Turkey fired a number of mortar bombs toward Syrian army positions, the Syrian army spokesman said Saturday.
“Last night, there was intense mortar fire on Syrian government forces’ positions fire from the Mount Jebel Aqra area, which is on the Turkish side,” Brigadier General Ali Mayhoub said during a press briefing.
“Commander-in-chief of the Syrian Arab Army [President Bashar Assad] warns of the dangers of such behavior,” the spokesman added.
Damascus urges the international community to force Turkey to stop supporting terrorists, directly and indirectly, as well as to stop buying illegal oil from them, he said.
“Taking advantage of the fact the border [between Syria and Turkey] is de-facto controlled by terrorists Ankara without obstruction supplies them with weapons and other resources for their criminal activity,” the spokesperson told journalists.
“Commander-in-chief of the Syrian Arab Army warns of the dangers of such behavior and urges the international community to exert maximum pressure on the leadership of the Turkish Republic with the aim of forcing them to abandon the direct and indirect support for international terrorism,” he stressed.
According to Mayhub, in exchange for military support, the Turkish leadership receives “from international criminals oil at bargain prices, cultural treasures looted by bandits in the museums of Syria and Iraq, and other contraband.”
“Motor vehicles form Turkey can reach the areas seized by the terrorists without any control or checks while the Syrian authorities temporarily have no control over the border,” the Syrian general said.
“Humanitarian convoys which the Turkish government reported are a myth. It is used to help legalize supplies for terrorists and to successfully move wounded and ill militants to Turkish hospitals.”
Moreover, the spokesperson said that “the border has become transparent due to the Turkish government. That also lets terrorists reach other European countries to commit numerous atrocities there.”
Turkey playing dirty in Syria is no secret. The true goal Ankara is pursuing in Syria is becoming a regional power and the country that rules the Sunni Muslim world, journalist Riccardo Peliliccetti wrote for his article in Il Giornale.
Over the course of his 20 years of ruling Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has Islamized the country and launched a policy of expansionism. It is obvious that Erdogan’s goal is to turn northern Syria – between Aleppo and Latakia – into the 82nd Turkish province, the article read, and now he is playing the card of Turkmen living in the region.
Erdogan insists on military intervention in Syria which would help him neutralize the so-called “Shiite axis” comprising Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.
“This may be the very beginning of a conflict between Turkey and Iran. Tehran is responsible for [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s strategy. Assad as well as Hezbollah is very important to Iran. This is the Shiite axis. Russia came to Syria to support Assad, and then Turkey shot down a Russian jet. It may lead to a war between Turkey and Iran,” political analyst Edward Luttwack was quoted as saying in the article.
For the last four years, Turkey has been making efforts to topple Assad, including financing terrorists and the guerilla war against Damascus. Turkish airports are filled with foreign troops ready to be deployed to Syria. Turkey has attacked the Kurds who fight against the Islamic State (ISIL) terrorist group instead of fighting its militants, the author wrote. What is more, Turkey buys smuggled oil from ISIL for $15-20 a barrel, and then re-sells it at a double the price.
Nevertheless, the strong Shiite axis and particularly the Russian offensive in Syria have shattered Erdogan’s dreams of an empire and kept Assad in power.
After the Russian Su-24 bomber was downed, Erdogan said that Turkey did it to protect itself and its “brothers” in Syria.
He meant Turkmen, of course, but also terrorist groups sponsored by Ankara, many of which have pledged allegiance to ISIL, the author pointed out.
At the Vienna conference in late-October Russia asked the Sunni axis – Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – to make up a list of moderate opposition figures for talks with Assad. As a result, Ankara removed their protégés from the list of terrorists to let them participate in the talks.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin will not allow the breakdown of Syria, an ally to Russia, the article read.
Now, it looks like Turkey is looking for a reason to start a war, using NATO for its own interests, according to the article.
The author cited words by German General Harald Kujat who warned of such a scenario a year ago.
“Turkey wants to drag NATO into this war since its goal is to topple Assad. ISIL and the Kurds are not that important. An ally which acts this way should not be respected in the alliance,” Kujat said.
Luttwak confirmed the assumption, saying: “Turkey betrayed NATO when it refused to cooperate and bought oil from ISIL. Ankara made ISIL powerful. While the US is sending weapons to Kurds who fight ISIL Turkey is bombing them. For NATO, having Turkey as an ally is worse than having it as an enemy,” he concluded.
“US forces would never intentionally strike a hospital.”
— US Commander of NATO Forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Campbell
After weeks of lies, the Obama administration and the Pentagon, unable to find any way to explain their murderous hour-long AC-130 gunship assault on and destruction of a Doctors Without Borders-run hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, have turned to a new lie: they bombed the wrong building.
Gen. John Campbell, commander of NATO forces (sic) in Afghanistan, citing the results of a just-released Pentagon study of the Oct. 3 incident which killed 30 medical personnel and patients and left the only hospital in the region a smoking ruin, now says that the American mass-slaughter flying machine bombed “the wrong target,” hitting the hospital instead of a “nearby building,” supposedly a government structure from which Taliban were said to be firing.
Campbell said the hospital attack, which would be a grave war crime if intentional, was simply “the direct result of avoidable human error, compounded by process and equipment failure,” he said, adding, “US forces would never intentionally strike a hospital.”
