Saturday, December 29, 2012

UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi: Only two ways for Syria - political process or hell

UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi put it simply: there are only two ways for Syria - a political process or hell.  In other words, he agreed with the Russian position.

As for the opposition, it immediately declared that a non-negotiable precondition for any negotiations must be the departure of Assad (making any thinking person wonder what there would be left to negotiate at this point).

So we have the following dynamic: Assad agrees that the future of Syria should be decided upon in elections, and Assad agrees to negotiate without any pre-conditions.  The opposition reject both the ballot and any negotiations.

I would say that by now only drooling idiots or fundamentally dishonest people could seriously lay the blame for the carnage taking place on Assad.

The Saker

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The West ‘prays’ Russia and China will continue blocking Syria action

RT reports:

The West has “no appetite” for a military intervention in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday. At the same time, Moscow’s intelligence shows the Arab country’s chemical arsenal is “so far” secured, he revealed.

No one has any appetite for intervention. Behind the scenes, I have a feeling they are praying that Russia and China go on blocking intervention, as sanctioning it would mean they must act – and they are not ready,” Lavrov told journalists on a flight back to Moscow from an EU summit in Brussels.

The FM was assessing the current mood in the UN Security Council after NATO cleared the stationing of Patriot missiles in Turkey. Ankara and the alliance say this is a containment tool to prevent any further Syrian violence from spilling over the border, but political analysts believe the step might signal the West and their Middle East allies are preparing to intervene in Syria.

Chemical weapons ‘so far’ secured, but US needs to ‘decide on priorities’

Syria’s chemical arsenal remains one of the major international concerns since the topic first emerged in July. Lavrov says that President Bashar Assad’s government is doing whatever’s possible to secure the weapons.

“So far, the arsenal is under control. The Syrian authorities have gathered all the stock in one or two locations. It used to be scattered all over the country,” the FM said adding that Moscow and Washington’s intelligence agree on the matter.

Syria is reportedly in possession of nerve agents, including mustard gas, as well as the Scud missiles needed to deliver them. The country is a non-signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws their production.

Since July, Assad’s government has repeatedly stated that chemical weapons will not be used on Syria, but Syrian officials have not excluded the possibility they might be deployed in the event of “a foreign attack.”

The threat has drawn international condemnation.

The EU, US and many others are also worried that Syria’s chemical weapons might fall into the hands of the Syrian rebels, some of whom have links to Al-Qaeda.

But Lavrov pointed out at some inconsistency in Washington’s approach where the chemical arsenal issues overlap with US support for the Syrian opposition.

“Our American partners admit that the main threat is rebels seizing the chemical arsenal. The opposition forces include all kinds of groups even ones the US has recently proclaimed terror groups. We tell them: ‘Guys but you support the opposition and its armed struggle. This armed struggle might result in exactly what you fear. You decide on your priorities.’ But there is no clear response to that,” said Lavrov.

‘No one will win this war’

Russia refuses to act as an intermediary trying to Assad into fleeing, Lavrov also said. At the same time Moscow is not going to accommodate the Syrian president should he step down: “Assad is not going anywhere, no matter what anyone says, be it China or Russia.”

On being asked whether the rebels will eventually oust President Assad, Lavrov replied: “Listen, no one is going to win this war.”

The situation in Syria remains volatile with new deaths reported daily by human rights groups. According to those reports, the death toll in the country which has been engulfed in the civil unrest since March 2011 has exceeded 40,000 people. The UN Human Rights Committee also says the conflict made 164,000 refugees.

Moscow insists the Syrian conflict should be resolved through direct and unconditional negotiations between the government and opposition. Russia insists the country should be given the right to self-determination and neither side should be supported.

The US, the UK, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries in the West and the Middle East, on the other hand, call on President Assad to step down immediately and grant financial and military support to the Syrian opposition forces. But despite all the support, the Syrian National Coalition which was deemed to become an umbrella for all the Syrian opposition groups still failed to unify Assad’s opponents and therefore does not have leverage on all the forces fighting the goverment’s troops on the ground.

The UN says the Syrian war is growing more sectarian than civic with each day and that there is no end in sight to the conflict.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Julian Assange - Christmas 2012 - Ecuador embassy in London

Speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday December 16th, 2012.

In The Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Peace be upon our Master and Prophet – the Seal of prophets – Abi Al Qassem Mohammad and on his chaste and pure Household, his chosen companions and on all prophets and messengers. Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings.

It is our happiness and pleasure to meet in this blessed honorable ceremony which in one of its dimensions expresses the response of this generation to the call of the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him and his Household) to seek knowledge and care about learning while asserting that this nation is the nation of scholars, the generation of scholars and the society of scholars in all fields and specifications.

This ceremony is the topic of an achievement you made and realized, while we all together are happy for it because the blessing and fruit of this achievement is sensed by all of us.

First, I would like to salute the graduate brothers and sisters for this year and in this ceremony. I thank them for the efforts they exerted, for their struggle in their learning seats and for the sleepless nights they spent studying and after all I thank them for their success and their distinction also in some domains and fields of specialization. I ask Allah Al Mighty to grant them success all of their lives and to extent their life spans and to guide them to learning more and working more and doing well for this world and the Hereafter.

I must also laud the dear parents – fathers, mothers, and kind families – who bore such hard and tough burdens in such circumstances we are passing through in Lebanon. Still these families insisted and supported their sons and daughters to continue and carry on their academic attainments. Praise first be to Allah and then thanks to these fathers and mothers who assumed this burden. Through this kind ceremony we must make a call, a request or even a plea – there is no problem in that. We tell fathers and mothers: Take pains to assure that your sons and daughters carry on their learning and academic attainments no matter how tough conditions are. Beware that you don't pull your children from their education seats. Tolerate the hardships for your sons and daughters to learn. Education deserves all sacrifices from you and deserves that you bear difficulties. So far adherence to education is still the general aspect of the Lebanese families despite some cases of negativism and fallback which we find in some places or in some families even if in limited numbers. However, should this phenomenon exist, it must be confronted.

I must also thank all the sides, institutions, associations, parties and persons who offered their support and money, financial aids or loans and thus assisted these dear students in this important education stage. I also thank the universities which embraced these pupils and followed up with their education to make this achievement. We also thank the administrations and professors in these universities.

This ceremony indeed presents a scene or a side of the true image of the resistance in Lebanon and of Hezbollah. It is one of the scenes which express the true identity and nature of Hezbollah and the resistance in Lebanon.

Indeed, this is not a new scene. We are saying that this is the 23rd graduation party in our procession which is 30 years old. The first graduation party was held in 1984. Let's suppose that the resistance started to be formed following the invasion. We are talking about our resistance with our respect to all the resistance factions and movements which were formed before us and we acknowledge their precedence. Following July 1982, our Islamic Resistance started to take its known form. Well, that means that following a very short period of time the first graduation party took place in 1984. During this long procession, the students who belong to this resistance study and fight. Some of them gained martyrdom while they were university students. Some were martyred after their graduation. Some were martyred following their graduation but before the graduation party. That means he graduated but before the graduation party was held, he gained martyrdom. Anyway, all of these ceremonies and scenes assert that our procession is that of belief and jihad. Above all it is a procession of faith, knowledge and education. It is a scientific, humanistic, and spiritual structure as well as a movement of liberation, sacrifices, defense and dignity.

