”.

Erdogan said both his country and Russia would carry out coordinated patrols in the demilitarized zone:

“We decided on the establishment of a region that is cleaned of weapons between the areas which are under the control of the opposition and the regime.”

“In return, we will ensure that radical groups, which we will designate together with Russia, won’t be active in the relevant area.”

According to Al Jazeera Iran’s foreign minister has hailed an agreement between Turkey and Russia to avert an assault on the Syrian rebel-held Idlib province, as an example of “responsible diplomacy”.

An agreement to halt plans for an offensive on the last major rebel-held stronghold was announced in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday after a meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On his Twitter account, Zarif wrote: “Intensive responsible diplomacy over the last few weeks-pursued in my visits to Ankara & Damascus, followed by the Iran-Russia-Turkey Summit in Tehran and the meeting (in) Sochi-is succeeding to avert war in #Idlib with a firm commitment to fight extremist terror. Diplomacy works.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the agreement reached in Sochi, which for now avoids full scale conflict in Idlib, Syria. Who won, who lost, and which interests were met with the DMZ agreement?

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Via Xinhuanet

An anticipated Syrian military offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib is on hold after Turkey and Russia reached a deal following Ankara’s guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, experts said.

The deal was reached Monday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, as the two sides agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib, the last rebel stronghold.

This agreement brings Turkey to a position of giving a guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, the experts said.

“Moscow is convinced that it would not be able to handle the burden of a humanitarian tragedy in case of a military offensive in Idlib,” said Metin Gurcan, a Turkish security analyst with the Istanbul Policy Center of Sabanci University.

Russia has also secured its airbases in northern Syria, including its airbase in Hmeymim as a guarantee by Turkey under the Sochi agreement, he said.

Gurcan recalled a trilateral summit of Turkey, Iran and Russia held in Iranian capital Tehran early September, which ended without agreement as Erdogan’s call for a ceasefire in Idlib was rejected by Moscow and Tehran.

Erdogan’s proposal for a ceasefire by all parties in Idlib was rejected by Putin on the grounds that those groups were not represented at the table there, he said.

“Now Turkey has given a guarantee on behalf of radical groups which Putin earlier said that ceasefire cannot be discussed because they were not represented at Tehran meeting,” Gurcan said.

Now everyone is curious how Turkey has given guarantee to Moscow and how will those radical groups accept a proposal for demilitarization by surrendering heavy weapons and withdrawing from the demilitarized zone, Gurcan noted.

“Ankara has given this promise relying on its military power on the ground and on its capacity to convince armed opposition groups,” he said.

Turkish army has reinforced its presence in Idlib in the past few months, and Turkey has 12 military outposts with 1,200-1,300 troops on the border line of the province separating the rebel stronghold from the pro-Iran militia-controlled South of Aleppo and the government-controlled southeast, Gurcan said.

Rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, in the region are gathered with Turkish backing under the banner of the “National Front for Liberation.”

Putin and Erdogan agreed on Monday in Sochi to create a 15-20 km buffer zone along the line of contact between rebels and regime troops by Oct. 15.

The agreement entails the “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib as well as “heavy weaponry from this zone,” Putin said at the joint press conference after signing the deal with Erdogan.

By the end of the year, transportation routes between the key port of Latakia and Aleppo as well as the city of Hama must be restored, Putin added.

The Russian leader also said all heavy weapons had to be withdrawn from the zone by Oct. 10, according to Erdogan’s proposal.

Ankara has been warning against any military offensive by Russia-backed Syrian regime forces in Idlib, warning that it would lead to a humanitarian crisis and refugee influx to the Turkish border.

Turkey and Russia, along with Iran, are guarantors of the Astana deal which declared ceasefire in four de-escalation zones in Syria, including Idlib.

Turkey will deploy more troops in Idlib province after the Sochi deal, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

“We will need extra troop reinforcements. Turkey and Russia will patrol on the border areas. Civilians and moderate (opposition) will stay here,” Cavusoglu said.

Another outcome of the Sochi deal is that Turkey and Russia prevented a possible attack by the United States in Idlib, Naim Baburoglu from Aydin University said.

