Sunday, 30 April 2017

Israel Launches Fresh Attack on Syria; Subdued Response from Russia

The Syrian government claims that explosions which rocked an area near Damascus Airport in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, April 27, were the result of a new Israeli attack upon the country. The attack has been “all but confirmed” by Israel’s intelligence minister.
“I can confirm that the incident in Syria completely conforms to Israel’s policy to act so as to prevent the smuggling of advanced weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon by Iran,” said Yisrael Katz.
Apparently all Israel has to do is claim to be bombing a “weapons shipment” to Hezbollah and it gets away with one attack after another upon Syria. This has been the pattern.
Also in keeping with the pattern, the response from Russia has been, shall we say, “subdued” at best. You can go here to access an RT report on the attack that makes no mention of any official response whatsoever. The official website of the Russian Foreign Ministry also has not (at least as of yet) posted anything on the matter–even though the attack occurred more than 12 hours ago.
The only thing I could find indicating any response at all from any Russian official are a couple of reports, the first one by  SANA, the Syrian government’s website:
Moscow: Israeli Aggression on Military Site Southwest of Damascus Airport Violates International Law
Moscow, SANA- Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova affirmed on Thursday that the Israeli aggression on a military site southwest of Damascus Airport violates international law and is in the interests of terrorists.
In a press conference in Moscow, Zakharova said that Moscow condemns acts of aggression against Syria and regards them as impermissible and running counter to international law which cannot be justified because this violation is destabilizing and is in the interest of the terrorists, like Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, and obstructing the reaching of a settlement of the crisis in Syria on the basis of international resolutions, particularly resolution no.2254.
“We are urging all to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, a UN member-state,” she said.
Zakharova expressed her country’s deep concern about the bombing of Turkey to border areas in northeastern Syria and northern Iraq, stressing that the US aggression on al-Shairat airfield in the countryside of Homs had encouraged Ankara to commit this aggression.
She hoped that Astana meeting next week will achieve positive results and prevent the deterioration of the situation in Syria, adding that Syrian parties should be supported in reaching compromises that put an end to the ongoing confrontation in Syria and that Russia will not allow the terrorists to impose their control over the country and the entire Middle East region.
In a related context, Zakharova said that there are many facts and information to prove that the so-called White Helmets are working for the terrorists and fabricating films and false scenarios about the tragedy of people to discredit the Syrian forces and the Russian military.
“The White Helmets not only feel at home on territories controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra and the ISIS but also openly express positive attitude towards them, provide information and even financial assistance to them,” she said.
“There is documentary evidence proving that White Helmets members participated in some operations carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as covered up the signs of civilian executions,” she added.
She noted that the Swedish NGO Doctors for Human Rights had accused the White Helmets of falsifying information about their humanitarian work in Syria by producing staged videos. “They analyzed a video and came to the conclusion that the people in the video were dealing with kids who were under the influence of drugs, rather than trying to provide them with medical assistance,” Zakharova stressed.
She added that Moscow is doing all it can to provide humanitarian aid to the Syrians without discrimination, including the besieged areas of Deir Ezzor, calling on the West to deal with the humanitarian issue in the same manner and stop the attempts to impose additional sanctions on Syrians.
And there is also this brief report regarding a statement from Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov:
‘Respect Syria’s Sovereignty’–Russia to Israel
“We urge the State of Israel to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and refrain from taking any steps that could lead to more escalation in the already troubled region”, Peskov was heard saying.
He also denied reports on preparations for a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump that was supposed to take place this month.
On Thursday night, Israel fired missiles into Syria and which allegedly targeted Hezbollah positions in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport. This was the second Israeli incursion into Syrian territory in the past 5 days.
Additionally, Sputnik has posted an article that does not quote any Russian official, but which does include comments from a Russian geopolitical analyst  saying that the strike could be “a deliberate provocation.”
Why Strike Near Damascus Airport Could Have Been ‘A Deliberate Provocation’
Israel’s recent alleged strike on a site near Damascus International Airport could have been aimed at testing the waters of the political situation in the region, Russian geopolitical analyst Konstantin Sokolov told Radio Sputnik, adding that it is part of the same trend as an earlier US missile strike on Shayrat airfield in Syria.
An alleged Israeli strike against a site near Damascus International Airport in Syria could have been aimed at testing the waters with the international community, Konstantin Sokolov, Deputy Director of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems told Radio Sputnik.
On Thursday, a large explosion occurred close to the Damascus airport, with initial reports claiming that it was an Israeli attack on a supposed Hezbollah supply hub.
Commenting on the strike, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told Army Radio that “the incident in Syria fully fits in with Israel’s policies… of countering Iranian attempts to supply modern weapons to Hezbollah through Syria.”
Katz also cited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to continue Israeli efforts to prevent the alleged delivery of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah, which is fighting on the side of the Syrian government forces. The group, which was founded in the mid-1980s, is viewed by Tel Aviv as a terrorist organization.
Interestingly enough, Katz shied away from claiming responsibility for the strike. For its part, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) press office refrained from commenting on the matter.
Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Sokolov noted that still there is little information available on the attack. However, according to the geopolitical analyst, the recent strike falls within the same trend as the previous US missile strike at the Shayrat airfield in Syria.
“This incident should be considered together with the [US] missile strike authorized earlier [by US President Donald] Trump. These actions are aimed at the internationalization of the Syrian conflict,” Sokolov emphasized.
“If the strike was really conducted by the Israeli Air Force this is a direct violation of international law,” the analyst stressed, assuming that the attack wasn’t aimed at turning the tide in someone’s favor.
The analyst believes that one shouldn’t exclude that the real objective of those who sanctioned the attack was to put out feelers to see how the countries involved in the fight against terrorism in the region will react to this strike.
“First of all, this is a show of force aimed at examining the situation in the world: how other countries would react and what actions they will take [in response to such a strike]. If it is confirmed, it will mean that it was a deliberate provocation,” Sokolov emphasized, calling attention to the fact that the strike didn’t happen somewhere in the Syrian desert.
Sokolov suggested that the Syrian government will continue to use diplomatic measures to avoid the escalation and internationalization of the conflict.
Meanwhile, speaking to Sputnik Arabia, a Syrian military source denied the existence of a Hezbollah weapons depot near Damascus International Airport.
According to the source, these reports are being spread by some Western and Arab media “to justify Israeli aggression.”
“The Israeli Air Force has repeatedly committed acts of military aggression in Syria, taking advantage of the presence of international troops on its territory. But these repeated violations will not go unanswered by the Syrian [Arab] Army,” the source told Sputnik.
The source also confirmed that during the attack, the Syrian Arab Army’s weaponry stockpile referred to as “Hezbollah’s warehouse” by some media outlets was not affected by the recent strike.
Hostilities between Israel and Syria have repeatedly escalated, with the Israeli Air Force aircraft hitting targets in Syria in response to cross-border fire incidents.
In March 2017, Damascus warned Tel Aviv that it will retaliate if Israel continues to conduct airstrikes on Syrian territory.
So that’s it: Israel, it seems, gets away with another attack on a sovereign nation. Meanwhile, the US has just ratcheded up tensions considerably with North Korea. After condemning the North Koreans for conducting missile tests, the US yesterday test fired an ICBM:

