“The only way to solve a conflict at any level of society is to sit down face to face and talk about it.” (John W. McDonald)
Today most wars are intrastate ethnic conflicts. However it is important is to put single conflicts in wider context such as game between great powers, struggle over global energy resources and their supply routes, economic profits of military-industrial-complex etc. From my point of view current peacemaking, peace-building or crisis management structures are not designed to cope with this type of conflict so a deeper holistic approach is needed to make more sustainable solutions.
The British think-tank BICOM, has released its new report on Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding projects in Israel and the West Bank. The report finds that grassroots Israeli-Palestinian peace building projects work and are a vital missing ingredient in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The report is the first of its kind to attempt a comprehensive review of peacebuilding projects in this area, looking at over 20 years of evaluation data, and based on extensive field work. [my review about report in article A future for Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding: The report By BICOM ]
Below I try present brief wider context about peacebuilding and – inspired by report mentioned -conclude the key components of a holistic approach of peacemaking.
I think it is important define also peace mediation and different aspects of that. In my opinion the conflict resolution by most peacemakers is an ad hock fire department activity, important but secondary question. The primary issue from my viewpoint is prevention of problems and their causes, or at least awareness of them. So peace mediation is one part of handling conflicts, it should be applied also before armed conflicts, also post-conflict crisis management in short term and seeking sustainable solutions in long term should be integral part of peace mediation and its training activities.
the solution is postponed because neither A nor B feels ready to end the conflict;
a confused compromise is reached, which neither A nor B are happy with.
These traditional methods have at least following shortages:
Basically peace deals are made between elite’s and their (game) interests where participants are calculating are the wins due the peace bigger than the wins due the war.
Many times the process is coercive based to will of outsiders not necessary local needs.
In my opinion the traditional process will produce temporary – tactical – solutions and the outcome is frozen conflict. The best examples of these are maybe Bosnia after Dayton and Kosovo after Ahtisaari’s pseudo talks.
As alternatives for these traditional methods I have found three better approach [sure there is more but these three are good examples]:
Galtung himself has employed the “TRANSCEND” Method while serving as a negotiator in a number of international conflicts. He tries to break with four unsatisfactory ways – mentioned earlier – of handling a conflict by finding a “fifth way,” where both A and B feel that they win. He views his role as that of helping the parties clarify their objectives, and working to come up with solutions that meet the objectives of all parties. He presents them with concrete proposals that are intended to give both sides the sense that they are winners. TRANSCEND’s “conflict transformation” approach relies on nonviolence, creativity, and empathy to facilitate an outcome where both parties move beyond their stated positions to create a new reality in their relationship. [more in Johan Galtung’s Conflict Transformation Theory]
I think that “Transcend” approach hits the core question in peace-building process. First it is based to wide participation and even commitment of local stakeholders through dialogue, second it goes to the roots of conflicts and third it is future-oriented.
Peacemaking – a holistic approach
“…long-term grassroots peacebuilding between the contending parties is always essential to achieving peace.” ((Jonathan Powell, the chief British negotiator during the Northern Ireland Peace Process )
In my opinion peacemaking is only secondary action by managing conflicts – a deeper holistic approach is needed to make more sustainable solutions. The main components from my viewpoint opinion are the following:
An approach of active or creative peace-building should be applied to achieve long term solutions
Dialogue between local stakeholders is the key component in peace-building process as if the parties are willing to discuss the conflict and work toward reaching a holistic resolution the outcome may be sustainable.
Dialogue should be applied through high, middle-range and grassroots levels horizontally across the lines of division in a society. There should also be no gap of interdependence of coordinated relationships up and down the levels of leadership in a society – the vertical capacity means developing relationships between higher and grassroots levels of leadership.
To understand the true nature of security issues in each particular context it is necessary to apply also a non-western theoretical framework as the non-western social, political and cultural reality demands maybe different approach – or viewpoint – than normal western practice.
Creating an environment of lasting peace is the primary goal of peace-building. The main tool can be different creative therapies being used to create peace, within individuals, groups, and societies. Although used primarily to overcome violence, creative peace-building can also be used as a preventative measure to make the foundations of peace stronger, especially when used with children.
The value of civilians in post-conflict stabilization has become increasingly clear and should be appreciated at the expense of military alternatives. Dialogue-based interventions will enhance the motivation and capacity of participants to become “agents of change” in their communities so encouraging long-term engagement in peacebuilding.
1. A comprehensive ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. Comes into force at 00.00 (Kiev time) on February 15.
2. A pullout of heavy weapons. The parties agreed to a compromise disengagement line. Kiev is to pull artillery and other hardware from the current frontline while the rebels would do it from the frontline as it was in September, before they gained ground in a January counter-offensive. The OSCE-monitored safety zone would be 50 km to 150 km wide for weapons, depending on their range. The pullout is to be completed by March 1.
3. The OSCE will use its drone fleet and monitors on the ground, as well as satellite images and radar data to ensure that both parties stick to the deal.
4. Kiev and the rebels will negotiate the terms for future local elections in the rebel-held areas, which would bring them back into Ukraine’s legal framework. Kiev would adopt legislation on self-governance that would be acceptable for the self-proclaimed republics.
5. Kiev will declare a general amnesty for the rebels.
6. An exchange of all prisoners must be completed by the fifth day after full disengagement. That’s in 19 days, if the weapons pullback takes the full time provided for by the deal.
7. Humanitarian aid convoys will be allowed full access to the needy in the war-affected areas. An international monitoring mechanism will be provided.
8. Kiev will restore economic ties, social payments and banking services in the dissenting areas, which it cut earlier in response to the elections held by the self-proclaimed republics. Their respective governments will resume taxation and payment for utilities. This provision is subject for further negotiation.
9. After the local elections are held in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, Kiev is to restore control over their borders with Russia. The transition may take time, which would be needed for a comprehensive constitutional reform in Ukraine.
10. All foreign troops, heavy weapons and mercenaries are to be withdrawn from Ukraine. Illegal armed groups would be disarmed, but local authorities in Donetsk and Lugansk would be allowed to have legal militia units.
11. Keiv will implement comprehensive constitutional reform by the end of the year, which would decentralize the Ukrainian political system and give privileges to Donetsk and Lugansk. The privileges include language self-determination, the freedom to appoint prosecutors and judges, and to establish economic ties with Russia.
12. The OSCE’s election monitors are to see that local elections in the self-proclaimed republics are up to international standards. The exact procedure for the elections is subject to further negotiations.
13. Talks between the “contact group” will be intensified in various ways.
I’m happy to reprint an article Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free research by Jan Oberg, director of TFF (Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research). Dr Oberg served since 1991 four years as mediator between parties in Kosovo and also was in Serbia during Nato-bombing. His analysis in my opinion gives a good view not only Kosovo but also some events today. Jan is also the founding member in TFF which was established on January 1, 1986. Its mission is following:
“TFF is an independent think tank, a global network that aims to bring about peace by peaceful means. It inspires a passion for peace from the grassroots to the corridors of power.
TFF is an all-volunteer global network. It promotes conflict-mitigation and reconciliation in general, as well as in a more targeted way in a selected number of conflict regions – through meticulous on-the-ground research, active listening, education and advocacy.
The Foundation is committed to doing diagnosis and prognosis as well as proposing solutions. It does so in a clear, pro-peace manner.”
Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free researchby Jan Oberg TFF director
Lund, Sweden March 24, 2014
Media with a pro-Western bias usually remind us of 9/11 based on a victim narrative. We just passed 3/20 – the 11th Anniversay of the war on Iraq. Every year they forget 10/7 (Afghanistan) and 3/24, the destruction of Serbia-Kosovo in 1999.
What to do when NATO’s raison d’etre – the Warsaw Pact – had dissolved? Answer: Turn NATO into a humanitarian bombing organisation which in – fake – Gandhian style could say: We are bombing for a higher ethical humanitarian purpose to save lives and on this exceptionalist moral high ground we ignore international law.
Kosovo 15 years later
Kosovo remains a unique result of propaganda and mass killings to produce and independent state without a UN Security Council mandate – which doesn’t prevent Western politicians from teaching Russia international law these very days.
If Kosovo, why not Tibet, Taiwan, the Basque country, Korsica, Kurdistan, Palestine, or Crimea? The answer is: Kosovo was exceptional. But why? Oil and gas, perhaps, see later…
Kosovo of 2014 is a failed state with quite a few of the – unconvicted – war criminals of the 1990s still in power. (They were leaders of UCK/KLA army that was set up by CIA and its German brother BND behind the back of Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, the Kosovo-Albanian leader and advocate of pragmatic non-violence).
The international so-called community (read: a handful of NATO countries) have ever since violated UN SC Resolution 1244 that stated that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, FRY, was a sovereign state with territorial integrity.
The US got what was the real pupose of it all, the gigantic Bondsteel base in Kosovo, the largest built outside th U.S. since the Vietnam war – to secure the numerous gas and oil pipelines from Central Asia to the Vlore harbour in Albania. Did you ever hear about Bondsteel?
Till today, only 56% of the UN member states have recognised Kosovo as independent (declared in 2008). Reverse ethnic cleansing of the Serb minority in Kosovo took place right after NATO’s bombing – “we must understand the anger there” as some expressed it.
Serbs were some 20% of Kosovo’s people in the 1960s, today a few percent. This and the Kraina ethnic cleansing against the Croatian Serbs were the proportionately largest ethnic cleansing campaigns in the 1990s.
Insecurity, hatred and a miserable economy still characterise Kosovo after 15 years of all kinds of international missions in the place. Something very deep must be wrong.
Whether it was a good idea to make Kosovo an independent (failed) state or not can be discussed. Belgrade’s repression was unacceptable, for sure, but there was no genocide. However, what can not be discussed is that NATO’s bombing wasn’t the right means with which to help create a solution.
If the West/US/NATO doesn’t learn from Yugoslavia, such immoral, illegal and ill-conceived projects will continue in various forms.
A personal memory
The people I met during the bombings in Belgrade and Novi Sad during the merciless destruction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia did not see NATO’s war during 78 days as a humanitarian operation. Neither could I.
I remember standing on the 5th floor of the Moskva Hotel in the heart of Belgrade, see NATO’s fireworks during the night – its relentless pounding of the Batanica Airbase 10 kilometres outside Belgrade. I shall never be able to forget how I felt the blast up through my body.I would like to believe that if the decision-makers behind this war had been in that room and seen the destruction by daytime, they would have stopped the campaign.