All through this path and all through the previous meetings, we used to assert the necessity of twinning education and morals i.e. the twinning of education and piety. That means practical commitment to moral, human, religious, and missionary values. That's because this twinning and commitment is the guarantee that this knowledge, learning and specialization – no matter what this field of specialization is – be invested for the service of peoples and nations and not to harm people and conspire against nations. In our time, we are witnessing how scientific and especially technological development – which is detached from moral commitment and morals – is leading to broadening the area of oppression, hegemony, occupation, arrogance, plundering popular wealth, killing of millions and hungering of hundreds of millions…. Today the enormous scientific capabilities are being exploited to gratify a limited class of people, to fill their stomachs, load their banks, and satisfy their greed and love for power, hegemony and control. This is at a time in which justice and welfare may be spread around the Globe through these sciences and enormous scientific developments. In our culture and mind, Allah Al Mighty has endowed on Earth the capacities and wealth and blessings that ensure an honorable life to billions of people. However, with their greed and oppression and their souls which are prone to evil, the so called high class are misusing these natural resources and blessings and deviating them from their natural track. This is leading to all of these oppressions.

Brothers and sisters! Knowledge is one of the divine blessings which may be used for good ends as well as for evil ends. This has to do with human will. Thus the Christ (Peace be upon him) used to say: "He who learns for Allah, teaches for Allah, and works for Allah is hailed a great man in the Realm of Heavens".

In our procession, we assert our commitment to this concept. Thus we tell our graduates, learned and educated men, and scholars: When we develop in any domain, we aspire through that to seriously participate in building our nation, better its conditions, address its crises, liberate its land and defend its sovereignty, capabilities, wealth, security and stability. This is what we ask Allah Al Mighty to assist us in achieving.

In this honorable ceremony, and through the nature of this occasion, I would like to tackle several points pertaining to the local and regional status.

It's our duty first to talk about the Lebanese University – the national university – as those who talked about it before.

In this stage as in the past and even more in the near future, this university must obtain special care. It is said that it is the university of the poor. This is true because taking into consideration the fees of the private universities, who is able to register his children in them except for those whom Allah Al Mighty bestowed His blessing on him and opened before him the chance to get his children enrolled in private universities?

Why am I saying now and in the near future? That is because the number of Lebanese living under the line of poverty is increasing day after day. Is it not clear in the future whether their number will increase or decrease? On the contrary, the horizon is clear. In a while, I will tackle this point which says that the number of Lebanese who are under the poverty line is increasing. That means either we go to the Lebanese University or we abandon going to universities.

This is primary the responsibility of the state. That means that this university must obtain exclusive care from any government to the effect of developing it and advancing its scientific capabilities and financial capacities and boosting its human cadre. In brief, this opens the opportunity to tackle the cause of the contracting professors. Today I will not talk about arms and the resistance. I will only wrap up my speech in a couple of words about the resistance.

There is an incessant event which becomes due every, year, two years or three years. There is a crisis in the country. There is a number of contracting professors in the Lebanese University. The university has to present lists of their names to the government so that the latter agrees in appointing them permanently in the university's personnel.

Still this cause enters the process of the Lebanese complexities. There is no need to elaborate more.

The problem is that a ceiling for the number is always set. Thus the administration of the university – no matter what the administration of the university is – has to nominate the contracting professors under this ceiling to be appointed permanently in the personnel.

Here everything becomes confused. A number of professors would be a true need to the university and within the laws, priorities and needs. This number would be objective. Now, political forces, leaderships and positions interfere in naming the other number – and this is natural and well known in our country. This would say add ten for me. Another would say I want five more. Thus the number of professors are stuck under the ceiling and strained by political forces.

The country is built on balances. Some people are to be treated fairly. Still they are wronged. I have heard lately that there are contracting professors who have been waiting since 1995. We are now in 2012. Well, why is it so? They are contracting professors who teach in the university. Well, if they are not competent, are not fit anymore and the university is not in need for them anymore, why are they still contracting with them? If they are competent and the university needs them, why aren't they appointed permanently in the personnel until 2012?

Today I call on the Lebanese University – I know that they are discussing the issue and it seems that they have reached an advanced point in the discussion – to make a different approach. I call on the government not to put a numerical ceiling and tell the administration of the university that it is allowed 300 or 400 or 500 or whatever number of professors. Then it will have to choose what is demanded from it. Here I want to assert to you that whatever the formula that the administration of the university would adopt and would be submitted to the government, many professors will be treated fairly according to it while many others would be oppressed too, and that is according to the well known reasons in Lebanon.

The different approach is as follows. The Lebanese University is in need for professors. Every year, some 80 or 100 or 120 professors are permanently appointed in the personnel, as the brethrens asserted to me. So the number varies between these numbers from year to year. Well, the university is getting larger incessantly, and it is the only resort for the students who are also increasing in number. Why shall I limit the ceiling to 300, 400 or 500? How many professors does the university need? Does it need 800, 900, or 1000? What is the problem in that?

They say there is a financial problem. Well, I will discuss this issue in a while. So we don't have to put a ceiling. We shall rather ask the university: How many teachers do you really need? Then let's appoint permanently in the personnel the contracting professors within the law while giving the priority to the senior professors who have been waiting for long years – and Allah loves those who wait. Perhaps theirs would be a happy ending. This is the true approach, and it is not the approach of limiting the ceiling to 300 or 400 and then all political leaderships among other leaderships – including us – would intervene to appoint these or to give the priority to those…. Well why do we have to resort to this method?

For example, on the security level – here I am not criticizing; I am rather supporting this method – in the previous government, the interior ministry said that pursuant to the security situation in the country and due to robberies, crimes and drugs, they need to increase the personnel. There are contractors and they wanted to appoint them permanently. The decision was taken in one session. 4000 contractors in the security forces were appointed permanently in one session. This is not a shame. This is rather good. In fact, you need such a number to be able to confront the crises in the country.

Well, later in the current government, the interior minister demanded that 1000 more be increased. The reason was not security needs but rather sectarian balance. 1000 were increased because in the 4000 who were previously installed, there wasn't security balance. Let there be a reason to add 1000 more to establish security balance. This isn't also shameful, I believe because we must one way or another observe sectarian balances. Now a new proposal is presented to the government, and I don't know if they approved on it or not. They also are in need for 1000 or 2000 for 2013.

Well, that shows that there is money to pay salaries.

Brothers and sisters! When we invest and spend in the security domain, we would be addressing results. However, when we spend and invest on the educational level we will be addressing the reasons, and the rational addresses the reasons.

Well, today I call on the government to consider university professors as the permanently appointed personnel in the Interior Security Forces. The security need imposes this. Let's wrap this issue forever. Then, there will not be every two or three years a battle in which people hit the street. This is shameful.

This leads us to tackling a similar topic. It is the series of ranks and salaries. There is a broad headline under this topic which is agreed on by all sides even political forces, syndicate members, and economic bodies I believe. They all agree that this is inappropriate. In this we mean the status of groups and classes that are concerned in the series of ranks and salaries draft. It is an inappropriate state, and this topic must be addressed. The development must be qualitative too. That means it must not be limited to a simple or humble amendment. Rather the government must address the topic in a way that goes with its capacities and the economic and financial incomes and burdens.

I don't believe that there is any disagreement on this headline. I don't even believe that the syndicate associations would say: Yes give us our salaries or increase our salaries and better our conditions even if that would lead to national economic collapse. None would say that. The dispute is a dispute in application. That means that the dispute is not on the broad line. The point is that what would be the outcome if we offered this income? In other words if we could secure this income what would be the result? Here there are many discretions as well as great pressure on the government.

Here I will talk as partners in the government. It goes without saying that we are a part in the government. We are a humble part contrary to what has been said since the very beginning to the effect that the government is that of Hezbollah. Imagine that when the other party decided to topple the government, the ambassadors of the permanent members in the United Nations as well as the representative of the UN Secretary General – meaning the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and the United Nations – went to His Eminence the President of the Republic and told him that the government must be preserved so that there won't be vacancy. This is odd enough. If it really is the government of Hezbollah that means that you as well as I – O brothers and sisters in Hezbollah – must say indeed there is something wrong. If this is our government, how is it that the entire world is here to support this government? This is the most convincing evidence that this is not the government of Hezbollah as seen by the entire world. This is the stance of the international community from the current government.

