Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)
"The national security of America and the security of the world could be attained if the American leaders [..] become rational, if America disengages itself from its evil alliance with Zionism, which has been scheming to exploit the world and plunge it in blood and darkness, by using America and some Western countries. What the American peoples need mostly is someone who tells them the truth, courageously and honestly as it is.
They don’t need fanfares and cheerleaders, if they want to take a lesson from the (sept. 11) event so as to reach a real awakening, in spite of the enormity of the event that hit America.
But the world, including the rulers of America, should say all this to the American peoples, so as to have the courage to tell the truth and act according to what is right and not what to is wrong and unjust, to undertake their responsibilities in fairness and justice, and by recourse to reason..."
Saddam Hussein, INA 15-9-2002
"The despot thinks he is just as God... What a nadir and mean fate!
The despot, as represented in this age, in our day, imagines he can enslave the people..
But they were born free. They were freed by God’s will through prophets and messengers, to be slaves only to Him and not to anyone of the people." Saddam Hussein, Iraq Daily 4-3-2003
A person with a God Complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks.
The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they are unquestionably correct.
Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.
"...To be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter - this is what life is, herein lies its task." Fyodor Dostoevsky (to his brother Mikhail, Dec. 22, 1849)
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
“Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone." Prophet Muhammad, Last Sermon
“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)
Israel needs to stop being an ideology and start being a nation. A nation of all of its citizens, all with equal national, civil and religious rights.
After 70 years, only partial justice and restoration is possible for the Palestinian people. Whatever constitutional arrangements are arrived at, equality should be the guiding principle at work.
As for Zionism let’s ditch it and move on. 'It’s time to place it in a glass cabinet and put it in a museum in a room marked: ‘Dead Ends & False Messiahs’.
There is no “Judaeo-Christian heritage.”
"The practices under which Jesus was raised in Galilee were anathema to Judaic orthodoxy. One might discern the seedbed of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus within “Galilee of the Gentiles” and why his teachings were regarded with outrage by the Pharisaic priesthood. One can also discern why there has been such a hatred of Christianity and Jesus in the rabbinical teachings of the Talmud and elsewhere.
The phenomenon of such an oddity as “Christian Zionism” is for Zionists and the Orthodox rabbinate (which should not be confounded with Reform Judaism) nothing more than the equivalent of a “shabbez goy,” a Gentile hired by Orthodox Jews to undertake menial tasks on the Sabbath. “Judaeo-Christianity” only exists in the minds of craven Gentiles who embrace delusional creeds, or who wish to further their careers by making the correct noises to the right people.
(Kerry R Bolton, Foreign Policy Journal, May 29, 2018)
"Holism is the most fundamental discovery of 20th century science. It is a discovery of every science from astrophysics to quantum physics to environmental science to psychology to anthropology.
It is the discovery that the entire universe is an integral whole, and that the basic organizational principle of the universe is the field principle: the universe consists of fields within fields, levels of wholeness and integration that mirror in fundamental ways, and integrate with, the ultimate, cosmic whole...." "For many thinkers and religious teachers throughout this history, holism was the dominant thought, and the harmony that it implies has most often been understood to encompass cosmic, civilizational, and personal dimensions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lao Tzu, and Confucius all give us visions of transformative harmony, a transformative harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos."
About political holism
Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent. Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare.
In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.
Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy. Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance. At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)
Desmond Tutu & Ubuntu
"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
"We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World.
When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity." (Ubuntu info)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised Iranians the government would be able to handle the economic pressure of new US sanctions, a day after traders massed outside parliament, protesting against a sharp fall in the value of the national currency.
Washington is to start reimposing economic penalties on Tehran in coming months after US President Donald Trump quit an agreement between major world powers and Iran in which sanctions were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.
This may cut Iran's hard currency earnings from oil exports, and the prospect is triggering a panicked flight of Iranians' savings from the rial into dollars. On Monday, police patrolled Tehran’s Grand Bazaar as security forces struggled to restore normality after clashes with protesters angered by the rial's collapse, which is disrupting business by driving up the cost of imports.
Defending his economic record, Rouhani said the government’s income had not been affected in recent months, and the fall in the rial was the result of "foreign media propaganda".
"Even in the worst case, I promise that the basic needs of Iranians will be provided. We have enough sugar, wheat, and cooking oil. We have enough foreign currency to inject into the market," Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television. Rouhani said the fresh US sanctions were part of a "psychological, economic and political war", adding that Washington would pay a high price for its actions. "Withdrawal was the worst decision he (Trump) could make. It was appalling. It hurt America's global reputation," he said.
The collapse of the Iranian currency against the dollar in the past few months is political, not economic. There is no objective reason for which a rial is worth half as many dollars today as it was a year ago.
It is likely related to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi banking squeeze on Iran and to Trump’s violation of the 2015 UN nuclear deal. Trump’s plan to reimpose unilateral American sanctions by early November has caused a lot of bigger firms to pull out from planned investments, including France’s Total, SA, and Russia’s Lukoil. China is rushing in to fill the vacuum, but nevertheless, the prospect of renewed sanctions has created enormous uncertainty.
People in Iran are therefore doing their best to trade in rials for dollars and to send capital abroad to dollar accounts where it will be safe from Iranian currency depreciation that the new sanctions will cause.
Ironically, this activity is a self-fulfilling prophecy, since capital flight of this sort weakens the rial against the dollar, and impels more capital flight.
And, again, the irony here is that much of the supposed capital flight might not even really be taking place. But rumors are circulating that $30 billion went out this spring, with no obvious evidence being given for that massive figure.
Anyway, since you don’t buy eggs in dollars in Iran, the doubling of the dollar against the rial in just a few months doesn’t hurt most people. But merchants in the grand bazaar who buy smartphones abroad and sell them in the Iranian market are taking a bath unless they want to double their rial prices and risk hurting business...
A senior State Department official has told reporters the United States expects companies all over the world to cut their crude oil imports from Iran to zero by November 4 or face U.S. sanctions.
The State Department official said he had been meeting with European diplomats to convey the message that the Trump administration is serious about enforcing new sanctions on trade with Iran since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal in May.
Asked about what kind of reaction he has been getting from European allies, who remain part of the Iran nuclear deal, the official said, "I am continually struck by the amount of business that is falling out of Iran. [French automaker] Peugeot and others simply view Iran as too risky a place to do business."
The State Department official said now is the time for the companies to stop buying Iranian oil.
"They should be reducing now. ... That is why we've offered this window since May 8, as sort of a drawdown period" ahead of the November 4 deadline, the official said.
The official said the move applies not only to Europe but also to India, China and Turkey, where he has not yet held talks with officials but will convey the same information to them.
Britain, France, Germany and the European Union as a whole have strongly protested Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and vowed to protect their companies from what are called "secondary sanctions," which punish companies from other countries that engage in business with sanctioned sectors of the Iranian economy.
Madeleine Albright: If you obey, you won't be punished.
In 1996 then-UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright was asked by 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, in reference to years of U.S.-led economic sanctions against Iraq, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
To which Ambassador Albright responded, “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”
In her memoirs she clarifies her statement. Here’s what she writes: I must have been crazy; I should have answered the question by reframing it and pointing out the inherent flaws in the premise behind it. Saddam Hussein could have prevented any child from suffering simply by meeting his obligations....
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a meeting with senior executive officials that no “logical and patriotic” person would ever bow to injustice and insults, stressing Iran’s firm position against US undue and excessive demands. “No wise and patriotic person will ever accept to surrender in the face of injustice and insult, and if we bend to the will of the US, it means the end of the historic dignity of the Iranian nation,” said President Rouhani.
The Iranian top executive made the remarks on Wednesday while addressing a group of senior executive officials of the government.
“What we started doing from around 50 days ago will remain in history and the whole world is now wondering what Iran will do next and what its decision will be,” he said.
“The whole world, except a few countries, condemned Trump and the White House authorities. No one said that Iran was afraid, but everybody praised our wisdom and astuteness.”
Al-Manar English Website is more than just a mirror of the Al-Manar Channel. It posts online all the outlet production of news and programs in the English language as well as its own production of featured reports and applications in a unique harmony that manages to mold the Resistance ideology in a virtual form to reach everyone who is interested in prevailing truth, humanity and justice, so that together we can make a change in this world.
Al-Manar English Website is primarily concerned in keeping pace with the leading events in the Arab region against the invaders and occupiers, particularly the actions of Resistance movements, at the fore front: the Palestinian cause.
Showcasing his ball-dribbling skills, Benjamin Netanyahu engaged in some footsy lobbying with Iranians, insisting that, if their national team could stop Cristiano Ronaldo, then the opposition can surely take out the government.
Playing on the emotions of millions of Iranians, who were thrilled to see their team achieve an “impossible” World Cup 1-1 draw with Portugal, the Israeli PM decided to demonstrate he too can play ball, while conveying his love and care for the Iranian people.
Netanyahu appealed to the Iranian opposition to seek inspiration in their squad’s performance against superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and his boys, and to find the “courage” to stand up against the government.
“To the Iranian people I say: You showed courage on the playing field, and today you showed the same courage in the streets of Iran,” Benjamin Netanyahu said in the video, titled 'Could you stop Ronaldo from scoring a goal?!'
