A “LION EAGER” TO TEAR SYRIA TO PIECES
by Manlio Dinucci
While the Heads of State and Government of the G8 noted their disagreement on Syria, the NATO powers and the GCC are conducting “Eager Lion” war games in Jordan. Their aim is to set up an attack to be launched from the Jordan desert against the Syrian air force to prevent it from flying over a zone that has become a safe haven for the international jihadists. However, contrary to NATO declarations, this cannot be done without the approval of the Security Council.
hen Italian President Giorgio Napolitano met HM King Abdullah II last year in Jordan he expressed “the high regard with which Italy observes how the Hashemite dynasty has always pursued its desire for peace and its moderate line.”
It is surely in this spirit that Italy is participating in the “Eager Lion” exercise in progress June 9-20 in Jordan under U.S. command. Nineteen countries are taking part, united by a “common purpose to strengthen regional security and stability.”
A stability threatened, no doubt, by the Syria of Assad that is allegedly using chemical weapons to crush the rebellion. The “evidence” was provided by the CIA, the same CIA that ten years ago provided the photographic documentation, shown by Colin Powell to the Security Council, of Iraq possessing 500 tons of chemical and biological weapons and mobile laboratories for biological warfare. Afterwards it was discovered, as Powell himself acknowledged, that such weapons did not exist and that the mobile labs were actually gas generators for weather balloons. The die, however, had already been cast: the “evidence” the CIA provided had been used to justify the war against Iraq.
It matters then little, once the war against Syria is won, whether it will be found that it was the “rebels” who used chemical weapons, as Carla Del Ponte of the United Nations Commission on War Crimes stated. In the unquestionable judgment of Washington, Syria has crossed the “red line” and President Obama has reluctantly decided to provide arms to the “rebels.” This hides the fact, as an investigation by The New York Times (March 26) showed, that since January 2012 the CIA has been providing arms to the “rebels,” delivering them with an airlift to Turkey and Jordan and training in those countries the forces infiltrated into Syria.
Against this background “Eager Lion,” a real war exercise with air force, airlifts and naval, amphibious and land forces is taking place, involving more than 8,000 combat troops. Among these is the Italian military, including probably the 185th Regiment of the Reconnaissance Target Acquisition Thunderbolt Brigade. They are side-by-side with troops of exemplary democratic faith, such as the Saudis, Yemenis, Qataris and others.
All follow the orders of the Central Command of the United States, whose “area of responsibility” covers the Middle East and Central Asia (including Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan), plus Egypt. What the real purpose of “Eager Lion” exercise is can be demonstrated by the fact that, once it is over, the Pentagon will leave the F-16 fighters and the Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Jordan. These will add to the U.S., German and Dutch Patriot missiles already deployed in Turkey on the border with Syria.
Everything is ready to set up a “limited no-fly zone,” extending 25 miles inside Syria, which — according to U.S. officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal — will serve to “protect the rebel training camps and the arms supply.” The no-fly zone will be imposed by U.S. jet fighters that, taking off from Jordan and from aircraft carriers, will be able with their missiles to destroy the planes and anti-aircraft defenses of Syria without overflying its territory. The no-fly zone, therefore, “will not require a resolution of the UN Security Council.”
The estimated cost is “just” $50 million per day, which Washington assures us, will also be paid by the Allies. We do not know yet what the Italian share will be, but the government will find the money, squeezing the public coffers and again cutting social spending.
SYRIA: CHAOS, CORRUPTION, GRAND THEFT AND AN EXPERIMENT
On 12th September last year, Syria’s President al-Assad committed to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons, with the caveats that the United States must stop threatening his country and supplying weapons to the terrorists. He has been as good as his word. The same cannot be said for the US and its boot-licking allies.
Three days earlier US Secretary of State John Kerry – who had been killing Vietnamese in the US onslaught on Vietnam as American ‘planes rained down 388,000 tons of chemical weapons on the Vietnamese people (*1) – had threatened Syria with a military strike if the weapons stocks were not surrendered within a week, stating that President Assad: “isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”
The ever trigger-happy Kerry was right on the second count, it can’t be done for two reasons, extracting dangerous chemicals from a war zone is, to massively understate, a foolhardy and hazardous business. Additionally it seems having received Syria’s agreement, the “international community” and the Nobel Peace Prize winning Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had no disposal plan in place and had not a clue what to do with them, whilst at every turn Syria is blamed.
As ever double standards and hypocrisy rule. According to CNN (10th October 2013): “The United States estimates it will be at least another decade before it completes destruction of the remaining 10% of its chemical weapons, estimated at more than 3,100 tons.” And Syria? “U.S. intelligence and other estimates put its chemical weapons stockpile at about 1,000 tons.” they are believed to be “stored in dozens of sites”, in the circumstances a logistical nightmare and a massive danger to the public and those driving them to be insisting on transporting them anywhere.
CNN also quotes Wade Mathews who had worked on “the U.S. project to destroy its chemical stockpile” who doubted that Syria could meet the deadlines. The US operation, he said: “took billions of dollars, the cooperation of many levels of government – including the military – and a safe environment to make sure the destruction was done safely.”
“We had a coordinated effort, we had a government that insisted that it be done safely and that the community was protected … I don’t think those things are in place in Syria.”
Having received Syria’s compliance, the OPCW started shopping around for a country – any country it seems – to destroy the weapons. Norway, approached by the US, was first choice. They declined, since the country had no experience in dealing with chemical weapons, the Foreign Ministry website stating: “… Norway is not the most suitable location for this destruction.” The second country approached was Albania, a request which the country’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said also came direct from the United States.
According to the Berlin-based Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, Albania is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe and the most corrupt in the Balkans, plummeting from a woeful 95 out of the 176 countries monitored in 2011, to 113 in 2012 and 116 in 2013, on their Corruption Perception Index.
