From the CIA document dump earlier this week: Online Now! 12 Million Pages of Declassifed CIA Documents I read all four documents Ynet is claiming demonstrate some imminent danger against Israel.
What is actually written there leaves one with the impression that Israel desired and planned for the war- despite the US asking them, more than once, not to preemptively strike other nations. And clearly reporting that Israel had begun to mobilize troops in advance of their desired war.
Considering all the recent Israeli aggression against Syria present day. The invasion of Lebanon. I find it impossible to believe that Israel was anything but the aggressor in this instance.
Despite the spin put on this news by Ynet.
The very first document Ynet points to:
There is NO information to confirm Israeli reports of an imminent attack-
“We have no information that would confirm the Israeli reports of an imminent attack”
In fact there is proof of a partial mobilization of Israeli Defense forces already being underway
“He said that a partial mobilization of the Israeli Defense Force is underway”
The second document used by Ynet, again fails to demonstrate an attack is imminent against Israel- It may demonstrate that there was going to be an attack against Syria? If we should assume citizens of the Soviet Union were actually being evacuated? Which is what this document does. “probably”?
The third document doesn’t confirm imminent attack either?
The US asks Israel to exercise restraint
The US asks Israel to take no preemptive action
The US opposes preemptive action on the part of Israel
The fourth document tells us only about Israel’s intelligence.
“I was notified that the Israeli’s have what they consider to be hard information…”
“Urgently communicating with the Israelis, Warning them against any pre emptive attack”
And Egypt expected an Israeli provocation..
Ynet : The morning of the coordinated attack on Israel, US assessments flipped from presuming war was not on the horizon to frantic attempts to prevent Syria and Turkey from attacking the Jewish state, which was warned off any preemptive strike.
Read the documents and decide for yourself... In all four documents it is clear Israel has prepared for an aggressive move and the US is repeatedly calling for restraint. Warning Israel not to move preemptively. Egypt expecting an Israeli provocation..
Syria’s capital city Damascus continues to suffer without water. The water which supplied four million people, was cut off by insurgents who have occupied the aquifer in Wadi Barada since late December. The insurgents, which include an alliance of US backed groups and Al Qaeda’s Syria branch Jabhat Fateh Al Sham (formally Jabhat al Nusra), uploaded a video of themselves rigging the ancient Ein Al Fijeh spring with explosives. Two days before this upload, the rebels were also accused of tainting the water supply with diesel. As a result of the success of the Syrian military campaign to recapture parts of Wadi Barada, the insurgents were forced to agree to allowing engineers in to fix the aquifer as part of a ceasefire agreement. However after the agreement was reached the insurgents shot and killed the negotiating team overseeing repairs. Previously they had shot at technicians as they attempted to enter Wadi Barada.
Several groups which included the so called “White helmets” NGO released a written statement, that they will not allow engineers to fix the spring until the Syrian government agrees to give them certain concessions. The White Helmets have received tens of millions of dollars from various Western governments. Their signed statement shows that they are complicit with Al Qaeda in what the UN has stated is tantamount to a war crime.
Yet NATO backed media outlets have failed to explicitly state this, tip toeing around the subject of responsibility. Some outlets were even initially suggesting its was the Syrian government that was responsible. The most offending headlines included this one from the Daily Beast, “Assad’s Newest War Tactic: Dehydration”. The Qatar linked Middle East Eye, a newspaper run by a former Guardian and Al Jazeera journalists, headlined with “Water war: Wadi Barada and Assad’s latest weapon”. Australia’s ABC news suggested that, “this was not the first time the Syrian government targeted it’s own facilities”.
Perhaps the worst offender was the discredited Bellingcat website, run by Eliot Higgins, which claims to be independent open source analysis while consistently backing up US State Department propaganda. They released an article claiming that the Syrian government was responsible for the damage to the aquifer. Bellingcat did not touch on the fact that it is the insurgents who refuse to allow the aquifer to be fixed.
There is also ample evidence that the insurgents were indeed behind the initial destruction of the spring. The insurgents uploaded a video of themselves on Facebook, rigging the ancient Ein el Fijeh spring with explosives. In the video a rebel is seen walking through the pipes saying, “this is one of the water pipes of Ein el Fijah spring, the revolutionaries are rigging it with explosives right now”. The video was accompanied by the following written statement.
