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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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Photos of swastika on Ukrainian mall stairway creates a stir [Video]

Ukrainian nationalist press in damage-control mode to explain away the Nazi sign, but they forgot the name of the street the mall is on.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the aspects of news about Ukraine that does not make it past the gatekeepers of the American and Western news media is how a significant contingent of Ukrainian nationalists have espoused a sense of reverence for Nazis. The idea that this could even happen anywhere in the world in an open manner makes the claim seem too absurd to be taken seriously. Gone are the days when the Nazi swastika adorned streets and buildings in Europe. Right?

Well, maybe, wrong.

This was seen in Kyiv’s Gorodok (or Horodok, if you insist) Gallery, a shopping center in that city, located on Bandera Avenue.

The pro-nationalist news service UNIAN wasted no time going to press with their explanation of this incident, which admittedly may be accurate:

Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase.

The mall administration apologized to visitors, explaining saying that their computer system had apparently been hacked.

“The administration and staff have no relation to whatever was projected onto the LED-staircase, and in no way does it support such [an] act. Now we are actively searching for those involved in the attack,” it said in a statement.

According to Gorodok Gallery’s administrative office, it was not the first time a cyber breach took place.

As reported earlier, Ukraine is believed to be a testing ground for cyberattacks, many of which are launched from Russia. Hackers have earlier targeted critical energy infrastructure, state institutions, banks, and large businesses.

This time, it appears, hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.

The Gorodok Gallery also apologized on its Facebook page and said that this was a result of hacking.

But what about the street that the mall is on? From the self-same Facebook page, this is what we see:


To translate, for those who do not read Ukrainian or Russian, the address says the following:

23 Steven Bandera Prospekt, Kyiv, Ukraine 04073

This street was formerly called “Moscow Avenue.” Big change, as we shall see.

Steven Bandera got his birthday designated as a national holiday in Ukraine last December. He is known in Ukraine’s history for one thing. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The street where the shopping mall is located is named for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who briefly collaborated with Nazi Germany in its fight against Russia.

His troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.

Several Israeli papers picked this bit of news up, and of course, the reasons are understandable. However, for the West, it appears possible that this news event will largely go unnoticed, even by that great nation that is often called “Israel’s proxy”, the United States.

This is probably because for certain people in the US, there is a sense of desperation to mask the nature of events that are happening in Ukraine.

The usual fare of mainstream news for the West probably consists of things like “Putin’s military seizes innocent Ukrainian sailors in Kerch incident” or, “Ukraine’s Orthodox Church declared fully independent by Patriarch of Constantinople” (not that too many Americans know what a Constantinople even is, anyway), but the overriding narrative for the American people about this country is “Ukraine are the good guys, and Russia are the bad guys,” and this will not be pushed aside, even to accommodate the logical grievance of Israel to this incident.

If this article gets to Western papers at all, it will be the UNIAN line they adhere to, that evil pro-Russia hackers caused this stairway to have a swastika to provoke the idea that Ukraine somehow supports Naziism.

But UNIAN neglected to mention that the street name was recently changed to Stephan Bandera (in 2016), and no one appears to have hacked this. Nor does UNIAN talk about the Azov fighters that openly espoused much of the Nazi ideology. For nationalist Ukrainians, this is all for the greater good of getting rid of all things Russia.

A further sad fact about this is the near impossibility of getting assuredly honest and neutral information about this and other similar happenings. Both Ukrainian nationalists and Russian media agencies have dogs in the race, so to speak. They are both personally connected to these events. However, the Russian media cannot be discounted here, because they do offer a witness and perspective, probably the closest to any objective look at what is going on in Ukraine. We include a video of a “torchlight march” that took place in 2017 that featured such hypernationalist activity, which is not reported in the West.

More such reports are available, but this one seemed the best one to summarize the character of what is going on in the country.

While we do not know the motive and identities of whoever programmed the swastika, it cannot really be stated that this was just a random publicity stunt in a country that has no relationship with Nazi veneration.

The street the mall is on bears witness to that.

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It’s Back to the Iran-Contra Days Under Trump

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Wayne Madsen, via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Showing that he is adopting the neoconservative playbook every day he remains in office, Donald Trump handed the neocons a major win when he appointed Iran-contra scandal felon Elliott Abrams as his special envoy on Venezuela. Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information on the secret sale of US weapons for cash to help illegally supply weapons to the Nicaraguan right-wing contras, who were battling against the government of President Daniel Ortega. Abrams would have headed to a federal prison, but President George H. W. Bush, an unindicted co-conspirator in the scandal, issued pardons to Abrams and his five fellow conspirators – former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and former Central Intelligence Agency officials Alan Fiers, Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, and Clair George – on Christmas Eve 1991, during the final weeks of Bush’s lame duck administration.

Abrams escaped being charged with more serious crimes by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh because he cut a last-minute deal with federal prosecutors. Trump, who has made no secret of his disdain for cooperating federal witnesses, would have normally called Abrams a “rat,” a gangster term meaning informant. The man who helped engineer the pardons for Abrams and his five convicted friends was none other than Bush’s Attorney General, William Barr, who has just been sworn in as Trump’s Attorney General. Trump, who is always decrying the presence of the “deep state” that thwarts his very move, has become the chief guardian of that entity.

