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Syria and the city of Deraa: How the CIA engineered the civil war in Syria

Vile revolutions, like that in Syria, are carefully planned and well funded. Here is how it all started.

Alex Christoforou

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As the US elections enter their final 3 month stretch, an unusually strong emphasis has been placed on foreign policy, with each candidate blaming the other for the creation of ISIS, the mess that is Libya, and the civil war in Syria.

Sometimes the candidates (HRC) even blame Russia for ISIS, even though last I checked Vladimir Putin was not running for the US President…America could only be so lucky.

What is often lost in the debate and rhetoric is how we went from secular and stable states in Iraq, Libya and Syria, and have now come to the present day situation.

Iraq was illegally invaded by George W. Bush in search of those mysterious WMDs.

Libya was torn apart by Hillary Clinton, Sarkozi and Cameron. Muammar Gaddafi suffered a horrible death as Hillary cackled in joy. Gaddafi’s crime…proposing to set up an African currency backed by gold and not the USD.

Syria, well that’s where things seem a bit blurry.

Before the civil war broke out, Syria was a safe, prosperous, and very secular Middle East nation. How Syria devolved into the tragic chaos that plagues it today, is muddled up in dozens of false claims of chemical attacks, moderate rebels, freedom fighters, and other scripted narratives, purposefully meant to blur the operation launched against Assad by the “exceptional” nation.

This is why the below post is essential reading.

Entitled, “The day before Deraa: How the war broke out in Syria” by Steven Sahiounie, this piece goes back in time and sets the record straight.

Things in Syria did not just happen by chance, nor was it some sort of “democratic” uprising.

Vile revolutions, like that in Syria, are carefully planned and well funded. Do not let history and fact be polluted by the corrupt media and Washington politicians, that look to wash away their sins, while rewriting the past to paint a fantasy picture.


The day before Deraa: How the war broke out in Syria

The day before September 11, 2001 was like any normal day in New York City.  September 10, 2001 was unaware of the earthshaking events which would happen the next day.

Similarly, one might think the day before the violence broke out in Deraa, Syria in March 2011 would have been an uneventful day, unaware of the uprising about to begin.

But, that was not the case.  Deraa was teaming with activity and foreign visitors to Syria well before the staged uprising began its opening act.

The Omari Mosque was the scene of backstage preparations, costume changes and rehearsals.  The Libyan terrorists, fresh from the battlefield of the US-NATO   regime change  attack on Libya, were in Deraa well ahead of the March 2011 uprising violence.  The cleric of the Omari Mosque was Sheikh Ahmad al Sayasneh . He was an older man with a severe eye problem, which caused him to wear special dark glasses, and severely hampered his vision.  He was not only visually impaired, but light sensitive as well, which caused him to be indoors as much as possible and often isolated.  He was accustomed to judging the people he talked with by their accent and voice. The Deraa accent is distinctive.  All of the men attending the Omari Mosque were local men, all with the common Deraa accent.  However, the visitors from Libya did not make themselves known to the cleric, as that would blow their cover.  Instead, they worked with local men; a few key players who they worked to make their partners and confidants. The participation of local Muslim Brotherhood followers, who would assist the foreign Libyan mercenaries/terrorists, was an essential part of the CIA plan, which was well scripted and directed from Jordan.

Enlisting the aid and cooperation of local followers of Salafism allowed the Libyans to move in Deraa without attracting any suspicion.   The local men were the ‘front’ for the operation.

The CIA agents running the Deraa operation from their office in Jordan had already provided the weapons and cash needed to fuel the flames of revolution in Syria.   With enough money and weapons, you can start a revolution anywhere in the world.

In reality, the uprising in Deraa in March 2011 was not fueled by graffiti written by teenagers, and there were no disgruntled parents demanding their children to be freed.    This was part of the Hollywood style script written by skilled CIA agents, who had been given a mission: to destroy Syria for the purpose of regime change.  Deraa was only Act 1: Scene 1.

The fact that those so-called teenaged graffiti artists and their parents have never been found, never named, and never pictured is the first clue that their identity is cloaked in darkness.

In any uprising there needs to be grassroots support. Usually, there is a situation which arises, and protesters take to the streets.  The security teams step in to keep the peace and clear the streets and if there is a ‘brutal crackdown’ the otherwise ‘peaceful protesters’ will react with indignation, and feeling oppressed and wronged, the numbers in the streets will swell.   This is the point where the street protests can take two directions: the protesters will back down and go home, or the protesters can react with violence, which then will be met with violence from the security teams, and this sets the stage for a full blown uprising.