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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Elie Wiesel honors Angela Merkel

On Monday, the US taxpayers’ funded Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, honored German Chancellor Angela Dorothea Merkel, 62, with 2017 Elie Wiesel Award for her services to the Holocaust Industry.
Merkel called the award a great honor and a major gesture toward her and her country. She said that for Germany to have a bright future, it’s essential to understand the Holocaust as the ultimate betrayal of all civilized values.
I’m glad Merkel acknowledged the German nation’s Holocaust guilt and like Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t blame Mufti of Palestine for forcing Hitler to murder innocent Jews.
The award was established in 2011 and Elie Wiesel himself was the first recipient of it. Other recipients include Rep. John Lewis (2016), Jew Judge Thomas Buergenthal (2015), pro-Israel Canadian Senator Lt. Gen.Roméo Dallaire (2014), Polish Jew Władysław Bartoszewski  (2013) and Aung San Suu Kyi (2012), the Myanmar leader who was condemned by United Nations last year for her part in ethnic-cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.
Angela Merkel who was honored by Jew Time magazine as Person of the Year 2015, was born in former Russian occupied East Germany and was a member of communist party in her youth. She is daughter of a Lutheran pastor. After the inauguration of Donald Trump, Murdoch-owned media declared her the so-called Leader of the Free World in February 2017.
Merkel is considered the most popular Western leader among Israeli Jews for her military and financial help. Last month Israel’s Angela Merkel, Tzipi Livni, former Mossad sexpot met Merkel in Berlin.
However, there are some of Merkel’s acts hated by the organized Jewry. For example, on January 10, 2017, British Jew weekly Spectator declared the Worst German Chancellor for allowing Muslim immigrants from Africa and Middle East who commit mass rape of White Christian women like the Russian and American soldiers did during WWII.
Germany has second largest Muslim population (4-4.5 million) in Europe after France (7-9 million). 70% of foreign Muslim immigrants in Germany are of Turkish origin – while 80% of Muslim immigrants don’t have German citizenship. There are over 100,000 German Christian and Jew converts to Islam. My favorite among them is Dr. Murad Hofmann, ambassador, author and former top NATO official (listen to an interview with him below).

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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Lobby: US can’t afford to lose Afghanistan to Taliban

