Saturday, 22 February 2020

Yemeni Army Command Announces Details of Third “Balance of Deterrence” Operation against Saudi







February 21, 2020
The spokesman of the Yemeni Army Command, General Yehya Sarea, announced Friday the details of the third “Balance of Deterrence” Operation against the Saudi home front, clarifying that 12 drones and three missiles were launched onto the targets in KSA.
General Sarea clarified that 12 drones (Sammad 3), two winged missiles branded (Al-Quds), and one ballistic missile were used to attack the Saudi targets which included Aramco oil company and a number of other important positions.
General Sarea considered the operation as a normal response to the ongoing Saudi war on Yemen, vowing more painful strikes in case the aggression and blockade continue.

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NETANYAHU “OPTIMISTIC” ISRAEL CAN USE POLITICAL PRESSURE TO SHUT DOWN ICC WAR CRIMES PROBE


Since the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it would investigate war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank last December, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been attempting to rally Israel’s allies in a multilateral effort to stop the ICC’s probe.
Those efforts have now left Netanyahu “optimistic,” with the embattled Prime Minister reportedly telling members of his cabinet that Israel’s efforts to lobby other countries against the ICC case is paying off, according to a recent report published by Reuters. “We are struggling against this [proceeding] and, at our side, I must say, are many friends around the world [which] joined the U.S. in a steadfast stand alongside Israel,” Reuters quoted Netanyahu as saying.
Those other friendly countries aside from the United States include Brazil, Hungary, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Australia, all of which have applied to file legal opinions with the ICC over its decision to investigate Israeli war crimes in occupied Palestine as part of an effort to prevent the ICC probe from proceeding as planned.

These legal opinions are likely to echo claims already made by both the U.S. and Israel that the court has no jurisdiction over Gaza or the West Bank due to the absence of a sovereign Palestinian state, as Palestine is currently subjected to Israeli military law in the West Bank and a crippling blockade in the case of the Gaza Strip. Neither Israel nor the U.S. are ICC member states while Palestine became a member state in 2015.
This legal argument has been directly disputed by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is comprised of 57 Muslim-majority countries and has argued that Palestinians do have sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 
Another likely ally of Israel in opposing and sabotaging the ICC probe is the United Kingdom, as the recently-elected Conservative government has moved to strengthen the country’s ties to Israel even more by promoting anti-boycott laws targeting Palestinian rights activists, among other measures. One U.K. pro-Israel lobby group, the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), has close ties to the current U.K. government and has openly called for U.K. leadership to oppose the ICC investigation into Israel’s war crimes.
Weaponizing Antisemitism 
Netanyahu’s frenzied yet behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts to halt the ICC probe suggests that the probe greatly worries Israel at a time when Netanyahu has linked his reelection bid to the annexation of the vast majority of Palestine’s West Bank, an act that would be flagrantly illegal under international law. In fact, the move would be so illegal under international law that Israel’s Attorney General’s office warned Netanyahu that doing so would be “indefensible” in front of the ICC and would open up top Israeli officials to prosecution.
Since the probe was announced in December, Netanyahu has not only heavily lobbied allied countries to oppose the ICC’s efforts, but he has also used a stream of attacks against both the ICC and its chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, in an effort to discredit the probe by means of character assassination. 
For instance, Netanyahu claimed in late December that “new edicts are being cast against the Jewish people – anti-Semitic edicts by the International Criminal Court telling us that we, the Jews standing here next to this wall … in this city [Jerusalem], in this country, have no right to live here and that by doing so, we are committing a war crime (emphasis added).” 
However, what Netanyahu failed to note is that the ICC investigation is not related to Zionism or Israel’s “right to exist,” but instead its use of military force in Palestine in ways that violate international law as well as the growing presence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, themselves illegal under international law. Fatou Bensouda responded to Netanyahu’s charges of anti-Semitism as “particularly regrettable” and “without merit” in a subsequent interview with The Times of Israel.
Netanyahu’s concern over the probe could also be found within the recent “Deal of the Century” that was created by the Trump administration in conjunction with Israel’s Netanyahu-led government, as that deal would require Palestinians to “dismiss all pending actions” before the ICC that are related to Israel. Surprisingly, that aspect of the so-called “peace deal” went largely unreported after the deal was revealed late last month.
The creation of the plan was largely overseen by President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who also boasts close personal ties to Netanyahu. Kushner told Palestinians to “take a cold shower” and accept the plan so they don’t “screw up,” he said, like with “every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.”