During a recent hearing of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, newly-minted congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, reminded her colleagues and the world about the sordid background of Abrams.

Omar zeroed in on Abrams’s criminal history:

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful.”

Abrams, as is the nature of neocons, refused to respond to Omar and cited her comments as “personal attacks.”

Abrams’s and his fellow criminals’ use of mercenaries and “death squads” to conduct secret wars in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala during the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s has made a re-entrance under Trump. Abrams was brought on board by neocons like National Security Adviser John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to oversee a US military build-up in Colombia, said to be 5000 US troops, to support Venezuelan paramilitary and military efforts to topple President Nicolas Maduro. Abrams and Bolton are also believed to have retained the services of another unindicted conspirator in the Iran-contra affair, Michael Ledeen, a colleague of the disgraced and convicted former Trump National Security Adviser, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Ledeen and Flynn co-authored a book titled, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies.” The book contains nothing more than the standard neocon tripe one might expect from the likes of Ledeen.

An official investigation of the Iran-contra scandal by the late Republican Senator John Tower of Texas concluded that Abrams’s and Ledeen’s friend, Iranian-Jewish middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, a long-time Mossad asset and well-known prevaricator, was extremely instrumental in establishing the back-channel arms deals with Iran. Ghorbanifar has long been on the CIA “burn list” as an untrustworthy charlatan, along with others in the Middle East of similar sketchy credentials, including the Iraq’s Ahmad Chalabi, Syria’s Farid “Frank” Ghadry, and Lebanon’s Samir “Sami” Geagea. These individuals, however, were warmly embraced by neocons like Abrams and his associates.

Abrams, whose links with Israeli intelligence has always been a point of consternation with US counter-intelligence officials, is part of an old cabal of right-wing anti-Soviet Democrats who coalesced around Senator Henry Jackson in the 1970s. Along with Abrams, this group of war hawks included Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, Douglas Feith, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Abram Shulsky, and Paul Wolfowitz. Later, this group would have its fingerprints on major US foreign policy debacles, ranging from Nicaragua and Grenada to Lebanon, Iraq, and Libya. Later, in December 2000, these neocons managed to convince president-elect George W. Bush of the need to “democratize” the Middle East. That policy would later bring not democracy but disaster to the Arab Middle East and North Africa.

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela. They have old scores to settle with Nicaraguan President Ortega. The initiation of “regime change” operations in Nicaragua, supported by the CIA and the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, have been ongoing for more than a year.

The Trump administration has already achieved a regime change victory of sorts in El Salvador. Nayib Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, who was expelled from the formerly-ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) party and joined the right-wing GANA party, was recently elected president of El Salvador. Bukele has quickly re-aligned his country’s policies with those of the Trump administration. Bukele has referred to President Maduro of Venezuela as a “dictator.” He has also criticized the former FMLN government’s recognition of China and severance of diplomatic ties with Taiwan. It will be interesting to see how a sycophant like Bukele will politically survive as Trump continues to call hapless asylum-seeking migrants from his country, who seek residency in the United States, “rapists, gang monsters, murderers, and drug smugglers.”

Another country heading for a US-installed “banana republic” dictator is Haiti. President Jovenal Moise has seen rioting in the streets of Port-au-Prince as the US State Department removed all “non-essential” personnel from the country. Moise, whose country has received $2 billion in oil relief from Venezuela, to help offset rising fuel prices, has continued to support the Maduro government. However, at the US-run and neo-colonial artifice, the Organization of American States (OAS), Moise’s envoys have been under tremendous pressure to cut ties with Venezuela and recognize the US puppet Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president. Moise’s refusal to do so resulted in armed gangs hitting the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding Moise’s resignation. It is the same neocon “regime change” playbook being used in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

There will be similar attempts to replace pro-Maduro governments in his remaining allies in the region. These include Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Abrams was also brought in as an adviser on Middle East policy in the George W. Bush administration. The carnage of Iraq is a stark testament to his record. In 2005, it was reported that two key Bush White House officials – Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams – gave a “wink and a nod” for the assassinations by Israeli-paid operatives of three key Lebanese political figures seeking a rapprochement with Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah – Member of Parliament Elie Hobeika, former Lebanese Communist Party chief George Hawi, and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In 2008, a United Nations panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare later concluded Hariri was assassinated by a “criminal network” and not by either Syrian and Lebanese intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah as proffered by Abrams and his friends in Washington.

Representative Omar was spot on in questioning why Abrams, whose name is as disgraced as his two fellow conspirators – Oliver North and John Poindexter – whose criminal convictions were overturned on appeal, is working for the Trump administration on Venezuela. The answer is that the neocons, who can sense, like raptors, Trump’s political weakness, have filled the vacuum left by top-level vacancies in the administration.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.

RT

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Via RT…


If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

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