Saddam's Death, 65
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 64: januar 2016 and Page 66: febr-march 2016
and Page 41: Israel & The Gaza War and The Temple Revolution
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

Washington 2009: Joe Biden said that the Obama administration would seek the unvarnished truth from its spies, whether or not their information supported the goals of the government.
Standing in the foyer of the CIA agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia. before the wall of 89 stars representing the CIA staff who have died in the line of duty, Mr Joe Biden said:
"We expect you to provide independent analysis, not to engage in group think. We expect you to tell us the facts as you know them wherever they may lead, not what you think we want to hear." (Tim Shipman, Telegraph, 20-2-2009)

"There is only one antidote against propaganda, and that is a relevant sense of history and a strong collective memory. When we remember the lessons from the past, and when we remember what happened even a few days ago, then the job of the propagandists and their warmongering bosses, becomes much more difficult." (Paul de Rooij, PalestineChronicle 1-4-2003)

"Zionism [..] has transformed into an imperialistic claw used against the Arab nation. Zionism has partnered wit imperialism and participated in its economic and political plans. Moreover, it relies on its unfounded, historical belief for the purpose of destroying the Arab nation... This means maintaining the weak state of the Arab nation...
Zionism regards unity of Arabs as contradictory to its existence. Therefore, Zionism's line of defense is based on the principle that the Arab nation must be broken....
It is necessary for Zionism to revive all the old historical frictions that took place in the path of nationhood, so it can use them [..] to break up the fabric of Arab nations." (The Saddam's tapes, 1978-2001, page 67)

"A lot of rulers today still view principled people, who persist in defending their noble and just causes and who refuse to compromise at the expense of their peoples, their nations, the honour of their cause, their integrity and their principles, as a burden on them.
The policy of the United States still finds in this kind of genuine, honest and loyal people an obstacle before their evil and futile ambitions towards the world and humanity at large..." Saddam Hoessein, Oath and Speech, INA 17-10-2002

"The West creates enemies; in the past it was the communism then it became Islam, and then it became Saddam Hussein for a different reason. Now, they want to create a new enemy represented by Bashar. That's why they say that the problem is the president so he has to leave. That is why we have to focus of the real problem, not to waste our time listening to what they say." (Bashar al-Assad, 9-11-2012)

"Syria is the heart of the Middle East. Everybody knows that. If the Middle East is sick, the whole world will be unstable. In 1991, when we started the peace process, we had a lot of hope. Now, after over 20 years, things are not at square one; they’re much below that square.

So the policy should be to help peace in the region, to fight terrorism, to promote secularism, to support this area economically, to help upgrade the mind and society like you did in your country. That is the supposed mission of the United States, not to launch wars. Launching war doesn’t make you a great power." (Bashar Al-Assad, 26-1-2015)

President Bashar, 'Le Figaro' interview 3-9-2013:

"How can the parliamentarians convince the French public that their country is secular, yet at the same time it supports extremism and sectarianism in other parts of the world? How can France advocate for democracy but yet one of its closest allies – Saudi Arabia – is still living in medieval times?"
"My message to the French Parliamentarians is: go back to the principles of the French Revolution that the whole world is proud of: Liberty, Justice, Equality."

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)

A Reverse Midas: "Everything we touch turns to lead. "
by Justin Raimondo, 1-2-2012

When we invaded and occupied Iraq, we didn’t just militarily defeat Iraq’s armed forces – we dismantled their army, and their police force, along with all the other institutions that held the country together.
The educational system was destroyed, and not reconstituted. The infrastructure was pulverized, and never restored. Even the physical hallmarks of a civilized society – roads, bridges, electrical plants, water facilities, museums, schools – were bombed out of existence or else left to fall into disrepair. Along with that, the spiritual and psychological infrastructure that enables a society to function – the bonds of trust, allegiance, and custom – was dissolved...
We can say, with confidence: We came, we saw, we atomized.
And we are repeating the pattern elsewhere in the region... In Syria, we are supporting rebels who are conducting a terrorist campaign against the regime, and the future of the country is looking very … Iraqi.
In short, the effects of US actions in the region amount to a reverse Midas touch: everything we touch turns to lead. ( 2012)

Albert Schweitzer: "We Are All Guilty Of Inhumanity"

What really matters is that we should all of us realize that we are guilty of inhumanity. The horror of this realization should shake us out of our lethargy so that we can direct our hopes and our intentions to the coming of an era in which war will have no place.
This hope and this will can have but one aim: to attain, through a change in spirit, that superior reason which will dissuade us from misusing the power at our disposal.
Kant, in his essay on "Perpetual Peace", which appeared in 1795, and in other publications in which he touches upon the problem of peace, states his belief that peace will come only with the increasing authority of an international code of law, in accordance with which an international court of arbitration would settle disputes between nations.
This authority, he maintains, should be based entirely on the increasing respect which in time, and for purely practical motives, men will hold for the law as such. (Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Lecture, 4-11-1954)

Israel's Education Ministry: Don't promote humanism
By Uzi Baruch, Arutz Sheva, 31-12-2015

Noted Israeli authors have joined leftist politicians in outrage over the Education Ministry's decision to to disqualify a novel depicting a romance between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from being taught in Israeli high schools. Dorit Rabinyan's "Gader Haya" (known in English as "Borderlife") was rejected out of fear the book would promote assimilation.

Dorit Rabinyan, author of the acclaimed PERSIAN BRIDES and STRAND OF A THOUSAND PEARLS returns in BORDERLIFE with a momentous novel, sensitive in its details and enthralling at its peaks.
She tells a story crisscrossed by blades of physical and emotional border lines and courageously marks the deceit in the separation between you and I, between us and them. (RightsDesk)

In Humanism of the Other, Emmanuel Levinas argues that it is not only possible but of the highest exigency to understand one's humanity through the humanity of others.
Based in a new appreciation for ethics, and taking new distances from the phenomenology of Hegel, Heidegger, Husserl,and Merleau-Ponty, the idealism of Plato and Kant, and the skepticism of Nietzsche and Blanchot, Levinas rehabilitates humanism and restores its promises. (University of Illinois Press).
Dorit Rabinyan's "Gader Haya" (known in English as "Borderlife") was rejected by Israel's Education Ministry because of the need to maintain "the identity and heritage of students in every sector" and the belief that "intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threatens the separate identity."
Concern that "young people of adolescent age don't have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaing the identity of people and the significance of assimilation" was also cited as a reason for the novel's disqualification.

"I am so outraged!", A.B Yehoshua told Walla! News. "This is an excellent book that should be a best-seller and read by many people. It describes thing with sensitivity and truthfulness and this rejection seems absurd to me and unacceptable."
Novelist Haim Be'er also slammed the move, alluding to it as a political ploy by Education Minister Naftali Bennett to regain the trust of Jewish Home voters following his comments about the Duma suspects.
"I must say from my knowledge of the Am Oved [publishing house] he did the book a huge favor," Be'er asserted. "Tomorrow, God willing, Am Oved's book merchants will take the out the books that haven't been sold and it will become a bestseller." ... "I'm jealous Dorit Rabinyan won what I didn't win; let them disqualify me," Be'er added sarcastically.
In a more straightforward reaction, poet Natan Zach simply blasted the Education Minister as "a moron. What can you do against morons? Morons are the majority. We are the minority."

Moron: a foolish or stupid person - a person having an intelligence quotient of between 50 and 70, able to work under supervision.

US election: Trump dealt blow by Cruz in Iowa vote
BBC News, 2-2-2016

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has won the Iowa Republican caucuses, the first vote to choose US presidential candidates.
"Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives," he declared, to great applause, as he railed against Washington, lobbyists and the media. He took 28% of the Republican vote, beating his rival, the frontrunner Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio.

Ted Cruz & The United States of Israel
Palestinians are terrorists 2016

We must make clear to the world that the U.S.-Israel alliance is once again a strategic bedrock for the United States.
• America’s security is significantly enhanced by a strong Israel. Israel has been, is, and always will be the Middle East bulwark in defense of the West. Our American-Israeli alliance is something to celebrate.
A Cruz administration will on day one recognize Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel and the US embassy will be moved to Israel’s capital city.
• A Cruz administration will continue to support Israel’s regional qualitative military edge and make sure that, especially in light of the worsening security climate caused by Iran and ISIS, Israel has everything it needs to defend itself.
• We should strengthen our partnership with Israel by supporting cooperative efforts such as missile defense to counter terrorism.
A President Cruz will immediately reassess US policy towards the Palestinian Authority. Not one penny of American tax dollars should go to an organization that incites hatred against Jews and seeks to partner with the terrorist group Hamas.
We should move to defund the United Nations if it continues its anti-Israel bias and withdraw federal funding from any American university that boycotts Israel.

Foreign Policy Winners and Losers in Iowa
By Juan Cole | Feb. 2, 2016

The Iowa Caucus voters likely voted mainly on domestic policy issues, though security and terrorism have been a big part of the campaigns as well. Now that the smoke is clearing, it is worth considering the foreign policy implications of the winners of the primary.

In 1988, Ted Cruz spoke of his ideals in life : "Take over the world. World domination, rule everything, be rich and powerful, that sort of stuff".
- Iowan conservatives awarded the victory to Ted Cruz. Cruz has pledged to carpet-bomb eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq to get at Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), leveling e.g. Mosul (a city, in 2013, of 2 million, i.e. the size of Houston). Cruz also hinted that he might drop a nuclear bomb on eastern Syria (he wondered if the desert sands would glow thereafter).... A nuclear bomb would kill everyone in al-Raqqa and the radioactive fallout will likely land on Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey– American allies. So Iowans chose the Mad Bomber over everyone else.
- The second place was taken by Donald J. Trump. Trump advocates turning Syria over to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump wants to start major trade wars with Mexico and China. He wants to abrogate the Iran deal and take over Middle Eastern oil from its owners. He will charge Saudi Arabia for supplying it with an American security umbrella.
- Third place went to Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio has said of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), “This group needs to be confronted and defeated. They are not going to go away on their own. They’re not going to turn into stockbrokers overnight or open up a chain of car washes. They need to be defeated militarily, and that will take overwhelming U.S. force. ” Rubio wants to overthrow Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as soon as possible. Rubio wants to exclude Syrian refugees from the US, except for Christians, orphans and the elderly.
Rubio’s major backer is corrupt Likudnik casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who also gave us Bibi Netanyahu, so he would further crush and immiserate the Palestinians.

As for the Democrats: Iowan Democrats can’t make up their minds between a dovish Sanders who opposes most interventions in the Middle East and the more hawkish Hillary Clinton. But note that both support the Iran nuclear deal and neither would put ground troops into the Middle East. Both are therefore way less hawkish than most of the Republican candidates.

So, to sum up. Iowa Republicans had difficulty making up their minds between crazy and completely insane. More reasonable conservatives like Kasich and Paul were dismissed from the field.

"I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Iowa Democrats just had difficulty making up their minds, though there was a powerful generational divide, with young Dems going for Bernie and those over 45 favoring Hillary.

Bernie Sanders: Not a great fan of Netanyahu
Times of Israel, 2-2-2016

A Jewish candidate for president who spent several months working on a kibbutz in 1964, when in his early 20s, Sanders is now running neck and neck in the Democratic primary against previous clear frontrunner Hillary Clinton

In a lengthy interview with Rolling Stone magazine published in November 2015, Sanders said that if elected president, he would “support the security of Israel” [..] while also vowing to maintain “an evenhanded approach to that area.”

I believe in a two-state solution, where Israel has security and the Palestinians have a state of their own,” he said. “The United States has got to work with the Palestinian people in improving their standard of living, which is now a disaster, and has been made much worse since the war in Gaza.”
He was also asked about an earlier statement that he was “not a great fan” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Without directly addressing that comment, Sanders reiterated his contention that Israel “overreacted” during the war in Gaza in 2014, which he said “caused more civilian damage than necessary.”

Sanders is the only US presidential candidate from either party to have explicitly expressed disapproval of the Israeli premier. Last March, he was one of the Democratic legislators to boycott Netanyahu’s congressional address lambasting US President Barack Obama’s negotiations for a nuclear accord with Iran.
In fact, the quote Rolling Stone asked him to elaborate on was taken from a June 2015 interview with NPR host Diane Rehm:
“Well, I gotta tell you, I am not a great fan of President Netanyahu,” he said. “I did not attend the speech that he gave before the joint session of Congress. I think it was opportunistic. I think he was using it as part of his campaign for re-election. I think he was being used or did use the Republicans to go behind the president’s back...”
In a July 2015 interview with Ezra Klein of Vox, Sanders said his “long-term hope is that instead of pouring so much military aid into Israel … we can provide more economic aid to help improve the standard of living of the people in that area...

Flashback 2003: President Bashar al-Assad
There are cultural and intellectual methods to fight terrorism

President Bashar al-Assad received the senior correspondent of the Italian 'Corriere Della Sera' newspaper Antonio Ferari and gave him an interview.
On whether there is a fear that Syria becomes the next target of a military action after the war on Iraq the President said: "I do not think that the US has interest in repeating its mistake in Iraq."
Asked what he will tell President George Bush if a meeting takes place with him, President Bashar said: "I will tell the truth and point out the mistake in his proposals... I would also say that the US administration is under accusation and not Syria."
On the prospects of the road map and whether the President believes in it in the first place, the President said: "Where does it exist? If it has been there, it is only in a conference or in the media. We didn't see it effective and we don't think that it will be such... The current Israeli government is a war government which has no interest in achieving peace..."
On the definition of terrorism, the President said: "It is not an army, but mind and thoughts. This is the problem of fighting terrorism.
There are cultural and intellectual methods to fight ignorance, poverty, wars, racism, etc.. All these are methods to fight terrorism. At the last stage comes security cooperation among countries.." (Interview Syria Times 30-9-03)

Russia creating 'new Hitler' in Syria, opposition warns
World Bulletin, 2-2-2016

Syria's Saudi-backed opposition group accused Damascus-allyRussia Monday of helping to turn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into a "new Hitler" by supporting his forces in the war-ravaged country.

"Russian regime will create a new Hitler. We are suffering from a Hitler in Syria," said High Negotiations Committee spokesman Salem al-Meslet after the group's first formal talks with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura in Geneva.
The opposition group also vowed it will "strive to join the political process" on ending the country's civil war, a spokesman said after receiving "positive messages" from the UN special envoy.
"We will strive to join the political process," Salem al-Meslet said after a first formal meeting between UN envoy Staffan de Mistura and the High Negotiations Committee in Geneva. "We came here to discuss with the special envoy UN resolution 2254 lifting the sieges and stopping the crimes done by Russian air strikes in Syria, and I believe we received positive messages," he said.