By Whitney Webb
Source: MintPress News

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A Different Islamic Constitution; Transparent Elections and a Healthy Turnout






Tehran – With the nearing of the parliamentary elections in Iran, anti-Iranian news outlets have rushed to attack the electoral system in Iran and underscore that the disqualification of most candidates was decided based on their loyalty to the system. Mainstream media tried to put this in the context of disqualifying Reformist candidates only. This is not unprecedented. Let us remind that in June 2017, when Iran witnessed the presidential debates between the current Reformist president Hassan Rouhani and the Principalist candidate back then Seyed Ebrahim Raeesi, media outlets also rushed into suggesting that the “undemocratic” system will not allow the Reformists to win, claiming that Raeesi coming into office would mean the end of diplomacy and international relations for Iran. Rouhani won the elections.
Iran elections: a different Islamic constitution
The nationwide votes for the parliament and the midterm election of the Assembly of Experts will be held simultaneously on Friday. A total of 7,148 candidates, including dozens of Iranians from the religious minorities, are running for the parliament. There are 290 seats in the parliament up for grabs. The lawmakers are elected for a 4-year term, with no limitation for the incumbent or former parliamentarians to run again.
Parliamentary elections in Iran go as far back as 1906 and the Constitutional Revolution, calling for a Constitutional Monarchy. Post-Islamic Revolution however, Parliament is called the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and it passes laws within a very different Constitution; one based on Islamic Sharia Law.
As with the previous round, the major rivaling camps are those of Principlists and Reformists. In the last legislative elections, the Hope List comprising Reformist candidates secured relative majority at the parliament after winning 122 seats over two rounds of elections. In all, the Reformist camp together with moderate candidates took 137 seats against 120 seats that went to the Principlists.
Part of the fair elections also is that Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Armenians and Assyrians are getting ready to cast their ballots in Iran’s eleventh parliamentary elections. Under the Constitution, there are five reserved seats in the legislature for Iran’s religious minorities.
One week before Iranians are expected to head to the polls for the country’s 11th parliamentary elections, the interior minister says inspection teams assigned by the ministry are comprehensively monitoring the electoral process against any potential fraudulent activity.
According to IRNA, the observer teams have been watchful of the candidates’ electoral engagement and the behavior of those associated with them over the past month.
A healthy turnout
Western mainstream media outlets claim that much of the country’s youth, particularly in the capital Tehran, plan to stay at home, foreshadowing what’s expected to be the lowest voter turnout in years.
But this is a judgment from afar. Many young people particularly in Tehran, despite being upset with the economic situation which is part of an economic crisis swiping across the region, have said they will take part in the elections. Others said they prefer to abstain from voting, but that is part of any normal elections isn’t it?  Also, Tehran is the capital of a country of 80 million people at least, and the turnout of elections in the capital is usually 35 to 40 percent for multiple reasons. First of all the low turnout in Tehran is due to the long voting process and the lack of interaction between voters and candidates, as experts note. It is not the best way to evaluate the elections of a country by looking at its metropolis or capital. All other cities count too, especially in a big country geographically and demographically speaking. 
Also concerning Tehran, there is no real connection between the voter and the candidate, unlike other cities across the country. In addition, the lack of TV debates makes it less interesting than presidential elections, which is normal as well. Moreover, experts point out that while Reformists do not do well across the country, they do much better in the capital.
Western governments, media and think tanks do not recognize that all major Iranian factions are disgusted with the regime in Washington. The turnout of people participating in the funeral of General Soleimani and the millions who poured into the streets on a snowy day to take part in the rallies on the anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution says a lot. Simultaneously, some media outlets claim that the assassination of Soleimani will probably tilt the turnout towards Principlists, but that is a miscalculation because General Soleimani was popular among all Iranian political groups and camps and hence that will not have any impact on the attitude of the voters. Western governments topped by the American regime should end their miscalculations.
According to Iranian experts, turnout for parliamentary elections throughout the country over the past four decades has been between 50 and 70 percent. If the turnout is significantly below 50 percent then that would be seen as unhealthy.
Iran vs. US elections; transparent vs. non-transparent
The American administration also criticized the disqualification of the candidates in Iran, accusing the Islamic Republic of being “undemocratic”.
On this note, the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday urged U.S. officials to focus on fixing their own country’s “nontransparent” and undemocratic system before calling into question the legitimacy of elections in other nations.
Abbas Mousavi, spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters that the U.S. system “ignores the vote of the majority of people” and said “American officials had better address questions” about the country’s elections from the US public.
Mousavi appeared to be referring to the Electoral College, the archaic system the US uses to elect its president every four years. Two of the last three presidents—George W. Bush and Donald Trump—have lost the popular vote yet won the presidential election thanks to the Electoral College.
However, the Guardian Council states that the vetting process was done fairly, pointing to the fact that both Reformists and Principlists were among the disqualified.
In an exclusive interview with Fars news agency on Sunday, the spokesman for Iran’s election supervisory body, the Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said, “Despite the enemies’ false propaganda, and wrong allegations by some people inside the country, elections in Iran have never been symbolic and ceremonial and the Guardian Council, as a national judge of elections…, will not enter any deal on people’s right in the face of political pressure or in order to appease [political] factions.”
Kadkhodaei also noted that the Guardian Council approves qualification of nominees only based on the Constitution and believes that allocation of quotas for various political factions lacks legitimacy.
“Definitely, the Guardian Council assures the noble Iranian nation that it has made all necessary preparations to guarantee healthy and competitive elections, and will fulfill its supervisory duties with more accuracy,” Kadkhodaei said.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has called for a high turnout in the upcoming elections, saying a lively vote guarantees the Iranian nation’s security and contributes to efforts towards resolving the problems.

