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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Global helmsman Xi Jinping steps up with charm offensive

January 17, 2017
He did it, his way; Chinese President Xi Jinping descended on the Swiss Alps; profited from a geopolitical vacuum only three days before Donald Trump’s inauguration with the Atlanticist West mired in stagnation and/or protectionism; unleashed a charm offensive; and deftly positioned China in the lead of “inclusive” globalization.
In a wide-ranging speech that went from global angst to China’s new normal, Xi sounded all the right notes that global capital needed to hear; protectionism is like “locking oneself in a dark room,” and “no one is a winner in a trade war.”
His speech delved into the necessity of peace in Syria, the perverse effects of the absence of financial regulation, and the struggle for “balance between efficiency and equity.”
So onwards with the fourth industrial revolution – and may China deliver.
Xi, the first Chinese president to visit the turbo-capitalist World Economic Forum talkfest, meant business from the start.
He arrived with an 80-strong delegation that included Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Dalian Wanda’s Wang Jianlin – China’s top two billionaires – as well as Baidu’s Zhang Yaqin.
Compare these “globalist princelings” with the Trump camp, represented by one of his official business advisers, Anthony Scaramucci, founder of hedge fund SkyBridge Capital and Salt, a not exactly stellar Las Vegas investment conference (the next one is at the Bellagio in May).
Where’s the ticket to the Rothschild party?
A “humanized” Davos 2017 is very worried about saving the world – or at least saving the wealthy from most of the world. The WEF has suddenly discovered that globalization as we know it fosters massive inequality, as much as globalization’s self-appointed managers remain inflexible about their moral right to bend whole nations to their will, as the “miraculous” numbers of the Irish economy attest.
Thus an alarmed WEF is promoting at least six sessions discussing inequality, from “Combating Rising Insecurity and Inequality” to “Squeezed and Angry: How to Fix the Middle Class Crisis,” starring IMF’s Christine “Vuitton” Lagarde and a bunch of hedge funders.
And this while Oxfam revealed to the world the real G8 of inequality – as in those individuals who own as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the world combined. Call them the Kings of Globalization – featuring, among others, Bill Gates, Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg, .
In pure neo-Dadaist fashion, there could not be a more graphic emblem for inequality than Davos itself. To get a green card all-area-access, mostly in and around the Grandhotel Belvedere, corporations must become strategic partners of the WEF.
The list is a beauty. Each membership costs a whopping US$600,000, allowing a CEO to bring up to four cohorts; but still they must pay for each individual ticket. And even that does not guarantee an invitation to the glitziest party in town, thrown by Nat Rothschild in tandem with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
Still, those who shelled out the cash will hardly resist the chance to hear Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg (with a US$1.3 billion fortune) expand on how “older” global leaders can profit from the optimism of youth. Eric Schmidt (worth US$11 billion), chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is also in town, but this time he opted for discretion.
Listen to the sound of my ‘win-win’ clapping
Xi was very careful not to advertize a new “Chinese consensus,” or model, as the model itself is being carefully, and painstakingly, tweaked.
What stood out in his presentation is that Beijing does not interpret globalization in a Western, turbo-neoliberal sense.
There are indeed benefits. They also do mask the plunder of the developing world’s resources via stealth “international laws” and (now dead in the water) trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) or the Trans-Pacific Partnership  (TPP), mostly for the benefit of the West’s 0.01%, who then become alarmed by “inequality.”
A passerby casts a shadow over a map illustrating China's "One Belt, One Road" megaproject at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China, on January 18, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip
A passerby casts a shadow over a map illustrating China’s One Belt, One Road project. Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip
Xi instead is promoting the notion of serial win-win deals; and that’s why his positioning is essentially the ultimate glorious pitch for the New Silk Road, a.k.a. One Belt, One Road (Obor) project, largely featured in the last part of his speech.
Everyone knows about Obor as an essential tool to tweak the Chinese model; develop the Chinese Far West; open an array of Eurasian markets; promote the internationalization of the yuan; and of course consolidate a major geopolitical shift, not least by neutralizing most of the Obama/Clinton “pivot to Asia.”
So when we get the concerted firepower of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); the Silk Road Fund; and the New Development Bank (NDB) under Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), we have enough capital to generate generous financing for an infrastructure bonanza from China, across Central Asia, and all the way to Western Europe and Eastern Africa.
Only in Kazakhstan, for instance, there are more than 50 deals valued at over US$20 billion in effect. The new peace in Syria negotiations – Russia, Iran and Turkey – will take place in Astana, not Geneva. Kazakhstan represents the intersection of the New Silk Roads and the Eurasia Economic Union (EEU). Russia and China are luring Iran – and later on Turkey – into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) fold. Syria, pacified and rebuilt, will be a key plank of Obor. It’s all interlinked.
So what China is proposing has nothing to do with deglobalization. It’s rather about “localization.”
But trade deals never die. With the death of TPP, Xi had to extol the merits of the pan-Asian Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which excludes the US but crucially merges all of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members with everyone ASEAN has trade deals with; China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
RCEP will be a boon for manufacturing within the vastly complex and broader supply chain across Asia, smashing tariffs across the board. That will include China-India trade. Yet it remains to be seen how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India campaign will cope with opening up its markets to Chinese imports.
And, of course, Xi had to refer to the yuan question. The yuan is currently overvalued. The People’s Bank of China does not want it to slide down even further; its priority is a stable exchange rate – to stabilize trade. Still, Danske Bank strategist Allen von Mehren, who’s usually spot on, predicts the yuan falling to 7.26 to the US dollar by the end of September.
Somebody’s got to explain all this to Trump, implications included. It won’t be Scaramucci. Not to mention Peter Navarro, Wilbur Ross, “Mad Dog” Mattis or Michael Flynn. It has to be global helmsman Xi in person.
Pepe Escobar is correspondent-at-large for Asia Times. His latest book is 2030, published by Nimble Books.