Well, we believe that there are financing resources. However, that needs boldness and courage. There are senior sides in this country which must concede and cooperate and consequently the ranks and salaries series may be financed. However, I do not want to evoke an argument now. In the ceremony of students, professors and syndicates and in accordance to the nature of the ceremony, I want to call on the government to emerge from the series of long and enormous sessions that have to do with the series of ranks and salaries. I believe we are through with discussing this topic. Let's hold one or two series sessions even if they would consume long time and even if there are different viewpoints. Let them vote. Should they reach an agreement that will be great. If they don't reach an agreement, let them vote again. After all, the final decision is not there. The government must refer a draft to the Parliament.

In the government, all parliamentary blocs are represented. Here righteousness is manifested. All stances would become clear. If there are any biddings, that would be clear. Those who care for the national economy would be known. Those who are with the sides affected by the series of ranks and salaries will be known. It will be a national discussion. After all, decisions on this level need the participation of all sides. Well, the participation of all parts is not secured in the government for political reasons. However, it is secured in the government. It is time the respectable current government wrap up this discussion and refer the draft to the parliament to get through with this argument, struggle and tension which exist in the country.

Here, I will go back to the third main topic – the living, social, and economic crisis that exists in Lebanon - and more specifically the economic and living topic because all of us are living in this situation.

The magnitude of the suffering of the Lebanese and the Lebanese families is very enormous. On the economic and living level, many people are facing true crises: capabilities insufficiency, low salaries, lack of job opportunities, the high living costs…. Indeed, with the beginning of the school year and the winter, worries mushroom taking into consideration fees, registration, transportation fees, the price of gasoline and heating especially in cold regions.

Indeed the risks of this crisis are clear, and its repercussions are on the security level as this is the reason for a great portion of crimes. Does anyone steal because it's his hobby to steal? This might be a reason. However, some are stealing because they are in need though this does not justify stealing. This crisis opens the door of stealing and crimes as well as psychological collapses and illnesses and crises which are experienced by many people by now.

There are demands and there are no capabilities to meet these demands. People practice pressure on each other, and no one is having mercy on others. That means that people are not taking into consideration the circumstances of others. This might be a manifestation of what has been quoted by the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him) as saying: "O Aba Zar! Wherever poverty goes, irreligion tells it take me with you." Perhaps it's not doctrinal irreligion which is meant. What is meant here goes with what is meant in the Holy Ayah: {If ye are grateful, I will add more favors unto you; but if ye show ingratitude truly my punishment is terrible indeed}. This irreligion is practical ingratitude: crime, sin, killing, stealing, plundering, collaboration, impatience, thanklessness of blessings….

Before this crisis which I do not need to elaborate its risks – we all know its risks – there is no doubt that there are in Lebanon forces, associations, sides, and personalities who are trying to extend a helpful hand. Some are exerting efforts to secure job opportunities. Some provide loans. Some offer aids. However that does not address the crisis.

We have tackled this point previously. Today we will talk about it again. The only side which is concerned and able to address a crisis of this magnitude is the state. I am not saying the government only. Rather the state with all of its institutions is concerned in addressing this crisis.

Who is able to address the crisis of unemployment? In whose hands taxes are? In whose hands the Lebanese University – the national university – is? In whose hands the public schools are? It is not a condition that I seek means to increase salaries. No! Another form of solving the problem is reducing people's expenses. When there are free school education, free university education, as well as finding way to free medical treatment, this will lessen the burdens on people. Here we really need a true program. Allow me to say something between two broad parentheses. Do you want to call this political nagging? Let's call it political nagging then. It is unfortunate that this is not among the priorities of a great number of political forces in Lebanon. I am not being unfair to anyone and you may go back to archives. I do not want to go back in history. Let's be brief and at least go back to 2004 – since the issuance of the ominous Resolution 1559. Go back to archives and review the speeches, statement and interviews from that year till today – till this very morning. Well what are the concerns of a great number of political forces? On top of their concern is one topic: the arms of the resistance and the resistance. There is nothing else. At night, during the day, they wake up and sleep and eat while delivering speeches on the arms of the resistance. This is strange. In fact, I do envy them really! How are they able to talk on the same topic repetitively? How are they able to say the same idea and the same phrase repetitively? You know that we are religious men and we deliver speeches. There is no fault in a quick comic relief. At time I need to deliver a speech in internal meetings for different audiences– this is contrary to what appears on the television. I may tackle two or three topics. If I am to tackle the same topics in a second and third meeting, I would grow bored and feel weary. Then I won't be able to talk on the very topics.

Now we are in 2012. But since 2004, there is a tape in a recorder and "play" is pressed. It is the very story. Well there are priorities. Where is the country? There is nothing of this sort.

Well let's talk about the latest years. Even the blood of martyr PM Rafiq Hariri has been exploited to target the resistance. This is still going on.

O good people! Aren't we all Lebanese and Lebanese people? Today, poverty is not the trait of a definite sect. Once in the past, this was the case. Then a sect or two or three used to suffer from poverty. In Lebanese terms, poverty today traverses sects. Today there isn't sect poverty. There is poverty that traverses sects. There aren't any more sects or regions that live in ease, happiness and satisfaction while others are living in overwhelming poverty. Poverty now traverses sects and regions.

Well, since 2004 up till today – we are in 2012 – they did not give this country a chance. They never thought to sit with each other and tackle this or that issue and address the living crisis which is afflicting everybody and targeting all. There is general consensus on this.

Well, we dispute over Israel and Palestine. This is what I will wrap my speech with. We differ there. Well, we meet here. Let's then work together. However, this is not the case. We sleep and wake up to the very story.

Indeed during all the past years, all political manipulations over the arms of the resistance flopped. I do not want to talk about them again. I have talked about them before, and it included tempting with power…. Military wars also flopped. Everyone knows that the resistance which defeated Israel in 2000 and in 2006 is deep-rooted and powerfully present in the conscience of its people before being strong with its arms. Thus it is stronger than being touched with conspiracies. Thus what remained to them? Only talking remained to them. Thus they talk and accuse and abuse. They accuse Hezbollah of anything that takes place all around the world.

Some journalists and media outlets are nice. They say that the so and so article was published and Hezbollah did not respond, or the so and so research was published and Hezbollah did not deny. I have said for a thousand times: O dear! If we are daily to deny and respond, we will issue newspapers to match with the magnitude of lies and abuses.

Anyway, I will not say names. I only want you to be careful to what I am saying. There are senior political forces in the Arab world today which are awakening now. For years, some Arab media outlets used to accuse us and abuse us and fabricate lies to oppress us and distort our image. They were then standing aside approvingly. Now these media outlets – especially those financed by the Gulf - are targeting them. Well let's address these forces in particular: You consider that what is said about you in these media outlets are lies. Why did you believe what was said about us by these very media outlets then? Why what is said by these media outlets about you are lies and what is said about us is true?

No, the fact is that there are oriented and politicized media outlets. Some media outlets work to cause a political battle. This is what is taking place in Lebanon in minute details.

I will not elaborate more. We are now in 2012. There is a political crisis in the country. Well, never mind. There is a deep political division and disagreement over internal and regional causes. However, the new thing I want to talk about is: We all agree that there is a living, social catastrophe in Lebanon. No one disagrees over this point. Every now and then religious authorities – The Maronite Patriarchal Council, Dar Al Fatwa, the Supreme Shiite Council, and the Druze Dar – warn against an economic collapse. Indeed the religious authorities are well acquainted because people do seek aid and talk about their sufferings especially by the beginning of winter and the academic year. Thus we all agree that there is a crisis.

Second, we agree that this crisis is to be addressed by the state.

