On Thursday, Moscow slipped in the formal invitation to Washington to attend the intra-Syria talks in Astana on coming Monday (January 23). It waited till the last ‘working day’ of the Barack Obama administration. A snub to the outgoing administration? But it could as well have been a pre-emptive measure to guard against any last-minute temper tantrum by the outgoing US administration.
No doubt, it is a thoughtful Russian move to engage the incoming Donald Trump administration on its very first day in the White House. Trump will now take the call. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:
- We hope the new US administration will accept this invitation and will be represented at this meeting at any expert level it considers appropriate. This could be the first official contact during which we will be able to discuss a more effective way to fight terrorism in Syria… Russia and the United States created and are co-chairing the International Syria Support Group… It has two task forces – a Humanitarian Task Force and a Ceasefire Task Force. There is a good chance we can invigorate these mechanisms.
Lavrov’s optimism must be based on considered assessment regarding Trump’s disposition to work with President Vladimir Putin in the fight against terrorism in Syria and elsewhere.
A novel feature of the Astana talks is that the field commanders of the Syrian opposition groups have been brought to the forefront as the Syrian government’s interlocutors. Previously, politicians living in exile who were proxies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar used to represent these groups. They were vulnerable to outside manipulation. Evidently, Turkish and Russian intelligence acted together, pooling resources, to wean the field commanders away from the orbit of Saudi and Qatari influence and entice them to agree to a ceasefire and get them to jettison their previous aversion to dealing with the Syrian government.
Of course, the field commanders too have little room to maneuver after the capture of Aleppo by the government forces. Besides, Trump’s win effectively shuts the door on any future US support for these rebel groups. There is bitterness among the residual rebel groups who remain within the Saudi orbit, but losers cannot be choosers. A commentary by Fox News brings this out.
In the final analysis, Moscow has shown almost seamless patience to get as many rebel groups as possible on board – with the exception of Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front. No ‘pre-conditions’ have been set except that the participants in the Astana talks must agree on ceasefire. What we see here is a total marginalization of regional states who played a negative role aimed at fragmenting Syria – principally, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel.
Moscow would feel gratified that Turkey is using its clout with the rebel groups to persuade them to attend the Astana talks. In a dramatic turnaround, Russian jets are now providing air support for the Turkish ground operations in northern Syria, testifying to the phenomenal shift in the regional alignments over Syria. (Associated Press )
The bottom line is that the departure of the Obama administration has dramatically improved the prospects for a Syrian peace process taking off, finally. Moscow is pinning hopes that there will be a sea change in the US policies in Syria w.e.f January 20. Again, to quote Lavrov:
- When he (Trump) says that his key foreign policy priority will be the fight against terrorism, we are happy to welcome this intention. This is exactly what our American partners lacked before him. On paper, they (Obama administration) seemed to be cooperating with us…, but in fact, they were deceiving us… According to a recent leak about John Kerry’s meeting with Syrian opposition forces several years ago, the United States regarded ISIS as a suitable force for weakening Bashar al-Assad… What Donald Trump and his team are saying now shows that they have a different approach and will not apply double standards in the fight against terrorism in order to achieve unrelated goals.
The talks in Astana are expected to be substantial. Russia and Turkey hope to involve the field commanders in the drafting of a new constitution, holding of a referendum and fresh elections. Equally, a consolidation of the country-wide ceasefire can be expected as a tangible outcome of the Astana talks. (TASS )
Syrian deputy Foreign Ministry rejected on Wednesday the participation of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the Astana peace talks on Syria next week, stressing that negotiations should not include every party that supports, arms and funds terrorism.
“Once Qatar and Saudi Arabia halt their support to terrorism, then we can discuss their participation in the talks,” he said.
Speaking to Al-Mayadeen TV, Moqdad said that Washington should prove its sincerity to deal with solutions for the Syrian crisis, prevent the support of armed terrorist groups, and exert pressure on Turkey to close its border with Syria.
On the participation of the United States in Astana negotiations, the Syrian official said “anyone who wants to work in good will to resolve the crisis in Syria can take part,” calling to “punish those who finance and arm terrorism, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”
The American government is ending some economic sanctions against Sudan as a reward for Khartoum’s closer ties with the West and Saudi Arabia, an African American journalist in Detroit says.
“The Sudanese government has shifted its foreign policy more towards Saudi Arabia,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, editor at the Pan-African News Wire.
“This is reflected in their participation in the war against Yemen… also they’ve broken diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Azikiwe said in a phone interview with Press TV on Friday.
“So I think this is a reward for Sudan in regard to moving closer to the West,” he added.
Obama signed an executive order on Friday to ease but not eliminate some trade and investment sanctions against Khartoum, arguing that the East African country has shown “a marked reduction in offensive military activity, culminating in a pledge to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas.”
The outgoing president expressed determination that the situation which led the US to impose and continue the 20-year-old sanctions had changed in light of Sudan’s “positive actions” over the last six months.
Sudan has been under US sanctions since 1997. Washington accuses Khartoum of supporting terrorist groups, and it has blacklisted the country as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993.
The US has accused Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of war crimes related to the conflict-torn Darfur region.
Violence broke out in Darfur in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels rose against the long-time ruler, accusing Bashir’s Arab-dominated government of marginalizing the region.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has in his latest remarks warned of Britain’s plots against Iran and the entire Middle East, including schemes to partition regional countries. Press TV has asked two experts to share their opinion with us on the UK’s for the Middle East.