Saudi-Arabia is an absolute monarchy. The King of Saudi Arabia is Saudi Arabia's head of state and absolute monarch (i.e. head of government). He serves as the head of the Saudi monarchy. Saudi Arabia is ruled by Islamic law (it's constitution is 'the quran') and purports to be an Islamic state. Many Muslims see a hereditary monarchy as being a discouraged system of government in Islam.

Flashback: The greatest part of the Syrian people want reform
Bashar al-Assad's speech, Uruknet, 10-1-2012

The greatest part of the Syrian people want reform, and they have not come out, haven’t broken the law, haven’t killed. This is the largest part of the Syrian people, it is the part which wants reform.
For us, reform is the natural context. That is why we announced a phased reform in the year 2000. In my swear-in speech I talked about modernization and development...

The important law is the law of fighting corruption.
The other pillar in reform is the Constitution. This constitution will focus on a fundamental and essential point which is the multi-party system and political pluralism.
The Constitution will focus on the fact that the people is the source of authority, especially during elections, the dedication of the institutions' role, the freedoms of the citizens and other things and basic principles. ...
The Constitution is not the state's Constitution; it is an issue related to every Syrian citizen. Therefore, we will resort to a referendum after the committee finishes its work and presents the Constitution which will be put through constitutional channels to reach a referendum.

Some of those [who call themselves 'opposition'] really believe that they are revolutionaries.
All right, let’s see what they have done and what are their attributes. Would a real revolutionary steal a car or rob a house or a facility? Can the revolutionary be a thief?
For us, the image of the revolutionary is a bright, idealistic untainted one with something very special about it. Those people have assassinated innocent people in and out of the state system.
Can a revolutionary be characterized by cowardice and treachery? They prevented the schools from carrying out their tasks and functions in society. They did the same in universities. Can a revolutionary be against education, against national unity? Can revolutionaries use language which calls for the disintegration of society? ...
This is not a revolution. Can a revolutionary work for the enemy – a revolutionary and a traitor at the same time? This is impossible.
Can revolutionaries be without honor, moral values or religious principles? Have we had real revolutionaries, in the sense we know, you and I and the whole people would have moved with them. This is a fact.

The Rise of ISIS and Other Extremist Groups in Syria (1-2-2016)
Bouthaina Shaaban, Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency

The Syrian government’s immediate response to protests begin 2011, despite the violent incidents at the very onset of events, was reconciliatory, as some of the demonstrators had genuine demands.
On 24 March 2011, the Syrian leadership convened a long and important meeting in an effort to contain what seemed to be a looming crisis. I was asked to hold a press conference in order to acknowledge, in the name of the leadership, the people’s legitimate demands and to announce decisions and measures that addressed most of these demands.
On that day, I announced to the Syrian people the lifting of emergency laws, in place since 1963, and a comprehensive reform package that would lead to further political freedoms, a multi-party law, and the drafting of a new constitution for Syria...
I also met many delegations, including local opposition. I was most happy to engage the youth, connect with their ideas, and listen to their aspirations; the mood was far from confrontational. Many more dialogue initiatives were taken at every level of government and civil society...

The formation of 'the free Syrian Army'

Riad Mousa al-Asaad ( born 1961 ) was the commander of the Free Syrian Army. He was a former Colonel in the Syrian Air Force who defected in July 2011. Al-Asaad had announced his defection on 4 July 2011, while he established the Free Syrian Army on 29 July 2011.
He went to the Turkish Hatay Province, where he was under patronage of the Turkish Armed Forces. On 8 December 2012, in Antalya, Turkey, Asaad was replaced by Brigadier General Salim Idris.

Colonel Riyad al Assad described the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, as “our brothers in Islam,” and commended the terror group for its prowess on the battlefield.
Riyad made the comments in an undated interview that was uploaded on YouTube on March 26, 2013. A transcript of the interview was obtained by The Long War Journal. When asked by the interviewer about his opinion of the Al Nusrah Front, he said the group’s “members are our brothers and they are Sunnis fighting against the regime.” Riyad then indicated that the Free Syrian Army provided direct support to the Al Nusrah Front.
We have offered martyrs and other things and, accordingly, nobody should blame us for this matter,” he said. ( LongWarJournal, 30-3-2013)

This conciliatory approach, however, was met with worse intransigence by those who claimed to represent the Syrian people... Al-Jazeera and al-Arabyia played an inciting role, encouraging people to protest and rebel against the Syrian government, and they constituted the primary source for news about Syria to all Western media outlets.
On 29 July 2011, an obscure group of seven men, dressed in military uniforms announced the formation of the “Free Syrian Army” on YouTube.
The world was supposed to believe that out of 300,000 officers and soldiers constituting the Syrian Armed Forces, seven men were to represent a legitimate fighting force to replace that institution.
Apparently, they did, at least to the West and their Turkish and Arab backers. The venture grew into 15,000-armed men based at camps in southern Turkey. Their spokesperson promised immanent action to “liberate” Syria.
Turkey, a member of NATO, was now hosting an army of insurgents on its territory, the composition of which was largely unknown, threatening to invade a sovereign nation with the aim of overthrowing its government under the veneer of “freedom fighters.”

The attempt to break up Syria’s institutions was not limited to the armed forces. Many officials, from all levels of government, including myself, were invited, and in many ways pressured and harassed, to “defect.”
They were offered financial incentives and –ironically– a place in the government of “new Syria.” When a government official refused the “lucrative offers,” threats against their personal safety and family soon followed. Eventually, many Syrian government officials and I were sanctioned by the European Union and the United States, simply for refusing to quit our job and relinquish our duty.

On 18 August 2011, US President Barack Obama called for the ouster of President Asad.
The United States was yet again committing itself to changing the political regime of a sovereign country. Obama’s statement constituted a green light for another serious attempt to usurp legitimacy from the Syrian government.
By the end of August a group of “opposition” figures gathered in Istanbul, under the auspices of the Turkish government, announced the formation of the “Syrian National Council.” This grouping enjoyed no popular or political legitimacy, yet Western nations, Turkey, as well as Qatar and Saudi Arabia began to deal with them as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

The efforts were given a serious impetus when in November 2011, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, backed by the nascent Muslim-Brotherhood-led regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, succeeded in freezing Syria’s membership in the Arab League.
The decision was followed by Arab sanctions against Syria, setting the stage for American and European enforced single measure sanctions that would prevent Syrians from acquiring many essentials including heating fuel and cancer treatments.
The anti-Syria efforts culminated in the ironically-named “Friends of Syria Group” meeting in Tunisia in February 2012, which included among others the United States, France, UK, and Germany, in addition to Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

The “Friends of Syria” sought tirelessly to gain a UN mandate for the process of delegitimizing the Syrian government, and imposing the Turkey-based “National Council” as a representative of the Syrian people; let alone soliciting a mandate to carry on a military intervention similar to the one in Libya...
On 19 July 2012, the Security Council met to discuss another Syria-related resolution presented by the Western powers...
Just three days before this session, four of Syria’s top generals were assassinated, and thousands of gunmen tried to break into the city centers of Aleppo and Damascus, in an operation they dubbed “The Volcano.”

Western powers began to recognize the Syrian National Coalition (the offspring of the National Council) as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The Arab League, under Qatari leadership, went as far as giving them Syria’s seat at the 2013 Arab Summit in Doha.

The West joins forces with al-Qaeda

It only took fourteen years after the tragic events of 9/11 for a representative of a Jihadi group closely linked to al-Qaeda to be able to write an op-ed for a major American publication: the Washington Post.
Labib Nahhas, the head of foreign relations for Ahrar al-Sham group, wrote an article calling on the United States to join efforts with his organization to “end the reign” of Bashar al-Asad.
Ahrar al-Sham adopts Salafi-Jihadism as its ideology and is part of the Jaysh al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) coalition, which also includes Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda branch in Syria.
Al-Qaeda had taken advantage of the chaos in Syria, as it did in Iraq and Libya, to appear on the scene first as al-Nusra, later joined by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (formerly al-Qaeda in Iraq).

When violence escalated in Syria, the “Free Syrian Army” franchise quickly disappeared from the battlefield, but not from the media.
The real forces on the ground were al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al- Mujahedeen (Army of Mujahedeen) and other Jihadi groups –including ISIS. These groups, with foreign support, soon turned major cities such as Aleppo and Homs into battlefields, barricading themselves in residential areas and causing a mass-exodus of civilians.

The Syrian Army was soon fighting on an endless number of fronts. It had to protect neighborhoods and towns, power lines and water sources, factories and public institutions. Everything and everyone was under attack.. NATO weapons were smuggled from wartorn Libya to Syrian jihadis. Terror tactics never seen before were used against the Syrian people.
It wasn’t late before ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) began to dominate the scene. Yet when ISIS scored its first big “victory” in the summer of 2013, overrunning the Menagh airbase north of Aleppo with its ally al-Nusra, after dozens of suicide attacks, the Istanbul-based opposition issued a statement congratulating the Syrian people for this “achievement....

By deliberately supporting terrorists in Syria under the banner of changing the regime (which is against international laws), Western countries have aided Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in what in reality was an all-out war against Syria in an effort to destroy the country and eliminate the role it has been playing in the region...
What happened in Syria was a grand geopolitical game under the guise of a movement for democracy (i.e. the Arab Spring).

Poll: Half of Israel's Jews want to annex the Westbank
By Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva (Religious Zionist News Agency), 3-2-2016

A new poll has found that just under half of the Jewish public in Israel supports the annexation of Judea and Samaria [Jewish name for the Westbank or the State of Palestine], indicating that the notion of establishing a Palestinian state in Israel's Biblical heartland in a "two-state solution" is being shelved.
The poll was conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, and found that 45% of Jewish Israelis back annexing the entire area liberated in the 1967 Six Day War.
In response to the findings Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, directors of Women in Green (WiG) which works for the application of Israeli sovereignty in the region, warmly welcomed the results.
"The conclusions arising from the results of the poll are that the People of Israel have stopped apologizing, giving in and dancing to the music and tune of Israel’s and the world’s leftists. The People of Israel say clearly: the Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel," said the two in a joint statement.
"The People of Israel are returning to Zionist values and are no longer willing to be dragged into delusional and disastrous political plans, and are moving into a phase of taking initiative and leadership. The idea of two states, which was led by the radical Left, is being dropped from the agenda and instead, a Jewish Zionist vision for the People of Israel and its land is taking shape."

Women in Green Website: "Our movement is dedicated to safeguarding our G-d given Biblical Homeland.
We are popularly known as "the Women in Green" because of the green hats we used to wear in the nineties to show our opposition to the abandonment of parts of our homeland and against the return of Israel to the "Green Line", the pre-1967 borders.
"Eretz Israel Le'Am Yisrael" - "The Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel" has been our motto since the beginning of our movement. We act out of our firm belief in the central role of Eretz Israel for the future of the Jewish People.

To Have or To Be, by Erich Fromm
Arash Farzaneh Blog, 15-8-2013

Erich Fromm's book 'To Have or To Be?' deals with the question of authentic and creative personal existence and identity in a world in which most are driven by greed, lust, and power.
In fact, Fromm divides human existence into two modes: those who define and live life according to what they have and own, and those who simply thrive in the art of being.
By putting the mirror in front of our eyes, Fromm makes us see that we are indeed living in a sick society; our social environment is feeding us lies about who we are, while at the same time, we are willingly swallowing and consuming them...
Our identity has become a fiction that we all believe and agree upon. To start off, our essential and most misguided delusion is to assume that life or existence is our possession.
We have a name; we have a body; we have a job; we have friends; we have a family – wife and children, we have a house with or without a garden; we have a car; we have a future...
Even our interpretation of God reflects our very own need for belonging and possession.

Definition of God: 'I AM, I AM", or: "I OWN, I OWN"?

Is there an alternative to this mode? Fromm proposes the mode of being, which has been promoted by the great masters of living.
You may have your own list of favorite thinkers and philosophers on the matter, but most of us may agree upon, religious ideology aside, the Buddha and Jesus.
Siddhartha Gautama gave up his worldly belongings to live on the streets like a beggar, while the Son of God and Man came riding on a donkey and at best owned the clothes he was wearing (though that has been a point of contention by some). Both of them exemplify the state of being... A person who chooses the state of being does not see himself as property to be sold or loaned.

This book is and has been for decades an eye-opening experience. Unfortunately, organized religion, with its own focus on greed and ambition does not become useful in this matter. Rather one must cease to see and abuse God, people and nature as our possessions or instruments... This is what the Buddha meant when he said, if you ever run into the Buddha, kill him!

The Two Messiahs" in Zechariah

Zechariah 9:9-10 -- The humble King, a King of Peace
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. And He will speak peace to the nations.

Zechariah 14:2-4 -- A King of War and Power
Later, however, Zechariah gives another description of the coming king, a picture quite different from that of chapter 9.
"For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle..." "And the Lord will be king over all the earth..."

In chapter 9 the king is humble, but in chapter 14 he is a force to be reckoned with. In the latter picture, the king is a conqueror...

Kerry: We don't plan to intervene militarily against ISIS in Libya
By Rudaw (ERBIL, Kurdistan Region 3-2-2016)

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that the United States has no plans to intervene militarily against Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya, where the group has a foothold. Washington would only consider intervening if there was "some turn of events, like weapons of mass destruction ending up in the hands of the wrong people," Kerry said according to AP.
Instead he believes that the Libyan national unity government should seek to combat ISIS itself.
"The US and its European and Arab partners should increase security training and help Libya's military, not just to clear territory, but to create a safe environment for the government to stand up and operate," he suggested.

gaddafi's army (destroyed by NATO) - islamist militias 2011 - isis in sirte 2015

Meanwhile, the US anti-ISIS coalition envoy Brett McGurk said, following a visit to the Kurdish city of Kobani over the weekend, that Islamist militants were flocking into Libya as it has become more difficult for them to reach Syria. “They are now trying to make Libya their hub,” McGurk told the Washington Post.
“I think that’s part and parcel of the success we’ve had in Syria. If you’re a foreign fighter joining ISIL in Syria, you’re going to die in Syria. I think they are learning that,” he said, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.
Saeed Mamuzini, a Kurdish official from Mosul, confirmed to Rudaw that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had ordered some 200 elites of the group in Mosul to move to Libya to lay the groundwork for other militants to reach that country.

