Saturday, 17 September 2016

US jets attack Syrian Army as ISIS captures strategic mountain in Deir Ezzor


Syrian Army recovers territory in Deir Ezzor after US attacks their positions

DEIR EZZOR, SYRIA (8:50 P.M.) - Soldiers from the Qassem Units  (Special Forces) of the Syrian Arab Army told Al-Masdar moments ago that their forces have recaptured several points in Jabal Thardeh after retreating due U.S. airstrikes on their positions.
The groups leading the counter-attack in Jabal Thardeh are the Qassem Units and 137th Artillery Brigade of the 17th Reserve Division.
Intense clashes are still ongoing at Jabal Thardeh, as the Syrian Arab Army attempts to recapture all of the territory they lost over the last 30 minutes.

US jets attack Syrian Army as ISIS captures strategic mountain in Deir Ezzor

GOLAN HEIGHTS, SYRIA (3:30 P.M.) – The prominent Syrian Arab Army officer, Major General Issam Zahreddine of the 104th Airborne of the Republican Guard, arrived in the predominately Druze village of Hader on Saturday to inspect the defenses in the area.
Major General Zahreddine was escorted to Hader by his bodyguards and several soldiers from the 104th Airborne Brigade; they will be departing from the Golan Heights shortly.
The commander of the Syrian Armed Forces in the Al-Quneitra Governorate is General ‘Usama Zahreddine of the Air Force Intelligence, he is also the younger brother of Major General Issam Zahreddine.
Major General Zahreddine is scheduled to return to the Deir Ezzor Governorate next week.

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KSA No Longer US Strategic Ally: Terrorist Al Saud Will Pay Trillions of Dollars to Compensate 9/11 Victims

September 11 Attacks
September 16, 2016
Saudi Arabia may pay huge financial compensations to the United States in response to the US blackmail as a result of the Saudi involvement in the attacks September 11, 2016, the Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan reported.
Atwan added, in the article published by Raialyoum news website, that Al Saud may pay up to  $3.3tn to compensate not only the real victims of the attacks but also the virtual ones as well as the economic sectors which were affected and the US administration for its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Palestinian journalist who is the editor-in-chief of the website considered that when the US Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act which allows to sue KSA and demands that it pay the financial compensations highlights the fact that Saudi Arabia, or even all Arabs, is no longer a strategic ally to the United States.
What exacerbates the Saudi conditions in face of the US blackmail is that it is abandoned to lonely cope with its wars in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, Atwan pointed out.
Turkey decided to be reconciled with Russia, Qatar called on hold a dialogue with Iran to end the gulf troubles, and Pakistan rejected to interfere militarily in Yemen to support Saudi, he added.
The Palestinian political writer finally noted that the remarks made by the Saudi Mufti Abdol Aziz Al Sheikh confirms that the Wahabbi thought is deeply rooted in the kingdom and undermines all its efforts to recover its image in the US and the West.
Source: Websites

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On the run, Syria: US Soldiers Leave Key Town in Northern Aleppo after FSA Warning

Video footage released on Friday showed that at least 25 US Army soldiers deployed in the key town of al-Rai engaged in serious disputes with the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorists before leaving the town, while other reports indicated brief clashes between the two sides.
The FSA militants and their allies threatened to kill the US soldiers operating inside al-Ra’i on Friday if they declined to leave the town.
The FSA terrorists continued threatening the US military personnel even as they were leaving al-Ra’i.
Other reports from the town indicated that the FSA fighters engaged in first fighting with the US military personnel after threatening them.

