— Midnight approaching over Syria?

It is now two and a half minutes to midnight. The closest the world has ever been, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, to a probable “global catastrophe”.
Global Research, April 23, 2017

To the elation of the western corporate media, Neocons like John McCain and Democons like Hillary Clinton – who had only just called for Trump to attack Syria 24 hours before he obliged – the US President unilaterally ordered the US Army, on April 6, to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat near Homs. And managed to appease the entire ‘establishment’ he promised to oppose during his presidential campaign — that so vehemently attacked him for everything he did during his short time in the White House, previous to the attack.

Just to put their ‘elation’ into perspective: Of the top 100 newspapers in the US, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a media watch group based in New York City, reports that 47 ran editorials on the attack; 39 clearly in favour of it, seven ambiguous (although some may argue that they too were in favour), and only one opposing it. Journalist Brian Williams, who was caught lying about going to Iraq with a Navy Seal team in a helicopter that was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, described the images of the cruise missile launch as “beautiful pictures” live on MSNBC. What he didn’t mention was that the missiles in those “beautiful pictures” killed seven Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers and 7 (or 9) civilians according to reports.

The attack was justified by the US saying (without conducting an investigation or presenting any evidence) that President Assad had used chemical weapons on Syrians in Idlib. This is precisely what the Russian government and others protested in the emergency UN Security Council meeting, called after the attack. Asking, why the US would not wait for the United Nations or other agencies to complete their investigations to find out what had really happened before acting?

Especially after the Russian Ministry of Defence released information about a Syrian army airstrike in Idlib on a rebel warehouse allegedly housing chemical weapons which, according to them, released the chemicals resulting in the deaths that were being used to vilify President Assad. And after what had happened in East Ghouta in 2013 when the US almost went to war with Syria, accusing President Assad of having used chemical weapons (similar to now), which was later proven to be false by many different agencies and individuals — including Pulitzer Prize winning Journalist Seymour Hersh, Former UN Weapons Inspector Richard Lloyd, the UN and its former Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte (which was blacked out of the mainstream media).

Ray McGovern, who was head of the Soviet Foreign Policy branch of the CIA, reminded everyone in an interview with journalist Lee Stranahan right after the recent alleged chemical attack, that back in 2014, the UN Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had confirmed the destruction of all declared chemical weapons held by the Syrian government on board of a US maritime vessel, under UN supervision, following the East Ghouta incident. Moreover, in January 2016, the OPCW had again certified that the Syrian government was free of all chemical weapons.

Despite the mainstream media’s failure to report on all of these and more, what it most criminally failed to do is point out the illegality of the US strike on Syria, perhaps unsurprisingly, as has been the case starting with the (illegal under international law but ‘humanitarian’) NATO-US bombing of Yugoslavia in 1995.

Marjorie Cohn, Professor Emeritus at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, wrote in Consortium News,

“Regardless of who is responsible for the Khan Sheikhoun chemical deaths…Trump’s response violated both US and international law”.

This is because the US War Powers Resolution act only authorises the President to introduce US Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities in three situations, according to the professor:

First, after Congress has declared war, which has not happened in this case; second, in ‘a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces,’ which has not occurred; third, when there is ‘specific statutory authorisation,’ which there is not”. Making it illegal under US laws.

Meanwhile, the UN Charter prohibits the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”, except for in two cases. One, when done in self-defence after an armed attack (the US was not attacked). Two, after getting approval of the UN Security Council (which was not even sought). Making it illegal under international law as well.

The US administration had to, of course, be fully aware of this. And of the fact that Russia already had some armaments and military personnel placed in Syria to fight ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and the 50 other shades of extremists running rampant in the country, alongside the SAA, which the US attacked — despite risks of sparking a greater conflagration — although, reportedly, only after informing the Russians about it.

And what was the Russian response? To immediately suspend its flight safety memorandum over Syria with the US. Which, according to veteran journalist and correspondent-at-large of Asia Times, Pepe Escobar, meant that Russia, “if it chooses”, could “intercept any Pentagon flying object” from then on. Additionally sending its frigate — Admiral Grigorovich — into the Eastern Mediterranean, towards the location of the US destroyer that launched the cruise missiles into Syria.