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Outgoing CIA Director Hypes Nonexistent Russian Threat


Global Research, January 18, 2017
U.S. CIA Director Brennan takes part in a conference on national security titled "The Ethos and Profession of Intelligence" in Washington
America needs enemies to advance its imperial agenda. None exist so they’re invented – a pretext for current wars, future ones, color revolutions, old-fashioned coups and assassinations.
It’s been the American way from the republic’s inception, a culture of violence persisting at home and abroad since the 18th century, far more dangerous with today’s super-weapons able to kill us all.
Neocon infest Washington, Trump’s tenure perhaps destined to be the most turbulent in US history since the Civil War, how he’ll fare yet to be determined.
Dark forces far more powerful than the office of the presidency confront him. If he diverges from longstanding practice, especially geopolitically, he may not last a full term, maybe not a full year.
Working with Russia cooperatively, instead of maintaining adversarial relations, could seal his fate.
Interviewed on Fox News Sunday, January 15, host Chris Wallace asked outgoing CIA director John Brennan if disparaging comments by two former agency heads wasn’t just cause for Trump to believe Langley is out to get him.
Former acting CIA director Mike Morell said “(i)n the intelligence business, we would say Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”
Former agency head Michael Hayden called Trump a “useful fool…manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but his blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”
Brennan neither “defend(ed) or explain(ed) what they said.” Claiming the intelligence community will support Trump depends entirely on how his agenda unfolds, especially his policy toward Russia.
Hyping its nonexistent threat, Brennan claimed Trump doesn’t have a full appreciation of (its) capabilities, (its) intentions, and actions (it’s) undertaking in many parts of the world.”
Fact: Putin favors world peace and stability,  wants cooperative relations with all nations, deplores America’s imperial madness.
Brennan: Russia must “change (its) behavior, change (its) actions.”
Translation: Russia must play by Washington rules, be subservient to its wishes or else.
Brennan opposes Trump and Putin working together cooperatively. He’s against lifting sanctions, no matter their illegality.
He lied about what’s happening in Ukraine, in Syria, in “the cyber realm.” Trump needs to step back from “absolving Russia of various actions” it never undertook, he said.
No “Russian aggression” exists in Ukraine, Syria or anywhere else. US wars of aggression rage in multiple theaters, responsible for millions of casualties Brennan ignored.
He recited a laundry list of nonexistent threats, ones Washington uses as pretexts for raping and destroying one country after another.
US national security hasn’t been threatened since WW II. Brennan lied claiming otherwise. Asked to name his greatest accomplishments and regrets, he shamelessly expressed pride in being part of an administration involved in “advanc(ing) the interests of peace and stability,” along with related issues.
Obama’s disgraceful record speaks for itself – the most ruthless regime in US history, the most lawless, the most contemptuous of humanity at home and abroad.
As for regrets, Brennan named Syria, shamelessly claiming his “heart…bleeds over what happened” there – ignoring US naked aggression against a sovereign independent country threatening no one, the CIA under his direction playing a major role.
Brennan is an unindicted war criminal, unaccountable for Nuremberg-level crimes of war and against humanity.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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Key NATO Commander: NATO Is Obsolete