Geographical distance and psychic numbing are two of the most nasty war-promoters.
One morning Belgrade woke up to the destruction of various ministry buildings in the centre. A maternity clinic had taken a hit too. That was the first time the Swedish government uttered anything but full support; then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anna Lindh, said on radio that perhaps such big bombs should not be used in city centres.
My wife called me that morning and told me that Lindh had finally said that much. I said, I know why – because I was to have a meeting with the Swedish Ambassador that morning but he had just called me to tell that we had to postpone it because the blast had blown in some windows and the main door of his villa (10 kilometres away).
TFF has been engaged in Yugoslavia since 1991 and still follow developments closely. It was the only organisation that did mediation for years with three governments in Belgrade and the non-violent political ladership in the Kosovo province under Dr. Ibrahim Rugova. I personally served for 4 years as unpaid goodwill mediator between the two.
TFF produced a proposal for a 3-year negotiation process under the leadership of the UN– the only document published widely in the media in both Belgrade and Kosovo.
Naturally, TFF’s conflict-mitigation experts went out in the media against the idea of bombing because we knew that the parties were interested in a negotiated solution. And we managed quite well to influence opinion.
But neither countries like Sweden or NATO were the slightest interested in real negotiations – Ramboulliet which, among other things, sought to force Serbia to accept NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia was a stage-set pretext for bombing by, among others, Madeleine Albright, no negotiations taking place there.
The Swedish government at no point showed any interest in TFF’s work all over Yugslavia. But they must have known about it – because in December 1999 we received a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing due regret that the annual organisational support we had received over 9 years (about US$ 60.000) would not be paid in the future.
Having worked for all these years with conflict analysis and peace-making in all parts of Yugslavia was too much for a Sweden that, after Olof Palme, had turned itself into an obedient follower of US/NATO, stopped being neutral and having an independent foreign policy, let alone a peace and disarmament policy.
Thus, TFF is the only organisation of its kind that has been thrown out of the Swedish government’s budget. We are proud of having survived as people-financed ever since.
Researchers who are dependent on governments for their salary and projects usually believe that they conduct free research. But there is no government money in the field of security and peace without strings attached.
That explains the political correctness, predictability and boredom embedded in most government-financed research works in the field and why genuine peace is seldom promoted in them.
Post Script by Ari Rusila:
I have also dealt issues mentioned article above. My on the ground experience comes from my capacity building work in Kosovo just after bombing and following situation then afterwards. Here is some of my own articles about topic:
“Nur eine Partnerschaft mit der EU und Russland kann der Ukraine Stabilität geben.” (Manfred Schünemann)
The situation in Ukraine is chaotic and tense and even on the verge of military confrontation. Kiev is seems to be under rule of former opposition groups while the Strasserian protestors are still waiting if new government is acting with their expectations; Crimea is in Russian control, eastern provincies don’t accept rule from Kiev and ethnic minorities feel thread of neo-nazi groups which occupied the initiative of Maidan; ignored average citizens know the totally corrupted political system but not how to fix it.
From my perspective the future of Ukraine looks grim, it still lacks rule of law, genuine political parties, a meritocratic civil service and movement to change situation. Due de facto bankrupty of state economic and social decisions would be taken abroad, conflict between political elite and people the foreign aid will be shared among politicians and oligarchs and due regional confrontation, thread against minority rights and geopolitical spheres of influence the outcome will probably be dissolution of the country.
From popular protest to Strasserite coup
“There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes.”
(Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls )
Strasserism (German: Strasserismus or Straßerismus) refers to the strand of Nazism that called for, and the neo-Nazism that currently calls for, a more radical, mass-action and worker-based form of National Socialism, hostile to Jews from an anti-capitalist basis, to achieve a national rebirth.
The protests and uprising started when one part of western Ukrainians feel that their dream or great opportunity to integrate with West had slipped away. Soon came anger against economic mismanagement of rotten politicians and finally more radical and violent elements – fanatic Greco-Roman priests, hooligans, nationalists, Russophobes, neo-Nazis and anti-semitists – took the initiative. The “shock troops” were recruited from the ranks of Dynamo Kiev football fans. The middle class, especially in the traditionally nationalist, Ukrainian-speaking West, easily supported EUtopioan dream. This Ukrainian opposition was facilitated by covert action, informal diplomacy and massive funding from U.S. institution aiming to achieve what has just happened.What happened to the Ukraine on February 22, 2014 is essentially a criminal coup committed by the radical armed anarchists and Ukrainian Nazis who have been enjoying a comprehensive financial, military, diplomatic and even religious support and instigation from the Western power groups for the last two decades. Many of the Ukraine’s cities are now falling into the chaos of looting, unprovoked violence, lynch law and political repressionn.
Besides neutral Ukrainian army and Russian troops in Crimea the only organized and armed force is the ultra-nationalist Right Sector. One of the group’s leaders, Aleksandr Muzychko, has pledged to fight against “Jews and Russians until I die.” Asserting the Right Sector’s authority over the situation, Muzychko declared that now that the democratically elected government has been overthrown, “there will be order and discipline” or “Right Sector squads will shoot the bastards on the spot.” The Right Sector is organized, well armed and focused. As the Ukrainian personnel of the private military contractors were used in provocative clandestine actions to meet Western political goals in the Middle East, there is also unconfirmed rumor that many of them were sent to Kiev to make the job they are paid for – to target both policemen and protesters on “Euromaidan” from the roofs of surrounding buildings.
The most urgent task for new rulers was to State Language Policy Act, which granted “regional language” status to all languages of minority groups that make up more than 10 per cent of the population in a given area. The decision mainly affects not only communities of Russian-speakers but others too; for example Bulgarians and Hungarians are very worried. This was totally wrong signal as well extra reason for confrontation.
(1) seize a central square and organise a mass peaceful sit-in,
(2) speak endlessly of danger of violent dispersal,
(3) if the authorities do nothing, provoke bloodshed,
(4) yell bloody murder,
(5) the authority is horrified and stupefied and
(6) removed and
(7) new powers take over.
The West apparently likes Yatsenyukof the Fatherland Party. He speaks English quite well and is ready to repeat all the phrases that are pleasing to Western ears. The notorious telephone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt suggests that the Batkivshchyna leader was Washington‘s selelection and indeed now his acting PM in Kiev. Vitali Klitschko, the boxer, is a very attractive figure: he’s got a doctorate and he’s a world-class boxing champion. Plus, he’s against corruption, he’s moderate, and he wouldn’t want to cut off Russia. But he‘s got no experience in government. The oligarchs there are also not going to be too keen on somebody who’s going to battle corruption too valiantly. Anyway I think that Klitschko have a good change in Presidential elections.
As the apparent pro-European/Western uprising was succesful it tells only one part about average Ukrainians attitudes related to EU or NATO. As on 2004, 40% of Ukrainians were against joining NATO and 30% were in favour, the rest were uncertain. According to the FOM-Ukraine pollster, in April 2009, 57% of Ukrainians were against joining the alliance, while 21% were in favor. A November 2009 poll by Ukrainian Project System relieved 40.1% of Ukrainians polled said the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with Russia was the best global security group for Ukraine to be apart of, more than 36% of the respondents of the poll said that Ukraine should remain neutral and only 12.5% supported Ukraine’s accession to NATO.
Support in Ukraine for NATO membership since 2002 (Source: Wikipedia)
Ukrainian attitudes towards Russia (Source: Wikipedia)
Ukraine’s dissolution after military confrontation
Leaders of mainly Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine have challenged the legitimacy of the national (Kiev) parliament and have taken control of their territories. These regions – Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Lugansk and Crimea – have a population of 14.4 million. Most are important industrial centers. The nightmare scenario, however, is the disintegration of the country.
The situation has now gone from chaos to the verge of military confrontation. The pro-Russia region of Crimea is seething, and the new central government that took over in Kiev after Mr. Yanukovych fled is barely functioning. The fact that the Crimean peninsula – the main flashpoint in Ukraine’s crisis – is a pro-Russia part of Ukraine, separated from the rest of the country geographically, historically and politically and it also hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Personally I do not believe that situation in Ukraine will escalate to war. The globalcontext of military confrontation in Ukraine is related to strategic interests of Russia, U.S. foreign policy and NATO’s expansion since the end of the Cold War. In my opinion this part of problem is easiest to solve when both sides define and agree each other’s red lines.
The citizens in Ukraine do not have shared concept of Ukrainian identity; one explanation can be that the Ukrainian state – with borders today – was assembled, not by Ukrainians themselves but by outsiders. The eastern and southern provinces of Ukraine are Russian areas that were added to Ukraine in the 1950s by the Soviet leadership in order to water down the influence of the nazi elements in the western Ukraine that had fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union during WW2.
Ukraine means ‘borderland‘ and that it exactly is in geo-strategy. Some form of annexation of Russian-speaking areas – and not only Crimea – may have the Kremlin’s backing. The tension between the regions is real, and heavy pro-EU pressure could split the country which on the other hand might be not so bad outcome. The outcome might be then a federation or confederation and anyway more power in regions than today. I hope that whatever way Ukrainians choose they can make it in future without interference from abroad.
Economic independence went already After all the emotional revolutionary clamor dies down, the revolutionary regime will be subject to the tender mercies of European bankers and the IMF, as it pleads for desperately needed loans in the tens of billions of dollars. Ukraine’s new rulers have said loans worth $37 billion went missing from state accounts during Yanukovich’s three years in power. Ukraine hoped to begin receiving international aid soon and was determined to fulfil conditions needed for IMF support. A previous deal collapsed after Kiev failed to implement IMF demands for lower gas subsidies, which would have hurt Ukrainians by pushing up energy prices sharply. The United States promised to add economic aid to anticipated IMF and EU packages for the Ukraine. The country has asked for $35bn. EU officials put its short-term needs at $4bn.
As before possible rescue package by the IMF would carry harsh conditions similar the ones imposed on Greece or worse. This is also a powerful factor for workers in the eastern part to oppose the turn to the EU. Although they hate the oligarchs and do not love the ousted President or his party, they fear that any alternative would be worse for them. There would have to be savage cuts in public spending, increased taxation and a reduction in subsidies. The IMF is demanding a substantial increase in energy prices of the order of 40 percent. Ukraine owes $73 billion in foreign debt, and $12 billion of that comes this year. It’s the IMF’s job to dispense unpleasant medicine, and so far neither Brussels nor Washington have offered much to sweeten the pill.
