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Mosul versus Aleppo: US bombing ‘good, Russian bombing ‘bad’; ISIS ‘bad’, Al-Qaeda ‘good’

The West’s selective indignation concerning Syrian and Russian conduct of the battle of Aleppo, in contrast to Iraqi and US conduct of the battle of Mosul, is not an only an offence against reason and truth. It also excuses Al-Qaeda, which was as responsible for the suffering in Aleppo as ISIS has been for the suffering in Mosul.

Alexander Mercouris

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Anyone casting their mind back to the Western media’s reporting of the battle to liberate eastern Aleppo from the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis in the second half of last year will remember the vivid reporting of supposed Russian and Syrian government atrocities the Western media and Western governments engaged in during the battle.

Thus the Russians and the Syrians were accused of terror bombings of civilians, of deliberately bombing hospitals, with the Syrians specifically accused of ‘barrel-bombing’ ie. of dropping inaccurate improvised home made bombs to kill civilians.

This vast campaign led to heated debates in the UN Security Council, two passionate debates in the British parliament with calls for British military intervention against Syrian and Russia, a refusal by President Hollande of France to meet with President Putin of Russia during a meeting that Putin planned to make to France – and which he accordingly cancelled – and claims that the Russians were committing war crimes in Syria and in Aleppo, and to demands for prosecutions of Russian officials for war crimes.

The UN Secretariat for its part threw its weight behind this campaign, repeatedly calling for ceasefires in Aleppo that appeared to be intended to leave the Jihadis in control of eastern Aleppo, and for humanitarian convoys to be sent to eastern Aleppo, whose effect if not whose purpose would be to resupply the Jihadis there.

The Russians for their part repeatedly agreed to temporary ceasefires and bombing halts, and repeatedly left what they called ‘humanitarian corridors’ open to allow civilians from the besieged districts and Jihadi fighters to leave eastern Aleppo and for UN humanitarian convoys to enter eastern Aleppo.

In the event, until the final collapse of Jihadi resistance in eastern Aleppo in December, very few Jihadi fighters and civilians did in fact leave eastern Aleppo via these humanitarian corridors, and very few humanitarian supplies ever got through.

Western governments and the Western blame placed the blame for this squarely on the Syrian government, alleging that the Jihadi fighters and civilians were too terrified of reprisals by the Syrian government’s security agencies to dare to leave the besieged eastern districts of the city or to trust the Syrian authorities’ guarantees of safe conduct, and that it was the Syrian authorities who were preventing humanitarian supplies from getting through.

Meanwhile the Syrian rescue group – the White Helmets – were given an inordinate amount of favourable publicity, culminating eventually in a documentary about them which has recently been awarded an Oscar.

Lastly, the population of the besieged districts of eastern Aleppo was throughout the summer and autumn repeatedly said – including by the UN Secretariat and its relief agencies – to number 250,000, with this vast number supposedly collectively facing a humanitarian catastrophe.

During the period of the siege I repeatedly made known my doubts about many of these atrocity stories.

I could never see for example the purpose behind the Russians and the Syrians bombing hospitals, and the claims that they were looked to me like war propaganda.

I was seriously concerned that Western governments and the Western media were suppressing information about who was actually in control of eastern Aleppo, though the fact that the dominant group there was Jabhat Al-Nusra – Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch – hardly seemed contestable.

I was worried that all the claims of Russian and Syrian government atrocities in eastern Aleppo originated entirely from groups controlled by or sympathetic to Al-Qaeda – including the White Helmets – since there were and (because of the nature of these groups) could be no Western journalists present in eastern Aleppo to verify them independently.

I was also concerned that Western governments and the Western media seemed to be largely ignoring reports of atrocities committed by the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis in eastern Aleppo, such as the fact that they appeared to be preventing civilians from leaving the besieged eastern districts of Aleppo so that they could use them as human shields, and regularly murdered civilians who sought to escape from there.

Last but by no means least, I was troubled that Western governments and the Western media seemed to conflate the besieged Jihadi controlled eastern districts of Aleppo with the whole city of Aleppo, ignoring the fact that even if the claim that 250,000 civilians were trapped in eastern Aleppo was true, it would only represent a fraction of Aleppo’s total population, the great bulk of whom were in the government controlled areas and appeared to support the government.

