Saturday, 4 October 2014

If U.S. was really serious about destroying ISIS they would have backed Assad from the start

Exclusive: For the past three years, Official Washington has viewed the Syrian civil war as “white-hatted” rebels against “black-hatted” President Assad, but finally some of the “gray-hatted” reality is breaking through, though perhaps too late, Robert Parry reports.

By Robert Parry

In late summer 2013, Official Washington was rushing to the judgment that the “evil” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had launched a barrage of missiles tipped with Sarin gas to slaughter hundreds of civilians in rebel-held neighborhoods near Damascus.

It was inconceivable to virtually every person who “mattered” in Washington that there was any other interpretation of the events on Aug. 21, 2013. Washington Post national security columnist David Ignatius even explained the “big picture” reason why President Barack Obama needed to launch punitive bomb strikes against Assad’s government for crossing Obama’s “red line” against using chemical weapons.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
“What does the world look like when people begin to doubt the credibility of U.S. power?” Ignatius wrote a week after the Sarin incident. “Unfortunately, we’re finding that out in Syria and other nations where leaders have concluded they can defy a war-weary United States without paying a price.

“Using military power to maintain a nation’s credibility may sound like an antiquated idea, but it’s all too relevant in the real world we inhabit. It has become obvious in recent weeks that President Obama … needs to demonstrate that there are consequences for crossing a U.S. ‘red line.’ Otherwise, the coherence of the global system begins to dissolve.”

At the time, there were only a few of us raising questions about Official Washington’s Sarin-attack “group think,” partly because it made no sense for Assad to have invited United Nations inspectors into Syria to examine chemical weapons attacks that he was blaming on the opposition and then to launch a major Sarin attack just miles from where the inspectors were unpacking at their hotel.
I also was hearing from inside U.S. intelligence that some CIA analysts shared those doubts, suspecting that the supposedly high number of Sarin-laden rockets (which represented the strongest evidence against Assad’s forces) was wildly overstated and that public panic might have exaggerated the scope of the attack.

But perhaps the strongest reason to doubt Official Washington’s hasty conclusion blaming Assad was what had been occurring inside the Syrian rebel movement over the prior two years, i.e., its radicalization into a hyper-violent Sunni jihadist force that was prepared to inflict any brutality on civilians to achieve its goal of ousting the secular Assad and establishing an Islamist state in Damascus.

Blinded by Propaganda

Most Washington’s pols and pundits had not noticed this change because of a geopolitical blindness inflicted by neoconservative propaganda, which insisted that the only acceptable way to view the Syrian civil war was to see Assad as the “bad guy” and the rebels as the “good guys.”

After all, “regime change” in Syria had long been near the top of the neocon agenda as it was for Israel, which wanted Assad out because he was allied with Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Early in the civil war, Assad’s harsh response to what he termed rebel “terrorism” had also rallied the Obama administration’s “liberal interventionists” to the side of “regime change.”

Thus, the notion that some vicious Syrian rebel group might willfully kill innocent civilians as a provocation to get the U.S. military to attack Assad’s defenses – and thus pave the way for a rebel victory – was outside Official Washington’s accepted frame of reference. In August 2013, the rebels were wearing the white hats, as far as U.S. mainstream opinion was concerned.

Over the past year, however, reality has reasserted itself, at least somewhat. The Sarin case against Assad has largely crumbled with a UN report finding Sarin on only one rocket and independent scientists concluding that the one Sarin-laden rocket had a maximum range of only about two kilometers, meaning it could not have come from the suspected Syrian base about nine kilometers away.

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh also learned from his well-placed sources that inside the U.S. intelligence community suspicion had shifted toward rebel extremists working with hardliners in Turkish intelligence. [See’s “Was Turkey Behind Syria-Sarin Attack?”]

But most “important people” in U.S. officialdom, including New York Times and Washington Post editors, still insisted that Assad must have done the Sarin attack. They even report it as flat fact. They are, after all, not the sort of folks who easily admit error.

A Shift in the Paradigm

However, over the past year, the paradigm for understanding the Syrian conflict has begun shifting. In September 2013, many Syrian rebel forces repudiated the political opposition that the Obama administration had organized and instead embraced al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front, an aggressive jihadist force which had emerged as the most effective fighters against Assad.

Then, in February 2014, al-Qaeda’s leadership disavowed an even more brutal jihadist force known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The Islamic State promoted a strategy of unspeakable brutality as a way of intimidating its rivals and driving Westerners from the Middle East.

ISIS got its start after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 when Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi organized “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” a hyper-violent Sunni militia that targeted Iraq’s Shiites and destroyed their mosques, touching off a vicious sectarian war across Iraq.

After Zarqawi’s death in 2006 – and the alienation of less-extreme Iraqi Sunnis – al-Qaeda in Iraq faded from view before reemerging in Syria’s civil war, refashioned as the Islamic State and crossing back into Iraq with a major offensive last summer.