In December 2013, President Putin promised Yanukovich a $15 billion bailout, but Russia has put the deal on hold after releasing an initial instalment, saying it wants more clarity about the new government and its policies. Because of its history, geographical location, and both natural and constructed economic ties, there is no way Ukraine will ever be a prosperous, healthy, or united country unless it has a non-antagonistic relationship with Russia. A federation with governors elected locally and not appointed by a winner-take-all president or prime minister would be essential. Real autonomy for Crimea will also be required. Russia has strong cultural, historical and economic ties with eastern Ukraine, and some factories there have contracts with the Russian military. One possiblity is that Ukraine could become a federation giving more power to its regions – a move, that might enable eastern regions to join a trading bloc led by Russia. The key principle in my opinion is that Ukraine must not be forced to choose between east and west, and that its future peace and prosperity depends on balanced and respectful economic and other relationships with EU and Russia.
Ukraine’s future will be determined by the extent to which the IMF, the United States, or the European Union can sweeten its aid package. However, because of the eurozone crisis in Europe and the debt crisis in the United States, financial pledges face a high hurdle. Objectively, the optimal scenario for Ukrainian economy would be to continue the old policies of geopolitical “neutrality”, without decisive integration into Western or Eastern structures. Any “choice” will be a severe blow to Ukrainian exports.
“Ukraine’s capital has fallen with pro-Western street coup.”
Oligarchs have benefited from the corruption and political chaos in Ukraine over the past two decades. A tiny handful of wealthy robber barons enjoy obscene wealth from the property they have stolen from the people through so-called privatisation. About half a dozen oligarchs in Ukraine have concentrated fabulous wealth since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The oligarchy continues to loot the people, especially through its hold over the banks that charge exorbitant rates of interest (25-30%). While the oligarchs fight over the division of the plunder, small businesses are being ruined. Between 2010 and 2012 the number of businesses shrank by 600,000, according to the state statistics committee of Ukraine. There is a split within the oligarchy as the heavy industry bosses in the eastern part of Ukraine, with only Russia to sell their products to, protested that the price for European integration was too high while the steel industry bosses, with export markets in the EU and Asia, maintained their silence.
The Ukrainian economy suffers from a fatal combination of all the worst features of the old bureaucratic state and all the worst features of gangster capitalism. According to the World Bank, Ukraine is among the top 10 recipients of remittances from abroad, with transactions reaching $9.3bn in 2013. It estimates the total number of Ukrainians working abroad at close to five million. In 2012 they sent home $7.5bn (4% of Ukraine’s GDP) through bank transfers. It easy to understand that the EU’s offer of a trade deal was popular in the western Ukraine because it promised to ease the conditions for immigration.
The EU is hardly likely to send large amounts of money to Ukraine‘s totally corrupted system so they look to the USA to help them out under the disguise of the IMF. The idea that Moscow would be prepared to continue to underwrite the debts of a government in Kiev that is openly hostile to Russia is unrealistic dream. Instead any rapprochement with the EU could be met by high tariffs against Ukrainian exports to Russia. They could also call in their outstanding debts. That would be enough to send the Ukrainian economy – already in a very bad state – into free fall with dire consequences. Anyway what would be left of the idea of Ukrainian national sovereignty when all important economic and social decisions would be taken by European and American bankers?
Ukraine’s democracy as an illusion
“Of the people that protested, few had read the Association Agreement. Most thought that immediately after it was signed they would be able to travel to Europe without a visa and that there would be an end to corruption in Ukraine and life would be like it is in Europe. That wasn’t going to be the case.” (Vera Kovalenko, Kiev)
The obstacle clouding over the future of Ukraine‘s democracy is the rotten political elite and some dozen oligarchs behind system .The real fundamental conflict in Ukraine is between ordinary citizens and political elite. So there are some cold realities ahead for Ukraine’s revolutionaries. It is normal faith of Strasserism that sc revolutions will soon be hijacked; the recent examples can be found from outcome of “Arab Spring”. The bottom line now is that there is not a one political party in Kiev which represents other interests than those of their leaders – the masses will be bystander like always.
How to progress from uprising to revolution? The main weakness of the uprising in Ukraine has been the absence of an independent movement of the working class. According Marxist/Trotskyistperspective – Where is Ukraine going? by Alan Woods – the only real alternative to the rule of the oligarchs is a democratic Socialist Ukraine, in which the land, the banks and the industries would be in the hands of the working class and the wealth of the country would be used for the benefit of all. Such a programme could cut across all differences between East and West, uniting all the working people against the wealthy parasites and political elite. The first step would be the confiscation of all the wealth and property. The loot should be returned to the people of Ukraine from who it was robbed. It should be used to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine on the basis of a democratically planned socialist economy.
The second step is the repudiation of all the debts contracted by the oligarchy and its political puppets. The Ukrainian people were never consulted about the shady deals of their rulers and cannot accept any responsibility for them. They must not permit the foreign robbers to suck any more of their blood! The wealth created by the Ukrainian workers must remain in Ukraine and be used for the benefit of the people who created it. Once the working class has thrown the parasites off its back and taken control of the means of production, the sky would be the limit. Unfortunately I estimate that this kind of progress is at least as big utopia than Ukraine’s EU membership although better one.
Ideal solutions unfortunately mission impossible
People in many towns have demonstrated that together they can have influence at local level. Together without ethnic or religious tensions they can avoid failure like it happened with “Arab Spring”. What is clear is that the current political elites have widely lost their legitimacy. There is real change for progress by creating new power-structures at grassroots. The task would be the gradual building of grassroots networks and institutions that reflect the will of the people, in all different ways and complexity. Unfortunately I’m afraid that this kind of challenge is too big any time soon in Ukraine.
On the opposite there is also change that counter-move by centralized establishment will win with help of EU, US and Russia. An easy task is to gain political stability by making deal between foreign powers, oligarchs and national political elite. However, if agreements are again conducted by the same power elites – establishment – than before, the results will again lack the democratic legitimacy and nothing will change. In my opinion a new kind of engagement by both the US and the European Union could be, that the protests should be welcomed, old power structures and elite ousted and real implementation and progress led by masses at local grassroots level facilitated. By this way I think that “Ukrainian Spring” and real democracy could be flowering.
In my opinion the only practical peaceful way to save Ukraine’s Potemkinin villages as independent united state is that the political elites from moderate opposition parties now ruling in Kiev and Party of regions plus other parties from ousted government as well oligarchs behind them join their forces to slam The Right Sector and similar groups down. An ideal pragmatic outcome would be a broad settlement involving Ukraine’s new leadership (after May elections), Russia and the EU, arranged under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. This does not solve the real fundamental conflict in Ukraine is between ordinary citizens and political elite. One possible way of preserving territorial integrity would be decentralization — giving more autonomy to the different regions of Ukraine. Although federalization is seen in Kiev and western Ukraine as a step toward ultimate partition, it could in fact help hold Ukraine together.
One of the the ultranationalist elements in the Western Ukraine
The Uniate Church, a minority religious Greek-Catholic community of the Eastern rite, created by the Holy See in XVI century in a desperate attempt to weaken close ties of Rzeczpospolita’s Orthodox with Moscow. Their tactic was to aggressively occupy Orthodox cathedrals on the canonic territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. The last thing the Uniate clergy used to preach in the occupied churches for all these years was the Christian call for repentance and peace. Instead they propagated a new crusade against the Orthodox and directly instigated and justified race-motivated prosecutions and even killings, acting exactly like radical jihadist preachers of the militant pseudo-Islamic sects.
Suffice to watch a “Sunday sermon” by Mykhailo Arsenych, the clergyman from a local Uniate church in Ivano-Frankovsk region, Ukraine saying: “Today we are really ready for a revolution.The only effective methods of combat are assassination and terror! We want to be sure that no Chinese, Negro, Jew or Muscovite will try to come and grab our land tomorrow!”
On the other side a number of Ukrainian regions have announced referendums on the issue of secession from Ukraine. One possible outcome:
A senior security chief in Kiev said Moscow could launch a full-scale invasion and Russian troops would be in the Ukrainian capital within ‘two or three hours’ of the order to advance. An option this too!
Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed trilateral Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline plan on Dec. 9th 2013, at the headquarters of the World Bank. The ambitious and contested project aims to replenish the rapidly shrinking Dead Sea by transferring in water from the Red Sea along a 110-mile (180 km long) pipeline. The pipeline will channel 100 million cubic meters of water per annum northward from the Red Sea and will cost an estimated $300-400 million. A BOT tender for the project will be published in 2014. The pipeline will take an estimated three years to complete. The inflow of water from the Red Sea will slow the drying up of the Dead Sea and its concomitant negative effects.
Israel’s energy and infrastructure minister, Silvan Shalom, said it was “a historic agreement that realises a dream of many years… [and] is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance.” He and the Palestinian and Jordanian water ministers, Shaddad Attili and Hazem al-Nasser, attended a signing ceremony in Washington.
Located in the Jordan rift valley bordering Jordan to the east, and Israel and Palestine to the west, the Dead Sea is served only by the Jordan River to the North. The water level in the Dead Sea dropped from 390 metres below sea level in the 1960s to 420 metres below sea level at present and will be 450 metres below sea level by 2040. The water surface area has shrunk by a third, from 950 square kilometres to 637 square kilometres.
A combination of the mineral content of the water, low content of pollens, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation and the higher atmospheric pressure at this depth have specific health effects which have borne a booming spa-tourism economy. This along with the dramatic scenery and tranquil waters is why it has long been a site of tourism and refuge; King David used it as such and it was one of the world’s first health resorts for Herod the Great.
Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline Plan
According the agreed plan of pumping water from the one sea to the other – a project known as the Red-Dead Conduit, or Two Seas Canal – will help to slow the dessication of the Dead Sea, which is famous for its high levels of salt and other minerals that allow bathers to float on its surface. “The inflow of water from the Red Sea will slow the drying up of the Dead Sea,” said the Israeli government. Approximately 200 million cubic meters of water will be drawn per annum. Around 80 million cubic meters will be desalinated at a facility to be built in Aqaba facility with Israel receiving 30-50 million cubic meters of water for the Arava region and Eilat, and with Jordan receiving 30 million cubic meters of water for use in the south. Israel will also sell Jordan another 50 million cubic meters of water from the Kinneret for use in the north. The other goals of this project are the generation of electricity by utilizing the difference in elevation between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and the development of tourism infrastructures.
Red Sea – Dead Sea Pipeline. Images courtesy of ESA.
