Saturday, 19 March 2016

Crimea celebrates 2nd anniversary of reunion with mother Russia

2 years ago an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted in favor of reuniting with Russia. The Crimean peninsula refused to recognize the new government in Kiev, which came to power on February 21, 2014. The majority Russian autonomous republic feared the coup-imposed Ukrainian leadership wouldn’t represent their interests and respect their rights. Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the peninsula, voted for independence from Ukraine and rejoining Russia in a referendum on March 16, 2014. The decision was supported by roughly 97 percent of voters with an 83 percent turnout. However, the US and allies its allies refused to recognize the referendum and slapped Moscow with sanctions, which are still in force. (more)
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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

What The Russian “Withdrawal” From Syria Means And What It Doesn’t

MARCH 15, 2016
assad putin obama

With the recent announcement by Vladimir Putin that Russia is beginning a withdrawal of specific military personnel and equipment from Syria on Tuesday, March 15, the Western corporate media has been on fire with speculation that Russia is evacuating the country,
 retreating, and giving up on its military objectives. Indeed, the Western press is presenting the Russian announcement as a total withdrawal and a quick move out the exit door.
Those who are both pro-Assad and anti-Assad have all shared their opinions, with many even on the pro-Assad/pro-Russian side opposing the Russian scale down of military involvement out of fear that the Russians are abandoning Assad. At the crux of this opposition to the Russia move, of course, is the fundamental misunderstanding of what the “withdrawal” actually is.

The Withdrawal

Despite the presentation of the Russian announcement as a total pullout from Syria, coming with everything except pictures of Syrian civilians hanging on to helicopters and airplanes being dumped at sea, the “withdrawal” is merely the reduction of specific military personnel and equipment. The withdrawal is not really a withdrawal in the sense that most readers would understand it. Instead, it is being presented as such by Western press outlets for propaganda purposes.

Remember, Putin has made it clear that the Tartus port will remain open and that the airbases Russia has previously established and operated from will remain functional. Russia is also continuing to drop bombs on ISIS positions. Indeed, on the night before the “withdrawal” was scheduled to begin, Russian planes obliterated a number of ISIS strongholds near Palmyra.

Thus, it should be understood that the Russian “withdrawal” is not a retreat, but simply a scale down of specific forces and readjustment of strategy.

It should also be pointed out that Russian objectives were never to seize and hold Syrian territory as an occupying force. That was the plan of the Americans. Russian objectives were to disrupt and defeat ISIS and shore up the Assad government. Russia has done that and is continuing to do it.

The Reason For The Withdrawal Announcement

So why would Putin announce a partial “withdrawal,” especially since we can presume that he would be well aware of the way in which he would be represented in the Western press? Why would Putin feel the need to make the announcement public at all? Why not simply make the directive, allow it to be carried out, and maintain the public perception that Russia is still fully involved in Syria?

Most likely, the Russian announcement was more politically based than anything else. For instance, one aspect of the announcement, particularly since it coincides with the new “ceasefire” agreement and the United Nations “peace talks,” is that it allows Russia to appear as the most rational actor in the fight and the side most committed to actual peace in Syria. This has been Russia’s methodology since the beginning of its involvement in the crisis where the United States – when forced to go toe to toe with Russia politically – has ended up with egg on its face every time.

Remember, when the U.S. wanted to invade Syria under the pretext of chemical weapons usage, the Russians swooped in and negotiated a deal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. Many had valid arguments against the disarmament, but, politically speaking, Russia came away looking diplomatic and peaceful while the West, especially the U.S., came away looking like the bloodthirsty warmonger that it is.

On numerous occasions, when the U.S. was screaming at the top of its lungs that peace could only come from “rebel” victory or the removal of Assad, the Russians came in and organized “peace talks” of their own. These talks ultimately failed but the result portrayed the Russians as the side leaning toward peace and diplomacy while the U.S. was bent on bloody warfare. Russia has been incredibly shrewd and effective on the political front as well as the military front, and the recent announcement seems to be one more aspect of that strategy.

The second aspect is that, domestically, Russia is now able to tout a “mission accomplished” moment, a sort of victorious military triumph, without actually landing on an aircraft carrier and declaring the mission officially over while troops are engaged in a bloodbath on the ground. Putin is able to have his cake and eat it too by pointing out that some military objectives have been achieved but still not claiming the mission is over and leaving Assad to the wolves. It is both an international stance toward peace and a domestic stance toward victory even if for no other reason than public relations.

Going Forward

As mentioned earlier, Russia has reaffirmed that not only is the airbase in Latakia and the naval facility in Tartus continuing to operate, but that it will continue air operations against ISIS forces in Syria. Only a day after Putin’s announcement, Russian Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov stated that “Certain positive results have been achieved. A real chance has emerged to put an end to this long-running standoff. But it is still early to talk about victory over terrorism. The Russian aviation group has the task to continue carrying out strikes on terrorist facilities.”