“Iran has many problems — air pollution, water scarcity, billions wasted on terror,” he pointed out.
“Can you imagine what would happen if the Iranian government, instead of wasting your money in Syria, in Yemen, and in unnecessary wars in the Middle East, would start investing it in solving these problems in Iran?"
PARIS: Top world politicians joined Iran’s opposition leaders on Saturday at a mass rally to demand regime change in Tehran.
Supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) called for democratic change and the overthrow of Iran’s ruling clerics.
They were joined at the rally in Paris by former prime ministers and foreign ministers, a former FBI director, a former US attorney general, diplomats and parliamentarians from the US, Europe and the Middle East.
In a rousing keynote address at Saturday’s rally, NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi said such protests would ultimately lead to the overthrow of Tehran’s clerical rulers:
“We believe it is possible to eradicate high prices, poverty, unemployment, shanty dwelling, water shortage and environmental calamities,” she said. “But, before anything else, the trampled political rights, specifically the right to sovereignty of the Iranian people, must be restored and revived. This is the aim of our resistance and the raison d’etre for the NCRI.” US President Donald Trump’s legal adviser, the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told the rally: “This president does not intend to turn his back on freedom fighters.” Bill Richardson, former US ambassador to the UN, said: “The end is near. What you’re seeing is enormous change.”
Speaking to a cheering crowd, he said: “You are the source of change in Iran, the young people, the women, the resistance. Is there an alternative to the mullahs? Yes, it’s the resistance.”
Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the rally: “The protests in the streets rise in the streets and they will rise until the regime is gone.”
Times of Israel, 1-7-2018: US President Donald Trump allies Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani on Saturday urged regime change in Iran, saying the prospect was closer than ever after the Islamic Republic was hit by a wave of strikes and protests.
Former House speaker Gingrich and ex-New York mayor Giuliani also told a rally of thousands of Iranian opposition supporters in Paris that Trump needed to turn up the heat on European countries still seeking to do business with Tehran despite reimposed US sanctions. We need to have a campaign to shame the European governments who are unwilling to support freedom and democracy,” Gingrich said. “We need to insist that they join the sanctions once again.” Giuliani called for a boycott of companies “that continually do business with this regime.”
TEHRAN (FNA)- The office of Mohammad Javad Bahonar, Prime Minister of Iran, was bombed on 30 August 1981 by Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as the MEK, PMOI and NCRI), killing Bahonar, President Mohammad Ali Rajayee, and six other Iranian government officials. The briefcase bombing came two months after the Hafte Tir bombing, which killed over seventy senior Iranian officials, including Chief Justice Mohammad Beheshti, then Iran's second-highest official.
The office of Mohammad Javad Bahonar, Shia Iranian theologian and Prime Minister of Iran, was bombed on 30 August 1981 by the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), killing Bahonar, President Mohammad Ali Rajai, and six other Iranian government officials.
The briefcase bombing came two months after the Hafte Tir bombing, which killed over seventy senior Iranian officials, including Chief Justice Mohammad Beheshti, then Iran's second-highest official.
According to the survivors, the bomb exploded when one of the victims opened a briefcase brought by Masoud Keshmiri. Ettela'at reported that the explosion destroyed the first floor and partially damaged the second floor of the Prime Minister's building, located on Pastor Street.
According to Western observers, the MEK was most likely responsible for the explosion, due to their "arsenal and experience in terror tactics."
It was later proved that the attack was carried out by MEK agent Masoud Keshmiri, secretary of Bahonar's office and of the Supreme National Security Council, who used a fake passport to escape Iran after the attack.
The MEK, originally founded in 1965 by leftist Iranian students who opposed Shah Pahlavi, targeted Khomeini's theocracy and the Islamic Republican Party (IRP) after the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War. Backed by Iraq, the MEK was blamed for 17,000 Iranian deaths during the war.
One week after President Abolhassan Banisadr's 1981 removal, on 28 June 1981 a powerful bomb went off at the headquarters of the Iran Islamic Republic Party (IRP) in Tehran, while a meeting of party leaders was in progress (the Hafte Tir bombing).
Seventy-three leading officials of the Islamic Republic were killed, including Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, who was the second-most powerful figure in the revolution after Ayatollah Khomeini at the time.
Mohammad Ali Rajai and his running mate, Mohammad Javad Bahonar, won the election with 91 percent of the popular vote and took office on 4 August 1981. The MEK bombed Bahonar's office less than four weeks later. (Wikipedia info)
In 1979, Masoud Banisadr was a young postgraduate math student at Newcastle University, watching political upheaval in his homeland of Iran on the nightly news. Wanting to play his part in a new society after the fall of the Western-backed Shah, he joined Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an Islamic Marxist revolutionary organization.
But a couple of years after the revolution, the MEK began to clash with Ayatollah Khomeini's theocratic regime and were soon deemed an enemy of the new Iran. MEK suicide bombings and assassinations followed. In 1981, thousands of MEK members went into exile, and by 1986 had established a tight-knit paramilitary organization in Iraq led by the husband-and-wife team of Masoud and Maryam Rajavi.
Banisadr became the MEK’s PR man, trying to win over Western politicians and moving between Camp Ashraf (their headquarters in Iraq), Geneva, and Washington, DC. He finally left the group in 1996, went into hiding, and now lives in England. The United States removed MEK from its list of terrorist organizations in 2012, but Banisadr still considers it a fanatical cult acting under the warped leadership of the Rajavis.
He argues that any terrorist organization is either a cult or “has no option but to become one in order to survive.”
Adam Forrest spoke to Banisadr about the power of cults and how this might help us understand why young men in the West are vulnerable to joining the Islamic State and other extremist groups.
-- VICE: You were once a high-ranking member of MEK. Why do you now see the organization as a cult?
-- Masoud Banisadr: There was a charismatic leader, Rajavi. There was a black-and-white world view imposed: followers cutting themselves off from family, followers losing their personality.
There was mind manipulation. At Camp Ashraf in Iraq there were talks lasting for days on end. I remember one task where we had to write down our old personality in one column on a board, and the new personality in a different column. I remember a guy who said, “My brother works in the Iranian embassy in London. Before I loved him as my brother, now I hate him as my enemy. I am ready to kill him tomorrow, if necessary.” And everyone applauded.
-- How did you justify violence?
-- I was fortunate not to be involved in any violence. But all group members accepted MEK suicide bombings and killings in Iran to be revolutionary acts. This was the brainwashing. And later, in my role as official representative, I would justify and explain these acts as the only means we had to defend ourselves.
-- What do you think it is that makes young people vulnerable to joining extremist causes?
-- Well, terrorism is like a virus. It attacks us through our weaknesses. It kills our personality, our individuality.. I think there are three stages.
The first stage is the injustice of the world. Young Muslims see injustice, become angry, and want to react. Then comes along a powerful ideology, and the Wahabi ideology offers a very simple, black-and-white worldview and a very narrow-minded interpretation of jihad, offered as a solution to young Muslims.
But both these stages are not enough to make someone a terrorist, a human bomb, or a fighter for a caliphate. A third stage is required: the mind manipulation, which robs someone of their personality, makes them identify entirely with the group and cuts them off from their parents and society.
-- What would you say to British parents who have children fighting in Syria or Iraq?
-- It’s very difficult, very delicate. If a parent says anything critical against a radical preacher, or about an organization like Islamic State, that’s when a person’s mind becomes defensive. It is difficult to argue rationally.
So if a parent has contact [with his or her child], they should not try to talk about politics or religion. They should show only kindness and love. This is the member’s weakness.
Feelings do not die away, even if personality has changed. So the parent has to let them know they will be there, waiting.
There has to be a pathway back to a life where family love is there, something that has nothing do with ideological thinking. Unconditional love unlocks the mind manipulation that has taken place.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani highlighted today that constructive interaction with the world has always been the basis of Iran’s foreign policy.
He made the remarks in a joint business forum of Iran and Switzerland on Tuesday in Bern, with Swiss President Alain Berset in attendance.
Touching upon climate change, lack of raw material, and insecurities in different regions of the world, Rouhani highlighted that the best solution for promoting the interest of nations is that they establish close relations with each other... In today’s world, unilateralism does not work in political, security and economic fields, he noted.
The president stressed that Iran attaches great weight to its relations with the European Union and Switzerland, adding, "the outlook of Tehran-Bern relations, with regard to Iran's capabilities and Switzerland's scientific, technological and peace-loving place, is very bright."
"Holding of this meeting in such an important point in time has a great message and means that Iran and Switzerland are determined to continue their friendly economic and business ties with each other within the framework of international laws,” he added. Iran hasn't taken any steps against any country, said Rouhani adding, "some are seeking to spread their illegal actions to other parts of the world; our responsibility is to cooperate within the framework of international laws, peace and interests of nations.”
"During the nuclear negotiations and after the deal was struck, we proved well that we will stay committed to our obligations,” he highlighted, adding, "we announce this to the world that Iran is committed to international rules...”
"We announce this to the world that Iran wants fair, legal, peaceful and stable relations with the world and will play its role well in this regard,” the Iranian president emphasized. [...]