Amid reports of the Islamic State massacring captives and beheading American and British hostages, it no longer seemed so far-fetched that some Syrian rebel group would be ruthless enough to obtain Sarin and launch an attack near Damascus, killing innocents and hoping that the Assad regime would be blamed.

Even the Post’s Ignatius is looking more skeptically at the Syrian rebel movement and the various U.S.-allied intelligence agencies that have been supplying money, weapons and training – even to fighters associated with the most extreme militias.

Opening the Door

In a column on Friday, Ignatius faulted not only Syria’s squabbling “moderate opposition” but “the foreign nations — such as the United States, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan — that have been funding the chaotic melange of fighters inside Syria. These foreign machinations helped open the door for the terrorist Islamic State group to threaten the region.”

Ignatius acknowledged that the earlier depiction of the Syrian opposition as simply an indigenous movement of idealistic reformers was misleading. He wrote: “From the beginning of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, Syria has been the scene of a proxy war involving regional powers: Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar all wanted to topple Assad, but they competed with each other as regional rivals, too.

“At various points, all three nations provided Sunni rebel groups with money and weapons that ended up in the hands of extremists. … The United States, Saudi Arabia and Jordan joined forces in 2013 to train and arm moderate rebels at a CIA-backed camp in Jordan. But this program was never strong enough to unify the nearly 1,000 brigades scattered across the country. The resulting disorganization helped discredit the rebel alliance known as the Free Syrian Army.

“Syrian rebel commanders deserve some blame for this ragged structure. But the chaos was worsened by foreign powers that treated Syria as a playground for their intelligence services. This cynical intervention recalled similar meddling that helped ravage Lebanon, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and Libya during their civil wars. …

“The story of how Syria became a cockpit for rival intelligence services was explained to me by sources here [in Istanbul] and in Reyhanli, a rebel staging area on the Turkey-Syria border. Outside efforts to arm and train the Syrian rebels began more than two years ago in Istanbul, where a ‘military operations center’ was created, first in a hotel near the airport.

“A leading figure was a Qatari operative who had helped arm the Libyan rebels who deposed Moammar Gaddafi. Working with the Qataris were senior figures representing Turkish and Saudi intelligence. But unity within the Istanbul operations room frayed when the Turks and Qataris began to support Islamist fighters they thought would be more aggressive.

“These jihadists did emerge as braver, bolder fighters — and their success was a magnet for more support. The Turks and Qataris insist they didn’t intentionally support the extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra or the Islamic State. But weapons and money sent to more moderate Islamist brigades made their way to these terrorist groups, and the Turks and Qataris turned a blind eye.”

Regarding the rise of these radicals, Ignatius quoted one Arab intelligence source who claimed to have “warned a Qatari officer, who answered: ‘I will send weapons to al-Qaeda if it will help’ topple Assad. This determination to remove Assad by any means necessary proved dangerous. ‘The Islamist groups got bigger and stronger, and the FSA day by day got weaker,’ recalls the Arab intelligence source.”

Selling the Sarin Story

Based on such information, the idea of anti-Assad extremists securing Sarin – possibly with the help of Turkish intelligence, as Hersh reported – and launching a provocative attack with the goal of getting the U.S. military to devastate Assad’s army and clear a path for a rebel victory begins to make sense.

After all, back in Washington, the propaganda strategy of blaming Assad could count on the ever-influential neocons who in August 2013 did start pushing the rush-to-war bandwagon and shoved aside any doubters of the Assad-did-it conventional wisdom.

Israel took a similar position on Syria, favoring even the victory of al-Qaeda extremists if necessary to oust Assad and hurt his Iranian allies.

In September 2013, then-Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview that “The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc. … We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

So, the danger from the Sunni extremists was played down and the focus remained on ousting Assad. No wonder there was such “surprise” among Official Washington’s “group thinkers” when the Islamic State opened a new front inside Iraq and routed the U.S.-trained Iraqi army. Once again, the neocons had made sure that American eyes stayed wide shut to an inconvenient truth.

But the neocons are not through with the Syrian fiasco that they helped create. They are now busy reshaping the narrative – accusing Obama of waiting too long to arm the Syrian rebels and insisting that he switch from bombing Islamic State targets inside Syria to destroying the Syrian air force and creating a no-fly zone so the rebels can march on Damascus.

The recklessness of that strategy should now be obvious. Indeed, if Obama had succumbed to the interventionist demands in summer 2013 and devastated Assad’s military, we could now be seeing either al-Qaeda or the Islamic State in control of Damascus. [See’s “Neocons’ Noses into the Syrian Tent.”]

Obama might be wiser to take this opportunity to declassify the U.S. intelligence on the Sarin gas attack of Aug. 21, 2013, including the dissents from CIA analysts who doubted Assad’s responsibility. That information might shed substantial new light on how Turkish and Arab intelligence services — with the help of the neocons — enabled the rise of the Islamic State.
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!