So with the ceasefire agreement barely holding on, the “peace talks” taking place at the United Nations, and the threat of a Turkish/GCC invasion of Syria looming in the background, the question now is whether or not the situation will gradually trend toward peace and de-escalation or whether it will in fact escalate to a wider war between the opposing forces in Syria as well as other interested international actors.

After all, Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for the Syria crisis, has already described the talks as essentially the only thing holding back an even wider full-scale war in Syria. While he made no effort to clarify what he meant by comment, the world outside of the Western countries are generally aware of the American agenda in Syria. Informed observers generally recognize that the NATO bloc, along with Israel and the GCC, are not content to simply admit they have been routed, pick up their ball, and go home. They continue to adapt their own methods in much the same way as the Russians and will respond as soon as they have surveyed the chessboard and have selected their next move.

An adjustment of strategy can take many forms but the most concerning is the possible NATO commitment to some type of gamble where it is believed or assumed that the Russians will indeed retreat instead of fight back in the event of a direct military invasion by the regional players and/or the United States.

If such a catastrophic military move ever happens, it will be one that affects every human being on the planet as it would pit two nuclear powers in conflict with one another.


Regardless, the manner in which the Russian announcement has been portrayed in the corporate Western press has served only to stir up a number of panicked responses from confused onlookers while, at the same time, providing a complete mystification of the true situation on the ground. Thus, it will become even more confusing to any casual observer attempting to gain any accurate representation of the Syrian crisis.

Unfortunately, what makes a leader look weak in the eyes of many Americans may very well make him look honorable in the eyes of the rest of the world, particularly those parts of it continuing to suffer under American imperialism, war, and destabilization.

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andvolume 2The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 650 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at)

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Kurdish “Federalization” Reminiscent Of Kerry’s Plan B, Brzezinski, NATO Plan A

Kurds in Northern Syria have declared a federal system in Syria, with the areas they have seized in the northern part of the country designated to act as an autonomous zone. The official declaration came on March 16, with reports like those coming from the BBC reaching Western audiences on March 17. According to reports, the conference at which the federation of three Kurdish entities in Syria took place was located in Rmeilan.
Kurdish journalist Barzan Iso confirmed the initial rumors surrounding the Kurdish declaration to RT earlier on March 16 when he stated that “Now the conference has just started in Rmelan, about 200 representatives of Rojava have joined [the event]. They represent different ethnicities and nationalities. There are Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Syriacs, Turkomans, Armenians, Circassians and Chechen. Also we have representatives from the Syrian democratic forces, YPG, women defense units. This conference is supposed to announce a federation as a political project for Rojava region in northern Syria.”
The “new project” is designed to replace the currently autonomous zone of Rojava by formally creating a Federation of Northern Syria incorporating the 250 miles of Kurdish-held territory along the Syria-Turkey border with the section of the northwestern border near the Afrin area. At least, this is the plan as relayed by Idris Nassan, an official working in the Foreign Affairs Directorate of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab). The new system entails “widening the framework of self-administration which the Kurds and others have formed,” he said.
Rojova only received a degree of autonomy in 2013, when Syrian forces were overwhelmed by Western-backed terrorists and were forced to abandon much of the territory now occupied by Kurdish militias such as the YPG and others. In place of the SAA, the NDF and other Syrian patriot militias, as well as Kurdish forces, remained and fought terrorists gallantly to the point of securing large swaths of border territory.
Before 2013, Rojova was never an autonomous region nor was there a separate Kurdish entity in Syria. After all, the “Kurdish” areas are occupied by many more religions and ethnicities than Kurds, including Syrian Arabs, Assyrians, and Turkmen. In January 2014, however, the PYD (Democratic Union Party) declared all three “Rojovan” cantons autonomous. This included Afrin, Kobane, and Jazira. The Rojova “interim Constitution,” known as the Charter of the Social Contract, came immediately after. The charter called for the peaceful coexistence of all religious and ethnic groups residing under its jurisdiction and reaffirmed that Rojova would remain part of Syria.
Still, the representative of the PYD party in Moscow, Abd Salam Ali, told RIA Novostithat “Within days, probably today, self-governing [bodies] of three Kurdish cantons in Syria’s north will declare a federation.” Ali’s prediction came true but he also pointed out that autonomy did not mean separation from Syria, merely the establishment of a looser centralized governing system and the “federalization” of the Kurdish area. He said that the new “Kurdistan” will remain part of Syria.
Turkey, of course, opposes the move fearing both that the Syrian Kurds will begin to represent a significant threat on its borders and that, more importantly, the Syrian Kurds will unite with the Turkish Kurds and begin to wrest territory from Turkey itself. Ironically, the Kurdish announcement resulted in Turkey laughably suggesting that it “supports Syria’s national unity and territorial integrity.” Indeed, if Turkey has finally come around to supporting Syria’s national sovereignty, it is a revelation had by Turkish leaders only hours ago.
Aside from the ridiculous claim that Turkey respects Syria’s territorial integrity, the Turks reiterated their position that any “administrative restructure” must come via the adoption of a “new constitution” for Syria.
The legitimate Syrian government is also rejecting any federation plans for obvious reasons. Bashar Jaafari, head of the Syrian government delegation at the United Nations’ Geneva talks, was quoted as stating that “Drawing any lines between Syrians would be a great mistake.” He also pointed out that Syrian Kurds are an important part of the Syrian people.
It should be noted that the Kurdish move comes as it becomes clear that the Kurds will not be included in the Geneva talks. While Turkey is obviously pleased at the exclusion of the Kurds (evidence suggests the Kurds were excluded at Turkey’s request), the Russians have repeatedly contended that they should be involved in the process. Even Staffan de Mistrua, the UN Envoy to Syria, has agreed that the Kurds should be included.
Rodi Osman, head of the Syrian Kurdistan Office in Moscow, implied that the declaration of the federalized Kurdish territory may have been a response to having been excluded from the peace talks. He stated to RIA Novosti:
The second round of inter-Syrian talks is underway in Geneva, but Syrian Kurds were not invited. It means that the future of Syria and its society is decided without Kurds. In fact, we are pushed back into a conservative, old-fashioned system which does not fit well with us. In light of this, we see only one solution which is to declare the creation of [Kurdish] federation. It will serve the interests of the Kurds, but also those of Arabs, Turks, Assyrians, Chechens and Turkomans – all parts of Syria’s multinational society. Given the complicated situation in Syria, we would become an example of a system that may resolve the Syrian crisis.
Syrian Representative to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari stated that the talks should not have begun with the “absence of half or two thirds of all the opposition” since doing so has left the talks “very weak.”
Kurdish exclusion from political negotiations, however, is not the only possibility as to why the Kurdish federalism has been announced, since the idea is the very concept proposed by the United States only weeks ago.