Ibrahim Mousawi, a political commentator from Beirut, said Britain in particular, and the West in general, is trying to partition countries in the Middle East and North Africa to prepare them for imperialistic systems.
The Western powers, he said, have blueprints for the dismemberment of the Middle East in a bid to make regional states “manageable,” adding they care the least about violations of democratic principles and human rights in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain.
Western scenarios basically focus on the partitioning of the whole region, be it Libya, Syria, or even Saudi Arabia, on certain occasions.
He said the ‘divide and conquer’ scenario has been going on for a long time, noting that Western powers like the US, Britain and France have been seeking some kind of demographical and geographical shuffling in the region through territorial changes.
Mousawi stated that certain Western governments have been supporting Takfiri groups to wreak havoc in Syria and turn it into a war zone so they can pursue their plots.
The analyst exclaimed about the West’s failure to stop Saudi Arabia’s military aggression against Yemen and the rights violations in Bahrain, and the overall reluctance to put pressure on the Persian Gulf dictatorships.
“We (Arabs and Muslims) in this part of the world are being victimized by the Western governments. They are preparing schemes and plots in order to partition and divide these countries and [pit their] people against each other,” he said.
Mousawi called on regional leaders and people to stand against the conspiracies hatched by Western powers to divide them.
Meanwhile, Richard Millet, a journalist and political commentator from London, dismissed the notion that “Britain wants to divide up any country,” claiming that the United Kingdom, like the rest of the West, has been trying to “bring peace to the region,” which has failed.
Still he suggested that it might be more reasonable “to divide up certain countries into regions, which are more manageable, more governable.”
He further noted that Britain has a large number of Muslim citizens who have been able to participate in general elections. British officials “do not want to upset their Muslim population” by making them think that their own government may go after the destabilization of Muslim countries in the Middle East, Millet added.
He touched on the crisis is Syria, noting that the Arab country “is divided so there is more control for the various regions and elections for those various regions and they can be governed by the people of those regions.”
Comparing Saudi Arabia and Syria, he said, the West sees no emergency to carry out its partitioning policy in the Saudi kingdom because “there is no civil war” there, whereas the conflict in Syria has left thousands of people dead.
The oppressive, sectarian and violent nature of the Saudi state and its foreign policy is increasingly coming under the spotlight, even in mainstream Western media.
Yet the reality is not, as it is so often portrayed, that ‘civilized’ Britain is somehow sullying itself by ‘supporting’ the Saudi rogues. On the contrary, the Saudis are merely implementing a barbaric policy made in the West.
From Syria to Yemen, wherever there is bloodshed and massacre in the Middle East, Saudi money and guns are never far away. But behind the Saudis lies Anglo-American power. The deal today – as it has been for over a hundred years – is that, in exchange for a Western guarantee of their own security, the Al Sauds effectively cede control of their country’s foreign policy to the West. And the architect of that deal was the British state.
Before their alliance with the British, the Al Sauds were little more than murderous bandits, with little chance of achieving lasting power over any significant portion of the Arab peninsula.
Said Aburish, the biographer of the House of Saud, notes that whilst most Arabian tribes were settling or farming, Ibn Saud “was in the business of raiding other tribes to steal their camels, sheep and grain” – after which he typically “murdered all the men of the raided tribe to prevent future retaliation”.
As a result, the Al Sauds were reviled by most Arabs and Muslims, their leadership not even totally accepted amongst their own tribe, the Ennezza. This hostility between the Al Sauds and the other Arabs was deepened by their adherence to a particularly sectarian interpretation of Islam, Wahhabi’ism, which rejects as apostates pretty much every Muslim who does not subscribe to their medievalist philosophy.
Yet it was precisely this divisive quality which appealed to British imperialism. The British empire of the nineteenth century – guided by the philosophy of ‘divide and rule’ – was always on the lookout for groups lacking ‘native’ support to back, as they would be eternally dependent on British support and therefore could be reliably trusted to act as imperial agents. Furthermore, such groups would be utterly incapable of uniting their people into any kind of independent polity – always Britain’s worst fear within its colonial dominions.
From Syria to Yemen, wherever there is bloodshed and massacre in the Middle East, Saudi money and guns are never far away. But behind the Saudis lies Anglo-American power.
According to the leading historian of the developing Saudi-British relations in this period, Jacob Goldberg, the British elevated Ibn Saud above “people who were religiously, politically and strategically more important”. But this was, of course, the point. For the British, his relative unimportance was his greatest asset, for it left him utterly dependent on the British. Unlike his rivals, such as the Hashemites, he had no other source of power or authority beyond his alliance of convenience with the (Wahabbi’ist) Ikhwan fighters.
Thus, two years after Ibn Saud and his followers conquered Riyadh in 1902 – burning to death 1,200 of its inhabitants, and enslaving many of its women as trophies of their victory – the British began paying a stipend to Ibn Saud. The payment was greatly increased in 1911, with Ibn Saud using the money, says Aburish, to “expand and subsidize the loss-making colonies of soldier-saints of the Ikhwan, or ‘brothers’. [These] were fanatics of the Wahhabi sect to which Ibn Saud belonged, who were to provide the backbone of his conquering forces and whose savagery wreaked havoc across Arabia.”
Aburish noted that, “traditionally committed to individual freedom and achievement, the rest of the Muslims found the idea of the colonies and the fanaticism they produced totally unacceptable”.
