Saddam's Death, 115 (march 2018 - part 2)
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 114: march 2018 and Page 116: april 2018
Israel & The Temple Revolution & Unesco & the Temple

Regime Change in Iraq - Overview 2002/2003
Trump & the Pisces Messiah - Kennedy Speech 1961 - Eisenhower's Social Gospel - "I Have, I Rule and I will Destroy" - Iran & the dialogue of civilizations - Netanyahu & Infantilization of Israel - Jesus & Pophet Muhammed: "Be a stranger in the world" - Ideological Warfare Center - Jewish fundamentalism in the State of Palestine - Palestinian Martyrs and Jewish Heroes - The Balfour Declaration - Trump's move on Jerusalem (2017) - Abbas & Trump's "slap of the century" - John Bolton, prominent war hawk, National Security Adviser to President Trump
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)

"The national security of America and the security of the world could be attained if the American leaders [..] become rational, if America disengages itself from its evil alliance with Zionism, which has been scheming to exploit the world and plunge it in blood and darkness, by using America and some Western countries.
What the American peoples need mostly is someone who tells them the truth, courageously and honestly as it is.
They don’t need fanfares and cheerleaders, if they want to take a lesson from the (sept. 11) event so as to reach a real awakening, in spite of the enormity of the event that hit America.
But the world, including the rulers of America, should say all this to the American peoples, so as to have the courage to tell the truth and act according to what is right and not what to is wrong and unjust, to undertake their responsibilities in fairness and justice, and by recourse to reason..."

Saddam Hussein, INA 15-9-2002

"The despot thinks he is just as God... What a nadir and mean fate!
The despot, as represented in this age, in our day, imagines he can enslave the people..
But they were born free. They were freed by God’s will through prophets and messengers, to be slaves only to Him and not to anyone of the people." Saddam Hussein, Iraq Daily 4-3-2003

A person with a God Complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks.
The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they are unquestionably correct.
Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.

"...To be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter - this is what life is, herein lies its task." Fyodor Dostoevsky (to his brother Mikhail, Dec. 22, 1849)

All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.
Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
“Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone." Prophet Muhammad, Last Sermon

“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”

Saadi Shirazi
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)

Page Index

"Holism is the most fundamental discovery of 20th century science. It is a discovery of every science from astrophysics to quantum physics to environmental science to psychology to anthropology.
It is the discovery that the entire universe is an integral whole, and that the basic organizational principle of the universe is the field principle: the universe consists of fields within fields, levels of wholeness and integration that mirror in fundamental ways, and integrate with, the ultimate, cosmic whole...."
"For many thinkers and religious teachers throughout this history, holism was the dominant thought, and the harmony that it implies has most often been understood to encompass cosmic, civilizational, and personal dimensions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lao Tzu, and Confucius all give us visions of transformative harmony, a transformative harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos."

About political holism

Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent.
Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare.
In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.

Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy.
Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance.
At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)

Desmond Tutu & Ubuntu

"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
"We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World.
When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity." (Ubuntu info)

"Westerners like simplicity, particularly when it comes to moral definitions of “good and evil”. It matters nothing if the truth gets systematically ‘massaged’, or even if the reality is fully fabricated.
What matters is that there is no deep guilt and no soul-searching.
Western rulers and their opinion makers know their people – their ‘subjects’ – perfectly well, and most of the time, they give them what they are asking for.
The rulers and the reigned are generally living in symbiosis. They keep bitching about each other, but mostly they have similar goals: to live well, to live extremely well, as long as the others are forced to pay for it; with their riches, with their labor and often with their blood." Andre Vltchek, 16-3-2018

Oh Magog! Apocalyptic Christianity Returns to U.S. Foreign Policy
By John Feffer, Foreign Policy, March 1, 2018.

You might remember the Gog and Magog story from 2003, when George W. Bush was making plans to invade Iraq and assembling a “coalition of the willing.”
French President Jacques Chirac was quite unwilling, so Bush went to great lengths to break down his resistance.
As part of this wooing of Chirac, Bush referred to the Biblical prophecies regarding Gog and Magog that suggested to some evangelicals that the end times were approaching in the Middle East.
Chirac had to consult a theologian to find out what Bush was going on about. Gog, Chirac was told, is the leader of Magog, and Magog is the enemy. A war involving Gog and Magog would basically trigger the apocalypse.

The U.S. role in the realization of God’s plans on Earth has been a leitmotif of American foreign policy since the days of John Winthrop and his assertion of the new colony in the Massachusetts Bay as the future “city on the hill.” It is a foundation stone of American exceptionalism.
But the application of Biblical prophecy to the geopolitics of the Middle East is something more recent.
The publication of Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970 brought the wild predictions of end-times fundamentalists to the mass market. Issued by Bantam Books...
Some years after Lindsey’s success, the Left Behind books brought the end-times narrative to a whole new generation. This version of Gog and Magog also centered on Israel, but identified the United Nations as the villain.

The current U.S. president would seem an even less likely crusader against Gog than was the eternal fratboy, George W. Bush. Yet the evangelical community rallied around Trump in force in the 2016 election..
Donald Trump has become a major champion of Israel. He has even announced that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the country.
For run-of-the-mill, right-wing evangelicals, Trump’s decision is just plain good geopolitics: They believe that Israel is a force for good in the world, and anything that Washington does on its behalf helps both the United States and Christianity in general.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the instrument of God when he blockades Gazans, encourages illegal settlements on Palestinian land, and otherwise defeats any two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump is Netanyahu’s fanboy, so Trump too is God’s instrument.

Trump doesn’t care about Assad. What Trump does care about, however, is Iran.
The administration wants to keep U.S. troops in Syria to block Iran from expanding its influence in the country. Add to that the various indications that the Trump administration is gearing up for a direct confrontation with Iran, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for Gog and Magog.
Trump is not a religious man. He can’t quote the Bible properly, and he has the most tenuous connection to the Church of any modern president. Don’t expect him to quote Gog and Magog in his conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
But Trump is itching for a fight. He wants to shake things up. With evangelicals and right-wing Likudniks forming a significant core of support, he is already fulfilling the Middle East agenda of the apocalyptics.
And, unfortunately, there’s more to come...

The Right Has Risen
‘Trump’s election heralds coming of Messiah’
By Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, November 10, 2016

Shas chairman and Interior Minister Arye Deri said that Donald Trump’s election could herald the coming of the Messiah, due to the blow he expects the next president will strike against the “non-Orthodox Jewish hold on the US government.”
“There is no doubt that one can give thanks to God that all those who have damned the [Jewish] covenant and would wipe out Judaism, thinking they could take control over the Land of Israel here and lead reforms in order to cause destruction received their blow,” Deri said during an address to the local religious council of Ashdod.
They understand that this power has disappeared and we can continue, God willing, to strengthen traditional religion and Judaism, transmitted down to us from generation to generation.”
Trump’s election, he added, presages the coming of the Messianic Age..
Senior United Torah Judaism leader MK Moshe Gafni was of similar mind, predicting that Reform and Conservative influence in Israel would now wane.
“The Right has risen, along with more conservative stances...”

In a book, published in France in March 2009, Jacques Chirac recounts that George W. Bush appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him:
Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”
This bizarre episode occurred while the White House was assembling its “coalition of the willing” to unleash the Iraq invasion.
Chirac says he was boggled by Bush’s call and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs.”

For the benefit of Chirac, Thomas Romer, a professor of theology, dutifully penned a page on Gog and Magog: "They occur in Genesis, and in particular in two very obscure chapters in Ezekiel." That’s a particularly baffling book, the theologian says: "It speculates on the future in a cryptic code that is intended for insiders."
The outlines are clear, though: "In chapters 38 and 39, a global army is formed to fight a final battle in Israel. That battle is ordained by God, in order to rid the world of His enemies, and thus herald in a new age."
According to Romer, George W. Bush is not the first to have looked for an incarnation of Gog and Magog on earth. Ronald Reagan believed that the Cold War and the existence of the atomic bomb were making the prophecy of Ezekiel a possible reality.

Turkey Moving Closer to Gog-Magog Alliance?
Tzippe Barrow, CBN News (Christian Perspective), 2-3-2018

There's been plenty written about the fulfillment of end-time prophecies in the days in which we're living.
The changes that have taken place in Turkey over the past decade and a half could possibly indicate the latest piece of the puzzle falling into place.
Before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ascent to power, Turkey and Israel enjoyed a close working relationship, from tourism to trade to the military and beyond. That began to change when Erdogan was elected prime minister in 2003.
Over time, he became increasingly open about his plan to reshape Turkey into an Islamic state. He wasn't subtle and indeed was quick to oppress and/or arrest anyone who opposed him. One incident followed another. CBN News reported on many of them.
While trying to keep an open door with NATO and possible membership in the EU, Erdogan gravitated toward Islamic leaders in Iran, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere... He criticized Israel at every opportunity and praised Islamic endeavors.

Erdogan's latest move against the Kurdish population in Afrin in northern Syria – and his use of brutal jihadists to attack other Kurdish civilians in the area – is moving Turkey toward the coalition of nations that will attack Israel (Ezekiel 38-39).
More than 2,700 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel listed Turkey in the Gog-Magog alliance, which includes Russia (Magog), Iran (Persia), Sudan (Cush), Libya (Put); and Turkey (Gomer).
Anti-Semitism is part and parcel of Islamic ideology as described in the Koran and the hadiths. Since his ascension to power nearly 15 years ago, Erdogan has not hidden his hatred toward Israel and the Jewish people.
Turkey's growing friendship with the Gog-Magog alliance is indisputable evidence of the coming fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 and 39.
The best part of this frightening scenario is God's intervention on behalf of His covenant land and people.

Israel is making a ‘historic mistake,’
warns veteran Palestinian official
Roger Hercz, Middle East Monitor, March 15, 2018

"Perhaps Yithak Rabin came close to a solution towards the end of his life, when he declared on TV that “Arafat is my partner”. All his successors rejected it. They were not prepared to give up the settlements, but, on the contrary, enlarged them incessantly. They resisted every effort to fix a final border, since their kind of Zionism demands perpetual expansion. Therefore they saw in Arafat a dangerous enemy and tried to destroy him by all means, including an unprecedented campaign of demonization." ( Uri Avnery, 9-11-2004)

In a wide-ranging conversation about the Palestinians, peace and history, Ahmed Qurei says that he has no regrets regarding his attempts to create a whole new Middle East back in 1992. ”I am only sorry that it didn’t work out,” the 80-year old Palestinian known to everyone as Abu Alaa explains.
Without Abu Alaa, the world would not have seen the peace negotiations which later became known as the Oslo process.
Qurei, who soon afterwards became Prime Minister, had flown in complete secrecy to Norway to conduct the negotiations that eventually led to the peace accord which was signed on the White House lawn in 1993.