The Kurdish Plan, Kerry’s Plan B, Brzezinski’s Plan A

The announcement of the Kurdish “federation” is concerning not only because of the now increased tension between parties in Syria but also because of the negative effects it may have in regards to the success of the “peace talks” taking place in Geneva. As a result of the Kurdish announcement only days in to the discussions, a new element has been introduced into the conflict that will prove to be difficult to fully negotiate around since Kurds are not included in the dialogue and because, in the event of a an actual peace agreement being accepted by the two parties in Geneva, the Kurds will see it as being imposed upon them as opposed to witnessing a plan of natural development. In truth, the Kurdish entity is not a separate political actor since it is part of Syria and the Syrian government delegation is representing its country as the sole legitimate delegate. Still, with the declaration of a “federation” in northern Syria, the Kurds have attempted to essentially separate themselves, even if only to a degree, and fracture the line of resistance to Western-backed terrorists and Western geopolitical interests both during the peace talks and afterwards.
What is more concerning, however, is how the Kurdish declaration matches up with the Western “Plan B” for Syria all along; that is, the fracturing of the country into separate states based solely on religion or ethnicity. Consider the statement made by Abd Salam Ali, PYD Representative in Moscow, when he said that Syrian Kurds expect their experience with “autonomy” to be spread to other ethnicities and religious groups in Syria. He stated that “Our experience would be useful for Alawites and Sunnis. Perhaps, this is the key to [bringing] peace in our country.”
In other words, Ali is suggesting that not only should Kurds maintain a “federalized” autonomous state, but so should other ethnic and religious groups. Most likely, he is referring to the same groups mentioned repeatedly in Western media over the last several weeks as the Western “Plan B” – Alawites, Druze, Sunnis, and even Wahhabists.
So Ali’s suggestion and the concept gaining steam amongst the Western population via their corporate media outlets as well as among Kurds in Syria is the same as the Plan B mentioned by John Kerry, the Brookings Institution, and a litany of media outlets and “analysts” receiving their marching orders from the U.S. government. It is quite the coincidence then, that the Kurds would make their announcement so soon after the Plan B begins garnering attention in the international discourse in a renewed fashion.
For his part, John Kerry did not elaborate on the nature of his “Plan B” except to say that it might be “too late to keep as a whole Syria if we wait much longer,” or if the negotiations in Geneva fail.
Yet Kerry’s “Plan B” sounds very much like the “Plan A” of a number of other strategists, policy makers, and imperialist organs.
Consider the op-ed published by Reuters and written by Michael O’Hanlon, entitled “Syria’s One Hope May Be As Dim As Bosnia’s Once Was.” The article argues essentially that the only way Russia and the United States will ever be able to peacefully settle the Syrian crisis is if the two agree to a weakened and divided Syria, broken up into separate pieces.
O’Hanlon wrote,
To find common purpose with Russia, Washington should keep in mind the Bosnia model, devised to end the fierce Balkan conflicts in the 1990s. In that 1995 agreement, a weak central government was set up to oversee three largely autonomous zones.
In similar fashion, a future Syria could be a confederation of several sectors: one largely Alawite (Assad’s own sect), spread along the Mediterranean coast; another Kurdish, along the north and northeast corridors near the Turkish border; a third primarily Druse, in the southwest; a fourth largely made up of Sunni Muslims; and then a central zone of intermixed groups in the country’s main population belt from Damascus to Aleppo. The last zone would likely be difficult to stabilize, but the others might not be so tough.
Under such an arrangement, Assad would ultimately have to step down from power in Damascus. As a compromise, however, he could perhaps remain leader of the Alawite sector. A weak central government would replace him. But most of the power, as well as most of the armed forces. would reside within the individual autonomous sectors — and belong to the various regional governments. In this way, ISIL could be targeted collectively by all the sectors.
Once this sort of deal is reached, international peacekeepers would likely be needed to hold it together — as in Bosnia. Russian troops could help with this mission, stationed, for example, along the Alawite region’s borders.
This deal is not, of course, ripe for negotiation. To make it plausible, moderate forces must first be strengthened. The West also needs to greatly expand its training and arming of various opposition forces that do not include ISIL or al-Nusra. Vetting standards might also have to be relaxed in various ways. American and other foreign trainers would need to deploy inside Syria, where the would-be recruits actually live — and must stay, if they are to protect their families.
Meanwhile, regions now accessible to international forces, starting perhaps with the Kurdish and Druse sectors, could begin receiving humanitarian relief on a much expanded scale. Over time, the number of accessible regions would grow, as moderate opposition forces are strengthened.
Though it could take many months, or even years, to achieve the outcome Washington wants, setting out the goals and the strategy now is crucial. Doing so could provide a basis for the West’s working together with — or at least not working against — other key outside players in the conflict, including Russia, as well as Turkey, the Gulf states and Iraq.
O’Hanlon is no stranger to the Partition Plan for Syria. After all, he was the author the infamous Brookings Institution report “Deconstructing Syria: A New Strategy For America’s Most Hopeless War,” in June, 2015 where he argued essentially the same thing.
In this article for Brookings, a corporate-financier funded “think tank” that has been instrumental in the promotion of the war against Syria since very early on, O’Hanlon argued for the “relaxation” of vetting processes for “rebels” being funded by the U.S. government, the direct invasion of Syria by NATO military forces, and the complete destruction of the Syrian government. O’Hanlon argued for the creation of “safe zones” as a prelude to these goals.
Yet, notably, O’Hanlon also mentioned the creation of a “confederal” Syria as well. In other words, the breakup of the solidified nation as it currently exists. He wrote,
The end-game for these zones would not have to be determined in advance. The interim goal might be a confederal Syria, with several highly autonomous zones and a modest (eventual) national government. The confederation would likely require support from an international peacekeeping force, if this arrangement could ever be formalized by accord. But in the short term, the ambitions would be lower—to make these zones defensible and governable, to help provide relief for populations within them, and to train and equip more recruits so that the zones could be stabilized and then gradually expanded.
Such a plan is reminiscent of the Zbigniew Brzezinski method of “microstates and ministates.” In other words, the construction of a weak, impotent state based upon ethnicity, religion, and other identity politics but without the ability to resist the will of larger nations, coalitions, and banking/industrial corporations.[1]
Thus, the Syrian Kurdish forces, whether willingly or not, have essentially played right into the hands of the architects of the plans currently underway to destroy and degrade their country already set in motion by the NATO powers.

The Syrian “Stans”