Over the next few years – with British aid, arms and advisers – Ibn Saud and his warriors were able to defeat the rival Ibn Rasheeds and capture the Eastern Province of what is now Saudi Arabia. In 1915, Ibn Saud signed a treaty with the British which “elevated him to the role of a British-sponsored ruler of central and eastern Arabia”.
They knighted him the same year.
Ibn Saud’s conquests continued (although, as Aburish put it, “his conquests were no more than raids which, through British support, acquired a permanent nature”), and in 1925 his forces captured the Hijaz, where “as had been feared, Ibn Saud’s Ikhwan followers killed hundreds of males, including children, ransacked an untold number of houses, murdered non-Wahhabi religious leaders who opposed their brutal ways and destroyed whole towns”.
The region’s highly developed legal system was scrapped, and its institutions of representative government – complete with senate, cabinet, and party pluralism – were all abolished.
Instead, Ibn Saud appointed a council of advisers headed by the British Resident Harry St John Philby – and without a single native Saudi. The “feeling” noted by Sir Arthur Hirtel of the British India Office a year earlier – “that it would be good if Ibn Saud established himself in Mecca” – appeared to have been vindicated.
Two years later he had signed a new “friendship and cooperation treaty” with the British which ceded all control of external affairs to them. And he was clearly the right man for implementing ‘divide and rule’, creating border disputes with every one of his neighbors during the 1920s, including Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the Yemen and the Trucial states (today’s UAE).
The depth of Ibn Saud’s loyalty to his imperial masters – and the shallowness of his religiosity – was subsequently revealed when in 1929 he turned on his Ikhwan enforcers. They had wanted to expand into Iraq and Kuwait (as their evangelism demanded), but Ibn Saud knew this would be frowned on by the British.
So, with British support, he attacked their base in the village of Sabila and massacred them. If the Ikhwan had been his SA, this was his ‘Night of the Long Knives’. As Aburish put it, “Ibn Saud set his relationship with his sponsors above his connection with religious zealots for whom he no longer had any use”. By this time, Ibn Saud’s British stipend had reached £60,000 per year – equivalent to two-thirds of the country’s national income. Three years later, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – the only country in the world to be named after its ruling family – was officially founded.
As Aburish has concluded: “The simple, undeniable fact behind Ibn Saud’s rise to power was Britain’s interest in finding someone to deputize for it on the eve of the First World War… Ibn Saud, homeless and hungry, was there for the asking, cheap and willing to accommodate any sponsor”.
Indeed, Ibn Saud conceived of himself as an agent of the British from the very beginning. Like others before, he sought the sponsorship and protection of an imperial power, any imperial power, and following his rejection by the Ottomans, wrote this to the British resident in the Gulf: “May the eyes of the British government be fixed upon us and may we be considered as your proteges”.
Says Aburish, “Rather than acting as a unifier of the Arabs, Ibn Saud afforded an outside power, Britain, the comfort of keeping the Arabs and Muslims divided and protected its commercial and political interests, which opposed an Arab unifier at the helm.”
In the process, it is estimated that Britain’s protege had publicly executed 40,000 people and had the limbs amputated from another 350,000 during his campaign to subdue the peninsula – that is a total of 8 percent of the population either killed or mutilated in order to realize Britain’s desire that sectarian division should reign.
But for Britain – as, later, for the US – the choice of Ibn Saud as its Middle Eastern deputy has been a shrewd one, with the Saudis being the faithful enforcers of imperial skullduggery ever since.
From the very start, for example, the Saudis have been more than happy to throw the Palestinians under a bus to please the British. Throughout the 1930s, Ibn Saud ignored King Ghazi of Iraq’s call for a common Arab front against the colonization of Palestine, and then in 1936, when a 183 day Palestinian national strike was itself putting the British government under serious pressure, Ibn Saud persuaded the Palestinian Mufti to call the strike off, promising he would intercede with the British on the Palestinians’ behalf. British Foreign Office documents, however, show no record of this ‘intercession’ ever having taken place.
Three years later, in exchange for a £20 million payment, Ibn Saud accepted Britain’s proposal for a Jewish state on colonized Arab land. During the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, Saudi Arabia not only refused to send forces to Palestine, but even tried to prevent fighters from traveling there voluntarily, and ordered its newspapers to tone down their reporting of Palestinian suffering.
Today, of course, whilst publicly opposing Israel, the Saudis are perfectly willing to host the enormous Dhahran airbase of Israeli’s biggest military supplier and ally, the US.
In the 1980s, the Saudis encouraged (and financed) the Iraqi attack on Iran, and then kept oil prices low in order to maximize the war’s destructive effect on both countries. When the Iraqis wanted to sue for peace in the mid-1980s, they asked the Saudis to restrict production in order to prod outside powers into bringing the war to an end. Of course, the Saudis refused.
Saddam Hussein’s adviser Sa’ad Al Bassas commented later that “We knew they wanted the war to continue, but we were too dependent on them for financial support to complain out loud. They were following an American policy which called for weakening both countries”. In fact, this was precisely the British policy formulated in 1915, which called for a “weak and divided” Arabia.
