Saturday, 27 January 2018

Erdogan has made his choice

To Erdogan, if he had to choose between the potential risks of losing Turkey’s NATO membership as against having a Kurdish state south of his border, he would choose the former.

Erdogan has made his choice

January 26, 2018
by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog
It seems that Erdogan has already made up his mind, but the speculations about what deals have been and haven’t been done seem muddied, to put it mildly.
In the Levant, the Kurds always lose in the end, and regardless of what alliances they make and with whom, they always end up getting stabbed in the back; or at least abandoned. But when they team up with parties like the USA, and even Israel, what else can they expect?
However, the Kurd’s obsession of having their statehood by any means, and the resistance they face and the unpreparedness of certain parties to work together to ensure that there will be no foreign intervention, they all have their adverse consequences. What we see happening in Syria’s north today is the direct outcome of this.
America had been looking for half an excuse to invade Syria for a very long time, and knowing that it wasn’t able to have a full-on presence that would allow it to carpet bomb the whole nation, it used the Kurdish excuse and the false pretext of creating a “security zone” in order to justify its presence on Syrian soil; against Syria’s wish.
But to do this, America needed allies on the ground, and instead of working together with its natural partner and NATO member Turkey (which happens to be a regional superpower) on common denominators, America’s inability to negotiate and give and take, even with its most ardent allies, repelled Turkey and America had to resort to an alliance with the YPG Kurds. What comes next is more sinister.
It is not clear what was Russia’s initial position on establishing any form of Kurdish autonomy in Syria. As a matter of fact, Syria’s FM Walid Mouallem hinted back in September 2017 that the Syrian Government was prepared to look into a limited Kurdish cultural autonomy (وزير-الخارجية-السوري-لـ-rt-الإدارة-الذاتية-سوريا-وهذا-أمر-قابل-للتفاوض-والحوار/), but this did not go very far. And long before Mouallem’s remark, President Assad himself hinted back in 2012 that the efforts of the people of Ain Al Arab (Kobani in Kurdish) will not be forgotten. But of course, this does not mean he was hinting at some form of autonomy. Was the Syrian Government pressured to not explore every possible avenue for reconciliation with its Kurdish population? And if so, by whom and why? Surely not by Russia because, Russia had always been sympathetic and understanding of Kurdish fears and aspirations. Who else could have stood in the way of reaching some form of pre-emptive reconciliation between the Syrian Government and Syrian Kurds before events reached the dangerous climax they are at today? Definitely not Iran or Turkey.
Arguably, it can be said that the way the YPG went to bed with America has led to its abandonment by the Syrian Government and all other potential allies outside the American circle of influence, and this cannot be more obvious given the recent history of the YPG. In all honesty however, we must in hindsight ask whether it was possible to avoid this impasse or at least mitigate it. We don’t know. Either way, it is probably already too late to “reconcile” and President Assad himself has recently referred to those Kurds who are under America’s beck-and-call as “traitors”.
Ironically, an ardent opposition of having any form of Kurdish autonomy in Syria was, and continues to be, Turkey’s Erdogan. He is concerned about the snow-ball effect and the possibility of similar Turkish-Kurdish aspirations. And Turkey is a multi-ethnic nation with vulnerabilities that cannot be ignored in this crazy era of human history.
Erdogan had told his American “allies” time and time again that they cannot be strategic allies of Turkey if they want to endorse any form of a formal Kurdish entity; even one that is only nominally cultural. Yet, Obama’s USA did not listen any more than Trump’s. They dug in their heels and continued to intimidate in their presence in Syria not only Syria, but also Russia and most ironically, their ally Turkey.
Syria wants America out of Syria.
Russia wants America out of Syria.
Iran wants America out of Syria.
Turkey doesn’t really care if America is in or out of Syria, but Turkey definitely wants the YPG and any other Kurdish military forces disabled in order to put a stop to any possible Kurdish entity from materializing.
But now that the wolf (aka America) is in, who is going to kick it out before it huffs and puffs and blows the whole region in?
The Syrian Army cannot engage directly against American troops, let alone militia supported by America, without risking a major direct military escalation with America itself. As a matter of fact, America perhaps wishes for this to happen as this will justify a bigger presence.
But hang on, let’s not forget that Russian troops are on the ground in Syria, and the Russians and Americans have thus far succeeded in avoiding direct confrontation for decades. Such indirect interaction is something that both super powers are familiar with, and they know how to do it. But this of course means that Russia cannot directly be engaged in ousting American troops from Syria. On the flip-side, America cannot engage with Russia either in an attempt to, say, oust President Assad.