Much has already been written about the possibility of a Kurdistan in northern Syria, the boundaries of which have been declared by the Syrian Kurds themselves, which essentially line up with those drawn up by Western strategists and war designers years ago.
Likewise, public suggestions have been made since at least 2013 that, in addition to a Kurdistan, an Alawite enclave – perhaps lead by Assad but perhaps not – would be established in the western portion of Syria, predominantly in the Latakia area, where what is left of the Syrian government, presumably itself decimated by restructuring, would reign. Robin Wright of the United States Institute For Peace, a military industrial complex firm dedicated to strategic development, suggested a largerAlawitistan, stretching from the South, up through Damascus, Homs, Hama, Latakia and on to the northern coast of the Mediterranean.
Druzistan (Jabal al-Druze as suggested by Wright) has also been dreamed up for the Southern tip of Syria (near Daraa).
In the rural areas, discussions have centered around a Sunnistan that would span from rural central and eastern Syria across the border into central, western, and eastern Iraq. However, others have suggested that Sunnistan would be a function of Syria alone.
Still other strategists have even suggested the appeasement of Wahhabist terrorists by the formation of a Wahhabistan in between Iraq and Syria (essentially the same territory as that occupied by ISIS today). Such a Wahhabistan would function as a barrier between moderate and anti-NATO forces in Iraq and Syria and would cut off a major supply route for Syria and Hezbollah coming from Iran for what would be left of Syria.
Consider Wright’s suggestions when she writes,
Syria has crumbled into three identifiable regions, each with its own flag and security forces. A different future is taking shape: a narrow statelet along a corridor from the south through Damascus, Homs and Hama to the northern Mediterranean coast controlled by the Assads’ minority Alawite sect. In the north, a small Kurdistan, largely autonomous since mid-2012. The biggest chunk is the Sunni-dominated heartland.
. . . .
Over time, Iraq’s Sunni minority — notably in western Anbar Province, site of anti-government protests — may feel more commonality with eastern Syria’s Sunni majority. Tribal ties and smuggling span the border. Together, they could form a de facto or formal Sunnistan. Iraq’s south would effectively become Shiitestan, although separation is not likely to be that neat.
The dominant political parties in the two Kurdish regions of Syria and Iraq have longstanding differences, but when the border opened in August, more than 50,000 Syrian Kurds fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, creating new cross-border communities. Massoud Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan, has also announced plans for the first summit meeting of 600 Kurds from some 40 parties in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran this fall.
“We feel that conditions are now appropriate,” said Kamal Kirkuki, the former speaker of Iraq’s Kurdish Parliament, about trying to mobilize disparate Kurds to discuss their future.
. . . .
New borders may be drawn in disparate, and potentially chaotic, ways. Countries could unravel through phases of federation, soft partition or autonomy, ending in geographic divorce.
. . . .
Other changes may be de facto. City-states — oases of multiple identities like Baghdad, well-armed enclaves like Misurata, Libya’s third largest city, or homogeneous zones like Jabal al-Druze in southern Syria — might make a comeback, even if technically inside countries.
Former Ambassdor to the United Nations and Neo Con John R. Bolton even wrote an op-ed for The New York Times where he argued for the balkanization of Syria and the creation of a “Sunnistan.” Bolton was relatively blunt in his article, openly admitting that the new state is “unlikely to be a Jeffersonian democracy for many years” but following that statement up with a bizarre admission that “this is a region where alternatives to secular military or semi-authoritarian governments are scarce. Security and stability are sufficient ambitions.” While Bolton’s latter comment would have negated the stated public objectives of the war against Assad by the Obama White House in the first place, it also makes clear that freedom and democracy were never the true aims of the United States, but instead the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and the destruction of Syria as a functioning state.
Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity from the post-Ottoman Empire settlement, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq. Also emerging, after years of effort, is a de facto independent Kurdistan.
If, in this context, defeating the Islamic State means restoring to power Mr. Assad in Syria and Iran’s puppets in Iraq, that outcome is neither feasible nor desirable. Rather than striving to recreate the post-World War I map, Washington should recognize the new geopolitics. The best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state.
This “Sunni-stan” has economic potential as an oil producer (subject to negotiation with the Kurds, to be sure), and could be a bulwark against both Mr. Assad and Iran-allied Baghdad. The rulers of the Arab Gulf states, who should by now have learned the risk to their own security of funding Islamist extremism, could provide significant financing. And Turkey — still a NATO ally, don’t forget — would enjoy greater stability on its southern border, making the existence of a new state at least tolerable.
. . . .
Make no mistake, this new Sunni state’s government is unlikely to be a Jeffersonian democracy for many years. But this is a region where alternatives to secular military or semi-authoritarian governments are scarce. Security and stability are sufficient ambitions.
. . . .
This Sunni state proposal differs sharply from the vision of the Russian-Iranian axis and its proxies (Hezbollah, Mr. Assad and Tehran-backed Baghdad). Their aim of restoring Iraqi and Syrian governments to their former borders is a goal fundamentally contrary to American, Israeli and friendly Arab state interests. Notions, therefore, of an American-Russian coalition against the Islamic State are as undesirable as they are glib.
Bolton’s Sunnistan, while on one level is another aspect of the conglomeration of petty, squabbling, microstates that would make up Syria under the Plan B, is also eerily reminiscent of the “Salafist Principality” envisioned and supported by the United States military and intelligence communities early on and in place in Eastern Syria and Western Iraq today.


