Saturday, 17 July 2021

Al-Assad’s Vow and Syria’s Comeback

  JULY 16, 2021

Recent victory in the latest elections has further emboldened al-Assad

Rasha Reslan

Ahead of the Syrian President’s much-awaited inauguration speech, here is a quick review of how al-Assad stepped in and boosted his country’s stature and resources during his first term, despite a global military war and extreme economic sanctions.

On Saturday, July 17, Bashar al-Assad will begin his new term as Syria’s President, setting his policies for 2021-2028.

On May 27, the Syrian government’s official Twitter account posted: “The Syrians had their say. Bashar al-Assad wins the presidential elections of the Syrian Arab Republic after obtaining 95.1% of the votes at home and abroad.”


The victory achieved in the latest elections has further emboldened al-Assad, the President who managed not only to defeat a global conspiracy against his country but also to bring Syria back to life, against all odds and despite one of the world’s most brutal decade-old wars.

Al-Assad’s First Term: The Survival of the Fittest

During the period between 2014-2021, the conspiracy plan against Syria rapidly escalated. Hundreds of foreign fighters and armed groups sprung up, and it did not take long before the conflict turned into more than just a battle between the Syrian army and terrorist groups. Certain foreign powers took the anti-government side, supporting it with money, weaponry, and armed groups, and as the wreaked chaos worsened, the grip of western-backed extremist organizations, such as “ISIS” and “al-Qaeda”, tightened.

Meanwhile, Bashar al-Assad didn’t flee his country. On the contrary, he got off to a fresh strong start. By most measures, he stood with his country, despite gloomy clouds and rumbling storms. His overall strategy booted terrorist groups out of major Syrian cities. On the personal level, al-Assad always scores high for his attributes, as most Syrians like the way he conducts himself as president.


Terrorist Groups Fall in Syria

At its height, as terrorist groups held about a third of Syria; al-Assad, the Syrian army, and Syria’s allies redefined victory in a thundering War on Terror. The so-called “US-led global coalition” carried out airstrikes and deployed “Special Forces” in Syria, providing financial and logistical support for the terrorist groups since 2014.

By December 2017, terrorist groups started to suffer key losses in Aleppo, Raqqa, and other strongholds. In 2018, the focus of the campaign against the terrorists shifted to eastern Syria. In 2019, they lost their last bastion in eastern Syria, in Baghouz village, after which Syria declared victory over terrorism.

Today, the country is almost clean from armed groups except for the presence of dormant cells along the border with Iraq and in Idlib (a city in northwestern Syria).

US Sanctions:  A Trifling Opening Shot

US support for terrorist groups in Syria was a shot in the dark, and as it failed to win the military war on Syria, they initiated a new type of war represented by Caesar sanctions.

In mid-June 2020, the US government announced the implementation of the “Caesar Act” with a flurry of sanctions. Yet a closer look at the 15 sanctions by the US Department of State and the 24 sanctions by the Department of Treasury reveals a brutal plan to destroy Syria’s economy and inflict utmost suffering on its people.

A Desperate Plan within a Failed One

Apropos the US military and economic war on Syria, there is much more yet to come. Syria and its allies have succeeded in defeating the flurry of sanctions aimed at stopping the al-Assad government from reconstructing Syria. They also buried a US plan to change the demography of Syrian and divide the country.

Rebuilding Syria’s Future

The main question remains: How will the future of Syria unfold? At the dawn of al-Assad’s new term, Syria continues to stand strong and united. Furthermore, the Syrians have high hopes that their President will take effective actions in the course of boosting the economy and achieving overall prosperity, despite the US sanctions.

Besides, al-Assad exerted strained efforts to reconstruct his country, focusing on projects with the highest likelihood of significant economic returns and benefits to quality of life. In other words, al-Assad, side by side with his people, is conveying a clear message to the world which declares the end of the global war on Syria; al-Assad will remain in power, treading the path of Syria out of all the challenges and crises. Syria’s allies also plan to be on hand as al-Assad rebuilds Syria to help it rise from the ashes, by handling the security and economic threats imposed on Syria.

The Second Term: Defying the Odds

To put things into perspective, the last election witnessed al-Assad securing almost 95.1% of the votes, so this cannot but be seen as a sign of strength for Syria and al-Assad himself, as well as his electoral campaign.

