Russophobic rants by some European Union leaders and their willful distortion of events in Syria is a reflection of why the 28-member bloc is careering toward disaster. We are witnessing a crisis of appallingly inept leadership.
German, British and French leaders were among the most hawkish voices at the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels this week, denouncing what they claimed were Russian “war crimes” in Syria and calling for additional economic sanctions on both Moscow and Damascus.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Russian-backed Syrian air strikes were “inhumane and cruel,” while Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May took the “most shrill prize” with her condemnation of Moscow’s “sickening atrocities.”
French President Francois Hollande echoed their calls for the EU to slap more sanctions on Russia – in addition to those the bloc has implemented over the Ukraine conflict.
This came only days after Belgian F-16 fighter jets reportedly killed six civilians in the Aleppo countryside, adding to a catalog of illegal aggression committed in Syria by French, British and American warplanes bombing the country without any legal mandate.
In the end, good sense among certain member states prevailed, and the EU summit concluded without imposing additional punitive measures. As the Financial Times reported: “Italy’s Renzi forces a retreat from new sanctions on Russia… Germany, France and UK rein in demand for fresh EU sanctions over Aleppo bombardment.”
Italy, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Malta and Cyprus were some of the EU members wary of escalating economic and political problems already incurred from loss of trade with Russia over the Ukraine debacle.
Britain’s premier May gave a particularly asinine speech in Brussels. She called for a “robust and united European stance in the face of Russian aggression.” This from the leader of a government currently embroiled in bitter rows over its divorce from the EU.
So, the British leader wants to bequeath even more tension and economic hardship between the people of Europe and Russia, just before she packs up Britain’s membership.
In the Russophobic rousing, European Council President Donald Tusk also excelled. Despite the EU summit rejecting the adoption of more sanctions against Russia over Syria, Tusk was later threatening that such measures remained an option. Tusk had regaled the summit with a list of alleged Russian “misdemeanors” including “air-space violations, disinformation campaigns, cyber-attacks, interference in the EU’s political processes and beyond. Hybrid tools in the Balkans, to developments in the MH17 investigation.”
Then he declared: “Given these examples, it is clear that Russia’s strategy is to weaken the EU.”
Please note that Tusk is supposed to be a leading light for the EU as it negotiates a raft of existential problems, from intractable international trade deals, migration and border disputes, anti-EU political parties, and ongoing economic stagnation for 500 million citizens.
But if Tusk and other EU leaders like Merkel and Hollande can come out with such inane views on Russia, what chance has the bloc got in dealing effectively with other challenging issues? No wonder, EU citizens are losing respect and faith in political leaders when they are seen to be so utterly incompetent and detached from reality.
Yet to make matters even worse, Tusk and his Russophobic ilk turn around and blame the imploding EU crisis on alleged Russian plots to “weaken and divide.”
Just ahead of the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Merkel and Hollande met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Berlin for a conference on the Ukraine crisis. The Kiev regime’s President Petro Poroshenko was also in attendance.
The Berlin meeting did not result in any progress toward resolving the Ukraine dispute. While the German and French leaders wanted to penalize Russia over alleged violations in Syria, they seemed oblivious to hundreds of attacks by Kiev’s armed forces on civilian centers in breakaway eastern Ukraine. The assassination of a military commander in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic last week by suspected Kiev agents has heightened fears of a return to all-out war.
Where are Merkel and Hollande’s condemnations and calls for sanctions on the Kiev authorities whom they patronize with billions of dollars in financial aid and NATO military support?
Also, Merkel, Hollande and Britain’s May have little to say about recorded “cruel, inhumane, sickening” massacres in Yemen committed by the Saudi coalition bombing that country. Their silence no doubt is owing to the fact that their governments sell billions of dollars worth of weapons to the Saudi regime even as it slaughters women and children in Yemen.
And, indeed, let’s talk about Syria and the besieged northern city of Aleppo.
The crimes that European leaders allege against Russia and its Syrian ally are based on unverified claims issued by dubious networks evidently under the control of the anti-government militants. The militants besieging east Aleppo are dominated by head-chopping terrorist groups like the internationally proscribed Jabhat Al-Nusra.
When Russia unilaterally implemented a temporary ceasefire this week in Aleppo, an innovative live-streaming broadcast from the appointed humanitarian corridors proved once again the real nature of the violence.
Civilians trapped in the militant-held areas were shown to be held as “human shields” by the insurgents. While buses and other vehicles were waiting to ferry civilians out of the conflict zone, video footage recorded militants shelling and sniping at the humanitarian aid effort.
Those violations corroborated what citizens in east Aleppo have been saying for a long time – that they are being held against their will by the gunmen. Besieged people are even calling on the Syrian and Russian forces to continue in their operations to break the hostage situation and liberate that part of the city.
All across Syria, hundreds of villages and towns have been liberated by the Syrian army and its Russian allies since Putin ordered his air force to intervene in the stricken country at the end of last year.
One of the recent successes was the town of Qudsaya near the capital Damascus. Last week, thousands of residents rallied in the main square cheering President Bashar Assad, the Syrian army and Russia for their “liberation” after the foreign-backed mercenaries were routed from the town.
The foreign backers of the mercenary army that has plunged Syria into horror since March 2011 – with perhaps half a million dead – include the supposedly leading EU members Britain and France. Hollande is on record for admitting that France supplied weapons to insurgents in Syria as far back as 2012, when the siege of Aleppo began, and in breach of a European arms embargo.
What is going on in Syria is a military victory over a foreign-sponsored terrorist war on that country. Russia’s role in the liberation of Syria is principled and commendable.
Those who should be facing prosecution for war crimes include pious, pompous government leaders, past and present, in London and Paris.