Grim guffaws could be heard around the world, if not, perhaps, among the assembled hack reporters, who in dutifully transcribing the general’s remarks for their articles failed to first check their history. Had they even made a cursory search, they’d have discovered that hitting hospitals is something the US military does routinely and with alacrity.
Indeed the Kunduz attack isn’t even the first time a Doctors Without Borders hospital has been struck by US bombs. Back on July 20, 1993, when US forces were busy blowing up Somalia, they bombed Digfer Hospital, the largest hospital in the capital city of Mogadishu, seriously damaging the facility where a number of DWB physicians were working, and killing three patients. At the time, a U.N. official explained that the hospital had been targeted because gunmen loyal to warlord coup-leader Gen. Mohammad Farah Aidid were hiding there. (If that were the reason, that attack would have been a war crime.)
But it’s not just Doctors Without Borders-run hospitals that the US attacks.
During the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s, the US was widely known to be routinely targeting hospitals. The worst example of this criminal behavior was during the notorious 1972 Christmas Bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong, the two largest cities in northern Vietnam, ordered by then President Richard Nixon and his National Security Advisor and fellow war criminal Henry Kissinger when peace talks with the North Vietnamese broke down. In complete disregard for civilian lives, both cities were relentlessly attacked for days, both by small planes and, carpet-bombing B-52s. A total of 20,000 tons of bombs was dropped on the two cities, leveling them. Included in the targeting of those 20,000 bombs was Vietnam’s largest healthcare facility, Hanoi’s 1,150-bed Bach Mai Hospital, hit by B-52s and essentially destroyed. Other hospitals were also leveled in the round-the-clock onslaught.
But that was just the biggest hospital strike of that war.
During Senate committee testimony about the US conduct of the war back in 1973, according to a contemporary report in Newsweek magazine, Vietnam veterans testified over and over that no restrictions were placed on them regarding the bombing and shelling of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong hospitals. In fact one witness, Alan Stevenson, a San Francisco stockbroker who had been an Army intelligence specialist in 1969, said that following orders, he had “routinely listed hospitals among targets to be struck by American fighter planes.” He testified, “The bigger the hospital, the better it was,” since larger hospitals were generally guarded by brigade-sized forces.
Despite clear Geneva Convention rules outlawing the targeting of hospitals — even those treating enemy combatants — the US military’s fondness for hospitals as targets continued after Vietnam. In 1999, NATO (US) warplanes bombed a hospital in Belgrade, Serbia, killing four people, in what, as always, was characterized by the Pentagon as a “technical error” in which laser-guided “smart bombs” had allegedly turned out to be so stupid that they overshot their targets by over a quarter of a mile.
Four years later, during the early “shock-and-awe” part of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, US aircraft bombed a maternity hospital run by the International Red Crescent, killing several people and injuring 27, including medical personnel. That time the Pentagon didn’t even claim it was a mistake, simply saying, “Coalition (sic) forces target only legitimate military targets and go to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties and damage to civilian facilities.”
Now perhaps some readers might want to cut the Pentagon and the White House some slack like our corporate media scribes and say, well, maybe these horrors were all mistakes. But first consider how much respect the US Army had for the sanctity of hospitals under the Geneva Conventions for the conduct of war when they stormed Ramadi General Hospital, the largest hospital in western Iraq, on July 5, 2006. As justification, they claimed it was being used to treat injured insurgents (a protected action under Geneva rules). The US troops harassed the medical staff, frightened and interrogated sick and injured patients, dragged injured fighters out of their beds and detained them, destroyed medical equipment and medicines, and occupied the hospital for some time, before finally leaving. Similar criminal hospital invasions by US forces occurred during the 2006 revenge assault by US Marines that leveled the city of Fallujah.
Finally, before anyone accepts the latest lie concerning the Pentagon’s “investigation,” claiming that the attack on the Kunduz hospital was just a matter of mixing up buildings and coordinates, know that no other building in Kunduz had that hospital’s unique cross-shaped roof layout, or the clear markings and banners delineating it to passing aircraft as a hospital. Furthermore, claiming that it was a targeting error, and claiming that the US “would never intentionally strike a hospital,” were only Gen. Campbell’s fourth and fifth lies. The general in fact has an impressive history of lying about this issue.
Back on Oct. 4, a day after the Kunduz hospital attack, the general said: “U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz city at 2:15am (local), Oct 3, against insurgents who were directly firing upon U.S. service members advising and assisting Afghan Security Forces in the city of Kunduz. The strike was conducted in the vicinity of a Doctors Without Borders medical facility.” The only true fact in that statement of his was the time of the airstrike.
On Oct. 5, a day later, when that first lie wasn’t working, he changed his story, saying, “We have now learned that on October 3, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S. forces. An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck. This is different from the initial reports, which indicated that U.S. forces were threatened and that the airstrike was called on their behalf.” Again the general was lying. US aircraft do not respond to direct call-ins for bombing strikes by Afghan government forces.
So a day later on Oct. 6, the general changed his story again at a Senate Armed Services Committee, saying: “On Saturday morning our forces provided close air support to Afghan forces at their request. To be clear, the decision to provide aerial fire was a U.S. decision, made within the U.S. chain of command. A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility … I assure you that the investigation will be thorough, objective and transparent.” That last line was probably his biggest whopper.