Rouhani calls for ‘Joint Comprehensive National Plan’
'a reconciliatory approach' - 'work jointly for national glory'
Mehr News Agency (Iran) 3-2-2016

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told a meeting now time has come to reach a ‘joint comprehensive national plan.’
Rouhani addressed the ceremony marking National Day of Space Technology on Wednesday and called for what he believed was a second JCPOA, this time, calling it ‘Joint Comprehensive National Plan.’
'The national plan,' Mr. Rouhani implied in his speech, seems to be a call for a reconciliatory approach inside the country with the objective of bringing together all players in politics and organize and coordinate them to work jointly for national glory...
“We should restore trust to ourselves and take a course of action which would rebuild the country through economic reshuffle and boom,” Rouhani suggested.
“No party should deviate from a general norm of unanimity. We have very close views on how to run the country and how to approach issues; this is a positive point of the situation; we want employment, we want economic growth. These are not points of discord among different circles and political factions; we also want progress in line with the fastest-growing technologies of the world,” he emphasized.
“The government should be shrunken in size; the general policy has been privatization of parts of the government services, especially in the military; we want a small but highly effective and brisk government. We want competitiveness. We should not be stuck on the A of an industry while others have advanced to U of the same industry. I believe we should abandon assuming ready-made technologies from foreign countries,” he demanded.
Rouhani’s coda was that the JCPOA should not be understood as ‘open doors to unregulated imports,’ rather, it should be understood as an open door to the world and constructive cooperation and adaptation of technologies which would help the economy in finding a way out of difficulties.”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known commonly as the Iran deal, is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council) and the European Union.

US, France accuse Syrian President of undermining Syria peace talks
Middle East Online, 4-2-2016

GENEVA - The US and France have accused President Bashar al-Assad's regime of undermining talks to end Syria's civil war.
French French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius accused Damascus and Russia of "torpedoing the peace efforts" by launching an offensive near Aleppo, and said world powers would hold "in-depth consultations" on their actions at the conference.
The UN paused the fruitless peace negotiations on Wednesday as the Syrian government said it had cut a key supply route to Syria's second city from the Turkish border with the help of Russian air strikes.
It is one of several regime offensives since Moscow began bombing in September, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday he saw no reason to stop until the "terrorists" are defeated.

opposition in aleppo 2014

UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura said discussions would resume on February 25, insisting this was "not the end or the failure of the talks" and calling on all players to work harder to make them a success.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the Syrian government's push to grab territory as negotiations were meant to be getting underway proved the regime was not serious about the talks. "The continued assault by Syrian regime forces -- enabled by Russian air strikes -- against opposition-held areas... have clearly signalled the intention to seek a military solution rather than enable a political one," he said.

opposition in aleppo 2015

The Syrian government delegation in Geneva, meanwhile, complained that the Saudi-backed HNC was disorganised, had not named its negotiators and contained individuals it considered "terrorists". One such figure is Mohammed Alloush, a leading member of Islamist rebel group the Army of Islam and nominally the HNC's chief negotiator, who arrived in Geneva late on Monday.
Bashar al-Jaafari, chief government negotiator, blamed the suspension on opposition "preconditions" and said de Mistura announced the break only because the HNC was about to leave.

Flashback 2012: Interview with Dr. Webster Griffin Tarpley
"Do the Western powers have unlimited supplies of death squad fanatics?"
Press TV, 17-8-2012

W.G. Tarpley Tarpley: Assad was supposed to be brought down in July, I think July 18th, terror attacks to decapitate the Syrian armed forces, the shipping in of thousands and thousands of new death squad members from many other countries, an attack on the currency, the television warfare in its entire campaign.
That has now failed. As far as we can see from the outside, the death squads have been driven out of many parts of Aleppo [.] and the Syrian government is still there.
The US, the British, the French and indeed the Israelis are now apoplectic. That’s what you see with [French Foreign Minister Laurent] Fabius.
I would call attention to the language he decided when he says ‘the Syrian regime should be smashed fast and that Assad doesn’t deserve to be on this earth’.
This is a language we haven’t heard in Europe since the fascist era. This is the language of a fascist dictatorship and, well, Fabius is not quite that yet but you get the idea. It’s going in that direction.

Press TV: In the foreseeable future, what do you think we’ll see in terms of how the situation in Syria will develop?
Tarpley: The question is, do the Western powers have unlimited supplies of death squad fanatics or do they not? And are these death squads getting decimated by the Syrian armed forces?

Syria Regime, Hizbullah Enter Besieged Villages after Aleppo Advance
by Naharnet Newsdesk, 4-2-2016

Syrian government forces and pro-regime fighters entered two Shiite villages on Thursday that had been under rebel siege, after advancing in a key offensive around second city Aleppo.
Syria's state news agency SANA reported "mass celebrations in the streets of Nubol and Zahraa welcoming army troops and celebrating the breaking of the siege."
Hizbullah's al-Manar television station broadcast what it said was exclusive footage of Syrian government and allied fighters entering the villages. The channel showed crowds embracing soldiers and militiamen, who fired into the air as they arrived.
Fighters and residents waved the Syrian flag and the yellow Hizbullah flag, and some chanted pro-regime slogans, including "God, Syria, Bashar and nothing else," in reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The two villages had been besieged by rebels since 2012, and reaching them had long been a goal of the government, which has also sought to sever key rebel supply routes into Aleppo.
Once Syria's economic powerhouse, Aleppo city has been divided between government control in the west and rebel control in the east since shortly after fighting there began in mid-2012.
Rebels in the city are now surrounded from the south, east, and north, with only a single opening in the northwest that leads to the neighboring opposition-held province of Idlib.

Mass celebration in Nubbul and al-Zahra - Sana, 4-2-2016

The end to the siege has been described as a major "breakthrough" for the Syrian army by Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper. "It is actually a breakthrough for the Syrian army in Aleppo area," he said. "I believe this will change the equation there and it could be a turning point. Aleppo is actually very close to falling, partly or fully, to the hands of the Syrian official forces."
Atwan attributed the success of the operation to the Russian forces providing a "very efficient air cover" that in cooperation with Syrian ground forces resulted in "huge advances." (Al-Ahed news, 4-2-2016)

Syrian rebels are losing Aleppo and perhaps also the war
Liz Sly and Zakaria Zakaria, Washington Post, 4-2-2016

Syrian rebels battled for their survival in and around Syria’s northern city of Aleppo on Thursday after a blitz of Russian airstrikes helped government loyalists sever a vital supply route and sent a new surge of refugees fleeing toward the border with Turkey...

Aleppo: Young children play in a pool created in a crater from an airstrike. It is feared the ongoing war is creating a 'lost generation' in Syria as millions of young people go without schooling in the conflict that has displaced millions of Syrians both within the country and into neighbouring nations. (Telegraph - picture: Frederick Paxton | VICE News)
After two days of what rebel fighters described as the most intense airstrikes yet, government forces had succeeded on Wednesday in cutting off the rebels’ main supply route from the Turkish border to the portion of Aleppo city that remains under opposition control. On Thursday, the government captured several more villages in the surrounding countryside, prompting fears among residents and rebels that the city could soon be entirely surrounded.
The loss of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, would represent a potentially decisive blow to the nearly five-year-old rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The rebels have maintained control of much of Aleppo since they surged into the city in 2012, prompting U.S. intelligence assessments that they eventually would topple the government in Damascus...

With the push around Aleppo, pro-government forces were able to break a rebel siege on two predominantly Shiite villages, Nubl and Zahra, which had been surrounded by rebel forces for the past three years and sustained only by government airdrops of food.
Rebel fighters sounded desperate as they described enduring more than 200 airstrikes in the past 24 hours alone. Commanders from a range of rebel groups, from moderates to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, issued urgent appeals for reinforcements from other parts of the country.
"We are fighting our most important battle yet. We are fighting to prevent a regime siege on Aleppo,” said Abdul Salam Abdul Razzak, a spokesman for the Noureddin al-Zinki rebel movement, reached by telephone on the northern outskirts of Aleppo. “In the coming days, the battle will be fierce. We will keep fighting till the last fighter, and we hope we will not let our people down.”
The fall of Aleppo to the government would present a major challenge to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the rebels’ staunchest supporters, but it was unclear what, if anything, they could do to prevent it.

aleppo 2012-2013

The 'moderate' rebels of Aleppo
Carnegie Edowment, 26-12-2014

On Christmas Day 2014, the largest Sunni Islamist rebel groups in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate announced that they have united under a joint command. The new rebel coalition is called al-Jabha al-Shamiya, Arabic for the Levant Front.

Members of the Levant Front:
- The Islamic Front in Aleppo: Probably the most powerful of the five, the Islamic Front’s Aleppo wing is dominated by the Tawhid Brigade, which has links both to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Salafi Islamism and has enjoyed excellent relations with Qatar and Turkey.
- The Noureddine al-Zengi Brigades: The Noureddine al-Zengi Brigades were created in late 2011. They are led by Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin, a religious figure who now runs his own rebel fiefdom in the western Aleppo countryside.
- The Fastaqim Kama Umirta Gathering: Led by Mustafa Berro (alias Saqr Abu Quteiba) . The Fastaqim Kama Umirta Gathering takes its name from a Quranic verse and contains several subfactions including the Peace Brigade, the Aleppo City Brigade, and the Aleppo al-Shahba Brigade.
- The Asala wa-Tanmiya Front: led by Secretary-General Khaled al-Hamad, a Salafi preacher based in the Gulf, and it is composed of a mixture of military defectors, civilian rebels, and Islamists. The group supports the Saudi government and opposes any Islamist group that would challenge it. In the Levant Front unification treaty, the Asala wa-Tanmiya Front was represented by Ibrahim Majbour, a career soldier from Idlib who was one of the very first Syrian military defectors in 2011.

The Levant Front’s member factions are themselves made up of a bewildering mass of smaller subfactions, whose ideological and political connections vary.
It represents a spectrum of ideologies, ranging from the hardline Salafism that can be found among Ahrar al-Sham loyalists in the Islamic Front, across Muslim Brotherhood and other mainstream Sunni Islamist tendencies, to more or less apolitical factions linked to the Western- and Gulf-backed exile structure that is loosely referred to as the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Most of these groups seem to receive support directly or indirectly from the Turkey-based Military Operations Center (MOC), a multinational support structure that is staffed by the United States and other nations. Others are separately funded by state or private sponsors outside of the MOC structure.

The Levant Front has not published a political program, although its leading groups favor some sort of Sunni Islamic rule in Syria.

Arutz Sheva Op-Ed: Memo to idiots cheering Bernie and Hillary
"They are all Communists" -
Jack Engelhard, February 05, 2016

Attention to all you college kids out there so starry-eyed for Bernie – are you serious?
But you’re young. Far and wide you’ve been educated by Liberal pro-BDS professors, so you’re not expected to know too much, except that the two most reliable beacons of tolerance and liberty, the United States and Israel, are on the wrong side of history.
Pure brainwashing, but you will grow up. There is no excuse however for people already grown up who still cheer for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
You really think socialism is okay? Let’s be clear. There is no difference between socialists, liberals and progressives. They are all Communists, or shades of the same mentality.
Either way, it’s about taking from the rich and giving it to the poor in order to make everybody equal, meaning equally miserable.
Communism sucks. Ask the people who lived there. Call it by its more pleasant and more acceptable name, socialism; same answer. Unbearable.
The system works beautifully for those who rule... They get the fat.
The people get the lean. If that much. That’s the deal Bernie and Hillary are selling. In fact the two of them are out there dueling for the most extreme spot on the Left.

Attention to all you college kids:
1967 was the start of Messianic, Zionist capitalism

The kibbutz was a unique product of the Zionist labor movement. It was not conceived theoretically as an escapist or utopian project; it was developed by Jewish workers inspired by ideas of social justice as an integral part of the Zionist project.

Sociologists date the beginning of the end of the kibbutz movement to as long ago as the war of 1967. The annexation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem meant the end of socialism and the start of messianic, Zionist capitalism...

A country that was once socialist, secular, and led by men who’d all been on kibbutzim, like David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan, and Ehud Barak, has turned religious, nationalist and capitalist. (Rachel Johnson, in: The Kibbutz Goes Kaput)

"The crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism"
Albert Einstein, in : Why Socialism? - Monthly Review, Volume 61, 2009

This article was originally published in the first issue of Monthly Review (May 1949). It was subsequently published in May 1998 to commemorate the first issue of MR‘s fiftieth year.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society.
The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate...

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones.
The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature.
The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education).
It is extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.
The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.
It is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual...

No one wants to risk offending Washington’s
neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment
By Robert Parry, Consortium News, February 5, 2016

After nearly 15 years of Mideast war you might expect that peace would be a major topic of the 2016 presidential race. Instead, there has been a mix of warmongering bluster from most candidates and some confused mutterings against endless war from a few.
No one, it seems, wants to risk offending Official Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment that is ready to castigate any candidate who suggests that there are other strategies (besides more and more “regime changes”) that might extricate the United States from the Middle East quicksand.

Late in Thursday’s Democratic debate – when the topic of war finally came up – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued toeing the neocon line, calling Iran the chief sponsor of terrorism in the world, when that title might objectively go to U.S. “allies,” such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all of whom have been aiding Sunni jihadists fighting to overthrow Syria’s secular regime.
Israel also has provided help to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which has been battling Syrian troops and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters near the Golan Heights – and Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians has played a key role in stirring up hatred and violence in the Middle East.
But Clinton has fully bought into the neocon narrative, not especially a surprise since she voted for the Iraq War, pushed the disastrous Libyan “regime change” and has sought a limited U.S. military invasion of Syria (to prevent the Syrian army from securing its border with Turkey and reclaiming territory from jihadists and other rebels).

Flashback 2012: "Why are they establishing
Al-Qaeda on coasts near Europe?"

TEHRAN -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, Hassan Firouzabadi, says that the United States’ efforts to establish Al-Qaeda branches in Syria and Lebanon will create a greater threat for Europe than nuclear weapons. Firouzabadi warned that a great strategic threat is taking shape in the southeast Mediterranean.
“The global arrogance (forces of imperialism) which created Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and then received serious blows from them and today claims it is at war with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic country of Pakistan has closed its eyes to” its previous mistakes, “and now it is establishing Al-Qaeda in Syria and Lebanon,” he opined.

Firouzabadi, who is also the chairman of the Board of Trustees of Iran’s National Defense University, said U.S. strategists should explain this paradox, namely if the United States is fighting Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and occupied Afghanistan, “why are they again establishing Al-Qaeda on coasts near Europe?” ...