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Russian naval presence in Indian Ocean




By Nat South for The Saker Blog
I am interested in the way that narratives that shape individual events are crafted, curated and disseminated, because ultimately there is a tendency to focus mostly on specific events and ignore the wider context. Ultimately, we end up with being presented with a series of disjointed events, not really understanding the history or the detailed framing of these events. One such example would be “Russian ships are prowling around undersea cables”, in the tenor of overstating the Russian threat. Often, the complexity and background of the issue is left completely blank and important facets are blurred. At worst, we are simply presented with a series of ‘soundbites’ such as this stark example: “Russia invaded Crimea”.
The starting point for this naval oriented briefing is the widely reported incident between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a lightly armed Russian navy intelligence reconnaissance ship somewhere in “northern Arabian Sea”. The U.S. Fifth Fleet alleged that on January 9, a Russian Navy ship ‘Ivan Khurs’ (AGI),“aggressively approached” USS Farragut, an Arleigh Burke DDG (guided missile destroyer), “conducting routine operations in the North Arabian Sea”, (in the words of the U.S. Navy press release). Subsequently, Moscow dismissed Washington’s claims.
Note the tone of stating “aggressively approached”, not really a nuanced interpretation of events. What wasn’t mentioned the likelihood that this took place not far from the carrier, ‘USS Harry S. Truman’. No context whatsoever was provided by authorities on this incident. A classic example of a specific event being framed without any further details as to why and how it happened. Nothing mentioned on what took place before the video snippets that don’t make much sense. What is the wider context to this incident? (More on this specific incident later on in this article).
Without getting into details on the well-publicised Iran / U.S. tensions and U.S. naval deployment to the region, I would like to turn to other broader aspects touching upon the Russian naval presence in the region. In January, a series of articles appeared on the geopolitical aspects of the Indian Ocean, such as this on China’s increased presence , “the Russians are coming”, and this that gives an all-round Indian focused overview. Taking an excerpt from the latter:
During the unipolar moment from 1991 till 2010s, Washington still felt comfortable in its position; however, over the last few years, the situation has changed dramatically.”
The most recent element in the turning point that shows the dramatic change would certainly be the late December trilateral naval exercise between Russia, Iran & China. The high-profile, three-day naval exercise took place in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea. Although not a major strategic exercise, the naval drills conveyed a slight political undertone, particularly with the presence of the Chinese Navy. China’s regional policy remains the same, to engage with all countries in a cautious and balanced manner. This is reflected by the fact the PLAN also held joint naval exercises with Saudi Arabia in November 2019, with the practically the same theme of enhancing maritime security.
The Pentagon’s plan for continued domination of the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean as per Mahan Doctrine in a unipolar world, is started to be eroded by the presence of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, (PLAN). On paper, the numbers involved is very small compared to the overall U.S. Navy presence in the region. Yet, Chinese encroachment into a space seen by Washington as their turf is already enough of an issue to warrant increased attention in recent years. So far, this has resulted in the creation of dedicated military structures, namely the Indo-Pacific Command, (USINDOPACOM) in 2018 and the release in June 2019 of a US military strategy report specifically on the region.
On top of all of Washington’s angst, is also the presence of the Russian Navy in the region. So, are the Russians just coming to the region now? No. The only noticeable change of recent is the taking part in multi-national exercises, (in Iran and South Africa) jointly with the Chinese.
