Saturday 29 August 2015

1,000 Gaza Children Disabled by Israeli Attack

Local Editor

Palestine: Gaza childrenMore than 1,000 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip sustained permanent disabilities during last year’s 51-day Zionist military onslaught, according to Defense for Children International (DCI), an NGO devoted to children’s rights.

In a report entitled “Operation Protective Edge: A war waged on Gaza's Children”, released on Tuesday, DCI’s Palestine unit said last year’s Zionist offensive had led to the injury of more than 11,000 Palestinians, including 1,000 permanently disabled by the violence.

The children’s rights organization also noted that, a full year after the Zionist assault, thousands of victims -- including a number of children -- continued to suffer from their injuries and the attendant psychological trauma.

The Gaza Strip, with some 1.9 million inhabitants, is known to be the world’s most densely populated area.

On July 7, 2014, the Zionist entity launched a major offensive against the coastal territory - dubbed “Operation Protective Edge” - which finally ended on August 26.

Over 51 days of fierce bombardment by air, land and sea, more than 2,147 Palestinians were killed, including 578 children, 489 women and 102 elderly persons.

Another 11,000 Palestinians were injured during the onslaught, 3,303 of whom were children, according to a report by the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Source: Websites
28-08-2015 - 12:27 Last updated 28-08-2015 - 12:27 

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Friday 28 August 2015

Color Revolution In Lebanon Designed To Weaken Hezbollah, Syria, Iran

During the past week, demonstrations in Lebanon over uncollected garbage have descended into violent clashes between protesters and police. Masses of demonstrators have swelled in the streets of Beirut in a movement now being deemed the “You Stink!” movement.
With these developments suddenly taking place in Lebanon and, with taking the Syrian crisis into context and the Iranian nuclear deal in the background, it is reasonable to question whether or not these protests are a legitimate expression of discontent with an inefficient government or whether it is the product of a Western-backed color revolution aimed at destabilizing Lebanon – particularly Hezbollah – and further weakening the “Shiite Arch of Influence.”
When attempting to analyze events in Lebanon, like much of the Middle East, very little could be considered simple. Lebanon has been racked with economic depression, cultural tensions, color revolutions, civil war and civil war brinkmanship, and terrorism for decades. It has also been the target of outside forces for many years.

The Background

The issue of trash pickup – the issue around which the protests began – was entirely a legitimate issue. Squabbling within the Lebanese government has resulted in gridlock on issues such as the disposal of garbage and the economic crisis has brought funding of garbage disposal into question. Likewise, when the government brought up the idea of the privatization of trash disposal services, Lebanese erupted in anger understanding that privatization would mean higher prices, poorer service, and even less accountability.
Already suffering from the effects of the world economic depression, Lebanon’s main source of national income – tourism and banking – have seen drastic reductions due to the crisis in Syria and the spillover of fighting across the border. An increase of Syrian refugees alongside Palestinian refugees already inside the country’s borders have also taxed the social fabric and the social safety net system in Lebanon. As Andrew Korybko points out in his article “Lebanon’s Future Is On The Line, And It Directly Affects Syria,” Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP ratio is one of the world’s highest standing at 143% and the unemployment rate among young people in Lebanon stands officially at 34%.
The economic crisis has become so strained that Prime Minister Tammam Salam recently announcedthat the government might not be able to pay salaries to workers as early as next month.
Lebanon is also in the middle of an acute political crisis, having been without a President since May 2014, after the previous Presidential term ended. In addition, Prime Minister Salam has hinted that he will resign if political gridlock continues. This resignation would only add to the tensions in Lebanon since the Prime Minister appoints the President. Salam’s resignation would throw Lebanon into a Constitutional crisis on top of the protests, terrorism, and economic hardship.
As Korybko writes, the political situation as it currently stands in Lebanon suggests that one of two men – Michael Aoun and Samir Geagea – have the potential to be president. Both men seem to represent the main “trans-religious political coalitions.”
Aoun is allied with Hezbollah while Geagea is tied to a former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Lebanese-Saudi billionaire. WikiLeaks cables released coming from the Saudi Foreign Ministry suggests that Hariri still maintains connections and contacts with Saudi intelligence and the Saudi royal family. The connections are deep enough that Hariri once thought it a reasonable proposition to ask the Saudis to fund his political party.