The collapse of Jihadi resistance in eastern Aleppo proved that some at least of the claims made by Western governments and the Western media during the siege were untrue.

It turned out for example that the number of civilians trapped in eastern Aleppo was far less than the 250,000 that was claimed, and that most of them seized the opportunity to flee to the government controlled areas of western Aleppo as soon as Al-Qaeda’s control of the besieged eastern districts of Aleppo weakened.

As for the Jihadi fighters themselves, they were evacuated from eastern Aleppo together with their families and any civilians who wanted to go with them, as the result of an agreement with the Syrian government which was brokered by Russia and Turkey, without the mass reprisals against them and their families and the civilians fleeing with them – which many claimed would happen – taking place.

Since the end of the siege Aleppo has been largely peaceful, with little sign of resistance by its people against the Syrian government, and with increasing signs of life in the city slowly returning to normal, though the task of reconstruction is colossal.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign of all is that there are growing reports of increasing numbers of people who had fled the city during the war returning there, with the UN reporting that as many 500,000 people who had fled Syria during the war returning there in the last few months.

As for evidence to support some of the specific atrocity claims made during the siege, such as the claims about the deliberate bombing of hospitals, this has been hard to find, and since the end of the siege Western governments and the Western media seem to have lost interest in the matter.

Having said all this, there is of course no doubt that huge damage was done to Aleppo during the battle and that many civilians were killed and wounded there, though who was responsible for any specific death or damage is never easy to say.

What is however truly fascinating is to compare what happened in eastern Aleppo last year with what has happened in Mosul last year and this.

Rather than describe it myself I will reproduce one of the many accounts of the devastation of Mosul which have been provided by an actual eyewitness, the British journalist Patrick Cockburn, in my opinion and in the opinion of many other people the single best Western reporter of the recent wars in the Middle East

The people of Mosul got rid of Isis, but at terrible cost to themselves. Great stretches of west Mosul lie in ruins, some areas so badly hit that it is impossible to even visit them because the streets are choked with debris. I was in al-Jadida district where local people all complained that there had never been many Isis fighters, but, whenever a sniper fired a shot from a large building, the troops on the ground would call in airstrikes to demolish it.

One aspect of the war does not come across in much of the media reporting. It is clear, looking at wrecked streets towards the centre of the city, that much of the damage has been caused not by airstrikes, but  by artillery and rocket fire that have knocked chunks out of buildings in a haphazard way. One can see the artillery of the Federal Police, a paramilitary force, near the airport road to the south of Mosul. Much of the bombardment of west Mosul, as opposed to the east, was in the shape of shells and rockets  fired in the general direction of the enemy rather than at specific targets.

Nobody knows how many people were killed, but, talking to survivors, the number must be very large. One unconfirmed report says that civil defence workers have already pulled 2,000 bodies from the rubble. The Airwars monitoring group says that 5,805 civilians may have died in west Mosul between 19 February and 19 June. The authorities may not be trying to very hard to find out the true figure: one observer caustically noted that hundreds of planes, drones and artillery pieces were mobilised to bombard Mosul, but, on one day last week, only a single bulldozer could be found to aid the search for bodies buried under the ruins of the Old City.

The horrific civilian loss of life is explained in part by the merciless determination of Isis to prevent civilians from escaping and depriving them of human shields. Isis snipers shot people who tried to flee and Isis officials welded shut the metal doors of houses with people packed inside. It is difficult to think of any other example of a siege in which civilians have been herded together like this to deter air or artillery attack.

There is a compelling and meticulous account by Amnesty International of the bombardment called At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul.  Out of thousands of attacks in west Mosul, it investigates and documented 45 attacks that “it had reasonable grounds to attribute to Iraqi government or US-led coalition forces. These 45 attacks alone killed at least 426 civilians and injured more than 100.” The report should be read by everybody interested in why so many died in west Mosul.