The Russian Navy has been an occasional visitor for two decades, limited to one combat ship with two support deploying to either bilateral exercises or simply showing the flag as part of naval diplomacy. Take for example the annual bilateral exercises between Russia with India since 2003, (INDRA), with Pakistan since 2014, (Exercise Arabian Monsoon). Both of which are aimed at: “increasing inter-operability amongst the two navies, developing common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.” Both activities clearly underline the “naval diplomacy” being used by Russia, striking a balance between two significant opposing countries.
What is changing is the nature and format of other newer joint or multilateral exercises. A glimpse of this is the Army International Games “Depth-2019”, competition in July 2017 in Iran. The Black Sea Fleet based rescue tug “Professor Nikolai Muru”, (Project 22870), made a first-ever passage to the Gulf to participate in the event. Insignificant, in the greater scheme of things, probably yes, but interesting the Russian Navy did this.
Lastly let’s not forget that the Russian Navy had infrequently participated in the Horn of Africa anti-piracy missions, probably best remembered by an epic video of the Russian Navy dealing with a pirate boat. Conversely, the PLAN has been a more consistent participant of these types of missions for almost two decades. Nevertheless, as I write this, the Baltic Fleet based ‘Yaroslav Mudry’ is out in the region having recently called in to the Omani port of Salalah. It is in the Gulf of Aden as part of the latest Russian anti-piracy deployment to the Indian Ocean.
A first in the Southern Hemisphere took place in late November 2019 in Cape Town, when Russia and China held their first trilateral naval exercise with South Africa. Exercise ‘Mosi’ was the first time that three countries belonging to BRICS exercised together. Participants included a type 054A frigate Weifang (550) and Slava-class Project 1164 cruiser Marshal Ustinov (055) and the South African Valour class frigate ‘Amatola’.
9th January 2020
Back to the 9th January incident, reminiscent of the era of the Soviet Navy, when there were numerous ‘interactions’ of this kind on and below the waves. Any naval Cold War veteran is able to attest to this. An example of maybe hundreds of incidents and accidents is when the Soviet destroyer ‘Bravyy’ on 9th November 1970, while observing a NATO exercise, collided with the British aircraft-carrier HMS Ark Royal. Other notable incidents were the Black Sea “bumping incidents”, although the context for this was slightly different, taking place in home waters, involving both the USS Caron and the ‘USS Yorktown’, under the activity of “innocent passage and freedom of navigation”. An issue that still provokes intense debate and U.S. FONOP activities, (notably in the South China Sea) as mentioned in a previous article on the Arctic. A snapshot of this rationale for carrying out freedom of navigation voyages can be found in the introduction of a paper presented here.
I had a deja-vu feeling when I heard about this incident. It seems to me practically a re-run of the ‘USS Chancellorsville’ & ‘Admiral Vinogradrov’ incident back in June 2019. I see that many instant experts on Rule 15 have suddenly popped up on social media, hence this specific commentary.  Essentially several things could have done been done to avert this close call situation. The U.S. ship could have speeded up considerably to give the Russian ship more sea room to cross astern with plenty of space. There’s a lot more to this incident than just the videos extracts released by the U.S. Navy. However, this and the June 2019 incident needed to be contrasted with the shenanigans done in 60, 70s and also the 1988 Black Sea bumping incidents. Personally, this is pretty tame stuff in comparison.
The question is why this happens in this manner, (maybe due to saving face or not backing down). The carefully selected excerpts of videos, showing a fraction of the incident in question don’t help to understand the length, context or extent of the incident. The tetchy moments on who had ‘right of way’ (the nautical version of the Road Code – known as COLREGS) regarding the ‘Ivan Khurs’ close encounter with ‘USS Farragut’ can be regarded as just a “braggadocio” event aimed at media sensationalism. Well, not quite. There’s more the story than what it first seems.
As with the June 2019 incident, the U.S. ship was on the port side of the Russian vessel, considered to be a “Constant bearing, decreasing range” (CBDR) situation. Many arguments happened over whether the Ivan Khurs was in crossing situation or overtaking one, (was it 22.5 / 30 degrees angle? Essentially that’s a redundant point given the closeness and the continued CBDR situation, running out of safe sea space). A grey area well-known to mariners, hence the need to be quite clear in intentions from the outset. The video excerpts are equally unhelpful in determining the situation since some time must have passed between the video snippets.