If such prominent EU governments can be so wrong and distorting about something so glaringly obvious as Syria and Russia’s support, then no wonder the EU is in free-fall over so many other pressing matters. With criminally incompetent politicians in power, the EU is a bus with its driver slumped at the wheel.
The Paris Massacre of 40 Algerians on October 17th 1961 – Some were herded into the Seine River, others thrown from bridges
Some 30 000 pro FLN (National Liberation Front) Algerians gathered for a peaceful demonstration in the Streets of Paris. Under orders from the head of the Parisian police, Maurice Papon, the French police attacked the demonstration. The Paris Massacre of 17 October 1961 appears to be intentional. After 37 years of denial the French government admitted the acts, and acknowledged 40 deaths in 1998. Estimates of deaths exceed 200.
Historian Jean-Luc Einaudi won a trial against Maurice Papon in 1999. The latter, according to official documents, seems to have directed the massacre. He assured officers in one station that they would be protected in prosecution if they participated in quelling the demonstration.
The protestors were killed in many different methods. Some were herded into the Seine River, others thrown from bridges after being beaten unconscious. Other still were delivered to the Paris police headquarters after being arrested and killed there.
The estimates of the deaths range between 70 and 200.
A few days after the massacre on 31 October, some anonymous policemen published a text stating:
What happened on 17 October 1961 and in the following days against the peaceful demonstrators, on which no weapons were found, morally forces us to bring our testimony and to alert public opinion… All guilty people must be punished. The punishment must be extended to all of the responsible people, those who give orders, those who feign of letting it happen, whatever their high office may be… Among the thousands of Algerians brought to the Parc des Expositions of the Porte de Versailles, tens were killed by blows from rifle butts and pickaxe handles… In one of the extremity of the Neuilly bridge, groups of policemen on one side, CRS on the other, moved slowly towards each other. All the Algerians captured in this huge trap were knocked out and systematically thrown in the Seine. A good hundred people were subjected to this treatment… [In the Parisian police headquarters], torturers threw their victims by tens in the Seine which flows only a few meters from the courtyard, to keep them from being examined by the forensic scientists. Not before having taken their watches and money. Mr. Papon, prefect of the police, and Mr. Legay, general director of the municipal police, assisted to these horrible scenes… These indisputable facts are only a small part of what has happened in these last days and what continues to happen. They are known by the municipal police. The extortions committed by the harkis, the district special brigades, the brigades des aggressions et violences are not secret any more. The little information given by the newspapers is nothing compared to the truth… We do not sign this text and sincerely regret it. We observe, not without sadness, that the current circumstances do not allow us to do so…”
Putin: Moscow to keep counter sanctions, Clinton chose aggressive stance on Russia to distract from domestic problems
Russian President Vladimir Putin attending BRICS summit in Goa, India © Mihail Metzel / Sputnik
While meeting the media in Goa, southwest India, the Russian president was asked to comment on hot issues such as the US elections, the situation in Ukraine and Syria, and his refusal to visit France, rather than Moscow’s relations with its BRICS partners.
Deteriorating Russia-US relations: ‘It all started from Yugoslavia’
Relations between Moscow and Washington did not deteriorate because of or during the Syrian conflict, Putin said in a remark to a journalist, adding: “Just remember what was going on about Yugoslavia, it all started from there.” The Russian leader said that it’s not about any third side in particular, but relations worsen because “one country” wants to impose its policy and decisions upon the rest of the world.
“We are not against this country, but we oppose that decisions are made on a unilateral basis and are not thought through considering historic, cultural and religious peculiarities of one country or another,” even if there is a conflict within the affected nation, Putin said.
‘Sanctions aim to suppress Russia’s strength’
The US does not accept compromises, which is necessary to solve issues in world politics. Rather, it chooses a “counterproductive” policy of sanctions, Putin said. “Apparently, they don’t want to compromise, they only want to dictate. Such a style has formed over the past 15-20 years in the US, and they still can’t deviate from it,” Putin said, adding that restrictive measures never achieve the aims that those who impose them hope for.
“Regarding sanctions against Russia, whatever they are said to be linked to, be it events in Ukraine or Syria, I assure you, the aims of those who formulate such a policy [of restrictions] do not solve any concrete problem,” Putin told the media. Saying that “sanctions are aimed not at solving anything, but at suppressing Russia’s strengthening” as a robust participant in international affairs, the president said that such intentions against Russia would never be fulfilled.
Moscow, in turn, does not plan to ease its retaliatory measures, caused by western policies, the Russian leader told the journalists in Goa. “No way, they can get lost,” he said.
‘US officials snoop and eavesdrop on everyone’
Russia’s president was not surprised with US Vice President Joe Biden’s recent threats towards Moscow, and said that it’s not the first time Russian-American relations have been “sacrificed” for the sake of a US presidential campaign. “One can expect anything from our American friends. What has he revealed that is new? Don’t we already know that US officials snoop and eavesdrop on everyone,” Putin said, adding that Washington “spends billions of dollars” on its secret services “spying not only on its potential opponents, but on its closest allies as well.”
Russia portrayed as US enemy to divert voters’ attention from domestic problems
Meanwhile, Russia is not going to meddle in the American presidential elections in any way, the president told reporters, adding that Moscow has no idea what could happen after a new US leader is elected. So far Hillary Clinton has chosen “an aggressive stance on Russia,” and Donald Trump has called for cooperation, “at least in fighting terrorism,” but “no one knows what it will be like after the elections,” according to Putin, who said that both candidates might change their rhetoric.
Creating an enemy out of Russia is a means by which to distract attention from domestic problems during election campaign season, according to Putin. “There are many problems [in the US], and in these circumstances, many choose to resort to the tried and tested system of diverting voters’ attention from their own problems. That’s what we are currently witnessing, I think.”