"Geopolitically speaking, Iran is a remarkable country in the world and possesses the biggest gas resources of the world and has one of the biggest oil resources. With regard to its position, Iran can link Central Asia, Caucasus and Eastern Europe to Oman Sea, Indian Ocean and Asia," added the President.
Stressing that Iran possesses the most educated people in engineering fields, he added, "throughout the history, Iran has contributed a lot to science and knowledge of the world.”
"Today, Iran has 4 million university students and over 13 million students studying in schools and also, inexpensive energy resources, educated young work force, well-known universities and special geographical position.”
The five foreign ministers, minus US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of the countries signatory to the 2015 Iran deal on curbing its civilian nuclear enrichment program, will meet in Vienna on Friday to explore ways of preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action after the treaty was violated by the Trump administration.
The JCPOA was signed by Britain, France, Russia, and China on the UN Security Council plus Germany as an informal representative of the European Union.
Trump is attempting to sabotage the deal, which placed severe restrictions on Iran’s enrichment activities in return for an end of UNSC sanctions. The deal implied that US sanctions would be lifted or lightened, as well, but that never happened because of the hostility of the Republican Congress to the deal. Trump is ordering the US Department of the Treasury to slap third party sanctions on non-US firms who do business with Iran.
Companies like Total, S.A., the French oil giant, who do business with the US, cannot afford to buck the Treasury Department and so are pulling out of planned Iran investments.
Smaller European firms that do not do business with the US and who can use Euros or some other currency and go through non-US banks could conceivably go on doing business with Iran with no exposure to the wrath of the enormously powerful Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control. China’s gas giant Sinopec has said it will defy US sanctions, as has the Turkish foreign ministry, and Russian officials and concerns also reject Trump’s bullying.
While the Indian government has warned the country’s corporations to be ready for anything, New Delhi will make a stand for economic independence of the US and plans to buy Iranian oil with rupees. The US Treasury Department only has authority over dollar exchanges, and over banks that have branches in the US or do business with the US.
Although Emmanuel Macron in France has said his government is committed to finding ways to protect French trade with and investment in Iran from Trump, few dispassionate observers think he is likely to succeed in that quest, with regard to the larger French firms. At most, small business might be sheltered.
BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:35 P.M.) – The Islamic State (ISIS) announced via their official media wing on Tuesday that the son of Ibrahim Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was killed in east Homs recently.
According to the terrorist group’s statement, Huzheifah Al-Badri was killed by the “Al-Nusayriyah” (sectarian reference to the Alawite sect) and Russian forces near the Thermal Power Station in the eastern countryside of the Homs Governorate.
No further details were released about Huzheifah Al-Badri. In the photo released by the Islamic State, the Huzheifah Al-Badri appears to be a teenager. ISIS has been bogged down by the Syrian Arab Army near the T-2 and T-3 pumping stations in rural Homs for several months now.
Most recently, the Islamic State several casualties while trying to breakout of their small pocket in the Badiya Al-Sham region, which is located along the provincial border of Homs and Deir Ezzor.
The younger son of the Islamic State leader was likely killed in this violent battle, as the Islamic State forces ended up suffering heavy casualties at the hands of the Syrian Arab Army and National Defense Forces (NDF).
ISIS showcases its forces in southwest Syria
By Leith Aboufadel, Al-Masdar News, 2018-07-04
The Islamic State affiliate “Jaysh Khaled bin Walid” released a promotional video evening that showcased their forces in the southwestern corridor of the Daraa Governorate.
In this video dozens of Islamic State vehicles were filmed traveling down an unknown road in southwest Syria, while their other fighters ready themselves for an upcoming battle against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
The Islamic State launched its first attack against the Syrian Arab Army in the Daraa Governorate town of Sheikh Miskeen on Tuesday. As a result of this attack, the Syrian Army and National Defense Forces (NDF) sustained several casualties in their ranks.
Jaysh Khaled bin Walid’s attack against the Syrian Army comes just a week after the Syrian and Russian air forces launched several airstrikes on their positions near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights region. The Syrian Army and Jaysh Khaled bin Walid have barely clashed during this seven year long war because the aforementioned terrorist group has been confined to a large pocket within the rebel-held areas of the Daraa and Al-Quneira governorates.
However, since the rebels agreed to handover Da’el, ‘Ibtaa and Tafas, the Syrian Army has reached the terrorist group’s front-lines in the Daraa Governorate
Jaysh Khalid bin-Walid, also known as the Khalid ibn-Walid Army, is a Salafi-jihadi extremist group active in the Daraa governorate in southern Syria and the area where the Israeli, Syrian, and Jordanian borders meet. The group formed in May 2016 after the merger of the Islamist groups Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade), Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya (Islamic Muthanna Movement), and Jaysh al-Jihad (Army of Jihad). These groups were closely aligned with ISIS and helped maintain its presence in southwestern Syria The faction controls villages and towns around the Yarmouk basin, west of the Daraa countryside, near the western triangular border intercept between the Golan, Jordan, and Syria.
Twenty-seven neighborhoods in Syria’s Southern de-escalation zone have come over to the government side over the past week, a spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria (subordinated to the Russian defense minister) said on Tuesday.
"Thanks to negotiations held by officers of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, as many as 27 settlements in the Southern de-escalation zone in the provinces of al-Quneitra, al-Suwayda and Daraa voluntarily joined the ceasefire and came over to the Syrian government’s side throughout the past week," he said.
According to the spokesman, efforts are being taken in these settlements to prepare for restoration works at infrastructure facilities and begin deliveries of humanitarian assistance. "Special attention is paid to efforts to create conditions to accommodate refugees returning from territories in the Southern de-escalation zone that are still controlled by terrorist groups, as well as from other Syrian regions and neighboring countries," the spokesman noted.
On June 18, Syrian government troops launched an operation against the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra and other armed opposition groups affiliated with it to regain government control of the southern province of Daraa.
Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ will fail.
Palestinians will not exchange their 70-year long struggle for freedom for Jared Kushner’s cash; nor will Israel accept even if there is a demilitarized Palestinian state in the West Bank.
The order of that anticipated failure is likely to go something like this: the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah is likely to reject the deal once the full details of the US administration’s plan are revealed; Israel is likely to withhold its decision till Palestinians rejection is exploited thoroughly by pro-Israel US media.
The reality is that considering the massive surge of the Right and ultra-nationalist forces in Israel, an independent Palestinian state even on one percent of historic Palestine will not be acceptable by Israel’s current political standards... It is Bill Clinton’s Camp David II and George W. Bush’s ‘Road Map for Peace’ all over again.
Both initiatives, as unfair as they were to Palestinians, were never accepted by Israel in the first place, yet in many history books, it is written that the ungrateful Palestinian leadership had torpedoed US-Israeli peace efforts. Netanyahu is keen on maintaining this misconception.
Flashback 2000/2: Prime Minister Ehud Barak having barely survived the second no-confidence motion in the Knesset (parliament) came to Washington for the Camp David summit. Before leaving for Washington he said: “I am not going alone” to the States. With me is still all the wide public of Israel, citizens who hope a modern Israel can be built on peace and security, a country that is ending 30 years of ruling another people.”
But the Opposition Likud leader Ariel Sharon said: the Prime Minister does not represent anyone except himself. (july 2000)
It is simply a demographic problem -- the mere existence of the Palestinians is "a threat to the existence of the 'Jewish State'".
Any final solution of a "demographic problem" is genocide. One step down the ladder you get 'transfer', which by necessity involves some genocide, since people (especially Palestinians whose attachment to what remains of their land has grown exponentially in proportion to their dispossession of ever greater parts of it) will not simply pack up and leave.
Then, of course, there is the binding and gagging -- in a word, Apartheid. To keep the Palestinians enslaved; locked up in their cantons and townships, overseen, preferably, by quislings of their own number, charged with keeping them in line. This is called "security guarantees"; this was what Oslo was all about; it is what Camp David II was designed to carve in treaty-bound stone. By Hani Shukrallah, Al-Ahram Weekly, april 2002.
Before assuming his role as President, Trump spoke early on of his ‘ultimate deal’ in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on November 1, 2016. He offered no details, aside from the claim that he is able “to do … the deal that cannot be made … for humanity’s sake’.
Since then, we have relied on occasional leaks, starting in November 2017, up to recently. We learned that a demilitarized Palestinian state would be established on a small part of the West Bank, without Occupied East Jerusalem as its capital; that Israel will keep all of Jerusalem and will annex illegal Jewish settlements and even keep control of the Jordan Valley, and so on.
Palestinians will still have a ‘Jerusalem’, albeit an invented one, where the neighborhood of Abu Dis will simply be called Jerusalem.
Despite the hype, nothing is truly new here. The ‘deal of the century’ promises to be a rehash of previous American proposals that catered to Israel’s needs and interests.
Remarks by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in an interview with the Palestinian newspaper ‘Al-Quds’, corroborate this view. He claimed that the Palestinian people are “less invested in the politician’s talking points than they are in seeking how a deal will give them and their future generations new opportunities, more and better-paying jobs.”
Where did we hear this before? Oh, yes, Netanyahu’s so-called ‘economic peace’ which he has been peddling for over a decade.
Certainly, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has proven that its political will is a commodity to be bought and sold, but to expect the Palestinian people to follow suit is an illusion...