Its Prime Minister, clearly unhappy with where things were headed, said that the attack put the US “on the verge of a military clash” with Russia. Meaning that if nothing else, what the attack did manage to do was “push the doomsday clock closer to midnight”, shattering hopes of de-escalating tensions following Trump being voted into the White House (as his campaign rhetoric had indicated towards a possible reconciliation with the Russian and Syrian governments). 

The key point about the current situation, however, was stressed on by President Putin. That trust between the two nations, because of the attack, was at its lowest since the end of the Cold War. And what that does is increase chances of ‘accidental collisions/conflicts’ or worse, which can quickly get out of hand, unleashing a chain of events that both sides may not live to regret.

And that is why cooler heads need to prevail and fast. That dialogue between the two nuclear armed powers have resumed since the attack is a positive step towards the de-escalation of tensions. However, the international community must point out that the habit of unilateral aggression, illegal under international law, adopted by the US and its allies ever since the end of the Cold War, is both unacceptable and unhelpful when it comes to solving crises around the world.

And as the Russians have vehemently been saying for a while now, will only be tolerated by countries on the receiving end for so long, before they start to take things into their own hands. At which point, you will have nuclear armed powers pointing their nukes at each other with hands on triggers, wondering whether they will and when, be forced to do the unthinkable — start a nuclear war/Armageddon. [Israel also has nuclear weapons]

It is now two and a half minutes to midnight. The closest the world has ever been, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, to a probable “global catastrophe”.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a member of the Editorial team at The Daily Star.

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— Radioactive weapons are killing innocent civilians in Iraq—and the US military is behind it

Global Research, February 26, 2017
Alternet 22 February 2017

“Everyone seems to be dying of cancer. Every day one hears about another acquaintance or friend of a friend dying.”

On Monday, February 20, US-led coalition fighter jets bombed al-Shefaa, a residential area in eastern Mosul (Iraq). Sources from a variety of perspectives say that several dozen civilians died in the raid and a large number were wounded. The highest numbers are being quoted by the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency, while the lower numbers come from al-Jazeera. The coalition commanders have not answered questions about the raids.

According to Airwars, a large number of civilians have been killed due to US-led coalition bombings that began in 2014. The total civilians killed range from 5,875 to 7,936, while those specifically killed by coalition airstrikes number between 2,405 and 3,517. These are twice the number of civilians as killed by Russian airstrikes in Syria, according to Airwars figures.

The Iraqi military confirms that it has slowed down its advance into Mosul because it does not know how to fight ISIS without endangering the 750,000 civilians in the region. The most recent UN situation report from Iraq counts 160,000 people already displaced as a result of the Mosul crisis. Low income levels, shortages of water, great threats because of the fighting – these define the situation for residents in and around Mosul.

A joint investigation by Airwars and Foreign Policy pushed the US military to confirm that in two incidents in 2015 the United States used depleted uranium (DU) shells against ISIS targets in Syria. When Airwars’ Samuel Oakford asked the United States military whether it had used any DU in Syria, they first denied it, then finally admitted to its use earlier this month. DU ammunition was fired from A-10 aircraft against fuel tankers.

Strikingly, the A-10 aircraft normally carries high explosive incendiary (HEI) ammunition which, according to its manufacturer General Dynamics, ‘provides fragmentation and incendiary effects for use against personnel, trucks, ammunition storage and many other targets’. The HEI would have been sufficient to destroy the fuel tankers, so that it was unnecessary to use DU – a radioactive substance – to contaminate parts of northern Syria.

Make the Desert Glow.

At the same time as the US was using radioactive weapons in Syria, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said of ISIS – ‘We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out’. This was plainly a reference to some kind of radioactive bombardment. It was precisely what the administration of Barack Obama had already been doing.

Not long after Cruz first made this comment – which became a standard for his stump speeches – Mark Halperin of Bloomberg asked another Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, whether he would go nuclear against ISIS. ‘Well, I’m never going to rule anything out’, replied Trump. When pushed by Chris Matthews of MSNBC on this issue, Trump said, ‘Somebody hits us within ISIS – you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?’