Today, 25 years later, Palestinians and Israelis are further away from peace than at any time since. No Palestinian state is on the horizon, but Abu Alaa, drawing on long lines of history back to the Crusades, offers advice to the Israelis.
He cannot see why Israel wouldn’t want to negotiate a permanent peace these days, especially, he says because Israel will not be strong forever...
Abu Alaa has no warm words to say about the upcoming “deal of the century”, US President Donald Trump’s expected peace plan. He says that the Palestinians will reject it outright, waving his right hand as if he is dismissing something meaningless.
“Without Jerusalem, we will never sign. Never....”

“I was born here in Abu Dis, and I used to walk into Jerusalem every day to go to school. My family were farmers; we used to have land all the way down to the Dead Sea, including where the settlement of Maale Adumim is today.” One day, he promises, the wall will be dismantled.
We never thought it would end up like this,” Abu Alaa points out.
Back in 1993, we were certain a Palestinian state was just a few years away. And from that moment onwards we expected to live, two states side by side, in peace and prosperity.”
“We were ready for a historic compromise with Israel..." “At one point, Uri Savir, the Israeli negotiator, gave me a list of 60 questions he wanted to be answered. I said I don’t intend to answer them, I am not under interrogation. ‘But this is from Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,’ he said. OK, I said, I won’t answer them, but I will take the list to Yasser Arafat.”
When Arafat saw the list, he noted that the Palestinians now had direct communication with the Israeli leaders. “I will answer these,” said Arafat, and sat down with the questions, one by one. This, says Abu Alaa, was the historic breakthrough.

The Oslo peace process collapsed with the sudden assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by an Israeli fundamentalist in 1995.

Rabin as Nazi.
Right Wing Protest in Israel.

On the evening of 4 November 1995, Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a radical right-wing Orthodox Jew, who opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords.
Rabin had been attending a mass rally at the Kings of Israel Square (now Rabin Square) in Tel Aviv, held in support of the Oslo Accords.
When the rally ended, Rabin walked down the city hall steps towards the open door of his car, at which point Amir fired three shots at Rabin with a semi-automatic pistol. (Wikipedia info)

Turkey-backed rebel forces declare victory over terrorists in Afrin
Daily Sabah (Turkey), 18-3-2018

[Armed opposition units] backed by the Turkish military have taken control of Afrin town center, as part of Turkey's Operation Olive Branch to clear PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sunday. The president noted that the Turkey-backed forces declared victory over terrorists in the area, who fled the city.
He highlighted that Turkey will immediately take necessary steps to make sure that the residents of the city are able to return to their homes as soon as possible.
"The terror corridor has been broken in four fronts," the president said, referring to the attempts by the PKK-linked YPG to establish a terror corridor along the border with Turkey.

"Fighting is ongoing inside the city, where Turkish forces and allied opposition units have seized some neighborhoods," the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said, according to the French Press Agency (AFP).
The opposition was quoted as saying that they "broke into the city from the eastern and western sides" to seize the neighborhoods of Ashrafieh and Jamiliyyeh.
Operation Olive Branch was launched by Turkey on Jan. 20 to remove the PKK/PYD/YPG/KCK terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria.
According to the Turkish General Staff, "the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and in the region as well as to protect Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists..."

Free Syrian Army turns to Turkey for support in war against Assad
Deutsche Welle, 5-2-2018

Around 35,000 FSA fighters moved into the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, side-by-side with Turkish forces.
The FSA was formed in July 2011 as a group of secular opponents to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and now, in January 2018, it is fighting Syrian Kurds— that is, the citizens of the very country whose democratic and republican nature the FSA once defended.
The decision to fight against citizens of one's own country is the result of the widely non-transparent, constantly changing alliances that characterized the varied Assad opponents at an early stage of the insurgency. The FSA has been on a political and most of all military odyssey in recent years — and at its end, the group's initial nature has been reversed.
"The Free Syrian Army practically doesn't exist," Kamal Sido, a Mideast expert at the human rights group Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) told Germany's Deutschlandfunk broadcaster.
"The Free Syrian Army is a smokescreen hiding various names, and if you look at the names, at these groups' videos, you'll find they are radical Islamist, Jihadist groups." They include rebels from the al-Sham Legion, Levant Front, Nureddine al-Zanki Battalions, Jaish al-Tahrir and Ahrar al-Sham.
A large part of the groups on the FSA ticket represent Islamist programs, some more moderate, others more radical. Some groups continue to pursue secular goals.
Charles Lister of the Brookings Institution think tank lists almost 80 different factions that identify with the FSA brand. They often pursue completely different political goals, and their military action varies as well.

Jihadists and secular forces — all using the FSA brand — marched alongside the Turks. Many who support the revolution are in favor the idea of maintaining Syrian territorial integrity, an integrity they see threatened by the Kurds in Afrin.
The FSA fears the region in northwestern Syria might one day no longer be Syrian territory, but Kurdish territory, perhaps even part of an independent Kurdish state. That is a goal the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that rules the region around Afrin rejects, but Turkey and the FSA marching by its side are both wary.
The Turkish offensive has the support of the Syrian rebels' main political organization, the Syrian Coalition, which says it is backing Ankara's intervention.

Syrians Around the World Commemorate 7th Anniversary of Syrian Revolution
Syrian Coalition, 16-3-2018

Syrians at home and abroad commemorated the seventh anniversary of the Syrian revolution which began in March 2011, vowing they would carry on with the struggle against the Assad regime until they fully regain their rights to freedom and dignity.
The Syrian Coalition said that “the Syrian revolution enters its eighth year with greater determination to carry on with the revolution until victory and the establishment of a civil democratic, pluralistic state as well as to combat terrorism and rid the homeland of the foreign forces and militias.”
The Coalition called upon forces of the revolution "to undertake comprehensive review of their course and identify the shortcomings to overcome them in a practical plan responding to the challenges. Such a plan is needed to rally together forces of the revolution in a broad front to beat off the challenges of the current phase and meet the requirements of the next phase."
The Coalition stressed that the Syrian people do not accept humiliation and enslavement. “Just like all other human beings, we detest war, murder, oppression, slavery and tyranny.
Every new day and year brings with them new hope and increase our determination to rise up, fight on, show creativity and carry on with the struggle without despair.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)

UN Chief: no progress was achieved with respect to
the disarmament of armed groups
by Naharnet Newsdesk, 17-3-2018

syria, armed opposition, backed by 'the friends of israel'

United Nations chief Antonio Guteres urged all Lebanese parties to stop meddling in the Syrian conflict, in a report naming the Lebanon-based and Iran-backed movement Hizbullah.
"The presence of unauthorized weapons in the hands of Hizbullah remains of serious concern and warrants condemnation," the secretary-general said in a quarterly report distributed to the 15 Security Council members ahead of a debate set for Tuesday.
Washington, which is involved in a major diplomatic offensive to counter Iranian influence in the Middle East, is expected to reprise the accusations against Hizbullah.
On Syria, Gutteres said "no progress was achieved with respect to the disarmament of armed groups."
"The maintenance of arms outside the control of the state by Hizbullah and other groups continues to restrict the ability of the government of Lebanon to exercise full sovereignty and authority over its territory," he added.

Turkish-backed rebels loot Afrin city
By Brecht Jonkers, Al-Masdar News, 18/03/2018

According to reports, units of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Turkish-backed rebel organisation that fights both the Syrian government and Kurdish militias alike, has went on a rampage of plundering in recently conquered areas of Afrin.
The FSA reportedly has started looting all across the city of Afrin after asserting full control over the city on Sunday, plundering civilian residences belonging to people who fled from the violence.
Reports also have it that different groups within the FSA have violently clashed with one another, either over disapproval of the plundering or due to disagreements on how the spoils of plunder should be divided amongst the rebel forces.
The FSA was one of the earliers Syrian rebel organisations, founded in 2011, but quickly lost relevance in the ensuing conflict. It subsequently all but disappeared to the background until 2016, when the FSA was chosen as Turkey’s strategical ally in the Euphrates Shield campaign, and later in the Turkish invasion of the Afrin district.

Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters loot shops after seizing control of the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on March 18, 2018. (AFP photo Bulent Kilic)

How disastrous for Kurds?
Times of Israel, 19-3-2018

The statue of Kawa the Blacksmith, a figure from Kurdish and Persian mythology, was toppled by the rebels. (Bulent Kilic photo)

The loss of Afrin is a major setback for Syria’s Kurds who have largely stayed out of the country’s seven-year conflict as they focused on building an autonomous region.
Before the Turkish assault, the Kurdish-controlled region — known as Rojava — ran across large swathes of Kurdish-majority parts of north and northeast Syria. Now the community has lost control of one of the three “cantons” it ran and their dreams of self-determination look increasingly fragile.
It is “a big blow for the Kurdish self-rule project,” Kurdish affairs expert Mutlu Civiroglu said. “Now the other Kurdish regions are under risk.”

The Kurd’s struggle against Turkey has also had another major impact — diverting them from the US-backed fight to wipe out the remaining pockets of the Islamic State group in Syria.
The Kurds have been the mainstay of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance that has battled against jihadist with the support of a US-led coalition. Earlier this month the SDF said 1,700 of its fighters had been redeployed to fight the Turkish-led onslaught against Afrin.
While the Kurds and the Turks have been the main protagonists in the tussle for Afrin, its loss will also dent Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
The Syrian regime fiercely opposed the Turkish incursion and gave the green light for pro-government fighters to head to front line to try to turn back the advance.
Ankara’s gain comes just as Assad and his Russian-backed forces are in the ascendancy elsewhere in the country — reasserting their authority on other areas beyond their control.
Now the Turkish seizure of Afrin appears to place a key strategic region which the regime was hoping to regain firmly out of its grasp. “Every meter of Syria that Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel proxies march on is now placed well beyond the reach of Damascus,” analyst Heras said.