Ours is a young society from what government statistics keep telling us. The population swing is in favor of the youth who make up a sizeable majority of the population. At a recent gathering, the issue of freethinking among our youth came up. Some parents were bemoaning the trend of robot-like behavior in the speech and thought processes of their young. And they were worried that so much of this behavior seemed to be negative.
Our society has undergone so much transformation in the past three decades, some for the better and some for the worse, and now it looks to its youth with questions. Where did we go wrong?
As parents, the bulk of responsibility for the behavior of our youth must rest squarely on our shoulders. No government laws or Shoura Council legislature can be designed to enforce the kind of upbringing that breeds positive results alone. Parents play a major role in this evolving struggle.
And parents are often at fault. One thing that children need to be taught is that they have the right to ask questions about why something is being done.
Apart from neglect or preoccupation in other matters, here too parents have failed their children. It may be expedient to blame the educational system for such faults. And, yes, there are a number of faults there that need to be examined and questioned. In recent times though, there have been substantial efforts to reengineer the educational approach.
But such trends often begin at home. It starts with not encouraging a freethinking spirit in children. A total submission to authority is drummed into them from their childhood; a submission that may be right or wrong.
While respect for elders and the learned is a good thing, it should not be cast in concrete. This is because elders, like our youth, can be misguided. They can have undefined agendas that may not translate into a positive source of inspiration.
Perhaps parents have allowed others to do the thinking for them and are victims in this dilemma themselves. However, to deny their children the right to question, the right to ask why, the right to challenge what they perceive as wrong will not yield changes for the better. Let us not suppress young minds with holier-than-thou lectures, or with sermons from when time began. Let us deal with them in real time and discuss real issues with them.
Let us educate them to live as citizens of this planet, to go beyond our borders, to seek knowledge wherever it may be, and to accept that as Earth’s citizens, we are not all the same, and that no one is to be blindly judged as better than anyone else. And finally, that the differences between us and the other people of this world are not life threatening. A freethinking society does not start from nowhere. Authoritarian rules in the upbringing of children have no place at home.
Mansour Gholami, the Iranian science minister, has said the country is promoting the third-generation universities, meaning entrepreneurship centers which transform science into technology and wealth. Gholami made the remarks in an interview with the Tehran Times on Sunday.
In most Iranian universities, we have already adopted an approach toward turning them into third generation university, he said.
The manifestation of this decision is the establishment of knowledge-based centers and science parks at the academic centers during recent years, he explained.
Iran is taking steps in the process of transition of second-generation universities into third-generation ones. “But as you know this is a process, which takes time hence we have just begin moving toward it and we have a satisfactory progress..” Iran has a high rank in science production worldwide so we should have a more rapid advance in our universities as well, he added. The ministry of science encourages and supports universities and professors who are active in the field of startups, Gholami said. However, universities have the main role in this process and the ministry only supports them, he added.
The technology parks are responsible for application of sciences like biotechnology, nanotechnology and IT, he said.
“Over 3,500 knowledge-based companies have already been established at the universities, which is growing...” The companies create job and generate income, which are both beneficial for the universities, he added. A total of 43 science and technology parks are now active at the Iranian universities, he announced.
“We welcome novel ideas, startups and knowledge-based companies at the universities...”
Following the Fri. Joint Commission's meeting in Vienna, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran is now certain that the rest of the world will not follow US in exerting pressure against the Islamic Republic and has, in fact, taken a stand against Washington's policies.
Speaking to reporters on Friday following the Joint Commission meeting in Vienna Zarif said the meeting was a “step forward” and resulted in “good agreements” made with the three European countries, as well as China and Russia as the five remaining sides to the nuclear deal.
“Today, the international community is certain that the JCPOA will continue to be implemented judging by the will displayed by the remaining sides to the agreement,” Zarif said.
He went on to add, “foreign companies will continue to do business with Iran with support from their respective countries, and the countries are ready to facilitate banking transactions for the companies cooperating with Iran.”
Zarif maintained that the Joint Commission’s meeting in Vienna had an important message for the world’s economy, that the rest of the world are taking a stand against US’ decision to exert pressure on Iran.
“By relying on domestic capabilities and using international capacities, we will be able to proceed on the path of economic growth for our country,” he added.
The Friday Joint Commission's meeting attended by foreign ministers of the five remaining parties to the JCPOA as well as EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was an attempt to ensure Iran that cooperation under the nuclear deal would continue to serve Iran's economic interests in spite of US sanctions.
No traces of any nerve agents have been found at the site of a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, an interim report issued by the OPCW says, adding that several chlorine compounds were detected.
“Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples” from two locations in the Damascus suburb of Douma, which were examined by specialists from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an interim OPCW document said. The chemicals were found in two samples taken from canisters found in Douma, the report said. The report confirmed the absence of any traces of nerve agents, such as sarin, at the site.
Technical notes in the OPCW report specify that one of its laboratories found traces of dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, chloral hydrate, trichlorophenol and chlorophenol in some of the samples. Some of these chemicals, such as dichloroacetic acid and chloral hydrate, are known byproducts of water purification.
Another OPCW laboratory only reported finding “no CWC-scheduled chemicals,” meaning nothing that was banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The OPCW sent a fact-finding mission to Douma in April, around a week after the alleged incident. During the same month, Russia said that chlorine containers from Germany, which apparently belonged to militants, were found in the liberated parts of Douma.
Later, the Russian military found an entire laboratory operated by militants in central Douma, which was capable of producing chemical weapons. The footage, taken by Russian journalists inside the facility, also showed vast stockpiles of various chemicals as well as empty mortar shells that can be filled with poisonous substances. The purported chemical incident in Douma allegedly took place on April 7. A week later, Washington and its allies launched a massive retaliatory missile strike against Syria, without waiting for the OPCW to start its investigation of the incident.
Russian Defense Ministry: "A planned provocation was carried out
in Douma, with the aim of misleading the world community. Sputnik News, 13-4-2018
A ceasefire agreement has been reached with leaders of armed groups in Syria’s Deraa province, Russia’s Defense Ministry has said. The leaders also agreed to surrender weaponry, according to the ministerial statement.
“Following negotiations mediated by the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria in the province of Deraa, agreements on [the] following issues have been reached: ceasefire, the start of heavy and medium weapons’ handover in all the settlements controlled by the armed groups,” the statement read.
The parties have also agreed on a number of other issues, including the settlement of the militants’ status. In cases where militants do not wish to settle their status, procedures have been agreed for their evacuation to Idlib province along with their families.
It has also been agreed to resume the work of Syrian government bodies on the territories controlled by armed groups, and on the return of Syrian refugees to their homes from the Jordanian border.
Rebel sources are saying that they have reached a framework for surrender in Deraa with Russia and the al-Assad government. If these reports are true, it is another step toward complete victory.
The rebels say they have declared a ceasefire and have put down their arms after they negotiated through the Russians. Rebel sources told the Arab press that the agreement offers civilians and fighters amnesty as they are reincorporated into Syria, with the Russians as guarantors.
Regime troops have taken the border town of Nasib on the Jordanian border, a position held for the past 3 years by the rebels, and Russian military police are now said to be patrolling some of the Syrian border with Jordan in Russian armored vehicles. About half the border town checkpoints are said already to be in the hands of the Syrian government.
Deraa Province constituted the last large stronghold of the rebels in the south of the country, along with parts of Quneitra that stretch into the Golan Heights (part of which has been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967).
Israel is saying that as al-Assad restores control to areas close to Israel, it will continue to honor the 1974 armistice and to honor the demilitarized zone it established between Israel and Syria.
An al-Qaeda-linked rebel group has held positions in Quneitra near Israel for the past few years, and allegedly has received some Israeli support. This Israel-al-Qaeda alliance had provoked tensions with the Druze, an esoteric offshoot of Ismaili Shiite Islam, that exists in Israel, southern Syrian and in Lebanon. The al-Qaeda-linked group had targeted Druze.
The reestablishment of full Syrian government control over the part of the Golan Heights of which it retained control after 1973 seems imminent, and Israeli security circles see ready to deal with al-Assad’s return.
The last two significant territories over which the Syrian government has not yet reestablished control are Idlib province in the northwest and the Kurdish-controlled provinces of al-Hasaka and Raqqa and parts of Aleppo province, plus part of Deir al-Zor.
The Kurds will likely not be conquered but rather offered a federal position to come back under the sway of Damascus (the Kurds are backed by 2000 US special operations force and more US contractors).
The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan claimed that Kurdish forces inflicted casualties on at least four Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in West Azerbaijan province.
"Heavy clashes erupted between the Peshmerga Forces and the IRGC [Saturday night] in the village of Koke. In the ensuing battle at least four members of the IRGC were killed and injured," stated the KDPI on Sunday. The Kurdish opposition party did not report any casualties and the IRGC haven’t confirmed the clashes or any damages on their part.
“Following the confrontations the IRGC attacked the defenseless people of the area and detained a number of them,” said in the Kurdistan Peshmerga Forces command in a statement.
"For every act of violence against the Kurdish people by the Islamist regime Iran and its paramilitary terrorist forces, the Peshmerga will retaliate against the regime," added KDPI. Since June, KDPI and the IRGC have clashed several times. On June 23, one KDPI fighter and one IRGC member were killed during fighting in the border area of Piranshahr city. Armed Kurdish opposition parties have vowed to push deeper into Iranian Kurdistan in 2018 toward cities and population centers.