Third, I want to say that it is not the government which is to address the crisis. Why did I say it is not the government? The government might be formed by a definite political alliance while there would be another alliance in the Opposition. As far as the living crisis is concerned, the Loyalists and the Opposition must form a national working group. This is what I want to call for today. Now, are they to be politicians, syndicate members or economists, these are details. I am talking in principle. A national working group must be formed which would meet and tell the Lebanese that despite our divisions and discrepancies as Loyalists and Opposition, how are we to put an agenda and a plot to confront this crisis and how are we to cooperate to confront this crisis before the collapse takes place?

This is a moral obligation, a national obligation and a religious obligation.

Today I say that should a national working group be formed, we have interest in partaking in it, and we are ready to partake in it even if we are to be with those who abuse, curse, and accuse us all day and night. We have no problem in that. We will put this issue aside. Let's altogether put our political divisions, struggles and conflicts aside. Let's all say: there is a great national topic, a great humanistic topic and a great moral topic which has to do with the life of people – their food, drink, fate and disposition. Let's then form a national dialogue group or a national working group. Let it put a national plot or a national agenda. Let's all support it and regardless of who is in the government, we will all as Lebanese call on it to execute this plot. This is what is supposed to be done.

I will move now to a word on the current political situation before wrapping up my speech with a word on the regional situation.

As for the current political situation, the current description is as follows: There is no dialogue table; there are no general sessions; there is no general assembly for the parliament. There is a kind of crippling because the other party took a decision for a boycott. Well, the aim of the boycott and the movements in the streets that preceded it is to topple the government. However, it is clear that the government was not toppled. It seems that the boycott also failed. It has started a month or some 40 days ago, and it seems that the boycott could not topple the government. It is not that we are adherent to it. It is rather because all the local, regional and international factors say that there is an interest that this government remains in power. Thus if the aim of the boycott is to topple the government, that will not lead except to afflicting harm on the country and primarily to crippling the parliament. However the other party still insists on the boycott. Thus it became clear that the aim is not anymore toppling the government or pressing on the government to resign. It is clear by now that the government will not resign even if they remained boycotting. The true reason which has become clear is crippling the parliament so that a new elections law won't be endorsed. Consequently, they want to put the Lebanese before one and only one choice: either the election law of 1960 or no elections. Yet both choices are bad. Now I won't say which is worse. Later we will tackle this issue. However both choices are bad.

Well, what I want to say is not from a mid position. Again starting from my transparency in what I say, I say that we are not medial people. We are not mediators too. We do not play the role of mediators. It's not because we do not want to play the role of the mediator, but rather because we are the targeted party in fact. We are the targeted party. Thus indeed I can't be the mediator. We are in this political position in this political dispute and we are proud of being in the position we are in, we were in, we are still in, and we will remain in. However, that does not prevent us from giving and receiving advice. We advise them and they advice us though in this country there are people whom if you advise they view you as a haughty person as they believe they are greater than being advised. We accept to be advised. Why don't you advise us and we advise you? This is what the world is based on. I want to draw your attention – so that I won't use the word advice – to a mistake done in evaluation. You always build all your considerations on a definite basis. This had taken place in the past. You have a definite evaluation; and you based on this evaluation, you are preventing voting on the new election law, pulling off any enhancement in the political level and hindering any achievement for this government through your boycott. After all, if this government wants to do anything for the Lebanese and the people, they are blocking its way and preventing it from making this achievement.

What are they betting on? They bet that in some days, the regime in Syria will fall. It might take a week or two and the regime in Syria will be toppled. Perhaps it will take more time and in a month or two the regime in Syria will fall. Is this evaluation correct?

First, these stories are not new. In some time, the events in Syria would have been taking place for two full years.

From the very first day some princes, kings, presidents and ministers – and consequently the leaderships in March 14 Bloc – said that the regime in Syria would fall in two months. Still the events have been taking place for almost two years. Two months passed and the regime did not fall. Two more months were extended. The two extended months passed and the regime did not fall. They were precautious this time and they said three months. They did not say two months this time; they said three months. They extended three more months. They said in the Month of Ramadan. The Month of Ramadan passed. They said three months after the Month of Ramadan. We reached Aleppo. We reached Damascus. We reached this last Month of Ramadan…. Two months have almost passed. This is the first point.

The second point is that if you build your information on data you receive, your data is incorrect. All Arab media outlets and satellite channels – indeed they themselves know that some of them say lies and lead a psychological war – said that Damascus is collapsing and will fall in the hand of the armed opposition and within days the regime will come to an end. This atmosphere prevailed during the past couple of weeks. This data is altogether incorrect. Any neutral person who puts the map of all of Syria before his eyes would see the cities and towns and important places where the regime is still strongly prevailing and the places under the control of the opposition. If he carries a study on that would he deduce that the regime would fall in a day or two or in a week or two or in a month or two or three or in a year or two? Do not build your considerations on wrong evaluations.

At least since 2005 up till today, March 14 Bloc did not make any bargain which came out to be correct. You remember that in one occasion – I will not reiterate – I mentioned the first bargain and the first evaluation were wrong, the second evaluation was wrong… until reaching the fifth evaluation. Now for two years, you have been making the same mistake at a time when the true national forces are being the true players on the national level regardless of the regional developments.

However you are a political structure which remains bargaining on the international situation and the regional situation. What is Israel doing? What is taking place in Syria? What do the Americans want to do?

Let's talk to each other in Lebanese terms. Thus I do not advise them to carry on in making wrong evaluations and to verify their data on the developments on the Syria level, to reconsider their boycott, not to promote more divisions in the country, and to head to the parliament so that the forces meet to discuss the election law because this is the normal track.

Parliamentary elections are due in some months. Well have patience then. We remained in camps for two years. We waited for two years. You remember that we used to say let's wait. But in no time two years passed. Then why don't you wait for some months.

The normal track is that the forces meet again and that a new election law be issued so that new elections would take place. On the light of the elections, the new government would be formed. This is if we want to move the country to the peaceful shore and to work according to national interests. As such we won't wait for so and so who insist on coming via Damascus Airport. No dear, come via Beirut Airport. Why don't you let Damascus Airport aside? Let people reconsider this status quo.

I wrap up the Lebanese political issue saying these evaluations are wrong. The normal track is that if we want to follow the national interest and if we want to step out from these crises and tensions, we must resort to the dialogue table. If you want to come back to the national dialogue table you are most welcomed. There is a Parliament. Why don't you come back to the Parliament so that we issue an election law and thus work for the elections? Whoever wins the elections would see how to form the new government.

I have a very brief word on Syria before wrapping my speech with Palestine. As for Syria, I want to say something. The status quo is getting more and more complicated. Even those who believe that the armed opposition is able to put a military decisive end to the battle are very much mistaken.

Things in Syria took a different track. The description which used to be given first that the struggle is between the regime and its people – regardless of the previous evaluation of this description – has become incorrect indeed.

Today in Syria there is a true popular division. There is the regime and a considerable section of the people is with the regime. The opposing section guards the arms holders and is resorting to regional and international forces. Things moved towards armed confrontation.

Some might carry a moral argument with you asking whether you are with or against the Syria people. I want to ask a question here. I want to report on new events I don't want to evoke a cause which is two years old. Are the residents of Qitneh Syrians or imported? Are the people of Girmaneh Syrians or imported? Are the residents of the neighborhoods in Damascus Syrians or imported? Booby trapped cars are being dispatched to many of the cities and towns in Syria. At what time is that being done? See the ignobility. Booby trapped cars are being detonated between 7:30 and 8:00 in the morning. That means when pupils are going to their schools and streets are jammed with people. People would come to evacuate the wounded and the killed; a second car would come and is detonated. This is the peak of ignobility. Aren't they Syrian people?

