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Lebanese Hezbollah leader says Israel not able to wage new war on Lebanon

Press TV – August 13, 2017

The Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement says Israel is not able to launch a new war on Lebanon, because it knows that Hezbollah is much more powerful than 2006 and any such war would cost Tel Aviv dearly.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made the remarks in a speech on the anniversary of Israel’s defeat in the 33-day military onslaught against Lebanon back in the summer of 2006.

During his speech, Nasrallah noted that the main reason behind the victory of Hezbollah fighters in the war with Israel was their patience, steadfastness, valor and faith.

Stressing the rise in Hezbollah’s power since the war in 2006, Nasrallah noted that the resistance group is ready to counter any further act of aggression, warning that in case of new Israeli aggression, Israel will face a 100 times tougher response than the one its forces saw during the 2006 war.

Nasrallah added that Israeli analysts were still analyzing the results of that war, because it destroyed their self-confidence and they have admitted to their defeat in the summer war in 2006.

Everything that Israelis say about the power of Hezbollah is because of their defeat in summer 2006 war, Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah chief stated that Israelis wanted to destroy Hezbollah, but after 11 years, they say Hezbollah has become stronger and more powerful and this shows that they have failed to achieve the goals they pursued through 2006 war.

Elsewhere in his speech, Nasrallah explained that Hezbollah only fights outside the Lebanese borders and will not use force in domestic developments of the country.

He added that in return for its victories, Hezbollah does not seek personal, party, or tribal interests, noting that today, the resistance movement is more powerful than ever and the enemy has reached the conclusion that any new aggression against Lebanon will be very costly.

Rejecting any chance of a new Israeli aggression against Lebanon, Nasrallah noted that the time of toying with Lebanon is over and Israelis themselves have owned up to the high cost of such a war and have said that war with Lebanon should not take place.

They wanted to crush the resistance in 2006 war, but they failed to achieve this goal, Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah chief added that not only Israel, but all those parties which seek to crush Hezbollah at the present time will fail to achieve this goal.

Nasrallah said that due to its inability to wage new war on Lebanon, Israel wants to collectively punish the entire Lebanese nation, and it is putting high pressure on the administration of US President Donald Trump, but they will fail to achieve anything as in the past.

About 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, lost their lives during Israel’s 33-day war on Lebanon back in the summer of 2006.

According to the 629-page Winograd Report by the Israeli regime itself, Hezbollah fighters involved in defending Lebanon against the Israeli war defeated the enemy and Tel Aviv was compelled to withdraw without having achieved any of its objectives.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the 2006 war, calls on Israel to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Manar television network on Jul 14, head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Sayyed Hashem Safieddine stated that the resistance movement will “surprise” Israel in any future war, relying on its enhanced military capabilities.

Safieddine stressed that Hezbollah has been changing and developing new military capabilities, and Israeli reports on Hezbollah’s weaponry are “inaccurate as the enemy intelligence agencies can never reach veracious data in this context.”

August 13, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Fateh al-Sham terrorist group releases three Hezbollah captives

Press TV – August 2, 2017

Three members of the Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement have been set free by the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group in exchange of three of its members.

The Hezbollah fighters arrived in Lebanon late on Tuesday as part of a ceasefire agreement between both parties last week.

The first stage of the ceasefire, brokered by the national police and security force of Lebanon – Internal Security Forces Directorate, took effect on Sunday as both sides exchanged the bodies of fighters killed in clashes between them.

The truce was agreed after Hezbollah fighters dealt a heavy blow to the militants in Lebanon’s rugged Arsal region bordering Syria. At least 150 militants of the Takfiri group were killed in the Hezbollah operation aimed at preventing the spillover of the Syria war.

The ceasefire agreement involves the departure of all militants of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group from the region around Arsal along with any of the civilians, living in Arsal’s refugee camps, who wish to leave the border zone with them.

Hezbollah launched a major push on July 21 to clear both sides of Lebanon’s border with Syria of “armed terrorists.”

In August 2014, the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh terrorist groups overran Lebanon’s northeastern border town of Arsal , killing a number of Lebanese forces. They took 30 soldiers hostage, most of whom have been released.

Since then, Hezbollah and the Lebanese military have been defending Lebanon on the country’s northeastern border.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia wades into Shi’ite politics in Iraq

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | August 1, 2017

The dramatic appearance of the Iraqi Shi’ite firebrand politician Muqtada Al-Sadr in Jeddah on Sunday and his meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opens an exciting page in the Saudi-Iranian regional rivalries. The theatre is shifting to Iraq.

Briefly, what is unfolding is a determined Saudi attempt to reset the power calculus in post-ISIS Iraq by moulding a new political alignment that principally aims at undermining the pre-eminent influence that Iran has enjoyed over its neighbour in the past decade or so following the Shi’ite empowerment in the downstream of the US invasion of 2003.

Iran’s main platform on the Iraqi political landscape has been the umbrella Shi’ite coalition known as the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI), which Tehran had created as far back as 1982, originally as a Shi’ite resistance movement against Saddam Hussein and most recently since the middle of the last decade following Saddam’s overthrow as a united front to contest the democratic elections in Iraq with an agenda to preserve the Shi’ite leadership of the government.

To cut a long story short, ISCI is unravelling due to latent rivalries between various constituent groups. (Shi’ite politics has been traditionally very fractious, including in Iran.) Now, the split is also on account of a strong undercurrent of resentment over Iran’s dominance over Iraqi politics. (For the benefit of the uninitiated, again, the potency of Iraqi nationalism – a legacy of the Saddam era, paradoxically – subsuming the ethnic and sectarian divides in the country should never be underestimated.)