“Pro-government forces relied heavily upon explosive weapons with wide area effects such as IRAMs (Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions),” it says. “With their crude targeting abilities, these weapons wreaked havoc in densely populated west Mosul, where large groups of civilians were trapped in homes or makeshift shelters.” This is important because the government officials and the western media sometimes contrast the indiscriminate Russian and Syrian government bombardment of East Aleppo with the accurate and discriminating Coalition backed assault on west Mosul.

The crass response of the leaders of the US-led coalition who orchestrated the attack on west Mosul is telling and shows that we are back in the Vietnam era when American officers were happy to volunteer that they were destroying populated areas in order to save them.

What is fascinating about this account is how it echoes almost exactly many of accusations made against the Syrian government and the Russians during the fighting in eastern Aleppo.

Thus we read of massive and indiscriminate shelling and bombing of civilian areas and general indifference by the Iraqi and US authorities to the plight of civilians, thousands of whom as a result have been killed.

We also read of patterns of behaviour by the ISIS fighters in Mosul which seem in all respects identical to those claimed by the Syrians and the Russians for those of the Al-Qaeda led Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo.

Thus both the ISIS fighters in Mosul and the Al-Qaeda led Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo are accused of treating civilians as human shields, preventing them from quitting Mosul and eastern Aleppo, and murdering them in both cases if they attempted to do so.

Given the fanatical ideology of both groups, which is so similar as to be all but identical, that is not surprising.

There are however some verifiable differences in the conduct of the two battles.

Unlike the Syrians and the Russians, the Iraqis and the US never to my knowledge at any point during the fighting in Mosul declared any bombing halts or ceasefires – ‘humanitarian pauses’ – or set up any ‘humanitarian corridors’ to allow civilians and ISIS fighters to flee the city.

The Russians also deny that they ever actually carried out any air strikes on eastern Aleppo, saying that such air strikes as took place there were strictly the work of the Syrian military, and were largely carried out by helicopters.

In a sense therefore Iraqi and US conduct of the battle of Mosul was more ruthless than was that of the Syrians and the Russians during the battle of eastern Aleppo.

The biggest difference is however the completely different ways that Western governments and the Western media have responded to the two battles.

Unlike what happened during the battle of eastern Aleppo, the battle of Mosul has provoked no heated debates in the UN Security Council, no passionate debates in the British parliament, no refusal by President Macron of France to meet with President Trump of the US – on the contrary they have just had a friendly meeting in France – and no claims of the US committing war crimes in Iraq and in Mosul, and no demands for prosecutions of US officials accused of committing these war crimes.

As for the Western media, its reporting of the devastation of Mosul has been relatively scant, in no way approaching the indignant saturation coverage given to the battle of Aleppo last year, with the blame for the devastation laid squarely on ISIS, and with barely any criticism of US conduct at all.

At this point I will make my own position clear: though I am prepared to accept that US and Iraqi conduct of the battle of Mosul is open to severe criticism, I also think that the primary blame for the devastation of Mosul and for the death and suffering of civilians there rests with ISIS.

The same however was equally – or still more – true of the battle of Aleppo last year: the primary blame for the devastation of eastern Aleppo and for the death and suffering of the civilians there rests with Al-Qaeda and the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis who until last year where in occupation of Aleppo’s eastern districts.

It cannot be said sufficiently strongly, or repeated sufficiently often, that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are both fanatical and murderous terrorist organisations, utterly heedless of human life in a way that has not been seen since the defeat of the Khmer Rouge.  When confronting two such completely ruthless organisations massive suffering and devastation is unavoidable if great population centres like eastern Aleppo and Mosul are to be freed from their control.

For this reason, and despite all the criticisms which are being made of the conduct of both sieges, I consider both eastern Aleppo and Mosul liberated territories, and I unequivocally welcome the defeat of Al-Qaeda and ISIS in both places.

What is shocking is that those who recognise this truth in one place – Mosul – pretend to be blind to it in another – Aleppo.

I say “pretend” because I do not believe that those many people in Western governments and the Western media who waxed so indignant about the conduct of the Syrians and the Russians in Aleppo last year are really blind to the truth of it in both places.

Doing so however is not just an offence against reason and truth.

Those who engage in these games of selective indignation, whether because they adhere to some grand geopolitical strategy or because of some visceral hatred they have for Russia, should understand that it is not principally the US and the Iraqis whose conduct in Mosul that they are making excuses for.