Minister: Turkey, Israel Playing Same Role in Syria

ame Role in Syria

Minister: Turkey, Israel Playing Same Role in Syria
TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation Heidar Ali blasted Turkey for its negative role in the Syrian crisis, and said Ankara is playing a role like Israel in Syria.

 “Turkey’s support for the terrorists is not a new thing as Ankara has been providing direct support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorist Takfiri group more than any other terrorist group by facilitating their transit and trafficking and guaranteeing financial and military supports for the Takfiri group,” Ali told FNA on Saturday.

He warned that Turkey has now turned into the most important and biggest haven for the terrorists from across the world, who receive financial, political and arms support from Ankara.

“Turkey’s role in the Syrian crisis is similar to that of Israel,” Ali said.

Asked about the so-called anti-ISIL coalition formed by the US and its airstrikes on Syrian soil, he said, “The US is attempting to replace the existing form of terrorism with another type of terrorism and this is an issue that we have already cautioned about.”

“Before any other move, we should prevent aggression against Syria’s territorial integrity as any action on the pretext of campaign against terrorism in Syria should be adopted in coordination with the Syrian government since the Syrian government is the first and top most role-player in the fight against terrorism in Syria,” Ali underlined.
In September, a member of the ISIL terrorist group arrested by the Iraqi troops confessed that the Turkish territory is still used by militants as the main route into Syria.

The 18-year-old Hamad al-Tamimi said he was recruited online by ISIL when he was a religious studies student in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Tamimi, who was arrested by Iraqi troops during a military operation in Iraq’s Western province of al-Anbar, said that he left Saudi Arabia for Kuwait in July and from there he moved to Turkey before joining the ISIL Takfiri militants operating in Syria.

Tamimi is known by his nom de guerre as Abu Walid.

“There are many nationalities,” CNN quoted him as saying. “From Norway, from America, Canada, Somalia, Korea, China, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Lebanon and other European countries such as Germany and France,” Tamimi stated.

A CIA source said more than 15,000 militants from 80 countries are operating in Syria and Iraq.

“From Germany, I knew Abu Hamza, and from Britain one named Abu Dawoud, and from America one named Abu Ibrahim,” Tamimi said, adding that all the individuals were young.

The Saudi national said he had to swear allegiance to the so-called ISIL leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, after 22 days at a religious indoctrination camp.

He added that he received military training at an air base in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Tamimi said after a short time spent in Aleppo, Northwestern Syria, the order came to move across the essentially nonexistent border into Iraq, where ISIL militants operating against Iraqi forces near the Haditha Dam needed reinforcement.

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!

Bring Canadian soldiers home

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria may provoke wider conflict

Hamilton Spectator
Oct 03, 2014
On 9/11's anniversary, United States President Barack Obama announced escalating military attacks against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and increased funding and training of "moderate rebels" in Syria, to the tune of $500 million. He also called for a new "coalition of the willing" to do the dirty work. In response, the Harper government of Canada, with neither parliamentary nor United Nations approval, dispatched commandos to Iraq.
The irony is that the two leaders, along with others in the so-called "Friends of Syria" Group of countries (FSG), created the Frankenstein known as ISIS. They organized a covert war against Syria using jihadist mercenaries; arranged funding from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar; enlisted Turkey and Jordan to provide military bases and training; encouraged Israel to provide medical support in the Occupied Golan Heights; and funnelled arms and equipment from defeated Libya and Yugoslavia. For more than three years in Syria, jihadist mercenaries executed priests, journalists and prisoners of war; beheaded "infidels"; practised cannibalism; looted homes; engaged in sexual slavery; destroyed churches; used poison gas on civilians, and shamelessly posted videos of themselves committing some of these barbaric acts. All this without criticism from Obama or Harper.
However, when ISIS, an offshoot of al-Qaida jihadists in Syria funded by the FSG, invaded Iraq, pursued Yezidis up a mountain, and beheaded two U.S. journalists, Obama suddenly appeared concerned. In my opinion, he was only concerned about them as pretexts for intervention. He was, in fact, upset that al-Maliki's government ordered remaining U.S. troops out of Iraq and that ISIS nearly overran the new U.S. puppet statelet in Iraqi Kurdistan, where the oil fields and headquarters of U.S. oil corporations are located. Obama ensured that al-Maliki was replaced. He drew a red line around Kurdistan.
There are many problems with Obama's idea of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and increased funding for "moderate rebels."

First, airstrikes against Syria without the consent of its government is a violation of its sovereignty and of international law. So is arming mercenaries to overthrow its government, whose president, incidentally, was recently re-elected with a big majority in an election with a massive turnout.

