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Why Russians in Syria are Welcome

Far from seeing Russian soldiers as occupiers, the Syrian people see them as saviours and welcome their presence.

Afra'a Dagher

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It was a hard and breathtaking moment for the people of Syria when US President Obama announced in August 2013 that the US was preparing a military strike against Syria.  It seemed that the US was about to go to war against Syria on the false pretext of the Syrian government’s “alleged use of chemical weapons” against its own people.  Obama even called it “the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century”. 

The US plan however ran into a storm of opposition. 

Russia and China had consistently opposed US attempts to obtain a UN Security Council Resolution to attack Syria, repeatedly exercising their power of veto in the Security Council to block US proposed Resolutions making threats and calling for sanctions against Syria.  Both of these countries made absolutely clear that they adamantly opposed any repeat of the “Libyan scenario” – ie. the NATO war of aggression against Libya – in Syria.

Come August 2013 and these two countries – Russia and China – stood their ground.  Both made it crystal clear that they strongly opposed Obama’s plan for a strike against Syria. 

But back to Obama’s statement, what about the Syrians, did President Obama really care about them?

The truth is that by August 2013 the Syrian people had been suffering the ugly face of war for years.  It is an ugly face hiding behind a US mask of fake concern for freedom in Syria and in a myriad of other third world countries.  Throughout that war the US and its allies in Europe and the Arab Gulf states had backed those they call “Syrians rebels” but who are more properly called “NATO mercenaries” or even “Saudi Wahhabi butchers”.

In Syria Obama’s statement caused huge alarm.  Some people – mindful of what had happened in Libya – decided to leave Syria to escape the bombing.  Others decided to stay, trusting in the wisdom of their Government,  the bravery of the Syrian Arab Army, and the support of Syria’s allies: Russia, China, Iran, and the Lebanese resistance.

That trust was rewarded!  At the last moment, because of all the opposition, Obama’s planned attack had to be called off.

The Syrian street responded with huge marches, organised by the Syrian people, in which Syrians expressed their thanks to Russian President Putin for leading the opposition to the air strike by carrying placards and signboards filled with praise for him and for Russia.  However, the US did not abandon its dream of invading Syria and it was in pursuit of that dream that shortly after the US-led so-called “anti-ISIS” coalition was formed. 

ISIS or Daesh is of course simply the same armed gangs who have all along been behind the violence, destruction, suicide bombings, and assassinations in Syria.  When it suited the West it called them “rebels”.  Then, for propaganda purposes, they became “ISIS” or Daesh.  It was just a different name for the same people.

This US-led “anti-ISIS” coalition operates on Syrian territory with no authorisation from the elected government of Syria.  By doing so it grossly violates Syrian sovereignty.  That is not just the view of the Syrian government.  It is the view of Syrian people as well. 

Besides who would trust a coalition made up of those same countries who have been organising the aggression against Syria ever since 2011?  After all it is these countries who have been striving ever since 2011 to overthrow Syria’s secular elected government by relying on Wahhabi murderers and militants.  In fact, from the moment the US and its allies began their pretended war against ISIS or Daesh, the balance of advantage on the battlefield began to move in Daesh’s favour.   Thus during the period of the “anti-ISIS coalition’s” “war against Daesh”, Daesh actually expanded its territory, so that it extended all the way from Al- Ramadi in Iraq to Palmyra in Syria.  Meanwhile elsewhere, on the northern front and in northwest Syria, Turkey opened its borders to its own trained mercenaries, who launched their own offensives there.  The net result of all this fake “anti-ISIS” and “anti-terrorist” activity was a significant expansion of the territory controlled by Daesh and the terrorists and a significant loss of territory by the Syrian government. 

As just one example of the West’s hypocrisy, on many occasions the US-led coalition dropped weapons for the “rebels” which ended up in the hands of the “terrorists” – including Daesh.  This of course was said to be an “accident”.  The reality – as everyone in Syria knows – is that there was no accident because the “terrorists” become the “rebels” whenever it suits the West to call them that.  To get a true sense of the madness, consider that the US is giving arms and even money to “moderate” rebels in Syria.  However these same people – called “moderates” when they are in Syria – suddenly become “ISIS terrorists” when they cross the border into Iraq.