Today, the elections had taken place, and Syria has come out victorious, with an insistence on maintaining its vital role, considering that al-Assad plans to finance the infrastructure that the terrorist groups have been targeting and bombing for the past 10 years.

The Syrian President will also tackle the US sanctions on Syria, aiming to accelerate economic growth, strengthen society, and encourage youth empowerment.


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HEZBOLLAH DEPLOYED ROCKET LAUNCHER, ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS NEAR SYRIA’S AL-MAYADIN: MONITORING GROUP

16.07.2021 

Hezbollah Deployed Rocket Launcher, Anti-Aircraft Guns Near Syria’s Al-Mayadin: Monitoring Group
A Hezbollah fighter stands in front of anti-tank artillery at Juroud Arsal, the Syria-Lebanon border. Photo: REUTERS

Lebanon’s Hezbollah had deployed fighters in the outskirts of the town of al-Mayadin in Syria’s Deir Ezzor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on July 16.

Hezbollah fighters took over a base in al-Shabli ruins that was manned by Iraqi fighters of Iranian-backed Liwa Abu al-Fadhal al-Abbas. The Iraqis evacuated the base a few hours before the arrival of Hezbollah forces.

According to the SOHR, Hezbollah deployed a rocket launcher and a number of 23 mm anti-aircraft guns near its new base.

“The reasons behind handing over the military base to Hezbollah remain unknown,” the London-based monitoring group said in its report.

Hezbollah maintains very small presence in southern countryside of Deir Ezzor, where Iranian-backed Syrian and Iraqi forces are present to counter ISIS and guard the Syrian-Iraqi border.

Al-Mayadin is located a few kilometers away from US-led coalition bases on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river. Six attacks targeted the bases in the last three weeks. Iranian-backed forces were allegedly behind the attacks.

By deploying forces near al-Mayadin, Hezbollah apparently wants to increase its presence right on the main frontline with US forces in Syria.

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Biden Forces Smuggle Out 70 Vehicles Some Carrying Stolen Syrian Oil

  ARABI SOURI 

US Biden Forces Smuggle Out 70 Vehicles Some Loaded with Stolen Syrian Oil

Biden forces smuggled 70 vehicles out of Syria and into Iraq in the past 24 hours, some of the vehicles are tankers loaded with stolen Syrian oil, the convoy of 2 columns passed through the illegal Al Walid crossing.

44 vehicles of oil tankers, refrigerated trucks, and troops carriers along with some moved from the Sweidiyah village near Yarubiya in the countryside of the Syrian northeastern Hasakah province, local sources told the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), they added that the convoy left the Kharab Jir illegal military in the Malkiyah region near the Syrian borders with Iraq toward Iraq through the illegal Al Walid border crossing.

Later in the night, yesterday, the mercenary US military forces working for the ‘most inclusive and diversified’ junta of the White House moved out an additional 26 vehicles from the same area toward the Iraqi territories. These vehicles comprise loaded trucks covered to conceal their containers in addition to tankers loaded with stolen Syrian oil.

Earlier on the 11th of this month, the Biden forces smuggled 24 trucks loaded with stolen Syrian wheat from the Tal Alo silos in addition to several other trucks whose containers were covered. The convoy also used the illegal Al Walid border crossing and headed to northern Iraq.

This latest theft, breach of international law, violation of the United Nations Charter, aggression against the sovereignty of the independent Syrian state, a founding member of the United Nation aimed to deprive the Syrian people of their food and fuel is just the continuation of the same policies followed by the consecutive US regimes not starting with George W. Bush who invaded Iraq on false claims that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, the invasion that continues through today, and ongoing with the demented Joe Biden and his diversified regime of war criminals in suites.

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OPERATION EVIDENT VICTORY: HOUTHIS SHARED DETAILS OF THEIR SUCCESSFUL COUNTER-ATTACK IN AL-BAYDA

 15.07.2021

Operation Evident Victory: Houthis Shared Details Of Their Successful Counter-Attack In Al-Bayda

On July 15, the Houthis (Ansar Allah) announced that they had repelled the Saudi-led offensive in the central Yemeni province of al-Bayda and launched a successful counter-attack.