In recent decades, the Saudi state has developed an additional niche role in the implementation of Anglo-American imperialism. As revolutionary liberation movements began to threaten the West’s dominion over the third world, especially from the 1970s and 80s onward, Saudi Arabia became the bankroller and conduit for covert, often illegal, Western policies to terrorize such movements and governments into submission. From the contras in Nicaragua, to the UNITA rebels in Angola, to the fascist Phalangists of Lebanon, to the apartheid regime in South Africa, CIA-backed sectarian terror outfits the world over became the recipients of Saudi largess. But it was in Afghanistan where this policy reached its apogee.
The Afghan revolution of 1978 brought the socialist PDPA movement to power. The new government immediately implemented a series of popular reforms including land reform and the constitutional recognition of women’s rights for the first time. The US and Britain saw such a movement as a threat to their control and exploitation of the third world, and especially feared its alliance with the Soviet bloc as undermining their global hegemony.
Beginning in mid-1979, the CIA began providing weapons to ultra right wing terror groups, who used Islam to justify attacks on the new government, its supporters, and its social infrastructure, including an assassination campaign which killed hundreds of teachers and civil servants. This support was designed, admitted Jimmy Carter’s adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1996, not only to undermine the new government, but also to draw in the Soviet Union and bog them down in a demoralizing and costly conflict – that is, as he put it, to “give the USSR its Vietnam war”.
The US and Britain saw such a movement as a threat to their control and exploitation of the third world, and especially feared its alliance with the Soviet bloc as undermining their global hegemony.
The strategy worked. By 1980, the Soviet Union had sent troops to support the embattled Afghan government, but as the years went by – and US, British and Saudi support to the ‘rebels’ was stepped up – the Soviets were eventually unable to sustain the massive cost in both lives and wealth, and withdrew in 1989.
In just one three-year period during this time – from 1987 to 1989 – Saudi Arabia had provided $1.8 billion in financial support to the anti-government fighters in Afghanistan (around twice the amount it had given to the PLO in the previous 14 years), as well as providing thousands of fighters.
But what is intriguing is that this support was not, as is traditionally believed, premised on religious ideology, but was rather driven, once again, by fidelity to the Saudis’ imperial masters. In “Jihad in Saudi Arabia”, Thomas Hegghammer notes that this financial and military support “Clearly… was not an automatic response to the Soviet invasion, because Arabs had not volunteered for other conflict zones in the past and did not to Afghanistan in significant numbers until the mid-to late 1980s”.
Indeed, says Hegghammer, there were only 16 Saudi fighters in Afghanistan before 1985, whilst “the permanent Saudi contingent would not exceed 50 people until early 1987”. In fact, initial Saudi support for the insurgency was primarily diplomatic, political and humanitarian, rather than military. Indeed, it was only at the request of the US that the Saudis agreed, in 1981, to match US funding for the militia groups themselves – and it was therefore only when the US ramped up financial support to such groups – the so-called ‘mujahedin’ in the mid-1980s that the Saudis were obliged to do the same.
Furthermore, says Hegghammer, the main opposition to the encouragement of young men to fight in Afghanistan came precisely from the “religious establishment”: “A common misperception in the historiography of the period is to present the Wahhabi religious scholars as prime movers behind the mobilization to Afghanistan. In fact very few, if any, of the scholars in the religious establishment actively promoted the Afghan jihad as an individual duty for Saudis”.
Saudi support for the mujahedin, just like Ibn Saud’s violence 60 years earlier, was driven not by religious idealism, but by an undying commitment to facilitating Western foreign policy – regardless of the cost in human lives. The ongoing consequences of this Afghan policy – the creation of the worldwide Al Qaeda terror network and offshoots such as ISIS – are well known. But, as Brzezinski put it: who cares about “some stirred-up Muslims” when the policy helped bring about the destruction of the Soviet Union?
Hegghammer summed up the various parties involved thus: “In Afghanistan… volunteerism [that is, the insertion of foreign fighters] was sanctioned by the USA, welcomed by the Afghans [fighting the government] and facilitated by the presence of a transit territory, namely Pakistan”.
This formula – the foreign fighters, financed by Saudi Arabia, and infiltrated through the willing collaboration of Pakistan – is precisely the one which has been used against Syria in recent years, with Turkey in the Pakistani role. Thus does the British-created Saudi state continue to fulfill the imperial role assigned to it over 100 years ago.
As Aburish put it, “Britain created Ibn Saud to protect its Middle East imperial interests and to eliminate those who threatened them… Without the West there would be no House of Saud. The Saudi people or their neighbors or a combination of both would bring about its end”.
Remember that next time a Boris Johnson or a Joe Biden feigns innocence about the role of the ‘dastardly’ Saudis. Everything they do, Boris, they do it for you.
Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.
The Washington Post – among others – hit the ground running in the wake of an apparent terrorist attack in Germany’s capital of Berlin before evidence was forthcoming and even before German police arrested a suspect.
A truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market, killing 12 and injuring many more in what resembled an attack in Nice, France where a truck likewise plowed into a crowd killing 86 and injuring hundreds more.
Spreading ISIS Propaganda
The Washington Post’s article and others like it followed the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) allegedly taking credit for the incident. Undeterred by a lack of evidence, the Washington Post and other media outlets – eager to capitalize on the attack to further Western narratives – concluded that the attack was aimed at “sharpening the divide between Muslims and everyone else.”
The Washington Post’s article, “Truck attack may be part of ISIS strategy to sharpen divide between Muslims and others,” would claim:
The claim on the official Amaq media channel was short and distressingly familiar: A “soldier of the Islamic State” was behind yet another attack on civilians in Europe, this time at a festive Christmas market in Berlin.