Kaveh the Blacksmith, also known as the Blacksmith of Isfahan, is a mythical figure in the Iranian mythology who leads a popular uprising against a ruthless foreign ruler, Zahāk (Aži Dahāk). His story is narrated in the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran, by the 10th-century Persian poet Ferdowsi.
Kāveh was, according to ancient legends, a blacksmith who launched a national uprising against the evil foreign tyrant Zahāk, after losing two of his children to serpents of Zahāk. Kāveh expelled the foreigners and re-established the rule of Iranians.
Kāveh is the most famous of Persian mythological characters in resistance against despotic foreign rule in Iran. As a symbol of resistance and unity, he raised his leather apron on a spear, known as the Derafsh Kaviani. (Wikipedia info)

18-3-2018: Syrian President Bashar Assad visited Ghouta civilians and army positions in Syria’s eastern Ghouta

Mohammed bin Salman once again hit out against Iran
Al-Jazeera, 19-3-2018

Mohammed bin Salman blamed the social problems and shift towards conservatism in Saudi Arabia on the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
"We were just normal people developing like any other country in the world until the events of 1979," he said.
Asked about human rights violations in the kingdom, he said Saudi Arabia "believes in many of the principles of human rights". "In fact, we believe in the notion of human rights, but ultimately Saudi standards are not the same as American standards. I don't want to say that we don't have shortcomings. We certainly do. But naturally, we are working to mend these shortcomings."
Bin Salman once again hit out against Iran, dismissing claims the two countries are rivals. "Iran is not a rival to Saudi Arabia," he said.
"Its army is not among the top five armies in the Muslim world. The Saudi economy is larger than the Iranian economy. Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia," he added.
Bin Salman also compared Iran's Ayatollah Khameini to Adolf Hitler, a remark he has made in the past.
"He wants to create his own project in the Middle East, very much like Hitler, who wanted to expand at the time. Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realise how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don't want to see the same events happening in the Middle East," bin Salman said.
He added that while Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire nuclear weapons, "if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible".

Iran responded to bin Salman's comments in advance of the interview's airing, saying the Saudi leader was a "delusional naive person".
"He has no idea of politics apart from bitter talk that emanates from a lack of foresight ... His remarks do not deserve a response," Bahram Qasemi, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, was quoted as saying by the country's state TV.

Anti-Russian Propaganda
Moon of Alabama, 17-3-2018

Just recently The Economist depicted the Russian president Putin as a dangerous octopus.
The idea was not original at all. Russia has been the favored target of this denigrating comparison for more than a century.
The archive description of the NAZI-poster notes: "In early 1935, the Nazis unleashed an anti-Bolshevik campaign which it initiated with a series of traveling exhibits on the dangers of world Communism.
This poster comes from the exhibit in Karlsruhe, the capital city of the German state of Baden. But its imagery is found in almost all of the posters of this exhibit.
Here Bolshevism is represented as a huge red spider, whose head is the familiar grinning skull topped with the red star. Sitting in the Soviet Union, the legs of the spider can still reach out to threaten the entire world."

One wonders how much the Economist, the Guardian and other anti-Russian outlets, writers and cartoon artists get from the $160 million fund the Obama administration budgeted to "counter an uptick in Russian propaganda"...
The enormous amount of money from the dozens of officials and unofficial slush funds surely creates a lot of the anti-Russian noise. But for all the taxpayer money spent on the issue can we please ask for better than a warmed up Nazi campaign..

Flashback: Vladimir Putin & the "Russophobic hysteria"
By Rehema Figueiredo, Express UK, 12-10-2016

The White House formally accused Russia of hacking into the Democratic National Committee's computer networks and leaking more than 19,000 emails in July to "interfere" with the presidential election.
But Mr Putin hit back, saying: "They caused this [anti-Russian] hysteria with a sole goal to distract the public from the essence of what the hackers leaked. "It's basically a way of manipulating public opinion, but for some reason nobody discusses that. They only talk about who did it."
The e-mails revealed embarrassing levels of infighting, including messages which suggested that Bill Clinton should be distanced from his wife's campaign because of his previous infidelity and e-mails from Doug Band, a lawyer who helped set up the Clinton Global Initiative, who described the Clintons' daughter Chelsea as being a "spoiled brat".
Mrs Clinton's camp has claimed that Russia is seeking to swing next month's election in favour of Republican nominee Donald Trump but the Russian leader has denied any involvement.
Mr Putin said: "They say it was in Russia's interest. There are no Russian interests involved."

The 64-year-old leader also accused both sides of promoting anti-Russian sentiment during their campaigns. He added: "They made Russia a priority issue of the entire campaign.
Everyone is talking about Russia. It may be flattering, but only partially. Because all participants of this process indulge in anti-Russian rhetoric and poison the relations between our states. This is bad for both our countries and the international community."
Mr Putin's comments came as Russia's Defence Ministry also accused British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson of trying to drum up "Russophobic hysteria" over its air strikes in Syria.

President al-Assad congratulates Putin on winning presidential elections
Syrian Arab News Agency, 19-3-2018

President Bashar al-Assad sent a cable to Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating him on winning the presidential elections with more than 70% of votes.
In the cable, President al-Assad said having this exceptional trust from the Russian people is a natural result of President Putin’s distinguished patriotic performance and serving the Russian Federation’s interests with the utmost competence and faithfulness, in addition to being a natural result of the cooperation between Russia and the countries of the world which share its positions and its belief in the sovereignty and independent decision-making of states.
He said that under President Putin’s leadership, the Russian Federation stood against terrorism in words and actions, contributing commendably with the Syrian Arab Army in vanquishing Takfiri terrorist forces in most of Syrian territories...
President al-Assad said that President Putin was honest in his positions which leave no room for hypocrisy and ambiguity, asserting that Russia’s positions in international forums and circles reflect the pulse of all peoples that aspire to realize justice among countries on the basis of equal dignity for all, whether small or big, contrary to the forces of hegemony and colonialism that attach no importance to the dignity of countries and peoples.

John McCain: Trump congratulatory call to Putin insult to Russian citizens
Press TV, Tue Mar 20, 2018

Hawkish US Senator John McCain has lambasted President Donald Trump’s congratulatory call to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, over his landslide victory in the presidential election
. Russian president Vladimir Putin has won a fourth term in office with nearly 77% of the votes - his highest ever score - giving him a mandate to pursue his nationalist policies for another six years. The official turnout was 67%.
Communist Pavel Grudinin came in a distant second with 11.9%. Third was ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 5.7%. TV star Ksenia Sobchak secured just 1.7%.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation is a Marxist–Leninist political party. The party is often viewed as the immediate successor of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which was banned in 1991 by then-President Boris Yeltsin. It is the second largest political party in the Russian Federation after United Russia. As of 2015, the party has 160,000 members.
The party's stated goal is to establish a new, modernised form of socialism in Russia.
Immediate goals of the party include the nationalisation of natural resources, agriculture and large industries within the framework of a mixed economy that allows for the growth of small and medium enterprises in the private sector.
The party is in favour of cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church. According to the words of Zyuganov, the CPRF is a party of scientific, but not militant atheism.

McCain released a statement after Trump phoned the Russian president over his reelection on Sunday. The 81-year-old politician described the call as an “insult” to the Russian nation, questioning the latest election’s fairness.
An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections," McCain said.
"And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country's future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin's regime." Putin does not like Trump and he “has something” on the US president which is the reason why Trump speaks so highly of him.

The US president called Putin two days after the Russian president's re-election victory and said he hopes the two leaders can meet in the “not too distant future.” “We had a very good call,” he said. His call came not long after the US government imposed new sanctions on Moscow for alleged efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, which yielded President Trump.

Turkey must overhaul its approach to Arab nations
Yasar Yakis | Arab News — Monday 19 March 2018

Turkey’s relations with Arab countries have reached a record low.
Relations may of course deteriorate between countries from time to time when their national interests collide, but in the case of Turkey and Arab countries, there was no threat to the interests of either side.
In Egypt, Turkey stood against Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s military takeover, which was understandable because Turkey has suffered a lot from military interventions.
The mistake was in Turkey’s insistence in not recognizing the new leadership even after it had established its authority in the country.
Turkey had to take into account that Egypt is the unchallenged leader of the Arab world. When the region faces its worst crises, these two countries can take action to alleviate the effects and contribute to their solution.
Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE have soured not because of reasons directly related to bilateral ties, but because Ankara is part of an intra-Arab conflict.
Its traditional foreign policy was to avoid direct involvement in such conflicts and, thanks to this policy, Turkey had accumulated great prestige among Arab countries. It now wastes this prestige prodigally.

In the Syrian crisis, Turkey has persistently picked the wrong options since the outset.
-- First, it presumed in late 2011 that the regime’s fall was imminent and suffered the consequences of ill-advised policies.
-- Second, when Western powers became aware that arms they were supplying were ending up in the wrong hands, they stopped the supply. Turkey, meanwhile, was slow in following this decision and became a “highway” of arms supply to extremist factions and for the passage of terrorists going to Syria. Eventually, Turkey became one of the most important recruiting grounds for Daesh.
-- Third, in the north of Syria, Turkey took the right initiative by inviting Salih Muslim, the representative of the Syrian Kurds, for talks. But it failed to discuss with him Ankara’s issues with the Syrian Kurds — instead it asked Salih Muslim to cooperate in overthrowing the Assad regime.
-- The fourth mistake made by Turkey in Syria was its military operation in Afrin, which reportedly aimed to set up an administration where all ethnic groups would be represented proportionally. The idea is appealing but it is the Syrian authorities, with or without Bashar Assad, that will govern Afrin after the crisis. Therefore, Turkey should cooperate with the Syrian authorities during this operation.

In Iraq, when Turkey made a deal with the Kurdish Regional Government to pump oil to its Mediterranean terminals, the Iraqi central authorities opposed it, saying the export of Iraqi oil requires their approval. Turkey disregarded this objection and responded by using less-than-diplomatic language about Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi.
Turkey also deployed a military detachment in the Bashiqa base in northern Iraq with the consent of the KRG authorities, but the central government opposes this presence. This is another thorny issue that casts a shadow over Turkey-Iraq relations.