Three generals who made their mark in Iraq between 1991 and 2008 now lead President Trump’s national security team. General James Mattis (Secretary of Defense), General John Kelley (Secretary of Homeland Security) and General H. R. McMaster (National Security Advisor) all led the US counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. Of the three, General James Mattis had the closest relationship to the use of radioactive weapons in Iraq. This was during the siege conducted by the United States against the city of Fallujah in 2004. To grasp the attitude of the US officers in this war, reflect for a minute on Mattis’ statement made in a 2003 speech to soldiers regarding how to comport themselves in Iraq, ‘Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet’.

Fallujah is one of the most forgotten contemporary US battlefields. In that battle to defeat the popular insurgency against the American occupation, the United States used chemical (white phosphorus) and radioactive (DU) weapons with great abandon. The fierceness of the war destroyed three quarters of the city and sent most of its population to the grave or into flight. At this time, General Mattis headed the 1st Marine Division that was key to the Fallujah war.

Ironically, the United States went into Iraq in 2003 with the claim that it wanted to destroy weapons of mass destruction. In turn, it was the United States that used weapons of mass destruction inside Iraq.

The United States dropped at least 116,000 kgs of DU ammunition during the bombing campaign of the 2003 Iraq War. At that time, A-10 fighter jets were used for these missions, the same planes used in Syria. Strike logs released to George Washington University in 2013, shows that in the early months of the war (March-April 2003), DU ammunition was used against cars and trucks as well as buildings of all kinds. The widespread use of these radioactive weapons across Iraq contaminated large swathes of the country. What transpired in Fallujah the next year was merely the continuation of what had become normal policy. The data from that war has not been released as of yet. It would show that DU weapons were fired not only from A-10 jets, but also from tanks and other ground-based devices. These not only contaminated the soil, but also endangered US troops.

It is not as if the US military did not know that DU weapons are dangerous.

The US Environmental Protection Agency calls these weapons ‘a radiation health hazard when inside the body’. A 1975 US Air Force review suggested that these weapons not be used against troops, but only against ‘tanks, armored personnel carriers or other hard targets’. This prohibition was routinely violated during the US War on Iraq. In 2003, the UK’s Royal Society of Medicine and the UN Environment Program warned against the use of such weapons. None of these warnings were heeded. People like Mattis and Kelley had their fingers on the trigger. There is no available evidence that they cautioned against what is tantamount to a war crime.

Everyone Seems to be Dying of Cancer.

Evidence from Baghdad and Fallujah is compelling. Before she died of leukemia, artist Nuha al-Radi wrote, ‘Everyone seems to be dying of cancer. Every day one hears about another acquaintance or friend of a friend dying. How many more die in hospitals that one does not know? Apparently, over 30 per cent of Iraqis have cancer, and there are a lot of kids with leukemia. The depleted uranium left by the US bombing campaign has turned Iraq into a cancer-infested country’.

Dr. Samira Allani, a pediatric specialist at the Fallujah General Hospital, sees the connection between Iraq and Japan – two countries struck hard by weapons of mass destruction. The rate of children born with birth defects in Fallujah are much greater than that of children born – after 1945 – in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The dust from DU emits alpha radiation, which experts say is twenty times more dangerous than the gamma radiation from nuclear weapons. There was no dramatic mushroom cloud over Baghdad or Fallujah, but the smaller explosions might have been just as deadly.

Over the years, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has pushed a non-binding resolution in the UN General Assembly against the use of DU ammunition. Both in 2012 and 2014, the overwhelming majority of the world’s states voted for a resolution brought by the NAM against DU weapons. Both times the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Israel voted against the resolution. In December 2014, the NAM resolution came just as US A-10 fighter jets arrived in Kuwait to bomb ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. There was fear that the US would use DU weapons once more in the region. This fear, we now find, was not unwarranted. The US has said that it used DU twice. One should not be comforted by this number, since there might be other instances where DU was used in the last few years.

It would be naïve to assume that the United States and its coalition are not using DU weaponry in the fight against ISIS in Mosul and elsewhere. These are dangerous weapons, whose radioactivity lasts a very long time and damages societies for generations. Statements by Trump and Cruz about the use of nuclear weapons and the lack of outrage against that shows how desensitized the population has become about violence against the brown bodies of West Asia.