The “anti-ISIS coalition’s” actions in fact showed that its true target was not ISIS or Daesh or the terrorists but the government and people of Syria.  Thus its aircraft struck a thermal power plant in Aleppo – located in a residential neighbourhood – and bombed Syrian soldiers who were actually fighting Daesh, as happened for example in Deir Al-Zour.  On another occasion the Syrian air defence force shot down a US drone flying over the Presidential palace in Latakia – where of course no ISIS or Daesh fighters were present. This drone was not of course “fighting ISIS”.  It was spying on the Syrian government.

This was the situation that caused Russia to act decisively last summer to support Syria.

The Russia-Syrian relationship is not a new.  Russia is traditionally an ally of Syria.  In turn the Syrian people and its elected government trust Russia.

The Syrian government asked for Russia’s support and help as the balance on the battlefield tipped in favour of Daesh and the terrorists as a result of the actions of the US-led coalition.  Russia acted on this request.  In doing so it acted in accordance with the wishes of the people of Syria.

Here it is important to say that Syria has an elected government.  Syria is not an autocratic monarchy like Saudi Arabia.  The request the elected government of Syria made to Russia asking Russia for help was made by the government the Syrian people had elected.  It was a request made on behalf of the Syrian people by their democratically elected government and was overwhelmingly supported by them.

That the Syrian people supported their government’s decision to ask Russia for help – and Russia’s decision to respond positively to this request – was again confirmed by the response of the Syrian people, who made known their gratitude to Russia in large demonstrations during which they carried placards and shouted slogans thanking Russia.  The Russian action in fact was for the people of Syria a huge relief.  For far too long Syria has had to fight alone against foreign backed fighters and a superpower military coalition,  relying only on its own weapons and its small – though heroic – army.

Russia coordinated its actions with the Syrian and Iranian governments, providing air cover to support the ground operation of the brave Syrian Arab Army and its ally Hezbollah. The Russian pilots got accurate coordinates about terrorist sites from the Syrian army.  After all who knows better the location of these sites than the brave Syrian soldiers who have been fighting the terrorists since 2011?

In October, 2015, Russia started its air operation alongside the Syrian Arab Army, and in just four months the balance shifted again, with Syria recovering territory and the terrorists – including Daesh – losing it.  Contrast that with how the US-led “anti-ISIS” coalition was unable to stop the advance of Daesh in two years.

This shift of the situation on the battlefield upset the US and its allies.  Despite their flowery talk of “war against terrorism” it was absolutely not what they wanted.  So – having pursued war relentlessly for 5 years – they suddenly discovered an interest in a “political solution”.  All of a sudden the call went up for negotiations in Geneva, with the Saudi delegation now demanding a ceasefire!

None of this of course has any truth or sincerity behind it.  It was all merely a dodge to stop the Syrian army backed by the Russian air force from destroying the terrorists whilst buying time to resupply the terrorists with more weapons and more “rebels” smuggled into Syria from across the Turkish border.

During the period of the Russian operation most of the Turkish border – the main gateway for the terrorists into Syria and the main route the terrorists use for their supply lines – was in fact secured.  Russia paid a price for this when one of its aircraft was treacherously shot down by the Turkish air force, with one of its pilots brutally murdered as he bailed out as a result of ground fire from Turkish-backed forces in the area (all this according to Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti).

Russia also helped the Syrian army break the siege of Aleppo and liberate most of the countryside around the city.  The Syrian army – backed by the Russians – also achieved great advances in Latakia, eventually liberating its countryside, thereby securing the whole province.  There have also been important advances around Damascus, whilst the cities of Homs and Hama have been cleared of terrorists, and Palmyra has of course been liberated.

When people in Syria hear the sound of Russian jets, that for them is the sound of peace not war.  It gives Syrians a feeling of safety.  Even Syrian children say “Don’t worry, those are President Putin’s jets.”  Even the mere presence of a Russian air base in Tartous province reassures Syrians.  It tells them the Russians are there to defend them.  

The airbase of course is equally important to Russia.  It secures Russia’s presence in the region which might otherwise fall entirely under US control.