The question that no one asked was why did both sides act early enough to avoid such close approach in the first place. It seems to me, in general one side was blatantly ignoring the CBDR situation and the finer points of Rule 15 or 17 COLREG, while the other won’t try or consider slowing down or bearing away from US ship. Essentially, a total farce where both sides seem to wind each up until the last minute, when finally, the U.S. destroyer actually opens up a bit the throttle. Given that it is a DDG, I’m sure that the USS Farragut has a higher speed than the ‘Ivan Khurs’, so the Russian ship can cross astern safely. Seemingly, neither budged and importantly both sides were basically ignoring parts of Rule 8 which sets out good seamanship practice, well before the Rule 15/17 situation arose, as both had each other on radar and visually for many nautical miles.
The other question is why did this incident occur? Essentially, eyeing each other for intel gathering. Scenario 1: I suspect it is the U.S. ship taking a keen interest, given the ‘Ivan Khurs’ is a probable newcomer to the waters, but was this was close to the area of the U.S. carrier operations. Scenario 2: Possibility of the USS Farragut either wanting to keep the Russian ship away from the U.S. carrier or maybe possibly deploying ASW array.
Of interest to note is the ad hoc presence of Russian AGIs and intelligence reconnaissance ships in the vicinity of U.S. carrier groups. This has been the case elsewhere, in the Eastern Mediterranean particularly, but seemingly a first for the Arabian Sea, (in many decades).
Summary
The Russian Navy is not the Soviet Navy in scope or numbers. As such the remaining current cold war era CCGs & DDGs that visit the region will gradually fade away, to be replaced by a smaller fleet of FFGs & corvettes; yet it will continue to visit the Indian Ocean. Although many pundits see this as a growing Russia’s return to the Indian Ocean as being relatively recent, when in fact it isn’t. So, the muted outcry by Washington of “the Russians are coming” is rather feeble and reveals a deep level of geopolitical insecurity. To paraphrase the Chinese delegate’s question at the Munich Security Conference recently, (see here):
“Do you really think the U.S. Navy presence in the Indian Ocean is so fragile it could be threatened by the occasional visit of Russian and Chinese warships?”
Seemingly yes.
Russia has a new limited strategic presence in the Middle East and Africa and the naval visits are part of the bigger picture. Russian presence will continue given the backdrop of the U.S. public wish for an expansion of a NATO footprint into Gulf & Iraq, adding to the ongoing presence in Afghanistan since 2001.
Russia also has defence-cooperation agreements with about 15 African countries. This is somewhat reflected in the port call make by the ‘Marshal Ustinov’, (en route to South Africa, including Egypt & Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde.
NB:The ‘Marshal Ustinov’ also called into Greece, Cyprus, Turkey (some are NATO countries).
By looking at the Russian Navy’s timid visits, the Indian Ocean is not a high priority regarding Russian maritime presence. Nevertheless, Russia has certainly stepped up its naval diplomacy in the region in different ways, making infrequent regular yearly visits to ports in the region, such as Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka and high-level working visits by heads of navies. Russia is also attentive to maintaining special relationships that it already has with countries like India and Pakistan.
Lastly, I cannot compare the minuscule presence of Russian Navy in region with that of the PLAN which is quickly building a larger force projection capability than the Russian VMF can realistically hope for these days. Let’s be frank, the Chinese PLAN is expanding considerably each year. 2019 alone saw another: 1 aircraft carrier, 1 LDP, 1 LHD & eight 7000t & two 13000t destroyers commissioned) plus 17 corvettes in one year!) The new tonnage must eye watering hard for the West to contemplate.
Further Reading
See this detailed article below I entirely agree with the author, as a civilian ex-mariner.
Extra information on the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean:
Indian Ocean: strategic hub or zone of competition? https://uwidata.com/7211-indian-ocean-strategic-hub-or-zone-of-competition/
An visual overview of both recent Chinese and Russian naval port visits in the Indian Ocean is presented on the blog Warvspeace.org