“Portraying Iran and the Iranian nuclear threat as an enemy didn’t work. [Portraying] Russia [as an enemy] seems more interesting. In my opinion, this particular card is now being actively played,” Putin said.
It will be hard to settle the conflict in southeastern Ukraine with President Poroshenko’s propensity to avoid political commitments adhering to the Minsk peace deal, Putin once again warned. Recently, the Ukrainian leader has said that Kiev would not proceed with a political process in the region, as the issue of security has not been solved in the troubled part of the country.
“I think it’s only a pretext to not do anything in the political sphere,” the Russian president said, recalling Kiev’s obligations to amend Ukraine’s constitution, as mentioned in the peace deal. “If it’s not done, it means that the current government are not ready to solve the problem once and for all,” Putin said.
Commenting on future meetings with European partners to discuss the situation in Ukraine, the Russian president said that he had agreed with his French and German counterparts that it would be “viable” to meet only if the leaders’ aides manage to make progress in preparing some preliminary agreements.
On canceled Paris visit: ‘French side refused to take part in joint events’
Moscow is “always ready to talk with anyone,” but attending meetings on issues that have been originally out of the agenda is “senseless,” Putin said, answering a journalist’s question as of why he canceled his Paris visit recently.
“The main reason for my planned visit to France was the opening of our religious and cultural center, and visiting an exhibition of Russian artists. So the main aim of the visit was joint participation [with the French president] in these events. But because of the known Syrian issues the French side decided not to join the events,” Putin said, adding that “if the main reason for the visit dropped out,” there was no reason to go.
An Israeli archaeological expert has asserted that there is no relation between the Western Wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and an ancient Jewish temple, Al Jazeera reported today. This will likely serve to undermine Israeli excavations of the site.
Meir Ben-Dov, an Israeli archaeological expert who is author of many books about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, further asserted that the Wailing Wall, the Jewish name for the Western Wall, has no sacred significance in the Jewish faith.
In related news, UNESCO members are expected to vote on a resolution that denies Jewish links to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall, known as the Buraq Wall to Muslims, agencies reported on Thursday.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that the resolution is expected to pass by a large majority, referring this to the inability of Israeli lobbying to persuade UNESCO members not to support the resolution.
“Israel has made efforts to block the resolution or at least soften it, but succeeded only in swaying the positions of a few member states,” Haaretz stated.
The Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Sudan pushed the draft resolution forward that declares that Jerusalem is holy for all the three Abrahamic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The draft also includes a section that stresses that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is sacred only for the Muslims, referring to it as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, or the Sacred Sanctuary.
In April, UNESCO’s executive board ratified a similar resolution, which was supported by a number of European countries, including France.
However, after a “harsh” telephone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Francois Hollande, France promised not to support any such resolution in the future.
French troops engage in joint drills with Saudi forces on the outskirts of the northeastern French city of Lille (Photo by alsharq.net.sa)
Special Forces units with the Saudi and French armies have partaken in joint military drills in France.
The exercise engaged the Royal Saudi Land Forces’ crack unit brigade and its French counterpart in the town of Meer, London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Citing the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA ), the paper said the maneuvers had started last week.
The news comes only three days after the kingdom’s navy finished 10 days of live-fire military exercises in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.
The seaborne drills involved warships, speedboats, marines and special forces in the strategic waters.
The SPA alleged that the maneuvers sought to test combat readiness “in preparation for the protection of the marine interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any possible aggression.”
France is known for its close relations with Saudi Arabia. The two sides have been seeking to boost their military ties in recent months.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom’s defense minister and most powerful figure after the monarch, has twice traveled to France since 2015.
During Salman’s visit to France last June, Paris and Riyadh reportedly sealed military deals worth up to USD 12 billion for the delivery of modern weaponry to the Arab kingdom amid Riyadh’s deadly military campaign against Yemen.
The prince paid another visit to France in July this year, in what was widely seen as an attempt to finalize the agreements reached with Paris the previous year.
Last year, the Paris government raised controversy by closing off a French beach for a visit by Saudi King Salman.
The attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy near the Syrian city of Aleppo last month, which Washington has blamed on Russia, was actually carried out by one of the terrorist groups present in the area, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.
“It was one of the terrorist groups. And we know that, say, the Americans know it too, but prefer to take a different position, to falsely accuse Russia. This is not helping,” Putin said at an economic forum in Moscow.
The aid convoy was attacked on the night of September 20. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported 20 civilians killed and 18 vehicles destroyed.
The Pentagon alleged that the convoy was destroyed from the air and that Russian warplanes were present in the area, concluding that it was a Russian strike that was responsible.
Russia denied the accusation and said a US drone was monitoring the convoy, so Washington should know the truth about the attack.
Putin also commented on the disagreement at the UN Security Council that eventually led to the cancellation of his visit to France. Paris indicated that it wouldn’t be comfortable hosting the Russian leader after Moscow blocked a resolution it had submitted.
“It’s not our partners who should take offense over us vetoing the French resolution. I’d say we are the offended party here,” Putin said.
He said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault had raised the idea of the resolution when he visited Moscow last week. Ayrault was told the draft pinned too much blame for the Aleppo violence on the Syrian government, but that if France made some amendments, the document could still pass.
However, as Ayrault visited Washington on the eve of the UNSC meeting, no changes were made to the draft and France also “accused Russia of all the deadly sins,” Putin said.
“Knowing our position, and not discussing it with us, they didn’t chuck in the resolution so it would pass, but [did it] to get the veto. What for? To exacerbate the situation and to whip up anti-Russian hysteria in media under their control, and to deceive their own citizens,” he added.