The accuracy of the claim remained in question Tuesday as German authorities searched for both a suspect and a motive behind the deadly truck assault on holiday revelers. But already it appeared that the attack had achieved one of the Islamic State’s stated objectives: spreading fear and chaos in a Western country in hopes of sharpening the divide between Muslims and everyone else.
The Washington Post’s “analysis” fails to explain why ISIS would target a nation so far playing only a minor role in anti-ISIS operations or the logic in provoking a wider divide between Muslims and the West. At one point, the Washington Post actually suggests ISIS may be trying to hinder the flow of refugees away from their territory toward nations like Germany with open-door policies welcoming them.
In reality, the Washington Post and the “experts” it interviewed are merely attempting to perpetuate the myth of what ISIS is and what its supposed objectives and motivations are.
Understanding what ISIS really is, and what it is truly being used for, goes far in explaining why the incident has been so eagerly promoted as a “terrorist attack,” and why other incidents like it are likely to follow.
ISIS Was Created By and For Regime Change in Syria and Beyond
The United States government in a leaked 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo would admit that “supporting powers” including “the West” sought the rise of what it called at the time a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria, precisely where ISIS is now currently based.
The leaked 2012 report (.pdf) states (emphasis added):
If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).
To clarify just who these “supporting powers” were that sought the creation of a “Salafist” (Islamic) principality” (State), the DIA report explains:
The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.
In 2014, in an e-mail between US Counselor to the President John Podesta and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it would be admitted that two of America’s closest regional allies – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – were providing financial and logistical support to ISIS.
… we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [ISIS] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
While the e-mail portrays the US in a fight against the very “Salafist” (Islamic) “principality” (State) it sought to create and use as a strategic asset in 2012, the fact that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both acknowledged as state sponsors of the terrorist organization – and are both still enjoying immense military, economic, and political support from the United States and its European allies – indicates just how disingenuous America’s “war” on ISIS really is.
The scale of the relatively recent attack on Syria’s eastern city of Palmyra took place along a front 10’s of kilometers wide, involving heavy weapons, hundreds of fighters, and was only achievable through immense and continuous state sponsorship as have been all of ISIS’ gains across the region.
It and “other radical Sunni groups” remain the only relevant armed opposition on the ground contesting the Syrian government.
As early as 2007, as revealed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” it was made clear that the US sought to arm and back Al Qaeda-linked militants to overthrow the government’s of Iran and Syria and to do so by laundering weapons, cash, and other forms of support through allies including Saudi Arabia.
ISIS is the full-scale manifestation of this long-documented conspiracy.
So What Did the Berlin Attack Really Seek to Achieve?
Sidestepping verifiably false narratives surrounding the myth of ISIS’ origins and motivations, and recognizing it as a whole cloth creation of the West for achieving Western geopolitical objectives, indicates that attacks like those in Nice, France, and now apparently in Berlin, Germany are aimed at perpetuating a lucrative strategy of tension in which Muslims are increasingly targeted and isolated in the West, more readily recruited by terrorists allowed to operate under the noses of Western security and intelligence agencies, and sent to wage the West’s proxy wars in Syria, Iraq, and eventually Iran.
While the excuses made by newspapers like the Washington Post change with the wind on a daily basis to explain ISIS’ creation and actions, the West’s calculus – warned about by Seymour Hersh in 2007, documented in a 2012 US DIA memo, admitted to in a 2014 leaked e-mail, and evident amid ISIS’ current, wide scale operations in Syria only possible through substantial state sponsorship – has been singular in nature and evident for years – even before the Syrian conflict began.
As long as Washington and its allies believe it is geopolitically profitable to maintain the existence of ISIS – used as both a proxy mercenary force and as a pretext for direct Western military intervention anywhere the terrorist organization conveniently “appears,” attacks like those in Brussels, Paris, Nice, and now apparently in Berlin will persist.
At any time of Washington and Brussels’ choosing, they could expose Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s role in sponsoring ISIS. At any time of Washington and Brussels’ choosing, they could also expose and dismantle the global network of madrasas both nations – with the cooperation of Western intelligence agencies – use to fill the ranks of terrorist organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Instead, the West covertly assists Saudi Arabia and Qatar in expanding and directing these terrorist networks – using them as a proxy mercenary force and a ready-made pretext for military intervention abroad and as a constant means of dividing and distracting the public at home.
Were the state sponsors of terrorism fully exposed and removed from the equation, the United States and its European allies would find themselves deployed across the planet, engaged in regime change operations, invasions, and occupations without any credible casus belli.
With the US and its allies determined to reassert and maintain global hegemony everywhere from the Middle East and North Africa to Central and East Asia, the manufactured threat of state sponsored terrorism – sponsored by the West’s oldest and closest Arab allies and the West itself – will persist for years to come.
A Kremlin readout on the phone call made by President Vladimir Putin to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on Friday to formally congratulate the latter on the liberation of Aleppo, highlighted that the Russian leader “stressed that the main task now is to focus on furthering the peace process, in particular by signing an agreement on comprehensive resolution of the Syrian crisis.”
Putin’s remark is an important signpost of the way forward in Syria. Moscow disfavours continuation of military operations by the Syrian government forces to regain control of the entire country (which would be the likely preference of Damascus and Tehran) and prefers that conditions must be made available to open the peace track. At any rate, all 5 major cities in Syria and the entire Mediterranean coast, where the bulk of Syrian population is concentrated, is in government hands already and the opposition is left to hold Idlib and isolated pockets in the south and east, with supply lines under immense pressure.