Hints Of A Color Revolution

As mentioned, the protests that originally took place in Lebanon were surrounding an entirely legitimate issue – the lack of effective implementation of a trash pickup plan and the potential for privatization. However, those protests have now turned violent with the original issue having taken a backseat to issues such as that of “government corruption.”
This type of focus is one hallmark of the color revolution, i.e. that legitimate issues are subsumed by shadowy ideals that have no concrete demands to back them up. Government corruption is generally the go-to ideal since everyone hates government corruption and since the likelihood of stopping it is so low. Once the standing government is brought down, a perceived change in the power structure tends to alleviate social protest.
The lack of concrete demands is also a hallmark of the color revolution. After all, the goal of the color revolution is regime change, social tension, and distraction, not real progress. A lack of demands precludes the ability of the masses to actually bring about positive tangible change. It does, however, allow for a steam valve of public anger.
During those times when the ultimate goal of the color revolution is regime change, the results are unfortunately that the individuals whom the backers of the color revolution desire to assume power are able to do just that.
It is also important to point out the marketing capabilities behind the hordes of people in the streets of Beirut. A seeming coalition of individual citizens and opposing organizations are all assembled – we are told organically – under one name for the purposes of achieving their as yet unstated goals. The “You Stink!” movement now joins a number of other movements who were “branded” with a catchy name to popularize itself as a political force just as Americans saw the Occupy Movement, Ukrainians saw the Euromaidan Movement, Pora Movement, and the Orange Revolution. In Serbia, it was Otpor! In Lebanon, it was the Cedar Revolution.
These slogans and symbols are the product of mass marketers employed by State Departments and intelligence agencies for the sole purpose of destabilizing and/or overthrowing a democratically elected or unfavorable (to the oligarchy)government
The YouStink! Movement is also known as a “youth movement.” While it is must granted that most social protest movements tend to be driven by younger people, it is also true that movements that represent populist sentiment tend to be more diverse in terms of age and support. That question aside, however, color revolutions generally rely on “swarming adolescents” and “hordes of youth” in the streets using the energy, anger, and pent-up aggression of young people out of work and devoid of hope with which to provoke violent actions between police and protesters and to create more tension on the political and social scene.
This is precisely the population from which the overwhelming majority of the YouStink! Movement is drawn.
It has also been the desire of “infiltrators” to cause the protest movement to move in a violent direction. These infiltrators have not, as yet, been positively identified. However, considering the sizable network of Western NGOs and US “Aid” agencies at work inside Lebanon, it is reasonable to wonder whether or not the destabilizing and infiltrating forces are directly connected to the Western color revolution apparatus. As Foreign Policy documents,
The real challenge to the protest movement comes not from the government, but in organizing a common front that stretches across Lebanon’s religious and class divides. It’s already a struggle: Organizers blamed the clashes on “infiltrators” intent on disrupting the peaceful nature of the demonstration. You Stink’s Facebook page posted a video of hundreds of young men entering the protest en masse and referred to them as “hooligans” who purposefully incited violence against the security forces.
“They really wanted to damage the demonstration,” Thebian said of the protesters who clashed with police. “They want to move the demonstration into a sectarian conflict, which we totally refuse.”
Given the fact that the agitators are suspected of not only causing violence but also of attempting to cause sectarian conflict, it is also reasonable to wonder whether or not the intent for Lebanon is more than a mere color revolution but a descent into chaos and civil war in the same manner as Syria.
It is also important to point out that the You Stink! Movement is calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Salam, a demand that, if enacted, would through the country into the middle of a Constitutional crisis.

Why Would Foreign Elements Want To See A Color Revolution In Lebanon?

Many may be rightly confused with any suggestions that the West would like to see the government of Lebanon (separate from Hezbollah) destroyed or destabilized, especially when that government was largely placed in power by a Western-backed color revolution to begin with.
However, there are a number of ways in which the collapse of the fragile government and governing structure in Lebanon would not only benefit the West, but also hurt Assad in Syria.
Andrew Korybko describes the political governing structure of Lebanon in the following way:
The tiny Middle Eastern state of about four and a half million people is marked by a demographic and political complexity that could hinder a speedy resolution to the current crisis. It’s necessary to be aware of some of its specifics in order to better understand the origins of the current stalemate and where it might rapidly be headed.
Unilaterally sliced out of Syria during the early years of the French mandate, the territory of Lebanon hails what is generally recognized as the most diverse population in the Mideast. Eighteen religious groups are recognized in the country’s constitution, including Alawites, Druze, Maronite Catholics, Sunnis, and Shiites.
This eclecticism of religious communities is presided over by something referred to as the National Pact, an unwritten understanding that the President will always be Maronite, the Prime Minister will be Sunni, and the Speaker of Parliament will be Shiite, among other stipulations (and with a few historical exceptions).Complementary to this concept is the country’s unique political system called confessionalism, whereby Christians and Muslims share equal seats in the unicameral parliament, but each group’s respective composition is determined proportionally by sect. Originally meant to be a temporary solution when it was first enacted in the 1920s, it was later refined by the 1989 Taif Agreement that ended the lengthy civil war and has remained in place to this day.
With the governing foundations of the Lebanese state in such fragile shape, one can see just how easily Lebanon might fall into chaos if just the right amount of pressure is applied. But, again, the question is “why?”
First, causing chaos in Lebanon, if the chaos is great enough, will force Hezbollah to remove its forces fighting ISIS is Syria and bring them back to deal with the lack of social order at home. The removal of forces from Syria will greatly relieve pressure on terrorist forces and deprive Assad of a very important ally. The SAA would thus find it a greater challenge to defend the Lebanon-Syria border, possibly even creating a situation where ISIS/”rebel” forces would be able to push deep into Lebanon.
Likewise, if Hezbollah forces are withdrawn from Syria, the Beirut/Damascus highway is likely to become a target of Western-backed terrorist forces. If so, it would make one and eventually both of the “lifelines” to the Syrian capital significant targets with attempts being made to cut these highway routes. Already, the Latakia-Damascus highway, the second “lifeline” to the capital,” finds itself in danger from attacks coming from Western-backed terrorists.
Aside from Syria, the weakening of the political order in Lebanon would be problematic for Hezbollah in the short run and devastating in the long run. If Hezbollah is forced to concern itself only with the political situation in Lebanon, its own influence and ability to assist in fighting terrorism in Syria as well as on its own borders will be diminished, all leading to a net reduction in the fighting capability of the true anti-ISIS coalition. The result of drawing Hezbollah away from Syria and back into Lebanon will effectively isolate both Hezbollah and the SAA, weakening the resistance to Western-backed terrorism and also severing the Western end of the “Shi’ite Arch of Influence” from the central and Eastern ends (Syria and Iran).
The intention to destroy Hezbollah has been known since the early days of the destabilization and, indeed, as far back as 2006 when Seymour Hersh reported in his now famous article, “The Redirection,” that,
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.