One would never of course know any of this from the Western media.  There the story is one of Russia bombing Syrian civilians non-stop.  This often comes touched up with fake pictures of old bombings dating from long before the Russians ever came to Syria.  What makes these claims particularly insulting – both to the Russians but also even more to the Syrian people – is that many of these pictures of old bombings actually show the results of crimes committed by the very same terrorists (or “rebels”) the West is backing. 

By contrast with all this false and noisy chatter about Russian bombing of Syrian civilians, actual air strikes by the US-led coalition against Syrians go either completely unreported or are simply lied about.

When Syrians meet Russians by chance, say in a pharmacy or on the street, as now happens very often, they welcome them as friends and as brothers in arms.  By contrast no-one in Syria would ever want to meet an American soldier.  There is no one in Syria who can forget their intervention in Iraq and Libya, their crimes against the Iraqi and Libyan people, and of course their bloody role in Syria.  Unlike Russians, Americans are absolutely not welcome.

Over the last 5 years Syrians have paid a heavy price for their refusal to be a tool in the hands of the US and Israel.  Despite all our suffering we remain committed to the Resistance Axis of which Syria is the key link.  We support our President Bashar Al-Assad who leads us in that struggle.

The author is a Syrian journalist from Latakia who writes under the name Syrian Afra’a.

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Some Russian monarchists want Tsar Vladimir Putin

Latest news from Russian monarchists highlight the debate over bringing the Russian Empire back to life in modern times.

Seraphim Hanisch

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A December 13 report in The Wall Street Journal shone light on a notion that has been afoot in the Russian Federation since the fall of Communism in 1991 – the restoration of the Monarchy as the form of government, complete with a new Tsar of all the Russias.

Of course, some of these monarchists have a top contender in mind for that post, none other than President Vladimir Putin himself.

This idea has long been used in a pejorative light in the West, as various shadowy and not-so-shadowy elements in the American media speculated over the years that Mr. Putin was actually aspiring to become Tsar. This was thrown around until probably the time that the Russian president spoke, lamenting the fall of Communism, and since then the prime accusation has been that President Putin wants to bring back the Soviet Union.

This is not true. It also does not appear to be the case that the Russian president wants to be Tsar. But the monarchists are not fazed in the slightest. Here is excerpted material from the WSJ piece, with emphases added:

The last time term limits forced Russian leader Vladimir Putin to step down from the presidency, he became prime minister for a few years.

This time around, a group of pro-Kremlin activists have a different idea: Proclaim him Czar Vladimir.

“We will do everything possible to make sure Putin stays in power as long as possible,” Konstantin Malofeyev, a politically active businessman, said recently to thunderous applause from hundreds of Russian Orthodox priests and members of the country’s top political parties gathered at a conference outside Moscow. They were united by one cause—to return the monarchy to Russia…

Even among those who want a monarchy, however, there are splits over what kind it should be. Is an absolute monarchy better than a constitutional monarchy? Should a blood line be established or should the czar be elected? For those who favor male succession, would it be a problem that Mr. Putin reportedly only has two daughters? Some have even suggested others besides Mr. Putin should accede to the throne.

There is a very keen interest indeed among some in Russia that propose various options as to who might best become Tsar in the event that the Monarchy is restored.

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov and his mother, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, together with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, head of the Russian Orthodox Church Department of External Relations

One candidate that has received significant attention is a man by the name of George Mikhailovich Romanov. He is an actual member of the Royal family, the heir apparent to Maria Vladimirovna Romanova, Grand Duchess of Russia. There are other heir apparents as well, and the issue as to who it should be has not been settled among the surviving members of the Romanov family.

The restoration of the Russian monarchy is unique because to carries strong religious significance. As far back as the 8th and 9th centuries, A.D., a host of saints and prophets appear to have foreseen the advent of the Soviet times and the restoration of the Tsar after their conclusion.

Some such prophecies are attributed to anonymous sources, but some are named. Here are two with rather extensive editing, so please go to the site linked for the fullest description of the prophecies.

Monk Abel the Prophet (+1831).