A ceasefire all across Syria is in the making. This appears to be the understanding reached at the 2-track ‘trilateral’ of the foreign and defence ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran which was held in Moscow on Tuesday. Interestingly, at a meeting in the Kremlin on Friday to report to Putin on the conclusion of the operations to liberate Aleppo and the successful downstream activities to evacuate civilians and render humanitarian assistance (in terms of a deal between Turkey, Russia and Iran), Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also made a significant remark that “In our (military’s) opinion, we are close to reaching an agreement on a complete ceasefire across Syria.” Putin responded:
- Together with our partners from Iran and Turkey, and of course with the Syrian government, other countries in the region and all countries concerned, we will need to continue efforts to achieve a final settlement. We must make the greatest effort now to end hostilities everywhere in Syria, and we will, at least, do our sincerest best to achieve this goal.
Of course, the campaign against the Islamic State and the al-Qaeda affiliates will continue. A ceasefire all across Syria has been a key demand by Turkey. Interestingly, Putin referred to the objective of drawing “other countries in the region” (other than Turkey and Iran) into these processes. The reference is to Saudi Arabia and Qatar principally. Conceivably, Russian diplomacy is at work on this front.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said he expected the peace talks to take place in Astana in mid-January. But TASS news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying: “I wouldn’t talk now about timing. Right now contacts are being made and preparation is under way for the meeting.” He said Putin would have a series of international telephone calls later to discuss the Astana talks.
Whether the Gulf sheikhs will be willing to drink from the chalice of poison remains to be seen. But what alternative is left for them now that the ‘regime change’ agenda in Syria is off the rails? Equally, a shift in Saudi and Qatari policies, away from further intervention in the Syrian conflict, will also at some point raise another ticklish question: What about the role of Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militia groups from Iran and Iraq who have been fighting in Syria? How an all-Syria ceasefire will be enforced remains to be seen.
Moscow’s objective will be to create new facts on the ground by the time the Trump administration shifts gear on Syria policies. Moscow has signalled on Friday that it is preparing for the long haul as well, with Putin signing a presidential decree ordering the signing of a deal with Syria that will “expand the territory” of Russia’s naval facility in Tartus and allow Russian warships into Syrian waters. The Soviet-era base is currently inadequate to serve most of the modern ships in the Russian Navy.
If the Syrian peace talks take off in the coming weeks, it will amount to a huge victory for Russia’s prestige in the Middle East and for Putin, in particular. But that is a big ‘if’. The good part is that with a relatively cooperative US administration settling down in Washington soon, which may be inclined to collaborate with Russia.
A senior Iranian diplomat emphasizes the need for a peaceful settlement of regional issues, saying warfare in the Middle East only benefits Israel through undermining the resources of regional nations.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaber Ansari made the remarks during a meeting with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Thursday.
“The solution to the region’s crises is not a military one. Not only doesn’t war lead to resolution of complications, but it will result in the erosion of the regional countries’ competencies, and has [hence] no winner other than the Zionist regime [of Israel],” the Iranian official asserted.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, Ansari also said the cure to the existent confrontations among the region’s political movements only lies in “serious dialog.”
Ansari described his talks with Hariri as “very favorable and constructive,” saying regional affairs as well as the expansion of Tehran-Beirut ties were discussed in the meeting.
The Iranian official further praised Lebanon’s positive role in the region as well as its “effective and proactive resistance against the Zionist regime’s occupation, expansionism and aggrandizement” over the past two decades.
The Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah is credited with defending the country against two wars launched by Israel, in 2000 and 2006. It has also been successfully helping the Syrian army fight Saudi-backed Takfiri militants in order to prevent the Syrian conflict from spilling over to Lebanon.
Hariri likewise said political solutions need the participation of domestic factions and the recognition of their views.
“If it were not for empathy and understanding among all Lebanese sides and political movements, we would not be witnessing their agreement and election of General Michel Aoun as president, the formation of a government, and the introduction of cabinet ministers,” he said.
On October 31, Lebanese legislators elected Aoun as president, ending a 29-month presidential vacuum. The Maronite Christian founder of the Free Patriotic Movement succeeded Michel Sleiman.
On Sunday, the country announced forming a new 30-minister cabinet led by Hariri. The government brought together the country’s whole political spectrum except for the Christian Phalangist party, which did not accept the portfolio it had been offered.
Ansari congratulated the Lebanese premier on the inauguration of the national unity government.
The Iranian official is to meet with other senior Lebanese political officials on Friday.
He arrived in Lebanon via Syria, where he had met separately with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Prime Minister Imad Khamis and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.
The liberation of Aleppo and the withdrawal of radical militants from this Syrian city provoked a storm of responses and comments across various Middle Eastern media sources.
While trying to downplay this major Damascus’ success, media sources from the anti-Syrian camp have been trying to raise arguments. They perceive the fall of Aleppo as the direct result of various intrigues and conspiracies, while admitting that there were serious miscalculations made by the so-called “opposition”. At the same time those media sources curse the West for it allegedly turning its back on the Syrian “revolutionary fighters” and Turkey for the “betrayal of their cause”, etc.
The Pro-Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, however, was forced to recognize the liberation of Aleppo as a major victory of Damascus that was achieved with an extensive amount of support provided by Russia.