“Let everyone know that the lives of the traitors in Damascus are not more precious than the life of a child from Wadi Barada. This is one of the tunnels that supply the occupied city of Damascus with water, it’s currently being boopy-trapped by the rebels, in the event that the mercenary commander Qaus Farwa continues his offensive on Wadi Barada, all the main tunnels will be detonated and will never be restored.” #Bombing_is_better_than_evacuation”
Rebels also made Facebook posts celebrating the destruction of the spring and taunting the people of Damascus. One rebel posted photographs of himself flashing victory signs over the rubble of the aquifer tunnels. One post reads,
“Hahaha just as like you wanted, your water has turned into diesel, and the bombing will happen tomorrow or the day after. The bombing is ready no matter what and after that let the flood come. We will burn the soul of each christian, shi’ites and those traitor sunnis who sold their religion and decided to side with you, you jew idiots. You want a ceasefire now just so you can pull your dead bodies out of our sacred soil? You can drink water from my d**k you pigs.”
Seemingly in coordination with the US backed rebels, ISIS cut off the water supply to Aleppo a few days later, suggesting that the water crisis was a planned reprisal for the liberation of Aleppo. This would not be the first time that insurgents cut off water to Aleppo, Syria’s second capital. In 2014, the insurgents filmed themselves celebrating the destruction of Aleppo’s water supply. The population of Aleppo was without water for over a year.
Furthermore, the insurgents have motive to cut off the water supply while the Syrian government doesn’t. The recent liberation of Aleppo city, involved the evacuation of insurgents to the city of Idlib in green buses, part of the terms of their surrender. The Syrian military was approaching Wadi Barada with the same terms of evacuation on the table.The rebels from the area have cut water supplies to Damascus several times in the past as a bargaining chip to prevent the Syrian army from entering the area and pushing them out. This was likely what caused the insurgents to use the water again as leverage, and escalate by not only stopping the water flow as they have done previously, but destroying it entirely. This is reflected in the Facebook posts made by rebels, that “bombing [the aquifer] is better than evacuation”. The people in Wadi Barada do not get their water from Ein el fijah spring, but from sources further upstream, hence the rebels would not be damaging their own water supply by poisoning and bombing the spring.
On the other hand there is no motive for the Syrian government to cut off water to Damascus, a city which they hold and reside within. It was the government who demanded to get engineers in to fix the aquifer, and in the meantime initiated a program of rationing and distributing water. Bellingcat’s author Nick Waters was wise to this and did not attempt to invent a motive. Instead he claimed that the Syrian government had destroyed the aquifer by accident, coincidentally at the same time that the insurgents were rigging it with explosives. The claim that the attack could have been an ‘accident’ is contradicted by the United Nations, which said the “infrastructure was deliberately targeted.”
Bellingcat’s Whitewash Attempt
The Bellingcat article was written by Nick Waters a former British military officer. This brings up the question of whether he is still biased towards serving Britain’s interests versus objective fact. Britain has been calling for regime change in Syria since 2011. Waters’ article is riddled with logical fallacies and non-sequitur conclusions.
Waters asks us to accept that a Syrian airstrike on the militants holding Ein El Fijah spring, resulted in diesel leaking into the water supply, claiming that it “probably” must have “damaged a fuel tank, generator or otherwise”. However he provides no evidence that this occurred, or an explanation as to what a fuel tank would be doing near the aquifer. He states that the same rebels who showed the tunnel being prepared for demolition were the ones who blamed the water crisis on the Syrian government. He asks us to accept their word on the latter but not the former. To Waters, the credibility of Al Qaeda-linked militants is not damaged by the fact they intended to destroy Damascus’s water supply. Water’s says “using media freely available on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, it is clear that the structure that covers the spring was significantly damaged on or after the 23rd December”. However the source he used showing the damage to the spring was from the 26th and 27th of December. Embarrassingly, Waters referred to Wadi Barada as “Barada Wadi” multiple times showing a complete lack of understanding about the very place he is attempting to write about. In another example of Waters’ profound ignorance, he also referred to one of the rebels posting on Facebook as “Abu”, however Abu is not a name, but a designation meaning ‘father of.’