PDKI's insurgency against the Islamic Republic was reignited after a ceasefire ended in 2015.
Mustafa Hijri – Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDK-I) remarks and Q&A during his visit to the Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI).
-- Mustafa Hijri: PDK-I was founded in 1948 and ever since has been struggling for human rights in Iranian Kurdistan both in the previous regime and the current regime. Both regimes declared PDK-I illegal. The Islamic Republic of Iran is not only against the Kurds. It is also against stability. It is against peace in the Middle East and they always try to destabilize the region, especially the Muslim world as a kind of instrument for their foreign relations.
We obviously see Iran’s hand and Iran’s traces in Lebanon with Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia in disturbing the Shiite areas of Saudi Arabia, in Bahrain, in Yemen, and in Iraq with creating Hash’d al-Sha’abi, or PMU (Popular Mobilization Forces.)
It is not as if it is a covert policy of Iran. They promote this policy, and they name it as “exporting the revolution.” They formalize it in their laws, it is in their regulations to export the Islamic revolution.
As long as these policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran continue, which we believe these policies stem from the religious point of view of Iran’s government, we will never see stability, and will never see peace in the Middle East. Our message to the world and especially the United States and the western world is if they want a peaceful and stable Middle East it is imperative for them to go along with the quest of Iranian people to change the current regime in Iran.
We’re expecting the United States and the world to help us to confront the regime. That is all we are asking for here. It is the best time to turn to the people instead of the government of Iran.
-- Q: How is your plan being received here in Washington? Who have you been able to speak to and has anyone given you support?
-- Mustafa Hijri: After the defeat of ISIS, the most pressing issue currently in the Middle East is Iran, so we are currently here to share our views with the government and with other different organizations, think tanks, within the United States, so that we can actually hope to search for a solution for regime change.
Either regime change in Iran or containing Iran so Iran’s ability to interfere in neighbors’ affairs gets limited and at the same time this policy of Iranian containment will give us more space to act and will limit Iran’s ability to oppress Kurds in Iran.
-- Q: Have any of the Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia or UAE supported Kurds?
-- Mustafa Hijri: Unfortunately we are not receiving any assistance from any Sunni countries because they are so afraid of Iran that they cannot approach the Iranian opposition.
-- Q: While you’ve been in DC have you met anyone from the NSC or the State Department or the Pentagon?
-- Mustafa Hijri: We have met people from State Department, and we exchanged our views with them.
-- Q: More broadly, how do you evaluate the current administration’s efforts to counter Iran in the region, from Iraq to Syria to the Gulf?
-- Mustafa Hijri: I believe that President Trump’s administration’s efforts in the Middle East has been more effective in the last two years because Iran was receiving huge resources from the sanction relief.
So this financial resources helped them strengthen their influence in the region. With the withdrawal from the JCPOA and coming up against sanctions again will limit their resources to meddle in the Middle East and at the same time it has been limiting their efforts to control society.
The more Iranian people see the decisiveness from the United States’ administration in terms of putting pressure on the Iranian government the more they get hopeful.
-- Q: Are you confident that your party can speak for all Kurds in Iran?
-- Mustafa Hijri: We believe we are representing a strong majority of Kurds in Iran. For example, as the last instance, after the revolution there was a very good time when a free election happened, all parties were there. We were number one in Iranian Kurdistan.
-- Q: How long ago was that?
-- Mustafa Hijri: It was 1980 or 1981.
-- Q: Can you comment on other political forces in Iran? What’s your view on the MEK (People’s Mojahedin of Iran) and others who classify themselves as Iranian opposition? Who do you see as the most powerful Iranian opposition force?
-- Mustafa Hijri: It is really hard to compare them. They are not as popular as us in Iran. They don’t have a strong base in Iran, but it is really hard to compare these forces. Regarding the mujahedeen, or MEK, I should say, not a large part of the population is joining them. Their base is limited to their old members and families of the martyrs.
-- Q: Are you not worried that the United States will be interested in you to maintain pressure on Tehran but as soon as anything becomes complicated or expensive then your aspirations will be forgotten?
-- Mustafa Hijri: We never want to put all of our eggs in the United States basket. We use these opportunities to weaken Iran to put more pressure on Iran so we can have more space, more room to act.
Russia will always counter the US neocolonialist strategy aimed at weakening legitimate governments in other countries, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in an interview with the Italian daily Il Giornale published on Wednesday.
"The issue at hand is the neocolonialist strategy, which the US has already tested in Iraq and Libya and which boils down to supporting any, even the wildest ideologies to weaken legitimate governments," the minister said.
According to Shoigu, Russia, "which advocates equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with any countries as part of the multipolar world concept, will always be an obstacle to the implementation of such strategies."
The minister explained that the key stages of the neocolonialist strategy are weakening the legitimate leadership, staging the use of weapons of mass destruction or humanitarian disasters and the use of military force to create "controlled chaos."
All that, he said, creates favorable conditions for draining countries of their wealth to the US economy by transnational corporations.
Washington considers Russia as a threat to its global dominance, according to Shoigu.
"Russia has been regaining its strength so it is now considered to be not an ally but a threat to the United States’ global dominance," he said.
At the same time, in Shoigu’s words, the West "continues its military build-up near our borders" while accusing Moscow of making aggressive plans.
In this regard, the Russian defense minister pointed out that NATO had increased the number of troops deployed to the Baltic states, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria from 2,000 to 15,000, with the possibility of a further increase to 60,000.
US-President Donald Trump makes a point of insisting that he has nothing against the Iranian people and is only interested in opposing what he regards as the dangerous activities of their government, but his own record in office belies that claim.
It is clear that what he is trying to do is put pressure on the people of Iran to rise up and force a change in government, a process otherwise referred to as regime change...
Oddly, the White House seems unaware of the fact that Iran is neither Libya nor Iraq. It has a strong and historic national identity that means that it does and will resist being bullied by outside powers, including the “leader of the free world” United States.
The neocon and pro-Israel script that has evidently taken control of Trump pushes all the wrong buttons as it basically employs an increasing number and severity of sanctions to seek to wreck the economy and create discord in Iran that will eventually bring people out into the streets in large numbers. That means in practice using not only sanctions that selectively targeting “bad guys” like the Revolutionary Guards but also benign institutions that exist to maintain social stability inside the country.
Reports from inside Iran suggest that the renewed and additional sanctions are already hurting the Iranian people while at the same time having little impact on the government commitment to remain in Syria, which is the principal bone of contention at the moment vis-à-vis the joint U.S./Israeli/Saudi grossly exaggerated and self-serving assessment of what Iran may or may not be doing to destabilize the Middle East.
Two organizations which have recently come under sustained attack by the neocons and their allies are the “Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order” (EIKO) and its associated Barakat Foundation.
The EIKO’s principal mission is to help poor families in Iran and to perform other charitable works, but it has been assailed as a major economic resource controlled by the Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s office..
Leading the charge against EIKO, inevitably, has been renowned neocon Canadian import and Iranophobe Mark Dubowitz, Chief Executive of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD)...
Other outlets in the pro-neocon-inclined and friendly to Israel media have also picked up on the theme that Iran must be the target of what amounts to economic warfare.
The National Interest recently ran an article advocating the imposition of oil sanctions on Iran in general while also targeting EIKO in particular in order to “change Iran’s behavior,” which is presumed by the authors to be very bad though without any real explanation of why that is so.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a neoconservative advocacy organization that was founded in the wake of the 9/11 attacks with the goal of pushing an aggressive “war on terror” in the Middle East and “pro-Israel” policies in Washington. The group initially claimed to wage ideological combat with “militant Islamism” in “a global war … being waged against democratic societies.”
Today, FDD claims that its mission is “to promote pluralism, defend democratic values and fight the ideologies that drive terrorism.” Its experts push for U.S. military intervention in Iran and Syria, promote overturning the comprehensive July 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program, and advocate one-sided U.S. support for Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Right Web, april 2018)
There has been some pushback against the war-by-sanctions approach currently being advanced by the Trump Administration. Robert Fontina of Counterpunch has rejected the depiction of EIKO as anything but a charitable foundation. The truth is that EIKO engages in major social projects, including rural poverty alleviation, empowering women, home and school building, and provision of healthcare. American sanctions against it and similar entities hit ordinary Iranians’ lives by producing food insecurity while also restricting the supplies of needed medications. Ahmad Noroozi of the Barakat Foundation claims that numerous Iranians have already been affected by U.S.-initiated sanctions directed against his country, restricting access to cancer treatments and other pharmaceuticals. And it is all aimed at fomenting social unrest and ultimately regime change.
It is disturbing that the abandonment of the rule of law by the Trump Administration and its allies in the media has meant that Washington is resorting more and more to sanctions as an extreme form of punishment in order to enforce its geopolitical demands.
Countries that oppose Washington’s policies are now routinely subjected to financial and trade penalties. Cuba, North Korea, and Iran have recently been joined by Russia and Syria as targets of the U.S. Treasury Department. Even America’s European allies and friends are being threatened if they seek to buy Iranian oil or cooperate with Russian energy initiatives.
