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Presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey meet to discuss peace for Syria: FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS

The leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey are now the primary divers in shaping a post-conflict peace settlement for Syria.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has hosted President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey in the Sochi to discuss a peace process for Syria. The meeting is part of the Astana format which has previously agreed to create and maintain de-escalation zones in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Who said what:

The three Presidents agreed to further their commitments to deeper cooperation over all matters relating to a final peaceful political settlement to the Syrian conflict.

President Putin spoke first saying that in addition to cooperating on peace measures, all three countries agree to continue cooperation against remaining terrorist group in Syria, such as al-Nusra (al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria).

Once al-Nusra and remaining Takfiri terrorists are neutralised, Putin stated that a “long lasting comprehensive normalisation of the territory of Syria (and) political restructuring of post-conflict Syria” is necessary and that the joint statement by the three Presidents reflects this.

Putin stated that is is additionally important for the return of Syrian refugees to a peaceful country as well as for Russia, Iran and Turkey to work with Syria to normalise the situation for internally displaced persons.

Putin also restated the commitment of the three countries to the Syrian National Dialogue Congress which will also be held in Sochi. This body will bring together supporters of the Syrian government with opposition fighters and try to foster a penultimate de-escalation and pave the way for new elections in-line with UN resolution 2254. Putin emphasised that the future of Syria must be determined only by the Syrian people.

Additionally, Putin stated that Russia, Iran and Turkey must work together to economically revive and rebuild Syria in order to insure a lasting and prosperous settlement.

Next to speak was Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani stated that terrorism is a universal threat and that no country should ever use it as a political instrument, in a clear rebuke of Saudi Arabia which is currently hosting a shambolic conference of those who remain members of the so-called Syrian “opposition”.

The Iranian President further stated that his country wants to encourage a peaceful dialogue between Syria and those who have differences with the government.

He reiterated Iran’s commitment to ensuring peaceful and fair elections and that Iran is committed to rebuilding Syria in a post-conflict environment.

 

Finally, Turkey’s President Erdogan spoke. He began by thanking his “friend Vladimir Putin” and thanked God for insuring continued cooperation in all areas in the future.

The Turkish President praised the work of the Astana group in creating the de-escalation zones and stated that Turkey supports new elections in Syria based on the principles of UN resolution 2254.

Perhaps surprisingly, given Turkey’s previous support for regime change in Syria, Erdogan gave the strongest statement of any of the three leaders in favour of Syria’s unity. Erdogan stated that “terrorists who threaten our countries and the territorial integrity of Syria will be our targets…

…We adhere to the principle of the territorial and political integrity of Syria. We cannot see terrorists as a legitimate side in that process”.

What it means: 

Broadly, all thee leaders have stated rhetorically similar goals which advocate for the following

–A continued cooperative fight against remaining terrorist groups in Syria

–A willingness to foster dialogue between the Syrian government, its supporters and so called “opposition groups”

–A willingness to support a new/amended constitution

–A willingness to support new post-conflict elections

–No support for “regime change”

Areas of disagreement: 

Crucially, none of the thee leaders are calling for dividing Syria into separate states nor was the term “federalisation” used in today’s meeting. Previously, Russia had broached the idea of federalism,  but Russia appears to be walking away from this position in earnest.

Instead, Russia seeks to foster dialogue between cooperative opponents of the Syrian government and the Syrian government. Putin has been very clear that compromises will need to be made on both sides. This demonstrates that there may be room for disagreement between Damascus and Moscow if these discussions are not expertly managed.

Syria has always stated that it is willing to both pardon and engage with any Syrian who is willing to renounce violence and embrace a peaceful political process.