Bellingcat and its founder Elliot Higgins are committed to building narratives in support the US State Department’s agenda. In the past, Bellingcat attempted to pin the blame on the crash of Malaysia MH17 on Russia. Bellingcat also produced shaky analysis claiming to have smoking gun evidence that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack in Ghouta. The article that was jointly written by Dan Kaszeta and Eliot Higgins, was contradicted by well known Physics Professor and rocket engineer Theodore Postol who also stated that Dan Kaszeta was a fraud. Dan Kazseta claimed to be a chemical weapons expert but in fact had no education in chemistry. Bellingcat’s article on the water crisis in Damascus will stand as further testament to the unreliability, even intentionally deceptive nature of its reporting.
The United Nations has stated that the cutting off of Damascus’s water could constitute a war crime. One awaits similar UN statements to be made about Aleppo where there is no shadow of doubt that the US backed rebels cut off the water supply in 2014. The UN’s statement could mean that the Al Qaeda linked White Helmets NGO could be implicated in war crimes. This raises the stakes for NATO governments who have provided them with tens of millions of dollars in donations. It is no wonder that a campaign of disinformation is being run to deflect blame and whitewash the incident.
Maram Susli also known as “Syrian Girl,” is an activist-journalist and social commentator covering Syria and the wider topic of geopolitics.
It is important to clarify some of Russia’s approaches to the negotiations between representatives of the Syrian Government and armed opposition groups in Astana on January 23.
We believe that the best is to limit the number of foreign participants to representatives of the countries-guarantors of the ceasefire – Russia, Turkey and Iran. The new US administration has been invited too. We hope that Deputy Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General R.Ramzi will act as a mediator at the talks.
The meeting in Astana is not a substitute for the intra-Syrian talks, which begin on February 8 in Geneva. On the contrary, it will contribute to the further development of the negotiation process by inviting the representatives of the armed opposition, who have real influence “on the ground.” We hope that they will also agree to participate in the Geneva talks as an equal and permanent member of the united delegation of the Syrian opposition.
On the agenda – discussions on strengthening the ceasefire, delivering humanitarian aid, building confidence, ensuring free movement of citizens throughout the country except in areas controlled by the terrorists, who are not a party to any agreement and must be defeated as endorsed by the UNSC resolutions.
We hope that a substantive discussion of the modalities of the constitutional reform in Syria will be launched, including the creation of the Constitutional Commission to get the work on a new Constitution started. The members of this Commission will include representatives of both the government and the various political opposition groups, which is provided for in the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
We hope that the meeting in Astana will contribute to the peace process in Syria and strengthen counter-terrorism efforts.
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
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 )
Cuba has denounced US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria, saying they violate the Arab country’s sovereignty as they are not permitted by Damascus.
Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations Humberto Rivero made the criticism during a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Wednesday.
“We demand the cessation of the violations of Syrian sovereignty and the foreign military presence without the consent and the coordination of operations with the Syrian government, the only legitimately elected authority in the country,” Rivero said.
He further condemned the “politicization” of the crisis in Syria and “the tampering of the humanitarian crisis and the suffering” of people in the Middle Eastern country.
Those who are “supplying weapons, money and patronage to terrorist groups are responsible for the thousands of civilian victims of the conflict and the humanitarian situation,” the Cuban diplomat said, expressing his opposition to “the promotion of an interventionist agenda” in Syria.
The US-led coalition has been conducting air raids against what are said to be Daesh terrorists inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. Analysts have assessed the strikes as unsuccessful as they have led to civilian deaths and failed to counter terrorism.
The US Air Force is also carrying out airdrops of weapons, ammunition and other equipment to militants fighting against the pro-government forces in Syria.
UN chief optimist on ‘conflict freeze’
Separately on Wednesday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the consequences of the Syria crisis had become “too dangerous.”
Speaking in a briefing at the UN office in the Swiss city of Geneva, Guterres stressed that the conflict had fueled instability in the Middle East region and terrorist attacks across the globe.
Touching on the upcoming Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, the UN chief further expressed hope that the discussions could “lead towards a consolidation of the ceasefire and a freeze in the conflict.”
The cessation of hostilities took effect on December 30, following an agreement between Syria’s warring parties.
Mediated by Russia and Turkey with the support of Iran, the truce is the first of its kind that has been largely holding in Syria for almost three weeks now. Earlier attempts by the US to broker such a long-lasting ceasefire had failed.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Guterres underlined that the success of the Syria talks could “help create the conditions for a political process” regarding the Syria crisis.