How about Iran then? Well, Iran is already under American (and Israeli) threats, even without engaging directly against American troops. Iran may choose to engage against America or be drawn into such an engagement, but to do this willingly in order to protect Syrians Kurds is an unlikely scenario.
In reality therefore, only Turkish troops can do the job without creating much international havoc of far-reaching devastation.
Does this mean that there is a tacit approval on behalf of the Syrian Government for the Turkish so-called “Olive Branch” operation? Not at all, and in fact, most unlikely. Is there then perhaps an agreement between Turkey on one hand with Russia and Iran on the other hand on this? Also highly unlikely. However, Erdogan knows well that only he can engage in fighting American cohorts in Syria, and he is doing it with or without any need for support, not even tacit support, from either Russia, Iran or Syria.
Now let’s not forget that Turkey is a NATO member and that it houses the Incirlik airbase. However, unlike back in 1955 when Turkey was desperate to join NATO in fear of the “Communist peril”, America and NATO now need Turkey much more than Turkey needs NATO. To Erdogan, if he had to choose between the potential risks of losing Turkey’s NATO membership as against having a Kurdish state south of his border, he would choose the former.
But to Erdogan, his stand against America is not only religiously and nationalistically based, it is also personal. Apart from his doctrinal fundamentalist and nationalist attributes, he regards America as the nation that hosts and protects his political enemy and rival Gulen; who ironically still enjoys a huge level of support within Turkey, despite all the clampdowns on his supporters after the July 2016 coup attempt.
Erdogan and Trump are now playing chicken with each other, each looking at his opponent to see who is going to back off first. Trump has no idea that Erdogan will not waver and that he will simply not allow a Kurdish state south of his border, even though it is not meant to be on Turkish territory. The truth of the matter is that America has never ever considered its allies as friends who may have common objectives with America, but also happen to have their own interests. America is used to dictating its terms and conditions on its allies without a second thought.
But Trump, like his predecessor before him, does not seem to realize that they have pushed Erdogan to the limit and that he is now taking America to task.
So apart from whether or not there are undisclosed deals between Syria, Turkey, Iran and Russia, the fact that they all agree that none of them wants any form of Kurdish autonomy, lifts Erdogan up to the level of the one and only “hero” who can deal with it as he is the only one who doesn’t give a damn about what happens between him and America. He even seems to be reveling in the attention he is receiving at home by challenging America, as this is bolstering his popularity and further enabling him to target Gulen and America who is held responsible for his political survival by giving him asylum.
But in doing all of this, and to follow up on the previous article (, Erdogan has clearly made his choice as to which side on the Syrian ground he is going to support.
Erdogan seems to be distancing himself from Al-Nusra Front, or is he? Well, on the surface at least, he is pushing the card of the allegedly least radical of all militarized Syrian opposition groups; the so-called “Free Syria Army” (FSA). The original FSA members back in 2011 were mainly defectors of the Syrian Army. Back then, they were the only military force on the ground before all the Jihadis and mercenaries came in. No one can really tell with certainty what percentage of those fighters today are of Syrian Army origin, but what is pertinent here is that Erdogan is not going into Afrin together with Al-Nusra Front fighters, but rather with FSA fighters.
To a Syrian patriot, there is no real difference between the FSA and Al-Nusra Front. However, on the books as it were, the FSA is not a fundamentalist Jihadist organization. And as Astana/Geneva/Sochi talks will resume at some stage, lifting the profile of the FSA at one minute to midnight might give the elusive so-called “moderate Syrian opposition” a last minute mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; courtesy of Erdogan. After all, if push comes to shove, the Al-Nusra fighters that Erdogan wishes to protect can always shave their beards and wear FSA uniforms.
It’s a “clever”, or rather conniving, move by Erdogan, because by supporting and resurrecting the FSA, not only is he distancing himself from Al-Nusra Front, but he is bringing back the “moderate Syrian opposition” to the forefront and potentially giving it a place in the final negotiation process, and this fact, may also be used by him as an un-severed link with his American “allies”, because if he wanted to watch his back just in case he needed America in the near future, he can always argue that he did not send his troops into Syria to support President Assad, but rather to support the opposition.
Whichever way events move on from here, Russian diplomacy will be given the ultimate challenge. The time for muscle power in the skies for Russian bombers is over, at least for a while.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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شبكة أمان روسية إيرانية سورية للدولة التركية وتصفية النصرة وإنزال أردوغان من الشجرة