And even against the ecology of the region. In her captivating memoir, Nuha al-Radi writes about fleeing into her family orchard when the US bombing of Iraq took place in 2003. ‘The birds have taken the worst beating of all’, she wrote. ‘They have sensitive souls, which cannot take all this hideous noise and vibration. All the caged lovebirds have died from the shock of the blasts, while birds in the wild fly upside down and do crazy somersaults. Hundreds, if not thousands, have died in the orchard. Lonely survivors fly about in distracted fashion’.

Whether Nuha, powerful artist that she was, wrote of the birds alone or wrote with allegory close to her pen is moot. Both the birds and Iraqis as well Syrians go about in a distracted fashion. Their lives continue to be turned askew by the hideous bombardment of this ongoing war.

Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). His columns appear at AlterNet every Wednesday.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/radioactive-weapons-are-killing-innocent-civilians-in-iraq-and-the-us-military-is-behind-it/5576752

Transcript of Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Valdai Club, October 22

President Putin’s speech was approximately 30 minutes long; the transcript is below is partial, only providing about 2/3 of it. The Kremlin website says “to be continued”, so hopefully the full transcript of his speech and answers to questions, as well as the remarks of the other speakers will be available soon. It would be helpful if names of the speakers are also listed, since the Valdai Club website does not have any information about the final panel or its moderator.

The video is translated into English, and some of the speakers speak English. The video is available here:
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/50548/videos
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/50548

This was a panel of speakers. In addition to President Putin, the other speakers were the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, the former President of the Czech Republic,  and former American ambassador Jack Matlock. The initial speaker is not identified, and the moderator is not identified other than being American.

The moderator, unfortunately, is a surprising and detracting choice from the overall discussion. A better choice would have been someone with an actual background in US foreign policy, from an independent point of view and with a respectful attitude. Anglo-American ignorance and bombast are so frequent in public, but there are other Americans who would have provided an intelligent and enlivening addition to the discussion and a humble attitude. A knowledge disconnect does not further the discussion. And it is a Russian forum, after all. Valdai cannot sabotage its own aims by attempting to dialogue with those whose heads are in the sand if it wants to maintain legitimacy, advance the cause of peace, and advance the discussion past what is already well known. When a transcript of the moderator’s remarks becomes available, it will be posted on this website, along with some easily available resources to provide background on why Russia and other countries are correct in their assessment of American threat.

After speakers’ remarks, questions from the moderator and from the audience start about 1:24.

From en.Kremlin.ru

Vladimir Putin took part in the final plenary session of the 12th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

This topic of this year’s Valdai conference is Societies Between War and Peace: Overcoming the Logic of Conflict in Tomorrow’s World. In the period between October 19 and 22, experts from 30 countries have been considering various aspects of the perception of war and peace both in the public consciousness and in international relations, religion and economic interaction between states.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to greet you here at this regular meeting of the Valdai International Club.

It is true that for over 10 years now this has been a platform to discuss the most pressing issues and consider the directions and prospects for the development of Russia and the whole world. The participants change, of course, but overall, this discussion platform retains its core, so to speak – we have turned into a kind of mutually understanding environment.

We have an open discussion here; this is an open intellectual platform for an exchange of views, assessments and forecasts that are very important for us here in Russia. I would like to thank all the Russian and foreign politicians, experts, public figures and journalists taking part in the work of this club.

This year the discussion focusses on issues of war and peace. This topic has clearly been the concern of humanity throughout its history. Back in ancient times, in antiquity people argued about the nature, the causes of conflicts, about the fair and unfair use of force, of whether wars would always accompany the development of civilisation, broken only by ceasefires, or would the time come when arguments and conflicts are resolved without war.

I’m sure you recalled our great writer Leo Tolstoy here. In his great novel War and Peace, he wrote that war contradicted human reason and human nature, while peace in his opinion was good for people.

True, peace, a peaceful life have always been humanity’s ideal. State figures, philosophers and lawyers have often come up with models for a peaceful interaction between nations. Various coalitions and alliances declared that their goal was to ensure strong, ‘lasting’ peace as they used to say. However, the problem was that they often turned to war as a way to resolve the accumulated contradictions, while war itself served as a means for establishing new post-war hierarchies in the world.