The situation in Syria will be discussed on Saturday in Lausanne, Switzerland, where top diplomats from the US, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are to gather for a meeting.
France will build 32 new jails and one detention center to deal with overcrowding, largely fueled by mass arrests from counterterrorism operations.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls also said France would build 28 rehabilitation centers, reconstruct 12 prisons and build 16 more. The country’s prison population has soared to over 10,000 past capacity—at 140 percent overpopulation in some places—, disproportionately occupied by Muslims.
“In the 10 years to come, … you will see our prisons change,” said Valls. “You will see the carceral world evolve.”
Valls will spend about US$1.3 billion in the first phase to build nine prisons, using an elevated budget for the ministry of justice—up nine percent—allocated to counterterrorism. Once the ministry builds between 10,000 and 16,000 new cells, it will have spent up to US$3.5 billion.
Currently, prisoners sleep on floors and in cramped, rundown cells, drawing the attention of the European Union’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture to cite over a dozen institutions, including ones for “radicalized” prisoners, for the “deprivation of liberty.”
An EU report last year found, among other violations, “no complete compartmentalization of sanitary facilities, lack of heating, … mattresses on the ground, lack of privacy and risks of conflict within cells, greater shortage of access to work and activities; reduced possibilities of dialogue and care on the part of prison officers, reduced possibilities of relations (telephone, visiting room sessions) with the outside, deterioration of working conditions of staff, etc.”
While Valls said that “these conditions are not worthy for France,” he said nothing about slowing the pace of incarceration or expanding alternative forms of punishment.
For nearly six years, Washington and its allies have gotten away with playing a cynical double game in Syria’s war. But now the mask is slipping to reveal the ugly face of Western involvement – it is openly siding with terrorists.
Russia was correct to veto a French-sponsored draft resolution at the UN Security Council this weekend. Along with American and British vigorous support, the French proposal centered on halting military flights over the besieged northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
As Russia’s foreign ministry commented, the French initiative was tantamount to giving air cover for insurgents dominated by the internationally proscribed terrorist group Jabhat al Nusra. In short, a no-fly zone protecting terrorists would have been imposed in violation of Syrian sovereign rights, as well as international law.
An alternative draft resolution put forward by Russia was subsequently nixed by the US, Britain and France. The Russian proposal was aimed at reviving the ceasefire arrangement declared last month by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It reiterated the need for anti-government militants to dissociate from the proscribed terrorist groups affiliated with al Qaeda, including al Nusra and Daesh (ISIS).
Russia is calling for a general ceasefire, but it does not specify the condition of halting military flights over Aleppo.
If France and its Western allies were genuine about wanting to stop the violence, then why don’t they get behind the Kerry-Lavrov deal? They have evidently abandoned that ceasefire arrangement because it was exposing Western claims about supporting “moderate rebels” as distinct from “extremists” as a fallacy.
That the Kerry-Lavrov truce was immediately violated by the insurgents and that there was no separation of “moderates” and “extremists” showed once and for all that Western claims of supporting “legitimate rebels” are a farce. Washington, London and Paris are patently backing a terrorist army fighting for their objective of regime change in Syria.
Since Syria and its Russian ally resumed offensive operations to take the key battleground city of Aleppo on September 22, the Western sponsors of the terror proxies have become increasingly shrill in a media campaign to thwart that offensive.
America, Britain and France have decried “war crimes” allegedly committed by Syrian and Russian air strikes. John Kerry, ahead of the weekend spat at the UN, called for a probe into suspected war crimes attributed to Russia.
Western media have been saturated with unverified reports from the militant-held eastern Aleppo purporting to show Syrian and Russian air strikes on civilian centers, including hospitals. Much of the information coming out of eastern Aleppo is sourced from Western-funded“activists” who are embedded with the Nusra terrorists. Tellingly, Western media and governments are in effect peddling what is terrorist propaganda.
The Russian and Syrian governments deny Western claims. They say their military operations are targeting terrorist groups that are deliberately using the 250,000 civilian population in east Aleppo as human shields.
It is significant that the more the Syrian army and its allies among Iranian, Lebanese and Iraqi militia, as well as Russian air support, make advances to retake Aleppo, the more hysterical Western governments and media become about “war crimes”.
If we start from the premise that the conflict in Syria has from the outset been a Western-orchestrated covert war for regime change involving the sponsoring of a terrorist mercenary army, then the Western hysteria over Aleppo is perfectly understandable.
A defeat for the insurgents in Aleppo means the end of the Western criminal enterprise to install a pro-Western puppet regime in Syria. That would mark a historic blow to the prestige of Washington and its European allies in the Middle East. It would also further expose their criminal complicity.
By contrast, Russian influence in the strategic region would be elevated. And for good reasons too. Moscow will be seen as having stood by a sovereign nation to vanquish Western powers who have wreaked havoc in the region with illegal wars and regime-change subterfuges.
Given the high stakes, this is why Western powers are evidently becoming more desperate to impede Syrian and Russian military success against the insurgents. Western emotive denunciations against Syria and Russia have nothing to do with concern for human suffering. It is all about contriving a moralistic political pressure to hamper the campaign against the West’s terrorist project.
Seen in this context, French calls at the UN for a no-fly zone around Aleppo is a startling admission by the Western powers that they are trying to protect terrorist al Qaeda-affiliated organizations. It is a stunning revelation of the fraudulent and criminal nature of Western governments. Their claims of “fighting terrorism” which have justified overseas wars over the past 15 years are self-evidently bogus. Their claims of supporting a “pro-democracy uprising” in Syria are grotesque.
This giant fraud has, of course, been made possible because Western media corporations have gone along with the vile charade. These media organizations are equally complicit. Giving succor to war crimes is in itself a war crime, as international attorney Christoper Black points out.