Those whose conduct they are principally excusing and defending are Al-Qaeda, which along with ISIS is the organisation which is directly responsible for most of the death and destruction which has happened over the course of the Syrian war.

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Saudi Arabia’s version of events: Jamal Khashoggi died during a fist fight (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 5.

Alex Christoforou

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The BBC examines the stunning Saudi admission that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered from three angles:

What is Saudi Arabia’s version of events?

The kingdom says a fight broke out between Mr Khashoggi, who had fallen out of favour with the Saudi government, and people who met him in the consulate – ending with his death.

It says investigations are under way, and so far 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested.

Unnamed officials speaking to Reuters news agency and the New York Times say the Saudis did not know the whereabouts of the body after it was handed to a “local collaborator” to dispose of.

In addition to the arrests, two senior officials have been sacked over the affair – deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The Saudi authorities have yet to give evidence to support this version of events.

Observers are questioning whether Saudi Arabia’s Western allies will find their account of a “botched rendition” convincing – and whether it will persuade them not to take punitive action against them.

US President Donald Trump said what had happened was “unacceptable” but that the arrests were an important “first step”. The UK Foreign Office said it was considering its next steps after hearing the report.

What did Turkey say?

“Turkey will reveal whatever had happened,” said Omer Celik of Turkey’s ruling AKP party, according to Anadolu news agency.

“Nobody should ever doubt about it. We are not accusing anyone in advance but we don’t accept anything to remain covered [up].”

Publicly Turkey has so far stopped short of blaming Saudi Arabia for the killing.

Turkish investigators, however, say they have audio and video evidence which shows Mr Khashoggi was killed by a team of Saudi agents inside the consulate and dismembered. Reports in Turkish media this week gave gruesome details of what are said to be his final minutes.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Saudi King Salman on Friday evening, and the two agreed to continue co-operating in the investigation.

How have Saudi’s Western allies reacted?

President Trump praised the kingdom for acting quickly and said the official explanation was “credible”, despite many US lawmakers expressing disbelief over the Saudi account.

Mr Trump stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia as a counterbalance to Iran in the Middle East, and pushed back against the need for sanctions against the country in light of the new information, talking about the effect of such a move on the US economy.

Earlier this week he warned of “very severe” consequences if Saudi Arabia was proved to have killed the journalist.

A number of US lawmakers, including a Republican highly critical of the Saudis, Senator Lindsey Graham, said they were sceptical about the report on the journalist’s death.

The UK Foreign Office described it as “a terrible act” and said the people behind the killing “must be held to account”.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Saudi Arabia’s admission to killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a fist fight inside the Istanbul consulate…a story that the Trump White House has so far accepted, but many US Congressmen and mainstream media pundits outright reject.

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Meanwhile Reuters floated this story on turmoil inside the Saudi Kingdom as a trial balloon to see if anyone has the might to challenge a very unstable crown prince, by appealing to the frail King and his western allies.

Since he acceded to the throne in January 2015, the king has given MbS, his favorite son, increasing authority to run Saudi Arabia. But the king’s latest intervention reflects growing disquiet among some members of the royal court about MbS’s fitness to govern, the five sources said.

MbS, 33, has implemented a series of high-profile social and economic reforms since his father’s accession, including ending a ban on women driving and opening cinemas in the conservative kingdom.

But he has also marginalized senior members of the royal family and consolidated control over Saudi’s security and intelligence agencies.

His reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, a purge of top royals and businessmen on corruption charges, and a costly war in Yemen.

Khashoggi’s disappearance has further tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, deepening questions among Western allies and some Saudis about his leadership.

“Even if he is his favorite son, the king needs to have a comprehensive view for his survival and the survival of the royal family,” said a fourth Saudi source with links to the royal court.

“In the end it will snowball on all of them.”

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

MISCALCULATION

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied any role in Khashoggi’s disappearance. But the sources familiar with the royal court said the reaction from the United States, an ally for decades, had contributed to the king’s intervention.

“When the situation got out of control and there was an uproar in the United States, MbS informed his father that there was a problem and that they have to face it,” another source with knowledge of the royal court said.