The Astana talks, which are scheduled to be held on January 23, were brokered by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran.
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.”
A growing number of opposition groups in Syria are getting increased weapons and ammunition supplies from the US Air Force to tackle Islamic State, according to US media reports citing the country’s military.
The weapons are intended for opposition forces closing in on IS’s self-proclaimed capital Raqqa in Syria, USA Today reports.
The “expanded” airdrops are “helping ground forces take the offensive to [the Islamic State] and efforts to retake Raqqa,” Gen. Carlton Everhart, commander of the US Air Mobility Command, is quoted by the news outlet.
Currently, the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) – an alliance of various militias, mainly formed by Kurdish fighters – is continuing its push to retake territories around Raqqa. SDF is among key opposition forces being backed by the US-led international coalition in Syria.
The weapons supplies “are absolutely essential” for the irregular forces fighting on the ground, the US Air Force spokesman in Baghdad Col. John Dorrian claimed, according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, Everhart reportedly claimed that the US military is being extremely precise while delivering arms and equipment to the opposition in Syria. “We’ll get it within 10 or 15 meters of the mark,” he said.
The US-led coalition has been repeatedly conducting military airdrops for the opposition groups in Syria. However, such missions have not always gone according to plan.
Back in October 2014, a weapons airdrop by the US Air Force apparently ended up in the hands of IS terrorists, who released a video claiming to have seized the cache of arms. The weapons had been intened for the Kurdish forces battling jihadists who were besieging the Syrian town of Kobane at the time.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren later said that two bundles of weapons have been lost. While one of them was destroyed by an air strike, another “went astray and probably fell into enemy hands.”
“There is always going to be some margin of error in these types of operations,” Warren added.
In December last year, US President Barack Obama granted a waiver for some of the restrictions on the delivery of military aid to “foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals,” if those groups are supporting the US’s alleged counter-terrorism efforts in Syria.
Reacting to the decision, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the move could result in some of the weapons getting into the hands of terrorists.
Such an occurence would pose “a serious threat not only for the region, but the entire world,” he warned.
On December 9, 2016 US Democratic lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act bill. She alleged that the CIA in fact supplied arms to the opposition, some of whom cooperated with terrorists including al-Qaeda. “This madness must end,” she urged.
As the eight-year term of America’s first black President draws to a close, the media are already in the process of myth-making. There’s room for an honest autopsy of a man who promised a new kind of world, and delivered merely warmed-over soundbites and a few fake tears.
“With Barack Obama’s exit the US is losing a saint.” writes Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, whilst Ann Perkins praises his “grace, decency and defence of democracy”. Lola Okolosie rhapsodises on his legacy of “warmth, love, resilience”.
Already the storyline is set – Obama was a good man, who tried to do great things, but was undone by a Republican senate, and his own “sharp intelligence”.
These people, as much as anybody, reflect the cognitive dissonance of the modern press. “Liberals”, to use their own tortured self-descriptor, now assign the roles of good guy and bad guy based purely on aesthetics, convenience and fuel for their vanity. Actions and consequences are immaterial.
For the sake of balance, here is a list of Saint Obama’s unique achievements:
- Obama is the first President in American history to be at war for every single day of an 8 year presidency.
- Obama has carried out 10x more drone strikes than Bush ever did. Every Tuesday a military aide presents Obama with a “kill list”, and the “decent, gracious” Obama picks a few names off a list…and kills them. And their families. And their neighbours. These illegal acts of state-sanctioned murder have killed hundreds of civilians in 5 different countries in 2016 alone. The only reason that number isn’t higher, is that the Obama administration re-classified all males over 18 as combatants, regardless of occupation.
- After declaring he wanted to build a “nuclear free world”, Obama committed to spending $1 TRILLION dollars on rebuilding America’s nuclear weapons.
- Under Obama, the NSA et al. were able to spy on, essentially, the whole world. When this was revealed, not a single intelligence officer or government official was prosecuted. Instead…
- Obama’s administration declared a “war on whistleblowers”, enacting new laws and initiating what they call the “Insider Threat Program”. Manning was prosecuted, Snowden sent into exile and Assange was set-up, discredited and (they hoped) extradited. It has never been more dangerous to be a government whistle-blower, than under Barack Obama
- In terms of foreign policy, despite his press-created and non-sensical reputation as a non-interventionist, American Special Forces are currently operating in over 70% of the world’s 138 countries. The great lie is that, where Bush was a warmonger, Obama has sought to avoid conflict. The truth is that Obama, in the grand tradition of the CIA and American Imperial power, has simply turned all America’s wars into covert wars.