“With no action, the sea level is expected to drop by another 150 meters until it will stabilize as a much smaller water body at a level of about 543 meters below sea level by the mid-22nd century,” the World Bank’s January 2013 report explained. Water loss in the Dead Sea has already resulted in dangerous sinkholes, mudslides and landslides in the area and threatens the habitat of many species native to the region.
While the plan is accepted by respective international authorities there is also critics inside Israeli regime. Regional environmental group Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Environmental Protection Ministry have slammed the plan as destructive to the very sea that it aims to save. The Environmental Protection Ministry likewise announced its rejection of the Red-Dead program, stressing that without more informed data and experimentation, such a plan cannot proceed. Citing experts from the Geological Survey of Israel, the ministry said that pumping more than 350 million cubic meters of seawater and brine to the Dead Sea could lead to an outbreak of bacteria and algal growth, causing disturbing odors in the region. Some environmentalists argue that the introduction of Red Sea water containing living organisms could have a catastrophic effect on the unique characteristics of the Dead Sea.
The Red-Sea-Dead-Sea pipeline in one of the key recommendations advocated in a report Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water. As water resources in the Middle East should be considered as a potential source of socioeconomic development and peace, a group of independent Indian experts, the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG), was mandated by Switzerland and Sweden – the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency – to flank a process of reflection on this issue on 2009. A series of consultations and meetings took place in 2010, i.e., in Montreux (Switzerland), in Amman (Jordan), and in Sanliurfa (Turkey). The SFG then drew up the “Blue Peace” report based on these consultations, which in end effect brought together a good hundred of experts and leaders from the Middle East. On February 2011 the report was presented in Geneva.The report, prepared with support and input from almost 100 leaders and experts from Israel, the Palestine Territories, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Turkey, also stated that water crisis can be converted into an opportunity for regional peace.
The Blue Peace essentially requires a comprehensive approach. This ”hydro-diplomacy” can be defined as “regional cooperation that creates dynamics of trans-boundary basin economic development through integrated water resources management.”It is necessary to act on several fronts at the same time, and yet it is possible to choose different entry points of intervention as per social and political dynamics. The report presents a roadmap for action beginning with efficient internal management, storage and distribution; the establishment of Cooperation Council for Water Resources for Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey; and separately launching of a high level Confidence Building Initiative between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This initiative’s key responsibility is to answer the specific challenges caused by the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. This initiative’s key responsibility is to answer the specific challenges caused by the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. As an example of successful cooperation, water management can also create the circumstances necessary for socioeconomic development and peace in these countries.
More about Blue Peace in “The Blue Peace – Rethinking Middle East Water: Complete report” Download (PDF, 3128 KB) :
In my earlier article – Whodunnit in Syria – I claimed that there’s little dispute that a chemical agent was used in an Aug. 21st attack outside of Damascus – and probably on a smaller scale before that – but there is a reasonable doubt if the Assad regime used sarin gas in this operation. Since then new aspects what happened are emerging and when there is some perspective about diplomatic solution it is also important to note for future developing that the roles of actors are changing in operation theatre. While these newest developments are shaping the future in Syria it is in my opinion still important to study Aug. 21st attack as it might help to plan further actions – and alliances.
The UN Report made on 13th Sep 2013 on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area of Damascus on Aug. 21st , 2013 has clarified many issues but left the key questions unanswered: who committed the attack and who are the victims?The UN report does not confirm anything other than chemical weapons were used. More interesting is an other report made by a Syria-based human rights group ISTEAMS. This later report has also been submitted to UN and it clarifies a bit the core question – Whodunnit?
“To launch a chemical weapons attack in Damascus on the very day that a United Nations chemical-weapons inspection team arrives in Damascususing an out-of-date missile in an ancient launchermust be a new definition of madness.” (George Galloway in British parliament on Syria late August)
The UN report tells that CW and sarin gas was used in Damascus 21. Aug. 2013 – and that’s it, practically none has claimed the opposite. The report does not tell who were implementing or ordering gas attack nor answering the basic question of “to whose benefit?”. However the critical analysis of UN report makes clear that the narrative “only the Syrian regime could have carried out the attacks” will not hold. I would like to highlight following points which cast a reasonable doubt against mentioned one-sided (US) approach. As source I have used mainly Land Destroyer Report by Tony Cartalucci.
1. Chemical weapons were delivered with munitions not used by rebels: these particularly larger diameter rockets (140mm and 330mm) have not been seen in the hands of terrorists operating within and along Syria’s borders, however rockets similar in construction and operation, but smaller, most certainly in the hands of the militants. According to UN chemical weapons inspectors, unguided 140 mm rockets were used in the attacks. The UN inspectors suggested that Soviet BM-14-17 (MLRS) rocket launchers were used. However, Syria long ago removed those systems from its arsenal, and the army does not use them. They were replaced by modern Soviet 122 mm “Grad” (MLRS BM-21) and Chinese 107 mm Type 63 light rocket launchers. Syria may have also used 220 mm Soviet-made Hurricane rocket launchers (MLRS 9P140). (Source: The New Eastern Outlook/NEOhttp://journal-neo.org/2013/09/20/rus-siriya-himicheskaya-ataka-ili-provokatsiya/)
The Washington Post contends that somehow these larger rockets require “technology” the militants have no access to. This is categorically false. A rocket is launched from a simple tube, and the only additional technology terrorists may have required for the larger rockets would have been a truck to mount them on. For an armed front fielding stolen tanks, finding trucks to mount large metal tubes upon would seem a rather elementary task – especially to carry out a staged attack that would justify foreign intervention and salvage their faltering offensive. That the same rocket used in Damascus has now been seen launched from makeshift flatbeds and not olive green military rocket launchers, along with answering the basic question of “to whose benefit?” and considering that militants are confirmed to have US training in handling of chemical weapons – all at the very least tear down the narrative that “only the Syrian regime” could have carried out the attacks. So how did the obsolete MLRS BM-14-17 systems get there? Perhaps they came with the rockets supplied by external opposition supporters who had previously obtained those sorts of weapons from the Soviet Union. As an alternative explanation, one cannot exclude the possibility that the opposition captured the munitions from Syrian weapons depots that might have held them.
2. The sarin was fired from a regime-controlled area: The report concludes that the shells came from the northwest of the targeted neighborhood – from area which was and is controlled by Syrian regime forces and is awfully close to a Syrian military base. If the shells had been fired by Syrian rebels, they likely would have come from the rebel-held southeast. However the “limitations” the UN team itself put on the credibility of their findings. On page 18 of the report (22 of the .pdf), the UN states [emphasis added]:
”The time necessary to conduct a detailed survey of both locations as well as take samples was very limited. The sites have been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.”
It should also be noted that militants still controlled the area after the alleged attack and up to and including during the investigation by UN personnel. So possible tampering or planting of evidence would have been carried out by “opposition” members – and surely the Syrian government would not point rockets in directions that would implicate themselves.
3. Chemical analysis suggests sarin likely came from controlled supply, butany staged attack would also need to utilize stabilized chemical weapons and personnel trained in their use. From stockpiles looted in Libya, to chemical arms covertly transferred from the US, UK, or Israel, through Saudi Arabia or Qatar, there is no short supply of possible sources. Regarding “rebels” lacking the necessary training to handle chemical weapons – US policy has seen to it that not only did they receive the necessary training, but Western defense contractors specializing in chemical warfare are reported to be on the ground with militants inside Syria. CNN reported in their 2012 article, that: ”The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.”
4. Cyrillic characters on the sides of the shells: Terrorists operating inside of Syria also possess rifles and even tanks of Russian origin – stolen or acquired through a large network of illicit arms constructed by NATO and its regional allies to perpetuate the conflict. (Source and more in Land Destroyer Report )A label found on a warhead. Mikhail Barabanov, an expert with the Russian Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies commented that this label matches those on missiles produced in 1967 in Novosibirsk (Russia). One might justifiably wonder why the Syrian Army would launch a 46-year-old missile when it holds abundant stockpiles of far more reliable modern weapons. It is also worth noting that the production of chemical weapons in Syria began in the 1990s, when chemical facilities were built near Damascus, in Homs, Hama, and Aleppo. Thus, those missiles, filled with chemical agents, should be dated accordingly or later. If the date of a missile’s production does not match the production date for its chemical agent, it stands to reason that the warhead was filled in an underground laboratory or was even homemade.(Source Voltairenet )
5. A closer look at the charts shows a massive discrepancy in lab results from east and west Ghouta. There is not a single environmental sample in Moadamiyah ( west Ghouta) that tested positive for Sarin. Yet it is in Moadamiyah where alleged victims of a CW attack tested highest for Sarin exposure. Sothere is stark discrepancy between human and environmental test results in Moadamiyah. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commander of the British military’s chemical defense regiment and CEO at CW specialists, SecureBio Ltd notes:
“I think that it is strange that the environmental and human samples don’t match up. This could be because there have been lots of people trampling through the area and moving things. Unless the patients were brought in from other areas. There doesn’t seem another plausible explanation.”
All the patients were pre-selected by Ghouta doctors and opposition groups for presentation to the UN teams. Although the highest rate of Sarin-exposure was found in Moadamiyah “survivors,” the UN team found no traces of Sarin on the 140mm rocket identified as the source of the alleged CW attack – or in its immediate environment.
The discrepancies in the story of the Ghouta CW attacks are vast. Casualty figures range from a more modest 300+ to the more dramatic 1,400+ figures touted by western governments. The UN investigators were not able to confirm any of these numbers – they only saw 80 survivors and tested only 36 of these. They saw none of the dead – neither in graves nor in morgues. (Source: Questions Plague UN Report on Syria – “Saudi Intelligence Behind the Attacks…” by Sharmine Narwani and Radwan Mortada )
The US intelligence community selected or nominated 13 videos that the Obama Administration used in their case against the Syrian government. It was job of US intelligence to examine and authenticate these videos however it seems that they made sloppy or even worse purpose-orientated job. ISTEAMS – a Syria-based human rights group working in conjunction with the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights – got its motivation to study case further as follows:
“From the moment when some families of abducted children contacted us to inform us that they recognized the children among those who are presented in the videos as victims of the Chemical Attacks of East Ghouta, we decided to examine the videos thoroughly.
ISTEAMS found some conflicts between videos and reality on the ground as well between videos and conclusions made from them. That analysis was later expanded on by a report from ISTEAMS, In this thorough report numerous discrepancies and inconsistencies in the footage are documented.
