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Vladimir Putin met Assad, discussed Future of Syria, Syria to potentially rewrite constitution

Syrians will build their own future, a future which was saved by Russian brothers and sisters

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad met, in Sochi, Thursday, to discuss the future of Syria.

Vladimir Putin congratulated Assad for major successes in the fight against terrorism, noting that their military success has opened up the possibility for a political solution.

The Syrian Arab News Agency, a state-run media outlet has a transcript of much of the discussion, and reports that Putin greeted Assad as follows:

“Mr. President, I am very happy to receive you in Russia, and first of all I congratulate you on the coming of the holy month of Ramadan and congratulate you on the great successes achieved by the Syrian Arab army in the fight against terrorism. And due to the efforts of the Syrian soldiers, very important steps were gained during the latest period in order to boost the legislative authority in the country where terrorists were expelled from important regions in Syria, which paved the way to start reconstructing infrastructure in the country after expelling terrorists and putting an end to the threat against Damascus.”

Assad congratulated Putin on his re-election, noting that Putin’s policies and leadership, “satisfied the Russian people”, and gave Russia a bigger place in the international arena. 

According to Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, Putin, and Assad:

“have noted the necessity to create additional conditions for the resumption of full-format political process in Syria,”

Assad said he welcomed a political solution with enthusiasm, but noted, according to Sputnik, that:

…it will be difficult to restore the political process in Syria as there are countries that don’t want stability in the country, he added.

“The sides noted the successes of the Astana process and of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in Sochi… During these talks, the sides disused the next joint steps. Assad said that stability in Syria is improving, and this opens the door to the political process that started some time ago. According to him, he has repeatedly said at these talks that Damascus has always enthusiastically supported the political process, which should go along with the fight against terrorism,” Assad said at the meeting.

“We know that this will not be easy [to restore the political process], since there are countries that do not want stability to return to Syria. However, together with you and the other partners and friends, we will continue to move steadily toward the peace process and for the sake of peace,” Assad added.

Syria to rewrite the Consitution?

Numerous sources, including official Syrian state media (SANA), have noted that in a major development, Syria will be sending a delegation to the UN to discuss, and possibly amend the Syrian constitution. This, however, is not the first time this was discussed, as Middle East Eye notes this was planned in Sochi as far back as January.

According to Sputnik, “Assad voiced his decision to send representatives to the UN-Constitutional Committee.” Sputnik quotes Assad as saying:

“Today I confirmed to President [Vladimir] Putin that Syria will send a list of its delegates to the constitutional committee to discuss amendments to the current constitution. This will be done as soon as possible,” Assad said in a statement following Russian-Syrian talks.

Vladimir Putin said that Russia welcomes and will support the Syrian president’s decision to send his representatives to the UN constitutional committee.

“Russia welcomes this decision by the Syrian president and will support it in every possible way, bearing in mind the agreements reached at the Syrian people’s congress held a few months ago in Sochi,” Putin said at a meeting with Assad.

Vladimir Putin also congratulated the Syrian president on the victory in fighting against terrorism in Syria. “After the military success in Syria, additional conditions to resume a full-format political process have been created,” Putin said.

“Terrorists have laid down their arms at Syria’s key sites, which allows to rehabilitate Syrian infrastructure, push [terrorists] back, almost halt their activities near the Syrian capital,” Putin said.

Furthermore, RT noted that:

As the two presidents talked about the conditions that would facilitate the peace process development, the Syrian leader said that he had decided to send a delegation to a committee tasked to rewrite Syria’s constitution, which was championed by the UN.

Syrians themselves will build their own future.

Here follows some photos of Syria

The phrase “to rewrite Syria’s constitution” may understandably cause alarm to some people. People who care for the free and independent future of Syria, may worry that Putin and/or Assad are being pressured, and are finally giving into the deep state, in some way, should Syria rewrite their constitution. They may say “No! There is no need for a political solution. Syria should stay the way it is!”

Photo by Dmitri Vozdvizhenky

But I am afraid this statement, while good intentioned, is wrong when taken to its natural conclusion. Syria must not “stay the way it is”, she must stay the way the Syrian people choose her to be, using their God-given right to free will, and national self-determination. If the Syrian people choose to make changes to the Syrian constitution, this is the right of the Syrian people, and there is nothing to be alarmed about.

