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Category Archives: Syria

World powers deeply divided & other news about the situation in Syria

World Powers Deeply Divided on Syira, Fail to Heal Rift at G20 Dinner

Al Manar

World powers failed to bridge deep divisions on Syria at a G20 summit dinner in Russia as they squared off over the US push for military strikes against Syria.

As tensions over the Syrian crisis threatened to torpedo the working schedule of the G20 summit outside Saint Petersburg, host Vladimir Putin invited participants to air their views over dinner.

The leaders took turns over three hours to reiterate their positions on the issue in 10-minute speeches, a diplomatic source close to the talks said.

“The G20 has just now finished the dinner session at which the divisions about Syria were confirmed,” Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who attended the dinner, said on his official Twitter feed.

Russia has led opposition to any US-led military action against Syria over an August 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, which Washington alleges was perpetrated by Damascus.

“Let us remember: every day that we lose is a day when scores of innocent civilians die,” the UN quoted Ban as telling the G20 leaders at the dinner.
“Providing more arms to either side is not the answer. There is no military solution.”

A French diplomatic source said the closed-door dinner, hosted by Putin at the luxurious imperial palace of Peterhof outside Saint Petersburg, was not meant to secure a deal.

“The objective was an exchange between the top world leaders and not to come to an agreement” on the crisis, said the source.

Putin and US President Barack Obama put on a show of smiles for the cameras as they shook hands just before the summit got under way on the shores of the Gulf of Finland.

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Click links to read full article:

Senators who backed Syria resolution got 83 per cent more defense lobby money than those who voted against it, campaign finance numbers show

Pope calls on world leaders to abandon military options in Syria

Russia gave UN 100-page report in July blaming Syrian rebels for Aleppo sarin attack

Militants kill Syrian soldiers execution style: Video

Video: Syrian Rebel Admits Using Chemical Weapons

Saudi Arabia’s “Chemical Bandar” behind the Chemical Attacks in Syria?

Tony Blair attacks Islam as “fundamentally extremist” religion

(Bush-Blair, file photo)

Press TV

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has shamelessly attacked Islam as a “fundamentally extremist” religion, which could threaten future security of the UK.

In an interview with the BBC, Tony Blair lashed out at opposition Labour Party chief Ed Miliband for opposing the coalition government’s push for launching an invasion against Syria, moaning that the country “could become a potent source of extremists”.

The former head of the Labour party, who engineered the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq together with former U.S. president George W. Bush on the pretext of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), acknowledged that the true reason western warmongers are spearheading wars in the Middle East region was fighting Islam.

There is a “fundamental battle about religion and politics within Islam, which has vast consequences for our future security”, Tony Blair claimed.

“The truth is, the reason why Iraq makes us hesitant is because Iraq showed that when you intervene in the circumstances, where you have this radical Islamist issue, both on the Shia side and the Sunni side, you are going to face a very difficult, tough conflict”, the warmonger former premier added.

Blair and fellow invading countries in Iraq failed to find even a trace of WMDs in the country, but left the scene with hundreds of thousands of innocent people killed and millions more displaced as a result of expansionist policies of certain warmongers both in the UK and the U.S.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair conceded the fear western warmongers cannot sleep with whenever there is Iran and its anti-imperialistic ideology.

He called for a military intervention in Syria to topple the popular government of President Bashar al Assad, warning “without intervention there would be an Assad-dominated state, and that means in this instance an Iran-dominated state, probably around the borders of Lebanon and controlling most of the wealth of Syria.

“And then you’ll have a larger geographical hinterland to the east that will be controlled by various Sunni groups, most of whom are likely in these circumstances to be extreme, and you could have a breeding ground for extremism actually much worse and much more potent than Afghanistan.”

Blair went on to say that he was “disappointed” that the House of Commons killed a government motion that called for invading Syria militarily.

“This is something where I just have to disagree with the leadership of the party,” he said. “I know it’s a difficult position for political leaders to be put in when they have got to take decisions like this.”

Blair was forced to resign as premier in 2007 in the aftermath of the failed military invasion of Iraq, after 10 years in office.

Responding to Blair’s intervention, a Labour source told The Independent, “We have learnt the lessons of the Iraq War. That is why Ed was determined to stop David Cameron’s ill-judged and reckless rush to war.”

Will 1000 American ‘human shields’ stop another criminal war?

Arriving First in Syria

by FRANKLIN LAMB, source

Damascus

A sort of roller coaster atmosphere pervades Damascus these days with “good” and “bad” news rising and falling, often by the quarter hour. Much of the population is monitoring closely the news and quickly expressing their interpretations of the latest media reports and rumors as well as predicting the fairly precise timing of the now assumed American attack on their country.

In the very popular, and normally crowded Abaa Coffee House on the edge of the old city in what is called the Sarugha section, students and others enjoy the fine cool mist, as Damascenes have done for years, that is sprayed from ceiling pipes to provide welcome relief from the 37 degree Celsius (98 degrees F) outside temperatures. Many are clued to their laptops and/or in animated conversation analyzing the likely extent and timing of the soon believed to be arriving American missiles.

This observer often meets interlocutors in the Abaa because it’s very pleasant, large with dozens of tables, cheap and two blocks from my hotel.  I have noticed that common greetings are changing from “kif hallack”  ” (how are you?)  and “Arak lahekan” (see you later)  to “Get  home safely” and “Good luck with the checkpoints.”

But there is also a distinct growing esprit de corps and a broad coming together of much of the population here as the countdown to the American attack on Syria begins.  An evident rallying around the Assad regime, which one presumes is the opposite of what the White House was hoping would result from its threats.

A good friend from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) an humanitarian organization doing amazing rescue, and medical services for Syrians and Palestinians during this expanding crisis, described one way that her friends are preparing for the American attack.  “We gathered our important documents, birth, marriage certificate and passport and made photo copies.  Then we leave them with friends in “safe” areas or even bury them somewhere. No one knows how bad the Americans will bomb us. At work we have been told during our final practice drill last saturday that the next siren will be the ‘real thing’ and we will do as we have planned for.” She added, “Many of my friends and family are leaving but it’s not easy and is very expensive now to go to Lebanon and they don’t want us– and my family has decided to stay in our home no matter what happens in the coming days.”

One common topic being discussed is the reluctance of the American public to attack Syria and how Obama can ignore it.  “What kind of Democracy do you have that your President can ignore the will of the American public?”  this observer is frequently asked.  One soldier who is stationed with his unit just outside my hotel seemed to speak from his heart: “You Americans claim you are trying to help the Syrian people.  Every child knows, both here and in your country I think, that the coming attack will make things much worse for the Syrian people and many others. The American people are good and we hope they can control their government, but we are preparing for the worst and there will be consequences you will come to regret as with Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.”

The government here is assuring the public that Syria is ready for the American attack and that public services will continue.  TV channels show around the clock images of heroic Syrian army exploits with marital and patriotic music. Youngsters, students and workers are gathering at presumed targets offering themselves as Human Shields in solidarity with their countrymen while challenging President Obama to bomb their beloved Syria.

Interestingly, an International Human Shield movement is coalescing according to informed sources here and abroad. One initiative is to bring 1000 Americans and thousands of others, to Syria within the next ten days to guard likely bomb sites reminding one of the International Solidarity Movement international volunteer’s efforts in Occupied Palestine in order to try to protect homes of Palestinians from Government bulldozing.

Some redacted specifics have been disclosed to this observer from an international organizing committee working around the clock on this Human Shield initiative.

Some descriptive excerpts:

International Human Shields  are planning on coming to Syria in solidarity with the Syrian people and in an effort to send a global message and hopefully deter an American attack next week…

Timing – While moves can be made fast and with all other key elements in place, time is not in our favor.  Ten mores days for preparation would be ideal. The HS initiative assumes that it must be done in such a way that very little time lapse from the official announcement of the action to the actual arrival of the Human Shields on the ground in Syria…

Impact – In order to achieve a significant impact having at least 1000  Americans and several thousand international Human Shields deployed in Syria is the objective. With ideally at least one representative from every UN Member State, as evidence of the true ‘international community’ opposing the American attack.

The US activist-based steering committee is quickly bringing together professionals in IT, marketing, logistical planning and implementation, spokesperson(s), public relations, accounting, documentarians, and experienced project managers. Ferries from European ports are to be arranged to carry significant numbers of Human Shields from Major European cities. Ideally, several jumbo jets will be chartered to carry human shields from some of the world’s major cities and use of land convoys are under consideration.

An excerpt:

HS/Government Relations – The first objective of the enemies of Syria will be to portray Human Shields as nothing more than pawns of President Bashar al-Assad. This was precisely what the mainstream media did in 2003, presenting Human Shields as pawns of Saddam.  In order for the Human Shields to have power they must be seen as independent supporters of the people of Syria who represent the will of the vast majority of people around the world who oppose the pending US-led western attack. The HS should however work with prominent leaders in the civilian sector of Syrian society and great effort should be made to produce daily news stories of the Human Shields and Syrian people working together to protect Syria from the ongoing foreign instigated aggression. There are once again many details here and these would need to be discussed and agreed if any action will be able to reach its full potential.

Strategy – The sites that Human Shields deploy to must be very well publicized and these sites must be identified as protected sites under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The White House is saying that they are not going to attack infrastructure (as they did with Iraq in 2003), but they must attack the infrastructure as the goal is to drive Syria into the stone age and make it so weak that Israel will through its agents eventually take Syria over. They know that the Syrian people and military cannot be defeated without massive attacks on the infrastructure.

So it is absolutely vital that all power plants, water treatment facilities, bomb shelters (if they exist), civilian communications sites, food storage sites and other such sites that are critical to the civilian population are the primary if not sole focus of sites for the HS to deploy. They cannot deploy to military sites, although I personally feel this is morally defensible, it will neutralize the power of the HS in the public relations realm and intelligent public relations is absolutely critical.

A comprehensive list of protected sites is to be produced immediately and these sites will need to be verified by the most independent sources we can manage to obtain. UN representatives or former representatives would be great, human rights attorneys, legal experts and others of this type are very useful.

There will be room to deploy to sites not specifically listed in the Fourth Geneva Convention, such as with ethnic and religious minority communities who are deathly afraid of the foreign invaders/terrorist. Special emphasis should be placed on Christian populations as the western audience sadly has more sympathy for Christians than Muslims.”

Our goal is to personalize the people of Syria and show their suffering through the eyes of the HS with effective daily reports to be uploaded on the Internet and reported by legitimate news agencies such as Press TV, RT and Telesur. A massive effort must be made to educate the public about the reasons for the Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) and the imperial powers undeniable record of knowingly destroying the lives of ‘protected persons’ as defined in the FGC. There must be high quality, well-spoken Arabic/English speaking spokespersons.

We should be ready to provide evidence of any attack on such sites the moment it happens and have legal briefs prepared to immediately charge the aggressors with war crimes. This is why it is critical that the HS are almost exclusively at sites that are protected by the FGC.