Gen. Mercier Says NATO Too Focused on Deploying Troops Abroad
With most of the political leadership in other NATO member nations lash US President-elect Donald Trump for calling the alliance “obsolete,” he doesn’t appear to be alone, with top NATO commander Gen. Denis Mercier saying he agrees that there are parts of NATO which are absolutely obsolete.
Gen. Mercier is France’s Air Force Chief of Staff as well as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, and says he believes NATO is far too focused on deploying troops abroad, and sending expeditionary forces into various countries, singling out Afghanistan in particular.
Mercier argued that NATO should revamp its anti-terror efforts to focus on helping countries develop their own long-term plans for counter-terrorism operations instead of just deploying NATO troops around the world.
The Supreme Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is meant to focus on future threats, and its express purpose is to modernize parts of NATO that are approaching obsolescence. It is not wholly surprising, then, that the commander would see significant parts of NATO that are obsolete, though the fact that he was willing to public affirm as much right now reflects a major break with the political leadership, which is desperate to present NATO as both relevant and irreplaceable

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Since last 3 generations US, Turkey had been trying to topple Syrian govts & Every time Russia exposes their agenda


Russia exposes US, Turkey agenda

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USA military boosts weapons airdrops to Syrian terrorist groups

Reports

RT | January 17, 2017 
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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,  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  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  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.
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How The USA Enabled ISIS To Take Deir Ezzor