So long as they are not being pressured, there are no signs of a shadow take over, and everything appears to be following the norms of Syrian law, the Syrian people have the right to do whatever they please with the internal structure of the country. That is in fact what the entire war has been about, the right of Syrians to sovereignty over Syria.

If the majority of Syrians choose tomorrow, to establish a Monarchy, a Soviet Socialist Republic, or likewise, if they decided to preserve in its entirety, the current government structure, this is their right. The only concern the international community should have, is to ensure that the will of the Syrian people is being carried out, and the decision is not made by the proxies of foreign governments, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, or separatists like the Kurdish forces.

I know I’ve said this several times now, but the point must really be made: the entire reason the sane world has had their eyes and hearts fixed on Syria, (aside from her crucial positioning), is the entire war is being fought to that the people of Syria can choose their own destiny. It would be counterintuitive to support that, but then dictate to them that they can not change their constitution, even if they legally choose so.

Syria is not a dead fossil, that must be preserved in a museum. She is a vibrant, dynamic, modern, yet still ancient country, that is very alive, and her people have their own hope’s and dreams. It is their Syria, they can do whatever they want, and no true Syrians would ever betray her.

To this effect, it’s counterintuitive to use terms like “Assad’s Syria”, or “Assad’s government” or “Assad’s army” because it’s the Syrian Army, and the Syrian Government, of which Assad is the legal President chosen by the Syrian people. Syria is Syria, as she always was, and her people will decide her future. The purpose of the fight is not to dictate it to them, but to defend their ancient right to make the choices for themselves.

In the same light, there are many people that look at negative international events, and say things like “Why didn’t Putin stop X” or “Why didn’t Russia stop the West from doing X”, or “Russia didn’t stop X, did they give into the deep state?”.

Everyone (especially non-Russians or non-Russian speakers) always likes to impose their own vision of Russia, whether positive or negative. Everyone has their vision of Russia, and they often expect her to conform to it, for better or worse. It must be understood, that Russia is Russia, and Syria is Syria, they are not the Anti-US, or the Anti-West. Russia is not La Résistance.

Russia is not responsible to fix all the worlds problems, Russia is only responsible for the Russian people. Russians do NOT wish to be involved in the West’s culture wars. Please do not assume Russia has a responsibility to sacrifice herself in order to counter some nefarious forces in the world.

Our Russian Orthodox Faith does not teach hatred against any people, and for all the ancient history of Russian statehood, the Russian national consciousness was never directed against another people. Russia’s involvement in Syria has been to save the Syrian people from terror, which could threaten Russia as well. It was a Podvig (valorous deed) not unlike the Great Patriotic War. Russia entered the conflict in Syria to save a brotherly people, not to “counter” the West. People shouldn’t assume Russia is obliged to fight cultural wars or geopolitical battles that others assign to her. Russia is only fighting for Russia.

That being said, it’s important to understand that this is just a report. Let’s not exaggerate, or blow this report out of proportion. There is no guarantee the Syrian constitution will be changed as of now, it’s just important to understand that if Syrians choose to change it, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Syria has changed greatly in the last ten years before the war, building and modernizing.

While I am Russian Orthodox, I have family connections and history deeply rooted in the Antiochian (Syrian) Orthodox Church (it’s the same religion, different countries), and I can say from what I have seen, that Syrians do overwhelmingly support their government and the structure of their country, and do not want it to be changed by foreign powers. That said, the point, is that Syrians, like all peoples, have the right to make their own choices.

As a final note, if you are ever curious about Syria, and want to hear what her people think, you can always try and find an Antiochian Orthodox Church, somewhere near you, and get to know the people. You will learn far more than you can from western media, that is for sure.

You may be surprised how very similar Syrian culture is to yours. After all, Syria was a key part of the Greco-Roman World, and Syrians were a major part of the Eastern Roman Empire, from which Russia got her Orthodox religion. You may find you have closer connections to Syria than you think. As Andre Parrot, the Former director of the Louvre Museum, once said:

Every person has two homelands… His own and Syria.”


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Social media purge continues, as platforms operate as publishers (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 80.

Alex Christoforou

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Following the suspension of Alex Jones, Twitter has also moved to restrict Jones’ Infowars account.