It is necessary that the United Nations, the Security Council, the secretary general of the United Nations, and the (UN) Human Rights Council prevent this new disaster (from occurring) in the world.” ...

(Teheran Times, 12-6-2012)

In Thursday’s debate Clinton painted Iran as the big regional threat, putting herself fully in line with the neocon position.
“We have to figure out how to deal with Iran as the principal state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Clinton said. “They are destabilizing governments in the region. They continue to support Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon against Israel...
In the debate, Clinton avoided criticism of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for their military and financial assistance to radical jihadists, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State.
Clinton also ignored her own role in creating a haven for these terror groups across the Middle East because of her support for the Iraq War and her instigation of the 2011 “regime change” in Libya which created another failed state where Islamic State and various extremists have found a home and started chopping of the heads of “infidels.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont took a somewhat less belligerent position at Thursday’s debate... He indicated a willingness to work with Russia and other world powers in support of an anti-jihadist coalition.
“It must be Muslim troops on the ground that will destroy ISIS, with the support of a coalition of major powers — U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Russia... We must not get involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.”
While Sanders clearly sought to sound less hawkish than Clinton he did not address the reality that many of the Sunni countries that he hopes to enlist in the fight against the jihadists are already engaged – on the side of the jihadists.

Democratic socialists back in business?
The Great Society versus Hillary Clinton
Andrew Levine, CounterPunch 5-2-2016M

In Iowa it was demonstrated, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it is possible, here and now, to stave off a Clintonite Restoration – that is, to free the country and the world from the thrall of neoliberal-neoconservative politics.

For anyone who cares about economic, racial and gender equality, and about restoring basic rights and liberties and establishing a just and humane social order – and for anyone who wants to diminish murder and mayhem and terrorism around the world, and to protect the earth and everything in it from the ravages of capitalist greed – getting the United States off the neoliberal-neoconservative track that it has been on since at least the late 1970s should be Priority Number One.
This means that the first order of business now is defeating Hillary Clinton.
The larger goal of ridding the world of Clintonism, Clinton-style neoliberal-neoconservative politics, will require a protracted struggle lasting years, but sending Hillary packing, the sooner the better, is a good first step.

The Iowa caucuses showed that the way to make it happen, is by helping Bernie Sanders win...
Sanders is not really a socialist, just an old fashioned liberal; and his views on foreign policy are more or less of a piece with those of conventional Democrats. On economic, environmental, and social policies, his views are better than we Americans have any right to expect – after having wallowed for so long in the neoliberal-neoconservative miasma that the Clintons promote.
Neoconservatism is an imperialist ideology with a Cold War tinge, and neoliberalism took hold thanks mainly to the exigencies of capitalist development in the final decades of the twentieth century.
The structural factors behind both are still in place, but there is more popular opposition to both of those nefarious ideologies than in the past; neoliberalism, especially, is thoroughly unloved by ninety-nine percent of the population...

Capitalism with a human face

Now, for the first time in decades, there is an alternative: the up-dated version of New Deal-Great Society liberalism that Bernie Sanders champions. Not only is his “democratic socialism” better by far than Clintonite politics, it also less of a dead end.
The point of the New Deal was to save capitalism... But, in those brief periods when New Dealers were able to lead the Roosevelt administration on a more radical course than FDR and his closest associates envisioned, it became possible to see the New Deal moving society beyond capitalism’s horizons. Right or wrong, this was not an unreasonable view....

Twenty-first century New Dealers – call them “democratic socialists,” if you like – are now back in business thanks to Sanders; and, with the national Republican Party a hollowed out shell of its former self, there is no organized political force in the United States capable of holding them back decisively enough for the genie to be forced back into the bottle.

Flashback 1964: Lyndon B. Johnson & The Great Society

The purpose of protecting the life of our Nation and preserving the liberty of our citizens is to pursue the happiness of our people. Our success in that pursuit is the test of our success as a Nation.

Info For a century we labored to settle and to subdue a continent. For half a century we called upon unbounded invention and untiring industry to create an order of plenty for all of our people. The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.

Your imagination, your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth.
For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all... The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness.
It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community...
It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods. (Speeches, 22-5-1964)

Despite his conservative voting record in the Senate, Johnson soon reacquainted himself with his liberal roots. LBJ sponsored the largest reform agenda since Roosevelt's New Deal. The aftershock of Kennedy's assassination provided a climate for Johnson to complete the unfinished work of JFK's New Frontier. (US History website)

Syrian Army, Hezbollah Cutoff Militants' Main Supply Routes from Turkey
FARS News Agency, 7-2-2016

Syrian army tanks, taking on Takfiri terrorists' lines in Aleppo province on Sunday, managed to push back the militants further in a strategic town in the Northern province and cut off ISIL's transfer and supply routes in the region, informed sources said.
"The pro-government forces, during an intensive operation to recapture the town of Mayer, cut off the Ezaz-Aleppo road by winning back the town; therefore, the road, which was formerly controlled by the Takfiri militants to transfer their forces and hardware, has been effectively blocked by government forces and their allies," the sources said.

The Syrian army and its popular allies continue marching on terrorists' positions in the region, heavily pounding their positions and gatherings in Bayanoun and Kefin villages by artillery and missile fire.
With the recent capture of Ratyan and Mayer in Northern Aleppo, the Syrian Armed Forces have finally reached the Aleppo-Gaziantep Highway near the contested villages of Bayanoun, Kafr Naya, and Hayyan after an intense battle with the terrorists of al-Nusra Front, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Jeish Al-Mujahiddeen, Harakat Nouriddeen al-Zinki, and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham.
The Aleppo-Gaziantep Highway was the primary roadway for the militants to transfer supplies and reinforcements to the provincial capital of Aleppo province; its obstruction forces the opposition to rely on seasonal roads from the Idlib province that are easy targets for the Russian and Syrian Air Forces.

Oil prices drop in Deir Ezzor amid ongoing intense battles in northern Aleppo
Deir Ezzor 24 Organisation, 7-2-2016

Oil prices in Deir Ezzor have fallen recently after all roads leading to Aleppo have been cut off by both intensive Russian airstrikes and the ongoing fierce clashes between the Assad-regime and allied Shia militias against some rebels factions in the area.
As northern Aleppo-Deir Ezzor oil trade was halted recently, the oil prices in Deir Ezzor dropped significantly. One barrel of diesel costs now around 14 Syrian lira while one barrel of gasoline costs 33 Syrian lira. Contrary to the current situation, the price of one barrel of gasoline used to be sold for 40 Syrian lira a little while ago. Northern Aleppo is considered the biggest market of DeirEzzor’s oil, which is transported by tankers driven by civilians from the province towards Aleppo, D 24 correspondent in Deir Ezzor said.
He added ‘’not only the prices of oil have been affected in the province amid the ongoing battles in northern Aleppo, but also the prices of food imported from northern Aleppo have risen recently. The prices of food imported from Aleppo are increasing day by day coinciding with a drop in oil prices as well.”
It should be noted that the ISIS-run oil fields in Deir Ezzor extract crude oil and then sell it in dollars to local traders who later refine it and sell its derivatives in Hamah, Aleppo, Raqqa, and Idlib.

Khaled Khoja: Intervention from fellow countries is necessary
Thaer Abbas, Asharq Al Awsat, Beiroet 6-2-2016

Khaled Khoja, current President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, perceives that an intervention from fellow countries, especially Arabian countries, to support the Syrian Opposition and the Free Syrian Army against Shi’ite militia and ISIS is necessary.

Jusoor (Syrians Forward Together) center’s board executive and Syrian expert, Mr. Mohamad Sarmini, considers that a pro-regime forces’ attempt on closing in on the Turkish borders is being perpetrated to seclude cities from each other, and gradually take them down. Aleppo to begin with, then Idlib, then Hama, and whatever is left of Lattakia.
Mr. Sarmini told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Russian plan is clearing up after its take on obstructing supplies from reaching Aleppo, and then plotting on taking over Afrin (town in northern Syria) and barricading it with the help of the Kurdish PYD factions.
Sarmini asserted that the effort on blocking southern supply routes is continuous, throughout Daraa and Athman. With this plan, Russia will separate the regions from each other and will tackle them separately.

Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkish Prime Minister, refrained from directly commenting on the possibility of a Saudi-Turkish ground force move towards Syria through Turkish borders.

Khaled Khoja (born in Damascus in 1965) has been involved in founding numerous opposition groups since the Syrian uprising began in 2011. He established the Platform for Solidarity with the Syrian People with the start of the anti-Assad protests in March 2011.
He was a founding member of the Syrian National Council (SNC) in October 2011, the key opposition body before the current opposition coalition - 'The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces' - which he helped to form in November 2012.
Though the Coalition has no direct links to the fighters in Syria, it has, nonetheless emerged as one of the leading parties in the international discussion for a solution to the Syrian civil war. Britain formally recognised the new Syrian opposition group as the "sole legitimate representative" of the Syrian people.
Khoja was elected president of the Coalition on January 4, 2015, replacing Hadi al-Bahra. Until his election as president, Khoja served as the National Coalition's representative in Turkey. He is a member of the National Coalition's Turkmen bloc.

In a joint oped in the Guardian in November 2015, Khaled Khoja reiterated the group’s opposition to Assad: “Let us be clear: Assad never has been, nor will ever be, an alternative to Isis. He will never bring peace to Syria, nor will he ever be capable of taking on extremists.”

Saudi Analyst: Riyadh Needs to Start Anti-ISIL Campaign from Inside
FARS News Agency, 7-2-2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Saudi government should fight against the ISIL terrorist group by cracking down on its supporters inside the kingdom, a Saudi analyst and journalist said in reaction to Riyadh's allegations that it intends to send troops to Syria to fight against the terrorists.
"Instead of fighting ISIL outside the broders, the Saudi government should first start fighting its affiliates and sponsors who are working against the interests of the Saudi people," Abdulrahman Vassel wrote in the Saudi al-Sharq daily on Sunday.
According to him, there are powerful individuals in Saudi Arabia who support the terrorist group financially and politically on social media and state-owned newspapers. "These people are jeopardising the country's national security and social fabric," Vassel warned.
In conclusion, the journalist urged the House of Saud to confront the pro-ISIL groups and individuals before deciding to send troops to Syria under the banner of war on terror.

The Saudi Defense Ministry said on Thursday that it stood ready to deploy ground troops to Syria to allegedly aid the US-led anti-ISIL, also known as Daesh, coalition.
Riyadh has been a member of the US-led coalition that has been launching airstrikes against Daesh in Syria since September 2014, without the permission of Damascus or the United Nations. In December 2015, Saudi Arabia started its own Muslim 34-nation coalition to allegedly fight Islamic extremism.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Saturday that any ground operation in Syria without Damascus' approval is an "act of aggression".

Normal Life Gradually Returns to Nubbul, Zahraa

Normal life is gradually returning to Nubbul and Zahraa, few days after the Syrian army and its allies broke the siege imposed on both towns by Takfiri insurgents. State-funded aid agencies are providing residents of the two towns with necessary requirement as food, fuel, gas cylinders and medical supplies.
Nubbul and Zahraa, which lie in Aleppo countryside, were beseiged for more than three years by the Takfiri insurgents.

King Salman: 'Our religion is a religion of moderation, justice and mercy.’
Saudi Gazette, 8-2-2016

RIYADH — King Salman while calling for security and peace in the region stressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had “the right to defend itself and urged others not to interfere in its affairs,” here on Sunday.
King Salman issued this warning to provocateurs to desist from destabilizing the region and disturbing peace with their acts. The King made the statement in a speech at the Al-Yamama Palace.

“We are keen on having security and peace prevail in our region... We call on others not to interfere in our affairs. Therefore, we defend the Muslim lands, cooperate with the Arab and Muslim brothers everywhere to defend their countries and ensure their independence."
“Our religion — Islam — is a religion of moderation, justice and mercy. Terrorism is contrary to Islam, which is a religion of love and cooperation,” King Salman said. “We and you have a great responsibility in unifying the ranks and enlightening the Ummah..."

Flashback 21 mrt 2013: Sunni cleric Ramadan al-Bouti killed

A suicide attack inside Damascus mosque kills Sunni cleric Dr Mohammed al-Bouti, leaving at least 42 dead and 84 wounded.
Dr Mohammed Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, a longtime supporter of President Bashar al-Assad and Imam of Damascus' historic Ummayyad Mosque, was killed in the explosion in the Iman Mosque in the central Mezzeh district.
Syrian TV said among those killed were Bouti's grandson. Television footage showed wounded people and bodies with severed limbs on the bloodstained floor of the mosque. Ambulances rushed to the scene of the explosion, which was sealed off by the military.
Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said: "We know that in the past years, he's [Bouti] been a prominent cleric against the Muslim Brotherhood movement, so for the regime, his death is a loss."

Regional leadership of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party condemned the brutal crime in al-Iman mosque in Damascus which claimed the lives of the great scholar and the prayers.
"This massacre adds to the crimes perpetrated by the mercenary terrorists against the Syrians.. they target everything including the mosques and houses of worship," the leadership said in statement. (SANA)

Ikrâh (force) in religion is not allowed

Al-Bouti was of the opinion that Islamist groups do not perform their tasks properly. They do not set a good example for youngsters, have no patience in choosing the long road of da’wa, education and upbringing.
They aim gaining power quickly to force (ikrâh) people to accept and apply the norms and values of Islam, while ikrâh in religion is not allowed. (“Ikrâh” means to force someone to do something which they do not want to do) (Zekeriya Budak, Leiden 2011)

Saudi Arabian involvement in the Syrian Civil War

The Saudi Arabian involvement in the Syrian War has involved the large-scale supply of weapons and ammunition to various rebel groups in Syria during the Syrian Civil War.
The Financial Times reported in May 2013 that Saudi Arabia was becoming a larger provider of arms to the various groups.
Since the summer of 2013, Saudi Arabia has emerged as the main group to finance and arm the rebels. Saudi Arabia has financed a large purchase of infantry weapons, such as Yugoslav-made recoilless guns and the M79 Osa, an anti-tank weapon, from Croatia via shipments shuttled through Jordan. The weapons began reaching rebels in December 2012 which allowed rebels' small tactical gains against the Syrian army.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have received criticism for increasing their backing for Syrian rebels associated with the Army of Conquest, which includes the al-Nusra front, an al-Qaeda affiliated group. (Wikipedia info)

All those who seek political goals and work by political methods are our partners
MOSCOW, February 9, 2016 - TASS

The Russian air task force’s operation in Syria has destroyed plans for the military solution to the crisis in that country, Russia’s Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshchak told TASS.
"All the sides involved in the Syrian crisis became aware that there would be no quick fall of the regime of Bashar Assad. Many of those who earlier counted on the military solution have realized that now this will hardly happen," the ambassador said.
As a result, pre-requisites have emerged for some consensus among the main foreign players to elaborate a political solution to the Syrian crisis...
"Late in December, UN Security Council Resolution 2254 was adopted. This resolution actually approved a roadmap for political settlement in that country and laid the international and legal basis for implementing the Vienna accords," the ambassador noted.