يناير 27, 2018

محمد صادق الحسيني

لقد ثبت أنه لا أمان لأحد على الجغرافيا السورية الا في قصر الشعب السوري.

الكرد ينتهي حلمهم مع هجرة الأميركيين قريباً إلى الأردن

والأتراك لا حيلة لهم إلا الخروج الآمن بكوريدور روسي إيراني سوري…

وما تبقى قطع متناثرة على رقعة ميدان النصر الاستراتيجي لحلف المقاومة…

كل المعلومات والمؤشرات والقرائن تشير الى ان ما يجري في الشمال السوري في هذه اللحظة التاريخية الحاسمة ليس سوى استكمال للهجوم الاستراتيجي الشامل لحلف المقاومة الذي بدأ في حلب والموصل والذي أفرز تفاهمات روسية إيرانية سورية اضطر أن يشارك فيها التركي على مضض وهي تقضي بما يلي:

إذعان تركيا بضرورة تنفيذ، ما التزمت به في اجتماعات أستانة، من إجراءات تهدف الى تصفية جبهة النصرة، بحيث يتمّ تنفيذ هذا البند بالمشاركة المباشرة مع الجيش الروسي الذي سيتولى تسلم أسلحة جبهة النصرة في أماكن وجودها حيث سيقدّم الجانب الروسي ضمانات لعناصر النصرة من السوريين، وهو ما سيدخل تحت بند العفو الرئاسي السوري العام الذي كان الرئيس بشار الأسد قد أعلن عنه سابقاً، بينما يتولى الجيش الروسي ترحيل الأجانب من تابعي النصرة الى بلادهم، فيما يتم نقل أبو محمد الجولاني ومجموعته «القيادية» إلى قطر وترتيب إقامتهم هناك نهائياً.

على أن يتبع استكمال هذه الخطوات بدء انتشار قوات الجيش العربي السوري في المناطق التي يتم إخلاؤها مع احتفاظه الجيش بحق اتخاذ الإجراءات العسكرية اللازمة في حال مخالفة العناصر المسلحة لترتيبات إعادة انتشار قوات الجيش العربي السوري في المناطق المشار إليها سابقاً.

وفِي هذا الإطار يقتضي التنويه بأن قطر ليست أكثر من مستقبل لهؤلاء، وليست من أرباب الترتيبات المذكورة أعلاه، إذ إن تلك الترتيبات قد تمّ الاتفاق عليها بين روسيا وإيران وتركيا والدولة السورية.

هذا فيما ستبدأ المرحلة التالية فوراً، والتي ستكون مرحلة تصفية الوجود العسكري الاحتلالي الأميركي في الشرق السوري من خلال الانتقال الى الأردن سريعاً…!

هل تذكرون مقولة الى الأردن دُر؟

وهذا يعني تصفية عملاء أميركا كلهم بمختلف أسمائهم ومسمّياتهم في الشرق السوري واستكمال سيطرة القوات العراقية والسورية على حدود البلدين…!

ونظرًا لرؤية الأميركي نفسه محاصراً بهذا الشكل المدوّي، بحيث بات في خطر خسران البوابة التركية للعدوان وأمام اختلال واضح لموازين القوى في الميدانين السوري والعراقي وهما في الواقع ميدان واحد لغير صالحه، ونظرًا لطبيعته العدوانية والتدميرية، فقد لجأ فوراً الى اتخاذ سلسلة من الإجراءات الهادفة إلى تخريب التفاهمات المشار إليها أعلاه والتي يعرف تماماً أنه ستتم متابعة تطويرها وتنفيذها في لقاءات سوتشي المقبلة. لذا عمد إلى ما يلي:

دعوة وفد من «المعارضة» السورية العميلة إلى واشنطن وإصدار الأوامر لها بالقيام بمجموعة خطوات لتخريب لقاءات سوتشي المقبلة.

دعوة ما يُطلق عليها مجموعة الخمسة، وبتآمر من قبل بعض الدول العربية الرجعية التابعة، لعقد اجتماع في باريس بهدف إثارة موضوع استخدام السلاح الكيماوي من جديد بعد فشل الولايات المتحدة بذلك في مجلس الأمن.

مواصلة المسؤولين الأميركيين إطلاق سيل من التصريحات الهدامة سواء تجاه الصين وروسيا أو ضد الرئيس الأسد والدولة السورية.

استمرار جهات رسمية أميركية عدة، إلى جانب أذنابهم الأوروبيين من فرنسيين وغيرهم، في النعيق بشأن البرنامج الصاروخي الإيراني ونشر الأكاذيب حول الأطماع الإيرانية في السيطرة على العالم العربي.