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From religion to politics, Saudi Arabia feeling chill of isolation

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University. Sharmine has written commentary for a wide array of publications, including Al Akhbar English, the New York Times, the Guardian, Asia Times Online,, USA Today, the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera English, BRICS Post and others. You can follow her on Twitter at @snarwani
15 Sep, 2016 11:06

From religion to politics, Saudi Arabia feeling chill of isolation

At the end of August, a meeting of Muslim clerics and scholars convened in the Chechen capital of Grozny to forge a consensus on the subject of ‘who constitutes a Sunni.’
Sunnism, the 200 or so Sunni clerics from Egypt, South Africa, India, Europe, Turkey, Jordan, Yemen, Russia warned, “has undergone a dangerous deformation in the wake of efforts by extremists to void its sense in order to take it over and reduce it to their perception.”
The Muslim world is currently under a siege of terror, led by a deviant strain that claims religious authority and kills in the name of Islam. So the Grozny participants had gathered, by invitation of the Chechen president, to make “a radical change in order to re-establish the true meaning of Sunnism.”
If their final communique was any indicator, the group of distinguished scholars had a very particular message for the Muslim world: Wahhabism – and its associated takfirism – are no longer welcome within the Sunni fold.
Specifically, the conference’s closing statement says this:
“Ash’arites and the Maturidi are the people of Sunnism and those who belong to the Sunni community, both at the level of the doctrine and of the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence (Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi’i, Maliki), as well as Sufis, both in terms of knowledge and moral ethics.”
In one fell swoop, Wahhabism, the official state religion of only two Muslim countries -Saudi Arabia and Qatar – was not part of the majority Muslim agenda any longer.
The backlash from the Saudis came hard and fast, honing in on the participation of Egypt’s Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb of Al Azhar, the foremost center for Sunni theological study in the Islamic world.
Saudi Arabia has, after all, subsidized the flailing Egyptian economy to the tune of billions of dollars in the past few years, alongside its Wahhabi neighbor Qatar, which has in turn bank-rolled the Muslim Brotherhood – a group also excluded from the Grozny meeting.
While Tayeb did not single out the Saudis in his conference speech, his elevated position in the global Sunni hierarchy lent a great deal of weight to the proceedings. And Al Azhar’s prominence in the Sunni world is rivaled only by the relatively new role of the Al Saud monarch as the custodian of the two holy sites, Mecca and Medina.
Just last year – in Mecca, no less – Tayeb slammed extremist trends during a speech on terrorism, lashing out at “corrupt interpretations” of religious texts and appealing to believers “to tackle in our schools and universities this tendency to accuse Muslims of being unbelievers.”
It is Wahhabism that is most often accused of sponsoring this trend globally.
The radical sect, borne in the 18thcentury, deviates from traditional Sunni doctrine in various ways, most notably sanctioning violence against nonbelievers – including Muslims who reject Wahhabi interpretation (takfirism).
Saudi Arabia is the single largest state contributor to tens of thousands of Wahhabi-influenced mosques, schools, clerics and Islamic publications scattered throughout the Muslim world – many of them, today, feeders for terrorist recruitment. By some accounts that figure has reached almost $100 billion in the last three decades or so.
In Grozny, conference participants made reference to this dangerous trend, and called for a “return to the schools of great knowledge” outside Saudi Arabia – in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen.
Saudi officialdom took to social media to express their outrage. Saudi royal, Prince Khalid al-Saud, warned that the event represented “a conspiracy that openly targets our country and it’s religious standing, specifically.”
بالأمس القريب  ، واليوم