BuzzFeed News is reporting that the Infowars account will be restricted from tweeting, but will still be able to browse Twitter and send direct messages to other users, while users will still be able to view the account.

The move, which essentially puts the account in read-only mode, comes less than a day after Twitter temporarily limited Infowars proprietor Alex Jones for a week after he tweeted a link to a video in which he called on his supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready. That video, which was shared on Twitter-owned live streaming service Periscope, was also shared by Infowars earlier on Wednesday.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that Infowars’ account, which has more than 430,000 followers, will be prevented from tweeting, retweeting, liking or following other users during a seven-day window. The account will stay online, allowing users to view it during that period.

Via Zerohedge

On Tuesday, Twitter suspended the conspiracy theorist and blogger for violating the social media company’s policies, in a stark reversal for Jack Dorsey who previously bucked the trend by other tech giants to muzzle the Infowars creator.

As CNET first reported, Jones’ account was put in “read only” mode and will be blocked from posting on Twitter for seven days because of an offending tweet, the company said. While Twitter declined to comment on the content that violated its policies, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN the content which prompted the suspension was a video published Tuesday in which he said, “now is time to act on the enemy before they do a false flag.”

A Twitter spokesperson wouldn’t say what would get Jones or Infowars permanently suspended, however they noted “We look at [the] volume and nature of violations before suspending an account,” according to Buzzfeed.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the latest twists and turns in the vicious social media purge of conservative right and libertarian accounts. Platforms are acting like publishers and this may mean the end of monopoly social media services.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile, in a censorship move against Libertarian commentary, Ron Paul Institute director Daniel McAdams and Antiwar editor Scott Horton were suspended by Twitter for simply retweeting. Justin Raimondo informs…

Target Liberty reports

Update from Justin:

Neither @scotthortonshow nor @DanielLMcAdams have been reinstated. You can see their tweets: they can’t tweet.

RW

Daniel McAdams explain what happened…

Robert I can give you an update from my perspective regarding what happened:

Yesterday on Twitter, former US diplomat Peter Van Buren (@WeMeantWell) took members of the mainstream media to task for swallowing and printing government lies without even bothering to check them out. He said as a former US government official (turned whistleblower) he also lied to the press on behalf of the government and was astonished that the press swallowed each one, hook, line and sinker.

Several corporate media hacks and in particular one employee of an NGO funded by George Soros — a fellow called Jonathan Katz — piled on Peter, accusing him of all manner of treachery. When Peter ended one response with a sarcastic reference to zombie attacks – “I hope a MAGA guy eats your face” — which is obviously a joke, Katz replied that he is reporting Peter for promoting violence.

So he and his buddies ganged up on Peter and got him banned. Scott Horton and I were incensed over the ban, which seemed to us totally arbitrary. There was no threat of violence and it was no different than millions of Tweets all the time. So Scott and I both joined in and criticized Katz for running off to the authorities in attempt to get someone banned rather than just walk away from the debate.

Katz then did his usual routine and ran to the authorities and had Scott and me banned. Mine was for, as Twitter informed me, because “you may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.” There is no way at all that my Tweet violated the above rule. In no way did I harass or threaten based on those criteria. I merely strongly criticized Katz for running to the authorities to get Peter banned.

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“I’m Not A Racist, But I’m A Nationalist”: Why Sweden Faces A Historic Election Upset

Sweden is set to have a political earthquake in September.

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Via Zerohedge


“Trains and hospitals don’t work, but immigration continues,” Roger Mathson, a retired vegetable oil factory worker in Sweden, told Bloomberg on the same day as the violent, coordinated rampage by masked gangs of youths across five Swedish cities.

We noted earlier that Swedish politicians were quick to react with anti-immigrant party ‘Sweden Democrats’ seeing a surge in the polls ahead of the September 9th election.

“I’m not a racist, but I’m a nationalist,” Mathson said. “I don’t like seeing the town square full of Niqab-clad ladies and people fighting with each other.”

Is Sweden set to have its own political earthquake in September, where general elections could end a century of Social Democratic dominance and bring to power a little known (on the world stage), but the now hugely popular nationalist party often dubbed far-right and right-wing populist, called Sweden Democrats?