In their end of year Report, the Initiative quotes Transparency International: “In Albania corruption is registering a new physiognomy in a favorable political environment, with characteristics like a new systems for money laundering, financing of political parties from illegal activities, the capture of the state through the control of procurement and privatization, human and narcotics trafficking and the impunity of high State officials before the justice system and the law.”(*2)
Protestors against the weapons destruction took to the streets in thousands, some wearing gas masks and protective clothing, protests also took place in neighbouring Macedonia, with rallying outside the Albanian Embassy.
Albania finally rejected with Rana apologetically grovelling to Washington: “Without the United States, Albanians would never have been free and independent in two countries that they are today”, he said referring to Albania and Kosova and the massive March 24th1999 – June 10th1999 NATO and US assault on the former Yugoslavia with depleted uranium weapons which are, of course, both chemical and radioactive. A Science Applications International Report explains re the residue from the weapons: “Soluble forms present chemical hazards, primarily to the kidneys, while insoluble forms present hazards to the lungs from ionizing radiation … short term effects of high doses can result in death, while long term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer.”
In addition to concerns regarding corruption in Albania – terrorist groups would undoubtedly offer high sums for such weapons – safety might surely have been a consideration. In 2008 an explosion at an ammunition storage depot near Albania’s capitol Tirana, killed twenty six people, wounded three hundred and damaged or destroyed five thousand five hundred homes. The disaster was said by investigators to be caused by a burning cigarette – in a depository for 1,400 tons of explosives.
Worse, when Albania was pressured to destroy its own chemical weapons stocks, some tons left over from the Cold War: “The U.S. offered to pay for their destruction and later hired some private company which destroyed the weapon capability of the chemicals but otherwise left a horrendous mess.”
Hazardous waste was left in containers, on a concrete pad, inevitably they started to leak.
“In late 2007-early 2008, the US hired an environmental remediation firm, Savant Environmental, who determined the problem was worse than originally thought. Many of the containers were leaking salts of heavy metals, primarily arsenic, lead and mercury.”
Moreover, the conexes – large, steel-reinforced shipping containers – were not waterproof, thus lethally contaminated condensation and water leakage dissolved some of the contaminants which leaked onto the ground.
“Savant Environmental repackaged the waste and placed it in twenty shipping containers. There it sits, visible from space”, on the concrete pad – in the open.(*3)
All in all, why was Albania considered?
It is surely coincidence that on 3rd October last year, Tony “dodgy Iraq dossier” Blair, also an enthusiastic backer of Washington and NATO in their Balkans blitz, was appointed as advisor to the Albanian government to advise the impoverished country how to get in to the EU. Heaven forbid he might have advised that taking on lethal weapons no one else was prepared to touch, might tick quite a big approval box and made a call to someone somewhere in Washington. This is of course, entirely speculation.
However, as Pravda TV opined at the time, apart from the sorely needed financial boost: “It will increase the status and prestige of a poor country in Europe, Albania is in Europe’s backyard, in this case it will be going foreground.”(*4)
Belgium and France also declined an invitation to dispose of Syria’s weapons, with Ralph Trapp, a consultant in disarming chemical weapons quoted as saying that “there remain very few candidates” for the task; “the hunt continues” commented The Telegraph (18th November 2013.)
The trail goes cold as to how many other governments may have been frantically begged to accept cargo loads of poisoned chalices as the US imposed clock ticked, but Italy caved in allowing around sixty containers to be transferred from a Danish cargo ship to a US ship in the Italian port of Giola Tauro, in Calabria, with further consignments also expected to arrive.
The permission caused widespread demonstrations in Southern Italy, the government accused of secrecy and one demonstrator summing up the prevailing mood: “They are telling us that the material carried is not dangerous, but in fact nobody knows what is inside those containers.” Not dangerous eh? Does any government, anywhere ever tell the truth?
The Giola Tauro port, which accounts for half the Calabria region’s economy “has been in crisis since 2011”, with four hundred workers on temporary redundancies – out of a total workforce of thirteen hundred. Not too hard to arm twist, the cynic might think.
The port also suffers from allegations of being a: ” major hub for cocaine shipments to Europe by the Calabria-based ‘Ndrangheta mafia.” However, Domenico Bagala, head of the Medcenter/Contship terminal where the operation is planned countered with: “Since Gioia Tauro handles around a third of the containers arriving in Italy, it is normal that it has more containers that are seized”, adding: “We operate in a difficult territory but we have hi-tech security measures in place.”
Calabria is, in fact, plagued by corruption and organized crime. A classfied cable from J. Patrick Truhn, US Consul General in Naples (2nd February 2008) obtained by Wikileaks stated: “If it were not part of Italy, Calabria would be a failed state. The ‘Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate controls vast portions of its territory and economy, and accounts for at least three percent of Italy’s GDP (probably much more) through drug trafficking, extortion and usury.” Further: “During a November 17-20 visit to all five provinces, virtually every interlocutor painted a picture of a region … throttled by the iron grip of Western Europe’s largest and most powerful organized crime syndicate, the ‘Ndrangheta.”(*5)
Moreover: “The ‘Ndrangheta is the most powerful criminal organization in the world with a revenue that stands at around fifty three billion Euros (seventy two billion U.S. dollars – forty four billion British pounds)” records Wikipedia, noting operations in nine countries, on four continents. Arguably, a less ideal transit point than Calabria for a stockpile of chemical weapons would be hard to find.
Of special concern to Carmelo Cozza of the SUL trade union is the port’s neighbouring village of San Ferdinando which has protested the operation: “The schools are right next door!”(*6)
However, when it comes to dodgy dealings, organized crime could seemingly learn a thing or two from the EU. Large amounts of Syria’s financial assets, frozen by the European Union, have simply been spirited from accounts, in what the Syrian Foreign Ministry slams as: “a flagrant violation of law.”