Mainstream reporters haven’t pressed this serial liar about his ever-changing alibis, but someone should.
Doctors Without Borders is denouncing the Pentagon report and the general’s explanation, saying that it raises far more questions than it answers and doesn’t square with the facts of what happened. The organization continues to demand an independent international investigation under UN auspices into the Kunduz bombing — something that the US is refusing to permit.
But even without such an honest investigation, it should be obvious that the proper answer Gen. Campbell, if he had a shred of integrity, should be giving to the question of what happened in Kunduz under his authority is: “We’re the exceptional nation. We bomb hospitals. Got a problem with that?”
The shooting down of a Russian fighter bomber by Turkish war planes this week throws into stark relief the complex multiple games being played by Turkey and its NATO allies. The incident further highlights the misuse and misquotation of international law by apologists for the US and its allies. It is also a further study on the highly selective nature of Australian mainstream media reporting and its invariable pro-US stance.
It is not in dispute that two F16 fighter aircraft of the Turkish air force attacked a Russian fighter-bomber. As a result the Russian plane was destroyed. The wreckage landed well inside Syrian territory. The pilot and navigator aboard the Russian plane ejected safely. Whilst parachuting to the ground they were fired upon by Turkmen militia members, killing the pilot. The navigator was able to avoid capture and was subsequently rescued.
None of that is in contention. There are however, some areas of dispute, most notably whether or not the Turkish military authorities warned the pilot to change direction while still in Syrian air space. The Turkish authorities have released what they say are recordings of multiple warnings. That is something that is capable of independent verification, including from Russian and American satellites. The Russians flatly deny such warnings were given.
The second major area of dispute is whether or not the Russian fighter-bomber did traverse Turkish territory. The territory in question is a very narrow (3km wide) finger of land that juts from Turkey into Syria. The Russian navigator on board the plane flatly denies that his aircraft was in Turkish air space. Again, that is something that is capable of independent verification.
On the Turkish account the Russian plane spent a total of 17 seconds in Turkish air space. That length of time would be broadly consistent with the plane’s reported speed and the width of territory traversed.
Both Turkey and the US have advanced the justification that Turkey was entitled to defend itself. As a general proposition that is true. The question however, is whether self-defence actually arose, and if it did was the Turkish response appropriate.
Article 51 of the UN Charter provides that a country may defend itself against armed attack. It has been held in multiple international law cases that the attack must be actual or imminent. Even then, the response must be proportionate to the threat.
Not even the Turks have claimed that they were being attacked by the Russian fighter-bomber, or that an attack was imminent. To shoot down a non-threatening plane, that even on the Turkish account was in Turkish air space for no more than a few seconds while heading elsewhere, cannot on any reasonable interpretation of international law be reasonable or justified.
The real reason for the shoot down therefore had nothing to do with self-defence. Some inferences as to the real motives may be drawn from the available evidence. Turkey was outspokenly angry about Russian military fighters and bombers attacking militias whom Turkey supported as part of the ambition to overthrow the Assad government. The Turkmen who killed the pilot and then another Marine in a helicopter coming to the rescue are just such a Turkish controlled militia.
The Turkish government is also one of the principal supporters, financiers and armorers of the ISIS terror group. At the recent G20 meeting President Putin made a presentation of satellite and other data showing that stolen Syrian oil was being transported to Turkey where its sale is a significant source of ISIS financing. Mr Putin referred specifically to members of the G20 being backers of ISIS. It is hardly a secret that he was alluding to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the US among likely others.
The Russian intervention since 30 September 2015 at the invitation of the Syrian government has been devastatingly effective. For the first time in more than three years the Syrian Army has regained the initiative. It is to be contrasted with the pseudo efforts of the US and its erstwhile allies such as Australia who claim to have been attacking ISIS when manifestly they have not, or supporting so-called and non-existent “moderates.”
A further factor is that Turkey has for decades fought against the aspirations of its significant Kurdish minority for autonomy. Those aspirations, combining as they are with those of the Iraqi, Syrian and Iranian Kurds for similar autonomy, are bitterly opposed by President Erdogan. The failure of the Turkish backed militias to overthrow the Assad regime has given fresh impetus to hopes for Kurdish autonomy.
Turkey would not, as a member of the US controlled NATO, have risked a war with Russia unless it had the backing of the US government. American foreknowledge of the shoot down, which as a matter of timing alone must have been planned, is to be inferred from the ludicrous statements emanating from the White House.
One such ludicrous defence of the Turkmen militia came from a US government spokesman who when asked about the shooting of the pilot from the downed Russian jet said that the Turkmen militia “were entitled to defend themselves.”
This would be almost funny were it not for the alarming ignorance of international law that such a remark displays. Article 42 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which both Turkey and the US have signed and ratified, and Protocol 1 of the 1977 amendments to the Convention, specifically provides as follows:
- No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent.
- Upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse Party, a person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given the opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack….
The Russian pilot in question, on the unqualified boasting of the militiamen who killed him, had no such opportunity. The killing of the pilot was therefore a war crime.
It is the latest illustration of where criminal acts carried out in pursuit of geo-political objectives are given the courtesy of not even being discussed in the mainstream media. Instead, prominence is given in the media to ludicrous and self-serving statements by politicians and their official spokespersons.