On Friday, Taliban fighters attacked an Afghan military base in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing 140 US-trained Afghan soldiers and wounding many others. It’s Taliban’s response to America’s testing its MOAB weapon to scare those Israel-hating Taliban after they recaptured a major part of Baghlan province from Afghan soldiers on April 7.
On April 11, 2017, Israel propaganda news website The National Interest, founded in 1985 by Jew neocon Irving Kristol (father of Bill Kristol), cried America Can’t Afford Keep Losing the War in Afghanistan.
As the Taliban launch their spring offensive, the Trump administration has yet to announce its strategy for the war in Afghanistan,” said Sabera Azizi.
Gen. John Nicholson, the top US-NATO commander in Afghanistan, told the AIPAC controlled Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2017 that the security situation in Afghanistan was at a stalemate. He estimated that an additional several thousand troops would be needed to reverse that stalemate. Gen. Jospeh Votel, commander of the US Central Command, made a similar assertion to the committee in March 2017.
Dubya Bush administration planned an invasion of Afghanistan in December 2000 to exploit Caspian Sea oil reserves and increase supply of poppy for the Jew Mafia.
Taliban now control nearly 75% of Afghanistan territory by night.
Since 2002, Taliban have been putting armed resistance against both the US occupation and the US-backed regime and the military forces propped up to protect it both in Kabul and across the country. That the base targeted by the recent attack also reportedly garrisoned German troops is also significant. The prospect of ending such attacks or securing any sort of “victory” over the Taliban and the local tribes allied to it is as unlikely now as a US victory was in Vietnam during the 1970’s,” says Ulson Gunnar on April 25, 2017 (here).
Professor Rajan Menon (University of New York) wrote in September 2016: “Few will say it, but the facts are indisputable: America’s war in Afghanistan has failed. There comes a time when persisting in a lost cause amounts to foolishness, indeed irresponsibility. That time has arrived.”
Pakistan’s top spy, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul had predicted in 2010 that America’s war in Afghanistan was a lost cause.
American Jewish writer, political commentator, author of seven books, anti-war activist and ex-Zionist Phyllis Bennis claims the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were to serve Israeli interests. She also claims that the same Zionists are now pushing America into new war with Iran.
The US is 11 years into its current war in Afghanistan and still losing. We never had a chance to WIN this war of vengeance – and while few in Washington are ready to admit that, they have continued to revise and redefine what WINNING might look like,” Ms Bennis wrote on April 19, 2012.
American invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 has become country’s longest war. It has cost over US$1 trillion so far. More than 3,000 US soldiers and civilian contractors have been killed and over 21,000 wounded. Over 20% of these casualties are inflicted by Afghan soldiers trained by US-NATO forces.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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ماذا عندما يقع الشهيد الأول بين الأسرى؟

ماذا عندما يقع الشهيد الأول بين الأسرى؟

ناصر قنديل

أبريل 29, 2017

– يؤكد أحد قادة انتفاضة الأسرى المضيّ قدماً في الإضراب عن الطعام ضمن استراتيجية واضحة تعاقد عليها قادة التحرّك لا تشكّل المطالب المرفوعة إلا عنوانها المعلن، فتلبية «الإسرائيليين» للمطالب هزيمة معنوية يصعب على كيان متغطرس يقوم على إذلال الفلسطينيين لتأمين بقائه أن يرتضي معادلة تقوم على التنازلات أمامهم لتفادي الأسوأ، لأنّ هذا سيفتح باباً لعشرات ومئات التحرّكات المطلبية التي لا تنتهي أملاً ببلوغ ما تريد عبر التصعيد. ويشرح أحد قادة تحرّك الأسرى المنتفضين استراتيجية الانتفاضة ودورها الوطني بالقول إنّ الطريق الذي يفتحه «الإسرائيليون» هو طريق الشهادة للأسرى واحداً تلو الآخر، وهذا ما وضعه المنتفضون في حسابهم، الموت جوعاً والانتصار بالدم على السيف، داعياً قادة الكيان المحتلّ وقادة الشعب الفلسطيني والقادة الحكوميين والسياسيين في العالم العربي ومسؤولي المنظمات الإنسانية والحكومات في الدول الكبرى في العالم والأمم المتحدة إلى التفكير قليلاً في ماذا سيحدث عندما يبدأ المئات من الأسرى بالتساقط الواحد تلو الآخر في سجونهم شهداء؟

– يعتبر قادة انتفاضة الأسرى أنّهم موجودون في ظلّ عدد من أحكام بالسجن المؤبد لكلّ منهم لا يأملون بتخطيها بالتحرّك المطلبي، وهي ليست حاصل صدف في حياة كلّ منهم، بل ثمرة تكريس حياته للدفاع عن قضية شعبه ووطنه. والسجن هو ساحة من ساحات النضال، حيث الطليعة الأشدّ إخلاصاً للقضية، بفعل النضالات التي أوصلت أصحابها للسجون، ولن يكون في حساب القادة أن يتقبّلوا التسليم بما يريده العدو من تحويل السجن انتظاراً للموت والقول عبر سيرة الموت البطيء للقادة الأسرى إنه قادر على إخراجهم من ساحات النضال بسجنهم وتحويلهم كتل لحم تنتظر الموت، والقول لمن يفطر بأن يحذو حذوهم أن مسيرته ستنتهي بدخول السجن، فمعركتهم الآن عنوانها أن يدرك المحتلّ أنّ أعباء وجودهم في السجن عليه تفوق أعباء تركهم أحراراً، ورسالتهم لشعبهم، أنّ أسرهم لم ولن يوقف نضالهم ولا مواقعهم القيادية في مسيرة شعبهم نحو الحرية.