It remains to be seen how far the color revolution will go in Lebanon. The attempts to destabilize Iran in 2009 failed but the previous attempt in Lebanon in 2005 was successful. Only time will tell whether or not the West will succeed in bringing Lebanon into a state of chaos that resembles its neighbor to the East. For the sake of the Lebanese people and the people of the Middle East we must hope that rational actors will appear and put an end to the apparently Western-backed chaos taking place across the country. If not, then two of the three pieces will have been placed in the Middle East. Iran will be the last domino to fall before the final confrontation with Russia and China begin.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at)

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Thursday 27 August 2015

Cautious Calm in Sidon after Overnight Clashes Killed 2

Cautious calm prevailed early Thursday over Ain el-Helweh Camp after overnight tension between Fatah movement and Jund Al-Sham group left two killed, the state-run National News Agency reported.

gunmenPalestinian security members near the al-Barraq center came under fire by what a Fatah official described as “unidentified gunmen”.  The fatalities were identified as Radwan Abdel-Rahim, a member of the joint Palestinian security force, and Fadi Khalil, a camp resident.

A ceasefire in the camp which lies near the southern port city of Sidon was reached early Wednesday but was marred later on by the night sporadic battles.

Palestinian officials said the ceasefire remained in place despite the breach and that high-level contacts were made during the night to ensure it would be respected.

Source: Agencies
27-08-2015 - 10:51 Last updated 27-08-2015 - 10:51

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President Al-Assad’s Interview with Al Manar TV, August 25, 2015


President al-Assad: Terrorists are the true tool of the Israeli aggression, and confronting Israel requires confronting its tools first
25 August، 2015
Damascus, SANA
President Bashar al-Assad asserted that terrorists are the true tool of the Israeli aggression on Syria and that the terrorists’ acts are more dangerous than Israel’s, therefore confronting Israel requires confronting its tools first.
In an interview given to al-Manar TV, President al-Assad said the essence of the crisis in Syria is foreign interference, and once this interference ceases in all its forms, then it would be possible to say that the crisis is in its final stages, because then confronting terrorism would be easier.
His Excellency said that so far, there is no suitable environment or essential elements for the political track to succeed in reaching a solution for the crisis, noting that the states that support terrorism are imposing figures in any dialogue that represent these states and not the Syrian state.
President al-Assad said that the United States doesn’t want terrorism to triumph, and at the same time doesn’t want to become weak to the point that stability is achieved in the region; rather the United States wants matters to continue moving towards chaos and wakening all states, adding that the crisis proved that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a mere puppet with dreams, the last of these dreams being the buffer zone, but he can’t move in this direction without the approval of his U.S. master.
He stressed that defending the homeland isn’t just by bearing arms; rather defending the homeland is done by all things that make it stronger and more resilient in the face of attacks, adding that the Syrians’ hope for victory is the incentive for confronting terrorists and the plot devised for Syria.
President al-Assad said that if any international envoy were completely impartial, then the west wouldn’t have approved them, and so the biased statements of envoys are part of their role. He also reiterated that any initiative must respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and leave the decision to the Syrian people while prioritizing counterterrorism.