Saudi-backed forces launched the offensive earlier this month with the aim of capturing al-Bayda provincial center. After making some serious gains in the districts of al-Zahir and al-Sawma’ah, the forces were pushed back by the Houthis and their local allies.

In a press conference, Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari, a spokesman for the Houthis, claimed that terrorists of al-Qaeda and ISIS took part in the Saudi-led offensive in al-Bayda.

“The coalition of aggression supported the Takfirist [terrorists] by providing them with weapons, logistic support and facilitating the entry of dozens of foreign Takfiris to the targeted areas,” the spokesman said. “Aggression warplanes launched more than 161 strikes as part of their support for Takfiri groups during the battle.”

Despite the Saudi-led coalition’s heavy fire power, the Houthis were able to repel the offensive and launch a successful counter-attack codenamed “Operation Evident Victory”.


Houthi fighters and their local allies captured 100 square kilometers of new territory from Saudi-backed forces in al-Zahir and al-Sawma’ah.


Operation Evident Victory: Houthis Shared Details Of Their Successful Counter-Attack In Al-Bayda

During Operation Evident Victory, the Houthis carried out nine strikes on Saudi-backed forces in al-Bayda with Badir and Saeer missiles. The Yemeni group also used its drones to carry out 40 strikes and 17 reconnaissance operations.

According to Brig. Gen. Sari, 350 Saudi-backed fighters were killed and 560 others were injured during the al-Bayda battle. 29 military vehicles were also destroyed.

The Houthis’ announcement does not necessary mean that the al-Bayda battle is over. Saudi-backed forces may renew their offensive in the province in the near future. The Saudi-led coalition has been trying to secure any military achievement in Yemen for some time now.


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Lebanese PM-Designate Steps Down, Gives Up On Cabinet Formation his Supporters Block Highways in Several Cities, Throw Stones at Lebanese Army Units

 16/07/2021

Lebanese PM-Designate Steps Down, Gives Up On Cabinet Formation   

By Staff, Agencies

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri says he has abandoned his efforts to form a new government, citing differences with the country’s president.

Hariri announced on Thursday that he was unable to reach an agreement with President Michel Aoun on the formation of a new cabinet, and stepped down nine months after he was assigned to the task.

Hariri’s resignation came following a brief meeting with Aoun at Baabda Palace.

He said Aoun had requested fundamental changes to a cabinet line-up he had presented to him, and that the Lebanese president had told Hariri that they would not be able to reach an agreement.

“I met with the president, and we had consultation on the issue of the government,” Hariri told reporters shortly after meeting with Aoun, adding, “There were amendments requested by the president, which I considered substantial in the line-up.”

“It is clear that the position of Aoun has not changed… and that we will not be able to agree,” Hariri said.

Lebanon’s prime minister-designate added that he had offered to spend more time trying to form a cabinet, but he had also been told by the president that, “We will not be able to agree.”

The statement said Hariri had proposed that Aoun take one more day to accept the suggested proposal, but the president had responded, “What is the use of one additional day if the door to discussions was closed.”

The Lebanese president was said to be considering a date for parliamentary consultations as soon as possible after Hariri’s decision to give up on cabinet formation.

Hariri is the second candidate to have failed at forming a government in less than one year amid political bickering between Lebanon’s leaders and the economic crisis gripping the country.

Hariri was designated to form the new government in October, after the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab in the aftermath of the deadly August 4 Beirut port explosion.

Since then, Lebanese political groups have failed to resolve their differences and form a government.

The World Bank has called Lebanon’s crisis one of the worst depressions of modern history, ranking it among the world’s three worst since the mid-1800s in terms of its effect on living standards.

The country’s currency has lost more than 90% of its value since fall 2019 and more than half of the population has been rendered jobless as businesses have shut down.

According to the World Bank, the gross domestic product [GDP] of the country of six million people nosedived by about 40 percent to $33 billion last year, from $55 billion in 2018.

The double blow of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Beirut port explosion has made the difficult situation even worse in the country.

The European Union, led by France – the former colonizer of Lebanon – is also seeking to ramp up pressure on the Lebanese authorities in an attempt to force the formation of a Western-friendly government.