The ISTEAMS report raises many troubling questions about the scenes in the Ghouta videos. Were the victims of the attack local children? If so, why were they there after these areas had been largely abandoned? Where are their parents? An answer to threse questions might be found from videos posted by the Mujahedeen Press Office to YouTube just six days before the attack confirming that the terrorists had kidnapped hundreds of women and children from the rural villages of Alawite stronghold Lattakia to use as bargaining chips in the conflict. Were these kidnap victims moved to Ghouta to be killed in the chemical weapons attack? Is this why so many children were there in these largely-vacated areas, and why so few parents appear on video mourning their children? If true, are evidence of the most disgraceful war crimes imaginable and the most cold-blooded manipulations of evidence to suit an agenda.
“Contrary to the claims of the Free Syrian Army and the Western services, the only identified victims of the Ghouta massacre are those belonging to families that support the Syrian government. In the videos, the individuals that show outrage against the ‘crimes of Bashar el-Assad’ are in reality their killers.”
The report documents through eyewitness testimony and video evidence that the affected areas had been largely abandoned by local residents in the days prior to the attack. Yet in the footage of the aftermath, there are large numbers of child victims who are portrayed. There exists very little footage of parents with their children, and what little footage exists portrays some of the parents apparently “discovering” their children on multiple occasions in different locations. Other footage shows the same children arranged in different formations in geographically distant neighborhoods. The report concludes that the footage was carefully stage managed to create the greatest emotional impact on foreign audiences. These videos were then used by the Obama administration to convince the Senate of their case for military intervention.
Conclusion: What the study [ISTEAMS report] does is logically point out through its observations that there is empirical evidence that the sample of videos that the US Intelligence Community has analyzed and nominated as authentic footage has been stage-managed.
Some discrepancies and inconsistencies in the videos that the Obama Administration used in their case against the Syrian government:
The same couple appears as parents looking for their children in two different videos and each time they claim a different child as theirs among the corpses.
The same groups that have been involved with posting and disseminating the videos that the US Intelligence Community has selected have also tried to pass pictures of Egyptian civilians killed in Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square as Syrian victims.
The body of a little boy in a red shirt that was filmed in Zamalka and then in filmed again among different bodies in Jobar and the inanimate bodies of at least nine of the children that filmed in Kafarbatna also oddly appear at makeshift morgue in Al-Majr a few hours later.
Also some of the same bodies were planted or recycled in different scenes and makeshift morgue that were supposed to be in different locations. The same bodies of the same children are spotted in different locations.
Why, in many instances, are the same individuals shown as both dead and alive?
The report also highlights the fact that there have been no public funerals or announcements about all the dead children. This is outside of both cultural and religious norms.
In the footage of one burial, only eight people are buried and three of them are not even covered in white shrouds, which is a compulsory ritual.
Where are remaining 1,458 corpses other than the eight whose burials have been documented?
A large amount (150 cases are known) of women and children were abducted on August 4, 2013 in Latakia by the anti-government forces, specifically by Jabhat Al-Nusra, as hostages to be used for negotiations and trade with the Syrian government for captured insurgents. ISTEAMS mentions that that Syrians from Latakia have come forward claiming that their relatives were on display in the footage that the US Intelligence Community has showcased to justify bombing Syria. The Latakia connection would explain a lot of the questions that arise about the bodies of the unaccompanied children.
The revelations implicate the entire intelligence apparatus of the United States and discredit it in the same tradition as the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There are serious flaws in the US Intelligence Community that equate to either a lack of professionalism or/and its outright subordination to Washington’s political agendas that involve false analyses. The US intelligence community has been put to shame by the dedication and determination of a lone Christian nun. Her – and ISTEAMS – modest study of the videos of the Syrian chemical attack shows they were productions involving staged bodies. ISTEAMS submitted this report to the United Nations and as it is now published so everybody else can study the report and make their own conclusions.
Some other related random excerpts about the Syrian CW case:
An indictment from the Adana Public Prosecutor’s Office has declared that anti-Assad gangs are known to be producing chemical weapons inside of Turkey.Prosecution attorney presented the court with a 132-page document which contained prosecution attorney’s gathered evidence of the suspects’ links to terrorist groups in Syria including al-Nusra Front and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic States on Iraq and Levant (Ahrar al-Sham).On May 28 Turkish security forces found a 2-kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of terrorists from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.
The recent findings on the chemical weapons attack of Aug. 21 on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, was “indeed a self-inflicted attack” by the Syrian opposition to provoke U.S. and military intervention in Syria. An Italian former journalist Domenico Quirico and a Belgian researcher Pierre Piccinin who were recently freed from their al-Nusra captives say they overheard their captors talking about their involvement in a deadly chemical attack “last month,” which would have been the Aug. 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack in Damascus.
The sarin nerve gas used in the Allepo attack, sources say, had been prepared by former Iraqi Military Industries Brig. Gen. Adnan al-Dulaimi. It then was supplied to Baath-affiliated foreign fighters of the Sunni and Saudi Arabian-backed al-Nusra Front in Aleppo, with Turkey’s cooperation, through the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province.
Currently a UN team of CW inspectors are in Syria and investigating three chemical weapons attacks alleged to have happened after the 21 August attack in Damascus that left hundreds dead and sparked a threat of US military action.The UN said its team, led by Ake Sellstrom, arrived in Syria for its second visit on 25 September and it is working on a “comprehensive report” that it expects to have finished by late October. The UN listed the alleged attacks, which all took place this year, as Khan al-Assal on 19 March; Sheikh Maqsoud on 13 April; Saraqeb on 29 April; Ghouta on 21 August; Bahhariya on 22 August; Jobar on 24 August and Ashrafieh Sahnaya on 25 August. Damascus pushed for the investigation of the three post-21 August incidents, accusing “militants” of using chemical gas against the army in Bahhariya, Jobar and Ashrafieh Sahnaya.
And a short background video about use of CW in Syria:
September 25 is the date of dramatic turn of events in Syria. The consequences may affect the way the situation unfolds further on. The plans to stage a provocation and get the West involved in the conflict had failed, so the opposition threw away the democratic veil and showed its real face. Thirteen most combat capable groups severed ties with the National Syrian Coalition and the Free Syrian Army to form an Islamic alliance of their own. Jabhat-al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliated group, is the core element of the new coalition. Liwa al-Tawhid, Liwa al-Islam and Suqur Al-Sham and a number of smaller groups joined the new alliance.
“The main conclusion is that the type of sarin used in that [Aleppo, March 2013] incident was homemade. We also have evidence to assert that the type of sarin used on August 21 was the same, only of higher concentration.” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov
As the thread of military intervention by US air-strike now is fading and US-Russian agreement (The Four-stage Plan For Syria ) is going to implementation stage the situation on the ground however has good possibility to escalate. Instead of air-strike US is now more openly supplying weapons to Syrian opposition hoping so to reach her foggy aims. Latest developments show failure also with this strategy.
Demolition ofCWstockpiles of Al-Assad regime or even neutralization of CW in a rebel’s possessionis only contributory factor in the Syria war.
According to the British newspaper The Telegraph the study showed that the number of insurgents fighting against the Syrian army is estimated at about 100 thousand gunmen distributed to about a thousand armed band, who came from 83 countries, including all Arab countries except Djibouti. Estimates by IHP Jane’s’ experts revealed that ten thousand of these gunmen fight to the side of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups, and 30,000 to 35,000 other insurgents are fighting within other hard-line armed groups.
“There are also at least a further 30,000 moderates belonging to groups that have an Islamic character, meaning only a small minority of the rebels are linked to secular or purely nationalist groups,” the daily noted. The stark assessment, accords with the view of Western diplomats estimate that less than one-third of the opposition forces are “palatable” to Britain, while American envoys put the figure even lower. (Source: The Telegraph )
The roles of actors changing in operation theatre
Few days ago a statement was released in the name of a number of Syrian rebel factions announcing the severing of all ties with Brigadier General Salim Idris’s Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the Syrian National Council (SNC), and its parent organization, the Supreme National Coalition (the other SNC).
The document is entitled “On the Coalition and the Provisional Government” and lists out four major points.
The first point calls for all military and civilian forces to unite under an Islamic framework is based on the sharia (Islamic Law), making it the sole source of legislation.
The second point is that only those members of the Syrian opposition who have “lived their concerns and shared in their sacrifices” are entitled to represent the people of Syria.
Thirdly, the signatories consider all coalitions formed outside of Syria as illegitimate and refuse to recognize the provisional government led by Ahmad Tumeh.
The final point is a call on all military and civilian opposition factions to unite their ranks, set aside their differences and “put the interests of the nation ahead of those of the individual group.”
Included among the eleven groups that have signed on to this Islamic Alliance are those moderate Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood persuasion with the closest ties to the SNC, such as Liwa al-Tawhid or the Brigade of Unity, the Suqour al-Sham Brigades, and Liwa al-Islam; three groups that had formed a coalition back in September of last year called the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF). Also joining the alliance are such hardline Salafi Islamists as Ahrar al-Sham and the Fajr Islamic Movement, who had formed a coalition of their own called the Syrian Islamic Front. The leading force in the alliance are the Salafi-Jihadist, Al-Qaeda branchAl-Nusra Frontwhich is considered the most extreme and the most militarily capable of opposition groups, comprised mainly of Syrians who fought in the Iraqi insurgency. (Source: SyriaReport) Conclusion: the Western-backed moderate/secular camp and the Islamist camp have now firmly ensconced themselves in the latter.
Fighters of Kurdish Popular Committees in Syria have killed at least 83 foreign terrorists affiliated to the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front in northern province of al-Raqqa. The clashes broke out in Tal Abyad village on Monday Sept. 23th 2013 when the al-Nusra terrorists were attempting to infiltrate into the area that is under control of the Kurdish fighters. Militants from Libya and Tunisia were among the dead, our correspondent says. (Source: Al-Alam )
The insignia of the Al-Nusra Front shows the map of Syria, the Islamic crescent and the silhouette of a jihad fighter
The Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra)
The Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra) seeks to overthrow the Assad regime and set up an Islamic Caliphate ruled by religious Islamic law (the Shari’ah) in Greater Syriaincluding Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. During the Syrian civil war two branches of Al-Qaeda established themselves among the rebel organizations fighting to overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. The most prominent is the Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), directly subordinate to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The other is The Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, subordinate to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. In addition, other Salafist-jihadi military organizations not necessarily affiliated with Al-Qaeda operate in Syria. The two Al-Qaeda branches have an estimated 6,000-7,000 operatives, and in our assessment the number is growing.