The staged uprising in Deraa had some locals in the street who were unaware of their participation in a CIA-Hollywood production.  They were the unpaid extras in the scene about to be shot.  These unaware extras had grievances, perhaps  lasting a generation or more, and perhaps rooted in Wahhabism, which is a political ideology exported globally by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Royal family and their paid officials.

The Libyans stockpiled weapons at the Omari Mosque well before any rumor spread about teenagers arrested for graffiti.  The cleric, visually impaired and elderly, was unaware of the situation inside his Mosque, or of the foreign infiltrators in his midst.

The weapons came into Deraa from the CIA office in Jordan.  The US government has close ties to the King of Jordan.   Jordan is 98% Palestinian, and yet has a long lasting peace treaty with Israel, despite the fact that 5 million of the Jordanian citizen’s relatives next door in Occupied Palestine are denied any form of human rights.   The King of Jordan has to do a daily high-wire balancing act between his citizens, the peace and safety in his country and America’s interests and projects in the Middle East.   King Abdullah is not only a tight-rope walker, but a juggler at the same time, and all of this pressure on him must be enormous for him, and Queen Rania, who is herself Palestinian.  These facts must be viewed in the forefront of the background painted scenery of The Syrian Arab Republic, which has for the last 40 years had a cornerstone of domestic and foreign policy carved and set in the principle of Palestinian human rights and Palestinian freedom and justice.

The US policy to attack Syria for the purpose of regime change was not just about the gas lines, the oil wells, the strategic location and the gold: but it was about crushing that cornerstone of Palestinian rights into dust.  To get rid of President Bashar al Assad was to get rid of one of the few Arab leaders who are an unwavering voice of Palestinian rights.

Deraa’s location directly on the Jordanian border is the sole reason it was picked for the location-shoot of the opening act of the Syrian uprising.    If you were to ask most Syrians, if they had ever been to Derra, or ever plan to go, they will answer, “No.”  It is a small and insignificant agricultural town.  It is a very unlikely place to begin a nationwide revolution.  Deraa has a historical importance because of archeological ruins, but that is lost on anyone other than history professors or archeologists.    The access to the weapons from Jordan made Deraa the perfect place to stage the uprising which has turned into an international war.  Any person with common sense would assume an uprising or revolution in Syria would begin in Damascus or Aleppo, the two biggest cities. Even after 2 ½ years of violence around the country, Aleppo’s population never participated in the uprising, or call for regime change.   Aleppo: the large industrial powerhouse of Syria wanted nothing to do with the CIA mission, and felt that by staying clear of any participation they could be spared and eventually the violence would die out, a natural death due to lack of participation of the civilians.  However, this was not to play out for Aleppo.  Instead, the US supported Free Syrian Army, who were mainly from Idlib and the surrounding areas, invited in their foreign partners, and they came pouring into Aleppo from Turkey, where they had taken Turkish Airlines flights from Afghanistan, Europe, Australia and North Africa landing in Istanbul, and then transported by buses owned by the Turkish government to the Turkey-Aleppo border.  The airline tickets, buses, paychecks, supplies, food, and medical needs were all supplied in Turkey by an official from Saudi Arabia.  The weapons were all supplied by the United States of America, from their warehouse at the dock of Benghazi, Libya.  The US-NATO regime change mission had ended in success in Libya, with America having taken possession of all the weapons and stockpiles formerly the property of the Libyan government, including tons of gold bullion taken by the US government from the Central Bank of Libya.

Enter the Libyans stage right. Mehdi al Harati, the Libyan with an Irish passport, was put in charge of a Brigade of terrorists working under the pay and direction of the CIA in Libya.  Once his fighting subsided there, he was moved to Northern Syria, in the Idlib area, which was the base of operation for the American backed Free Syrian Army, who Republican Senator John McCain lobbied for in the US Congress, and personally visited, illegally entering Syria without any passport or border controls.  In Arizona, Sen. McCain is in favor of deporting any illegal alien entering USA, but he himself broke international law by entering Syria as an illegal and undocumented alien.  However, he was in the company of trusted friends and associates, the Free Syrian Army: the same men who beheaded Christians and Muslims, raped females and children of both sexes, sold girls as sex slaves in Turkey, and ate the raw liver of a man, which they  proudly videoed and uploaded.