Hariri Supporters Block Highways in Several Cities, Throw Stones at Lebanese Army Units


manar-07301680016263704267

July 15, 2021

Since the former premier Saad Hariri announced quitting the mission of forming the new Lebanese government earlier on Thursday, his supporter started blocking main highways and throwing stones at the Army units in several cities.

In this context, Hariri supporters blocked Cola highway in Beirut as well as other roads in Bekaa and the North, throwing stones at the Lebanese Army units.

Hariri announced his resignation after a meeting with President Michel Aoun who rejected the proposed cabinet line-up of the the PM-designate for several reasons.

Source: Al-Manar English Website


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Red Alert in Iraq… Time for the U.S. to Decide


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amro@amrobilal.net), is an independent Palestinian writer and Political researcher. He writes for various Arabic news outlets, some of which are Al-Akhbar newspaperAl-Mayadeen Satellite News ChannelArabi 21, and Rai Al-Youmand UPROOTED PALESTINIANS

July 15, 2021

By Amro Allan

‘President Joe Biden may be nearly done with America’s two-decade military involvement in Afghanistan, but another nearby war zone, where U.S. troops have been based for almost as long, is threatening to become a major thorn in the White House’s side: Iraq’, says Foreign Policy in its Situation Report on July 8, 2021, entitled ‘Red Alert in Iraq’. This comes after two fairly heated weeks in Iraq and Syria, where an escalation in the resistance groups operations against American troops was noticeable, both in frequency and in nature.

For instance, on Wednesday, July 7, 14 rockets hit Ain al-Assad Air Base, the largest military installation in Iraq housing U.S. troops, wounding at least two American soldiers. Another suicide drone attack, a day before, targeted U.S. forces based in Erbil airport, not far from where the U.S. consulate is located. Also, there were multiple improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against convoys transporting U.S. military logistic supplies, that took place in various Iraqi towns and cities in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Syria, U.S. occupation forces were busy fending off suicide drone and rocket attacks targeting al-Omar oilfield and nearby areas. Al-Omar oilfield is the largest in the country, and It is invested with both the U.S. forces and their collaborators  the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

No American soldiers have been killed in these recent intense activities in Iraq and Syria. However, Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explains ‘It’s already very intense. The strikes aren’t killing people, but they could, easily, if they want them to’, and he adds ‘The missile defences are quietly working quite well. But what we haven’t seen is determined efforts to kill Americans’.

Many analysts consider this escalation a retaliation for the second round of U.S. airstrikes under Biden’s administration on June 27. Those airstrikes used the pretext ‘Iran-backed militia’, although in reality, they targeted a static Iraqi-Syrian border position of the Iraqi security forces (Popular Mobilisation Forces) under Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, killing four members of brigade 14 of the PMF.

While agreeing with this analysis in principle, I believe widening the scope would put the latest events in the broader context they deserve.

It is quite clear that Biden’s administration’s main foreign policy strategy, and indeed the U.S. establishment’s attitude in general of late, is to concentrate its overseas efforts on opposing the rise of China and Russia:  what Biden dubbed defending and strengthening democracy. This focus shift first took shape during Obama’s days in 2012 with his (unsuccessful) ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy and it has remained in principal a U.S. foreign policy objective since. But this shift naturally requires an improved allocation of U.S. resources.

Thus, when Biden came to power, he followed in the steps of his two predecessors in aiming to disengage from the ‘Middle East’ and West Asia in general as much as possible.

As the QUINCY Paper No. 7 entitled ‘Nothing Much to Do: Why America Can Bring All Troops Home From the Middle East’, published on June 24, 2021, poses the question ‘Three successive American Presidents — Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden — have pledged to end the post 9/11 wars and reunite U.S. soldiers with their families.

Yet, fulfilling that pledge has proven tougher than expected. Do U.S. interests in the region require so much of the U.S. military that full-scale withdrawals are not feasible?’. The paper argued that ‘the United States has no compelling military need to keep a permanent troop presence in the Middle East.