In the end, considering the history of the Kurds and Western machinations, and the repetitive use of the Kurds in those schemes, there is no guarantee a Kurdistan will ever actually take shape. Of course, with a Kurdistan, the Brzezinski method of microstates and ministates will become realized. In other words, the construction of a weak, impotent state based upon ethnicity, religion, and other identity politics but without the ability to resist the will of larger nations, coalitions, and banking/industrial corporations.
Without a Kurdistan, the strategy of tension and destabilization will continue to exist as a ready-made fallback plan with which to weaken the region and provide for yet another avenue to sink the countries surrounding the faux Kurdistan into regional conflict and war. After all, the West has repeatedly used the Kurds for their own geopolitical aims while dangling the carrot of Kurdistan over their heads. When the Kurds have served their purpose, they are usually dropped and left to their fate until useful to NATO again.
While the final goal of the Anglo-American empire regarding the creation of a Kurdistan still remains to be seen, the question itself is undoubtedly being used for geopolitical reasons today. It is also certain to result in lower living standards, greater oppression, and less freedom for all involved, the Kurds included.
[1] Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. 1st Edition. Basic Books. 1998.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutionsand Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andvolume 2The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 650 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at)
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

The IDF is putting Palestinians on trial for Facebook posts

Roughly 150 Palestinians have been put on trial in Israeli military courts for alleged incitement on Facebook. Now, the army and Shin Bet are having a hard time proving what incitement is, and often times just give up. Instead of releasing suspects as its own courts order, the army is putting them in administrative detention.
By Hagar Shezaf
Israeli soldiers arresting a Palestinian man, September 27, 2008. (Photo by Anne Paq/
Israeli soldiers arresting a Palestinian man, September 27, 2008. (Photo by Anne Paq/
 In a small caravan that serves as a courtroom at the Israeli army’s Ofer Military Court, a boy in his late teens from the West Bank village of Silwad is standing trial on charges of incitement on online social networks. In the hearing, which lasts only a few minutes, the military prosecutor argues that the fact that the teen shared a photo of a martyr constitutes a threat to the security of the region; the defense attorney counters that sharing a photo falls under the right to freedom of expression.
According to Palestinian prisoners’ organization Addameer, this is one of roughly 150 cases that have been brought before Israeli military courts since October 2015 in which sole charge was incitement on social media, or the central charge alongside allegations like “providing a service for an unlawful organization.”
Attorneys for the Palestinian Prisoners Club say they have represented around 40 cases in which incitement on social media was the only or main charge since October. “Before October we rarely saw these types of cases, but in recent months we are seeing more and more of them,” Attorney Munder Abu Ahmad says. “The [authorities’] approach is that if you wrote a post on Facebook, that means you are about to pick up a knife and head to Damascus Gate.” (A large number of stabbing attacks have taken place at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem since October.)
Indeed, not too long after the latest wave of violence began, the Israeli authorities seemed to have reach a consensus that Palestinians’ primary motivation committing acts of violence is incitement – and specifically incitement on online social networks. A document published by the Shin Bet in early November says the attackers can be characterized as youths who are not part of any political framework and who “draw inspiration” from social networks. According to the Shin Bet report, many of the attackers “employed imitation [sic] which is common in the web” (i.e. they are copycat attacks).
Not enough Facebook friends? How about your friends’ friends
The world of social media is still relatively new. The entire question is also new for Israel’s military court system and it is being asked, for instance, what actually constitutes incitement on Facebook? Does one’s social media presence need to have wide reach? Does the post in question need to have been cited by an attacker as their motivation? From a review of nearly a dozen incitement cases in military courts, it appears there is no single answer.