The silence of the Australian government in the face of these latest outrages is nothing less than shameful.
James O’Neill is an Australian-based Barrister at Law.
Iran says it has never reciprocated cyber attacks with counter raids, although it has been a victim of such illegal attacks in the past years.
“Iran has never responded to these illegal attacks with reciprocal cyber attacks,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said on Friday.
He also noted that the Islamic Republic has been the victim of serious cyber attacks, such as the Stuxnet case, in recent years.
The spokesman was referring to the 2010 cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear energy facilities by the Stuxnet computer worm, built jointly by the US and the Israeli regime.
He made the remarks in response to a recent New York Times report, which cited unnamed US officials as claiming that there has been a surge in cyber attacks by Iran against US State Department officials over the past month.
Jaberi Ansari went on to say that the lack of an efficient legal system in the international arena to prevent and prohibit cyber attacks is one of the serious shortcomings in countering cyber raids.
Pointing to Iran’s rotating presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the top diplomat said Tehran has always been committed to adopting and strengthening international deterrent mechanisms to prevent cyber attacks, urging all countries, especially the West, to cooperate and prevent such destructive measures.
Hey, remember back in those “good ol’ days” we called the Cold War when we thought World War Three would begin over some penny-ante border skirmish in Europe? You know, a Soviet plane gets close to the border, we panic, it gets shot down. Then the Soviets decide to shoot down the next plane that tries that again. Then it escalates from there. Well, folks, have a look at this.
There. Putin just placed some long-range surface-to-air missiles in Syria. The next Turkish F-16 pilot to play Top Gun is going to get a hotfoot he’ll never forget. Ok, but let’s get back to the Cold War for a second. Can anyone imagine it being 1983 and Reagan giving the okey-dokey to shoot down a Soviet aircraft? Of course not. Not even Reagan was that bonkers. If Turkey had said they were going to do that, they’d have been told in no uncertain terms: Absolutely not. We’d have never allowed a NATO nation to threaten such a thing, much less carry out that threat. They’d have been told to follow the protocols which are to send up planes and escort the aircraft away. That’s what NATO has been doing since they provoked the Russians into resuming Bear bomber excursions close to NATO airspace. They escort the planes away. They don’t shoot them down, no matter how many bloodthirsty whack-jobs were calling for it.
Also, the surviving crewman of the shot-down Russian plane has been recovered. Guess where? Syria! Gee, how’d that happen? If the Russian plane was in Turkey, how comes the Turks didn’t capture the guy? And since the pilot was killed by ground fire coming from al-Qaida, there are only two possibilities there. One, the plane was in Syria, which we can pretty much say is a given. Or, two, the plane was in Turkey and al-Qaida is getting safe haven in Turkey. So, ok, Turkey, which one was it? Was the plane in Syria when your F-16s ambushed it? Or are you harboring al-Qaida?
I bet NATO nations that want to stay out of this are crapping enough bricks to build a pyramid at this point. I hear tell that Turkish F-16s cross into Syria with some regularity. Sooner or later, one will get bagged by a Russian SAM crew. Or the next F-16 to shadow a Russian plane is going to get a supersonic parting gift. “Vanna, tell our contestant what he’s won!” “He’s won a surface-to-air missile and a free trip by parachute into the arms of his air rescue crew!” Turkey goes whining to NATO and demands assistance. There, we’re in World War Three. I tend to think this entire thing has been staged and Turkey was coached in it by those who want to get us into a war by any means necessary. I tend to think that actor is the Pentagon. They probably think the President and Congress aren’t getting us into a war fast enough.
Here’s what’s obviously going down over there. Turkey is, and always has been, supporting al-Qaida and ISIS. Both of them are covertly supported by the United States which is why a year-plus-change-you-can-believe-in’s worth of airstrikes haven’t even cost ISIS a magazine subscription. ISIS and al-Qaida have been using Turkey as a safe haven and that’s the starting point of the ISIS version of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. How come ISIS keeps getting resupply? Because Turkey is where the supply depot is. So, ok, ISIS ends up nuttier than a fruitcake but we still need them to get rid of Assad, so we just kick the can down the road, hoping an international coalition will get rid of ISIS later. But here came the Russians and no one thought that would happen. And it might not have if NATO and the U.S. had minded their own business in Ukraine. So Putin moved up his pieces on the board. But now here was the chance to get the war we wanted to start in Ukraine started in Syria and kill two birds with one stone. So to speak. Hence, Turkey was not challenged and warned off by the U.S. when they said they were going to shoot down Russian planes. In fact, that’s exactly what the Pentagon needed. And now it’s happened.
See, the Pentagon thinks it can win a war with Russia. Seriously. They do. Because even if it goes nuclear, as long as we wipe them out and we’ve got a handful of bureaucrats and generals alive in their bunkers, we won! Hooray! Aren’t you all excited and proud to be an American right now? Gee, it’s swell to know we didn’t scrap all those nuclear weapons after the Cold War. We scrapped the air raid sirens so, hey, if you’re in the shower you might not even know the world is going to end before you’re done washing your hair. Don’t worry about drying it, the heat flash will do that for you.
Don’t you just love it? I can’t see any other conclusion that can be arrived at except that we’re about to risk a war with Russia over al-Qaida. Makes you wonder if al-Qaida ever was formally off the CIA payroll.