مؤامره على المكشوف تستهدف بلادنا، و مكانتها الدينية ” تحديداً ” …
And Adil al-Kalbani, the imam of Riyadh’s King Khaled Bin Abdulaziz mosque, ominously cautioned:“The Chechen conference should serve as a wake-up call: the world is getting ready to burn us.”
ليكن  منبِّها لنا بأنَّ العالَمَ يَجمع الحطبَ لإحراقنا!
For the Saudis, the bad news kept on coming. On Friday, at the start of the annual 5-day Hajj pilgrimage, Lebanese daily Al Akhbar published online a shocking database from the Saudi Ministry of Health.
The leaked documents list, in painstaking detail, the names of 90,000 pilgrims from around the world who have died visiting Mecca over a 14-year period. If there was ever any question about the authority of the Saudi king as “custodian” of Islamic holy sites, this revelation should have opened those floodgates.
But even before these documents became public, calls for the Saudis to relinquish their administration of the Hajj were coming from Iran and elsewhere. Exactly one year ago, a stampede in Mina became the deadliest disaster in the history of the Hajj. Instead of tending to the dead and wounded as their utmost priority, the Saudi authorities went into lock down – concealing casualties, downplaying the death toll, blocking international efforts to investigate, forcing Hajj families to pay for the retrieval of bodies, denying wrongdoing and refusing to apologize for the disaster.
According to official Saudi government figures at the time, the total casualty toll stood at 769 dead and 934 injured. The leaked database now shows those numbers to be false. According to the Ministry of Health’s own statistics, the Mina death toll was in reality more than 10 times higher, with over 7,000 killed.
Iranians, who appeared initially to have suffered disproportionate losses – including from the collapse of a crane 12 days earlier at the Grand Mosque in Mecca where 107 died – lost around 500 citizens. Included in that number was senior foreign ministry official, Dr. Ghazanfar Roknabadi, Iran’s former ambassador to Lebanon and a key figure in regional geopolitical affairs. Saudi authorities initially denied he was even in the country and then took months to identify and repatriate his body.
But most disturbing of all was the manner in which the Saudis treated the dead and injured. Pictures that emerged from Mina in the aftermath of the disaster showed authorities shoveling up bodies in digger-like vehicles, then dumping them in piles as if they were sacks of sand. There appeared to be no care taken to even ascertain whether the victims were dead or alive.
The Iranians were justifiably outraged, but the Saudis politicized that reaction and turned it into an affront to Sunni authority by a Shia authority in Tehran. The Al Akhbar stats, however, tell another story. It was mostly Sunnis who were killed in Mina – from Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries – with victims from some states surpassing even the Iranian death toll.
One year on, Iran is not letting this issue lie. The Iranians have boycotted the Hajj this year, claiming that Saudi Arabia was unprepared to assure them of basic security requirements during lengthy negotiations between the two nations.
In his most confrontational address to the Saudi state yet, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei last week – during his annual Hajj message – railed against the injustice:
“The heartless and murderous Saudis locked up the injured with the dead in containers — instead of providing medical treatment and helping them or at least quenching their thirst. They murdered them…Because of these rulers’ oppressive behavior towards God’s guests, the world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj.”
And then Khamenei went to the heart of the matter:
“The fitna-promoting rulers who by forming and arming wicked takfiri groups, have plunged the world of Islam into civil wars, murdering and injuring the innocent and shed blood in Yemen, Iraq, the Levant, Libya and other countries.”
In one short month, the Saudis have been challenged by Islam’s two mainstream sects – by the Sunni and by the Shia, equally – striking out at the religious authority claimed by the Saudi state and challenging the destructive, divisive, violent sectarianism of their Wahhabi faith.