The diplomat stressed that Russia and Syria have similar approaches on what groups in Syria can be considered terrorists.
"In many ways, our views coincide, including on criteria of defining those armed groups that are qualified as terrorists on solid grounds," Kinshchak said. "We have close assessments with Syrians on the key and most odious armed groups," he added.
Russia exchanges information on the activity of various groups with the Syrian government and receives specific data on the crimes committed by them against civilians, Kinshchak said. "The moment of truth here can be the stage of general ceasefire..."
"Then those groups that refuse to stop violence and lay down arms or turn them against the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and others will themselves choose the wrong side in the armed conflict with terrorist groups in Syria and will be considered as legitimate aims."

According to the diplomat, Russia's embassy in Syria maintains contact with the whole spectrum of political forces in Syria except for militant groups.
"We keep in touch with all political parties and associations in Syria, both those registered under the local legislation and with the ‘non-systemic opposition’," he said. "In fact we have no contacts with illegal armed groups. All those who seek political goals and work for their achievement by political methods are our partners."
Kinshchak said that in contacts with the opposition Russian diplomats were asking its members to maintain a constructive dialogue with the authorities...

After Freeing Aleppo Syrian Army,
Russian Aircraft Could Focus on Raqqa
Sputnik News, 9-2-2016

The Damascus-led army and Russian aerial forces are apparently close to freeing Syria's largest city of Aleppo, raising hopes that Raqqa, the unofficial capital of Daesh's crumbling Islamic state, could be next.
"After losing up to 60,000 soldiers in five years of fighting, the Syrian army has suddenly scored its greatest victory of the war – smashing its way through Jabhat al-Nusra and the other rebel forces around Aleppo and effectively sealing its fate as Russia provided air strike operations outside the city," English journalist Robert Fisk asserted.

General Fahd Jassem al-Freij - Martyrs Day - President Bashar al-Assad

Thanks to Russia's military engagement, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has in recent weeks turned the tide of the war against numerous radical groups, who are trying to oust Bashar al-Assad.
In the last 48 hours alone, the SAA is reported to have taken the key town of Ta'ana and the strategic Barlaheen hilltop in the Aleppo province under control, killing and wounding scores of terrorists, as well as destroying militant infrastructure and military hardware elsewhere.
The decisive victory of the Syrian Arab Army in Aleppo could well deal a fatal blow to the terrorist group that is rapidly losing territories it once claimed in Iraq and Syria.
Daesh "must be learning of the extraordinary developments of the past few hours with deep concern. The everlasting Sunni 'Islamic Caliphate' in Syria doesn't look so everlasting anymore," Fisk added.

Many experts believe that militant losses on the Syrian battlefield are the primary reason why the Saudi-backed umbrella opposition group left Geneva, instead of making an effort to find a compromise with Damascus. The new facts on the ground in Syria could also explain why Turkey and Saudi Arabia appear to be on the verge of sending ground troops to the war-torn country.

Ankara Summons US Ambassador Over Washington’s Stance on Kurds
"No terrorist groups around the table"
Sputnik News, 9-2-2016

The United States has publicly expressed its belief that the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) is not a terrorist group, and Turkey is not happy about it.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long considered the Kurdish PYD to be a terrorist group, one that threatens the stability of his administration. As a member of NATO, Ankara expects its allies to agree.
But on Monday, US State Department spokesman John Kirby indicated that Washington and Ankara may not see eye-to-eye on the subject: "We do not recognize the PYD as a terrorist organization. We recognize Turks do," Kirby told reporters, while maintaining that the US and Turkey are "good friends."
The incident comes amid Turkey’s repeated attempts to keep Kurdish groups out of the Syrian peace talks. Both the United States and Russia have called the PYD one of the most effective ground forces fighting Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State, in Syria.
Turkey has repeatedly rebuffed attempts to include the PYD, deliberately stalling the Syrian peace talks.
"Turkey will be supporting any initiative for a political solution in Syria, except the only criteria we want is that [..] there should not be any representation of terrorist groups around the table."

Syrian Kurds backed by Russian airstrikes advance on Syrian airbase
By Rudaw, 10-2-2016

Syrian Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) fighters launched an attack on Syria's Mannagh airbase on Wednesday. The base has been held by fighters opposed to the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad since August 2013. The Kurds are being backed in this endeavour by Russian airstrikes.
The Russians are currently helping the Syrian military and allied militias surround opposition-held districts in the northern city of Aleppo and cut them off from the nearby northwestern Syrian frontier with Turkey.
An opposition commander named Maj. Yasser Abdul-Rahim told the Associated Press that his forces may lose the base to the YPG given the intense Russian airstrikes being leveled against them.

The ongoing Russian-Syrian offensive in Aleppo is giving the YPG in the northwestern canton of Afrin a chance to expand and relieve their enclave from attack by Islamists like Jabhat al-Nusra. Many Syrians fleeing the current ongoing Russian bombardments in Aleppo have sought sanctuary in that Kurdish area.
Turkey has long opposed Afrin joining up with Syria's other northeastern Kurdish majority areas since the 60 miles which lies between Afrin and Kobani is inhabited by non-Kurdish peoples, primarily Arabs and Turkmen.
Syria's Kurds have remained neutral in the war when it comes to siding with either the opposition or Assad. It has however fought Islamist elements of the opposition, like the aforementioned Nusra, which has sought to either kill or subjugate them.

Turkish President slams US over support for Syrian Kurds
By Rudaw, 10-2-2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned US help for Syrian Kurds and warned that American’s support for the Syrian Kurdish opposition groups will turn the region “into a pool of blood.”
“Are you on our side or the side of the terrorist PYD and PKK organization?” said Erdogan in one of his fiercest remarks so far against the US on Wednesday, according to BBC.
"We have written proof! We tell the Americans: 'It's a terror group.' But the Americans stand up and say: 'No, we don't see them as terror groups'," he added.
Turkey sees the PYD and YPG as the Syrian Kurdish arm-wing of the banned PKK group in Turkey and worries that they will provoke Kurdish separatism among its own Kurdish population. Ankara is also afraid that arms given to the Syrian Kurds will reach the PKK fighters through border.
The US believes that PYD and its military wing the Peoples Protection Units (YPG) are an effective force against Islamic State group in Syria.

Malcolm Hoenlein: American Jews are ignorant,
"They don't know where the Kotel is"
By Ari Soffer, Arutz Sheva 7-2-2016

Arutz Sheva sat down with Malcolm Hoenlein (vice-chairman of the Conference of presidents of American Jewish Organizations). According to Hoenlein, a longtime active supporter of (Zionist) Israel and (Zionist) Israeli causes, the greatest threat to American Jewry's relationship with the Jewish state is "ignorance, including many of our own Jewish children who go to the best day schools."
The Jewish education system in the US has to do more to explain the importance of the (Zionist) State of Israel to American Jews, and work harder to foster a sense of affinity with their Israeli brethren from a young age, Hoenlein said.

As for Israel's recent overture towards Diaspora Jews, in the form of a controversial arrangement allowing for non-Orthodox prayer at the Kotel (Temple Mount), Hoenlein praised the initiative as a "positive" one in building bridges between Israel and the Diaspora.
But he emphasized again that a far greater issue than inclusiveness at the Kotel was the fact that many American Jews were too ignorant or indifferent to even care about the issue: "I think for many...they haven't visted the Kotel. They don't know where it is," he lamented....

Wikipedia info: "The Presidents' Conference and AIPAC work together, with all members of the conference sitting on AIPAC's executive committee, which is distinct from its board of directors. The two organizations follow a clear division of labor. The conference focuses on the executive branch of the U.S. government, while AIPAC lobbies in Congress."

Ignorance: the enemy of science and logic

Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of - rational, objective - knowledge).
The word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and is often used to describe individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts. Ignorance is distinguished from stupidity, although both can lead to "unwise" acts.

Individuals with superficial - irrational - knowledge of a topic or subject may be worse off than people who know absolutely nothing.
As Charles Darwin observed, "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge." Ignorance can stifle learning, especially if the ignorant person believes that he or she is not ignorant.
A person who falsely believes he or she is knowledgeable will not seek out clarification of his or her beliefs, but rather rely on his or her ignorant position. He or she may also reject valid but contrary information, neither realizing its importance nor understanding it.

Gnosis: the rational alternative

Gnosticism is a system of re-interpretation that attempts to rationalize the Spiritual with natural logic or reason. The word Gnosticism in its root means "knowledge."
Philosophy forms the basis of reason for the new spiritualism that is based in Gnosticism. Together, philosophy and Gnosticism unite to form religions, based upon human engineering.
In Gnosticism, logic and reason is the source of revelation. In Gnosticism everything is subject to man's approval and acceptance, whereas, in orthodox religion, everything is subject to faith in that which is already revealed through the Scriptures.
Jesus (a man of faith but also a brilliant intellectual teacher) comes as a revealer, a bringer of Gnosis, an opener of doors. He is the destroyer of illusions and idols. He works to shatter the prison that locks the true Self into the body and awaken the light which is hidden within the heart of man.
In our culture and among Christians as well, Jesus is automatically disassociated from brilliance or intellectual capacity. Not one in a thousand will spontaneously think of him in conjunction with words such as "well-informed," "brilliant," or "smart."

Al-Jubeir: NO to interference in Saudi Arabia's internal affairs
YES to interference in Syria's internal affairs
Arab News (Saudi Arabia). 11-2-2016

RABAT: Morocco has expressed “complete solidarity” with Saudi Arabia against any threats to the stability of the Gulf region.
We are in complete solidarity with Saudi Arabia confronting any interference in its internal affairs,” said Salaheddine Mezouar, Moroccan foreign minister, during a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir on Wednesday.
Mezouar emphasized that Rabat stands with Riyadh against threats to the Gulf region’s peace, and said that the Saudi-led military operation which began in Yemen last year “proved that it was launched to defend legitimacy” in the country. He said Rabat “rejects sectarianism and interference in states’ internal affairs.”

Al-Jubeir: Our King is 'god' - Assad is the devil

Al-Jubeir, meanwhile, reiterated that there is no place for President Bashar Assad’s in the future of Syria.
He said: “Of course, there is Plan B in case the political process fails in Syria,” without elaborating.
He said Saudi Arabia would be willing to commit special forces to Syria should the international coalition decide to deploy ground troops against Daesh. “We will discuss details with experts from the countries involved to decide on the nature of the participation,” Al-Jubeir told reporters.
Al-Jubeir was on his first visit to Morocco as foreign minister.

Bashar al-Assad: YES to Arabism & Independence,
NO to colonialism & Slavery - Uruknet, 10-1-2012

The social structure of the Arab world, with its large diversity, is based on two strong and integrated pillars: Arabism and Islam. Both of them are great, rich and vital. Consequently, we cannot blame them for the wrong human practices. Furthermore, the Muslim and Christian diversity in our country is a major pillar of our Arabism and a foundation of our strength. ...
We should always know that Arabism is an identity not a membership. Arabism is an identity given by history not a certificate given by an organization. Arabism is an honor that characterizes Arab peoples not a stigma carried by some pseudo-Arabs on the Arab or world political stage. ...
The last thing in Arabism is race. Arabism is a question of civilization, a question of common interests, common will and common religions. It is about the things which bring about all the different nationalities which live in this place.
The strength of this Arabism lies in its diversity not in its isolation and not in its one colordness. Arabism hasn’t been built by the Arabs. Arabism has been built by all those non-Arabs who contributed to building it and those who belong to this rich society in which we live. Its strength lies in its diversity. ...
The strength of our Arabism lies in openness, diversity and in showing this diversity not integrating it to look like one component. Arabism has been accused for decades of chauvinism. This is not true. If there are chauvinistic individuals, this doesn’t mean that Arabism is chauvinistic. It is a condition of civilization.

As for our relations with the West, they talk about an international community. This international community is a group of big colonial countries which view the whole world as an arena full of slaves who serve their interests....
The West is still colonial in one way or another. It is changing from an old colonizer to a modern colonizer and from a modern colonizer during the Sykes-Picot agreement to a contemporary colonizer. It has different forms and shapes but it will never change, which means that we have to turn to the East. We, as a state, started this procedure several years ago, and my visits during the recent years fell under that initiative in one way or another. ..

"It was all about revenge"
The never-ending Arab Spring
Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, Arab News (Saudi-Arabia), 11-2-2016

It seems as if somebody has pushed the Arab world into a bottomless pit of violence and unrest.
The so-called 'Arab spring' revolutions started jolting the region around five years ago and its aftershocks continue to shake the Arab world until today...
This so-called Arab Spring began on Dec. 18, 2010. It all began in Tunisia in a very dramatic manner and subsequently took Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria almost by surprise. The winds of that so-called change not only swept across the Arab world but also threatened the entire world. During these five years, the world has witnessed the emergence of the biggest threat to the regional and global security and stability.
Since the start of the Arab Spring many countries across the Arab world have seen riots, violent and peaceful demonstrations and full-scale civil wars.
Arab Spring was supposed to bring about political and social change in a country. It was meant to usher in a new era of democracy, social equality, prosperity and an end to endemic corruption. But, as it turned out, the countries that were plagued with the Arab Spring saw more corruption, more social inequality and much more violence.

'spring' in libya 2011-2012

In the past few years, the region saw the rise of the most atrocious terrorist organizations and saw open interventions by foreign powers.
The destruction of this magnitude and atrocities of this nature are never seen before anywhere in the world. Atrocities committed by and among people who used to be friends and neighbors.
The more killings and atrocities, there will be bigger scars that may take decades to heal.
Now, it is time for all the warring sides to set their personal interests aside and to give priority to the wellbeing of their respective countries and their people.
We are seeing countries that are swept by the Arab Spring sinking into chaos that will eventually end but after many more casualties...
Arab Spring was not about democracy and social equality it was all about revenge.
Countries in the area have become unsafe due to foreign interventions. We must seek ways to end this cycle of violence.