In a conversation with Tsar Paul I (+1801), after prophesying the destinies of all the Tsars from Paul I to Nicholas II:

“What is impossible for man is possible for God. God delays with His help, but it is said that He will give it soon and will raise the horn of Russian salvation. And there will arise a great prince from your race in exile, who stands for the sons of his people. He will be a chosen one of God, and on his head will be blessing. He will be the only one comprehensible to all, the very heart of Russia will sense him. His appearance will be sovereign and radiant, and nobody will say: ‘The Tsar is here or there’, but all will say: ‘That is him’. The will of the people will submit to the mercy of God, and he himself will confirm his calling. His name has occurred three times in Russian history. Two of the same name have already been on the throne, but not on the Tsar’s throne. But he will sit on the Tsar’s throne as the third. In him will be the salvation and happiness of the Russian realm.”

“Russian hopes will be realized upon [the cathedral of Hagia] Sophia in Tsargrad [Constantinople]; the Orthodox Cross will gleam again; Holy Rus will be filled with the smoke of incense and prayer, and will blossom like a heavenly lily.”

And from one of the most famous saints in Russian history:

St. John of Kronstadt (+1908):

“I foresee the restoration of a powerful Russia, still stronger and mightier than before. On the bones of these martyrs, remember, as on a strong foundation, will the new Russia we built – according to the old model; strong in her faith in Christ God and in the Holy Trinity! And there will be, in accordance with the covenant of the holy Prince Vladimir, a single Church! Russian people have ceased to understand what Rus is: it is the footstool of the Lord’s Throne! The Russian person must understand this and thank God that he is Russian.”

“The Church will remain unshaken to the end of the age, and a Monarch of Russia, if he remains faithful to the Orthodox Church, will be established on the Throne of Russia until the end of the age.”

What may surprise those in the West is that there are a great many people in Russia and in Orthodox Christian countries in general who take these prophecies quite seriously.

Interestingly enough, when the idea of restoring the monarchy was brought to President Putin’s attention, he regarded the idea as “beautiful” according to Lt. General Leonid Reshetnikov, but also expressed concern that it would lead to stagnation within the country.

A second statement, this one by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, noted that President Putin does not like the idea of bringing back the monarchy, but offered no comment on the conversation with Mr. Reshetnikov.

The idea of restoring the monarchy is not completely absurd. Britain overthrew its own monarchy in 1649 during that country’s Civil War, but it was restored shortly afterwards under King Charles II. Spain cast aside its monarchy in 1931, with its king, Alfonso XIII going into exile, but after sixteen years this monarchy, too, was restored.

Both of these monarchies have become largely ceremonial, with most governing functions carried out through some kind of Parliament and Prime Minister. It is therefore not clear what a ruling monarchy in Russia would look like.

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US confirms pullout from INF treaty, Moscow will respond if missiles placed in Europe – deputy FM

Moscow will respond to possible attempts to place short and intermediate range nuclear-capable missiles in Europe if the US decides to go on with this plan.

RT

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Via RT…


Washington has confirmed its decision to withdraw from the INF treaty is final, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said, adding that Moscow will ‘take measures’ if American missiles that threaten its security are placed in Europe.

“Washington publicly announced its plans to withdraw from the treaty (the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) already in October. Through the high-level bilateral channels it was confirmed to us that this decision was final and wasn’t an attempt to initiate dialogue,” Sergey Ryabkov told the Kommersant newspaper.

The Deputy FM said that Moscow will respond to possible attempts to place short and intermediate range nuclear-capable missiles in Europe if the US decides to go on with this plan.

“We’ll be forced to come up with effective compensating measures. I’d like to warn against pushing the situation towards the eruption of new ‘missile crises.’ I am convinced that no sane country could be interested in something like this,” he said.

Russia isn’t threatening anybody, but have the necessary strength and means to counter any aggressor.
Back in October, President Donald Trump warned that Washington was planning unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty because “Russia has not adhered to the agreement.” The US leader also promised that the country would keep boosting its nuclear arsenal until Russia and China “come to their senses.”

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington will suspend its obligations under the treaty within 60 days if Russia does not “return to compliance.”

Signed in late 1988, the INF agreement was considered a milestone in ending the arms race between the US and the USSR.

In recent years, Moscow and Washington have repeatedly accused each other of violating the INF deal. While the US has alleged that Russia has developed missiles prohibited by the treaty, Russia insists that the American anti-missile systems deployed in Eastern Europe can actually be used to launch intermediate-range cruise missiles.

The deputy FM said that Washington “never made a secret” of the fact that its INF treaty pullout “wasn’t so much about problems between the US and Russia, but about the desire of the Americans to get rid of all restrictions that were inconvenient for them.”