- Before Obama came into office, Libya was the richest and most developed nation in Africa. It is now a hell-hole. Destroyed by war, hollowed-out by corruption. The “liberal” press allow him to agonise over this as his “greatest mistake”, and then gently pardon him for his good intentions. The truth is that Libya was not a mistake, or a misjudgment, or an unforeseen consequence. Libya is exactly what America wanted it to become. A failed state where everything is for sale, a base to pour illegal CIA weapons south into Africa and east into the ME. When war is your economy, chaos is good for business. When secrecy is your weapon, anarchy is ammunition. Libya went according to plan. A brutal plan that killed 100,000s and destroyed the lives of millions more. Libya, like Iraq, is a neocon success story. Syria on the other hand…
- Syria, probably the word that will follow Obama out of office as “Iraq” did his predecessor, is a total failure. Both of stated intent and covert goals. Where the press will mourn Obama’s “indecisive nature” and wish he’d “used his big stick”, the real story is one of evil incompetence, so great that it would be almost comical… if it hadn’t destroyed an ancient seat of civilisation and killed 100,000s of people. Syria (along with Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Iran and Sudan) was on the list of the 7 countries America intended to destroy, famously “leaked” by General Wesley Clark. After the fall of Libya, Syria was (essentially) surrounded by American military on all sides. Iraq, Israel, Turkey and America operating out of Libya could pour “freedom fighters” into Syria to bring down “the regime”. When that didn’t work they deployed the trusty “WMD” method, to demand “humanitarian intervention”… the Russians saw that off. Then “ISIS” was created by the CIA, as al-Qaida were before them, and their manufactured barbarism was used as a pretext for invasion. The Russians, again, saw to it that this would not happen.
- Perhaps in the hope of distracting Russia from the ME, or perhaps merely as a short-sighted punitive measure, the Obama administration’s next foreign policy target was Ukraine. Victoria Nuland’s own voice proves how much that “color revolution” was an American creation. Ukraine is broke, even more broke than it was, its people starve and freeze through the winter. The new “democratic government” has shelled 10,000 people to death in the East of the country…. using American weapons.
- In Yemen, the poorest country in the ME is being bombed to shreds by the richest…. again, using American (and British) weapons. Obama’s “defense of democracy” doesn’t extend to criticising, or even discussing, the abhorrent Human Rights record of America’s Saudi Arabian allies, and in an act of brazen hypocrisy, even supported their chairing of the Human Rights Council of the UN.
This is the world Saint Obama has created. Guantanamo is still open, and terrorist “suspects” are still held there without trial or charge (they are probably still tortured). Other “suspects” can be simply declared guilty, and unilaterally executed… anywhere in the world. The NSA and CIA are illegally monitoring the communications of half the world. If any other leader in the world claimed even 1% of this power, they would be decried as “autocratic”, and their country denounced as a “pariah state”.
The Middle-East is ablaze from Libya to Afghanistan, and from Yemen to Turkey. Relations with Russia are as precarious as at any time since WWII, thanks to America’s efforts to break Russia economically and shatter their global influence. There is no sign that America intends to back-down (see the recent red-scare style hysteria in the American press). Likewise America has positioned itself to have a massive conflict with China in the South China Sea. Obama is, in terms of influence, nothing more than a used-car salesman. His job is not to create policy, but to sell neocon ideas to the general public, but his lack of agency cannot excuse his lack of vision or morals. Under Obama’s notional leadership the world has moved to the very brink of self-immolation in the name of protecting American hegemony. Domestically America still crumbles.
He had a nice smile, and a good turn of phrase. He was witty, and cool, and looked good in a suit… but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t just more of the same. He could say the right things, and sound like he meant them, but he was still a monster. As he moves out to pasture, the press will try to spit-shine Obama’s tarnished halo, to try to convince us that he was a good man at heart and that, as politicians go, we can’t do any better.
But yes, we can.