– يثق القادة الأسرى أنهم ذاهبون إلى ما تعاهدوا عليه من السقوط تباعاً شهداء، وهم ينتظرون ذلك اليوم بفارغ الصبر، لأنهم يعلمون أنّ الشارع الفلسطيني سيرتفع إلى درجة الغليان وينفجر مقاومة ومواجهات لا تتوقف، وأنّ المقاومات الفلسطينية المسلحة لن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي أمام هذا التساقط للشهداء القادة في السجون، ويثقون أنّ موجة من الغضب ستعمّ الشارعَيْن العربي والدولي وأنّ نشاطات عدة إنسانية وسياسية ستمتدّ في مدن العالم ومراكز القرار السياسي والحكومي والأممي عنوانها قضية فلسطين ومعاناة شعبه وظلم الاحتلال لأبنائه، وأنّ مبادرات عديدة سيطبّقها حراك الأسرى، ووجهة الوضعين العربي والدولي سيغيّرها الحراك ويفرض عليها روزنامته.

– قادة كبار عظماء قرّروا بأنهم سيدخلون التاريخ شهداء، وبدأوا خطوتهم الأولى نحو الحرية لفلسطين، يدقّون أبواب ضمائر أحرار العالم كلّهم، وبوابات الصمت العربي والدولي، ماذا لو سقط الشهيد الأول وبدأ القادة يتساقطون تباعاً شهداء…؟

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Is Syria’s Invasion from Jordan on the Agenda?


Is Syria’s Invasion from Jordan on the Agenda?

EDITORIAL | 28.04.2017 | EDITORIAL

Is Syria’s Invasion from Jordan on the Agenda?

With focus on the battle of Raqqa and in the governorates of Homs and Idlib, Jordan has been kept away from media headlines. The kingdom’s role will grow immensely if it becomes the staging point for an operation on Syrian soil. And it may happen pretty soon.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made the allegation that «Jordan was part of the American plan since the beginning of the war in Syria».
A perusal of various sources leads to the conclusion that Syria is facing the possibility of a US-led invasion from Jordan. Mike Cernovich, a pro-Trump journalist, reported that Trump’s national security advisor, Gen. Herbert R.McMaster, was pushing the idea of involving the US in a full-scale war in Syria by sending as many as 150,000 troops. According to Derek Harvey, the top Middle East adviser in the NSC, McMaster has been trying to influence the Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Mattis and Dunford support working with our allies in the fight against Islamic State (IS). Harvey and McMaster are advocating for a massive American-only ground force.
Here is another story to confirm the information. Eli Lake writes in his article published by Bloomberg that «Senior White House and administration officials tell me Trump’s national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, has been quietly pressing his colleagues to question the underlying assumptions of a draft war plan against the Islamic State that would maintain only a light US ground troop presence in Syria. McMaster’s critics inside the administration say he wants to send tens of thousands of ground troops to the Euphrates River Valley».
Bloomberg cites Jack Keane, a retired four-star Army general who is close to McMaster, who says «A better option is to start the operation in the southeast along the Euphrates River Valley, establish a US base of operations, work with our Sunni Arab coalition partners, who have made repeated offers to help us against the regime and also Islamic State». Keane added that US conventional forces would be the anchor of that initial push, which he said would most likely require around 10,000 conventional forces, with an expectation that Arab allies in the region would provide more troops to the US-led effort. Other proposals mention 50,000 and 150,000 soldiers.
Arab English-language sources also have their stories to report. For instance, Arabic Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Jordan wants to follow Turkey’s example and conduct its own military operation in south Syria. The report came only a week after Jordan conducted an airstrike against Jaysh Khalid bin Walid – an extremist Al Qaeda-affiliated extremist group holding positions not far from the Jordanian border. Mass media previously reported political sources in Amman speaking about Jordanian-American-British operations to be launched against terrorist groups operating near the northern Jordanian borders with Syria.
These are just media reports, in theory they could be made up, but the authors are respected people and there is no smoke without fire.
It serves the purpose to join isolated pieces of information together to see a bigger picture.
The situation in Syria has been turning in favor of the Syrian government. The army is recovering new ground in Hama governorate and is also making gains in Idlib. It has repelled attacks launched by «moderate rebels» in the south to take the city of Deraa – the key urban area for the implementation of plans to establish a safe zone in the south.
In April, US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. If the US wants other countries to join in an operation, it will badly need their political support and Arab boots on the ground.
In April, 20 US Army armored vehicles were transported by Ro-Ro transport ship Liberty Passion to the Jordanian port of Aqaba. US troops were allegedly accompanied by the Jordanian Army’s 3rd Division. This is the first time when a notable number of US armored vehicles and troops (besides the special operations forces – SOF) were reported in Jordan. The ship was scheduled to drop anchor at seven stations, but its arrival in Jordan coincided with the US cruise missile strike in Syria.
The war preparations started after President Trump received Jordanian king Abdullah at the White House on April 5.
The king expressed concern over the presence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards stationed 70 kilometers away from the border with Jordan. Given that Jordan and Syria share a 235-mile border, Jordanian media have also voiced alarm over Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a jihadist group formerly known as Nusra Front that many in the Hashemite kingdom perceive as merely a replica of IS. «It is a challenge, but we are ready to face it in cooperation with the US and Britain», the King told the Washington Post.
They say militants use the territory in southern Syria as a springboard for terrorist activity against Jordan. There are 100,000 refugees in two of the major refugee camps along the Jordanian-Syrian border-al-Rukban and Hadalat. The camps are infiltrated by terrorists. The last thing Jordan wants is even more Syrian refugees flowing into the country or finding refuge near its borders. A longtime US ally, Amman is also determined to work closely with the Trump administration, especially as the new US president advocates «safe zones» in Syria, which will inevitably bear major implications for the future of the Hashemite kingdom’s security.
Crossing the border to establish a protected area would be in line with Turkey’s setting up a buffer zone in northern Syria.
Even if joined by Arab allies, the creation of a safe zone in the south of Syria foresees significant increase of the American involvement in the conflict. It will require substantial ground forces and air power. Without an invitation from the Syrian government and an approval by the UN Security Council, the operation will be conducted in violation of international law. There will be a risk of clashes with Syria’s government forces. Actually, the plan hardly has a chance to succeed without cooperation of the Syrian government, Russia and Iran. The US will be dragged into another costly military conflict with no goals defined and no end at the end of the tunnel. Donald Trump won the presidential race largely because Americans were tired of the past 16 years of continuous foreign interventions.
The creation of a buffer zone will mean the division of the country, reducing the chances to find a solution to the conflict. The plan can work only if it is a multinational operation conducted in line with international law. If not, it is doomed to failure at great cost.