Importantly, the new generation of the powerful Hakim family led by Ammar Al-Hakim has moved out of the ISCI and has shifted allegiance from Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei to Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. Equally, Muqtada al-Sadr who has stepped out of Iran’s orbit has assumed a nationalistic, non-sectarian platform in the recent years. Again, within the ruling Islamic Dawa Party, which is the main constituent of the ISCI, there is an internal power struggle between the incumbent PM Haidar Al-Abadi and the former PM Nouri al-Maliki. (Currently, Maliki is a favourite of Iran; interestingly, Al-Abadi recently visited Saudi Arabia during which an announcement was made that the two countries have formed a ‘coordination council’ to bolster strategic relations aimed at healing troubled ties with ‘other Arab states’.)

Enter Saudi Arabia. Quite obviously, Saudis see a window of opportunity to go for Iran’s jugular veins by breaking up the ISCI irretrievably and instead propping up a new composite non-sectarian coalition involving the Shi’ite factions who resent Iran’s hegemony. No doubt, it is an audacious attempt to bring together – you’ve guessed it – Muqtada al-Sadr, Ammar Al-Hakim and Al-Abadi – on the same page.

The Crown Prince MBS is the mastermind behind this audacious Saudi move to manipulate the Shi’ite politics in Iraq. Arguably, the Saudi game plan has some positive streaks in it insofar as it envisages a non-sectarian realignment in Iraqi politics by encouraging a regrouping of the Shi’ite factions that give primacy to Iraqi nationalism over the identity politics they pursued up until recently. In turn, MBS would probably persuade these Shi’ite factions to work with the Iraqi Sunni factions and the Kurds. (By the way, Saudis recently opened a consulate in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.)

Cynics would say that Saudis are having a devious agenda to: a) break up Shi’ite unity in Iraq; b) empower the Sunni groups as a ruling elite; and, c) create a schism between ‘Arab Shias’ and ‘Persian Shias’. The jury is out. Time only will tell how these shenanigans play out. To be sure, MBS’s initiative to manipulate Iraqi politics must be enjoying the support of the US and Israel, since it ultimately aims at isolating Iran and mitigates to an extent Iran’s spectacular ‘victory’ in the Syrian conflict.

Will Iran throw in the towel and walk away? Certainly not. Iran’s trump card is the battle-hardened Shi’ite militia known as the Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, which is estimated to number over 120000 and is a Hezbollah-like army that is disciplined, fired up ideologically, and weaned in the politics of ‘resistance’. By the way, Qassem Soleimani, the charismatic commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted as saying last week: “Daesh (ISIS) was stopped by the entry of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi into the Iraqi army. The Iraqi army was transformed into a Hezbollah army.”

Now, that is a statement of fact. And, the ground reality is that today, in the chaotic war conditions in Iraq, power ultimately flows through the barrel of the gun. Stalin would have asked MBS as to how many divisions Al-Haikm, Al-Sadr and Al-Abadi together have under their command? Will the number come to even one half of the strength of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, the Iraqi Hezbollah, which Iran trained and equipped? Unlikely. Could they have taken on the ISIS and defeated it? No way.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sabotaging Russia-US Relations for Good

By Federico PIERACCINI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 31.07.2017

The strategy that the American deep state intends to employ to sabotage once and for all the possibilities of a rapprochement between the United States and Russia has been revealed.

After months of debate over the bad state of relations between the United States and Russia, the G20 offered the stage for the two leaders to meet and start discussing the various problems facing the two countries. In the days following the summit in Hamburg, the Kremlin and the White House revealed that Putin and Trump met three times in bilateral talks to discuss how to improve relations between the two nations. The ceasefire reached in southern Syria is therefore intended as the first step in a new direction set for Washington and Moscow.

As was easy to foresee, the deep state did not like this prospect of cooperation, immediately unleashing the mainstream media on Trump, because repeated meetings with Putin at the G20 were apparently suggestive of some sort of collusion, as if the leaders of two nuclear powers cannot even speak with each other. Obviously uncomfortable with these meetings, the sabotaging of relations between Russia and the US has taken a new turn. The previous ceasefire in Syria, reached by Kerry and Lavrov during the previous administration a year ago, was sabotaged by the US Air Force’s bombing of Syrian troops at Deir ez-Zor, which killed and injured more than a hundred Syrian soldiers. This served to favor Daesh’s assault on government positions, hinting at some sort of cooperation between Washington and the terrorists. Moscow immediately interrupted any military-to-military communication with Washington, which included the ceasefire reached between Lavrov and Kerry.

This time the strategy seems more refined and certainly does not lend itself to military action. Following the incident in Deir ez-Zor, the bombing of the Syrian base, and the downing of the Syrian Su-22, any further US military provocation would be met with a harsh response from the Russian side, risking an escalation that even the US military does not seem willing to to risk. For this reason, it seems that an approach that relies more on legislative means than military power has been chosen.

The Senate has overwhelmingly voted to impose new sanctions, the primary purpose of which is to deny the US President the ability to end sanctions on Russia without Moscow first demonstrating good will to resolve points of friction between the two countries. The areas of disagreement include the situation in Ukraine and Syria, nuclear weapons, an end to the alleged hacking of US elections, and the supposed intention of Moscow to invade the Baltic states. Obfuscation, lies and misinformation seem to be the driving force behind the Senate vote. The bill will end up on Trump’s desk, and at that point he will have to decide whether to sign it or not. If he signs it, it will obvioulsy limit his autonomy.