I want to ask all those who all through the past couple of years have been asking us: Where is your moral position from the Syrian people who is being killed by the Syrian Opposition? Where is your moral stance from the Syrian people who – according to some of its members – are being aligned on walls and shot before the shots of the cameras? Where is your moral stance from those who are being thrown from the top of buildings in Syria? What is your moral stance from those who are being killed according to their identity in Syria? Aren't they Syrian people? Are they imported?

Now let no one make a fabrication and say the conflict is between the regime and the Syria people. No dear, this is not true.

There is a regime which is defending its existence according to its convictions. A considerable part of the Syrian people is with the regime. There is an armed opposition which wants to topple the regime and a part of the people is with it. A tough bloody fighting is taking place in Syria. Unfortunately, I tell you that the battle is long in Syria and the reason is that the armed opposition and those who back it – including regional and universal states – refuse any form of dialogue with the regime.

What does refusing any form of dialogue mean? That means that armed confrontation will carry on. That means more killing, demolition and bloodshed. Why do you refuse dialogue? Why do you refuse a political solution? Frankly I want to tell you. Today some states have much money and they do not care if people in Syria remained fighting for a year, two or ten. They do not lose anything. Money is abundant. They would send money. What is the problem in that? Regional forces are benefiting from this struggle.

There are not any ties between us and Al Qaeda. There is rather a kind of a contest and at times hostility from their behalf. Now they treat us as an enemy; that's up to them. However, today I want to make a call on Al Qaeda. I want to tell them that the Americans and the Europeans and some governments in our Arab and Islamic world have made an ambush for them in Syria. They opened a field for you to come from all around the world – from London, Paris, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other places – so that you kill each other in Syria. You have fallen in this ambush. Suppose that the groups which belong to Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda's intellect could make an achievement in the battle field one day, they will be the first to pay the price in Syria as they have paid the price in other countries. An ambush is installed for them.

Today, I would like to tell you and March 14 Bloc too to be careful. The Americans are not in a hurry so that the events in Syria come to an end. On the contrary, they want the events in Syria to take a long time. That's because more killing among the lines of the opposition, more killing in the lines of the Syrian Arab Army and the Syrian Security apparatus, and more killing among the various groups of the Syrian people means a weak Syria, a feeble Syria, a demolished Syria, and an exhausted Syria which is cancelled from the regional formula. For whose interest is this? This is for the interest of America and Israel.

Today taking into consideration the strategic, national, and political considerations and talking logically and humanitarianly, we have always said that our hearts feel pain and suffer strongly and faithfully whenever a soul is killed in Syria. We ache for every child, women, old or young man who is killed in Syria regardless of their affiliations or position. These are natural and normal feelings.

Even according to humanitarian considerations, today it is everybody's responsibility to work to reach political dialogue, and everyone who prevents political dialogue is a criminal who assumes responsibility for everyone who is being killed in Syria. He is a criminal and a sinner because he would be insisting on fighting and on bloodshed no matter what his slogans are.

Today the scene has become more complicated because Takfiri movements are strongly getting involved. They are proving having a forceful presence what have caused their own allies in the Syrian Opposition to become worried. Listen to their statements and read their articles. They have the right to be worried. That's because whoever reads the experiences of these forces in other countries, has the right to get worried on the future and the alternative and to question where to these are leading Syria.

Thus at this point, the humanitarian, moral, religious, national and strategic – call it whatever you want – obligation is that all efforts be exerted so that all parties accept dialogue that would lead to a political settlement in Syria.

My last topic is Gaza. I will also usher to it from a Lebanese perspective. Lately, a delegation from March 14 Bloc visited Gaza. They went to felicitate them on their victory. They took memorial photos and came back and made statements. Indeed some of our allies in March 8 Bloc had a doubtful viewpoint wondering what was taking place.

Here I will say my personal viewpoint. I was very much pleased for what took place. I tell you that this is something good. I encourage March 14 Bloc to go to Gaza and support the resistance in Gaza and back the resistance arms in Gaza and felicitate the resistance for its victory in Gaza. We do not want them to support the arms in Lebanon or to felicitate the resistance for its victory in Lebanon or to acknowledge the victory in Lebanon.

We – the resistance in Lebanon – consider that we are treated fairly when someone felicitates the resistance in Gaza and acknowledge it and the efficiency of its arms. This is excellent. Go for it. Even more, there is something even more supreme which I read in newspapers. According to the newspapers, some personalities who went to Gaza, said upon their return that they will not abandon one span of Palestinian land. This is excellent. What do we argue over then, dear? If your visit to Gaza makes you return and talk with this logic, then go to Gaza at our expense. Indeed this is an emotional stance. Inshallah it will become a political stance because the political movement to which this speaker belongs does not say that. The movement rather backs the Arab Initiative that gives the Israelis two-third of Palestine! So where is this one span statement then? Still, this is great. This is a development. Even if it is on the emotional level, it is good politically.

As for Gaza and the victory which took place, I want to make a remark as we have talked on this issue previously. I only want to make a remark. Do you remember what was said after the end of July War which lasted for 33 days? It was said that Israel was not defeated. It was said that Hezbollah did not gain victory. It was rather a defect of leaderships. What does Peretz know about the defense ministry? The Chief of Staff was in the aerial force and he does not know how to fight on land. Olmert was a mayor but he was appointed a Premier. No! No! The leadership was lacking while Israel is strong, able, great and capable of inflicting defeat. It was just a slip.

This was said on the Lebanese as well as on the Arab level. Some Lebanese did not want to acknowledge that you gained victory and that you are strong. They thus said the Israelis made a mistake. It was a slip. The Israelis formed committees, Winograd, and committees to examine and investigate. They also formed tens of investigation committees in the Israeli army to make technical and skillful discussions to point out the gaps, deficiencies, and defects and to draw lessons and morals as they say. They worked following 2006 and in fact they built a new army: magnificent capacities were pumped in the Israeli Army, the Israeli Army was installed by military equipments, and enormous trainings took place from 2006 till this very day. Never in the history of Israel there was this magnitude of training and maneuvers on the military, security and internal levels. Israel seemed to benefit from all morals and lessons to the extent that in the following war it would sweep the world.

Gaza War took place by the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. Those who went to Gaza and felicitated it today, at that time said Gaza lost noting that nothing changed from that war and this. Here too, it appeared that the Israeli Army is a failure noting that the Defense Minister then was Barak perhaps and Ashkenazi was the Chief of Staff who had all his life in the terrestrial force. He was also the head of the northern region. Again they benefited and gained lessons.

Today in 2012, the war took place after all of this training, lesson-drawing, equipments, armaments, and enormous budgets. Still – brothers and sisters and dear Lebanese – you have seen by your own eyes how it is that two or three rockets – two fell in Tel Aviv and the third fell in one of the suburbs of Tel Aviv – had made Netanyahu, Barak, the Chief of Staff and the Interior Front Minister hurry towards shelters and give up before a unarmed strip. It is a besieged strip which is just like the palm of the hand. It has no mountains, valleys, and topographic relieves that may help the resistance. This was the situation in Israel. Indeed Israel was defeated in this confrontation and begged for solution. Isn't this a lesson to be taken into consideration?

What does this indicate? That indicates that what took place in 2006 was not a slip, and what took place in 2009 in Gaza Strip was not a slip too. That's because what took place in 2012 few weeks ago was not a slip as well. A slip may happen once. May it be a slip twice and thrice as well? Are we playing soccer? Governments may be toppled. States may as well change their fighting doctrines. When we say we want to draw lessons, we must record that this strong, arrogant, certain, frightening, and capable Israel has come to an end for ever.

This decline started in 2000. When they were defeated, they labeled it a strategic defeat. The issue is not limited to the border line and its length, width and the number of villages in it. The point is that Israel withdrew from an Arab land with no conditions. It retreated defeated and humiliated under the effect of the strikes of the resistance. This is a strategic defeat. It is the nail in the coffin of Israel which opened the way for the rest of the nails to be hammered in the coffin of Israel Inshallah.