At the same time it’s getting clear that the sponsors of the so-called opposition, especially those of the Persian Gulf, are determined to deny any responsibility for the failure of their militants. One of the most influential Saudi newspaper Okaz is critisizing the anti-Assad camp for living in luxury hotels outside Syria. It is outraged that, in the light of the recent events in Aleppo these “ungrateful salon revolutionaries” have started criticizing Persian Gulf monarchies for not providing enough support for them. They look at the kingdom as a “cash machine”, the newspaper argues, the only purpose of which is to refill their pockets with golden coins by taking advantage of the bloodshed and suffering of their fellow citizens.
Other media sources from the anti-Assad camp are cheerfully noting that they’ve lost a battle, but they didn’t lose a war.
The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir believes that the fall of Aleppo is the direct result of the failure of the pro-Western forces in Syria. Even though the so-called opposition had the control of large Syrian cities for years, they have already shown that they are unable to govern effectively even in those territories that they were occupying. In fact, what they’ve done resulted in a complete paralysis of all government structures, that may soon result in the complete Somaliazation of the whole country. The opposition could only achieve success in a certain area, but haven’t had any comprehensive strategy worth mentioning. In contrast, government forces are aiming at liberating the territories of their country and at rebuilding them.
Against this background, we’ve witnessed an intensified media war, with at least 60 different major TV stations purposefully trying to distort the events in Syria. This propaganda machine is being fueled by the petrodollars provided by the Persian Gulf monarchies, and the latter aren’t going to stop.
It seems that we’ve heard it all already, Damascus being accused of the use of chemical weapons against the population, Syrian and Russian troops being involved in the nonexistent “atrocities” against the civilian population, the alleged destruction of schools and hospitals; the assertion that Russia’s policy in Syria and throughout the region is one-sided.
Today in the ranks of the anti-Assad propagandists one can spot signs of massive confusion. According to the newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, four “media activists” of a number of jihadist groups in Aleppo surrendered to authorities long before the fall of the city. This got the opposition puzzled since those who escaped were involved in covert operations and fund raising.
The liberation of Aleppo, says the Iraqi Sawt al-Iraq news site, means that millions of dollars have been thrown to the wind, wasted on the financing of anti-government groups and supplying them with information from different sources. It’s clear at this point that back in 2011 when President Obama announced that Assad’s days were numbered he made a serious mistake. It’s the days of Barack Obama that are numbered now, argues the newspaper, since the former doesn’t have much time in power left.
The Western world is engulfed in hysteria over Aleppo. But they remained silent all the time that the city was occupied by ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations, so why start bothering now?
Yury Zinin is a Leading Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
RT | December 21, 2016
Moscow says that Saudi Arabia should join efforts to find peace in Syria undertaken by Russia, Iran and Turkey, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN envoy, said.
The Foreign Ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Moscow on Tuesday to draft a joint statement aimed at resolving the long term conflict in Syria.
According to Churkin, the document was “an extra effort by our three countries” to, among other things, prepare opposition forces “to negotiate with the government, and put them at the same table with the government, so they can develop between themselves some arrangements that would advance the political process.”
It is “very important” that the statement by Moscow, Tehran and Ankara “contained an invitation to other countries that have influence ‘on the ground’ to join such efforts,” he said.
“It seems to me it would be very important for Saudi Arabia to take a similar stance and work in the same direction,” the envoy told Rossiya 24 channel.
The Russia-US talks on resolving the Syrian crisis have stalled, but Churkin says that the situation may change when Donald Trump replaces Barack Obama in the White House.
“I’m going to share my personal interpretation of the things I’ve heard recently,” he said.
According to Churkin’s information, the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said he planned to convene a new round of talks about Syria on February 8, 2017.
“I’m sure he (de Mistura) did it only after he had found an opportunity to contact the people on Donald Trump’s team and to coordinate the date with them,” the Russian UN ambassador said.
“That’s good enough a sign because it could be indicative of the ability of the Trump Administration to steer the situation towards a rapid enough unfolding of the political process (in Syria),” Churkin said, again stressing that it was just his “personal interpretation of events.”
He said that Russia is ready to cooperate with Nikki Haley, who Trump plans to propose for the next US envoy at the United Nations.
“She’s a quite young governor of South Carolina, lacking international experience, but I heard some good comments about her,” the Russian envoy said.
However, he stressed that he doesn’t know Haley in person, which makes it hard to predict how the US delegation will act under her in the UN and with the Security Council.
“Anyway, I think it’s early to relax and expect that we’re going to have some kind of nirvana in our work at the UN. It’s going to be a bit more complicated in real life,” Churkin said.
The pullout of militants from the Syrian city of Aleppo “is being completed,” Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Wednesday.
Aleppo was the last major city being held by the rebels in the country, with their withdrawal being agreed though Russian and Turkish mediation.
According to estimates by Russian officials, the evacuation of civilians from eastern Aleppo, which has been under rebel control since 2012, is expected to conclude in a few days.
The New York Times has been leading the charge against “fake news.” Yet its own reporting and editorial positions are often as one-sided, distorted, or downright mendacious as the worst of the pseudo-alternative websites. The Times’ coverage of wars, especially those of strategic import for the US and/or Israel (not necessarily in that order) is a particularly fertile field of fake news flummery.