If the U.S. really wants to stop ISIS, it should co-operate with the Syrian government…

Secondly, the notion there are indeed any "moderate Syrian rebels" has been repeatedly disproved. Mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times discount the very idea of their existence. The $500 million would be much better spent containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Thirdly, after the disastrous 2003 Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq, the world simply shouldn't accept the return to Iraq of foreign governments guilty of major war crimes: Partly using craven lies about weapons of mass destruction and partly under the guise of a "humanitarian" intervention, the previous "coalition of the willing" was responsible for at least half a million Iraqi deaths, the creation of millions of internal and external refugees, the effective division of the country into three parts, and the destruction of its economy and infrastructure.
Finally, unauthorized U.S. airstrikes, especially in Syria, may lead to military confrontation with Syria's allies — Russia, China, and Iran — provoking a wider regional and/or world war.
If the U.S. really wants to stop ISIS, it should co-operate with the Syrian government and people who have been the main victims of and fighters against ISIS. The U.S. could compel its client states — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar — to stop funding terrorist mercenaries. It could pressure Turkey and Jordan to close their borders to the terrorists. Finally, it could disband the FSG, which has co-ordinated the covert war of aggression against Syria and imposed illegal economic sanctions against it.
Harper, who was all for putting Canadian boots on the ground in Iraq in 2003 without UN approval, should be reminded that hundreds of thousands of us marched in the streets successfully to persuade Jean Chrétien not to participate in Bush and Blair's Iraqi debacle. Chrétien did get us into the Afghan quagmire. But Harper also needs to comprehend that he lost his eight-year-long, unpopular bid to pacify Kandahar after his chief of staff promised to eradicate "the terrorist scumbags." One hundred and fifty Canadians lost their lives there but Afghanistan is worse off now than when the NATO occupation began. And after all the talk of supporting the troops, the Harper government has shamefully shortchanged the injured vets. So, after all this, why is Harper again kowtowing to the U.S. by placing Canadian troops in harm's way in Iraq?
Our message to Stephen Harper is the same as during the Afghan war: Bring the troops home now!
Ken Stone is treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War.
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!

Spinning in the Grave: Western Media Dig Dirt to Cover Kiev’s Atrocities

Finian CUNNINGHAM | 04.10.2014 | 00:00

The Western media went into supercilious mode this week over evidence of atrocities and mass graves in eastern Ukraine committed by the Kiev regime.

Rather than dealing with disturbing facts that point to the Western-backed regime’s culpability in war crimes, Western media tried instead to divert the focus by claiming that «pro-Kremlin» Russian news outlets were guilty of crude propaganda.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph – a repository for Western intelligence – claimed that Russia was «distorting facts» over the discovery last week of mass graves near Donetsk city…

The Telegraph headline ran: «Facts distorted as Moscow claims hundreds of bodies discovered in Ukrainian 'mass graves’».

Notice the way that the headline uses quote marks for the words ‘mass graves’. That stylistic device is aimed at casting doubt on the fact of at least three mass graves having been actually found near the village of Nzynhnia Krynka, 35 kilometres northeast of Donetsk.

The Telegraph article carries the subheading: «Pro-Kremlin media misrepresent activist while Russian-backed rebels contradict the claim and say only nine bodies found».

More on the «misrepresented activist» in a moment. But with felicitous irony, the Telegraph article includes this editorial comment: «Tendentious and blatantly false reporting on both sides has become a trademark of the war in Ukraine».

Yes, there certainly has been «blatantly false reporting» in Ukraine – by Western mainstream news media, which have consistently failed to convey the extent of violence perpetrated by the Kiev regime against the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine. More than 3,000 people – mainly civilians – have been killed over the past six months since Kiev forces launched an indiscriminate assault on the region. Up to one million have been turned into refugees. But the Western media have largely remained silent, while five Russian journalists have been killed by Kiev’s military brigades.

What the Telegraph slyly effects to do in the above comment is to make out that it is being a responsible, independent news service free of «tendentious and blatantly false reporting» – unlike the supposed «pro-Kremlin» Russian media.

Meanwhile, the American government-sponsored Radio Free Europe – a propaganda outlet associated with the CIA – went even further in trivialising the issue of war crimes by inferring that the discovery of mass graves was all a Russian fabrication.

It’s headline this week went: «Murders and Gang Rapes: Moscow Spins OSCE Probe Into Ukraine 'Mass Graves’».
Note again the use of quote marks around the words ‘Mass Graves’ aimed at undermining veracity. Also the lurid words «Murders and Gang Rapes» in the headline give the oblique impression that Moscow is guilty of sensationalism and exaggerating crimes.

The RFE article goes on to say: «Russian state media are abuzz with accusations of murder and gang-rape levelled against government forces in eastern Ukraine by a purported Western monitor».

The lexicon «abuzz with accusations» is another rhetorical device for inferring that Moscow is concocting propaganda.

So let’s deal with the «misrepresented activist» whom these two Western media reports refer to and who is central to their claim that Russia is distorting the issue.