Last week the EU endorsed the raiding of Syria’a financial assets frozen across Europe and the the transfer of funds to ” … the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) … a flagrant violation of the international law and the UN Charter and understandings reached by the executive board of the OPCW”, commented a Foreign Ministry source, adding: “the European step violates the resolution of the OPCW executive board adopted on 15th November 2013 which acknowledged Syria’s stance which was conveyed to the Organization, officially stating the inability to shoulder the financial costs of destroying the chemical weapons.”
The theft of Syria’s moneys was condemned as a: “swindle policy practiced by some influential countries inside the EU at a time when they reject to release frozen assets to fund purchase of food and medicine which is considered the priority of the Syrian state … (meanwhile) the EU allowed its members to arm the terrorist groups which are responsible for bloodshed in Syria … ” the source added.”(*7) It is hard to disagree.
The EU/UN/OPCW has apparently learned well from the UN weapons inspectors and other UN benefits from the Iraq embargo, which bled the country dry from “frozen” assets, to which they helped themselves, as the children died at an average of six thousand a month year after year, from “embargo related causes.” As the UN spent Iraq’s moneys, Iraq’s water became a biological weapon, the lights went off and medical and educational facilities largely collapsed. Are UN embargoes the UN’s shameful new money spinner?
So, can things get worse in the black farce which is the chaotic, dangerous, disorganised disposal attempts of Syria’s chemical materials? You bet they can. The companies selected to destroy the chemicals are Finland’s Ekokem and the US subsiduary of the French giant Veolia.
“The most dangerous materials are to be neutralized at sea by the Cape Ray, an American naval vessel specially outfitted for that purpose, which departed its Norfolk, Va., home port on Jan. 27 for the Mediterranean.” (New York Times, 14th February 2014.) A method which has never been tried before, an experiment seemingly to take place in the Mediterranean, not in US territorial waters. “It’s Not Just a Job, It’s An Adventure”, was a US Navy recruiting slogan. Doubt the population of the countries bordering the near enclosed Mediterranean feel quite the same, from Europe to Anatolia, North Africa to the Levant.
Additionally, the inclusion of Veolia as a suitable partner in the whole dodgy venture is in a class of its own. The company has long been involved in waste management and vast transport projects in the illegal settlements in Israel.
In November 2012 Professor Richard Falk, wrote, on UN note paper, to the (UK) North London Waste Authority who were considering awarding £4.7 billion worth of contracts to Veolia. His letter(*8) quoted in part below, detailing his concerns regarding the company’s compliance with international legal norms, speaks for itself:
“I am writing to you in my capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 to urge you not to select Veolia for public contracts due to its active involvement in Israel’s grave violations of international law.
“Due to its deep and ongoing complicity with Israeli violations of international law and the strength of concern of Palestinian, European and Israeli civil society about the role played by Veolia, I decided to select Veolia as one of the case studies to include in my report. I have attached the report for your consideration.
“Veolia is a signatory to the UN Global Compact, a set of principles regarding business conduct. Yet its wide ranging and active involvement in Israel’s settlement regime and persistent failure to exercise due diligence show utter disregard for the human rights related principles of the Global Compact.
“It is my view that Veolia’s violations of the UN Global Compact principles and its deep and protracted complicity with grave breaches of international law make it an inappropriate partner for any public institution, especially as a provider of public services.”
Professor Falk concludes:
“I urge you to follow the example set by public authorities and European banks that have chosen to disassociate themselves from Veolia and take the just and principled decision not to award Veolia any public service contracts. Such a measure would contribute to upholding the rule of law and advancing peace based on justice.”
So a company in breach of international law is being awarded a contract to a UN body (the OPCW) in spite of being condemned by a distinguished UN legal expert and Special Rapporteur.
The final anomaly, for now, as Bob Rigg – former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, and former senior editor for the OCPW and former Chair of the New Zealand National Consultative Committee on Disarmament – points out:
“At present, Israel has a monopoly on nuclear weapons in the middle east. Once the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons is complete, Israel will enjoy a near regional monopoly over a second weapon of mass destruction -chemical weapons. In addition to Israel, Egypt is the only regional power with a chemical-weapons capability. “
At all levels, law breakers rule supreme.
*4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYCF8ABACvU (1.12 secs.)
WASHINGTON FOREVER SCHEMING IN SYRIA AND IN GENEVA
by Thierry Meyssan
While negotiating with one hand in Geneva, with the other Washington is preparing a new military operation against Syria. Whatever the sequence of events, it will be sure to advance its pawns one way or another. War comes at no cost to Washington. It is the Syrians who are dying. To save time, it submitted to the Conference participants a Statement tabled by the “opposition”. Behind a conciliatory rhetoric, there are at least three traps that Thierry Meyssan breaks down for us.
he second round of the Geneva 2 Conference opened on a very different tone from the first one. U.S. ambassador Robert S. Ford is no longer heading the “opposition” delegation and it is unclear who is now responsible for Syria in Washington. In any case, the representatives of “opposition” arrived with a “Statement of Basic Principles”  designed to set Damascus up for the same trap Walid Muallem had laid for them during the first session: force him to answer his own ground. Damascus wanted to broach the fight against terrorism, but the “opposition” responded with a detailed description of the composition and mission of the Transitional Governing Body.
It was a particularly good move considering that, during the first session, Muallem had reached out to public opinion inside Syria, and sometimes in the Arab world, but never to that in the West. If he had wanted to target this audience, he should have started by focusing on international law before discussing the means to enforce it: the fight against terrorism. But first seeking to bolster the legitimacy of Damascus, he endeavored to expose the crimes perpetrated by the “opposition”-backed jihadists and the colonial ambitions of John Kerry.
Occupying the empty field, the United States dictated to the “opposition” a Statement which is based on the resolutions of the Security Council and the Geneva 1 Final Communiqué, that is to say on texts endorsed by all the states sponsoring the peace conference.