Meanwhile peace, as a state of world politics, has never been stable and did not come of itself. Periods of peace in both European and world history were always been based on securing and maintaining the existing balance of forces. This happened in the 17th century in the times of the se-called Peace of Westphalia, which put an end to the Thirty Years’ War. Then in the 19th century, in the time of the Vienna Congress; and again 70 years ago in Yalta, when the victors over Nazism made the decision to set up the United Nations Organisation and lay down the principles of relations between states.

With the appearance of nuclear weapons, it became clear that there could be no winner in a global conflict. There can be only one end – guaranteed mutual destruction. It so happened that in its attempt to create ever more destructive weapons humanity has made any big war pointless.

Incidentally, the world leaders of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s did treat the use of armed force as an exceptional measure. In this sense, they behaved responsibly, weighing all the circumstances and possible consequences.

The end of the Cold War put an end to ideological opposition, but the basis for arguments and geopolitical conflicts remained. All states have always had and will continue to have their own diverse interests, while the course of world history has always been accompanied by competition between nations and their alliances. In my view, this is absolutely natural.

The main thing is to ensure that this competition develops within the framework of fixed political, legal and moral norms and rules. Otherwise, competition and conflicts of interest may lead to acute crises and dramatic outbursts.

We have seen this happen many times in the past. Today, unfortunately, we have again come across similar situations. Attempts to promote a model of unilateral domination, as I have said on numerous occasions, have led to an imbalance in the system of international law and global regulation, which means there is a threat, and political, economic or military competition may get out of control.

What, for instance, could such uncontrolled competition mean for international security? A growing number of regional conflicts, especially in ‘border’ areas, where the interests of major nations or blocs meet. This can also lead to the probable downfall of the system of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (which I also consider to be very dangerous), which, in turn, would result in a new spiral of the arms race.

We have already seen the appearance of the concept of the so-called disarming first strike, including one with the use of high-precision long-range non-nuclear weapons comparable in their effect to nuclear weapons.

The use of the threat of a nuclear missile attack from Iran as an excuse, as we know, has destroyed the fundamental basis of modern international security – the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The United States has unilaterally seceded from the treaty. Incidentally, today we have resolved the Iranian issue and there is no threat from Iran and never has been, just as we said.

The thing that seemed to have led our American partners to build an anti-missile defence system is gone. It would be reasonable to expect work to develop the US anti-missile defence system to come to an end as well. What is actually happening? Nothing of the kind, or actually the opposite – everything continues.

Recently the United States conducted the first test of the anti-missile defence system in Europe. What does this mean? It means we were right when we argued with our American partners. They were simply trying yet again to mislead us and the whole world. To put it plainly, they were lying. It was not about the hypothetical Iranian threat, which never existed. It was about an attempt to destroy the strategic balance, to change the balance of forces in their favour not only to dominate, but to have the opportunity to dictate their will to all: to their geopolitical competition and, I believe, to their allies as well. This is a very dangerous scenario, harmful to all, including, in my opinion, to the United States.

The nuclear deterrent lost its value. Some probably even had the illusion that victory of one party in a world conflict was again possible – without irreversible, unacceptable, as experts say, consequences for the winner, if there ever is one.

In the past 25 years, the threshold for the use of force has gone down noticeably. The anti-war immunity we have acquired after two world wars, which we had on a subconscious, psychological level, has become weaker. The very perception of war has changed: for TV viewers it was becoming and has now become an entertaining media picture, as if nobody dies in combat, as if people do not suffer and cities and entire states are not destroyed.

Unfortunately, military terminology is becoming part of everyday life. Thus, trade and sanctions wars have become today’s global economic reality – this has become a set phrase used by the media. The sanctions, meanwhile, are often used also as an instrument of unfair competition to put pressure on or completely ‘throw’ competition out of the market. As an example, I could take the outright epidemic of fines imposed on companies, including European ones, by the United States. Flimsy pretexts are being used, and all those who dare violate the unilateral American sanctions are severely punished.

You know, this may not be Russia’s business, but this is a discussion club, therefore I will ask: Is that the way one treats allies? No, this is how one treats vassals who dare act as they wish – they are punished for misbehaving.