With Trump’s latest move, it is difficult to know whether he directly ordered the CIA to stop funding jihadists fighting Assad in Syria, or whether it was an independent choice of the CIA connected with other plans of which we are not aware. In any case, it seems to have particularly agitated the deep state, which now sees its destabilization plans for Syria hampered, with Moscow left in full control of the Syrian state and its fate.

The role of the deep state, in addition to enriching its components through the military-industrial complex, is based on the continued need for the United States to have enemies (read my complete series in parts 123 and 4), which requires major investments in armaments and intelligence agencies, two of the fundamental components of the deep state.

The 4+1 theory, in military terms, refers to the four major challenges facing the United States, plus a fifth, namely: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, plus terrorism. Having four powerful enemies – regional if not global powers – such as China and Russia, creates the necessary conditions for the United States to continue to justify its presence in volatile regions like the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. In all these areas, US attention is directed at one of these four challenges. The fifth danger, terrorism, acts as a corrosive that slowly erodes individual freedoms within the United States and its allies, justifying their continued presence in historically hostile territories like the Middle East under the guise of fighting terrorism, when in actual fact advancing their own geopolitical objectives. The bottom line remains the need for Washington to expand its own war machine over the whole planet, hoping to be able to influence every single issue with political, economic and military power or pressure. The end game is to prolong as long as possible the agony of a unipolar, American-dominated world order that is rapidly fading in the place of a fairer and more just multipolar world order.

American allies push for sabotage

With this latest Senate proposal, the deep state wants to eliminate the danger that Trump can exercise his own initiative to remove sanctions against Moscow and pursue the path of peace with Russia. A reconciliation with Moscow is viewed with particular suspicion by two main allies of the US in the region, that is to say, Israel and Saudi Arabia. There are no two other capitals that have more influential lobbies in Washington then Riyad and Tel Aviv. It is not surprising, then, that the American deep state, made up of many who are sympathetic to the Saudis and Israelis, views positively the sabotage of relations between Washington and Moscow. It is very likely that the Israeli and Saudi lobbies have spent considerable sums of money to push senators and congressmen to support this proposal.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have invested enormous amounts of money and political weight to the overthrow Assad, and the direction that the war in Syria is taking is likely to turn violently against them. Israel finds a Syrian state strengthened by alliances with Hezbollah, Russia, Iran, Lebanon and Iraq likely to render the Israeli hopes of controlled chaos in the region vain. Saudi Arabia, like Israel, is afraid of seeing the rebuilding of the Shiite axis extending from Iran to the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria. It is a nightmare for those who hoped to oust Assad, control Iraq and ultimately subdue under their own power all of the Middle East region. With Moscow’s intervention almost two years ago, Syria’s Assad resumed a triumphant march against Daesh and jihadist terrorism, cleaning up much of the nation and reversing the negative trend that threatened to break down the Baathist republic.

A rapprochement between Moscow and Washington is seen as a danger by Tel Aviv and Riyadh, which is why hostile relations between Russia and the US has become a rallying point for an alliance between liberals and neoconservatives in the United States, along with takfiris in Saudi Arabia and Zionists in Israel.

Conclusions

This axis opposed to any kind of rapprochement between Moscow and Washington has found many sponsors in the European political system; that is until the consequences of these new sanctions were made clear. Trump reiterated that the US objective is to sell LNG to European partners by becoming an energy-exporting nation. One of the direct effects of sanctions on Russia is the prevention of Europeans from collaborating with Russian energy companies, thereby sabotaging the plan for the North Stream 2 link and probably even the Turkish Stream integrating into the European pipeline network. Political reactions in Europe have not been missed, and understandably irritation has reached boiling point (including Moscow’s). It would also seem that schizophrenia seems to be a distinctive feature of the politicians of the old continent. The Baltic states fear a non-existent threat of a Russian invasion, while Germany and Austria complain of American interference in their strategic energy plans, considering it unacceptable.

A divided and inconsistent West drowns in its own discordant decisions. Trump, stupidly, initially tried to placate the deep state by offering Flynn’s head to the highest bidder. This only served to worsen the situation, bringing Trump to admit an unwavering attempt to hack US elections on the Russian side. To complete this disaster, missiles were launched against the Shayrat Airbase in Syria on the basis of fictitious evidence of a chemical attack on Syrian civilians by the Syrian Arab Air Force.

All of these choices have worsened the initial situation of the presidency, which now finds no more cartridges to fire in order to withstand the pressure of its senators to approve new sanctions. Trump decided to bend the knee and obey in hope of obtaining some kind of concessions from the deep state. This did not work, and now Trump is struggling for political survival.

It seems clear now that the Republican senators are in some way blackmailing Trump: so long as he does not fully give up on Russian rapprochement, the huge electoral promise of eliminating and replacing Obamacare will remain just a dream, causing him major damage. In this context, Trump seemed less prepared for the Washington hawks, and seems to have lost this important political battle.

It remains to be seen how effective the deep state will be in sabotaging these attempts of rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. The effects may be exactly the opposite, as already seen in the many failures of Washington’s strategic plans. The neocons/liberals and their regional allies in the Middle East continue to weaken American security by renouncing a partnership against terrorism, which would certainly benefit American citizens in the first place as well as calm the situation in the region. But then again, chaos is always the first choice of the American deep state for the purpose influencing events by fomenting violence and thereby advancing strategic goals and objectives. We can only hope that this time they have overplayed their hand and that European allies, or the Trump administration, will try to survive this new sabotage attempt.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It is check and mate for Israel in Golan Heights

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 27, 2017

Israel has suffered a big setback in the Syrian conflict with the deployment of Russian military police in the safe zone being established in south-western Syria near the Golan Heights. The Russian Defence Ministry announced the deployment on Monday. Col.-Gen. Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, said in Moscow that Russian forces had set up checkpoints and observation posts in the southwest de-escalation zone. The Russian general said that the US, Israel and Jordan have been informed of the deployment.