لم يكن هذا ممكناً لولا النجاحات الميدانية الكبرى لقوات حلف المقاومة، الى جانب الدعم العسكري الروسي والنشاط الدبلوماسي السري والعلني للدبلوماسية الروسية وما أظهرته هذه الآلة الدبلوماسية العملاقة من براعة وديناميكية لا تعرف الحدود، والتي دفعت بالطرف التركي للبدء بإعادة نظر جذرية في سياساته تجاه الأزمة السورية، والتي كان النظام التركي العامل الأساس في تأجيجها، من خلال تقديمه أنواع الدعم والإسناد كافة لمختلف أطياف العصابات المسلحة وعلى امتداد سنوات العدوان على الدولة الوطنية السورية.

فقد أدّت إعادة النظر هذه من قبل النظام التركي، الى جانب ما ارتكبته واشنطن من حماقات في تعاملها مع الأكراد سواء في العراق أو سورية، وتقديمها الدعم العسكري والسياسي اللامحدودين لهم أملاً منها بأن يشكل ذلك رافعة لهدفها باستعادة زمام المبادرة الميدانية في سورية، أدت الى تيقن النظام التركي بان الإدارة الأميركية لا تقيم أي وزن لأي حليف كان، حتى لو كان عضواً مؤسساً في حلف الناتو العدواني، كما أنه تيقّن بأن أمن تركيا وسيادتها ووحدة أراضيها لا تعني للأميركي أي شيء وأن ليس لديه أي مانع من التضحية بها في سبيل تحقيق أهدافه في المنطقة.

نتيجة لكل العوامل المشار اليها أعلاه مجتمعة وجد أردوغان أن لا بديل عن النزول عن شجرة إسقاط الحكومة السورية والرئيس السوري بشار الأسد. وقد سارع الرئيس الروسي وآلته الدبلوماسية الحاذقة، وبالتعاون مع حليفه الإيراني الذي لا يقل حنكة ودهاء عن الروسي، الى إيجاد السلم الضروري لتنفيذ عملية الهبوط الاضطراري لأردوغان عن شجرة إزاحة الرئيس السوري، أي أنهما وفرا له إمكانية الهبوط الآمن تلافياً بسقوطه من أعلى الشجرة وانكسار عنقه بالعامل الكردي، والذي كان يتحرك بالتعاون مع الأميركي باتجاه نقل التهديد الى الداخل التركي والبدء بعمليات إسقاط الدولة التركية وإنهاء وجودها استمراراً لما بدأته الدول الاستعمارية بعد نهاية الحرب العالمية الاولى قبل حوالي مئة عام.

علماً أن هذه العملية الدبلو – عسكرية الضخمة قد بدأت في أستانة مروراً بسوتشي وغيرها من المحطات وصولاً الى اجتماعات سوتشي المقبلة أواخر هذا الشهر.

لذلك فإن القائلين بمعادلة أدلب مقابل عفرين لا علاقة لهم لا بالسياسة ولا بالعسكرية ولا بالدبلوماسية ولا بالاستراتيجية، وذلك لأسباب عديدة، أهمها:

التغير الهام الذي طرأ على طبيعة التناقض في المصالح الأميركية والتركية.

طبيعة موازين القوى الميدانية في سورية والعراق والإقليم. طبيعة التناقضات الروسية الأميركية الآخذة بالتحول الى تناقضات عدائية يصعب حلها من دون إحلال مصالح هذا الطرف مكان الآخر. أي دون القضاء على وجود طرف من الطرفين في المنطقة.

وهذا يعني أن أردوغان قد توصل الى قناعة راسخة بأن المصير الأسود لا ينتظر شخصه وحزبه فقط، بل وجود تركيا كدولة وكيان سياسي وأن نظرة الدول الاستعمارية التقليدية المعادية لتركيا لم تتغير منذ نهاية الحرب العالمية الأولى، وأن خططهم لا زالت نفسها الهادفة الى القضاء على الدولة التركية، رغم الزيف البائن في ما يطلق عليه علاقات التحالف بين تركيا والغرب، بما في ذلك قاعدة الغرب الاستعمارية في فلسطين والمسماة «اسرائيل».

أي أن قاعدة التفاهمات الاستراتيجية الكبرى، بين دول محور المقاومة وروسيا من جهة، والرئيس التركي اردوغان وحكومته وجيشه من جهة أخرى، لم تكن عفرين مقابل أدلب وإنما عفرين وإدلب مقابل حماية الدولة التركية من السقوط والزوال والشطب من الخريطة، من خلال تقديم شبكة أمان لتركيا تتمثل في:

ضبط الحدود التركية السورية من قبل جيشي البلدين على قاعدة احترام المصالح المشتركة ومنع استخدام أراضي أي من الدولتين كمنصة للعمل المعادي للدولة الأخرى.

وهذا الوضع ينطبق على الحدود العراقية التركية أيضاً وبالمعايير والضوابط نفسها.