Following is the full interview transcript in English:
In response to a question on Syria’s confidence in emerging victorious from the terrorist war waged on it and what this confidence is based on, President al-Assad said that if there hadn’t been hope of victory among the citizens, then Syria wouldn’t have persevered for four and a half year.
“This hope is the incentive for confronting terrorists and confronting the plot devised for Syria and applied in it like it was applied in a number of other Arab countries,” he said.
“We rely firstly on people, of course after relying on God, but if you don’t have public support then you cannot withstand. If you don’t have public support then there is no value for any political or national direction you adopt as a president or official or state. First, you rely on the people, and second on friends who stand firm alongside Syria and support in the region and in the world,” His Excellency said.
On the opinions that imply that the crisis in Syria is currently in its last quarter, President al-Assad said “I can’t say that we have reached the last quarter until the cessation of the basis of the problem in Syria which seems complicated and has many details and intertwined elements. But the essence of this problem is foreign interference, the paying of funds, and sending weapons and terrorists to Syria.
“When we reach the stage where the countries involved in conspiring on Syria and in shedding Syrian blood stop supporting terrorism, then we can say that we are in the last quarter, because other details that are called a political solution or a political track or anything similar become simple details and of little value, and when we say of little value this means that they aren’t essential in resolving the crisis, and they become details on which an agreement can be reached.”
His Excellency asserted that once foreign support stops, combating terrorists becomes much easier, and until now that point hasn’t been reached, adding “the general atmosphere may show a shift, true, that shift exists, but a shift is one thing and reaching the end of the crisis is something else. It might be close; I’m not making things out to be melancholic or showing pessimism, but sometimes before reaching the last quarter, you witness a massive escalation. The escalation may be an indicator of reaching the last quarter, but we’re not there yet.”
On how everyone should interpret President al-Assad’s talk of a political solution, President al-Assad said that he doesn’t use the term “political solution” but rather the term “political track,” as the solution is the solution of a problem, and a solution consists of various sides including combating terrorism and a political side based on what was proposed during the beginning of the problem.
“It was proposed that the crisis had political causes. This is incorrect. As I said before, the cause is foreign interference, but we went along with all that was proposed. They said the problem is about the constitution, so we amended the constitution. They said the problem is about the laws, so we changed the law. They said the problem is about the economic track of the state’s economic policies, so we changed many of those policies at that time. We may be wrong, and they may be right, but at the same time we wanted to prove to others that those proposals were untrue,” President al-Assad explained.
“Now, they propose that there must be dialogue with political forces to reach a solution for the crisis, and we say there’s no reason not to do so; let those forces that present themselves as representatives of the Syrian people come and prove that they represent them or have influence, and we would hold dialogue with them without hesitation. This is what is called the political track.
“But in fact, for this political track to have an effect, it must be between Syrian independent political forces that belong to the Syrian people and have their roots in Syria and Syria alone, unlike what we see now in several of the forces we hold dialogue with that are bound financially and politically to foreign sides,” His Excellency said.
President al-Assad said that the political dialogue and track are essential not just to resolve the crisis, but also to develop Syria. However, the elements or environment necessary to have this dialogue reach final results haven’t coalesced yet, and this is accompanied by the continuing support for terrorism which constitutes a huge obstacle hindering any actual and productive political effort on the ground.
On the recent involvement of Oman and the visit paid to it by Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem and how that may be one of the keys for solution, President al-Assad said that Oman has an important role in dealing with various points of tension in the region and cooling them down, leading to a solution, and it’s self-evident that the Foreign Minister’s visit is in the context of resolving the crisis, and it’s also self-evident that the Omani role is to help resolve the crisis.
His Excellency said that these meetings aimed to inform the Omani side about the Syrian vision of how to reach a solution, and at the same time they are assessing the regional and international conditions through their relations to achieve a specific thing, adding that it’s still too early to talk about the role Oman could play, as we should wait for this dialogue to proceed to see where things are going.
Regarding the repeated Israeli aggressions on Syrian territories that took place recently and how to deal with them, and if the Zionist enemy could create a different status quo in Syria or in the occupied Syrian Golan, President al-Assad said “if we look at Lebanon’s experience during the past few decades, what emboldened Israel against the Lebanese? It was the fact that some of the Lebanese were connected to foreign sides. Some of them were connected to Israel. Some called and begged for foreign interference in its various forms,” stressing that that gave an image and weakness, and thus the Israeli enemy was emboldened against Lebanon.
He said that the same thing applies to Syria, as when there are Syrian groups that accept to deal with enemies, whether Israel or other enemies, and calls them to interfere in Syria, then this would embolden others against Syria.
“Today, the main Israeli tool that is more important than that aggression are the terrorists in Syria, meaning that what they do is much more dangerous than what Israel does from time to time to support them. They are the basis of the problem. So, if we want to confront Israel, first we have to face its tools within Syria. You cannot confront an external enemy when you have an internal enemy. This matter must be resolved within Syria, and then things will be back to the way they were, and no-one would dare act against Syria; not Israel nor anyone else,” President al-Assad asserted.