Most of America’s armed conflicts and interventions have been driven by New York Times war propaganda, and the current conflagration in Syria is no exception. An especially egregious, over-the-top example of “damn the facts, full speed ahead” warmongering, every bit as bad as the Judith Miller version of Iraqi WMD, is last Wednesday’s op-ed by the Editorial Board, “Aleppo’s Destroyers: Assad, Putin, Iran.”
The headline, like the diatribe beneath it, conceals the identities of the worst of the “destroyers” of Aleppo and Syria: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, the US and Israel. These governments have created, armed, financed, advised, and otherwise enabled the various militias, mercenaries, and terrorist groups that overran Aleppo and dismembered Syria.
Assad is the elected President of Syria, and Russia and Iran have intervened at the request of Syria’s legitimate government. Naming these three the “destroyers” of Aleppo, while ignoring the aggressors responsible for the proxy war on Syria, is practicing “fake news” at its worst.
The NY Times Editorial Board writes:
“Mr. Putin’s bloody actions — the bombing of civilian neighborhoods, the destruction of hospitals, the refusal to allow noncombatants to receive food, fuel and medical supplies — are all in violation of international law.”
International law?! What about the non-aggression principle and the doctrine of national sovereignty, the twin foundations of international law as it pertains to war and peace? Are not all nations sovereign entities whose borders are inviolable? Are not the Americans, Israelis, Saudis, Qataris, Emiratis and Turks committing aggression by attempting to overthrow the government of a sovereign nation? And is not such aggression “the supreme war crime” according to international law as enshrined in the Nuremberg precedent?
We know who is committing the supreme war crime, aggression. And we know who is fighting in defense of national sovereignty.
What about the lesser war crimes, all of which are the fruits of the supreme crime, aggression?
It is difficult to separate the facts from the propaganda regarding allegations of particular war crimes in Syria, thanks in large part to the lies of the anti-Assad propaganda industry supported by the West and its regional proxies. We do know that the worst atrocity alleged to have been committed by Assad – the August 2013 chemical weapons massacre at al-Ghouta – has been exposed as a false flag whose real authors were Saudi and Turkish intelligence agents, aided and abetted by Americans and Israelis. (Veterans Today exposed how the sarin was manufactured in Georgia at a US-run factory and smuggled through Turkey into Syria, while Seymour Hersh had to find a non-US publisher to explain how the monumental false flag fail at al-Ghouta forced Obama to abort plans for a US aerial assault on Damascus.)
Wikipedia tells us that between 281 and 1,729 people died in the al-Ghouta sarin attack. Why is the New York Times not demanding war crimes trials for the American, Turkish, and Saudi perpetrators of this monstrous massacre, which was designed to be blamed on Assad in order to trigger a US bombing campaign? Why has al-Ghouta, the worst atrocity of the war, been consigned to the memory hole?
The New York Times falsely reported that Assad bombed his own people at al-Ghouta. No more outrageous, criminal example of “fake news” could possibly be imagined — except, perhaps, for the Times coverage of 9/11 … coverage whose monumental lies, concealments and coverups have directly led to the deaths of many millions of people worldwide, including those who have perished in the “civil war” in Syria as well as the violence in the other “seven countries in five years” whose destruction was the main purpose of the 9/11 false flag operation.
The New York Times is not just a purveyor of fake news, it is a purveyor of propaganda for the supreme war crime, aggression, and several lesser crimes including genocide. If we are going to start shutting down “fake news” outlets, perhaps we should begin with the Times and the other mainstream media war criminals.
Despite strenuous denials, UK-made cluster bombs are indeed being used by Britain’s theocratic ally Saudi Arabia in its war on impoverished Yemen, according to the government’s own inquiries.
The new details have emerged through a leak to the Guardian from sources which claim that internal investigations support claims in the media that the outlawed munitions are in use.
The source said that the findings had been known by the government for up to a month.
However, the paper has also been told that Saudi Arabia – a major UK ally and one of its top arms customers – has not confirmed itself that the banned munitions are being used.
The revelations seem set to pile even more pressure on the UK to stop selling arms to the authoritarian regime.
The UK is a signatory to the 2010 treaty banning cluster munitions, which drop many tiny bomblets from the main device and can create what is in effect a minefield.
A senior defense source told the Guardian that the issue had been “raised at the highest possible levels and we have been trying to establish definitively for some time [if cluster bombs have been used].”
The “highest levels” are said in this case to include Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
In statement Monday after a spokesman for the military said: “The Government takes such allegations very seriously.
“We have analysed the case carefully using all available information, considering all possibilities, and raised the issue with the Saudi-led coalition.”
The UK has also been involved in training Saudi forces in air warfare skills and artillery, it emerged in 2016. Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel are also embedded in Saudi operations headquarters.
It was reported in April that courses were being run by RAF officers as recently as 2015 on ‘international targeting’ over three separate three-week blocks.
This included training on the Storm Shadow missile, which is launched from aircraft to destroy enemy bunkers.
Gunnery instruction on targeting and locating enemy gun batteries was also carried out by a seven-strong detachment of personnel from the Royal Artillery.
The artillery team delivered 52 hours of training to Saudi gunners and included a senior major, a captain, a sergeant major and a sergeant.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the course had been delivered to “a mixed group of soldiers and officers” from the Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF) field artillery.
The military said its personnel were not involved in “carrying out strikes, directing or conducting operations in Yemen or selecting targets, and are not involved in the Saudi targeting decision-making process.”