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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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Macron pisses off Merkel as he tries to sabotage Nord Stream 2 pipeline (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 177.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss an EU compromise for Nord Stream 2 where EU member states, the EU Parliament, and its Commission will give the bloc more oversight on gas pipelines, with one caveat…the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia will not be threatened by the new regulations in the agreement.

Macron pushed hard to have the new regulations include (and derail) Nord Stream 2, an action which annoyed Angela Merkel, who eventually got her way and delivered another blow to Macron’s failing French presidency.

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Via The Express UK

Angela Merkel hit back at Emmanuel Macron over Russia and Germany’s pipeline project, declaring it would “not be a one-sided dependency”. The German Chancellor explained that Germany will expand its gas terminals with “liquified gas”. Speaking at a press conference, Ms Merkel declared: “Do we become dependent on Russia because of this second gas pipeline? I say no, if we diversify. Germany will expand its gas terminals with liquefied gas.

“This means that we do not want to depend only on Russia, but Russia was a source of gas in the Cold War and will remain one.

“But it would not be one-sided dependency.”

Via DW

The EU parliament and its Council are set to adopt new regulations on gas pipelines connecting the bloc members with non-EU countries, the EU Commission announced early on Wednesday.

The upcoming directive is based on a compromise between EU member states and EU officials in Brussels. The bloc leaders agreed to tighten Brussels’ oversight of gas delivery and expand its rules to all pipelines plugging into the EU’s gas distribution network.

“The new rules ensure that… everyone interested in selling gas to Europe must respect European energy law,” EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in a statement.

For example, owners of pipelines linking EU and non-EU countries would also be required to allow access for their competitors. Brussels would also have more power regarding transparency and tariff regulations.

Russian ambassador slams US

Brussels has repeatedly expressed concern over the controversial Nord Stream 2 project which would deliver Russian gas directly to Germany through a pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Many EU states oppose the mammoth project, and the US claims it would allow Moscow to tighten its grip on the EU’s energy policy.

Berlin has insisted that the pipeline is a “purely economic” issue.

Speaking to Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung daily, Russian ambassador to Berlin, Sergey Nechayev, slammed the US’ opposition as an attempt to “push its competition aside” and clear the way for American suppliers of liquefied gas.

“It’s hard to believe that a country that is destroying the rules of free and fair trade, that is imposing import tariffs on its competition, that is flying slogans like ‘America First’ on its flags and often threatens biggest European concerns with illegal sanctions, is now really concerned about European interests,” the Russian envoy said in remarks published in German on Wednesday.

Last week, France unexpectedly rebelled against the project, but Berlin and Paris soon reached a compromise. Thanks to their agreement, the latest deal is not expected to impede the ongoing construction of Nord Stream 2.

Citing sources from negotiators’ circles, German public broadcaster ARD reported that the deal left room for Germany to approve exceptions from the EU-wide rules.

According to the EU Commission, however, exceptions are “only possible under strict procedures in which the Commission plays a decisive role.”

The Gazprom-backed pipeline is set to be completed by the end of the year.

 

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UK Defence Secretary looking for a fight with both China and Russia (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 87.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson’s idea to deploy hard power against China and Russia, starting with plans to send Britain’s new aircraft carrier to the tense sea routes in the South China Sea.

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“Britain’s Gavin Williamson places Russia & China on notice, I’m not joking,” authored by John Wight, via RT

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is itching for conflict with Russia and China. He’s not mad. Not even slightly. But he is stupid. Very.

Unlike former fireplace salesman Gavin Williamson, I am no military expert. But then you do not need to be one to understand that while Britain going to war with Russia and China might work as a video game, the real thing would be an exceedingly bad idea.

So why then in a speech delivered to the Royal United Services Institute in London, did Mr Williamson’s argument on the feasibility of the real thing elicit applause rather than the shrieks of horror and demands he be sacked forthwith it should have? This is a serious question, by the way. It is one that cuts through British establishment verbiage to reveal a country ruled not by the sober and doughty political heavyweights of years gone by, but by foaming fanatics in expensive suits

Placing to one side for a moment the insanity of the very concept of Britain deploying hard power against Russia and/or China, the prospect of fighting a war against two designated enemies at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Not satisfied with that, though, Mr Williamson is actually contemplating a conflict with three different enemies at the same time – i.e. against Russia, China, and the millions of people in Britain his government is currently waging war against under the rubric of austerity.

“Today, Russia is resurgent,” Mr Williamson said, “rebuilding its military arsenal and seeking to bring the independent countries of the former Soviet Union, like Georgia and Ukraine, back into its orbit.”