The sad fact is that the pretense of U.S. global leadership now consists of a basket of new “rules” that are both arbitrary and basically illegal supported by pretexts that are essentially fabricated.
A top advisor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who is in Russia for an official visit, shrugged off the concurrent trip to Russia by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying, “Nobody cares about his words.”
Speaking to reporters upon his arrival in Moscow on Wednesday, Ali Akba Velayati pointed to Netanyahu’s visit to the Russian Federation and said, “He is an itinerant person who travels to somewhere in the world every day.”
“He [Netanyahu] makes baseless and illogical remarks and nobody cares about his words,” the Iranian official said. “Therefore, his presence or absence in Russia has no effect on our strategic mission,” he added.
Velayati is in Moscow in a bid to submit messages from Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei and also President Hassan Rouhani to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi. Qassemi said the letters are aimed at “emphasizing the importance of expanded relations between Iran and Russia”.
Qassemi told the IRIB that Velayati will also pay a visit to China to convey messages from Ayatollah Khamenei and Rouhani to Chinese leaders.
He said that after the US’ withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was a strategic mistake made by the US president, the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to send special envoys to convey the messages of top Iranian leaders to other countries.
“In these messages, our country’s views and stances regarding the US’ selfish and illegal behavior are explained to other countries,” he said.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday criticized European countries over their hypocrisy when it comes to Israel.
“European countries allow themselves to intervene in every internal matter in Israel, including the security of our borders, but they have no problem giving money to the ayatollah regime who puts an 18-year-old girl in prison for dancing without a head covering,” he tweeted.
“If they were a little more honest and a little less hypocritical, they would have cut off contact until the murderous regime of Khamenei and Co. is replaced,” added Liberman. His comments refer to the case of 18-year-old Iranian gymnast Maedeh Hojabri, who was detained by Iranian authorities this week after she posted dance videos on Instagram in which she was seen without the obligatory Muslim headscarf.
Hojabri had reportedly posted around 300 videos on her account, many of which showed her dancing in both Iranian and Western styles. She explained that the purpose of these videos was to attract more followers on social media.
Iranian police have said they plan to shut down similar accounts on Instagram, and the judiciary is considering blocking access to the site, according to the report.
The case of a teenage girl who is believed to have been detained after posting videos on social media showing her dancing has stirred debate in Iran. The controversy arose after it was reported that 18-year-old Maedeh Hojabri was arrested after sharing her dance videos - one of which was viewed close to one million times - on Instagram.
Some of the clips showed her dancing to Persian music in her room. In others, she can be seen with no headscarf swaying to songs by popular artists such as Justin Bieber and Shakira.
Under the Islamic Republic, the use of headscarf in public is mandatory for women, while dancing is prohibited. However, several women have challenged those rules and expressed their dissent through social media.
Others have protested by removing their headscarves in public, prompting a crackdown by the authorities. Separately, the government has also blocked some messaging applications like Telegram, while the judiciary is reportedly mulling restrictions of Instagram - steps condemned by human rights groups.
O Prophet, say to thy wives: "If you desire this world’s life
and its adornment, come, I will give you a provision
and allow you to depart a goodly departing." Quran 33:28
Following Hojabri's reported detention, Iranian state TV on Saturday showed a video in which she said she did not intend to encourage "other people to do the same thing". "It was not done for the purpose of getting attention," she said, adding that she just wanted to share it with her followers.
But on Monday, Mohamad Taghi Fazel Maybodi, a reformist cleric, criticised the TV station for airing the teen's statement...
Maybodi, a religious scholar from the holy city of Qom, did not comment directly on the propriety of Hojabri's videos, but he pointed to the irony of the authorities unable to stop major problems such as corruption.
"Which embezzler has so far come to the national media to confess to corruption and plunder of public assets? Which one's a great sin - dancing or stealing of public resources?" Maybodi asked. "It becomes as such when the religion is at the hands of the ignorant people."
Meanwhile, Elham Kadkhodaee, a commentator and a doctor of philosophy graduate at the University of Tehran, stressed that materials posted on social media are "obviously part of the public sphere", and that "any sovereign state would be expected to enforce its law in that sphere".
While Kadkhodaee said she sees no contradiction between technological progress and her country's traditions, she added that problems arise as Iran imports technologies that "promote a certain type of lifestyle different to ours".
Religious rules, only for believers..
Quran 33:59 O Prophet, tell thy wives and the daughters and the women of believers to let down upon them their over-garments. This is more proper, so that they may be known..."
Surah Al-Kafirun (No. 109): “O you who do not believe! I worship not what you worship, and you are not worshipping what I worship; nor am I worshipping what you worship; neither are you worshipping what I worship. Therefore, to you your religion; and to me my religion!”
Secularism can be understood as the neutrality of religion or tolerance, especially when it comes to State affairs.
A secular State treats all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and avoids preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/non-religion over other religions/non-religion. (Islam a secular religion)
As the Trump administration prepares to unveil its much-vaunted plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, it is likely to face an Arab public that is wary of its foreign policy in the region, and specifically on the question of Palestine.
In a survey unveiled in Washington DC, which interviewed more than 18,000 Arab citizens in 11 countries, most respondents said they held a negative view of US policy towards Palestine – 87 percent – up from 79 percent in 2016. The Arab Opinion Index, conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, Qatar, found that 81 percent of Arabs also perceived US foreign policy towards war-ravaged Syria negatively, as did 82 percent on Iraq.
The Index, which has been published yearly since 2011, has become a barometer of Arab public opinion from Lebanon to Mauritania on issues ranging from local economy to global foreign affairs. The poll showed that more than 75 percent of the Arab world population believes that the Palestinian cause is also an Arab one, while naming Israel and the US as the top two threats to national security. Almost 90 percent of Arabs named Israel as a source of instability in the region.
KSA – USA partnership dinner: High-level speakers, including Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Lindsey Graham, James Baker, William Cohen, Cindy Schwarzkopf, daughter of the late General Norman Schwarzkopf, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and Ambassador Khalid bin Salman, delivered stirring remarks commemorating the historic American and Saudi Arabian leaders of the past who further reinforced the foundations of the unshakable alliance between the two nations. Al-Arabiya, 23-3-2018
As Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recently began to court Israel more overtly (united in their animosity towards Iran), the survey showed that an overwhelming majority of respondents (87 percent) disapproved of their home countries recognising Israel. Asked to elaborate on their reasons, many cited Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians and its colonial policies. Only eight percent said they would accept some kind of formal diplomatic recognition.
Those who did made such recognition conditional upon the end of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the formation of an independent Palestinian state.
For the first time since 2011, pollsters had a difficult time gauging Saudi citizens on Palestine; a large number of Saudi respondents quit the survey all-together when asked about the Palestinian cause. Approximately 36 percent of Saudi Arabian survey participants said they did not know or declined to answer, in contrast with 5 percent in the rest of the countries polled.
Saudi Arabia's repressive domestic political atmosphere coupled with the ascension of Mohammed bin Salman to position of crown prince as well the regional shift in Gulf-Israeli relations have affected the way Saudis engaged with the survey, pollsters believe.
"The Palestinian cause remains important to the Saudi sample, but the fear of responding truthfully explains the lack of response and high attrition rate," Dana al-Kurd, a researcher at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, said.
The issue of Palestine remains a central issue for all Arabs. Since polling started in the Arab world, the data has been showing that the Palestinian cause is "an issue of justice that the Arabs see or lack thereof in the US approach to the region", she explained.
Interior Minister Syria: The Palestinian cause will remain a top Syrian priority
Syrian Arab News Agency, 12 July 2018
Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar discussed on Thursday with a delegation from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee the status of the Palestinian refugees in Syria and the general conditions of the Palestinian camps, especially the Yarmouk Camp in addition to the war on terrorism. The Minister affirmed that the Palestinian cause was and will remain a priority for the Syrian state and people. He pointed out that what happened in Yarmouk Camp was a systematic part of the war that was launched against Syria.
He added that the Syrian state supports the rights of the Palestinian people, especially their right to return and the establishment of the Palestinian state on their land, and rejects any projects or schemes seeking to liquidate this cause.
The Labor Party sent a sternly worded letter to the Socialist International organization Tuesday after it adopted a resolution joining the Boycott Divest and Sanction Israel campaign, saying that the party would immediately leave the organization. The Socialist International resolution that passed “calls all governments and civil society organizations to activate boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli occupation, all the occupation institutions, and the illegal Israeli settlements including the total embargo on all forms of military trade and cooperation with Israel as long as it continues its policies of occupation and Apartheid against the Palestinian people.”
Labor’s international secretary, MK Hilik Bar, called the decision hypocritical and said Labor’s decision to suspend its membership was immediate and would become permanent if the decision is not canceled
. He asked the organization to stop including any reference to Labor or its party members in any of its membership information, publications, speeches, or events.
“Needless to say, the Declaration on the Palestinian Question is biased, blind to facts or reality, and partially antisemitic,” Bar wrote.
“The Declaration further weakens the alleged legitimacy of the organization you lead. The language and arguments of the Declaration makes it clear that until its cancellation - there is no real dialogue to have with you, or with your organization on this issue.”