Reports by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Monitoring Mission to Ukraine contradicts the United States and Ukraine’s vocal confirmations that Kiev is faultlessly fulfilling the complex of measures in complying with the Minsk agreements, Russian OSCE Envoy Alexander Lukashevich said Friday.
“Everyone here reads the Monitoring Mission to Ukraine on the situation in Donbass, on ceasefire violations and machinations with withdrawing arms. They contradict vocal allegations from representatives from the United States and Ukraine on Kiev’s faultless fulfillment of the Minsk Complex of Measures,” Lukashevich said during an OSCE council session.
Voluntary military formations resort to looting, robbery and violence despite Kiev’s claims, an OSCE envoy said.
The Minsk agreements are a set of measures developed by Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany to facilitate the process of Ukraine’s reconciliation after Kiev launched a military operation against local independence supporters in eastern Ukraine in April 2014.
Under the deal, constitutional reforms aimed at decentralizing power in Ukraine and the initiation of local elections in Donbass must be concluded before the end of 2015.
The country’s breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk agreed to postpone their local elections until 2016. Before elections in those regions can take place, Ukraine authorities must fulfill all the Minsk agreement obligations.
As the world commemorates the United Nations’ International Day for Solidarity with Palestinians, it is important to remember that many countries in Latin America have been some of the most vocal supporters of Palestine and its people.
On several occasions Palestinian officials have expressed their gratitude to Latin American countries for their support, which at times is larger than support from neighboring Arab nations.
This support is translated through opening borders for Palestinian refugees and students, hosting high-level officials from Palestine as well as continually condemning the harsh treatment of Israel towards the Palestinian people through occupation, human rights violations, settlement construction and open discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Last year, Palestinian Ambassador to Caracas Linda Sobeh Ali speaking to Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said: “You and the people of Latin America have shown us more support than some of our Arab brothers. Thank you.”
1 – Syrian and Palestinian refugees welcomed by Argentina
In September 2015, Argentina government announced that Syrian and Palestinian refugees were welcome into the country at a time when European nations were militarizing its borders to deter entry to thousands of people fleeing the war-torn country. Refugees would receive a two-year residence permit as soon as they arrive into the country.
2 – Latin America united in support for Palestinians during Israel’s war on Gaza
In August, Latin American leaders harshly condemned the Israeli government over its 50-day war against Gaza in summer 2014, including Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, and Evo Morales of Bolivia. Several countries in the region downgraded relations with Israel, while others recalled ambassadors.
3 – Venezuela hosts congress on Palestinian Right of Return April 2015
In April 2015 Venezuela hosted the first Latin American Congress of the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine, being held until Friday in the capital of Caracas. The campaign was founded two years ago as an effort to coordinate the work of Palestinian solidarity activists at a global level. It gives particular attention to demand for the right-of-return of Palestinians who were forcibly displaced by militant Zionists during the foundation of the state of Israel.
4 – Chile hosts PLO official in a 5-day visit to strengthen ties with Palestine
In August 2015, Palestinian Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat took a five-day visit to Chile where he visited the Arab School in Santiago, met with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, the foreign minister, as well as representatives of the Jewish community in Chile. Chile is home to more than 400,000 Palestinians and Palestinian descendants.
5 – A ‘Song for Palestine’ solidarity event in Ecuador
In July 2014, social organizations of Ecuador convened on to present “A song for Palestine”, an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of attacks by the Israeli Defense Force against the Palestinian people in Gaza.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is facing a political crisis after calling for support for airstrikes against ISIL in Syria, but failing to gain the support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who has now caused a major rift in the opposition.
Cameron told lawmakers in London Thursday that Britain should join a coalition of forces in airstrikes against ISIL in Syria. The country is already bombing ISIL in neighboring Iraq, but Cameron needs a mandate from parliament to extend the operations into Syria.
The issue is politically sensitive as Cameron lost a vote to launch airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2013, with cost him political value. This time around — in a vote on bombing Assad’s enemies — he cannot afford to lose political face again.
However, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has indicated that it will vote against action in Syria and Cameron needs the support of the Labour opposition to confirm his policy. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — who has long been an anti-war campaigner — has written to his party lawmakers telling them he cannot support airstrikes in Syria.
The move has caused chaos within his party, with many members supporting airstrikes against ISIL. If Corbyn exercises his leadership right to demand all his lawmakers follow his lead — in what is known as a three-line whip — he stands to face a mass revolt in his party, which could force a leadership challenge, which would throw the party into chaos.
If — on the other hand — he allows his lawmakers a free vote, then he would remain leader of his party, and lawmakers would be allowed to vote whichever way they wish. Either way, Corbyn’s leadership will have been damaged.
Lesson Not Learned From Iraq
Cameron has other headaches too. Public opinion was strongly against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and there are many who believe the decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein was based on flawed intelligence, with some — including Corbyn — believing the invasion was illegal.
The Chilcot Inquiry into the reasons for going to war, and its aftermath, has yet to be published and there are many lawmakers who believe its findings will be critical of the invasion because it lacked any exit strategy for Iraq, which has been plunged into civil war ever since. Few want to repeat the mistakes in Syria and are calling for an exit strategy and a strong commitment to support a rebuilding of the country following any invasion to erase ISIL.