The boundaries of the de-escalation zone were agreed upon between Russia and the US on the eve of the meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. According to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Israel’s security considerations had been taken into account while finalizing the de-escalation zone. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since openly voiced rejection of the US-Russia agreement, arguing that the deal does not adequately address Israel’s threat perceptions regarding Iranian and Hezbollah presence in the south-western regions of Syria.

The Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman was on record that Jerusalem has set certain red lines. “We will not tolerate any Iranian presence on the border and we will continue to act against that,” he said. Quite obviously, Israel does not trust Russia. Israel suspects that it is only a matter of time before Shia militias and Hezbollah start quietly infiltrating south-western Syria, setting up the Assad regime and its Iranian friends to consolidate control over the border areas near Israel and Lebanon.

In reality, though, all this is a major strategic play. Israel has long paid, supplied and supported the extremist groups (including al-Qaeda and ISIS groups) controlling the area where the de-escalation zone is being set up. Israel even provided fire support for these terrorist groups whenever they came under attack by the Syrian government forces.

Israel was hoping that the area could somehow remain as a zone of ‘frozen conflict’, which could be incrementally annexed by Israel. Israel’s preference, therefore, was that the de-escalation zone near Golan Heights should be enforced by the US – and not Russia. But then, Washington does not want to get entangled. As a commentary in the Atlantic magazine put it this week,

  • Pentagon is focused on operations in Mosul and Raqqa hundreds of miles away—commanders on the ground would surely see a U.S. military presence in south-western Syria as a costly and unnecessary diversion of manpower in the fight against the Islamic State. Given limited intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance assets in the region, it is also unlikely that U.S.Central Command would be happy diverting scarce ISR platforms to monitor the ceasefire… All this… means that the Trump-Putin ceasefire is likely to hand Russia the keys to south-western Syria.

That is more or less what is unfolding on the ground. The US-Russia agreement envisages the supervision of the de-escalation zone area by Russian military police.

It is check and mate for Israel’s interventionist policy in Syria. The Russian monitors will react harshly if Israel plays the spoiler’s role. Plainly put, the Israeli dream of territorial expansion into south-western Syria as part of a ‘Greater Israel’ (even beyond the occupied Golan Heights) has crash landed. Israel’s Plan B was that as part of any Syrian settlement, the international community should at least legitimise Israel’s occupation of Golan Heights. That is also not going to happen.

Netanyahu’s credibility once again takes a big blow. Two years ago, his ‘red line’ over the Iran nuclear programme – that Israel would act on its own militarily against Iran, etc. – turned out to be sheer bluster. Now he has drawn a ‘red line’ in Israel’s northern front regarding Iranian presence in Syria, but lacks the capacity to enforce it. The international community is simply ignoring his tantrums once again.

Significantly, the US has done nothing to oppose a massive Hezbollah operation which began last week to take control of the heights on the Lebanon-Syrian border that were under the occupation of various insurgent groups such as Ahrar, al-Qaeda, ISIS (some of whom were Israel’s bedfellows.) The Iranian media reported today that Hezbollah fighters have scored a stunning victory. Of course, it is hugely important for Hezbollah (and Iran) to ensure that the Lebanon-Syria border remains open.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Plot thickens in great game over post-ISIS Iraq and Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 26, 2017

The post-ISIS future of Iraq and Syria has been a topic of animated discussion among American think tankers, the assumption being that the US is staging a military comeback in Iraq and well on the way to establishing a long-term presence in Syria. But political winds are blowing in an opposite direction.

The ‘working visit’ by Iraq’s vice-president Nouri Maliki to Moscow this week signals the revival of Russia’s historical role as Iraq’s key partner. Maliki’s remarks in Moscow are very revealing:

  • “It’s well known that Russia has historically strong relations with Iraq, therefore we would like Russia to have a substantial presence in our country, both politically and militarily. This way, a balance would be established that would benefit the region, its peoples and its countries.”
  • Baghdad believes “in Russia’s role in solving most of the key international issues as well as improving stability and balance in our region and worldwide.”
  • A Russian presence in Iraq would bring the necessary balance which cannot be “undermined in a political sense in favour of any external party.”
  • “Today we need Russia’s greater involvement in Iraqi affairs, especially in the energy field. Now when we are done with Islamic State, Iraq needs investments in energy and trade.”
  • Moscow and Baghdad “should enhance… cooperation in countering terrorism in the region. We believe that both our countries are targets for terrorists and those who stand behind them.”

Maliki’s remarks found positive resonance with the Russian side. While receiving Maliki, President Vladimir Putin emphasised military-technical cooperation and a “proactive” role in that area. Putin cast the Russian-Iraqi relationship in the broader framework of “the situation in the region in general.” The latter remark takes into account the Iraq-Syria-Iran regional axis as a bulwark against terrorism.

The unity of Iraq and Syria is a core issue for Russia. Maliki told Putin that the fractured Iraqi polity where political power “continues to be divided on the religious or ethnic principle between the Sunnis, the Shiites, the Arabs, the Kurds, Christians and Muslims” becomes a breeding ground for terrorism and, therefore, Baghdad has prepared a “special project” to address this systemic deficiency. The Kremlin readout quoted Maliki as saying,

  • “The idea is to restore real democracy, when the power is based on the victory of a political majority rather than on the assignment of quotas to various movements.”