Nat South’s sideline is occasionally commenting on maritime & naval related subjects ,with a special interest in the polar regions.

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MEE: UK Gov’t’s Covert Propaganda Campaign in Syria

The British government covertly established a network of citizen journalists across Syria during the early years of the country’s war in an attempt to shape perceptions of the conflict, frequently recruiting people who were unaware that they were being directed from London.
A number of leaked documents seen by Middle East Eye show how the propaganda initiative began in 2012 and gathered pace the following year, shortly after the UK parliament refused to authorize British military action in Syria.
Drawing upon British, American and Canadian funding, UK government contractors set up offices in Istanbul and Amman, where they hired members of the Syrian diaspora, who in turn recruited citizen journalists inside Syria.
These journalists, many of them young, were commissioned to produce TV footage, radio programs, social media, posters, magazines and even children’s comics.
While many Syrians turned spontaneously to media activism from the start of the war, the documents describe the way in which the British government sought to guide some of their output, seeing citizen journalism as a way of covertly influencing Syrian audiences.
The papers also make clear that those people who were recruited were often unaware that they were part of a British propaganda initiative.
Some of those who were recruited have defended their involvement, however, saying that they were reliant on western support in their efforts to counter pro-government reporting in Syrian state media, and in Iranian and Russian-backed media.
At a time when the last opposition-held enclave in Idlib province is under assault by pro-government forces, they questioned whether western countries could have contributed more material support to moderate rebels.
Some Syrian journalists complained that western support for their work was decreasing even as it was most needed.
The documents were drawn up as blueprints for the initiative by an anthropologist working in counter-terrorism at the foreign office in London. They were issued in late 2014 to a small number of communications companies that were invited to bid for three contracts to deliver the work.
The documents show that the over-arching aim of the citizen journalism project – and a series of interlinked British propaganda initiatives – was to promote the UK’s strategic interests in Syria and the Middle East.
These are defined in the leaked papers as “a more stable and democratic Syria that better meets the needs and aspirations of its people”, support for a political solution to the conflict, the alleviation of humanitarian suffering, and enhanced UK security.
As well as developing grassroots journalism aligned with British government values, the UK and other western governments were at the same time attempting to build civil society in areas controlled by some of Assad’s opponents, financing and training police forces and civil defense teams.
The anthropologist’s blueprint makes clear that this was being done not just to help maintain law and order and provide humanitarian assistance, but “to build confidence in a future Syria free from extremist rule”.
However, the documents acknowledge the risks to the young journalists who had unwittingly been co-opted by the British government.
The British government’s citizen journalism project was part of a three-pronged propaganda initiative that was developed in London and was, according to the documents, intended to “have a synergistic effect”.
The first strand, named Syrian Identity, sought to “unite Syrians through positive affirmation of common cultures and practices and to restore trust between neighbors, while illustrating Syrians’ strength in numbers,” according to the blueprint.
The documents explain that the second strand, called Free Syria, “seeks to build confidence in a future Syria free from extremist rule”.
It “amplifies the work of the ‘free’ police, civil defense teams and wider public service provision and broader developments in civil society and seeks to unite the moderate opposition (civil and armed) to work for a common future”.
The third, known as Undermine, “seeks to degrade the effectiveness of VE [violent extremist] networks in Syria by undermining the credibility of VE narratives and actors and isolating VE organizations from the populace.”
The document goes on, using a different acronym for IS: “ISIL is an explicit and named focus, Al Nusra Front (due to its current popularity within Syria) is addressed indirectly through its behavior.
“The purpose of the project to directly ‘Undermine’ (degrading the effectiveness of) VE networks in Syria through the delivery of media product, the emboldening and empowering of moderate voices, and supporting community coalescence around a vision of a tolerant, pluralist Syria. Ultimately, active Syrian rejection of VE is the requirement.”
The documents add that the research underpinning the initiative “will need to be able to draw upon open source material, jihadist discourse and, in particular, a network of assets inside Syria”.
Individuals familiar with the project say that around nine companies were invited to bid for the contracts. They included a number of firms established by former British diplomats, intelligence officers and army officers.
Although the contracts were awarded by the UK’s foreign office, they were managed by the country’s Ministry of Defense, and sometimes by military intelligence officers.
These companies set up offices in Amman, Istanbul and, for a period, at Reyhanli in southeast Turkey. From here they would employ Syrians who would in turn recruit citizen journalists inside Syria, who were under the impression that they were working for the media offices of Syrian opposition groups.
Meanwhile, other leaked documents seen by MEE show that the British government had awarded contracts to communications companies, which selected and trained opposition spokespeople, ran press offices that operated 24 hours a day, and developed opposition social media accounts.
British staff running these offices were told that their Syrian employees were permitted to talk to British journalists – as spokespeople for the Syrian opposition – but only after receiving clearance from officials at the British consulate in Istanbul.
One of the responsibilities of the press offices set up covertly by the British government under the terms of these contracts was to “maintain an effective network of correspondents/stringers inside Syria to report on MAO [moderate armed opposition] activity”.
In this way, the British government was able to exert behind-the-scenes influence over conversations that the UK media was having with individuals who presented themselves as Syrian opposition representatives.
People involved with the operation say that some prominent British journalists visiting Istanbul would be introduced to Syrians acting as opposition spokespeople, who had been prepared for the encounter by British handlers.
They say they would brief the Syrians before the meeting, and avoid any face-to-face contact with the visiting journalists themselves.