The Statement begins by detailing what the Body is supposed to be. Naturally, it will be neutral, inclusive – i.e. comprising all components of Syrian society-, peaceful – i.e. it would end the war-, and the guarantor of the territorial integrity of the country. Its function is to create an environment enabling the Syrian people to develop its own constitution and appoint its institutions.
The first problem with this Statement is that it contravenes the practice of the armed groups. While the National Coalition expresses itself in a perfectly democratic language, the groups who are fighting on the ground have continued to brutalize minorities and try to impose a Salafist organization of society. Granted, most of these groups do not recognize the authority of the Coalition, but its legitimacy hinges on their actions.
Moreover, everyone have been aware of the hypocrisy since the beginning of the crisis: the best speakers for democracy in Syria being the absolute rulers of the Gulf dictatorships.
The second problem with the Statement is the method to determine the Governing Body. Washington wants to impose it, as it did in many other countries. Hence it masterminded Geneva 2, as it did the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan: the great powers would negotiate among themselves and designate a Syrian Karzai. Damascus, however, continues to cite the Final Communiqué of Geneva 1, that “It is for the Syrian people to determine the future of the country.” Therefore, not only must the new constitution be approved by referendum, but the result of Geneva 2 may not be implemented unless it is ratified by President al-Assad. As it happens, he has committed himself to submitting it to a referendum.
Moreover, this remark reflects on the legitimacy of the “opposition” delegation. As noted by Sergey Lavrov in his opening statement at the conference, its current composition flies in the face of the Geneva I communiqué, which stipulates that “the peace talks should be open to all parties in Syria committed to a political settlement so that they will take an active part in the process and play their role.” However, the “opposition”delegation boils down only to the National Coalition, notwithstanding the fact that it has been repudiated by a majority of its members.
The third hitch is that the Statement affords Washington the possibility to organize a Serbian-style regime change, by orchestrating a “color revolution”. The Kosovo war ended in a cease-fire followed by elections in Serbia. Through a crafty psychological campaign, the CIA got a pro-American candidate elected. Then it had Slobodan Milošević arrested and tried in The Hague for crimes against humanity. Since at the end of two years, the Court found no evidence to support the charges, Milošević was murdered in his cell. Ultimately, the Serbs fought for nothing because today they have lost Kosovo and are governed by those who bombed their country to smithereens.
The Statement thus contains an astonishing contradiction: it calls for the deployment of the United Nations throughout the country from outset of the transition, but it excludes them from the process. Instead, it affirms that its supervision will be entrusted to “independent organizations of international civil society.” In Central and Eastern Europe, these organizations were called Freedom House, Open Society Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) . The first is historically linked to both the United States and Israel , and the second is headed by business magnate and speculator George Soros, and serves the interests of both the United States and Israel, while the third is not an association, but a joint US-British-Australian body, created at the initiative of President Ronald Reagan to extend the work of the CIA after the scandals of the 70s. These organizations hand out billions of dollars everywhere they can to corrupt elites and to buy States.
In July 2011, Washington had sent an official Canadian delegation to Libya to propose a solution identical to the one applied in Serbia: a cease-fire followed by a transition period during which the “independent organizations of the international civil society” could deploy inside the country. Faced with Muammar el-Gaddafi’s refusal, NATO decided to enter by force.
In addition, the Statement stipulates that the Transitional Governing Body should create mechanisms to hold accountable “persons who have committed violations of human rights and international laws.” This phrase points directly to the arrest and transfer to The Hague of President al-Assad, during the transition period, for crimes against humanity. A procedure which should conclude, as for Milošević, by his death in his prison cell. There is no doubt that Washington’s candidates would win the elections once President al-Assad is eliminated from the game and the pseudo US associations deployed on the ground.
Therefore, much remains to be discussed in Geneva. Meanwhile, President Obama received the King of Jordan in California. The two men agreed on how the army currently being constituted in Jordan should again attack Syria. The deadline for Washington’s war plans is 30 September 2014. During the following seven months, the “opposition” should attempt to reverse the military balance of power and, at a minimum, take the south to install the seat of a provisional government. It is always better to have two irons in the fire.
WESTERN BACKED FREE SYRIAN ARMY HAS CROSSED THE LINE
The Free Syrian Army has committed an affront to all humanity by kidnapping and threatening to execute a female Ukrainian journalist and announcing that they will kill all Russians and Ukrainians they find in Syria. This could be taken to be akin to a declaration of war, obviously the armed insurgents in Syria have been emboldened to a point that they have stepped into an area where they are beyond the law.
With the terrorists also threatening Russian and Ukrainian Diplomatic Missions this could set off a chain of events that may pull the Russian Federation directly into the conflict. If the lives of Russians are at risk Russia has the right to protect its citizens and to assist unaligned Ukraine if there is such a request.
The world knows the Free Syrian Army is supported by the US and the West and if the Russian Federation was forced to consider entering Syria militarily this would make such a decision extremely dangerous. The security, in this case for the diplomatic missions, lies with Syria as does the freeing of the hostage, but if the Syrian Government hypothetically requests Russian assistance, how will this affect the position of the US and the West who have battle groups poised to invade the country at a moment’s notice?
If you are pretending to be my friend but paying and supporting criminals who have threatened to kill my family and loved ones then wouldn’t it be logical to say that you are my enemy and that if I want to save my loved ones then I should neutralize the threat, including you?
Take this to a larger level and consider that Russia has dealt in a civilized manner with the backers of the so called Free Syrian Army, terrorists, killers and mercenaries operating in Syria and who openly threaten to kill Russians, Ukrainians and Iranians, attack and kill civilians and execute unarmed civilians, in reality what would the reaction be? If the Free Syrian Army had kidnapped an American and threatened to destroy the US and UK Missions, what would the reaction be?
One might argue that the Free Syrian Army which has effectively declared war on Russia, Ukraine and Iran, and since they are backed by the West this might appear to be a proxy declaration. The US of course would not declare war on Russia or Iran. Formal Declarations of War are not something the US does, just like they did not declare war on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yugoslavia, Syria and Iran.