Related to chemical weapons of the opposition side an indictment from the Adana Public Prosecutor’s Office has declared that anti-Assad gangs are known to be producing chemical weapons inside of Turkey.Prosecution attorney presented the court with a 132-page document which contained prosecution attorney’s gathered evidence of the suspects’ links to terrorist groups in Syria including al-Nusra Front and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic States on Iraq and Levant (Ahrar al-Sham).On May 28 Turkish security forces found a 2-kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of terrorists from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.
Russia has proposed a four-stage plan to avert a US attack on Syria. The key component of plan is placing Damascus’ chemical weapons under international control. The original initiative was presented to President Obama in Stockholm by Nordic leaders before G-20 in St Petersburg. Russia’s proposal was announced on August 9th, 2013, hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry said Syria could avoid a US strike by surrendering all his chemical weapons within a week, but immediately made clear he was not making a serious offer. However Russia took the case seriously and made a workable, clear and concrete plan.
The hastily organized talks started in Geneva on August 12th, 2013. The top Russian diplomat Lavrov and US counterpart John Kerry have both team of experts on chemical weapons with them to the talks. After two days in Geneva the discussions are described to been constructive.
The first stage of the Russian plan provides that the Syrian government in Damascus becomes a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is located in The Hague, Netherlands, and is an alleged intergovernmental organization.
The second step of this four-stage plan by Russia about the chemical stockpiles in Syria provides that the Syrian governance of President Bashar al-Assad has to declare the location of the chemical arsenals (chemical weapons stockpiles) and to say where the chemicals are produced on Syrian soil.
The third step of the Russian plan on Syria’s chemical weapons provides that the inspectors of the alleged intergovernmental Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are allowed to enter Syria and are able, without preconditions, to investigate and check the locations of the chemical weapons arsenals and the production centres for the chemicals.
The final step of the Russian four-stage plan provides that all sides have then to decide, in a cooperation with the inspectors of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), how to destroy the chemical weapons substances and arsenals from Syria.
With Russia’s plan there is opening a window of opportunity for peaceful solution to Syrian war, however the final deal will not be the easy one and lot of challenges are waiting ahead. From my perspective at least following questions will be crucial ones:
While speaking about chemical weapons stockpiles the question is only those which are under control of al-Assad’s regime but so far there is no mention about chemical arsenals which are in the possession of rebels. Different rebel groups have chemical weapons looted from Libyan, Georgian or Syrian stockpiles as well smuggled raw materials and factories, labs and warehouses for production. So far this kind of rebel CW stockpiles have been discovered from Jobar, Khan al-Assal and Damascus regions. (More:Whodunnit in Syria)
The time-axis is demanding. While the first step – Damascus becomes a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – took only days implementation of the final step -destroying the chemical weapons – can take decades. Today only US and Russia have developed technology forthis task and it might be wise to have a joint operation for this destroying, it is also possible to build facilities in Syria for disposal of Cws. The extra challenge in Syria is that the country is a war zone. While it is estimated that al-Assad’s regime has CW stockpiles in some 50 locations the logistics and security are extreamely challenging in this kind of circumstances. It is estimated that to secure CW locations it is needed minimum 70,000 well trained soldiers.
If the deal between international community and al-Assad regime about CW question will be made it is possible that the war between al-Assad regime and rebel groups as well between rebel groups however will intensify in short-term with conventional weapons.That’s way in my opinion a fifth aspect should be included in action plan namely get all or most part of local stakeholders, without preconditions, in negotiation table for planning the future Syrian state.
The Obama administration’s public case for attacking Syria is full of inconsistencies and hinges mainly on circumstantial evidence, While a punitive strike against Bashar Assad’s regime is ready to start immediatelly the public reasons for attack are losing ground every day while the risks about escalation of conflict are rising simultaneously. In my opinion the U.S address of missile-strike might not be the right one so before any actions it would be wise to spend some time to clarify – whodunnit.
There’s little dispute that a chemical agent was used in an Aug. 21 attack outside of Damascus – and probably on a smaller scale before that – but there is a reasonable doubt if the Assad regime used sarin gas in this operation. For me it is difficult to see what desperate situation would have caused al Assad to use chemical weapons (CWs) and take the risk about intervention as he already is winning the war . His opponents however have the motivation. Below I have tried to collect information from different sources about alternative explanations for Damascus gas-attack in Aug.21. I try to show that besides motivation the rebels had also the opportunity and CWs to implement this ”casus belli”.
Do Syrian rebels have CWs
Some say they have some of the known Libyan stockpile. Some say Turkish agents made it for them. Some say Qatari agents delivered small amounts of chemical weapons to certain factions of Syrian rebels.
One of the U.S. government’s main justifications for its claim that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack is that the rebels don’t have chemical weapons. However they have CWs from different sources as follows:
a) Looted Syrian CWs
The Washington Post notedthat a terrorist organization were among rebels who seized the Sheik Suleiman military base near Aleppo, where research on chemical weapons had been conducted. Also the al-Nusra Front — an anti-Assad group that has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and is also known as Jabhat al-Nusra — had seized a chlorine factory near the town of Safirah, east of Aleppo. Safirah has served as a major production center for such munitions.
Late Saturday night, it was reported that FSA fighters captured a Syrian chemical factory used to make toxic chlorine. Some reports suggested that the chloride factory at Al-Safira, southeast of Aleppo, is a also a chemical weapons depot and research station with chemical tipped scud missiles. The town, along with the factory has reportedly been overrun by jihadists who are purportedly fighting the Syrian government. The jihadists are members of al Nusra, a terrorist group associated with al-Qaeda.
Sure the U.S officials would hope to rule out that CW stocks had fallen out of the government’s control and were deployed by rebels in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war; this is however a real possiblity.
b) ImportedLibyan Chemical Weapons
“The Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb has acquired and used very powerful conventional arms and probably also has non-conventional arms, basically chemical, as a result of the loss of control of arsenals.”( Enrique Baron, The head of National Police counter-terrorist intelligence )
There is also the possibility that jihadists, who flocked to Syria to fight a religious war there, gathered chemical weapons in Libya after its strongman, Muammar Gaddafi, was deposed and murdered in late 2011. The Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Global Security Newswirecited a story in The Wall Street Journal saying an ammunition complex in the desert near Sirt was left unsecured after government forces were defeated, “allowing looters to walk in and steal guided missiles, rockets and artillery shells capable of dispersing chemical warfare agents.” There is at present no viable Libyan government-sanctioned force with the capacity to keep freelancer fighters from taking what they please from the warehouses, according to the Journal. In one structure, the word “warhead” was stamped on dozens of sealed containers. At another depot, empty chemical agent munitions were found. Britain’s The Telegraphlater reported Spanish concerns that terrorists “could have acquired” chemical weapons “in Libya or elsewhere.”
The armed Syrian opposition has got their hands on chemical weapons, which they acquired from Libya, already in Summer 2012, a media report claims. They allegedly plan to use it against civilians and pin the atrocity on the Bashar al-Assad regime.The report by DamPress claims the opposition group in possession of the weapons is being trained in its use inside Turkey.
Even mainstream sources confirm that Al Qaeda terrorists from Libya have since flooded into Syria to fight the Assad regime … bringing their arms with them. And the post-Gaddafi Libyan government is also itself a top funder and arms supplier of the Syrian opposition.
According to a report in Turkey’s state media agency Zaman, agents from the Turkish General Directorate of Security (Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü) ceased 2 kg of sarin gas in the city of Adana in the early hours of yesterday morning. The chemical weapons were in the possession of Al Nusra terrorists believed to have been heading for Syria. The EGM identified 12 members of the AL Nusra terrorist cell and also ceased fire arms and digital equipment. This is the second major official confirmation of the use of chemical weapons by Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria after UN inspector Carla Del Ponte’s recent statement confirming the use of chemical weapons by the Western-backed terrorists in Syria.
A prominent member of the Free Syrian Army claims the rebels have all the components to produce chemical weapons and have the know-how to put them together and use if necessary.“If we ever use them, we will only hit the regime’s bases and centers,” the political adviser of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Bassam Al-Dada, was quoted by Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency.
A former member of a city council in the Turkish province of Hatay says that the chemical weapons used in last month’s attack in Syria were transported from Turkey,Press TV reports.
“Four months ago, Turkish security forces found a two-kilogram cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the al-Qaeda and al-Nusra. They are using our borders to take the gas into Syria,” Mohamad Gunes said. The residents believe the Turkish government is allowing the transfer of weapons because Ankara is trying to create a pretext in order to wage war on its neighbor.
Al-Alam reporter who accompanied the Syrian army on their mission in Jobar’s al-Manashir district, located in Rif Dimashq governorate, said there were packs of poisonous materials and deadly chemicals in the storage. A video showed packs of chemical materials labeled “Made in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. – See more at:Chemicals found in Syria were from Saudi Arabia
d) Factories in Syria
This video from a Syrian TV news report claims to show chemicals (some of labels on these chemicals are in English) and weapons seized by the Syrian government in the rebel stronghold of Jobar.
On August 25th 2013 it was reported that the Syrian army managed to take suburb in the Khan al-Assal area by storm they found the warehouse and laboratory where shells were stored and stuffed with poisonous agents. Boxes with new gas masks were also found, they carried labels ‘Made in US’.(Source:Syrian Rebels Manufactured Chemical Weapons Outside Damascus)
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters Russian experts had taken samples at the site in Khan al-Asal and tested them in a Russian laboratory certified by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. “The results of the analysis clearly indicate that the ordnance used in Khan al-Asal was not industrially manufactured and was filled with sarin. The sarin technical specifications prove that it was not industrially manufactured either,” said Churkin.“Therefore, there is every reason to believe that it was the armed opposition fighters who used the chemical weapons in Khan al-Asal,” he said.Ambassador Churkin said he has given U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 80 pages of photos, formulas and graphs that support the Russian analysis. He said he would send this same information to his Western counterparts.(Source: Voice of America/ Russia: Syrian Rebels Used Chemical Weapons in Aleppo
Another, which occurred in April, was cited by special U.N. investigator Carla Del Ponte. Another, which occurred in April, was cited by special U.N. investigator Carla Del Ponte:
“I was a little bit stupefied by the first indication of the use of nerve gas UN’s Del Ponte says evidence Syria rebels ‘used sarin’.Testimony from victims of the conflict in Syria suggests rebels have used the nerve agent, sarin, a leading member of a UN commission of inquiry has said. “I was a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got… they were about the use of nerve gas by the opposition,” she said. (Source: BBC)
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Mar. 24, 2013 in article Mar. 24, 2013 as follows:
The mysterious explosion in March 2013 near the city of Aleppo, which killed 26 people and wounded dozens, was swiftly labeled by Western intelligence agencies as a chemical incident perpetrated by forces loyal to Assad. The explosion claimed the lives of Syrian Armed Forces soldiers who are apparently loyal to Assad, and the Syrian government was quick to demand an international investigation of the incident. These two facts would indicate that Assad’s forces were not behind the attack. It appears that the target of the attack was a checkpoint manned by Syrian Armed Forces, which reinforces the theory that rebel forces, probably jihadists known to be operating around Aleppo, were behind it.