In Tunisia, when the Ennahdha Party was about to come to power, its leader Rached Ghannouchi said it was going to be inspired by the moderate Islam as practiced in Turkey by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Six years later, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid an official visit to Tunisia, he greeted the crowd by raising his hand and showing four fingers as a sign reminiscent of the Rabaa Square in Cairo, where 800 to 1,000 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were killed in 2013.
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi responded by saying: “Tunisia has no other symbol but its flag. Neither Rabaa nor any other symbol.”
Turkey has always been held in high esteem in Tunisia but, six years on from the Arab Spring, it became a country where its president was snubbed.

Mutual confidence between nations takes decades to establish, but can be lost with one unfortunate incident. If Turkey starts to mend relations with Arab countries now, it will take decades to bring it back to the level before the recent deterioration.
Therefore Turkey has to immediately engage in a serious overhaul of its policies toward Arab countries.

Yasar Yakis is a former foreign minister of Turkey and founding member of the ruling AK Party.

Evacuation deal for fighters in Eastern Ghouta town reached
Al-Jazeera News, 22-3-2018

Thousands of Syrian fighters and their relatives will be evacuated from Harasta, a besieged town in Eastern Ghouta, to an opposition-held province in northern Syria, state media and a rebel group have said. Addounia TV, a state-run outlet, said that 1,500 gunmen and 6,000 family members would be evacuated on Thursday in two groups to Idlib.
The Russian-brokered deal was reached on Wednesday (March 22) after a meeting between a Syrian government delegation and representatives of residents and Ahrar al-Sham fighters in rebel-held Harasta.
"Evacuation for families who want to leave will begin tomorrow at 7am (05:00 GMT)," Munther Fares, spokesperson for the Ahrar al-Sham group, which holds Harasta, said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Families who want to stay [in Harasta] will be given guarantees by the Syrian government and the Russians that no harm will come to them, and that the city will not be subjected to displacement or demographic change," Fares said. He added that civilians inside and outside Harasta would form a committee to follow up the affairs of those remaining in the city and prisoners.

A 15-minute video pertaining to the current situation in Syria's Eastern Ghouta has been posted on the YouTube channel of Russia's UN mission. Russia's UN envoy Vasily Nebenzia described the video as a "documentary in its true colors" which he said "depicts a real picture of what has taken place in these Damascus suburbs." "I hope that UN Security Council members will take the time to watch the film," Nebenzya said. Sputnik News, 22-3-2018

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled Eastern Ghouta, which used to have a population of around 400,000.
Ingy Sedky, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus, said that there are at least four shelters accommodating those who escaped the region: Herjellah, Dweir, Maahad al-Kahraba and Nashabeyah.
"Many of the people came with only the clothes they were wearing," she said.
"In each shelter we visit, you could see a huge number of people queuing in front of the SARC mobile clinics, many in very poor health condition due to years spent without proper access to medical care. The journey was especially hard for the elderly and those with limited mobility."

"It is extremely challenging for all humanitarian actors to cover all the needs as thousands of people keep coming every day [at least till yesterday] but we are doing all we can to cope with the current influx."

Syrian Women Soldiers and their Mothers Honoured
Syria Times, 21 March 2018

DAMASCUS, (ST) Mrs. Asma Al-Assad, the First Lady of Syria, received, on the occasion of Mother's Day, a group of women soldiers and their mothers. Here are some excerpts of Mrs. Al-Assad cordial and spontaneous words:
''The Syrian heroine women defended Syria…they did plait their hair … postponed their dreams…left their families and put on their military uniforms instead of wedding suit; they carried the gun instead of school copybooks and did defend the soil of their homeland...''
'''You are the flourishing roses who beautified Damascus and all other Syrian governorates...'' ''You are the flowers, but in need become thorns against terrorists and enemies…"
"You are mothers too, defending your big mother, Syria, and defending Syria as your small daughter who does need your tenderness, care and sacrifice.... Surely in the future you will be the real mothers and the strength and power in your eyes have increased the sight of tenderness, tranquillity and calmness bestowed on life by women.''

Syria rebels depart eastern Ghouta town on government buses
Ahram online|Reuters, Thursday 22 Mar 2018

Syrian rebels withdrew in busloads from a town in eastern Ghouta on Thursday and handed it over to the army, the first such surrender since one of the fiercest campaigns of the seven-year war began more than a month ago.
The Ahrar al-Sham group's decision to accept the army's terms and abandon the town of Harasta puts the government on course for its biggest victory over rebels since the battle of Aleppo in 2016.
After dark fell on Thursday around 30 buses carrying rebel fighters and their families left the town. Syrian state media said the buses carried 1,580 people including 413 rebel fighters given safe passage to Idlib province in the northwest, which has become the main sanctuary for insurgents who agree to quit territory under deals with the government. The northwestern province is the biggest remaining area under rebel control in Syria and its population has been doubled by refugees fleeing other areas.
Before boarding the buses, a small group were seen in dimming daylight on television kneeling in a line for Islam's sunset prayer - perhaps the last they would perform in their hometown. Children ran among the adults waiting to board.
Between 18,000 and 20,000 people were expected to stay in Harasta under government rule, a military source said.

The government's control of Harasta leaves eastern Ghouta's rebels in control only of Douma and another pocket that includes the towns of Jobar, Ein Terma, Arbin and Zamalka.
Douma is the most populous area in eastern Ghouta, and for more than a week it has been entirely surrounded by the government. The Jaish al-Islam rebel group that holds the town has said it is determined to fight on.
However, the Observatory said people leaving the area were doing so under an agreement between the group and Russia. The state television reported that more than 6,000 people had fled the larger rebel-held town of Douma since Wednesday, crossing over into government-held territory.

Iraq approves Turkish military operations to purge joint borders
Shafaq News, Iraq, Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Iraq and Turkey have agreed that the latter can launch military operations on the joint borders presumably targeting anti-Turkish, Kurdish fighters.
Meeting with Iraqi Justice Minister Haider al-Zamili in Baghdad, Turkish ambassador to Iraq, Fateh Yildiz, said Ankara started to launch military operations on its borders with Iraq “to purge the borders from terrorist pockets in collaboration with the Iraqi government”, as quoted by a statement by the Iraqi justice ministry.
Turkey is prepared to cooperate with the Iraqi government in the field of counter-terrorism and entrenching the sovereignty of both countries,” the statement quoted Yildiz saying.
On his side, the Iraqi minister said “Iraq has shown good intentions in Turkish demands related to the security on joint borders”, adding that “the political and security situation requires new agreements”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara on Monday his country would, at any time, launch operations in Iraq’s northern Sinjar region against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group designated by Ankara as a terrorist group for engaging in decades of armed confrontations with it.

McMaster Out as White House National Security Adviser,
John Bolton Tapped to Fill Role
Sputnik News, 23-3-2018

"There's no such thing as the United Nations.
If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories,
it wouldn't make a bit of difference." John Bolton

H.R McMaster will exit the role of National Security Adviser to United States President Donald Trump. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, a prominent war hawk, will replace McMaster, Trump announced on Twitter:
" I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9." Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
McMaster is the 27th official to be fired or resign from the Trump administration.

Bolton will be Trump's third NSA, following in the footsteps of Michael Flynn and McMaster. Historian Gareth Porter told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear last week that Bolton's nomination would likely lead to a White House that is more eager to pursue a war with Iran.
"During the [George W.] Bush administration," when Bolton was the US ambassador to the UN, "there was a plan for war with Iran," Porter said.
Like Trump, Bolton opposes the multilateral 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action involving Iran's nuclear program.
Since his time in the Bush administration, Bolton has worked as a foreign policy fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He frequently appears on TV as a conservative pundit.
During the George W. Bush administration, AEI was regarded as the intellectual command post of the neoconservative campaign for regime change in Iraq.

'Too extreme'
Al-Jazeera News, 23-3-2018

McMaster's replacement, Bolton, is seen as a hardliner on foreign policy. As a senior official at the state department during George W Bush's administration, he led in the opposition to the creation of the International Criminal Court, and was seen as a cheerleader of the Iraq invasion.
Despite his appointment as US ambassador to the UN, he was a critic of the international body.
Bernie Sanders, a senator and Trump critic, tore into Bolton's record, saying he was "part of the effort to mislead the US into the disastrous Iraq war, and has supported military action against North Korea and Iran".
"He was too extreme to be confirmed as UN ambassador in 2005 and is absolutely the wrong person to be national security advisor now".
Elizabeth Warren, another opposition senator, said Bolton "never met a war he didn't like". "The last thing we need is someone like John Bolton who embraces military solutions first and puts us all at risk," she said.
On Iran, Bolton is also seen as a hawk, advocating for strikes on the country's military facilities. In a statement following Bolton's appointment, the National Iranian American Council said "Donald Trump have have just effectively declared war on Iran".
"Bolton is an unhinged advocate for waging World War III. He has explicitly calling for bombing Iran for the past ten years and has suggested the US engage in nuclear first strikes in North Korea," the statement said.

Flashback 2011 - Return of the War Party?
by Patrick J. Buchanan, November 15, 2011

Is a vote for the Republican Party in 2012 a vote for war?
Is a vote for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich a vote for yet another unfunded war of choice, this time with a nation, Iran, three times as large and populous as Iraq?
Mitt says that if elected he will move carriers into the Persian Gulf and “prepare for war.” Newt is even more hawkish. America should continue “taking out” Iran’s nuclear scientists — i.e., assassinating them — but military action will probably be needed.
Newt is talking up uber-hawk John Bolton for secretary of state.
Rick Santorum has already called for U.S.-Israeli strikes: “Either we’re going to stop them … or take the long-term consequences of having a nuclear Iran trying to wipe out the state of Israel.”
But if Iran represents, as Bibi Netanyahu is forever reminding us, an “existential threat,” why does not Israel itself, with hundreds of nuclear weapons, deal with it?
Bibi’s inaction speaks louder than Bibi’s words.
He wants the Americans to do it. ... ( 2011)

Letter to Bill Cliton, 26-1-1998

Dear Mister President,
"We urge you to (..) turn your Administration's attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power.
This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater.
We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf.
In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.
We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.