The Action Plan concludes:

We cannot necessarily stop them from doing what they intend to do, but we can make their aggression harm them far more than Syria and its people in the end. Herein lays the power, using the enemies momentum against him in the most powerful way possible.

Time will tell which Americans will arrive first in Syria, the military or the American public.  Many Syrian are today praying it will be the latter and have pledged to join them to defeat the coming aggression.

Russia: Homemade chemical ammunition used in March attack in Syria & related news

Homemade chemical ammunition used in March attack in Syria: Russia

Press TV

Russia says that home-made ammunition was used in a chemical attack carried out in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo in March, which killed over two dozen people.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, “The used round of ammunition was a homemade item on the basis of rockets made in Syria’s north by the so-called Bashair Al-Nasr brigade.”

Moscow made the statement based on conclusions reached by the Russian experts who carried out an investigation into the March 19 chemical attack, which reportedly left 26 Syrian civilians and soldiers dead and nearly 100 others affected.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the chemical weapons used in the attack were not made by the Syrian army.

The findings by the Russian experts come amid a rising threat of war against Syria over the unsubstantiated accusation that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons…

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Chemical weapons sent from Turkey to Syria: Former Turkish provincial official

Press TV

A former member of a city council in the Turkish province of Hatay says the chemical weapons used in last month’s attack in Syria were transported from Turkey, Press TV reports.

“Four months ago, Turkish security forces found a two-kilogram cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the al-Qaeda and al-Nusra. They are using our borders to take the gas into Syria,” Mohamad Gunes said.

“The Syrian president has no reason to kill his own people,” he added.

People in the southern province, which borders Syria, said the weapons were used by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front militants and not the Syrian government.

“America and Israel had al-Qaeda use chemical weapons in order to push us into war; none of us wants war here. In the history of Hatay, we all lived peacefully side by side, now there is Mossad, CIA and al-Qaeda all over the place. We are worried that they might use chemical weapons against us,” said Farid Mainy, a Hatay resident and an activist.

The residents believe the Turkish government is allowing the transfer of weapons because Ankara is trying to create a pretext in order to wage war on its neighbor.

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Russian Ships ’Able to React’ in Case of Syria Escalation

Al Manar

Russian naval vessels in the Mediterranean are capable of reacting to an escalation in the Syria conflict, a military source said Wednesday, as Moscow fine tunes its maritime presence ahead of possible US military action.

“Today we consider our presence in the eastern Mediterranean to be sufficient to solve the tasks. If necessary, together with submarine forces, they (the ships) are capable even today of influencing a military situation,” a general staff source told the Interfax news agency.

“We are ready to solve sudden task. For that, the naval group is being corrected for the corresponding variants of the outcome of events,” the source added, without giving further details.

According to Interfax, the Russian destroyer Smetlivy will soon join the group in the Mediterranean as well as the destroyer Nastoichivy.

The anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev has already entered its zone of operation as the flagship of the current rotation of the naval grouping in the Mediterranean, a military source told the agency.

The missile cruiser Moskva, from the Black Sea fleet, has now left its assignment in the northern Atlantic and is now on its way to the eastern Mediterranean.

On arrival it will assume the role as the Russian flagship, Interfax said.

Already in place in the eastern Mediterranean are the frigate Neustrashimy, as well as the landing ships Alexander Shabalin, the Admiral Nevelsky and the Peresvet.

They will be joined by the large landing ships Novocherkassk and Minsk on September 5-6, Interfax said. As previously reported, the reconnaissance ship Priazovye is also on its way to join the group.

The US already has a strong naval presence in the region and the possible US military action launched against Syria is widely expected to be launched from the sea.

Russia has kept a constant presence in the eastern Mediterranean during the Syrian crisis, rotating its group every few months.

Russia also has a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus.

According to Russian media reports, Russian naval personnel have largely now been withdrawn from the base, a modest but hugely strategic facility which Moscow calls a “point of military-technical supply of the Russian Navy.”

Moscow vehemently opposes US-led plans for military action against Syria in response to an alleged chemical attack outside Damascus, warning it risks destabilizing the entire region.

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Al-Nusra Attacks Ma’loula in Damascus, Destroys Aramaic Church and Institute

Al Manar

Violent clashes took place between the Syrian Army units and opposition gunmen in the historic town of Ma’loula in Rural Damascus on Thursday, after hundreds of militants attacked the Christian-majority town.

Local and international media outlets reported that that al-Nusra Front militiamen destroyed the Aramaic church and institute in the town and stole their contents.

Militants began their attack on Wednesday detonating a booby-trapped car at an army checkpoint near the town in the northern countryside of Damascus.

The so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’ claimed responsibility for the bombing , which aided the gunmen to enter Ma’loula and seize control over its main square where snipers deployed over a number of buildings.

Journalists and reporters said that access to the town is not possible due to the fierce clashes between the two sides, indicating that militants have slaughtered some Syrian soldiers.

From her part, Mother Bagela said that two shells landed on the monastery of Mar Takla leaving material damage.

Media correspondents also stated the army’s military operations are cautious because of the presence of civilians, in addition to that al-Nusra’s gunmen deployed over Ma’loula building are delaying the qualitative military conduct to restore the town.

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US will definitely pay price of attack on Syria: Leader

Press TV

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has warned the US against attacking Syria, saying Washington will certainly pay the price for such a venture.

“We believe that the Americans are committing a folly and mistake in Syria and will accordingly take the blow and definitely suffer,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in address to members of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on Thursday.

The Leader said the main objective of the global arrogance is to dominate the Middle East, with Israel in the saddle, controlling everything.

“The goal of the recent issues regarding Syria, which started under the pretext of chemical weapons, is also the same, but the Americans are trying through rhetoric and word-manipulation to pretend that they are entering this issue for a humane goal.”

Ayatollah Khamenei, however, stressed that that US politicians do not care about humanitarian concerns at all.

“Americans are making humanitarian claims at the time that their track records include [the atrocities at] Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, silence over Saddam’s use of chemical weapons in Halabja and Iranian cities, as well as the massacre of innocent people of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.”

Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out that what is going on in the region “is indeed the reaction of the global arrogance, led by the US, to the Islamic Awakening.”

“The presence of the global arrogance in the region is [based on] aggression, bullying and avarice, and is aimed at crushing any resistance against this presence. The arrogance front, however, has not been and will not be able to eliminate this resistance [front],” the Leader added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Leader referred to the ongoing turmoil in Egypt, noting that if Egypt had stood up against Israel and had not fallen for US promises, the deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak would not have been freed from prison and those elected by the Egyptian people put behind the bars and tried.

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Swedes protest US plans for war on Syria amid Obama visit

Press TV

Thousands of protesters have held a demonstration in Sweden’s capital to protest against the US’s warmongering policies vis-à-vis Syria as US President Barack Obama arrived in the European country.

Angry demonstrators took to the streets of Stockholm on Wednesday to express opposition to calls by the Obama administration for a military strike on Syria.

The protesters carried banners that read, “No to Big Brother Obama,” “No to war on Syria,” and “Hands off Snowden,” in a reference to American whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked two top secret spying programs run by the US government.

“Send Obama away. We don’t want Obama to come to Sweden because we see him as a war criminal,” a protester said.

The US president traveled to Sweden to discuss issues related to economy, employment, free trade, climate and energy.

However, the demonstrators in Stockholm said Obama is trying to convince the Swedish government to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and support the US attack on Syria.

“No negotiation about Sweden being a member of NATO, because I think that’s on the agenda today, that Obama wants Sweden to be [a] NATO member and we’re opposing all of that,” another protester said.

Senate panel backs US strike on Syria amid deep reluctance & McCain caught playing poker on phone during hearing

Senate Panel Backs U.S. Strike on Syria amid Deep Reluctance

Al Manar

The Senate authorized on Wednesday a punitive strike on Syria amid deep reluctance in the House, where lawmakers questioned whether the U.S. was in danger of being drawn into another Middle East warKerry.

US President Barack Obama, who announced Saturday that he would seek legislative backing for military action in response to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, sought to raise the pressure on Congress as well as U.S. allies, warning that their reputations were at stake.

“My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility’s on the line. And America and Congress’ credibility’s on the line,” Obama said during a visit to Stockholm.

On a 10-7 vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution to authorize U.S. missile strikes. The committee chairman, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), said Congress should “make sure Assad understands he can’t just wait us out, use chemical weapons and face no consequences.”

Several senators from both parties, including opponents of the resolution, predicted the Senate would approve it next week. Yet the Senate’s conflicted views were clear in the vote, which saw Democrats and Republicans on each side.

Obama, meanwhile, insisted he was not alone in demanding a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21, but was joined by nations that signed treaties banning chemical weapons and by Congress, which ratified them. “I didn’t set a red line; the world set a red line” he said. “That wasn’t something I just kind of made up.”

The Senate committee’s resolution limits any U.S. mission to 90 days and prohibits the use of ground troops.

The resolution was amended to include language from McCain and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) directing that the strike be used to “change the momentum on the battlefield” away from the Syrian government, which has had the edge for much of this year. The amendment said that it was necessary to ‘pressure’ Assad to negotiate an end to the war.

The difficulty of winning votes in the House — particularly among majority Republicans — was clear at the Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced mostly skeptical questions about their confidence in the intelligence about the use of chemical weapons, the nature of the Syrian opposition and the consequences of a strike.

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McCain Caught Playing Poker on Smartphone During Syria Hearing: VIDEO

Al Ahed news

Senator John McCain, a longtime advocate for forceful military intervention in Syria, was caught playing poker on his smartphone Tuesday as top administration officials testified at one of the most pivotal congressional hearings of the year.

McCain is hardly the only US lawmaker ever to seek a diversion from what can be hours of legislative debate on Capitol Hill.

But the photographic evidence of McCain making poker bets on his iPhone during the hearing itself offered a startling counterweight to the seriousness in Washington as senators debated whether to sign on to President Barack Obama’s plan to bomb Syria for chemical weapons use.

“Scandal!” McCain tweeted sarcastically after an alert Washington Post photographer posted the photo that rapidly made the rounds on Twitter.
“Caught playing iPhone game at 3+ hour Senate hearing – worst of all I lost!” he quipped.

McCain explained to the CNN why he was playing poker during the debate. Here is the video:

US planned Syrian civilian catastrophe since 2007

by Martin Rowson

by Tony Cartalucci, source

NBC News’ report, “‘The great tragedy of this century’: More than 2 million refugees forced out of Syria,” stated:

More than 2 million Syrians have poured into neighboring countries as refugees, the United Nations revealed on Tuesday.

Around 5,000 people per day are fleeing the three-year conflict, which the U.N. says has already claimed over 100,000 lives.

“Syria has become the great tragedy of this century — a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history,” said Antَnio Guterres, the U.N.’s high commissioner responsible for refugees.