Of the cases we reviewed, some of the Palestinians indicted for incitement having as many as 1,000 “friends” on Facebook but others as few as 150. The “likes” the posts themselves get range from as low as seven to more than 140. Sometimes the military prosecution will distinguish between content the defendant created himself and posts and photos others created, which the defendant merely shared.
In one case the prosecution argued that even if the accused didn’t have an impressive number of “friends” himself, because one of his Facebook friends had far more followers, the material could therefore be disseminated far wider, and it is therefore possible that one of those people – one of the friend’s friends – might be influenced by it and carry out a violent attack.
Palestinians have also been charged for posting and sharing various types ideas and opinions, calls to action — or a lack thereof. In December, the Ofer military court heard the case of a young man from Hebron who posted on Facebook: “To all citizens of Jerusalem and ’48 (Israeli territory inside the Green Line, h.s.), whenever you see a settler, yell ‘terrorist’ in Hebrew and yell that he is a Palestinian and that he has a knife so he’ll be killed by the Occupation.” The post in question received five “likes.”
Another indictment cites a post that received 72 “likes”: a photograph of the body of Malek Shahin, 21, from Dheisheh refugee camp, who was killed by Israeli army fire in December. Along with the photo was the text: “my homeland taught me that the blood of martyrs demarcates the borders of our homeland.” In another case, the defense attorney noted that the martyr’s photo in question, which the accused had “shared,” was in fact a photo of the defendant’s own brother who had been killed by the army.
For Palestinians, even calling for a protest is ‘incitement’
Palestinian civilians living in the West Bank are subject to the Israeli military court system, in which laws are not exactly legislated — they are military orders. The differences between those military codes and Israel’s civilian law are often significant. Take for example the difference between the crime of incitement in the army’s “Order Regarding Security Provisions” (to which Palestinians are subject) and the same offense under Israeli law: the military code says incitement can constitute speech “which mayharm public peace or public order”; Israeli law sets a far higher bar and requires that there be “a real possibility that [the publication] will result in acts of violence or terror.”
“In the [occupied] territories, something that might even lead to a protest is an offense. In Israel, a protest would not be a crime.” explains Attorney Smadar Ben Natan. “But of course the differences are not only in the letter of the law. In Israel freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are recognized as constitutional rights; that is not the case in the West Bank.”
The definition of incitement in the military order, to which Palestinians are subject, is as broad as “possessing an object with the intention to influence public opinion,” or even publishing praise, sympathy or support for a hostile organization or its actions.
The Shin Bet’s attempts to prove causality
As the number of incitement cases increases, the Israeli army and intelligence agencies seem intent on proving, at least to the courts, that publishing messages sympathetic to “terrorist attacks” on social media proves that someone is dangerous and that their posts might incite others to commit attacks. To that end, the military prosecution recently submitted a Shin Bet expert legal opinion about patterns of behavior on Facebook and the danger of incitement on social networks.
The expert opinion was submitted as part of the prosecution’s appeal against a judge’s order to release a young Palestinian man from the village of Silwad. The youth had been charged with sharing a Facebook video that showed stone throwing along with the text: “get up and fight and set the [West] Bank alight.” The army requested that the court, just like in all of the cases examined for this article, keep the defendant in prison for the duration of legal proceedings.
Israel soldiers in a courtroom at the Ofer Military Court near the West Bank town of Beitunia, February 8, 2015. (Oren Ziv/
Israel soldiers in a courtroom at the Ofer Military Court near the West Bank town of Beitunia, February 8, 2015. (Oren Ziv/