He is named as Einars Graudins, who is described as «a Latvian activist». Apparently, Graudins seems to have been working as an independent observer, who was accompanying members of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The OSCE has been charged with monitoring the current ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and investigating alleged violations. Just how Graudins ended up being in the company of the OSCE team is not known, and frankly irrelevant.

The relatively minor controversy arises because various Russian media outlets appear to have mistakenly accredited Graudins with official OSCE affiliation. Russian media appear also to have misquoted Graudins, referring to 400 unidentified bodies in Donetsk morgues, and making the assumption that these bodies were all exhumed from mass graves.

The Western media then leapt on these discrepancies with a vengeance to accuse Russia of spinning a false claim of mass graves and war crimes. But it turns out that it’s the Western media which is engaging in a squalid counter-spinning.

Radio Free Europe made sure to dig superficial dirt on the activist Graudins by labelling him as «pro-Russian and anti-American». The RFE article implies that he is «emotionally imbalanced» and an unreliable witness.
But what the Daily Telegraph and RFE are doing is distracting, unconscionably, from the much more important germane story of state-sponsored serious crime.

The facts are that three mass graves have been located near the village of Nzynhnia Krynka. Nine bodies have been recovered, showing signs of torture and execution. Local people and representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic have verified that the victims are civilians from the locality. The local people claim that the killers were members of the Kiev regime’s military who were occupying the area for several months until recently, when the Minsk-brokered ceasefire was belatedly implemented.

The facts of the mass graves and nine human remains have been confirmed by the OSCE. On its website, dated September 24, the OSCE reports the findings of its Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), which we quote at length below verbatim:

«The ‘military police’ of ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (‘DPR’) told the SMM that three unmarked graves allegedly containing multiple bodies had been found; two of them were located in a coal mine Komunar near the village Nyzhnia Krynka (35km north-east of Donetsk) and one inside the village. The SMM proceeded to the scene and saw in the coal mine two areas located fifty metres apart, each containing two human bodies. All four corpses were in the process of decomposition. The SMM also saw eight 9mm Makarov pistol cartridges approximately five meters away from the bodies. Near the road on the edge of the village, the SMM observed a pile of earth resembling a grave which had a stick with a plaque, written in Russian and containing the names (or in one case – initials) of five individuals. The plaque indicated that the individuals died on 27.08.2014. On top of the plaque there was another inscription saying: ‘Died for Putin’s lies’. Neither in the coal mine nor in the village did the SMM see any forensic experts. COMMENT: The SMM cannot provide a forensic assessment of the sites».

Admittedly, the OSCE report does not impute the crime to the Kiev military. It was a cursory report, and one awaits a follow-up.

But the fact of the matter is that the OSCE confirms the existence of mass graves and a mass killing. It also implies that the culprits were Kiev regime forces because of the burials dated as August 27, 2014. That corroborates what the local people are saying: that the area was under the occupation of Kiev military units at the time of the killings.
Yet, according to the Daily Telegraph, Radio Fee Europe and other Western news media, the central fact of an atrocity committed by Kiev forces is buried under scurrilous accusations that Moscow is somehow engaging in «spinning». It is not Russia that is spinning, it is Western media, who ironically presume to be bastions of free speech and independent thinking.

This week further evidence emerged to implicate the Kiev regime. According to testimony obtained from a former member of the Dneipr Battalion, named as Sergei Litvinov, the soldier says that he was personally involved in the killing of women and children. This battalion is accused of being involved in the atrocities around Nzyhnia Krynka – the location of the mass graves.

More damning is that Litvinov says he was paid by Olig Kolomoisky to carry out the killings. Kolomoisky is one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs and was appointed by the Kiev regime as the governor of Dnepropetrovsk. As financier for the Dneipr Battalion, he has been a key figure in prosecuting Kiev’s so-called anti-terror operation against the breakaway pro-Russian People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia’s Investigative Committee says that it now has enough evidence from witnesses and forensics to charge Kolomoisky with crimes against humanity. The Committee has also filed formal charges of war crimes against Kiev’s defence minister Valeriy Heletey.

The issue of executions and mass graves is only one aspect among many gross violations committed by Kiev’s forces. This week saw another mass killing from shelling into civilian areas of Donetsk. At least 10 people were killed when a school was hit. Local people and self-defence militia blamed Kiev’s military forces for the attack. Considering that the city is under the control of the People’s Republic of Donetsk and its self-defence militia then in all probability the shell was fired by Kiev’s military, which has been besieging the city for several months.

The Kiev regime has routinely used unguided Grad rockets and air strikes against civilian centres in rebel-held areas. While the rebels may also have broken the September 5 ceasefire by attacking Kiev’s military, the latter has continually breached the truce by shelling residential districts. That, by the way, amounts to systematic war crimes committed by a regime that is wholly supported by Washington and Brussels.