On Aug. 23, 2013,LiveLeak.com hosted an audio recording of a phone call broadcast on Syrian TV between a terrorist affiliated with the rebel civilian militia “Shuhada al-Bayada Battalion” in Homs, Syria, and his Saudi Arabian boss, identified as “Abulbasit.” The phone call indicates rebel-affiliated terrorists in Syria, not the Assad government, launched the chemical weapons attack in Deir Ballba in the Homs, Syria, countryside. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) headlined “Two phone calls affirm the use of chemical weapons in Homs by terrorists,” saying:
“A phone call between a terrorist affiliated to the so-called ‘Shuhada al-Bayada Battalion’ in Homs and his boss who was called Adulbasit from Saudi Arabia uncovered that terrorists used the chemical weapons in Deir Ballba in Homs countryside.” “During a phone call broadcast on the Syrian TV Channel, the terrorist said that his group which comprises 200 terrorists escaped from al-Bayadah to al-Daar al-Kabera through a tunnel, adding that they needed to buy weapons to attack the City of Homs.” “The Saudi financier who was present in Cairo asked the Syrian terrorists about details on his group and the way they will receive the money, admitting his support to terrorists in Daraa and Damascus Countryside, in turn the Syria terrorist told him that one of the achievements of his ‘Battalion’ was the use of chemical weapons in Deir Ballba.” “In the same context, another phone call reveled the cooperation between tow terrorist groups to bring two bottles of Sarin Gas from Barzeh neighborhood in Damascus.”
Another video posted on YouTube shows what appears to be Syrian rebel forces loading a canister of nerve gas on a rocket to fire presumably at civilians and possibly government forces.
Damascus 21.08.2013: Whodunnit?
FM Kerry claims that there is scientific evidence to support the U.S. narrative that the Assad regime used sarin gas in an operation that killed 1,429 people, including more than 400 children. However neither Kerry’s remarks nor the unclassified version of the U.S. intelligence explained how the U.S. reached this mentioned death toll. Old practice – at least since Bosnian war – of numergame seems to used again asthe British assessment was “at least 350 fatalities” while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed 502 dead, including about 100 children and “tens” of rebel fighters, and an unclassified version of a French intelligence report confirmed only 281 fatalities. Besides numbers there is a doubt if all deaths are due sarin gas. The Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies, an anti-Assad group, said that it had been able to document 678 dead from the attacks, including 106 children and 157 women.
Graphics credit Washington Post
Assad has rejected charges that his government forces used chemical weapons as “preposterous” and “completely politicized,he argues Syrian forces were in the targeted area. “How is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located?” Assad asked in the interview with Izvestia, according to a translation provided by Syria’s official news agency and published by the Los Angeles Times. The Obama administration recognizes that the rebels and their supporters have an incentive to assume or even exaggerate the use of such weapons because it may be the one thing that could draw in direct Western military intervention against Mr. Assad. The rebels have access to information online about the effects of the weapons, so they may know what symptoms to describe to make their claims seem real. (Source: NYT)
When experts saw the first video-clips from massacre there was some doubt if it really was sarin gas in question. As Haaretzreports:
“Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination. “Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and a leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from the footage so far: ‘None of the people treating the casualties or photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective gear,’ he says, ‘and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed.’”If the “massacre” at Ghouta involved military-grade nerve gas, all those doctors and others milling around the fallen victims would be dead or in serious trouble. That’s because the poison would stick around for days, penetrating the skin and being inhaled by anyone who came close to them or even entered the vicinity.
“One alternative is that a large concentration of riot control agents were used here, which could have caused suffocation of large numbers of people who were pressed together in a bunker or underground shelter,” says Gwyn Winfield, a veteran researcher and editor of CBRNe World, a professional journal the effects of chemical, biological and nuclear warfare. While riot-control substances, mainly various types of tear gas, are usually deployed in small quantities using hand-grenades, they can be used in much larger quantities in artillery shells or even dropped in barrels from aircraft as the U.S. Army did in Vietnam, trying to flush the Vietcong out of its underground bunkers. In large concentrations, these substances can cause suffocation, especially in closed spaces where many of the Syrian families would have been hiding from the bombing. “
A key point in the government’s white paper is “the detection of rocket launches from regime-controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media.” It’s unclear why this is supposed to be persuasive. Do rockets take 90 minutes to reach their targets? Does nerve gas escape from rockets 90 minutes after impact, or, once released, take 90 minutes to cause symptoms? One other evidence is a video published by ”Brown Moses Blog” which seems to show Syrian army preparing CW attack whereas it is debunked with anonther video– Syria CW “Evidence” by “Brown Moses Blog” Debunked .
Syrian government forces may have carried out a chemical weapons attack close to Damascus without the personal permission of President Bashar Assad, Germany’s Bild am Sonntag paper reported on Sunday, citing German intelligence. Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Presidential Palace to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last 4½ months, according to radio messages intercepted by German intelligence, but permission had always been denied, the paper said. (Source: Israel Hayom ) The report in Bild am Sonntag, which is a widely read and influential national Sunday newspaper, reported that the head of the German Foreign Intelligence agency, Gerhard Schindler, last week told a select group of German lawmakers that intercepted communications had convinced German intelligence officials that Assad did not order or approve what is believed to be a sarin gas attack on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds of people in Damascus’ eastern suburbs. (Source: McClatchy)
With the assistance of former PLO member and native Arabic-speaker Walid Shoebat, an independent news company WorldNetDaily (WND) has assembled evidence from various Middle Eastern sources that cast doubt on Obama administration claims the Assad government is responsible for attack in Damascus. Their findings can be found in WND/Politics article Evidence: Syria gas attack work of U.S. Allies by Jerome R. Corsi, a Harvard Ph.D.
On the other side intelligence which overheard Syrian military officials discussing the attack—far from implicating them—finds them denying they initiated an attack.
Despite the Obama administration’s supposedly “high confidence” regarding Syrian government guilt over the Aug. 21 chemical attack near Damascus, a dozen former U.S. military and intelligence officials are telling President Obama that they are picking up information that undercuts the Official Story. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) wrote in their memorandum for President Obama as follows:
We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this…Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue. They tell us that CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public – and perhaps even you…There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war. According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.(Source: Consortiumnews.com )
One key example used by the Obama administration to justify an attack on Syria is the material related to dead children with the claim that the Assad regime carried out the chemical attacks. The true story seems to begin over week before tragedy in Damascus and the location was in Latakia – 200 km away from Ghouta.A quote from Voltairenet.org article:”Identification of the dead children in Ghouta”:
August 11, 2013 a reportin The Telegraph discussed the rebels attacking the Latakia village and Sheikh Mohammed Reda Hatem, an Alawite religious leader in Latakia said ”Until now 150 Alawites from the villages have been kidnapped. There are women and children among them. We have lost all contact with them.” Some of those children were found less than two weeks later, in Ghouta. They are in fact children who were abducted by jihadists two weeks before in Alawite villages in the surroundings of Latakia, 200km away from Ghouta. Contrary to the sayings of the Free Syrian Army and the Western services, the only identified victims of the Ghouta massacre are those belonging to families that support the Syrian government. In the videos, the individuals that show outrage against the ’’crimes of Bashar el-Assad’’ are in reality their killers.
Some photographs had already been distributed by the Atlanticist media to accuse the Egyptian Army of a massacre at a camp of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. The same phote has been ”recycled” to describe CW attack in Ghouta, Syria.
Using fake pictures to support a fake claim makes sense to me. Secretary of State John Kerry opened his speech Friday by describing the horrors victims of the chemical weapon attack suffered, including twitching, spasms and difficulty breathing.Attempting to drive the point home, Kerry referenced a photograph used by the BBC illustrating a child jumping over hundreds of dead bodies covered in white shrouds. The photo was meant to depict victims who allegedly succumbed to the effects of chemical weapons via Assad’s regime.Also the BBC is facing criticism after it accidentally used a picture taken in Iraq in 2003 to illustrate the senseless massacre of children in Syria. The picture, which was actually taken on March 27, 2003, shows a young Iraqi child jumping over dozens of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the media has spread new proofs of the U.S. intelligence involvement to chemical attack near Damascus. Hacker got access to U.S. intelligence correspondence and published U.S. Army Col. Anthony J. Macdonald’s mail. Macdonald is General Staff Director, Operations and Plans Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence the Army Staff. It’s about chemical attack in Syria.
In the message August 22 Eugene Furst congratulates Col. on successful operation and refers him to Wasington Post publication about chemical attack in Syria. From the Anthony’s wife dialog with her friend it’s clear the video with the children killed in the chemical attack near Damascus was staged by U.S. Intelligence.This is a huge coup for the people. This proves that the chemical attack was indeed a false flag operation.
M.SHAPIRO: I can’t stop thinking about that terrible gas attack in Syria now. Did you see those kids? I was really crying- They were poisoned, they died. When is it over? I see their faces when in sleep. What did Tony say you about this?
J.MACDONALD: I saw it too and got afraid very much. But Tony comforted me. He said the kids weren’t hurt, it was done for cameras. So you don’t worry, my dear.
M.SHAPIRO: I’m still thinking about those Syrian kids. Thanks God, they are alive. I hope they got a kind of present or some cash.
Critical U.S view by insiders
“So we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I’m the idiot?” “President Obama wants America involved in Syria’s civil war pitting the antagonistic Assad regime against equally antagonistic Al Qaeda affiliated rebels. But he’s not quite sure which side is doing what, what the ultimate end game is, or even whose side we should be on”…“if we are dangerously uncertain of the outcome and are led into war by a Commander-in-chief who can’t recognize that this conflict is pitting Islamic extremists against an authoritarian regime with both sides shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ at each other, then let Allah sort it out.”