Source

By Moon Of Alabama
MOA” –  –  The city of Deir Ezzor (Deir ez-Zur) in east-Syria is on the verge of falling into the hands of the Takfiris of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). More than 100,000 civilian inhabitants of Deir Ezzor and thousands of soldiers defending them are in immediate danger of being murdered by the savage ISIS forces. The current situation is a direct consequence of U.S. military action against the SAA and non-action against ISIS.
Deir Ezzor is besieged by ISIS since September 2015. But the city was well defended by its garrison of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and all further attacks by ISIS were repelled. Supply to the city was hauled in by air through the Deir Ezzor airport and through air drops by the Syrian and Russian airforces. Relief by ground forces and ground supplies are not possible as Deir Ezzor is more than 100 km away from the nearest SAA positions west of Palmyra and as the desert in between is under the control of ISIS.
Google map – bigger
Four days ago a new attack by ISIS on Deir Ezzor was launched and has since continued. ISIS reinforcements and resupplies had come over months despite air interdiction from the Russian and Syrian airforces. Yesterday ISIS managed to cut off the airport, where the local SAA command and its main supplies are hosted, from the city proper. It is now attacking in full force from all sides. Bad weather makes air support from the outside sporadic and difficult. Unless some unforeseen happens it is only a question of time until the airport and the city fall to ISIS.
Map by Peto Lucem – bigger
The U.S. has condoned and/or even actively supported the imminent ISIS taking of Deir Ezzor by (at least) three measures:
  • a massive U.S. air attack on SAA forces in September 2016 enabled ISIS to take a controlling position and to cut off SAA resupplies
  • a U.S. attack against a power station in January disabled the last electricity supplies to the city
  • U.S. non-intervention enabled ISIS reinforcements from Mosul and west Iraq to Deir Ezzor in east-Syria
On September 16 2016 an hour long U.S. led air attack on SAA positions on the Tharda hills to the south of the airport killed over 100 SAA soldiers, destroyed a big SAA supply dump and several SAA tanks and artillery pieces. Immediately after the U.S. attack ISIS took the hills and has since held them. The positions allow for fire control over the airport of Deir Ezzor.
The U.S. military claimed that the attack was a mistake but a thorough reading of the investigation report of that “mistake” shows that the U.S. military attack was intentionally targeting the SAA to make a political point against an announced U.S.-Russian cooperation agreement to fight ISIS. (Danish airforce F-16 planes and drones under U.S. command had taken part in the attack. After the report was published, the Danish government pulled all air elements from its participation in the U.S. coalition against ISIS.)
Since the U.S. attack in September no significant air supplies have reached Deir Ezzor. Even helicopter landing at the airport is only possible at night and by taking very high risks. The city inhabitants and their defenders are completely cut off.
Early January U.S. airforce attacks destroyed the electricity plant at the Omar oilfield near Deir Ezzor. The plant was the last one to supply the city of Deir Ezzor. Since then only a few military generators and dwindling fuel supplies are left for medical and communication equipment.
When the Iraqi Army plans for retaking the ISIS held city of Mosul were developed and commenced in October the U.S. insisted on leaving a western corridor open for ISIS forces inclined to flee from Mosul into the direction of Deir Ezzor. Hundreds if not thousands of ISIS fighters used the corridor. The U.S. controlled Kurdish forces in north Iraq let ISIS pass from Iraq to Syria. Fearing (correctly) that an ISIS move out of Mosul towards Deir Ezzor would mean the fall of Deir Ezzor Russia and Iran intervened with the Iraqi government. Despite U.S. wishes the Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi ordered his Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) to cut off the western exit:
Iran was not the only country pressing for the escape to be closed west of Mosul. Russia, another powerful Assad ally, also wanted to block any possible movement of militants into Syria, said Hashemi. The Russian defence ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
One of Assad’s biggest enemies, France, was also concerned that hundreds of fighters linked to attacks in Paris and Brussels might escape. The French have contributed ground and air support to the Mosul campaign. … Still, the battle plan did not foresee closing the road to the west of Mosul until Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi agreed in late October to despatch the Popular Mobilisation militias.
Despite a fast advance by the PMU from the south against Tal Afar to cut off the escape road many ISIS fighters in west Iraq were able to flee across the border and towards Deir Ezzor with their equipment in tact. They reinforced the ISIS troops now attacking Deir Ezzor. The U.S. has uncontested air superiority over west Iraq and east Syria but did not once intervene against the large scale move.
If ISIS takes Deir Ezzor it will likely kill (as it did on other occasions) all captured SAA troops and anyone it believes to have cooperated with them. The soldiers know this. They will fight down to the last bullet. But without any reinforcements and resupplies their chances are slim.
When the Syrian government besieged al-Qaeda forces in east-Aleppo the “western” media and the various “Syrian opposition” propaganda outlets were running an all out campaign in support of the besieged Takfiris. There is no such campaign in support of the civilians and soldiers in Deir Ezzor. In their few reports about the imminent fall of Deir Ezzor “western” publications even resort to outright lying. Thus claims the Daily Telegraph:
The US-led coalition, as well as the Russians, have been bombing the jihadists in Deir Ezzor for the last 18 months but have been unable to dislodge them.
No significant U.S. air attacks have been flown against ISIS forces around Deir Ezzor at all. All attacks flown by the U.S. in the area have been against Syrian government troops or their supporting infrastructure.
The U.S. official rhetoric about fighting ISIS is not supported by observable facts on the battle field. One can only conclude that the U.S. military does not only condone but supports ISIS in gaining control over Deir Ezzor despite the extreme high risk for anyone left in the city.
This likely to further the larger long term plan of installing a “Salafist principality” in western Iraq and eastern Syria that creates a justification for the U.S. military to stay in the area to “fight ISIS” and which can be activated against the Syrian and Iraqi government whenever convenient. U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have both admitted that they earlier allowed ISIS to grow in Iraq and Syria for exactly such political purposes.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Israel Rearrests Freed Palestinian Hunger Striker



Israel Rearrests Freed Palestinian Hunger Striker
Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:33