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

غارة «إسرائيلية» إلى الوراء؟


أبريل 28, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– يجزم العسكريون المعنيون والمتابعون للغارات «الإسرائيلية» في سورية من تدمر إلى محيط مطار دمشق أن لا أهداف تتصل بما يدّعيه «الإسرائيليون» من مخازن صواريخ وشحنات للمقاومة، ومثال تدمر يحكي عن نفسه، إذ كيف يمكن تصديق أكذوبة ورود الصواريخ عن طريق بري ينتهي في تدمر إلا إذا كان أوله في الرقة، فهل من هناك تأتي الصواريخ التي يتحدّثون عنها. ويجزم العسكريون أنفسهم أنّ الغارات «الإسرائيلية» التي لها أهداف متعددة منها ما يتصل بمستقبل جغرافيا البادية السورية التي تطلّ عليها جميع المواقع التي استهدفها الأميركيون و«الإسرائيليون»، من دير الزور إلى تدمر والشعيرات وصولاً لمطار دمشق، والبادية هي المنطقة التي يريدها الأميركي ملاذاً بديلاً لداعش بعد الرقة، وقد وظف «الإسرائيلي» لمعاونته في تحقيق هذا الهدف. لكن للضربات وظائف معنوية تتصل بحال المسلحين المنهارة، ومن الزاوية «الإسرائيلية» الصرفة لها صلة بمحاولة رسم قواعد اشتباك لما بعد نهاية الحرب في سورية.

– حاول «الإسرائيليون» رسم معادلة استباحة الأجواء السورية وتكريس ما يتحدّثون عنه كحق لهم بملاحقة شحنات سلاح حزب الله، في كلّ الأراضي السورية وعبر سلاح الجو بيدين طليقتين، بعدما كلّفوا جماعاتهم من هياكل المعارضة والنصرة بضرب منظومات الدفاع الجوي السوري، ونجحوا بتفكيك نسبة النصف منها، كما قال الرئيس بشار الأسد، لكنهم منذ سنة بدأوا يكتشفون أنّ التموضع الروسي من جهة، وإعادة بناء منظومات الدفاع الجوي السورية من جهة أخرى، قد فرضا قيوداً على حركة طيرانهم وعلى التسليم بما افترضوه قد تكرّس لهم بصفته حقاً مكتسباً في أرض سائبة. وبدأ يظهر أنه كلّما تعافت الدولة السورية واستعادت قوتها العسكرية، فذلك لا يحدث بوجه الجماعات المسلحة وحدها، بل يغيّر قواعد الاشتباك مع «إسرائيل»، وخلال ثلاثة شهور واجه «الإسرائيليون» تصدياً صاروخياً سورياً في مرتين متعاقبتين يقول إنّ الأجواء السورية صارت محرّمة على الطيران «الإسرائيلي».

– في المرة الأولى تلقى «الإسرائيليون» المعادلة الجديدة وحاولوا التأقلم معها، فلجأوا إلى صواريخ موجّهة من طائراتهم بمدى ستين كليومتراً يطلقونها من الأجواء اللبنانية، وصواريخ برية يطلقونها من حدود الجولان وتصل إلى مدى موازٍ، حتى جاء الحضور الأميركي ودخوله على الخط بمحاولة تغيير قواعد الاشتباك وإسناده لـ«الإسرائيليين» مهمة الضرب بالوكالة عنهم في تدمر، وتأمين عبورهم الأجواء السورية ما شجّعهم على العودة للرهان على تغيير القواعد والعودة لما قبل الصواريخ السورية، وكانت النتيجة تكريس معادلة حرمة الأجواء السورية عليهم بقوة أشدّ وعزم أكبر.