Elliott Abrams - Richard L. Armitage - William J. Bennett - Jeffrey Bergner
John Bolton - Paula Dobriansky - Francis Fukuyama - Robert Kagan
Zalmay Khalilzad - William Kristol - Richard Perle - Peter W. Rodman
Donald Rumsfeld William Schneider, Jr. Vin Weber Paul Wolfowitz
R. James Woolsey Robert B. Zoellick

Richard Perle's New line of logic

As for Perle’s new line of logic, he seems to feel that if you criticize the neocons, you are, well, more or less, an anti-Semite.
Although the line is quite useful in the lexicon of Israel’s defenders, Perle’s use of the tactic reflects a level of unprecedented desperation.
Perle said the term “neoconservative,” is “often used to describe Jewish Americans because, as it happens, some of the original thinkers whose ideas have now been characterized by this general term 'neoconservative' were in fact Jewish, and it often carries conspiratorial tones on the part of people who throw the term around.”
One could in fact agree, except that the former assistant secretary of defense is now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, which served as a major lobby platform for Israeli interests, and was also one of the major organizations behind the failed Iraq war strategy. (Al-Jazeera, 11-7-2014)

One of the most controversial and dangerous figures in U.S. diplomacy
‘He’s Never Met A Country He Hasn’t Wanted To Destroy’
Nick Visser-Jesselyn Cook, Huffington Post, 23-3-2018

"Bombing Iraq Isn't Enough": William Kristol and Robert Kagan, 1998 (Project for the New American Century).

Bolton is seen as one of the most controversial and dangerous figures in U.S. diplomacy and is a fierce war hawk who has long advocated for a preemptive military strike against North Korea and the dismantling of the Iran nuclear deal.
“This news is hard to process,” Van Jackson, a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, said in an email. “What I can say at the moment is that Bolton isn’t just a run-of-the-mill hawk; he’s a kind of warmonger. He’s never seen a foreign policy problem that couldn’t be solved by bombing.”
Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the Middlebury Institute, described Bolton’s approach to national security as “border fetishism” that would jeopardize any future deal by the U.S.
Bolton is “someone who has an absurdly narrow conception of American national security, based on an extremist definition of sovereignty,” he told HuffPost. “This is a man who looks at any international agreement not as countries working together but as a loss of American sovereignty and power.” With regard to the future of the Iran nuclear deal, Lewis said simply: “This is bad.”
Stephen Schwartz, an independent nuclear policy consultant, expressed particular concern over Bolton’s “track record” of consistent support for military action over diplomacy.
“We’ve got an apparent summit in the works, but we don’t really have anybody to plan it because all the experts have basically fled or been forced out of the State Department, and now you’ve got somebody coming in who has no interest in diplomacy,” Schwartz said.
“If you pair that attitude with a president who’s willfully ignorant and lacks impulse control, it becomes a very dangerous situation with regard to Iran and North Korea.”
One thing is clear, experts say: When Bolton takes up his post on April 9, the White House will be home to one of the most polarizing diplomatic picks in history, even by Trump administration standards.

Zionist Right-Wing Ministers Welcome US Appointment of ‘Friend’ Bolton
Al-Manar TV (Lebanon), 23-3-2018

KSA – USA partnership dinner: High-level speakers, including Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Lindsey Graham, James Baker, William Cohen, Cindy Schwarzkopf, daughter of the late General Norman Schwarzkopf, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and Ambassador Khalid bin Salman, delivered stirring remarks commemorating the historic American and Saudi Arabian leaders of the past who further reinforced the foundations of the unshakable alliance between the two nations. Al-Arabiya, 23-3-2018

Israeli ministers welcomed on Friday US President Donald Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as his new national security advisor, describing him as a friend and supporter of the Zionist entity.
Trump had on Thursday announced the hardline Fox News pundit and former United Nations ambassador would be replacing embattled army general HR McMaster in the key position.

“President Trump is continuing to appoint true friends of Israel to senior positions. John Bolton stands out among them,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home said.
“An excellent appointment, Bolton has a lot of experience and is an original thinker,” Shaked said in a statement. “The Trump administration is turning out to be the most friendly administration to Israel ever.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the head of Jewish Home, called the appointment “great” in a tweet, describing Bolton as “an extraordinary security expert, experienced diplomat and a stalwart friend of Israel.”
And Environment Minister Zeev Elkin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing ruling Likud party, said Bolton was “not unknown to Israel”. “He has been, unquestionably, a friend of Israel for many years, including in his position as US ambassador to the UN,” Elkin told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM. “I have no doubt it will be convenient for us to work with him.”

Bolton, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration, is known for his virulent defense of “Israel” and had witnessed the most vicious crimes against innocents in the region.

Al-Manar is a Lebanese satellite television station affiliated with Hezbollah, broadcasting from Beirut, Lebanon.

bush (usa) & bandar bin sultan (ksa)

Palestinian officials reacted angrily, with Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), denouncing Trump's Thursday choice, who replaces Herbert Raymond McMaster.
“This man has a long history of hostility to Palestinians, dating to when he was at the United Nations, where he was protecting Israeli immunity,” Ashrawi said.
She added: the Trump administration “has joined with extremist Zionists, fundamentalist Christians and white racists” with Bolton's appointment. (Press TV 23-3-2018)

Hanan Ashrawi 2002: The New Age of Ideology

"The post-September 11 era in the US has heralded in a new age of ideology whose discourse and world views have served not only to accommodate such extremist views as those held by Sharon, but also to provide him with a platform and an influence that were unthinkable only a year ago.
Thus while the American President is busy devising a new Manichean universe of absolute good and absolute evil, pronouncing policy on the basis of a simplistic polarization of the world, and unilaterally defining the terms while categorizing state and non-state actors accordingly, Sharon’s Israel has maneuvered itself into a position of even greater power on the world stage provided explicitly by the US."

John Bolton: Regime Change in Iran by the End of 2018
You, the MEK, need to be in charge of that country
Robert Mackey, The Intercept, March 23, 2018

Eight months ago, at a Paris gathering, John Bolton told members of the Iranian exile group, known as the Mujahedeen Khalq, MEK, or People’s Mujahedeen, that the Trump administration should embrace their goal of immediate regime change in Iran and recognize their group as a “viable” alternative.
“The outcome of the president’s policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday,” Bolton said. (The 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution will be on February 11, 2019.)
“The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” Bolton added.
“The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.”
As the Iranian expatriate journalist Bahman Kalbasi noted, Bolton concluded his address to the exiles with a rousing promise: “And that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran!”

At the group’s celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, in Albania on Tuesday, MEK leader Maryam Rajavi was joined on stage by Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City.
Mr. Giuliani reiterated that unlike other countries in the region, there is an alternative to the ruling regime in Iran. Thus, its overthrow will lead to peace and tranquillity in a region that has been severely threatened by the clerical regime.
Although the official announcement from the White House was not made until Thursday, Giuliani told the group, to loud applause, that Bolton “is going to be President Trump’s national security adviser.”
In case there was any doubt among the exiles that Bolton might not advise Trump to overthrow Iran’s government, Giuliani assured them that “if anything, John Bolton has become more determined that there needs to be regime change in Iran, that the nuclear agreement needs to be burned, and that you need to be in charge of that country.”

Flashback: Senator McCain to MEK (Iranian militant opposition group)
You Are an Example to Everyone in the World
Iran News Update, 15 April 2017

Senator John McCain met with Maryam Rajavi, the president elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Maryam Rajavi expressed her gratitude to senator McCain for his unsparing efforts in support of the MEK (People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran).
She said, "Today, there's a general accord within the region on the clerical regime's damaging role and there's little question that the non secular fascism ruling Iran is the prime source of war, coercion and crisis within the region."
"Regime change isn't solely the necessity for ending brutal violations of human rights in Iran but to establish peace and tranquility within the region," she added. "As long as the clerical regime is in power, it'd not quit export of terrorism and fundamentalism."
Maryam Rajavi noted, "The Iranian individuals and Resistance are more determined than ever for the overthrow of the regime
Prior to this meeting, senator McCain was accompanied by Maryam Rajavi for a visit to one of the MEK headquarters in Tirana where he was warmly welcomed...
He told MEK members, "You have stood up and fought and sacrificed for freedom, for the right to determine your own future..." "I thank you for being an example, an example to the whole world..."

Nasr al-Hariri, leading member of the [Saudi-backed] Syrian opposition:
"The life of the Iranian regime is over" (29-6-2016)

Dr. Nasr al-Hariri, a top official in the opposition Syrian National Coalition, in an interview with Simay-e Azadi (Iran opposition satellite television, INTV) which was broadcast this week said:
“My message to the gathering of the Iranian Resistance, which is scheduled to be held on July 9th in Paris, is that this opportunity is a golden opportunity for a national uprising against the regime.
Now that the regime has entered into a war of attrition in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and a number of other countries, it is a good time to activate coordinated efforts among the resistances of all of these countries to cooperate with the Iranian Resistance.
Moreover, it must be said that the life of this regime which kills its own people and drags them into a meaningless war is over!”

Gideon Levy on Zionism: "I don’t recall one example on earth in which an ideology is
so totalitarian, is so saintly, is so holy that you have no right to put any kind of doubts.."
The Zionist Tango ,, 22-3-2018

Zionism is one of the two religions of Israel. As a religion, as with any religion, you can’t question it.
The second religion is obviously the religion of security. So between Zionism and security, anyone in Israel who dares to raise any kind of question mark is immediately perceived as a traitor.
It’s impossible to describe to you what does it mean to say that you have some questions about Zionism. Imagine yourself if you question today the other religion, if you claim that the Israeli idea of the Israel Defense Forces are not the most moral army in the world... – how dare you!
We are getting it with the milk of our mothers, even though my mother was not such a Zionist, I think. But it’s very hard to understand from the outside how an ideology became part of the DNA, how an ideology became something which must be taken for granted and there is no room for any question marks.
I know it about myself. I know how I grew up. I know what I thought about those very, very, very few who claimed that they were not Zionist or, God forbid, anti-Zionists. They were the Satans, even though they were Jews and Israelis.
I don’t recall one example on earth in which an ideology is so totalitarian, is so saintly, is so holy that you have no right to put any kind of doubts or question marks – nothing. Not about the past, not about the future, not about the present – nothing.
It’s unbelievable when you live in a state in which, if you declare that you don’t accept this ideology, you are not part of the place. You are not part of society...