If Cameron fails to gain a parliamentary majority on a vote — due next week — over bombing in Syria, he will be politically damaged among his NATO allies, leaving him out in the cold on the global stage. He is also facing calls for the UK not to put itself further at risk than it already is from reprisal terrorist attacks.
Others believe bombing in Syria will play into the hands of ISIL. Jürgen Todenhöfer, the German politician and journalist who, in 2014, spent time with ISIL in both Iraq and Syria, wrote in the Guardian :
“A bombing strategy will above all hit Syria’s population. This will fill ISIL fighters with joy.”
With Corbyn’s party in disarray, the SNP set to vote against bombing and his political worth on the line, Cameron is facing a difficult time in the week ahead and can only hope public opinion in the wake of the Paris attacks on November 13 can save him.
Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian jet today shows the utter desperation currently sweeping through the regime change camp as Russia closes in on the death squads in Syria – and does so with massive international support.
At 9.30am on Tuesday morning, a Russian SU-24 jet was shot down by Turkish fighter planes. Its pilots were then allegedly killed by Syrian Turkmen anti-government militias, with the body of one paraded on camera in a video that was immediately posted on youtube. Turkey claimed the jet had encroached on Turkish airspace, but Russia maintains the plane was shot down well inside Syrian territory, 4km from the Turkish border. Rather than calling Russia to defuse any tension arising from the attack, Turkey then immediately called an emergency NATO meeting to ramp it up – “as if we shot down their plane”, Putin commented, “and not they ours”.
To make sense of this apparently senseless provocation, it is necessary to cut through the multiple layers of obfuscation which surround Western narratives around Syria and ISIS. The reality is that the forces essentially line up today just as they did at the outbreak of this crisis in 2011: with the West, Turkey and the gulf monarchies sponsoring an array of death squads bent on bringing down the Syrian government; and Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria (obviously) and Hezbollah resisting this project; the rise of ISIS has not fundamentally changed this underlying dynamic. Indeed, the next-to-useless impact of the West’s year-long phony war against ISIS – alongside its relentless funneling of weaponry to militias with an, at best, ambiguous relationship with Al Qaeda and ISIS – has demonstrated that the Syrian state (or “Assad” to use the West’s puerile personalization) remains the ultimate target of the West’s Syria policy. As Obama himself put it, the goal is not to eliminate ISIS, but rather to “contain” them – that is, keep them focused on weakening Syria and Iraq, and not US allies like Jordan, Turkey or the US’s favoured Kurdish factions. In civil wars, there are only ever really two sides: those who want the insurgency to overthrow the government, and those who want the government to defeat the insurgency. In the Syrian civil war, NATO remains on the same side as ISIS. In this sense, Putin is entirely correct when he commented on the Turkish attack it was a “stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists” and asked: “do they want to make NATO serve ISIS?”
Russia’s direct entry into the Syrian conflict two months ago, however, has caused utter panic in the ‘regime change’ camp. Belying all their ‘anti-ISIS’ rhetoric, the US and Britain were openly horrified that Russia might actually be putting up an effective fight against the group and restoring governmental authority to the ungoverned spaces in which it thrives. Immediately, the West began warning of ‘blowback’ to Russia, and ramping up advanced arms shipments to the insurgency. Within a month, a Russian passenger plane was blown up, with ISIS claiming responsibility and British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond calling the attack a “warning shot”. It was a “shot” alright, aimed not only at Russia, but also at her allies; the downing of the plane on Egyptian soil was a deliberate act of economic war against the Egyptian tourist industry, a punishment for Egypt’s support for Russia and Syria and its choking off of fighters to Syria since Sisi came to power. Then, two weeks later, came the attack on Paris. White supremacist niceties prevented Hammond calling that a “warning shot”, but that is precisely what it was, this time at those within the regime change/ anti-Russia camp who were showing signs of ‘wobbling’. Hollande had suggested back in January that sanctions on Russia should be lifted asap, and more recently had showed a willingness to cooperate with Russia militarily over Syria: a ‘red line’ for France’s ‘Atlantic partners’. This is what France was being punished for.
Nevertheless, the net continues to close on the West’s death squad project in Syria. From the start the key to ISIS success has been, firstly, the porous Syria-Turkey border, through which Turkey has allowed a free flow of fighters and weapons back and forth for the past four years, and secondly, the massive amounts of finance ISIS receives both from oil sales and from donors in countries prepared to turn a blind eye to terror financing. In recent weeks, all of this has been threatened by the Russian-led alliance (of which France is increasingly willing to be a part).
The past week has seen a large scale Syrian ground offensive, supported with Russian air cover, in precisely the Syrian-Turkish border region which is the death squads’ lifeline: a move which prompted the Turkish foreign ministry to warn of “serious consequences” if the Russian airstrikes continued. Simultaneously, Russia has embarked on a major campaign against ISIS’ reportedly 1,000-strong oil tanker fleet which is so crucial to the group’s financial success. As the Institute for the Study of War reported, “Russian military chief of staff Col. Gen. Andrey Kartapolov announced on November 18 “Russian warplanes are now flying on a free hunt” against ISIS-operated oil tanker trucks traveling back and forth from Syria and Iraq, claiming that Russian strikes had destroyed over 500 ISIS-operated oil trucks in the past “several days.”” This massive dent in the group’s oil transporting capacity even shamed the US into belatedly and somewhat half-heartedly launching similar attacks of their own. The smashing of ISIS’ oil industry will not only be a blow to the entire death squad project, but will directly affect Turkey, widely thought to be involved in the transportation of ISIS-produced oil, and even Erdogan’s family itself, as it is the company run by his son Bilal that is believed to be running the illicit trade.