Last year a fine was imposed on a French bank to a total of almost $9 billion – $8.9 billion, I believe. Toyota paid $1.2 billion, while the German Commerzbank signed an agreement to pay $1.7 billion into the American budget, and so forth.

We also see the development of the process to create non-transparent economic blocs, which is done following practically all the rules of conspiracy. The goal is obvious – to reformat the world economy in a way that would make it possible to extract a greater profit from domination and the spread of economic, trade and technological regulation standards.

The creation of economic blocs by imposing their terms on the strongest players would clearly not make the world safer, but would only create time bombs, conditions for future conflicts.

The World Trade Organisation was once set up. True, the discussion there is not proceeding smoothly, and the Doha round of talks ended in a deadlock, possibly, but we should continue looking for ways out and for compromise, because only compromise can lead to the creation of a long-term system of relations in any sphere, including the economy. Meanwhile, if we dismiss that the concerns of certain countries – participants in economic communication, if we pretend that they can be bypassed, the contradictions will not go away, they will not be resolved, they will remain, which means that one day they will make themselves known.

As you know, our approach is different. While creating the Eurasian Economic Union we tried to develop relations with our partners, including relations within the Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt initiative. We are actively working on the basis of equality in BRICS, APEC and the G20.

The global information space is also shaken by wars today, in a manner of speaking. The ‘only correct’ viewpoint and interpretation of events is aggressively imposed on people, certain facts are either concealed or manipulated. We are all used to labelling and the creation of an enemy image.

The authorities in countries that seemed to have always appealed to such values as freedom of speech and the free dissemination of information – something we have heard about so often in the past – are now trying to prevent the spreading of objective information and any opinion that differs from their own; they declare it hostile propaganda that needs to be combatted, clearly using undemocratic means.

Unfortunately, we hear the words war and conflict ever more frequently when talking about relations between people of different cultures, religions and ethnicity. Today hundreds of thousands of migrants are trying to integrate into a different society without a profession and without any knowledge of the language, traditions and culture of the countries they are moving to. Meanwhile, the residents of those countries – and we should openly speak about this, without trying to polish things up – the residents are irritated by the dominance of strangers, rising crime rate, money spent on refugees from the budgets of their countries.

Many people sympathise with the refugees, of course, and would like to help them. The question is how to do it without infringing on the interests of the residents of the countries where the refugees are moving. Meanwhile, a massive uncontrolled shocking clash of different lifestyles can lead, and already is leading to growing nationalism and intolerance, to the emergence of a permanent conflict in society.

Colleagues, we must be realistic: military power is, of course, and will remain for a long time still an instrument of international politics. Good or bad, this is a fact of life. The question is, will it be used only when all other means have been exhausted? When we have to resist common threats, like, for instance, terrorism, and will it be used in compliance with the known rules laid down in international law. Or will we use force on any pretext, even just to remind the world who is boss here, without giving a thought about the legitimacy of the use of force and its consequences, without solving problems, but only multiplying them.

We see what is happening in the Middle East. For decades, maybe even centuries, inter-ethnic, religious and political conflicts and acute social issues have been accumulating here. In a word, a storm was brewing there, while attempts to forcefully rearrange the region became the match that lead to a real blast, to the destruction of statehood, an outbreak of terrorism and, finally, to growing global risks.

A terrorist organisation, the so-called Islamic State, took huge territories under control. Just think about it: if they occupied Damascus or Baghdad, the terrorist gangs could achieve the status of a practically official power, they would create a stronghold for global expansion. Is anyone considering this? It is time the entire international community realised what we are dealing with – it is, in fact, an enemy of civilisation and world culture that is bringing with it an ideology of hatred and barbarity, trampling upon morals and world religious values, including those of Islam, thereby compromising it.

We do not need wordplay here; we should not break down the terrorists into moderate and immoderate ones. It would be good to know the difference. Probably, in the opinion of certain experts, it is that the so-called moderate militants behead people in limited numbers or in some delicate fashion.