For all of the cowboy diplomacy of the West and their macho bravado and military might the men hiding in their comfortable bunkers and command rooms and expensive suburban homes are slippery creatures who fight their battles by proxy and use pretexts designed and carried out in secret. They will therefore provide material and financial support to terrorist organizations such as the Free Syrian Army when it is expedient, but will they back away from their proxies now that they have stated “Let not a single Russian, Ukrainian or Iranian come out of Syria alive”?
The US Government has officially recognized an umbrella group of mainly foreign terrorist organizations, as the official representative of the Syrian people, and almost immediately the main US surrogate threatens to execute a Ukrainian woman journalist. IF you had doubts before, have no doubt now, these are not “freedom fighters” they are coward criminals. Who would execute a woman? Not even any self-respecting Muslim terrorist extremist would stoop so low.
The journalist who was kidnapped, Anhar Kochneva has been stationed in Syria for years and has been instrumental in getting the true picture out of Syria on many occasions, one reason why she is obviously a target for the West and its surrogates as they continue their information war to justify an invasion. She has done work for several Russian media outlets, including the NTV, RenTV and RT television channels and the Utro.Ru news portal and according to RIA Novosti has been a vocal supporter of President Bashar Al Assad.
According to the site Syria News online “That the joint statement of the Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), ARTICLE 19, the International Press Institute also calls on the British, French and US governments as well as on the European Union (UN) to work with “their” external staged Syrian opposition in order to facilitate the release of the journalist Anhar Kochneva is also not surprising. It either shows who are the masterminds and supporters behind the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) or who is really responsible for this (expletive) situation in Syria.”
In normal world we might see Russian and Ukrainian Special Forces alongside Syrian Special Services launching a rescue operation and wiping out the Free Syrian Army for making the declarations they have made, surely if the same thing happened to America, that would be the case, but as we all know who is behind all of this we know that this would kick off what might well be Word War III, something no one wants.
Ukraine has called on the Syrian authorities to take decisive steps to free Ankhar Kochneva, a Ukrainian journalist kidnapped in Syria on October 10.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Dikusarov said Kiev expected more tangible results from regime’s action to secure a safe release of the Ukrainian.
“Ukraine demands an immediate release of Ankhar Kochneva and will take action to get the issue of violence against a civilian into international discussion,” Mr. Dikusarov said.
Ukraine hopes this act of rebel violence will be harshly condemned and punished by the international community, he added.
Ankhar Kochneva worked as an interpreter for a Russian TV crew when she was kidnapped by Syrian militants. The same day, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich gave instructions to the country’s foreign office to do everything possible to free the journalist.
Syrian militants are threatening to execute journalist Ankhar Kochneva. They are demanding 50 million U.S. dollars for her life. The ultimatum that was signed by the field commanders of the paramilitary wing of the opposition Free Syrian Army expires on December 13th.
Militants say that Ankhar Kochneva is a “Ukrainian spy”. Kochneva, a Ukrainian citizen, lived in Russia for the past 10 years. In January this year she went to Syria to work there as a journalist and translator. Ankhar Kochneva is the author of many interesting and exciting reports for Russian media outlets.
The Voice of Russia “contacted” her when it was necessary to comment on the situation in the hot spots in Syria, including Homs. Whenever a call from Moscow came, Ankhar Kochneva was always at a combat post.
Her reports were always different from the picture presented by the Al Jazeera TV Channel and other media that supported the fight of the irreconcilable opposition against the Syrian authorities. Most likely, it was exactly her objective opinion about the developments in Syria that pushed all those who are standing up for militants to kidnap Ankhar which occurred on October 7th .
In a November 28th video address she asked Russia’s and Ukraine’s governments to fulfill the kidnappers’ demands. For their part, a number of Russian media outlets urged Syrian ambassador to Russia Riad Haddad to do all in his power so that Ankhar Kochneva could be freed as soon as possible. The Russian Committee of Solidarity with the Peoples of Libya and Syria is making efforts in this direction, one of the heads of the non-governmental organization Darya Mitina says.
“The ultimatum, delivered by the militants, is urging the parties concerned to start searching for non-trivial solutions as well as for an advancement in the talks. Regrettably, for the time being, the means to influence the militants are limited. We have applied to international human rights and journalist agencies with a request to pay continued attention to this topic on both radio and television. There is little information about the kidnapping attack now, taking into account the role Kochneva played in the public information space.”
As a rule, no details are given about talks with kidnappers or about the ransom terms. Judging by the facts, the talks are currently under way. An expert with the Institute of Oriental Studies, Vladimir Isayev, says:
“Russia has established contacts with the Syrian opposition. Some time ago talks with opposition representatives were held in Moscow. However, I don’t think that they are involved in the kidnapping. Therefore, I don’t know whether Russia has any possibility or any contacts to influence the opposition and thus, to ensure the release of Ankhar Cochneva. And quite another matter is the fact that Russia can appeal to all those who support the Syrian opposition – for example, to Turkey with which top-level talks were recently held.”
A week after Ankhar Kochneva was kidnapped, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych gave instructions to his aides to do everything possible for secure her release. This occurred on October 15th . No other reports about Kiev’s stand have come since then.
A group of Syrian rebels have threatened to kill the Ukrainian journalist captured on October 9 if they are not paid a ransom.
The deadline for the ransom payment is set for December 13, 2012, the journalist’s friend and Russian ex-MP Darya Mitina has told reporters. “If the money isn’t paid by that time, she will be killed as a ‘Ukrainian spy’,” she added.
Ankhar Kochneva’s relatives have confirmed that the kidnappers contacted them and demanded a ransom but said they didn’t believe December 13 was the deadline.