When it comes to Zionism, there is no difference in Israel between left and right.
When it comes to the occupation, which is part and parcel of Zionism, there is no meaningful difference between left and right in Israel. When I mean left and right, I mean this so-called Zionistic left, Labor and others, and the right-wingers. The difference is only by rhetoric. [...]
I cannot think about one society which lives in such denial like the Israeli society.
Again, it includes left and right, except for the very devoted extreme left activists, let’s remember them. But they are really small in [numbers] and totally, totally, delegitimized...
So when I speak about left, I mean Labor, Yeshuati, Yair Lapid and all the rest. In many ways they're worse than the right-wingers because they feel so good about themselves, because they are so sure that they are so human and universal and moral.
While the right-wingers at least don’t cover up, they say, yes, we are fascists. So what’s wrong about it? We are Jews and we have the right to be fascists. Because we are the chosen people, we have the right, and nobody’s going to tell us what to do....
Which brings me to the set of values which I see as the core of Israeli society nowadays, three or four sets of values which explain everything, in my view.

-- The first very deep-rooted value, let’s face it, is the value that we are the chosen people. Secularists and religious [alike] will claim so. Even if they don’t admit it, they feel so. The implementation is very simple: If we are the chosen people, who are you to tell us what to do? Who are you? Who is the international community to tell Israel what to do? International law, wonderful thing – it doesn’t apply to us. It applies to any other place on earth, but not to Israel, because we are the chosen people. Don’t you understand it?
-- The second very deep-rooted value is obviously the value of “we the victims” – not only the biggest victims, but the only victims around. I know many occupations which were longer than Israeli occupation, some were even more brutal, even though it’s getting harder and harder to be more brutal than the Israeli occupation.
I don’t recall one occupation in which the occupier presents himself as the victim – not only the victim, the only victim.
-- To this there’s a third very deep-rooted value, and this is the very deep belief: The Palestinians are not equal human beings like us. They are not like us. They don’t love their children like us. They don’t love life like us. They were born to kill. They are cruel. They are sadists. They have no values. No manners. Look how they kill us. This is very, very deep-rooted in Israeli society, and maybe that’s the key issue, because as long as this continues, nothing will move.

I’m very, very skeptical about change from within the Israeli society, because life in Israel is far too good and the brainwashing system is far too efficient. To have a dialogue today with most of Israelis is, even for me, almost an impossible job...
The brainwashing is so deep and the denial is so deep. The ignorance, the ignorance, they know nothing, and what they know is wrong.

Israel: New Meretz leader says party better suited than Labor to lead left
By Times of Israel staff, 24 March 2018

The newly elected leader of Meretz said Saturday that her party was better suited than Labor to lead Israel’s left.
Tamar Zandberg, speaking at a cultural event in Hadera, said she was disappointed by the conduct of the Labor party under the leadership of Avi Gabbay, “zigzagging and apologizing for its positions and as a result collapsing politically.” She said Meretz “is certainly a better candidate to lead the left-wing bloc due to its ideological clarity and its loyalty to its values.”
Accepting victory in front of a crowd of party loyalists at its headquarters in Tel Aviv, the 41-year-old Zandberg, who has been an MK for Meretz since 2013 and a party activist for many years, said she planned to lead the Israeli left to better days.
“We will be here for the huge public that has not given up on Israeli democracy, on justice and equality,” she said. “Everyone who understands that the occupation is an existential threat to the state of Israel, to all those Israelis I say: Don’t believe that you are the minority. You are not...
Zandberg repeated her stated goal throughout the campaign for Meretz to win 10 seats in the Knesset in the next national elections... She has vowed to change the perception of Meretz as a perpetual opposition party.., even suggesting a willingness to join a coalition with arch-nemesis Avigdor Liberman, who leads the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu.
“Meretz is ready to push forward to the center of the political stage. We will lead a strong left-wing force on every stage, in the Knesset, at rallies, on the street, on social media,” she said to the cheers of activists.
Everywhere, we will be part of the revolution that Israel so desperately needs. We will break the mold of Israeli politics that pushed us to a corner and told us that the public wasn’t with us.

Since his election as Labor leader last July, Avi Gabbay has sought to move the party rightward in an apparent bid to bolster its standing, and has made a number of comments at odds with Labor’s historical stances. In December he said preserving a “united” Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty was more important than clinching a peace deal with the Palestinians... . And in October, he said he would not evacuate West Bank settlements as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians, and days later he called the settlement enterprise “the beautiful and devoted face of Zionism.”

'Land of Israel belongs to the Jews' - 'the Arabs have to be afraid of us'
Tzvi Lev, Arutz Sheva, 17/10/2017

Labor chief Avi Gabbay refused to retract his recent statements opposing the eviction of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in a potential future peace deal with the Palestinian Authority, despite blowback he received from his Labor faction.
Speaking with Reshet Bet, Gabbay said that "I believe that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews. God promised Abraham the entire Land of Israel, but I also believe that since there are 4.5 million Arabs here, we have to compromise in order to create a situation in which we live in our country with a Jewish majority".
Gabbay said at a conference of Labor Party activists in Dimona that both Israelis and Arabs must understand that Israel is the stronger party.
"We have to understand a very simple thing - we are the strong ones here. They always scare us, but we are the stronger ones. We are stronger than the Arabs. We do not have to be afraid of them – the Arabs have to be afraid of us," Gabbay said.

"Israel will not just be a part of the Middle East
but will lead the Middle East.” - Avi Gabbay, 5-3-2018

Rim Banna: A Symbol of Life and Unity
By Louis Brehony, Palestine Chronicle, March 25, 2018

The body of Palestinian vocalist and songwriter Rim Banna was laid to rest in her home city of Nazareth on March 24, 2018, after a struggle with cancer that never reduced her determination to sing and resist.
She will be remembered for her songs for children, her dedication to Palestinian freedom, and for her refusal to be categorized as a second class citizen of the state of Israel. Her music told the stories of the beauty of life despite times of oppression and urged the occupied, exiled and imprisoned to maintain a heritage of resistance.
Born in 1966, into a working class Christian family in Nazareth, Rim received training in the Soviet Union and rose to prominence in Palestine in the era of the first intifada, recording her first album Jafra while she was still a teen.
Her cassettes were produced on low budgets and, like Shafiq Kabha and other radical Palestinian voices, she operated outside of the Zionist cultural mainstream, refusing to be co-opted and instead finding popularity among the masses dedicated to the cause of liberation.
While she often sang of tragedy, she also embraced sumud (steadfastness) and promoted pride in being Palestinian, responding to Zionist narratives of repression and erasure with a message of the life and vitality of everyday experience.

In an unpublished interview in 2005, Rim said her mission was to “keep folk texts from being lost and helping the younger generation to be aware of their folklore”.
“For me, my music and song has become very political. I’m fighting through the music and trying to leave a big influence in the heart of the European audience, to move something in their minds and feelings...
I want them to be more active in supporting the Palestinian people because people can change the political will of their governments.”

The Syrian Army forces captured Ein Tarma Valley in Eastern Ghouta area in Damascus Countryside and blow life back into the region. (FARS News Agency, 23-3-2018)

Army units prepare a new passage for evacuating
gunmen and their families from Joubar
Syrian Arab News Agency, 24 March 2018

Army units on Saturday prepared a new passage on the outskirts of Harasta city to evacuate gunmen who refused the reconciliation along with their families through the southern part of Eastern Ghouta in Damascus Countryside province.
SANA delegate to Harasta said that Army’s bulldozers are working to remove barricades and open the main street near the Water Resource Bridge in order to open a new passage for buses that will transfer gunmen and their families from the towns of Joubar, Zamalka, Erbin and Ain Tarma.

The delegate clarified that it is expected during the upcoming days that hundreds of gunmen and their families from Joubar, Erbin and Zamalka will be evacuated and transferred through buses in a scenario similar to that of Harasta.
He added that army units are working on opening streets and removing barricades in Harasta city in preparation for the entry of the engineering units as to cleanse the city of mines and explosives.

Turkey takes full control of Syria's Afrin region
Middle East Eye, 25 March 2018

Turkey's military and its Syrian rebel allies have taken full control of northwest Syria's Afrin region, a Turkish army source said, as aid workers distributed food to people in the area.
Turkish forces and the Syrian fighters swept into the main Afrin town after an eight-week campaign to drive out the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a terrorist group.
A military source told Reuters the last remaining villages had been seized and control established overnight.
"Control has been completely achieved in the Afrin region and search operations are continuing so that local people can return safely to their houses," the source said.
State-run Anadolu news agency carried a similar report. Anadolu said the Turkish military was continuing its sweep for mines and explosives to allow Afrin’s resident’s to return, after airstrikes and clashes with Syrian Kurdish forces.
Associated Press journalists on a tour organized by the Turkish government Saturday passed through the northwestern town of Jinderes en route to central Afrin. Jinderes, captured by Turkey and allied Syrian opposition fighters, was the scene of heavy street clashes earlier in March. The AP saw a widely destroyed and empty town.
In Afrin, people queued to receive hot food that was being distributed by the Turkish Red Crescent while Turkish soldiers kept security and armoured vehicles moved along the streets.
"We are trying to bring back life to normal in the short and medium term here." the aid group's president, Kerem Kinik, told Reuters. "Our mobile kitchens are here, and our crews are in the villages.

Erdogan’s conundrum: Who will govern Afrin?
Yasar Yakis | Arab News, Monday 26 March 2018

Turkey’s military operation in the Syrian district of Afrin has completed its first stage, which was the seizure of the city of Afrin. After this difficult episode, Turkey is now taking its efforts into the political arena. It is hoping to expel the fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the district, but it has to do so without contravening article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides that “individual or mass forcible transfers… are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”
Turkey should also refrain from resorting to manhunts. This will complicate the process even further, because ill-intentioned individuals may crop up and mislead the authorities into targeting the wrong people, for reasons of personal rift, political or commercial rivalry, or greed.
Turkey’s ultimate objective was to dismantle the cantonal structure established by the strongest Kurdish political party in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and set up a more representative administration in the district.
But UN Security Council Resolution 2254 provides that the political transition in Syria will be “Syrian-led and Syrian-owned.”
In line with this UN framework, the Turkish authorities, on March 18, the day Afrin city center was seized, convened a meeting in Gaziantep under the title of the “Afrin Liberation Congress” and elected 30 delegates to represent Afrin’s population of Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds who do not support the PYD.
It is not an easy task to find in Afrin Kurds who do not support this party, because this district is the biggest Kurdish agglomeration in Syria.