Geopolitical losses

As if to prove Khamenei’s point – and the Grozny consensus – Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdulaziz Al Sheikh shot back, describing Iranian leaders as nonbelievers: “We have to understand that they are not Muslims. … Their main enemies are the followers of Sunnah (Sunnis).”
But, with that last sectarian sling, it seems the Saudis may have finally hit their limit. Within days of his statement, citing “health reasons,” the Mufti was removed from delivering the Hajj sermon he has delivered for 35 years straight.
Why stop now? It isn’t like the Saudis don’t have the appetite for a fight with the Iranians.
That fight has been playing out throughout the Middle East and beyond, in various battlefields and media outlets, to the detriment of millions.
What may have started off as Riyadh’s desire to thwart the success of a populist Islamist revolution that dethroned a neighboring king – Iran, circa 1979 – has spiraled into an existential Saudi battle to claw onto hegemony and legitimacy in every sphere.
The Saudis have long lost the ability to engage in cold, hard calculation, and have thrown themselves headfirst into ‘winning by all means.’ This has meant releasing the demons of takfirism throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Wahhabi funded and enabled jihadi foot soldiers have sprung up in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and any other place where Saudis and their fellow co-religionists/ideologues have sought out hegemonic interests.
And the lack of coherent strategy has drawn the Saudis into a number of unnecessary quagmires that have now encircled their borders (Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen), wiped out their strategic depth and emptied the state coffers.
What was meant to be a swift aerial blow to Yemeni rebels for daring to defy Saudi authority, has morphed into an entrenched, 18-month-long, money-pit of a war, with 10,000-plus deaths, war crimes accusations, proliferation of jihadist terror and enemy encroachment into Saudi territory.
Riyadh’s leading role in the destabilization of Syria and Iraq has unleashed sectarian mass murder that has gutted the Muslim world, unmasked Saudi complicity, and galvanized its adversaries into historic cooperation.
These wars have drawn in powerful benefactors like Russia and China as buffers against Saudi overreach, and has reshuffled the balance of power in the region – against Saudi interests.
All of which has chipped away at Saudi political, economic and religious clout on the international stage.
In 2010, Saudi Arabia was crossing borders peacefully as a power-broker, working with Iran, Syria, Turkey, Qatar and others to troubleshoot in regional hotspots. By 2016, it had buried two kings, shrugged off a measured approach to foreign policy, embraced takfiri madness and emptied its coffers.
The hundreds of thousands dead in the wake of this ‘Saudi madness’ are mostly Muslim and mostly Sunni. As the Muslim world wakes up to this atrocious state of affairs, like the Sunni scholars of Grozny, they will not look to censure Tehran, but to disengage with Riyadh.
And to write the final chapter on an aberrant sect called Wahhabism.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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ماذا تخشى واشنطن في نشر التفاهم مع موسكو؟

ناصر قنديل

– تبدو موسكو ممسكة باليد الأميركية التي توجع كلما لوّحت بنشر التفاهمات الخاصة بينهما حول سورية، بمثل ما تبدو واشنطن مستعجلة للضغط على موسكو ودمشق في القضية الإنسانية لتحصيل مكاسب ميدانية مثل سحب الجيش السوري من الكاستيلو، والقول للجماعات المسلحة لقد حققنا لكم في السياسة ما عجزتم عن تحقيقه في الميدان، فاتبعونا تصلوا إلى برّ الأمان. وتحاول واشنطن إقناع موسكو بأنّ هذا هو الطريق الذي يسهّل تطبيق سائر الالتزامات الأميركية، خصوصاً ما يتصل بالجهود للفصل بين مَن تسمّيهم واشنطن بالمعارضة المعتدلة وتسمّيهم موسكو بالمسلحين الخاضعين لسيطرة واشنطن، من جهة، وجبهة النصرة من جهة أخرى، فجوهر التجاذب الدائر الآن هو السير بتطبيق الالتزامات بالتزامن كما تريد موسكو أو تقديم مكاسب تحت العنوان الإنساني تتباهى بها واشنطن أولاً تحت شعار مساعدتها على تطبيق التزاماتها.

– تتشدّد موسكو ودمشق هذه المرة في التطبيق المتزامن للالتزامات، فمقابل المطالبة بسحب الجيش السوري لحاجز الكاستيلو من طريق المساعدات تحت شعار عزل الإنساني عن السياسة طالبت دمشق بتزامن ذلك مع سحب كلّ وجود مسلح من طريق المساعدات في مرورها وصولاً لتوزيعها، وفتحت الباب لأهالي بلدتي الفوعة وكفريا المحاصرتين للتظاهر على الكاستيلو واشتراطهم للسماح بمرور المساعدات نحو شرق حلب بنيل البلدتين المحاصرتين نصيبها من المساعدات تحت الشعار ذاته، فصل الإنساني عن السياسي. وفيما تقول واشنطن لن يتمّ التعاون العسكري ضدّ النصرة ما لم تدخل المساعدات إلى شرق حلب، تقول موسكو إنّ تأخر دخول المساعدات ناتج عن تأخر انسحاب المسلحين من المواقع المقابلة للجيش السوري في الكاستيلو ومن طريق سير المساعدات، وانّ تأخر التطبيق العسكري للتفاهم عائد لعدم قيام واشنطن بإنجاز ما هو مطلوب منها، بتقديم خرائط صالحة للعمل العسكري تظهر الفصل بين مواقع من تسمّيهم واشنطن بالمعارضة المعتدلة في مناطق مستقلة، وبين مواقع سيطرة جبهة النصرة في مناطق مقابلة منفصلة عنها.

