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
"No petit bourgeois politics"
Saddam Hussein and his ideologists sought to fuse a connection between the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations in Iraq to Arab nationalism by claiming that the Babylonians and ancient Assyrians are the ancestors of the Arabs. Thus, Saddam Hussein and his supporters claim that there is no conflict between Mesopotamian heritage and Arab nationalism. Saddam Hussein based his political views and ideology upon the views of Michel Aflaq, Ba'athism's key founder. Saddam was also an avid reader of topics on moral and material forces in international politics. His government was critical of orthodox Marxism, opposing the orthodox Marxist concepts of class conflict, the dictatorship of the proletariat and atheism; it opposed Marxism–Leninism's claim that non-Marxist–Leninist parties are automatically bourgeois in nature, claiming that the Ba'ath Party was a popular revolutionary movement and the people rejected petit bourgeois politics. (Wikipedia info)
"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.”
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)
Israel needs to stop being an ideology and start being a nation. A nation of all of its citizens, all with equal national, civil and religious rights.
After 70 years, only partial justice and restoration is possible for the Palestinian people. Whatever constitutional arrangements are arrived at, equality should be the guiding principle at work.
As for Zionism let’s ditch it and move on. 'It’s time to place it in a glass cabinet and put it in a museum in a room marked: ‘Dead Ends & False Messiahs’.
There is no “Judaeo-Christian heritage.”
"The practices under which Jesus was raised in Galilee were anathema to Judaic orthodoxy. One might discern the seedbed of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus within “Galilee of the Gentiles” and why his teachings were regarded with outrage by the Pharisaic priesthood. One can also discern why there has been such a hatred of Christianity and Jesus in the rabbinical teachings of the Talmud and elsewhere.
The phenomenon of such an oddity as “Christian Zionism” is for Zionists and the Orthodox rabbinate (which should not be confounded with Reform Judaism) nothing more than the equivalent of a “shabbez goy,” a Gentile hired by Orthodox Jews to undertake menial tasks on the Sabbath. “Judaeo-Christianity” only exists in the minds of craven Gentiles who embrace delusional creeds, or who wish to further their careers by making the correct noises to the right people.
(Kerry R Bolton, Foreign Policy Journal, May 29, 2018)
Choseness is what binds Zionists together.
To be chosen is to see oneself as an exceptional creation. It entails blindness to otherness. It is a form of impunity. To be chosen often involves a near or total lack of empathy. Such lack is often defined in terms of acute narcissism and psychopathy....
I know well that Zionism was born to emancipate Diaspora Jews from their exceptionalist cultural traits and to make them ‘people like all other people.’
Like an early Zionist, I would have liked to see Jews liberate themselves from the choseness prison, but I accept that such a shift can not occur in the form of a collective or political movement. The escape from choseness to the ordinary must be an individual struggle, a surrender to self-contempt that eventually matures into a genuine search for peace and harmony with the universe, with the soil and with one’s neighbours. (Gilad Atzmon, 24-6-2019)
"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)
The Russian-Turkish relationship is at a very good level, but it does not mean that the countries agree on every issue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
"I strongly believe that in the relations between any two countries there cannot be a complete consensus on any problem," Lavrov said answering the conference participants’ questions about the two countries’ relations.
The Russian foreign minister recalled that the Syrian conflict broke out back in 2011 during the so-called Arab Spring, when Libya was destroyed, Tunis was teetering on the brink of collapse along with other regional states.
Flashback: Carrying out any political activity or forming any political parties or groupings on the basis of religious, sectarian, tribal, regional, class-based, professional, or on discrimination based on gender, origin, race or color may not be undertaken (Syria Constitution 2012, article 8)
"When extremists and terrorists practically besieged Damascus in the summer of 2015, nobody could think about any humanitarian norms, nor could imagine any political process. A military solution was much awaited, which was supposed to oust Bashar al-Assad’s government.
At the request of that legitimate government, Russia responded to the plea for help and by now we have in general been capable of facilitating the Syrian government, the Syrian Armed Forces to turn the tide, primarily in the war on terror," Lavrov continued.
"At some stage, we all counted on the UN activity, as the Geneva process was created. I took an active part alongside [then US Secretary of State] John Kerry in those efforts," he added.
The Russian top diplomat pointed out that the negotiations were "middling" but no tangible result could be achieved, and later "United Nations colleagues decided to postpone the Geneva meetings in anticipation of some better times."
Afterwards, Lavrov continued, realizing that the impasse was becoming chronic, Russia, alongside Turkey and Iran, put forward a proposal for a political process.
"Moreover, we advocated for the opposition not to bring immigrants who live in other capitals, but those who have a real influence on people fighting on the ground with the Syrian army. We managed to do it," Lavrov said.
"It is the so-called Astana process. We are sincerely grateful to Kazakhstan for providing a hospitable venue in its capital," he added.
According to the Russian foreign minister, the Astana process remains "the most efficient tool in facilitating the UN to promote the goals of Security Council’s Resolution 2254." Lavrov pointed out that the third session of Syria’s constitution committee is under preparation...
The Syrian Constitutional Committee is a United Nations-facilitated constituent assembly process, which seeks to reconcile the Syrian Government headed by President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition, in the context of the Syrian peace process, by amending the current or adopting a new Constitution of Syria.
The UN hopes that this would lead to negotiations which would subsequently lead to a peaceful end of the Syrian Civil War, which had been raging for more than eight years by the time of the committee's formation. The Constitutional Committee was formed with the formal approval of both parties involved - namely the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission...
The Constitutional Committee was convened by and is facilitated by the UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Otto Pedersen, a Norwegian diplomat, who noted that the committee was the "first concrete political agreement between the Government and the Opposition to begin to implement a key aspect of Security Council resolution 2254 – to set a schedule and process for a new constitution." (Wikipedia info)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planted a tree in Mevo'ot Yericho, together with Culture Minister Miri Regev, Justice Minister Amir Ohana, Jordan Valley Regional Council Chairman and Yesha Council Chairman David Alhayani and Mevo'ot Yericho Secretary Eliyahu Atiyah.
Prime Minister Netanyahu at the ceremony: "We are at Mevo'ot Yericho, which we recognized several months ago, and here now, this community will not only be part of the Land of Israel, it is already part of the Land of Israel.It will be part of the State of Israel with international recognition.
This is tremendous... Finally, after the 52 years since the Six Day War, in effect since the founding of the State of Israel – this stage of its homeland is in Judea and Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea. These will be part of the State of Israel."
Following are additional excerpts of Prime Minister Netanyahu's remarks at the ceremony:
-- "We have brought two things that are changing the face of the country. First is recognition of the community... Though it may be small, it will yet be big. And there will be many more. This is one decision.