However, a reader of the Daily Telegraph would never glean who was responsible for the latest shelling incident in Donetsk on Wednesday. The report reads: «Meanwhile, casualties continued to mount up on Wednesday, despite a ceasefire in the seven-month long conflict, signed on September 5. Nine civilians were killed after a mortar shell hit a bus stop in Donetsk. In a separate incident, a biology teacher, a parent and one rebel were reportedly killed when a shell smashed into a school in the city. Children in the region started school a month late on Wednesday because of the fighting».

In other words, the Telegraph report whitewashes the guilty party for that atrocity by omitting relevant claims against the Kiev regime. Radio Free Europe, by the way, didn’t seem to even bother filing any report on the latest shelling incident.

This is the complementary role played by Western media to the Kiev regime’s crimes. Counter-spin and whitewash by omission of any trace of those crimes committed by the Western-backed regime.

As the Daily Telegraph noted with supercilious preening: «Tendentious and blatantly false reporting on both sides has become a trademark of the war in Ukraine».

Make that «on one side» – the side sponsored by Western governments.
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!

IDF chief threatens to ‘knock Lebanon back 70 or 80 years’

Benny Gantz

In an interview published FridayIDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz addressed the prospect of a future war with Hezbollah by threatening to "take Lebanon and knock it back 70 or 80 years, in all areas."
Discussing how the next war would play out, Gantz also stated that it was possible the Israeli army would "need to capture Lebanese territory."

In a separate interview also published today, Gantz claimed Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah understands that Israel "know[s] to do in Lebanon what we did in Gaza".

According to the UN, during 'Operation Protective Edge' the Israeli military killed around 1,500 civilians, including more than 500 children. More than 11,000 civilians were injured, and some 60,000 housing units destroyed or damaged.

غانتس: سنعيد لبنان 80 عاماً إلـــى الوراء

غانتس: هل حزب الله قادر على احتلال الجليل؟ نظرياً نعم (ارشيف)
على قدر الرهبة والخوف والقلق، يأتي التهديد. رسائل إسرائيلية إلى حزب الله ولبنان، مشبعة بالتهديدات، أرسلها رئيس أركان جيش العدو بِني غانتس: «إعادة لبنان ثمانين عاماً الى الوراء». سبع مقابلات في وسائل اعلامية عبرية مختلفة، تضمنت التوجه نفسه: حزب الله هو التهديد، لكن إسرائيل أقوى.
يحيى دبوق
سبع مقابلات مع وسائل إعلامية عبرية أجراها رئيس أركان جيش الاحتلال الإسرائيلي الجنرال بني غانتس. هي أشبه بمقابلات وداعية، قبل مغادرته منصبه في شباط المقبل، خُصّص الجزء الأكبر منها للحديث عن التهديد الذي يشكله حزب الله على كيان العدو.

شدد غانتس، في مقابلاته، على أن الأمور في مواجهة حزب الله لا تدار، بالضرورة، من خلال الحروب والمواجهات العسكرية. مع حزب الله، يجب أن «تدار المخاطر بحكمة»، رغم أن تهديده من النوع الذي يعني أن نبادر سريعاً، إلى «حرب وقائية» ضده.

هي سبع مقابلات، في سبع وسائل إعلامية. صحف ومجلات ومواقع إخبارية عبرية على الإنترنت، عرض فيها رئيس أركان الجيش الإسرائيلي التهديدات الماثلة أمام إسرائيل.

في المقابلة مع «معاريف – الأسبوع»، استفز سؤال الصحيفة غانتس، عن قدرات حزب الله والخسائر الإسرائيلية المرتقبة. سأل المحاور «عن قدرات حزب الله وتهديده، وعن سيناريوات الخسائر جراء الآلاف من الصواريخ الدقيقة والثقيلة، التي ستجبي من إسرائيل أعداداً كبيرة من القتلى؟».

الرد من غانتس كان تأكيداً لما ورد في السؤال، لكنه طلب في المقابل الحديث عما يمكن إسرائيل أن تقوم به، إذ قال: «يوجد في هذه المسألة أيضاً جانب إسرائيلي، إذ إننا سنمسك بلبنان ونرميه بما فيه سبعين إلى ثمانين عاماً إلى الوراء، وسنرى حينها ما سيحدث. ولن أكون متفاجئاً إذا تطلب من الأمر القيام باحتلال مناطق من لبنان، فهذه الأمور نتدرب عليها عاماً بعد عام وفصلاً بعد فصل».

وعندما طلبت الصحيفة ذاتها من غانتس أن يحدثها «عن قدرات حزب الله، وماذا عن الطائرات من دون طيار؟»، أجاب: «في حوزة حزب الله، وبتزويد من ايران، اعداد كبيرة جداً من الطائرات غير المأهولة، ومن بينها طائرات هجومية، الا اننا نعرف كيف نسقط هذه الطائرات، ونعرف كيف نجمع المعلومات الاستخبارية، كما نعلم كيف نعمل على الارض».