– يكاد الأسبوع الأول من التفاهم أن ينتهي، ويحلّ موعد البدء بتطبيق الشق العسكري بالتعاون في توجيه ضربات روسية أميركية للنصرة وداعش، وما طبّق من التفاهم هو الهدنة، وعشية نهاية الأسبوع سينعقد مجلس الأمن لمناقشة التفاهم الروسي الأميركي، والاستعداد لإصدار قرار بتطبيق بنوده، ربما يصدر مع موعد البدء بتطبيق المرحلة العسكرية، ويكون موعداً متزامناً لتطبيق الشق الخاص بالمساعدات، فتسير الثلاثية المتزامنة، الشرعنة الدولية للتفاهم ودخول المساعدات وبدء التعاون العسكري، الذي يعقد لأجله الرئيس الأميركي باراك أوباما اجتماعاً موسعاً يضمّ وزيري خارجيته جون كيري ودفاعه آشتون كارتر ومستشاري الأمن القومي لبرمجة تطبيق الالتزامات الأميركية في التفاهم، وإغلاق باب الاجتهادات المتباينة حول هذا التفاهم.

– يحصل كلّ ذلك وواشنطن لا تريد نشر التفاهم قبل سلوكه طريق التنفيذ، وخصوصاً ملاحقه التنفيذية، وأهمّها الملحق الأمني والملحق السياسي اللذين تمهّد لهما بالشق الخاص بالمساعدات وبالتعاون العسكري المبدئي والبطيء، ريثما تكتمل تحضيراتها مع الحلفاء من حكومات وتنظيمات وتشكيلات سياسية ومسلحة تعمل معها مباشرة أو مع حلفائها تحت مسمّيات المعارضة، للخوض في الملفين الأمني والسياسي. ففي الملف الأمني يتضمّن التفاهم تفاصيل وتحقيقات عن جماعات من المعارضة تفرض تصنيفها على لوائح الإرهاب ولا تريد واشنطن أن يتسرّب هذا الأمر قبل أن تنضج ظروف مناسبة لتلقيه. وفي الملف السياسي يدعو التفاهم لمحادثات جنيف الجديدة تحت شعار مرحلة اختبارية للتعاون بين الحكومة السورية والمعارضة من ضمن حكومة موحدة في ظلّ الرئيس بشار الأسد، طلبت واشنطن من المفاوضين باسم المعارضة التمهيد له بالدعوة لمرحلة سمّتها بما قبل الانتقالية، ووفقاً للتفاهم مع تشكيل الحكومة ينتقل التفاوض إلى داخلها، وتقوم المحادثات على كيفية توزيع الصلاحيات في هذه المرحلة بين رئيس الجمهورية والحكومة ورئيس الحكومة، وما قد يستدعيه ذلك من تعديل للدستور، دون الخوض في مستقبل الرئاسة السورية بعد هذه المرحلة، فتبقى المعارضة تقول إنها تريد مرحلة انتقالية بدون الرئيس السوري، بينما يفتح المجال عبر الحكومة الموحدة والدستور الجديد مع تقدّم الحرب على الإرهاب للذهاب إلى صناديق الاقتراع لحسم الأمر ديمقراطياً وبرقابة أممية تضمن أن يقول السوريون مَن وماذا يريدون.