That document has since been quoted by the prosecution in many other appeals, and is being treated as a comprehensive reference document for the entire subject of incitement on social media and how the court should approach such cases. For example, as part of another prosecutorial appeal, the army argued it was not required to prove a terror organization actually benefited from the publication in question, or that an act of violence took place as a result.
The Shin Bet expert opinion was the mainstay of the military prosecution’s appeal concerning the young man from Silwad, has been relevant in a number of cases since, and will be in those that have yet to be heard.
On the surface, the document appears to be comprehensive and methodical.
According to the Shin Bet, of all the terror attacks carried out in 2015, 159 were committed by individuals who had no support from any terrorist infrastructure. With 73 of those “lone attackers,” the intelligence agency found “exceptional and extreme” writings or posts it said were clear indicators of their intention to carry out an attack, including a farewell note.
Furthermore, the Shin Bet wrote, it “received information” according to which those same lone attackers were influenced by incitement and was therefore able to draw a direct correlation between the attacks, and social media posts and publications on the Internet and television.
Fuzzy math
If you noticed something strange there, you’re not alone; the judge was also not convinced. He ruled that the Shin Bet opinion failed to demonstrate a causal relationship between social networks and terror attacks, and was written in a misleading or biased way.
The way the numbers are presented by the Shin Bet, the reader is led to believe that more than half of ouths who carry out attacks first published warnings of their intentions on social networks. But in reality, the data shows that of all the “lone attackers” since October, 73 percent had social media accounts, and only 63 percent of that sub-group declared their intentions online. In other words, only 46 percent of all the attackers published “extreme” posts before setting out to commit an attack, according to the judge’s calculations. The conclusion is actually the opposite of what the Shin Bet contended: more than half of Palestinians who carried out attacks did not write about their intentions on social media.
That distinction is crucial for every incitement trial, most of which rely on the alleged causal link between violent incidents and statuses on Facebook. The data simply does not back up that assertion.
The judge also wrote in his decision that the Shin Bet did not present cases of attackers who said their actions were influenced by “correspondences on Facebook,” only by news and video clips. Additionally, he added, no contextual data was presented showing the number of Facebook accounts belonging to all residents of the Palestinian territories, “how many of them published ‘extremist materials’,” and how many of those people carry out violent acts. That argument is particularly paramount because it addresses the one thing missing from Israel’s approach to the entire issue of Palestinian incitement – perspective.
A nuanced understanding of the social and political discourse in the West Bank is integral to any discussion of the boundaries of freedom of expression. It is also extremely important when attempting to distinguish between protected free speech and instances of incitement that pose actual danger, therefore requiring preventative measures (arrest or imprisonment). An excellent example is the use of the word “shahid” (martyr) and the posting of martyr photos to Facebook. What Israelis generally interpret as incitement, most Palestinians would describe as a common expression of respect for the dead or those killed in a political struggle. In these cases, the deep chasm between the Palestinian and Israeli discourse is front and center.
‘If you release him, we’ll just use administrative detention’
The military prosecution’s appeal to keep the young man from Silwad in prison was rejected. The judge ruled that not every “fiery” Facebook post justifies imprisonment. For that, he wrote, there must exist: a post that demonstrates real intentions to commit violence or ongoing calls for carrying out violence; a large group of followers; and a period of escalated violence.
Israeli soldiers working on a computer. (IDF Spokesperson)
Israeli soldiers working on a computer. (IDF Spokesperson)