– يعود «الإسرائيليون» بغارة مطار دمشق ليقولوا إنّ الردع السوري يمنعهم من دخول الأجواء السورية لكنه لا يحول دون التعامل ضمن ما رسموه من مدى أمني لصواريخهم الموجّهة من الجو أو البر من دون الدخول للأجواء السورية، وبهذا المعنى تنتمي غارة مطار دمشق بواسطة صواريخ موجّهة أطلقت من فوق الأجواء اللبنانية، إلى مرحلة ما قبل محاولة كسر ميزان الردع الذي كرّسته الصواريخ السورية، من دون أن يعني هذا تسليماً من سورية والمقاومة بقواعد الاشتباك التي يريد «الإسرائيلي» فرضها، ولو من موقع التسليم بقواعد الردع السورية، بجعل مدى الستين كيلومتراً من الحدود مع الجولان ولبنان منطقة عمليات «إسرائيلية».

– من موقع رسم قواعد الاشتباك عادت المعادلة لردّ يضمن ردعاً جديداً يكمل الردع الذي صنعته الصواريخ لحرمة الأجواء السورية، فيمنع العبث ضمن مدى الصواريخ «الإسرائيلية»، ويبدو أنه آتٍ.


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Friday, 28 April 2017

BREAKING: Personal message from Xi Jinping to Vladimir Putin: our friendship is unbreakable

April 27, 2017
BREAKING: Personal message from Xi Jinping to Vladimir Putin: our friendship is unbreakable
Chinese President Xi Jinping sends personal message of friendship to Russian President Putin on China’s behalf, scotching attempt by US to make trouble between them.
Russia’s President Putin has met in the Oval Hall of the Kremlin with Li Zhanshu, Director of the General Office of the Communist Party of China, and chief of staff of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The meeting was held directly after Li Zhanshu held talks with his Russian counterpart Anton Vaino, who is the head of the Russian President’s Executive Office and who is President Putin’s chief of staff.
I have previously explained who Li Zhanshu is, and why his visit is important, and the likely reason for his visit, which is the ongoing attempt by the Trump administration to cause trouble between China and Russia, and China’s and Russia’s concern to squelch any mistaken impressions which might be caused by that attempt.
That in turn explains the way the Chinese and the Russians – undoubtedly by pre-arrangement – used Li Zhanshu’s meeting with Putin to publicise a personal message from President Xi Jinping to Putin.  The Kremlin’s transcript of Li Zhanshu’s words reads as follows
Before my departure, I went especially to see President Xi Jinping and asked him what he wanted to pass on to you. He told me to say that today, Chinese-Russian relations are going through their best period ever in our history.
Today, our relations are deservedly called an example of relations between great powers, characterised by cooperation and mutual benefit. Today, our relations are very solid, mature, and are distinguished by strategic cooperation and a lasting nature.
He also said that despite the serious changes in the international situation, we will continue to work with you unfailingly adhering to three constants, namely: regardless of the circumstances, we will not change our policy of deepening and developing our strategic partnership and cooperation; our policy, based on joint development and prosperity, will not change; and our joint efforts to defend peace and justice and promote cooperation in the world will not change. These were the words of President Xi Jinping.
(bold italics added)
The “serious changes in the international situation” of course refers to the change of administration in Washington, and the new administration’s attempt to make trouble between China and Russia.  President Xi Jinping in his personal message to President Putin went out of his way to say that this attempt could not succeed, and that China’s strategic partnership with Russia “will not change”.
The message is of course primarily intended for the Trump administration.  The Chinese and the Russians scarcely need to reassure each other about the depth of their relationship, which they are of course far more informed about than anyone else.  However Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are anxious that there should be no illusions about it in Washington.  Alas, given the chaos in Washington, it is doubtful whether anyone there is paying attention.

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Intel Vets Voice Doubt on Syrian Crisis