In sum, Baghdad hopes to switch to a political system based on the ‘one-man, one-vote’ principle of representative rule, as in Syria or Iran. Clearly, the aim is to block foreign power from manipulating the minorities against the majority Shia community. No doubt, it will be a major reform not only in politico-economic terms, but also from the geopolitical perspective. Principally, Baghdad intends to resist any US-Israeli attempt to create an independent Kurdistan.

Maliki’s ‘working visit’ to Russia coincides with the signing of a defence agreement between Iraq and Iran. Maliki had signed an arms deal with Russia in 2012, estimated to be in the region of $4.2 billion (which couldn’t be implemented due to pressure from the Obama administration.) In sum, we’re witnessing a back-to-back effort by Iran and Russia to push back at the US.

Fundamentally, Iraq’s power calculus is getting reset. The tens of thousands of Iraqi Shi’ite militia trained and equipped by Iran, who played a decisive role in defeating the ISIS, will likely get integrated into the Iraqi security forces. These battle-hardened militia, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashed al-Shaabi in Arabic) have moved into the deserts held by ISIS west of Mosul, massing around the town of Tal Afar and have taken a border crossing between Iraq and Syria.

They are in control of highways bisecting the Sunni heartland in western Iraq, which are used as vital military and civilian supply lines connecting Iran with Syria. According to official Iraqi figures, the Popular Mobilization Forces now number about 122,000 fighters. Clearly, the military balance in the region is dramatically shifting against the US (and Israel.) The Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrullah warned recently that hundreds of thousands of Shi’ite fighters in the region will jointly resist any future Israeli invasion.

In geopolitical terms, Russia and Iran have shared interest in the unity and stability of post-ISIS Iraq and Syria. Unsurprisingly, China is not far behind them, either.

Thus, China’s Special Envoy to Syria Xie Xiaoyan is currently on a regional tour. While in Tehran on Tuesday, he stressed that China’s stance vis-à-vis the Syrian endgame is similar to Russia and Iran’s. Xie announced that China is “ready to act upon its responsibility to reconstruct Syria and we are prepared for it.” (here and here)

Incidentally, on Tuesday China’s Exim Bank signed an agreement in Tehran on a financial package of US$1.5 billion for the upgrade of Iran’s trunk railway line connecting Tehran with Mashaad (near Turkmenistan border.) No doubt, Xie’s visit to Tehran flags that China has set its eyes on Iran as the gateway leading to Iraq and Syria.

Since March 2016 a China-Iran “Silk Road train” has been running once a month from Yiwu in China’s eastern Zhejiang province to Tehran. Its frequency is expected to increase once trade picks up. The “Silk Road train” slashes travel time from 45 days via sea route to less than 14 days. Clearly, China is positioning itself to play a major role in the reconstruction of Iraq and Syria and will be on the same page as Russia and Iran. 

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ceasefire takes effect on Lebanese-Syrian border: Reports

Press TV – July 27, 2017

A ceasefire has reportedly taken effect on the Lebanese side of the border with Syria near the town of Arsal, where Hezbollah resistance fighters have been combating Takfiri militants over the past week.

Lebanon-based al-Manar television network and the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA) reported on Thursday that the ceasefire in the Juroud Arsal area came into force at 0300 GMT and halted fighting on all fronts.

The NNA said the truce was part of a deal brokered by Lebanon’s general security agency chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim.

Under the agreement, the report said, the remaining al-Nusra terrorists would withdraw from the region to Syria’s Idlib Province, parts of which are controlled by Takfiri militants.

It added that Ibrahim was expected to release a statement on the deal later on Thursday.

Hezbollah launched a major push last Friday to clear both sides of Lebanon’s border with Syria from “armed terrorists.” Lebanon’s army has not formally declared its role in the operation, but has shelled terrorist positions in the area.

On Tuesday, the resistance group’s media bureau announced in a statement that its battle to eliminate members of the Takfiri Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – previously known as the Nusra Front – militant group from the Syria-Lebanon border is 85 percent complete.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also said Wednesday that the operation to recapture the border area from Nusra was almost complete, and that nearly 100 percent of the territories that used to be controlled by the Takfiri terrorists were now liberated.

In August 2014, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh terrorist groups overran Arsal, killing a number of Lebanese forces. They took 30 soldiers hostage, most of whom have been released.

Since then, Hezbollah and the Lebanese military have been defending Lebanon on the country’s northeastern frontier against foreign-backed terrorist groups operating in neighboring Syria.

Hezbollah fighters have fended off several Daesh attacks inside Lebanon. They have also been providing assistance to Syrian army forces to counter the ongoing foreign-sponsored militancy.

The movement has accused Israel of supporting Takfiri terrorists operating in the Middle East.

Israel, which continues to occupy Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms and Syria’s Golan Heights, is widely reported to be offering medical help to Takfiri terrorists injured in Syria. In December 2015, British newspaper the Daily Mail said Israel had saved the lives of more than 2,000 Takfiri militants since 2013.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Fear and Trepidation in Tel Aviv: Is Israel Losing the Syria War?

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | July 25, 2017

Israel, which has played a precarious role in the Syrian war since 2011, is furious to learn that the future of the conflict is not to its liking.

The six-year-old Syria war is moving to a new stage, perhaps its final. The Syrian regime is consolidating its control over most of the populated centers, while Daesh is losing ground fast – and everywhere.

Areas evacuated by the rapidly disintegrated militant group are up for grabs. There are many hotly contested regions sought over by the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and its allies, on the one hand, and the various anti-Assad opposition groups and their supporters, on the other.