TEHRAN (FNA)– Israeli forces rearrested a Palestinian journalist who was freed from prison last year after an extended hunger strike, his family said Tuesday.
Mohammed al-Qiq was detained Sunday night at a checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah on his way back from a demonstration against Israel’s refusal to return the bodies of slain Palestinian assailants, said his wife Fayha Shalash, News 24 reported.
According to Shalash, Qiq’s lawyer told her he was being held in Ofer prison, West of Ramallah, and “has been on hunger strike since the moment they arrested him.”
In May, 34-year-old Qiq was released from a six-month prison term without trial following a 94-day hunger strike.
He occasionally took minerals and vitamins but mainly ingested only tap water.
Qiq had been held under the administrative detention system, which allows Israel to hold prisoners without trial for renewable six-month periods.
Qiq’s case was widely covered, and the United Nations expressed concern about his condition during his previous time in prison.
The Palestinian Prisoners Club also said Israeli forces had arrested 20 people, 15 of them former prisoners.

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What Drives Motivate Israeli Missile Attacks on Syria?


What Drives Motivate Israeli Missile Attacks on Syria?
Monday 16 January 2017

Alwaght– The central command of the Syrian army has announced that on Friday morning the Israeli regime fired several missiles at a big military airport in the western side of the capital Damascus. The army statement also warned Tel Aviv of the consequences of such a “blatant violation” of the Syrian sovereignty.
The official Syrian television quoted Syrian army’s statement as saying that a couple of missiles– launched from an area close to the Lake Tiberias in the occupied territories– hit the Al-Maza military airport. The airport contains installations belonging to the country’s presidential guard.
Immediately after the missile attacks, the Syrian foreign ministry sent two separate letters, one to the United Nations Security Council and the other to the UN secretary general, strongly condemning the assault against the military airport outside Damascus. The letter of the foreign ministry read that the aggression comes as part of a series of earlier Israeli aggressions against Syria since the beginning of the crisis in the country.
“Such an attack would not have occurred had it not been for the direct support from the outgoing American administration and French and British”, the letter to the international community added.
Syria also blamed the “mercenaries” of the Western powers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Turkey, saying that the attack aimed at destroying the Syrian independence and government and also domination of the country and the region as a whole. The Syrian foreign ministry maintained that the aggressions are coming after back-to-back blows dealt to the terrorists in north, center, and south of the country. The Syrian army has recently pushed the militants of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly al-Nusra Front) out of eastern Aleppo and disarmed terrorists in Damascus outskirts and other fronts like Khan Al-Sheikh, Quneitra, and Daraa.
This is not the first time Tel Aviv strikes Syrian territories. Earlier, the Israeli fighter jets several times violated the Syrian air space, carrying out attacks on targets in the crisis-hit country. The al-Mezzeh military airport was hit at least twice in November and December last year by the Israeli fighter jets. But the fresh assault is attention-grabbing while the country is experiencing a ceasefire after liberation of Aleppo and inflicting heavy losses on the terrorist groups across the country. A couple of goals can drive the Israeli regime to carry out such apparent aggression through missile attacks on a country that is involved in a domestic battle with terror groups:
Distracting the Israeli public opinion
The Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is striking the Syrian territory while it is at home facing unprecedentedly bitter criticism and questions over its political incompetence and economic corruption cases. Referring to the PM Netanyahu’s financial corruption investigation and the resultant popular backlash, the Lebanon-based al-Ahed news website, quoting the Israeli Anyan research institute, said that the Israeli political circles, Western intelligence services, and the political analysts believed that the Israeli PM is doing his best to use the security issues to calm the popular anger that followed the recent corruption inquiry, and so direct the attentions to other issues. The Israeli officials so far declined to comment on their aggressive measures on Syria, but according to the previous experiences and records of such attacks by the Israeli regime, the recent missile attack on al-Mezzeh military airport can be Tel Aviv’s move in a bid to divert the public attention from Netanyahu’s investigation, especially that the last week’s probe also saw engagement of his wife Sarah Netanyahu in the case. She was questioned by the Israeli police for illegally receiving presents from some rich people. With these happenings in mind, targeting the al-Mezzeh military airport and similar potential measures in the future will manage to at least remove part of the pressures put on the Netanyahu’s family by the media outlets.
Influencing the truce and peace talks in Syria
On the other side, the Israeli missile attacks on Syria are aimed at impacting the underway cessation of fire across Syria and the peace dialogue that is planned to be held between the Damascus government and the armed opposition groups. This possibility is raised in a time that the Syrian government shows commitment to the current ceasefire and supports the scheduled peace negotiations in Astana, Kazakhstan. Amid this display of commitment by Syria, the Israelis are making rogue moves in a bid to foil the truce and thus block ways of peace. Their final aim is to distance the Syrian crisis from any settlement.
Missile attacks on the military installations outside Damascus will push the Israelis closer to their objective of influencing the Astana peace talks if Damascus decides to respond to the Israeli regime out of a miscalculation. In fact, this is what the Israelis favor. Any direct Syrian confrontation with Tel Aviv will mar the ceasefire and the planned dialogue with the opposition. But the immediate reaction of the Syrian foreign ministry and sending letters to the UNSC and raising legal case against the Israeli regime showed that Damascus reactions come with a consideration of the regional circumstances and forthcoming peace talks. Actually, Syria is by no means poised to sacrifice a possible solution of its six-year domestic crisis to an uncalculated response to the Israeli roguery. In these conditions, Damascus will steer clear of any reciprocal military reaction which appeals to Tel Aviv.
Impairing Syrian army and anti-terror Resistance camp
Perhaps the key goal behind the Israeli missile strikes on Syria is to weaken the Axis of Resistance and particularly Lebanon’s Hezbollah that are currently involved in battle with the terror organizations in Syria. The Israeli news website Walla back in May 2015 quoted the former Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon as saying that Tel Aviv will not allow Hezbollah achieve modern weapons. Short after these comments, the Israeli fighter jets bombed the Syrian areas on the border with the Israeli regime. The airstrikes, according to Tel Aviv officials, came to impair Hezbollah forces operating in Syria.
Following the recent Israeli attack in Syria, Abdel Bari Atwan, the prominent Arab author and editor-in-chief of London-based Rai al-Youm news website, in his note quoted the Israeli press, saying that the Israeli attack hit a shipment of high-accuracy “Fateh-1” missiles. The missile has a range of 300 kilometers and a warhead with payload of about 400 kilograms. Atwan added that the Israeli media declined to make it clear if the missile shipment was bound for Hezbollah or was set to be stockpiled for the Syrian forces.
A consideration of the Israeli officials’ comments, like those of Ya’alon, and the previous attacks on Syria on the one hand and the Israeli media claims that took attention of Abdel Bari Atwan on the other hand helps us make sure that recent Israeli assaults on the Syrian military airport come to undermine the power of Hezbollah in Syria. This aim comes as part of open striving for the final aim of saving the anti-Damascus terrorists from defeats. In fact, according to the Israeli claims, the missile offensives in Syria come to weaken a pro-Damascus group that is currently present on the front lines of battle against terrorist groups in Syria. So this measure was an effort to prevent any losses and retreats of the terrorist groups in Syria.