Meanwhile, away from Aleppo and the Western distortion of what is happening there, the alternative media report that the US-led military coalition is destroying bridges on the Euphrates in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor.
According to the Syrian Free Press and others, American air strikes have demolished seven major river crossings over the past week. The latest strike was on the al Syasia bridge north of the city of Deir ez-Zor, the largest bridge in the province.
Targeting civilian infrastructure is a war crime. It will prevent humanitarian aid convoys reaching civilians in government-held Deir ez-Zor. But more significantly, the US, French and British coalition – which is operating illegally in Syria in the first place – is working to block the Syrian army and Russian offensive against the Daesh terror stronghold of Raqqa. The bridges knocked out were providing key linkages for the Syrian and Russian forces from Deir ez-Zor towards Raqqa.
The US-led air strikes also give full meaning to the deadly American attack on the Syrian army base at Deir ez-Zor on September 17. Over 60 Syrian troops and nearly 200 more were wounded when US, British and Australian warplanes blasted the base in a sustained attack. Washington claimed it was an “accident”.
But to many other observers, the massacre was no accident. It was a deliberate assault by the Western coalition to end the Kerry-Lavrov pact because the failing ceasefire was exposing the systematic terror connections of the Western governments in Syria.
Washington and its allies are not just trying to give air cover to the terrorists in Syria indirectly by setting up so-called no-fly zones. They are evidently now giving the terrorists air fire-power.
As in the NATO regime-change war in Libya in 2011, the Americans, French and British are riding shotgun in the air for terrorists on the ground.
And the truly disgusting thing about this criminal collusion is that the Western powers claim to be concerned about international law, war crimes and human suffering.
Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin said on Sunday that Moscow hopes to continue working with the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to end the conflict in Syria.
“I want to assure you that very difficult work continues both in multilateral and bilateral formats, and we still hope that the situation in Syria will be normalized, and that it will have a very favorable effect on the state of affairs in east Aleppo. We hope that this will happen as soon as possible,” Churkin said in a response to fears voiced that the ISSG may be collapsing.
Churkin’s statement came just hours after Russia vetoed down a French-proposed UN resolution on Syria, saying that it would empower Islamist rebels such as Al-Qaeda groups in Aleppo and give them freedom of movement.
The French draft had called for a complete end to aerial bombardment and oveflights of Russian and Syrian war craft over Aleppo.
China abstained on voting on this resolution.
The Russian Foreign Ministry strongly criticized the wording of the French draft.
“The text (of the resolution) indulged by Washington and submitted (to the UN Security Council) immediately after the United States had refused to implement the Russian-US agreements on the Syria settlement, has grossly distorted the actual state of affairs and was of a politicized, unbalanced and one-sided nature,” it said in a statement.
A Russian counter resolution, which the Kremlin says was an attempt to compromise and avoid splitting the 15-member body, was also rejected in the Security Council.
The UK ambassador to the UN criticized Russia’s veto. Matthew Rycroft said that it appeared Russia preferred to allow the misery of Aleppo civilians to continue.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault worked up his frequent-flyer air miles account this week with consecutive flights to Moscow then to Washington in a bid to push through a UN Security Resolution for a new ceasefire in Syria.
Ayrault began his shuttle diplomacy with stern condemnation of the Syrian government for what he said were «war crimes» committed in the besieged city of Aleppo. The French minister also implied Russian complicity in the same alleged crimes. It wasn’t the first time he made such accusations against Russia and its Syrian ally.
When the ceasefire brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov broke down at the end of last month, it was Ayrault who led vociferous denunciations at the UN, along with American UN ambassador Samantha Power, blaming Russia for «barbarous crimes against humanity».
This week on his way to Moscow, Ayrault accused Russia of «cynicism that is fooling nobody» in reference to the renewed Russian-backed offensive by Syrian state forces to recapture the militant-held eastern quarter of Aleppo. That part of the city housing about 250,000 people has been under the control of various Islamist militants dominated by the terrorist group Al Nusra Front since 2012.
France, the US and Britain, amplified by the Western news media, have been conducting a relentless campaign to portray the Russian-backed Syrian operation on Aleppo as criminal and brutally injurious to the civilian population. Since the ceasefire collapsed during the last week of September, the Western media have been saturated with unverified claims of Russian air strikes killing civilians in eastern Aleppo and of targeting hospitals and humanitarian aid facilities.
France 24, the state-owned broadcaster of Ayrault’s country, never gives any reports from the Syrian government-held quarters of Aleppo where the majority of citizens – some 1.5 million – are residing. These areas are routinely shelled by the militants, with hundreds of victims over the past few weeks. Yet, France 24 and the other Western media outlets appear to operate on the basis that the majority of Aleppo’s population simply does not exist.
Nor do the Western media report that the majority of Aleppo’s civilians are willingly residing in the government-held districts out of seeking protection from the Islamist militants. Moreover, neither is it reported that the mainstay of the 250,000 civilians in eastern Aleppo are being held there against their will by the militants as hostages, or human shields. They can’t flee out of fear that remaining family relatives will be murdered in retribution.
The evidently selective humanitarian concern expressed by the French foreign minister and his Western counterparts for the people of Aleppo begins to alert one of a more nuanced – dare we say cynical – agenda.
Claims of Russian and Syrian «war crimes» made by Ayrault and other Western officials are based on «rebel sources» within besieged eastern Aleppo. One of the primary sources is the so-called «volunteer aid» group known as the White Helmets. Video footage purporting to show the aftermath of Russian air strikes is routinely aired by France 24 and other Western channels with the White Helmets logo displayed. It is presented as a bona fide humanitarian agency, when it fact the group is funded by US and British governments to the tune of $23 million and is embedded with the Al Nusra terrorist-controlled Aleppo Media Center. In short, a terrorist propaganda outlet, which serves to feed Western media and government ministers with disinformation that is purveyed to the Western public in order to discredit and demonize Syria and Russian forces.