“Let me assure you that until the full and formal cancellation of this poor one-sided and miserable declaration, your ‘solidarity’ is not desirable by us.” The Socialist International is the worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist and labor parties. It currently brings together 140 political parties and organizations from all continents.
Israe finally built an access road to the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar last week...
If one community has come to symbolize the demise of the two-state solution, it is Khan al-Ahmar.
It was for that reason that a posse of European diplomats left their air-conditioned offices late last week to trudge through the hot, dusty hills outside Jerusalem and witness for themselves the preparations for the village’s destruction.
Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain have submitted a formal protest. Their denunciations echoed those of more than 70 Democratic lawmakers in Washington in May – a rare example of US politicians showing solidarity with Palestinians....
Western capitals understand what is at stake. Israel wants Khan al-Ahmar gone so that Jewish settlements can be built in its place, on land it has designated as “E1”.
That would put the final piece in place for Israel to build a substantial bloc of new settler homes to sever the West Bank in two. Those same settlements would also seal off West Bank Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the expected capital of a future Palestinian state...
Like other Palestinians in the 60 percent of the West Bank declared under Israeli control by the Oslo peace process, Khan al-Ahmar’s Bedouin inhabitants, from the Jahalin tribe, have been denied building permits, forcing three generations to live in tin shacks and tents.
Israel has also refused to connect the village to the water, electricity and sewage grids, in an attempt to make life so unbearable the Jahalin would opt to leave.
When an Italian charity helped in 2009 to establish Khan al-Ahmar’s first school – made from mud and tires – Israel stepped up its legal battle to demolish the village. Now, the Jahalin are about to be driven from their lands... They are to be forcibly resettled next to a waste dump by the Palestinian town of Abu Dis, hemmed in on all sides by Israeli walls and settlements.
In another indication of the Palestinians’ dire predicament, the Trump administration is expected to propose in its long-awaited peace plan that the slum-like Abu Dis, rather than East Jerusalem, serve as the capital of a future pseudo-Palestinian state – if Israel ever chooses to recognize one.
Russian presidentVladimir Putin has announced plans for investment of up to $50 billion in Iran’s oil and gas sector, Iran’s special envoy Ali Akbar Velayati said, adding that Russian firms could replace the western oil companies that have left the Islamic Republic.
Speaking to IRIB after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin near Moscow on Thursday, Velayati said he met with Putin to convey the message of Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Khamenei regards Iran’s relations with Russia as “strategic”, Velayati said, adding that Putin holds the same belief.
Highlighting Putin’s satisfaction with a 36-percent increase in the value of trade exchange between Iran and Russia in the first 4 months of 2018, Velayati said the Russian leader has emphasized the necessity for close cooperation with Iran in the oil industry, peaceful nuclear energy, communications and the North-South railroad corridor connecting the Russian city of St. Petersburg to Iran’s southeastern port city of Chabahar.
As regards cooperation in the energy industry, Velayati said one of Russia’s major oil companies has signed a $4-billion agreement with Iran, which will be implemented soon.
Two other large Russian oil companies, namely Rosneft and Gazprom Neft, have started negotiations with Iran to sign agreements worth up to $10 billion, he added.
Velayati also quoted Putin as hailing the oil cooperation between Iran and Russia, saying Russia has announced readiness to make investment as high as $50 billion in Iran’s oil and gas industry, and that Russian firms could replace the western companies that have left Iran.
As for cooperation in the nuclear industry, Velayati said Iran has already built a 1000-MW reactor with the help of Russia, adding that Putin was personally updated on details of construction of two other reactors Russia is building in Iran.
The two new reactors, a 100-MW and a 35-MW one, are being built along Iran’s southern coasts and will be employed to generate electricity and desalinate water, he noted.
On regional cooperation, Velayati said Putin has emphasized that Russia and Iran will keep working together to support Syria’s legitimate government and also cooperate in Iraq to defend the territorial integrity of the two nations.
Putin underlined that Russia, Iran and Turkey will stick to the Astana process for peace in Syria, he added.
The Russian leader also denounced the US sanctions against Iran, saying such measures that are out of step with the United Nations Security Council’s decisions are unacceptable, Velayati went on to say.
He said Putin has voiced support for Iran’s rights under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and given an assurance that Moscow will stand with Tehran and defend its rights.
TEHRAN (FNA, 12-7-2018) People in Iran see their lives filled
with world of football as FIFA World Cup 2018 continues.
The current state of inter-Arab and intra-Arab affairs is entirely unacceptable. For decades, there have been jealousies, frictions and even levels of animosity among Arab countries. Nevertheless, never has the state of pan-Arab affairs been so disappointing, and in shambles. Since the advent of the ominous "Arab spring", not only have several major Arab countries become, in effect, failed states, but relations among Arab countries as a whole deteriorated and worsened in unprecedented ways. Such an unwelcome development affected all negatively.
Individually, most Arab countries, both those which fell prey to the violence brought by the so-called Arab spring "revolutions" and those which were spared the violence, have weakened, due to both political and economic mishaps. Collectively, Arab countries are in an equally vulnerable and weak position, and they are all prey now to foreign intervention, both from within and without the region.
More than seven years have passed since 2011, and we see no winners in the Arab world, as a result of this state of discord and chaos.
Such a sorry state has got to come to an end, and inter-Arab relations need to be reconstructed and built according to a new vision, a new order. Bickering, jealousies, tension and violence lead only to more bickering, jealousies, tension and violence.
All countries belonging to a certain region and sharing the same geography need to be on good terms with each other, socially, politically and economically, if they are to count in today's world. South East Asia, Latin America and Europe furnish important examples in this regard.
It is time for the Arab countries to follow suit and learn important lessons that countries in specific regions survive, develop and thrive through wise diplomacy, through dialogue and understanding, through recognition and respect of each and all within the region, big and small and through "evolution" rather than "revolution".
The decision made by the Arab League (AL) to suspend Syria will lead to division in Syria and across the Arab world, a political analyst tells Press TV.
Professor Daoud Khairallah of Georgetown University, Washington, said in an interview with Press TV on Saturday that the Arab League is seeking to “create more discord within Syria, encouraging certain parts against others.” The Arab organization wants to “promote some kind of confessional sectarian strife inside the Syrian society,” Khairallah added.
On Saturday, the Arab League announced the suspension of Syria and called for sanctions to be imposed on the country.
“The decision of the Arab League is basically against the charter and is in violation of the express provisions of the charter,” Khairallah said.
“Article 8 of the charter of the Arab League prohibits any member country from interfering in the internal affairs [of other member states] especially with respect to regime change or form of government change,” the political analyst further explained.
Professor Jamal al-Rifai from the Cairo-based Ein Shams University stressed that the conspiracy hatched against Syria is very tightened and aims at undermining the last fortress of pan-Arabism in the region. (ChamPress 13-11-2011)
Syria's southern province of Daraa is the birthplace of the 2011 anti-government uprising that became a devastating seven-year war, with parts of the region falling into opposition hands. However deals with rebels to hand over their heavy weapons signal the full return of the province to government forces, which raised the regime flag in the provincial capital Thursday.
Daraa became one of the last bastions of Syria's armed rebels who started losing territory after Russia stepped into the conflict in 2015 to support the struggling government. Different opposition groups controlled nearly 70 percent of Daraa province and also southern parts of its capital before a government offensive launched in June.
The regime turned its sights on Daraa after the April 2018 fall of the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus. On June 19 military planes dropped flyers on the rebel-held half of Daraa city calling on residents to expel "terrorists." The same day they launched an offensive, backed by their Russian allies, on rebel-held areas of the province.
While pounding Daraa city, the government was able to retake parts of the province, notably the vital Nassib crossing on the Jordan border that it reclaimed on July 6 after three years under rebel control. Also on July 6 the regime reached a ceasefire deal with rebels who agreed to surrender the remaining parts of the province in their control. On July 11 opposition fighters in Daraa city agreed to hand over their heavy weapons or evacuate.
Even before these measures were implemented, a convoy of Russian military police and regime officers entered the city Thursday and raised the national flag.
In Daraa city, participants in the dialogue session discussed the mechanism of activating the constitutional articles and amending them to go in harmony with the national principles and self-determination and suit the current political developments in Syria.
Participants considered the current constitution as having numerous positive points; however, some of its articles should be amended to suit the current stage in Syria. Participants called for preserving general freedoms and political pluralism.
In al-Raqqa city, participants in the youth dialogue session on the constitution saw that some articles in the constitution can be amended to suit the current developments.
In Damascus countryside, participants focused on some articles of the constitution, stressing the social goals and nationalist thoughts that must be preserved to protect the national interests of the people.
In Tartous city, dialogue session dealt with four basic axes:
1) the constitution,
2) basic principles, rights, and freedoms which are guaranteed by the constitution;
3) separating authorities;
4) the current political system and the need to amend the constitution.
WASHINGTON — American media reports on Tuesday said that the administration of President Barack Obama has been quietly consulting with the "Islamic opposition" in Syria. Within this context, the American "World Tribune" Newspaper revealed that senior U.S. officials have been meeting with the "Muslim Brotherhood" of Syria as well as its lobbyists in the United States.
The US officials said the two sides have convened several times over the last three months to discuss the Brotherhood's role after the "ouster" of President Bashar Assad's regime.