-- “The second decision: After three years of intense work, between my team and President Trump's team, and between myself and President Trump, we brought the declaration of President Trump, which says unequivocally that he will recognize the application of sovereignty, the application of Israeli law in the Jordan Valley, in the northern Dead Sea and in all of our communities in Judea and Samaria, all of them, without exception, and in a wide area around them.
-- “This does not depend on Palestinian consent to what is called the Trump plan...
-- “Just as President Trump upheld his promise about Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the embassy, the legality and the withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement, I helped a little with that when "I sent the Mossad to Teheran to bring the documents, I brought them to the White House, nuclear documents from the secret Iranian warehouse and President Trump said: 'That's it; I'm leaving' and he left...."
"This does not depend on Palestinian consent..."
Netanyahu: "The significance of President Trump’s recognition of the application of Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and elsewhere is for our ability to settle in the heart of our land without restrictions, and this place will acquire civil status forever." (Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Blue & White chairman Bennie Gantz praises Trump peace plan as 'good starting point', predicts Likud will not be able to form government until current leader, signals agreement with Liberman on ending ultra-Orthodox grip on Jewish religious life in Israel
He said would even be open to a coalition with Likud, on condition that Benjamin Netanyahu no longer leads the party, but definitively ruled out any partnership with the predominantly Arab Joint List.
The first stage of my minority government," Gantz said, "will be based on a partnership with Yisrael Beytenu, Labor-Gesher-Meretz and a sizeable Blue & White party. Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman has already stated that he does not want a fourth election or any other partners, which will not be necessary anyway."
With regards to the Joint List, Gantz reaffirmed his previous statements party would not be part of any coalition he leads, saying their support from outside the coalition would be "unnecessary."
"We want a Jewish and democratic Israel, without the risk of a binational state. Netanyahu has for years worked to divide us; I want to bring us all together as one."
Turning to diplomatic affairs, Gantz complimented U.S. President Donald Trump's recently unveiled plan for Middle East peace, calling it a good starting point for further talks with the Palestinians.
"I'm for annexation and the application of Israeli law to the West Bank settlements, but all this should be done during talks and as cooperation continues with the Palestinians and the other Arab countries," said Gantz.
DAMASCUS - Syria's military announced on Monday that its troops have regained control of territories in northwestern Syria "in record time," vowing to continue to chase armed groups "wherever they are."
The announcement came hours after troops consolidated the government's hold over the key Aleppo province, capturing over 30 villages and hamlets in the western countryside in one day and securing the provincial capital that had for years remained within range of opposition fire.
Troops were removing barriers and roadblocks on Monday in villages and districts that were earlier controlled by Syrian rebels, state TV reported.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, reported clashes in Jabal Sheik Akeel, northwest of the city of Aleppo, the provincial capital.
The armed opposition was driven out of the city's eastern quarters in late 2016, which they had controlled for years while battling government forces in charge in the western section. However, rebel groups continued to target government forces from outside the city with mortar rounds. They also controlled large parts of western rural Aleppo, territories that linked them to Idlib province, the opposition's last major stronghold.
The new advances, along with securing a key highway that ran through rebel territory, are set to facilitate movement between northern and southern Syria, including the city of Aleppo, Syria's commercial center before the war.
The Shaam Network, an opposition media platform, said the advances cut the rebels' supply line, effectively driving them out of the area.
The developments sparked late night celebrations in the city, with state media showing images of residents waving flags and dancing in the streets packed with vehicles.
Gen. Ali Mayhoub, spokesman for the Syrian Armed Forces, said in a televised speech that Syrian troops were continuing their ground advances to "eradicate what is left of terrorist groups" in Syria, congratulating the soldiers for the swift advances in "record time."
The armed opposition is now squeezed into a shrinking area of nearby Idlib province, where the government is also on the offensive, as well as the sliver of adjacent territory in western Aleppo. Also, parts of northern Aleppo region, which straddles the border with Turkey, is administered by Turkey and allied Syrian factions.
Another segment of the province further west is controlled by Kurdish-led forces, allied with the United States. Those two parts have not been part of the government offensive.
The Secretary-General of Kurdistan Democratic Socialist Party, Muhammad al-Haj Mahmoud said that, if not for the leader of al-Quds Force in the Iranian Revolution Guard Qassem Soleimani, ISIS would have occupied Baghdad and Damascus, adding that a person like him would not come again within the next 20 years.
Hajj Mahmoud, known to the popular circles as "Kaka Hama", said in an interview with the official Iranian "Tasnim" agency that "Iran, Soleimani and his colleagues have a great influence in the war against ISIS and they played a special role in defeating ISIS. I think that if it wasn’t for Iran and Suleimani, Baghdad and Damascus would have been subject to ISIS occupation."
"There was confidence that these two capitals were in the grip of ISIS, but thanks to Iran , Russia came to the region, Hezbollah came to Syria and they defended this country. They also defended Iraq, where ISIS arrived in Abu Ghraib, near Karbala and elsewhere."
He added by saying that "Soleimani played a major role in one front in order to confront ISIS. He was a revolutionary and was able to make Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan as one front under his leadership.
These countries were in contact with Iran through Soleimani, "noting that Soleimani" was moving Hezbollah forces from Lebanon to Baghdad and Syria. He formed one axis in Syria, Yemen, and other regions that he was leading himself.
Kaka Hama went on saying , "When ISIS first arrived in Mosul, a delegation from Iran came to Kurdistan Region and met all the movements and groups in the region's government. They warned of the danger of ISIS, but some movements believed that ISIS mission was to go to Baghdad and would not come to Kurdistan.
The groups didn’t show great interest in the clarifications of this delegation, but when ISIS attacked and reached Makhmur, Koir, Kirkuk and other regions, Iran was the first country to come - even before the United States and Europe arrived at Erbil Airport. Soleimani came with 70 military experts and three shipments of ammunition to counter ISIS, and cooperated with Peshmerga forces."
The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in 2011 after violent protests turned into a full-scale civil war.
Recent reports, however, show that many countries are ready to re-establish ties with Damascus as the Syrian government restores control over the country. Amr Moussa, former Arab League Secretary-General and Egypt's former Minister of Foreign Affairs said that very soon Syria would return to the Arab League.
At the same time, Egypt's former Foreign Minister emphasised the importance of the League's work:
"The Arab League is still playing an extremely important role in the region. Despite the fact that we're talking about the need to develop a new regional and inter-Arab interaction system, we should now act within the Arab League, since it is currently the only platform for dialogue between the Arab states", he said.