However, Syria does have its limits when it comes to groups that seek to impose an increasingly crypto-Takfiri agenda on a multi-faith, multi-ethnic, secular Arab Republic. Since no compromise situation is ever 50/50, Russia ought to insure that the so-called “opposition” who are disunited and internally divided, are never allowed to get a pseudo-upper hand in discussions with Syria. Here, one must rely on speculation that during behind the scenes discussions with President al-Assad, that President Putin assured Syria that the victory against Takfiri groups will not be minimised by an overwrought inclusion of crypto-Takfiri groups in a final peace settlement. The reality of this speculation will likely become more clear over the next 2 to 3 months.

As for Turkey, Ankara still maintains sympathy for some of the sectarian Sunni so-called “opposition” in Syria, however, while Russia is willing to allow Kurdish militant groups to participate in dialogue with the Syrian government, Turkey is dead set against this.

For Turkey, the primary terrorist threat to the region are the pro-PKK Kurdish fighters currently operating in northern Syria. When Erdogan spoke of terrorism threatening OUR countries, he was clearly referring to Kurdish insurgents.

In this sense, there may be room for proverbial horse trading between Damascus, Ankara and Moscow. In return for Turkey dampening its support for crypto-Takfiri groups, Russia could, on behalf of Syria, move to a position that is more sympathetic to treating Syria’s Kurdish issue as a post, post-conflict problem, thus not allowing Kurdish agitations to become a point of contention at future dialogue sessions. In this sense, Russia could help Syria and Turkey to slowly normalise relations by de-emphasising any latent sympathies to the Kurds that still lingers in some Russian circles. This would be beneficial for Russia’s long term relationship with both Turkey and Syria, something that is frankly worth ‘losing’ clout among Kurds who have shown an almost blind wilful submission to their western and Zionist clients.

This of course will require supreme tact by all sides, but as Moscow is in a position to speak with both Ankara and Damascus, Moscow withdrawing any remaining sympathies with the Kurds, could be vital in helping Turkey to ease into a position wherein it acts as a restraining rather than an encouraging force in respect of the so-called “opposition” among which, Turkey continues to command respect.

In respect of Iran, one sees a power that has zero sympathies with any crypto-Takfiri “opposition” figures, but also one which is increasingly willing to cooperate with Turkey over Kurdish insurgents who threaten the peace and security of Iran and Turkey. Iran recently cooperated with Turkey in building a border wall designed to prevent Kurdish terrorists in Iran from supplying their compatriots in Turkey and vice versa.  Iran and Turkey also jointly cooperated with Iraq in subduing ethno-naturalist Kurds in northern Iraq, in a mission that was both swift and successful.

In this sense, Iran can help to assure Syria that Turkey’s position in favour of crypto-Takfiris can and will be restrained, while Iran can also assure Turkey that Tehran will effectively communicate a message of genuine worry over Kurdish terrorism to Moscow.

In summary: 

Today’s meeting was not a watershed moment in terms of providing a unified front for a final peace settlement to Syria. As al-Nusra terrorists still remain active in parts of Syria, such a hope was overly ambitious in any case.

What today’s meeting did show however, is that those who will establish the penultimate mechanisms of peace will be the governments of Russia, Iran and Turkey. The US and EU by contrast, are far from central to any settlement. Today’s events also demonstrated that Turkey is going to have to be in the same room as pro-Ba’ahist political leaders and deal with the situation maturely while Iran will have to do the same in respect of being in a room with crypto-Takfiris.

The situation will have its difficulties, however, it ultimately shows a maturity among the three Astana group powers that countries like the United States, EU powers, Saudi Arabia and most of all Israel, have not shown any willingness to attempt and apprehend.

The differences I highlighted were almost certainly discussed in private and sooner or later, they will have to be reasonably dealt with in public.

Overall, through all of this, one must remember that the Syrian government  has done nothing wrong and just about everything right. There is no need to altar the constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic one iota. However, Syria is willing to engage with the Astana group in the hopes of bringing peace to the country, something which Syria’s leaders have stated is their goal, time and time again.

The hope is that whatever constitutional changes are made, that they are in line with strengthening the Arabism, pluralism and progressivism of the current constitution, rather than watering it down, something which would only leave Syria exposed to future conflicts.

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

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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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