The Syrian capital’s crippling water shortage will soon come to an end after rebels allowed engineers to enter a damaged pumping station, according to a regional governor. More than 5 million people have faced dire conditions amid the shortage.
The governor of Damascus Countryside Province, Alaa Ibrahim, told reporters on Friday that the engineers have entered the facilities at Ain al-Fijah in the Wadi Barada area after a deal has been reached for the army to take control of the area.
“We have halted military operations in Ain al-Fijah and started reconciliation with the militias there,” Ibrahim told reporters from an area near the site, as quoted by AFP.
“God willing, the pipe will be fixed within three days… rapid measures will be taken to get water to Damascus tomorrow,” he added.
The governor said that the rebels who refused the deal will be allowed to leave for the rebel-held Idlib province.
“All of Wadi Barada will be secured within hours,” he added. “Water will not be cut off to the city of Damascus again.”
A restoration of the supply would put an end to the devastating shortage which has left more than 5 million people without water for almost two weeks.
The Damascus Water Authority cut the supply in late December, after it said the Barada River – the source of the water – had been contaminated with diesel fuel by militants.
The result has been devastating for residents of Damascus, with shop shelves completely stripped of any trace of water.
Such dire conditions raise concerns about the risks of water-borne diseases, especially among children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told RT, noting that it is delivering water in trucks to schools. Other humanitarian agencies are also on the ground.
But as civilians struggle to obtain clean water, rebels have laid blame on the Syrian government, claiming its bombing campaign has damaged vital infrastructure.
The governor said the Friday agreement is part of a wider deal for rebels to stop fighting in Wadi Barada. The deal would also include the departure of some of them for other insurgent-held areas in the country, and a settlement with others who would remain there, Reuters reported.
Wadi Barada has become the most intense battlefront in the Syrian civil war, with fighting continuing despite the start of a truce brokered by Russia, a Syrian ally, and rebel-backer Turkey in late December.
The Al Jazeera television channel has revealed an Israeli plan to destroy the careers of senior British government figures because they have been critical of Israel. Shai Masot, a senior official in the Israeli embassy in London, was recorded by an Al Jazeera undercover reporter in conversation in a London restaurant with Ms Maria Strizzolo, formerly chief of staff to the British government’s ‘minister of state for skills’, Robert Halfon, the past political director of the Conservative Friends of Israel, who has a colourful history.
Shai Masot (right, with the Israeli Ambassador at the British Labour Party Conference in 2016)
In one of the exchanges between Ms Strizzolo and Mr Masot, he is recorded as asking her ‘Can I give you some [names of] MPs [Members of Parliament] that I would suggest you take down?’ to which Ms Strizzolo replied that all MPs have ‘something they’re trying to hide.’ (The expression ‘take-down’ is defined as ‘a wrestling manoeuvre in which an opponent is swiftly brought to the mat from a standing position,’ but in this context has more disturbing connotations.)
Mr Masot speaking with Ms Strizzolo
Mr Masot then told her ‘I have some MPs’ and specified ‘the deputy foreign minister,’ Sir Alan Duncan, who has been critical of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. According to transcripts of the meeting, Strizzolo implied that ‘a little scandal’ might result in Duncan being dismissed, and added ‘don’t tell anyone about this meeting,’ which was clear indication that she knew it was clandestine and involved sensitive matters.
It was not surprising that Ms Strizzolo resigned her position following disclosure of her agenda — but first she tried to lie her way out of the affair, as is usual for such people.
In answer to a reporter’s questions she claimed her conversation with Masot was ‘tongue-in-cheek and gossipy… Any suggestion that I could exert the type of influence you are suggesting is risible.’ She declared that Mr Masot ‘is not someone with whom I have ever worked or had any political dealings beyond chatting about politics, as millions of people do, in a social context.’ This was strange, coming from a person who was recorded as saying she could help Israel because ‘If at least you can get a small group of MPs that you know you can always rely on… you say: ‘you don’t have to do anything, we are going to give you the speech, we are going to give you all the information, we are going to do everything for you’.’
Pronouncements of innocence did not end with Ms Strizzolo’s assertion of virtue, and the Israeli Embassy declared that ‘the comments were made by a junior embassy employee who is not an Israeli diplomat, and who will be ending his term of employment with the embassy shortly.’