On whether Israel’s awareness that Syria’s priority is fighting Takfiri terrorists made it rush into committing those aggression, President al-Assad said that this could be a contributing factor, but the main factor is that there are those who are ready to cooperate with the Israeli enemy, who are prepared to receive treatment in its hospitals, and who are audacious enough to praise Israel for attacking their homeland on social media.
The President stressed that the strength of a country is primarily based on the unity of the people before relying on its army or political system, and the greater part of the people are unified, but when there are elements of treason, extremism, and terrorism, then these points constitute weak points that cannot be ignored, and must be dealt with when other elements become secondary.
Regarding the change in the rules of engagement with the Israeli enemy, something which Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, had mentioned, President al-Assad said “Of course, taking into account the difference between Syria and Lebanon; the geographic difference and demographic deference in terms of borders. On the borders between the resistance and Israel, there is the Lebanese resistance on the Lebanese side, but on the borders between us and Israel, there are agents of Israel, ones that are similar to the Lahad army and Saad Haddad army in the past, therefore this issue must be dealt with before the geographic or political issues that follow.”
On the confusion regarding the interpretations of some of the things said by President al-Assad in his latest speech, specifically regarding the army and its influence and regarding “giving the country to Iran and Hezbollah,” His Excellency said “regarding the first point, I was clear and candid. There is no doubt that times of war lead to more army desertion cases. I said that clearly in the speech; I didn’t deny it and I speak transparently with the Syrian citizen. We don’t care what the malicious media says. This has a negative impact in any battle and in any army, and this happened even to the United States during the Vietnam War and to all armies. However, when this war is of a special type and you’re finding an enemy with limitless resources – particularly in terms of manpower – then its effect becomes stronger.”
On the issue of retreating from some areas, President al-Assad reiterated that retreating and advances occurred in the same areas in less than a month, which is natural in wars, and he focused on that point in his speech to motivate youths to join the armed forces.
Regarding the second point, which was raised when he said that “the homeland is for those who defend it,” President al-Assad said that this is correct, but defending the homeland isn’t done just by bearing arms, explaining “for example, adversaries and enemies want Syria to fall, or, in one of the stages if that isn’t possible, they wanted it to be paralyzed in all aspects of life to prepare for its fall. Everyone who stands against this paralysis is defending the homeland, everyone who is doing their daily work. Employees, businessmen, doctors treating patients, those who help the poor, those who try to spread patriotic values and high morals; all of those are defending the homeland.”
President al-Assad noted that there are those who are living abroad but defend Syria in whatever way they can based on their positions and resources, and all those are patriotic people, while at the same time there are people living in Syria who are wishing for NATO airstrikes or maybe foreign forces to enter on land, adding “I don’t mean presence in the literal meaning, nor defense in the literal meaning of carrying a gun; I mean everyone who is defending the homeland by making is more resilient and strengthening the elements that keep it standing in the face of attacks, and here I’m only talking about Syrians.”
On the evaluation of the work done by UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura, who continues to make accusations against the Syrian state in his statements, President al-Assad said “we’re used to this. It’s difficult for some to come with the approval of the United States and the West because they’re impartial. If that person were impartial, they wouldn’t have brought that person.
“Now we see those impartial statements. He talks about deaths among terrorists. Of coruse, for them, everyone who is killed is an innocent civilian as if there are no terrorists and as if they aren’t bearing arms. And at the same time, when there are civilian martyrs due to terrorists shelling Damascus or Aleppo or any other area in Syria with rockets, we hear no statements from them. This is the role they’re required to play, and if they don’t, they will have no place, and someone else will come instead. This is the truth.”
On whether de Mistura has a chance of steering the crisis towards a solution or if he’s just performing a role, President al-Assad said that when the envoy proposed the issue of reconciliation in Aleppo, the Syrian government supported it directly without hesitation, adding that in practice, issues in international relations aren’t based on trust beacuse things change all the time; rather relations are based on mechanisms, and it isn’t an issue or personal relations, because relations among states or with organizations or figures representing states or organizations or the UN, then the relation is based on mechanisms.
“In order to say that we can proceed with de Mistura in his initiative, we have to wait to see which initiative is logical and what the suitable mechanisms to implement said initiative are. The Aleppo initiative was good, but there were no mechanisms and he wasn’t allowed to implement or propose mechanisms, therefore we weren’t able to support him because the initiative was stillborn,” President al-Assad explained, adding that this has been a recurring theme with mediators, adding “if they don’t propose something that suits us and suits our national interests, we won’t support them and we won’t proceed with them.”
President al-Assad addressed a question regarding the manipulations of statements in the media, particularly regarding the Russian position, where while Moscow asserts the strength of its relations with Syria and that it hasn’t abandoned it, U.S. President Obama comes up and claims that Russia and Iran believe that the situation isn’t in President al-Assad’s favor, with His Excellency saying that to figure out which is the more correct statement, one must look at the political course or performance of a state. Regarding Russia, the President said that evaluating it requires looking at its behavior for decades, how it treats states, peoples, friends, and opponents, and contrasting that behavior to the behavior of the U.S., at which point one would see where the truth lies.