Speaking about the Arab League's role in solving regional problems, Amr Moussa added that the League "can play a key role in resolving the crises, which the Arab states are involved in".
For example, it can be a direct intermediary or a partner to other major external actors interested in resolving crises in the region".
Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood is trying to exact revenge on the judiciary for years of imprisonment and political exclusion, but is attacking the wrong target, opposition leader Amr Moussa said on Monday.
The elder statesman told Reuters that Egypt faced an exceptional "to-be-or-not-to-be crisis" worse than after its 1967 defeat by Israel, and Islamist President Mohamed Mursi would do better to pursue national unity rather than division.
Asked what had prompted the campaign against the judiciary, Moussa said: "I believe it is a strange feeling of revenge, of punishment."
The Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed for much of its nearly 80-year existence, and its members were barred from most political activity under former President Hosni Mubarak, who was overthrown in a 2011 uprising.
Moussa said the Brotherhood was wrong to brand him a "remnant" of the old regime, simply because he had served Mubarak for a decade as foreign minister. ...
"Egypt is not divided between the Muslim Brotherhood and others, or between people of today and people of yesterday. Egypt is for all Egyptians..." Moussa said a growing number of Egyptians were so discontented with the political and economic situation that they were beginning to call for a return to military rule. ...
"That shows the effects of the wrong policies, the ill-considered policies that have been formed by the Brotherhood. It brought back the desire of the people for the protection of the army against policies that they disagree with," he said.
Moussa: "If you want to engage in politics
then you can get a licence for a political party" Ahram Weekly, 20-9-2013
The Committee of Fifty responsible for writing the final draft of Egypt’s new constitution held a plenary meeting yesterday to review its first week on the job.
“The main lesson of the 30 June Revolution which removed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi from power,” said Amr Moussa, chairman of the committee and a former presidential candidate, “is that politics and religion do not mix.” “If you want to engage in politics then you can get a licence for a political party but if you want to play religion then you can get a licence to preach and then go to the mosque.”
Moussa confirmed that the new constitution will place a ban on the formation of religious parties.
“Religiously motivated political parties only harm society by fanning sectarian strife and tarring their political opponents as infidels and non-believers.”
Moussa opened fire on the regime of Mohamed Morsi, taking him to task for sowing the seeds of political and sectarian strife and turning Sinai into fertile recruiting ground for militant jihadists.
“Egypt’s population will reach 100 million in a few years. They cannot be left mired in a world lacking liberal and democratic freedoms.
President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday that Aleppo gained the victory and Syria as well, adding that the Syrian army will never hesitate to carry out its national duties.
“When Aleppo city was liberated at the end of 2016, I said that what was before the liberation of Aleppo city will not be the same as what will be after that... I based that on my conviction that the patriotism of the people of Aleppo and their fealty to their homeland and the homeland’s army will overturn the calculations of the enemies.”
“This is what happened, but Aleppo had to pay a great price...; years of violent and barbaric shelling that affected most neighborhoods, tens of thousands of martyrs, injured people, orphans, people who lost children, and widows. Years of siege without water or electricity or other life necessities, all for Aleppo to kneel and for her people to surrender.”
“With every treacherous shell that had fallen, the enemies’ hopes would grow that Aleppo would become another Aleppo, one that never existed throughout history, an Aleppo that does not constitute with its twin Damascus the wings by which the homeland soars; rather an Aleppo whose people would stand with traitors in front of masters, kneeling and prostrating themselves before them, begging for a few dollars and much disgrace.”
President al-Assad added “It is true that liberating the city in 2016 did not achieve the desired safety for the city at the time, and it remained under the threat of treacherous and cowardly shells, and it is also true today that victory in one battle does not mean victory in the war..."
“We are fully aware that this liberation does not mean the disappearance of terrorism, or the surrender of enemies, but it certainly means rubbing their noses in the dirt as a prelude for complete defeat, sooner or later,” the President affirmed.
“Our Syrian Arab Army will never hesitate to carry out its national duties, and it will be as it always has been: an army from the people and for the people..."
President al-Assad went on to salute “our brothers, friends, and allies who stood shoulder to shoulder with the army on the ground and were guardian eagles in the sky..."
“Our beloved people in Aleppo, I congratulate you on the victory of your will, the will by which we will wage the greater battle: the battle to rebuild Aleppo.
By the will of all the Syrian people we will build Syria.., God willing,” President al-Assad concluded.
When Turkey threw its weight behind the anti-Assad rebellion in 2011, it did so believing that it would be able to dictate the outcome on the ground by controlling the main organized resistance forces, namely the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), formed from the ranks of defectors from the Syrian Army and various bands of Islamist fighters affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
al-nusra in syria
But the rebellion took on a life of its own, and in 2012 a Syrian Islamist, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, fighting for Al-Qaeda in Iraq returned to Syria to form a new resistance organization loyal to Al-Qaeda which became known as the Al Nusra Front.
In 2015 Al Nusra Front underwent a series of rebranding efforts, before assuming its current name, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), in early 2017. But the rebranding efforts could not alter the fact that HTS remained a designated terrorist group in the eyes of much of the world, including Turkey.
Today, Jolani’s HTS comprises the bulk of the anti-regime fighters operating in Idlib province, the last bastion of rebel-controlled territory in Syria.
syria - idlib, 2015
The Syrian Army, backed by pro-Iranian militias and the Russian Air Force, has been attacking both FSA and HTS positions in Idlib since 2015 to restore Syrian government authority over the area.
In September 2018, to spare the civilian population in Idlib from the depravations of war, a ceasefire was agreed to by the leaders of Russia, Turkey, and Iran during a summit convened in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Under the terms of the so-called Sochi Agreement, Russia and Syria would forego offensive military operations in Idlib in exchange for Turkey enforcing so-called “disengagement zones”, where anti-regime forces would surrender their heavy weapons and fighters from designated terrorist organizations, such as Jolan’s HTS, would be disarmed and evacuated.
To support this effort, Turkey established a series of heavily armed “observation posts” throughout the “disengagement zones”. However, instead of disarming the FSA and evicting HTS, Turkey used the outposts as a deterrence for any renewed offensive action by Russia and the Syrian militaries.
In short, Turkey failed to live up to virtually the totality of its commitments under Sochi.....
The best the Turks can hope for at this juncture is a new ceasefire that allows its military forces in Idlib to be withdrawn safely with their honor intact. In any event, by aligning its interests with those of Jolani and HTS, in violation of the 2018 Sochi Agreement, Turkey has made its position in Idlib unsustainable both militarily and politically.
Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector.