In actual fact, we now see a real mix of terrorist groups. True, at times militants from the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other Al-Qaeda heirs and splinters fight each other, but they fight for money, for feeding grounds, this is what they are fighting for. They are not fighting for ideological reasons, while their essence and methods remain the same: terror, murder, turning people into a timid, frightened, obedient mass.

In the past years the situation has been deteriorating, the terrorists’ infrastructure has been growing, along with their numbers, while the weapons provided to the so-called moderate opposition eventually ended up in the hands of terrorist organisations. Moreover, sometimes entire bands would go over to their side, marching in with flying colours, as they say.

Why is it that the efforts of, say, our American partners and their allies in their struggle against the Islamic State has not produced any tangible results? Obviously, this is not about any lack of military equipment or potential. Clearly, the United States has a huge potential, the biggest military potential in the world, only double crossing [translation on video: a double gameis never easy. You declare war on terrorists and simultaneously try to use some of them to arrange the figures on the Middle East board in your own interests, as you may think.

It is impossible to combat terrorism in general if some terrorists are used as a battering ram to overthrow the regimes that are not to one’s liking. You cannot get rid of those terrorists, it is only an illusion to think you can get rid of them later, take power away from them or reach some agreement with them. The situation in Libya is the best example here.

Let us hope that the new government will manage to stabilise the situation, though this is not a fact yet. However, we need to assist in this stabilisation.

To be continued.

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/50548

Meeting of Syrian President Assad with President Putin in Moscow October 20

From en.Kremlin.ru

President of Syria Bashar Assad made a working visit to Moscow on October 20. Russian-Syrian talks in narrow and expanded format with top Russian officials took place at the Kremlin.  With President of Syria Bashar al-Assad.

President of Syria Bashar al-Assad.
Vladimir Putin: Mr President,

Let me wish you a warm welcome to Moscow. Despite the dramatic situation in your country, you have responded to our request and come here to Russia, and we thank you for this.

We took the decision upon your request to provide effective aid to the Syrian people in fighting the international terrorists who have unleashed a genuine war against Syria. The Syrian people has been practically alone in putting up resistance and fighting these international terrorists for several years now, and has suffered great losses. Lately though, there have been some major positive results in this fight.

The attempts by international terrorists to bring whole swathes of territory in the Middle East under their control and destabilise the situation in the region raise legitimate concerns in many countries around the world. This is a matter of concern for Russia too, given that sadly, people from the former Soviet Union, around 4,000 people at least, have taken up arms and are fighting on Syrian territory against the government forces. Of course, we cannot let these people gain combat experience and go through ideological indoctrination and then return to Russia.

On the question of a settlement in Syria, our position is that positive results in military operations will lay the base for then working out a long-term settlement based on a political process that involves all political forces, ethnic and religious groups. Ultimately, it is the Syrian people alone who must have the deciding voice here.

Syria is Russia’s friend and we are ready to make our contribution not only to the military operations and the fight against terrorism, but also to the political process. We would do this, of course, in close contact with the other global powers and with the countries in the region that want to see a peaceful settlement to this conflict.

Once again, I wish you welcome, Mr President.

President of Syria Bashar al-Assad(retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President.

First of all, I want to express our tremendous gratitude to the Russian leadership and people for the help they are providing Syria. Thank you for supporting Syria’s unity and independence. Most important of all is that this is being done within the framework of international law.

I must say that the political steps the Russian Federation has been taking since the start of the crisis made it possible to prevent events in Syria from taking an even more tragic turn. If it were not for your actions and decisions, the terrorism that is spreading through the region now would have made even greater gains and spread to even wider territories. You have confirmed your course of action by joining in the military operations as part of a common front in the fight against terrorism.

Of course, we all know that any military action must be followed by political steps. Of course, our common goal is to bring about the vision the Syrian people have of their own country’s future.

We must be particularly aware that military strikes against the terrorists are essential above all because we must fight terrorism, and also because terrorism is a real obstacle on the road to reaching a political settlement. Of course, the entire nation wants to take part in deciding the country’s fate, and not just the government.

I want to thank the Russian people once more for the help you are giving Syria and express the hope that we will vanquish terrorism and continue working together to rebuild our country economically and politically and ensure peaceful life for everyone.

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Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu during Russian-Syrian talks.

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/50533