The two core U.S. interests in the region — preventing a hostile hegemony and ensuring the free flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz — can be achieved without a permanent military presence. There are no plausible paths for an adversary, regional or extra-regional, to achieve a situation that would harm these core U.S. interests. No country can plausibly establish hegemony in the Middle East, nor can a regional power close the Strait of Hormuz and strangle the flow of oil. To the extent that the United States might need to intervene militarily, it would not need a permanent military presence in the region to do so’.

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, to be presumably fully completed by September 2021, was the first manifestation of Biden’s drawdown policy from West Asia. However, when it came to Iraq and Syria, the equations were quite different.

Despite Biden’s pledge to return to the JCPOA in his election campaign, there was an assessment that was widely spread between Iranian officials which says that the Biden administration would capitalise on Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ policy to extract concessions from Iran, before re-joining the JCPOA. Those concessions are related to two aspects:

  • Change in Iran’s foreign policy, especially its support for resistance groups in the region. This is to  the benefit of the Zionist entity, which remains a core influence on U.S. foreign policy.
  • Imposing restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missiles programme.

This American approach became apparent after Biden took office, and during the latest Vienna talks to salvage the nuclear deal. However, contrary to Biden’s false assumptions, the Americans found out that Iran will not give them any concessions, and that it meant what it said when Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei stated back in 2015 ‘We negotiated with the U.S. on the nuclear issue for specific reasons. The Americans performed well in the talks, but we didn’t and we won’t allow negotiation with the Americans on other issues’.

This has put the Americans in a quandary. Biden found that he could not withdraw from Iraq and Syria without getting guarantees from Iran and the Axis of Resistance related to the security of the Zionist entity, as the Axis of Resistance will never offer any guarantees at the expense of the Palestinians’ inalienable rights. Nor could Biden maintain the same level of American involvement in the ‘Middle East’ indefinitely. As this would be at the expense of the main U.S. foreign policy strategy, “Facing the Chinese challenge”, according to the terminology the  U.S. uses.

Furthermore, this American quandary has deepened after the battle of the ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ exposed many of the Zionist Entity’s [Israel]  weaknesses tactically and strategically in the face of the Axis of Resistance.

Based on this overview, we can expect a fairly heated summer for the U.S. occupation forces in the region, as from the Axis of Resistance point of view, the negotiations for the American withdrawal from the ‘Middle East’ and West Asia in general are not open-ended.

And it seems that the U.S. needs a nudge to decide whether: to start a meaningful and peaceful drawdown, with minimal losses; or risk a new ‘Middle East’ all-out war by trying to impose its sovereign will on the whole region.

And I believe, based on the Americans’ experience of the past two decades, that the consensus within the U.S. institutes is that the latter option would be highly costly. Not to mention that based on the current balance of powers in the region, as we read them, the outcome is not guaranteed to be in the favour of the U.S., nor in the favour of  “Israel” its closest ally.


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Bomber Joe Biden Strikes Iraq and Syria: Retaliation Breeds More Incidents


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July 15, 2021

Philip Giraldi

Joe Biden is continuing down the path that began with George W. Bush, with military action used as a substitute for any real foreign policy.

Joe Biden is continuing down the path that began with George W. Bush, with military action used as a substitute for any real foreign policy.

In less than six months in office President Joe Biden has already developed a national security policy that appears to lean strongly towards proactive use of military force in questionable circumstances, as if war is the answer to every problem. Biden should nevertheless be applauded for his persistence in withdrawing from Afghanistan after twenty years of ill-considered nation building, but even the departure from that country appears to be characterized by a lack of coordination, rather reminiscent of helicopters taking off from the embassy roof in Saigon in 1975.

For the second time the president has ordered a US bombing raid on two targets in Syria, and for the first time, he also attacked a site inside Iraq. According to one report possibly as many as seven Iraqis died in the attacks which targeted alleged weapons storage facilities along the Syria-Iraq border belonging to Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada militias. The US claims that the two Iraqi militias have ties to Iran, which may be more than usually true because the Iraqis and Iranians have cooperated regularly in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS). The Pentagon also claims that the militias were behind recent attacks on American targets, see more below.

After the attacks carried out by US fighter-bombers, the excuse provided was the same one employed after Biden’s first air attack in February, namely that the US, as described by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region.” He added verbiage what has now become a regular feature of all US military actions, that “the United States acted pursuant to its right of self-defense.” For those who are intrigued by Pentagon newspeak the expression “defensive precision airstrikes” must be considered as a new entry in the crowded field of phrases that largely have no meaning.