Rouhani: Certain Powers after New Iranophobia Campaign
FARS News Agency, 11-2-2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that certain powers are still after launching a new campaign of Iranophobia against Iran.
He went on to state that the biggest outcome of the nuclear deal was to prove to the world community that the Iranophobia project was just a smear campaign. "Iranians are a peace-loving nation; they have never invaded or threatened to invade any neighboring country for centuries."
We made it clear to the world that they need to opt for the policy of mutual respect and not sanctions and threats vis-à-vis Iran, and that once respected, Iran would show it is more than willing to sit for talks with the world powers to resolve any complex political-legal issue," he added.
“However, some powers still insist on a new Iranophobia campaign to derail the international talks. After the nuclear deal, and once sanctions were about to lifted, they came up with a myriad of excuses to back their smear campaign, using false slogans such as 'Iran seeking regional domination or Iran having under its control several regional capitals,'” he added.

According to President Rouhani, Iran has no intention to interfere in the internal affairs of any country, “what’s important is to be at the forefront of the war on terrorism and extremism, ensure regional peace and security, and rid the world of violence and extremism under the banner of the United Nations.”
He further noted that the Iranian military advisors are in Iraq and Syria upon official requests from their governments...
In conclusion, Rouhani said post-sanctions Iran was more than ever ready to broaden relations with the world countries in economic, scientific, technological and commercial domains.

Syria's Minister of National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar:
Russia helps mediate local deals with rebels in Syria
By Tom Perry and Laila Bassam, Reuters, February 10, 2016

Russian mediators are helping the Syrian government to broker deals with rebels seeking to lay down their weapons or to relocate to insurgent strongholds, as Moscow plays a role underwriting local truces with besieged opposition fighters.
National reconciliation minister Ali Haidar also said escalating military pressure was forcing more rebels to seek out deals that have resulted in some moving from areas of Damascus and Homs to insurgent strongholds in Idlib and Raqqa.

"The truth is that since the presence of the Russians on Syrian land, they can play the role of mediator in some areas," Haidar said at his offices in Damascus. "Sometimes it is the militants who request mediation by the Russians..."
Those wishing to relocate wanted guarantees of safe passage to rebel strongholds, and those wishing to stay wanted to be sure they wouldn't be killed later on, he said.
Haidar described the process as purely Syrian even if there had at times been help from Russia since the start of its intervention in the war.
"It isn't the mediation that plays the important role. The important role is the achievements of the army in military operations, closing the path in front of these groups. The horizons are closed and this is what makes them head toward the other solution," he said.

Haidar said contacts had begun with groups in Aleppo, a city divided into zones controlled separately by the government and opposition, with a view to concluding local agreements there. The government has vowed to recapture Aleppo.
"We have started contacts with some of the militant commanders via mediators, we are seeking to arrive at solutions that keep civilians out of any coming military action," Haidar said. "This is happening in the Aleppo countryside, the districts of Aleppo, and rural Homs, and rural Damascus now."

In one local agreement, some 270 gunmen from the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front left the last opposition-held district of Homs for the insurgent stronghold of Idlib in December. The buses were provided by the government. Others have left suburbs of Damascus for both Idlib and Raqqa province, Islamic State's stronghold in Syria.
Haidar said talks were under way for the evacuation of a total of 1,800 militants from suburbs of southern Damascus to both Idlib and Raqqa. He declined to give details because of the sensitivity of the talks.
Haidar described it as a military tactic by insurgents who, feeling that are under pressure, are being forced to move fighters to areas such as Idlib "for the coming battle".
"As their horizons close, and they feel they can no longer wage battles across all Syria, they have started to head toward gathering their forces in certain areas," Haidar said.

World Powers Agree 'Cessation of Hostilities' in Syria
by Naharnet Newsdesk, 12-2-2016

World powers on Friday agreed an ambitious plan to cease hostilities in war-racked Syria within a week and dramatically ramp up humanitarian access at talks in Munich aimed at reviving the struggling peace process.
The 17 countries agreed "to implement a nationwide cessation of hostilities to begin in a target of one week's time," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after extended talks co-hosted by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The International Syria Support Group also agreed "to accelerate and expand the delivery of humanitarian aid beginning immediately".
"Sustained delivery will begin this week, first to the areas where it is most urgently needed... and then to all the people in need throughout the country, particularly in the besieged and hard to reach areas," said Kerry.
Lavrov called "for direct contacts between the Russian and U.S. military" in Syria and said negotiations on a political transition "have to start as soon as possible, without ultimatums and preconditions".
Kerry said the cessation of hostilities -- an intentionally more tentative phrasing than a full ceasefire -- would apply to all groups apart from "the terrorist organisations" of the Islamic State (IS) group and Al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra.

Sergey Lavrov: Russia will carry on its military operation against terrorists in Syria
TASS Russian News Agency, 12-2-2016

The Syrian army backed by Russian warplanes unblocked Aleppo from the east, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after the talks on Syria settlement in Munich. The minister stressed that Russia would carry on with its air military operations against terrorists as they are not subject to truce in Syria.
"It is stated in our documents - and we talked about it - that ceasefire will not include Islamic State, Jebhat al-Nusra and other affiliated organizations that were recognized as terrorist by UN Security Council. That is why our Aerospace Defense Forces will carry on their operation against these organizations," Lavrov said after the meeting of International Syria Support Group at the Munich Security Conference.

"Talking about the task force that will develop the modalities and later monitor observation of a ceasefire with help from the military, I think that it will help effectively solve many issues and resolve misunderstandings and miscommunication," the foreign minister said adding that "we consider this as one of the most important results of the meeting."
Lavrov also dwelled on deliveries of humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria: "We hope the US, countries of the region, and other participants in the Syria Support Group will be using their influence on respective groups of the opposition to have them cooperate fully with the UN."

High-level Russian delegation visits Baghdad to strengthen ties
By Rudaw, 12-2-2016

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin joined the largest Russian delegation in years on an official trip to Iraq on Thursday. Moscow is ready to sell Iraq civil airliners and will continue to provide arms to help it fight the Islamic State (ISIS).
Almost one-hundred business and government officials made-up this delegation, a clear effort on Moscow's part to strengthen its ties with Iraq. Russia has already invested millions in Iraq's energy sector.
After speaking with the Russians Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told reporters, according to Reuters, that, "We need international support from multiple sources, be it from within the international [U.S.-led] coalition or outside of it."
"We need support, training and intelligence-sharing," he added. "Intelligence plays an important role in the war on Daesh [ISIS], and we've been coordinating for a while now with the Russian side to place this information in the hands of Iraqis."

Iraq hosts a coordination room for the so-called Russia-Syria-Iran-Iraq coalition against ISIS in Baghdad's Green Zone. The American coordination center on the other hand is based in Iraqi Kurdistan's autonomous capital Erbil.

"Who will write the history?"
President al-Assad speaks to AFP News Agency
Syrian Arab News Agency, 12 February 2016

Question: How do you feel when you see tens of thousands of your citizens starving, running away from hunger, from their areas, which are being shelled by your Russian allies...?
- President Assad: The cause of this suffering is the terrorists, not the Russian shelling, as claimed by Western media, and another cause for migration is the almost five-year-old embargo against the Syrian people..
That’s why I say the problem of Syrian refugees abroad, as well as the problem of hunger inside Syria, as you referred to it, is a problem caused by terrorism, Western policies, and the embargo imposed on the Syrian people.

- Question: Mr. President, what do you say to those emigrating to Europe? Do you ask them to come back?
- President Assad: I would like to ask every person who left Syria to come back. That’s natural but not enough. Emotions are not enough. They would ask: “why should I come back? Has terrorism stopped? Have the basic requirements for life been restored?”
Many of those who have emigrated are neither against the Syrian state or with the terrorists, but sometimes there are circumstances which force people to emigrate. So, my answer to this question is: when terrorism recedes, and things are better, they will return of their own volition without any invitation. So, instead of asking people to return, I’ll call on the European governments, which have been a direct cause for the emigration of these people, by giving cover to terrorists in the beginning, and through the sanctions imposed on Syria, to help in making the Syrians return to their country.

- Question: Mr. President, can we know who is your main enemy? Is it the so-called moderate opposition and the Islamists, or is it Daesh (ISIS)?
- President Assad: I don’t think that the term “opposition” can be used to describe somebody carrying a weapon. Opposition is a political act.... We respect every political opposition; and we do have political opposition inside Syria. They adopt tough positions against the state, and we are not attacking them.

- Question: I would like to get this straight. As far as you are concerned, there’s no difference between these armed groups, on the one hand, and Daesh (ISIS), al-Nusra, and others, on the other?
- President Assad: Legally speaking, there is no difference. The state will confront all those who carry weapons. It will not ask them about their ideology...
Some of them have laid down their weapons, and some are actually fighting with the Syrian Army today. We grant them amnesty in return for laying down their weapons.

- Question: Mr. President, do you think that there might be a Turkish intervention in Syria now? And do you think the Saudi threats are serious?
- President Assad: Logically, intervention is not possible, but sometimes reality is at odds with logic, particularly when there are irrational people leading a certain state. That’s why I don’t rule that out for a simple reason: Erdogan is a fanatical person with Muslim Brotherhood inclinations... He believes that he has an Islamist mission in our region. The same applies to Saudi Arabia. The collapse of the terrorists in Syria is a collapse of their policies.

- Question: Mr. President, are you prepared to give northern Syria to the Kurds as a self-rule area after the crisis?
- President Assad: This question is directly related to the Syrian constitution; and as you know, the constitution is not given by the government, all sections of Syrian society have a say in it, and it is put to public referendum. That’s why this should be a national question... All these things are part of the political dialogue in the future; but I would like to stress that the Kurds are a Syrian national group.

- Question: Mr. President, are you prepared to give Russia and Iran permanent bases on your territory? And in this case, do you fear that Syria will become a satellite to these powers?
- President Assad: Having military bases for any country in Syria does not mean that Syria will become a satellite state to these countries. They do not interfere in issues related to the law, the constitution, nor to politics. In any case, the Russian base exists already, while the Iranians have not asked to have one. But in principle, we do not have a problem.

- Question: Mr. President, you know that there have been many accusations to your government and to you personally, most recently by the UN investigation committee, which accused you of genocide, which is a crime against humanity.
- President Assad: What refutes the reports of these organizations is that they do not provide any evidence, and this is the case in general...
War crimes are committed when orders are given to follow a policy of committing massacres for certain purposes. Had this been true, people would have fled from state-controlled areas to the areas controlled by armed groups. What is happening is the exact opposite: everybody moves to the state-controlled areas.

- Question: Mr. President, how do you think you will figure in history, as a man who saved Syria or a man who destroyed it?
- President Assad: This depends on who will write the history. If it is the West, it will give me all the bad attributes.

Lavrov: "To attack those who have taken your land is necessary"
By Bill Van Auken, World Socialist Website, 13-2-2016

Driving the Munich talks was the shift in the balance of forces within Syria itself... Over the past several days, the Syrian army has largely encircled Aleppo, before the war Syria’s most populous city, half of which fell under the control of the anti-Assad militias. Most critically, it has cut off the principal supply route that brought arms and other support to the Islamist militias, and is close to cutting off a secondary route.
The Western powers and their regional allies, principally Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are hoping that they can use the Munich agreement to blunt the Syrian government advance and salvage their proxy forces on the ground in Syria....

In a press conference announcing the agreement in Munich, Lavrov rejected Kerry’s description of the Syrian government offensive in Aleppo as “aggressive.”
“Well, if liberation of the city that has been taken by illegal armed groups can be qualified as aggression, then, well, yeah, probably,” the Russian foreign minister said. “But to attack those who have taken your land is necessary.”
He charged that Aleppo and its western suburbs had been seized by the al-Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, as well as two allied Islamist sectarian militias, Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham.
Defending the cutting off of the supply route from Turkey, Lavrov noted that a resolution passed by the UN Security Council forbade the supplying of groups deemed terrorist.

Ever since Russia began its air strikes at the end of last September, US and other Western officials have condemned Moscow for targeting opposition forces other than ISIS.
They have proven consistently reticent about naming those whom they objected being targeted, because in most cases they consist of Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters.

Al-Qaeda-led rebels take Idlib's last Syria regime bastion, 29-5-2015

If the deal breaks down, it will most likely be over Washington’s attempt to protect Al Qaeda, the same group that it has portrayed to the American people over the course of more than 15 years as the paramount threat to their security and which has served as the pretext for waging unending wars.

"We (Islamist brigades) are in a collective war with the Kurds"
Ahrar al-Sham leader in Syria says Kurds being used by U.S., Russia and Assad regime
ARA News, February 10, 2016

ALEPPO – The Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham is considered one of the strongest Islamist rebel groups in Syria. After forming a joint operations’ chamber along with al-Qaeda wing in Syria, the Nusra Front, the group was engaged in battles with the Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Aleppo.

Speaking to ARA News in an exclusive interview, Abu Yousef Al-Muhajir, top commander and official spokesman of the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham, accused the Kurds of being used by parties combatting Islamist rebels in Syria.
There is no difference between the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the regime’s troops or the Russian forces, because they all attack us (Islamist rebels),” he said. “The YPG has been combating our forces at the battlefronts in northern Aleppo...”
“The YPG forces are merely a tool in the hands of the Assad regime, Russia and the United States,” Al-Muhajir argued. “U.S. and Russia drop weapons to the Kurdish forces in order to increase chaos on the ground. We have seen how Russian warplanes dropped weapons and other military supplies to the YPG in order to obstacle our progress against the regime’s forces in different areas, including Sheikh Maqsoud district in Aleppo.”
Al-Muhajir said that the Kurdish units have recently cut off the rebels’ supply route in Aleppo. "We (Islamist brigades) are now in a collective war with the Kurds.”

Regarding the Russian intervention in Syria, Al-Muhajir considered the Russian airstrikes as “a desperate attempt to save Assad”.
“We admit that the intensified Russian raids have helped pro-Assad troops to make some gains on the ground, as most of those strikes hit opposition headquarters in Syria, especially in the southern and northern countrysides of Aleppo and the coastal region. All rebel groups have been affected by the Russian airstrikes not only the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham,” he said.
Answering a question by ARA News on the relation between Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, Al-Muhajir said: “Nusra Front is one of the most powerful groups on the ground in Syria, and it had made remarkable gains. Our cooperation with the Nusra Front is limited to forming a joint military chamber in order to coordinate the operations against the regime and its allies.”