The crown prince and his aides had initially thought the crisis would pass but they “miscalculated its repercussions”, this source said.

Turkish officials have made clear they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, and two Turkish sources have told Reuters police have audio recordings to back up that assertion.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican close to President Donald Trump, on Tuesday accused MbS of ordering Khashoggi’s murder and called him a “wrecking ball” who is jeopardizing relations with the United States. He did not say what evidence he was basing the allegation on.

Trump said on Thursday he presumed Khashoggi was dead but that he still wanted to get to the bottom of what exactly happened. Asked what would be the consequences for Saudi Arabia, Trump said: “Well, it’ll have to be very severe. I mean, it’s bad, bad stuff. But we’ll see what happens.”

Trump has previously said “rogue killers” may have been responsible and has ruled out cancelling arms deals worth tens of billions of dollars. On Tuesday, Trump said he had spoken with MbS and that the crown prince told him he did not know what had happened in the consulate where Khashoggi went missing.

The case poses a dilemma for the United States, as well as Britain and other Western nations. Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter, spends lavishly on Western arms and is an ally in efforts to contain the influence of Iran.

But in a sign of the damage, a succession of international banking and business chiefs, including IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, JP Morgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and Ford Chairman Bill Ford, have pulled out of a high-profile investment conference in Saudi Arabia this month.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday also abandoned plans to attend, as did Britain’s trade minister and the French and Dutch finance ministers, putting the event in question.

Saudi officials have said they plan to move forward with the conference, scheduled for Oct. 23-25, despite the wave of cancellations.

Neither JP Morgan nor Ford would elaborate on the reasons for the decision not to attend and did not comment on whether concerns about the disappearance of Khashoggi were a factor.

Lagarde had previously said she was “horrified” by media reports about Khashoggi’s disappearance. An IMF spokesperson did not give a reason for her deferring her trip to the Middle East.

TAKING CONTROL

Before the king’s intervention, Saudi authorities had been striking a defiant tone, threatening on Sunday to retaliate with greater action against the U.S. and others if sanctions are imposed over Khashoggi’s disappearance. A Saudi-owned media outlet warned the result would be disruption in Saudi oil production and a sharp rise in world oil prices.

“Reaction and threats to the possible sanctions of the last 24 hours were still (coming) from the crown prince,” the businessman close to royal circles said on Monday. “The king is now holding the file personally … and the tone is very different.”

The king has spoken directly with Erdogan and Trump in recent days. Both the king and his son met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he visited Riyadh on Tuesday.

King Salman, 82, spent decades as part of the inner circle of the Al Saud dynasty, which long ruled by consensus. In four decades as governor of Riyadh, he earned a reputation as a royal enforcer who punished princes who were out of line.

Whether he is willing or able to resume that role in this crisis remains unclear, palace insiders say. One source with links to the royal court said the king was “captivated” by MbS and ultimately would protect him.

Still, there is precedent for the king’s intervention.

He stepped in this year to shelve the planned listing of national oil company Saudi Aramco, the brainchild of MbS and a cornerstone of his economic reforms, three sources with ties to government insiders told Reuters in August. Saudi officials have said the government remains committed to the plans.

And when MbS gave the impression last year that Riyadh endorsed the Trump administration’s still nebulous Middle East peace plan, including U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the king made a public correction, reaffirming Riyadh’s commitment to the Arab and Muslim identity of the city.

Despite these rare instances of pushback, several of the sources close to the royal family said that King Salman had grown increasingly detached from decisions taken by MbS.

“He has been living in an artificially-created bubble,” said one of the sources. Lately, though, the king’s advisers have grown frustrated and begun warning him of the risks of leaving the crown prince’s power unchecked.

“The people around him are starting to tell him to wake up to what’s happening,” the source said.

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Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from OrthoChristian.com:

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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Claims of Khashoggi death by fistfight expose Saudi brutality

The brutality of both state claims and unproven allegations in Khashoggi’s death raise serious questions about American alliances.

Seraphim Hanisch

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On October 2, 2018, Muslim Brotherhood member and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, never to be seen or heard from again.