The strikes were framed as being retaliatory, but the most interesting aspect of this latest bombing is that the initial US government justifications for the action were on somewhat tentative. Reportedly, someone had used drones with explosives attached for mostly night-time attacks directed “against places where Americans were located in Iraq,” which were further described as including diplomatic, intelligence and military facilities. The Pentagon refers to the drones as “unmanned aerial vehicles” or UAVs. No Americans were killed in the alleged attacks and there were no reports of any substantial damage, though the Pentagon is apparently collecting information and preparing a comprehensive report which the public undoubtedly will not be allowed to see.

Oddly, the initial media reporting on what had occurred and who had been blamed for it included a weasel word, “suspected.” In government-speak that frequently means there was little or no evidence that the militias that had been targeted were actually the perpetrators, but it is convenient to assume that they are responsible, making them “suspects.” After all, it is relatively easy to transport a number of drones on the bed of a pickup truck, drive with it to a location where one is unlikely to be observed and then release them at a fixed target. Even if you don’t hit anything, you will spread fear and trigger a response that might well be exploited to vilify the occupying forces. You will also provide justification for your own retaliation.

The Iraqi government, which was not informed in advance of the US bombings, not surprisingly reacted strongly, registering its opposition to such activity on the part of its so-called ally, though occupier has been suggested as a more appropriate description. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s office called the airstrikes a “blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security.” After the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad Airport in January 2020, the Iraqi Parliament had called for the departure of all US forces, but the Trump Administration ignored the demand, claiming that it was in Iraq to help the Iraqis in their fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups.

The US currently has a claimed 2,500 soldiers in Iraq who, it asserts, are in country advising and training their local counterparts. Meanwhile, “Fighting terrorists and training friendly forces” is roughly the same excuse that has been used to justify remaining in neighboring Syria, where the US has deployed roughly 500 soldiers who have been taking possession of the production of the country’s oil fields, which it then provides to Israel. The US is also, by the way, trying to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government in Damascus, using some of the very terrorists it claims to be fighting to do the job, but that is of course another story.

If the United States government is beginning to sound a bit like the Israeli government that should surprise no one, as Israel is clearly heavily involved in whatever on goes vis-à-vis Syria and Iran directly and in Iraq by proxy. One almost expects new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to provide an endorsement, parroting the Pentagon line as well as his own country’s rhetoric, saying “the US has a right to defend itself.” Of course, the unasked question then becomes “to defend itself against what?” Israel was at least able to pretend that there was some kind of threat coming from Gaza since the two share a border, but the United States would be hard pressed to explain why it has soldiers in Syria and Iraq at all, particularly since the Iraqi government has called upon them to depart.

A neocon journalist supportive of a global crusade to spread “democracy” once quipped that the nice thing about having an empire is never having to say you are sorry, but that has not meant that mindless acts of violence inflicted throughout the Middle East are have been consequence free. One has to suspect in this case that the use of force to include a target within the borders of a nominal ally was also mostly intended to send a signal to Iran. A Pentagon spokesman ironically boasted afterwards that “This action should send a message to Iran that it cannot hide behind its proxy forces to attack the United States and our Iraqi partners.” The spokesman appears to be oblivious to the fact that it was Iraqi militiamen tied to the government that had been killed, not Iranians. And his assumption that it would reduce the level of violence also proved wrong as there have been a number of new drone, rocket and mortar attacks against American targets in Iraq since Biden’s “defensive precision airstrikes” were launched. One of the militias that lost fighters to the US airstrikes, said it would “avenge the blood of our righteous martyrs.”  Another Iranian supported group, the Popular Mobilization Forces went further, threatening to “enter an open war with the American occupation.” In short, all the attacks really accomplished was to anger the Iraqi people over the continued US presence and to guarantee more incidents.