Apart from the issue of how representative the congress is, there is also the problem of its competences.
The “Syrian-led and Syrian-owned” process has not yet announced its choice regarding what type of state structure will be introduced...
Many Kurds, whether PYD supporters or not, are likely to vote in favor of their autonomy, preferably in the form of cantons, at least in Rojava and Jazira, though this may no longer work in Afrin. Such autonomy could be sustained only with strong support from the US and Russia. Turkey vehemently opposes such a move, and it proved in Afrin that it means what it says.
Russia suggested a federal structure for Syria in a draft constitution that it prepared within the framework of the Astana process. The overlapping feature in the attitude of the five major actors in Syria — the Syrian government, the US, Russia, Iran and Turkey — is that they all favor the preservation of the country’s territorial integrity.
Turkey, Iran and Syria would prefer this integrity to be translated into a unitary state, while the US and Russia want a federal state... For this reason, Turkey’s cooperation with the Syrian regime at every stage of its mission is important for the continuity of the work it is doing.

Lavrov: "Truly independent countries in the modern world
and in modern Europe are very few..."
TASS Russian News Agency, March 27, 2018

"The US-led Western alliance, while acting as an advocate of democracy, rule of law and human rights in individual countries, is acting in the international arena from the opposite position, rejecting the democratic principle of the sovereign right of states enshrined in the UN Charter and trying to decide for others what is good and what is bad."
Sergei Lavrov, UN General Assembly, New York, 27-9-2014

Moscow won’t tolerate Western countries’ crassness and will definitely respond to the expulsion of diplomats, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday. "Rest assured, we will respond," Lavrov said in reply to a TASS question. "The reason is that no one would like to tolerate such obnoxiousness and we won’t either," he added.
The decision by some Western countries to expel Russian diplomats comes as the result of a colossal blackmail campaign and pressure from the United States, he went on.
"The conclusion that readily offers itself is that we were quite right when we said more than once that truly independent countries in the modern world and in modern Europe are very few.
When one or two diplomats are asked to leave this or that country, with apologies being whispered into our ears, we know for certain that this is a result of colossal pressure and colossal blackmail, which is Washington’s chief instrument in the international scene," Lavrov said.
"This is what we hear in this situation and in relation to the Palestinian problem: ‘We will not be giving any money to the Palestinians until you say you will agree to the idea we have not formulated yet.’ In other words, ‘take it for granted.’
These ‘take-it-for-granted’ statements (charges against Russia in connection with the reported poisoning of former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia - TASS) are an insult to the system of Anglo-Saxon, British justice," Lavrov said.

A number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia earlier announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer Sergei Skripal, which the UK blames on Moscow without providing any evidence.
On March 4, ex-Colonel Skripal and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the substance used in the attack had allegedly been the so-called Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union.
Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.

Anti-Erdoğan staff at the White House
Beril Dedeoğlu, Daily Sabah (Turkey) 27-3-2018

U.S. President Donald Trump's new national security adviser, former ambassador John Bolton, has very interesting opinions on Turkey and on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Like many Western countries, it seems the U.S., through Bolton's lenses, will continue to interpret Turkey's evolution only as being the result of President Erdoğan's personal actions, forgetting that he is an elected president who is acting according to the will of his voters. According to Bolton, President Erdoğan's ultimate aim is to transform Turkey into an Islamist and undemocratic state....
The claim that Turkey is drifting away from democracy has been uttered very frequently for some time. [...] The newly appointed national security adviser once said he would shed no tears if the current Turkish government was toppled by a coup.
He probably believes that the "old" Turkey was better as he is asking for its restoration by all possible means. Besides, he supposed that the Turkish army has a duty to protect the constitution; so carrying out a military coup is not a problem for him....
One may suggest that Bolton dislikes Turkey's current leadership, because he is against politicians with Islamic references. Having said that, one must admit the U.S. is not very coherent on this, as well.
They perfectly know that Saudi Arabia is an Islamic and undemocratic kingdom, but you never hear any criticism toward them from the U.S. On the contrary, the American-Saudi alliance is stronger than ever nowadays.
In other words, this is not about Islam, but this is about Turkey not acting blindly to serve the U.S.'s strategic interests. If Turkey was governed by totally different people, but with a similar stance toward America, those would be criticized by Bolton as well.

Trump’s new NSA said would not shed a tear if Erdoğan overthrown
Ilhan Tanir, Ahval News, Mar 23, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump's new National Security Adviser John Bolton said on the night of the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that he would not mourn the departure of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Speaking to Fox TV as the coup plot unfolded in Turkey on July 15, 2016, Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said : “I have no charity in my heart for Erdoğan, if he goes down I'm not shedding any tears. I do not believe he is a friend to the United States.”
Bolton recalled Erdoğan’s performance as a U.S. ally before the 2003 Iraq war then the Turkish parliament failed to pass a resolution allowing U.S. forces to open a northern front in Iraq through Turkish territory. “I always believed he sabotaged our efforts back then,” Bolton said.
Trump chose Bolton on Thursday to replace General H.R McMaster as national security advisor. Known as a hawk on Iran, North Korea and political Islam, Bolton said on the night of the coup he saw Erdoğan as someone seeking to increase the Islamisation of Turkey.
"The future of Turkey is obviously at stake here. If the coup succeeds then I think Erdoğan’s efforts to perhaps recreate the Ottoman Caliphate, perhaps to be the dominant power again in the Middle East and to move Turkey in an Islamic direction will be foiled...
If Erdoğan prevails then I think you would see an acceleration of the Islamisation efforts he has been making."

John Bolton: Iraq has collapsed, US should support Kurdish aspirations
By Rudaw, 24/7/2016

Speaking to Rudaw's Washington correspondent Namo Abdulla, senior republican politician and former US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said that he is concerned about the ways Turkish president has been dealing with this month’s coup attempt.
“I am extremely concerned about the suppression of the coup,” Bolton said. “I am concerned about the direction that president Erdogan is taking.”
He added that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has cleared the board of any political and intuitional opposition. Turkey has been in its secular days a staunch ally of the United States.”
Bolton who is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute said that Iraq has broken up as a country and hard to put back together.
“I think the government of Iraq has collapsed,” he said. “I don’t think it can be put back together. I have said the Kurds in Iraq have demonstrated being capable of governing themselves.

Martel: "In John Bolton, Kurds Finally Get an Ally in the Trump Administration"
by Frances Martel, Breitbart, 25 Mar 2018

On no issue will Bolton’s firm stance present a bigger departure from establishment dogma than his support for an independent Kurdistan.
Bolton has vocally, consistently supported the establishment of an independent Kurdish state, arguing that the Kurds have proven their ability to govern themselves and earned the support of the United States through their reliable cooperation with Washington against a number of jihadist threats, most prominently the Islamic State (ISIS).
The Kurdish people are divided among territories belonging to Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, making enemies of all these governments.
For decades Kurds of a variety of factions have proven willing to risk the lives of their armies to defend overlapping interests with America. They take their alliance with the United States seriously and rely only on support from Israel among their neighbors....
The arguments against supporting Kurdish independence largely boil down to “it’s too complicated. You wouldn’t understand.”
As with nearly every other major international conflict, and typically infuriating every “adult in the room” in Washington, Bolton has rejected this holier-than-thou establishment approach to Kurdish independence. Instead, Bolton has repeatedly made the clear-cut case that the Kurdish people have proven their ability to run a federal government in arguably the most volatile corner of the earth.
Bolton vocally supported the September 2017 Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) referendum on independence from Iraq: “I think it’s time for the Kurdish people in Iraq to give a voice to their aspirations,” he told Kurdistan 24 at the time. “I think the Kurdish people are de facto independent already.”

No good options for Syria’s vanquished rebels in Ghouta
The Army of Islam now stands alone in eastern Ghouta
Associated Press, 28 March 2018

Three years ago, the Army of Islam, one of Syria’s most powerful armed opposition groups, held a massive military parade that included thousands of opposition fighters marching in formation and a striking display of tanks and armored vehicles at the doors of the Syrian capital.
The parade, held in the town of Douma in the spring of 2015, demonstrated the Saudi-backed group’s growing clout in the eastern Ghouta suburbs, which for years were seen as a potential launch pad for a ground attack on Damascus, seat of President Bashar Assad’s power.
The Army of Islam now stands alone in eastern Ghouta, its fighters facing a stark choice: Surrender or die.
Haitham Bakkar, a Douma-based opposition activist, said the situation in Douma is very tense because it is unclear what will happen next. He said it was a question of existence for the Army of Islam fighters, most of whom are from Douma. “If the Army of Islam goes to northern Syria it will be its end,” he said.

Jaish al-Islam includes Salafi and former Muslim Brotherhood members with Saudi connections.

Rebels who have left eastern Ghouta so far have all gone to Idlib, an insurgent-held region dominated by al-Qaida-affiliated fighters near the Turkish border, where they either have a presence or good relations with Turkey.
By contrast, the Army of Islam, called Jaysh al-Islam in Arabic, is home-grown and has no other strongholds in the country.
Jaysh al-Islam is a very local phenomenon, emerging from the specific social fabric and Salafi school of thought of the Damascus countryside,” said Faysal Itani, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Atlantic Council.
“More precisely, Jaysh al-Islam is a creature of Douma, and I don’t know how it would survive outside it,” especially in Idlib, where there is rebel rivalry, he said. [...]
The group has no good choices. Going to Idlib would put its fighters in an area dominated by al-Qaida, against whom it has fought pitched battles in the past.
The Britain-based Observatory reported this week that the Russians rejected a request by some Army of Islam members to head to the southern province of Daraa. Such a move would bring the militants close to the Jordanian border, from where they would likely get assistance from Saudi Arabia.