French diplomats told Reuters this week that France is drafting its proposed resolution to the UN Security Council in such a way that Russia would have to exercise its veto if it is to block it. In that way, the French purpose is to project Russia as an unreasonable member of the Security Council and a stalwart backer of the Syrian «regime». This amounts to more cynical Western attempts to traduce Russia and Syria as the perpetrators for the ongoing violence.
Russia is unlikely to support the French-sponsored resolution because the resolution is impossibly one-sided and belies a political objective of undermining Syria and Russia. France is calling for an immediate cessation of fighting in Aleppo, including no military flights over the city; and, secondly, for the complete humanitarian aid access to eastern Aleppo.
This French initiative – under the guise of urgent humanitarianism – is a de facto «no fly zone» that will bolster the fighting capability of the anti-government insurgents, which, as noted, are dominated by al-Qaeda-affiliated terror groups.
When Russia and Syrian forces agreed to the ceasefire declared earlier on September 12, they did so on the strict condition that militants not associating with terrorist brigades would henceforth separate physical units. But no such separation occurred, as many observers had predicted, because Western government claims of «moderate rebels» being interspersed with «extremists» are nothing but a cynical charade. All these militants belong to the same terrorist front which Western governments have been arming in a covert war for regime change against President Bashar al-Assad – a longtime ally of Russia and Iran.
The only parties to respect the ceasefire called by Kerry and Lavrov last month were the Syrian army and its allies among the Iranian and Hezbollah militias, as well as the Russian air force. The foreign-backed militants continued to carry out hundreds of breaches of the truce, while also using the initial reduction of operations by the Syrian and Russian forces as an opportunity to regroup and rearm.
What French minister Ayrault is calling for in a renewed ceasefire this week is merely a repeat of the previous one – this time without even a pretense that the terrorists might separate into «moderates» and «extremists».
French and Western anxiety to implement some kind of cessation around Aleppo is correlated with the increasingly desperate, losing situation for the regime-change insurgents. Aleppo is a key battleground. If the Syrian and Russian forces manage to vanquish this bastion for the militants then the six-year war in Syria will be over.
The Western sponsors of the covert war in Syria stand to incur a huge strategic defeat. It should be also noted that 66-year-old Jean-Marc Ayrault was previously French prime minister back in 2012, at the very time that France was beginning to covertly supply weapons to illegally armed groups in Syria – in contravention of a European Union embargo.
This is why Ayrault and his American and British allies are now assiduously piling the political pressure on Russia to desist from its offensive in Syria. The Western sponsors are desperately trying to salvage their proxy assets on the ground and to salvage their criminal regime-change project – using the language and emotion of humanitarian concern and legal niceties.
You can’t get much more cynical than that. Now Monsieur Ayrault, just who is accusing who of what?
Another day; another terrorist attack: it seems that every day I wake up at the minute there is a new terrorist attack that has shook the European continent, with France being the scene of frequent attacks over the past 19 months. The most recent attack in France (at the time of writing anyway) was on a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, reportedly carried out by two so-called Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.
One of the assailants is believed to be Adel Kermiche, an individual who was well known to the French authorities. Kermiche was being monitored by police and was wearing an electronic tag at the time of attack, after being arrested twice last year trying to reach Syria to fight for ISIS. The second attacker is reported to be 19-year-old Abdel Malik Petitjean, an individual who was also known to French authorities and was on a terror watch list after trying to enter Syria via Turkey in June.
This came shortly after the Nice attack on the 14th of July, when a truck was driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 84 people and injuring over 300. The attack was reportedly carried out by Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian-born delivery driver who was living in France, with ISIS claiming responsibility for the attack. Similar to many other purported terrorist attackers, Bouhlel was shot dead by police before any questions could be asked. Multiple other individuals have also been arrested in relation to the incident.
More to the Official Story?
With the frequency of terror attacks in Europe, there is often a temptation by many who claim to be in the independent media not to ask logical questions and challenge the official narrative in relation to these incidents. There are multiple suspicious elements regarding the official narrative of the Nice attack, which deserve to be highlighted for those interested in uncovering the truth.
As Paul Craig Roberts has reported, the French anti-terrorist police have ordered the authorities in Nice to delete the CCTV footage which recorded the attack. This of course raises some serious questions about what the anti-terrorist police are trying to cover up, and why they are pressuring the authorities to memory-hole such crucial evidence. Roberts has also raised questions regarding the lack of blood in many of the photos of the supposed attack.
Secondly, the officer in charge of Nice’s CCTV control room at the time of the incident, Sandra Bertin, recently revealed that she was “harassed” by an official from the Interior Ministry to alter her report on the attack by adding in the presence of local and national police at the scene. According to Bertin, the official “ordered” her “to put in (the report) the specific positions of the national police” that she “had not seen on the screen.” Did the police have prior knowledge of the attack? Is that why they weren’t at the scene?
Thirdly, the cousin of Bouhlel’s ex-wife has revealed that the reported attacker drank alcohol, ate pork, took drugs and didn’t pray – all strange things for a supposed Muslim extremist to do. Bouhlel also suffered from depression and has had a history of mental health problems. If Bouhlel doesn’t sound like a patsy to you, I don’t know who does.
The fourth suspicious element of the attack was the timing. France has been in a state of emergency since the Paris attacks of November, 2015, with armed troops patrolling the streets. On the 21st of July, French lawmakers voted to extend the state of emergency until the end of January, 2017 – with the emergency powers including giving the authorities the ability to conduct searches without a court authorization, in addition to increasing digital surveillance of phones and computers.