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Tens of High-Ranking Turkish Army Officers Resign after Defeats in Northern Syria



Tens of High-Ranking Turkish Army Officers Resign after Defeats in Northern Syria

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Turkish journalist disclosed that at least fifty high-ranking officers of the Turkish Army have resigned due to their recent defeats in the course of the Euphrates Shield Operation in Northern Aleppo.
Ahmad Takan, a columnist in Turkish language Yeni Chaq paper, wrote in an article that the army’s heavy defeats in the Euphrates Shield Operation in Northern Syria caused 50 senior officers to resign.
He added that the 50 officers have handed over their resignations to army commanders in al-Bab region.
Takan also quoted informed sources in the Turkish army as saying the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) sells the arms and ammunition it receives from the Turkish Army to the ISIL.
He further added that on January 8, a group of Turkmen militants affiliated to the Turkish army arrested a group of FSA near the village of Akhtari South of al-Bab region as they were dispatching two trucks of arms and munitions to the ISIL-held regions.
Takan went on to say that the Euphrates Shield Operation has been defeated and its casualties have been hidden by the operation commanders from the public opinion.
Hospitals in Dilouk, Kilis and their countrysides are full of injured soldiers of the Turkish army, Takan added.
He said that Ankara has also been forced to hand over ISIL’s dead members to the terrorist group to take back its dead soldiers’ bodies.
Turkey has also increased duration of mandatory military service to make up for the loss of forces in a fresh wave of resignations.
Media sources disclosed on Sunday that tens of Turkish soldiers were suspended after selling their weapons and military equipment with the help of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the sidelines of the Euphrates Shield Operation in Northern Aleppo.
Al-Watan newspaper said that social media activists released reports along with images showing that “50 Turkish military men have been suspended and ordered to drop their operations in the Euphrates Shield Operation”.
Meantime, dissident activists from Northern Aleppo reported that “after the Euphrates Shield Operation, we witnessed new equipment and guns in Northern Syria, and after investigation it became clear that the warfare equipment belonged to the Euphrates Shield Operation forces”.
Opposition sources had also disclosed in September that militants affiliated to the Turkey-backed FSA have received a batch of advanced military vehicles in Northern Aleppo.
“The FSA-affiliated terrorist group of al-Hamza that is under the command of the Euphrates Shield Operation Room has received a number of military vehicles from the US army officers deployed in Northern Aleppo,” the sources said.
Opposition sources have also released several photos showing the US army vehicles with al-Hamaza terrorist group’s emblem.
Al-Hamzah had previously claimed that it is independent and is not working with any foreign country.

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Turkey remove Assyrian sculpture from front of local city hall

Turkish authorities have removed an Assyrian sculpture of a mythological winged bull known as Lamassu, from the front of a local council building in Diyarbakir, home to many of Turkey’s Assyrian minority.
No official explanation has been provided by the Turkish government by the symbolic Assyrian sculpture was removed.
The sculpture was erected by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which has many Assyrian members and a strong presence in Diyarbakir, but was removed after Turkey placed unelected government loyalists in charge of the municipality, under the emergency decree issued after the failed military coup in July 2015, which gave sweeping powers to the government, AINA reported.
Erol Dora, an Assyrian member of the Turkish Parliament from HDP, raised the issue of the sculpture in parliament. He asked the interior minister why the sculpture was removed and what has become of it, but no response to his inquiry has been made, the AINA report continued.

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SAA on the verge of restoring water supply to Damascus, attempts to lift the siege on Deir Ezzor Airport

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:55 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continued their offensive in the Wadi Barada area of rural Damascus on Tuesday, attacking the remaining points under jihadist control in the Al-Fijah Springs.
Led by the 42nd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division, the Syrian Arab Army advanced from the gates of ‘Ayn Al-Fijah to the Tahtani Roundabout, which is located near the main water treatment facility that feeds into Damascus.
If the Syrian Arab Army captures the Tahtani Roundabout, they will be in position to expel the remaining jihadist rebels from ‘Ayn Al-Fijah and likely force them to surrender their remaining points in Wadi Barada.
As of now, the Syrian Arab Army’s 42nd Brigade is engaged in a fierce battle with the jihadist rebels of Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front) near the Tahtani Roundabout – no gains have been reported thus far.

Syrian Army attempts to lift the siege on Deir Ezzor Airport

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:15 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has launched a powerful attack this evening to recapture the Deir Ezzor Cemetery, Jirayah village, and Harabish District from the Islamic State terrorists.
Backed by Syrian and Russian airstrikes, the Qassem Group of the Republican Guard forces stormed the Deir Ezzor Cemetery’s eastern perimeter, where they were met with strong resistance from the Islamic State terrorists entrenched around this site.
If the Syrian Arab Army is successful in recapturing the Deir Ezzor Cemetery from the Islamic State terrorists, then the air force will once again be able to land helicopters at the military airport.
The video footage above is from the Panorama area of western Deir Ezzor; this is one of the most critical sites the Syrian Arab Army has to secure in order to push back the Islamic State terrorists.
According to a military source in Damascus, the runways at the Al-Qamishli Airport are flooded with fighter jets preparing to assist the Syrian Arab Army in Deir Ezzor.
These fighter jets flying from Al-Qamishli to Deir Ezzor have carried out nonstop airstrikes against the Islamic State, destroying a number of their armored vehicles and killing several of their terrorist combatants.
The battle will likely intensify tonight, as the Syrian Arab Army attempts to reopen their strategic roadway from the provincial capital to the military airport.
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