Sweden, a historically largely homogeneous population of 10 million, took in an astounding 600,000 refugees over the past five years, and after Swedes across various cities looked out their windows Tuesday to see cars exploding, smoke filling the skies, and possibly armed masked men hurling explosives around busy parking lots, it appears they’ve had enough.

Over the past years of their rise as a political force in Swedish politics, the country’s media have routinely labelled the Sweden Democrats as “racists” and “Nazis” due to their seemingly single issue focus of anti-immigration and strong Euroscepticism.

A poll at the start of this week indicated the Sweden Democrats slid back to third place after topping three previous polls as the September election nears; however, Tuesday’s national crisis and what could legitimately be dubbed a serious domestic terror threat is likely to boost their popularity.

Bloomberg’s profile of their leader, Jimmie Akesson, echoes the tone of establishment Swedish media in the way they commonly cast the movement, beginning as follows:

Viking rock music and whole pigs roasting on spits drew thousands of Swedes to a festival hosted by nationalists poised to deliver their country’s biggest political upheaval in a century.

The Sweden Democrats have been led since 2005 by a clean-cut and bespectacled man, Jimmie Akesson. He’s gentrified a party that traces its roots back to the country’s neo-Nazi, white supremacist fringe. Some polls now show the group may become the biggest in Sweden’s parliament after general elections on Sept. 9. Such an outcome would end 100 years of Social Democratic dominance.

The group’s popularity began surging after the 2015 immigration crisis began, which first hit Europe’s southern Mediterranean shores and quickly moved northward as shocking wave after wave of migrants came.

Jimmie Akesson (right). Image source: Getty via Daily Express

Akesson emphasizes something akin to a “Sweden-first” platform which European media often compares to Trump’s “America First”; and the party has long been accused of preaching forced assimilation into Swedish culture to be become a citizen.

Bloomberg’s report surveys opinions at a large political rally held in Akkeson’s hometown of Solvesborg, and some of the statements are sure to be increasingly common sentiment after this week’s coordinated multi-city attack:

At his party’s festival, Akesson revved up the crowd by slamming the establishment’s failures, calling the last two governments the worst in Swedish history. T-shirts calling for a Swexit, or an exit from the EU, were exchanged as bands played nationalist tunes.

Ted Lorentsson, a retiree from the island of Tjorn, said he’s an enthusiastic backer of the Sweden Democrats. “I think they want to improve elderly care, health care, child care,” he said. “Bring back the old Sweden.” But he also acknowledges his view has led to disagreement within his family as his daughter recoils at what she feels is the “Hitler”-like rhetoric.

No doubt, the media and Eurocrats in Brussels will take simple, innocent statements from elderly retirees like “bring back the old Sweden” as nothing short of declaration of a race war, but such views will only solidify after this week.

Another Sweden Democrat supporter, a 60-year old woman who works at a distillery, told Bloomberg, “I think you need to start seeing the whole picture in Sweden and save the original Swedish population,” she said. “I’m not racist, because I’m a realist.”

Sweden’s two biggest parties, the Social Democrats and Moderates, are now feeling the pressure as Swedes increasingly worry about key issues preached by Akesson like immigration, law and order, and health care – seen as under threat by a mass influx of immigrants that the system can’t handle.

Bloomberg explains further:

But even young voters are turning their backs on the establishment. One potential SD supporter is law student Oscar Persson. Though he hasn’t yet decided how he’ll vote, he says it’s time for the mainstream parties to stop treating the Sweden Democrats like a pariah. “This game they are playing now, where the other parties don’t want to talk to them but still want their support, is something I don’t really understand,” he said.

Akesson has managed to entice voters from both sides of the political spectrum with a message of more welfare, lower taxes and savings based on immigration cuts.

With many Swedes now saying immigration has “gone too far” and as this week’s events have once again thrust the issue before both a national and global audience, the next round of polling will mostly like put Sweden’s conservative-right movements on top

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The Turkish Emerging Market Timebomb

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him.

The Duran

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Authored by Jim O’Neill, originally on Project Syndicate:


As the Turkish lira continues to depreciate against the dollar, fears of a classic emerging-market crisis have come to the fore. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him, and sooner or later, he will have to make nice with his country’s traditional Western allies.