But, while the UN and nations across the West feign shock over the growing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in and around Syria, the goal of a violent sectarian conflict and its predictable, catastrophic results along with calls to literally “bleed” Syria have been the underlying strategy of special interests in the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their regional partners since at least 2007.

A Timeline: How the Syrian Conflict Really Unfolded

Western media networks have ensured that a singular narrative of “pro-democracy” uprisings turning violent in the face of brutal oppression by the Syrian government after the so-called “Arab Spring” is disseminated across the public. In reality, “pro-democracy” protesters served as a tenuous smokescreen behind which armed foreign-backed extremists took to the streets and countrysides of Syria to execute a sectarian bloodbath years in the making. Here is a timeline that illuminates the true cause of Syria’s current conflict and the foreign interests, not the Syrian government, responsible for the tens of thousands dead and millions displaced during the conflict.

1991: Paul Wolfowitz, then Undersecretary of Defense, tells US Army General Wesley Clark that the US has 5-10 years to “clean up those old Soviet client regimes, Syria, Iran, Iraq, before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.” Fora.TV: Wesley Clark at the Commonwealth Club of California, October 3, 2007.

2001: A classified plot is revealed to US Army General Wesley Clark that the US plans to attack and destroy the governments of 7 nations: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. Fora.TV: Wesley Clark at the Commonwealth Club of California, October 3, 2007.

2002: US Under Secretary of State John Bolton declares Syria a member of the “Axis of Evil” and warned that “the US would take action.” BBC: “US Expands ‘Axis of Evil'” May 6, 2002.

2005: US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy organizes and implements the “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon directly aimed at undermining Syrian-Iranian influence in Lebanon in favor of Western-backed proxies, most notably Saad Hariri’s political faction. Counterpunch: “Faking the Case Against Syria,” by Trish Schuh November 19-20, 2005.

2005: Ziad Abdel Nour, an associate of Bush Administration advisers, policy makers, and media including Neo-Conservatives Paula Dobriansky, James Woolsey, Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Joseph Farah (World Net Daily), Clifford May, and Daniel Nassif of US State Department-funded Al Hurra and Radio Sawa, admits: “Both the Syrian and Lebanese regimes will be changed- whether they like it or not- whether it’s going to be a military coup or something else… and we are working on it. We know already exactly who’s going to be the replacements. We’re working on it with the Bush administration.” Counterpunch: “Faking the Case Against Syria,” by Trish Schuh November 19-20, 2005.

2006: Israel attempts, and fails, to destroy Hezbollah in Lebanon after a prolonged aerial bombard that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. CNN: “UN: Hezbollah and Israel agree on Monday cease-fire,” August 13, 2006.
2007: Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker reveals that US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Hariri in Lebanon as well as the Syrian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood were assembling, arming, training, and heavily funding a sectarian extremists front, many of whom had direct ties to Al Qaeda, to unleash in both Lebanon and Syria. The goal was to create and exploit a sectarian divide between Sunni and Shi’ia Muslims. Hersh interviewed intelligence officers who expressed concerns over the “cataclysmic conflict” that would result, and the need to protect ethnic minorities from sectarian atrocities. The report indicated that extremists would be logistically staged in northern Lebanon where they would be able to cross back and forth into Syria. New Yorker: “The Redirection,” by Seymour Hersh, March 5, 2007.

2008: The US State Department begins training, funding, networking, and equipping “activists” through its “Alliance for Youth Movements” where the future protest leaders of the “Arab Spring,” including Egypt’s “April 6 Movement” were brought to New York, London, and Mexico, before being trained by US-funded CANVAS in Serbia, and then returning home to begin preparations for 2011. Land Destroyer: “2011 – Year of the Dupe,” December 24, 2011.

009: The Brookings Institution published a report titled, “Which Path to Persia?” which admits that the Bush Administration “evicted” Syria from Lebanon without building up a strong Lebanese government to replace it (p. 34), that Israel struck a “nascent” Syrian nuclear program, and states the importance of neutralizing Syrian influence before any attack on Iran can be carried out (p. 109). The report then goes on to describe in detail the use of listed terrorist organizations against the government of Iran, in particular the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) (p. 126) and Baluch insurgents in Pakistan (p.132). Brookings Institution: “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran,” June 2009.

2009-2010: In an April 2011 AFP report, Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, admitted that the “US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments.” The report went on to admit that the US (emphasis added) “organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there.” Posner would add, “They went back and there’s a ripple effect.” AFP: “US Trains Activists to Evade Security Forces,” April 8, 2011.

2011: Posner’s US trained, funded, and equipped activists return to their respective countries across the Arab World to begin their “ripple effect.” Protests, vandalism , and arson sweep across Syria and “rooftop snipers” begin attacking both protesters and Syrian security forces, just as Western-backed movements were documented doing in Bangkok, Thailand one year earlier. With a similar gambit already unfolding in Libya, US senators begin threatening Syria with long planned and sought after military intervention. Land Destroyer: “Syria: Intervention Inevitable,” April 29, 2011.

2012: With NATO’s Libyan intervention resulting in a weak US-backed Tripoli client-regime, perpetual infighting, nationwide genocide, and the succession of Benghazi in the east, the NATO-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), listed by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (listed #27) begins mobilizing weapons, cash, and fighters to begin destabilizing Syria. Headed by LIFG’s Abdul Hakim Belhaj, this would be the first confirmed presence of Al Qaeda in Syria, flush with NATO weapons and cash. The Washington Post would confirm, just as stated by Hersh in 2007, that the US and Saudi Arabia were arming the sectarian extremists, now labeled the “Free Syrian Army.” The Post also admits that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, as stated in Hersh’s 2007 report, was also involved in arming and backing extremist fighters. Land Destroyer: “US Officially Arming Extremists in Syria,” May 16, 2012.

2012: The US policy think-tank Brookings Institution in its Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” admits that it does not seek any negotiated ceasefire under the UN’s “Kofi Annan peace plan” that leaves Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power and would rather arm militants, even with the knowledge they will never succeed, to “bleed” the government, “keeping a regional adversary weak, while avoiding the costs of direct intervention.” This reveals that US policy does not view US interference in Syria as a moral imperative predicated on defending human rights, but rather using this false predication to couch aspirations of regional hegemony. Land Destroyer: “US Brookings Wants to “Bleed” Syria to Death,” May 28, 2012.

And, just this year, it was revealed that despite the West’s feigned military and political paralysis regarding the Syrian conflict, the US and Great Britain have been covertly funding and arming sectarian extremists to the tune of billions of dollars and arming them with literally thousands of tons of weaponry. Despite claims of “carefully vetting” “moderate” militant factions, the prominence of Al Qaeda-linked extremist groups indicates that the majority of Western support, laundered through Qatar and Saudi Arabia, is being purposefully put into the hands of the very sectarian extremists identified in Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection.”

US Created and is Now Using Syrian Catastrophe to Justify Intervention

The non-debate taking place now to justify US military intervention in a conflict they themselves started and have intentionally perpetuated, is whether chemical weapons were used in Damascus on August 21, 2013 – not even “who” deployed them. The weakness of the US’ argument has seen an unprecedented backlash across both the world’s populations and the global diplomatic community. And despite only 9% of the American public supporting a military intervention in Syria, Congress appears poised to not only green-light “limited strikes,” but may approve of a wider military escalation.

In Seymour Hersh’s 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection,” Robert Baer, a former CIA agent in Lebanon, warned of the sectarian bloodbath the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were planning to unleash. He stated:

“we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites”

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, also featured in Hersh’s report, would in turn also warn of an imminent and spreading sectarian war purposefully stoked by the West:

Nasrallah said he believed that President Bush’s goal was “the drawing of a new map for the region. They want the partition of Iraq. Iraq is not on the edge of a civil war-there is a civil war. There is ethnic and sectarian cleansing. The daily killing and displacement which is taking place in Iraq aims at achieving three Iraqi parts, which will be sectarian and ethnically pure as a prelude to the partition of Iraq. Within one or two years at the most, there will be total Sunni areas, total Shiite areas, and total Kurdish areas. Even in Baghdad, there is a fear that it might be divided into two areas, one Sunni and one Shiite.”

He went on, “I can say that President Bush is lying when he says he does not want Iraq to be partitioned. All the facts occurring now on the ground make you swear he is dragging Iraq to partition. And a day will come when he will say, ‘I cannot do anything, since the Iraqis want the partition of their country and I honor the wishes of the people of Iraq.’ ”

Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.”

It would be difficult for anyone to look across the scarred landscape of today’s Syria and not see that this horrific conspiracy was realized in full. The Western media is now acquainting the public with the possibility of a partitioned Syria, echoing the warnings of Nasrallah years ago. The goals of a US military strike would be to “degrade” the capabilities of the Syrian government, while bolstering the terrorist legions still operating within and along Syria’s borders.

What we are witnessing in Syria today is the direct result of a documented conspiracy, not by a “brutal Syrian regime” “oppressing” its own people, but of a US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia radicalizing, arming, and unleashing a sectarian tidal wave they knew well ahead of time would cause atrocities, genocide, mass displacements and even the geopolitical partitioning of Syria and beyond. The intentional destabilization of the region is meant to weaken Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Iraq – and even Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and others – to accomplish what the depleted, impotent US and Israeli forces could not achieve. Military intervention now seeks to tip the balance of an already teetering region.

The attacks on Syria are not humanitarian by any measure. They are simply the latest stage of a long-running plan to divide and destroy the region, leaving the West the sole regional hegemonic power.

Putin warned west over Syria: Did we forget about Iraq?

Putin Warned West over Syria: Did We Forget about Iraq?

Al Ahed news

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television, Putin said Moscow has provided some components of the S-300 air defense missile system to Syria but has frozen further shipments. He suggested that Russia may sell the potent missile systems elsewhere if Western nations attack Syria without UN Security Council backing.

The interview Tuesday night at Putin’s country residence outside the Russian capital was the only one he granted prior to the summit of G-20 nations in St. Petersburg, which opens Thursday. The summit was supposed to concentrate on the global economy but now looks likely to be dominated by the international crisis over Syria.

Putin said he felt sorry that President Barack Obama canceled a one-on-one meeting in Moscow that was supposed to have happened before the summit. But he expressed hope the two would have serious discussions about Syria and other issues in St. Petersburg.

“President Obama hasn’t been elected by the American people in order to be pleasant to Russia. And your humble servant hasn’t been elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to someone either,” he said of their relationship.

In parallel, Putin said: “We work, we argue about some issues. We are human. Sometimes one of us gets vexed. But I would like to repeat once again that global mutual interests form a good basis for finding a joint solution to our problems.”

Putin said it was “ludicrous” that the Syrian regime would use chemical weapons at a time when it was holding sway against the rebels.

“From our viewpoint, it seems absolutely absurd that the armed forces, the regular armed forces, which are on the offensive today and in some areas have encircled the so-called rebels and are finishing them off, that in these conditions they would start using forbidden chemical weapons while realizing quite well that it could serve as a pretext for applying sanctions against them, including the use of force,” he said.