This chilling report has been answered with some horrifying and grisly stories about what happened – that he was dismembered while still alive, that his body parts were dissolved completely in acid, leaving nothing left.

Now after two weeks, the Saudi official word on what happened came out: He died in an unexpected fistfight in the embassy.

Really. That is the Saudi’s explanation. A fistfight. In an embassy. With 18 people detained as suspects in the investigation.

And apparently the Saudi government expects the world to accept this explanation and just let it go.

This situation has just exposed the true nature of this “ally” of the United States. Even Rush Limbaugh, a staunch supporter of all conservative positions in America, has spoken from time to time about the amazing disconnect in American foreign policy with regards to Saudi Arabia. He continued that on his radio programs on both October 18th and 19th, 2018, as shown in this excerpted transcript, with emphasis added:

I’m simplifying this, folks, but generally that’s what happens. So, by the same token, you could say that this militant terrorist Islam that we’ve known since 9/11 and maybe 10, 15 years prior, that has been sponsored by Saudi Arabia, by the Saudi royal family. It’s why so many people have been upset with so many American presidents being buddy-buddy with the king, whoever he happens to be. The Saudis always fund former presidents’ libraries. I mean, the Saudis had a good thing going. They had relationships with every president, former president and so forth.

And while they were selling us oil, sometimes. Cooperative or uncooperative, depending on the time, with price. But during all of that, they were the primary thrust for Wahhabi Islam. Now, here comes MbS (Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia), and he wants to just reform the hell out of the country, get rid of Wahhabism, bring in petrodollars competitors such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley and basically bring Saudi Arabia into the twenty-first century instead of the seventh. And there’s some people that don’t want that to happen.

And from the 19th:

Wahhabi Islam is where the really radical clerics and Imams are who are welcoming anybody they can into their mosques and just literally converting them into suicide bombers, terrorists, and what have you, under the auspices of Islam. And the Saudi royal family stood by and let it all happen. Whether they were instrumental in advocating it, don’t know, but Saudi-funded charities all over the world promoted Wahhabism.

And that’s when I went back to Mr. Buckley and said, “I don’t see how the Saudi royal family, the Saudi government can be separated from these 19 hijackers.”

Now in the rest of these transcripts, which are very interesting, Rush explains that Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood member, and as such, stood opposed to MbS’ reform plans and actions. However the brutality of the alleged murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the official “State version” account of his death are almost equally brutal. Death by fists? How is it that the United States considers such people allies?

President Trump is on record as saying that this explanation by the Saudi government is “credible.” However, this statement alone is out of context, so we bring you the entire statement:

This is not to be misunderstood as a Trump endorsement of belief. He points out that this is a first step, and that in his view it is a good one, but that is all.

Still, these events throw the real nature of the Saudi kingdom into sharp relief. They are the number one customer for US military equipment, now considered allies against Iran. In the complicated field of Middle East relations, the president’s caution is probably very wise for the moment. However, this is a nation which produced most of the 9/11 hijackers, which is said to be the last voice in what Islam is, and so promotes a very violent interpretation of an already violent faith.

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The news and information media got a great lesson in following something like “due process” with this matter, and while the President is doing that, this situation still invites some strong speculation. Allies that simultaneously seek an allied nation’s destruction do not seem like allies much at all. And embassies are usually held to be very safe places for people, not places where they meet their death in any way at all, let alone the cruel means alleged and later claimed.

This event may actually be very damaging to the Saudi Crown Prince’s effort to bring his nation out of Wahhabism and into some more kind interpretation of Islam, and indeed the West’s assessment of Khashoggi has taken to calling him a “teddy bear” when he is a Muslim Brotherhood member. Former US President Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and these people were so violent, killing Christians and destroying homes and businesses, that the Muslim Brotherhood’s uprising was followed by a second uprising from the more reasonable people in Egypt (which Obama promptly dropped).

If reports are to be believed, Mohammed bin Salman wants to end Wahhabism. It would seem to logically make sense that his agencies were involved in what happened to Kashoggi, who is a known critic of bin Salman. But if it really is true that the Saudi royals were not involved, then whoever it was certainly succeeded in stopping bin Salman’s efforts to modernize his country, at least for now.

 

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