Turkey’s falling currency and deteriorating financial conditions lend credence, at least for some people, to the notion that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I suspect that many Western policymakers, in particular, are not entirely unhappy about Turkey’s plight.

To veteran economic observers, Turkey’s troubles are almost a textbook case of an emerging-market flop. It is August, after all, and back in the 1990s, one could barely go a single year without some kind of financial crisis striking in the dog days of summer.

But more to the point, Turkey has a large, persistent current-account deficit, and a belligerent leader who does not realize – or refuses to acknowledge – that his populist economic policies are unsustainable. Moreover, Turkey has become increasingly dependent on overseas investors (and probably some wealthy domestic investors, too).

Given these slowly gestating factors, markets have long assumed that Turkey was headed for a currency crisis. In fact, such worries were widespread as far back as the fall of 2013, when I was in Istanbul interviewing business and financial leaders for a BBC Radio series on emerging economies. At that time, markets were beginning to fear that monetary-policy normalization and an end to quantitative easing in the United States would have dire consequences globally. The Turkish lira has been flirting with disaster ever since.

Now that the crisis has finally come to pass, it is Turkey’s population that will bear the brunt of it. The country must drastically tighten its domestic monetary policy, curtail foreign borrowing, and prepare for the likelihood of a full-blown economic recession, during which time domestic saving will slowly have to be rebuilt.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership will both complicate matters and give Turkey some leverage. Erdoğan has  constitutional powers, reducing those of the parliament, and undercutting the independence of monetary and fiscal policymaking. And to top it off, he seems to be reveling in an escalating feud with US President Donald Trump’s administration over Turkey’s imprisonment of an American pastor and purchase of a Russian S-400 missile-defense system.

This is a dangerous brew for the leader of an emerging economy to imbibe, particularly when the United States itself has embarked on a Ronald Reagan-style fiscal expansion that has pushed the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than it would have otherwise. Given the unlikelihood of some external source of funding emerging, Erdoğan will eventually have to back down on some of his unorthodox policies. My guess is that we’ll see a return to a more conventional monetary policy, and possibly a new fiscal-policy framework.

As for Turkey’s leverage in the current crisis, it is worth remembering that the country has a large and youthful population, and thus the potential to grow into a much larger economy in the future. It also enjoys a privileged geographic position at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, which means that many major players have a stake in ensuring its stability. Indeed, many Europeans still hold out hope that Turkey will embrace Western-style capitalism, despite the damage that Erdoğan has done to the country’s European Union accession bid.

Among the regional powers, Russia is sometimes mentioned as a potential savior for Turkey. There is no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin would love to use Turkey’s crisis to pull it even further away from its NATO allies. But Erdoğan and his advisers would be deeply mistaken to think that Russia can fill Turkey’s financial void. A Kremlin intervention would do little for Turkey, and would likely exacerbate Russia’s own .

The other two potential patrons are Qatar and, of course, China. But while Qatar, one of Turkey’s closest Gulf allies, could provide financial aid, it does not ultimately have the wherewithal to pull Turkey out of its crisis singlehandedly.

As for China, though it will not want to waste the opportunity to increase its influence vis-à-vis Turkey, it is not the country’s style to step into such a volatile situation, much less assume responsibility for solving the problem. The more likely outcome – as we are seeing in Greece – is that China will unleash its companies to pursue investment opportunities after the dust settles.

That means that Turkey’s economic salvation lies with its conventional Western allies: the US and the EU (particularly France and Germany). On August 13, a White House spokesperson confirmed that the Trump administration is watching the financial-market response to Turkey’s crisis “very closely.” The last thing that Trump wants is a crumbling world economy and a massive dollar rally, which could derail his domestic economic ambitions. So a classic Trump “trade” is probably there for Erdoğan, if he is willing to come to the negotiating table.

Likewise, some of Europe’s biggest and most fragile banks have significant exposure to Turkey. Combine that with the ongoing political crisis over migration, and you have a recipe for deeper destabilization within the EU. I, for one, cannot imagine that European leaders will sit by and do nothing while Turkey implodes on their border.

Despite his escalating rhetoric, Erdoğan may soon find that he has little choice but to abandon his isolationist and antagonistic policies of the last few years. If he does, many investors may look back next year and wish that they had snapped up a few lira when they had the chance.

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