“If there are data that the chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the UN Security Council,” added Putin, and conditioned : “It ought to be convincing. It shouldn’t be based on some rumors and information obtained by special services through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that.”

He noted that even in the US, “there are experts who believe that the evidence presented by the administration doesn’t look convincing, and they don’t exclude the possibility that the opposition conducted a premeditated provocative action trying to give their sponsors a pretext for military intervention.”

He compared the evidence presented by Washington to false data used by the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“All these arguments turned out to be untenable, but they were used to launch a military action, which many in the US called a mistake. Did we forget about that?” Putin said.

He said he “doesn’t exclude” backing the use of force against Syria at the United Nations if there is objective evidence proving that regime used chemical weapons against its people. But he strongly warned Washington against launching military action without UN approval, saying it would represent an aggression.

Putin reinforced his demand that before taking action, Obama needed approval from the UN Security Council. Russia can veto resolutions in the council and has protected Syria from punitive actions there before.

Asked what kind of evidence on chemical weapons use would convince Russia, Putin said “it should be a deep and specific probe containing evidence that would be obvious and prove beyond doubt who did it and what means were used.”
Putin said it was “too early” to talk about what Russia would do if the US attacked Syria.

“We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise,” he said. “We have our plans.”

Putin called the S-300 air defense missile system “a very efficient weapon” and said that Russia had a contract for its delivery of the S-300s to Syria. “We have supplied some of the components, but the delivery hasn’t been completed. We have suspended it for now,” he said.

“But if we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world,” he said.

On another level, Putin also accused US intelligence agencies of bungling efforts to apprehend Snowden, the National Security Agency leader, who is wanted in the US on espionage charges. He said the United States could have allowed Snowden to go to a country where his security would not be guaranteed or intercepted him along the way, but instead pressured other countries not to accept him or even to allow a plane carrying him to cross their airspace. Russia has granted him temporary asylum.

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Syria Says Will Not Give in ’Even If There Is WWIII’

Al Manar

Syria’s deputy foreign minister said Wednesday the state would miqdadnot give in to threats of a US-led military strike against the country, even if a third world war erupts.

Faisal Muqdad said the government had taken “every measure” to counter a potential intervention aimed at punishing Syria over a suspected deadly poison gas strike and was mobilizing its allies.

“The Syrian government will not change position even if there is World War III. No Syrian can sacrifice the independence of his country,” he said.

“Syria has taken every measure to retaliate against… an aggression,” he added, refusing to provide any clue as to what that might mean.

Muqdad said Syria was mobilizing its allies ahead of a possible strike, as US President Barack Obama lobbies Congress to back intervention and the French parliament debates the issue.

The Syrian official added two of America’s top allies in the region, Jordan and Turkey, should think twice before participating.

“Once the attack against Syria starts from Jordan and Turkey then they will both suffer,” said Mr. Mekdad.

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Russia sends missile cruiser to Eastern Mediterranean

Press TV

Russian military officials say Moscow is sending three more naval ships, including a missile cruiser, to the Eastern Mediterranean, as the United States is preparing for a possible strike on Syria.

The missile cruiser, Moskva, will take over the navy’s operations in the region, a move which Russia says is needed to protect its national interests, state agency Interfax quoted a military source as saying on Wednesday.

“The Cruiser Moskva is heading to the Strait of Gibraltar. In approximately 10 days it will enter the East Mediterranean, where it will take over as the flagship of the naval task force,” said the unnamed military source.

The missile cruiser is to be joined by two other vessels, a destroyer from Russia’s Baltic Fleet and a frigate from the Black Sea Fleet, which are to arrive in the region until Friday.

Russia has recently deployed other warships to the Eastern Mediterranean. On September 1, Moscow sent its Priazovye reconnaissance ship to the region tasked with collecting information in the tense region, which will be operating separately from the naval unit.

Last week, Russian Defense Ministry reported that additional warships, including the Moskva, were being sent to the Mediterranean on routine mission…

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US Polls: Public Opposes Syria Strike

Al Ahed news

Two new polls out Tuesday have found strong opposition to US military intervention in Syria among a war-weary American public.

A survey carried out by the Pew Research Center over the weekend found that 48 percent of Americans oppose “conducting military airstrikes” against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons compared to 29 percent who support such action.

A Washington Post-ABC news poll found a similar margin, with nearly six in 10 Americans opposed to missile strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The polls found opposition across the political spectrum.

The Pew poll found that just 29 percent of Democrats support US airstrikes compared to 48 percent who are opposed.

Republicans are slightly more supportive of military action, with 35 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed, the Pew poll said.

The Post-ABC poll, however, found a nearly identical level of opposition among Democrats and Republicans, and Independents even more opposed to military action, with just 30 percent in favor and 66 percent opposed.

The Pew poll found that 74 percent of Americans believe a US strike would likely spark a backlash against Washington and its allies in the region, and 61 percent think it would lead to a long-term US military commitment there.
The low levels of support for military action could complicate US President Barack Obama’s efforts to rally congressional support for punitive strikes against Syria.

Obama won support Tuesday from key Republican leaders in the House, but faces an uphill battle convincing critics on the left and right to endorse another military campaign in the Middle East after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pew poll was conducted August 29-September 1 among 1,000 respondents. The Post-ABC poll was carried out August 28-September 1 among 1,012 respondents and had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Syria Countdown

Breathing Easier, For Now…

by FRANKLIN LAMB, source

Damascus

The morning following President Obama’s announcement he would not bomb Syria immediately, the streets of Damascus were packed with shoppers and employees heading to their jobs. Several reasons for this were mentioned by my friend, Eyman. Some Damascenes who had fled their homes last week had returned, and a palpable sense of at least temporary relief pervades much of this capital city. It is also the first of the month. In Syria, government and other employees have just received their monthly paychecks and need to stock up on food, particularly now, upon entering this most uncertain month.

Adding to the uncertainty are people’s plans for the immediate future. Many of those who fled and returned following Obama’s deferral to Congress, are planning to leave again before next weekend’s possible attack. Others, due to conditions for refugees they discovered in Lebanon, have decided to stay, essentially playing a game of Russian roulette with death as they await their fates in their beloved Syria.

At any rate, in Damascus this morning citizens can be seen scurrying to workplaces, feeling safe enough, at least for now, to go grocery shopping and do errands. Even the gunmen who man electronic ‘frisking” equipment just outside my hotel, and who search all wishing to enter, seem genuinely relieved, happy and unusually friendly, as do the army troops on downtown Damascus streets. Friends in Damascus, both in government and private citizens, talk of an “uncertain relief” since last Sunday night, though it is a relief combined with an awareness that a terrible event of some sort may be on the way. Still others, aware of what seems to be increasing opposition to military action amongst the American public, think the attack may be delayed again.

Perhaps most surprisingly, local news outlets are reporting this morning on the results of a new poll showing that 60 percent of the Syrian people think the US will not attack at all. As for the Syrian government, it has been nearly mute internationally, not wanting to provoke the White House, while at the same time assuring the public here that Syria can face all challenges and that history and God are with its people.
The weather here has changed since my visit last month. While the days will stay oppressively hot for another month, the early mornings have turned cool with refreshing soft breezes. Doves and pigeons in the park opposite the National Museum on Beirut Street coo and enjoy the large green space next to the Four Seasons Hotel, the same hotel which the UN CW investigators just vacated as they prepare their report for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Given that an American attack, should one occur, may well open the gates of hell, this observer is constantly amazed by the mundane, everyday things one is still able to observe around here. For example, last Friday afternoon I watched transfixed from a park bench as two public works employees weeded a few errant dandelions and weeds that had dared invade a beautiful manicured garden-park in downtown Damascus. This struck me as a bit bizarre, given the then widely-held belief that a US missile blitz might light up Damascus that very evening. On the scale of things these days, I doubted that a few weeds sprouting in a city park were of great import. Or were they? Perhaps carrying out one’s individual duty and work assignment these days is a wholly interconnected part of the nation’s overall resistance to foreign invasions, and is congruent somehow to what seems to be a pervading attitude—of people wanting to carry on with, or at least simulate, their pre-crisis lives and routines, their accustomed simple pleasures. And so maybe weeding gardens in Damascus makes perfect sense these days.

A Palestinian family from Latakia refugee camp up north who had fled their homes last December, joining thousands who have come to Damascus seeking safety, were visiting with me this morning. When I asked how their beautiful three and five year old children were adjusting to the crisis atmosphere in their new surroundings, the mother replied, “When the bombing started over a year ago the children could not sleep well because they were frightened by the loud noise. But over time they got used to it and slept fine. But last night they could not sleep because there was no shelling and it was too quiet for them. So what are we to do”? And she laughed.

It is true that there was no shelling and bombing here in Damascus during the night of Sunday, September 1, which the lady was referring to. And this fact is significant. Informed sources report to this observer that the government decision not to bomb the suburbs including East Ghouta, which normally occurs nightly, was taken at the highest level in order to send a reply message from Syria to America and personally to President Obama. The latter’s speech, just hours earlier in Washington, contained several messages for the leadership in Damascus. What the Syrian government was signaling, some claim, was its willingness to join Tehran, Moscow and Washington in finding a peaceful solution to Syria’s crisis, starting with Geneva II.

Meanwhile, the ever-rising cost of living for Syria’s population, due in large measure to the US-led economic sanctions, continues to devastate many families here. Those sanctions are designed by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC), and they intentionally target Syria’s civilian population in an effort to get the population to break with its government, thereby facilitating the US goal of regime change in Syria and Iran. This observer, with two student friends, yesterday visited a government owned supermarket called “Marazaa Government Supermarket”—one of approximately one hundred government-operated grocery stores in central Damascus. We compared prices by also visiting the privately owned “Supermarket Day by Day” in the Sabah Bahar neighborhood, also in central Damascus, and found that government-owned grocery stores average 5-15 percent lower prices, depending upon the item. The private grocery chains tend to be frequented by those with more money and who might seek European products and a wider product selection. Government stores, on the other hand, sell only Syrian products.

Bread was being rationed last week in government bakeries. At least one such bakery exists in every neighborhood, and a citizen is currently allowed to purchase one plastic bag with 22 loaves per day. The government plastic bag weighs three kilos (roughly 6.5 pounds) and sells for 50 Syrian lire or a bit less than USD 25 cents. This quantity, I am advised by a super market store manager, normally feeds a family of at least three for one day given that the average bread staple consumption in Syria is three loaves per person per day. Normally, even during this 30 month crisis, a citizen could purchase as much as they desired from government stores, but the American attack threat has caused yet more market complications in Syria for the average citizens.

In private bakeries, severe inflation has hit, and just seven loaves of bread, which would feed two persons for one day, now costs 150 lire or approximately 75 cents. Despite the wide price differential (the government shops have not raised their prices since the regime of Hafez al-Assad), many people are shopping at the private shops because it can take five or more hours waiting in line at the government bread shops.
Before the onset of the conflict now raging in Syria, the price of eggs was 125 lira (about 25 cents) for 24 in a carton. Prior to the most recent crisis, the price was 500 lira (one us dollar) for two dozen eggs, and this morning in Damascus it is 700 lira.