Kochneva’s nephew Dmitry was cited as saying he had no detail of negotiations to free his aunt. “The foreign office is saying they are working on it. But we don’t know what exactly is being done,” he said.
Ankhar Kochneva, a Ukrainian journalist who went missing in Syria on October 10, contacted her relatives for the first time on Sunday, saying she hoped everything would be fine and asking not to call her.
Kochneva’s ex-husband Dmitry Petrov told Russia’s Izvestia newspaper he had received an SMS from the journalist’s phone number reading: “I hope for the best. Don’t message me.”
A similar text was reportedly sent to one of her friends. In it Koncheva also mentioned that she had been kidnapped.
The Russian embassy in Damascus has shown active support of Ukrainian authorities in their search for the 40-year-old, who was believed to be an active advocate of the Assad regime.
She was allegedly abducted by Syrian rebels in the outskirts of Homs. Russian journalist Yelena Gromova confessed she and her close friend Ankhar Koncheva often received threatening messages from the Moscow-based Syrian opposition on social networking sites.
Ankhar Kochneva, a journalist kidnapped in Syria, was a Ukrainian national, said Sergei Marov, spokesman of the Russian embassy in Damascus.
“It’s become known to the Russian embassy that she was a citizen of Ukraine. She wasn’t accredited to work here [in Syria],” he reported.
Mr. Markov said the Russian diplomatic mission was closely cooperating with Ukrainian officials looking for the journalist.
Ankhar Kochneva went missing Friday. Her friend Darya Mitina said she was last seen 20 kilometers from the city of Homs.
Voice of Russia, RIA, Rosbalt, Interfax
CHRISTIAN ANXIETY IN SYRIA: A MINORITY GRAPPLES WITH WHO TO SUPPORT
“What does the future hold for us, Christians,” Randa Khoury wonders aloud. For the last 6 months, she’s been glued to her television, flipping through channels trying to follow the news about a revolution she both supports, yet fears its eventual consequences. Randa, her husband Rami and their 3 children live in Qossour, a neighborhood facing the ancient grey walls of Bab Tuma, the Christian quarter of old Damascus.
Every night, boys and girls fill the streets, holding hands. Skirts are short and cafés crowded, including the locale belonging to the son of a former head of intelligence services. But all café owners make sure Al Jazeera, the Qatari channel vigorously opposed to al-Assad’s regime, is not turned on. In Qossour, like everywhere else in Damacsus, the ears of power are never far. “All the fruit and vegetable sellers you see along our street are secret police agents,” says Rami Khoury. (See pictures of Christians under siege in the Muslim world.)
After six months of rebellion against President Assad and a crackdown that the UN says has caused more than 2,200 deaths, life in Qossour appears to be back to normal. “The first months, past 7 p.m., the streets were empty,” remembers Rami. “No one wanted to believe protests broke in Syria. It was just impossible.” Though the streets are filled again, he says “the country is still paralyzed.”
When the revolt started, the Khourys were undecided about whether to support it, figuring the ironclad regime would quickly tame the protesters. They now clearly support the opposition, differently than the majority of the two million Christians who strongly support Assads’ secular power that they see as a bulwark against Islamism and the potential for religious conflicts like those that followed Saddam Hussein’s fall in Iraq in 2003. What they fear the most, it seems, is the void that would be left by the fall of a regime that has held everything in place in Syria for the past 40 years.
Because the crisis continues, and so much blood has already been spilled, Rami Khoury is still worried. He fears the country will be divided in three: the Druze in the south, the Alawis — the minority which the Assads are from – in the North and Christians, who would remain a minority with the Sunnis. “Since there are Christians scattered everywhere, we would be isolated,” Khoury says. “Imagine my village in the south is under Druze authority, how will I get my lands back? The USSR and Iraq, have been carved up, why wouldn’t it also happen in Syria?” (Watch a video about Iraqi Christians seeking shelter in Chicago.)
The exodus of hundred thousands Iraqi Christians after Saddam Hussein’s fall and the religious war which tore their neighbours apart, haunt the Christians from Syria, whose origins there date back to the time of the apostles.
Despite the fact that one of the pillars of the revolution undermining the Assad clan is actually the refusal of religious divisions, the recent display of Islamist slogans worries many Christians. Najib, a teacher, says Salafists are not yet active elements of the revolt, “but some of them are clandestine.” The Muslim Brotherhood don’t currently have leaders in Syria, he explains, “but still have sympathizers.”
Sitting in his scented patio in Bab Tuma, Youssef declares that no one in the neighborhood fears Muslims. “I’m 84. Before the Ba’ath (the political movement mixing nationalists and socialists to call for a united Arab World that included the Assad family), Syria had Muslim prime ministers and relations were very good between Muslims and Christians.” (See pictures of spiritual healing around the world.)
Still, the 8% of the Syrian population that is Christian has much to lose if Assad is overthrown. Fiercely secular — even though for 10 years his government has been flattering Muslims — Assad and his entourage loathe Christians, along with Islamist fundamentalists. Still Christians can freely practice their faith, and are well represented in the regime’s hierarchy (the new Defence Minister is one).
Today however, the community is split over the conspicuous support of the regime by some prominent Christian figures, like Georges Chaoui, a member of a well-established Damascus family of manufacturers, who proudly became head of a digital army in charge of intercepting messages from protesters on the Internet.
The pro-Assad calls from the Greek Orthodox Church also bother more than one Christian. Monsignor Louqa al-Khoury, bishop of Marth Mariam Church, does not mind being seen as a regime henchman. He says protesters asking for freedom are “criminals who kill policemen.”
“Their protests are funded by people outside of Syria,” al-Khoury says. “Protesting just isn’t part of Syrian culture. Only a few Christians are actually taking to the streets. Ninety-nine percent of them are supporting Assad’s regime.” (See pictures of protests in Syria.)