Previously, Syria did not have any Al Qaeda terrorists, and had passed through the war in neighboring Iraq none the worse for wear, except having accepted 2 million Iraqis as refugee guests. Shortly before the Deraa staged uprising began, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were in Damascus and being driven around by the President and First Lady. Pitt and Jolie had come to visit and support the Iraqi war refugees in Damascus.  Brad Pitt was amazed that the Syrian President would drive him around personally, and without any body guards or security detail.  Pitt and Jolie were used to their own heavy security team in USA.  Pres. Assad explained that he and his wife were comfortable in Damascus, knowing that it was a safe place.  Indeed, the association of French travel agents had deemed Syria as the safest tourist destination in the entire Mediterranean region, meaning even safer than France itself.

However, the US strategy was to create a “New Middle East”, which would do away with safety in Syria; through the ensuing tornado, aka ‘winds of change’.

Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and then Syria were the stepping stones in the garden of the “Arab Spring”.  But, the scenario in the Syrian mission did not stay on script.   It went over deadline and over budget.  The final credits have yet to be rolled, and the curtain has yet to fall on the stage.

We can’t under estimate the role that mainstream media had to play in the destruction of Syria.  For example, Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin was in Deraa and personally interviewed the cleric Sayasneh at the Omari Mosque.   Al Jazeera is the state owned and operated media for the Prince of Qatar.  The Prince of Qatar was one of the key funders of the terrorists attacking Syria.  The USA was sending the weapons, supplies and providing military satellite imagery, however the cash to make payroll, to pay out bribes in Turkey, and all other expenses which needed cold cash in hand was being paid out by the Prince of Qatar and the King of Saudi Arabia, who were playing their roles as closest Middle East allies of the United States of America.  This was a production team between USA, EU, NATO, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar primarily.  The CIA has no problem with covert operations in foreign countries, and even full scale attacks, but the matter of funding needs to come from a foreign country, because the American voters don’t care about killing people in Syria, but they would never agree to pay for it.  As long as the Arabs were paying for the project, that was OK by Mr. John Q. Public, who probably was not able to find Syria on a map anyway.

Rula Amin and others of the Al Jazeera staff, and including the American CNN, the British BBC and the French France24 all began deliberate political propaganda campaign against the Syrian government and the Syrian people who were suffering from the death and destruction brought on by the terrorists who were pretending to be players in a local uprising.   Some days, the scripts were so similar that you would have guessed they were all written in the same hotel room in Beirut.  Onto the stage stepped the online media personalities of Robert Fisk, from his vantage point in Beirut and Joshua Landis from his perch in Oklahoma.  These 2 men, sitting so far removed from the actual events, pretended to know everything going on in Syria.  British and American readers were swayed by their deliberate one-sided explanations, while the actual Syrians living inside Syria, who read in English online, were baffled.  Syrians were wondering how Western writers could take the side of the terrorists who were foreigners, following Radical Islam and attacking any unarmed civilian who tried to defend their home and family. The media was portraying the terrorists as freedom fighters and heroes of democracy, while they were raping, looting, maiming, kidnapping for ransom and murdering unarmed civilians who had not read the script before the shooting began in Deraa.  There was one global movie trailer, and it was a low budget cell phone video which went viral around the world, and it sold the viewers on the idea of Syria being in the beginning of a dramatic fight for freedom, justice and the American way.   From the very beginning, Al Jazeera and all the rest of the media were paying $100.00 to any amateur video shot in Syria.  A whole new cottage industry sprang up in Syria, with directors and actors all hungry for the spotlight and fame.  Authenticity was not questioned; the media just wanted content which supported their propaganda campaign in Syria.

Deraa was the opening act of tragic epic which has yet to conclude.  The cleric who was a key character in the beginning scenes, Sheikh Sayasneh, was first put under house arrest, and then he was smuggled out to Amman, Jordan in January 2012.  He now gives lectures in America near Washington, DC. Just like aspiring actors usually find their way to Hollywood, which is the Mecca of the film industry, Sheikh Sayasneh found his way to the Mecca of all regime change projects.

Via: http://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/syria-crisis/1135-day-before-deraa.html

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Pat Mc Ginley
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Pat Mc Ginley

Except, it was invasion by foreign devious agendas, fraudulently disguised as civil war to gain public support abroad. There’s a major difference. Thankfully, the vast majority of Syrians always knew and pointed it out at every opportunity, which was seldom because the BBC, etc., didn’t want us to know the truth.

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Protests erupt in Athens, as ‘North Macedonia’ vote fast approaches (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 62.