For Mr Williamson and his ilk a resurgent Russia is a bad thing. Much better in their eyes if Russia, after the Soviet era in the 1990s, had remained on its knees as a free market desert; its state institutions in a state of near collapse and tens of millions of its citizens in the grip of immiseration. Yes, because in that scenario Western ideologues like him would have had free rein to rampage around the world as they saw fit, setting fire to country after country on the perverse grounds of ‘saving them’ for democracy.

As it is, he and his still managed to squeeze in a considerable amount of carnage and chaos in the years it did take Russia to recover. The indictment reads as follows: Yugoslavia destroyed; Afghanistan turned upside down; Iraq pushed into the abyss; Libya sent to hell.

By the time they turned their attention to Syria, intent on exploiting an Arab Spring that NATO in Libya transformed into an Arab Winter, Russia had recovered and was able to intervene. It did so in concert with the Syrian Arab Army, Iran and Hezbollah to save the day – much to the evident chagrin of those who, like Gavin Williamson, prefer to see countries in ashes rather than independent of Western hegemony.

As to the facile nonsense about Russia trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine back into its orbit, both countries happen to share a border with Russia and both countries, in recent years, have been used by the UK and its allies as cat’s paws with the eastward expansion of NATO in mind.

It gets worse though: “The Alliance must develop its ability to handle the kind of provocations that Russia is throwing at us. Such action from Russia must come at a cost.”

“Provocations,” the man said. Since British troops have been taking part in exercises on Russia’s doorstep, not the other way round, one wonders if Gavin Williamson wrote this speech while inebriated.

It is Russia that has been on the receiving end of repeated provocations from NATO member states such as the UK in recent times, and it is Russia that has been forced to respond to protect its own security and that of its people where necessary. Furthermore, not only in Russia but everywhere, including the UK, people understand that when you have political leaders intoxicated by their own national myths and propaganda to such an extent as Britain’s Defence Secretary, danger ensues.

The most enduring of those national myths where London is concerned is that the British Empire was a force for good rather than a vast criminal enterprise, that Britain and America won the Second World War together alone, that Iraq had WMDs, and that international law and international brigandage really are one and the same thing.

Perhaps the most preposterous section of the speech came when Mr Williamson tried to fashion a connection between Brexit and Britain’s military strength: “Brexit has brought us to a moment. A great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass.”

Reading this, you can almost hear Churchill turning in his grave. Britain’s wartime prime minister had such as Gavin Williamson in mind when he famously said, “He has all the virtues I dislike, and none of the vices I admire.”

Mr Williamson obviously misread the memo talking up not the opportunity for increased conflict with China after Brexit but trade.

This was not a speech it was a linguistic car crash, one that will forever command an honoured place in compendiums of the worst political speeches ever made. As for Gavin Williamson, just as no responsible parent would ever dream of putting an 10-year old behind the wheel of car to drive unsupervised, no responsible British government would ever appoint a man like him as its Defence Secretary.

In years past, he would have struggled to find employment polishing the brass plate outside the building.

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The Birth Of A Monster

The banking establishment welcomed the Fed with open arms. What gives?

The Duran

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Authored by David Howden via The Mises Institute:


The Federal Reserve’s doors have been open for “business” for one hundred years. In explaining the creation of this money-making machine (pun intended – the Fed remits nearly $100 bn. in profits each year to Congress) most people fall into one of two camps.

Those inclined to view the Fed as a helpful institution, fostering financial stability in a world of error-prone capitalists, explain the creation of the Fed as a natural and healthy outgrowth of the troubled National Banking System. How helpful the Fed has been is questionable at best, and in a recent book edited by Joe Salerno and me — The Fed at One Hundred — various contributors outline many (though by no means all) of the Fed’s shortcomings over the past century.

Others, mostly those with a skeptical view of the Fed, treat its creation as an exercise in secretive government meddling (as in G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island) or crony capitalism run amok (as in Murray Rothbard’s The Case Against the Fed).

In my own chapter in The Fed at One Hundred I find sympathies with both groups (you can download the chapter pdf here). The actual creation of the Fed is a tragically beautiful case study in closed-door Congressional deals and big banking’s ultimate victory over the American public. Neither of these facts emerged from nowhere, however. The fateful events that transpired in 1910 on Jekyll Island were the evolutionary outcome of over fifty years of government meddling in money. As such, the Fed is a natural (though terribly unfortunate) outgrowth of an ever more flawed and repressive monetary system.

Before the Fed

Allow me to give a brief reverse biographical sketch of the events leading up to the creation of a monster in 1914.