Turkey, Russia, and Iran will meet in Tehran next month to discuss Syria’s Idlib and a Russian delegation may come to Ankara before that, according to a Turkish official.
Turkey and Russia are discussing possible joint patrols around Syria’s Idlib as one option to ensure security of the region, the official said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had said earlier on Thursday that there was some rapprochement with Russia in talks about Syria’s Idlib region, where Ankara has threatened to mount an offensive, but added that discussions were not at a desired level yet.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that a Turkish military operation in Idlib to drive back a Russian-led Syrian regime offensive was a “matter of time” after talks with Moscow failed to reach a solution.
Speaking to broadcaster TRT Haber, Cavusoglu said Turkey and Russia would intensify their talks on Idlib in the coming days, adding that Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin may discuss the issue as well.
The Cave of the Patriarchs or Tomb of the Patriarchs, known to Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham, is a series of caves located in the heart of the Old City of Hebron in the southern West Bank. According to the Abrahamic religions, the cave and adjoining field were purchased by Abraham as a burial plot.
Abraham is the common patriarch of the 'Abrahamic Religions': Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The Abrahamic religions are monotheistic. They are centered around an image of 'God' that was created by a group of (monotheist) Hebrews in Babylon.
In a 1902 controversial lecture titled "Babel and Bible", Friedrich Delitzsc ( German Assyriologist) presented the tesis that many Old Testament writings were borrowed from ancient Babylonian tales, including the stories of the Creation and Flood from the Book of Genesis.
When the scholar of the Ancient Near East stuck to his theories in two further lectures a fierce conflict broke out between theologians and proponents of the nascent discipline of Ancient Near Eastern Studies.
In the early 1920s, Delitzsch published the two-part Die große Täuschung (The Great Deception), which was a critical treatise on the book of Psalms, prophets of the Old Testament, the invasion of Canaan, etc. Delitzsch also stridently questioned the historical accuracy of the Hebrew Bible.
Ezekiel (deported from Judah to Babylon around 597bc) was, as a monotheist priest, an enemy of the polytheistic religious practices in Judah.
In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came on me...
The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy...
Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall. He said to me, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there... I went in and looked, and I saw all the idols of Israel.
He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol?
Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate and I saw women sitting there, mourning the god Tammuz ('the shepherd of the stars').
He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east...
Building upon the undeniable fact that the Hebrews are of Semitic origin, and probably inherited a part of the Semitic stock of myth and tradition, the German archaeologist Hugo Winckler analyzes the early narratives of Israel's history into what he considers their fundamental elements.
He naturally begins with the narratives of Abraham, the stories concerning whom revolve about Hebron.
With Abraham Lot is associated, so the two must be the gemini, called by the Romans Castor and Pollux. Abraham's wife Sarah was also his sister; it is quite clear, therefore, that they are identical with Tammuz and Ishtar, who in Babylonian mythology bore similar relations to each other. In Babylonia Ishtar was the daughter of the moon-god, Sin.
ur - temple of the moongod nanna
Abraham must have been a moon-god, for the biblical traditions represent him as migrating first from Ur, the center of the worship of the moongod in southern Babylonia, and then from Haran, the home of this cult in northern Mesopotamia.
Confirmation of this view is found in many other details. The 318 men with which Abraham put to flight the armies of Cherdolaomer and his allies are the 318 days during which the moon is visible during the year.
Kirjatharba, the old name of Hebron, means "the city of four," but Arba must be the name of a god, as in the Assyrian city-name, Arba-ili, since in Babylonia all gods are denoted by numbers. "Four" as a designation of -a god can only refer to the moon, the number representing its four phases.
Pope Francis has cautioned against "unfair'' solutions aimed at ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
In a speech Sunday during a visit to the Italian southern port city of Bari to reflect on peace in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Francis lamented the many areas of war and conflict, including in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
Francis spoke of "the still unresolved conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, with the danger of not fair solutions, and, thus, presaging new crises." The pope didn't cite any specific proposals.
A new U.S. peace plan would let Israel annex all of its settlements along with the strategic Jordan Valley. It would give the Palestinians limited autonomy in several chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but only if they meet stringent conditions. In the same speech, Francis took a swipe at populist politics:
"It scares me when I hear some speeches by some leaders of the new forms of popularism,'' he said. He also lamented that waves of refugees fleeing conflicts, climate change consequences and other adversity are "depicted as an invasion.''
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Sunday he will not attend the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington.
On Twitter, the Vermont senator accused the lobbying group of providing a platform to leaders who "express bigotry" against the Palestinian people.
“The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people,” Sanders tweeted. “I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference.”
In response, AIPAC released a statement slamming the Vermont Senator, calling his comments "outrageous."
"Senator Sanders has never attended our conference and that is evident from his outrageous comment," AIPAC said. [..] "By engaging in such an odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event, Senator Sanders is insulting his very own colleagues and the millions of Americans who stand with Israel. Truly shameful," the group added.
Out of all the Democratic candidates running for president, Sanders has been the most outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, calling for an “even-handed” approach more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
That has included openly considering cutting American aid to Israel to pressure the nation to curb its settlement enterprise, enter peace talks with the Palestinians and improve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
“I would use the leverage of $3.8 billion,” he said last October. “It is a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government, or for that matter to any government at all. We have a right to demand respect for human rights and democracy.”
Moscow views US statements on the possibility of reaching an agreement with terrorists in Syria as unacceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.
“Both Nusra Front and the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [was formerly known as the Nusra Front] are officially included in the UN Security Council’s lists of terrorist organizations. They are also included in the national lists of terrorist organizations in the United States.
Nevertheless, it is not the first time that Washington officials, including US Special Representative for Syria Engagement [James] Jeffrey, have made statements suggesting that they view Tahrir al-Sham as not such a terrorist organization. And that it would be possible to establish a dialogue with it under some circumstances,” Lavrov said at a press conference.
“This is not the first time we hear such hints — which are quite transparent — and we consider them absolutely unacceptable,” the minister added.
A series of consultations between Moscow and Ankara dedicated to the situation in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib is currently being prepared, Lavrov said on.
The Russian foreign minister also added that Moscow would continue to confront militants in Idlib.
“Therefore, I hope that the ongoing contacts between our [Russian] and the Turkish military, with the participation of diplomats and security services will end positively and we can still make sure that the terrorists do not control this part of Syria, as they should not be in control of any part of the country,” Lavrov said...
"I am sure that the Turkish military, who work on the ground, see and understand everything perfectly,” Lavrov said.
For half a century the United States and many of its allies saw what I call the “Islamic right” as convenient partners in the Cold War.