Commenting on the ongoing UN-led Syria peace talks in Geneva between delegations from the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime, the official spokesman of the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham said: “
“The Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham and its allies consider the Geneva conference as a conspiracy against the Syrian people. Such talks could never serve the Syrian revolution...."

Turkey shells Kurdish forces, US calls to stop
By Arutz Sheva Staff, 13-2-2016

The Turkish military on Saturday hit targets of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Syrian regime in two separate incidents in response to incoming fire, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.
In line with the rules of engagement, the armed forces shelled targets of the PYD around the town of Azaz in Aleppo province, Anatolia said, quoting a military source.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also appeared to confirm the strikes against the PYD, without giving precise details: "Under the framework of the rules of engagement, we responded to forces in Azaz and around that were posing a threat," he said, quoted by Anatolia while on a visit to the eastern city of Erzincan.
Apparently referring to the PYD, Ahmet Davutoglu called these forces "a terror group which is a branch of the Syrian regime, collaborationist and is complicit in Russian strikes against civilians."

In response to the shelling, the US pressed Turkey on Saturday to halt military strikes on Kurdish and Syrian regime targets in the northern province of Aleppo.

Syrian Kurds reject Turkish demands
Al-Arabiya, Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Syrian Kurdish PYD party on Sunday rejected Turkish demands that allied militia withdraw from positions near the border that are being shelled by Turkish army, and warned that Syrians would resist any Turkish intervention in the country.
Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the PYD, told Reuters Turkey had no right to intervene in Syria’s internal affairs, adding that an air base shelled by the Turkish army on Saturday had been in the hands of the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front until forces allied to the PYD captured it last week....
The Syrian Democratic Forces - a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters - seized a number of villages in the northern province of Aleppo near the Turkish border in recent days, and appears poised to move to the border town of Azaz, an opposition stronghold

Syria condemns Turkish violation of its territory
Damascus, SANA, 14-2-2016

Syria's Foreign Ministry voiced the government’s strong condemnation of Turkey’s repeated attacks on the Syrian people and its transgression into the Syrian territory.
“Turkish artillery shelling of Syrian territory constitutes direct support to the armed terrorist organizations,” the Ministry told the UN Secretary General and the Security Council’s Chairman in two letters addressed to both officials.

The Turkish attacks, the letters said, were coupled with statements made by the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that confirmed Turkey’s blatant intervention in the Syrian affair and the continued Turkish support to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Jabha al-Shamiya, Ahrar al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations.
These statements, the Ministry said, officially attested to the Turkish regime’s premeditated acts of violating the Security Council’s resolutions related to combating terrorism.

Khamenei: Syrian Nation Must Decide about Syria's Future, Not Americans, Europeans
FARS News Agency, 14-2-2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's Spiritual Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a meeting with visiting Ghanaian President John Mahama in Tehran on Sunday underlined Syrians' exclusive right to decide about their own fate and cautioned the western countries to stop interfering in their internal affairs.
"The Americans and the Europeans cannot decide for the Syrian nation. It is the Syrian nation who should decide about its own future..."
Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated that the arrogant powers' interests are the main cause of creating insecurity and waging wars in different parts of the world...
Iran's Supreme Leader pointed to President Mahama's statements about Syria's suffering from terrorism, and asked how a large amount of advanced weapons and cash are supplied to terrorists. "The arrogant powers led by the US are the root of all problems and the Zionist regime is the manifestation of evil."

Ayatollah Khamenei hailed the independent-seeking campaigns of some African personalities against colonial powers, and said, "These prominent personalities have upheld the African identity in the world." President Mahama is the first African president visiting Iran after implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. He is accompanied by a number of ministers and private sector businessmen.
Ghana and relations with the Islamic Republic date back to the co–founding of the Non-Aligned Movement by the 1st President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah in 1961.

2011 libya info: page 11 & page 12

Flashback 2012: Interview with Mohammad Marandi,
professor at the University of Tehran.

- Press TV: Professor Marandi [..], do you think that the majority of people realize what is going on in Syria?
- Marandi: Well, obviously the media has been completely one-sided and every massacre that were taking place in Syria before even any evidence being provided, the Western media would immediately blame the [Syrian] government...
Not only is the Western media completely biased and providing a one sided story but they are also helping atrocities being carried out by blaming the [Syrian] government for things they have no information about and for, basically, keeping silent about atrocities carried out by the opponents of the government. (Press TV 30-8-2012)

Seyed Mohammad Marandi is an assistant professor of English Literature at the University of Tehran and head of Department of North American Studies. He is also an honorary research fellow in the Department of American and Canadian Studies, University of Birmingham.

"There is no chosen people on this earth"
Amy DePaul interviews Seyed Mohammad Marandi
Guernica, 5-2-2008

- Guernica: In an interview with Matt Lauer of NBC, you mentioned President Ahmadinejad being mistranslated on some of the things he has said about Israel. How was he mistranslated?
- Seyed Mohammad Marandi: President Ahmadinejad said that the Zionist state of Israel should no longer exist as a political entity. This has always been the policy of successive Iranian governments such as those of President Khatami and President Rafsanjani.
In general, Iranians believe that all Palestinians have the right to return home and that there is no chosen people on this earth, whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian.
Iran had the same policy towards apartheid South Africa and at the time when it was supporting and funding the ANC [African National Congress] among other groups in South Africa, these groups were also considered to be terrorist organizations by many western governments...

- Guernica: What’s the most important point you’d like Americans to know about Iran?
- Seyed Mohammad Marandi: Americans should know that Iranians are just as decent, human and rational as other human beings. Sadly, the mainstream media in the U.S. regularly fails to recognize and reflect this.

Ryad Hijab: "We need actions, not words"
Al-Arabiya|AP, 15 February 2016

The head of the Saudi-backed Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee, former Prime Minister Riad Hijab, criticized Russia on Sunday for continuing with its bombing in Syria, insisting that people in the country need to see action rather than words.
Diplomats from a group of countries that have interests in Syria’s five-year civil war, including the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, agreed on Friday to seek a temporary “cessation of hostilities” within a week. They also agreed to “accelerate and expand” deliveries of humanitarian aid to besieged Syrian communities beginning this week.
The truce deal in Munich comes as Syrian government forces, aided by a Russian bombing campaign, are trying to encircle rebels in Aleppo, the country’s largest city, and cut off their supply route to Turkey.
Hijab questioned whether the continued fighting by Russia was “a seriously acceptable position to the international community”... “We have gotten used to conferences and words put into hope, but what we need is action — and the action that I see is that Russia is killing Syrian civilians,” Hijab told the Munich Security Conference..

Speaking before Hijab, senior Republican Sen. John McCain sharply criticized the temporary truce deal, arguing that Russia is engaging in “diplomacy in the service of military aggression.”
“Let’s be clear about what this agreement does: it permits the assault on Aleppo to continue for another week. It requires opposition groups to stop fighting, but it allows Russia to continue bombing terrorists — which it insists is everyone, even civilians,” said McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The (ultra) right-wing anti-revolution

mccain & abdelhakim belhadj, libya 2012 - ryad hijab in daraa 2012 - mccain & fsa, al-qaeda, isis-leaders 2013

Belhadj’s forces play a significant role in the Islamist “Libyan Dawn” coalition, which includes the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda’s Ansar al-Sharia (Global Research info).

Ryad Hijab defected to Jordan on 6 August 2012. Hijab released a statement through Otari criticizing the current Syrian government, calling it a "terrorist regime". The statement declared "I am from today a soldier in this blessed revolution". (Wikipedia)

"In the case of Daraa, and the attacks that moved to Homs and surrounding areas in April 2011, the clearly stated aim was once again to topple the secular or ‘infidel-Alawi’ regime. The front-line US collaborators were Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
The head of the Syrian Brotherhood, Muhammad Riyad Al-Shaqfa, issued a statement on 28 March which left no doubt that the group’s aim was sectarian. The statement called for the overthrow of the Syrian government. The enemy was ‘the secular regime’ and Brotherhood members ‘have to make sure that the revolution will be pure Islamic, and with that no other sect would have a share of the credit after its success’ (Global Research 2015)

Muslim Brotherhood Statement of Support to the People of Syria (februari 2012)

We – the Muslim Brotherhood – declare that we have got enough from the politics of the Baath-Regime and his infidel supporters in the past years. We declare, it is enough after all what we have faced from killing, arresting and displacement against our leaders and followers.
It is time for us to come back home and rule Syria under our principles that come from Islam (Sharia), these principles that have been brought back to life by the greatest renewer of the 20th century Imam Hassan Al-Banna – Allah’s mercy on him.
It is time for our forbidden party to come back home, and there is no way to achieve that goal without igniting and supporting the revolution inside Syria. (Truth about Syria blog)

"We will not stop at this point [i.e., “freeing Egypt from secularism and modernity”],
but will pursue this evil force to its own lands, invade its Western heartland, and struggle to overcome it..."

Hasan al-Banna

The Muslim Brotherhood organisation entered Syria in 1936 thanks to Mustafa al-Siba’i, a pupil of Banna, who returned from Cairo after studying at Al-Azhar Mosque. A major shift took place in 1973, when the Vanguard Fighters, the Brotherhood’s armed wing, was established to change the Ba’athist secular government by force of arms and establish an Islamic state in Syria.
A violent rebellion conducted in Syria during the late 1970s and into the 1980s left bloody memories of doctors, academics, and army officers assassinated by Muslim Brothers, along with the massacres they carried out against civilians in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama... (Saddam's Death, page 46)

Syrian army and allies restored security on areas in Daraa
Syrian Free Press Network, 15-2-2016

Army and Armed Forces units restored security to the eastern part of al-Bajabja neighborhood in Daraa al-Balad area in Daraa city after eliminating large numbers of terrorists affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra, including some of the terrorists’ leaders, and destroying their munitions and equipment, a military source told SANA.
Earlier, the source said the army carried out operations in Daraa al-Balad area in Daraa city, which resulted in destroying terrorists’ hotbeds, bases, and vehicles in al-Bajabja neighborhood, the western part of al-Menshiye neighborhood, the surroundings of the air defense battalion, the old customs building, al-Bado alley, al-Karak neighborhood, and Wadi al-Zaidi.
An army unit carried out a precise operaiton which targeted terrorists’ concentrations in al-Naima town east of Daraa city, killing most members of a terrorist group there.

Terrorists acknowledged on their social media pages that the army operations in Daraa al-Balad resulted in the death of a number of their members including Wael Mohammad al-Masalmeh, in addition to reporting that a number of their leaders were killed when a landmine exploded and destroyed a car that was transporting them.
The dead terrorist leaders are Ahmad Fawzi al-Hamidi from Jaish al-Islam, Mohammad Abdelghani al-Hajji al-Mikdad from “Tahrir Bosra” birgade, Majed Mustafa al-Mleihan from “Maghawir al-Lajat” brigade, and Mohammad Abdullah al-Kasour al-Hariri from “Amoud Horan” squad.

Adnan Mansour: “Arab League and Syria… a null role and killing money”
Syrian Arab News Agency, 15 February 2016

The Ministry of Culture held on Monday a ceremony for signing the book “Arab League and Syria… a null role and killing money” written by Adnan Mansour, former Lebanese Foreign Minister at al-Assad National Library in the presence of Vice-President Najah al-Attar.
The book sheds light on the crisis in Syria since its beginning, its track at the United Nations and the Arab League, the role of the regional countries and the Israeli occupation in the crisis, presenting reports on the missions of the Arab observers about the reality of events in Syria and the pressures practiced by Arab and international regimes on the Arab League to adopt resolutions against Syria.
Ali Abdul- Kareem, the Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon said that the book provides documentation on the negative role played by the Arab League against Syria.

Adnan Mansour is a Lebanese diplomat, politician and the former minister of foreign affairs and emigrants. He was born in Borj El Barajneh on 5 January 1946 into a Shi'ite family. He obtained a bachelor's degree in administrative sciences and policies from St. Joseph University in Beirut. He holds a master's degree in political theory and a PhD in political science. He is a member of the AMAL movement.

Belief in man is the earthly dimension of belief in God

The Amal Movement in Lebanon is an extension of a timeless human movement, an expression of man’s hopes for a better life, which drive him to resist all that undermines his life, dulls his talents, or threatens his future. When we attempt to outline the features of this movement, we find:

- First — This movement is founded on belief in man, his freedom, dignity, and nobility, and in his life’s mission, which is the aim of his creation. The truth is that belief in man is the earthly dimension of belief in God, an inseparable dimension consistently affirmed by authentic religious sources.
- Second — We believe in the unity of the human family, and that the gains made by any of her children are the property of all and in the service of all.
- Third — The Amal Movement believes in the citizen’s complete freedom and relentlessly combats despotism, feudalism, authoritarianism, and all forms of discrimination. Our movement rejects sectarianism it and considers it a manifestation of political backwardness in our country.
- Fourth — The movement opposes economic injustice in all its forms, including the formation of monopolies and the exploitation of the individual by which he is transformed into a mere consumer and society into a market of consumption.
- Fifth —The movement believes that the provision of equal opportunities for all citizens is their most basic right, and that the primary duty of the state is to ensure the advancement of social justice.
- Sixth — The Amal Movement is a patriotic movement adhering to the principles of national sovereignty, the indivisibility of the motherland, and the integrity,of her soil. The movement considers adherence to national [pan-Arab] interests, to the liberation of Arab lands, and to freedom for all the Arab people to be one of its patriotic obligations that it will not shirk.
- Seventh — Palestine is in the heart and mind of our movement. The struggle for her liberation is our prime duty.

President al-Assad: "We will not discuss with Saudi-Arabia the Syrian constitution"
SANA, 15 February 2016

President Bashar al-Assad presented a political brief on the latest developments related to the crisis in Syria...
“Any person has the right to oppose the government and its policies, call for changing the government or changing its policies, but, no one has the right to change the State… the State is a need for all,” the President said.
On the proposal of cease-fire, the President said that when the west talks about cease-fire, “I believe the answer is very clear: the term cease-fire happens between armies and states, but it doesn’t go between a state and terrorists, so this term is wrong, it might be a halt for operations, a halt for combatant acts… cease-fire means actually the stop of terrorists’ boosting of their positions, it is not allowed to transport their weapons or munitions, it is not allowed to boost their positions, all of these things are unacceptable.”

When we talk about a political track, the essence of this issue, regardless of their proposals, is who is the partner, this is the question, who is the partner in the political solution, I believe that the answer is very difficult, adding that the delegation which was formed in al-Riyadh is a mixture of terrorists and betrayers.
“If we negotiate with the al-Riyadh delegation, we negotiate with Saudi Arabia - but we will not discuss with them the Syrian constitution. We can discuss the Saudi constitution, like the human rights in Saudi Arabia,” President al-Assad said.