مما يعني خلق الظروف الضرورية لانتشار الجيش العربي السوري على كامل أراضي محافظتي إدلب وعفرين بعد تنفيذ إجراءات تكتيكية متفق عليها في بعض المناطق بهدف مواءمة الميدان مع التوجّهات السياسية.

وفِي هذا الإطار فقط وليس في غيره يمكن فهم ما تم التوافق عليه في إطار ترتيبات شاملة لإنهاء العدوان الأجنبي على سورية والدولة الوطنية السورية.

أخيراً وليس آخر، نقول إن جميع السياسات الأميركية المتخبّطة والتي تفتقد الى الحكمة والواقعية لن يُكتب لها النجاح إطلاقاً على الرغم من كل الضجيج الذي يثيره الأميركي و«الإسرائيلي» هنا وهناك، وعلى الرغم من قنابل الدخان الكثيفة التي يطلقونها في مختلف الاتجاهات، سواء في ما يتعلق بنقل سفارة «ابو ايفانكا» الى القدس أو عملية محاولة اغتيال أحد كوادر حماس في لبنان أو عمليات التسليح والتدريب الواسعة النطاق التي يقوم بها الجيش «الاسرائيلي» لعناصر داعش في الجولان، وبتآمر من قبل بعض الدول العربية الرجعية والعميلة، نقول إنه على الرغم من ذلك، فإن الانتصارات الكبرى لقوات حلف المقاومة سوف تتواصل حتى إنجاز الانتصار الاستراتيجي النهائي والمتمثل في تحرير القدس ودخول قوات الحلف إليها، ربما حتى قبل أن يُنجز «أبو إيفانكا» مهمة نقل سفارته إليها!

بعدنا طيّبين، قولوا الله…

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

Turkey invades Afrin: the Kurds lose again

Turkey invades Afrin: the Kurds lose again
By Aram Mirzaei for The Saker Blog
After weeks of belligerent rhetoric and preparations, Turkey finally invaded Afrin last week. It came as no surprise that Turkey would go for this vulnerable Kurdish-held region in north-western Syria first. So how does this affect the war? Previous Turkish incursions have been limited and aimed at stopping what Ankara deemed to be Kurdish expansionism right at Turkey’s border. Turkish President Erdogan has recently said that this incursion won’t be limited to just Afrin but could also target Manbij, another YPG/SDF stronghold in the eastern parts of the Aleppo province. Operation “Olive Branch”, which has seen Turkish backed jihadist groups being involved as well, is aimed at destroying the Kurdish held Afrin canton. Capturing the Afrin canton would be a strong boost for the Jihadist forces in northern Syria as that would link up the Idlib region with the northern Aleppo region once more (the lines were severed during the Syrian Army’s 2016 northern Aleppo offensive).
So what does this move mean for Washington? This situation has pitted two U.S allies against each other in what almost sounds like a funny situation if it weren’t for the tragedy behind it all, which leaves Washington in an awkward position. Washington must now choose between Turkey, a long time NATO ally, or the Kurdish militias who have been Washington’s closest partner in Syria. The answer should be clear to anyone who has a basic understanding of the politics of the region. It is absurd to think that Washington would intervene against its NATO ally, thus undermining the entire alliance and what it stands for, and sure enough Washington made its choice after Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway, threatened to cut US backing if any SDF units would go to Afrin to defend the Kurdish held towns. On Tuesday an YPG spokesman pleaded with the US for protection against the invading Turkish forces and their proxies but to no avail. What did the Kurdish leadership expect?
Erdogan was also emboldened by the generally indifferent international responses to Turkey’s recent operation. Washington and Europe have expressed “concern” and are calling for “restraint.” More importantly though, they are expressing an understanding of Turkey’s needs to secure its borders.
Noting that Turkey was the only NATO member with an active insurgency inside its borders, US Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters as he was flying to Asia that “Turkey had legitimate security concerns” in Syria. Mattis also said Turkey had acted “candidly” and advised Washington before launching its operation, adding that they are “working now on the way ahead.” Turkey also informed members of the United Nations Security Council and countries with a stake in Syria, such as Iran, of its intentions in Afrin before mounting its operation. Except for some comments about Iran’s wish that the Afrin operation would end quickly, Tehran has remained silent on this matter, indicating indirect approval of this operation.
It is also evident that Ankara got a nod of approval from Moscow, despite Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s description of the operations as “mad”. Moscow stated that it was closely following the situation in Afrin and was concerned by the news about the Turkish military engagement in the city. The Russian Ministry of Defense said that Russia was withdrawing its troops from Syria’s Afrin, the target of the Turkish offensive. It is clear that Russia won’t stand in Turkey’s way as the consequences would be disastrous and all the hard work Moscow has put into the de-escalation zones would be undone. This offensive could be seen as a form of a blessing in disguise for the Russian-Syrian-Iranian alliance despite its short term implications. Washington would not allow the Syrian Army and it’s allies to engage Washington’s SDF proxy forces, but having Turkey doing that work for them means that Washington cannot intervene with force against its own ally. Thus replacing the SDF with Turkish backed jihadists offers Syria and its allies a chance to engage these proxies in the long term without having to worry about Washington’s reactions. Whatever Syria and its allies express overtly, there’s no denying that the Moscow-Tehran-Damascus axis is not so worried over Turkey’s moves.
Ankara’s move gives Washington a bit of a disadvantage as Washington is now forced to show its true colours to the Kurds. The only way Washington would be able to save some face would be if they’d make a deal with Ankara that would divide northern Syria into zones of influence where Turkey would have influence over Idlib and Aleppo regions while the US would hold influence over the land East of the Euphrates. Despite Ankara threatening to attack Manbij as well, it seems Erdogan has to settle in the end for the territory it gained from the YPG and ISIL with Operation Euphrates Shield and its current operation — unless, that is, it decides to strike Manbij and the lands east of the Euphrates held by the YPG with US troops to support them. That scenario seems highly unlikely as it would mean a direct confrontation with US troops stationed in Manbij.
In the end, the Kurds will be the big losers of these turn of events, because they have failed to draw lessons from their own past where imperialist forces have used them as proxies and then abandoned them. The Kurds are being punished today for putting their faith in the wrong people all these years.