Nauert: "Russia ‘a beast from the deep sea’ with ‘lots of tentacles’."
Daily Sabah (Turkey), 28-3-2018

Russia remains a country that is interested in meddling in other countries' affairs, particularly elections, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday.
Nauert said the U.S. has seen Russian interference in Mexico, France and several European countries, and that Moscow is likely to continue its practices. "We can't say that the United States is going to be any safer from its election [meddling] as a result. Russia has long arms, Russia has lots of tentacles," she said, describing Russia as "a beast from the deep sea."
Nauert's comments come amid mass expulsions of Russian diplomats from the U.S., EU and several other countries over the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the U.K. earlier this month.
British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Moscow of being behind what she called an "act of aggression" against the U.K. Russia, in turn, denied any involvement.

Syrian children make up for lost years
after fleeing war-torn Eastern Ghouta
Xinhua Net (China)| 2018-03-29

Upon seeing the people who are evacuating the Eastern Ghouta countryside of the capital Damascus, one could immediately notice the unexpected number of children leaving with their families.
In fact, most of the women have many children and infants in their arms, and it's strange to imagine the situation of having new children amid the war that has been dragging on for several years in that part of the capital. The ages of these children range between infants and 15 years old, but the smaller age is the most prominent among them.
During the war, the people in Damascus, or the newlyweds, largely opted to have one child in most cases due to the war and the uncertainty that couples it. In fact, many young men have decided not to get married because of the economic and security situation, let alone to have children. But in Eastern Ghouta, the situation seemed different somehow.

In one of the government-run shelters hosting thousands of people from Eastern Ghouta, children are everywhere, with parents carrying their little children who cannot walk in their arms.... In this shelter, which was a training compound for electricity students before turning into a shelter for displaced people, 15 women gave birth upon arriving from the Eastern Ghouta and they were taken to a nearby hospital to deliver their new babies.
Many charities enter this shelter every day, many of which are concerned with the children and how to provide them with entertainment after the woes of war they have witnessed in such small ages.
They sing, jump and do some theatrical songs, repeating after the teachers and volunteers who came to lend a hand of help to this young generation, as most of the young children who were born during the war in Eastern Ghouta have not even been registered officially.

State news agency SANA said Wednesday that the authorities are preparing to provide education to the children within centers equipped with all necessary educational tools.
Abdul-Rahman Khatib, head of another shelter for the people of Eastern Ghouta, said that new schools will be opened next week for the children of Eastern Ghouta. The education of the children poses a challenge as many of those in the school age are dropouts who cannot read or write.
Fatima Rasheed, the head of the Social and Work Affairs department in Damascus countryside, told Xinhua that the work of her department has been focusing on helping the children and elderly people who are leaving Eastern Ghouta. She pointed out that the psychological support is being provided for the children who are in bad psychological state, noting that some of the children couldn't recognize some types of fruits.
She said that the Ministry of Education in Syria is going to evaluate the educational level of the kids to help them enroll in schools and make up for what they have lost.
The civilian evacuation, which has started on March 14, was made possible after the Syrian army advanced in Eastern Ghouta and captured 90 percent of that area from an array of rebel groups, which have been entrenched in that key area since 2012.

Efforts afoot to bridge educational gaps for 15,000 students
Syrian Arab News Agency, Damascus, 29 March 2018

About 15,000 children who are of school age have exited Eastern Ghouta so far and are currently residing in makeshift centers. The number is increasing due to the continued flow of civilians leaving Ghouta who were held hostage by terrorist organizations.
Speaking to SANA, Head of the Education Directorate at Damascus Countryside Maher Faraj said that the Directorate’s cadres are working in coordination with the Ministry of Education and Damascus Countryside governorate on ensuring education for children who left Eastern Ghouta.
According to Faraj, the number of students who have been studying the regular curriculum in Ghouta was counted, adding that those who have received no education will be compensated for the education they missed. As for the basic and high school education students, they will take crash courses in the lead up to final exams so as to catch up.
The school year was extended by two months for Eastern Ghouta students to enable them to catch up with regular students, Faraj said, adding that a new school equipped with 15 pre-made classrooms has been opened at the makeshift center of Harjala to accommodate the 8000 children who are residing in the center.
Four other schools were also reopened in Saqba and Kafr Batna in order to start the educational process in these two areas and committees were formed to assess the damage sustained by schools in Ghouta for maintenance work to commence.

Russia reaches deal on militants withdrawing from Douma
Al-Masdar News Desk, 30/03/2018

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:30 P.M.) – The Russian Defence Ministry announced that an accord has been reached with the leaders of Syrian armed groups on the withdrawal of militants and their families from the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta.
The announcement was made by Head of Main Operational Department of General Staff Sergei Rudskoi at a press briefing in Moscow on Friday.
Rudskoi noted that 28,495 civilians had already fled Douma through the Muhayam al-Wafedeen humanitarian corridor. He went on to say that an accord has been reached “with the leaders of illegal armed groups” on the withdrawal of militants and their families from Douma “in the near future.”
The head of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces also said that “in accordance with the agreements, before leaving the settlements, the militants will present maps of minefields and underground tunnels, voluntarily demine buildings, clear barricades and main transport routes.”

Smearing Jeremy Corbyn
by Kenneth Surin, 30-3-2018

The artist, Kalen Ockerman, known as Mear One, is still selling versions of the mural on his website. Ockerman, who is based in Los Angeles, admitted he had “depicted the elite banking cartel known as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Morgans, the ruling elite few playing a game of Monopoly on the backs of the working people... Mear One denied that the mural was racist; he was quoted in the British newspaper The Independent as saying that the mural was about "class and privilege", and pointed out that the figures depicted included both "Jewish and white Anglos".

Jeremy Corbyn has for decades been a resolute opponent of the Zionist project in Palestine-Israel, and a steadfast supporter of the rights of the Palestinian people. There are many in the Labour party who support Corbyn in this view.
Corbyn’s Labour has a clear lead in the opinion polls, and the arrival of a Corbyn-led Labour government after the next election would probably herald a sea-change in the UK’s relationship with Palestine-Israel.
This prospect has sent a shiver or two down the spines of Israel’s Zionist supporters in the UK.
The most recent controversy with regard to this issue stems from Corbyn’s opposition, via a Facebook post, to the removal in 2012 of an anti-money-power mural (showing the Rothschilds, Rockefellers and Morgans) in the East End of London, on the grounds that this was censorship of an artist.
The UK Board of Jewish Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council organized a protest against antisemitism in Labour outside parliament last week, and claimed Corbyn “personifies” the “problems and dangers” of “left-wing antisemitism”.

The Zionist strategy here has been evident for a long time: when dealing with anti-Zionists such as Corbyn, do everything to blur the line between anti-Zionism (which has become increasingly acceptable in the mainstream as a result of Zionist Israel’s systematically brutal treatment of the Palestinians), and antisemitism (which, given what Jews have had to suffer in their long history, is categorically unacceptable).
The rote and reflex conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism will probably make it harder for actual antisemitism to be responded to with the seriousness it always merits.

Many are maligned routinely as antisemites because they oppose Israel’s repellent treatment of the Palestinians – if time after time, principled pro-Palestinians such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, let alone Corbyn, are deemed antisemitic by virtue of their insistence on Palestinian legal rights vis-à-vis Israel, then there will be more than a few, some of whom may in truth alas be antisemites, who will be inclined to laugh-off this imputation of antisemitism.
The thirst of the Zionists, and their convenient abettors in Blairite Labour and the latter’s supporters in the UK media, in wanting Corbyn’s “apologies” in order to undermine him and his allies, is unslakable.
For Zionists and their allies, the pro-Palestinian Corbyn and his supporters will always be irremediable “antisemites”. Zionists allow us no alternative to this travesty.

Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina. He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Corporatism: When the State Merges with Corporations
Posted on June 16, 2016 by Steven Neill

“There are two things that are important in politics.
The first is money and I can’t remember what the second one is.”
Mark Hanna, William McKinley’s presidential campaign manager, 1895

The US has been slowly moving into corporatism for decades.
The pace accelerated rapidly with the advent of Johnson’s War on Poverty and the Vietnam War and is now at the point where there is open collusion between government and big business in every area of our life.
From banking, food production, media outlets and transportation industries, the revolving door between business and government is undeniable and yet only whispered about in the main stream media.

Land Day March in Gaza
Middle East Eye, 3-3-2018

Tens of thousands of protesters were demonstrating across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel on Friday on "Land Day", notably marking the beginning of the "Great March of Return" in Gaza.
The Gaza Ministry of Health confirmed at least 16 Palestinian demonstrators had been killed by Israeli forces on the border with Israel... The Ministry also stated that more than 1,000 demonstrators had been wounded as of late afternoon, although a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society told MEE they estimated that some 800 protesters in Gaza had been injured by live fire.
The Israeli army announced in a statement that it had declared the border area of the Gaza Strip a closed military zone - meaning all Palestinians getting close to the border fence could risk getting shot.
Held annually, Land Day marks the killing by Israeli troops of six Palestinian citizens of Israel on 30 March 1976 during a protest against land confiscations.

In the Gaza Strip, where 1.3 million of the small territory’s two million inhabitants are refugees, protest organisers have called for six weeks of demonstrations called the "Great March of Return" along the border of the besieged Palestinian enclave and Israel, starting on Friday and culminating on 15 May for Nakba Day.
While Gaza organisers have insisted that the demonstrations will be peaceful, several incidents of Gazans being detained after entering Israel in recent days have seen Israeli forces keen to prove their control of the situation.
The Israeli army confirmed in a statement that it was using "riot dispersal means" - a term typically used to refer to tear gas and sound bombs - as well as firing at "main instigators" of the protest.
Israel's military chief said on Wednesday that more than 100 snipers had been deployed on the Gaza border ahead of the planned mass demonstration near the frontier. Heavy earth-moving vehicles have built up dirt mounds on the Israeli side of the border and barbed wire has been placed as an additional obstacle against any mass attempt to breach the border into Israeli territory.

Meanwhile, Palestinians demonstrated in Israel and the West Bank on Friday to commemorate Land Day. In the Palestinian-majority town of Arraba in the Galilee region of northern Israel, thousands, including Palestinian MPs from the Israeli Knesset, heads of municipalities, and religious figures, took to the streets.

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