[ Ed. note – The article below, written by members of the organization Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, focuses mainly on the issue of faulty, or “politicized” intelligence assessments that may have been used to justify the April 6 US missile strike on a Syrian airbase. The writers are concerned that further escalations to the conflict may come about as a result of similarly fraudulent assessments. But in discussing the matter, they divulge a little-known tidbit of history–namely that the intelligence assessment leading up to the Iraq war in 2003 was overseen by a “veteran CIA intelligence analyst” by the name of Stuart Cohen.
While the signatories to the letter don’t say so, I am guessing, judging by the name “Cohen,” that the man they are referring to was/is Jewish. As they write:
The CIA vehemently denies that either Vice President Cheney or anyone at the White House put pressure on its analysts to alter their assessments. This may very well be true, but if it is, then the record of certainty – and arrogance – that existed in the mindset of senior intelligence managers and analysts only further erodes public confidence in the assessments produced by the CIA, especially when, as is the case with Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction – the agency was found so lacking. Stuart Cohen, a veteran CIA intelligence analyst who served as the acting Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, oversaw the production of the 2002 Iraq National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that was used to make case for Iraq possessing WMD that was used to justify war.
According to Mr. Cohen, he had four National Intelligence Officers with “over 100 years’ collective work experience on weapons of mass destruction issues” backed up by hundreds of analysts with “thousands of man-years invested in studying these issues.”
On the basis of this commitment of talent alone, Mr. Cohen assessed that “no reasonable person could have viewed the totality of the information that the Intelligence Community had at its disposal … and reached any conclusion or alternative views that were profoundly different from those that we reached,” namely that – judged with high confidence – “Iraq had chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of the 150 kilometer limit imposed by the UN Security Council.”
As we now know, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. The war was fought under false pretexts. As Greg Bacon noted recently, “The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish.” (The words are not Bacon’s but are quoted from Haaretz.) History now seems to be repeating itself. As the VIPS writers note, Israel now seems to be playing a major role in concocting the “politicized” intelligence assessments on the April 4 chemical weapons attack in Syria. ]
An Open Memorandum for the American People
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L) and US Defense Secretary James Mattis, hold a news conference in Tel Aviv on April 21, 2017
From: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
Subject: Mattis ‘No Doubt’ Stance on Alleged Syrian CW Smacks of Politicized Intelligence
Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Defense, retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, during a recent trip to Israel, commented on the issue of Syria’s retention and use of chemical weapons in violation of its obligations to dispose of the totality of its declared chemical weapons capability in accordance with the provisions of both the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.
“There can be no doubt,” Secretary Mattis said during a April 21, 2017 joint news conference with his Israeli counterpart, Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, “in the international community’s mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all.” To the contrary, Mattis noted, “I can say authoritatively they have retained some.”
Lieberman joined Mattis in his assessment, noting that Israel had “100 percent information that [the] Assad regime used chemical weapons against [Syrian] rebels.”
Both Mattis and Lieberman seemed to be channeling assessments offered to reporters two days prior, on April 19, 2017, by anonymous Israeli defense officials that the April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack on the Syrian village of Khan Shaykhun was ordered by Syrian military commanders, with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s personal knowledge, and that Syria retained a stock of “between one and three tons” of chemical weapons.
The Israeli intelligence followed on the heels of an April 13, 2017 speech given by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that, once information had come in about a chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, the CIA had been able to “develop several hypothesis around that, and then to begin to develop fact patterns which either supported or suggested that the hypothesis wasn’t right.” The CIA, Pompeo said, was “in relatively short order able to deliver to [President Trump] a high-confidence assessment that, in fact, it was the Syrian regime that had launched chemical strikes against its own people in [Khan Shaykhun.]”
The speed in which this assessment was made is of some concern. Both Director Pompeo, during his CSIS remarks, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, during comments to the press on April 6, 2017, note that President Trump turned to the intelligence community early on in the crisis to understand better “the circumstances of the attack and who was responsible.” McMaster indicated that the U.S. Intelligence Community, working with allied partners, was able to determine with “a very high degree of confidence” where the attack originated.
Both McMaster and Pompeo spoke of the importance of open source imagery in confirming that a chemical attack had taken place, along with evidence collected from the victims themselves – presumably blood samples – that confirmed the type of agent that was used in the attack. This initial assessment drove the decision to use military force – McMaster goes on to discuss a series of National Security Council meetings where military options were discussed and decided upon; the discussion about the intelligence underpinning the decision to strike Syria was over.
The danger of this rush toward an intelligence decision by Director Pompeo and National Security Advisor McMaster is that once the President and his top national security advisors have endorsed an intelligence-based conclusion, and authorized military action based upon that conclusion, it becomes virtually impossible for that conclusion to change. Intelligence assessments from that point forward will embrace facts that sustain this conclusion, and reject those that don’t; it is the definition of politicized intelligence, even if those involved disagree.
A similar “no doubt” moment had occurred nearly 15 years ago when, in August 2002, Vice President Cheney delivered a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney declared. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.” The message Cheney was sending to the Intelligence Community was clear: Saddam Hussein had WMD; there was no need to answer that question anymore.
The CIA vehemently denies that either Vice President Cheney or anyone at the White House put pressure on its analysts to alter their assessments. This may very well be true, but if it is, then the record of certainty – and arrogance – that existed in the mindset of senior intelligence managers and analysts only further erodes public confidence in the assessments produced by the CIA, especially when, as is the case with Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction – the agency was found so lacking. Stuart Cohen, a veteran CIA intelligence analyst who served as the acting Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, oversaw the production of the 2002 Iraq National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that was used to make case for Iraq possessing WMD that was used to justify war.
According to Mr. Cohen, he had four National Intelligence Officers with “over 100 years’ collective work experience on weapons of mass destruction issues” backed up by hundreds of analysts with “thousands of man-years invested in studying these issues.”