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Friday, 21 February 2020

Erdogan Killed 2 More Turkish Army Soldiers to Defend al-Qaeda in Idlib


February 20, 2020 Arabi Souri
Turkish madman Erdogan today continued his adventure in Syria by pushing al-Qaeda terrorists loyal to him and supported by the Turkish NATO artillery against the Syrian Arab Army in Al-Nerab (Nayrab), Idlib countryside in a desperate attempt to capture any meter of land. Instead, 2 more Turkish soldiers killed, 5 injured by the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Air force.
Erdogan, who was assigned a leading role in the Greater Israel Project aka Greater Middle East by George W. Bush, is still going full force in this evil plot despite the setbacks and failures he received in Syria, and the large number of innocent people killed, injured, destruction of properties and families.
Today’s attempt by al-Qaeda terrorists of a new formation of al-Qaeda Levant fighting under the banner of the so-called ‘National Army’ was targeting the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) posts in Neirab town, cleaned by the SAA recently from the terrorists.
Serious development of today’s attack was the announcement of the contribution of the Turkish artillery in the terrorists attack by all of Erdogan’s media in Turkey which was celebrating the commencement of the military operation to remove the Syrian Arab Army from the Syrian Idlib province which NATO was pushing Erdogan to carry out.
The desperate attempt of the terrorists today against the SAA posts comes a day after the Turkish hypocrite madman believed the ‘liar, cheater, and thief’ of state of the USA that the US will support the Turkish attacks against the Syrian Arab Army in Syria, Erdogan met his mate in Pompeo it seems.
The SAA absorbed the terrorist attack and foiled it within minutes, the terrorists failed to advance in any meter, the Russian air force joined very shortly after the beginning of the suicidal terrorist attack and bombed artillery posts set up by the Turkish Army effectively killing 2 Turkish soldiers and injuring 5 more.
Four of the Syrian Arab Army soldiers were injured in this attack as reported by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Erdogan’s ministry of war admitted the sacrificed Turkish soldiers but stopped short of stating whether they were killed by the Russian air force or by the SAA.
Of course, as is the custom now, Erdogan’s propaganda claimed they fired back at the SAA posts and ‘neutralized’ 50 of them, and as usual the only one source for this claim is Erdogan’s war ministry.
The #SAA is responding to #Nusra Front terrorists (#alQaeda Levant) who waged an attack on Neirab Town and might mistake them with #Erdogan‘s #NATO forces, they’re sharing the same posts.#Syria #News #Idlib #Aleppo #Turkey11Twitter Ads info and privacySee Arabi Souriعربي سوري’s other Tweets
Meanwhile, the terrorists Erdogan is sending and sacrificing the Turkish Army soldiers to protect are accusing him of failing them and that the units he’s sending are not to fight the Syrian Arab Army, rather block their attempts to go back to mommy Erdogan. Terrorist coordination pages are full of such accusations, it’s all not good times for the anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood madman and his dreams.
After the Libyan National Army bombed the Tripoli seaport Turkish weapons depots and boats shipping them and the EU agreeing to impose a blockade on Libya, Erdogan cannot ship more terrorists from Idlib to Libya. He cannot accept them in Turkey as they will clash with the security forces there when they practice their terrorist rituals, and also cannot convince them to surrender to the SAA. Soon enough, the majority of these terrorists will realize how Erdogan is letting them down and after they will realize they won’t be a match to the advancing SAA, they will slaughter the Turkish Army sent to protect them.
The author is personally anticipating a military coup in Turkey, it needs a trigger, I’m personally hoping that Mr. Putin will not save Erdogan this time, whoever comes in his place even if it was Satan in person won’t be as hypocrite as this madman, although Satan had some lessons to learn from Erdogan, but so did the rest of the world and any new leader in Turkey will have to face the ‘all enemies’ policy Erdogan led his country into.
In related news leaked from Turkish sources: Erdogan asked Pompeo to supply him with Patriot missiles to defend his forces from Russian and Syrian Air forces, the S400 air defense missile systems he bought from Russia do not work against Russian fighter jets and its allied forces, he is just discovering.
Previous Turkish Soldiers killed by Erdogan to defend al-Qaeda in Syria and why:
I assure you that those fighters are closer to Erdogan’s heart than the Turkish Army itself.