مع ذلك، اضاف غانتس: «هنا، نحن لا نواجه جيوشاً نظامية، وحربنا المقبلة ليست شبيهة بحروبنا الماضية، وهذا ما تحدثت عنه في مناسبات سابقة، اذ اننا نواجه كمية هائلة من الصواريخ ومن الطائرات غير المأهولة، وكنت في السابق قد وصفت هذا السيناريو جيداً، وانا اتحدث عنه طوال الوقت امام المسؤولين السياسيين. وفي أحاديثي لا اقصد ان أبث الرعب وسيناريوات الرعب، لكني اتحدث عن واقع ووقائع».

تابع غانتس رده على السؤال نفسه، وأضاف: «الجبهة الشمالية مع لبنان هي التحدي الاساسي من ناحية اسرائيل، لكن لدينا جواب على ذلك. لكن اذا اندلعت الحرب شمالاً، فستكون طويلة وقاسية وتتطلب جبهة داخلية صلبة وقتالاً وتماسكاً وطنياً، تماماً كما جرى في عملية الجرف الصامد في قطاع غزة»، مؤكداً الرسالة: «نحن سننتصر».

وسأل محاور «معاريف – الأسبوع»، هل (الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن) نصر الله ما زال مردوعاً؟ اجاب غانتس: «نعم، وايضاً هو مشغول الى اقصى حد ممكن في ساحات اخرى، وهو يدرك جيداً ما سيحصل للبنان إن تحرش بنا».
في المقابلة مع صحيفة «إسرائيل اليوم»، التي كانت أسئلتها اكثر مباشرة ونقلت هواجس الاسرائيليين لقائد مؤسستهم العسكرية، جاءت اسئلة اكثر تواضعاً واكثر طمأنة لجمهوره. رداً على سؤال للصحيفة حول التهديدات، اجاب غانتس: «لا يوجد شك في أن الساحة الشمالية هي الاكثر تهديداً لإسرائيل».

سؤال: سوريا وحدها أم مع لبنان؟

يجيب غانتس: لا، ليس مع لبنان، بل مع حزب الله؟

«وماذا عن احتلال الجليل؟»، سألت «إسرائيل اليوم»، «وهل هم قادرون على احتلال مسكفعام او افيفم؟»، اجاب غانتس: «هذا بحسب نظريتهم القتالية. لقد سمعنا نصر الله يقول انه يريد احتلال الجليل. لكنه كان يلمّح الى اعمال هجومية، تماماً كما يفعل في سوريا. لكن هل هو قادر على فعل ذلك؟ نظرياً نعم، لكن عليه ان يواجه الجيش الاسرائيلي قبل ذلك».

وماذا عن الأنفاق؟ أكد غانتس أن «الغاية من هذه الأنفاق هو تجاوز العقبات الاسرائيلية الموجودة على الحدود، وهذا ما حصل في قطاع غزة. لكن من ناحية لبنان، فالمسألة مغايرة، اذ ان طبيعة الارض مختلفة، والطوبوغرافيا هناك تسمح لهم بعبور الحدود من فوق الارض. صحيح اننا لا نعلم عن أنفاق هجومية من لبنان، الا اننا نواصل البحث طوال الوقت».

في المقابلة مع صحيفة «يديعوت احرونوت»، وأيضاً في المقابلة الأخرى مع موقعها على الانترنت، حشر المحاورون غانتس بالأسئلة عن التهديدات، فلفت الى انه «يمكن دائماً القول إن بالإمكان المبادرة الى معركة، لكن مسألة المعارك الواسعة لا تشن الا إن حان وقتها». أضاف: «انظروا ايها الاصدقاء، بحسب اسئلتكم، اقترح ان يودع بعضنا بعضاً، وان احمل نفسي واتوجه سريعاً كي اوصي بمهاجمة لبنان. فالتهديد من جانب لبنان على مواطني اسرائيل هو اوسع بكثير من تهديد غزة. هيا بنا لنبادر الى حرب، اهذا ما تريدونه؟ لا اعتقد ذلك».

اضاف غانتس ان «مواجهة الخطر من لبنان لا تُدار بهذه الصورة، لأن علينا ان نعرف كيفية ادارة المخاطر. فنحن لا نتحدث عن عمليات بورصة تكون نتائج الخطأ في ادارتها مجرد خسائر مادية، بل عن ادارة مخاطر قد تودي بحياة الناس»، وتابع يقول: «صحيح ان التهديد موجود شمالاً، الا ان تقديري ان حزب الله لا يريد مواجهة شاملة، لانه يدرك ثمن المواجهة».

لكن هل اسرائيل جاهزة لمواجهة 1000 صاروخ يطلقه حزب الله؟ سأل محاور يديعوت احرونوت. اجابة غانتس كانت مغايرة لاجاباته في مقابلاته الاخرى، وقال: «انا قلق جداً من النقص في الموارد لدى المؤسسة الامنية. فالفجوات كبيرة جداً، واذا كان لدينا نقص في كفاءة وجاهزية جنود الاحتياط، فسنواجه اسئلة كثيرة جداً في المستقبل».