– لا تريد واشنطن أن تصدم المراهنين عليها أنّ التفاهم قد حسم كلّ شيء وانتهى الأمر، وفقاً لمعادلة تدركها ويدركها كلّ الذين يعرفون سورية جيداً سياسياً وعسكرياً، قوامها أنّ تشكيلات المعارضة السياسية، والخارجية خصوصاً، ليست إلا واجهات من شخصيات بلا نفوذ ولا تأثير، وأنّ تشكيلات المعارضة العسكرية ليست إلا امتدادات لدول وأجهزة مخابرات، باستثناء جبهة النصرة التي تضمّ الشرائح الشعبية والمسلحة المناوئة للدولة العلمانية في سورية، وهي القوة التي تمنح الآخرين من عناوين سياسية وعسكرية مبرّر الوجود والارتزاق باسم المعارضة. وهي التي ارتضت لفترة القبول بتصدّر تلك العناوين والرموز للمشهد الإعلامي حتى دقت ساعة الظهور للعلن، والأمر لم يكن تحوّلاً نحو التطرف في مسار ما يسمّونه بالثورة كما يحلو للبعض القول، بل ظهور هذه «الثورة» على حقيقتها كثورة وهابية على نظام علماني حظيت بدعم دولي وإقليمي بما في ذلك النجاح بالتجرّؤ على التطبيع مع «إسرائيل» طمعاً بنيل فرص الفوز، وأنّ شطب النصرة يعني ما قاله أحد قادة الائتلاف «نهاية الثورة السورية»، وهذا الذي صار كأساً مرة لا بدّ لواشنطن من تجرّعها للبقاء على مائدة البرّ الآسيوي التي ستخلي الرقعة الاستراتيجية منه في أفغانستان خلال أشهر، سيفرض سقفاً أمنياً يقتضي شطب أخوات النصرة من تشكيلات وهابية معها، وسقفاً سياسياً يقتضي البحث عن مخارج شكلية لرموز المعارضة السياسية ومشغليها، تحت سقف الدولة السورية ورئيسها وجيشها.

– رغم كلّ التعقيدات والمصاعب والمتاعب وعدم الثقة، سيقول أوباما عن التفاهم لمساعديه ما قاله يوم توقيع التفاهم على الملف النووي الإيراني، لي مثلكم ملاحظات كثيرة على التفاهم، لكن الأمور في التفاوض تصل إلى نقطة عليك أن تأخذ الحصيلة أو ترفضها، وهذا أفضل ما تمكنّا من الوصول إليه، فمن لديه بديل أفضل فليقدمه.

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Why Assad's Army Has Not Defected