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!

ASSAD FORCES GIVE TURKISH ARMY WHIPPING IN EASTERN IDLIB


South Front
On February 20, the 2nd Army of NATO and its proxy forces once again failed to capture the village of Nayrab, eastern Idlib, from the Syrian Army. The Turkish attack involved 2 dozens of military equipment pieces, including battle tanks and artillery, over 200 Turkish soldiers and approximately 300 members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and other Turkish-backed groups.
The Turkish attack started at approximately 13:00 local time under jeers of mainstream media regarding the nearing collapse of the Syrian defense and the Assad government under powerful strikes of the Turkish Army. By 14:00 local time, some Turkish supporters in twitter already concurred Aleppo city and were preparing to advance on Damascus.
However, by 17:00 it appeared that the attack died out despite the massive rocket and artillery strikes and the participation of Turkish troops united their efforts against the Syrians with al-Qaeda. Turkish-led forces, supposedly Turkish troops, even launched a MANPAD at a Russian Su-24 warplane that came to provide a close-air-support to Syrian troops. After this, the Turkish Defense Ministry reported that 2 Turkish soldiers were killed and 5 others were injured in an airstrike.
In keeping with the best traditions, the Turkish Defense Ministry a victorious statement claiming that 50 ‘Assad troops’ were killed, 2 Syrian battle tanks, 2 armoured vehicles, 2 armed pickups and a howitzer were destroyed. However, all what the Turkish side was able to demonstrate to confirm these claims were a few Hayat Tahrir al-Sham selfies from the vicinity of Nayrab. Turkish state media immediately declared that Turkish forces did not want to capture the village and just sent a message to the oppressive Assad regime.
After this, the mighty Turkish Army requested Patriots systems from the United States in order to deter the Assad aggression in Idlib. There are two explanations:
  • Ankara apparently missed news that Patriots deployed at in Saudi Arabia had repeatedly failed to protect its military infrastructure from missile and drone strikes by the Yemeni Houthis.
  • The Erdogan government would like to see troops of the United States in Idlib alongside their Turkish and al-Qaeda counterparts.
The Russian side officially confirmed that its warplanes supported the Syrian Army striking targets in Idlib. According  to it, a battle tank, 6 armoured vehicles and 5 armed pickups were destroyed. Moscow says that Turkish artillery strikes injured 4 Syrian soldiers.
February is coming to its end and the Turkish ultimatum demanding the Syrians to withdraw from the liberated areas is expiring. The inability of Turkish forces to recapture even a single village from the Syrian Army already became a powerful blow to the public image of the Erdogan government. Therefore, it’s likely that the Turkish Army will continue their attacks in Idlib paying with own blood for neo-ottoman dreams of Erdogan and its inner circle.

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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!