With Daesh largely vanquished in Iraq – at an extremely high death toll of 40,000 people in Mosul alone – warring parties there are moving west. Shia militias, emboldened by the Iraq victory, have been pushing westward as far as the Iraq-Syria border, converging with forces loyal to the Syrian government on the other side.

Concurrently, first steps at a permanent ceasefire are bearing fruit, compared to many failed attempts in the past.

Following a ceasefire agreement between the United States and Russia on 7 July at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, three provinces in southwestern Syria – bordering Jordan and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights – are now relatively quiet. The agreement is likely to be extended elsewhere.

The Israeli government has made it clear to the US that it is displeased with the agreement, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been leading strong efforts to undermine the ceasefire.

Netanyahu’s worst fears are, perhaps, actualizing: a solution in Syria that would allow for a permanent Iranian and Hezbollah presence in the country.

In the early phases of the war, such a possibility seemed remote; the constantly changing fortunes in Syria’s brutal combat made the discussion altogether irrelevant.

But things have now changed.

Despite assurances to the contrary, Israel has always been involved in the Syria conflict. Israel’s repeated claims that “it maintains a policy of non-intervention in Syria’s civil war,” only fools US mainstream media US mainstream media.

Not only was Israel involved in the war, it also played no role in the aid efforts, nor did it ever extend a helping hand to Syrian refugees.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have perished in the merciless war; many cities and villages were totally destroyed and millions of Syrians have become refugees.

While tiny and poor Lebanon has hosted over a million Syrian refugees, every country in the region and many nations around the world have hosted Syrian refugees, as well. Except Israel.

Even a symbolic government proposal to host 100 Syrian orphans was eventually dropped.

However, the nature of the Israeli involvement in Syria is starting to change. The ceasefire, the growing Russian clout and the inconsistent US position has forced Israel to redefine its role.

A sign of the times has been Netanyahu’s frequent visits to Moscow, to persuade the emboldened Russian President, Vladimir Putin, of Israel’s interests.

While Moscow is treading carefully, unlike Washington it hardly perceives Israeli interests as paramount. When Israel shot down a Syrian missile using an arrow missile last March, the Israeli ambassador to Moscow was summoned for reprimand.

The chastising of Israel took place only days after Netanyahu visited Moscow and “made it clear” to Putin that he wants to “prevent any Syrian settlement from leaving ‘Iran and its proxies with a military presence’ in Syria.”

Since the start of the conflict, Israel wanted to appear as if in control of the situation, at least regarding the conflict in southwestern Syria. It bombed targets in Syria as it saw fit, and casually spoke of maintaining regular contacts with certain opposition groups.

In recent comments before European officials, Netanyahu admitted to striking Iranian convoys in Syria ‘dozens of times.”

But without a joint Israeli-US plan, Israel is now emerging as a weak party. Making that realization quite belatedly, Israel has become increasingly frustrated. After years of lobbying, the Obama Administration refused to [openly] regard Israel’s objectives in Syria as the driving force behind his government’s policies.

Failing to obtain such support from newly-elected President Donald Trump as well, Israel is now attempting to develop its own independent strategy.

On June 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel has been giving “secret aid” to Syrian rebels, in the form of “cash and humanitarian aid.”

The New York Times reported on July 20 of large shipments of Israeli aid that is “expected to (give) ‘glimmer of hope’ for Syrians.”

Needless to say, giving hope to Syrians is not an Israeli priority. Aside from the frequent bombing and refusal to host any refugees, Israel has occupied the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967 and illegally annexed the territory in 1981.

Instead, Israel’s aim is to infiltrate southern Syria to create a buffer against Iranian, Hezbollah and other hostile forces.

Termed “Operation Good Neighbor,” Israel is working diligently to build ties with various heads of tribes and influential groups in that region.

Yet, the Israeli plan appears to be a flimsy attempt at catching up, as Russia and the US, in addition to their regional allies, seem to be converging on an agreement independent from Israel’s own objectives or even security concerns.

Israeli officials are angry, and feel particularly betrayed by Washington. If things continue to move in this direction, Iran could soon have a secured pathway connecting Tehran to Damascus and Beirut,

Israeli National Security Council head, Yaakov Amidror, threatened in a recent press conference that his country is prepared to move against Iran in Syria, alone.

Vehemently rejecting the ceasefire, Amidror said that the Israeli army will “intervene and destroy every attempt to build (permanent Iranian) infrastructure in Syria.”

Netanyahu’s equally charged statements during his European visit also point at the growing frustration in Tel Aviv.

This stands in sharp contrast from the days when the neoconservatives in Washington managed the Middle East through a vision that was largely, if not fully, consistent with Israeli impulses.

The famed strategy paper prepared by a US study group led by Richard Perle in 1996 is of little use now, as the region is no longer shaped by a country or two.

The paper entitled: “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”, saw a hostile Arab world masterfully managed by US and Israel.

For a fleeting moment, Tel Aviv hoped that Trump would bring about change to the US attitude.

Indeed, there was that euphoric movement in Israel when the Trump administration struck Syria. But the limited nature of the strike made it clear that the US had no plans for massive military deployment similar to that of Iraq in 2003.

The initial excitement was eventually replaced by cynicism as expressed by this headline in al Monitor:Netanyahu puts Trump on notice over Syria.”

In 1982, taking advantage of sectarian conflicts, Israel invaded Lebanon and installed a government led by its allies. Those days are long gone.

While Israel remains militarily strong, the region itself has changed and Israel is not the only power holding all the cards.

Moreover, the receding global leadership of the US under Trump makes the Israeli-American duo less effective.