I finally address all those who talked during Gaza War and after Gaza War and supposed the existence of confusion in the relation between some Palestinian resistance factions - specifically Hamas – and Hezbollah or the Islamic Republic in Iran or the like. You know the abundant analyses which were made in this domain.

Many analyses were written to the effect that the Palestinian resistance returned to the Arab bosom and emerged from the Iranian bosom and the banner is again an Arab banner and that the Arabs are back now to restore Palestine. Much was said about the ties.

Indeed, through experience man comes to know that much of what was written were aspirations and not facts. They are aspirations and not facts. Here I would like to say a couple of words:

As for Gaza, Palestine and the relation with the Islamic Republic, indeed relations are normal with all factions. Nothing is disordered. There is nothing of this sort, I assure you.

As for Iran, when the Islamic Republic supports and aids the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance especially inside Palestine it would be undertaking its religious, human and moral obligation. Ask the officials of all the Palestinian factions: all through these 20 or 30 years has Iran ever asked for anything? Do you want more transparency than this? Has Iran ever asked for anything? Has it interfered in any political decision? Has Iran ever asked us to execute operations or to halt operations? Has Iran ever asked us to escalate or not? Has Iran ever asked us to make a truce or refuse a truce? Has Iran ever asked us to make conciliation or not? Has Iran ever interfered in our organizational structure or internal struggles? Never! Can anyone say contrary to that?

For thirty years the Islamic Republic has been offering support for the Palestinian resistance with no conditions. I even tell you that it did not even wait for a word of thanks. The story of thanks has its own misconceptions. This is another story which we will tackle later.

Iran is doing its obligation towards Gaza. I may speak on behalf of the Iranians. And as a result of affection to His Eminence the leader Sayyed, I may speak on his behalf and tell you: Should the Arab states come to Gaza and give it money and arms and convey arms and rockets to Gaza and train the Palestinians and convey military experiences to the fighters there and strengthen them, we will laud these Arab states, praise them and move on their track. They will then spare money and arms on Iran. Then we will take what it used to give Palestine! There is no problem in that. Someone is supposing that he is detaching Palestine from Iran, detaching the Iranian cause from Iran, detaching Gaza from Iran… These are dreams nurtured by children. All what Iran needs from Palestine is that the Palestinian people be strong and able to defend themselves and to restore their land. Iran is the happiest for the victory of the Palestinian people. Still it does not want anything from the Palestinian resistance. Now whoever wants to hold the Palestinian banner is welcomed? Is it new Egypt? By God it is welcomes. Is it the Arab states? By God they are welcomed.

We also in Hezbollah will laud any Arab state and Arab leader and Arab president and say: We are with you. We support you for the sake of Palestine. Let the banner be an Arab banner again. We have no reservations at all in this perspective.

Again I thank all the graduate brethrens and sisters. I thank all the audience. May Allah bless you. May Allah grant the graduate brethrens and sisters more success and open new horizons for them and guide them to every good deed for the good of their faith, their world and their Hereafter.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Is Russia throwing in the towel for Assad?

The short answer is "no!".  However,

There are clear signs of two things happening:

a)  Russian politicians and decision makers have different views about the situation in Syria.  Some think that Assad will lose, while others think that government forces have inflicted serious losses on the insurgency.
Keep in mind: differences in opinion between experts do NOT AT ALL mean a change in policies.  Russia's policy towards Syria is one based on principles and not one which will change depending on circumstances.  Russia has clearly said that it will never allow a "Libya #2" in Syria.  That is a principled position which in itself does not secure an outcome, only excludes a specific scenario.
b) The Kremlin is clearly working on contingency plans which include a possible evacuation of Russian citizens should the insurgency present an even bigger threat to Russian nationals.
Keep in mind: several Russian (and Ukrainian) nationals have been kidnapped by the insurgents which, in a typical Wahabi-thug manner, are now demanding a ransom in US dollars.  This is an ominous development which the Kremlin cannot ignore.  Again, contingency plans do NOT AT ALL mean a change in policies.  To take all the necessary measures to protect its nationals is an inherent obligation of any state and not an original policy.
In the past I wrote several posts to the effect that the "Russians are not coming"  (to rescue Assad) and now I have to post again saying that "the Russians are not leaving either"...

M. K. Bhadrakumar, whom I respect a lot and whom I consider a very good expert, has, this time, gotten it fundamentally wrong when he says that Russia changes tack on Syria.  Russian policy on Syria has not changed one bit: Russia will oppose the US/NATO/Wahabi war on Syria by all political means, Russia will remain open to a negotiated political solution as long as it approved by the UN Security Council and Russia reserves the right to take any action needed in defense of its nationals.  That's it - no more, no less.

Frankly, I find this policy rather simple, clear and rational and I don't see why so many experts are zig-zagging between predictions of "Russia sends its Navy to stop NATO's aggression against Syria" to "Russia has given up on Syria" or "Russia and US in secret deal over Assad".

Fundamentally, Russia is using the power that it has (veto at the UNSC) and stays away from pretending to use the power it does not have (military intervention).  By the way, this is also exactly what China is doing, all for the same reasons, yet nobody is constantly speaking about Chinese zig-zags on China.  Why?  Because China is not the ex-Soviet Union with global ambitions.

This is the key thing which so many experts simply cannot get used to: Russia is not a global power anymore.  In fact, it has absolutely no desire to become one again.  Russia is, of course, a major power which, in theory, could challenge the USA, just like China could.  However, both Russia and China could only do that a great, immense, risk for themselves.

And then there is the time factor: both Russia and China fully realize that they, even more than the other BRICS countries, have time on their side and that each passing year makes them stronger.  The USA, in contrast, is globally overextended, burdened by a debt it will never pay, hated world wide, and the only thing which still keeps it going is the fact that the rest of the planet is too afraid of the US military to openly refuse to use the US dollar as a currency reserve and to pay for its energy.  The US is also socially dysfunctional, culturally sterile, militarily over-extended, economically de-industrialized, and politically "neo-feudal" (1% rule over 99% of serfs).  Sooner or later the USA will become weak enough to make it possible for any major power, including Russia or China, to openly defy it, but while it is still powerful but weakening it is an extremely dangerous foe which should not be under-estimated.  This is why Russia, along with the other regional powers on the planet, will continue to carefully wait for the right time and avoid any sudden move which would compromise all that it has achieved in the past 12 years.

One more thing: the EU.  I would argue that the current condition of the EU is even worse than the one of the USA.  Russian politicians look at the EU in total disgust.  Just yesterday I was listening to one Russian expert saying that all that the EU had to offer was a "never ending gay-pride parade combined with a massive Maghrebization of Africanization of its society".  That is not a bad way to put it.  The EU, as a political project, is dying, and the European society arguable even more dysfunctional than the US one.  The likes of Sarkozy and Merkel can delude themselves by playing big power politics, but the fact that French Rafales were the first to bomb Libya will change exactly nothing to prevent the French society from dying from the truly cataclysmic influx of immigrants, most of which come from the Maghreb.  From Estonia to Portugal and from Bulgaria to Iceland, Europe is nothing more than a US colony, totally ruined by a corrupt political elite, which is sinking as fast as the Titanic did, and whose orchestra (corporate media) is still playing its happy ballroom music.

But "dying" and "dead" are very different things.  The EU is still a huge market, and the EU elites have a lot of soft power to throw around, much more than Russia.  And this is why at least for the time being, Russia will try to avoid openly antagonizing the EU.

I hope that the above sheds some light on Russia's policies in general and Russia's policies towards Syria in particular.  If you have any questions, opinions or comments, please feel free to post them here.