In the decades before 9/11, hard-core activists and organizations among Muslim fundamentalists on the far right were often viewed as allies for two reasons, because they were seen a fierce anti-communists and because they opposed secular nationalists such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and Iran’s Mohammed Mossadegh....
If Turkey were still under the secular rule of its Kemalist old guard, things would have looked very different today.
Turkey would never have backed Islamists against the Assad regime. Ankara would have cooperated with the United States against Islamic State (ISIS) radicals setting up shop right on its border.
This in turn would have removed America’s motivation to ally with PKK-aligned Kurdish groups in Syria.
If Turkey had taken action against jihadis on its border, Syria’s Kurds might not have even had to take up arms to defend themselves from these radicals – gaining a new sense of pride, organizational capacity and identity in the process and suddenly looming large as a threat in the Turkish imagination.
Turkey’s relationship with America, Europe and NATO would thus not have fallen into question under such circumstances.
Under an Islamist or “Sunni Muslim nationalist” president and party since 2002, Turkey now finds itself in a quandary instead.
Turkey’s goals in Syria, centered on putting a Sunni Muslim Islamist regime into power in Damascus, contradict the goals of virtually every other significant state with a horse in the race. Russia, America, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran may not agree on much, but none of them wish to see an Erdogan-aligned Muslim brotherhood take over from Assad.
Now that it seems clear the Assad regime has won the civil war and is not going anywhere, Turkey also has no idea how to extricate itself from Syria, even as it comes under mounting pressure there. If the Americans also lack a strategy in Syria, at least the problem does not lie right in their backyard.
Russia, Iran, and Assad, meanwhile, enjoy clear and achievable goals in Syria: they want to see the Assad regime reassert control over the entire country.
Faced with such concerted opposition, Ankara seems to have now entered a process of re-evaluating its relationship with Washington...
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkish officials are constantly in touch with Russian counterparts regarding the ongoing developments in Syria's Idlib province and Libya, as he said he is planning to have a face-to-face meeting with his Russian counterpart to finalize the details of the roadmap.
Speaking to reporters ahead of his departure for an official visit to Azerbaijan on Tuesday, Erdoğan said solving the Idlib crisis is a priority for Turkey.
Erdoğan noted that a Russian delegation will arrive in Turkey on Wednesday to discuss Idlib, while he highlighted that he may meet with President Vladimir Putin on March 5 in Istanbul or Ankara.
The Russia-backed Bashar Assad regime has been on the offensive since December to capture and reopen M5 held by the opposition since 2012..
Regime forces captured the key town of Maaret al-Numan from the opposition last Wednesday, and have now set their sights on the town of Saraqib. The strategic highway passes through both
Arab leaders mourn death of
former Egyptian president Mubarak
Ahram Online, Tuesday 25 Feb 2020
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas hailed ousted president Hosni Mubarak following the former Egyptian leader’s death on Tuesday, saying Mubarak was a supporter of the Palestinian cause.
"Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit mourned the former president, describing him as “a president who has worked with commitment and dedication to achieve peace and development in Egypt and the Middle East”.
“Mubarak was devoted to Arabism and the Palestinian cause and a supporter of the Arab League and its role,” he said, hailing his role as an Air Force commander during October 1973 War.
The UAE announced that flags would fly at half-mast in mourning of the former leader, and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash hailed Mubarak’s "wisdom and courage" and his efforts to resolve several crises in the Arab world.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent a message to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi offering condolences over Mubarak’s death.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa also expressed his "deepest sorrow" over Mubarak’s passing.
Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi arrived on Wednesday afternoon at the funeral service of ousted former president Hosni Mubarak at a mosque complex in the eastern New Cairo suburb. El-Sisi was flanked by top government officials and Mubarak's sons, Alaa and Gamal, as they observed the funeral parade.
Mubarak's flag-draped coffin was borne through the site on a horse-drawn carriage as honour guards fired off a 21-gun salute.
The Egyptian presidency mourned Mubarak's death with "great sorrow" and praised him as a "hero" of the 1973 war, and the military hailed him as "one of its sons" and offered condolences to his family. Mubarak was ousted following massive protests during the popular uprising that started in January 2011.
The remains of Muammar Gaddafi have been buried in a secet location deep in the Sahara desert, according to the country's new [Islamist] administration.
Many outside Libya were shocked by the gruesome peep show laid on by the National Transitional Council. After his body spent five days on gruesome display, Libya's new rulers finally decided to put Gaddafi to rest. Libyan officials rejected repeated requests from the Gaddafi tribe in Sirte to hand over their patron and leader. Overtures from his wife, Safia, and daughter Aisha were also turned down.
His body, and that of his son Mo'tassim were handed over to two people described by an official as 'very-trusted'. Gaddafi's personal cleric, who was held during the same arrest operation, said prayers over the corpses.
The whereabouts of Gaddafi's grave is a closely guarded secret in Misrata. Authorities here and elsewhere in Libya are anxious to avoid his grave site becoming a shrine for his supporters.
A group of Libyan fanatic fighters belonging to the jihadist current, which is close to al Qaeda organization, desecrated the graves in the cemetery of the Gadadfa Tribe, in the city of Sirte and extracted bones they burnt.
Four tombs were destroyed by the group of Libyan Jihadi extremists. According to information received, the four graves are those of Muammar Gaddafi’s parents, his mother, his uncle and two of his relatives, all four were buried in the yard of the house. The tomb of Gaddafi’s mother has been the most targeted by the extremists who have completely destroyed it and dug. The bones were removed and burned by these fanatics that nothing seems to satisfy their hatred for the family of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. The fanatics have written on the walls "Committee of demolition of statues," as if they were statues, not Muslim graves, buried according to ritual of Islam, which prohibits the destruction of tombs whether they are Muslims or not.
These irresponsible acts, the NTC is trying to hide, are proof of the existence in Libya after Gadhafi, of dangerous extremists currents who will eventually represent a great danger to the country and the entire region.
In their fatwas on the subject, all the scholars of Islam prohibits the desecration of graves of Muslims and non Muslims. A death must be respected regardless of religion, and whatever his crimes during his lifetime.
WASHINGTON — Two leading Democratic presidential hopefuls said Wednesday that they would not attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) upcoming conference.. .
Former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar each said they would miss the annual confab, which takes place in Washington, DC on March 1-4.
"Progressive Democrats running to be President are need to make the choice to #SkipAIPAC and their unholy alliance and join us in fighting for a progressive future, where all people, including Palestinians and Israelis, can live with freedom and dignity." (IfNotNow website)
Their announcements come after Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders tweeted on Sunday that he would skip the conference because he was “concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry (intolerant devotion to one's own opinions and prejudices) and oppose basic Palestinian rights.”