وبينت اسئلة واجوبة مقابلة يديعوت احرونوت، ان نظرية «بيت العنكبوت»، وما ورد في الخطاب الشهير للأمين العام لحزب الله، عام 2000 في بنت جبيل، ما زالت متغلغلة عميقاً في الوعي الإسرائيلي، ولدى مسؤوليها تحديداً. بعد 14 عاماً على «بيت العنكبوت» يشير غانتس للصحيفة، إلى ان «حزب الله درس بعناية وتعمق كبير ما حدث في عملية الجرف الصامد في غزة، ونصر الله فهم قوة الجيش الإسرائيلي، وتحديداً قوة صمود المجتمع الاسرائيلي. لقد فهم نصر الله ان مجتمع إسرائيل لم يتفكك، وهو مستعد للتضحية»، أضاف: «يفهم نصر الله ان ما فعلناه في غزة، قادرون على فعله في لبنان».

التهديد الإسرائيلي في معرض الخشية من حزب الله

لم يسبق لرئيس أركان اسرائيلي ان «تكرم» على وسائل الإعلام بسبع مقابلات دفعة واحدة. مقابلات بني غانتس بدت وكأنها رسالة موجّهة تحديداً الى حزب الله، وخصوصاً أمينه العام: على (السيد حسن) نصر الله «ان يفهم»، و«ان يدرك»، و«ان يخشى» و«ان يهلع». لكن الرسالة المقابلة كانت: نعم نصر الله قادر على احتلال مستوطنات، وقادر على ضرب الجبهة الداخلية، وقادر على خوض الحرب في وجه اسرائيل.

في الوقت نفسه، كان واضحاً ان اسرائيل خاضت عدوانها الأخير في غزة، وعينها تنظر شمالاً: ماذا فهم نصر الله من هذه المواجهة؟ شمالاً، كما اكد أخيراً قائد المنطقة الجنوبية ايال ايزنبرغ، الحرب الحقيقية التي لا يمكن قياس عدوان غزة عليها، و«على الاسرائيليين ان يتواضعوا في توقعاتهم».

حجم التهديدات التي اطلقها غانتس كانت كافية لتأكيد ما تحفره قدرات حزب الله من قلق في الوعي الاسرائيلي. تأكيدات رئيس المؤسسة العسكرية بأن جيشه اقوى من الحزب، دليل اضافي على حجم التحدي. تهديدات غانتس، غير المسبوقة، تعكس ضمناً قدرة ردع حزب الله، وتبين تقديراته لنتائج المواجهة في حال اندلاعها، والتي شدّد على ان تدار بحكمة وعقلانية، وإلا فسيكون الثمن كبيراً جداً.

غانتس: السؤال عمّن نفضله في سوريا غير مفيد

بحسب تقديرات رئيس أركان جيش الاحتلال الإسرائيلي بني غانتس، فإن الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد سيصمد في العام المقبل أيضاً، كما فعل في الاعوام الماضية، لكنه لن يعيد سيطرته على سوريا، لافتاً الى ضرورة الابتعاد عن إطلاق المواقف تجاه الازمة السورية، «إذ إن السؤال عن الجهة التي تفضّلها إسرائيل في الحرب هناك غير مفيد وغير واقعي».

وحول سيطرة «المتمردين» على حدود منطقة الجولان المحتلة، أشار غانتس الى أن «الحدود باتت تحوي جهات قد تتحول لاحقاً الى جهات إشكالية، لكنهم الآن مشغولون بأمور أكثر إلحاحاً بالنسبة إليهم من إسرائيل».

ورأى غانتس أن «مساعدة إسرائيل للمعارضة السورية وتقديم العلاج الطبي لجرحاها لن يجرّا خسارة لإسرائيل، ففي الجانب الثاني من الحدود سيعرفون تقدير إسرائيل».

ورداً على سؤال صحيفة معاريف عن إمكان دخول إسرائيل على خط المواجهات الدائرة في سوريا والتوغل براً للسيطرة على مناطق سورية، لم ينف غانتس احتمالاً كهذا، وأكد «أن ذلك يأتي ضمن سيناريوات أخرى، إذ إننا نعد للبدائل، وسنختار الأنسب منها بحسب الحاجة والظروف».

وتناولت أسئلة المقابلات تنظيم «الدولة الإسلامية» (داعش)، الذي أكد غانتس رداً عليها أن إسرائيل قادرة على مواجهة هذا التنظيم، وهي قادرة على إفشاله. و«لو كنت أواجههم، لمُني تنظيم «داعش» بالفشل»، مشيراً الى أن «هناك الكثير من الخطوات التي يمكن تنفيذها في وجه هذا التنظيم، لكن يجب عليهم القيام بعملية برية، الى جانب الضربات الجوية».

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