The Saker

Russian warships set sail to Mediterranean amid possible Syria evacuation

RT reports:

The Russian Navy has sent five ships to the Mediterranean Sea to replace the region’s existing fleet. The move comes after the foreign ministry said it may call for the evacuation of Russian citizens in Syria if the government in Damascus falls.

­Three warships and two support ships of the Russian Baltic Fleet are set to join the Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean.
Frigate Yaroslav Mudri
The Neustrashimyy-class frigate Yaroslav Mudri and landing ships Kaliningrad and Aleksandr Shabalin, accompanied by a towboat and a tanker ship, have set sail from their base in Baltiysk, the defense ministry announced on Tuesday. Their mission includes exercises in air defense, anti-ship warfare and anti-submarine warfare, the Navy statement said.

The vessels will replace the ships of the Baltic Fleet, which have been patrolling the Eastern Mediterranean since November.

The Russian military did not elaborate on whether the fleet would visit the Syrian port of Tartus, where the Russian Navy maintains a support base.

Landing ship Aleksandr Shabalin
The warships are being deployed as a contingency for the possible evacuation of Russian citizens from Syria, a source in the Navy told Interfax news agency. The vessels could transport Russian nationals from the warzone to Russia’s Black Sea ports, the source said.

Last week, a senior foreign ministry official confirmed that Russia has prepared a plan to evacuate its citizens from Syria, which will be implemented if the situation there deteriorates further. The plan covers not only the staff of the Russian embassy in Damascus, but also several thousand Russian civilians living in the country, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said.

Russian citizens may be evacuated from Syria if Damascus loses more territory to the rebel fighters. The comments were interpreted by Washington as a sign of Russia changing its position on the Syrian conflict, but Moscow quickly denied this claim.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What are the folks at the BBC smoking...

Good old BBC - what would the world do without this paragon of professional journalism and impartiality?!


Check out how the BBC reported about the (illegal) demonstration which the so-called "non-system opposition" (aka "those who could not even get a single deputy elected into the Duma") organized today:

Impressive crowd, no?  In the "hundreds" according to the article.  And just to make sure that anybody doubting the size of this demonstration would not think that it lacked popular support, the reporter added that these demonstrators were "braving freezing temperatures".  And just to add some extra weight to it all, we are informed that this rally was one of "several" and "nationwide" which took place.  It would be legitimate to assume that, say, at least 10-15 major Russian cities saw demonstrations.  Finally, we are told that the police "broke up" the demonstration and that "opposition leaders" were arrested.

Scary, no?

Clearly, Putin is mercilessly crushing the legitimate aspirations to democracy and freedom of the Russian people and his goon cops are on a repressive rampage.  Is the revolution is scheduled for tomorrow morning?


First, take a look at the Moscow demonstration on a photo taken from above the square:

(click for full size)
The truth is that the demonstration was minuscule.  Second, this was a sunny winter day no worse in any way than what Moscovites live with every day of their winter - there was nothing to "brave" by Russian standards.

Furthermore, the folks represented here were not, repeat *NOT*, the "opposition".  The "opposition" in Russia is composed of three parties: the Communists, the LDPR and the Just Russia parties.  These parties made it into the Duma and are the real opposition.  What we saw on the streets are folks representing something in the range of one, maybe two, percent of the population.  Mostly, they represent themselves and their Anglosaxon sponsors and bosses.

As for the rally being banned, you can see for yourself that it is smack in the middle of a square with traffic on all sides, and this is why the Moscow authorities tried for weeks to convince the organizers that this was a bad place and that traffic would be disrupted and the demonstrators endangered.  The organizers of the rally replied that this was the Lubianka square, where the KGB headquarters had been in the Soviet times and were the current FSB has its official headquarters; furthermore, there is a monument to the victims of Soviet repressions there.  The city authorities *did* authorize the demonstrators to place flowers at the monument, but asked them to then keep on walking in order to avoid creating a traffic jam.

Some demonstrators complied and freely left, some refused and were detained long enough to remove them from the square.

And that is all the "repression" which took place.

Makes me wonder what the folks at the BBC are smoking...

The Saker

Friday, December 14, 2012

Insurgents in Syria burn a Shia mosque and an Armenian church

On YouTube one of their supporters also added this heartfelt message:
"Fuck bashar and his slut mother he destroyed all of syria with the help of kuffar shia irani pigs and russian communist atheist bastards but our mujahdeen bros will now rid syria of bashar bastard and we will have an islamic country where there will be no alchoal drugs and prostitutes everywhere it will be a islamic laws not wester laws u shia kuffar pigs time to pay now for killing thousands of sunni muslims ur god khomeni is in hell roting and u all pieces of scum will join him inshallah"
Here is another video where the same folks burn down an Armenian church:

I think that these videos, combined with the rather unambiguous message, make the future these insurgents plan for Syria pretty clear.

The Saker

Thursday, December 13, 2012

BBC finally caves in: Litvinenko was a paid MI6 agent

Anybody who knew anything about the entire Litvinenko saga knew that already, but now even the BBC is reporting it: Litvinenko was a paid MI6 agent.

Now let's see how long it will take the BBC to find out what country's intelligence service is known to have used Polonium to kill undesirable people?

The Saker

Bosnia v5, Chechnia v4, Kosovo v3, Libya v2, Syria v1

This could have been footage made in Bosnia, Chechnia, Kosovo or Libya, but it happens to have been made in Syria.  Same faces, same crazed expression, same murderous determination - this is the face of US-sponsored Wahabi Islam and this is what the so-called "friends of Syria" are trying to put into power in Damascus.

Frankly, and in a very naive way, when I listen to these lunatics I have visions of Russian Il-76MDs bringing a few divisions of Paratroopers to free Syria from these murderous thugs.  Of course, this is not going to happen and, frankly, I don't even really think that it should happen since Russia has, of course, no business at all policing the planet.  And yet, I feel heartbroken for the Syrian people whose future under the rule of this unholy NATO-Wahabi alliance looks outright terrible.

Judge for yourself by listening to the candid ravings of these madmen:

Syrian opposition victory possible, but at an absolutely unacceptable price – Moscow

RT reports:

Moscow has admitted the possibility that the Syrian opposition may emerge victorious as government forces continue to lose more territory as the conflict rages on, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said.

“We must face the facts: the current tendency shows that the government is progressively losing control over an increasing part of the territory,'' Bogdanov told the Public Chamber. “An opposition victory can't be ruled out."

The Deputy Foreign Minister warned that Syria would most likely suffer heavy casualties from the ensuing violence.

"The fighting will become even more intense, and (Syria) will lose tens of thousands and, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of civilians,'' he warned. "If such a price for the removal of the president seems acceptable to you, what can we do? We, of course, consider it absolutely unacceptable.''

Other Russian officials also weighed in on the deteriorating situation in Syria following the Friends of Syria meeting, which was held in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Wednesday. The delegates officially recognized the ‘National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces’ as the only representative of the Syrian people.

Alexei Pushkov, the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, believes the decision makes the prospects for a peaceful resolution to the conflict exceedingly grim.

"Recognition of the Syrian opposition as ‘legitimate’ authorities by the ‘Friends of Syria’ gives up on any attempts to find a political solution. The only option now is war," Pushkov wrote on his Twitter account on Thursday.

Many Russian diplomats view this latest development as a major setback in the Syrian conflict, arguing that the newly recognized coalition does not adequately represent the political will of the Syrian people.

Pushkov then hinted at what could transpire in the event that the militants resort to violence against Russian consulate officials and civilians in the region.

"Syrian militants have threatened to attack the embassies of Russia and Ukraine in Damascus to ‘take care of’ the Russians. The US sends special operations forces in such cases," he warned.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said recognition of the opposition coalition hinders efforts to establish a smooth political transition in Syria.