“The United States, throughout its history, is elusive with its statement, and of course as time went on, this quality for the United States became the basis of policy. This means that what one official says, another official will contradict within days, and what one official says in the morning in a speech or a statement, they will say the opposite on the next day. This is one of the qualities of U.S. policies; abandoning allies, abandoning friends, backstabbing,” he said.
His Excellency said that on the other hand, Russia’s policy was never like, not during the days of the Soviet Union and not now, asserting that Russia’s policy is based on principles and growing more so, and therefore when the Russian Foreign Minister makes several statements and other officials make statements in the same context, it becomes obvious that Russia’s policy is concrete.
The President asserted that Russia doesn’t support individuals or a specific president, saying that this would be unacceptable and would constitute interference in internal affairs; rather Russia supports specific principles which are the sovereignty of state and people.
On Russian efforts now that Geneva 3 is looming, President al-Assad said “he have great trust in the Russians, and they proved throughout this crisis since four years ago that they are honest and transparent with us in relations and that they are principled. These are important points. So, when they meet various sides, we don’t feel concern that these sides might distort the true image for the Russians. The Russians have close relations with Syria and are capable of finding out about all that is happening accurately. We believe the goal of the Russians is to bring political sides towards dialogue to cut off calls for war.
“This is the goal, but in the end there won’t be an agreement over anything unless we Syrians sit with each other and hold dialogue with each other. It won’t be the Russians who impose any solution, so we encourage them to meet all forces and we are relieved when a Russian official meets any figure, without exception.”
His Excellency went on to say that these meetings seek to pave the way towards either Geneva 3 or Moscow 3, and this naturally depends on the international climate and not just Russia, as there are various forces involved with the United States at their forefront.
On whether these forces would go towards Geneva or Moscow, the President said that the difference is that Moscow 3 would work towards finding common denominators and therefore would make Geneva 3 easier and less likely to fail, which would avoid repeating the Geneva 1 and Geneva 2 scenarios that failed to achieve anything.
On the principles that set Syria’s position regarding any initiative, President al-Assad said that first among those is Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the decision of the Syrian people, which means that there can be no dictations from any side and any decision must be purely Syrian.
“Practically, there must be basis of any initiative that begins at and is based on combating terrorism. Any initiative that doesn’t contain an article on fighting terrorism as a priority has no value,” he asserted.
Regarding some proposals that suggest things like revising the constitution or holding elections under international supervision, His Excellency said that things like revising the constitution aren’t a problem as long as they result from a Syrian decision and from national dialogue and accord, but elections under international supervision are unacceptable as they constitute interference in sovereignty, adding “which international side is authorized to give us a certificate of good behavior? We don’t accept that.”
He noted that in the last presidential elections, a number of states sent observers in the context of cooperation, not in the context of supervision, and in this context there can be cooperation with friends to assert that what is happening in Syria is a proper and democratic political process.
“However, bringing in international organizations… international organizations need certificates of good behavior showing that they are impartial, and they are in no position to give us certificates,” the President added.
On the relation between the crisis in Syria and the nuclear Iranian deal, and whether Syria could be a victim in this regard or was an offering that provided gains, President al-Assad asserted that Syria is certainly not a victim, simply because it wasn’t a part of the nuclear negotiations, despite the fact that western forces tried to coerce Iran to have the Syrian issue become a part of the nuclear issue in order to get concessions from Iran regarding its support for Syria, but Iran was adamant and refused this completely, which was a correct, objective, and smart decision.
“Was Syria presented as an offering? Certainly not, but we could say that Syria made offerings,” the President elaborated, saying that when one’s allies are strong, that makes you strong, and when they are weakened, you are weakened as well, but saying that Syria’s steadfastness led to the nuclear deal is an oversimplification as the deal is the result of a long process began by the Iranian people a long time ago, with Iran withstanding pressure for 12 years and holding fast to its principles throughout the negotiations during the past two years.
“In this context, the steadfastness and unity of the Iranian people regarding the nuclear issue are the two most important factors that led to this achievement. As for the Syrian factor, perhaps I can’t be certain; the Iranians are best suited to specify this point, but it could have been one of the contributing factors,” he added.
In answer to a question on whether the world is heading toward a new form of coalition, with Syria possibly being closer to a coalition with Iran than with anyone else, President al-Assad said that the alliance between Syria and Iran is 35 years old, and so being allied to Iran and vice versa is nothing new, noting that when Iran was subjected to an unjust war, Syria stood by its side, and now that Syria is subjected to an unjust war, Iran is standing by its side.
Regarding the political scene after Syria emerges victorious and Iran’s potential role in it, President al-Assad said that what would change is probably is the influence of the Syrian-Iranian alliance on the international arena, because Iran now has more prospects to play a bigger role in it, and Iran’s strength will strength Syria, and in the same way Syria’s victory will be a victory for Iran.