The Reform Party in Syria (RPS) has protested the US administration's meetings with the "Brotherhood". RPS, regarded as one of the most pro-Western elements in the Syrian opposition, said Washington was signaling its endorsement of the "Brotherhood's" goal to make Syria into an Islamic state rather than a democracy that would foster its large minority communities.
"This ill-advised policy of the U.S. State Department will have dire consequences, not only for the future of Syria, but also through an immediate increase in violence and the strengthening of the Assad base," RPS said on Sept. 23.
MB-Islamists: "We will bring back Islam to Syria"
On Sept. 24, the council, regarded as a lobbyist for the "Brotherhood", held a meeting in Anaheim, Calif. to discuss the situation in Syria. The session was addressed by U.S. special envoy Frederic Hof, responsible for U.S. policy on Damascus. This marked at least the second session between the State Department and the "Brotherhood" in as many months. The first meeting was headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and excluded members of the secular Syrian opposition.
President Xi Jinping of China last week pledged $20 billion in loans to Arab countries and over $100 million in financial aid to countries in most need, including Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Yemen. China and Arab countries will also set up a consortium of banks to manage a dedicated $3 billion fund.
Labelled by President Xi “oil and gas plus,” due to the loans’ focus on the revival of industries and cooperation on oil, gas, nuclear and renewable sources of energy, the measures seek to foster regional development as a stabilizing and pacifying force.
The president also said China aimed to form a strategic partnership with the Arab League to become “the keeper of peace and stability in the Middle East.”
These measures, part of China’s signature foreign policy enterprise, the Belt and Road Initiative, have been touted as a recognition by China’s leadership that its hands-off approach to the Middle East’s political and security problems is untenable....
President Xi’s announcement coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan.
From 1948 to 1952, billions of dollars of economic assistance from the US supported Western and Southern Europe’s post-war rebuilding. While its economic impact may be exaggerated (it averaged less than 2.5 percent of the recipients’ GDP), its political and geostrategic significance is unquestionable...
Although underpinned by a different set of values and goals and with Eurasia at its core, the Chinese initiative is likely to prove at least as momentous as that of US Secretary of State George Marshall seven decades ago.
“the organizational underpinnings of the White Helmets can be sourced to a March 2013 meeting in Istanbul between a retired British military officer, James Le Mesurier, and representatives of the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Qatari Red Crescent Society. Earlier that month, the SNC was given Syria’s seat in the Arab League at a meeting of the league held in Qatar.”
"The White Helmets function as an effective propaganda arm of the anti-Assad movement..." Scott Ritter
Western countries have reportedly been scrambling to evacuate "volunteer" White Helmets from Syria, who have been accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging false flag gas attacks.
CBS News broadcasting service reported on Saturday that White Helmets members are in danger of assassination and in need of rescue as the Syrian army intensifies its counter-terrorism operation in the country's southern part. The report said the issue of the White helmets' withdrawal from Syria had been raised with US President Donald Trump in multiple conversations with allied countries on the sidelines of the July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels.
The Netherlands, Britain, France, Canada and Germany have been trying to find a way to get an estimated 1,000 White Helmets volunteers and their family members out of Syria, the report added.
The White Helmets was founded in Turkey in 2013 by former British MI5 officer James Le Mesurier. The White Helmets were formally organised as Syrian Civil Defense in October 2014.
Since its establishment, the group has received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office, $23 million or more from the US Office of Transition Initiatives and untold millions from Qatar.
A US government official stressed that efforts to evacuate the White Helmets from Syria are in line with the Trump administration's plans for a withdrawal from the Arab country.
"This effort says we are in the evacuation phase. It is an admission that the regime is going to regain control of the country and the White Helmets can't remain," he said. "Or else the regime will take repercussions on them."
syria - civil defense (white helmets)
Both Damascus and Moscow have accused the volunteer group of having staged the suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma in Syria's Eastern Ghouta region on April 7. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described the White Helmets as "a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra" militant groups and a “PR stunt” by the US, the UK and France.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the group claims to be a humanitarian NGO, but actually supports terrorists and covers up their crimes.
"The White Helmets not only feel at home on Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh-controlled territories but openly sympathize with them and provide them with information and even financial support. How is that for double standards? There is documentary evidence of the White Helmets’ involvement in some of al-Nusra’s operations and cover-up over civilian deaths," she said.
Four suspected Islamic State group militants were beheaded by Syrian rebels in Idlib over the weekend, following a wave of assassinations in the opposition province, a monitor reported on Sunday.
"Hayaat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) executed four persons on charges of being members of [IS]... in Salqin town in [the] Idlib countryside," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The monitor reported that a leading figure of an "IS cell" was also beheaded by the al-Qaeda linked rebel group on Saturday, while another militant committed suicide a day earlier after his home was surrounded by HTS fighters.
HTS have launched a security sweep in Idlib province to track down suspected IS sleeper cells. This follows a spike in assassinations and bombings targeting rebel fighters and civilians in Idlib over the past week.
Bombings and shootings in Idlib have become so common over the past week that one local writer describing the threat posed by IS as being greater than the one posed by the regime.
The monitor reported that 237 people in rebel areas have been killed in assassinations, including civilians who have died from frequent bomb attacks in Idlib, Aleppo and Hamas - some of the last opposition areas in Syria. Syrian-based Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini has been targeted by several bombings. The radical sheikh arrived to Syria in 2013, and has been prominant in jihadi factions opposed to Bashar al-Assad. Muhaysini is a popular figure among Salafi-jihadis and frequently makes speeches from Idlib which are widely shared by supporters on social media. Idlib is one of the last opposition strongholds in Syria, and has seen thousands of rebel fighters and civilians find refuge in the province over the past months following so-called "evacuation deals" in other parts of the country.
Turkish troops have assumed full control of dozens of villages in the northwestern Syrian district of Afrin after evicting their Syrian rebel allies from positions they captured together from Syrian Kurdish forces in March, local sources told Ahval.
After weeks of conflicting information about whether Turkey was in charge of security of the villages, people in the countryside around Afrin said Turkish soldiers were manning checkpoints and Syrian rebel forces had pulled out.
“In the past five days, several rebel groups have pulled out from nine villages near the border town of Bulbul as well as villages near the town of Jinderes,” said a resident of Kotana, one of the villages.
The resident, who declined to be named, said the Sultan Murad Division, one of the largest Turkish-backed rebel groups in Afrin, had been in charge of his village. Its fighters now have moved to the town of Bulbul, near the border with Turkey, he said.
Another resident from the village of Kaza near Jinderes said rebel groups that used to control the village had suddenly disappeared.
“We used to see (rebel) fighters everywhere, on the streets and at checkpoints,” he said. “But right now we only see Turkish soldiers and their presence looks more organised than before.”
Afrin residents have complained about regular abuses committed by Turkish-backed rebel fighters, especially in the countryside around the town. The Sultan Murad Division, al-Hamzat Brigade and the Suqour al-Shamal Brigade are the most cruel groups in Afrin, according to Abu Jamil, a resident of Jinderes.
In its June report on Syria, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had documented an increase in armed clashes between different armed groups reported to be under the control of Turkish forces. The clashes, it said, had a serious impact on civilians and resulted in a number of deaths and injuries.
New York-based Human Rights Watch also released a report in June in which it said Turkish-backed rebels “have seized, looted, and destroyed property of Kurdish civilians in the Afrin district of northern Syria”.
Analysts said the negative reports had stung Turkey. “Afrin is a sensitive topic for the Turkish government,” said Sadradeen Kinno, a Syrian researcher who closely follows Islamist groups in the country.
“So by removing some rogue rebel groups from several villages, Turkey wants to show the local population and the outside world that it is serious about establishing good governance in Afrin.”
Rebels in the southwest province of Quneitra in Syria have started leaving the area after giving up their fight against government forces near the frontier with Israel, according to Syrian state media.
A convoy of buses on Friday mid-afternoon carried the first batch of rebels, their family members and assorted civilians to opposition-held territory in the north where they will live among more than one million others displaced by Syria's seven-year-long civil war. The surrender in Quneitra, in line with a deal that was struck between rebels and pro-government forces, is a big victory for President Bashar al-Assad whose troops are close to reclaiming complete control of the country's south.
According to state media, the agreement "stipulates the departure to Idlib [province] of terrorists who reject the settlements", and allow those who wish to remain to "settle" their status with the authorities, meaning accepting a return of state rule.
The state-controlled al-Ikhbariya TV station broadcast footage on Friday of fighters dressed in fatigues boarding buses in the village of Um Batina in Quneitra, which adjoins the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The pro-government Central Military Media outlet said there were 50 buses ready to transport rebels to the opposition-held Idlib province in northwest Syria.
The developments in Quineitra came as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Friday urged all parties to the conflict to provide safe passage for the estimated 140,000 civilians displaced as a result of the recent surge in violence.
The UNHCR also expressed its readiness to discuss its plans to set up centres for returning Syrian refugees, insisting that returns must be safe and voluntary.
An estimated 13,000 Syrian refugees returned from neighbouring countries in the first half of 2018 with some 750,000 internally displaced also going back to their homes, UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said at a news conference in Geneva.
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