Interestingly, the French President, François Hollande, had planned to lift the state of emergency on the 26th of July. With the Nice attack on the 14th however, the government had no problems passing the extension, with the recent attack on the church ensuring there would be no questions raised on the excessive powers given to the government.
Supporting Terror Externally; Produces Terror Internally
France has played a pivotal role in the destabilization of Syria, through their support for the Syrian rebels who are comprised of extremists and terrorists. Hollande admitted that France delivered weapons – including cannons, machine guns, rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles – to the opposition in 2012. France has also been funding the rebels in Syria, delivering vast amounts of cash that is then used to buy weapons and ammunition.
Hollande has been a vocal proponent of overthrowing Bashar al-Assad, stating as recently as September of last year that “Assad is the origin of this problem, and cannot be part of the solution.” Imagine if Assad had been overthrown at the end of 2015, Syria would be completely handed over to ISIS and other similar terrorist forces, exacerbating the threat for terrorism and the refugee problem even more.
If France (and the wider West) had not pumped arms and money into the Syrian opposition, there is no chance that ISIS would be at the level it is (supposedly) at today. The wave of terror that has hit Europe is a direct result of Western foreign policy, with the 19 months of terror in France starting with an attack carried out by terrorists who had just returned from fighting in Syria. That is even if we accept the official story on Charlie Hebdo, considering the fact that one of the police commissioners involved in investigating the attacks suspiciously committed suicide shortly before his report was going to be released on the incident.
Suicidal Policies of the French State
France’s involvement in funding and arming terrorists in Syria is particularly suicidal for the country, considering the fact that France has a large Muslim population, high rates of unemployment in predominately Muslim areas, increasing levels of discrimination against Muslims, in addition to hardly having a shortage of people with a deep hatred of France’s colonial past. Even if we accept (for a moment) the official story of all the terror attacks on French soil in the last 19 months, the government has created the perfect climate for young, disenfranchised men to be radicalized by a group that France helped to empower in the first place.
With the emergency powers extended into 2017, France could very possibly be in a state of emergency up until the presidential election in April and May of 2017. Is there a chance that the election could be delayed if (or when) more terror attacks take place in the country? Will the spate of terror attacks increase the chances that Marine Le Pen will win the election? Is France really on the brink of civil war? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: any semblance of liberté is increasingly becoming impossible to find in France.
It is hard to imagine a more resilient, more heroic nation than Syria!
With only 17 million inhabitants (according to the 2014 estimate), Syria is now facing the mightiest coalition on Earth – a coalition that consists of virtually all traditional Western colonialist and neo-colonialist nations.
It is also facing some of the cruelest and deadliest inventions of the West – the extremist and murderous post- and pseudo-Islamic groupings, similar to those that were already unleashed against the Soviet Union during the war in Afghanistan.
Because of the tremendous determination of its people, Syria is still standing! But it is standing against all odds. Its Golan Heights are illegally occupied by Israel, its borders constantly violated by the Turkish military, and by the West’s ‘special forces’ and air force.
Syria’s “political opposition” was created, then groomed and financed by the United States and Europe, in the style of “Color Revolutions”, as has happened in all other socialist countries that the West has been trying to destabilize and return under its deadly rule. Millions of Syrian people have been, during the last six deadly years, terrorized, slaughtered and intimidated by jihadi cadres, implanted by the West and its regional allies: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Israel and others.
It is a terrible and uneven fight! Some of the greatest historical cities on Earth, like Aleppo and Palmira, now lie in ruins and ashes. What the European Christian crusaders failed to fully destroy, is now collapsing under the imperialist onslaught. Like everywhere else on Earth, everything that dares to struggle against Western colonialism is being consistently devastated and burned. Almost everyone who resists is mercilessly slaughtered. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian people have already lost their lives. And with each new day, the awful count is rising.
But Syria is standing!
5 million Syrian people have already been forced to leave their country. Now they are being scattered all over the Middle East: throughout Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey. Some have even gone as far as Europe, Canada and Chile.
How much more can one country endure?
And how can the rest of the world just stand by and watch as it is put through hell?
The answer is obvious: the rest of the world does not know; it does not understand! The propaganda coming out of the Western mass media outlets and indoctrination-spreading institutions is so thorough, so professional, that to most people all over the world everything related to Syria appears to be blurry, murky, and incredibly complex. President al-Assad is demonized on a daily basis. Heroic resistance is called the “regime’s brutal actions”, pro-western terror groups are described as “moderate opposition.”
In reality, Syria is suffering because it is refusing to kneel; because it is unwilling to prostitute itself; because it will never beg its torturers to stop, allowing them to grab everything above and under the surface.
The Empire never forgives disobedience. Its fundamentalist terror methods are the most brutal ever invented and implemented on Earth.
All around Syria, countries already lie in ashes. The Middle East hardly exists, anymore. And most of the Syrian people understand: it is perhaps better to die standing, than to live in shackles, on one’s knees, controlled by the kleptomaniacal Western colonialist states!
The more terrible the terror that the West is spreading worldwide in general and in this part of the world in particular, the more vicious its vitriolic propaganda is, the brainwashing indoctrination that flows incessantly from London, New York and Paris.
If one watches the BBC, there is no hint of objectivity left, anymore. The ranks are closed and the West is united in its final drive to discredit absolutely everything that is still fighting for survival, against its global terrorist exploits.
President al-Assad of Syria, the heroic Syrian army and the closest Syria’s allies – Russia and Iran – are being relentlessly demonized, as if it were them who began that monstrous war! And Hezbollah, which is fighting countless epic battles against the ISIS, sits firmly on the West’s terrorist list.