His Excellency said that Syria and Iran share viewpoints and have mutual principles, and they form the axis of resistance, and so the principles will not change; only some tactics may change, or maybe some results on the ground.
In response to a question on the disillusionment of Syrians over the state of the Arab nation and whether he excuses that feeling, President al-Assad said “Excusing it doesn’t mean that we all purse that direction. We excuse him because conditions promoted citizens to turn against Arabism, and this is fact for most citizens. This promoted them to make no distinction between true, genuine Arabism and those who hide behind Arabism while in fact their hearts, minds, sentiments, and interests lie elsewhere that is completely outside the region.
“This is similar to what has happened in the past, maybe in several areas, but less than before; confusing those who exploit Islam like the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist and terrorist organizations with true Islam. There was confusion; they believed that all those who use the word Islam or Muslim are true Muslim. This confusion happens constantly.
“I would like to say to everyone who doubts or confuses the two issues that Arabism is an identity we cannot abandon. You belong to a family, and maybe one person or more from that family would treat you wrong, but even if you change your surname, you will continue to belong to that family in your upbringing, identity, nature, and everything about you. You cannot emerge from the identity. The Arab identity isn’t a choice; to belong to a religion and a nationality is your identity, and when you reach this point, this is what the enemies want: for us to disavow ourselves of our identity. The essence of the cause now and the wars that are happening isn’t about toppling regimes; rather this is a stage and a tool, nor is it about undermining states and economy. All those are tools. The final goal is undermining the identity, and when we reach that point preemptively, we’re giving the enemies a free present that precludes their need later for military intervention or for using terrorists.”
On the effect of the political activity in Iraq on the coordination between Syria and Iraq, the President asserted that coordination with Iraq hasn’t been affected negatively, as Iraqis are aware that they are embroiled in the same battle against a mutual enemy, and that what happens in Syria will reflect on Iraq and vice versa, so unifying the battle, like what is happening between Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, there will be better results in less time and at a lower cost.
Regarding what the difference is between the presence of Hezbollah fighters in Syria and the other side having foreign fighters, the President said that that difference lies in legitimacy, stressing that Hezbollah entered Syria through agreement with the Syrian state which is the legitimate, elected representative of the Syrian people and is supported by their majority, so the state has the right to invite forces to defend the Syrian people, while the other forces are terrorists who came to murder Syrians and against the will of the people and the state.
On the President’s relation with Nasrallah, His Excellency said that this relation is strong and dates back to more than 20 years ago, and any observer can see that this is a relation characterized by honesty and transparency, as Nasrallah is absolutely honest, transparent, principled, and loyal to his principles and his associates and friends to the extreme.
“The relationship is one of a resistant state and a true resistant figure who gave his son in defense of Lebanon,” President al-Assad said, adding that evaluating a relationship requires a third person to observe it and talk about it.
When asked about how the Syrian Armed Forces commit to ceasefire orders when they receive them, and who has the decision to uphold a ceasefire on the other side, President al-Assad said that this very issue was discussed with envoys who talked about ceasefire, noting that he rejects this term because ceasefire is between states and armies, not between a state and terrorist groups, so terms like “ceasing operations” or “appeasement” are preferred.
“However, we asked envoys the same thing; if you want a ceasefire, then which is the group and who is the leader? Who will commit to you? What are their numbers? They used to say that they estimate the presence of hundreds, or more than a thousand, some said 1,200 groups. Maybe after mergers now they’re in the hundreds. But you make a good point; there is no-one who can vouch for all those groups, although we know that they are subservient to other forces. So, we can’t say that these forces can hold those groups to a decision, because those groups are also involved in acts of robbery, theft, corruption, and immorality, and only commit to decisions when it suits them. Therefore, no group or state or side can make those sides comply with any appeasement or cessation of combat activity, even for a brief time,” the President said.
On how Syria can be a part of a coalition to fight terrorism alongside those it accuses of supporting terrorism, President al-Assad said that politics are about achieving goals, and goals must be in the interest of the Syrian people, so any alliance or act or step or dialogue that leads to stopping the shedding of Syrian blood must be a priority and must be pursued without hesitation.
“What concerns us is the result on the ground. Logically, as you said, it’s impossible for states that supported terrorism to fight terrorism, but there remains a slight chance that those states want to atone or realized that they were moving in the wrong direction, or maybe they have purely self-serving reasons and are worried over terrorism spreading to their countries, so they decided to fight terrorism. So, there is no objection. What matters is to manage to form an alliance that fights terrorism. The Syrian Foreign Minister said this would be a miracle… but what if it happened? Would we reject it? Of course we won’t reject it, we would pursue it,” His Excellency said.
On the escalation by Saudi Arabia against Syria, specifically the statements of the Saudi Foreign Minister following reports of Syrian-Saudi meetings, President al-Assad said that media escalation is of no concern, as what matters is actual practices of states, so when a state supports terrorism, then what value does media escalation or media appeasement have?
“This is what concerns us, and in the end the result is the same, meaning that with and without escalation, the Saudi sate supports terrorists in Syria, this is a fact that everyone knows, so escalation here is meaningless,” he said, adding that in terms of the verbal escalation, then Syria could respond in a similar manner and ask what one would expect from a group that hasn’t entered human civilization?