Finally, France yesterday announced a crackdown on ISIS’ financiers, and demanded other countries do the same. French Finance Minister Michel Sapin implied that the report to the G20 on the issue last month was a whitewash, and demanded that the international Financial Action Task Force be much more explicit in its report to the next G20 finance meeting in February about which countries are lax in terms of terror financing. The move is very likely to expose not only Turkey and Saudi Arabia but also, given HSBC’s links to Al Qaeda, the City of London. Indeed, as the Politico website noted, Sapin specifically “said that considering the reputation of the City of London, he would be “vigilant” on the U.K.’s implementation of EU-agreed measures to clamp down on money laundering and exchange financial information on shady transactions or individuals”.The reactions to his demands that implementation of tougher EU regulations be moved forward will also be instructive (in another move exposing the total lack of urgency in the West’s supposed ‘war on ISIS’, they are currently not due to be implemented for another two years).
And on top of all this, the UN Security Council finally passed a resolution authorizing ‘all necessary measures’ to be used against ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Syria, effectively granting UN approval to Russia’s intervention. As Pepe Escobar has pointed out, French support for the resolution rendered it politically impossible for the US or UK to use their veto – although US ambassador Samantha Power, an extreme Russophobe and ‘regime changer’, registered her disapproval by failing to turn up for the vote and sending a junior official along instead.
In other words, on all sides the net is closing in on the West’s death squad project in Syria. Turkey’s actions today have merely demonstrated, again, the impotent rage of those who have thrown in their chips with a disastrous and bloody attempt to remake the Middle East. Syria is indeed becoming the Stalingrad of the regime changers – the rock on which the imperial folly of the West and it’s regional imitators may finally be broken.
The NATO attack on a Russian military jet on Tuesday November 24, using the Turkish air force to do its dirty work, is a dangerous act of war against Russia with very dangerous consequences for the world. The murder of one of the pilots, shot by ISIS terrorists while parachuting to the ground, is a war crime for which Turkey and the NATO countries are collectively responsible. President Putin has rightly called it a stab in the back by Turkey, a betrayal that cannot be forgiven and will forever be remembered.
If anyone ever doubted that the joint criminal enterprise called NATO was supporting and directing the terrorist groups in Syria, the same groups, they claim, that conducted the attacks in Paris and on the Russian airliner over Sinai, they now have the proof. Can there be any doubt that this attack on Russian forces in Syria is intended to disrupt the Russian-Syrian campaign against those NATO supported terrorist groups? Can there be any doubt that if they are willing to shoot down one Russian aircraft they are willing to shoot down more? Can there be any doubt that this attack is intended to push Russia to react with counter force against Turkey resulting in a claim by NATO that it is under attack, resulting in a general war?
This attack is intended to both test Russian resolve in Syria and to provoke it into a reaction that will be used to justify further military actions by the Turkish and US military forces against the Russian forces. It was preceded by hysterical claims by NATO leaders that Russia and the Syrian government are the reasons ISIS exists and calling for action against both. It was preceded by the sudden appearance of the refugee crisis in Europe and then the attacks in Sinai and Paris and the constant fear raising alerts in Belgium, Germany, Britain and the United States.
Just days before this attack, Russia was subjected to the sabotage of the electric power lines connecting Crimea with the Ukraine electricity grid that the Kiev regime has not attempted to repair, cutting off power to Crimea at the same time as shelling of the Donbass republics increased, accompanied by a build up of Kiev forces in the region. Who would be surprised if Crimea also found itself subject to further sabotage and then shelling by the Kiev forces pushing Russia on this front as well, to react to defend its territory, again testing its resolve?
The only reaction from the NATO countries on Tuesday was to call an emergency meeting and it has to be asked if they knew this attack was coming since none of the NATO leaders has so far condemned Turkey’s action and it is logical to assume that the order for the attack came from Washington, desperate to save its terrorist proxy forces in Syria from being annihilated by the joint Syrian-Russian campaign against ISIS. No doubt the order was to seek a target of opportunity, bring it down, and see what happens, what Russia will do in response.
Whatever Russia does it will be serious but necessarily measured in order to avoid a general war in the Middle East. But act it will.
The New York Times, the journal that speaks for the American ruling class and intelligence services, on the same day as the shoot down, ran an opinion piece by former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the aggressive John Bolton, who clearly defined the American strategy in Syria and Iraq. He wrote:
“Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity from the post-Ottoman Empire settlement, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq. Also emerging, after years of effort, is a de facto independent Kurdistan. If, in this context, defeating the Islamic State means restoring to power Mr. Assad in Syria and Iran’s puppets in Iraq, that outcome is neither feasible nor desirable. Rather than striving to recreate the post-World War I map, Washington should recognize the new geopolitics. The best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state.”