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Undercover israeli “Soldiers” Attack Three Schoolchildren Near Ramallah

Undercover Israeli Soldiers Attack Three Schoolchildren Near Ramallah
Childhood in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is anything but carefree.
An everyday occurrence: Palestinian children often throw stones at Israeli army vehicles invading Palestinian land – but even if they don’t, they may be accused, arrested, or even abducted for “allegedly” doing so.
from IMEMC News
A group of undercover Israeli soldiers attacked, Monday, three schoolchildren in Kafr Malek village, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and briefly detained them.
Media sources said the undercover soldiers attacked the three children, identified as Ali Khalil Ka’abna, 10, Anas Younis Abu Ein, 7, and Salem Khaled Abu Ghorra, and tried to abduct them.
They added that the soldiers claimed that the children hurled stones at army vehicles driving on a nearby bypass road.
The three children are from a nearby Bedouin area, and attend school in Kafr Malek; the undercover soldiers attacked them while waiting for the bus to go back home.
Many women from the village managed to convince the soldiers to release the children.

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israeli torture of Palestinian children ‘institutional’

Israel tortures Palestinian children, Amnesty report says – Israel News …

Israeli torture of Palestinian children ‘institutional’

Confessions by Palestinians who have been tortured are regularly accepted by Israeli judges, rights groups say.


Israeli torture of Palestinian children 'institutional'
Methods of torture reportedly include slapping the head and forcing a handcuffed individual to squat against a wall for long periods of time [Abid Katib/Getty Images]
A recent article published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has confirmed the extent to which Shin Bet interrogators subject their prisoners to torture.
Methods include slapping the head “to hurt sensitive organs like the nose, ears, brow and lips”, forcing a handcuffed individual to squat against a wall for long periods of time, and placing the suspect bent backwards over a chair with his arms and legs cuffed.
The interrogators’ accounts echo what Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups have long documented. Prisoners’ rights NGO Addameer said that such practices “are known to be routinely and systematically used against Palestinian detainees”. Other torture methods used against Palestinians include sleep deprivation and threats against family members, an Addameer spokesperson told Al Jazeera.