The US side expressed belief that the INF deal “significantly limits the US military’s capabilities to counter states with arsenals of medium-range and shorter-range ground-based missiles,” which threaten American interests, he said. “China, Iran and North Korea” were specifically mentioned by Washington, Ryabkov added.

“I don’t think that we’re talking about a new missile crisis, but the US plans are so far absolutely unclear,” Mikhail Khodarenok, retired colonel and military expert, told RT, reminding that the Americans have avoided any type of “meaningful discussion” with Moscow in regards to its INF deal pullout.

While “there’ll be no deployment of [US missiles] in Europe any time soon,” Moscow should expect that Washington would try to void other agreements with Russia as well, Khodarenok warned.

The INF deal “just stopped being beneficial for the US. Next up are all the other arms control treaties. There’ll be no resistance from the NATO allies [to US actions],” he said.

“The neocons who run Trump’s foreign policy never have liked arms reduction treaties,” former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT. “The new START treaty which comes up for renewal also could be in jeopardy.”

“The risk of a new nuclear buildup is really quite obvious” if the US withdrawals from the INF treaty, Dan Smith, the director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told RT.

“I think the relations between the great powers – the US and Russia as well as the US and China – are more difficult than they’ve been for a long time,” he added.

However, with Washington having indicated that it wants China to be part of the new deal, “there are still possibilities for negotiations and agreement,” according to Smith. Nonetheless, he warned that following this path will demand strong political will and tactical thinking from the leadership of all three countries.

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US Pressures Germany To Ditch Huawei Over ‘Security Concerns’

This news will likely not go over well in Beijing, which is still struggling with the US and Canada over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

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Via Zerohedge


First it was Australia, New Zealand and Japan, now the US is pressing the German government to refuse to use equipment manufactured by Chinese telecom giant Huawei as Europe’s largest economy seeks to build out its 5G infrastructure.

According to Bloomberg, a US delegation met on Friday with German Foreign Ministry officials in Berlin to talk about the security risks presented by Huawei’s equipment, which the US says is vulnerable to spying. The meeting in Germany follows a report from late last month claiming the US had launched an “extraordinary outreach campaign” to warn its allies against using Huawei equipment (while its vulnerability to Chinese spying has been cited as the reason to avoid Huawei, it’s also worth noting that the US and China are locked in a battle for who will dominate the global 5G space…a battle that Huawei is currently winning).

Germany is set to hold an auction early next year to find a supplier to help expand its 5G network. The Berlin meeting took place one day after Deutsche Telekom said it would reexamine its decision to use Huawei equipment.

US officials are optimistic that their warnings are getting a hearing, though any detailed talks are in early stages and no concrete commitments have been made, according to one of the people.

The US pressure on Germany underscores increased scrutiny of Huawei as governments grapple with fears that the telecom-equipment maker’s gear is an enabler for Chinese espionage. The Berlin meeting took place a day after German carrier Deutsche Telekom AG said it will re-evaluate its purchasing strategy on Huawei, an indication that it may drop the Chinese company from its list of network suppliers.

France is also reportedly considering further restrictions after adding Huawei products to its “high alert” list. The US has already passed a ban preventing government agencies from using anything made by Huawei. But the telecoms equipment provider isn’t taking these threats to its business lying down.

U.S. warnings over espionage are a delicate matter in Germany. Revelations over the scale of the National Security Agency’s signals intelligence, including reports of tapping Merkel’s mobile phone, are still fresh in Berlin five years after they came to light.

Huawei is pushing back against the accusations. The company’s rotating chairman warned this week that blacklisting the Chinese company without proof will hurt the industry and disrupt the emergence of new wireless technology globally. Ken Hu, speaking at a Huawei manufacturing base in Dongguan, cited “groundless speculation,” in some of the first public comments since the shock arrest of the company’s chief financial officer.

This news will likely not go over well in Beijing, which is still struggling with the US and Canada over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. In an editorial published Sunday, the Global Times, an English-language mouthpiece for the Communist Party, warned that China should retaliate against any country that – like Australia – takes a hard line against Huawei. So, if you’re a German citizen in Beijing, you might want to consider getting the hell out of Dodge.

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