The Syrian military’s resilience should not be dismissed—nor should its support.
February 12, 2016
Four years ago, Turkey’s then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that within in a few weeks he would be praying in Damascus’s Umayyad Mosque, as Assad was about to fall. Similarly, Israel’s most decorated soldier, former Defense Minister Ehud Barak,predicted that Assad and his military would be toppled within weeks. That was at the beginning of 2012, when there were no Iranian soldiers on the ground or Russian planes in the skies.
As another round of Geneva peace talks collapses and the world wonders what’s next for Syria, it is time to begin with thewarnings of Henry Kissinger and Zbignew Brzezinski. Kissinger and Brzezinski, the most seasoned and influential U.S. policymakers on the Middle East since World War II, have gone against popular opinion and stated that President Bashar al-Assad has more support than all the opposition groups combined.
It is no secret that the Saudis and Qataris, with full U.S. support, have tried to bribe some of Assad’s innermost circles to defect. The all-important professional military cadre of the Syrian Arab Army, however, has remained thoroughly loyal.
The Syrian Arab Army was mostly a conscript force with only about eighty thousand professionals in its ranks. At the start of the war, much was made of the “defections” of thousands of officers, but these were mere conscripts who never wanted to be in the army in the first place, and would also have done anything to escape conscription in peacetime. The professional ranks, meanwhile, are still very strong and religiously pluralistic. When the Syrian opposition talks about a future pluralistic Syria, they fail to realize that while they may theoretically be pluralists in Geneva, Washington and Vienna, their representatives on the ground are allied with the most sectarian terrorist groups the Middle East has ever seen.
The Syrian Arab Army has held its own for more than five years. Its numbers might have been depleted, as is normal for any wartime military, but a close glance at its military reveals that its core, perhaps unexpectedly to many, is Sunni. The current minister of defense, Fahd al-Freij, is one of the most decorated officers in Syrian military history and hails from the Sunni heartland of Hama. The two most powerful intelligence chiefs, Ali Mamlouk and Mohammad Dib Zaitoun, have remained loyal to the Syrian government—and are both Sunnis from influential families. The now-dead and dreaded strongman of Syrian intelligence, Rustom Ghazaleh, who ruled Lebanon with an iron fist, was a Sunni, and the head of the investigative branch of the political directorate, Mahmoud al-Khattib, is from an old Damascene Sunni family. Major General Ramadan Mahmoud Ramadan, commander of the Thirty-Fifth Special Forces Regiment, which is tasked with the protection of western Damascus, is another high-ranking Sunni, as is Brigadier General Jihad Mohamed Sultan, the commander of the Sixty-Fifth Brigade that guards Latakia.
The history of the Syrian Army that Hafez al-Assad built is instructive today. As president, the elder Assad brought senior members of the Syrian Air Force into the military high command. Naji Jamil (another Sunni) served as air force chief from 1970 to 1978 and was promoted to the General Staff committee overseeing defenses on the Iraqi border. Another air force commander was Muhammad al-Khuli, who until 1993 held coveted logistical positions between Damascus and Lebanon. Other prominent officers above the rank of Brigadier in military and civil defense positions post-2000 were Sunnis, including Rustom Ghazaleh, Hazem al Khadra and Deeb Zaytoun. Since 1973, the strategic tank battalions of the Seventieth Armored Brigade, stationed near al-Kiswah near Damascus, have had rank-and-file Alawis under the command of Sunni officers. As well, two of the most decorated officers who rose to be Chief of General Staff under Bashar al-Assad were Sunnis: Hassan Turkmani and Hikmat Shehabi. 
From the 1970s until the 1990s, the Syrian Arab Army had a mandate to stabilize Lebanon. During these years, it worked to outmaneuver both the IDF and the U.S. Marines by supporting various proxies in Lebanon. In post-Saddam Iraq, the Americans could never understand which elements of both the Sunni and Shia insurgencies were supported by Syrian military intelligence, much of this owing to the stealth with which the Syrian Army controlled various Iraqi agents dating back to the Lebanese civil war.
The Syrian Arab Army is also the only Arab army with multiple Christians serving as generals. The most famous of these was Daoud Rajha, the Greek Orthodox army chief of staff. The two most influential Lebanese Christian leaders, now on the verge of becoming the next president of Lebanon, are Michel Aoun and Suleiman Franjieh, who are also allies of the Syrian Arab Army and President Assad. Deir al-Zour is an entirely Sunni city which has held out against ISIS encirclement for two years—and is commanded by the Druze General Issam Zahreddine.
The fact remains:
The moderate Syrian opposition only exists in fancy suits in Western hotel lobbies. It has little military backing on the ground. If you want to ask why Assad is still the president of Syria, the answer is not simply Russia or Iran, but the fact that his army remains resilient and pluralistic, representing a Syria in which religion alone does not determine who rises to the top. The military also represent as challenge against the spread of terrorism, which is why three of the top British generals of the last five years have openly called for the recognition that the Syrian Arab Army, loyal to President Assad, is the only force capable of defeating ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Levant.
Kamal Alam is a Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London and a Syrian Military Analyst advising several Damascus-based family offices.

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!

Nobel ‘Peace’ Prize to Go to Syrian Terrorist Group?