Rachel Stroumsa, the executive director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), said that her NGO was aware of hundreds of complaints and allegations along these lines.
In addition to interrogation being used to gain information about future acts, “our experience is that torture is also used to obtain confessions regarding past acts”, Stroumsa told Al Jazeera.
In its annual report last year, Amnesty International found that Israeli forces and Shin Bet personnel had “tortured and otherwise ill-treated Palestinian detainees, including children, particularly during arrest and interrogation”, with methods including “beating with batons, slapping, throttling, prolonged shackling, stress positions, sleep deprivation and threats”.
A representative of Defence for Children International – Palestine told Al Jazeera that the group’s research had shown that almost two-thirds of Palestinian children detained in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces had endured physical violence after their arrest.
Interrogators use position abuse, threats and isolation to coerce confessions from some children, and Israeli military court judges seldom exclude these confessions.
Ayed Abu Qtaish, accountability programme director at Defence for Children International – Palestine
“Palestinian children are regularly subjected to coercive and violent interrogation techniques intended to extract confessions,” said Ayed Abu Qtaish, the group’s accountability programme director. “Interrogators use position abuse, threats and isolation to coerce confessions from some children, and Israeli military court judges seldom exclude these confessions.”
Torture and ill-treatment are so rife, human rights campaigners say, that convictions of Palestinians for “security offences” are fundamentally unreliable, not least because the abuse is part of a wider lack of due process.
According to one study, as many as 91 percent of Palestinian detainees interrogated by the Shin Bet in the occupied West Bank are held incommunicado for either part or all of their interrogation. Stroumsa says this practice is “an enabling element for torture”.
In the military court system, which has a 99 percent conviction rate, Palestinians can be held for 60 days without access to a lawyer – compared with the United States, where the average length of interrogations producing false confessions is 16 hours.
“As Palestinian children continue to experience systematic ill-treatment and denial of due process rights, it becomes evident that military courts have no interest in justice,” Abu Qtaish said.
In addition to the torture and lack of access to counsel, Palestinians are asked to sign confession sheets in Hebrew, which they often do not understand. All of this “creates a coercive environment which results in confessions made under duress”, Addameer noted.
A recent example is the case of Mohammad el-Halabi, a Gaza-based employee of World Vision who was charged by Israel with funnelling money to Hamas. Halabi, who is being tried in a Beer Sheva civilian court, has protested his innocence, saying that he was tortured by his interrogators. These claims were also made by his lawyers, who Halabi was prevented from seeing for three weeks after his arrest.
The new Haaretz report draws attention to a topic that is not often in the limelight. In November 2015, a video of the interrogation of 13-year-old Ahmad Manasra sparkedoutrage, while Israel’s appearance at the United Nations Committee Against Torture last May – which referred to “coerced evidence” being used in courts – also gained coverage.
But many other events fly under the radar. An academic study published in November 2015 in a peer-reviewed medical journal revealed dozens of cases of sexual torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel.

Activists on the ground say that an international spotlight on Israel’s torture practices is urgently needed, not least because of the institutionalised nature of the problem.
Although an Israeli Supreme Court ruling in 1999 prohibited “physical means” of interrogation, Shin Bet agents were effectively given impunity for torture and ill-treatment by the so-called “necessity defence” or ” ticking bomb” exemption.
According to anti-torture campaigners, this exemption has served as a green light for torture ever since. Since 2001, hundreds of formal complaints have been made against Shin Bet interrogators, but not a single criminal investigation has been opened.
“I think international pressure is essential, and has on some issues proven its efficacy,” Stroumsa said.
“It is also the duty of the international community to speak out on abuses, given the massive economic and political support for the State of Israel from abroad.”
SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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وثيقة أميركا ورباعيتها: منع الحل السياسي وتثبيت مناطق النفوذ

يناير 27, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– خرجت واشنطن من مرحلة الصمت وتكلّمت بتقديم رؤيتها للحل السياسي في سورية، بعدما جمعت السعودية والأردن وفرنسا وبريطانيا تحت عنوان مبادرة الخمسة بما أسمته بـ«اللاورقة» للتفاوض حول الحل السياسي لسورية، وقد تضمّنت اللاورقة الأميركية مجموعة من القواعد للحل السياسي. أهمها إضعاف دور السوريين في صناعة الحلّ بما في ذلك الدستور الجديد وإدارة العملية الانتخابية، لصالح إشراف أممي كامل يقوم على الانتداب وإلغاء سورية كدولة وتحويلها بيئة عمل أممية، أما ثانية هذه القواعد فهي توسيع نطاق مناطق النفوذ على حساب المؤسسات المركزية، حتى التي ستخضع للمسؤولية الأممية، بحيث تكون البرلمانات المحلية والحكومات المحلية ترجمة لتقاسم ما وصفته «اللاورقة» بالمناطق الإقليمية بين القوى الخارجية ومَن معها من قوى محلية.

– عملياً الورقة تدعو لتأجيل الحل السياسي بهدنة مديدة تكرّس تقاسم سورية بين مناطق شمال وجنوب ووسط، تحت إدارة وقف نار تتبع للأمم المتحدة، وتتشكل في ظلها سلطات محلية تدير الشؤون اليومية كإدارة محلية وليس كدولة، وتحل الدولة السورية لصالح الإدارة الأممية الهادفة لإلغاء دور إقليمي لا يمكن قيام دولة سورية من دونه في المنطقة كالتي تنغرس فيها الجغرافيا السورية، ليحل مكانها نشوء مناطق تابعة داخل الحدود للجيران الأقوياء، فتكرّس تبعية إقليم جنوبي لـ«إسرائيل» وشمالي لتركيا وشمالي شرقي لأميركا، ويُقال لروسيا وإيران لكم ما تبقّى ومعكم هياكل الدولة السورية المركزية.