But that’s not the end of the story. The defendant, who had a grand total of 150 friends on Facebook, is currently being imprisoned without trial in administrative detention for three months. Why? When the military prosecution filed the appeal, it warned the judge that if he ordered the defendant’s release the army would instead submit an administrative detention order.
And that’s exactly what happened.
“People charged with incitement who are ordered released are immediately put on an administrative detention track,” Attorney Abu Ahmad adds. “The prosecution declares its intentions [to do so] in advance.”
As the military prosecution itself explained in yet another appeal: there is no need to prove that the inciting material actually led to violence. And indeed, the practice of putting young Palestinians accused of incitement into administrative detention instead of charging them with a crime appears to be on the rise, according to rights group Addameer, which says it has seen dozens of such cases in recent months.
“They interrogated me for 10 minutes, during which they asked me only about a post I published on Facebook,” recalls Jurin Qadah, whom Israeli soldiers arrested in the middle of the night at her home in a village near Ramallah. “I posted a quote from a poem “If I leave suddenly keep me in your prayers”, and they kept asking – why did you post it? Do you want to die?”
Qadah was put in administrative detention for three months, without charge or trial.
This seems to only be the beginning of Israel’s battle in social media. This week, a new government taskforce will “tackle anti-Israeli incitement on social media.” In addition to monitoring social media, the taskforce will reportedly seek to hold service providers (such as Facebook or Twitter) accountable for incitement that is not removed from their platforms. Like in other places across the world, cracking down on social media has maybe begin during a peak period of violence, but will probably be here to stay for as long as social media networks remain the primary tools of expression.
Hagar Shezaf is a Jaffa-based freelance journalist. A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.
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Putin: Russia May Deploy Forces back to Syria ‘in Mere Hours’ if Necessary

PutinWhile Russia is withdrawing most of its forces from Syria, they could be deployed there again in a matter of hours if such a need arises, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated. He added that the Russian bases in Syria are well-protected.
“Of course, if such a need arises, Russia can, in several hours, build up its forces in Syria to a size capable of dealing with an escalating situation and use the entire range of means at its disposal,” Putin said.
“We wouldn’t like that. A military escalation is not our choice. We hope the parties involved would show common sense and that both the government and the opposition will stick to the peace process,” he added.
Putin was summarizing the results of the Russian five-month-long anti-terror campaign in Syria at a solemn ceremony in Moscow.
The Russian president said Moscow was open in saying from the start of the operation that it was a limited campaign with a set deadline.
“We have created the conditions for a peace process. We have established constructive and positive cooperation with the US and a number of other countries, with respectable opposition forces in Syria, which really want to end the war and find a political solution of the conflict. You, Russian soldiers, paved that way,” Putin told the Russian military personnel who took part in the campaign.
He added that the Syrian Army, with Russia’s support, can now hold out against terrorist forces and take back terrorist-controlled territories.
The president acknowledged that the pull-out may be reversed, if necessary, even though Moscow would not want to see such a development. He also stressed that advanced air defense systems deployed in Syria for protection of Russian military sites remain there and would attack any hostile forces threatening them.
“We stick to the fundamental international laws and believe that nobody has the right to violate Syria’s sovereign airspace. We have created an effective mechanism for prevention of air incidents with the Americans, but all our partners have been warned that we would use our air defense systems against any target that we considered a threat to the Russian troops,” Putin said.
The Syrian operation cost Russia some $480 million, Putin said, and most of the funding came from the Russian Defense Ministry, which used money allocated for military training in 2015 to foot the bill.
Source: Agencies
17-03-2016 – 15:10 Last updated 17-03-2016 – 15:10

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