AIPAC excoriated Sanders for his refusal to attend its conference.
The leftwing organization IfNotNow celebrated Buttigieg’s and Klobuchar’s announcements, calling it a “watershed moment” in a statement.
“Even moderates in the Democratic Party are now refusing to attend a conference by a right-wing lobby that allies with bigots just to shield the Israeli government from any consequences for denying the Palestinian people freedom and dignity,” the group said.
Over the last several years, AIPAC has been supportive of the Trump administration and its policies toward Israel, such as moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear deal and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. AIPAC) supported Trump's Peace plan, saying that they appreciate "the efforts of President Trump and his administration to work in consultation with the leaders of the two major Israeli political parties to set forth ideas to resolve the conflict in a way that recognizes our ally’s critical security needs."
The Palestinian Authority has vehemently rejected the plan. “No, no and no to the ‘Deal of the Century,’” said PA President Mahmoud Abbas.”
Newly elected Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune made his first official foreign visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, in the hope of affirming ties between the two nations.
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman met President Tebboune and the pair discussed relations, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.
The foreign visit is well-timed as Algeria is planning to host a summit about the escalating situation in neighbouring Libya and is seeking support from regional powers before the meeting. On Tuesday, Mr Tebboune held a meeting in Qatar with Emir Sheikh Tamim. The discussions resulted in “a total understanding” between the two countries regarding economic and political issues within the region and internationally, Algerian state media reported.
While the visit to Saudi Arabia marks the first official foreign visit, the Algerian president has taken meetings abroad since being elected in December. He has travelled to Germany for an international meeting on Libya and to Ethiopia for an African Union summit.
In an interview with the "Russia Today Arabic" television channel broadcast on Friday,
President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune said: "we want to raise our relations with Russia, which is almost a brotherly country and not just a friendly one, to the level of political understanding and similar principles of liberation. We also want to develop economic and cultural relations with this country.”
"Algeria does not have and will not have any problem with Russia since we share the same principles," he said.
In response to a question about the return of Algerian diplomacy to the international scene with an intense activity, Tebboune said that Algeria, "by its credibility and integrity", is "able to play the role of mediator"... Its approach is based on the principles of the 'Revolution of November 1'
"The return of Algerian diplomacy is a popular demand, stemming from the deep conviction of Algerians in the virtues of unity, especially when it comes to our brothers (...). It is difficult for us to see an Arab people suffering and not to act.... Regarding Turkey, the President of the Republic said: "we have with this country a solid secular relationship and our relations are continuing. Algeria cannot be involved in a policy that it has not chosen. Our policy is our choice and cannot be imposed on us," he continued.
As for the planned visit of the Emir of Qatar, the President of the Republic stated that "the Emir of Qatar is a brother who is welcome. We expect no quid pro quo from the Qatari, Emirati, Saudi, Egyptian or even other friendly countries.”
With regard to the situation in Syria, Tebboune reaffirmed that Algeria, faithful to its principles, "cannot accept any attack on an Arab country," recalling that "Syria is one of the founding countries of the Arab League.”
What has weakened Syria at the international level," he said," is being the only country that has never considered normalization (with Israel) and has always been a front-line state, a position that has for years underpinned its politics, economy and institutions, resulting in narrowing of democratic space and freedoms."
Concerning Algeria's position on the "Deal of the Century", the president said he was "convinced" that this deal "cannot succeed because it is not based on logical, historical or ethical foundations, or even on the principles of international law.” Algeria's voice is the voice of the law. "A whole people cannot be wiped off the map just like that.."
In response to a question about the popular movement Hirak that the country has experienced for one year, the President of the Republic said that he "has knowingly qualified the Hirak as ‘blessed’," pointing out that "the Algerian State was on the brink of collapsing. That was part of the scheme of those who wanted to make Algeria another Syria, another Libya or another Iraq."
President Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart spoke by phone after recent developments in Idlib, discussed the implementation of agreements reached previously, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said Friday, amid mounting tension after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed by the Russia-backed Assad regime forces. Turkey retaliated in kind and destroyed regime targets... “The distinction of terrorists and moderate opposition forces needs to be our main goal,” Lavrov told reporters, adding that Moscow and Ankara are ready to continue coordinating on the developments in Idlib.
He continued by saying that the two countries need to specify the steps that need to be taken to fulfill the goal, as he noted contacts with the Turkish military continue to take place on a daily basis. The Russian foreign minister claimed they had no information about the Turkish troops hit by the Assad regime forces.
“We will continue to work to ensure the safety of the Turkish troops in the de-escalation zone in Idlib,” he said.
Lavrov also noted that Turkey was entitled to request an emergency NATO meeting on the issue. However, he claimed what is currently happening in Syria does not fall under the founding treaty terms.
“Turkish and Russian delegations will continue to hold talks today. I don’t think these are impassible obstacles,” he added.
As Syrian Rebels Lose Territory,
Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) Leader Al-Joulani
Provides Interviews Defending Turkish Presence In Idlib MEMRI News, February 20, 2020
Since the beginning of February 2020, Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) leader Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani has dramatically increased his appearances in the media. The increase in Al-Joulani's media appearances comes as rebels in the Idlib region face a relentless campaign by the Assad regime, backed by its Russian and Iranian allies, to regain control of the area.
In recent weeks, regime forces have made significant advances in the countryside southwest of Aleppo and southeast of Idlib...
Ebaa News Agency, an official HTS media outlet, released a short video clip on February 1, 2020, that portrays members of the HTS Red Headbands elite forces as they are about to carry out an inghimasi (raid behind enemy lines) attack on regime forces.
In the presence of Al-Joulani and HTS chief religious official 'Abd Al-Rahim 'Atoun, they vow to fight to the death.
An HTS video clip released on February 5, 2020, shows Al-Joulani delivering a message to a group of Red Headbands fighters, urging them to fight bravely to the death, and declaring that the Assad regime is weak and would be swiftly vanquished by the mujahideen if Russia and Iran stopped supporting it.
On February 15, 2020, Syrian pro-jihadi journalist Tahir Al-'Umar published a 12-minute video on his Telegram channel in which he interviews Al-Joulani.
In response to Tahir Al-'Umar's question, "What is the reason for the leaders' absence from the media?" Al-Joulani says that the leaders of the rebel factions are unable to speak to the media because they are in their operations rooms occupied with the defense of the Idlib area.
Al-Joulani reiterates an assertion he has made several times in the past few months, namely, that the regime's military successes are due only to the backing of Russia and Iran, and that without their help the regime would be easily defeated.