[ Ed. note – Would it surprise us all that much if the Nobel Peace Prize went to a terrorist group this year? Steve Lendman has published a commentary about the Syrian White Helmets, supposed gallant rescuers of children, being singled out for a Nobel prize nomination. Lendman refers to the White Helmets as a “terrorist organization,” and judging from the video above he may have a point.
He also, as you will see, discusses the “debauched” tradition of awarding Nobel Peace Prizes to warmakers. Whether the “debauchery” will continue this year remains to be seen, but somebody seems to be going to rather extraordinary lengths to promote the White Helmets. The New York Times has published a story about a group of celebrities who have signed onto a petition urging the Nobel Committee to award the prize to the putative humanitarians, while the BritishTelegraph is telling readers about the “heartfelt plea” made on behalf of these Syrian “heroes” by former MP Jo Cox before her murder earlier this year. And if that’s not enough, Netflix has produced a documentary on the White Helmets set for release on Friday, September 16:
The documentary, at least if the trailer is any indication, could have been–and possibly was–produced in Hollywood.
In other words, the propaganda is getting pretty hot and heavy.
In addition to the excerpt from Lendman’s commentary below, I am also posting, just beneath it, an excerpt from an article by Eva Bartlett, who refers to the White Helmets as “props for death squads,” and who also has some interesting things to say about a recent Guardian piece airing allegations that the Syrian government dropped “chlorine bombs” on terrorist-held sections of Aleppo.
My own personal view is that being a White Helmet is not an easy job, by any means. Why, just doing this many photo shoots alone would be physically taxing, and the makeup artists probably really have their work cut out for them. ]
Terrorist Group Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
By Stephen Lendman
Nobel hypocrisy is notorious for favoring warmakers over peace champions, a rogue’s gallery of miscreants among their honorees – notably Obama, Henry Kissinger, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.
If imperial-sponsored/al Nusra-connected misnamed Civil Defense White Helmets operating in Syria win this year, ignoble Nobel tradition will continue.
Created by Britain and America in 2013, they’re managed by James Le Mesurier, a former UK soldier and private military contractor in Dubai and Raed Saleh.

The Guardian View on Aleppo: More Western Lies About Syria
By Eva Bartlett
The Guardian pointedly chooses to disregard that the Syrian government is fighting a terrorism thrust upon the civilians of Syria by the NATO-Turkish-Gulf-Zionist alliance, including the same terrorists in eastern Aleppo which theGuardian whitewashes while portraying their White Helmets as credible ‘rescuers’, instead of US/UK-backed and financed propagandists and props for death squads.
Terrorism is daily and massively felt in Aleppo, whose over 1.5 million civilians on a daily basis are subject to a bombardment of Hell Cannon-fired explosive gas canisters, and a combination of missiles, rockets, mortars, and explosive bullets, among other foreign-supplied munitions, by the terrorists occupying eastern Aleppo, who the Syrian army is fighting.
As I wrote recently, (something the Guardian would never deign to print):
“In late April 2016, terrorists in the occupied eastern quarters of Aleppo, as well as then-occupied Beni Zaid and neighbouring districts, increased the frequency of their bombing campaigns using mortars, gas canister explosives (from household to the largest size canisters, stuffed with glass, bearings, metal shrapnel), explosive bullets, and powerful foreign-supplied rockets from high-tens to over one hundred per day on the heavily-populated areas of Aleppo secured by the Syrian state.”
Of the heightened bombardment, local doctor Nabil Antaki told me:
“Usually you don’t have just one mortar, you have a rain of mortars: ten, twenty, thirty, and more in a few hours. Many people are wounded at the same time. When ambulances bring people to the public hospital, maybe twenty or thirty people arrive at the same time. The public hospitals lack enough medical staff and equipment. So if you have ten severely wounded persons arriving at the same time at the public hospital, by the time care comes, a victim has time to die.”
In his Aleppo Medical Association office, another local physician, Dr. Zaher Buttal, read to me from his diary statistics on the terrorists’ bombardment campaign in late April/early May…

[ Additional ed. note – Interestingly, the supposedly “progressive” AJ+ channel on YouTube has joined the mainstream media and Hollywood in extolling the virtues of the White Helmets. Perhaps this is not surprising, however. AJ+ is run by Al Jazeera, headquartered in the Gulf monarchy of Qatar, and the video below is virtually indistinguishable from Western media propaganda. ]
And see also:
“Dramatic Rescue! Man With Kid Runs Toward Camera!”
The “White Helmets” are part of the (anti-) Syria Campaign. “Kid rescued from rubble” is their standard shtick. They are financed with some $60+ million from your taxes by the U.S.the UK and other governments. Such money will buy a lot of good cameras and props and will pay for many actors and extras.
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!