Biden’s “sending a message to Iran” would undoubtedly be intended to do the same to the Iraqi government, telling them that drawing any closer to the Iranians is too close as far as the Pentagon and White House are concerned. In terms of the timing of the airstrikes, it is also important to note that the US has been working closely with the new Israeli government to establish a unified policy on Iranian “regional aggression” and its nuclear program. Biden met recently with retiring Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the White House and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has been having discussions with Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid. Iran was the focus of both meetings.

So, Joe Biden and whoever is advising him are continuing down the path that began with George W. Bush, with military action used as a substitute for any real foreign policy. The problem with the meddling in the Middle East is primarily that it permits no exit strategy. It will end ignominiously when it ends as is happening in Afghanistan, without any remorse and little to show for all the expense and the deaths. Given that reality, rather than concoct largely fabricated reasons to keep US troops in Iraq and Syria the Administration should be looking for ways to end the torment for everyone involved.


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Joint statement by foreign ministers of the SCO countries : SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group

 July 15, 2021

Joint statement by foreign ministers of the SCO countries : SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group

Joint statement by foreign ministers of the SCO countries following a meeting in the format of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, July 14, 2021

We, foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member countries,

Advocating the development of Afghanistan as an independent, neutral, united, peaceful, democratic and prosperous state,

Realising that peace and stability in that country is one of the main factors in ensuring security in the SCO region,

Being convinced of the need to continue helping the Afghan people in their efforts to restore the country and return to the road of peace and national accord,

Declare the following:

As friendly neighbours and important partners of Afghanistan, the SCO member states are interested in its development as a peaceful, stable and prosperous country, and confirm their respect for the traditions and culture of all peoples living in Afghanistan.

In accordance with universally accepted principles and norms of international law, primarily the UN Charter, the SCO countries reaffirm their respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. They intend to facilitate the development of Afghanistan as a country free from terrorism, war and drugs.

We condemn the violence and terror attacks that continue in Afghanistan, killing civilians and representatives of government bodies and call for their cessation as soon as possible. We note that the activities of international terrorist organisations remain one of the key factors of instability in that country. We express our deep concern over the escalation of tensions in the northern provinces of Afghanistan as a result of a sharp increase in the concentration of various terrorist, separatist and extremist groups. We consider it important for the SCO member states to enhance their joint efforts in order to counteract terrorism, separatism and extremism.

We urge all parties involved in the conflict in Afghanistan to refrain from the use of force and actions that may lead to destabilisation and unpredictable consequences near the Afghan borders with the SCO states.

The SCO member states reaffirm their willingness to continue developing cooperation with Afghanistan on countering security threats in the region, in particular, all forms and manifestations of terrorism and drug trafficking, and to jointly oppose double standards in resolving these tasks.

Emphasising the importance of long-term hospitality and effective aid for Afghan refugees, the SCO members consider it important for the international community to take active joint efforts to facilitate their proper, safe and sustainable return home.

We believe that reaching an early settlement in Afghanistan is a major factor in maintaining and strengthening security and stability in the SCO space. In this context, we emphasise the need for the Government and people of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to intensify their efforts to restore peace, promote national economic development and counter terrorism, extremism and drug-related crime. We confirm the position of the SCO members that the conflict in Afghanistan can only be settled by political dialogue and an inclusive peace process conducted and led by the Afghans themselves.

We urge all interested states and international organisations to strengthen their cooperation, with the UN playing a central coordinating role, in order to stabilise and develop the country. In this context, we note the activities of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy.

We welcome the diplomatic support for the peace process in Afghanistan by the international public, including the inter-Afghan peace talks in Doha, the extended Troika, the Moscow consultations format and the Tashkent venue. We note the outcome of the ministerial meeting of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul process in Dushanbe on March 29-30, 2021.

Respecting the Afghan people’s independent choice of their own path of development, we are convinced that the inter-Afghan negotiations must consider the interests of all ethnic groups living in the country.

We attach much importance to our cooperation in the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group. We consider it necessary to consistently implement the roadmap for further action by the Contact Group, which was adopted in Bishkek on June 14, 2019, with a view to strengthening regional stability and developing relations between the SCO states and Afghanistan.

We reaffirm the willingness of our countries to continue deepening cooperation with Afghanistan in politics and security, as well as in the economic and humanitarian spheres, including by maximising the potential of Afghanistan’s participation as an observer state in the SCO’s activities.


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