"Today we do not speak about the regime that was in the past. Today we speak of Russian and Iranian occupation, because if the Russians and Iranians abandoned this criminal regime, within two weeks, perhaps, all the Syrian lands would be liberated […]
Consequently, today we fight against occupation. The revolutionary cause has changed now from a popular revolution against a tyrannical regime into confronting occupation."
The HTS leader declares that fighting these "occupying" forces requires patience and persistence, as well as the formation of better trained elite forces. [..]
Afterwards, Allah willing, we will repel the largest offensive that can come to the liberated areas."
Turkey's Presence In Idlib Is In The Legitimate Interests Of The Turkish People
In response to the query: "Have the Turks actually entered the line of the confrontations?", the HTS leader responds that Turkey has observation points in the Idlib area, which were attacked by regime forces, and stresses that Turkey has a legitimate interest in the situation in Idlib, since this situation directly impacts the Turkish people economically, politically, security-wise, and militarily. Al-Joulani alleges that "the Russians have never been friends of the Turkish people," explaining that the millennium-old rivalry between Turkey and Russia has led the Turkish people to oppose the Russian presence in Idlib. Al-Joulani predicts that the success of the rebels in Idlib will have a positive impact on all nations in the region, particularly on Turkey.
The Jihad In Syria Is A Battle For All Sunnis
In an apparent attempt to gain additional support from Muslims outside of Syria, Al-Joulani concludes the interview with a message to "the mujahideen at the fronts and to our steadfast people and displaced persons in the liberated areas," emphasizing the importance of the jihad in Syria to all Sunnis worldwide and asserting that the battle will soon be over.
The HTS leader declares: "I say that this battle, the battle of the people of Syria, is the battle of the Sunnis in general in the entire region... "
Flashback 2017: Abd al-Rahim Atoun
leading cleric of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham
gives a history of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham
with a focus on the relationship with al-Qaeda Tamimi blog, 30 November 2017
"All our brothers know that Jabhat al-Nusra since its establishment was an undeclared branch of the al-Qaeda organization, but through the Iraq branch (the Islamic State of Iraq), then what happened, happened from the disagreement between us and the Dawla [Islamic State] group, as Baghdadi took to announce what he called 'the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham' and it is what we rejected at the time.
And Sheikh Jowlani - may God protect him- announced the Jabha's affiliation with al-Qaeda following that and raised the matter to Sheikh Zawahiri to make a judgement on it, and what the Sheikh did at the time was to announce affiliation (renewal of allegiance) [..}
For around two years and ten months (c. November 2013-September 2016), the ability of Jabhat al-Nusra and its successors to communicate with Zawahiri was cut off. In 2015 however, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, who was considered to be the 'first successor' to Zawahiri and on this understanding his deputy, came to Syria after being released from custody by Iran in a hostage swap. [..]
God knows our hatred for writing in media and were it not for the necessity of clarification I would not have written, so if you think that we should continue in secret, I consider that it is best for us all.
And if you consider to finish in the media, I advise you for God that speaking in the media does not fit the interest of the jihad, or the interest of al-Qaeda or the commission [Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham], as it is something that brings joy to the disbelievers and saddens the believers.
Lavrov: "Russia] cannot prohibit the Syrian Army from executing the demands written in the UNSC resolutions, which call for an uncompromising fight against terrorism in all its forms. [RT Russia, 28 Feb, 2020]
Damascus has the right to fight back when attacked by terrorists and Moscow is in no position to stop Syrians from doing what the UN Security Council endorsed, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has said after the latest Idlib flare-up.
Idlib is the last large stronghold of anti-government forces in Syria, with large parts of it dominated by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the latest reincarnation of Al Qaeda in Syria.
In 2018, Ankara objected to a planned military offensive by the Syrian Army.. Instead, Ankara agreed to use the influence it has among some of the armed groups in Idlib to quell violence and eventually establish a lasting ceasefire, with Russia trying to do the same with Damascus and its forces.
The arrangement however didn’t work out, and the Syrian Army started capturing villages and towns in southern Idlib to fend off jihadists.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham on Thursday called for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria's Idlib and called on President Donald Trump to help stop the killing of civilians there by Syrian government forces backed by Russia and Iran.
flashback: mccain, graham, lieberman
always on the side of the jihadists in syria and libya
"The world is sitting on its hands and watching the destruction of Idlib by Assad, Iran, and the Russians," Graham, a Republican and an ally of Trump, said in a statement.
"I am confident if the world, led by the United States, pushed back against Iran, Russia, and Assad that they would stand down, paving the way for political negotiations to end this war in Syria."
Turkey has sent thousands of troops and heavy military hardware into Idlib province in an incursion to back the rebels against the offensive and have come under multiple attacks by Syrian government forces backed by Moscow.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday held a phone talk with U.S. President Donald Trump in the wake of the Bashar Assad regime attack on Turkish troops in Syria’s Idlib.
Erdoğan told Trump that Turkey has retaliated in kind to regime's Thursday attack that left 33 Turkish soldiers dead, a Turkish presidency statement said.
"President (Erdoğan) reaffirmed our country's determination to clear the area in Idlib from the regime elements," the statement said.
The two presidents agreed on the need for immediate action to avert a humanitarian crisis in Idlib, it added.
Erdoğan and Trump agreed that the regime and its main backers, Russia and Iran, must halt their military assault on Idlib.
Regime airstrikes targeting Turkish troops heightened tensions between pro-opposition Turkey, Assad and its ally Russia.
The latest crisis stems from a Russian-backed Syrian government military campaign to retake Syria's Idlib province, which is the last opposition-held stronghold in Syria.
Turkey backed Jihadists
"Terrorism is an obligation in God's religion"
The participants of the congress have expressed their respect and full commitment for the "sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity" of Syria (Sochi 2018)
New York, Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, speaking at a UN Security council emergency session on the situation in Idleb, called on the international organization to assume its responsibilities and put an end to Erdogan’s regime adventures that pose a threat to international peace and security.
He demanded the countries which called for holding the UNSC session to respond to questions about the existence of Turkish troops on the Syrian lands, wondering if this existence would be considered as a military aggression or not.
Al-Jaafari went on to say that guarantor states of Astana track, Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed in 2017 to establish de-escalation zones in Syria, stressing their commitment to sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria and combating all forms of terrorist organizations.
He added that the Sochi agreement about Idleb, of 17 of September, 2018, also called on the Turkish regime to withdraw the terrorist organizations and armed groups from Idleb and parts of Aleppo and Hama and disarm their weapons.