This so-called ‘junior embassy employee’ describes himself as ‘a Senior Political Officer’ on his business card, and his social media page states he is ‘the chief point of contact between the embassy and MPs and liaising with ministers and officials at the Foreign Office’ which indicates that he is responsible for dealing with influential representatives of his host country.
It is bizarre to state that Mr Masot would explore methods of ‘taking down’ British government ministers without authorisation from a very high level.
Masot told Joan Ryan, a Member of Parliament and Chair of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), that he had plans for ‘another delegation of LFI activists’ to visit Israel and Ms Ryan said ‘That’d be good. What happened with the names we put in to the embassy, Shai?’ To which Masot replied ‘We’ve got the money, more than a million pounds, it’s a lot of money… I have got it from Israel. It is an approval.’
Israelis don’t spend a million pounds for nothing.
Predictably, Ms Ryan said the filmed revelations are ‘rubbish,’ but the Al Jazeera recording provides undeniable evidence of her involvement in chicanery as well as an Israeli scheme to interfere even more directly in the domestic politics of the United Kingdom.
It cannot be denied that an official of the Israeli Embassy in London collaborated with a British government employee who worked for a pro-Israeli Member of Parliament in order to attempt to destroy the reputation of a British government Minister. Yet the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office — the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose Minister of State (in effect the deputy foreign minister) was the person specifically targeted for a campaign of Israeli-British denigration — quickly stated that ‘The Israeli Ambassador has apologised and is clear these comments do not reflect the views of the embassy or government of Israel. The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.’
And that is that. There will be no action by the British government, in spite of Mr Masot reflecting amusingly, and no doubt to the approval of Ms Strizzolo and much of the British public, that the Foreign Minister himself, Mr Boris Johnson, ‘is an idiot with no responsibilities.’
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, is entirely pro-Israel, as demonstrated by her criticism of departing US Secretary of State John Kerry who described the Israeli government as the ‘most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.’ He was perfectly correct, but Mrs May scolded him and pleased the Israeli government by stating that she does ‘not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.’
The Conservative and Labour and all the other Friends of Israel have worked their magic in Britain, as does the enormously powerful Israeli lobby in the United States, and the Al Jazeera revelations were only a one-day-wonder in the West.
The Matter is Closed.
But imagine the outcry if there had been reports concerning such actions in London (or Washington) by a representative of any nation other than Israel.
If a Russian diplomat in the capital of any Western country had tried to engage in underhand antics like Israel’s ‘Senior Political Officer’ in London there would be massive journalistic fandangos in American and British media. The West’s television channels would be near meltdown with hysterical condemnation of the threat to democracy and there would be prolonged and frenzied anti-Russian outbursts in their halls of government.
But when Israel schemes to ‘take down’ a respected British Government minister with the assistance of a British government official, and the Israeli ambassador apologises for being found out, the British ignore insult, injury, contempt and condescension, and declare that ‘The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.’
It is amazing what money can buy.
Syrian state news agency SANA says Israeli jets have bombed the Mezzeh military airport west of Damascus, accusing Tel Aviv of supporting terrorism. The airport was rocked by multiple explosions, with ambulances rushing to the scene.
The Syrian Arab Army has warned that there will be repercussions for Israel for the “flagrant attack” on the military base, state TV said, citing a Syrian army command spokesman. It also linked the alleged strike to Israel’s “support of terrorist groups.”
The army said several missiles were fired at the Mezzeh airport’s compounds from the Lake Tiberias area in northern Israel at about 12am Friday. The strike reportedly damaged one of the compounds of the crucial military facility.
There was no information on the death toll resulting from the airstrike immediately available. The base is reported to house Syria’s elite Republican Guards and Special Forces.
Footage from the scene with heavy fire and the sounds of explosions has surfaced on social media. Multiple reports from journalists and activists on the ground described the bombing, with the opposition also reporting there were rockets fired.
“Rockets strike at Mezzeh Military airport in Damascus minutes ago,” tweeted Hadi al-Bahra, former president of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces.
This is the second time in two months that Israel has been accused by the Syrian government of targeting Syrian positions from Israeli territory.
On December 7, SANA reported that “several surface-to-surface missiles” were launched by the IDF from the Golan Heights. At the time, the source in the Syrian armed forces slammed the attack as a “desperate attempt” by Israel to endorse terrorists.
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.