Alex Christoforou

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NATO and the EU are full of joy with the Prespes agreement, which is sure to pass the Greek Parliament and fast rack the newly minted Republic of North Macedonia into NATO and the EU.

Meanwhile in Athens and Skopje, anger is reaching dangerous levels, as each side debates the pros and cons of the deal inked by Tsipras and Zaev.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at yesterday’s protests in Athens, Greece, where things got very ugly as radical left Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras used tear gas and a heavy police hand to put down protests, that reached upwards of 60,000 people in the Syntagma downtown square.

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Via Ekathimerini

As Greece gets ready for a political showdown this week over the Prespes agreement, we are witnessing a relentless, often cynical, maneuvering between parties, their leaders and even individual deputies.

What is at stake is not only the ratification of the deal between Athens and Skopje, but also the potential redrawing of the domestic political map.

Greek society and the country’s political world are deeply divided. The public is clearly against the deal, with up to 70% opposed to it.

The tens of thousands that demonstrated in Sunday’s rally in Athens, showed once more that sentiments run high.

The violence, which the Prime Minister blamed on extremists, while the opposition leader criticized the extended use of tear gas and called for an investigation to find out who was responsible, is indicative of the slippery slope the country is facing in the months leading to the national elections.

Despite the voices of reason calling for a minimum of cooperation and looking for common ground, Alexis Tsipras and Kyriakos Mitsotakis are in an all out war.

The leftist Prime Minister is attempting to use the Prespes agreement to create a broad “progressive” coalition that extends well beyond SYRIZA, while the conservative opposition leader, who is leading in the polls, is trying to keep his party united (on the name issue there are differing approaches) and win the next elections with an absolute majority.

With respect to the Prespes deal itself, the rare confluence of shrewd political considerations with deeply held feelings about one’s history, makes for an explosive mix and ensures a heated debate in parliament.

As for the raw numbers, despite the public opposition, the passage of the Prespes agreement in the 300 member Greek Parliament should be considered a done deal. In the most plausible senario 153 deputies will support the deal in the vote expected later in the week.

The governing SYRIZA has 145 deputies, and one should add to those the positive votes of Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, centrist To Potami deputies Stavros Theodorakis, Spyros Lykoudis and Giorgos Mavrotas, former To Potami MP Spiros Danellis, and ANEL MP Thanasis Papachristopoulos.

This leads to a majority of 151. Last night one more positive vote was announced, that of Thanasis Theocharopoulos, leader of Democratic Left which untill now was part of the Movement for Change coalition, from which he was ejected as a result of his decision to support the deal.

Finally, Citizens Security Deputy Minister Katerina Papacosta, a former member of New Democracy, is expected to also vote for the agreement, but has not officially said so. Thus, for all practical purposes, the Prespes agreement is expected to pass, with 152 or 153 votes.

Former Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is not a member of parliament and who has worked tiressly on the issue, both as foreign minister and PM, has gone public in support of the deal.

Despite the discomfort this move created in the leadership of the Movement for Change, doing otherwise would have made him look inconsistent. As he is not voting, the damage is seen as limited, although the symbolism does not help the Movement for Change approach.

To the extent that Greece’s transatlantic partners and allies want to see the agreement implemented, they should feel relief. Of course, nothing is done until the “fat lady sings”, but one can clearly hear her whispering the notes in the corridors of the Greek Parliament.

Still, for the astute observer of Greek politics and the foreign officials and analysts who value the crucial role of Greece as an anchor of stability in the Balkans – being by far the strongest country in this region, both militarily and economically, despite the crisis of the last eight years – the deep divisions the issue has created in the society and the political world, are a cause for concern and could spell trouble in the future.

Dealing with such a volatile landscape calls for delicate moves by all.

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Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

Neocons make the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

The Duran

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Authored by Erik D’Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:


If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation.But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable…

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

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Vladimir Putin visits Serbia, as NATO encircles the country it attacked in 1999 (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 171.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to Serbia.

Putin met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to further develop bilateral trade and economic relations, as well as discuss pressing regional issues including the possibility of extending the Turkish Stream gas pipeline into Serbia, and the dangerous situation around Kosovo.

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Via RT


Russian President Vladimir Putin got a hero’s welcome in Belgrade. The one-day visit to the last holdout against NATO’s ambitions in the Balkans may have been somewhat short on substance, but was certainly loaded with symbolism.

Even before he landed, the Russian leader was given an honor guard by Serbian air force MiGs, a 2017 gift from Moscow to replace those destroyed by NATO during the 1999 air campaign that ended with the occupation of Serbia’s province of Kosovo. Russia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s US-backed declaration of independence, while the US and EU have insisted on it.