Fearing the consequences of such provocations, Christian intellectuals wrote an open letter to call on the clergy not to speak publicly on behalf of the whole community. “You have to understand that our clergy are on good terms with the Mukhabarat (intelligence services) because it has a strong hold on them. The regime knows about the depravity of some of our prelates,” says one Christian analyst in Damascus, explaining that there is always a pro-Assad passage in the priest’s Sunday homily.
Like in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the Christian hierarchy in Syria has seen the dictatorship as the only defense against Islamism. But an Alawi pro-democracy protester calls it regime propaganda, insisting that Islam in Syria is conservative but not extremist. “I’m telling all my Christian friends not to be afraid of Syrian Islam…and don’t miss the revolution train!”
Randa Khoury also believes it’s time for a change, making herself a minority within her Christian minority. “Tomorrow’s Syria won’t be like today’s. People’s voices have been freed. The wall of fear has collapsed. Winning over our freedom is a risk worth taking.”
ONE OF THOSE KILLED IN MA’LOULA: “I AM A CHRISTIAN, AND IF YOU WANT TO KILL ME FOR THIS, I DO NOT OBJECT TO IT”
Thursday, September 26, 2013
“I am a Christian, and if you want to kill me for this, I do not object to it” – such were the last words of one of three Christians, killed by extremists after their refusal to accept Islam in Ma’loula, which has already become famous among the faithful as “a land of Martyrs”.
A woman cries at the funeral of Christians killed in Maaloula. Photo: AFP – Anwar Amro
Christians of Syria call Ma’loula “a land of Martyrs” after this small Christian town was several times attacked by various armed groups.
It should be noted that on September 10, in Damascus, Patriarch of the Melkite Greek-Catholic Church Gregory III Laham, in the presence of Hierarchs of different Christian denominations, headed the funeral of Christians, killed in Ma’loula, reports Calam1.
The Vatican news agency Fides has made an attempt to reconstruct the course of events that led to the killing of three Christians in Ma’loula, with the help of a woman-eyewitness, whose name is concealed for security reasons. At the present time this woman is undergoing medical treatment in one of the hospitals of the Syrian capital.
According to her, on September 7, a group of individuals belonging to the armed groups that had entered the town, burst into homes of the civilian population, intimidating their residents and vandalizing their domestic sacred objects. The woman has told how the militants burst into the house where she was staying together with her relatives: Michael Taalyab, his cousin Anton Taalyab, and his grandson, Sarkis Al-Zajim.
The extremists said to those present that they would be forced to accept Islam, at which Sarkis answered: “I am a Christian, and if you want to kill me for this, I do not object to it!” After this the islamists cold-bloodedly killed the young man together with two other men and inflicted several injuries upon the woman. The injured woman was eventually evacuated to Damascus for treatment.
Sister Carmel, who helps with transportation of refugees from Ma’loula to Damascus, noted in the interview with Agenzia Fides that Sarkis “Is a Martyr in Christ in the full sense of this word, since he was murdered solely because of religious hatred!”
According to the information from local sources, the government forces entered Ma’loula to eliminate the snipers who had consolidated positions in local residences. Meanwhile, the landscape and architectural specifics of the buildings of the town, which is spread over the mountains slopes, impede the operation.
SYRIA ATTACK IS IN “ISRAEL’S INTERESTS,” SAYS SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER
September 2, 2013
An attack by American forces will only be in Israel’s interests, will benefit al-Qaeda and cause terrorism against Americans, the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister has told the BBC.
Speaking in a lengthy television interview broadcast in Britain, Faisal Mekdad said that any US military action against Syria would amount to support for al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
He also told the BBC that armed groups backed by America—not Syrian troops-had used chemical weapons.
“Any attack against Syria is support for al-Qaeda and its affiliates, whether Jabat al-Nusra or the State of Islam in Syria and Iraq.”
Mr Mekdad also warned that US intervention would deepen “hatred for the Americans” and destabilise the whole Middle East.
He said that Mr Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval for strikes showed that he had not thought through all the “consequences”.
“This did not change anything, since he (President Obama) is determined to launch an attack,” he continued.
“The US Congress usually thinks so much of the Israel interests,” he said. “Let’s see how they will think this time, whether they think it is in the interests of Israel to attack Syria or not.”
Mr Mekdad said that the consequences of an attack on Syria would inflame the region.
“It will cause more hatred for Americans and undermine their security inside and outside their country,
“It will lead to the weakening of international institutions [such as the UN] and terrorism will flourish everywhere.”
The Syrian spokesman also denied that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons, and said that the only use of those weapons so far was by “armed groups supported by the US.”
He compared the evidence presented by the American government as “proof” to the lies and fake evidence presented to the UN over Iraq.
Asked about the Syrian government’s willingness to enter into peace talks with the “revels,” Mr Mekada said this was possible but that his country would “never, ever talk to al-Qaeda.”
MIDDLE EAST SPIRALS TO ALL-OUT WAR AS JEWISH LOBBY MOUNTS PRESSURE FOR ATTACK ON SYRIA
August 27, 2013
* Formal Jewish military lobby already in D.C. “advising US Government”
* Jewish newspapers boast of “Israeli central role” in providing “evidence” of chemical attack
* Russian President says there is “no evidence” who was responsible or even if chemical attack took place;
* Russia, Iran, and Syria warn of “dire consequences for entire region” if “Allies” attack.
The entire Middle East seems set to spiral to an all-out war as the Jewish lobby in Washington D.C. and London mount pressure for an “Allied” attack on Syria following the alleged use of chemical weapons last week during the ongoing civil war in that country.
According to an article in the Times of Israel, “Israeli intelligence information is widely believed to have played a central role in enabling the US’s adamant conviction that Assad’s regime fired chemical weapons at civilians outside Damascus last Wednesday.”
The Jewish newspaper continued: “A large delegation of senior Israeli security officials is currently in Washington holding talks with top administration officials led by US National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
“The Israeli team, headed by Netanyahu’s outgoing National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, also includes senior Defense Ministry official Maj.-Gen. (Res) Amos Gilad, the head of the IDF’s Planning Directorate Nimrod Sheffer, and the head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Research Branch Gen. Itai Brun.”