In seeking to end this crisis, Syria is fortunate to have tough and resolute allies including Russia and Iran and, perhaps equally important, a skilled diplomatic corps and group of officials who have exhibited remarkable acumen and insight as well as nerves of steel—both during the crisis as a whole and especially over the past several days of brinkmanship. This observer has had the honor to meet with a few of them personally. These include Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and his Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, Information Minister Omran Zoubi and his able staff, Presidential Adviser Dr. Bouthania Shaaban, and her dedicated office colleagues, and Parliament Speaker Mohammad Jihad al-Laham.

In this observer’s view, many Syrians, perhaps a majority, do not believe that President Obama, Defense Secretary Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, or a growing number of members of Congress, and most importantly the American public, want war. Some here are thinking, wishfully perhaps, that without a strong Congressional vote in favor of the Obama request, the president will not order a criminal attack Syria’s civilian population, for if there is a US attack, that is assuredly what it will be.

Surprisingly perhaps, Obama is being praised by some for his courage in not caving to the neocons and Zionist lobby by ordering the US military to begin bombing promptly. As one Syrian journalist told this observer just hours ago, “Obama still has the opportunity to earn that Nobel Prize, which he received a few years back for I have no idea why, and secure his legacy as one of American’s great Presidents—if he has the courage and vision of the late Dr. Martin Luther King.”

Before ending a very long day with sleep, this observer invited the Palestinian family to dinner near my hotel as it was not apparent that they had been eating much recently. We talked about prospects for the Syrian Arab Republic, and Palestinian refugees, so many of whom have been internally and externally displaced as result of this maelstrom, and as I interacted with the wonderful children, I could not help becoming wistful as I contemplated the certainty that it is these children, and Syria’s poor, who are condemned, unless the American people prevent it, to suffer the brunt of this latest US adventure—condemned as their country becomes more divided, and a new batch of terrorist groups springs up like mushrooms after a summer rain.

Washington’s ill-considered criminal attack will aid and abet these largely Gulf financed militia and provide justification, in their minds for literally hundreds of often competing jihadist groups to spread carnage across Syria. The innocent in the USA and the West will also eventually suffer a severe pay back price as was the case on 9/11/2001 and a decade later on 9/11/2011. And on and on it goes.

This observer is frequently asked these days, as the bombs and rockets hit ever nearer, if the American people have the political and moral will to take to the streets, and to the offices of their Congressional representatives whose salaries they pay, and make history—a history that will revitalize our county and its claimed democracy. Each American, and all people of good will, have the power to do this service to humanity.
And they can do it in the coming days. If they fail, who do we blame but ourselves? Because when it comes down to it, it’s our country; it doesn’t belong to the politicians or the corporations or to those who pledge fealty to a foreign occupying power half a world away. It is our constitution, and if each of us doesn’t protect it we cede it to others to sully and use as they will.

Expert: Firing rockets message for military, Congress, Syria and allies & related news

Lebanese Expert: Firing Rockets Message for Military, Congress, Syria and Allies

Al Manar

The Lebanese military expert and strategist retired Brigadier General Amin Hoteit said Tuesday that the joint Israel-American military force that has been formed on the sidelines of the NATO Navy forces.

A Zionist navy piece was attached to these forces without being the so-called ‘Israel’ a member of NATO,” Hotiet told Al-Manar website.

“This new attached force has tested today the rocket systems (Tomahawk and cruise missiles, as well as interceptors platform for missiles),” he added.

As for the regional and international messages behind firing the rockets, Hoteit believed that the operation holds a certain message to the military force that it is mobilized for a serious and imminent war.

“There is also a message to the U.S. Congress that the forces are ready and wait for the war approval.”

“Another message to Syria and its allies in the framework of intimidation and psychological warfare to say that the war is coming, the threat is serious and that there is no retreat from aggression,” he added.

In the final evaluation, the Lebanese expert said the rockets will not change the landscape and the balance of power, but if the United States wants to attack, it must prepare with its agents in the region for an open war.

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Israeli Army Launched Med Missiles as Part of Joint US-Israeli Drill

Al Manar

Missiles that Russia reported were launched in the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday were part of a joint American-Israeli military exercise, Israeli media said.

A missile launch early Tuesday in the Mediterranean Sea was part of joint American-Israeli military exercises, Israel’s defence ministry said.

“The Israeli defence ministry and the American MDA (Missile Defence Agency) Tuesday morning at 9:15 (0615 GMT) successfully launched an Ankor-type radar missile,” it said in a statement.

The Zionist army said it was “not familiar” with any missiles being fired in the Mediterranean. It said it didn’t detected signs missiles were launched into Syria or had exploded in Damascus.

Russia on Tuesday announced that its missile early warning system had detected the launch of two missiles from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea fired towards the Sea’s eastern coastline.

The launches took place at 10:16 am Moscow time (0616 GMT) and were detected by the early warning system in Armavir in southern Russia, the defense ministry said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

It said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had already reported to President Vladimir Putin about the event, which comes amid growing expectations of Western military action in Syria.

“The launch was detected by the early warning radar in Armavir,” the Interfax news agency quoted the defense ministry as saying. “The trajectory of the targets in question was from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea towards the eastern part of the Mediterranean coastline,” it added.

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Miqdad to al-Manar: Saudi Arabia Wants to Eliminate Syria by Every Means

Al Manar

Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Miqdad stressed on Monday his country’s readiness to confront any aggression waged against it, underlying that any attack on Syria will set the whole region ablaze.

“We all know that the West cannot be trusted, because of this we are ready for confrontation and for anything that might happen,” Miqdad said.

“Any attack on Syria will set this region ablaze. When the first rocket got fired, no one can predict the resulted repercussions,” he added.

During an exclusive interview with Al-Manar TV, the Syrian deputy FM criticized Riyadh position of Syria, and pointed out that the Saudi regime wants to end Syria by every means, to serve the American and Zionist interests.

“The Saudi regime is fallen since long in its people’s eye, as well as in the Arab nation’s eye. They are facing now the battle of challenge and last downfall.”

Fielding a question about the Saudi hastening to attack Syria, Miqdad justified it as spite, hatred:
“This is the attitude of the salve who seeks to pacify his master and to present more services which have not been requested.”

Addressing the Lebanese file, the Syrian politician expressed beliefs that Lebanon is strong due to its will and diplomats.

“Lebanon is strong because it has the will and the foreign ministers who are able to be united and defend the Lebanese interest,” Miqdad stressed.

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Lawmakers Blast Obama’s Syria War Draft

Al Manar

American lawmakers have criticized the draft of President Barack Obama’s authorization for military action in Syria, saying it could open the door to attacks on other countries.US

Obama and other White House officials pressed lawmakers on Monday to approve military force against Syria.

However, there is deep disagreement on how to proceed, with some lawmakers saying the draft authorization is too broad in scope and duration.

The lawmakers are worried that the draft could let Obama attack other countries as well. They say although the authorization’s focus is on the use of chemicals in Syria, it has not set a time limit on military action, and has not confined it only to Syria.

The proposal authorizes the president to use the armed forces “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria,” Reuters reported.

The proposal also explicitly allows military action to deter or prevent the transfer of those weapons into or out of Syria.

Congressional hesitancy reflects the overall weariness of war among Americans who oppose getting involved in Syria.

“People have become, it’s more than just war-weary, they’ve become skeptical of the effectiveness of these military involvements,” said Rep. James McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

“The resolution that they are presenting right now is so open-ended, I think even people who are sympathetic to the administration might have trouble supporting it,” he added.

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Human Shields Campaign: To Protect Syria from Potential Attack

by Ali Abdallah, Syria, Al Ahed news

A group of Syrians from all walks of life, including young artists and athletes, participated in the campaign called “Over our Dead Bodies” on Monday, to help protect the country from potential foreign military action.

The participants are shielding key facilities in the capital, Damascus, pledging to stand their ground until the US military threats are stopped or they are killed. The organizers of the campaign said they have received calls from all over the world asking for permission to join the movement. The campaign comes as amid threats of foreign military intervention in Syria.

The campaign was launched at Damascus’s Sheraton hotel through a press conference, in which Syrian artist Laura abu Asaad, Journalist Ogarit Dandash, and Swimmer Firas Maala took part. The campaign was welcomed by a vast audience, and the number of volunteers increased after a facebook page was established for the campaign.

Ghassan Najjar, the media coordinator of the campaign said “The goal of this campaign is to deliver a message to the world that says: The Syrians will not stand still before the US possible attack to be launched against their country. They will rather stand in face [of this attack] to protect Syria and its facilities with their bare bodies.”

In a statement to al-Ahed news, Najjar stated “The initiative started in Qasyoun Mount in Damascus, as it stands symbol to the capital Damascus and to all Syria. Tens of young men, women, and even children gathered in the tents that were set up for the campaign, while more volunteers arrive day after day.”

For her part, well-known Lebanese journalist Ogarit Dandash accentuated “Syrian expatriates, also some Arabs [Egyptians, Jordanians, Morrocan] and Westerners from Germany and the US have a strong desire to participate in the campaign, therefore they contact the organizers and ask about how they can support the movement, and what to do to contribute in prevent a military strike.”

According to the organizers, some young Syrians who do not belong to any party or political side have already started to execute the idea of human shields in other Syrian provinces. Also, striking it is that the campaign is not funded by any group or party.

The idea of human shields, according to Dandash, is not a similar to protests and rallies. Being a human shield means presenting oneself as armor to protect the civil and military facilities, and risk their safety.
On August 21, terrorist militants and the foreign-backed opposition in Syria claimed that 1,300 people had been killed in a chemical attack the Syrian government launched on militant strongholds in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.

A number of Western countries, including the US, France, and the UK, were quick to adopt the rhetoric of war against Syria despite the fact that Damascus categorically rejected having had any role in the chemical attack.

The Syrian government announced later that the chemical attack had actually been carried out by the militants themselves as a false flag operation.

On August 29, the British parliament voted against participation by Britain, the United States’ closest ally, in any potential military intervention in Syria. While the British government had primarily sought a second vote in the parliament as well, it ruled out any such vote on September 2, saying that the parliament “has spoken,” and that the government “has absolutely no plans to go back to parliament.”

On Friday, August 30, NATO also distanced itself from participating in any military intervention in Syria, with the chief of the Western military coalition, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, saying he did not “foresee any NATO role” in a war on Syria.

Syrian armed groups in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

In a report published on Friday, the armed groups revealed that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by militants mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the deadly gas attack,” wrote Gavlak.

Despite warnings from the UN, as well as Iran, Russia, and China against war, Washington has remained defiant, saying that it is willing to go ahead with its plans for a strike on Syria without the approval of the United Nations or even the support of its allies. However, US President Barack Obama said on Saturday, August 31 that his administration will first seek authorization from the Congress.