He recalled that the U.S. was giving signals that it wanted to intervene in the situation in Idlib, if Syrian government troops launch an assault on the rebel stronghold.

Washington recently threatened to take swift and decisive actions against any use of chemical weapons in Idlib.

“This agreement showed that the U.S. has room for maneuver only in the east of Euphrates and Manbij region,” Baburoglu said.

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Pat Buchanan: “The Late Hit” On Judge Kavanaugh

Wha exactly is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


Upon the memory and truthfulness of Christine Blasey Ford hangs the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his reputation and possibly his career on the nation’s second-highest court.

And much more. If Kavanaugh is voted down or forced to withdraw, the Republican Party and conservative movement could lose their last best hope for recapturing the high court for constitutionalism.

No new nominee could be vetted and approved in six weeks. And the November election could bring in a Democratic Senate, an insuperable obstacle to the elevation of a new strict constructionist like Kavanaugh.

The stakes are thus historic and huge.

And what is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

When she was 15 in the summer of ’82, she went to a beer party with four boys in Montgomery County, Maryland, in a home where the parents were away.

She says she was dragged into a bedroom by Brett Kavanaugh, a 17-year-old at Georgetown Prep, who jumped her, groped her, tried to tear off her clothes and cupped her mouth with his hand to stop her screams.

Only when Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, laughing “maniacally,” piled on and they all tumbled off the bed, did she escape and lock herself in a bathroom as the “stumbling drunks” went downstairs. She fled the house and told no one of the alleged rape attempt.

Not until 30 years later in 2012 did Ford, now a clinical psychologist in California, relate, in a couples therapy session with her husband, what happened. She says she named Kavanaugh as her assailant, but the therapist’s notes of the session make no mention of Kavanaugh.

During the assault, says Ford, she was traumatized. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.”

Here the story grows vague. She does not remember who drove her to the party. She does not say how much she drank. She does not remember whose house it was. She does not recall who, if anyone, drove her home. She does not recall what day it was.

She did not tell her parents, Ford says, as she did not want them to know she had been drinking. She did not tell any friend or family member of this traumatic event that has so adversely affected her life.

Said Kavanaugh in response, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Mark Judge says it never happened.

Given the seriousness of the charges, Ford must be heard out. But she also needs to be cross-examined and have her story and character probed as Kavanaugh’s has been by FBI investigators as an attorney for the Ken Starr impeachment investigation of Bill Clinton, a White House aide to George Bush, a U.S. appellate judge and a Supreme Court nominee.

During the many investigations of Kavanaugh’s background, nothing was unearthed to suggest something like this was in character.

Some 65 women who grew up in the Chevy Chase and Bethesda area and knew Kavanaugh in his high school days have come out and spoken highly of his treatment of girls and women.

Moreover, the way in which all of this arose, at five minutes to midnight in the long confirmation process, suggests that this is political hardball, if not dirt ball.

When Ford, a Democrat, sent a letter detailing her accusations against Kavanaugh to her California congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, Ford insisted that her name not be revealed as the accuser.

She seemingly sought to damage or destroy the judge’s career behind a cloak of anonymity. Eshoo sent the letter on to Sen. Diane Feinstein, who held it for two months.

Excising Ford’s name, Feinstein then sent it to the FBI, who sent it to the White House, who sent it on to the Senate to be included in the background material on the judge.

Thus, Ford’s explosive charge, along with her name, did not surface until this weekend.

What is being done here stinks. It is a transparently late hit, a kill shot to assassinate a nominee who, before the weekend, was all but certain to be confirmed and whose elevation to the Supreme Court is a result of victories in free elections by President Trump and the Republican Party.

Palpable here is the desperation of the left to derail Kavanaugh, lest his elevation to the high court imperil their agenda and the social revolution that the Warren Court and its progeny have been able to impose upon the nation.

If Kavanaugh is elevated, the judicial dictatorship of decades past, going back to the salad days of Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black and “Wild Bill” Douglas, will have reached its end. A new era will have begun.

That is what is at stake.

The Republican Senate should continue with its calendar to confirm Kavanaugh before Oct. 1, while giving Ford some way to be heard, and then Kavanaugh the right to refute. Then let the senators decide.

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