“Would one expect them discourse that is moral, objective, has a political dimension, or is wise? We shouldn’t expect any of those. If we do expect that, then the problem lies with us, not with them,” he said.
On the President’s statements in his last speech on opposition and how some observers said the opposition is treated as an incidental situation and not a deep-rooted situation capable of influencing public opinion, His Excellency reiterated that if dialogue is to produce results, it must be among patriotic Syrians whose roots are in Syria.
“But in dealing with reality, the most important question is who has influence? Meaning that if we hold an in-depth dialogue with patriotic figures that have no influence, and we reached results and said let’s apply these results and they say we have no influence on the ground, than what good is that dialogue? We would be wasting time,” he said.
President al-Assad stressed that dialogue must be with patriotic and influential figures, and while some have various levels of influence, the major problem is that most of those with whom dialogue is held aren’t patriotic, and this is something imposed by the states that support terrorism and interfere in dialogue, as those states want figures to represent them, not the Syrian people. Therefore, both patriotism and influence on the ground are the essential criteria, especially since terrorists have openly refused to deal with the so-called foreign opposition.
If Washington’s training for Syrian opposition figures was embarrassing or confusing to the Syrian accounts or not, President al-Assad said this is an episode in a long series, so if we were to worry, we have to worry about the series… This series is a continued conspiring one against Syria that will not stop at this crisis… this episode, in itself, would not change anything in the context of terrorism in Syria because if it wouldn’t train those, there are other countries that train others and there are other countries which support, send weapon and money… the track of events in Syria wouldn’t stop at this group… there is another thing which is bigger and more dangerous that we would worry about, it is the west’s disregard, on top the US, of the danger of terrorism in the whole region.
On the US stance and if it inclines into more strictness or into imposing recognition of fait accompli that is wouldn’t come in the interest of the US administration, the President said strictness or leniency is a feature of the US stance which doesn’t embody the reality of the US policy… strictness or leniency sometimes aims at a psychological war, sometimes sending messages to the lobbies inside the US, so reading those stances wouldn’t give the real image of the US stance.
As for the trueness of equation that “Syria is in return for Yemen,” President al-Assad said that this is proposed in media, but in reality, we didn’t hear from any friendly county, like Russia or Iran, and maybe Iran would be more concerned in this issue as it is located in the Gulf, but this issue was not proposed with us.
Answering a question about to any extent the Turkish speech would be taken seriously on the buffer zone and the possibility of implementing this, the President said Erdogan has dreams… big dreams to be a leader, to be a Muslim brotherhood sultan… he wants to merger between the experiment of Sultanate and that of the new Muslim brotherhood that he has built his big aspirations on… those dreams have collapsed now… the thing that remains to him now is that his masters respond to him as Erdogan and Davutoglu have proven in this crisis that they are mere dolls which have a big dream in Syria; which is the dream of buffer zone… it is the last dream after the failure of all their previous dreams in Syria.
on Jordan’s talk about a buffer zone and the presence of a joint, military and security operations’ room, President al-Assad said “it means Jordan talks about a Jordanian decision or a US decision… this is the question… so when a country or an official talks, we have to ask about the extent of independence of this official or country in order to express his opinion.
Answering a question on what Jordanian king wants from his involvement in the crisis in Syria, the President said “we return to the same question, is Jordan an independent state with its polices in order to ask it about its vision or the vision of its officials, until now, the majority of the Arab countries runs behind the US leash, they have no role.”
On the Syrian-Egyptian relations and the responsibility of Egypt for the delay of its return, President al-Assad said, undoubtedly, the relation among Syria, Egypt and Iraq has a peculiarity as these states are the base of Arab civilizations throughout history.
“There are a number of institutions in Egypt that rejected to sever the relation and continued communication with Syria, and we have listened to a national and pan-Arab discourse from them… I don’t want to hold the brothers in Egypt responsible… perhaps the conditions are very pressing… what we want, in the first phase, is that Egypt not to be a launch-pad against Syria or against others in the Arab countries, but in the second phase we want Egypt to play the role of the important country which helps the other Arab countries.”
On the possibility of Egypt to make use of the Syrian expertise in combating terrorism, the President said “what I have said about communication, a direct communication between us and them on the level of important officials… mainly security officials from Syria and Egypt in the last few weeks without fixing the time accurately.. they have a vision how to benefit from Syria… definitely through this communication, we will reach this point… the important thing now is that our expertise is deep in this domain through the last four years and through our conflict with the terrorist Muslim brotherhood at the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties.”
The President added that relations between Syria and Egypt are the ones which achieve balance on the Arab arena… Syria believes that it stands in the same trench with the Egyptian army and with the Egyptian people against terrorists who change their names.
As for additional measures to ease some livelihood crises regarding the Syrian citizen, President al-Assad said “we have began projects of reconstruction… they are most important for any country destroyed by war… these projects run with steady steps forwards and there are productive projects.
“In spite of all conditions, we still have capability to go ahead in economy… we have to make use of these conditions to take reform measures on the level of administration in the state, so the state has established a Ministry for administrative reform.”
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