With no alternative allies influential enough to fill the gap, Israel is left, for the first time, with very limited options.

With Russia’s determined return to the Middle East, and the decided retreat by the US, the outcome of the Syria war is almost a foregone conclusion. Surely, this is not the ‘new Syria’ that Israel had hoped for.

Read: Israel’s new occupation zone in Syria

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Youtube Expands Censorship, Blocks SANA And Hezbollah Media Wing In Syria

South Front | July 18, 2017

Youtube has expanded its efforts to censor alternative sources of the information about the conflict in Syria. Last week, Youtube banned the channel of Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), a Syrian state-run media supporting the Assad government. This week, Youtube banned the channel of the Syrian Military Media, a Hezbollah media wing in Syria.

This censorship campaign is likely a part of the wider attempt to counter the non-mainstream reporting about the conflict. The mainstream media and their corporate sponsors have repeatedly discredited themselves during the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Thus, the corporations have likely decided that the total censorship is the only way to suppress alternative points of view.

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 2 Comments

By Opposing Syrian Ceasefire, Israel ‘Shows Direct Support for Terrorists’

Sputnik – 17.07.2017

Tel Aviv has come out in opposition to the Russian-US ceasefire deal in southern Syria. Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Russian Middle East expert Boris Dolgov said it was noteworthy that Israel is now supporting those militant groups which both Moscow and Washington classify as terrorists.

Israel has voiced its opposition to the Russian-US ceasefire agreement reached by Presidents Putin and Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel opposed the ceasefire plan.

According to the prime minister, the ceasefire would create the conditions for an Iranian presence in the Syria. Israeli officials have also marked their concern with the fact that the ceasefire agreement closes only a 20 km strip of territory along the Israeli-Syrian border to Iranian forces.

Netanyahu’s remarks Sunday were a reiteration of comments he made July 9, when he requested that Russia and the US take account of Israel’s interests in Syria. “Israel will welcome the real cessation of hostilities in Syria, but it must not result in the consolidation of the Iranian and its satellites’ forces in Syria in general and particularly in Syria’s south,” he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refrained from commenting on Israel’s opposition to the ceasefire deal. “I will leave this without comments. The position voiced by President [Vladimir] Putin is in this regard consistent and well known. In terms of establishing areas of de-escalation, sufficient interaction is taking place among all parties concerned,” Peskov said.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Boris Dolgov, a senior fellow at the Middle East Studies’ Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, expressed the view that Israel’s reaction to the Russian-US deal was not surprising, and could be explained by the fact that Tel Aviv supports militant groups that both Russia and the US consider to be terrorists.

“Israel is more and more ‘engaged’ in the Syrian conflict,” Dolgov said.

“This engagement consists of Israeli support for armed groups fighting against the Assad government in the Golan Heights. Israel officially admits that the militants from these groups receive medical treatment in Israeli hospitals. They explain this via the fact that these militants are fighting against the Hezbollah movement, which Israel considers to be a terrorist group,” the analyst added.

Hezbollah, Dolgov said, has been active in southern Syria against Islamist groups, including al-Nusra. “Israel, apparently, disagrees with the fact that as a result of the [ceasefire] agreement, the Islamist militants’ actions against Hezbollah will be terminated. This suggests that Israel, alas, has sided with these groups.”

That, according to Dolgov, means that Israel, having actively intervened in the Syrian conflict, “has taken the side of those groups that the US and Russia consider to be terrorist organizations.”

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

London Mayor moves to ban Hezbollah

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | July 10, 2017

The Sunni Muslim Mayor of London seeks to ban a Shi’a party from Lebanon from the streets of Britain.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has moved to ban support for Hezbollah in Britain. This is not only an attack on free speech but a totally one-sided attempt to silence global opposition to imperialism and occupation.

Hezbollah is a political party in Lebanon with supporters and well wishers across the world. Hezbollah currently has 12 seats in the Lebanese Parliament and 2 cabinet ministers.

Hezbollah was formally organised in 1985 in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War. Like many political parties which formed in the midst of a civil war, including the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland which currently supports the British government, Hezbollah has an armed resistance faction designed to do what the Lebanese army is increasingly incapable of doing, namely, resisting continued Israeli attempts to illegally attack and occupy Lebanon as well as helping to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria.

It is patently absurd for a UK politician who carries water for the western establishment in their support of Salafist terrorists in Syria to ban support for a group which is fighting them. Hezbollah’s fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda is a fight for civilisation and for common humanity. Many Lebanese who support other parties admit this so why can’t Mr. Khan?

Britain’s streets are filled with officially sanctioned rallies of people holding various flags of extremist Sunni terrorist organisations involved in the conflict in Syria. Some of these rallies have been attended by Mr. Khan, a Sunni of Pakistani origin. This is made all the more odd by the fact that the Mayor of London has no formal foreign policy making role and has no role in the internal politics of Lebanon.

People in major cities like London support all kinds of parties. There are many Americans in London who support the Republican Party of Donald Trump, a man who Khan has attacked multiple times on Twitter. There are French people in London who support Marine Le Pen’s Front National as well as Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche! The list goes on, but Khan has decided to single out for reproach, a single Lebanese party.

This is a disgraceful decision from a disgraceful man. Unless one wants to ban all foreign political parties from having support, one shouldn’t single out one party from Lebanon. One cannot say with any sincerity that the ban has anything to do with Hezbollah’s armed factions as the British Prime Minister sits with a party, the DUP, that has been supported by and has cultivated alliances with armed factions in a disputed territory of Britain that many want to see become part of a united Irish Republic. By contrast, no one disputes that Hezbollah’s heartland of southern Lebanon is anything but Lebanese. Israel’s attempts to once again occupy it have been condemned by the world as illegal acts.