This is not the first time that Brun has claimed that the Syrian government has used “sarin gas” to attack civilians. He made similar claims in April this year—but these claims were dismissed then as unfounded.
The Israeli “advisors” played a pivotal role in ensuring that US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed, without any further obvious evidence, that the Syrian government had used the chemical weapons. This, before the UN inspectors had even arrived to investigate the claims after the Syrian government offered them free access to the site of alleged attack to establish the truth.
In spite of this, the US, and now the British government, all under the strong influence of their respective Jewish lobbies, are drawing up plans to attack Syria with military force.
The US has already moved military units into place, awaiting orders to strike, and in Britian, David Cameron has announced on Twitter that Parliament is to be recalled on Thursday, where, he said, there will be “a clear Govt motion & vote on UK response to chemical weapons attacks.”
The “evidence” so far put forward for the chemical attack is even poorer than the awful lies put out by the same Jewish lobby over Iraq’s supposed “weapons of mass destruction” which led to the invasion and destruction of that country—which was also an enemy of Israel, as is Syria.
The “evidence” has so far consisted of photographs of alleged victims—prominently displayed on the BBC website here. But these images, as unappealing as they are, are still no evidence of the “attack,” as observers who have access to high level intelligence, have already pointed out.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example, told Cameron this week that Russia has no evidence of a chemical weapons attack having taken place in Syria or who is responsible.
The two leaders held an urgent phone call on Monday (26 August) afternoon regarding the Syrian crisis in the wake of a sniper attack on UN chemical inspectors outside Damascus.
“President Putin said that they did not have evidence of whether a chemical weapons attack had taken place or who was responsible,” a British government spokesperson was quoted by RT news as having said after the call.
For their part, the Syrians and Iranians have no illusions as to who is behind the pro-war sentiment and have openly blamed the Jewish lobby.
A senior Syrian Baath Party official who used to serve as Syria’s assistant information minister, Khalaf Muftah, said in a radio interview that if his country was attacked, it would retaliate against Israel.
“Israel is behind the aggression and [it] will therefore come under fire,” he said.
“We have strategic weapons and we’re capable of responding,” he said.
His words were echoed by Iranian officials, who on Monday said that if the Americans and British attacked Syria, Israel would suffer.
Hossein Sheikholeslam, a member of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly, said that if an attack took place, “the Zionist regime will be the first victim of a military attack on Syria.”
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Araqchi cautioned there would be “perilous consequences” for the region if a military attack is carried out
“We want to strongly warn against any military attack in Syria. There will definitely be perilous consequences for the region,” Araqchi told a news conference. “These complications and consequences will not be restricted to Syria. It will engulf the whole region.”
It seems however, that another all-out war is precisely what the Jewish lobby wants. It has been agitating for years for an attack on Iran and Syria through its proxy American and British forces.
Even if the region is left in chaos, like Iraq, this is still better for Israel than having orderly and potentially powerful and hostile neighbors.
GREECE HALTS SHIP HEADED TO SYRIA FROM UKRAINE CARRYING 20,000 KALASHNIKOV RIFLES IN AEGEAN SEA
November 10, 2013
Is it really a surprise that a new effort to get weapons into Syria has been attempted since the conflict has died down after the implementation of the peaceful chemical weapons deal observed by the United Nations? Saudi Arabia has tried to undermine that relative peace recently, secretly funding new waves of militants.
“The Greek Coastguard has intercepted a Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship with around 20,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles on board. The intended destination of the vessel, halted near the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean, remains unknown.
The cargo ship Nour M, intercepted on Thursday night, was taken to the island of Symi the following morning under the escort of Coastguard vessels, where it was soon thereafter led to the island of Rhodes.
The vessel’s Turkish captain and seven crew members, two of whom were Turkish and five of whom were Indian, were placed under arrest, coastguard sources told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA).
The cargo was both larger than that declared on the ship’s manifest, and the ship did not have the proper UN documents to deliver cargo to a conflict zone. The Greek Coastguard issued a statement saying attempts to catalogue the firearms and munitions onboard were ongoing.
“The exact destination of the arms and ammunition has yet to be verified,” the coastguard statement read. Apart from the large quantity of firearms, the ship was also allegedly carrying a “large” quantity of explosives. A probe determined the ship had previously been used for drug trafficking.
Sources told ANA-MPA that the vessel had set sail from Ukraine, although the ship’s final destination remains unclear. Although the ports of Tartus in Syria and Tripoli in Libya had both been declared as destination ports to marine traffic systems, the Turkish Mediterranean port city of Iskenderun was declared as the destination port by the ship’s captain.” – RT.com
So a ship with conflicting itineraries with 20,000 rifles, ammunition and explosives headed for Syria is stopped, no one knows who owns it, sent it, nothing. What good is the whole world being under surveillance doing us if these things can’t be unraveled? The usual politics is playing out, as Ukraine officials are mum, but pointing the finger at the versatile city of Istanbul, where there is access from all sides of the region to ports in and around the city. The trip also took almost two weeks, as opposed to the normal 5 days.
“Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said they are attempting to determine if the Nour departed from the country.
Maritime expert Mikhail Voitenko told Ukraine’s Vesti that the ship likely picked up its cargo in Istanbul.
“I think it was there for no other purpose than to get the weapons. It is also strange that it took the ship two weeks to get from Nikolaev [Ukraine] to Greece when the trip takes a maximum of five days. What it was doing and where it was doing it at the time: that is the question.”
Voitenko said the vessel was likely detained as the result of a tip-off.
“That we have this ship sailing through the Black Sea is strange, but through Greek ‘territorial waters] it went in a straight line, so police had no reason to detain the ship,” he said.” – RT.com