"As the coalition has been recognized as the only legitimate representative, it seems that the United States decided to place all bets on the armed victory of this very national coalition," Lavrov said.

Moscow, which warned its western partners that “Syria is not Libya,” is fiercely opposed to any outside military interference in the conflict.

Syrian rebels set to execute Ukrainian journalist

RT reports:

NGOs are urging Syrian rebels to release a Ukrainian journalist, Anhar Kochneva, who is set to be executed Thursday. Meanwhile the group behind the kidnapping warned it would now target all Russians, Ukrainians and Iranians on Syrian soil.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), ARTICLE 19, the International Press Institute and Reporters Without Borders issued a joint statement expressing deep concern about Kochneva’s life and urging the leadership of the Free Syrian Army and of the Syrian Opposition Coalition to ensure that the journalist is safe and set free.

The groups also called on the French, British and US governments, as well as the European Union to work with the Syrian opposition to facilitate her release.

Kochneva, who has reported critically about the Syrian rebels for Russian and Ukrainian news outlets, was captured in the beginning of October near the restive city of Homs. The kidnappers, allegedly members of the Free Syrian Army, threatened to kill her on December 13 if a US$ 50 million ransom is not paid.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian authorities urged Damascus to work more actively to help free the journalist. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Aleksandr Dikusarov said that Kiev expects “concrete results” in attempts to release her.

In response to the Ukrainian demands, Kochneva’s kidnappers posted a video in which they threatened to target the embassies of Ukraine, Russia, as well as all Russians, Ukrainians and Iranians in Syria.

“We urge not to let a single Russian, Ukrainian or Iranian alive out of Syria,” the rebels said in the video, aired by Ukrainian news channel Ukraina.

The rebels label Kochneva a spy, claiming that she was carrying arms and worked as an interpreter for the Russian officers.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry did not issue comment on the latest video, saying its authenticity cannot be verified, according to Ukraina news channel.

A month after the kidnapping, a video message from Kochneva was published online in which she appealed to the Embassies of Ukraine and Russia, as well as the Syrian government, to meet the demands of the kidnappers.

On the 28 November, in the second video, Kochneva read a text in Arabic admitting to having participated in the fighting, working as a military interpreter with Syrian and Russian officers.

CPJ, ARTICLE 19, the International Press Institute and Reporters Without Borders doubt the objectiveness of these videos. “We are deeply concerned that in both video appeals the journalist seems to be speaking under pressure,” they said in their statement released on Wednesday.

Photo from Anhar Kochneva’s Facebook account

Photo from Anhar Kochneva’s Facebook account

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Syrian chemical weapons canard - a preparation for a false flag?

When all the nonsense about the Syrians "combining the precursors of their binary chemical weapons" began I dismissed it all as the usual imperial demonization of the latest "new Hitler", but now this entire topic is taking on a more ignominious character because the Israelis and the Americans are now openly threatening some kind of "consequences" if "Assad uses his chemical weapons against his people".  Some are also mentioning the risk of the insurgents getting their hands on government chemical weapons stores.

Since Syria refused to sign the CWC (because Israel had WMDs) it is really impossible to know what kind of weapons Syria might have, but I think that it is not unreasonable to assume that the Syrian chemical weapons program would be more or less on par with what Iraq had under Saddam Hussein: Sarin, Tabun, VX, and mustard gas combined with many possible delivery systems.  If true, this is all very bad news, not because Assad is about to gas his own population, but because of the fantastic false flag potential such a wide variety of weapons creates.

First, let me immediately dismiss the likelihood of the use of chemical weapons by government forces on the insurgency.  With the possible exception of chemical hand grenades, I don't see how the government forces could use their chemical weapons against an urban insurgency.  Besides, chemical weapons are inherently difficult to use, and it is impossible to conceal the fact that they were engaged.  Since Assad is quite aware of the current propaganda and since he shows no signs of being insane,  I would consider the possibility of the regime using chemical weapons as pretty much non-existent.

But the crazed Jihadis?  Oh yes, these guys are totally capable of using such weapons, not only against the Syrian government forces, but also against the general population or even their own forces and then lay the blame on Assad.

Furthermore, the US and NATO could easily arrange for another Markale or Racak false flag "massacre" and fire a few chemical rounds somewhere close to an al-Jazeera TV crew, say close to a group of refugees feeling to the Turkish border.

The US, NATO and Israel have a long and "distinguished" history of false flag operations - from Gladio, to the USS Liberty, to Operation Northwoods, to the USS Maine, to Markale to Racak to, of course, 9/11 and many others - and they have never had to pay a meaningful political price for engaging in such practices.

In the meantime, the Jihadis have resumed an all time favorite custom of theirs: beheading on video under the exalted screams of "Allahu Akbar". 

They got away with such practices in Bosnia, but it did cost some a little bit of political embarrassment in Chechnia, in particular when they murdered some Anglos, of course, and now it is likely to again cause them only minor PR problems.  All in all, the West has become used to being the patron for bloodthirsty psychopaths and while such videos might create some unease, it is not going to really influence anybody.  Expect more of the same, only worse.

The Saker

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This is becoming boooooring

Syrian WMD now.  Nevermind that the only case of use of chemical weapons "against his own people" was by Saddam under the high patronage of, what else, the USA.  Nevermind that it is also nonsense.  Nevermind that it would make no sense.

The US "patriotic crowd" seems to be buying this one too...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Syria - a rather unexpected and optimistic scenario?

Thierry Meyssan is a complicated source to rate.  On one hand, he is a very well informed person and he has to be credited with being one of the first people to raise doubts about the 9/11 events.  But I also recall Meyssan sometimes mistaking his hopes for facts, and some of his analyses are superficial.  Anyway, he is in Syria now (he is very pro-regime), and he recently reported a version of events there which I find interesting and I would like to pass it on to you.

According to Meyssan, the recent Internet and phone shutdown in Syria was part of a government plan to force the insurgents to use their satellite phones, thereby revealing their position.  Meyssan claims that this tactic has been very effective and that the government forces were able to kill many insurgents, in particular those affiliated with al-Qaeda.  At the same time, Meyssan also reports that the insurgency has increased its pace of operations.

Meyssan claims that all these events reflect the attempts of both parties to the conflict to position themselves in the best possibly situation before negotiations which, according to Meyssan, will happen in February.

Meyssan claims that nothing will happen until the members of the new Obama Administration are fully sworn in.  Then, according to Meyssan, real negotiations will happen at the UN with eventually a deployment of UN forces in Syria in the course of March 2013.  The most interesting part of his version is that he claims that the bulk of these UN troops will be composed of soldiers from the CSTO.

Knowing the absolute *loathing* that the US and NATO have for the CSTO (with which they even refuse any formal contacts), this is very hard to imagine.  A far more likely version, in my opinion, would be the deployment of forces Arab League (as predicted by Russian experts).  And yet, Meyssan is basing is version of events on what he believes is an inevitable victory of the government forces which the West will want to avoid.

I am not at all sure that time is in the government's favor.  The only credible reason for that is, according to what I have heard, the fact that most of the population is starting to really fear and hate the crazy Jihadis in the insurgency who are, as usual, leaving a trail of atrocities in their wake.

Whatever may be the case, we might see the outlines of a possible solution: a *mix* of Arab League and CSTO forces?

What is sure is that Russia will never allow another Bosnia or Kosovo to happen.  If, and that is a big "if", a UN peacekeeping operation is approved by the UNSC Russia (and probably China) will definitely make sure that this will not turn into a cover for an invasion of Syria (like what NATO did in Croatia and Bosnia).

This is a very optimistic scenario and I am, by nature and by trade, a rather pessimistic person.  Over time, pessimists also tend to be proven right.  So I am passing to you this rather optimistic version with some reluctance - caveat emptor.

The Saker