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Vatican renews calls against Syria strike

Source

A top Vatican official on Monday warned the war in Syria could escalate into a global conflict, a day after Pope Francis made an impassioned call for peace.

“The Syria conflict has all the ingredients to explode into a war of global dimensions,” Monsignor Mario Toso, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told Vatican radio.

“The solution to Syria’s problems is not in armed intervention. Violence will not decrease and there is a risk of a conflagration that extends to other countries,” he said…

Francis called for a day of fasting and prayer on Saturday for peace in Syria, calling on Christians, believers of other religions and non-believers to take part.

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Two Thirds of British People Oppose Strikes on Syria

Al Ahed news

A poll published by The Independent British daily showed that “the Iraq War has turned the British public against any military intervention in the Middle East.”

According to a ComRes survey for the daily, “By a margin of two-to-one, the British people oppose President Barack Obama’s plan for military strikes against Syria and say that the UK should keep out of all conflicts in the region for the foreseeable future.”

The ComRes survey suggests that MPs were right, at least according to public opinion, to veto air strikes by Britain last Thursday.

It found that only 29 per cent of people agree that the US, without Britain, should launch air strikes against the Syrian regime, while 57 per cent disagree.

Four out of five people believe that any military strikes against Syria should first be sanctioned by the United Nations, while 15 per cent disagree with this statement.

Asked whether the experience of the 2003 Iraq war means that Britain should keep out of military conflicts in the Middle East for the foreseeable future, 62 per cent agree and 31 per cent disagree.

A majority of supporters of every party agree with this statement, with Labor and UK Independence Party voters more likely to believe Britain should “keep out” than Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters.

After his Commons rebuff, a majority of people 54 per cent agree that David Cameron showed he is “out of touch with Britain” in his handling of the Syria crisis, while 34 per cent disagree. Worryingly for the Prime Minister, a third of current Tory supporters (33 per cent) and almost half of voters overall (42 per cent) believe Cameron showed he is out of touch, as do 76 per cent of Ukip supporters.

Andrew Mitchell, the Tory former International Development Secretary, said: “It may be, after lengthy and careful consideration, [the US] Congress affirms its support for the President’s plans and, in the light of that, our Parliament may want to consider this matter further.”

But Cameron’s spokesman said: “Parliament has spoken and that is why the Government has absolutely no plans to go back to Parliament.”

Downing Street indicated that Britain does not expect its military bases – such as RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus, less than 200 miles from Syria – to be used in any air strikes.

Debunking Obama’s chemical weapons case against the Syrian government

Fact and Fiction

by ERIC DRAITSER, source

The document entitled “U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013”, released in tandem with public statements made by Secretary of State John Kerry, is merely a summary of a manufactured narrative designed to lead the US into yet another criminal and disastrous war in the Middle East. Having been released prior to even preliminary reports from UN chemical weapons investigators on the ground in Syria, the document is as much a work of fiction as it is fact.

It begins with the conclusion that “The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013.” Naturally, one would immediately wonder how such a conclusion was reached when even the expert investigators on the ground have yet to conclude their own study. If these experts with years of training in the field of chemical weapons, toxicology, and other related disciplines, have yet to make such a determination, it would seem more than convenient that the US has already reached their own assessment.

Moreover, based on its own admissions as to the sources of this so-called “intelligence”, very serious doubt should be cast on such a dubious government report. The document explains that:

These all-source assessments are based on human, signals, and geospatial intelligence as well as a significant body of open-source reporting…In addition to US intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible non-governmental organizations.

First and foremost, any critical reading of this document must begin with the notions of “human intelligence” and “witness accounts”. Such terminology indicates that the US is simply basing pre-conceived conclusions on rebel sources and the much touted “activists” who seem to always be the sources quoted in Western media reports. Secondly, it is obvious that US officials have cherry-picked their eyewitness accounts as there are many, from both sides of the conflict, which directly contradict this so-called high-confidence assessment.

As reported in the Mint Press News by Associated Press reporter Dale Gavlak, Syrians from the town of Ghouta – the site of the chemical attack – tell a very different story from the one being told by the US government. Residents provide very credible testimony that “certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.” What makes such testimony even more compelling is that it comes from anti-Assad Syrians, many of whom have seen their children die fighting Assad’s forces. One of the Ghouta residents described his conversations with his son, a fighter tasked with carrying the chemical weapons for the Nusra Front jihadi group, who spoke of Saudi-supplied weapons being unloaded and transported. His son later was killed, along with 12 other rebels, inside a tunnel used to store weapons.

It is essential to also dispute the very notion that “social media reports” constitute credible evidence to be used in making a case for war. It is a long-established fact that US and other intelligence agencies are able to manipulate twitter, Facebook and other social media in whatever way they see fit. As the Guardian reported back in 2011:

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda…each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history, and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations ‘without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries.’

It seems as if the United States is now using social media, a system over which they have control, to justify their pre-fabricated war narrative. Additionally, the idea that videos constitute a shred of evidence is laughable. As any investigator can tell you, videos are easily manipulated and, even if they are untouched, they cannot be used to assess the culprit of a crime. Videos merely show what is visible, not the underlying motives, means, and opportunity – all part of genuine investigation.

Finally, one must feel serious apprehension at the idea of journalist reports as being part of this pastiche called a “high confidence assessment,” for the simple reason that Western coverage of the conflict in Syria is mostly coming from journalists outside the country or those already sympathetic to the rebel cause. Whether they are paid propagandists or simply convenient tools used as mouthpieces of the corporate media, their reports are highly suspect, and certainly should have no role in shaping war-making policy.

It is critical to examine the “intelligence information” referred to in the assessment. It would seem that, according to the document itself, much of the case for war is based on human intelligence. Many news outlets have reported that the entire case against Assad is being based on an intercepted phone call provided to US intelligence by none other than the Israelis. Israel, with its long track record of fabricating intelligence for the purposes of war-making, is not exactly a neutral observer. As one of the principal actors in the region calling for the overthrow of the Assad government, Tel Aviv has a vested interest in ensuring a US intervention in Syria.

The ardently pro-Israel FOX News reported that:

The initial confirmation that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack Aug. 21 came from a tip from the Israeli intelligence service…a special unit of the Israeli Defense Force – an intelligence unit that goes by the number 8200…helped provide the intelligence intercepts that allowed the White House to conclude that the Assad regime was behind the attack.

It would seem rather convenient that one of the primary beneficiaries of a war to topple Assad would be the primary source of the sole piece of evidence purportedly linking Assad to the attack. If this strikes you as at best a flimsy pretext for war, you would be correct.

The report also outlines the way in which Washington arrived at its conclusion that Assad carried out the attacks. The document states:

We assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. We assess that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely. The body of information used to make this assessment includes intelligence pertaining to the regime’s preparations for this attack and its means of delivery, multiple streams of intelligence about the attack itself and its effect, our post-attack observations, and the differences between the capabilities of the regime and the opposition.

In analyzing the above excerpt, it should be immediately clear to anyone who has been following events in Syria closely, that this conclusion is based on faulty premises and outright lies. First, the idea that it is “highly unlikely” that the chemical attack was carried out by the opposition is an impossible assertion to make given that there is abundant evidence that the “rebels” carried out chemical attacks previously. As the widely circulated video showing rebels mounting chemical weapons onto artillery shells demonstrates, not only do they have the capability and delivery system, they have a significant supply of chemicals, certainly enough to have carried out the attack. Moreover, the multiple massacres carried out by Nusra Front and other extremist rebel factions demonstrates that such groups have no compunction whatsoever about killing innocent civilians en masse.

As for the claim that the US has based their conclusions at least in part on “the regime’s preparations for this attack”, this too is a dubious assertion simply because there has been no evidence provided whatsoever to support it. Ostensibly, the United States would like international observers to “take their word for it” that they have such evidence, but the fragile public simply cannot be allowed to see it. More echoes of Bush’s lies before the Iraq War.

And the so-called “post-attack observations” are again suspect because, as I have previously noted, the US has not bothered to wait for the results of the UN chemical weapons investigation. Therefore, these observations could only come from anti-Assad sources on the ground or international observers not present at the site who merely repeat the same information fed to them from those same anti-regime sources.

As if intended as a cruel joke to the reader, the document points out that, despite the claim that this is an irrefutable, evidence-based conclusion, it is in fact based on nothing but hearsay and rumor. Buried at the end of the first page is the most important quote of all:

Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation[emphasis added].

So, the US is supposed to wage war on a country that has not attacked it or any of its allies based on admittedly unconfirmed evidence? This would be laughable if it weren’t so utterly outrageous and criminal.

The “U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013” is a poorly constructed attempt to justify the politically, militarily, and morally unjustifiable war against Syria. It relies on lies, distortions, and obvious propaganda to create the myth that Assad is the devil incarnate and that the US, with its clear moral high-ground, must take it upon itself to once again wage war for the sake of peace. Nothing could be more dishonest. Nothing could be more disgusting. Nothing could be more American. Let’s hope Congress shuts it down.

New Snowden revelation details vast US intelligence “Black Budget”

by Thomas Gaist, source

Friday saw yet another exposure of closely guarded US government secrets by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, as the Washington Post published an extensive budget report covering an array of US intelligence agencies. The $52.6 billion budget published by the Post, 178 pages in length, contains a wealth of documentation concerning the finances and activities of the US “intelligence community.” Some of the information in the leaked document is, however, being withheld “after consultation with US officials.”

As the budget document shows, since 9/11 the CIA has metastasized into a global paramilitary operation that kills and tortures people around the planet, carrying out a constant reign of terror and criminality behind the backs of the American people. Funds allocated since 9/11 have financed a massive growth of CIA activities, including the creation of enhanced interrogation programs, secret “black site” prisons, and the use of drones for strike missions by intelligence personnel. As the Post wrote, “The document describes a constellation of spy agencies that track millions of surveillance targets and carry out operations that include hundreds of lethal strikes.”

Billions of dollars are collectively allocated to fund this regime of global lawlessness, without any disclosure to the American people. The US has spent more than $500 billion on intelligence since the 2001 attacks, or over $100 million per day, and the CIA has seen a gigantic growth of its budget over this period. The CIA’s proposed budget for 2013 totaled $14.7 billion, for a 56 percent increase since 2004, while the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office were to receive over $10 billion each.

The budget contains massive outlays for information collection and processing by the CIA and NSA. The CIA spends $1.7 billion annually on data collection, and runs a joint signals intelligence collection effort with the NSA codenamed CLANSIG. The budget lists 35,000 employees as part of a “Consolidated Cryptologic Program” which brings together surveillance teams from the NSA and the four branches of the military. The NSA will also spend $48.6 million on problems related to “information overload,” that is, on efforts to manage the vast data streams being sucked in on a daily basis by the agency.