– ليست مشكلة المبادرة بالتخريب الذي تصيب به سورية كوطن ودولة، ولا بالنيات السوداء التي تنكشف تجاه وحدة سورية وسيادتها بوضوح عبر نصوص الورقة. فهذه من فضائل الوثيقة في كشف نيات أصحابها بنص رسمي موثق، إلا أن مشكلة الوثيقة في كشفها عدم واقعية أصحابها، وانعزالهم عما يجري في سورية. فمناطق النفوذ الجنوبية والشمالية تتآكل، ومنطقة النفوذ الشمالية الشرقية تحتضر، والحضور «الإسرائيلي» والتركي ومن بعدهما الأميركي لن يفيده شراء الوقت، والرهان على إغراء روسيا وإيران بالشراكة في تقاسم النفوذ جهل وغباء بعد كل ما شهدته سورية وثبت معه أن مشروع حلفاء سورية واضح ووحيد، وهو استعادة الدولة السورية سيادتها ووحدتها.

– سورية والحلفاء ماضون عسكرياً في منطقة إدلب حتى التحرير وبعدها إلى الرقة، وصولاً للحسكة، وفي الطريق إلى الحسم العسكري باب مفتوح لتلقي كل متغير سياسي بإيجابية وانفتاح، سواء من تركيا أو من الأكراد أو من قيادات المعارضة الموهومين بالحلول المستوردة، للقول إن الرهان على الأميركي قد سقط وإن اللعب بالجغرافيا السورية عبث لم يعُد ينفع، وإن الدولة السورية هي العباءة التي تؤمن الغطاء للجميع وتقيهم البرد والحرّ، وتحفظ أمن الحدود وأمن عبر الحدود، وإن كل وهم بأمن عبر سورية على حساب الدولة السورية يستولد رداً معاكساً مماثلاً وأشدّ قوة.

– سورية وطن ودولة في منطقة رسم معادلات إقليمية ودولية لا تنفع فيها وصفات التحييد والتقاسم ولا رهانات التلاعب والتجاهل. وقد أثبت السوريون عبر التاريخ أنه لا يُقسَّمون ولا يُستتبعون، وأن الانتداب إلى زوال، وأن خيارهم الاستقلال، كانوا أضعف من اليوم ومن دون حلفاء موثوقين ولم يدعوا الخطط الأجنبية تقرّر بالنيابة عنهم مصير بلدهم، فكيف وهم ينتصرون بقوتهم وقوة تحالفاتهم؟ هل سيدعون الأجنبي الضعيف يستقوي عليهم؟

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The Syrian military is deploying reinforcements to northern Hama and eastern Idlib reportedly preparing to launch a military operation to clear the militant-held pocket there. According to pro-government sources, additional units of Liwa al-Quds and the Qalamoun Shield Forces have already been deployed there.
The liberation of the pocket will allow the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies to eliminate the ISIS threat in the area and to free additional resources for possible future operations in Idlib.
Kurdish YPG/YPJ forces have repelled another attack of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army on Birsaya Mount but lost the village of Abudan.
The YPG denounced a report by the Turkish General Staff that at least 260 Kurdish fighters have been killed as a result of Ankara’s Operation Olive Branch and in turn claimed that 260 members of pro-Turkish forces, including tens of TAF soldiers, have been killed. The numbers provided by the both sides are clearly overestimated.
The YPG also rejected reports that it had reached an agreement with the SAA that will allow government forces to enter Afrin helping the YPG to repel the Turkish advance.
On January 24, a TAF military convoy reportedly entered Syria via the Atma station and reached the village of Tellet el-Is and the nearby hill in the province of Aleppo. The formal purpose of the move is to establish an observation point in the area under the de-escalation zone agreement reached during the Astana talks. Some sources speculate that this force may participate in the advance on Afrin.
On the same day, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the town of Gharanij from ISIS in the province of Deir Ezzor. ISIS reportedly lost 7 fighters, a vehicle and a bulldozer in the clashes there.
Clashes between the SDF and ISIS were also reported near al-Shaafah and Hajin where four SDF armoured vehicles were destroyed, according to the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq.
The US-led coalition also claimed that its airstrikes killed 140-150 ISIS members near al-Shaafah on January 20.
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Nasser Kandil to Kurds: Syrian or AMERCA