Unlike many controversial laws and policies of the American government — such as the Affordable Care Act, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or the War on Terror — the Federal Reserve Act passed with very little public outcry. Also strange for an industry effectively cartelized, the banking establishment welcomed the Fed with open arms. What gives?

By the early twentieth century, America’s banking system was in a shambles. Fractional-reserve banks faced with “runs” (which didn’t have to be runs with the pandemonium that usually accompanies them, but rather just banks having insufficient cash to meet daily withdrawal requests) frequently suspended cash redemptions or issued claims to “clearinghouse certificates.” These certificates were a money substitute making use of the whole banking system’s reserves held by large clearinghouses.

Both of these “solutions” to the common bank run were illegal as they allowed a bank to redefine the terms of the original deposit contract. This fact notwithstanding, the US government turned a blind eye as the alternative (widespread bank failures) was perceived to be far worse.

The creation of the Fed, the ensuing centralization of reserves, and the creation of a more elastic money supply was welcomed by the government as a way to eliminate those pesky and illegal (yet permitted) banking activities of redemption suspensions and the issuance of clearinghouse certificates. The Fed returned legitimacy to the laws of the land. That is, it addressed the government’s fear that non-enforcement of a law would raise broader questions about the general rule of law.

The Fed provided a quick fix to depositors by reducing cases of suspensions of their accounts. And the banking industry saw the Fed as a way to serve clients better without incurring a cost (fewer bank runs) and at the same time coordinate their activities to expand credit in unison and maximize their own profits.

In short, the Federal Reserve Act had a solution for everyone.

Taking a central role in this story are the private clearinghouses which provided for many of the Fed’s roles before 1914. Indeed, America’s private clearinghouses were viewed as having as many powers as European central banks of the day, and the creation of the Fed was really just an effort to make the illegal practices of the clearinghouses legal by government institutionalization.

Why Did Clearinghouses Have So Much Power?

Throughout the late nineteenth century, clearinghouses used each new banking crisis to introduce a new type of policy, bringing them ever closer in appearance to a central bank. I wouldn’t go so far as to say these are examples of power grabs by the clearinghouses, but rather rational responses to fundamental problems in a troubled American banking system.

When bank runs occurred, the clearinghouse certificate came into use, first in 1857, but confined to the interbank market to economize on reserves. Transactions could be cleared in specie, but lacking sufficient reserves, a troubled bank could make use of the certificates. These certificates were jointly guaranteed by all banks in the clearinghouse system through their pooled reserves. This joint guarantee was welcomed by unstable banks with poor reserve positions, and imposed a cost on more prudently managed banks (as is the case today with deposit insurance). A prudent bank could complain, but if it wanted to use a clearinghouse’s services and reap the cost advantages it had to comply with the reserve-pooling policy.

As the magnitude of the banking crisis intensified, clearinghouses started permitting banks to issue the certificates directly to the public (starting with the Panic of 1873) to further stymie reserve drains. (These issues to the general public amounted to illegal money substitutes, though they were tolerated, as noted above.)

Fractional-Reserve Free Banking and Bust

The year 1857 is a somewhat strange one for these clearinghouse certificates to make their first appearance. It was, after all, a full twenty years into America’s experiment with fractional-reserve free banking. This banking system was able to function stably, especially compared to more regulated periods or central banking regimes. However, the dislocation between deposit and lending activities set in motion a credit-fueled boom that culminated in the Panic of 1857.

This boom and panic has all the makings of an Austrian business cycle. Banks overextended themselves to finance the booming industries during America’s westward advance, primarily the railways. Land speculation was rampant. As realized profits came in under expectations, investors got skittish and withdrew money from banks. Troubled banks turned to the recently established New York Clearing House to promote stability. Certain rights were voluntarily abrogated in return for a guarantee on their solvency.

The original sin of the free-banking period was its fractional-reserve foundation. Without the ability to fund lending activity with their deposit base, banks never would have financed the boom to the extent that it became a destabilizing factor. Westward expansion and investment would still have occurred, though it would have occurred in a sustainable way funded through equity investments and loans. (These types of financing were used, though as is the case today, this occurred less than would be the case given the fractional-reserve banking system’s essentially cost-free funding source: the deposit base.)

In conclusion, the Fed was not birthed from nothing in 1913. The monster was the natural outgrowth of an increasingly troubled banking system. In searching for the original problem that set in motion the events culminating in the creation of the Fed, one must draw attention to the Panic of 1857 as the spark that set in motion ever more destabilizing policies. The Panic itself is a textbook example of an Austrian business cycle, caused by the lending activities of fractional-reserve banks. This original sin of the banking system concluded with the birth of a monster in 1914: The Federal Reserve.

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