The budget also shows large allocations for military-style activities abroad run by the intelligence bureaucracies. US spy agencies will spend $4.9 billion for “overseas contingency operations” in 2013 alone. This will include $2.6 billion for covert operations carried out by the CIA, such as the secret wars the agency is waging in Pakistan and Yemen, and payments to proxy militias such as the Al Qaeda-linked proxy forces fighting against the Assad regime in Syria, including the al Nusra Front.

Staggering quantities of money are being spent to sustain America’s intelligence forces. The NSA itself will receive over $10 billion this year, all of which sustain NSA efforts to spy on the population of United States and of the entire world. Across the United States, schools are being gutted, jobs slashed, and medical facilities shuttered, yet well over $50 billion per a year is dedicated to unconstitutional spying, extra-judicial murder and systematic torturing in a global prison network.

The release of such detailed and comprehensive information about the intelligence budget to the public is unprecedented. As Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists told the Post, “a real grasp of the structure and operations of the intelligence bureaucracy has been totally beyond public reach. This kind of material, even on a historical basis, has simply not been available.”

This information about the intelligence bureaucracies and their activities has become available only as a result of Snowden’s actions. The danger that its secrets could be revealed by principled opponents of spying such as Snowden has not been lost on the NSA, however, and the documents show repeated investigations of thousands of analysts this year as part of an attempt to avoid “potential insider compromise of sensitive information.”

That an attack on Syria is going ahead anyway despite massive popular opposition is an expression of the domination of the American state by Wall Street and the vast military-intelligence apparatus exhibited in Snowden’s latest release. These forces are determined to attack Syria, and from all appearances they will carry out their bloody plans. Responsibility for launching another neocolonial catastrophe lies with the reactionary social interests that control the US economy and state, the capitalist class and the upper-middle class layers that defend capitalist rule.

These are the same forces that have poured weaponry into Syria to fund opposition militias dominated by Al Qaeda. Today, in the face of overwhelming opposition, they are pressing for a war in which US planes will ride to the rescue of US-backed Al Qaeda fighters on the ground, in the name of upholding “international norms.” And, as the budget document’s assertion makes clear—that operations are “strategically focused against the priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel”—operations in Syria are only a prelude to confrontation with the other major powers. Pakistan is also referred to as an “intractable target.”

According to the authoritarian legal doctrines that have gained influence with the growth of the national security state and the financial oligarchy, which derive from the theories of Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, the existence of exceptional circumstances, such as a terrorist threat, authorizes the state to override all legal protections, such as those guaranteed by the US Bill of Rights. The prevalence of such conceptions only points to the underlying reality: the intelligence bureaucracy and the social forces that control it are effectively above the law, and will tolerate no limits on their power.

It is only a matter of time before these instruments of repression are turned against mass struggles within the United States itself. Faced with the deep crisis of world capitalism, the ruling elites will increasingly seek to rely on war abroad and military-police repression at home in defense of their privileges.

Britain sold nerve chemicals to Syrian groups 10 months after crisis began

Al Manar

The UK Daily Record website revealed Sunday that the United Kingdom had allowed firms to sell nerve gas chemicals to parties in Syria in January 2012, i.e. 10 months after the Syrian conflict began.

The website noted that those chemicals, just like the sarin, are capable of being used to make chemical weapons.

The chemical export licenses were granted by Business Secretary Vince Cable’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, but were only revoked six months later, when the European Union imposed tough sanctions on the Arab country.

On Saturday, politicians and anti-arms trade campaigners urged Prime Minister David Cameron to explain why the licenses were granted.

The SNP’s leader at Westminster, MP Angus Robertson, said he will be raising the issue in Parliament as soon as possible to find out what examination the UK Government made of where these chemicals were going and what they were to be used for.

“Approving the sale of chemicals which can be converted into lethal weapons during a civil war is a very serious issue,” he stated.

“We need to know who these chemicals were sold to, why they were sold, and whether the UK Government were aware that the chemicals could potentially be used for chemical weapons,” the British MP added.

Daily Record noted that the UK government have refused to identify the license holders or say whether the licenses were issued to one or two companies.

The Syrian government has denied blame for the nerve gas attack, saying the accusations are “full of lies,” pointing the finger at militant opposition groups.

UN weapons inspectors investigating the atrocity left Damascus on Saturday after gathering evidence for four days. It could take up to two weeks for the results of tests on samples taken from victims of the attack, as well as from water, soil and shrapnel, to be revealed.

Syria still on alert & calls on UN to stop US strike

Syria Still on Alert Even If Strike Threat Has Receded

Al Manar

Syria’s army is still on alert, a security official said Monday, even if the threat of an imminent US-led strike has receded after US President Barack Obama decided to ask Congress for approval.

“American aggression against Syria, if it happens, is a form of support to terrorism. The army is on alert and will remain so until terrorism is completely eradicated,” the official stated.

The Syrian army has continued its military operations against the terrorist groups across Syria, according to the Syrian News Agency (SANA).

“The Syrian troops has killed a large number of fighters, including Libyans, Saudis as well as Jordanians and destroyed their weapons in Damascus countryside and in the city of al-Zabadani,” SANA mentioned.

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Syria Calls on UN to Stop US Strike, “Prevent Absurd Use of Force”

Al Manar

Syria asked the UN to prevent “any aggression” against Syria following a call over the weekend by US President Barack Obama for punitive strikes against the Syrian military for last month’s chemical weapons attack.

SyriaUS military action will be put to a vote in Congress, which ends its summer recess on September 9.

In a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and President of the Security Council Maria Cristina Perceval, Syrian UN envoy Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari called on “the UN Secretary General to shoulder his responsibilities for preventing any aggression on Syria and pushing forward reaching a political solution to the crisis in Syria”, state news agency SANA said on Monday.

He called on the Security Council to “maintain its role as a safety valve to prevent the absurd use of force out of the frame of international legitimacy”.

Ja’afari said the United States should “play its role, as a peace sponsor and as a partner to Russia in the preparation for the international conference on Syria and not as a state that uses force against whoever opposes its policies”.

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Putin Approves Duma Decision to Send Envoy to US for Syria Talks

Al Manar

Russian President Vladimir Putin supported Monday the Russian parliament’s special initiative to send a Russian parliamentary delegation to the U.S. Congress to discuss the Syrian crisis.

Head of the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin, and head of Russian Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, submitted a request to President Putin to use the links between the two countries in order to encourage dialogue with Washington over Syria.

Putin stressed that he is ready to support the parliamentary initiative, stating that there is no better way of direct dialogue along with presenting positions in public.

“Such a dialogue will contribute greatly to the development of Russian-American relations in general,” he said.

Matvienko noted that members of the two parliamentary boards are concerned about the development of the situation in Syria and consider military intervention without UN Security Council authorization is not acceptable.

Matviyenko expressed the hope to establish a dialogue with the U.S. Congress, urging it to adopt a more balanced stance.

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Warmongers want Syria war ploy back on table in UK

Press TV

Certain British warmongers are seeking to revive a bill killed by lawmakers last week that called for military invasion of Syria in a joint attempt by the U.S. military apparatus.

The attempt was put to vote by Prime Minister David Cameron, who together with U.S. President Barack Obama were readying their militaries to launch yet another military adventurism based on certain intelligence reports provided by Zionist and CIA spies in the wake of chemical weapons use in Syria.

However, British lawmakers, who had a bitter lesson learnt from the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, unanimously rejected another war ploy which was in the making by super spies in the MI6. The rejection inflicted a strong blow on the Conservative-led coalition government, and on David Cameron and other fellow warmongers, in particular.

After the parliamentary defeat in London, Barack Obama, who was left alone in yet another military adventurism, took the initiative to put it to Congress and attribute the defeat to the U.S. lawmakers.

Back in London, chief Conservative warmongers, who see their political longevity in plotting wars anywhere in the world, began putting pressure on David Cameron to put the Syria invasion ploy back on the table.

The chief conspirers who called for reconsideration included Tory leader Lord Howard of Lympne, London Mayor Boris Johnson, former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, and former Tory foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

“The Opposition in Parliament last week got itself into something of a muddle,” said Lord Howard, adding that he hoped the question to parliamentary approval would be reopened.

Lord Ashdown said that Ed Miliband (head of the opposition Labour Party) should hold a debate on the US evidence available since last Thursday’s parliamentary vote.

“Of course the government cannot ask Parliament (for which, read, in effect Mr Miliband) to think again. There’s nothing to stop Parliament deciding to do so in light of new developments,” he was quoted as saying.

In an article in the Daily Telegraph, London Mayor Boris Johnson suggested that a new motion could be put before parliament “if there is new and better evidence that inculpates Assad [the president of Syria].”

Jim Murphy, the Shadow Defence Secretary said that if there were “really significant developments in Syria” or al-Qaeda obtained chemical weapons, “then of course the Prime Minister has the right to bring that back to Parliament.”

This is while that the popular government of President Bashar al Assad has categorically dismissed U.S.-led allegations of using chemical weapons against their own people as “blatant lies”.

This happened when UN arms inspectors were present in the country, trying to collect evidence of who used those weapons on innocent people, including women and children. The inspectors have said they need at least three weeks to submit their findings to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Treaty obligations, war crimes, and accountability: A study in American hypocrisy

by Martin Rowson

by Nima Shirazi, source

“I have no interest in any open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable,” President Barack Obama said in a PBS interview earlier this week.

With allegations of a horrific chemical weapons attack outside Damascus and new reports of a “napalm” bomb being dropped on a school playground in northern Syria, this statement, made by an American Commander-in-Chief, would certainly come as a surprise to many of Obama’s predecessors, considering the use of chemical weapons has been standard U.S. military procedure for decades.

Napalm, which is classified as an incendiary, rather than chemical, weapon, is composed of a gel that sticks to the skin and can burn down to the bone. Used extensively by the U.S. military during the last years of World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters, the napalm bombing of Japan killed at least 330,000 people. Twice the amount of napalm as was dropped on Japan in 1945 was used by American forces over three years during the Korean War: 32,357 tons as compared to 16,500 tons.

Between 1963 and 1973, the U.S. military dropped nearly 400,000 tons of napalm on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In 1980, the United Nations declared the use of napalm gel in densely-populated civilian areas to be a war crime.

Agent Orange, a chemical weapon derived from herbicides, was also used by Americans during the Vietnam War. Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand.

A 2008 Globe and Mail article reported that “Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed by the defoliants, 500,000 children have been born with defects from retardation to spina bifida and a further two million people have suffered cancers or other illnesses. Yet they have received no compensation from those who produced the chemicals and those who made them a weapon of war.”

According to the the United Nations, Agent Orange is “one of the most toxic compounds known to human,” and the Vietnamese Red Cross has estimatedthat “as many as one million people in Vietnam have disabilities or other health problems associated with Agent Orange.”

A recently published report in Foreign Policy revealed that, during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980-1988, “America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen.” Among the findings, the report stated that, in 1988, “U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent,” and that “Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence.”