On the basis of this commitment of talent alone, Mr. Cohen assessed that “no reasonable person could have viewed the totality of the information that the Intelligence Community had at its disposal … and reached any conclusion or alternative views that were profoundly different from those that we reached,” namely that – judged with high confidence – “Iraq had chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of the 150 kilometer limit imposed by the UN Security Council.”
Two facts emerge from this expression of intellectual hubris. First, the U.S. Intelligence Community was, in fact, wrong in its estimate on Iraq’s WMD capability, throwing into question the standards used to assign “high confidence” ratings to official assessments. Second, the “reasonable person” standard cited by Cohen must be reassessed, perhaps based upon a benchmark derived from a history of analytical accuracy rather than time spent behind a desk.
The major lesson learned here, however, is that the U.S. Intelligence Community, and in particular the CIA, more often than not hides behind self-generated platitudes (“high confidence”, “reasonable person”) to disguise a process of intelligence analysis that has long ago been subordinated to domestic politics.
It is important to point out the fact that Israel, too, was wrong about Iraq’s WMD. According to Shlomo Brom, a retired Israeli Intelligence Officer, Israeli intelligence seriously overplayed the threat posed by Iraqi WMD in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq War, including a 2002 briefing to NATO provided by Efraim Halevy, who at the time headed the Israeli Mossad, or intelligence service, that Israel had “clear indications” that Iraq had reconstituted its WMD programs after U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998.
The Israeli intelligence assessments on Iraq, Mr. Brom concluded, were most likely colored by political considerations, such as the desire for regime change in Iraq. In this light, neither the presence of Avigdor Leiberman, nor the anonymous background briefings provided by Israel about Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities, should be used to provide any credence to Secretary Mattis’s embrace of the “no doubt” standard when it comes to Syria’s alleged possession of chemical weapons.
The intelligence data that has been used to back up the allegations of Syrian chemical weapons use has been far from conclusive. Allusions to intercepted Syrian communications have been offered as “proof”, but the Iraq experience – in particular former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s unfortunate experience before the U.N. Security Council – show how easily such intelligence can be misunderstood and misused.
Inconsistencies in the publicly available imagery which the White House (and CIA) have so heavily relied upon have raised legitimate questions about the veracity of any conclusions drawn from these sources (and begs the question as to where the CIA’s own Open Source Intelligence Center was in this episode.) The blood samples used to back up claims of the presence of nerve agent among the victims was collected void of any verifiable chain of custody, making their sourcing impossible to verify, and as such invalidates any conclusions based upon their analysis.
In the end, the conclusions CIA Director Pompeo provided to the President was driven by a fundamental rethinking of the CIA’s analysts when it came to Syria and chemical weapons that took place in 2014. Initial CIA assessments in the aftermath of the disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons seemed to support the Syrian government’s stance that it had declared the totality of its holding of chemical weapons, and had turned everything over to the OPCW for disposal. However, in 2014, OPCW inspectors had detected traces of Sarin and VX nerve agent precursors at sites where the Syrians had indicated no chemical weapons activity had taken place; other samples showed the presence of weaponized Sarin nerve agent.
The Syrian explanation that the samples detected were caused by cross-contamination brought on by the emergency evacuation of chemical precursors and equipment used to handle chemical weapons necessitated by the ongoing Civil War was not accepted by the inspectors, and this doubt made its way into the minds of the CIA analysts, who closely followed the work of the OPCW inspectors in Syria.
One would think that the CIA would operate using the adage of “once bitten, twice shy” when assessing inspector-driven doubt; U.N. inspectors in Iraq, driven by a combination of the positive sampling combined with unverifiable Iraqi explanations, created an atmosphere of doubt about the veracity of Iraqi declarations that all chemical weapons had been destroyed. The CIA embraced the U.N. inspectors’ conclusions, and discounted the Iraqi version of events; as it turned out, Iraq was telling the truth.
While the jury is still out about whether or not Syria is, like Iraq, telling the truth, or whether the suspicions of inspectors are well founded, one thing is clear: a reasonable person would do well to withhold final judgment until all the facts are in. (Note: The U.S. proclivity for endorsing the findings of U.N. inspectors appears not to include the Khan Shaykhun attack; while both Syria and Russia have asked the OPCW to conduct a thorough investigation of the April 4, 2017 incident, the OPCW has been blocked from doing so by the United States and its allies.)
CIA Director Pompeo’s job is not to make policy – the intelligence his agency provides simply informs policy. It is not known if the U.S. Intelligence Community will be producing a formal National Intelligence Estimate addressing the Syrian chemical weapons issue, although the fact that the United States has undertaken military action under the premise that these weapons exist more than underscores the need for such a document, especially in light of repeated threats made by the Trump administration that follow-on strikes might be necessary.
Making policy is, however, the job of Secretary of Defense Mattis. At the end of the day, Secretary of Defense Mattis will need to make his own mind up as to the veracity of any intelligence used to justify military action. Mattis’s new job requires that he does more than simply advise the President on military options; he needs to ensure that the employment of these options is justified by the facts.
In the case of Syria, the “no doubt” standard Mattis has employed does not meet the “reasonable man” standard. Given the consequences that are attached to his every word, Secretary Mattis would be well advised not to commit to a “no doubt” standard until there is, literally, no doubt.
For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
William Binney, Technical Director, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret) and former Office Division Director in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research
Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA
Bogdan Dzakovic, Former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security, (ret.) (associate VIPS)
Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)
Larry C Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)
Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (Ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor for Strategic Reconnaissance Operations (NSA/DIA) and Special Mission Units (JSOC)
Brady Kiesling, former U.S. Foreign Service Officer, ret. (Associate VIPS)
Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003
Lisa Ling, TSgt USAF (ret.)
Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)
Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Torin Nelson, former Intelligence Officer/Interrogator (GG-12) HQ, Department of the Army
Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)
Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)
Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq
Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)
Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA
Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel (USA, ret.), Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)
Sarah G. Wilton, Intelligence Officer, DIA (ret.); Commander, US Naval Reserve (ret.)
Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)
Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (resigned)

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