The President added that when the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic goes to the dialogue, it represents each Syrian honest citizen, it represents each combatant in the front-line and it represents every martyr and his family.
President al-Assad affirmed that the real solution, in addition to combating terrorism, is the national reconciliations which have proven a benefit to a great deal, and committing to the constitution.

Saudi Arabia is no state at all.
By Sarah Chayes, Alex de Waal, AINA News, 17-2-2016

For half a century, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the linchpin of U.S. Mideast policy. A guaranteed supply of oil has bought a guaranteed supply of security. Ignoring autocratic practices and the export of Wahhabi extremism, Washington stubbornly dubs its ally "moderate." In a sea of chaos, goes the refrain, the kingdom is one state that's stable. But is it?
In fact, Saudi Arabia is no state at all... There are two ways to describe it: as a political enterprise with a clever but ultimately unsustainable business model, or as a corrupt, sophisticated criminal enterprise.

The Saudi king is CEO of a family business that converts oil into payoffs that buy political loyalty. They take two forms: cash handouts or commercial concessions for the increasingly numerous scions of the royal clan, and a modicum of public goods and employment opportunities for commoners. The coercive "stick" is supplied by brutal internal security services lavishly equipped with American equipment...
The Saudi ruling elite is operating like a sophisticated criminal enterprise, when populations everywhere are making insistent demands for government accountability.
Saudi Arabia's political and business elites are interwoven in a monopolistic network, quantities of unaccountable cash leaving the country for private investments and lavish purchases abroad, and state functions bent to serve these objectives..

Increasingly, Saudi citizens are seeing themselves as citizens, not subjects...
For the moment, it is largely Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority that is voicing political demands. But the highly educated Sunni majority is unlikely to stay satisfied forever with a few favors doled out by geriatric rulers impervious to their input.

For decades, Riyadh has eased pressure by exporting its dissenters--like Osama bin Laden--fomenting extremism across the Muslim world. But that strategy can backfire: bin Laden's critique of Saudi corruption has been taken up by others and resonates among many Arabs...

Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood cuts ties with Egypt's parent group
Ahram online|AP, Monday 15 Feb 2016

Jordan's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood has formally cut ties with the region-wide movement based in Egypt, a spokesman said Monday.
The decision is the latest setback for the wider Brotherhood, once seen as the main political beneficiary of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings but hit hard in recent years by government crackdowns.
The Jordanian branch has undergone several splits over the past year, with breakaway groups emphasizing a domestic agenda.
Three relatively pragmatic groups have broken away from the more hawkish Brotherhood core group and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front, over the past year.
The original core group decided late last week, in a meeting of its main decision-making body, or Shura Council, to change its bylaws and cut ties with the parent movement, said a spokesman, Moath Khawaldeh.
"On Thursday, the Shura Council met and amended the basic law, disconnecting the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan from Egypt," he said.
Egypt's Brotherhood, from which ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi hails, is declared a terrorist organisation in the country.

Muslim Brotherhood Anti-Coup Youth Statement
IkhwanWeb, February 9, 2016

The despotic repressive regime, which now kills, rapes, assassinates and abducts innocent civilians every day, in all streets and squares of Egypt, will certainly be ousted. Young people of this homeland will topple the putschist regime. Our blood will be a curse on coup commanders and collaborators, until retribution is exacted.
We say to the putschist traitors, murderers and criminals… The martyrs' blood will not be laid to waste. Victory for the January 25, 2011 Revolution is inevitable. (Anti-Coup Youth, Cairo: Monday – February 8, 2016)

Muslim Brotherhood 23-1-2016: "No Compromise, No Reconciliation with Murderous Coup Regime"

Waiting for the return of the Rule of Law
Libya's conflict has left 1.9 million people with serious health needs
Middle East Online, 16-2-2016

TRIPOLI - Five years after the uprising began against Moamer Gaddafi, many Libyans have lost hope of seeing the rule of law return to a divided country threatened by jihadist expansion...
As Libya on Wednesday marks five years since [the jihadist rebellion] began, its people are still waiting for a panel elected in February 2014 to draft a constitution....
With anniversary preparations under way in Tripoli's Martyrs Square, the mood remains gloomy among many residents.
"The last five years have been nothing but one mistake after another," said Karima Leguel, a bank employee in her fifties. "Our daily lives have become increasingly difficult. We have to plough on despite the high prices, no proper health care, long power cuts and -- recently -- no cash at the bank."

Libya's conflict has left 1.9 million people with serious health needs in a country that lacks medical professionals, medicines and vaccines, the World Health Organization said last month.
No foreign airline has flown to Tripoli since its airport was destroyed in summer 2014, and few countries allow Libyan aircraft to land on their soil.

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako: 1-7-2014
"What do we have now? Confusion, anarchy and chaos."

The Americans made a lot of mistakes. The current situation is their fault. Why replace a regime by something even worse?
This is what happened after 2003. The Americans deposed a dictator. But what do we have now? Confusion, anarchy and chaos. The same thing has happened in Libya and Syria.
If you want to change the situation here you have to educate the people in the schools, media and mosques in matters of freedom, democracy and the construction of their own country.
Under the old regime prior to 2003 we had no denominational problems. We were all Iraqis. Now we talk about Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Arabs and Kurds... Perhaps in the present context we need in the Middle East a strong leader who is at the same time just and not only looking out for his family or tribe.

Kurds, SDF allies advance against al-Qaeda in Syria’s Aleppo despite Turkish strikes
ARA News, Syria, February 16, 2016

Syria - ALEPPO: Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), backed by allied rebels from the western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made new gains in Syria’s northern Aleppo province on Monday evening. The YPG and SDF allies captured large parts of the Tel Rafaat town in the northern countryside of Aleppo, military sources reported.
The Kurdish advance comes amid continuous shelling by the Turkish army on YPG’s positions in northern Aleppo for the third consecutive day. Turkey’s bombardment on the Kurdish positions was considered as a direct support to Syrian Islamist groups, including Nusra Front–al-Qaeda wing in Syria.

“Our forces have cut off the Azaz-Tel Rafaat road after fierce clashes with militants of Nusra Front and the Islamic Movement Ahrar al-Sham,” SDF spokesman Ahmed al-Omar said. “Today’s gains will enable the YPG and allied SDF units to make larger gains against the Islamists in the northern countryside of Aleppo in the coming days.”

In the meantime, Kurdish spokesman Hebun Osman told ARA News that dozens of young men in Tel Rafaat have joined the ranks of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces after regaining control of the town and its surroundings from the fist of the Islamists.
“The local support by the people of Tel Rafaat and other parts of northern Aleppo to the SDF reflects the bitter conditions those people had to encounter under the control of the Turkey-backed Islamists,” the official said.

UNSC urges Turkey to 'comply with intl law' in Syria
Russia Today, 16 Feb, 2016

Following a briefing requested by Russia, the UN Security Council has urged Ankara to comply with international law in Syria.
“UN Security Council members are concerned with the Turkish attacks on a number of Syrian regions,” Venezuelan Ambassador Rafael Ramirez, who now chairs the UNSC, said after the meeting, as cited by TASS.
The UN Security Council received a letter from the Syrian government in which Damascus condemned Turkey’s attacks in the north of Syria, Ramirez explained, noting that the entire council expressed “concern” about these violations.
"All members of the Security Council ... agreed to ask for Turkey to comply with international law," he added.
The UNSC president highlighted the need to have Kurds represented in the Syrian peace process, and for Ankara not to escalate the situation even further.
“Something that is important – the Kurds are fighting against the terrorist groups on the ground and this is an important factor for everybody,” Ramirez emphasized.

Who are the real Syrian opposition?
Professor Tim Anderson, Global Research, 14-2-2016

-- Firstly, they are the groups that created the 2005 Damascus Declaration but who sided with the state and the army in early 2011, when the Salafist insurrection hijacked the reform demonstrations.
Some of them like Haytham Manna and former minister Qadri Jamil appeared in Geneva. Others like the powerful Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) backed Bashar al Assad’s government, back in 2011. Still others sat on the sidelines, frustrated at the Muslim Brotherhood’s violent hijacking of the reform movement.
As the Damascus Declaration made plain, most of the Syrian opposition rejected both foreign sponsorship and violent attacks on the state.
-- Second are the Syrian Kurds, who were open to foreign assistance but rejected attacks on the Syrian Army and state. They have received most of their arms from Damascus. Prefering to side with the Syrian Army than the Salafists, their presence in Geneva was not tolerated by Erdogan or his clients.

The aims of the two big powers are worlds apart.
The US wanted to control the entire region...
Russia for its part has pursued its own interests in the region, backing its allies in accordance with international law. Its use of air power in Syria followed the Syria-Iran-Iraq-Hezbollah accord on ground power forces. That is the force currently prevailing on Syrian soil.
The good news is that, despite these widely differing aims, Washington and Moscow have kept talking and managed a provisional agreement at Geneva, with three heads.
The first agreement is over humanitarian aid... Second, there is a political process which (it has been agreed) must be exclusively between Syrians, unconditional and inclusive. The Syrian position, backed by Russia, is that the Syrian constitution (and the legally mandated schedule of elections) prevails until the Syrian people vote to change it.
Finally the agreement on ‘cessation of hostilities’, due almost immediately, has a task force to oversee the details. This ceasefire does not apply to any group identified by the UN Security Council as a terrorist group.

The Damascus Declaration was a statement of unity by Syrian opposition figures issued in October 2005. It criticized the Syrian government as "authoritarian, totalitarian and cliquish," and called for a gradual and peaceful transition to democracy and the equality of all citizens in a secular and sovereign Syria, "founded on accord, and based on dialogue and recognition of the other."
The five-page document was signed by more than 250 opposition figures as well as parties "both secular and religious, Arab and Kurdish." The statement called for a "fair solution for the Kurdish issue in Syria in a way that insures the equality of Kurds with all other Syrian citizens".
It proved difficult to reconcile the demands of secular and leftist (anti-US and pro-Arabism) parties - 'the reformists' - with those of the pro-Washington and (Muslim Brotherhood dominated) Islamist parties - 'the radicals'- and divisions continued to plague the coalition.

Haytham Manna, 8-10-2011:
"I believe that at most, 10 percent of Syrian society supports the Muslim Brotherhood. I do not understand why they are clambering for more representation. I hope that they will be wise and rational enough to see that it is not in their interest or the interest of the revolution for them to exaggerate their role in the Syrian uprising." "The Syrian people are believers, but they don’t want any religious ideology to influence their constitution or their future."
"It is no secret to anyone that America absolutely does not want to support a revolution which seeks secular democratic change in the Arab world."
"I believe it is my duty today to create a strong, civil, national, democratic axis, as it is the only guarantee for the revolution’s success. If the revolution becomes Islamized, it will fail; if it becomes sectarian, it will fail; and if it becomes militarized, it will fail..." (Al-Akhbar, 8-10-2011)

Syrian Catholic bishop : "Syrian people support Moscow's anti-terror campaign"
Russia Today, 18 Feb, 2016

The majority of Syrian people support Moscow's anti-terror campaign, Reverend Georges Abou Khazen said in an interview with RT, adding that it's not only military assistance, but the promotion of peace process by Russia that they pin their hopes on.
"We see Russia's military operation as a real effort to fight terrorism. What is especially important is that this military campaign goes in parallel with promotion of peace process..." "We really hope that the peace process will soon prevail over fighting all across Syria."
"The majority of Syrian people" of all backgrounds and faith "regard Russian military campaign as salvation, a way out of the state we've been enduring for five years," the Catholic bishop said, adding that "Syrians are very positive about it."
Noting that there are over 20 religious and ethnic groups in the Syrian society, the Aleppo vicar said that before the conflict they've all lived in harmony. "Our pre-war society was like a beautiful multicolored mosaic. But unfortunately, it has been destroyed," he said.


Describing the harsh conditions that his congregation and other Syrians have been living in, the vicar said that there is no electricity in Aleppo and water supplies have been disrupted. "The lack of water is what has really made our lives harder," he said, adding that people have been living without water supplies for over a month now.
Many families have fled the violence and the conditions caused by constant fighting, Bishop Abou Khazen told RT, but added: "In light of recent military advances in the Aleppo region, we hope that tension will ease and situation in the city will improve."

Turkey & Saudi Arabia:
Spending billions, only for everything to go wrong
By Jeremy Salt, Palestine Chronicle, 18-2-2016

As the Syrian army advances on Raqqa and seals off supply routes to the armed gangs inside Aleppo, no surprise that there is another spike in the propaganda war, this time directed against Russia.
Frustration and anger is driving Turkish cross-border shelling of Kurdish and Syrian army positions. Yet in many respects Turkey only has itself to blame.

aleppo 2012: investing in plunder & robbery

In helping to destroy the authority of the Syrian government, Turkey created a power vacuum that was filled in the north by takfiri armed groups and the Kurds.
Had Turkey not joined the effort to destroy the government in Damascus it would not be in this position. It thus therefore shares the responsibility for what it is now calling a threat to Turkey’s security...
The ascendancy of the Syrian Kurds is only part of a spectacularly bad picture for Turkey. Whether Erdogan and Davutoglu were badly advised, whether they ignored the advice they were given five years ago, or whether this policy was all their own idea, intervention in Syria has been the greatest policy failure in Turkey’s history.

Backed by Russian air power and supported by Iran and Hezbollah the Syrian military is now in the ascendancy across the country. It is capturing key positions in the north and the south every day. Every victory only adds to the anger and frustration in Ankara and Riyadh...
The cross-border shelling does not appear to have intimidated the Kurds. Davutoglu announces that they will withdraw from their positions around Azaz but the Syrian Kurdish leader, Salih Muslim, says they will not...
Turkey has now entered into some kind of alliance with Saudi Arabia... Saudi Arabia has sent planes to the US/NATO air base at Incirlik in southeastern Turkey in preparation for a war in which its role would be entirely inconsequential. Even in Yemen it has to rely on Arab ‘allies’ and mercenaries because its own armed forces are not up to the job.
Like the Turkish government the Saudi regime has invested heavily in the Syrian war, spending billions on supporting its proxies, only for everything to go wrong...
Were the US and its allies to accept defeat the war could soon be over....

The ability of the Syrian government and military to withstand the violent assault of the past five years is a tremendous development. Like iron tempered by fire, Syria will emerge from this ordeal stronger than before. These are historic moments for the Middle East...

Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East.