More:

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

Even more recently, the U.S. military used white phosphorus, a chemical compound whose use in civilian areas constitutes a war crime, during its 2004 attacks on Fallujah in Iraq, just as America’s best friend in the region, Israel, dropped white phosphorus on civilian areas in its 2008-2009 massacre in Gaza.

It should be noted that, while the United States is a party to the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which bans the use of napalm against civilians, it has never signed Protocol III on the convention, the statute that specifically bans the use of all incendiary weaponry. Nevertheless, even without signing it, this protocol came into force for the U.S. on July 21, 2009.

Furthermore, Israel is one of only seven nations on the planet – along with Syria, Angola, South Sudan, Egypt, North Vietnam, and Myanmar – to refuse to abide by the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

However, despite this, a deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said this week that state non-compliance with treaty obligations recognized by the vast majority of the international community — even by non-signatories to such treaties – should not absolve those states from accountability.

During a press briefing on August 27, spokesperson Marie Harf described the CWC as a “multilateral disarmament agreement” that “provides for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under universally applied international control and prohibits the use of chemical weapons. Currently, 189 nations, which represent about 98 percent of the global population, have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention.” As such, she continued, even though there are a few nations that have not yet acceded to the convention, “clearly that should not enable them to escape responsibility for their actions.”

Harf added, “There is a reason that the overwhelming majority of the international community – again, that agrees on little else – has stood against the use of these weapons, and Syria should not be able to flout the clearly expressed view of the international community here.”

The following day, Harf reiterated this position:

[T]he indiscriminate use of chemical weapons against civilians is a violation of international law. I also talked a little bit about international norms and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which they are obviously not a party to, but which clearly laid out that a majority – a vast majority of the world spoke up and said that we are taking a stand against chemical weapons and the world has spoken on chemical weapons. And we’re not going back, and they have to be held accountable.

To suggest that the United States does not go back on its word when it comes to commonly-accepted mandates of international law is laughable. In 1998, the vast majority of the world’s nations voted to adopted the Rome Statute, establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) and granting it authority to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” The United Statesvoted against it.

When the statute was officially adopted by the international community in 2002, the United States, Israel and Sudan all signed it, but formally refused to present it for ratification. In a letter to the UN Secretary-General on May 6, 2002, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, stated, “in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000.”  While the Obama administration has walked back this Bush era rejection, it has still refused to ratify the treaty and accept the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Of course, the language of international law and accountability is also never leveled at Israel when it commits war crimes or develops an undeclared and unmonitored arsenal of nuclear weapons in defiance of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Israel – along with only three other countries on Earth – is not a signatory.

In fact, in May 2010, after the 189 signatories of the NPT — including Iran and Syria called for an international conference in 2012 with the goal of establishing “a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction,” Israel denounced the accord, describing it as “deeply flawed and hypocritical,” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “As a non-signatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation.”

At the time, President Obama also decried the resolution for what he claimed was an unfair focus on Israel – the only nuclear-armed state in the region – and promised to “oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security.”

When the time of the proposed conference rolled around in December 2012, the United States prevented it from taking place.

It is clear that the United States is not considering military strikes on Syria out of any deference to the obligations of international law or concern for innocent civilians. As Omar Dahi notes in Jadaliyya, “The fact that the United States is threatening to strike now has nothing to do with the welfare of Syrians, and everything to do with the United States maintaining its own ‘credibility,’ its position as a hegemonic power.”

Even taking the U.S. government at its word – a dubious thing to do in light of past experiences – presents problems of its own, namely that anypurportedly punitive military action against Syria would itself be a violation of the very laws the United States is claiming to defend.

Recall, for instance, what then-Senator Barack said back on December 20, 2007:  “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation…As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.”

International relations professor Charli Carpenter has just addressed these factors in Foreign Affairs:

The Obama administration has already confirmed that itsprimary concern is with protecting the norm and punishing its violators. Given that goal, the appropriate course of action would be to, first, independently verify who violated it. The United States claims that it has “no doubt” that Syria was behind last week’s chemical attack, but that remains an open question until the UN inspectors have completed their investigation. Second, the United States would have to consider a range of policy options for affirming, condemning, and lawfully punishing the perpetrator before resorting to force, particularly unlawful force. As Article36.org, a nongovernmental organization notes, thesemight include condemnation, an arms embargo, sanctions, or any of the other bilateral and multilateral measures that are typically used to respond to violations of weapons norms (and which might be at least as effective than air strikes, if not more so). Third, should the United States decide on military action, with or without a UN Security Council resolution, it would need to adhere to international norms regulating the use of specific weapons in combat.

It is thus worrying that the proposed military strikes against Syria rely on Tomahawk missiles, which are capable of carrying cluster munitions and which have been decried on humanitarian grounds by numerous governments and civil society groups. Equally alarming is that the planned strikes would likely involve the use of explosives in populated areas, which is in violation of emerging international concernsabout such behavior. Although there is historical precedent for the legitimacy of violating the UN Charter in order to enforce global humanitarian norms, it would be seen as hypocritical to violate those very norms in the service of their affirmation.

As always, with a potentially imminent military strike on the horizon, the American government has once again affirmed its belief that – unlike the rest of the world – when the United States or its friends abrogate international law and commit war crimes, they should not be held to account.

*****UPDATE:

MSNBC‘s resident loudmouth Chris Matthews – who fancies himself somewhat of an historian – is apparently wholly unaware of the U.S. military’s past use of chemical weapons. Speaking on Morning Joe earlier this week, Matthews bellowed:

If you basically put down a red line and say don’t use chemical weapons, and it’s been enforced in the Western community, around the world — international community for decades. Don’t use chemical weapons. We didn’t use them in World War II, Hitler didn’t use them, we don’t use chemical weapons, that’s no deal. Although we do know that Assad’s father did. Then he goes ahead and does it.

Let alone Matthews’ ignorance of our own actions, even more surreal is the statement that “Hitler didn’t use them.” Matthews seems to be forgetting about that whole Holocaust thing, when the Nazis committed genocide by gassing millions of Jews in death camps.

Since no allusion to either Syria or Nazi Germany is allowed to pass in themainstream media without making erroneous comparisons with Iran, Matthews added that, based on Assad’s alleged use of weapons of mass destruction, “It makes you wonder what the mullahs will do if they have a couple of nuclear weapons, just a couple.”

Well, first off, Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons and, even according to U.S. intelligence assessments, hasn’t even made a decision to do so. It has alsoroutinely denounced the acquisition, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons for the past three decades.

Moreover, that Matthews would think Iranian leaders would instigate atomic Armageddon for absolutely no reason is bizarre. But then, again, with a history of promoting misinformation and demonstrating utter ignoranceabout the Iranian nuclear program, it is no surprise Matthews is pushing such shameless propaganda.

Second, Matthews fails to point out here that, in fact, only one single solitary nation in world history has ever actually used nuclear weapons: the United States of America, which dropped them on a civilians, slaughtering hundreds of thousands.

As Robert McNamara recounted to filmmaker Errol Morris in The Fog of War, “[U.S. Air Force General Curtis] LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”

McNamara wondered, “Was there a rule then that said you shouldn’t bomb, shouldn’t kill, shouldn’t burn to death 100,000 civilians in one night?”

Russia FM: Military strike on Syria without UNSC approval is act of aggression

Russia FM: Military Strike on Syria without UNSC Approval Is Act of Aggression

Al Manar

Moscow Informed Washington Saturday through diplomatic channels that any military operation against Syria, without the authorization of the UN Security Council, is an act of aggression and a violation of the principles of international law.

“The Russian side has confirmed that any use of force against Syria by the United States, without authorization of the UN Security Council, is an act of aggression and flagrant violation of the principles of international law,” a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry official website after the meeting between the deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul read.

It also indicated that “Michael McFaul presented all the arguments which the US administration relies upon in accusing the Syrian government of involvement of the use of chemical weapons on August 21, 2013 in East Ghota.”

According to all those arguments, Sergei Ryabkov called the American side to “refrain from attempts to use this incident in order to justify military pressure on Damascus, and to allow the full implementation of the agreement reached by the G8 summit in June.”

Ryabkov also stressed the need to submit the report of UN experts working in Syria to the UN Security Council for consideration.
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American Navy ships still ready to attack Syria

Press TV

The US military warships are reportedly staying in the eastern Mediterranean as President Barack Obama is waiting for a congressional approval to attack Syria.

A defense official told Politico that the five American guided-missile destroyers and one amphibious transport are going to continue to stay in place for now.

The USS Stout, USS Gravely, USS Mahan, USS Barry and USS Ramage are all in the region with dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The amphibious transport USS San Antonio, which is carrying about 700 troops from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is also there along with some of their aircraft and amphibious equipment.

On Saturday, the Obama White House asked Congress for authorization to conduct military strikes against Syria.

“The objective of the United States use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade the potential for future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction,” the White House said in a draft resolution.

Washington accuses Damascus of launching a chemical weapons attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus last week, an allegation denied by the Syrian government.

President Obama also said the US military “has positioned assets in the region.”

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey “has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. Moreover, the chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I’m prepared to give that order,” Obama said.

Reacting to US allegations, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it would have been “utter nonsense” for Syria to use chemical weapons.

“I would like to address Obama as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate: Before using force in Syria, it would be good to think about future casualties,” Putin said.

“Russia is urging you to think twice before making a decision on an operation in Syria,” he said.

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Obama bypassing UN, making Congress his world court: Venezuela

Press TV

Venezuela has condemned US President Barack Obama for bypassing the United Nations and asking US Congress to approve a military offensive against Syria, saying the move can lead to destruction of international institutions.

During a visit to the South American country of Guyana on Saturday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that the US president was shamelessly bypassing the UN and turning Congress into his personal world court.

“If multilateral bodies and the international system are disregarded like this, what lies ahead of us in this world is war, is destruction,” Maduro warned.

“It is a very serious thing indeed when President Obama tries to take the place of UN bodies, and that he has tried and convicted the Syrian government, and that he has decided to invade, to militarily attack the people of Syria, and that he has chosen the US Congress as a sort of high world court in place of the UN Security Council,” Maduro said after holding a meeting with his Guyanese counterpart Donald Ramotar.

Earlier in the day, Obama said he has decided that Washington must take military action against the Syrian government, which would mean a unilateral military strike without a UN mandate.

Obama said that despite having made up his mind, he will take the case to Congress. But he added that he is prepared to order military action against the Syrian government at any time.

Obama once again held the Syrian government responsible for the chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people in the suburbs of Damascus.

On Thursday, the second meeting of the UN Security Council’s permanent members ended without reaching an agreement on Syria.

Representatives from the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China met on Thursday afternoon at the UN headquarters in New York for the second time in two days, but the meeting broke up after less than an hour, with the ambassadors steadily walking out.

The Western members of the council have been pushing for a resolution on the use of force while Russia and China are strongly opposed to any attack on Syria.

The call for military action against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21.

Syria has strongly rejected the allegations and says terrorists carried out the deadly chemical weapons attack.