Everything seems to be twisted and perverted, upside down.
But what really should one expect from the expansionist hordes, from the bastions of imperialism? Or has the British (or French) propaganda been any different, when their colonialist countries have for centuries been grabbing and devastating countless foreign states and territories, slaughtering hundreds of millions of innocent people? Wasn’t anyone who resisted Western conquest always thoroughly ridiculed and demonized?
Countries like UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Portugal and others, have centuries of experience in how to humiliate victims, how to justify their own heinous acts, how to brainwash their own populations and even some of their victims! And the United States, the direct product of Europe, its muscular offspring, is just using the same, only a bit more vulgar, propaganda tactics.
Nothing rational and objective can be expected from the people of Europe or North America, anymore. Except for a few of those insignificant protests and rebellious acts, the Western population is in a total slumber, indifferent towards the horrors that are being administered by its regime all over the globe. There is hardly any pressure to stop acts of terror against Syria. The only thing that seems to matter to Europeans is how to stop the flow of refugees from the devastated countries.
What a shame! What a thorough shame, people of Europe and North America! Your regime is murdering millions, in one country after another, and you are not even capable of recognizing what goes on… instead you are blaming the victims and those rushing to their rescue!
Now your biggest enemy is Russia. Because Russia (same as China) is clearly unwilling to dance to your fatal tune! Because Russia, for many decades, stood by almost all oppressed countries, and supported the de-colonization of the world, in all of its corners. Like China, Cuba and North Korea have always done.
Russia is now defending Syria. Not because it needs natural resources, not because it wants to plunder. It is doing so simply because it is right thing to do. It does it because if the world is abandoned fully to Western imperialism, there will actually soon be no world at all, or at least there will be no world worth inhabiting!
“Our country is a socialist country. For us it’s more important to consider the benefits to the entire nation than to particular individuals. I have spent more than 50 years dedicating my life to education, which is the backbone of our country, especially now… Sometimes I feel like quitting my job and returning to teaching at Damascus University, but I know that I am still needed where I am now,” I was told by Dr. Farah Motlak, Deputy Minister of Education of the Syrian Arab Republic.
We met in Cairo, Egypt, at a regional conference. I asked him about the Western propaganda against his country. He replied, shaking his head:
“I am not even angry… I am just endlessly sad. The media attacks; the propaganda that is pouring from the West is clearly designed to destroy our country. But we have hope, and we will continue our struggle.”
The international meetings and conferences clearly show how divided even the Arab world is itself. Syria is a symbol. To some, it is a symbol of resilience, of heroism. To others, mainly to those who are funded and consequently conditioned by the West, it represents everything that is evil.
But Egypt itself (where I’m writing this essay), just three years after the pro-Western military coup, is in ruins. Economically it has become a basket case. It is completely devastated, socially.
Of course its destruction is on a “lighter scale”, compared to Iraq, Libya or Yemen. But it is still bad enough: during the coup in 2013, at least 1,000 but most likely 2,000 people were murdered by the junta, while tens of thousands were injured. An estimated 10,000 people are now in prisons all over the country; most of them in terrible conditions; many are being tortured, women prisoners are habitually raped.
“The counter revolution has triumphed,” explained Dr. Mohammed Shafik, a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Movement. “All opposition parties and organizations have been squashed. Thousands of revolutionaries have been imprisoned; hundreds executed by court orders or liquidated by the police… Neoliberalism is taking hold… people are suffering.”
But Western propaganda shows no appetite for criticizing the Egyptian military junta. It is, after all, essentially pro-Western; it is capitalist and to a great extent it is submissive to the Empire and to its allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.
As with almost all ‘client’ states of the West, Egypt will never be able to truly improve the lives of the majority of its citizens. The country is already stuck deeply and has been, for decades, in a perpetual social slumber. Those benefiting from the situation are the Western powers and their regional allies, as well as the servile Egyptian elites and the grotesquely colossal, omnipotent military.
If Syria were to surrender, the Egyptian scenario would be ‘the best’ it could hope for. But most likely, it would meet the terrible fate of Iraq or Libya.
62 Syrian soldiers were reported killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on the Syrian military base Deir el-Zour, on September 17, in Eastern Syria.
The planes destroyed the base housing soldiers that were involved in a battle with ISIS. Almost immediately, the ISIS took over the hill and the area, in what appeared to be a clearly coordinated operation between the West and the “Islamic State”, against the Syrian government forces.
A few days later, a humanitarian convoy was hit near the city of Aleppo. Without presenting any evidence, the West immediately pointed a finger at the Syrian government and Russia. But the Russian Ministry of Defense released images of a US predator drone operating in the area during the attack, and called for a thorough investigation.
The war goes on. The suffering of Syrian people continues.
There is one simple point that is being constantly overlooked by the West:
The legitimate government of Syria invited Russia, its close ally. It asked Moscow for help, to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups implanted by the West and its allies.
Nobody invited the West!
Or perhaps those groups that the West itself created and supported inside Syria invited it?
Both Syrian government forces and Russia are fighting brutal foreign invaders who are attempting to destroy one of the oldest nations on Earth and take control over the entire Middle East.
Syria is at the frontline of the battle against Western imperialism. And so is Russia. And also Iran, while China is joining!
The sacrifice made by the Syrian people is tremendous. But against all odds, the deadly advance of the imperialists may be stopped here, after all.
As I wrote earlier, the price may be terrible. Aleppo is turning into the Middle-Eastern Stalingrad. But the heroic Syrian nation has made its choice: it will fight brutal and barbaric invaders, as it fought the crusaders under the leadership of great Sultan Saladin.
The alternative would be slavery, something unacceptable for the Syrian people!