U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders, or even completely sure it was carried out by government forces, the officials said.
One motivation for U.S attack might be interests of military-industrial-complex. Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL), however, pointed out that opposition to a strike on Syria is not universally opposed:
I did notice, for what it’s worth, that the manufacturer of the missiles that would be used has had an incredible run in their stock value in the last 60 days. Raytheon stock is up 20 percent in the past 60 days as the likelihood of the use of their missiles against Syria becomes more likely. So I understand that there is a certain element of our society that does benefit from this, but they’re not the people who vote for me, or by the way the people who contribute to my campaign. Nobody wants this except the military-industrial complex.
Indeed the “pressure” to strike Syria comes from corporations which profit from war, including private central banks, and corporations which make the instruments of war – not from the so-called “red line” that was supposedly crossed with use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.
The official ”public” truth in U.S claims that Assad’s regime is perpetrator of Damascus gas-attack as the rebels don’t have chemical weapons. However, multiple lines of evidence show that the rebels do have chemical weapons. One should remember that the opponents of Assad regime have possiblity and motivation to use chemical weapons and indeed they probably have already used them in Spring 2013. It might be also possible that lower-ranking officers in al Assad’s military used chemical weapons without his knowledge and perhaps against his wishes. Anyway even in this case there is no reason to military attack against al Assad.
Syria, Iran and Russia are promoting a proposal for a diplomatic compromise that could prevent such an attack. The proposal includes a plan for a “democratic transfer” of power in stages. This seems to be an improved version of the proposal presented in the past, according to which elections for the president of Syria will be expedited and President Bashar Assad will not run again . In another proposal, which was reported in Haaretz last week, Syria will agree to completely remove its inventory of chemical weapons from the country and transfer it to Russia or another country. (Source: Haaretz )
Civil wars have a way of turning ugly; unfortunately, outside intervention is likely to make a bad situation even worse. The threat of imminent U.S. military action appeared to fade on September 9th 2013 when Syria agreed to a Russian proposal to surrender its chemical weapons to international control. As I have described before this does not utterly solve CW problem as there will be still a question about CWs in a possession of rebels have but I think this can be managed. Now in my opinion it is crucial to put pressure to all sides to start talks and peace process without preconditions and fast.
”What are some irrelevant Syrian lives in the grand scheme of things, when the status quo’s wealth must be preserved at all costs.” (Opinion in web forums)
The Syrian opposition on has accused the government of launching a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed large numbers of civilians as they slept and packed makeshift hospitals with hundreds of victims convulsing and gasping for breath. Photographs and videos posted online showed the bodies of men, women and children, many appearing to be dead, without visible wounds. Varying opposition claims put the death toll in the hundreds, with some saying it was more than a thousand.
While the public is shocked about news the Pentagon is making the initial preparations for a Cruise missile attack to punish Al-Assad regime. So has the “free and democratic world” forgotten the Iraq WMD disinformation campaign? In my opinion they should think twice as the right address might be Qatar-funded mercenaries led by Al Qaeda.
Most people think the horrendous news they watch on TV, read in the newspapers or hear on the radio is real. It is not as the question is more about media-war than neutral unbiased newscast.
One should again remember that in the Middle East there is a medi-awar ongoing. Some examples from recent shows:
There is a tendency for the concept to be invoked in the heat of action, giving the appearance of propriety for Western television viewers, but that it neglects the conflicts that are forgotten by the media or occur based on chronic distresses than sudden crises. For example the US launched two military campaigns against Serbia while ignoring real and more widespread slaughter in Rwanda .
Old practice new theatre
The pattern of U.S. collaboration with Muslim fundamentalists against more secular enemies is not new. In the 1980s Washington’s secret services had assisted Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. Then, in 1990, the US fought him in the Gulf. n both Afghanistan and the Gulf, the Pentagon had incurred debts to Islamist groups and their Middle Eastern sponsors. By 93 these groups, many supported by Iran and Saudi Arabia, were anxious to help Bosnian Muslims fighting in the former Yugoslavia and called in their debts with the Americans. Bill Clinton and the Pentagon were keen to be seen as creditworthy and repaid in the form of an Iran-Contra style operation – in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council arms embargo against all combatants in the former Yugoslavia. One could add that Ayman al-Zawahiri, later the leader of al Qaeda, came to America to raise funds in Silicon Valley for Bosnian jihadists.in 1993, Mr. bin Laden had appointed Sheik Ayman Al-Zawahiri, to direct his operations in the Balkans.
Image shows a M60 recoilless gun (YU) being used to attack an army outpost,Hajez Barad, in Busr al-Harir, Daraa, on March 2nd.
Unfortunately, history is repeating. From my point of view it remains to see if this newest U.S. clandestine recycling operation has better success that earlier in Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya … I doubt. More in U.S. Recycles Its Old Balkan Practice With Syria .
Only bad options
”We can do this with no boots on the ground, from stand-off distances” (US dream)
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey, may have made the case. In a letter to Congressman Elliot Engel, Dempsey said the American military is clearly capable of taking out the Syrian air force. He wouldn’t do it because it would “offer no strategy for peace,” he wrote. “is a deeply rooted, long-term conflict among multiple factions, and violent struggles for power will continue after Assad’s rule ends. We should evaluate the effectiveness of limited military options in this context.” (Source: American Thinker )
Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan is manned by 273 US officers. This underground facility near Amman is linked to US, Israel, Jordanian and Saudi Air Force commands ready for an order from President Barack Obama to impose planned air-strike as well a partial no-fly zone over Syria. There are today some 1,000 US military personnel in the Hashemite Kingdom, plus a squadron of F-16 fighters and several Patriot anti-missile batteries strung along the Jordanian-Syrian border to shield Jordanian and American bases and the capital, Amman. Obama’s final decision on a no fly and a buffer zone in Syria is expected in the coming two to three weeks.
Syria, cradle of civilizations, compared e.g. with US
Arming rebels and pushing for military intervention will not solve the problem Syria is facing but indeed could lead to the death of thousands of Syrians and to the breaking-up of the country falling under the control of violent fundamentalist Jihadist forces. It will mean the further fleeing of Syrians into surrounding countries which will themselves become destabilised. The entire Middle East will then become unstable and violence will spiral out of control.
Anyway if USA decides to bomb Syria wouldn’t the right address be Qatar-funded mercenaries led by Al Qaeda instead of the Assad regime.
Russia as a peacemaker?
While Obama/US is now in the corner with his ”red lines” Russia has became more reliable player in the Middle East as it is emerging:
● as a vocal defender of Christianity against Muslim persecution around the world;
● as a plausible peacemaker in the Middle East, with far better relationships with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria than America has today;
● as the monopoly natural gas supplier for Germany, with the consent of the Franco-German axis;
● as the only country with a credible a nuclear umbrella to protect its friends and deter its enemies;
To show Russia’s seriousness in the Middle East, President Putin has paid personal visits and kept contacts with all the players, including the Sisi regime in Egypt, Israel, Syria’s Assad, and Saudi Arabia.
Who has smoking gun?
“It would be very peculiar if it was the government to do this at the exact moment the international inspectors come into the country“(WMD inspector Rolf Ekeus)
Syrian President Bashar al Assad has now survived two years of civil war, and indeed he is even winning it.Only foreign intervention especially by the United States could defeat him. If so why he would do the one thing Obama said would trigger US action? Since both sides have been highlighting atrocities carried out by the other to garner support from outside Syria, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that some unscrupulous rebel faction could have launched a so-called ‘false flag’ operation to discredit the regime even further.
At the moment, it is difficult to see what desperate situation would have caused al Assad to use chemical weapons and risk the worst. His opponents however have the motivation – using chemical weapons to force the United States to intervene and depose al Assad. It might be possible that lower-ranking officers in al Assad’s military used chemical weapons without his knowledge and perhaps against his wishes. While all options are open what happened in relation of chemical weapons from my perspective it is crucial to wait untill we know more, for example after investigations made by U.N team.
Btw the latest news out of Syria is confirmed, namely that the the Syrian army has discovered rebels’ storehouse in the Damascus area, where toxic chemical substances, including chlorine, have been produced and kept,
Dissolution of Syria
In normal cases the United States and its coalition partners, are using humanitarian pretexts to pursue otherwise unacceptable geopolitical goals and to evade the non-intervention norm and legal prohibitions on the use of international force. This false pretented humanitarianism has become a legitimizing ideology for projection of U.S. hegemony in a post–Cold War world. For example NATO intervention in Kosovo was conducted largely to boost NATO’s credibility. With case of Syria US doesn’t have big geopolitical interests to go war, the main cause might be that Obama draw his red line – use of chemical weapon – and he now have to act on the red line principle or be shown to be one who bluffs. If Obama doesn’t act this would show US weakness.
Despite how US acts one should notice that there is already lot of foreign intervention in Syria: Russia, Hizbollah etc are giving weapons and support to al Assad regime; US, Saudis etc are giving weapons to sc freedom fighters; Qatar etc are financing al Qaeda’s fighters and Kurds get support e.g from Iraq. US might launch its air-strike but bottom line is that foreign fighters have already their boots on the ground. The Israelis are privately reluctant supporters of the al-Assad regime. It is a known quantity, with whom negotiation within established parameters is possible. The alternative, of divided Sunni Islamist politics presenting a potentially existential danger to the Jewish state and the region as a whole, is all the more destabilising. EU is bystander as usual however ready to throw their money in when dirty job is done.
Balkanization of Syria
In my opinion the majority of the people of Syria are calling out for peace and reconciliation and a political solution to the crisis. The probable short term result will be dissolution of Syria – some kind of new balkanization or Somalization as it already happened in Iraq. The country might fragment, as Kurds and Alawites form their own mini-states. The positive outcome might be that second piece– after North Iraq – of Kurdistan will be established while it remains to see when regions from Iran and Turkey will join to this long-felt need.
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About Ariel Rusila
Ariel "Ari" Rusila is a blogger and former development project management expert from Finland with a special interest in the Balkan region. His other interests include geopolitics, conflicts and The Great Middle East. <"Conflicts By Ariel Rusila [aka ex-BalkanBlog] - ISSN 2342-6675 - covers issues of conflicts and regionally the Balkans (esp. Serbia), the Black Sea region and MENA (the greater Middle East and North Africa and esp. Israel) regions as well EurAsia.
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