“Creating an American-led anti-Islamic State alliance instead of Moscow’s proposed coalition will require considerable diplomatic and political effort. American ground combat forces will have to be deployed to provide cohesion and leadership. But this would be necessary to defeat the Islamic State even if the objective were simply to recreate the status quo ante.”
“This Sunni state proposal differs sharply from the vision of the Russian-Iranian axis and its proxies (Hezbollah, Mr. Assad and Tehran-backed Baghdad). Their aim of restoring Iraqi and Syrian governments to their former borders is a goal fundamentally contrary to American, Israeli and friendly Arab state interests. Notions, therefore, of an American-Russian coalition against the Islamic State are as undesirable as they are glib.
In Syria, Moscow wants to dominate the regime (with or without Mr. Assad) and safeguard Russia’s Tartus naval base and its new Latakia air base. Tehran wants a continuing Alawite supremacy, with full protection for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria.
As for Iraq, Russia and Iran want the Sunni territories returned to Baghdad’s control, reinforcing Iran’s regional influence. They may wish for the same in Kurdistan, but they lack the capability there. Sunnis today support the Islamic State for many of the same reasons they once supported Al Qaeda in Iraq — as a bulwark against being ruled by Tehran via Baghdad. Telling these Sunni people that their reward for rising against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq will be to put them back in thrall to Mr. Assad and his ilk, or to Shiite-dominated Baghdad, will simply intensify their support for the jihadists. Why would they switch sides? This is why, after destroying the Islamic State, America should pursue the far-reaching goal of creating a new Sunni state. Though difficult in the near term, over time this is more conducive to regional order and stability.”
So there we have it, the plan by Washington and its dependencies to continue their aggression against Syria and Iraq in order to create a new state serving its interests and wrecking the strategic interests of Russia and Iran. This is a statement of intent to carry out a war of aggression against sovereign states, members of the United Nations, in complete defiance of and contempt for the United Nations Charter, and all international law and humanity. It matters not to them how many innocents are slaughtered in the process. They know no morality, have no conscience.
The shooting down of the Russian jet, the murder of its officers is in the logic of this madness. And how long will it be before a French fighter jet shoots down a Russian jet as well, claiming it was too close to them and further escalating the situation?
Can Russia trust the French after the Mistral Affair, the refusal by the French, to deliver two naval ships bought and paid for by Russia in order to sabotage Russian strategic interests, and after they learned that the French aircraft carrier was already on its way to the region before the Paris attack; giving credence to the strong possibility that the attack in Paris, and the bombing of the Russian airliner, were Gladio style NATO operations with the blame shifted to their assets in ISIS? No one in NATO can be trusted except to commit every crime and to cut every thread that weaves civilization together.
The world watches and waits for the next phase of this war, a war which is developing with breathtaking rapidity into a world war in which all of us will suffer. Hopes for peace in our time have vanished along with the humanity required to achieve it. The anti-NATO, anti-war movement has not developed as we hoped and those who are engaged in the effort now risk arrest and worse as accomplices of ‘terrorism.’ All I can say is prepare yourselves as best you can for what is coming, and try to resist, try to speak out, and try to hold the flame of civilization aloft as long as you can.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes.
The United States says the deadly airstrike that recently destroyed an Afghan hospital in the northern city of Kunduz was the result of a “human error, compounded by process and equipment failures.”
General John Francis Campbell, the US commander in Afghanistan, made the remarks at a press conference in the capital Kabul on Wednesday, further admitting that the US forces took 17 minutes to act after being warned by Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, which was running the hospital in the country.
Campbell described the October 3 air raid on the hospital, packed with patients and medical staff, a “tragic and avoidable accident, caused by human error.”
“At 2.20am an SOF [special operations forces] officer at Bagram [airbase] received a call from MSF advising that their facility was under attack. It took the headquarters and the US special operations commander until 2.37am to realize the fatal mistake. At that time the AC-130 had already ceased firing. The strike lasted for approximately 29 minutes. This is an example of human process error.”
The general was announcing the results of an internal investigation into the incident, which left at least 30 dead.
US forces “did not know the compound was an MSF medical centre,” said Campbell. “They executed from air and did not take appropriate measures to verify the facility was a military target,” he said, adding that “fatigue” and “high operational tempo contributed to this tragedy.”
More questions after US explanation
MSF General Director Christopher Stokes responded to Campbell’s remarks that were accompanied by a 3,000-page US military report.
“The US version of events presented today leaves MSF with more questions than answers. It is shocking that an attack can be carried out when US forces have neither eyes on a target nor access to a no-strike list, and have malfunctioning communications systems,” Stokes said, adding, “It appears that 30 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of people are denied life-saving care in Kunduz simply because the MSF hospital was the closest large building to an open field and ‘roughly matched’ a description of an intended target.”
The MSF official accused the US forces of violation of the rules of war, further reiterating calls for an independent probe into the incident.
“The frightening catalogue of errors outlined today illustrates gross negligence on the part of US forces and violations of the rules of war. The destruction of a protected facility without verifying the target – in this case a functioning hospital full of medical staff and patients – cannot only be dismissed as individual human error or breaches of the US rules of engagement,” Stokes said.“MSF reiterates its call for an independent and impartial investigation into the attack on our hospital in Kunduz. Investigations of this incident cannot be left solely to parties to the conflict in Afghanistan.”