Al-Jaafari stressed that the Erdogan regime has disavowed from its obligations and exploited the de-escalation zones agreement in an attempt to impose a terrorist status-quo in Idleb and Aleppo... Al-Jaafari reiterated that Syria fights terrorism on its lands, not on the lands of any other country, and it will continue to confront the Turkish aggression with all possible means...
Turkey has reportedly killed at least 309 Syrian regime soldiers and destroyed dozens of military vehicles and defence systems in retaliation for the regime’s offensive which killed 33 Turkish soldiers last night.
According to Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar today, they destroyed five regime military helicopters, two air defence systems (the SA-17 and SA-22), 23 tanks and 23 howitzer artillery weapons, as well as “neutralising” the 309 regime troops.
The revelation of Turkey’s devastating retaliation comes after it was announced by the Communications Director Fahrettin Altun early this morning that Turkey had put under fire all identified and known targets of the regime’s military in Idlib province, including their land and air vehicles.
The decision was made while an emergency security summit meeting was held at the Presidential complex in the capital Ankara to discuss the situation.
Altun said at the meeting: “The summit stressed that the [Syria’s] Assad regime is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, and agreed to retaliate against the illegitimate regime which has turned its barrel against our soldiers who are on duty to protect the rights and interests of the Republic of Turkey.”
Representatives of Russia and Turkey confirmed their goal at consultations on Syria in Ankara to reduce the tension in Idlib while continuing to fight terrorists, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The Russian delegation included Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin and representatives of the Defense Ministry. The Turkish delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal, the statement says.
"The sides continued discussing specific steps for achieving durable stabilization of the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone based on the full implementation of the memorandum dated May 4, 2017 and the memorandum dated September 17, 2018," the Russian Foreign Ministry informed.
"Both sides confirmed their goal to reduce the tension ‘on the ground’ while continuing the war on terrorists recognized as such by the UN Security Council and also to protect civilians inside and outside the de-escalation zone and render emergency humanitarian assistance to all those who need it," the statement reads.
The tensions in Syria’s Idlib region escalated on Thursday after militants launched a large-scale offensive, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. In the early hours of Friday, the Syrian government forces conducted strikes on their positions, which, as Ankara claims, killed 33 Turkish soldiers.
In response, Turkey’s Air Force conducted strikes on the Syrian troops, later specifying that it had hit more than 200 targets.
The Russian Defense Ministry told reporters that the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group unleashed a large-scale offensive on Idlib on Thursday.
The killed Turkish soldiers were among the advancing terrorists, the Russian Defense Ministry stated. Russia’s air task force was not employed in that area, the ministry said.
The stage is set in Qatar's capital for a landmark peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban that could end the U.S.' longest war.
The Sheraton Hotel in Doha is teeming with foreign diplomats and dignitaries invited to witness the historic signing by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Taliban co-founder and deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Saturday.
The landmark peace deal was preceded by an agreement for week-long reduction in violence that ended on Friday. The U.S.-Taliban deal includes pledges from Washington on a phased withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and a vow from the Taliban not to harbor international terrorists [Al-Qaeda].
The U.S. currently has upwards of 12,000 troops in Afghanistan conducting operations in support of Afghan forces, as well as a broader anti-terror mission. The Taliban will also commit to negotiations with Afghan officials, politicians, and civil society representatives.
The Afghan government formed an initial direct contact group to start talks with the Taliban, Javaid Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Council, told Anadolu Agency.
U.S President Donald Trump issued a statement late Friday, urging the Afghan people "to seize this opportunity for peace and a new future for their country."
"When I ran for office, I promised the American people I would begin to bring our troops home, and seek to end this war. We are making substantial progress on that promise," Trump said.
Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf was the most talked about candidate. Having failed multiple times as a presidential candidate, the 58-year-old technocrat wants to use the parliament to re-launch his bid for power in the new era.
The hardliners, known here as principalists, won a landslide victory in Iran’s February 21 parliamentary elections... The principalists won all 30 seats in Tehran and 220 of the 290 total parliament seats.
But the nationwide turnout was just 42.5 percent, compared to almost 62 percent for the 2016 parliamentary elections, and was the lowest since the 1979 Revolution. In Tehran, only 25 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. The principalists defeated the reformists, who had previously dominated the parliament and supported President Hassan Rouhani.
President Rouhani, a centrist, was first elected in 2013 with reformist support. He became very popular with the passage of a health care plan to help low-income Iranians, known locally as "Rouhani Care."
Under Rouhani’s watch, Iran successfully negotiated the nuclear accord with the Obama Administration.
That agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, placed stringent restrictions on Iran’s nuclear energy program. It opened the possibility of removing some US sanctions and allowing much needed foreign investment.
But Trump’s withdrawal from the the agreement in 2018 badly undercut its supporters in Iran. The principalists argued that Rouhani and the reformists had given up the country’s national sovereignty, and then got stabbed in the back.
Events in the past month further contributed to the principalist victory. On January 3, a US drone assassinated General Qasem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport. Soleimani was an important figure in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the nation’s second most popular leader, behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The assassination united Iranians in grief and anger. Funeral processions commemorating his death filled the streets of several cities, and the government estimates 25 million people participated.
Soleimani’s death strengthened the principalists because Iranians view them as staunch opponents of US aggression.
Wikipedia info: Within Iranian politics, a principlist refers to the conservative supporters of the Supreme Leader of Iran and advocates for protecting the ideological 'principles' of the Islamic Revolution’s early days. According to Hossein Mousavian, "The Principlists constitute the main right-wing/conservative political movement in Iran. They are more religiously oriented and more closely affiliated with the Qom-based clerical establishment than their moderate and reformist rivals".
A declaration issued by The Two Societies, which serves as the Principlists "manifesto", focuses on loyalty to Islam and the Iranian Revolution, obedience to the Supreme Leader of Iran, and devotion to the principle of Vilayat Faqih.
Turkey has shot down two Syrian aircraft in Idlib province, with the pilots ejecting and managing to land safely, SANA has reported.
The planes involved are believed to be fighter jets. No further information has been provided. Syria’s inventory of combat aircraft is known to include Mig-29s, Su-22s, and Su-24s.
Unconfirmed footage of one of the plane’s destruction has appeared online, with men off-camera heard shouting “Allahu Akbar.”
Earlier, Syrian Army Command announced the closure of the airspace in the country’s north, including in Idlib province, and warned that “all planes violating our airspace will be considered hostile and shot down to prevent them from fulfilling [their] objectives.” Turkey began a military operation called 'Operation Spring Shield' in Idlib province on Thursday, soon after at least 33 Turkish troops were killed in a Syrian Army attack on terrorist positions.
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