Upon landing, Putin began his first official trip of 2019 by paying respects to the Soviet soldiers who died liberating Belgrade from Nazi occupation in 1944. While most Serbians haven’t forgotten their historical brotherhood in arms with Russia, it did not hurt to remind the West just who did the bulk of the fighting against Nazi Germany back in World War II.

After official talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Putin visited the Church of St. Sava, the grand Orthodox basilica set on the spot where the Ottoman Turks torched the remains of the first Serbian archbishop back in 1594, in an effort to maintain power.

Sava, whose brother Stefan became the “first-crowned” king of medieval Serbia, was responsible for setting up the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church exactly eight centuries ago this year. For all its own troubles, the Serbian Church has sided with Moscow in the current Orthodox schism over Ukraine.

Russian artisans have been working on the grand mosaic inside the basilica, and asked Putin to complete the design by placing the last three pieces, in the colors of the Russian flag.

Whether by sheer coincidence or by design, Putin also weighed in on Serbia’s culture war, giving interviews ahead of his visit to two daily newspapers that still publish in Serbian Cyrillic – while the majority of the press, whether controlled by the West or by Vucic, prefers the Latin variant imported from Croatia.

Western media usually refer to Serbia as a “Russian ally.” While this is true in a historical and cultural sense, there is no formal military alliance between Moscow and Belgrade. Serbia officially follows the policy of military neutrality, with its armed forces taking part in exercises alongside both Russian and NATO troops.

This is a major source of irritation for NATO, which seeks dominion over the entire Balkans region. Most recently, the alliance extended membership to Montenegro in 2017 without putting the question to a referendum. It is widely expected that “Northern Macedonia” would get an invitation to NATO as soon as its name change process is complete – and that was arranged by a deal both Macedonia and Greece seem to have been pressured into by Washington.

That would leave only Serbia outside the alliance – partly, anyway, since NATO has a massive military base in the disputed province of Kosovo, and basically enjoys special status in that quasi-state. Yet despite Belgrade’s repeated declarations of Serbia wanting to join the EU, Brussels and Washington have set recognition of Kosovo as the key precondition – and no Serbian leader has been able to deliver on that just yet, though Vucic has certainly tried.

Putin’s repeated condemnations of NATO’s 1999 attack, and Russian support for Serbia’s territorial integrity guaranteed by the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, have made him genuinely popular among the Serbs, more so than Vucic himself. Tens of thousands of people showed up in Belgrade to greet the Russian president.

While Vucic’s critics have alleged that many of them were bused in by the government – which may well be true, complete with signs showing both Vucic and Putin – there is no denying the strong pro-Russian sentiment in Serbia, no matter how hard Integrity Initiative operatives have tried.

One of the signs spotted in Belgrade reportedly said “one of 300 million,” referring to the old Serbian joke about there being “300 million of us – and Russians.” However, it is also a send-up of the slogan used by current street protesters against Vucic. For the past six weeks, every Saturday, thousands of people have marched through Belgrade, declaring themselves “1 of 5 million” after Vucic said he wouldn’t give in to their demands even if “five million showed up.”

The opposition Democrats accuse him of corruption, nepotism, mismanagement, cronyism – all the sins they themselves have plenty of experience with during their 12-year reign following Serbia’s color revolution. Yet they’ve had to struggle for control of the marches with the nationalists, who accuse Vucic of preparing to betray Kosovo and want “him to go away, but [Democrats] not come back.”

There is plenty of genuine discontent in Serbia with Vucic, who first came to power in 2012 on a nationalist-populist platform but quickly began to rule as a pro-NATO liberal. It later emerged that western PR firms had a key role in his party’s “makeover” from Radicals to Progressives. Yet his subsequent balancing act between NATO and Russia has infuriated both the NGOs and politicians in Serbia beholden to Western interests, and US diplomats charged with keeping the Balkans conquered.

Washington is busy with its own troubles these days, so there was no official comment to Putin’s visit from the State Department – only a somewhat pitiful and tone-deaf tweet by Ambassador Kyle Scott, bemoaning the lack of punishment for $1 million in damages to the US Embassy during a 2008 protest against Kosovo “independence.” Yet as far as Western media outlets are concerned, why Moscow seems to be vastly more popular than Washington on the streets of Belgrade nonetheless remains a mystery.

By Nebojsa Malic

 

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