One used to think that Khan was more of a mouse than a man. It turns out, he is a rat.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump on surge, redeems pledge on Russia ties

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 8, 2017

Partisan tribalism is so intense among the US elites that a consensus is impossible to reach as regards the main topic of discussion at the meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday. As the meeting extended beyond the expected 30 minutes, there was consternation on the face of the CNN panelists and when it continued for another 30, 60 minutes – and eventually ended after 135 minutes – the look of despair mixed with anger could hardly be concealed.

The top US media groups highlighted that the presidential meeting in Hamburg was principally about Russian ‘medddling’ in US elections last November. In reality, Putin put the meeting in perspective, saying that his lengthy conversation with Trump covered “loads of questions (that) have accumulated, including both Ukraine and Syria, along with other issues, some bilateral issues… fight against terrorism and cybersecurity.”

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who was present at the meeting said separately that in the “very lengthy, very specific” conversation, the two leaders “agreed on a number of concrete things.” He listed the following:

  • The two foreign ministers (Lavrov and Rex Tillerson) have been instructed to “continue and expand cooperation… on the entire spectrum of the international agenda, including the Korean Peninsula” both bilaterally and at the UN Security Council.
  • The agre’ment for the new envoys to Moscow and Washington will be expeditiously processed.
  • Detailed discussions were held on Syria, Ukraine, Korean Peninsula, problems of cyber security, and “a range of other issues.”
  • A bilateral working group has been set up to flesh out cooperation in cyber security, “including anti-terrorism efforts, fight against organized crime and hacker activities.”
  • Trump has appointed a new envoy for Ukraine who will visit Moscow “in the near future” to discuss a solution within the ambit of the Minsk agreement (where Russia feels that the US now “feels the necessity of extra impetus”.)  The bilateral Russia-US channel on Ukraine will be “taking into account and relying on the potential of the Contact Group and the ‘Normandy format’.”
  • The return of the Russian compounds in New York and Maryland (confiscated by Obama administration in December) was “raised” and Moscow will be “seeking justice.”

Of course, the highlight was the announcement of a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone in Syria’s south – Daraa and Quneitra – bordering Jordan and the Golan Heights w.e.f midnight on July 9. The US has made a commitment that “all the (opposition) groups present there will observe the ceasefire.” The security in the de-escalation zone will be ensured by Russian military police in coordination with the US and Jordan. (Lavrov)

No doubt, the de-escalation zone in Syria’s south has been mired in controversy due to Israel’s demand that the US should directly take responsibility for the safe zone, since Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad might otherwise allow Iran-supported militia and Hezbollah to move forces close to Golan Heights occupied by Israel. However, the understanding now is that the US will rely on cooperation from Russia.

This will disappoint Israel. Haaretz reported Friday that Israeli officials had demanded that the Trump team spike a proposal that the Russian military oversee the cease-fire. The report said that “Israel vehemently opposes this idea and has made that clear to the Americans,” before the Trump-Putin meeting. “Israel would prefer to have American troops enforce the cease-fire in southern Syria. The Trump Administration is considering this idea, but hasn’t yet decided.”

On the other hand, Lavrov said: “U.S. and Russia have agreed to maintain this ceasefire and the ceasefire will be maintained by all parties. They will also maintain access by humanitarian aid agencies and there will be a monitoring center that will be created in the capital of Jordan.”

So, what is the ‘big picture’ from the talks in Hamburg? For a start, my prognosis proved right. (Please see Trump offers carrot to Russia, brandishes stick to beat China.) From the Russian point of view, the meeting has gone exceedingly well – far beyond expectations, perhaps. Trump was intensely conscious of the importance of seizing the moment to unroll his agenda to improve relations with Russia. To be sure, this was vintage Trump on surge.

Evidently, he’s relying on Tillerson to navigate the dialogue with Russia. Tillerson knows Russia and has met Putin a few times as ExxonMobil chief. Interestingly, Trump excluded the ‘hawks’ in the White House from his meeting with Putin and had only Tillerson to assist him. Evidently, he is not risking internal sabotage.

All this says something about Trump’s statecraft. His team is packed with ‘hardliners’ on Russia – NSA HR McMaster, Senior Director for Russia in NSC Fiona Hill, Defence Secretary James Mattis and so on. There is some truth to the hearsay that the man genuinely allows contrarian views — probably even encourages anarchical conditions to develop – so that in the final analysis, he can refine his own thinking and do precisely what he intends to do.

Although there was no Modi-style hugging and all that, the body language was excellent. Putin’s decision to patiently wait for the tide to turn in Washington and to leave it to Trump to set the pace of their face-to-face engagement paid dividends.  In the 135-minute meeting, Trump has kicked open so many doors leading to pathways in such different directions that it will be extremely difficult for the ‘Deep State’ to slam them all shut again.

If there is constructive follow-up on Syria alone, new momentum will be generated at the ‘mil-to-mil’ level, which could even have interesting fallout – such as on the Afghan situation, for example. From the TV visuals of the G-20, it appears that German Chancellor Angela Merkel played her part too in creating a positive ambience for the Russian-American engagement. Putin had several animated ‘asides’ with Merkel prior to the meeting with Trump. Indeed, Ukraine holds the key to a major transformation in Russia’s relations with the West — and here Merkel’s role can be decisive.

There is going to be much criticism when Trump gets back home. The night of the long knives may have already begun. Read the vicious commentary by Politico magazine – Trump Handed Putin a Stunning Victory.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment